Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
Five big EU countries press Israel to delay settlement plans
Haaretz 12 June by Barak Ravid — Following pressure by Western European diplomats, the Civil Administration decided on Wednesday to delay the recently announced plans to move forward on construction of 1,800 settlement homes. The only plans approved by the Civil Administration’s High Planning Council concerned 381 housing units in Givat Ze’ev. Those involving construction in Ariel, Har Bracha, Alfei Menashe, Oranit and other settlements were put off, along with plans in the settlement outpost Al-Matan … Senior Israeli officials involved in coordinating activities in the settlements played down the pressure, however, saying Thursday that only some of the plans up for discussion were postponed – due to technical reasons, they added, and not at the request of the European ambassadors.
Israeli military training causes widespread disruption near Yatta
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 June — Hundreds of Israeli soldiers have been undertaking military training exercises in the south Hebron hills for the past five days, causing widespread restrictions and disruptions for local Palestinian residents. Operation Dove, a peace group which works in the area, said Thursday that hundreds of soldiers have deployed by military bases near the villages of Jinba and Mirkez. The Israeli soldiers have set up tents to sleep in and store military equipment and are deploying in groups within nearby villages to carry out training exercises. Local Palestinians have suffered restrictions on their freedom of movement during the training, with several agricultural fields damaged by the troops. Shepherds reported being chased away with their flocks by Israeli soldiers, while others say they were assaulted, Operation Dove said. During the night, local villagers say the Israeli soldiers have been using explosives and have even entered the villages, frightening residents.
Defense Ministry: Army to keep expelling Palestinians from firing zones
Haaretz 12 June by Jonathan Lis — The army plans to continue expelling Palestinians from military firing zones in Area C of the West Bank, which is under total Israeli control, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon told the Knesset on Wednesday. “It’s not pleasant to remove people from their homes, but what can we do when these are designated firing zones?” he said. “Whoever is in an area that doesn’t belong to him that has been declared a firing zone will have to be evacuated from there, and yes, we plan to remove more people.” Danon was responding to an urgent parliamentary query by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) following a Haaretz report that an Israel Defense Forces official acknowledged the IDF uses training zones in the West Bank to displace Palestinians. Zandberg addressed her query to the Defense Ministry, asking how the officials’ admission was congruent with the state’s argument that live-fire zones are designated solely for military purposes.
Western Wall plaza facilities cut to size
Haaretz 13 June by Nir Hasson — The size of an office building and museum planned for Jerusalem’s Western Wall plaza will be reduced in accordance with a ruling this week by the National Council for Planning and Building’s appeals committee. The plan, nicknamed Beit Haliba, provoked across-the-board opposition, ranging from planners and Jewish Quarter residents to archaeologists. Opponents asserted the building would reduce the plaza’s size, overshadow it, cause damage to remains of the ancient Roman street underneath and even cause safety problems for Western Wall visitors. In addition, Palestinians asserted that the building violates the status quo around Temple Mount.
Mapping what’s been lost
Mondoweiss 12 June by Eitan Bronstein — The Canada Park region has become completely Israeli in at least two ways: 1) It was “annexed” to Israel and “naturalized.” No signage indicates it’s located beyond the Green Line, there’s almost no trace of the Palestinian villages Israel captured and demolished during the 1967 war and an attractive Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL) forest has been planted serving thousands of visitors annually. 2) Israel never agreed in negotiations with Palestinians to relinquish the area; the Zionist leadership expects it to remain part of Israel.  (Editor’s Note: The Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael is the Israeli arm of the Jewish National Fund.) Zochrot was born in Canada Park in 2001 because KKL signs made no mention of ‘Imwas and Yalu, villages on whose ruins the park was established.  Since then the organization has conducted many activities and led many tours in the area, the most recent of which was part of the “New KKL” exhibit Moran Barir and I mounted in the Zochrot Gallery, March-May 2014. The most notable part of the exhibit was a huge map of the Canada Park area, 4 x 5 meters in size, on the gallery floor. This is the fourth map I’ve created.  All of them are oppositional, opposed to the usual, existing Israeli maps. As such, they’re utopian maps (maps of “no-place”) or maps of lost locations that will no longer exist.
From Jaffa to Beirut: Re-imagining a borderless Middle East / Leehee Rothschild
972blog 11 June — On a day trip through Israel, one truly understands how close the country is to the great cities of the Middle East. Unfortunately, distances here aren’t measured by kilometers, but rather by border crossings — Sometimes I think that the greatest tragedy of this place is not what it has become, but what it could have been. The greatest rupture in the Middle East was the destruction of the train route from Alexandria to Istanbul – precisely where Israeli existence takes place, spatially and linguistically. “From Yaffa to Beirut,” a tour put on by Zochrot, an Israeli NGO dedicated to raising awareness of the Nakba, attempted to fill the gap created by this rupture. The tour seeks not only to mark the old border, but aspires to cross and do away with it. The day starts in the ruins of Manshiyya, the border between present-day Tel Aviv and Jaffa, near the Hassan Bek Mosque and a museum dedicated to the Irgun, a right-wing Zionist militia. I decide to sleep in and join the tour just as it is about to head north. On the bus, people share stories about the Middle East of the past; they tell of a space characterized by movement, about grandfathers who drove from Tulkarem to Syria to sell their melons and about Jews who studied in the University of Beirut, where my grandmother studied.
Israel’s settlement tourism
Al-Monitor 13 June by Yuval Avivi — In April, hundreds of thousands Israelis spent Passover touring the country, just as they do every year. Over the past few years, many Israelis have chosen to visit the sites of Judea and Samaria as their preferred holiday destination. This trend is no coincidence. After years of straddling the delicate boundary between legitimacy and illegitimacy within Israeli society, the people of Judea and Samaria decided to switch tactics. Instead of fighting for the diplomatic legitimacy of the settlement enterprise, they launched a vast tourist campaign to turn Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley into a legitimate tourist destination among the Israeli mainstream. Publications in 2011 indicated that they have set their goal at half a million visitors in five years. The settlers’ tourist campaign recruited at the time Ze’ev Revach, one of Israel’s most popular veteran actors, to represent it,and the main media outlets have also given special treatment to this new initiative. And, indeed, Israeli public opinion changed rapidly. Visiting sites across the 1967 line has become more and more legitimate.Already before last Passover it was reported that “160,000 people had visited so far [in the last three years].” This trend of visiting Judea and Samaria is not limited to national tourism, either. Many tourists from overseas also want to visit the area because of the region’s rebranding as the Israeli “Wine Route,” the numerous mountain bike routes available and, of course, the biblical sites that draw many Christians.
Israel demolishes Bedouin village in Negev for 70th time
[with video] BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 12 June — Israeli forces on Thursday demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib for the 70th time, witnesses told Ma‘an. Hundreds of Israeli police officers and special forces deployed in the area at dawn and closed all roads leading to the Negev village. A large number of residents spent the night inside the village cemetery to try and prevent Israeli bulldozers from demolishing nearby structures. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri told Ma‘’an that the cemetery would not be destroyed, but several other “illegal” structures were demolished under the supervision of Negev deputy police chief Elan Peretz. Bedouin MK Taleb Abu Arar, former MK Talab al-Sani and dozens of activists were present in al-Araqib when the demolitions took place.
