RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 June — Ayman Itbeish, 34, on Saturday finished his 100th day of a hunger strike against his indefinite detention with charge by Israeli authorities, and is one of the longest-striking prisoners currently being held. Ibteish has been detained several times previously and has gone on hunger strikes three times in the past — twice in protest against his detention with trial — including for 105 days last year, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a report. Israeli authorities, however, ended that strike in September with an agreement to end his administrative detention and a promise to reach a final decision on his case. This agreement was broken, however, when they re-arrested Ibteish sometime after after he was released. Itbeish is currently being held in Assaf Harofeh medical center in central Israel and is considered to be at high risk
Shin Bet behind refusal to negotiate with Palestinian hunger strikers
Haaretz 9 June by Chaim Levinson, Amos Harel and Jack Khoury — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to negotiate with hunger-striking Palestinian detainees is based on the Shin Bet security service’s recommendation, Haaretz has learned. Netanyahu has thus far opposed any compromise with the strikers, who are seeking an end to the practice of administration detention. He has also worked to fast-track legislation that would allow the striking prisoners to be force-fed … In several discussions on the matter recently, Shin Bet security service head Yoram Cohen has voiced support for the force-feeding bill, saying it would be a suitable solution to the hunger strike. His stance encouraged Netanyahu to support the bill, which has already been approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and is expected to come up for its first reading in the Knesset in the coming weeks. Cohen, who has been the government’s point man in dealing with the hunger strike, argues that Israel must not negotiate with the strikers. The Israel Defense Forces has warned that if any of the strikers dies, it would likely spark rioting in the West Bank and perhaps rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. But while Cohen has not said so explicitly, people who have spoken with him recently say their impression is that he believes Israel could cope with these responses, whereas he fears a compromise would leave it vulnerable to nonstop extortion by means of recurrent hunger strikes.
Lawyer: Prisoners in danger after 46 days of hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 June – A number of the Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike in Israeli jails for 46 days are in serious danger, a lawyer said Sunday. Jawad Bolous, chief attorney for the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, told Ma‘an that thirteen of the hunger-striking prisoners have suffered from gastrointestinal bleeding throughout the past few days. Two of them have undergone surgery, while the other eleven were told they could not be treated surgically unless they ended their hunger strike, Bolous said. Another two prisoners needed intensive care after losing consciousness, and several others are suffering from eyesight weakness. Bolous said the Israeli Prison Service was taking punitive measures against the strikers, denying some of them toothbrushes, shampoo, shaving razors, and other necessities … The prisoners he visited had each lost approximately 16 kilograms (35 pounds) since they started their strike, he said. Around 125 prisoners have been on hunger strike for more than 45 days, while hundreds more have joined the hunger strike since that group began on April 24.
Partial strike in support of hunger strikers across West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 June — A one-day strike by shops across the West Bank in support of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike was widely observed in Tulkarem and Ramallah Sunday, while shops elsewhere largely went about business as usual. The strike was called for by the Higher Follow-up Committee of Prisoner Affairs to support the hunger strike of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who are protesting the indefinite detention of Palestinians without trial, a process known as administrative detention. In the central commercial hub of Ramallah, most shop owners respected the strike and many did not open their doors on Sunday morning. In Tulkarem in the northern West Bank, all shops remained closed and commercial exchange was completely paralyzed. “Commitment to the strike is 100 percent,” Sayil Khalil, a senior official in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said … In other cities across the West Bank, however, no signs of the strike were seen at all … In Nablus and Jenin districts in the northern West Bank, meanwhile, cross-factional committees announced that the strike was not applicable because the cities had already participated in strikes.
Occupation / Land, property theft & destruction / Restrictions on movement
VIDEO: Palestinian villagers expel Israeli soldiers from West Bank home
Electronic Intifada 7 June by Ali Abunimah — This video shows villagers in Silwad, east of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, expelling a group of Israeli soldiers from a home they occupied. In the video, a group of community members – women and men – knock on the door. A distressed woman answers and says the soldiers had come into the house and confiscated the family’s telephones and keys. The villagers then search the house and find the heavily armed occupation soldiers in a bedroom. They confront the soldiers, who try to give orders to the villagers, but instead the villagers order the soldiers out of the house. At one point, when a women pushes a soldier to get him out of the house, the soldier turns around and appears to threaten her with his weapon. Wattan TV reports that the video was shot by journalist Muath Mishal, who gave this account of the incident: Wattan TV reports that the video was shot by journalist Muath Mishal, who gave this account of the incident: relatives of the elderly couple living in the house had attempted to reach the family by telephone. When they were unable to do so, they became worried and suspicious that soldiers had entered the house. That is when they went over and liberated the house from Israeli occupation, as the video shows. According to Mishal, the soldiers had entered the house on Thursday night.
The video has been widely circulated on social media and Palestinian websites, including Quds News Network and Donia Alwatan.
47 years of occupation: Every photo tells a story
Activestills 7 June — Marking 47 years of the Israeli occupation since 1967, we asked Activestills photographers to choose one photograph from their archive and write about it … Mustafa Bader: After the Six-Day War, the eyes of some Israeli groups turned on the old city of Al-Khalil (Arabic for Hebron). The Jewish settlement there quickly started to eat away the city and the areas around it, like a worm — day in and day out. Just like in Jerusalem, the city of Hebron has been divided into two different worlds: the few Jewish settlers are above, and beneath them… us. I call it the other world underneath.
