Violence / Raids / Attacks / Illegal arrests
TEL AVIV (WAFA) 22 May — Office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli ‘Internal Security’ Ministry decided Thursday to install 500 surveillance cameras in Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Kol Israel Radio reported that the cameras will be installed in Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, at-Tour, al-Ezariyya as well as the in the French Hill along the way to the illegal Israeli settlement of Gilo. Contrary to claims by a source in Netanyahu’s office that it would ‘boost the sense of security among the Israelis in the area”, this NIS 100 million ($29 million) step aims to keep Arab neighborhoods under around-the-clock surveillance and would be used to gather evidence against Palestinians in case of clashes and protests, which would flagrantly violate the Palestinians’ privacy
Army kidnaps a disabled Palestinian, throws [away] his wheelchair
IMEMC 23 May by Saed Bannoura — [Thursday evening, May 22] Israeli soldiers violently attacked and kidnapped a disabled Palestinian man, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, after forcing him into their jeep, and threw his wheelchair away. Amjad Najjar, head of the Hebron branch of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), stated undercover soldiers of the Israeli military kidnapped Kamal Khairy ‘Aabdeen, 40 years of age, and took him to an unknown destination. Najjar added that ‘Aabdeen is paralyzed, cannot move without his wheelchair, and that the soldiers left his wheelchair in the middle of the street in Ras al-Jouza area, in Hebron. ‘Aabdeen was shot in his spine during the Ibhrahimi Mosque massacre in Hebron. The massacre took place on February 25, 1994, when an American-born fanatic Israeli settler, identified as Baruch Goldstein, stormed Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque and opened fire, killing 29 worshipers and injuring 125, many of the wounded became disabled.
Israeli forces injure six in raid on Issawiya bakery
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 May — Six Palestinians from Jerusalem were lightly injured after Israeli forces raided a bakery in the village of ‘Issawiya in East Jerusalem on Friday. ‘Issawiya monitoring committee member Mohammad Abu al-Homs said Israeli special forces raided a bakery in the village on Friday afternoon and “assaulted” owner Mohammad Mousa Dari, 48, his wife, son, daughter and two other locals who were at the shop. Abu al-Homs said they suffered several bruises and cuts, and were taken to a medical center for treatment. He added that Israeli forces left the village firing live bullets, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets, despite the fact that that there were no clashes in the area at the time.
VIDEO: Settlers runs over a 17-year-old Palestinian in Hebron
HEBRON (ISM Khalil Team) 22 May — Yesterday during the early evening, several Palestinian youths were riding bikes near checkpoint 56 in the Tel Rumeida area of Al-Khalil (Hebron). At around 7pm, one youth, 17-year-old Izz Adel Bedo, from the Jabal Al-Takruri area of Hebron was knocked off his bike and run over by a settler driving a bus on the way to the illegal Tel Rumeida settlement. Paramedics arrived within about five minutes, leaving their ambulance parked outside the checkpoint whilst they came inside to attend to the youth. By this time, approximately 15-20 Israeli soldiers and border police had arrived on the scene and were preventing local Palestinians from filming and photographing the incident, and the bus that had run over the youth had driven away from the scene. The youth had sustained injuries to his arm and leg, and possibly also to his neck, medics placed him in a neck brace as a precaution before attempting to move him. He was taken through the checkpoint to the awaiting ambulance and was taken away to Al-Ahli Hospital for treatment. At around the same time that the ambulance was leaving, a group of Israeli soldiers entered through the checkpoint into the H1 (Palestinian Authority controlled) area of Hebron and threw a stun grenade in the general direction of the ambulance and some Palestinian youths who had gathered. The youths then started to throw stones in the direction of the checkpoint. Israeli soldiers then launched tear gas canisters and more stun grenades….
Israeli army arrests a further two people from Kafr Qaddum
ISM Nablus Team 23 May — During the night of the 23rd of May, approximately at 02:00AM, the Israeli army raided several houses in the town of Kafr Qaddum and arrested two people, Ryad Mohamad Eshtewi (40) and Fadi Baseem Jomah (27), both of whom are Palestinian police officers. Another two villagers were threatened during the same night raid. The Israeli army, numbering up to 50 soldiers, stormed into their houses, but the villagers were not there at the time. In one of the houses, according to a witness, the Israeli army left bullets underneath a bed “to send a message”. The other villager who was not at his house during the raid found a police order. Ryad was sleeping at one of his brothers’ house when he was arrested at 02:00AM. Israeli soldiers forced Ryad back to his house, where they broke into his home and threw a stun grenade inside, searching Ryad’s property. Ryad asked the soldiers why they were being violent if he was already arrested, but no reply was given. No personal items were stolen nor any reasons given for his arrest. On the morning of the 23rd of May, Ryad’s family received a call from an Israeli captain informing them that he was being held at the Israeli military base of Huwwara. The whereabouts of Fadi are still unknown since his family have not yet received any calls from the Israeli authorities. According to a villager, this month there have been up to 30 arrests in Kafr Qaddum although 15 of them have been released on bail. These bails, however, could reach as much as 9,000 NIS (over €1,800). Some of these arrests have already been documented, among them is also Murad Eshtewi who is the media coordinator for the weekly demonstrations in Kafr Qaddum.
Israeli forces [arrest] five Palestinians in Jenin and Jerusalem
JENIN (WAFA) 21 May – Israeli forces arrested on Wednesday three Palestinians from the districts of Jenin, in addition to two others from the Jerusalem area, according to local and security sources. Forces arrested three Palestinians aged between 26 and 35 years after breaking into and searching their families’ houses in Silat Al-Harithiya located to the west of Jenin.
Meanwhile, Israeli police arrested two Palestinians from ‘Isawiya and Shuʻfat camps in Jerusalem, according to a local activist. Member of the ‘Isawiya Follow-up Committee Raʻed Abu Rayyala said that police stormed ‘Ubeid complex in ‘Isawiya, where they arrested a 23-year-old Palestinian, the eldest son of Ahmad ‘Ubeid, who is sentenced to life imprisonment in an Israeli prison, after breaking into his family’s house. They also stormed the detainee’s workplace, where they seized 6 computers and some other belongings. In a related incident, police stationed on Shuʻfat checkpoint arrested a Palestinian while he was crossing the checkpoint and heading to Jerusalem.