Israel begins razing Bedouin village of Al-Arakib – for 50th time
Haaretz 12 June by Shirly Seidler — Struggle with the state over land ownership has been ongoing since 1998 — Israel Police forces and Israel Land Authority workers began demolishing structures in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al-Arakib in the northern Negev, on Thursday morning. This is the 50th time [or so] the village has been razed in the last decade and a half. The demolition of some 20 structures erected in the village’s cemetery began shortly after the Ramle Magistrate’s Court rejected an appeal by residents against their expulsion from the village. Many residents of the village, which has been evacuated numerous times in the past, took refuge in the local mosque, itself built inside the cemetery. The State Prosecutor’s Office denied that the structures were in the cemetery proper, saying they were just outside it.
PHOTOS: Police detain Bedouin youths for re-building their demolished village
Activestills 13 June — Police forces entered the recently-destroyed Bedouin village of Al-Arakib Friday morning, detaining two minors accused of re-building structures in the area. Al-Arakib was razed to the ground on Thursday, including the cemetery area which had previously gone untouched by the authorities. After the demolitions, residents of the village built several temporary structures in order to provide shelter for those who were left homeless. The two minors were detained by the policemen who promised they would be returned “in two minutes time.”
Waze traffic app becomes Israeli-Palestinian battleground
Times of Israel 10 June by David Shamah — Waze drivers with access to the platform’s editable road maps have, over the past weeks, changed the name of the fence running between Israel proper and the West Bank, with the name seesawing between “Security Fence” and “Separation Wall.” This makes the commuter app the latest battleground in an ongoing “political mapping” struggle between supporters of Israel and those opposed to its policies. A spokesperson for Waze said that the company did not know anything about it and did not get involved in politics. Waze is the app drivers around the world turn to for information about their commutes. The platform collects information including traffic, speed, accidents, potholes, and police surveillance and broadcasts it out to users of the app. Waze uses GPS location services and other smartphone features to automatically gauge how fast and where a driver is traveling, then transposes the information onto a map. Maps are updated automatically on a regular basis to reflect closures, construction and new additions. To ensure maximum accuracy, Waze also allows online users to edit the maps … Spokespeople for Israeli activist groups on the both the left and right (Peace Now, B’Tselem, Regavim, Im Tirzu) said that they were not aware of any organized campaign to politicize Waze maps. Tal Grunberg, an activist behind a petition to get Israeli TV weather maps, school textbooks and Waze to display the Green Line, said he had nothing to do with the matter. “All maps of Israel that are taught in schools, are shown in the media, Waze and in weather reports, show Israel as a land that had already annexed the West Bank,” said Grunberg. “This constitutes a blunt indoctrination that affects students, soldiers and civilians. Generations are raised to believe that the West Bank is a part of Israel despite the fact that these territories were never annexed by any of the Israeli governments since 1967.” While he is happy that “someone is bringing some sense to Waze,” he doesn’t know whom to congratulate.
Blattner calls on Israel to ease travel rules for Palestine footballers
SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) 11 June by Mike Collett — FIFA president Sepp Blatter and delegates at the FIFA Congress called on the Israeli government on Wednesday to fully commit to FIFA’s plans to ease restrictions on movement for Palestinian footballers. “I call on the Israeli government to facilitate this movement and I go so far as to say its co-operation is crucial,” Blatter told delegates who roundly applauded him. He said that relations between the Israeli and Palestine soccer associations had generally improved since a Task Force was established at last year’s Congress in Mauritius and the Israeli government needed to back FIFA’s plans. After Blatter spoke, Jibril Rajoub, the president of the Palestine FA said they would not be calling for any sanctions against Israel as he had implied a month ago, but that the suffering of Palestine soccer had to end.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Repression of protests / Illegal arrests
28 injured, 8 detained in fierce clashes at Al-Aqsa
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Twenty-eight Palestinians were injured and eight detained during clashes that broke out after Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City after Friday prayers. Israeli forces stormed the holy compound, which is the third-holiest site in Islam, after worshipers began marching in support of more than 125 Palestinian administrative detainees who have been on hunger strike for more than 50 days. The march left through the Moroccan and Chain Gates, at which point groups of special forces began firing stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets toward worshipers. Special forces also began beating worshipers with batons, including ambulance crews and journalists on the scene, while another Israeli unit besieged the worshipers in the Al-Aqsa Qibli Mosque and closed the doors and launched stun grenades and pepper gas into it. A fourth unit besieged worshipers inside the Marwani Mosque, and fired stun grenades and gas at worshipers, who were mostly elderly, according to the Al-Aqsa mosque director. After the end of clashes, police set up a checkpoint at the doors of the Al-Aqsa mosque and began checking identity cards. They detained eight Palestinians during the checks, according to police. A doctor at Al-Aqsa medical clinic Ziad Sorour said that 28 Palestinians were injured by shrapnel from the stun grenades. The wounds were primarily in the back and the legs and he described them as “moderate” injuries.
3 journalists injured in Bil‘in protest
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 June — Three journalists were injured and dozens suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces dispersed a weekly protest in Bil‘in village near Ramallah. Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas at protesters as they neared their lands near the wall, injuring photographer Abbas al-Momini with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the pelvis, and Palestine TV cameraman Shamekh Jagoub and photographer Haitham Khatib with tear-gas canisters in the abdomen. Participants raised Palestinian flags and posters of prisoners as they marched throughout the village chanting songs for unity and in support of prisoners. Protesters wore prisoner uniforms and played football in front of the prison.
Rights groups: Autopsy shows live fire killed Palestinian whose death was captured on video
RAMALLAH, Palestine (AP) 2 June by Karin Laub — Preliminary autopsy findings show that a Palestinian teen killed during a lull in a West Bank confrontation between stone throwers and Israeli troops was killed by live ammunition, two human rights groups said Thursday. The Israeli military has denied use of live ammunition in the May 15 incident, insisting troops only used rubber-coated steel pellets, a standard means of crowd control. Troops are only permitted to use live ammunition in life-threatening situations.
Two 17-year-old teens, Nadim Nawara and Mohammed Salameh, were killed that day, during intermittent confrontations between several dozen Palestinian stone throwers and Israeli troops on the outskirts of the West Bank town of Beitouniya. The teens were killed in the same spot but more than an hour apart. Their deaths drew worldwide attention in part because their final moments were captured by security cameras. In each case, the footage showed the teen walking in the street, a few meters from a wall where others were taking cover. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said at the time the teens posed no threat to soldiers, raising “grave suspicions” that they were victims of wilful shootings. Nawara’s body was exhumed Wednesday for an autopsy at a Palestinian forensics institute. The autopsy was performed by the chief Palestinian pathologist and was attended by two Israeli pathologists, including the head of Israel’s main forensics institute, as well as two colleagues from the U.S. and Denmark, said Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem and Shahwan Jabareen of the Palestinian rights group Al Haq.
Elderly American couple held hostage in their home by Israeli soldiers
Electronic Intifada 13 June by Ali Abunimah — Last week, dramatic video showed villagers expelling Israeli soldiers who had occupied the home of an elderly couple in the West Bank village of Silwad. That couple were Palestinian Americans Muhammad Ali Ayad, 76, and his wife Nagma, 68, who were held hostage in the house by the soldiers for 14 hours until their friends and relatives freed them. They gave their testimony – in the video above – to the human rights campaign group Euro-Mid, which also published a comprehensive account of the incident. Euro-Mid’s video report includes security camera footage of the soldiers approaching the house in the early hours of Friday, 6 June, as Muhammad Ayad explains: “At 3:00am, the Israeli army knocked on the door, I opened and eleven soldiers pushed me out of the way and entered the house. They closed the doors, shut down the windows and held us captive. We didn’t know at that time what they wanted from us. I told them that only I and my wife live in this house and that there is no one else. They told us to shut up and took our cell phones, the keys of the house, and everything else. They locked us up in the living room for fourteen hours. From 3:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon. We both didn’t eat during all this time; we were very stressed and terrified. I had some coffee and my wife had some juice. Luckily, after fourteen hours, our neighbors suspected that we are being held captive as they saw the soldiers on the roof of our home.” Footage of their liberation, parts of which are included in the above video report, shows how distressed Mrs. Ayad was after the captivity. Euro-Mid calls the use of the couple effectively as “human shields” an “apparent war crime.” Ayad said that he and his wife, who reside in the United States, were spending the summer in their familial village, and that occupation forces frequently attack their home with tear gas, smashing windows and causing other damage, forcing them to seek refuge elsewhere.