Horrors of the occupation go way beyond the settlements / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 8 June — Every decent citizen, both in Israel and around the world, must cry out against the many horrors of the Israeli occupation- which have little to do with any West Bank construction — …The mask was ripped off long ago, and Israel is no longer trying to hide that settlements are no more than a punishment. But they aren’t the real punishment. The real punishment is the continued tyranny. The settlements are a measure of Israeli intentions; they were built to eternalize the status quo and destroy any chances for agreements. But the real punishment is the insufferable injustices of the occupation, which are actually less discussed. We must stop talking about the settlements. The amount of settlers reached critical mass long ago, making the situation irreversible. Another 1,500 housing units won’t change much. Constructing them only proves that Israel intends to continue its colonialist endeavors, but housing units themselves are not the heart of the issue. The real problem is the totalitarian regime in the West Bank. It is the Palestinians’ biggest problem, as well as that of the Israelis, as their nation has become a false democracy … The international community should focus on the fact that there are two peoples here, one with every right and the other with none aside from the right to be occupied. Stop condemning Israel for each new apartment and caravan. Israel should be condemned and punished for creating insufferable life under occupation, for the fact that a country that claims to be among the enlightened nations continues abusing an entire people, day and night. Talk about the helpless fishermen in Gaza fired upon by gunships; talk about the children brutally arrested in the middle of the night; talk about the countless detentions without trial, about the families torn between Gaza and the West Bank, between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Talk about the light Israeli finger on the trigger; talk about the discriminatory courts, the daily dispossession, house demolition and destruction of villages; talk about the pasturelands turned into firing zones only to dishearten residents and expel them; talk about the soldiers who shoot out of boredom and the police officers who make arrests just because they can. Talk about the inherent apartheid in the West Bank, and the terrible chances facing any Palestinian child looking to build a life, or even just visit the beach, even if it’s only a short distance from his home. Talk about the Gazans who cannot export their goods, nor go anywhere – not to study, not to go to the hospital, not to visit family members or work outside their prison, the largest in the world. Talk about the thousands of prisoners, some of them political prisoners, who face inhumane discrimination, as opposed to their Jewish counterparts. Talk about the bureaucracy of occupation, another institutionalized method of abuse. Talk about the checkpoints, and the overwhelming injustices. Talk about the horrors of occupation.
Israeli forces demolish Palestinian house near Tulkarem
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 9 June — Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian house near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem on Monday, Palestinian security officials said. Bulldozers escorted by Israeli military vehicles raided the village of Far‘un at 5:30 a.m. and destroyed the home of Falah Suleiman Abdul-Rahman Ubeid, 58. Ubeid collapsed after seeing his house destroyed and was taken to hospital for treatment. Youths in the village gathered in the area and hurled stones at Israeli soldiers, who fired tear gas canisters and sound grenades. A local woman, Aisha Daoud, suffered serious breathing difficulties as a result of the tear gas.
The Roman tree
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 7 June — At approximately 1:00 pm on June 4th, a burning olive tree was located in the vicinity of Tel Rumeida, al-Khalil (Hebron). The Palestinian firefighters extinguished the fire with no assistance from the occupying Israeli military. As an occupying state, Israel is legally responsible for providing adequate services and aid for those living in the occupied territories, however this responsibility is often neglected. The burnt tree is one of many in the area to be considered part of the “Roman Trees”, said to be thousands of years old. Near where the fire started, a plastic fuel canister with the word “diesel” written in Hebrew was found. When the Palestinian farmer who owns the land contacted the Israeli police, they claimed that video footage did not show a vandal starting the fire. When the farmer asked if the Israeli police would consider opening an investigation, he was simply told no. This is only the latest in an ongoing plot to destroy olive trees and crops in Tel Rumeida in order to construct a military road through the area.
Om Ahmad campaign breathes life into Acre struggle
Palestine Monitor 31 May by Beth Staton — Overlooking the Mediterranean sea, off a neat side street and with a shaded, grassy garden, the house of Om Ahmad is as beautiful as any in old Acre. The 60-year-old has lived in the home for fifty years, and her large family – she has ten children and thirteen grandchildren – gather daily here to eat, talk and smoke arguila. For decades, life in the house has been relatively ordinary. But recently, campaigners, officials and active members of the community have started spending more and more time at Om Ahmad’s place, and today it is a hive of activity, packed with constant meetings and gatherings at the centre of a dynamic community campaign. Everything changed for Om Ahmad less than two months ago, when she was served with an eviction notice. Her property, which occupies a prime position on the iconic sea walls of Acre’s old city, had been bought by a businessman at auction and set aside to be turned into a hotel. In an area where the Palestinian population is active, tight-knit and holds close to a 100% majority, the plan was always going to be met with stiff opposition. Since 1948 the Arab residents of Acre’s old city have lived within a property system that is both complicated and debilitating. When much of Acre’s population fled during the Nakba, the authorities of the newly created state of Israel took ownership over many buildings using the absentee property law. Not long after the expulsions, government agencies – now the Old Acre Development Fund and Amidar – were created to manage the scores of empty homes left behind by refugees. Today, many of the families living in the city pay rent to these private subsidiaries. This was Om Ahmad’s situation when businessmen began bringing groups of smartly-dressed foreigners and Israelis to the area around her house earlier this year. When she greeted them, offered them tea and asked what they were doing, she says, the newcomers ignored her.