Gaza under dual blockade
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian near Khan Yunes
KHAN YUNES (WAFA) 21 May — Israeli forces stationed on the borders with the Gaza Strip Wednesday opened fire at a Palestinian east of Khan Yunes, seriously injuring one, according to media sources. WAFA correspondent said the Palestinian was shot in the head and was transferred to hospital for medical treatment where his condition was described as serious.
Earlier on Wednesday, three Israeli army bulldozers and four army tanks broke through the same area and nearly 200 meters into Palestinian land, razing private-owned agricultural land while firing live bullets towards the nearby homes, while reconnaissance drones heavily flied over the area. The army tanks also fired several missiles targeting an agricultural land planted with wheat and barley, setting fire to the field.
Rocket hits Israel after Palestinian shot on Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 May — A rocket struck southern Israel on Friday afternoon after Israeli forces opened fire and shot a Palestinian youth near the border in the Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers shot and injured a Palestinian youth along the border fence east of Deir al-Balah. The army, however, said that they only shot after fire was opened towards Israeli forces in the area. Witnesses told Ma‘an that an Israeli tank that was deployed near the border fence opened fire at a group of Palestinians in the area, hitting the youth. He was taken to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah for treatment, and was said to be in a moderate condition. [The army has reportedly also injured a man in Beit Lahia, north of the Gaza Strip, according to the PNN.]
Gaza merchants protest near Erez crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 May — Gaza Strip merchants on Thursday morning demonstrated in front of the Erez crossing in protest against new Israeli restrictions that have severely limited the number allowed to cross into Israel on a daily basis, witnesses told Ma‘an. A protester at the crossing near Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip told Ma’an that although around 1,000 Gazan merchants have permits to travel to Israel, recently Israel has been allowing no more than a few to cross on a daily basis. “We collectively decided to abstain from entering in protest against the reduction,” the protester said, noting that many were not being allowed through even though they have valid permits. The group refused to go through the crossing on Thursday morning in order to highlight the new Israeli restrictions on their movement.
Gaza Salafists expect pressure from unity government
GAZA CITY 21 May by Mohammed Othman — Gaza’s Salafists do not expect any change from a unity Palestinian government, noting that Hamas will remain in control of security in the Gaza Strip and will keep up the pressure on their movements.– The date of Aug. 15, 2009, marked a dramatic development in the relationship between Hamas and Salafist groups in the Gaza Strip. The relationship between the two was ruined that day when security forces loyal to Hamas attacked the Ibn Taymiyyah Mosque in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, which was controlled at the time by the Salafist-jihadist Jund Ansar Allah Party, led by Sheikh Abdel-Latif Moussa. The attack killed him and dozens of his supporters holed up in the mosque.
Comatose Marmara wounded [man] dies, raising casualty number to ten
Ynetnews/Reuters 24 May — Ugur Suleyman Soylemez, 51, who was left in a coma for four years after being wounded in the IDF raid of the Mavi Marmara in 2010, passed away on Friday, Turkish media reported. His death raises the Turkish death toll from the incident to ten. The news comes amid reports Turkey and Israel were about to finalize the terms of a formal settlement. The two nations, erstwhile allies, have been negotiating for months to end a diplomatic crisis over the Israeli commandos’ boarding of the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship challenging Israel’s naval blockade of Palestinian-run Gaza Strip in 2010.
Turkish aid group opposes dropping legal action over Israeli raid
Reuters 22 May — While Turkish, Israeli governments are about to finalize terms of formal compensation agreement, IHH objects to dropping court cases against Israeli officials involved in the Mavi Marmara raid as part of deal … Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) said on Thursday it had been in close contact with Turkish government officials and had heard Israel and Turkey were about to finalise the terms of a formal settlement. There was no immediate comment from either the Turkish or Israeli governments.
Israel’s siege of Gaza blamed for contaminating almost one quarter of food supply
Middle East Monitor 20 May — 23 per cent of the food supply available to approximately 1.8 million Palestinians living in Gaza is contaminated because of illegal pesticides and a shortage of spare parts for related machinery, according to a study by the Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights (MCHR). Quds Net news agency reported on MCHR’s findings, which are the results of tests conducted on foodstuffs in the besieged enclave. The test results showed that the contamination is largely the result of chemicals and microbes, such as bacteria. The report mentioned many reasons for the contamination, but placed primary blame on the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip as it results in shortages of approved and tested pesticides, leading to the use of untested pesticides via smugglers or handmade alternatives; sometimes they are harmful. Another major problem that causes contamination is the shortage of spare parts for several kinds of machines needed to maintain hygiene, for example in sewage treatment plants. As a result, the sewage waste pours into the sea or is accumulated in open areas without treatment. Experts say that this contaminates the sea and groundwater.
In Photos: Life between the Gazan waves
Activestills 23 May — Throughout history, the sea has always been considered the primary outlet for Gaza. Today, even with Israel’s acts of aggression and occupation, the sea is still considered vital for Gazan life. This small coastal enclave has acquired many of its habits and traditions from the sea and developed itself through this maritime resource. Photographer Basel Yazouri, born and raised in the Strip, takes us along for a photographic stroll along Gaza City’s shoreline.
Hate crimes / Price tag
Beersheba church defaced in new anti-Christian ‘price-tag’ attack
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 23 May — A church in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba was defaced with anti-Christian graffiti attacking Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary on Friday in the latest in a string of attacks by suspected Jewish extremists targeting Palestinian Christian sites. According to the Jerusalem Post, the graffiti on the church in the old city of Beersheba read: “Jesus = Son of a whore.” Spokesman for the Israeli police Luba Samari confirmed the incident, and said police have opened an investigation into it. The attack comes only two days before the Pope is due to visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, amid a wave of attacks against Christian holy sites and property that have occurred inside Israel in the last few months.
Bedouin judge’s car set on fire; motives unclear
Ynet 21 May by Ilana Curiel — A car belonging to Nasser Abu-Taha, Israel’s first Bedouin judge, was set ablaze early Wednesday morning outside his home in Omer, near Be’er Sheva. Police have opened an official investigation. “This is a sensitive investigation,” said a police spokesperson. “The motive is still unclear. The judge himself doesn’t know if the incident has any connection to his work. No one has made any threats against him and he hasn’t received any messages or anything of the sort that express any intention to harm him.” … Justice Minister Tzipi Livni responded to the news of the vandalism saying, “I spoke with Judge Abu-Taha this morning. The first sentence he said to me was, ‘This won’t deter us.’ He’s right. I would advise that criminals abandon the illusion that they will be allowed to discourage, threaten, or influence a judge in Israel.” … Police commander of the Levi District said that the case would be given top priority. According to him, “This is an irregularly extreme and severe act. Any harm or threat to the foundation of law and justice is a dangerously severe step, and we will act using all tools at our disposal to find the culprits.”