Israeli forces raid al-‘Issawiya for 5th day in a row
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an)13 June — Clashes broke out in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-‘Issawiya on Thursday for the 5th day in a row, locals said. Mohammad Abu al-Homs, a monitoring committee official, told Ma‘an that a large number of Israeli forces raided al-‘Issawiya after being deployed for hours at the entrance to the neighborhood. Israeli forces raided house, shops and physically assaulted several people, leading al-Homs to say that the neighborhood had turned into a “training ground” for Israel. Over 25 people from the neighborhood have been detained by Israeli forces over the past five days, he added.
Israeli forces detain 6 in Bethlehem, East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 June — Israeli forces detained three Palestinian teenagers from the Bethlehem village of Tuqu‘ on Wednesday, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli troops raided the village and detained Maousa Muhammad Mahmoud al-Umour, 15, his brother Karim, 18, and Ahmad Suleiman al-Umour, 16. Kuayy Habis al-Umour, 15, was issued a summons order to appear at Gush Etzion interrogation center. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces detained three men at the al-Zayim checkpoint after finding a gun, knives, and money in a car they were traveling in. The three men, who were not identified, were taken for questioning.
Israeli forces detain disabled man near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 June – Israeli forces on Thursday afternoon detained two Palestinians, including a physically disabled man, in Beit Ummar north of Hebron. Spokesman for the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements Muhammad Awad said that Israeli forces detained Muhammed Hani Younis Bahr, 38, and an unidentified individual, in the area of Wad al-Arn in northern Beit Ummar. Muhammad Awad said that “the residents were in their lands with their car parked nearby when suddenly Israeli forces surrounded them.” “The forces searched their car, handcuffed the other man, and took him in their vehicle, while a policeman and a soldier drove their car to near Etzion military camp.” He added that Bahr was driven in the car, as he is unable to walk.
Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinians in Jenin arrest raids
JENIN (Ma‘an) 12 June — Israeli forces raided Jenin overnight Wednesday and detained two Palestinians, security officials said. Israeli soldiers broke into the home of a Palestinian security officer and detained his brother, Abdul-Fattah Abu Jaafar, 25. Muatasim Ahmad Abu Jaafar, 22, was also arrested in the city. Israeli troops also raided the the home of Bassam Sabri Atiyani, with no detentions reported.
Man hurls explosive device at Palestinian security building in Jenin
JENIN (Ma‘an) 12 June — A man hurled an explosive device at the headquarters of the Palestinian security services in Jenin late Wednesday, security officials said. The young man sustained wounds during the incident after throwing an improvised explosive device at the building. It is unclear whether the man was injured by shrapnel from the explosion or gunfire from Palestinian security officers. He was evacuated to al-Razi hospital in Jenin where doctors say he sustained moderate to serious injuries.
Israeli army: Gunman fires 8 bullets at Beitunia checkpoint
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 June — A border guard unit stationed at the Beitunia checkpoint came under fire by unknown assailants on Friday morning, the Israeli military said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said that “a suspect approached the military post and opened fire at the soldiers, who fired back.” She added that no casualties were reported in the incident, which occurred around 7:30 a.m. Israeli television station Channel Ten said that a young Palestinian man had approached the checkpoint in a car before getting out and firing eight bullets at soldiers stationed at the checkpoint near Ofer Prison west of Ramallah. The station said that the assailant fled the site of the attack without his vehicle, and that the soldiers had begun combing the area of attack in a hunt for the car and the shooter. Channel Ten added that eight empty cartridges had been found at the site belonging to an M-16 rifle, presumably fired by the assailant.
3 Israeli teenagers missing in West Bank
Three Israeli teens missing in West Bank, says army
Jerusalem (AFP) 13 June – Three Israeli teenagers have gone missing near a West Bank settlement, the army said Friday, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he held the Palestinian leadership responsible for their safety. “The IDF (Israeli military) confirms three teenagers are currently missing,” an army statement said. “The individuals were last seen late last night in the area of Gush Etzion,” a Jewish settlement southwest of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank, it said, adding that security forces were trying to find them. The army gave no further details about the disappearance, but refused to say whether the three had been kidnapped. “We do not give details that could hamper the investigation,” a military spokesman said, adding only that a “large scale” search was under way … Israeli media speculated the three may have been kidnapped by Palestinians. One has US citizenship, and the American embassy has been informed, public radio said. Israeli troops set up checkpoints in the Gush Etzion and Hebron areas to stop and search cars, an AFP correspondent said. A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority’s security services, General Adnan al-Damiri, called Netanyahu’s suggestions “mad”. Damiri said that the PA had no authority in the Gush Etzion area, which is under total Israeli civilian and military control. “Even if there was an earthquake, Netanyahu would blame the Palestinian Authority,” he told AFP … Military radio said they were all students at a Jewish seminary or yeshiva, and that they went missing late Thursday near a bus stop. The Israeli military sent reinforcements to the area and was carrying out searches in the Palestinian village of Dura, southeast of Hebron, an AFP photographer said.
Netanyahu to Kerry: Missing teens ‘the result of unity goverment’
Ynetnews 13 June — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday evening, stressing his stance that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’ unity government was to blame for the possible kidnapping of three Israeli teens that went missing and were possibly kidnapped in the West Bank Thursday night. “Abu Mazen (Abbas) is responsible for the safety of the teens,” Netanyahu said to Kerry. “This is the result of allowing a terrorist organization to join the government.” The prime minister’s conversation with Kerry echoed his sentiments after a meeting held in Tel Aviv with Israel’s top security officials. A senior state source said after the meeting, “This event is a direct continuation of escalation in Judea and Samaria since Abu Mazen allowed the terrorist organization Hamas to join the Palestinian government.”The three male Yeshiva students, including an American citizen, went missing Thursday night after they apparently tried to hitchhiking home in the Etzion region in the West Bank.A massive search was underway all day Friday centering on the Hebron area where Palestinian media reported that the IDF had raided several homes and set up roadblocks. Palestinian authorities rejected Netanyahu’s comments as inflammatory and untrue. “Netanyahu would blame us for an earthquake,” said a Palestinian security official.