2 suspects arrested, indicted for massive Abu Ghosh price-tag attack
Jerusalem Post 8 June by Daniel K. Eisenbud — Police: ‘This incident caused a lot of damage between Israeli-Arab relations’ — Nearly one year after an extensive “price tag” attack resulted in the slashed tires of 28 vehicles and racist graffiti in Abu Ghosh, police announced Sunday the arrests and indictments of two teenage suspects charged in the nationalistically motivated hate crime. The incident, which took place during the early morning hours of June 18, 2013, made national headlines and rocked the peaceful village, located west of Jerusalem, which has long been heralded as a model of Jewish-Arab coexistence. In addition to the spate of vandalized cars, the words “Racism or Assimilation” and “Arabs Out” were also painted on a wall near the crime scene. One of the damaged cars belonged to former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg, who had left the vehicle with a friend for repairs. According to police, both suspects – who have since turned 18 – are from the Yitzhar settlement, near Nablus, and were arrested on May 20 following a protracted undercover investigation by Israel Police.
The Housing Minister’s settlement building tenders bluff
Ynet 6 June by Itamar Eichner — Uri Ariel announced new construction tenders for 1,500 housing units and incurred international wrath, but in reality, most of these tenders fail to get off the ground, and get re-marketed — It has turned into a ritual: Whenever a diplomatic crisis between Israel and the Palestinians emerges, the Israeli government announces the issuing of building tenders for housing units in East Jerusalem or the West Bank, incurring the wrath of the international community. The same occurred on Thursday when Housing Minister Uri Ariel announced building tenders for 1,500 housing units which were, according to him, “an appropriate Zionist response” to the establishment of the new Palestinian government. Ariel’s announcement received condemnations inside Israel and out of it, but it turns out construction bidding in reality is different to the one portrayed in political announcements. In reality, most of the tenders the housing minister announced in the past year have not come into fruition. While Israel endured harsh criticism from the United States, the European Union and the Palestinians following Ariel’s settlement construction announcement, Yedioth Ahronoth found that the tenders issued by the Israel Land Authority were not realized either because no contractor placed a bid on them, or because the bids were too low. The state, on its part, keeps recycling the tenders and getting slammed with international condemnation over and over again over the very same tenders.
Israel denies visa to Palestinian soccer official
Haaretz 8 June — With soccer’s international governing body FIFA due to discuss Israel’s alleged mistreatment of the Palestinian national soccer team, Israel has denied a visa to the team’s No. 3 official to fly to Brazil to take part in those discussions, Bloomberg reported Sunday. Mohammed Ammassi, deputy general secretary of the Palestine Football Association, had planned to travel from Gaza to the West Bank to Jordan, and from there to fly to Brazil. FIFA’s Congress is taking place in Sao Paolo on Tuesday and Wednesday. “The Palestine Football Association regrets to inform FIFA and the world football community that, at the time the situation of football in Palestine is to be discussed for the second time in the FIFA Congress, the third officially registered delegate of the Palestine Football Association has been denied permit to travel,” the association said Sunday in an e-mailed press release. Maj. Guy Inbar, spokesman for the Civil Administration, said Ammassi’s visa request was rejected because he didn’t file it at least 10 days before the date of departure, a security procedure that Inbar said had been agreed on with the Palestinian team. He added that if Ammassi resubmits his request, it will be duly considered.
Palestinian complaints against Israel reached a peak early this year when Israeli soldiers shot and severely wounded two Palestinian team members on their way home from a practice. Israel maintained that the pair were about to throw bombs at soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint.
Violence / Raids / Illegal arrests
PCHR Weekly Report: One Palestinian killed, 4 wounded by Israeli troops this week [29 May-4 June]
8 June — Israeli attacks in the West Bank: Israeli forces conducted 80 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank this week. 40 Palestinian civilians, including 7 children, were abducted. In the West Bank, Israeli forces stationed at Za’atrah Checkpoint, south of Nablus, killed ‘Alaa’ Mohammed ‘Awad (30) from Howwarah village, south of Nablus … Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip: In the Gaza Strip, on 02 June 2014, Israeli warplanes launched a missile at “Hiteen” training site of an armed group, northwest of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. The missile left a large crater in the area and damaged empty greenhouses. No injuries were reported. In the Gaza Strip, on 01 June 2014, Israeli forces carried out two limited incursions in the southern Gaza Strip. Full report
Palestinian murdered by Israeli forces in Huwarra
HUWWARA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 4 June — In the late hours of Monday evening, Israeli forces executed 30-year-old, father of two, ‘Alaa’ Mohammed ‘Awadh, at Za‘tara checkpoint, in southern Nablus. The Israeli army claimed that a Palestinian gunman was shot dead after he injured an Israeli police officer in the leg. The villagers of Huwwara stated their amazement at the version released by the border police; ‘Alaa’ was the owner of a phone shop in Huwarra and not politically affiliated. The taxi driver stated that ‘Alaa was standing next to the taxi, unarmed, when Israeli soldiers opened fire. A relative of the victim said that ‘Alaa’ arrived at the checkpoint to collect material for his shop. According to multiple sources, the Israeli military prohibited Red Crescent paramedics from reaching Alaa’. The Israeli army seized his body for “security reasons”, loaded him on into a military vehicle for ‘investigation’… At approximately 19:30 yesterday evening [3 June], the body was finally handed back to the family, after a short time, ‘Alaa’s body was transferred to Rafidiah hospital in Nablus. According to one of the doctors who conducted the autopsy, the majority of ‘Alaa’s wounds were to his chest, abdomen, and both thighs. ‘Alaa’s body held approximately 14 bullet wounds, including a serious wound to the heart and both lungs. His left arm had multiple fractures and a 10×7 cm wound in his left leg. Two fingers were missing on his right hand, and two toes missing from his right foot. Their was also a large wound on the back of his neck.