Israel Police arrests three youths over hate crimes in Arab town
Haaretz 22 May by Eli Ashkenazi — The Judea and Samaria District Police announced Thursday that they have arrested three youths this month on suspicion of committing a hate crime in the northern Israeli town of Gush Halav, also known as Jish. The suspects, all students of the Dorshei Yichudcha yeshiva high school are two 17-year-olds and one 16-year-old. The police noted they searched the suspects’ homes and seized several weapons and other means of committing nationalist acts. They added they collected evidence during their investigation tying the suspects to the vandalism committed in Jish in April, when the tires of 40 cars were slashed and anti-Arab graffiti was sprayed on town walls. The Haifa District prosecutor’s office announced Thursday its intention to file indictments for vandalism against the three.
The pope’s visit
Palestinian refugees pin hopes on pope’s visit
DHEISHEH REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank (AP) 22 May by Mohammed Daraghmeh & Karin Laub — Pope Francis will spend less than half an hour in this Palestinian refugee camp during a jam-packed Holy Land tour this weekend, but residents hope even a brief visit will shine a light on what they say is their forgotten plight. Some 190,000 of the West Bank’s 2.4 million Palestinians live in refugee camps and face tougher conditions — including higher unemployment and overcrowding — than their neighbors in towns and villages. Many feel increasingly neglected by the Palestinian self-rule government and the United Nations agency responsible for their welfare. Resentment can be seen in the rise in stone-throwing protests by camp youths and a recent two-month strike of thousands of local employees of the U.N. aid agency demanding higher wages. Underlying the discontent is fear of open-ended limbo … The pope will visit a Dheisheh community center for about 20 minutes on Sunday and will meet dozens of children from three camps. …
Gazan Christians travel to West Bank for Pope visit
GAZA CITY (AFP) 22 May — Several hundred Christians from the Gaza Strip have been allowed to leave the besieged Palestinian territory to travel to the West Bank for Pope Francis’s upcoming visit, officials said Thursday. “Israel allowed around 650 Christians in Gaza to travel to the West Bank during the pope’s visit” this weekend, a security official told AFP. Dozens of pilgrims passed through the Erez border crossing Thursday morning, an AFP correspondent said, referring to the Israeli-controlled personnel crossing from the Strip, which is run by Islamist movement Hamas … “This visit honours Palestinians and recognises them as a people, and acknowledges their rights,” said 22-year-old Milad Ayyad, whose mother will go while he is left behind. Israel has only allowed Christians over 35 years of age to go.
Pope watch: Incendiary flyer passed out in Jerusalem says Francis’s visit is against Jewish law
Mondoweiss 23 May by Annie Robbins — Last week we mentioned the religious tensions mounting ahead of Pope Francis’s visit to Jerusalem. Haaretz reported the Israeli military and Shin Bet had issued restraining orders against “Jewish youths” to prevent them from “provocations” during his visit. Deep in the Haaretz report was an Israeli court ruling against additional restraining orders, aimed at keeping three Jewish extremists away from David’s Tomb and the Old City so as to prevent them from distributing provocative flyers. The ruling held that an intention to distribute flyers isn’t against the law. According to police intelligence, these flyers protested the papal visit. Below is a photograph taken of a flyer recently passed out in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem. It was posted on FaceBook by Jerusalem resident George Makhlouf. We don’t know if this is the flyer the Israeli police are trying to suppress, but it cites Deuteronomy (12:3) to say that Jewish people entering Israel are obligated to destroy churches and monasteries including “destroy their altars, smash their pillars, burn their orchards, and you shall cut down their idols and wipe their name from this place.”
Israel restricts right-wing Jewish activists for Pope’s visit
AP/Ynet 21 May — Israel issued restraining orders against several Jewish right-wing activists on Wednesday, restricting their movements over concern that they could try to disrupt a May 24-26 visit to the Holy Land by Pope Francis. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a “number of right-wing activists” have been restrained for their intention to carry out “provocative and illegal acts” during the three-day visit to the Holy Land. The order restricts them from Jerusalem’s Old City, where Francis will visit, and orders them to stay away from the pope, Rosenfeld said. Honenu, a Zionist organization which offers legal assistance to right-wing activists, said that at present they are aware of restraining orders issued against two minors who study near King David’s Tomb … The restraining orders have likely been issued in response to a campaign by right-wing activists to stop the regulation of Christian prayer at the Mount Zion compound.
Most Palestinian Christians back Maronite patriarch’s visit
RAMALLAH 22 May by Ahmad Melhem — The controversy is increasing among Palestinians regarding the visit to Palestine by the head of the Maronite community in Lebanon, Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai, as he accompanies Pope Francis in a visit scheduled for May 25. Although Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Presidential Higher Committee for Church Affairs welcomed Rai’s visit, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called on the patriarch to reverse his decision and not accompany the pope, as his visit could result in political exploitation and normalization. Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal said that the big picture is the visit of the pope to the Holy Land. The pope will be accompanied by four patriarchs from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Twal told Al-Monitor on the sidelines of a news conference May 18: “I don’t see the need for all this fuss about Patriarch Rai’s visit, which doesn’t mean any kind of normalization [with Israel]. He is accompanying the pope, and he has a flock for which he’s responsible.” … Father Manuel Musallem, the head of the Christian World Department in the Fatah Office of External Relations, did not share his colleagues’ support for Rai’s visit. “As Palestinians, we welcome any Arab who visits us. But there are laws that must be implemented, among them is that Rai entering Palestine through Rosh Hanikra is unacceptable, and we will consider it as normalization because it is not a Palestinian crossing,” he told Al-Monitor. The Christian-Palestinian initiative Kairos Palestine also criticized the visit, saying in a statement, “With our cordiality and great appreciation to His Beatitude Bechara al-Rai, we would have preferred to meet him in the prayer of the soul, not under the shadow of the Israeli occupation.”
