Violence / Attacks / Arrests
PLO: 32 Palestinians killed in West Bank since June
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Aug — As the eyes of the world focused on Gaza in recent months, Israel stepped up a campaign of repression, detentions, and settlement building across the West Bank, the Palestine Liberation Organization said in a report released on Thursday. Thirty-two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in a two month period beginning on June 13, the report said, and 1,397 Palestinians were injured by Israeli fire. During the same period, 1,753 Palestinians were detained — an equivalent of 24 a day — while Israeli forces conducted 1,573 military raids across the West Bank, or an average of 21 a day. The PLO report — which was entitled “Business as Usual” — also highlighted that the construction of Jewish-only settlements built on lands confiscated from Palestinian locals in the occupied West Bank had surged during the same period, with three different projects having been announced on Aug. 25-26 just as the Gaza ceasefire was declared. The report said that over the summer so far, more than 1,472 settlement homes had been approved, slated to house around 6,000 Jewish settlers. Israeli settlements are generally built on the hills in and around Palestinian towns and villages, and critics charge they are strategically located so as to encircle them and make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible. The report also said that the period from June 13 to Aug. 26 had also witnessed a total of 249 attacks by Jewish settlers on Palestinian civilians, or around three a day.
“Israeli aggression against the Occupied Gaza Governorates ran in parallel with the Israeli oppression and colonization in the rest of the Occupied State of Palestine,” the report said. “Though Israeli spokespeople tried to present their attacks on Gaza as a particular action against Palestinian resistance groups, Israeli occupation and colonization policies all over the Occupied State of Palestine make it clear that the ultimate Israeli goal continues to be to prevent the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State,” the report continued. The report also highlighted statements by top Israeli officials which use the situation in Gaza as a “justification for not withdrawing from the West Bank,” including a July 11 statement by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu where he said: “The Israeli people understand now what I always say: there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the Jordan River,” referring to the West Bank. The sharp rise in killings, injuries, and detentions across the West Bank coincided with the launch of the largest Israeli offensive on the West Bank since the Second Intifada in response to the disappearance of three Israeli teens in a settlement near Bethlehem.
Promising Palestinian soccer star was among the conflict’s dead
Haaretz 29 Aug by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — A bright future was predicted for Mohammad al-Qatari, but he was shot dead by an Israeli soldier — The photo on Facebook is dated May 27, 2014, exactly three months ago. Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, the president of FIFA, the international soccer federation, is warmly shaking the hand of a powerfully built young man in a Nike jersey. “Mr. World Soccer” told the young Palestinian player that he predicted he would have a professional future in the sport. A few weeks later, an Israel Defense Forces soldier fired one round of live ammunition at the promising athlete and killed him. Friends of the dead man wrote a sarcastic letter to Blatter: “We thank you for the brilliant future you promised Mohammad … Here, this is the future you promised him.” The president of the Palestinian Football Federation, Jibril Rajoub, also fired off an official letter of protest to Blatter over the soccer player’s death. But in Israel no one had ever heard his name; no one was aware he’d been killed, in the midst of the Gaza hostilities. Of course, a possible protest or show of solidarity by Israeli soccer officials in the wake of the killing of the Palestinian player was out of the question. Thus ended the short life of the 19-year-old athlete Mohammad al-Qatari from the Al-Am‘ari refugee camp, outside Ramallah. His life was truncated, his dream aborted. Qatari will not be a professional soccer player, like Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale, from Real Madrid, whom he revered and whose pictures he pasted on the wall next to his bed. One M16 rifle bullet straight to the center of the chest, fired from about 70 meters during a protest demonstration against the war in Gaza, felled him.
Two settlers assault Ziad Qawasmi from Silwan
[photos] Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 27 Aug — Two settlers assaulted the 48-year-old taxi driver Ziad Qawasmi after midnight Tuesday while he was working in west side of Jerusalem. Ziad narrated to Wadi Hilweh Information Center what happened and said: “while I was working in one of the streets in the west side Jerusalem, two settlers stopped me and they both came in my car. One of them sat next to me and the other behind me.” He added: “I took them to Bar Elan Street and before getting off, the settler sitting next to me punched me on my face and the one behind me tried to strangle me by putting his hand around my neck. Ziad pointed out that the settlers were in their twenties and were dressed in civilian clothes and were wearing “kippas”. He added that the settlers ran away when a group of Jews passed by and said that he called the police and was transferred to Shaare Zedek Hospital for treatment as he suffered a broken nose and wounds in his face that required eight stitches.
Settler attacks in Hebron; Army declares Nablus village ‘closed military zone’
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Aug — A Palestinian youth has been injured, Thursday, after an Israeli settler deliberately ran him over, to the north of Hebron, according to local sources. WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency has reported that Mohammad Awad, spokesperson for the anti-settlement committee in the village, said that the settler, who was driving a bus, deliberately ran over Montaser Harub, age 25, from the nearby village of Kharas, while he was at the entrance of Beit Ummar. According to witnesses, they forced the driver to stop before an Israeli army patrol arrived and ordered the driver to leave, with no further inquiry into the assault. Montaser received first aid at the scene and was later transferred to a hospital for medical treatment, where his condition was described as moderate…
In the Nablus district, on Thursday, Israeli forces reportedly declared the village of Madama a closed military zone, citing security reasons, according to witnesses. Witnesses told WAFA that an Israeli army unit set up flying checkpoints at all village entrances, preventing vehicles from coming or going, and forcing Palestinians to seek alternative bypass roads to reach their places of work. An ambulance was allowed to enter the village only after a lengthy inspection by Israeli soldiers, according to Ma‘an. The village is located adjacent to Burin, which was raided by Israeli soldiers on Wednesday.