Israel continues search for missing teens
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 June – Israeli forces detained several Palestinian men and women in Hebron in the southern West Bank as a search continued overnight and Saturday morning for three missing teenagers who disappeared from a settlement Thursday night in the Gush Etzion area between Hebron and Bethlehem. Palestinian security sources and locals told Ma‘an that large numbers of Israeli troops deployed Saturday in the Hebron neighborhoods of Beer al-Mahjar, Ein Sara, Nimra and Ras al-Joura. In addition, Israeli forces stormed several Hebron-area villages and towns including Dura, al-Samu‘, Tarqumia, and Beit Kahil. Soldiers also deployed in the main road near al-Fawwar refugee camp south of Hebron. Israeli forces flew a drone and a number of military surveillance blimps over Hebron while several checkpoints were erected on the ground. Israeli troops broke into the home of Palestinian journalist Yusri al-Jamal in the Abu Sneina neighborhood of Hebron. Al-Jamal told Ma‘an that the soldiers broke open the main door of his apartment using explosives before they inspected the house strictly and detained his brother Yasser. He added that during the inspection, the soldiers cuffed him and his brother Khamis for about three hours. Al-Jamal highlighted that Israeli troops detained Alaa Abu Zeina and Shadi Abu Zeina after ransacking their homes. Furthermore, local sources said Israeli forces seized seven Palestinian men and two women in northern Hebron. Ammar Muhammad Abu Eisha, Othman al-Qawasmi, Dirara Abu Munshar, Iyad Abdul-Nabi Shabana, Marwan al-Qawasmi, and his brothers Sharif and Bilal were detained in northern Hebron along with two women. One was identified as Ikram Hasan Abu Eisha and the other as the wife of Marwan Saadi Abdul-Afou.
The military had earlier sent a large number of reinforcements to the Hebron district in search of three missing settlers they fear may have been kidnapped. A Palestinian security official said that a car believed to have Israeli license plates was found on fire Thursday night and that civil forces had extinguished the fire, suggesting that the car, which was a Hyundai A35, was related to the disappearance.
Report: IDF arrests two freed Palestinian prisoners in overnight West Bank raid
Ynet 14 June by Yoav Zitun & Roi Kais — IDF deploys Paratroopers Brigade to aid in search for three missing teens; Senior army official says headway made in investigation; Gantz holds situation assessment with army command, to later brief Netanyahu and Ya’alon — As security forces continue searching for the three yeshiva teens who went missing in the Hebron area, the IDF arrested several Palestinians in an overnight West Bank raid, Palestinian media reported on Saturday morning. Palestinian sources told official PA news agency WAFA that the IDF arrested two Palestinians who were previously released from Israeli prison, while Hamas sources told Turkish news agency Anatolia that Israel arrested 16 of its members, among them two women. A Palestinian official said most of those arrested are known to be involved in buying and selling stolen cars….
3 injured as settlers attack Palestinian cars in northern West Bank
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 14 June — Israeli settlers hurled stones at Palestinian vehicles traveling on main roads across the northern and central West Bank overnight and on Saturday morning, injuring three people and damaging 15 cars. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that three young Palestinian men sustained injuries after settlers attacked their car with rocks on the main road between the village of Jinsafut and Qalqiliya, west of Nablus. The sources said that Abd al-Qadir Hussein Samman, Muhammad Abdullah Umran and Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, all in their twenties, were traveling in a private Skoda vehicle when a group of settlers attacked them with stones. The three were evacuated to Thabit Thabit Hospital in Tulkarem. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement-related activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that more than 15 Palestinian vehicles sustained damages near the Israeli settlements of Yitzhar, Eli and Kfar Tappuah between Ramallah and Nablus. Palestinian security sources and locals added that Israeli forces erected military checkpoints on Wadi Qana road near Salfit in the central West Bank inspecting Palestinian vehicles. The attacks come a day after the Israeli army said three Jewish settlers had gone missing in the southern West Bank, leading to a major manhunt as Israeli forces raid local villages in order to find the group.
Gaza under dual blockades
Israel kills Palestinian in Gaza airstrike, blames Abbas for rockets
JERUSALEM (AFP) 12 June — An Israeli airstrike killed a Palestinian in Gaza on Wednesday after new rocket fire from the territory prompted Israel’s premier to warn he holds President Mahmoud Abbas responsible. Two Palestinians were also wounded in the evening raid in the northern Gaza Strip, the emergency services said. The dead man and one of the wounded were traveling on a motorbike and were the apparent targets. A young boy, who was passing by on foot, was also wounded. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry, identified the victim as Muhammad Ahmad al-Awour, 30. The An-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, said that al-Awour was affiliated to the group. The Israeli military said it had targeted “terrorists affiliated to the international jihad,” its designation for Al-Qaeda inspired groups in Gaza. The victim’s mother told Ma‘an that when the Israeli missile targeted Muhammad, he was on his way to bring her food. She highlighted that he asked her and his wife a day before to invite his aunts and married sisters to a dinner at his home in Beit Lahiya. “All invitees arrived, but the host hasn’t arrived because Israeli occupation’s warplanes surprised him while he was on his way home,” she said. “Muhammad wasn’t going to launch missiles at them. We had a kind of family gathering, and he went to bring some food for us, but he never came back, and we received the news of his martyrdom.” Abbas, who swore in a new merged government for the Palestinian territories last week replacing the Hamas administration in Gaza, condemned the rocket fire, which Israeli officials said hit the Eshkol region without causing any casualties or damage. “Abbas is responsible and accountable for rockets that are fired at Israeli towns and cities by terrorists in the Gaza Strip,” Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote on Twitter.
Israeli forces launch airstrikes across southern Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 June — Israeli warplanes launched two airstrikes against targets in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday just hours after a rocket struck Israel from the Gaza Strip. The first Israeli strike was reported in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, targeting a military base for the military wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades. No casualties were reported in that strike. Sources told Ma‘an that Israeli helicopters fired two missiles at the base. One missile, they said, landed inside the base and the other hit near the main gate, causing minor material damage. The second airstrike hit the Saudi neighborhood in northern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Locals told Ma‘an that a helicopter fired a missile at an open area near a military base for An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees. No injuries were reported in that strike either … Just hours before the strike, Gaza militants launched a rocket into Israel, hitting the Sdot Negev region according to the Israeli army.
Gaza banks open gradually after week of closure
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 June — Banks in the Gaza Strip gradually began operating on Wednesday after a week of closure, a Palestinian official said. Jihad al-Wazir, governor of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, told Ma‘an that clients had begun to withdraw money as Hamas-affiliated police officers were given orders to allow banks to open. Hundreds of Palestinian Authority government employees lined up at banks to withdraw their salaries, a Ma‘an reporter said. The banking crisis started last Wednesday when Hamas employees of the former Gaza government were angered to find out they had not been paid, with Hamas-affiliated police officers preventing PA employees from collecting their wages. Employees of the previous government see it as Ramallah’s responsibility to pay their salaries, but the new unity government says no such agreement was ever made with Hamas.
Qatar to pay ex-Hamas Gaza staff amid Palestinian wage dispute
GAZA (Xinhua) 13 June — Qatar agreed to extend a helping hand to the newly-formed Palestinian unity government struggling with a salary row to pay for the wages of those hired by the disbanded Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, an official said on Friday. Qatari Prime Minister Abdulla Ben Nasser made the pledge to his Palestinian counterpart Rami Hamdallah in a telephone conversation on Friday, Palestinian government spokesman Ihab Bseiso said in a statement. The Gulf state will contribute a total of 60 million U.S. dollars while the Palestinian Authority is trying to cope with the thorny challenge less than two weeks after Fatah and Hamas agreed to end their years of rivalry, and form a unity government. The spokesperson also said that 20 million dollars would be transferred each month for three months. The new government, based in the West Bank city of Ramallah, is responsible for paying for the wages the employees from both sides. However, the Palestinian National Authorities (PNA) refused to pay some 50,000 Hamas civil servants, saying they have to be vetted before getting paid. A statement released by the unity government said a committee has been set up to vet civil servants, and the work may take four months before making its recommendations. The PNA claimed these Hamas hired hands are not registered as its employees as they were appointed after the Islamist movement ousted Fatah from Gaza in 2007. The controversial move enraged the Hamas staff, who accused the PNA of discriminating between employees.