2 arrested for anti-Pope posters in Jerusalem
Jerusalem Post 23 May — Two residents of Jerusalem were arrested in connection to banners posted in the city decrying Pope Francis’s upcoming arrival in Israel on Sunday, reported Israel Radio on Friday. The posters called on Pope Francis to leave Israel and to return holy relics looted by the Romans from Beit Hamikdash (Second Temple). The suspects were found with dozens of such posters still in their possession.
Soccer, not Francis, inspires religious fervor in Galilee’s Catholic villages
Haaretz 24 May by Judy Maltz — MI‘ILYA, Western Galilee – Argentinean flags are hoisted on many rooftops in this Catholic village, some draping down multistory buildings. A special tribute to the Argentinean-born Pope Francis, due to arrive on his first pilgrimage to the Holy Land this Sunday? Not exactly. This is a town of diehard soccer fans, and the flag displays are their way to advertise which team they’ll be rooting for in the World Cup that starts in Brazil next month. To be sure, it’s not only the hard-to-miss, light-blue-and-white horizontal stripes that decorate homes and shops in town (though they tend to dominate the landscape); the Brazilian, German and Italian colors are well represented here, too. “I guess you could say we’re more focused on the World Cup than on the pope’s visit,” says Aiman Dahbor, 26, who, with his two brothers, runs the local franchise of Café Café, one of Israel’s largest coffeehouse chains … Mi‘ilya is one of two Arab villages in Israel populated entirely by Catholics. The other is Fassouta, a 15-minute drive away. The residents of both villages are members of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization
Israeli minister to present bill to expand Jerusalem borders
IMEMC 23 May by Saed Bannoura — [Thursday, May 22, 2014] Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said he intends to submit a draft law expanding the boundaries of occupied Jerusalem, to include the settlement blocs of Maaleh Adumim and the Gush Etzion. The Likud Party official said his plan aims at what he called “preserving the Jewish identity” of occupied Jerusalem. He said that, as Israel will be marking “Jerusalem Day”, (47 years since it illegally annexed occupied Jerusalem), it will also be promoting a plan that would expand the borders of Jerusalem, and strengthen its “Jewish identity”. Katz will also support declaring what he called “The Greater Jerusalem”, after declaring settlement blocs and settlements, including those far from Jerusalem, as part of the “Greater capital of Israel”, the Israel Today News Website said.
Knesset member withdraws Temple Mount bill amid warnings
Al-Monitor 22 May by Mazal Mualem — Labor Party Knesset member Hilik Bar, champion of the two-state solution, retracted his bill designed to organize prayer time slots for both Jews and Muslims on Temple Mount, after harsh reactions from both the Jordanian monarchy and the Shin Bet — When Labor Party Knesset member Yehiel (Hilik) Bar joined Likud Knesset member Miri Regev in sponsoring a bill granting freedom of movement, religion and worship on the Temple Mount to Jews and Arabs alike, he knew the initiative would not pass quietly. But it seems he underestimated its explosiveness and the extent of the commotion it would cause. The fuss did not die down even after he decided to draw back his support from the proposed legislation. It will likely require the intervention of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel digs grid of tunnels underneath Al-Aqsa gate
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 22 May – Al-Aqsa Foundation for Heritage and Waqf stated Thursday that Israeli authorities have almost completed grid of tunnels underneath Bab al-Mathara, one of the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex gates. The Foundation added in a press release that Israel has completed digging tunnels and excavations underneath Bab al-Mathara, also known as the Ablution Gate, connecting them with other grids of tunnels running underneath the western wall of the mosque. The Foundation added that these Israeli excavations, carried out in secrecy under the pretence of archeological excavation with funds made available through the radical settler organization of Ateret Cohanim, uncovered large vaulted halls that would be open soon to the Israeli public. “All the archeological findings date back to various successive Islamic periods, especially the Mamluk period; however, Israeli occupation authorities claim they date back to the Temple era,” said the Foundation. The Foundation noted that the grid of tunnels and excavations run underneath the vicinity of the western border of the Al-Aqsa mosque, an area known as Hamam al-‘Ayn, less than 50 meters far from the mosque, and penetrate deep into underneath Bab al-Mathara, located within the mosque
Army demolishes several Palestinian shops in occupied Jerusalem
IMEMC 22 May by Chris Carlson — The Israeli army has bulldozed a number of shops in the al-Khalileh neighborhood, near the village of al-Nabi Samwil, in Jerusalem. Ismaeil Abu-Rbah, the head of neighborhood, said that Israeli forces raided the neighborhood, closing its main entrances before demolishing several shops, adding that the Israeli army has, so far, demolished two shops and are, at the moment, evacuating others in order to demolish them. According to the PNN, Israeli soldiers have been present in the area for a while now, blocking off access to parts of the neighborhood, in addition to cutting off basic goods for over a month.
Israelis demolish Negev mosque as ethnic cleansing continues
Middle East Monitor 23 May — Israeli bulldozers guarded by a large force of police started to demolish the mosque in Wadi Al-Niam in the Negev on Thursday amid residents’ fears that authorities could also demolish homes in the village. A demolition order had been nailed to the mosque wall a few days earlier. The Negev Foundation for Land and Man denounced the demolition, describing the Israeli act as a blatant assault on the sanctity of the mosque and on Arab rights to live in the Negev. It also noted that the demolition violates the right to freedom of worship as well as international laws and conventions. The foundation also condemned the police attacks on the residents of Wadi Al-Niam, the demolition of their homes, the confiscation of their property and the destruction of their crops. It stressed that the indigenous people of the Negev Desert are determined to stay in their homes in the face of Israeli scheming and force. It appealed to Arabs in Israel and the Arabs of the Negev in particular to stand by the people of Wadi Al-Niam.