Three Palestinians injured near Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Aug by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medical sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, have reported that three Palestinians have been injured on Wednesday evening and dozens suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, after dozens of soldiers invaded Beit Ummar town, north of the city. Mohammad Awad, spokesperson of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Hebron, stated the clashes took place south of Beit Ummar, close to the illegal Karmie Tzur settlement, built on lands belonging to residents of Beit Ummar. Awad added that the soldiers fired rounds of live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades, at dozens of local youth and homes in the town, after invading it. Three were shot with rubber-coated metal bullets, and several residents received treatment for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In related news, an Israeli settler opened fire at a Palestinian car south of Hebron city, eyewitnesses said. The settler used his government-issued automatic rifle to target a car carrying residents of al-Hamamda and Abu Taha families close to an Israeli military base, south of Hebron. Fleeing Israeli fire, the residents sped away through an unpaved road leading to Beit Ummar town, southwest of Yatta town. The attack caused damage but no injuries.
Israeli police kidnap eight in occupied Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 27 Aug by Saed Bannoura — Israeli police officers and soldiers invaded, on Wednesday, at dawn, various Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem, searched and ransacked several homes, and kidnapped eight Palestinians. Amjad Abu ‘Asab, head of the Jerusalemite Families Committee of Palestinian political prisoners, said that dozens of soldiers invaded Shu‘fat refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, and kidnapped three Palestinians after searching their homes.
Abu ‘Asab added that the soldiers also kidnapped two Palestinians in Beit Hanina neighborhood, and three in Jerusalem’s Old City, and moved the kidnapped to the al-Maskobiyya interrogation center. He also said that the soldiers invaded the home of former political prisoner, En’am Qalanbo, in the Old City, and kidnapped her for “participating in a march in solidarity with Gaza…
The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan, in occupied Jerusalem, said hundreds of Palestinians marched in different areas, while chanting for Gaza, the resistance and the liberation of Palestine, before dozens of police officers attacked them, firing concussion grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets, leading to clashes.
A Palestinian woman, identified as Hala Mahmoud Abu Sbeitan, 50 years old, was hit in the head with a gas bomb fired by the army, and was moved to a local hospital. Dozens of Palestinians also marched in Shu‘fat refugee camp, and were violently assaulted by soldiers stationed at the military roadblock by the entrance of the camp, who also fired gas bombs at them, as well as nearby homes and stores, causing several injuries. Similar protests also took place in al-Eesawiyya town, Wad al-Jouz and the Old City, in addition to the al-Jabal area, Silwan, Jabal al-Mokabber area, Hizma and several other areas of occupied Jerusalem. Scores of residents were injured, while Israeli police also reported two officers had been mildly injured. At least one Palestinian was kidnapped, and many detained.
Israeli forces fire tear gas in Nablus elementary school
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 27 Aug — Israeli forces raided an elementary school in the Nablus village of Burin on Wednesday and fired tear gas and stun grenades at pupils, witnesses said. Locals said that the raid took place after a Palestinian youth threw rocks at a settler vehicle traveling near the school. Israel media said one settler was injured after his car was hit by rocks on a road leading to Yizhar settlement. Several schoolchildren were injured after inhaling tear gas and were treated at the scene by medics.
Including two children, five kidnapped in West Bank, several Palestintians injured
IMEMC/Agencies 27 Aug by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers kidnapped at least five Palestinians, including two children, in a number of invasions into homes in different parts of the occupied West Bank. Clashes and injuries have also been reported. Dozens of soldiers invaded Teqoua‘ [or Taqu‘] town, east of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and kidnapped two, including a child, after breaking into and searching their families’ homes. The two have been identified as Nassim Mahmoud Sabah, 18, and Yasin Hussein Sabah, 15 years of age.
Also in Bethlehem, soldiers invaded Husan town, west of the city, and clashed with dozens of local youths who hurled stones and empty bottles at them. Israeli sources said a settler was injured in the head after a number of youths hurled stones at his car, along with several other settler’s cars and military jeeps. Damage to a number of cars has been reported.
In the Jenin district, in the northern part of the West Bank, dozens of soldiers invaded the towns of Jaba’ al-‘Arqa, kidnapping two Palestinians, and also invaded Qabatia town. Several homes were searched and ransacked during the invasions. The two kidnapped Palestinians have been identified as Morad Yousef Shqeiqat, 25, and Mohammad Kamal Talal, 19.