Gaza farmers grow watermelon on former Israeli settlements
GAZA STRIP (Electronic Intifada) 13 June by Rami Almeghari — For almost a decade now, Israel’s apologists and propagandists have used a simplistic argument as part of efforts to blame the people of Gaza for their own suffering. According to this argument, Gazans squandered an opportunity to develop their agriculture by destroying the greenhouses “evacuated” by Israeli settlers in 2005. The recent history of watermelon production in Gaza illustrates that the argument is dishonest. While some destruction of the settlement infrastructure did occur (much of it by Israelis prior to their departure), the sites in question are currently used to grow delicious fruit. Seventeen former settlements today play host to a network of Palestinian watermelon growers. Nader Alokka is one of them. His farm in the Beit Lahiya area of northern Gaza is located on the former Israeli settlement of Dogheit. He is hoping that the watermelons he planted will yield an abundant harvest by the end of this month. His family bought this land some thirty years ago but was unable to access it for many years. The Israeli authorities used his land as a “passage gate” for Palestinian farmers working in the areas surrounding the settlements.
Israeli court actions
No charges against IDF soldier who killed 21-ear-old Palestinian bystander
Haaretz 12 June by Gili Cohen — Military Attorney General rules that Israeli soldier mistakenly shot 21-year-old Lubna Hanash last year while firing at terrorists — No charges will be filed in the death of a 21-year-old Bethlehem woman, Lubna Hanash, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces in January 2013. In a statement, the office of the Military Advocate General said the Israel Defense Forces’ investigation into the incident did not point to negligence or other criminal conduct by any of the soldiers involved. The incident took place on January 23, 2013, near the Al-Aroub refugee camp in Bethlehem, as Lt. Col. Shahar Safda, deputy commander of the Judea Regional Brigade, was being driven along Route 60 by his driver. According to IDF records, at around 1:40 P.M. the two men saw a group of young Palestinians standing by the side of the road, around 100 meters north of the refugee camp’s “pillbox” watchtower, throwing fire bombs at passing cars. The subsequent Military Police investigation of the incident determined that Safda ordered his driver to stop the car, and then got out and chased the suspects while firing into the air. The driver, who remained with the car, fired in the direction of one of the teens. Hanash was walking nearby with a female relative, Souad Hanash. Both women were shot, Lubna in the head and Souad in the hand. They were taken to a Hebron hospital, where Lubna died of her wounds about one hour later. “The rules of engagement allow firing at terrorists immediately after an attack, including an attack with fire bombs,” the MAG statement said by way of explaining the decision to close the investigation. It went on to say that the use of fire did not violate these guidelines. “Unfortunately, the deceased, who stood near the escape route of the terrorists, was hit.”
Following 13 years of legal pursuit, PCHR succeeds in ensuring remedy for the family of civilian willfully killed by Israeli forces
PCHR 11 June — The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has succeeded in ensuring remedy for the family of ‘Ahed al-Telbani, from al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, who was killed by the Israeli forces 13 years ago. Following years of legal work and persistent follow-up, a settlement was concluded with the Israeli Military Advocate General’s representatives to pay 175,000 NIS to the heirs of the aforementioned civilian in exchange for closing the case. Procedures to deliver this amount to the family are now in process. On 31 January 2001, Israeli forces stationed at al-Shuhadaa’ intersection “previously called Netzarim”, south of Gaza City, opened fire at a car belonging to al-Telbani from a very close range while he was passing the intersection. As a result, he was killed. On 07 February 2001, PCHR followed up the case after being given a power of attorney by the family of the victim, who is married and a father of 8 children.
Jerusalem court indicts hate crime suspects using circumstantial evidence
Haaretz 13 June by Chaim Levinson — Shin Bet employing interrogation methods against right-wingers that work with Palestinians – with little success so far — A rare scene transpired last week at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court: Arieh Perl and another minor from Kedumim were indicted for carrying out a hate crime in Abu Ghosh. The case was exceptional because they were not caught in the act and never confessed to the offense during the investigation, and the indictment was based solely on circumstantial evidence. This indictment joins another handed down based on circumstantial evidence at the end of May against three students from the Dorshei Yehudcha Yeshiva high school in Yitzhar for a hate crime committed in Gush Halav in April. There, too, the minors survived the Shin Bet security service’s intensive interrogation without letting out a word. Shin Bet officials note this development in the war against so-called “Price Tag” attacks with satisfaction … Isolation from a lawyer and the outside world, together with the type of intensive pressure that the Shin Bet has been known to utilize in interrogations, is supposed to break the suspect and lead to a confession. This method works well with Palestinians, with few making it through without talking. In contrast, right-wing activists sit for hours in front of their interrogators without saying a word. The pressure did work once, in February, when Yehuda Landsberg of Havat Gilad confessed he had set fire to a car in an Arab village, together with friends Yehuda Savir and Binyamin Richter. But so far, right-wing activists have been nearly impervious to justice. The latest indictments reflect a change in the Shin Bet’s strategy against the extremists. Instead of focusing on confessions, it returned to classic police work of collecting small pieces of evidence. What remains to be seen is if the evidence is sufficient for convictions.
Detainees / Hunger strikes
Viral #BringBackOurBoys media campaign erupts to press Israel to free abducted Palestinian boys
NewsRescue.com 14 June — Following the global #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign initiated by Nigerians to force global action pressing on the nation’s rather corrupt and inept government to act and act appropriately and urgently to rescue 234 girls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists in a school in Chibok mid April; the #BringBackOurBoys twitter campaign was launched and has aggressively picked up for a similar purpose. The #BringBackOurBoys campaign highlights the plight of hundreds of Palestinian children allegedly abducted by Israeli occupying forces. Referred to more commonly as Zionist forces, dozens of images have been posted on the twitter campaign along with narrations and links to the events of the protested abductions. Though we have not certified whether it was initially pro-Israelis or Pro-Palestinians who started the campaign, it has been taken over primarily by people in solidarity with the plight of occupied Palestine.
Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners plan to donate their organs
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 June — Palestinian prisoners taking part in a hunger strike in Israeli jails in protest against their indefinite detention without charge have said they intend to donate their organs if they die, highlighting the rapid deterioration of their condition. The hunger strikers, who are now on their 49th day without food, said in a letter that “despite the pains of hunger which have impaired some of our organs, we still have some usable organs despite looming death.” Since April 24 around 125 prisoners have been on hunger strike, while hundreds more have joined in the weeks since. All of the original hunger-strikers have been since taken to hospitals. “Looking forward to continue with our sacrifice even after death, we will donate our usable organs to be given to those Palestinians striving (for the cause), and the poor and oppressed people who may need them,” adding that they planned to sign a statement of consent when Red Cross Committee members came to visit.
Israeli doctors who force-feed Palestinian prisoners risk trial abroad
Haaretz 12 June by Ronny Linder-Ganz — Doctors who force-feed hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, even if protected by Israeli law, could be successfully prosecuted abroad, the Israel Medical Association chairman told Haaretz on Wednesday. “Doctors who do that are liable to be denounced by the global medical community, and it will be hard to defend them if they are prosecuted,” said Dr. Leonid Edelman … Edelman, who held an 11-day hunger strike during the 2011 doctors’ struggle for better terms, said force-feeding is “terrible torture.” He said there are two ways to force-feed — through a nasal or oral feeding tube, or intravenously. Both methods are very difficult to impose on patients who resist, he said, and in both cases, patients have to be restrained so they are not injured. “Sometimes we have to do this to patients with impaired judgment, and we know how much force needs to be used. It’s forbidden to do this to an aware patient against his will — it’s true torture,” he said. Edelman said that aside from the moral and ethical questions, force-feeding does not always save lives and can even hasten death in some cases. “This type of nutrition doesn’t always restore the body’s balance immediately or even in the short term. A prisoner who’s close to death is liable to die even if we start to feed him.”
