Hunger strikers face continuous threats of force-feedings on 47th day of mass hunger strike
OCCUPIED RAMALLAH (Addameer) 9 June — Hunger-striking detainees in Ayalon Prison and Kaplan and Wolfson Medical Centers have reported to Addameer lawyers of their worsening conditions as their hunger strike enters its 47th day. This is the longest mass hunger strike among prisoners in Palestinian history since a 45-day strike in 1976. The hunger strikers remain steadfast in their demand to end the policy of administrative detention. Nearly 80 detainees are on hunger strike in 9 civilian hospitals, including: Meir, Aykhlouf, Kaplan, Birzelei, Tel Hashomer, Belinson, Afoula, Suroka, and Wolfson. They are transferred regularly and arbitrarily, effectively denying them the right for lawyers visits who must make advanced coordination with the Israeli Prison Service to visit … Prisoners in Kaplan Hospital reported to Addameer lawyers that the doctors threatened to force-feed the administrative detainees on hunger strike in case of loss of consciousness. The hunger striking detainees were warned of the danger to their lives, as their core muscles are now deteriorating and the body fat has disappeared from their bodies. Some of them were told by the doctors that they can suffer from a heart attack or stroke at any moment. Some are suffering from intestinal bleeding, vomiting blood and fainting in addition to significant loss of weight and decrease in heart rate and decrease in blood sugar. “The rooms are worse than the interrogation cells” The hunger strikers in hospitals are shackled to their bed by hands and legs for 12 hours a day, and bound by one leg for the remaining 12 hours. They are required to seek permission from the guards to use the restroom, and are not allowed to use it at night. Due to their constant shackling, the detainees are forbidden from walking in the rooms, despite the recommendation from the Ministry of Health to do so to keep their blood circulating.
Independent doctors blocked from seeing Palestinian hunger strikers
Haaretz 11 June by Ido Efrati — The Health Ministry is taking a tough stance against Palestinian detainees on hunger strike, in line with the approach set by the Shin Bet security service and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The ministry last week placed stringent restrictions on visits to hospitalized detainees by private doctors, rejecting dozens of requests from Doctors for Human Rights, the strikers’ lawyers and members of their families that independent doctors be allowed to visit and assess the hunger strikers’ condition. Contending with obstacles from the Israel Prison Service is nothing new, say representatives of Doctors for Human Rights. During the 2012 strike by security prisoners, it took a court order before independent doctors were able to visit the strikers. But this time it’s the Health Ministry that is taking the hard line prescribed by the prison service.
Bill to force-feed hunger strikers passes first vote
Reuters 10 June –Some 300 Palestinian prisoners on 6-week-old hunger strike would be force fed if bill passes three more votes — Israel’s parliament has given initial approval to a law to enable the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike, drawing defiance from activists who said on Tuesday it would not deter the inmates … The measure, which is opposed by the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) that represents most Israeli doctors, is backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, which advocates on behalf of Palestinians in Israeli custody, said the strike would continue and that the proposed law “will not break the will of prisoners”. He said “forced feeding could kill prisoners”, citing the deaths in 1980 of two Palestinian prisoners whom he said died in an attempt to force-feed them during a hunger strike.
Workers’ union holds sit-in to support hunger strikers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 June – The Palestinian workers’ union official said that an urgent meeting was held Tuesday to discuss ways of supporting hunger-striking prisoners after they entered a dangerous stage. Bassam Zakarneh said that the council of the union was calling upon the world, the UN, Arab communities and civil institutions to intervene to save the prisoners from “certain death.” The council called upon Egypt to intervene to end the suffering of the hunger-strikers through pressuring Israel.
Politicians, media mostly ignore Palestinian hunger strike
Al-Monitor 9 June by Daoud Kuttab — A courageous Palestinian hunger strike is nearing its 50th day, yet it has barely made a dent on the local, regional or international scene. Palestinian administrative detainees — those being held without charge or trial — are with their stomachs fighting an unjust practice carried out by a country that claims to be a democracy, but no one is paying attention. Israel currently holds 189 Palestinians under administrative detention, and 100 to 125 of them have been on a hunger strike since April 24. On June 6, more than 40 days after the beginning of the strike and after 70 prisoners were transferred to hospitals, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon publicly spoke out against the detentions, urging Israeli authorities to release the prisoners or charge them … To bring attention to the plight of these prisoners, Palestinians in the West Bank held a partial general strike on June 8. In Gaza, hundreds of citizens held a candlelight vigil. Demonstrations in solidarity with the prisoners have also taken place in a number of countries, but they have attracted little notice. Social media efforts to bring attention to the hunger strike chose the hashtag #Water_and_Salt in Arabic, with the hope that it would generate international support, like the 2012 strike led by Adnan Khader, which succeeded in pressuring the Israelis into forgoing renewal of his administrative detention order. Various other efforts have been made to humanize the hunger strike — including publishing profiles of the doctors, parliamentarians, teenagers and school teachers taking part — but, again, with little success. The strike has been eclipsed by major news from the region, including the visit of Pope Francis to the Holy Land, the Egyptian elections and inauguration of a new president and the ongoing violence in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Meanwhile, Ukraine captured most of the international headlines.
