Israeli soldiers disperse Naksa protests across West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 June — Israeli forces injured at least four protesters as they dispersed hundreds of Palestinians taking part in rallies across the West Bank on Thursday to mark the 1967 war that led to the occupation of the region by Israel. Protests marking Naksa Day, meaning “setback” in Arabic, took place at the Qalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah as well as in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Four Palestinians were injured after being shot by rubber-coated steel bullets after clashes broke out at the Qalandiya checkpoint on Thursday. Israeli forces dispersed the rally by firing sound grenades and tear gas bombs as well, causing dozens to suffer from excessive tear gas inhalation. Secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouthi also took part in the march and he was hit directly by a sound grenade in the right [foot], according a statement released by his office. Participants said that Israeli forces assaulted journalists covering the rally while soldiers took pictures of journalists as they protested the attacks. An Israeli military spokeswoman said that 100 Palestinians had gathered in the area “violently hurling rocks,” and that “soldiers used riot dispersal means and rubber bullets to distance the rioters.”
Dozens also took part in a march in Hebron on Thursday to mark Naksa Day and in solidarity with hundreds of Palestinians prisoners in Israeli jails currently on hunger strike. Palestinian and foreign activists participated in a rally that was called for by the Committee for the Defense of Hebron and a number of other political parties. The rally set off from Algeria school in the Old City and headed towards the Jewish settlements near the Osama bin Munqez School, which has been taken over by settlers who refer to it as “Beit Romano,” holding Palestinian flags and signs in Arabic, English and Hebrew calling for an end to the occupation and in support of the hunger strikers. During the rally, Israeli forces detained political activist Fahmi Shaheen, a member of Palestinian People’s Party politburo, and took him to the police station in the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba where he was accused of assaulting an Israeli officer, the party said.
Violence / Raids / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests
Palestinian wedding interrupted by Israeli stun grenades, 1 hurt
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 7 June — A Palestinian man was injured late Friday after being hit by an Israeli stun grenade during a wedding east of Jerusalem, a local popular committee spokesman said. Muhammad Abu al-Hummus told Ma‘an that Israeli forces unexpectedly raided the village of al-‘Issawiya and fired stun grenades while crowds of Palestinians were participating in a traditional wedding march. One man was hit directly in the forehead with a stun grenade and taken to the hospital, Abu al-Hummus said. He added that no protests were taking place as the Israeli forces entered the town.
Israeli forces injure 3 Palestinians in protest near Ofer prison
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 June — Three Palestinians were shot and injured by Israeli forces as they broke up a protest in the central West Bank on Wednesday. Protesters marched near the Ofer detention center west of Ramallah in solidarity with hundreds of Palestinian prisoners currently on hunger strike in protest against their detention without trial by Israeli forces. Clashes broke out after Israeli forces fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the protest, and three were wounded after Israeli forces opened fire with rubber-coated steel bullets. Dozens also suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation. The incident occurred at the same site where Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinian teenage boys in mid-May during a similar protest near the prison.
In pictures: Arresting four young men and assaulting one woman
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 5 June — The Israeli forces suppressed on Thursday afternoon a march that was organized by the Popular Youth Movement in Jerusalem on the anniversary of the occupation of the city. Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that the Israeli forces arrested four young men and assaulted and severely beat Um Ayman Al-Soos and also assaulted the participants once the march arrived at Nablus Street coming from Salah Eddin Street. The forces assaulted Um Ayman and detained her for few minutes and then released her after she lost consciousness. The cavalry unit also had their role in assaulting the men and women participating in the march.
Several Palestinians injured, teen kidnapped, near Ramallah
IMEMC 7 June by Saed Bannoura — [Friday At Noon, June 6, 2014] Palestinian medical sources have reported that several Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, and one child was injured, during clashes with Israeli soldiers in front of the Ofer Israeli Prison, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and near the Qalandia terminal. Eyewitnesses told the WAFA Palestinian news agency that the soldiers violently assaulted nonviolent protesters in front of the Ofer prison, leading to clashes between the soldiers and the protesters. The army fired rubber-coated metal bullets and dozens of gas bombs, causing scores of Palestinians to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. Medical sources said the soldiers also kidnapped Maher Haroun, 17 years of age, and took him to an unknown destination.
The Radio Bethlehem 2000 has reported that clashes also took place near the Qalandia terminal, south of Ramallah, and that the soldiers fired several gas bombs, concussion grenades, and rubber-coated metal bullets. Dozens of residents received treatment for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In related news, soldiers attacked Palestinian protesters in Teqoua‘ town, east of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at them. Local sources said many bombs set off by the soldiers caused fire in dozens of dunams of farmlands planted with wheat, barley and olive trees.
10 injured as Israel disperses protests across West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 June — Ten Palestinians were injured including a photographer as dozens participated in protests across the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Friday to mark the 47th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Protesters in al-‘Arrub refugee camp north Hebron, in Bil‘in, west of Ramallah, in al-Fawwar refugee camp south of Hebron, and in Jerusalem’s Old City gathered to mark Naksa Day, a commemoration of the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and the Sinai peninsula, a day after similar protests in Hebron and at Qalandiya checkpoint. Al-‘Arrub: …Medics said that Mutaz Abu Shama, 22, was shot with a live bullet in his left foot, and taken to a hospital in Hebron for treatment during the clashes. Six others were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets and were treated on the scene. Bil‘in: Two protesters were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets and a photographer was assaulted by Israeli forces as they dispersed a rally in the central West Bank village of Bil‘in. [More also on the protests in Al-Fawwar and Jerusalem]
It seems Ma‘an News did not have a reporter in Bil‘in Friday, since they missed the fact that three photographers were attacked by the Israeli military
Updated: Hamde, Rany and Haitham: Where was the media today?
[with photos] 6 June by Lisa Guliani — Today, three members of the Palestinian press,Hamde Abu Rahma, Rany Burnat, & Haitham Al Khatib were attacked by Israeli occupation soldiers while covering the weekly Bil‘in demonstration. Hamde refused to hand over his camera and was forced to the ground by 6 soldiers and they proceeded to beat him in the chest and stomach with their guns. The commander of this oh-so-brave uniformed tough-guy brigade threatened Abu Rahma at gunpoint with the barrel held to his neck. Al Khatib was also threatened with being shot if he didn’t stop filming. Abu Rahma and Al Khatib report similar treatment was inflicted upon Rany Burnat, also present [note that Rani uses a wheelchair, and was tumbled out of it]. The three photojournalists were roughed up by a pack of Israeli occupation soldiers and had their cameras confiscated, during which time they were reformatted and their images deleted. Haitham managed to still have one image on his camera after the cameras were returned. Hamde’s expensive camera was returned to him broken. Burnat’s images were deleted as well … In addition, Hamde Abu Rahma’s home was teargassed by occupation soldiers later on in the evening, and he reports that once more, he was beaten by Israeli soldiers – which lends credence to the idea that IOF is indeed, targeting the Palestinian Press as well as everyday civilians.