Local sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, said dozens of soldiers were deployed in different parts of the district, and installed several roadblocks at the main entrance of Hebron city, and several nearby communities. The soldiers kidnapped a Palestinian child, identified as Bassem Shaher Basal, age 14, at a bypass road near Hebron, and took him to an unknown destination. The soldiers also broke into several homes in different neighborhoods in the city, including Farsh al-Hawa Abu Kteila area and Wad Abu Da’jan valley. They further invaded Beit Kahel nearby town, and blocked its main road before stopping dozens of residents and investigating their ID cards, while interrogating some of them.
One Palestinian was wounded by an Israeli live round, and two by rubber-coated metal bullets, after the soldiers invaded Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, and clashed with local youth. Dozens suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, especially in the area close to the Karmie Tzur illegal settlement, built on Palestinian lands. The invasion was carried out as hundreds of residents were marching in the town, expressing solidarity with Palestinian resistance and residents in the Gaza Strip. Soldiers also closed the main entrance of Beit Ummar, preventing Palestinians and their cars from crossing, while several soldiers also occupied the rooftop of a local home.
Army kidnaps 14 Palestinians, detains two, in the West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Aug by Saed Bannoura — Media sources in the central West Bank city of Ramallah have reported that the army kidnapped a young woman, identified as Fida’ Suleiman, 22, at the Modi’in roadblock, west of Ramallah. Suleiman’s brothers, Khader and Ahmad, are both political prisoners, held by Israel. The sources added that the soldiers also invaded Betello [or Beitillu] village, northwest of Ramallah, and kidnapped two Palestinians, identified as ‘Othman As’ad, and Mahmoud al-Bazzaz.
In Bethlehem, soldiers invaded Beit Fajjar nearby town, broke into and searched a number of homes, and kidnapped two Palestinians identified as Mohammad Hisham Deeriyya, 19, Imad Ibrahim Deeriyya, 23. Local sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, stated that the soldiers kidnapped two Palestinians from the city, and one Palestinian in Yatta town, south of Hebron. The kidnapped Palestinians have been identified as Husam Zghayyar, Adham Abu Hadid, from Hebron, and Ali Khaled Morr, 28, from Yatta.
In related news, soldiers removed a military roadblock that was burnt by Palestinian protesters, last Friday, in Bab az-Zawiya area, in the center of Hebron city. The army is now replacing the roadblock with a cement and a narrow Iron Gate that only allows one person through at a time.
In addition, soldiers invaded Burin village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and kidnapped Ghassan Zeidan Najjar, 24, after searching and ransacking his home. The army also invaded the home of Ibrahim ‘Omran, headmaster of the local high school in the town, and threatened to kidnap him “should the students continue to hold protests,” and “continue to throw stones at settler’s cars.” Several soldiers also broke into another home in the village, and searched it, before withdrawing.
In addition, dozens of soldiers invaded Tulkarem city, in the northern part of the West Bank, and kidnapped five Palestinians after breaking into their homes, and ransacking their properties. The kidnapped Palestinians have been identified as Akram Issam Qa‘dan, 29, Samer Kamal Fakhoury, 28, Abdul-Baset Issam Shreiteh, 23, Qassam Riyadh Bdeir, 26, and Amjad Abu Safaqa.
In Jenin, also in the northern part of the West Bank, soldiers invaded and searched several homes, interrogated a number of residents, and briefly detained two Palestinians, before handing them military warrants ordering them to head to the Salem Military base for interrogation. The two have been identified as Mohammad Rajab Yassin, 24, and Karim Mustafa Ghazeel, 16.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israeli home demolitions leave 51 homeless near Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 28 Aug — Israeli authorities on Thursday demolished six homes near Jerusalem, leaving 51 Palestinians homeless and bringing the year’s total displaced in the West Bank and East Jerusalem up to 752. A Ma’an reporter said that Israeli civil administration workers raided the Sheikh Anbar neighborhood in Zuayyim village without prior notice and demolished a number of structures belonging to the al-Saidi, al-Jahalin, and Abu al-Hawa families that authorities claimed were built without a permit. The structures included five homes and three cattle sheds. Khader al-Saidi, one of the newly displaced residents, said that authorities demolished the homes with bulldozers without allowing the families to remove their possessions. This led to an exchange of insults and hand scuffles between residents and Israeli forces, he added. Al-Saidi said that his family had lived in the area since the 1950s, and that they had bought the three-dunam piece of land the structures were built on 10 years ago. “Five years ago (the family) built residential structures and cattle-raising structures,” in the area, he said, adding that civil administration bulldozers had destroyed the family’s structures three times in the last two years … Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. It has demolished at least 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures since occupying the West Bank in 1967, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
Israel approves Jewish yeshiva in heart of East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Aug — Israel’s Jerusalem municipality has approved plans to build a Jewish religious school in the heart of occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian activists and Israeli media said. The Ohr Somayach yeshiva will occupy a nine-story building in the middle of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, Haaretz reported. The plan was reportedly approved six months ago by Jerusalem’s Municipal Planning and Building Committee and given the go ahead on Wednesday. A Ma‘an reporter said the building will occupy 1,900 square meters and have three underground floors. The religious school will be located between the al-Hayat Medical Center and the Nasif gas station. Activist and Sheikh Jarrah resident Salih Diab told Ma‘an that the building of a Jewish religious school, and the implementation of evacuation orders against Palestinian residents, will turn Sheikh Jarrah into a “Jewish neighborhood.” The land was reportedly confiscated in the 1980s under Israel’s Absentee Property Law of 1950, which had been used as a tool to annex Palestinian land. A 2013 report prepared by the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem said that the law has been used extensively in Jerusalem to confiscate property and land owned by West Bank Palestinians, who were technically considered “absentee” after Israel unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem.