Abbs urges UN to intervene in Palestinian hunger strike crisis
Haaretz 11 June by Jack Khoury — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed on Tuesday to members of the UN Security Council (except Australia), calling on them to intervene in the crisis over the Palestinian administrative detainees who have been on a hunger strike for nearly two months. The appeal came in the form of a formal letter in Abbas’ name, signed by chied Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. The letter, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz, was also delivered to countries in the European Union, Brazil, South Africa and India. It relates the story of the hunger strike, which began on April 24 in protest against the administrative detention of these prisoners … In his letter, Erekat strongly objects to proposed Israeli legislation allowing force-feeding of hunger strikers. He states that Prime Minister Netanyahu supports the bill and is trying to pass it in the Knesset … In his letter, Erekat strongly objects to proposed Israeli legislation allowing force-feeding of hunger strikers. He states that Prime Minister Netanyahu supports the bill and is trying to pass it in the Knesset.
Israeli court determines release date for administrative prisoner
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 June — Chief attorney for the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society told Ma‘an that the Ofer Israeli court confirmed the administrative detention for prisoner Adnan Shanayta. Jawad Boulos said that the Israeli court of Ofer determined Feb. 3, 2015 would be the release date for Shanayta after 51 days of strike that ended on May 14 in an agreement with Israel to determine a date to release him. Prisoner Shanayta, 25, from Bethlehem was previously detained and spent seven and a half years in prison. Shanayta was detained again on Feb. 4, 2014.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Disrespect for non-Jewish religions / Restrictions on movement
Knesset to discuss IDF’s use of live-fire zones to relocate Palestinians
Haaretz 11 June by Amira Hass –The Knesset will discuss the Israel Defense Forces’ use of live-fire zones as a means of removing Palestinian residents from their dwellings at a plenary discussion on Wednesday. The discussion comes in response to an urgent question posed by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, following a report in Haaretz (May 21, 2014) that a senior IDF officer had confirmed that military exercises in live-fire zones were partly aimed at removing Palestinians from those areas. Zandberg asked how the statement by Col. Einav Shalev accorded with the State’s version that the firing zones were chosen on purely military grounds. She also asked what would be done in order to avoid using the army for political purposes. A motion for an urgent discussion on the same topic was filed by MK Dov Khenin (Hadash). His motion was based both on the report in Haaretz and on the State’s reply to a petition filed with the High Court of Justice. In its reply on May 29, the State declared its intention to legalize seven houses belonging to settlers in the outpost of Avigayl, situated in Firing Zone 918. That is the same zone in which the state is seeking to destroy eight Palestinian villages and expel their residents.
Army demolishes a home near Tulkarem
IMEMC 9 June by Saed Bannoura — [Tuesday Morning, June 9, 2014] Several Israeli military jeeps and a number of armored bulldozers invaded Far‘oun town, south of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, and demolished one home. Head of the Far‘oun Town Council, Mohyeddeen ‘Atteer, stated that dozens of soldiers invaded the southern part of the town, approximately at five at dawn, and demolished a home for “its close proximity to the Annexation Wall” illegally built by Israel in the West Bank. ‘Atteer added that the two-story home, owned by Falah Suleiman Obeid, was recently completed, following two years of construction and furnishing. Last year, Israel ordered him to stop the construction, but he continued the work to shelter himself, and his twelve family members. Obeid is blind, and suffers from a kidney disease and diabetes; the family was supposed to move into their new property within the coming few days.
Israel’s security needs: Poor people’s latrines?
ReliefWeb 9 June from DanChurchAid (DCA) — On Thursday, June 5th, 2014 Israeli Civil Administration officials arrived in the desert east of Bethlehem together with police and Israeli soldiers during the humanitarian distribution to poor Bedouin families in the village Al Ganoub in the Ar Rashaydeh Community. They confiscated 3 trucks, 10 latrines and 8 water tanks. The trucks were taken to a police station in the Israeli settlement Gush Etzion. The three drivers were interrogated and then released. But the ICA still kept the latrines, water tanks and the trucks which belong to a local contractor. 18 herding families live in the Al Ganoub Community, all together 170 Palestinians. Especially for the women, and to ensure hygiene in the area, the latrines represent a minimum humanitarian standard and an important improvement to their living conditions. The Bedouin population in Area C – which is more than 60 per cent of the West Bank under total Israeli control – are denied the right to even the most basic and essential water supply. They cannot access water from water systems nor construct or dig wells and cisterns.
Israeli forces seize 8 tractors from Jenin field
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 June — Israeli forces on Monday afternoon seized eight tractors belonging to Palestinian farmers in the al-Yamun and Kafr Than [?Dan] areas in Marj Ibn Amer in Jenin in the northern West Bank. Witnesses from the al-Labdi family told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the field and seized two tractors belonging to them and six tractors belonging to the al-Samoudi, Abu Hasan and other families. They assaulted a number of farmers who tried to stop soldiers from seizing the tractors. Israeli forces took the tractors to Salim military base in Nablus, claiming that they were unlicensed, while the families insisted that the tractors were completely legal and had the proper documentation.
Israeli forces raze Palestinian-owned land in Jerusalem neighborhood
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 10 June — Israeli military bulldozers Tuesday razed large areas of Palestinian-owned land in Wadi Al-Joz neighborhood, near the walls of the old city of Jerusalem, without any given reason, according to local witnesses. Forces and police surrounded the area, towed many Palestinians’ vehicles from the area, causing severe damage to the cars as well as prevented Palestinians from approaching while bulldozers razed the land.