Palestine TV denounces Israeli invasion of its Jerusalem office
IMEMC/Agencies 7 June — The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) strongly denounced the Israeli military invasion against its Jerusalem branch, during live broadcast, and the detention of two employees and a guest speaker. It said “the attack is yet another example of Israeli assaults against the Palestinians, and their media departments.” The army and police claimed the broadcast is not licensed by Israel, “therefore illegal and must be stopped”, while the PBC affirmed it is legally operating in occupied East Jerusalem, and obtained all permits similar to all Arab and foreign agencies operating in Jerusalem. It added that, on Friday morning, the Police requested the director of “Good Morning Jerusalem”, Ibrahim Qleibo, and the program host, to stop the show … The Police broke into the Pal Media office in occupied Jerusalem, and kidnapped show director, Nader Bebers, Pal Media Coordinator, Ashfar Shweiki, in addition to Ala’ al-Haddad, member of a detainees’ committee in occupied Jerusalem. Show host, Mona Abu ‘Assab, was forced to end her live show under gunpoint, after the police and the army invaded the offices and the studio … Israeli police spokesperson, Luba Samri, said the attack was part of what she called “an investigation into the contents of the show”, according to Ma’an News Agency. Samri confirmed three were kidnapped during the raid, and that they were released later on, and alleged “no programs were interrupted during the attack”. The three were interrogated for several hours, and were denied legal representation.
Several settlers assault the Haleisi family and the police arrest three young men
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 4 June — On Tuesday night, several settlers assaulted young men from Haleisi family with pepper spray and severely beat them in Silwan. Witnesses said that nearly 15 settlers attacked the cars of Jerusalemites that were parked in the land of the family in the neighbourhood of Nabi Daoud in Silwan. When the Haleisi family noticed the assault, the young men tried to confront the settlers who sprayed pepper gas at the young men and then severely beat them. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that the police arrived in the area and provided the settlers with full protection and then arrested Mohammad Haleisi and his cousin Mohammad, and then released them after detaining them for half an hour. The police also detained Yousef Haleisi when he went to Salah Eddin Street police station to file a claim against the settlers.
Israel begins arrest campaign against popular resistance activists
IMEMC 5 June by Chris Carlson — Yesterday, at 4:30 am, Popular Resistance activist Mahmoud Zwahre was again arrested by the Israeli army, at his house in Al Ma‘asara, just southwest of Bethlehem. An attempt to arrest Zwahre was made previously during the weekly Friday protest in the village. This week, on Wednesday, a large group of Israeli soldiers raided Zwahre’s home, just before dawn. Mahmoud Zwahre, according to the Palestinian News Network (PNN), is an activist and coordinator for the Popular Committee Against the Wall and the Settlements in Al Ma‘asara. Soldiers surrounded the Zwahre residence and declared it a closed military zone, as they proceeded to tear through the contents of the house, terrorizing the children and abusing Mahmoud in front of his family. He was arrested, blindfolded, and taken to an unknown destination — essentially, and by all rights, amounting to a kidnapping … The activities of Popular Resistance are peaceful and designed to highlight the suffering of the Palestinian people through the Israeli occupation practices of racism and violation of international law. Nevertheless, the PSCC has documented the rough and violent reactions by Israeli soldiers against the protests and marches organized by the Popular Struggle Committees in the various provinces of the country.
VIDEOS: One month for schoolchildren in Hebron: stun grenades, tear gas, and detentions
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM Khalil Team) 5 June — For children in al-Khalil (Hebron), the journey to school can be filled with fear, fear of Israeli soldiers, of military weapons, detentions, and arrests. The violence is all too real in this city, and it is unfortunately not an uncommon experience for children, some as young as four years old. International activists try to monitor the checkpoints the children are forced to pass through on their way to school, both to document the events and to stand with the children. ISM activists monitor checkpoint 29 each school day morning and afternoon. Over the last month, this is what the ISM activists have witnessed:
Israeli forces detain Palestinian at checkpoint near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 June – Israeli forces detained a young Palestinian man Thursday afternoon as he tried to cross Zaatara military checkpoint south of Nablus in the northern West Bank. Palestinian security sources identified the man as 22-year-old Qusayy Suleiman Abu Shihab from ‘Azzun village in Nablus district. He was taken to Huwwara military base south of Nablus.
Israel army: 4 Palestinians detained overnight
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 June – Israeli forces raided Palestinian villages across the occupied West Bank early Thursday, carrying out at four arrests, a military official said. In ‘Asira al-Shamaliyya village, north of Nablus, they detained a youth after raiding his house. Palestinian security forces told Ma‘an that the Israeli forces raided the village and detained Hussein Muhammed Abu Daoud, 25, after they forcefully entered his home. An army spokeswoman confirmed that arrest and said three others were detained from villages near Jenin, Hebron and Bethlehem.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian student north of Ramallah
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 4 June — Israeli forces late Tuesday arrested a Palestinian student north of Ramallah, security sources said. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers arrested 20-year-old Eyhab Khaled Atiyani, claiming he carried a knife as he approached an Israeli military base near the illegal settlement of Beit El. Atiyani is a student of medicine at al-Quds university in Abu Dis.
Israel army: Palestinian detained near ‘Azzun trying to ‘stab soldier’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 June — The Israeli army said on Friday that a Palestinian had been detained near ‘Azzun west of Nablus for trying to “stab a soldier” after he was stopped in his vehicle during a patrol in the area. The army said in a statement that the patrol had “apprehended a suspicious vehicle for checkup” and during the inspection the man in the vehicle “took out a knife and attempted to stab the soldier with it” after he was told to remove a “suspicious object apparent in his pocket.” The Israeli army subsequently “captured” the man and transferred him for “security questioning.” The man was reportedly 15 years old. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said that the teen was taken to a police station to investigate details of the incident.
PCHR calls for probe into Nablus checkpoint killing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 June — The Palestinian Center for Human Rights on Tuesday called for an impartial investigation into the killing of a Palestinian man by Israeli soldiers in Nablus this week. On Monday, Israeli soldiers shot and killed Alaa Muhammad Awad Audah, 30, at the Zaatara checkpoint in Nablus. Israeli forces claim that the victim opened fire at them, injuring one of the soldiers. PCHR says there were no eyewitnesses in the area at the time to deny or confirm that claim. A taxi driver told PCHR that he drove Audah to Zaatara checkpoint from Huwwara village at around 11:30 p.m. to pick up an order of cell phones for his shop. The driver dropped Audah off and confirmed seeing him standing in a waiting area while driving back to Huwwara. At 2:45 a.m. the driver received a phone call from an Israeli intelligence officer who told him that he was coming to arrest him. Around 30 minutes later, Israeli soldiers raided his home and detained him. They took him to Audah’s phone shop and questioned him about transporting the victim to the checkpoint. He only found out about Audah’s death in the early morning when it was announced from the village mosque’s loudspeakers. Audah left behind a wife and two children.
“PCHR strongly condemns this new crime, which further proves the use of excessive force by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in disregard for the civilians’ lives.” The rights group said that it has documented dozens of crimes of “willful killings” by Israeli forces in which Israel claims Palestinians fired at them first. PCHR’s investigations have refuted such claims.