Ramallah governor makes solidarity visit to threatened Palestinian
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 7 June – An official delegation from Ramallah Governorate made Saturday a solidarity visit to a Palestinian from Beitunia after he received threats from Israeli forces for documenting the killing of some Palestinians. Accompanied by an official delegation including Mayor of Ramallah Mousa Hadid and Mayor of Beitunia Ribhi Dawla, Governor of Ramallah Laila Ghannam made a solidarity visit to a Palestinian from Beitunia who received calls from Israeli forces threatening him for shooting a video for the killing of Nadim Nuwara and Muhammad Abu Thaher. Both Nuwara, 17, and Abu Thaher, 16, were deliberately killed by Israeli soldiers during a protest commemorating the Nakba near Ofer military prison in Beitunia … According to Fakhri Abu Zayed, Israeli forces stormed and ransacked his house and threatened his family for their role in exposing the Israeli propaganda. He called upon human rights organizations to provide protection for his family.
Photo: Soldier punches Palestinian activist in face
972mag 8 June by Mairav Zonszein — Israeli soldiers have been harassing Palestinian activist Issa Amro since he released a video of a soldier cocking his weapon at two youths. ‘They know I am a moving camera,’ he says — Palestinian non-violent activist Issa Amro is seen in the following photo, taken on May 28, being punched by an IDF soldier (the soldier’s identity is unknown and this specific moment does not capture the punch that achieved contact). Amro, who lives in Hebron, is the founder and director of Youth Against Settlements and one of the most prolific and effective documentarians of Israeli occupation in the city. Amro, who has been detained and arrested more times than he can count despite not a single indictment ever being filed against him, told +972 he has been harassed by this specific soldier over the last few weeks. He suspects the reason is that last month he released a video (which went viral) of an Israeli soldier cocking his rifle at a Palestinian teenager in Hebron, and later threatening to “put a bullet in the head” of another Palestinian filming the incident.
Israeli forces briefly detain governor of Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 7 June – Israeli forces briefly detained Saturday Governor of Hebron, Kamel Hmaid, while making an inspection visit to students taking the General Secondary Examination (Tawjihi) in Hebron. WAFA correspondent said that forces detained Hmaid at the southern entrance of Hebron and near the illegal Israeli settlement outpost of ‘Beit Hajai’ for half an hour before releasing him. Hmaid was on his way to make an inspection visit to the schools where students are taking Tawjihi examinations. He was accompanied by some of the directors from the Ministry of Education and some heads of the security services
5 Palestinians detained in overnight raids in Nablus, Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 June — Israeli forces detained five Palestinians across the West Bank in overnight raids Sunday morning in Nablus and near Hebron. Israeli forces carried out two separate predawn raids in the Nablus region in the northern West Bank and detained three young Palestinian men there, Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an. The sources said that Israeli troops stormed the old city of Nablus and detained 23-year-old Amjad Hassan Anabtawi and 22-year-old Ali Nidal Abu Shamat after ransacking their homes. Separately, a number of Israeli military vehicles raided the village of Yasid south of Nablus before dawn and detained 19-year-old Asim Muhammad Thahir. Locals told Ma‘an that clashes broke between young Palestinian men and Israeli soldiers during the detention raid.
Israeli forces arrest six, summon one, in West Bank and Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 8 June — …In the Jerusalem area, Israeli police arrested two Palestinians, including a high school student, and led them to a police station in the city. Meanwhile, police late Saturday also arrested another Palestinian from the Jerusalem area. Meanwhile in Hebron governorate, army forces stormed al-Fawwar refugee camp and arrested two Palestinian youngsters, ages 17 and 19. Forces further stormed the city of Bethlehem and arrested a 30-year-old after raiding and searching his home. The forces also handed summons to a youngster, 23, to appear for interrogation before Israeli police in the nearby Gush Etzion military compound. In the meantime, army forces at dawn stormed the towns of Ya‘bad and Zububa in Jenin governorate. They raided a number of homes and interrogated their residents, spurring clashes with residents. No arrests or injuries were reported.
Soldiers kidnap elderly man near Jenin
IMEMC 8 June by Saed Bannoura — [Saturday Evening, June 7, 2014] Israeli soldiers invaded Zabbouba town, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, kidnapped an elderly man and hurled gas bombs, causing several family members to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. Local sources stated that the soldiers invaded the home of Hasan Thiab Abu Zeitoun, 60, and kidnapped him, the Raya News Agency has reported. The soldiers also attacked, and violently beat, his son Emad, causing various injuries. The sources added that the soldiers also hurled gas bombs into the home after searching it, causing several members of the Abu Zeitoun family to suffocate due to gas inhalation. The invasion also led to clashes between the soldiers and local youth, who hurled stones at them; several residents suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.