The Nakba continues – Israel takes still more land from Bedouin village of Ramya for ever-expanding city
WRMEA May 2014 by Jonathan Cook — Once the tiny Bedouin village of Ramya enjoyed uninterrupted views of the grassy uplands of the central Galilee. Today the huddle of shacks and tents is surrounded on all sides by luxury apartments—a new neighborhood of the ever-expanding city of Karmiel, here in northern Israel. “We are being choked to death,” said Salah Sawaid, Ramya’s village leader. “They are building on top of us as though we don’t exist. Are we invisible to them?” His fears for the future have grown rapidly in the past few months, after a court ruled that the Bedouin village must be bulldozed to make way for Karmiel’s further expansion. The decision, the culmination of what Sawaid called “betrayals” by successive Israeli governments, ended a decades-old legal battle by the villagers to remain on their land. Salim Wakim, the lawyer who represents Ramya’s 45 families, said the only avenue left was “popular struggle.” Yoav Bar, an activist from the nearby city of Haifa, is among a small group of Jews who have supported the families. “The apartheid here could not be more apparent. You look at Ramya and the homes in Karmiel and you see how democratic Israel really is if you are not Jewish…”
Israeli demolitions leave 25 homeless in Jordan Valley
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 1 May — Israeli forces on Wednesday demolished 20 structures belonging to a Palestinian family in the northern Jordan Valley, leaving 25 people homeless as a result. Israeli civil administration forces reportedly arrived in the village of Jiftlik on Wednesday morning and demolished 20 structures belonging to the Deis family, 13 of which were residential steel structures while seven were steel structures used as barns for animals. Spokesperson for the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Guy Inbar said that the “structures were built illegally without the permits needed,” adding that the case had already gone to the Israeli high court and the residents were found to have lost.
Settlers from Ariel level Palestinian land in Salfit
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 21 May — Settlers from Ariel on Wednesday used bulldozers to raze agricultural lands belonging to Palestinian farmers from the Salfit town of Kifl Haris, witnesses said. The settlers also carried barbed wire with them and razed land north of Salfit in preparation to confiscate it, locals said. A local activist who monitors settlement activities told Ma‘an that Ariel settlement is expanding to the West and South and construction work has increased dramatically during the 9-month period of peace negotiations. Ariel settlement is located 16.5 kilometers east of the green line in the center of the Salfit district, blocking Palestinian development in the area. The illegal settlement also prevents natural contiguity between the northern and central West Bank.
Israeli settlers set fire to crops near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 22 May – Israeli settlers set fire on Thursday to wheat and barley fields near Yatta, a town to the south of Hebron, said a local activist. The Popular Committee Coordinator in Yatta, Rateb al-Jabour, told WAFA that dozens of settlers from ‘Avigal’ and ‘Mitzpe Yair’, built illegally on seized Palestinian-owned land to the east of Yatta, set fire to wheat and barley fields belonging to a Palestinian farmer. Jabour condemned such an act as ‘savage’ that is meant to displace the residents from their land as a prelude to seize it for the benefit of settlement construction
Settlers use bulldozers to level Palestinian land near Salfit
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 22 May — Israeli settlers on Thursday leveled Palestinian land in the village of Kafr ad-Dik west of Salfit, local Palestinian officials said. Settlers from Alei Zahav and the Bruchin outpost used bulldozers to level land in an area known locally as Thair Subih. Witnesses say the settlers were escorted by Israeli military forces.
Settlers storm municipal park near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 21 May – Israeli settlers Wednesday stormed into Yatta’s municipal park, south of Hebron, while Israeli soldiers took over the rooftops of several Palestinian-owned homes under the pretext of ‘ providing protection to the settlers’, according to a local activist. The Popular Committee Coordinator in Yatta, Rateb al-Jabour, told WAFA that dozens of settlers from settlements built illegally on Yatta land stormed the Municipality’s park and proceeded to swim in a pool there. He said that forces set up several checkpoints on the road leading to the villages east of Yatta, where they raided the village of Carmel and prevented residents from accessing their land to cultivate and harvest their crops
Detainees / Court actions
Palestinian hunger strike: ‘Either I go home, or I go in a plastic bag’
IWPS Team 21 May — “What do you want from me?” a 70-year-old lawyer and professor of economics asked the Israeli military when they arrested him last year. “You are very dangerous,” was the explanation. Recalling his reply, the man laughs, his kind face lighting up: “I am dangerous to one of the most powerful armies in the world?! I am a danger to the only nuclear power in the Middle East?! I only have my pen, my notebook, and my mind.” Exactly. Following his arrest, the professor spent 6 months in Israeli administrative detention, an illegal practice of indefinite incarceration without any legal process, no charges let alone trial, and under ‘secret evidence’ that is never revealed to the prisoner nor their lawyer, and may or may not exist. As of 1 March 2014, Israel was holding 183 Palestinians under administrative detention. On Thursday 24 April this year over 100 Palestinian political detainees went on an open-end hunger strike demanding the end of administrative detention. That was four weeks ago today (21 May); more prisoners have joined the strike along the way, bringing the total number to over 140; and even more are expected to follow … In an attempt to break the hunger strike, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has tried a diversity of tactics except for one: meeting the strikers’ demands. The repressive measures include both physical and psychological violence and abuse: isolation; severe beatings (in some cases prisoners lost consciousness for several hours, during which no medical assistance was allowed); denial of water and salt which are essential for human survival; denial of lawyer and family visits; violent raids and searches during which prisoners are made wait in an overcrowded cage while handcuffed; mass transfers from one prison to another, designed to disrupt and isolate; and dehumanizing treatment and conditions – e.g. confiscation of all personal belongings, denial of basic hygiene products and change of underwear, filthy toilet facilities, and cells of a size that violates IPS’s own regulations.
All Palestinian prisoners go on hunger strike next week
Alternative News 22 May — The Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs announced Wednesday that 5,200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails would stage a one day hunger strike today in solidarity with Palestinian administrative detainees. 120 prisoners in Hadarim prison went on a single day solidarity strike on Wednesday. The strike was joined by imprisoned Palestinian leaders Marwan Barghouthi and Ahmad Saadat, along with 40 detainees held in the Negev.
According to the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, all prisoners are to initiate an open-ended hunger strike next week. Palestinian administrative detainees are already in their fourth week of strike, protesting their arbitrary detention with no charge or trial. The Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs says that “the health status of the prisoners has remarkably exacerbated. 20 have been transferred to Israeli hospitals after having swooned while the majority have been dragged to solitary confinement. These, along with Israeli indifference toward the strikers’ demands, require an urgent action to save our prisoners.” The European Alliance in Defense of Palestinian Detainees (EADPD) stated Wednesday that it urged international figures to pressure Israel to respond to the prisoners’ demands.
Contaminated water lands striking detainees in hospital
IMEMC 23 May by Saed Bannoura — The Palestine Detainees Study Center quoted lawyer Rami al-Alamy stating that the Prison Administration at the Be’er As-Sabe’ (Beersheba) Israeli Prison had to move all hunger striking Palestinian detainees to the Soroka Medical Center due to contaminated water. Amina Tawil, media spokeswoman of the Center, stated that a doctor at the hospital said the detainees drank contaminated water that directly affected them, especially due to their ongoing hunger strike. She added that the Israeli Prison Authority refused to provide the detainees the detainees with distilled bottled water, as a punishment for continuing their strike demanding an end to their illegitimate Administrative Detention, without charges or trial. Tawil said that detainees were given contaminated water, with high concentration of salt, an issue that landed them in hospital.