20 more prisoners join open hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 June — Twenty Palestinian prisoners have announced their decision to join an open hunger strike in solidarity with around 125 administrative prisoners who have been refusing food for 50 days in protest against their indefinite detention without trial. The 20 prisoners, who are affiliated with the leftist party Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said in a letter sent from jail that they intend to stay on hunger strike until the demands of the administrative prisoners are answered, or otherwise until death
Administrative detainee on 105th day of hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 June — Ayman Itbeish, 34, on Thursday entered his 105th day on hunger strike in protest against his detention without charge, a prisoner rights group said. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said that Itbeish is at Israel’s Assaf Harofeh hospital and is surrounded by prison guards. He is suffering from eye, kidney and stomach problems as well as asthma, PPS said.
East Jerusalem shops close in solidarity with hunger strikers
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 June — Shopkeepers in East Jerusalem closed their stores on Thursday to show solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. The strike was called by national and Islamic groups in Jerusalem and sees shops closed in the busy areas of Saladin Street, Bab al-Zahara, Sultan al-Suleiman Street, and parts of the Old City. “The prisoners are facing the occupation with a strong will and determination. Those prisoners are defending our dignity and our Jerusalem,” a statement by local groups in Jerusalem said. A sit-in protest is also planned outside of the Red Cross offices in Sheikh Jarrah. Meanwhile, over 50 members of the Palestinian People’s Party began a solidarity hunger-strike to support Palestinian administrative detainees.
Palestine seeks UN action on hunger strike
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 June — The Palestinian leadership is asking the United Nations to urgently intervene on behalf of 130 prisoners who are on hunger strike in Israeli jails. In an official letter, the PLO’s chief negotiator called on members of the UN Security Council to pressure Israel into annulling its policy of administrative detention and to condition deepening bi-lateral ties with Israel on its fulfillment of obligations as an occupying power.
Sinéad O’Connor says she’s trying to cancel Israel gig after boycott calls
Electronic Intifada (13 June) by Ali Abunimah — Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor has said she is trying to cancel a September gig in Tel Aviv after appeals to her to observe the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). “I was not informed by my booking agent, and was unaware myself, that a boycott of Israel had been requested by the Palestinian people. I agreed to perform having been unaware any such boycott had been requested. Had I been aware I would not have agreed to perform,” O’Connor said in a statement posted on her website and apparently removed some hours later. A Google cached version is still available. “As things stand I have requested to pull out of the show but may not be legally entitled to do so.”
United Methodist Church’s pension board divests from Israel-linked company
Haaretz 14 June by JTA — The United Methodist Church’s pension board is selling its shares in a British company that supplies security equipment to Israel for use in prisons and in the West Bank. Though a pro-Palestinian movement inside the Church claimed the divestment is due to human rights violations by Israel, the UMC’s pension board said the move was actually about the targeted company’s work with prisons in general.
Freedom of the press?
Journalists lament PA silence as Israel bans Gaza papers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 June — Palestinian journalists on Thursday urged the newly-formed national unity government to respond to Israel’s decision to prohibit the printing and distribution of Gaza-based newspapers in the West Bank. “Do we need an Israeli presidential decree to be able to print newspapers in territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority?” editor-in-chief of al-Risalah newspaper wrote on Thursday in exasperation over the lack of PA response. On May 28, Israeli soldiers raided the Ramallah offices of the PA-affiliated al-Ayyam newspaper, telling managers that Israel would not allow them to distribute the Hamas-affiliated Falastin, Al-Risalah, and Al-Istiqlal newspapers in the West Bank. The Israeli raid undermined an inter-Palestinian deal that aimed to ensure freedom of press by facilitating the sale of Gaza newspapers in the West Bank and vice-versa. Political analyst Wisam Afifa criticized the Palestinian national consensus government for its unwillingness to stand up to Israel’s attack on Palestinian free speech. “We consider that by remaining silent, the government actually accepts the Israeli decision to ban the printing of Gaza newspapers,” he told Ma‘an. He highlighted that managers of the Gaza newspapers had contacted the Palestinian government spokesperson Eyhab Bseso over the issue, but nothing had been done.
After reconciliation agreement, Hamas and Fatah united in press crackdown
RAMALLAH (Electronic Intifada) 12 June by Patrick O. Strickland — Sipping a cup of coffee and lighting a cigarette in his office in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, independent journalist Mohamed Jaradat described the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority’s treatment of dissenting Palestinian journalists as increasingly oppressive and violent. Jaradat, who has spent the last nine years doing production work for international media, has been detained and beaten by Palestinian security forces on several occasions. “It is shameful that they call this the ‘State of Palestine,’” he told The Electronic Intifada. Referring to the Palestinian Authority and Fatah party leader, he said, “This is the police state of Mahmoud Abbas.” Approximately a dozen women gathered on Wednesday, 11 June in Ramallah’s Manara square to protest against the Palestinian Authority’s politically-motivated arrests of Hamas activists. Security forces, including civilian-clothed police officers, responded by beating and arresting several demonstrators and journalists, as was televised by Wattan TV.
Palestinian journalists face restrictions on free speech
Al-Monitor 12 June by Daoud Kuttab — In less than a week, journalists have faced various levels of restrictions on carrying out their professional duties in Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and Ramallah in three different incidents. The violators included Israelis, Palestinian unionists and Palestinian police. In East Jerusalem, a TV interview on “Good Morning Jerusalem” — which has been airing every Friday for years — was being taped at the privately owned Pal Media studios on the Mount of Olives on June 6 when Israeli soldiers raided the studio, arrested studio director Ibrahim Qleibo, show host Mona Abu Assab and guest Ala’a Haddad, a member of the Prisoners’ Council in Jerusalem. They were released a few hours later, which added to the accusation by Palestinians that the aim of the Israelis was simply to stop the airing of the interview … This particular program was discussing various efforts inside and outside Palestine to show solidarity with Jerusalem and its people. No calls for violence were uttered on the program, and Israel has not made any specific allegations about who made any inciting statements if any, and what they said. The second incident was not as violent. The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate in the Gaza Strip decided to question one of its own members for a report he produced for an Arab media outlet. The journalist, Mohammed Othman, who also writes for Al-Monitor, had written an article 10 weeks ago about incest and other bizarre sexual acts in the Gaza Strip. The report included the story of a bride running away and sleeping in a cemetery because her husband wanted to share her with his father. The journalist did not identify the individuals and spoke with psychologists to explain the phenomena. Othman told Al-Monitor that the syndicate complained to him that stories like that gave the Gaza Strip a negative image, and that patriotic journalists should not air Gaza’s dirty laundry. The third incident took place in Ramallah on June 11, when the Palestinian police brutally attacked a group of journalists covering a protest by women supporting the Islamic Hamas movement. The Palestinian media freedom watchdog MADA issued a statement detailing the names and media affiliations of those beaten by the Palestinian police and called for an immediate investigation. While there is no direct correlation between the three incidents, it is interesting to note the power of information and the various violent and nonviolent ways that Israelis and Palestinians are using to muzzle an independent media.