Eight Palestinians kidnapped in the West Bank
IMEMC 9 June by Saed Bannoura — [Monday, June 9, 2014] Israeli soldiers kidnapped at least nine Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank, kidnapped eight Palestinians, and confiscated around 80 computers from two stores in Tulkarem. Local sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, have reported that the soldiers invaded the al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of the city, and kidnapped six Palestinians. Soldiers also invaded ‘Atteel town, north of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, and kidnapped a Palestinian identified as Mahmoud Abu Shams, 29. They also invaded two computer stores Abu Shams owns in the town, and in Tulkarem city, and confiscated at least 80 computers and monitors, in addition to large sums of cash. Eyewitnesses said the army smashed and destroyed several computers being repaired in the stores, and destroyed the main gate on a nearby trade bank. On Sunday at night, dozens of soldiers invaded the al-Yamoun town, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and kidnapped a university student, identified as Aseed Jihad Nawahda, 20. Nawahda was taken prisoner at a sudden roadblock the soldiers installed on the main Jenin-Nablus road, south of Jenin. The army also installed a roadblock at the entrance of Ya’bad nearby town, stopped and searched dozens of vehicles, and examined the ID cards of dozens of passengers.
Gaza under dual blockade
Army opens fire at Palestinian homes in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 9 June — [Monday, June 9, 2014] Israeli soldiers, stationed across the eastern border of Gaza City, fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition targeting a number of homes, and farmlands, east of the ash-Shujaeyya neighborhood, east of Gaza city. The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that Israeli soldiers, stationed near the Karni Crossing, fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition targeting several homes, and agricultural lands, causing damage but no injuries. The army alleged a homemade shell, fired from Gaza, landed near landed near the border fence, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
Also on Monday, Israel allowed the entry of 280 trucks into the besieged Gaza Strip. The trucks were allowed through the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) Crossing. The trucks are loaded with supplies for the trade, agriculture, and transportation sectors.
Israel also said it will be pumping limited amounts of industrial fuel for the Gaza Power Plant, cooking gas, and intends to allow the entry of seven cement trucks for construction projects run by the UN.
Gazan fisherman shot by Israeli navy dies of his wounds
GAZA (WAFA) 8 June – A Palestinian fisherman who was shot and critically injured by Israeli navy off the coast of the northern west part of Gaza almost two weeks ago died of his wounds on Sunday, according to media sources. WAFA correspondent said 52-year-old Emad Salem died of his wounds at the hospital after was shot with live bullets by Israeli navy while fishing in the allowed fishing zone off the coasts of Gaza.
In a separate development on Sunday, Israeli naval boats opened gunfire at Palestinian boats despite fishing within the six-mile zone allowed for Palestinians to fish in, causing financial damages to some of the boats, yet no injuries were reported. The fishermen were forced to flee the scene for fear of being shot or arrested.
Israel detains 3 fishermen off Gaza coast
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 June — Israeli gunboats stopped three fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip Saturday evening and detained them. Palestinian sources told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities took the three and their fishing boat to an unidentified destination. The incident reportedly occurred off the coast of al-Sudaniya, where Israeli forces have shot two fishermen, killing one, in the last month.
Egypt ‘willing’ to open Rafah crossing permanently
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 7 June — A top Egyptian official said Saturday that Egypt was willing to permanently open the Rafah crossing under the condition that it would be supervised by the national unity government. The official said that Egypt would request that President Mahmoud Abbas re-open the presidential headquarters in the Gaza Strip. According to the official, who spoke to Ma‘an on condition of anonymity, Egyptian authorities have welcomed the commitment of Hamas toward reconciliation which, for Cairo, facilitates cooperation with Hamas.However, the official said Hamas must remain separate from the Muslim Brotherhood and not interfere in Egyptian matters. The Egyptian president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi strongly backs the national unity government [and] will not prevent permanently opening Rafah as long as it is directed by the “legal” Palestinian authorities, the official said. A meeting in Egypt between Sisi and Abbas will consider “real promises” for opening the crossing and organizing Egyptian-Palestinian cooperation now that reconciliation has succeeded, the official concluded.
Gaza banks still closed as unity govt financial dispute deepens
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 June — Banks in the Gaza Strip remained closed Sunday morning as a financial crisis which began Wednesday evening threatened to undermine confidence in the newly formed Palestinian unity government. Employees of the formerly Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip have insisted that they should receive their salaries from the new reconciliation government, and local police deployed around banks and ATMs again Sunday to prevent PA employees related to the new unity government from receiving their salaries until a solution is reached. Hamas and Fatah, it seems, had neglected to reach an agreement on whether the newly-formed unity government would take over paying the 50,000 employees, including security officers, who were employed by the Hamas-run government that was in power in Gaza since the beginning of the political division in 2007.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that the financial crisis — which he blamed on Hamas — was “unacceptable.”
3 girls drown near border in Gaza
GAZA STRIP (Ma‘an) 7 June — Three girls drowned in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday in an area where civil defense forces are barred from working due to Israeli restrictions, officials said. Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra identified the victims as 13-year-old Riham Jumaa Rmeilat, 20-year-old Sabah Saber Rmeilat, and Jihad Jumaa Rmeilat … Muhammad al-Maydana, spokesman for Gaza’s civil defense forces, said the incident occurred in al-Sudaniya area. The girls drowned in an area where Palestinian civil defense forces are barred from working due to its proximity to the border with Israel, al-Maydana said. Al-Maydana warned residents not to swim in areas near the border.