In Israel, a different fate for detained Palestinian youths
Haaretz 23 May by Chaim Levinson — Israel’s military prosecution in the West Bank routinely asks that Palestinians charged with crimes be held until the end of their trials because they are a threat, but it vehemently opposes allowing teenagers to be psychologically evaluated by social workers to determine whether they are in fact dangerous. For example, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy was brought to the Judea Military Court last month and charged with serving as a lookout for another boy who planted a fake bomb near a settlement. The Israel Defense Forces prosecutor wanted him detained until the end of proceedings, claiming he was dangerous. Before ruling on the request, the judge sought a psychological evaluation of the boy. But the prosecutor immediately appealed the judge’s order, arguing that a military court has no authority to order psychological evaluations by social workers. The judge ultimately released the boy without an evaluation. In another case two weeks ago, a Palestinian minor who was remanded until the end of proceedings for stone-throwing requested an evaluation. His family even offered to pay for it, but the military prosecution objected. His request was refused … As of April, 110 Palestinian minors were being held until the end of proceedings in Israeli jails, mostly for throwing stones or similar offenses. Yet only 66 were serving time after actually being convicted. This is because the military prosecution in the West Bank — headed by Lt. Col. Maurice Hirsch of the West Bank settlement of Efrat — seeks remands until the end of proceedings almost automatically. Then, if the court agrees, it usually offers a plea bargain in which the teen confesses in exchange for a sentence of time served. Defense attorneys usually accept, since otherwise, their client would end up spending longer in jail even if ultimately acquitted.
Palestinian indicted in Haifa court for attempted kidnapping
Ynet 22 May by Ahiya Raved — An indictment was filed in Haifa District Court Thursday morning against Hussein Murad, a 24-year-old resident of Qabatiya near the northern border of the West Bank, accused of attempting to kidnap an Israeli citizen in affiliation with the terrorist organization Islamic Jihad. The indictment letter presented to the court blamed Murad for two instances in which he reportedly threw Molotov cocktails at vehicles in protected areas as well as illegally entering Israel in his attempt to kidnap a resident of Mitzpeh Avtalion from his home.
Palestinian refugees — Syria
Tunisia grants 30-day visas to Palestine refugees fleeing Syria
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 May — A group of 30 Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria have been allowed to temporarily enter Tunisia until a permanent solution can be found, having been denied entry to the country a day earlier. The refugees landed in Tunis–Carthage International Airport on Wednesday after having fled Syria via Beirut. Tunisian authorities initially denied them entry to the country and they were forced to stay in the airport. On Thursday, one of the refugees told Ma‘an that Tunisian authorities had decided to grant 30-day visas to the group so they can enter the country while trying to find a permanent solution. The Tunisian Ministry of Interior said Thursday that they issued the visas after the Palestinian ambassador to the country intervened. Women and children will be provided with temporary accommodation while male refugees will stay at the passengers hall in the airport, a statement said. PA ambassador Salman al-Hirafi said that it was up to Tunisian authorities whether the refugees would be returned to Beirut or go to Libya.
Activism / BDS
Anti-enlistment performance art turns Israeli cities into battlefields
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 May by Alex Shams — On Sunday, Israeli soldiers invaded the streets of Haifa’s upmarket German Colony neighborhood, beating Palestinian protesters with batons and lining them up blindfolded along the now blood-splattered sidewalks. An Orthodox priest [rabbi?] came forward intermittently to direct the soldiers’ violence, and a number of youths were even interrogated on the street itself as hundreds of passerby watched in horror. The scenes of violence in northern Israel’s largest city, however, were not the result of a fresh government crackdown on Palestinian activism or a new surge of protest from the left. The attacks were part of a well-choreographed street performance organized by Palestinian youth to bring the realities of the occupation home to Israel’s cities. The campaign, called Tzahal Ma Byestahal (“The Israeli army isn’t worth it”), seeks to drum up opposition to recent attempts by the Israeli government to introduce mandatory army enlistment for the 1.4 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. Amjad Shbieta, the general-secretary of the Communist Party that has been the organizing force behind the performances, told Ma’an in a telephone interview that the campaign is a response to the government’s attempts to break apart the Palestinian community inside Israel on religious lines by introducing service for Christians, who compose about 10 percent of the total Palestinian population.
EU bans import of Israeli settler poultry produce
JERUSALEM (News24) 22 May — The European Union has banned the import of poultry and eggs from Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, Israeli news website Walla reported on Thursday. The 28-nation bloc informed the Israeli agriculture ministry that it recognised its veterinary supervision only within the Jewish state’s pre-1967 borders and that settlement poultry produce therefore did not meet public health regulations for import, the website said. An EU official in Tel Aviv confirmed the report and said the ruling was issued “in the spirit” of guidelines which came into force in January prohibiting dealings with settlement-based firms and bodies.
Will you help make history? Support Presbyterian divestment and more
End the Occupation 23 May by Anna Baltzer — In just three weeks, decision makers from the Presbyterian Church (USA) — a mainline Protestant denomination with more than 1.9 million members and 10,000 congregations — will gather to consider several historic resolutions supporting human rights and justice in Palestine/Israel. These resolutions call for a boycott of Hewlett Packard, equal rights for all, naming Israeli apartheid, researching and witnessing on the ground, and last but not least, divestment from three U.S. companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. More than a decade in the making, this would be the largest U.S. divestment victory to date. But our friends and allies at the Presbyterian Church need your help to make it happen! Here’s what you can do:
Political, other news
New unity government to review Hamas laws in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 23 May by Rasha Abou Jalal — After the formation of the Palestinian unity government, all legislation issued after Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip will be reconsidered, as Fatah officials consider them illegal — All legislation and legal amendments that have been introduced to Palestinian law since Hamas took power of the Gaza Strip in 2007 will be thoroughly debated following the formation of the consensual government — which is still under discussion — according to Hassan Khreisheh, the second deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Khreisheh told Al-Monitor that the laws, amendments and decrees put forth by Hamas in Gaza, and the ones issued by President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, will be discussed during the new parliamentary session that will gather all members of parliament (MPs) of all factions for the first time since the Palestinian split, aiming to unify the legal environment on both sides. Khreisheh said that this session will be held upon the invitation of Abbas, a month after the formation of the consensual government.