Detainees / Hunger strikers / Court actions
UN worried about health of hunger-striking Palestinian detainees
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) 7 June — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concerns on Friday about the worsening health of Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli detention and demanded that they either be formally charged or released immediately. Several dozen Palestinians on hunger strike, protesting Israel’s use of administrative detention to keep them behind bars, have been taken to hospital. “The Secretary-General is concerned about reports regarding the deteriorating health of Palestinian administrative detainees who have been on hunger strike for over a month,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. “He reiterates his long-standing position that administrative detainees should be charged or released without delay,” he said.
Israeli doctors denounce bill to force feed Palestinian prisoners
Al-Akhbar 5 June — Israeli doctors have denounced a proposed bill that would permit the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners, as a hunger strike by hundreds of jailed Palestinians enters its sixth week. The doctors said the practice, supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, amounts to torture. One hundred and twenty prisoners began refusing food on April 24 in the latest in a series of strikes launched two years ago against the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge. Israeli daily Haaretz on Sunday reported that Netanyahu had instructed his security cabinet to expedite discussions on a bill that would allow Israel to force-feed Palestinian prisoners. Netanyahu brushed off human rights concerns over the bill, citing US treatment of Guantanamo prisoners.
70 prisoners from Nafha sent to different jails
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 June — Some 70 hunger-striking prisoners from Nafha prison were sent to several different jails recently in what they say is an attempt to isolate them from each other and the rest of the prisoners, the Prisoner’s Society told Ma‘an. A lawyer with the advocacy group who visited the Nafha prison in Mitzpe Ramon in southern Israel on Thursday said that the prison is “tense” and that punishments against hunger-striking prisoners are being meted out “continuously.” The lawyer requested that prisoners urgently appeal to international institutions, especially since the strike issue was not being solved within the prisons services. Prisoners are concerned that the strike will deteriorate further as the Islamic month of fasting, Ramadan, approaches [starting on about 28 June].
Palestinians protest at UN office in support of hunger strikers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 June — Dozens of Palestinian activists protested on Wednesday in front of the Ramallah office of the UN agency for Palestine refugees in support of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody, locals said. Locals told Ma‘an that protesters prevented employees from accessing the UNRWA building, urging the international body to take “serious steps” to support hunger strikers. Meanwhile, a lawyer for the Ministry of Prisoner Affairs said that prisoners who are on their 42nd day of hunger strike are in danger of dying. Rami al-Alami, who said he recently a visited hunger striker in Israel’s Ela prison, told Ma‘an that the condition of the original group of strikers is continuing to worsen. He called on the international community to pressure Israel to meet the prisoners’ demands.
Hundreds in Gaza attend candlelight vigil for prisoners
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 June — Hundreds of Palestinians held a vigil on Thursday night at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in western Gaza City in solidarity with hundreds of prisoners on hunger strike against their detention without trial. Demonstrators held candles aloft and spelled out “The prisoners are in danger … support is a duty” with them on the ground during the protest, which was organized by the Popular Committee against the Siege to support 100 prisoners who have been on strike for more than 40 days, along with hundreds more who have since joined the strike.
New minister pledges govt support for hunger strikers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 June — The new Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs said Wednesday that the plight of detainees in Israeli custody was a top priority for the unity government. Shawqi al-Ayasa said that the Palestinian leadership was exerting intensive efforts to save the lives of prisoners on hunger strike for 42 days. “They won’t be left prey to the occupation’s savagery and grudges,” al-Ayasa said. The minister was speaking at a rally in Ramallah where protesters marched in the streets before they stopped at a sit-in tent in Yasser Arafat Square. As he denounced all Israeli practices against Palestinian prisoners, the minister said Israel would be held responsible for any consequences. He highlighted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seeking to force-feed the prisoners.
Red Cross visits hunger-strikers’ families
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 June – The International Committee of the Red Cross has visited the families of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners to carry messages from their relatives, an official said Thursday. Abdul Fattah Khalil of the Bethlehem branch of the Prisoners Society said the Red Cross visited a number of hunger-striking prisoners’ families to comfort them and carry messages from the prisoners. Doctors and representatives of the Red Cross frequently visit Israeli jails and hospitals where the administrative hunger-strikers have been on hunger strike for over a month.
IDF court: Palestinian minors have right to see social worker before remand
Haaretz 5 June by Chaim Levinson — In ruling against army, military appeals court head says alleged stone-throwers should be screened before army decides whether to jail them until end of proceedings — The president of the military appellate court, Col. Netanel Beniso, has ruled against the army, stating that Palestinian minors under arrest have the right to be screened before the army decides whether to remand them until the end of the trial procedure. Two weeks ago, Haaretz reported that the military prosecution objects on principle to allowing Palestinian minors under arrest to meet with a social worker to find a rehabilitative solution. This opposition has led to a situation in which some 100 minors are currently in prison until the end of their trial procedure, while 66 are in prison following conviction. By contrast, the corresponding numbers for Palestinian adults are 1,495 and 3,133. The reason is the prosecution’s insistence on remand in every case involving Palestinian minors, without exploring other options. In one case, the IDF arrested a 16-year-old girl who got into a fight with her family and approached the separation barrier with a flare and a knife in the hope that soldiers would shoot and kill her. International NGOs found a spot for her in a girls’ boarding school, but the military prosecution objected to her meeting with a social worker to check her suitability for such a setting, claiming “the courts don’t have the authority to order a screening test during the arrest stage.”
Gaza under dual blockades
Israeli navy attacks Palestinian fishermen in Gaza
IMEMC 7 June by Chris Carlson — Israeli Navy boats have opened fire at Palestinian fishermen’s boats again, this time in the al-Sodania area, northwest of Gaza. PNN correspondence has reported that the sounds of bombs and gun shootings were heard near the fishing boats, which were within the area of 6 miles officially allowed for Palestinians to fish in. However, the Israeli Navy continues to follow them through the Gaza Sea, opening fire towards their boats, arresting them and preventing them from fishing. Palestinian Medical sources reported no injuries.
Gaza travel agencies offer false hope of emigration
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 4 June by Mohammed Othman — Many young Gazans have been trying to emigrate for years. Al-Monitor interviewed three would-be emigrants, all on condition of anonymity, the first of whom said that he has been defrauded twice by travel agencies in the Gaza Strip, submitting to two separate offices requests to emigrate from Palestine. The 27-year-old tried a third time with the same result. Over two years, he has lost $2,000 … Most Gaza youth dream of emigrating, even if via illegal or unsafe means. They are risking their lives as well as their money. The second person Al-Monitor spoke to, a 30-year-old Gazan, achieved more than our previous interviewee in terms of realizing part of his dream to leave Gaza. But the smugglers threw him and dozens of illegal immigrants in the Mediterranean Sea three years ago. He miraculously survived. “I was in a small boat with dozens of young people, who decided to emigrate from several Arab countries, including Palestinians. The smugglers threw us in the middle of the sea, abandoned us and left us to our fate. We struggled with the waves for hours but thanks to divine help, I managed along with other young men to survive, and we were rescued by the Greek coast guard,” he said.