Economic conference in Gaza to encourage investment
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 June — An economic conference is slated to be held in the Gaza Strip in November, one of the conference’s organizers said Friday. Palestinian businessman Munib al-Masri told Ma‘an that the main goal of the conference would be to encourage entrepreneurs from Palestine and other Arab countries to invest in projects in the Gaza Strip. The conference’s conveners will seek to develop electricity, water, and telecommunications networks in Gaza, al-Masri said. “We want to implement the will of the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat, who wanted Gaza to be the Singapore of the Mediterranean,” he told Ma‘an.
World’s largest union for academics to investigate education in Gaza
Haaretz June — A leading British trade union is planning to send a delegation to Gaza to view the effects of the Israeli blockade on the territory, despite the opposition of the United Kingdom government and the opposition of some of its members. The University and College Union voted at its congress last week to send the delegation “as soon as possible,” the Times Higher Education journal reported. The decision was labelled dangerous by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which advises Britons against traveling to the territory, and as an unjustifiable use of money by several of its members. The UCU is the largest trade union for academics in the world, with some 108,000 members. At least half of the delegation will be women and the trip will take place “in liaison with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign”. It is expected to report back to the union’s national executive committee to help inform union policy on Gaza.
UN special coordinator visits Gaza for the first time
GAZA (WAFA) 8 June — The United Nations Special Coordinator, Mr. Robert Serry, visited Gaza on Sunday for the first time since the signing of the Beach Camp Agreement and the formation of a Palestinian government of national consensus. While in Gaza, Serry held a joint meeting at the Ministry of Public Works and Housing with the following newly appointed Ministers: Minister of Women’s Affairs Haifa Al-Agha, Minister of Labor Mamoun Abu Shahla, Minister of Public Works and Housing Mufeed Al-Hasayneh and Minister of Justice Salim al-Saqqa. ‘I congratulated the Ministers on their appointment and discussed with them the many practical challenges ahead. I assured them full support of the United Nations which is ready to increase its considerable program of works in Gaza, including in the priority areas of water and energy,” said Serry … Serry also expressed hope that the obstacles on the Ministers’ travel would soon be removed so that the new government could carry out its duties unimpeded both in Gaza and in the West Bank.
Papal pilgrimage seen from Gaza
Independent Catholic News 6 June — Not everyone obtained an exit permit allowing them to gather around the Holy Father for the Mass in Bethlehem. Fr George Hernandez, Latin parish priest of Gaza, writes how the faithful left behind followed the Pope as much as possible during these three days. During the visit of Pope Francis to the Holy Land, and despite all the efforts of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem to obtain exit permits so that all of us could travel and participate in the Mass celebrated by the Holy Father in Bethlehem, many Christians of the Gaza Strip were unable to travel. However, this could not prevent us from participating in the solemnity, thanks to the telecast by Telelumiere/Noursat Network. We gathered as one family in our church, dedicated to the Holy Family in Latin Convent, to tune in to the Mass celebrated by His Holiness and concelebrated by our Patriarch Fouad Twal and our Patriarchal Vicar, Bishop William Shomali and many others. We felt, through their prayers, as if we were there before the altar of the Eucharist.
Activism / Solidarity
Global March to Jerusalem launches in 42 countries
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 7 June — Three days of activities entitled “The Global March to Jerusalem” were launched on Friday to mark global solidarity with the residents of Jerusalem on the 47th anniversary of its occupation by Israeli forces in 1967. Marches associated with the day of action are being held in 80 cities across 42 countries around the world, organizers said, and will move in the direction of Jerusalem from wherever they are. Groups from Jordan, for example, will march to the Jordanian border with the West Bank to participate in the march. Major countries that are participating in the march include Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Malaysia, Turkey and Iran, among others … The Global March to Jerusalem has been organized by activists around the world since 2012 to focus attention on Israeli policies in Jerusalem.
Political developments / Other news
Civil Administration officials refuse to punish Palestinians for unity government
Haaretz 8 June by Chaim Levinson — Netanyahu seeking ways to inflict damage in retribution for recent diplomatic defeats — Officers in the Civil Administration refused to recommend punitive measures that could be used against the new Palestinian unity government, Haaretz has learned. The recommendations were to be submitted ahead of a meeting scheduled for Sunday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the purpose of deciding on Israeli responses on top of Thursday’s announcement of the “unfreezing” of construction projects in West Bank settlements … At a meeting on Thursday of all Civil Administration staff officers – civilian employees of the Israel Defense Forces, each of whom is in charge of a different field in the West Bank, such as water, electricity, transportation, health, welfare, archaeology, industry or environmental protection – attendees were asked to suggest ways to inflict harm on the Palestinians. But at the start of the meeting, one of the staff officers stood up and said that if the Civil Administration imposes sanctions on Palestinian civilians, this would destroy the very raison d’etre of the staff officers, which was to serve the Palestinian population. The staff officer’s position received widespread support, effectively ending the discussion.