In March, Jewish settlers began moving into a property in the commercial heart of occupied East Jerusalem after radical settler group Ateret Cohanim bought part of a building from Israel’s Bezeq telecoms company. Located on the corner of Salah al-Din and Sultan Suleiman in the busy center of East Jerusalem just outside the Old City walls, the property is currently being converted into a Jewish seminary. Ateret Cohanim actively works to settle as many Jews as possible in densely populated Palestinian areas in and around the Old City.
Israel invests millions in occupied Golan Heights settlement college
Electronic Intifada 29 Aug by Patrick Strickland — An Israeli college in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is offering a wide range of financial incentives to prospective students in order to increase its enrollment, according to a recent Arabic-language report at the Arabs48 website. Ohalo College, located in the illegal Jewish-only Katzrin settlement, aims to double its enrollment to 2,500 students over the next seven years, Arabs48 reported. In order to do so, Israeli authorities will invest millions in the settlement, including building new student accommodation, and provide monthly stipends of up to 75 percent for rent fees. Ohalo College was located in the Tiberius region of present-day Israel until 1998, when it moved to Katzrin and became the first Israeli academic institution in the occupied Golan Heights. Israel occupied the Golan Heights during the 1967 war and drove out most of its indigenous Syrian residents. Though it claims the territory as part of “Israel,” and formally annexed it in 1981, the United Nations has time and again confirmed the illegality of this occupation. Around 20,000 indigenous Syrians – mostly from the Druze religious community – live in six villages still standing in the occupied territory. Residents hold Israeli-issued travel documents in which they are considered “stateless.” Meanwhile, an estimated 21,000 Israeli settlers live in 33 Jewish-only colonies subsidized by the Israeli government….
Watch: Israel raids ‘return’ camp in destroyed Palestinian village
Electronic Intifada 28 Aug by Patrick Strickland — Israeli occupation authorities on Wednesday raided and looted Kufr Bir‘im, a destroyed Palestinian village near the border with Lebanon, where a group of activists have been camping for more than a year. Accompanied by police, five carfuls of officers from the Israel Lands Administration arrived at approximately 8am. Without announcing their presence or the purpose of the visit, they began tearing apart the activist encampment and looting the campers’ belongings. Approximately a dozen activists – all [descendants] of Palestinians expelled from Kufr Bir‘im in course of the 1948 Nakba – have since August 2013 been camping in shifts amid the ruins of the village. Organized by Al-Awda (“The Return”), a political organization that advocates for the right of return to the village, the group includes third-generation Palestinian refugees as well as a handful of surviving men who fled during the 1948 ethnic cleansing. When occupation authorities arrived Wednesday morning, only two members of Al-Awda and three visitors were present. Additionally, two journalists were on the scene: independent journalist Dylan Collins and myself. Collins filmed the looting and published the video seen above on his YouTube account.
Settlers chop down Palestinian-owned orchard near Hebron
IMEMC/Agencie 29 Aug — Israeli settlers, on Thursday cut down around 30 Palestinian-owned trees in an area to the north of Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, according to a local media source. Spokesperson of the popular committee against settlement activities, Mohammad Ayyad, told WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency that people from the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit Ein cut down around 30 olive, peach and vine trees belonging to one Hammad Islibi. Settlers have been targeting Islibi’s land, according to Mr. Ayyad, and have cut down around 300 trees over the past five years. Islibi’s family apparently succeeded in obtaining a court ruling which allowed them to put up a barbed wire fence between his land and nearby (illegally seized) settlement land, to insure non-recurrence of reprisal actions by settlers. However, the ruling was never enforced, and Israel continues to allow such violations, while doing nothing to stop them.
Prisoners / Court actions
High Court rejects petition to probe Palestinian’s death at Bil‘in demo
Haaretz 29 Aug by Revital Hovel — The High Court of Justice rejected a petition Thursday to instruct the Military Police Criminal Investigation Unit to probe the circumstances of the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah, a Bil‘in resident who died following a demonstration there against the separation barrier in late 2010. One of the justices to reject the petition was Miriam Naor, who two years ago had suggested that the State Prosecutor’s Office should investigate the case. Abu Rahmah died on January 1, 2011, a day after reportedly inhaling tear gas during the dispersal of protesters. She was watching the demonstration from an area near her home in the village, which was several dozen meters from the site of the demonstration. After her death, there were contradictory versions over the circumstances of the incident. While her family claimed that she died in hospital in Ramallah after inhaling a substantial amount of gas and that there was a negligent use of tear gas by Israel Defense Forces soldiers, the army claimed she was not present at the demonstration and that she may have been suffering from blood cancer. It later retracted these claims … Abu Rahmah is the sister of Bassem Abu Rahmah, whose death from a gas canister during a demonstration against the separation barrier in Bil‘in in April 2009 was documented in the film “5 Broken Cameras.” The prosecution closed the investigation into his death for lack of evidence.