Official: Settlers plant olive trees on private Palestinian land
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 10 June — A group of over a dozen settlers planted olive trees on private Palestinian land in the Nablus village of Jalud on Tuesday, a Palestinian official said. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that settlers from Esh Kodesh settlement planted dozens of olive tree saplings on land belonging to Rashid Muhammad al-Haj Muhammad and Ahmad Abdul Majid al-Haj Muhammad.
Israeli police arrest three Palestinian youths who returned to the village of Iqrit
Mondoweiss 10 June by Allison Deger –Sunday morning police and authorities with the Israeli Lands Administration arrested three youth in the village of Iqrit near the border with Lebanon, uprooting trees and confiscating tents and furniture. The youths — Walaa Sbeit, Nidal Khoury and Jeries Khiatt — were eating breakfast outside of the village’s church, the only fixed structure in Iqrit, when around 20 officers arrived. “We had our mass in our church, and it was a memorial for a man from Iqrit who passed away a month ago,” said Shadia Sbeit (aunt of Walaa), the village spokesperson. Khoury yelled as the police took chairs and tables that were borrowed for the commemoration. In turn, three officers threw him to the ground and kicked him repeatedly, said Sbeit. Monday morning the three youths were arraigned in a district court. Sbeit and Khiatt were released under house arrest for 60 days, for the charge of interfering with an officer’s duty. After the arrest, tens of other villagers arrived to Iqrit and several other and supporters gathered outside of the jail where they were held. Aside from the church and the cemetery there are no other traces of the Iqrit built around 270 years ago by Christian Palestinian families. The Israeli army bombed the entire village in 1951. Then the newly established state of Israel appropriated the area. For decades Iqrit’s leafy hills were under virtual lock and key by a closed military order, and today it is under the stewardship of the lands administration re-zoned as a park. Under Israeli law, permanent structures cannot be built in nature preserves and so the youth sleep in the town’s church or in tents….
Radical Jews protest at holy Jerusalem site
JERUSALEM (AFP) 9 June — Several dozen radical Jews gathered Monday at the Jerusalem site known as the Cenacle to protest against Christian pilgrims praying there for Pentecost, a police spokeswoman said. “Around 30 Jewish faithful gathered to pray in the presence of (rightwing Likud) MP Moshe Feiglin,” Luba Samri told AFP. The Cenacle, or Upper Room, on Mount Zion is in a two-storey building considered holy to both Christians and Jews, who regard it as the place where the biblical figure David was buried. An AFP photographer said Christian pilgrims and tourists were kept by police in one part of the church as militant Jews danced and prayed. Pope Francis ended his recent Middle East trip by celebrating mass at the Cenacle, amid a decades-long debate over prayer rites at the site where Christians believe Jesus had his Last Supper. For Jews, it is the ground floor which is sacred, revered since the 12th century as the burial place of David, who ruled from Jerusalem, although the site has never been excavated and the contents of its sarcophagus are unknown. The Cenacle is also where evangelists believe that the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, 50 days after Easter. “The Christians prayed at the tomb of king David, and for us this is blasphemy,” one of the Jewish protesters, Shaga Brand, told AFP about Christian prayers there on Sunday, calling it a “provocation”. Under Israeli law, Christians are only allowed to pray there twice a year, prompting efforts by the Vatican to negotiate greater access rights to what is one of the most sacred sites in Christendom. Those attempts have sparked a major backlash by nationalist Jewish groups, many of whom wrongly believe Israel is poised to sign over sovereign rights to the site.
Worshipers demonstrate at al-Aqsa compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 June – Dozens of worshipers demonstrated Tuesday at the Moroccans Gate inside the al-Aqsa mosque compound against Israeli restrictions on entering the area. A Ma‘an reporter in Jerusalem said dozens of worshipers demonstrated at the Moroccan Gate after noon prayer. They were protesting the confiscation of ID cards and other abuses. Participants in the demonstration demanded that Israeli police give them back their IDs. Worshipers demanded removing all restrictions on entering al-Aqsa because it is “for Muslims, and they can enter anytime without any restrictions.” Israeli police increased restrictions on al-Aqsa earlier Tuesday, assaulted worshipers and pepper sprayed them while they attempted to enter it.