Gaza unemployment pushes some to sneak into Israel
GAZA (Al-Akhbar) 5 June by Sanaa Kamal –Despair pushes young people from Gaza to the border with the occupied territories (Israel) in search for work. From their point of view, the difficult economic situation justifies their attempt to sneak in, despite the grave risks and the suspicions surrounding such a move — As long as Gaza’s residents face poverty and a lack of opportunities, some of them will attempt to look for work, even if is on their occupied lands. The Israeli army, for its part, continues to monitor the infiltration of Palestinians across the border fence. Not a week goes by without announcing the arrest of one or more men on infiltration charges. Ashraf Mansour is a young man who lives in east al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. He was one of those looking for opportunities on the other side of the fence. He tried with his friend to sneak into Israel to find work and make some money. They did not heed the ominous risks involved in their adventure. They attempted to sneak in during a period when even those who reside along the Gaza border are too afraid to move at night, for fear of being killed by an Israeli soldier armed with an automatic weapon, with orders to shoot anything that moves … Mansour was lucky; he was arrested by the Israeli army along the border instead of getting shot, which is what happens to many others … The Israeli army has arrested 125 people along the border since the start of 2013. Human rights organizations in Gaza point out that five men have been killed and 20 others wounded by gunshots during the same period while trying to sneak into Israel.
The plight of Gaza’s terminally ill surviving the closure of Rafah crossing
Al-Akhbar 5 June — Twenty-year-old Essam Hasna is a cancer patient from the Gaza Strip who was supposed to get his treatment four months ago. In February, he went to the Rafah crossing – the main gateway for Gaza patients to Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the outside world – and was told by Egyptian border control that he could not cross over to Egypt because his brother, Mohammed, who was accompanying Essam on the journey, had been blacklisted by Egyptian authorities. In 2008, Mohammed was put on a blacklist for those denied entry into Egypt, and for reasons that are still unknown, he said … Mohammed told Al-Akhbar that he and many others like him had been unjustly blacklisted and are suffering as a result. He feels that his status has dealt a blow to his ailing brother Essam, who needs to receive the necessary medical attention across the border in Egypt, as such treatment is not available in Gaza because of Israel’s suffocating siege. Before June, Mohammed and Essam were able to make four medical trips together. There are around 1,000 medical cases, like Essam’s, all of whom are in urgent need of medical attention.”I am willing to stand in front of a court to exonerate myself from the accusations held against me,” he said, his voice tinged with desperation.
Palestinians find respite from siege at Gaza’s ancient port
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 3 June by Rasha Abou Jalal — Gaza’s ancient port is a haven for locals wishing to escape the problems of their everyday lives and a suitable venue for some fun and entertainment. However, some people also consider it a good place to earn their living, as poverty and unemployment in Palestinian society have taken a toll. The port of Gaza is historically one of the most important ports of Palestine, and it has been mentioned in several ancient historical texts. This port had a central location for commercial caravan routes in the ancient world, and today it serves as a form of respite for Palestinians suffering under siege and an economic crisis. The new port of Gaza was established over the ruins of the old port. According to the director of Gaza’s Syndicate of Fishing, Nizar Ayash, the renewal and expansion of the port started in 1996 upon a decision issued by the late President Yasser Arafat, to promote the fishing profession and fish production … Mohammad Sukar, 42, said that he takes his parents, brothers and their families to the Gaza port periodically to escape the congestion in Al-Shati Camp, in western Gaza, where the family lives. “The constant power cuts in our homes, which last for more than eight hours a day, push us to spend time here. Our houses have become unlivable due to their extreme closeness to one another and to the suffocating summer heat,” he told Al-Monitor. A different Mohammad and Mariam, a newly engaged couple, sat on wooden chairs trying to enjoy their engagement by visiting recreational places in Gaza.
Ottoman history flows back into Gaza
GAZA (Al Jazeera) 4 June — To many Palestinians in Gaza City, it just looked like a hole in an abandoned wall, surrounded by splatters of concrete and spray paint. In fact, this was all that remained of a public fountain dating back to the 16th century. This month, restoration work on the al-Rifa‘yia fountain was completed, and cold, purified water once again runs from its taps. The Turkish government offered to pay for the renovation after learning the fountain was linked to Sultan Abd al-Hamid II, the 34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire, said Mohammed Mourtaga, director of the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) in Gaza. After discussions with the Hamas-run tourism ministry, TIKA paid about $30,000 to restore the fountain, Mourtaga told Al Jazeera. “This will be the second time that it is revamped and the third time water is coming out from it,” Deputy Tourism Minister Mohammed Khela told Al Jazeera. As Gaza was a commerce hub and a route linking Asia and Africa during the Ottoman Empire, the al-Rifa‘yia fountain was built around 1570 to provide people and traders with water. The water came from a nearby well, Khela said.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
Israel to build 1,500 more homes in settlements: reports
Jerusalem (AFP) 5 June — Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel has invited bids for 1,500 new homes in Jewish settlements in retaliation for a new Palestinian government backed by Hamas, reports said on Thursday. Of the new homes, 400 will be in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem with the rest elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, the online edition of Haaretz newspaper reported. Ariel said it was “an appropriate Zionist response to the terrorist Palestinian government,” the paper reported. “Israel has the right and duty to build throughout the entire country,” said the minister, who is a member of the far-right Jewish Home party which is fierce champion of the settlements and opposes a Palestinian state. The announcement comes amid Israeli anger at its US ally’s decision to work with the new merged administration for the West Bank and Gaza formed by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas with the support of Israeli foe Hamas.
Israel advancing plans for 1,800 new settlement units – on top of tenders for 1.500 units
Haaretz 5 June by Chaim Levinson, Barak Ravid & Jack Khoury — Palestinians warn their reaction will be ‘unprecedented;’ U.S. envoy Dan Shapiro criticizes move, says White House opposed to settlement construction — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided Thursday to unfreeze planning processes for 1,800 housing units in the settlements that have been frozen the last three months, in response to the establishment of the Palestinian unity government earlier this week. The announcement comes just hours after the Housing Ministry published tenders for 1,500 housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Wednesday, a move termed by Minister Uri Ariel as a response to the new Palestinian unity cabinet. “When Israel is spat upon, it has to do something about it,” Ariel told Israel Radio, adding that construction tenders had been issued as a response to what he termed a Palestinian “terrorist government.” The new move, revealed on Thursday, calls for the advancement of planning processes at various stages … Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in an interview to Palestinian radio that the time has come for Israel to take responsibility for and pay the price for its violations of international law, hinting that it may turn to UN institutions and to the International Criminal Court. However, a Palestinian official told Haaretz that despite Abu Rudeina and Erekat’s threats, no formal decision has been made in the matter. He said that the Palestinian Authority is currently discussing options, and considering whether to utilize the help of the organizations it has already turned to or to apply for more, primarily the ICC. The official also clarified that all Abbas’ steps are being coordinated with the Arab League and the Americans, adding that he will not make any drastic moves without their backing. Another member of the Palestinian negotiating team added, “We think that Israel is responding hysterically mostly because of the wave of international support for the new Palestinian government and especially that of the U.S. Since Israel doesn’t have the tools or the will to punish the U.S. or Europe, it is punishing the Palestinians.”