Netanyahu wants separation from Palestinians, official says
Bloomberg News 6 June by Amy Teibel — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told lawmakers Israel “must separate from the Palestinians,” a government official said, hinting again at possible unilateral moves following the breakdown of U.S.- sponsored peace talks. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to comment publicly. He provided no further details on what the Israeli leader told members of parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in their closed meeting on June 2 or what he meant by separation. The language, however, was reminiscent of the term “disengagement” that Israel used to refer to its 2005 withdrawal of settlers and soldiers from the Gaza Strip, carried out unilaterally under then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the absence of peacemaking. Netanyahu referred to unilateral action in an interview with Bloomberg View columnist Jeffrey Goldberg published May 23, in which he noted that some Israelis favor disengaging from sections of the West Bank with large Palestinian populations, even if this would mean dismantling Jewish settlements. “It’s true that the idea of taking unilateral steps is gaining ground, from the center-left to the center-right,” he said in that interview. “Many Israelis are asking themselves if there are certain unilateral steps that could theoretically make sense.”While Israelis don’t want a repeat of the Gaza experience, where militants used evacuated territory to fire rockets at Israel, steps must be taken to prevent the collapse of Israel as a Jewish-majority democratic nation, Netanyahu said in the interview last month.
Lapid to Netanyahu: Reveal map of Israel’s future borders
Haaretz 8 June by Barak Ravid — Vows to bring down gov’t if attempt made to annex settlements; presents peace plan that includes evacuation of ‘isolated settlements’ during talks with Palestinians; blames PM for crisis with U.S. … “Extreme right-wing forces are pushing us toward the delusional idea of annexation, which will lead us to the disaster called a binational state,” Lapid said. “I don’t know if this is a public relations exercise or a true intention, but we will not allow this to happen. If there is an attempt to annex even one settlement unilaterally, Yesh Atid will not only bolt the government, it will bring it down.” Peace plan In his speech, Lapid presented his own peace plan, whose first stage would be an Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank where there are no settlements, though the Israel Defense Forces would retain the ability to act anywhere in the West Bank if the need arose. At the same time, Israel would institute a freeze on construction outside the large settlement blocs. In the second stage, he said, Israel would “move into the settlement blocks while evacuating the isolated settlements.” In this stage as well, he said, the IDF would retain the right to act anywhere in the West Bank, while redeploying in coordination with the United States. “During this stage there will be direct negotiations [with the Palestinians] with the mediation of the United States, in Ramallah and Jerusalem, on final borders,” he said. In the third and last stage, final borders between Israel and a Palestinian state would be set, including land swaps, and talks on the remaining core issues would get underway. “The final map will be the result of negotiations,” Lapid said. “The maps of the first two stages are a clear Israeli interest, and there’s no reason for us not to start drawing them now. As soon as they are presented, we can bring the moderate Arab states into the agreement and turn it into a regional one.”
Netanyahu belittles Lapid’s demand to present his map of Israel’s future borders
Haaretz 8 June by Barak Ravid — PM’s aides also dismiss minister’s proposal on borders, saying ‘Anyone with experience in affairs of state knows that you don’t make concessions in return for nothing.’ — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s aides ridiculed Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s demand on Sunday that the premier present his “map” of Israel’s future borders. “Any map that is presented will become the Palestinians’ point of departure,” said an aide to the premier, referring to statements Lapid made at the Herzliya Conference. The Prime Minister’s Office likewise dismissed Lapid’s new peace plan, which is highlighted by the evacuation of isolated West Bank settlements.
PA forces detain 16 Hamas supporters in West Bank
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 June — Palestinian Authority security forces detained 16 Hamas supporters and issued summons to seven others across the West Bank, the Islamist movement said Sunday. The arrests came just days after a Palestinian unity government was inaugurated in Ramallah, based on an agreement between Hamas and the PLO … As the unity government prepares to enter its second week, political detentions threaten to drive a wedge between Hamas and the Fatah-led PLO.
Foreign ministry recalls Australia’s representative for remarks on ‘Jerusalem’
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 June — Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday recalled the Representative of Australia to Palestine, Thomas Wilson, to protest against remarks made by the Attorney-General of Australia, George Brandis, in which he called for not referring to East Jerusalem as an occupied territory … Al-Maliki called on the Australia Government and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide an official clarification on their announced position towards occupied East Jerusalem … Al-Maliki said further that the League of Arab States is due to hold a special round of meetings during mid June to discuss Australia’s position. On the other side, Representative Wilson said the position announced by Brandis will never change Australia’s position towards Palestine.
86,000 students take high school exams in West Bank, Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 June — Approximately 86,000 Palestinian students sat for the first session of their high school exams seeking to obtain the General Secondary Certificate, or Tawjihi, across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning. Spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Education Abdul-Hakim Abu Jamous told Ma’an that in the first session Saturday, students will take the Islamic education exam. Exams will end on Thursday, June 26 with the technology exam, he added. Abu Jamous highlighted that 53 percent of the registered 85,597 test takers are females. Of the total number of students, 48,263 are in the West Bank and 37,334 in the Gaza Strip … The Tawjihi certificate is equivalent to a high school completion certificate, and is required for students who wish to pursue undergraduate studies. In Palestine and other Arab countries, the score on the test determines which programs a student can enter.
Palestinian unity should be ‘supported’: Europe’s Barroso
HERZLIYA, Israel (AFP) 8 June — A Palestinian unity deal with the Islamist Hamas movement must be supported, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso told an Israeli security conference on Sunday … “In the interest of a future peace deal and of a legitimate and representative government, intra-Palestinian reconciliation… should be supported,” Barroso told delegates at a conference in the coastal city of Herzliya. Any Palestinian government should uphold the principle of non-violence, be committed to a two-state solution and a negotiated settlement of the conflict, which would imply accepting existing agreements as well as recognising Israel’s right to exist, he said.