Israel stops wealthy Palestinian mediator Masri from Gaza entry
Bloomberg News 9 June by Jonathan Ferziger & David Wainer — Israeli border guards barred Munib R. Masri, one of the wealthiest Palestinians, from entering the Gaza Strip after he helped broker the unity agreement aimed at healing the Palestinian Authority’s rift with Hamas. Masri, chairman of Palestine Development & Investment Co., said he was blocked from entering Gaza by military order after waiting more than two hours at an Israeli crossing point. A spokesman for Israel’s Civil Administration, which runs the heavily guarded facility, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment by phone, e-mail and text message. “It’s the first time this happened to me,” said Masri, 80, who said he has been shuttling between Gaza and the West Bank for seven years, trying to bridge the hostile conflict between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Hamas leaders who rule Gaza … Masri said he was headed to Gaza today to meet business leaders and prepare for an investment conference on infrastructure. He said he’ll try again tomorrow. “I’ve been working on the reconciliation talks for the last seven years, and while everybody told me it was impossible to get it done, thank God, we hammered this through now,” Masri said in a phone interview. “It is to the benefit of the Israeli people to have Palestinians speaking in one voice.” As part of an effort to keep peace prospects alive, Masri joined with Israeli high-tech entrepreneur Yossi Vardi to put together Breaking the Impasse, a group that has grown to include about 300 Palestinian and Israeli business leaders. He also met with Secretary of State John Kerry during the latest round of U.S.-backed peace negotiations that collapsed in April.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Nablus man killed ‘en route to Israel’
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 10 June — A young Palestinian man from a northern West Bank village is believed to have been shot dead by Israeli forces six days ago when he was trying to enter Israel without permission. Muhammad Mufeed Yousif Mustafa Thahir, a 20-year-old engineering student from the Nablus-area village of Yasid, was found dead last Friday, two days after he tried to enter Israel with a friend to find work. The friend, Fadi Halayqa from al-Shuyukh village in Hebron, told Ma‘an that after he and Thahir walked for two hours in an attempt to bypass al-Jabaa military checkpoint, he heard heavy gunfire and started to run back. “I ran for about five minutes then stopped and hid. When I looked around I couldn’t see Muhammad,” he told Ma‘an. Halayqa highlighted that he and Thahir wanted to work during the summer holiday to help pay their university tuition fees. “I am sure Muhammad was shot dead by Israeli soldiers,” he said. Two days later, Thahir’s family was notified that he was dead. “The Israeli forces handed over Muhammad’s identity card and his mobile phone, but they have refused to deliver his body,” says Muhammad’s uncle Osama Thahir. “They summoned us to Israeli intelligence office in Etzion … and told us he was dead, but the intelligence officer refused to explain how he died. “When we asked whether he was shot at, an officer said they were trying to reveal the real cause of death.” He said the body of Thahir was being held at Israel’s Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir.
Israeli officers attack, detain Palestinian woman at Aqsa gate
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 June — Israeli police officers detained a Palestinian woman from Jerusalem on Monday afternoon when she attempted to enter the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, witnesses said. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an that after Israeli officers denied Ayda Saydawi entry to the al-Aqsa compound, an officer attacked her brutally “and tore her clothes.” Heated arguments broke out between Israeli officers and Palestinian residents before Saydawi was taken to a police station. Saydawi has been detained several times and has been banned from entering the al-Aqsa mosque for months.
Israeli forces raid Jerusalem village
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 June — Israeli forces on Tuesday afternoon raided al-‘Issawiya village and erected a flying checkpoint in its streets and entrances for the third day in a row. The village’s monitoring committee member Mohammed Abu al-Homs said dozens of Israeli soldiers raided the village, were deployed in its alleys, and were covered by a helicopter. Abu al-Homs said that Israeli forces stopped and “provoked” villagers by taking their IDs, which led to clashes between the two parties in which Israeli forces fired stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets. He added that the windshield of 10 cars were damaged after being struck directly by stun grenades. Tensions had been rising in the village as Israeli forces raided it in the last three days, he said.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian student near Jenin
JENIN (Ma‘an) 9 June — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian university student as he was passing through a checkpoint in the northern West Bank late Sunday, security sources said. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘n that 20-year-old Usayd Jihad Ali was detained and taken into custody at a military checkpoint near Arraba crossroads in the Jenin district. Ali is a student at al-Najah University in Nablus.
3 kidnapped from West Bank
IMEMC 10 June by Chris Carlson– Israeli forces kidnapped three Palestinians from West Bank cities of Jenin and Hebron, today — According to Palestinian security sources, the Israeli army raided Jenin refugee camp and Kofr Ra‘i town, where they broke into several houses, the PNN has reported. Two Palestinian youth, identified as Isam Sameeh Nagi Ka’ki, 22, and Najeeb Mohammad Naser, 25, were abducted during the raid. Meanwhile, at the entrance of Agah town, south of Jenin, Israeli forces set up a checkpoint where they checked passengers’ vehicles and identification. The army also raided the old city of Hebron, where one Saed Abedallah Abu-Hussine, aged 28, was kidnapped after forces broke into his parents’ house.
Israeli forces detain 3 Palestinians overnight
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 June — Israeli forces detained three Palestinians in overnight raids, security sources and an army spokesperson said. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that several Israeli military vehicles entered the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank and that soldiers detained Mahmoud al-Jabali after ransacking his home. Soldiers also raided Balata refugee camp in Nablus, arresting 25-year-old Iyad Subhi Abu Hamadah and 23-year-old Suleiman Abu Asab, the sources said.
Israel: Killing of children apparent war crime
JERUSALEM (Human Rights Watch) 9 June — Video footage, photographs, witness statements, and medical records indicate that two 17-year-old boys whom Israeli forces shot and killed on May 15, 2014 posed no imminent threat to the forces at the time. The boys, who had been participating in a demonstration in the West Bank, were apparently shot with live ammunition, Human Rights Watch said. Video footage clearly shows Israeli soldiers firing in the direction of the boys, Nadim Nawareh and Mohammed Salameh, and the boys falling to the ground. Medical records indicate that the two boys, as well as 15-year-old, Mohammed Azza, whom Israeli forces also shot and seriously wounded, suffered wounds to the chest caused by live ammunition. Nawareh and Salameh were shot right through the chest. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch they heard the sound of live ammunition being fired, quite distinct from the sound of rubber bullet fire, at the time the three boys were shot. “The willful killing of civilians by Israeli security forces as part of the occupation is a war crime,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director. “Israel has a responsibility to prosecute the forces who targeted these teens, and also those responsible for assigning the use of live ammunition to police a demonstration.” The Israeli military stated that it is investigating the killings but that its forces “did not use live fire,” only rubber bullets and teargas. However, rubber bullets are specifically designed not to penetrate bodies.