Settlements as punishment prove Palestinian lives are bargaining chip
972mag 6 June by Mairav Zonszein — By using settlements as a punitive response to Palestinian political actions, Israel proves they come at the direct expense of Palestinian statehood, and that it holds all the power in this conflict. Here we go again. Palestinians do something Israel doesn’t approve of, and Israel retaliates by using its unchecked power and leverage to block the possibility of a Palestinian state ever becoming a reality. By announcing the advancement of about 3,300 settlement units on Thursday, as a retaliatory measure that it unabashedly admits is punishment for the formation of the temporary Palestinian unity government, Israel is proving that settlements come at the direct expense of Palestinian livelihood – that they are the main obstacle to a two-state solution and a Palestinian state. Settlements as a form of punishment also exhibit that Israel is the omnipotent power and that any form of negotiations within this reality is inherently imbalanced and ineffective. Israel controls the reality on the ground and does as it pleases, when it pleases, while laying blame on the Palestinians. Even though Israel is constantly taking unilateral actions, when Palestinians do so, it is suddenly out of bounds.
Israel building farm on Palestinian land
Haaretz 6 June by Amira Hass –The farm is part of a intensive project to connect Israel proper to the West Bank settlement of Ariel — Israel is building a large farm on a Palestinian village’s land in the West Bank, with the only route to the land passing through another village’s olive plantations. The villagers of A-Dik and Brukin in the Salfit District are complaining that settlers and construction workers are passing illegally through Brukin’s land on their way to the intended farm, which is located on A-Dik’s land. They filed a complaint with the Palestinian police and expect the Palestinian Liaison Committee to pass their complaint on to the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration … The work is part of an intensive construction-and-development project creating Israeli continuity from the Green Line to the Ariel settlement on either side of Hotze Shomron highway. The project consists of construction in the area’s settlements and of a new settlement, Leshem, and the authorization of the illegal outpost Bruchin in 2012. In addition to the farm, the state is planning to build another settlement on the land. Last Friday, the villagers demonstrated against the plan to build the farm. After the protest, bulldozers accompanied by a large Israel Defense Forces force blocked with large rocks two roads connecting the Palestinian villages south of Route 5 to the village of Sarta north of the road.
Israel begins construction on settlement units atop al-Khader lands
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 June — Israeli authorities on Wednesday began work on a number of settlement units in Elazar settlement in the southern West Bank after razing nearby Palestinian lands, activists said. Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the popular committee against the wall and settlements in the village of al-Khader near Bethlehem, said that Israeli settlers had begun work on four settlement units on lands belonging to the Mousa family near the existing Elazar Jewish settlement. Salah said that the lands where the construction is taking place are near the settlement but are not inside the fence surrounding the settlement, meaning that the expansion constitutes a land grab of the neighboring village’s territory. He added that the Jewish settlers had taken over a dunam of land south of al-Khader, planted it, and surrounded it with a fence. Salah pointed out that the move was not an isolated incident, as Israeli occupation authorities had razed lands belonging to Palestinians in the nearby area of Um-Muhammedin south of the town in order to connect the nearby Efrat settlement to others in the area.
Israel orders Yatta villagers to evacuate lands for settlement
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 June — Israeli forces told residents of Um al-Kher village in the southern Hebron hills to evacuate parts of their property on Wednesday, in a move activists say is intended to pave the way for the expansion of a Jewish-only settlement nearby. Rateb al-Jubur, a coordinator of the National Committee Against Settlements and the Wall, said that Israeli forces handed the Hathaleen family from the village east of Yatta notices telling them to remove gardens and barbed wire from lands they own in order for the lands to be annexed to the settlement of Karmel. Al-Jubur said that the same family had been handed notices a few days earlier telling them to remove the barbed wire that surrounds 150 dunams (37 acres) of their land in the village, which is located in Area C and thus falls under full Israeli military control. Al-Jubur also said that the Israeli forces on Wednesday seized a tractor that belongs to resident Omar Hasan Hoshieh from Yatta, and three cars that belong to Bedouins who live east of Yatta.
EU threatens action against Israeli settlers
BRUSSELS (EU Observer) 6 June by Andrew Rettman — The EU has threatened to take action against settlers after Israel backed the building of 1,466 more Jewish homes on Palestinian land in the West Bank. EU countries said in a joint communique on Thursday (5 June) the move is “unhelpful to peace efforts” and called on Israel to “reverse the decision”. They added that if it doesn’t, they will “act accordingly” and “fully and effectively implement existing legislation in relation to settlements”. The threat refers to plans to publish a code of conduct for EU retailers on how to label settler-made products – a move likely to fuel consumer boycotts and to harm Israel’s image. It is part of a tougher new approach which EU diplomats say the US endorses.
PHOTOS: Israeli authorities destroy Palestinian family’s valley of fruit trees
Activestills 6 June Text and photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler — Daoud Nassar inspects the destruction of his family’s grove of some 1,500 fruit trees near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014. On May 19, Israeli forces bulldozed the family’s groves, which contained mature apricot, apple, grape, almond, and fig trees planted 10 years previous. The army claims that it is state land, but the Nassar family has documents proving ownership of their land, also known as “Tent of Nations” dating back to the Ottoman period. The family’s land is virtually surrounded by the Gush Etzion settlement bloc which, like all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, is illegal under international law. The sign at the entrance to the Nassar family farm reads, “We refuse to be enemies.” In 2000, they named their land Tent of Nations and launched a program “to bring people of various cultures together to build bridges of understanding, reconciliation, and peace.” They invite youth from around the world, especially from areas of conflict, together for face-to-face interactions and host solidarity movements, churches, youth organizations, and tourist groups, each year—many of whom come to volunteer on the farm. Though they’ve been fighting a legal battle to resist confiscation of their land by Israeli authorities since 1991, they welcome anyone to visit. “As humans, we’re willing to meet with anyone,” says Daoud Nassar, noting that their visitors often include internationals and Israeli Jews who are being exposed to the realities of the Israeli occupation for the first time. “But this is not peace,” he says, emphasizing that dialogue alone is not enough when one side holds all of the power.
Settlers set fire to olive trees near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 4 June — Israeli settlers set fire to dozens of olive trees in the Palestinian villages of Farata and Immatin west of Nablus on Wednesday, a local official said. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activities in the West Bank, told Ma‘an that “a number of settlers from the Havat Gilad settlement burned dozens of trees and the fire spread in the area” in a targeted attack on local villagers. Daghlas also told Ma‘an that “Palestinian civil defense was trying to reach the area to put out the fire.” Havat Gilad (“Gilad’s Farm”) is a small Jewish outpost located on a main road just east of a large settlement block, while the two villages are caught between the two. Havat Gilad settlers frequently attack local villages, torching cars, hurling rocks, and destroying olive trees, the economic mainstay of many area villages.
No Jews allowed
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 5 June — My plan for the morning was pretty simple, I wanted to enter the souq (market) and buy some bread for breakfast, and then walk home. That was it. As I made my way towards the souq entrance I was stopped by two Israeli border police officers and asked for my religion. This is not an unusual experience in this city, the military are a common sight and as well as the regular checkpoints, they can and often do stop you at any time, demanding your identification, asking your religion, and any other questions they desire to ask. I am neither ashamed nor proud of my religion. It is part of who I am in the same way my hair colour is a part of me. It is also a question I have been asked before and, as in the past, I told the truth. “I’m Jewish,” I said. The two border police officers spoke to each other in Hebrew, a language I have very little understanding of. “Where are you going?” They asked. “The souq,” I said. “I just want to go to the market.” “No, you can’t go in. No Jews allowed.” I wasn’t completely shocked, this has also been something stated to me before. “Come on, I’ve been in there a thousand times, is it illegal for me to enter?” “You can’t go in, you’re Jewish, it’s not allowed, it’s dangerous.” I wanted to laugh, I may well have done. “It’s not dangerous, I have many friends in there, just let me go.”