Protester against Israel’s land theft remains jailed – four months after arrest
Electronic Intifada 19 Aug by Adri Nieuwhof — Four months ago, human rights activist Murad Shtaiwi was arrested by Israeli forces during a night raid in the occupied West Bank village of Kufr Qaddoum. Four months later, he remains in military detention. Shtaiwi is a prominent member of the Kufr Qaddoum Popular Committee, which has been organizing weekly demonstrations against the Israeli occupation since 2011. One of the charges against him is participating in and organizing “unauthorized” demonstrations. The maximum sentence for this charge is ten years imprisonment. Ever since he was placed under detention on 29 April, Shtaiwi has been denied the right to a fair trial. On 9 July, an Israeli military court postponed a hearing in his case for six weeks, without giving any explanation. That hearing eventually took place on Wednesday this week. During it, one of the charges against Shtaiwi — that of throwing stones — was dropped. The next hearing in his case is scheduled to take place in the second week of September. Draconian Addameer, a Palestinian organization providing support to political prisoners, and the London-based Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights have filed a complaint with the United Nations over his treatment. The two groups expressed concern about how he had been charged under Israel’s Military Order No. 11. Enforced since 1967, that order places draconian restrictions on protests by Palestinians.
Palestinian who threatened IDF officer ordered by court to stay in police custody
Jerusalem Post 29 Aug — The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court extended remand of Zuhib Zahde, 32, who opened a Facebook page titled “Hebron Intifada.” — Zuhib Zahde, 32, was ordered to stay in police custody for an additional six days after the IDF arrested him for threatening soldiers on the Internet. Last month, shortly after the start of Operation Protective Edge, investigators discovered a Facebook group that was opened by Zahde under the title “Hebron Intifada.” Zahde posted threatening messages against the Golani commander, Col. Rasan Alian, his family, and other soldiers serving in the brigade. Alian, the first Druse commander of Golani, was wounded in heavy clashes with Hamas in the early stages of the operation. Shortly after his hospitalization, he said he was set to return to his soldiers. “I want to go back to Gaza, and get to as many terrorists as possible,” Alian said.
Be’er Sheva man charged over anti-Arab Facebook group
Haaretz 29 Aug by Shirly Seidler — Lior Cohen called for getting together to attack Arabs and make them understand ‘that this isn’t their country, it’s the Jews’ country.’ — A Be’er Sheva man was indicted yesterday on charges of incitement to racism and to violence or terrorism, after creating a Facebook group called “A real Arab man is an Arab in the grave.” The indictment, which was approved by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, was one of several issued in the past two months against Israelis for creating Facebook groups calling for attacks on Arabs. Lior Cohen, 22, created his group in the wake of the abduction and murder in June of three Israeli teens in the West Bank. He used it to repeatedly call for violence against Arabs and urge people to band together to commit such violence … The indictment noted that around 2,000 people had joined Cohen’s Facebook group … Police say they are worried by the sharp rise in anti-Arab sentiment on the Internet after the kidnapping, which continued during the recent war in Gaza. Its cyber-crime unit is investigating a number of cases of alleged anti-Arab incitement.
Israel extends detention of 51 Palestinian prisoners
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 27 Aug — Israeli authorities have recently extended the detention of 51 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails, a rights group said on Wednesday. The extensions come amid a major Israeli crackdown on Palestinian dissent across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, where more than 1,500 Palestinians have been arrested over the last two-and-a-half months. [followed by list of the prisoners]
2 Palestinians succumb to wounds from Israeli assault on Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Aug — Two Palestinians succumbed to wounds on Friday that they sustained during the Israeli war on Gaza, bringing the total Palestinian death toll in the 51-day Israeli assault to 2,155. Medical sources said Widad Abu Zaid, 64, died of wounds she sustained on July 29 in a strike on her house in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. She passed away in a hospital in Egypt where she was being treated. Mohammad Al-Ma‘sawabi, 20, died of wounds he sustained last week near the Fairouz Tower in northern Gaza city. He was critically injured and remained at al-Shifa hospital, where he died on Friday.
Egyptian soldiers kill Palestinian exiting tunnel near Rafah
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 27 Aug — Egyptian soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man on Wednesday by a smuggling tunnel near Rafah, Egyptian security sources said. Egyptian border guards spotted two people exiting a tunnel near Rafah and opened fire, injuring one man in the abdomen. Muhammad Izzat Abd al-Aziz, 22, later died in an Egyptian hospital in el-Arish. The other man managed to escape. Security sources said al-Aziz may have been attempting to smuggle African migrants into Israel from Egypt.