Israeli officer who ordered killing of Palestinian promoted to head of ‘Depth Corps’
IMEMC 10 June by Saed Bannoura –– Israeli Brigadier General Roni Numa was promoted to head the Israeli military’s ‘Depth Corps’ this week, despite having ordered the ‘neutralization’ of a Palestinian civilian in 2001. The Palestinian man was killed in the operation, and his wife and children who were in the car with him during the assassination were wounded. They later filed a lawsuit against the Israeli government for the death. The Israeli military stated that “nothing about the incident discredits” Numa, and that he is the best person to head the ‘depth Corps’. This is despite the fact that an Israeli court ruled that the order given by Numa to the men under his command, that they should kill the Palestinian civilian, “should not have been given”. The incident took place near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem in October 2001. The Battalion 202 of the Paratrooper Brigade commanded by Numa was stationed there, and one soldier pointed out to Numa that a Palestinian man came every day for a week to park his car in a certain place and talk on the phone. The soldier argued that this was suspicious behavior, and Numa approved an assassination of the Palestinian. Abdallah Jarousha was the victim of the attack – he had been attempting to visit his sister, whose home was located on the other side of where the soldiers were stationed. Unable to reach his sister’s home, he would return home and try again the next day.
Gaza under dual blockades
Rights group ‘deeply concerned’ over closure of Gaza banks
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 June 16:44 — The Palestinian Center for Human rights said Tuesday that it is “deeply concerned” over the continued closure of banks in the Gaza Strip, urging all parties to find a solution. Banks have been closed for six days by Gaza security forces in protest against the non-payment of salaries to employees of the former Hamas-run government by the new unity government. Employees of the previous government see it as Ramallah’s responsibility to pay their salaries, a point of contention yet to be worked out by the new government. Several shop-owners in Gaza said Tuesday that security forces had even confiscated MasterCard machines from shops and stores to prevent customers from using them. “The crisis of salaries is a completely political crisis and that the solution to this crisis must be one of the key priorities of the Palestinian President, Hamas and Fatah movements as well as the new Palestinian government,” PCHR said … The suspension of banking activities in the Gaza Strip could lead to further deterioration in conditions for thousands of financially insecure families who rely on payments and threatens the future of Palestinian reconciliation, PCHR said.
Hamas: Gaza banks to re-open Wednesday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 June 20:26 — Banks in the Gaza Strip will re-open Wednesday, Hamas political bureau member Moussa Abu Marzouq said Tuesday. He added that the salary crisis in Gaza would be resolved by the end of the month. Abu Marzouq said in a statement after a meeting in northern Gaza that banks would re-open for Palestinian Authority employees on Wednesday. He added that Gaza employees who were hired during the Hamas government rule will receive the salaries in the coming few days.
Half of Gaza beaches unfit for swimming due to contamination
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 June — Half of the beaches in Gaza have dangerous levels of contamination and are unfit for swimming, the Palestinian environmental authority said Tuesday. The Ministry of Health, together with the environmental authority, takes samples along the coast every month to test levels of pollution and contamination. Khalid Abu Ghali, a spokesman for the environmental authority, told Ma’an that over 50 percent of the beaches are not fit for swimming and the agency has contacted concerned parties and lifeguards to identify areas with high levels of contamination. Maps explaining which beaches are safe will be posted in public areas, he added. The main cause of contamination is the low quality of sewage treatment stations which pump waste-water into the sea. Three stations in Gaza City, Khan Younis, and Rafah do not function properly because of continuous power cuts due to a lack of fuel, Abu Ghali said. Waste-water is often pumped directly into the sea without being treated due to the power cuts.
AP interview: Hamas No. 2 says he’ll move to Gaza
GAZA CITY (AP) 10 June by Mohammed Daraghmeh — The No. 2 leader of Hamas said Tuesday that he hopes to move from his base in Egypt to his native Gaza Strip following last week’s formation of a Palestinian unity government. Moussa Abu Marzouk also told The Associated Press that reconciliation efforts between his Islamic militant movement and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would continue despite a new flare-up of tensions between the long-time rivals. “There are problems, (but) it’s not a crisis,” Abu Marzouk said. “The reconciliation is ahead of us and the split is behind us. We are heading this way because reconciliation is the choice of our people. We have taken real steps and will continue.” … Abu Marzouk came to Gaza from Egypt in April for reconciliation talks and said he now plans to move to Gaza permanently. “With God’s help, I intend to stay,” said the 63 year old, who was born in Gaza’s Rafah refugee camp but spent his adult life in exile … Abu Marzouk served as the top Hamas leader in the 1990s, but was replaced by the current leader, Khaled Mashaal.
Ex-Islamic Jihad leader launches new armed group in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 10 June by Rasha Ablu Jalal — Those attending the funeral of Palestinian resistance member Nizar Issa, who was killed during an explosion at a resistance training center in the northern Gaza Strip on May 25, were surprised when Hisham Salem, a well-known figure in Gaza, declared the start of a new resistance movement in Palestine and proclaimed Issa as the first martyr in the ranks of this movement. The new movement is called “Al-Sabirin [The Patient] for the Victory of Palestine,” or “Hosn” by its Arabic acronym. Its flag looks a lot like that of Lebanon’s Hezbollah in form and color — the reason why Salem’s local opponents accused him of promoting a Shiite current — which raises significant concerns for Palestinians about an outbreak of sectarian strife in the Gaza Strip and turning Gaza into a second Iraq. What makes those accusations real for observers is the proliferation of YouTube videos showing Salem talking about historical events that are important to Shiites, such as the battle of Karbala and the killing of Imam Hussein.