Netanyahu mulls unilateral disengagement from West Bank
Ynetnews 23 May –Prime minister tells Bloomberg unilateral steps are being considered in light of failed peace talks; ‘Idea of unilateral steps is gaining ground’. “We want a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. How do you get that if you can’t get it through negotiations?” asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg published Thursday …”It’s true that the idea of taking unilateral steps is gaining ground, from the center-left to the center-right. Many Israelis are asking themselves if there are certain unilateral steps that could theoretically make sense.”
The reference addresses suggestions that Israel begin testing unilateral disengagement from the West Bank that would force Palestinians to take up key responsibilities in the areas of security and administration that Israel currently manages …
While the prime minister did admit that new ways to move toward peace are being explored, he stressed that the conversation is on-going and hasn’t yet brought any conclusions.
Palestinians warn Netanyahu against unilateral West Bank steps
Bloomberg 23 May by Fadwa Hodali — Any Israeli effort to set permanent borders for the West Bank and bypass further negotiations “will only form the basis for a new conflict,” a senior Palestinian official said today. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, warned such a strategy would backfire after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu broached the idea in an interview with Bloomberg View columnist Jeffrey Goldberg. “We don’t believe unilateral readjustment of borders or crossing points is a solution,” Ashrawi, a former Palestinian negotiator, said in a telephone interview from Ramallah. “It will only create a reality that will backfire in the future.”
Al-Hamdallah: ‘No peace agreement, or truce, without releasing all detainees’
IMEMC by Saed Bannoura — [Tuesday, May 20, 2014] Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami al-Hamdallah, stated there can be no peace with Israel, or even a truce, without the release of all Palestinian political prisoners held by the Israeli occupation. His statements came while talking to protesters in front of the Red Cross office in al-Biereh town, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, the Watan News Agency has reported. Hundreds of Palestinians held their weekly protest in front of the Red Cross, demanding the release of their detained family members, and demanding an end to the illegitimate Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Majority of Palestinians support Marwan Barghouthi for president
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 May — A majority of Palestinians in the occupied territories favor jailed activist Marwan Barghouthi as a candidate in upcoming presidential elections, a public opinion survey released on Thursday said. The poll also revealed that 80 percent of Palestinians thought elections would “certainly” or “likely” be held within six months of the expected formation of the unity government next week, and almost 40 percent of respondents said they planned to vote for Fatah. The results come after a 10-day survey conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion polled just over 1,000 Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The survey, which is one of the first to be conducted in the occupied Palestinian territories since the signing of a national reconciliation agreement between the two main Palestinian political parties, Fatah and Hamas, at the end of April, highlights a growing sense of optimism that the deal will hold.
Former Gaza strongman says verdict against him political
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP) 22 May — Exiled former Palestinian security chief Mohammad Dahlan says his conviction for defamation by a West Bank court is aimed at keeping him from running in promised presidential and parliamentary elections. Dahlan, who lives in exile in the UAE, was convicted in absentia by a Ramallah court in March and sentenced to two years in prison, but the ruling was only made public this week … The revelation comes as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Islamist Hamas, who recently inked a unity deal, were poised to unveil a new government of technocrats, which will pave the way for long-delayed elections … Once a leading light in Fatah, which dominates the PLO and controls the Palestinian Authority, Dahlan once held the internal security portfolio and was head of the powerful security forces in the Gaza Strip. He fell from grace in June 2007 after the humiliating rout of his forces by Hamas during days of fierce street battles in Gaza, which saw the Islamist group eject Fatah from the territory.
Diaspora Jews want democratic, pluralistic Israel, study finds
Ynet 21 May by Sara Miller — Israel must strengthen its democratic values, work toward ending its rule over the Palestinians and loosen the Orthodox grip on religious Jewish life in the country, a study of the expectations of Diaspora Jewry has found.The study by the Jewish People Policy Institute, a prestigious Israeli think-tank focusing on the development of the Jewish people, questioned Jews around the world on their view of Israel. The key findings of the study, presented Wednesday by the project’s joint leader Shmuel Rosner, said that Diaspora Jewry also wished for Israel to “avoid imposing religious norms on its mostly secular civil society”, while at the same time increasing the knowledge of its citizenry about “Jewish history, traditions, and values”.
Golan Heights Druze want to vote for Assad: ‘We’re Syrians’
Ynet 22 May by Hassan Shaalan — Druze residents living in the Israeli Golan Heights filed a request Wednesday to the commander of the UN base near the Quneitra Crossing demanding that they be permitted to exercise their right to vote in the Syrian presidential elections. They specified in their appeal their wish that polling stations be set up in their villages in the Golan Heights so that they would be able to take part in choosing the next president of Syria, in elections that will be held on June 3. “It’s our right to participate in the Syrian presidential elections, as it is the right of any Syrian citizen,” said Druze resident Ata Farhat. “We speak on behalf of the majority of the Golan Heights residents, more than 80 percent want to take part in the elections. Farhat added that “each one can choose whomever he likes,” stressing that the choice is not limited to current-President Bashar Assad. Farhat believes that the elections are a significant component in the democratic system his community is trying to construct.
South Africa’s envoy: West Bank reminds me of apartheid
Times of Israel 22 May by Raphael Ahren — Ambassador Sisa Ngombane expressed the keen desire to improve ties with Israel, but defended his government’s mostly pro-Palestinian stance, calling for talks with Hamas and comparing the situation in the West Bank with that of apartheid-era South Africa, with Israeli soldiers “ready to shoot” anyone who makes a wrong move. During a frank and far-reaching interview, the envoy criticized the South African Zionist Federation for ostensibly suggesting, before the elections, that local Jews shouldn’t vote for the country’s ruling party, the African National Congress. He also slammed Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman for having called on South Africa’s 70,000 Jews to move to Israel in order to escape a looming “pogrom” incited by their government.