Gaza children left orphaned by bloody war
GAZA CITY (AFP) 28 Aug by Mai Yaghi — “She will call me Daddy and Mummy,” insisted 11-year-old Amir Hamad, cradling his infant sister in his arms after the Gaza war left him and his four siblings orphans. Fifty days of bloody fighting in and around the war-torn Gaza Strip has cost the lives of nearly 500 children, but it has also turned hundreds more into orphans, who face a future deprived of their parents’ love. “I would rather be dead than without my mother and father,” Amir told AFP, saying he would never forget that fateful moment on the second day of the war when they were killed. “My parents were drinking their coffee in the evening after breaking the (Ramadan) fast, when a bomb fell onto our home,” he said, recalling how an Israeli air strike hit their home in northern Gaza. “I saw them lying on the ground and knew immediately they were dead,” said Amir, the oldest of the five children. His sister Lamis, just four months old, is the youngest. Amir’s six-year-old brother Nur had laid motionless, his face covered in blood. “Two paramedics took him,” Amir recalled, watching Nur who is now sitting safely next to him. “I’ll look after my brothers and sisters. But I’m scared, because my parents are no longer here to help me.” There are still adult figures in the family — the grandmother and grandfather. The grandmother Afaf Hamad, 60, was displaced by fighting that made almost half a million people homeless, but said she would do whatever to look after the five children. “I’ll never leave them, I’ll raise them as I did my daughter,” she said. “But how will we pay for school?” – ‘Mum, dad are in heaven’ – Bisan Daher, 8, lost both parents and several brothers in an Israeli air raid in northern Gaza. “We were all at home. We don’t have anything to hide, no rockets. But they hit our house while we were all inside. “Now mum and dad and my brothers are in heaven,” she said, still covered in bandages from wounds sustained in the strike.
Victory celebrations in the streets of Gaza after prayers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Aug — Palestinians across the Gaza Strip turned out in the thousands for prayers and a victory march on Friday, as many savored their first opportunity in 50 days to attend Friday prayers in Gaza mosques without fear of Israeli bombardment. Although a local council estimates one-third of mosques were damaged in the Israeli assault — including 72 totally destroyed — Palestinians flocked to services as political leaders took to the podiums to stress the need for national unity after what they deemed an unprecedented victory against Israel. Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said during a Friday prayer sermon in a mosque in the devastated eastern Gaza neighborhood of Shujaiyya that Palestinians have entered “a new age today and a new stage of national unity by choosing to win and support the resistance.” “The war on Gaza should eliminate all previous internal disagreements,” he added, calling upon the national unity government to fulfill its responsibilities related to ensuring Israel open the borders and allow reconstruction. “In this war, we captured back the rights that Israel stole while taking the (political) division as an excuse,” he said, highlighting that since a April 24 Palestinian unity agreement the nation was better equipped to confront Israeli aggression … On Friday, many joined a march organized by the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad to celebrate what they called a “victory of the resistance.” Marches set off from mosques in Gaza City following Friday prayers and ended at a stage in al-Wihda Street, where members of the al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, paraded through the streets.
Haniyeh hails Palestinian resistance ‘victory’ in massive Gaza rally
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Aug – Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh greeted thousands of Palestinians in a central Gaza square on Wednesday in a massive victory rally following the signing of a long-term ceasefire that concluded 50 days of intense conflict with Israel. The speech followed the release of polls earlier in the day showing widespread belief in Gaza that the Palestinian military resistance had increased its deterrence capacity and overwhelming support for the firing of rockets into Israel. In his speech, Haniyeh hailed the people of Gaza and the resistance forces for their steadfastness in the fight against Israel, which claimed the lives of more than 2,100 Palestinians — the overwhelming majority of whom were civilians — and left 64 Israeli soldiers dead, in addition to six civilians in Israel. “Those whose blood was spilled and the martyrs were the fuel of this victory,” Haniyeh said during the rally, emphasizing to the crowd of thousands that the resistance had been preparing for the battle for years.
Meshaal: Israeli assault strengthened Palestinian national unity
AZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Aug — Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on Thursday said that the Israeli assault on Gaza had failed to undermine Palestinian national unity and that the bloody offensive of the past seven weeks had “proven that the resistance cannot be blockaded.” “Israel wanted to attack national unity and is currently looking for an imaginary victory,” he said, in a press conference in which he congratulated the Palestinian people on their “victory” in confronting Israel in a more than 50-day assault that ended earlier this week. Meshaal said that “without the popular support in Gaza, the resistance would not have won. One of the targets of the assault was to strike the national Palestinian reconciliation, because Palestinian reconciliation was firm throughout the assault in (the battle) and negotiations.” “When Israel failed in its siege of Gaza they chose to destroy it, but it is the duty of the unity government and the world to rebuild it,” he added
50 days of war in Gaza likely to cost Israel dearly
Jerusalem (AFP) 28 Aug by Jean-Luc Renaudie –– Israel may be painting a victorious picture of the war in Gaza, but 50 days of fighting looks set to cost it dearly on the political, economic and diplomatic fronts. Under attack by hawks in his cabinet for accepting a ceasefire which ended the violence on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has seen his popularity plummet as the military operation, which began on July 8, dragged on for seven weeks. But on Wednesday, Netanyahu presented his defence: Hamas, he said, was hit “very hard” and did not receive anything it had demanded in exchange for halting its fire, namely a port and an airport in Gaza. Such matters are to be discussed, along with Israel’s demand for Gaza militants to disarm, at a new round of talks which will take place in Cairo within the coming month. But already, Israel has begun staking out its position – that there will be no port, nor an airport and no entry of any building materials that could be used by militants to manufacture rockets or build tunnels or other fortifications … Costly war The financial cost of the operation in the third and longest Gaza war in six years is estimated at around three to four billion dollars, experts say. Israel’s defense ministry has demanded a grant for a similar sum to restock on ammunition, including for its Iron Dome defense system. If it gives into the financial demands of a powerful military lobby, the government could be forced to cut budgets elsewhere and increase taxes, bringing socio-economic pressure on itself. On the diplomatic front, Israel’s offensive has put already tested relations with key ally the United States under severe strain. Harsh criticism from Israeli officials of top US diplomat John Kerry’s attempts to broker a truce prompted a strong rebuke from the Americans, as the State Department condemned the killing of innocent civilians in incidents the UN attributed to Israeli bombardments. Meanwhile, some 50 percent of Israelis said they were satisfied with the way Netanyahu carried out the operation, a drop from 77 percent just three weeks earlier, a poll showed.