Gaza rocket slams into southern Israel
Ynet 11 June by Ilana Curiel –For second time since Palestinian unity government announced, rocket fired from Gaza Strip hits Israel; no injuries reported; ‘Attack shows Hamas still controls Gaza, unity government isn’t real,’ security official says. It is unclear whether Hamas, who relinquished control of the Gaza Strip as part of a Palestinian unity government with rival Fatah movement, was behind the attack. In the past, Israel held Hamas responsible for any rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, treating it as the sovereign in the enclave. However, with the Palestinian unity government, the Palestinian Authority’s technocratic government is now in charge.
Chomsky slams international silence on Israel’s blockade of Gaza
TEHRAN (FNA) 10 June — Noted American thinker Noam Chomsky condemned the international community’s deafening silence on Israel’s inhumane blockade on the population in the Gaza Strip, describing it as shameful behavior. Chomsky made his remarks on Monday after he signed a petition demanding an end to Gaza siege, which was launched by the popular committee against the siege, PIC reported. Chomsky called for ending Israel’s blockade on Gaza immediately and enabling the population to enjoy freedom and every opportunity they deserve in life. He also said that no one has experienced suffering more than the Gaza population who live in the world’s largest open-air prison and are exposed to killing, terrorism and humiliation. The American thinker added that the blockade on Gaza, which was created by Israel in order to humiliate its people, is considered one of the greatest crimes in the 21st century.
PA Minister of Agriculture dumps settlement products
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 June — The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture on Monday dumped over 500 kilograms of dates produced in illegal Israeli settlements. Director of the Jerusalem office of the ministry, Ahmad Lafi, told Ma‘an that the produce was seized by officers and discarded in the al-Ram area. A total of around 100 cartons were destroyed. Palestinians should boycott settlement products and support Palestinian produce instead, Lafi added. The Palestinian Authority announced its boycott of settlement produce in early 2010.
Unity / Political developments / Other news
Poll: Palestinians prefer suing Israel at the ICC rather than starting third intifada
Jerusalem Post 10 June by Tovah Lazaroff — Palestinian Center for Policy and Research also finds that majority of Palestinians believe Fatah-Hamas unity does not close door on talks — Palestinians want to bring Israel before the International Criminal Court more than they want to fight them in the streets in an armed third intifada, according to a poll conducted by Khalil Shikaki of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. Palestinians continue to support a two-state solution and do not believe that the newly unified Fatah-Hamas government is an obstacle to renewed negotiations, according to Shikaki’s data, which he presented at the 2014 Herzliya Conference on Tuesday. Israelis also believe it is possible to negotiate with the new Palestinian government, according to pollster Mina Tzemach, who spoke on the same panel as Shikaki. In the absence of talks, Israelis prefer annexing portions of the West Bank over unilaterally withdrawing from territory there, she said. Israeli public opinion is evenly divided on the question of freezing West Bank settlement- building, she added. Both polls are among the first data to measure Palestinian and Israeli public opinion on the changes in the peace process over the last two months.
Israel seeks return of PA forces to Gaza, dismantling of Hamas military arm
Haaretz 9 June by Barak Ravid — Israel launched an international diplomatic campaign last week aimed at putting pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the new Palestinian government to assert its control over the Gaza Strip and take security responsibility for what happens there. On Thursday, June 5, the Foreign Ministry issued an order to Israel’s diplomatic missions worldwide, regarding diplomatic activity following the wave of international recognition for the new Palestinian unity government. “You are requested to contact the most senior politicians possible in your place of service and to convey our expectation that they let Mahmoud Abbas know that the new government’s proclamation of acceptance of the Quartet’s conditions must be translated into actions, and that the new government must assert its control in the field,” it said … A senior official in Jerusalem said that Israel’s ambassadors were instructed to call upon all countries where they were posted to present Abbas with a series of security demands to prove the seriousness of his intentions: 1. Dismantling Hamas’ military arm – Iz al-Din al-Qassam – and having the Palestinian Authority assume oversight of its people and arms. 2. A complete halt to the manufacturing and smuggling of arms into Gaza, and missile fire at Israel. 3. Renewed deployment of the PA security apparatuses throughout the Gaza Strip, at the border crossings with Israel and the Rafah border crossing with Egypt … This is the second set of instructions that has been sent to Israel’s ambassadors around the world since the Palestinian unity government was established. Unlike the first, which consisted largely of statements of denunciation and protest, the current instructions seem to indicate that Israel is beginning to acknowledge the new reality and is defining clearer diplomatic objectives in relation to the unity government.
Hamas: PA forces assault protesters in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 June — Palestinian Authority security forces “assaulted” Hamas-affiliated protesters in Ramallah Monday evening, the Islamist movement said. Hamas said it had organized a protest in support of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners and that PA forces who were trying to prevent the rally assaulted Hamas leader Hassan Yousef, among other protesters. Additionally, three Palestinian journalists who were covering the rally were also targeted by PA forces. As the security forces attempted to disperse the rally, brawls broke out, leading to injuries among protesters. Hamas condemned the forces’ actions and demanded that the PA be held responsible. Assaults by the security forces “poison the atmosphere of the reconciliation,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zahri.