Opinion / Analysis
Haaretz editorial: The crude voices of the expulsion committee
22 May — Common goal of participants in Knesset sub-committee meeting was to clear the Palestinians out of most of Area C, which is forbidden by international law — The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s subcommittee on Judea and Samaria has spent several months debating illegal Palestinian construction in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli control. The minutes of a closed meeting of this panel on April 27 (disclosed by Amira Hass in yesterday’s Haaretz) reveal the blunt language used by some attendees. This includes mention of “throw[ing] out” and “kick[ing] back” the Palestinians, references to Palestinian communities as “weeds” and to foreign states and international organizations that “incit[e] the Arabs,” and “I don’t understand how you got to such astronomical figures for the Bedouin.”… By contrast, the minutes do show that those attending agree on a common goal: to clear the Palestinians out of most of Area C and force them into the enclaves of areas A and B. Several past and current methods of achieving this were discussed. These included designating areas as live-fire zones and conducting military exercises in them; declaring public Palestinian land as Israeli state land and allocating it solely to Jews; designating land as in the process of being surveyed and therefore of uncertain status, and then permitting settlers to use it; restricting or rejecting Palestinian master plans; refusing to connect communities to water or electricity; destroying wells and the forced evacuation of Bedouin, who are resettled in crowded towns. Removing the Palestinian population from Area C is forbidden by international law, as the European Union has repeatedly declared. It’s no surprise that the two committee members in attendance demanded that Israel get tough with international organizations that help Palestinians remain on their lands.
In their own juice / Uri Avnery
Gush Shalom 24 May –ACCORDING TO press reports, President Barack Obama has decided to let Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas “stew in their own juice.” That sounds fair. The United States has tried very hard to make peace between Israel and Palestine. Poor John Kerry has devoted almost all of his considerable energies to getting both sides to meet, to talk, to reach compromises. At the end of nine months, he found out that it was a false pregnancy. No baby, not even a fetus. Nothing at all. So American leaders are justified in feeling angry. Angry at both sides. Neither of them has shown any willingness to sacrifice its interests in order to do a favor to Obama or Kerry. Ungrateful, these Middle Easterners. So it seems that the reaction is justified. You don’t want to fulfill our wishes? Go to hell. Both of you. THE IMPORTANT word in these sentences is “both”. But “both” is based on a lie. When one says that “both” did not behave as expected, that “both” did not make the “necessary hard decisions” that “both” should stew in their own juice, one consciously or unconsciously assumes that they are equal. Nothing is further from the truth. Israel is immeasurably stronger than Palestine in every material respect. One resembles a sleek American skyscraper, the other a dilapidated wooden shack. Palestine is under occupation by the other half of “both”. Palestinians are totally deprived of all elementary human and civil rights. Average income in Israel is 20 times higher than in Palestine. Not 20%, but a staggering 2000%. Militarily, Israel is a regional power, and in some respects a world power. In this reality, speaking of “both” is at best ignorant, at worst cynical. The very presentation of this picture of “both” is tantamount to acceptance of the Israeli narrative. WHAT DOES it mean for “both” to stew in their own juice? For Israel, it means that it can continue to build new settlements on Arab land in the occupied West Bank without foreign interference. It can make life in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip ever harsher, in the hope that more and more Palestinians will prefer to leave. Arbitrary killings of civilians by occupation troops occur every few days….
Divide grows beween Israei, Palestinian journalists / Daoud Kuttab
Al-Monitor 19 May — Journalists are supposed to cover the news, not become the subject of it. This was the case, however, with two Israeli journalists who defied a request by Palestinian demonstrators not to film their bare faces … Most journalists in the field, especially photographers, know the feeling of angry demonstrators approaching a camera crew asking them not to record images of uncovered faces for fear of retaliation by the governing authority. Most photographers can easily gauge the seriousness of the request and judge responsibly whether to walk away and take pictures from afar or stand their ground and insist on the right to film. Israeli journalist Avi Issacharoff, by his own admission, mistakenly thought he and photographer Daniel Book could stay put and weather the storm. As a result, he was pushed around by Palestinian demonstrators until he decided to leave, along with two Palestinian security officials … The situation of Palestinian journalists has created anger toward their Israeli counterparts for a number of reasons. For instance, Israel continues to restrict Palestinian journalists’ movements, while Israeli journalists are freely granted access to Palestinian areas. While the Palestinian Journalists’ Association has denounced all acts of violence against journalists, including the attacks against the two Israelis in Beitunia, their Israeli counterparts rarely speak out about the travel restrictions on Palestinian journalists and regular Israeli army attacks on Palestinian journalists. Of note, on May 15, Palestinian cameramen Issam Rimawi and Abdul Kareem Mestaif were injured by rubber bullets that Palestinians believe were directed at them specifically because they were carrying cameras. The Beitunia incident, however, is reflective of a much bigger problem, namely, the inability of Israelis to gauge the depth of Palestinians’ anger and frustration. In his personal observations of the incident, Issacharoff relates that veteran Israeli journalist Danny Rubenstein had once told him that Palestinians and Israelis cooperate in the field of journalism. Issacharoff wrote, however, “The situation has changed of late.” The cooperation that has existed since 1967 is definitely waning, in part because of Israel’s wall, which has divided ordinary Israelis and Palestinians. The only Israelis most Palestinians know today are soldiers and unruly settlers. Fewer and fewer Palestinians today speak Hebrew. Most of the new generation of Palestinians, except for those who have served time in Israeli jails, no longer speak Hebrew or know any Israelis. Even fewer Israelis have contact with Palestinians. Journalists are one of the remaining Israeli civilians who can act as a bridge between the two communities. Journalists on both sides of the divide are today under even more pressure to toe the party line and wrap themselves in their national flag. Incidents like the one Israeli journalists faced in Beitunia are a tangible reflection of the widening schism in this conflict, a situation that does not bode well for the future.
Israel pushes West Bank toward economic disaster / Akiva Eldar
Al-Monitor 21 May — Turning the West Bank into the economic twin of the Gaza Strip will provoke new threats to Israel’s security, which is why the US administration leans toward cooperating with the new Palestinian unity government — One should not put too much diplomatic stock into the threats of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sever ties with the Palestinian Authority (PA), in reaction to the inclusion of Hamas in the new Palestinian government. Even when Hamas was a pariah in Ramallah, the nine months of negotiations did not generate anything near a permanent arrangement. The diplomatic damage will be nothing compared to the economic implications of severing contact with the PA. Turning the West Bank into an economic twin of the Gaza Strip will result in a similar situation in terms of security, as well. Initial signs of this are already evident in a new-old phenomenon of attacking Israeli journalists covering the occupied territories.