Israeli apartheid exposed at the airport
WASHINGTON (Haaretz) 5 June by Salman Masalha — Despite new x-ray machines, the brutal treatment of Arab citizens at Ben-Gurion Airport continues in keeping with Zionist ideology — Many would agree with the principle that a state, whatever its name is, that practices racial segregation has no right to exist in the world with pretenses of being moral. Israel is this kind of state. Since I could think for myself, I’ve experienced this evil personally. I would never have imagined this, but time and again I find that my very existence is a ticking bomb that undermines the security of the regional power called Israel. There have been many reports of the brutal treatment — both physical and mental — of Arab citizens at Ben-Gurion Airport. Recently, in an attempt to bypass the public criticism of the airport security services’ conduct, the Zionist head scratched itself and came up with new tricks. They told us that new x-ray machines were installed and that the painful situation has improved somewhat. But all the stories about so-called improvements at Ben-Gurion Airport are fairy tales. Don’t believe their yarns. Not only is the racial segregation still alive — it’s kicking as brutally as ever. The following story isn’t a figment of my feverish brain. The young man who received me at Ben-Gurion Airport apparently forgot for a moment his superiors’ secret orders and acted like a human being.
Jerusalem chosen as 2016 Islamic tourism capital
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 June — The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has chosen Jerusalem as the capital of Islamic tourism for 2016, Palestinian officials said Thursday. Mahmoud Habbash, PA minister of religious affairs, said the decision is a step towards breaking Israel’s siege of the city’s Islamic and Christian holy sites. The fact that Israel tries to hide the Arab and Islamic identity of the city and builds settlements will not change the fact that “Jerusalem is the religious and political capital of Palestine,” he added. Habbash said he hopes Arab and Islamic delegates would visit Jerusalem and its holy sites.
G4S ‘to end’ Israel prison contracts as pressure mounts over torture complicity
Electronic Intifada 6 June by Ali Abunimah — British-Danish multinational security and prison profiteering firm G4S is to pull out of Israeli prisons completely, the Financial Times reports this morning. Campaigners have given a cautious welcome to the news, but emphasize that pressure on the company must continue until the abuses it is complicit in end. They note that G4S has made misleading statements in the past. According to the Financial Times: “G4S has confirmed that it will end all its Israeli prison contracts within the next three years after an annual general meeting that was severely disrupted by human rights protesters…” Caution “G4S is certainly feeling the pressure and reputational damage caused by the international campaign against its complicity in Israel’s military occupation,” said Randa Wahbe, advocacy officer with the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, in a statement emailed to The Electronic Intifada. “The latest reports that G4S will not renew its contract with the Israeli Prison Service is a welcome step, but this has no immediate effect on those facing human rights violations inside Israel’s prisons today. G4S has a long track record of saying one thing but doing another and has not made any formal written statements about when it intends to end its contracts with the Israeli prison service and other aspects of Israel’s apartheid regime.” … Despite the apparent decision to pull out, the company maintains that it has no role in Israel’s abuses. “We do not operate prisons, we supply prisons with security equipment,” Almanza told the Financial Times, claiming that the equipment made the Israeli prisons “safer” and did not increase human rights abuses. But as this video from Addameer explains, G4S has “blood on its hands” by providing surveillance systems and other services at facilities like Megiddo prison, where father of three Arafat Jaradat was tortured to death last year, and where Palestinian teen Ali Shamalawi, one of the “Hares Boys,” is being held.
Political, other news
Hamdallah: Elections must be held in East Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 June — Palestinian premier Rami Hamdallah on Wednesday urged the international community to pressure Israel to allow elections to take place in East Jerusalem. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a Knesset meeting that he would not allow the PLO to hold parliamentary or presidential ballots in East Jerusalem. During a meeting with foreign representatives, Hamdallah said that “elections cannot be held without Jerusalem,” and urged support for the electoral process. President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that new elections would be held within six months, after a Palestinian unity government was announced in Ramallah.
Israeli restrictions ‘preventing Gaza unity govt meeting’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 June — Ministers of the new Palestinian unity government are planning a cabinet meeting in the Gaza Strip, but Israel continues to deny them permits to travel, a government spokesman said Tuesday. Ehab Bseiso told Ma‘an that the ministers want to meet in Gaza to discuss the situation in the blockaded enclave, but that Israel has revoked the VIP status of Palestinian government members. Meanwhile, four members of the new unity government still have not been officially sworn into office, given that Israel rejected their requests to travel to Ramallah for Monday’s inauguration ceremony, Bseiso said. He said the government is trying to find a legal way for Gaza ministers to be sworn in despite Israeli restrictions.
Hamas begins handover of Palestinian government offices in Gaza
GAZA (Reuters) 4 June by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Islamist Hamas handed control of two government ministries in Gaza to members of the new Palestinian unity government on Wednesday, a further sign of reconciliation between the rival factions after the collapse of peace talks with Israel … In Gaza, new cabinet ministers Saleem Al-Saqqa, a Gaza lawyer, and Mufeed Al-Hassayna, a U.S.-educated engineer took over from outgoing Hamas ministers respectively at the Justice department and the Housing and Public Works ministry … Ehab Bessaiso, spokesman for the new administration, said ministers in the West Bank had already assumed their posts and only two more ministries in Gaza remained for handover in the coming days. But he said the new cabinet’s ability to function would be harmed by Israeli curbs on officials wishing to cross Israel to travel between the two separated Palestinian territories and called for international help to press Israel to remove the ban.
Banking chaos in Gaza amid unity govt employee confusion
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 June — The union of public sector employees in Gaza on Thursday blamed the newly formed Palestinian unity government for banking chaos which started Wednesday and continued into Thursday in the coastal enclave. When Palestinian Authority government employees went to withdraw their monthly wages from banks on Wednesday, they were joined by government workers from the previous Hamas-affiliated government seeking their pay, too. This resulted in clashes and closures as executives sought to avoid bank runs. In a news conference, the union’s speaker Muhammad Siyam accused the unity government of “discriminating between civil servants based in the West Bank and those based in Gaza.” After the unity government was sworn in on Monday, the political echelon of both Fatah and Hamas appeared to have failed to address basic arrangements such as who should pay salaries of about 50,000 employees including security officers who were employed by the former Hamas-run government.
Hamas demands new Palestinian govt pay its workers
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 5 June — Hamas demanded Thursday that the Palestinian Authority take employees of the disbanded Gaza government onto its payroll, after scuffles broke out at banks in the Palestinian territory. The dispute was the first hitch for a unity government sworn in on Monday … “What happened at the banks was a result of anger by employees at being discriminated against and deprived of their wages,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said. “The new government must take responsibility for everyone, and not take steps that will bring back the division of before,” he added. Scuffles broke out at banks in Gaza City late Wednesday as angry Hamas government workers tried to stop Palestinian Authority employees withdrawing their salaries. Hamas security forces intervened, closing ATMs in an attempt to maintain public order, officials said.