Jerusalem hospital at risk of closure
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 June – A major East Jerusalem hospital is at risk of closure due to crippling financial difficulties blamed on the lack of adequate support by the Palestinian Authority, says director. Employees haven’t received their monthly wages for three months, Dr Rafiq al-Husseini, the director of al-Maqasid Hospital in the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, told Ma‘an on Tuesday. He added that the hospital suffers from a serious shortage in medicines and medical equipment. “Our message is clear: the Palestinian Authority must support Jerusalem and its institutions. The PA ministries of health and finance must provide support to this hospital and all other hospitals in the city.” Palestinian ministers, added Al-Husseini, have recently made promises to the administration of al-Maqasid, but since then the financial crisis has been aggravating. Husseini confirmed that if nothing is done before the month of Ramadan (end of June), employees will not get their salaries and suppliers of equipment do not get their money. “We are headed to a collapse,” he said. The United States was supposed to pay al-Maqasid a grant of $38 million, but it was cancelled due to the political crisis after peace talks came to a stalemate, according to Husseini. The deputy secretary of the union of employees said employees have not been paid regularly since November 2013. He confirmed that if a solution to the crisis isn’t found, the hospital will not accept any patients after June 17. Iyad Sayyid Ahmad highlighted that the PA’s ministry of health owes al-Maqasid Hospital $50 million. The ministry, he said, told the administration that it can’t pay any of these debts under the current conditions.
‘Will FIFA free our sons?’ International football associations discuss the Israeli occupation ahead of the World Cup
Mondoweiss 10 June by Julie Couzinet — Today, June 10, representatives from football associations around the world will gather in Sao Paulo, Brasil, for the 64th FIFA congress. During last year’s congress, FIFA’s President Sepp Blatter received a mandate: solve the conflict between the Israeli and Palestinian associations over restrictions of movement for Palestinian players. “It’s a difficult issue and Mr. Blatter is doing all he can to solve it. I have no doubt about that,” says Susan Shalabi, Director of the International Department of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA). Still, the PFA is considering calling for Israel’s expulsion from the FIFA as a sanction if Blatter reports he was not able to meet his mandate. Restriction of movement is the only issue the PFA was able to bring to the table in a compromise with the Israeli Football Association (IFA) … For the families of Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya and Johar Halabiya, two football players shot earlier this year and awaiting trial after forty days of administrative detention, the question of whether Israeli is expelled from FIFA is secondary: their sons will most likely remain in jail either way.
Hamdallah praises UNRWA’s support to Gaza, refugee camps
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 9 June – Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Monday commended the efforts undertaken by UNRWA in support of the Palestinian refugees, particularly in the Gaza Strip, especially in health and education sectors. He called on the international community to compel Israel to lift its siege on the Gaza Strip. The remarks came as Hamdallah met with the UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl and his accompanying delegation on Monday, at the Office of the Prime Minister in Ramallah, where the parties discussed the importance of supporting and setting up projects in the West Bank’s refugee camps and the Diaspora, especially in Syria. Hamdallah urged UNRWA to make greater efforts and to allocate aid to the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and refugees displaced from Syria to Lebanon … Krahenbuhl and the accompanying delegation stressed that UNRWA staff had returned to work as normal, adding that discussions regarding the raise in pay are still open.
Palestinian unity government brings rare hope for refugees
BALATA REFUGEE CAMP, Palestine (The National) 8 June by Orlando Crowcroft // On the wall of a shabby concrete apartment block in the West Bank’s Balata refugee camp, a bright mural of a flowering tree is a rare symbol of hope amid the ramshackle buildings and streets criss-crossed with frayed electrical wires. Inside their tiny ground-floor apartment, Kamal Mousaid Tawfiq, 53, and his wife, Tahrir, 27, barely register when asked about it. Sat on a worn mattress in the five by four-metre room, they are more concerned with keeping a roof over the family’s head. Optimism is a rare commodity in Balata but the announcement of a Palestinian unity government last week has offered a glimmer of promise to those living with the hardships of life under Israeli occupation … Mr Tawfiq believes that having the two factions now working together may lead to an improvement in the Palestinian economy and an easing of his financial suffering.
Israel MPs elect Reuven Rivlin as president
BBC 10 June — The Israeli parliament has elected veteran Likud lawmaker Reuven Rivlin as the country’s next president. Mr Rivlin, a former parliamentary speaker and Cabinet minister, defeated long-time MP Meir Sheetrit, by 63 to 53 in a secret run-off ballot. He will succeed Shimon Peres, 90, who ends his seven-year term in July. The Israeli president occupies a largely ceremonial position and has no formal role in peace talks with the Palestinians.Mr Rivlin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, will become Israel’s 10th president.
Knesset allocates NIS 1 billion for Holocaust survivors
Ynetnews 10 June –Lapid says move mends ‘historical injustice’ in which Holocaust survivors were forced to pay for their own medication and battle bureaucracy. … The program further stipulates giving survivors of the ghettos and the death camps who immigrated to Israel after 1953 equal benefits as those who moved to Israel immediately after the war. The move is valued at NIS 277 million and mends what some have described as an historic injustice in which some survivors received less than others.
Why is Obama prosecuting this torture victim?