VIDEO: Journalists ‘savagely’ beaten by Palestinian Authority forces
Electronic Intifada 11 June by Ali Abunimah — This video report from Wattan TV shows Palestinian Authority security forces beating and arresting Palestinian journalists in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah today. The violence occurred as journalists were taking part in a rally, called for by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, against previous violations of their rights by the PA. The report by Farah al-Zahalqa includes journalists’ testimonies of what happened. “We were a group of photographers covering a rally in Manara Square,” photographer Hadi Dabis said. “We were just taking pictures normally and all of a sudden all the police and security pounced on us.” Dabis said the PA men started beating the journalists and confiscating their cameras, adding, “I’ve never seen anything as savage.” … The journalists’ rally today coincided with a march in Ramallah by relatives of Hamas members imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority, according to al-Zahalqa’s report. And the attacks on the journalists are part of a wider crackdown by Palestinian Authority de facto leader Mahmoud Abbas against Palestinians who oppose his rule or mobilize for Palestinian rights.
Political developments / Other news
Palestinian Authority PM: Unity government still lacks control in Gaza
Jerusalem Post 13 June — Rami Hamdallah speaks with the New York Times about newly-formed government, says “Don’t expect we’ll do it all in 24 hours.” Speaking with the New York Times in Ramallah on Thursday, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdalla admitted “he still lacked any authority” in Gaza and that nothing had changed on the ground so far. A week and a half after the establishment of a Palestinian unity agreement between the Fatah and Hamas, Hamdallah revealed in an hour-long interview that he was not satisfied with the new government that was negotiated between the two factions. He said that if it were up to him, he would have chosen only a few of the ministers he currently has in his new cabinet. The prime minister said he had not yet set a time to visit Gaza: “You have to be realistic,” he told the newspaper. “We’re not in control.”
Palestine prepares to join more international organizations
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 June – A Palestinian ministerial committee tasked to examine how to join international conventions is scheduled to convene by the end of June in Ramallah to study submitting letters of accession to more multilateral international treaties. Palestinian diplomats told Ma‘an on Wednesday that the committee would meet June 25-27 to review more letters of accession. The committee is headed by Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki. Senior PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour are members of the committee. According to the sources, the Palestinian leadership intends to join some 500 more international conventions and organizations. “Every day new international treaties emerge, such as the Arms Trade Treaty, and all Palestine needs to join them is a letter of accession signed by President (Mahmoud) Abbas to the UN Secretary General,” a diplomat told Ma‘an. Palestine voted Tuesday, for the first time, as a member state in elections of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Special Needs, a sub-committee of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Special Needs. The State of Palestine will also participate by the end of June in an international conference on women’s rights.
Gaza ministers sworn in via video conference
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 June — Four ministers of the Palestinian unity government from the Gaza Strip were sworn in through video conference on Thursday after having been refused entry to the West Bank by Israeli authorities. The ministers had previously applied for permission to cross from Gaza to the West Bank for the swearing-in ceremony earlier this month, but Israel reportedly refused their request. As a result, all four ministers had to be sworn in via video conference in the presence of President Mahmoud Abbas. Minister of Public Works Mufeed al Hasayneh told Ma’an that the ministers were sworn in at 6 p.m. through a video call made from the PLO office in Gaza. In addition to al-Hasayneh, the ministers from Gaza include Minister of Women’s Affairs Haifa al-Agha, Minister of Labor Mamoun Abu Shahla, Minister of Justice Salim al-Saqqa, and Mufeed al-Hasayneh.
Women shut out from Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 11 June by Asmaa al-Ghoul — The reconciliation scene in Gaza City and the declaration of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas in April was devoid of women. There were no women invited, from Islamic, secular or leftist parties, to the dialogue table. It was as if such a process were the preserve of men. Activist Yafa Abu Aker, 23, did whatever she could to enter the first session of the new dialogue, which was held on April 22 at the house of former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh — to no avail. The security men did not believe her when she said, “I sent a letter to the Reconciliation Commission and President Mahmoud Abbas, and they allowed me to participate in the meetings.” Abu Aker was lost between her phone calls and her attempts to tell the security men that the head of the reconciliation dossier, Azzam al-Ahmad of Fatah, was expecting her to join them, and she failed to get through the checkpoints. But someone finally got out and accompanied her to the sessions … Abu Aker’s personal initiative succeeded, but what about those female names that are prominent in the field of politics and parties, why haven’t they participated? Nadia Abu Nahla, director of the Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC) Gaza branch, told Al-Monitor during an interview in Gaza that it was not only today that women were absent from the reconciliation dialogue, but it has been this way since the Cairo Agreement in 2009.
Hamas calls for end to political detentions in West Bank
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 June — Hamas has condemned the detention of one of the party’s leaders by Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank, stressing the political nature of the charges. Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement that the charges against Nazih Abu Awn by the Nablus Magistrates Court were “stressing,” adding that “they aim to ruin Hamas’ reputation and are an extension of political, security and media campaigns that target Hamas in the West Bank.” Barhoum also demanded that “Nazih Abu Awn be released immediately along with all political detainees in the West Bank,” calling for an end to “campaigns that target reconciliation and national unity and instead activities in support of prisoners in Israeli jails.”
Hamas silent on Sisi’s election
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 12 June by Hazem Balousha — Hamas has so far kept silent on the election of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew the movement’s ally, former President Mohammed Morsi, last July. Hamas has refrained from issuing any press statements related to the elections, for fear this might have negative repercussions on its relations with Egypt, which have been strained since last year. A well-informed source in Hamas said the movement’s political bureau issued strict instructions to all leaders and media spokespeople within the movement not to address the election of Sisi in any interview or public meeting … Al-Monitor tried to obtain an official comment on the election of Sisi from most of Hamas’ leaders and spokespeople in the Gaza Strip, but all of them declined and some did not answer repeated calls. Another source in Hamas said there are some differences between leaders within Hamas about the movement’s stance toward the new regime in Egypt … “Hamas is in an unenviable and awkward position. On the one hand, the movement seeks to separate between its affiliation with the global Muslim Brotherhood and its relations with the new Egyptian regime, which is currently at odds with the Muslim Brotherhood. On the other hand, Hamas is unable to renounce in any way its ideologies and principles that are closely related to the Muslim Brotherhood,” the source added. The prevailing crisis between Hamas and Egypt was alleviated after the movement’s leaders announced publicly that Hamas will not interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs, and that movement-affiliated media outlets will stop talking in the name of the Muslim Brotherhood regarding the events unfolding in Egypt.
Aide criticizes Palestinian leader in recording
RAMALLAH (AP) 12 June — An audio recording has surfaced in which Mahmoud Abbas’ top aide is heard saying the Palestinian leader isn’t tough in dealing with Israel and has let himself be humiliated. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Thursday the recording was spliced together from different comments, with words taken out of context, and that he is the target of a smear campaign. “My words are taken from 16 to 17 speeches, cut and paste, adding and omitting, a montage,” he said, adding that he has asked Palestinian intelligence to analyze the recording. Abbas’ office had no immediate comment. It is not clear if there will be any political fallout. Previously, Abbas exiled a top aide, Mohammed Dahlan, after he suggested the Palestinian leader’s two adult sons profited financially from their father’s position. Erekat has been a negotiator with Israel and a ubiquitous media spokesman for the Palestinians for two decades, and he is seen as close to Abbas.