PA forces arrest five Hamas supporters, summon three others
RAMALLAH (PIC) 6 June — PA security forces continued arrest campaigns targeting Hamas’ supporters throughout West Bank towns and cities just a few days after the formation of unity government. Five of Hamas’ supporters were arrested by PA forces including an elderly woman in order to practice more pressures on her to hand over an amount of money. PA forces also summoned three others of Hamas’ supporters in West Bank, while stealing $10,000 from a family of two detainees sentenced to life imprisonment in Israeli jails. In al-Khalil, the Preventive Security Services (PPS) arrested the liberated prisoner Ali Dovash one day after his release from PA jails. PA General Intelligence Service arrested Raafat Sharbati, the husband of administrative detainee PA Hatem Kufaisheh’s daughter….
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Abbas seeks Egypt role in supervising reconcilation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 June — President Mahmoud Abbas will seek to secure an Egyptian role in supervising reconciliation with Hamas in an upcoming trip to Cairo to attend President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi’s inauguration. “We need to discuss with the Egyptians the future role of Egypt in sponsoring the implementation of the reconciliation agreement,” Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad told Ma’an late Wednesday. Egypt played a significant role mediating reconciliation in the past, al-Ahmad said, hosting a 2011 meeting between factions which laid the groundwork for the recent unity government. Under the Cairo Agreement, security arrangements for the West Bank and Gaza were to be made through a committee of Arab experts headed by Egypt that would eventually “unite security services” in both territories, al-Ahmad said. New arrangements are also being studied for the Rafah crossing with American and European coordination and Rami Hamdallah met with European diplomats on Wednesday to discuss changes at the terminal, the Fatah official added. A 2005 agreement stipulates that there must be European observers and Israeli surveillance at the crossing. “We hope the crossing will be run by Palestinians only, but we will listen to all points of view,” al-Ahmad said.
Justice for Hamas, Fatah victims costly, elusive
GAZA CITY (AP) 6 June by Ibrahim Barzak — Foes Hamas and Fatah managed to set aside some of their differences to form a Palestinian unity government, but the hardest part of reconciliation may still lie ahead — settling demands of justice for hundreds killed and wounded in fighting that culminated in the 2007 Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. The emotional issue weighs on attempts to share power in Gaza after seven years of sole Hamas rule. A reconciliation commission is to review each case and award compensation, but possible violence by those seeking revenge instead could threaten re-integration in the Mediterranean coastal territory. The commission would need at least two years and $150 million to review and settle any claims, said panel member Ashraf Jumma, a Fatah legislator. But for the moment, it has no funding at all, he said. And not all are ready to accept a resolution. “I don’t want compensation … I want punishment,” said Hamza Rafati, the 22-year-old son of a slain Hamas preacher. In May 2007, he said, his father Mohammed was dragged from the family’s Gaza City home by Fatah-affiliated security men and shot in the head in the street.
EU donates €15.5 M. for May salaries
IMEMC/Agencies 5 June by Saed Bannoura — The European Union granted the Palestinian Authority €15.5 Million for salaries and pensions for the months of May, to be transferred to more than 70.000 government employees, and pensioners, and for other basic expenses. EU Representative John Gatt-Rutter stated that the money would be paid through the European PEGASE mechanism, meant for channeling EU assistance to the Palestinian Authority, and for implementing its development and reform projects in the occupied territories. The official said this latest contribution is meant for salaries and pensions, and that it is part of ongoing assistance by the European Union to the Palestinian people.
Qatar stresses financial commitment to unity govt
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 June — Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday called Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in order [about?] the possibility of an upcoming visit to Qatar after the Qatari emir told him the country was committed to financially helping Palestine earlier in the day. Haniyeh spoke with Qatari Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani earlier on Thursday, and the leader said that the small Persian Gulf state is committed to supporting the Palestinian unity government and to helping pay the salaries of its employees. Hamas said in a statement on Thursday evening that after this call, Haniyeh phoned Hamdallah to talk about visiting Qatar in order to set up a process to support the unity government’s budget.
Christians object to serving in Israel’s army
NAZARETH (Al Jazeera) 5 June by Jonathan Cook — The leaders of Israel’s large Palestinian minority are stepping up opposition to Israeli government plans to recruit Christians into the military with a specially convened congress on Friday. The congress, due to be held in the Galilee town of Sakhnin, will include all the minority’s political factions. It follows an announcement in April from the Israeli Defence Forces that all Christians would receive call-up papers on graduating from high school. An initial batch of 800 papers is due to be issued in the coming weeks. “The congress will make clear that there is a national consensus against serving in the military and the government has crossed a red line,” said Nadim Nashef, director of Baladna, a youth movement that has led opposition to the government drive. The Israeli military has insisted that the notices will be treated as an “invitation”, but Nashef said it was widely assumed that Israel intended to impose a compulsory draft at a later stage. Unlike Israeli Jews, most of Israel’s 1.5 million Palestinian citizens, comprising a fifth of the country’s population, have been exempted from conscription since the state’s establishment more than six decades ago. Many in the minority fear the change in official policy is intended to fuel tensions with their Muslim compatriots, as part of a “divide and rule” policy
Palestinian national soccer team achieves its highest-ever FIFA ranking
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 June — The Palestinian National Football team has jumped ahead 71 places in the FIFA World Rankings following a historic win and their first-ever qualification to the Asian Cup, reaching their highest-ever international ranking. Palestine jumped to the 94th place in the international rankings after moving up 270 points during their drive to reach clinch the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup, which pits lower-ranked teams from across Asia against each other and secures the winner a spot in the Asian Cup. Palestine had won four matches and drew one on their way to clinch the AFC Challenge Cup, and earned a place in their first-ever continental tournament, by qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup to be held in Australia in 2015. Their final tournament victory came on May 30 when they beat the Philippines in the final with a curling free kick by Ashraf Numan al-Fawaghra. Palestine won the tournament without conceding a single goal to an opposing team. Palestine’s football team is now ranked 10th in Asia. The Palestinian national football team has been around since 1928, but was recognized by FIFA only in 1998.
Bedouin women in Israel stand up to ‘The Man’
Haaretz 6 June by Roy (Chicky) Arad — Israel’s first labor union for Bedouin women recently won a labor dispute – and the respect of their conservative society — Israel’s first labor union for Bedouin women recently racked up an impressive success. After the union, representing employees of day care centers run by an Arab-Jewish organization, declared a labor dispute, management accepted most of its demands. The employees’ pay was raised from 27 to 29 shekels an hour ($7.78 to $8.35), they were given two paid vacations a year, one in spring and one in winter, and a plan to turn them from salaried employees into freelancers was shelved. But their gains are now being threatened by the Economy Ministry’s plan to cut the funding it gives the Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation — Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development.