EndtheOccupation 10 June by Josh Ruebner — Take Action: Get DoJ to Drop Charges against Rasmea Odeh — Last November, we asked you to write U.S. District Attorney Barbara McQuade calling on her to drop charges against Rasmea Odeh, the 67-year-old Palestinian-American Associate Director of the Arab American Action Network in Chicago. In 1969, Israel brutally tortured Rasmea, her father, and her fiancé, eventually extracting from her a “confession” to a crime which she did not commit. Last year, the Obama administration dusted off her ten-year-old application to become a U.S. citizen and charged her with “unlawful procurement of naturalization” for allegedly omitting mention of her time in Israeli prison, despite the fact that Rasmea publicly testified at the UN about the torture she suffered while imprisoned. Rather than prosecute this torture victim and well-respected community organizer — honored by the Chicago Cultural Alliance last year with its “Outstanding Community Leader Award” in recognition of her devoting “over 40 years of her life to the empowerment of Arab women” — President Obama should make good on his pledge to take “concrete actions against torture and to address the needs of its victims” by dropping the spurious charges against Rasmea. Even though thousands of people have contacted the U.S. District Attorney, the Obama administration is still pushing for a trial — currently set to begin on September 2 — which could result in Rasmea being stripped of her U.S. citizenship and deported. Here’s what you can do to take action and spread the word:
Israel has Egypt over a barrel
Middle East Eye 9 June by David Hearst #GasScam — Lopsided natural resource deals Egypt signed with Israel under Mubarak have cost the country billions and left the people struggling with daily shortages. Now Sisi’s ascendancy to Egypt’s presidency clears the way for more
Video: How Israel and Mubarak stole billions of gas dollars from the Egyptian people
Electronic Intifada 9 June by Ali Abunimah — When Israel invaded and bombed Gaza without mercy for three weeks in December 2008 and January 2009, the energy its army needed to fuel its assault was provided by Egypt. This stark reality is one of the points made in Egypt’s Lost Power, an investigative documentary broadcast today by Al Jazeera and available worldwide online (above). It provides new insight into how Egypt’s vast natural gas wealth was stolen through collusion by Israel and cronies of the former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak … While internationally, gas sold for up to $12.60 per million British Thermal Units (MBTU), Egypt was selling its gas to EMG for as little as $1.50 – a scandalously low price that cost Egypt $11 billion in lost revenue … Following the February 2011 removal of Mubarak, the pipeline carrying the gas to Israel was blown up more than a dozen times until, in 2012, the Egyptian army put a stop to the gas flow, reneging on the EMG deal. But now Maiman and EMG are taking Egypt to international arbitration courts where they will have a strong case for breach of contract. Egypt could end up owing the company – and Israel – billions more.
Analysis / Opinion
Israeli left’s baffling support for Rivlin / Akiva Eldar
If the Knesset elects Reuven “Ruby” Rivlin as Israel’s president on June 10 [they did], he will be the right man at the right time. There is no one more fitting than Rivlin to represent the Greater Land of Israel, the land of the settlers and of self-isolation. There is no time more fitting than this period of diplomatic drought and flood of settlements to bestow Israel’s most stately and esteemed role on the person who proclaimed the following on the occasion of the 2012 Independence Day ceremony: “Even in our 64th year of independence, we remember that we were a generation of settlers — and continue to be a generation of settlers.” Former Knesset Speaker Rivlin is the true face of Israel 2014. He is devoid of pretense, unlike Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in his landmark Bar-Ilan speech spoke of a two-state solution but has since spared no obstacle to prevent its implementation … Little wonder, then, that Netanyahu tried to extend President Shimon Peres’ term to prevent Rivlin’s election. Rivlin will not travel on Netanyahu’s behalf to the White House to convince the American president that the prime minister is truly willing to withdraw from most of the occupied territories. Rivlin would not have been invited to the Vatican to embrace Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the presence of the pope. World leaders will not come to Jerusalem to celebrate Rivlin’s birthday as they did for Peres as he smiles at the photographers while at Netanyahu’s side, signaling business as usual to the rest of the world. What the world will see at the construction sites in the settlements and in the scorched Palestinian olive groves, and what the world will hear in the annexation speeches of Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, are what the world will get. The president’s residence will no longer serve as the main beauty parlor and cosmetics salon for Israel’s right-wing governments.
9 facts about Israeli president Reuven Rivlin / Marsha B. Cohen
LobeLog 10 June — There are many paradoxes in the views of this right-wing Likudnik — hardly known outside of Israel — that explain why some of the most progressive Israelis respect him and believe he will be a suitable nonpartisan representative of the State of Israel in his largely ceremonial role as president. 1. Rivlin believes in democracy, free speech and political pluralism. He has vehemently opposed the witch hunts targeting progressive Israeli organizations, and resisted demands by right-wing politicians that the activities of left-leaning human rights groups in Israel be halted and outlawed … 2. Rivlin has consistently condemned the anti-Arab racism pervading Israeli society. He was incensed after learning that Arab construction workers on the Knesset grounds had red Xs painted on their protective helmets to distinguish them from foreign workers, and insisted on the immediate removal of the distinguishing marks. “We cannot allow the use of any markings that could be seen as a differentiation between people on the basis of race, ethnicity and religion,” he declared … 3. Rivlin opposes making civic and political rights for Israeli Arabs (or, as many prefer to be known, “Palestinian citizens of Israel”) contingent upon their serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) … 4. An unabashed proponent of the one state solution, Rivlin advocates giving full Israeli civil and political rights to West Bank Palestinians in a single-state scenario….