71st Israeli fatality of Gaza war: Man succumbs to wounds from rocket attack
Jerusalem Post 29 Aug by Ben Hartman — Sergeant Netanel Maman, a 21-year-old man from Gan Yavne, died Friday morning after he succumbed to wounds sustained from a rocket attack last week. Maman, who was serving in the IDF, sustained head injuries from shrapnel after a rocket landed near the car he was in. He had been hospitalized at The Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva. His funeral was set to take place on at the military section of the Gan Yavne cemetery on Friday at 1:30 p.m. Maman’s death brings the death toll from Operation Protective Edge to 71 Israelis. Sixty-four of the fatalities were IDF soldiers.
Gaza officials say terms of ceasefire being implemented
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Aug — Israel authorities have begun implementing the terms of a ceasefire agreement that went into effect early Tuesday, officials in Gaza said, as life slowly began returning to normal after 50 days of bombardment on the besieged coastal enclave. As Palestinian farmers returned to their fields and fishermen began venturing out to the sea again, the situation had noticeably improved from before the war. Officials told Ma‘an that farmers were able to tend to fields around 100 meters from the border fence, suggesting that the Israeli security buffer zone has been drastically reduced from its previous range. Before Israel’s recent Operation Protective Edge, Israeli forces opened fire on those who entered the buffer zone, which ranged from 500-1500 meters from the border and encompassed 17 percent of Gaza’s total land area and 35 percent of its agricultural land, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of more than 100,000 Gazans.
The effects of the newly signed long-term ceasefire agreement could also be witnessed on the sea, where Gaza’s 4,000 fishermen cautiously began venturing out again after being shot at numerous times by Israeli forces in recent weeks. Secretary-General of the Union of Fishermen Muhammad Basala told Ma‘an that fishermen had been allowed to sail as far out as six nautical miles during recent trips, a number he said was set to expand under the terms of the deal…
Officials in the Palestinian liaison department, meanwhile, told Ma‘an that Israel had opened the Erez crossing near Beit Hanoun between Israel and northern Gaza Strip, highlighting that the crossing was operating just as it did before the war. Patients, merchants and passenger who made special coordination were all allowed to travel into Israel Wednesday, the officials said. The long-term ceasefire which came into effect on Tuesday also includes the opening of crossings for goods and aid under heavy Israeli supervision, which Palestinian negotiators say will signal the end of Israel’s crippling eight-year long blockade of the Strip, long a key Palestinian condition. An Israeli demand that the Gaza Strip be demilitarized, meanwhile, was not mentioned, and although Israeli officials said it would be raised in a second round of negotiations in late September, it was unlikely to be agreed upon by the Palestinian side.
Israeli forces fire warning shots near Gaza border
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Aug — Israeli forces fired warning shots near the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, Israel’s army said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said warning shots were fired in the air after a crowd of Palestinians began hurling rocks at the security fence. The crowd dispersed following the gunfire, she added. The incident took place east of Gaza City in an area adjacent to the Nahal Oz kibbutz, Israeli media reported. The Israeli security buffer zone around Gaza was meant to be reduced following Tuesday’s ceasefire agreement, with farmers initially reporting that they were able to access their fields 100 meters from the border fence. Before Operation Protective Edge, Israeli forces routinely opened fire on those who entered the buffer zone, which ranged from 500-1500 meters from the border and encompassed 17 percent of Gaza’s total land area. In March, a mentally disabled 57-year-old woman was shot dead by Israeli soldiers after wandering near the buffer zone east of Khan Younis.
Palestinians slowly returning to familiar routines in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Aug — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are slowly returning to their normal routines as residents mark the first Friday without fighting for 51 days. The familiar rituals of waking up early to go shopping, preparing for Friday prayers or heading to lunch with relatives all changed during Israel’s military offensive, with public spaces, shopping centers, and even mosques, marked by death. “Our lives are back again today, after we almost forgot days and dates. Even the Friday rituals that were missing from every house in Gaza are back again,” local journalist Muhammad Farawneh told Ma‘an. “What really hurts is that thousands do not even have homes to return to, they will have to stay in a shelter hoping that one day they can go back to a house,” he added. All Palestinians in Gaza feel the pain of losing relatives, Farawneh said, but “patience and resistance will always be the symbol of Gazans.” Local activist Saber al-Zanin told Ma’an that worshipers are trying to access what is left of severally damaged mosques to pray … “The only common thing between today and last Friday is that Israeli drones are still flying in our skies,” he said. “Psychologically, we still listen to the radio for news.”