West Bank refugee camps struggle to find space to bury their dead
Middle East Monitor 12 June by Matthew Vickery & Sheren Khalel — The streets are narrow, and houses tower towards the sky in ‘Aida refugee camp. The Palestinian refugee camp was founded in 1950, and has continued to expand since then, with a current population of around 4,700 people. However, as the population burgeons, space does not. The Israeli separation wall tightly borders the perimeters of the camp, making the concept of outward expansion impossible. Instead people build up, stacking more rooms on top of houses while growing food and planting gardens on rooftops next to black water tanks that are too often empty. Life in Palestinian refugee camps has become a balance of temporary permanence. Even in death, there is no relief from the constraints of occupation. The graveyard in ‘Aida refugee camp serves both its own population and the population of nearby ‘Azza refugee camp. Aboveground tombs made up of large bricks sealed with cement jut out from the ground and line the walkways of the cemetery. The graveyard is as old as the camp — the number of bodies, unknown. Each grave is recycled. Every seven years bones are moved aside to make room for the next.
Hijab protests rock East Jerusalem’s Christian schools
Haaretz 13 June by Nir Hasson — The church-run schools in East Jerusalem are considered the best schools in that part of the city — some would say in the entire city. Their Christian administrators are proud of the religious tolerance and openness that typifies their institutions, where a majority of the students are Muslim. But in recent years, these schools’ adamant refusal to let female students wear a hijab on school grounds has threatened to disrupt this openness. The tensions reached their peak in the lead-up to this year’s graduation, with parents and student protests against the ban escaping school grounds and marring Christian-Muslim relations throughout East Jerusalem.Two incidents ignited the protest. The first was the refusal of Schmidt College for Girls, a German Catholic school near Damascus Gate, to let a girl wearing the traditional Muslim head scarf into the graduation ceremony. The name of the student, a graduating senior, was deleted from the program, and when her parents protested, they were removed from the auditorium. Other parents who were there say that members of the Palestinian Authority’s preventive security force helped eject the couple, in cooperation with school administrators.
Australian trade at risk over East Jerusalem decision
SYDNEY (AFP) 13 June – Australia could face trade sanctions by Arab nations over its decision to stop using the term “occupied” when referring to East Jerusalem, the head of the Palestinian delegation to Canberra warned Friday. Izzat Abdulhadi said Australia’s new stance on East Jerusalem, which was annexed by Israel in a move never recognised by the international community, was a “substantial policy shift”. “We think that it’s very provocative and unuseful, and it’s not appropriate,” Abdulhadi told AFP. His comments came after 18 diplomats from countries including Indonesia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia protested to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra on Thursday. Australia said last week it would no longer refer to East Jerusalem as “occupied” because the term carries pejorative implications and was neither appropriate or useful … The comments sparked fury in the Arab world, with the Jordanian and Palestinian governments summoning Australia’s diplomatic representative in protest. Israel hailed the move as “refreshing”.
Analysis / Opinion
The shame of Shuhada Street / Ayelet Waldman
[includes VIDEO of how a Palestinian woman has to go over rooftops to get into and out of her house] HEBRON, West Bank (The Atlantic) 12 June — Shuhada Street, lined with small shops whose owners typically lived upstairs, was once among the busiest market streets in this ancient city. But in 1994, in response to a horrific massacre that left 29 people dead and 125 injured, the Israel Defense Forces began clamping down on Shuhada Street. They welded shut the street-facing doors of all the homes and shops, and by the time of the Second Intifada in 2000, had turned the bustling thoroughfare into a ghost street on which no one was permitted to set foot. No one, that is, who is Palestinian. Israeli Jews and foreign visitors are free to come and go along the road — to snap photos and make their way to Hebron’s three Jewish settler outposts, Beit Hadassah, Beit Romano, and Avraham Avinu. But there is nothing to buy, nothing to see, no reason to tarry. The stores are all closed. The few Palestinians who remain have been barred from the street where they live. If they want to enter their homes, they must do so through back doors, which in many cases involves clambering over rooftops. One might be tempted to view Shuhada Street as just another casualty in an endless cycle of violent retribution. A Palestinian kills dozens of Hebron’s Jews, so Israel punishes the Palestinians of Hebron by closing Shuhada Street. But that is not, in fact, what happened. The victims of the massacre that impelled the Israeli government to shutter Shuhada were not Jews. They were Palestinians — unarmed Palestinians gunned down as they prayed at the nearby Cave of the Patriarchs by Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Jewish zealot with Israeli military training and a Galil assault rifle, who stopped firing only when he was overcome and killed by survivors of his attack. You can add Shuhada Street, and the vibrant urban life it once sustained and embodied, to the list of Goldstein’s victims.
‘Price tag’ attacks: It’s not about the graffiti / Yossi Gurvitz for Yesh Din
972blog 14 June — In an attempt to downplay the severity of nationalist crimes by Israeli citizens, the media refers to the offenses as ‘graffiti.’ Here are the facts – and it’s not just graffiti — …So when discussing ideological crime by Israelis, we should recall the following facts: 1. In the vast majority of cases, the incident is far more serious than graffiti and involves damage to property or physical assault. 2. In cases that do involve graffiti, this often accompanies an act of arson, and in many instances the target of the torching is an inhabited home. Such attacks fall very close to the definition of terrorism, if not within it. 3. In most incidents of torching – of which we have documented 28, including the torching of a chicken coop in which thousands of chicks were burned alive – as well as attempted arson, no graffiti was left alongside the torched building. 4. The vast majority of incidents of ideological crime committed by Israelis falls under the category of agricultural terrorism: attacks on farmers, farm property, and trees. We documented 77 such attacks. The purpose of these attacks is not to convey a message to the IDF but to persuade Palestinian farmers that continuing to farm their land is dangerous and unsustainable and that they should relinquish their land. As we demonstrated in a previous post, this tactic works. 5. In 41 cases, i.e. more than a quarter of the incidents, the offense was a physical attack on a Palestinian person, sometimes accompanied by an attempted attack on property. 6. The main reason for the closure of cases is investigative failure: 47 of the cases have been closed, and in the vast majority (39) this was on the grounds of “offender unknown” (“OU” in the table below) – in other words, the police were unable to locate suspects. In four additional cases the reason was “insufficient evidence” (“IE” in the table below). Accordingly, in 88 percent of cases closed, the reason was the incompetence of the Judea and Samaria District Police. Anyone who is familiar with Yesh Din’s statistics, particularly regarding agricultural attacks, will not be surprised by this statistic.
Why doesn’t Netanyahu label price tag attacks as terrorism? / Mazal Mualem
Al-Monitor 11 June by Mazal Mualem — It took Shin Bet and the police an entire year to track down an 18-year-old youth from the Yitzhar settlement for participating in hate crimes in Abu Ghosh village, near Jerusalem. In June 2013, he had punctured the tires of 34 cars in the village and spray-painted such racist epithets as “Arabs get out” on the walls of houses. Three weeks ago, at the conclusion of an undercover investigation, authorities succeeded in tracking down the youth and connecting him to the acts. On June 8, a bill of indictment was filed against him in Jerusalem’s district court. That it took a long time for the police and Shin Bet to locate the perpetrator of the act is typical. It is well-known that only a small percentage of so-called price tag (hate crime) attacks are ever solved. Shin Bet Director Yoram Cohen, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonowitz have all been demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declare perpetrators of price tag attacks as members of a terrorist organization. Due to right-wing political pressure in recent weeks, however, Netanyahu once again rejected such demands, preferring instead to leave intact a previous decision, adopted in June 2013 by the diplomatic-security cabinet, that categorizes price tag participants as an “unauthorized organization,” similar to the charity organizations connected to Palestinian terror. There is a significant difference between the two terms: While “terrorist organization” allows severe punishment of up to 20 years behind bars, the latter classification is much more lenient and only allows the state to confiscate property belonging to the organization.