Video: Meeting the West Bank’s tech start-ups
BBC Click 6 June — Ramallah in the West Bank is being billed as a new technology hub for the Arab world. BBC Click’s Jen Copestake meets some of the start-ups and finds out about the challenges of working there.
Ex-envoy: US-Israel ties have never been so bad
Haaretz 9 June by Bradley Burston — Decrying Israeli meddling in U.S. domestic politics, Daniel Kurtzer says Israeli leaders need to realize U.S. is ‘also a sovereign nation.’ — In a biting assessment of the Netanyahu government as interfering in American domestic politics, former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer declared that relations between the top leaderships of the two countries have never been as bad as they are today. Speaking to the opening session of the dovish J Street organization’s national summit in San Francisco on Saturday night, Kurtzer said, “I find it extraordinary over these past few years, the degree to which this government of Israel has interfered in our domestic politics in a way to which, if we had done the reverse, it would have created a firestorm. Unbelievable.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his ruling Likud have long been seen as indicating their antipathy to President Barack Obama and their strong preference for the Republican Party, in particular during the 2012 presidential campaign of Republican contender Mitt Romney.
Houston stadium security detains soccer fan for waving Palestinian flag as ‘racial slur’
Mondoweiss 6 June by Annie Robbins — Last Sunday, Palestinian-American Buthayna Hammad attended a soccer match at BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston’s downtown 22,000-seat soccer-specific stadium, home to the Houston Dynamo. About 15 minutes after the game started Hammad was approached by the head of Compass Stadium’s security Nathan Buchanan. Soon she encountered a total of eight security officials, four from stadium security and the other four, Houston police officers. Why? because she was waving a Palestinian flag. Stadium security informed her that her Palestinian flag implied a “racial slur” and therefore was in violation of BBVA Compass Stadium rules. Hammad, a native of Houston, is an avid soccer fan. She attended the match with her “alt family from Honduras” including her Honduran boyfriend. The match was between Israel and Honduras. The implications of this story are mind-numbing, and we’ll discuss that later. First, in Buthayna Hammad’s own words, cited in Free Press Houston (FPR): “Mere Existence of Palestine Deemed a ‘Threatening Racial Slur’ by the Houston Dynamo Organization.”
Analysis / Opinion
From our Facebook balconies, the dark heart of Yarmouk / Ahmad Diab
Al-Shabaka 6 June — If Joseph Conrad was right when he said that we live as we dream, alone, then an inverse of that statement might carry some truth as well. Unlike life and dreams, death and nightmares can be communal, as Syrian Palestinians have discovered. The fortunate among them can now look from their Facebook balconies into the heart of darkness that they barely escaped. If they look long enough, they might just catch a glimpse of the horror of those stuck behind. The fragmentation of the Palestinian people has meant that their suffering, while ultimately collective, remains unique to the context in which it is experienced … Before it was a Palestinian refugee camp, Yarmouk was long known as the battle that consolidated Syria under Arab rule after the landmark defeat of the Byzantine Empire in 636 CE. From now on, however, it will be remembered as a site of disintegration where one of the longest and tightest sieges in the course of the Syrian uprising-turned civil war is taking place — a siege that has so far seen some 160,000 of its Palestinian residents flee and the remaining 17,000-20,000 face starvation or death from illness or injury. The harrowing state of siege, preventing food and medical supplies from getting in and people from getting out, prompted the spokesperson for UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, an otherwise ardently apolitical institution, to wax revolutionary: “The lexicon of man’s inhumanity to man has a new word: it’s Yarmouk. It’s a place where UN-assisted communities are facing starvation (…) where the elderly, the sick, the dying, infants are being forced to eat animal feed in the capital city of a UN member state in the 21st century as a matter of political choice.”
50 years of the PLO: Where to now? / Samer Badawi
972mag 7 June — The organization’s face has changed significantly since 1964, most dramatically in the past 20 years since Oslo. The PLO must find a way to include the diaspora, empower grass roots activism and keep alive its founding spirit as a national liberation movement — Take one look at the website of the Palestine Poster Project, and you’ll get a glimpse of another era, when the iconography of the Palestinian struggle came in bold hues attached to even bolder slogans. Among the collection is a gold-tinted composition by the renowned Palestinian artist and art historian Kamal Boullata. The caption is a quote from none other than Che Guevara: “Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome if our battle cry has reached even one receptive ear and another hand reaches out to take up our arms.” That was 1969, and the Palestinians’ institutionalized struggle — insofar as it coalesced around the Palestine Liberation Organization — was barely five years old. In such a short time, the Palestinians had succeeded in making their cause an international one, celebrated among the non-aligned countries of the Cold War and memorialized in the languages and slogans of anti-imperialist movements worldwide. That was then. More than four decades later, on the fiftieth anniversary of the PLO, the organization once entrusted with sustaining the Palestinian struggle — and broadening both its financial and moral support base — is virtually unrecognizable. Where once it boasted a vibrant national council drawing from within historic Palestine and the diaspora — among whose luminaries were intellectual powerhouses like the late Edward Said — it is today but a backdrop to the Palestinian Authority, rubber-stamping the stateless government, whose president is also the PLO chairman. If that sounds confusing, it is.