PCHR condemns the killing of Palestinian woman on grounds of so-called ‘family honor’ in Ramallah
5 June — The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the killing of A. Y. by her brother in Beit Rima village near Ramallah on Tuesday, 03 June 2014, on ground of so-called “family honor.” PCHR calls for bringing the perpetrators before justice, and taking necessary legal steps to stop such crimes. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 14:30 on Tuesday, 03 June 2014, M. Y. (30) from Beit Rime village, west of Ramallah, brought the dead body of his sister, A. Y. (21), by his car to a police station in the village and turned himself in to the police claiming that he committed the murder. The Public Prosecution then opened an investigation into the crime and ordered to keep the body of the victim. The body was then taken by an ambulance to the Palestine Governmental Medical Complex in Ramallah for autopsy … It should be mentioned that the killed woman was married in Deir Ghassanah village and her brother headed to her house after receiving a phone call from someone in the village. He then took her and killed her on the ground of so-called “family honor.” This crime is the third of its kind in 2014
Australia refuses to call East Jerusalem ‘occupied’
Sydney (AFP) 6 June — Australia has decided to remove the term “occupied” when referring to east Jerusalem, a move blasted by Palestinians as “toxic” and an obstacle to peace, and welcomed by Israel. The issue flared in the Senate this week with Attorney-General George Brandis issuing a statement to clarify Canberra’s stance on the controversial question of the legality of settler homes. “The description of areas which are the subject of negotiations in the course of the peace process by reference to historical events is unhelpful,” he said Thursday. “The description of east Jerusalem as ‘occupied’ east Jerusalem is a term freighted with pejorative implications which is neither appropriate nor useful. It should not and will not be the practice of the Australian government to describe areas of negotiation in such judgmental language.”
Abbas, Peres to plant olive tree at Vatican ceremony
Vatican City (AFP) 6 June – The Israeli and Palestinian presidents will plant an olive tree as a symbol of peace after an unprecedented prayer meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican Gardens on Sunday amid high tensions in the Middle East. The Vatican said it hoped the initiative launched by Francis, which will include Christian, Jewish and Muslim prayers and music, would have an impact on public opinion but stressed it would be a purely spiritual event. Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas will arrive separately to be greeted by Francis at the Vatican’s St Martha Residence, where he lives. They will be joined by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, a spiritual leader of the Orthodox Christian world who is close to Francis. The ceremony will begin at 1700 GMT, the Vatican said on Friday, specifying that prayers will be delivered in the chronological order of the founding of world’s three main monotheistic religions: first Judaism, then Christianity and Islam….
Poll: Most Israeli Jews oppose unilateral actions in West Bank
Haaretz 5 June — After failed peace talks, country’s Jews remain cool to annexation of territories, even cooler to withdrawal, while country’s Arabs oppose annexation but support withdrawal — …The Israel Democracy Institute-Tel Aviv University Peace Index for May found that 60 percent of the country’s Jews oppose unilateral withdrawal. At the same time, the poll found that over two-thirds of the country’s Arabs support it. As for annexation of territory, 49 percent of Jews are opposed, compared to 43 percent in favor, while 72 percent of Arabs stand against the idea … Meanwhile, a solid majority (65 percent) of Jews, and a similar proportion of Arabs, believe that despite recent criticism from the United States over the government’s handling of the peace talks, U.S. support of Israel will not diminish. In the dispute over an increase in the defense budget, which pits the Defense Ministry and Israel Defense Forces’ “yea” against the Finance Ministry’s “nay,” a clear majority of Jews, as well as an implied, larger majority of Arabs, sides with the Finance Ministry. Among Jews, 49 percent agreed with the treasury, against 37 percent who supported the defense establishment.
EU and Israel agree on controversial research
AFP 6 June — The deal enables hi-tech companies and research institutes in Israel to join the 77bn euro programme — European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso is to formally sign a controversial EU-Israel research programme with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The outgoing head of the European Union executive will hold talks with Netanyahu on Sunday before taking part in a signing ceremony the next day allowing Israel to become the only non-European country to benefit from the EU’s Horizon 2020 scientific research programme … Israel had objected to EU guidelines published in July banning funding and financial dealings with settlements in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem from January this year. The guidelines would have forced Israel to recognise in writing that settlements, which are illegal under international law, are not part of Tel Aviv in any future EU agreements. But after negotiations, it was agreed the EU would appendix an agreement to stop research funds serving institutions in the West Bank, while Israel would add its own appendix stating non-recognition of the new guidelines.
Hamas sees Russia visit as means to end regional isolation / Adnan Abu Amer
Al-Monitor 5 June — Hamas political bureau leader Khaled Meshaal will visit Moscow in the coming weeks, where he is expected to ask Russia to help restore Hamas’ ties with Iran and to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to soften his opposition to the Islamist movement — Hamas spokesman Hossam Badran announced May 25 that the head of the movement’s political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, would visit Russia this month. Meshaal received an invitation during his meeting with Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in Qatar in May. The upcoming visit comes as Hamas suffers from regional isolation, and desires to break the political embargo against it. Badran told Al-Monitor by phone, “The visit aims to develop Hamas’ foreign relations and bolster the reconciliation with Fatah, which Moscow considered to be a positive development. Furthermore, the movement believes in the need to keep the lines of communication open with Russia, because the latter is a superpower possessing a great deal of influence on the situation in the region, and is the only member of the Quartet that was not boycotting Hamas.” Russia’s recognition and acceptance of Hamas is a breakthrough for the movement that has suffered international isolation in recent years.
Breaking the silence about Israeli occupation
Christian Science Monitor 6 June by Christa Case Bryant — The founder of Breaking the Silence, a group of ex-soldiers opposed to Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza, talks about moral accountability on the group’s 10-year anniversary — On the anniversary of Israel’s stunning six-day defeat of its Arab neighbors, hundreds of Israelis gathered not to celebrate, but to question the morality of the 47 years of Palestinian occupation that followed. At stake is not only Palestinian freedom, but the identity of Israel, says Yehuda Shaul. Mr. Shaul, who spent much of his mandatory three-year army service in the West Bank city of Hebron, founded Breaking the Silence 10 years ago to bring the realities of occupation into the Tel Aviv “bubble.” Growing up in a modern Orthodox family in Jerusalem, insulated from the conflict, he got a rude awakening in the IDF. During an officer course, his peers admonished him for questioning the handcuffing of a boy caught throwing stones. “Oh shut up, leftist,” he recalls them saying to him. “Go hand out candies at the checkpoints.” It was Hebron where Shaul really began to question the military’s role in the West Bank. He was assigned to a grenade machine gun, and was ordered to fire on a Palestinian neighborhood more than a kilometer away, never knowing exactly who he had hit.
Voices on unity: Mixed responses to the new Palestinian government
Middle East Eye 3 June — Analysis and opinion from: Sam Bahour, David Pollock, Yossi Mekelberg, Chris MeGreal, Samah Sabawi — Sam Bahour: Palestinians have finally created what has been coined as a “unity government” after nearly eight years of paralysing division between the two largest political parties, Fatah and Hamas. This step is extremely overdue, but should be welcomed nevertheless for what it is – a baby step in the right direction, finally accepting government for what it is, a branch of politics and not some technocratic institute. The Palestinian political spectrum is much more colourful than the bipolar duopoly that this new government depicts. If Palestinian decision-makers are serious about reconstituting an operating Palestinian political system, then no time should be wasted in passing a political party law so new political groupings, mainly youth groups, can organise politically, and then subsequently be allowed to enter elections for all levels of Palestinian governance – starting with the PLO and ending with the Palestinian Legislative Council….