Gaza school year to start Sept. 14
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Aug — The new school year in the Gaza Strip will start on Sept. 14, Gaza’s Ministry of Education said Friday. Ziad Thabet, deputy minister of the education ministry, told Ma‘an that an agreement was reached with UNRWA to open schools within two weeks. Some elements of the curriculum will be excluded to make it easier for students to make up for starting the term late following Israel’s offensive on the besieged enclave. The ministry of education has arranged for school bags and other supplies to be distributed to a limited number of students. In addition to the academic curriculum, there will be special workshops for teachers in order to prepare them for dealing with various psychological problems students may face after having experienced one of the worst periods of violence in Gaza for years. Two schools in Gaza are still housing displaced families, Thabet added. The Palestine Liberation Organization estimates that 277 schools were damaged in the Israeli offensive, which also killed 565 children. Of the more than 3,000 children who have been injured in the assault, UNOCHA said that around 1,000 would suffer from life-long disabilities, in addition to the estimated 1,500 who had been orphaned.
Gaza fishermen reap rewards as restrictions eased
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Aug — Palestinian fishermen in Gaza say they are already seeing the benefits of an extended fishing zone, with thousands of kilograms of fresh produce caught only days after Tuesday’s ceasefire agreement. Fishermen say they have brought home a varied catch of sardines, squid, shrimps, crabs and lax to Gaza’s markets since Tuesday, with some varieties of fish unavailable for years due to Israeli restrictions … Secretary-General of the Union of Fishermen Muhammad Basala told Ma’an this week that fishermen will be allowed to sail out as far as nine nautical miles a week from now and 12 miles after a month from now following the terms of the ceasefire agreement. Prior to the recent agreement, Israeli forces maintained a limit of three nautical miles on all Gaza fishermen, despite earlier Israeli agreements which had settled on a 20-mile limit. The restrictions crippled Gaza’s fishing industry and impoverished local fishermen. Fishermen were routinely shot at by Israeli naval forces if they ventured past the restricted zone.
WFP humanitarian convoy delivers food to Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah crossing
World Food Programme 29 Aug — For the first time since 2007, a humanitarian convoy of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) successfully crossed from Egypt into the Gaza Strip Wednesday, carrying enough food to feed around 150,000 people for five days. After a seven-hour drive from Alexandria – where the food was procured – across the Sinai Peninsula, WFP’s trucks arrived at the Rafah crossing. The convoy of 18 trucks carried 15,600 food parcels – part of a total batch of 25,000 food parcels. The parcels include ready-to-eat food such as canned meat, canned beans, tea and dates. A second convoy with the remaining parcels is expected to cross into Gaza in the next few days. This is the first time that WFP has used the Rafah crossing point since the start of the Gaza blockade in 2007. “It is extremely important that we have access to the Gaza Strip from different routes including the Rafah crossing to ensure a constant flow of humanitarian supplies to meet the growing needs of the people affected by the recent violence. We are grateful to the Government of Egypt for opening the Rafah crossing and allowing WFP to procure food in Egypt,” said Mohamed Diab, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and East Europe. To respond to the urgent need for humanitarian aid in Gaza, the UN in Palestine has activated the logistics cluster. Under the leadership of WFP, the cluster is in charge of coordinating the movement of humanitarian assistance into Gaza. The Egyptian Red Crescent is coordinating all the crossing of humanitarian goods through Rafah … Since the start of the conflict at the beginning of July, WFP has provided daily emergency food rations to up to 350,000 displaced people in Gaza, while reaching more than 120,000 people with emergency vouchers … To continue its food assistance programmes in Palestine, WFP requires approximately US$70 million for its humanitarian response in Gaza for a period of three months.
Aid convoys trundle into Gaza as ceasefire holds
GAZA CITY (AFP) 27 Aug by Diane Desobeau — Life in Gaza resumed some semblance of normality Wednesday as a long-term truce took hold following a deal hailed by Israel and Hamas as ‘victory’ in the 50-day war … More than 200 tonnes of aid from Saudi Arabia, Oman and Turkey trundled into Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, a border official said … – Crossing changes – A later line of trucks took in 150 tonnes of medicine and medical equipment given by the king of Saudi Arabia, the border official said. Another 45 tonnes of health supplies arrived from an Oman welfare organisation and Turkey also sent humanitarian aid via Rafah, the official said.
Palestinian officials were expected to meet with their Israeli counterparts on Thursday to discuss procedures at the crossings, Raed Fattuh, head of the Palestinian liaison committee told AFP. “Karm Abu Salem will operate tomorrow as usual, in the way it was before the Israeli war,” he told AFP, using the Arabic name for the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing at the southernmost end of the Israel-Gaza border. “The Palestinian and Israeli sides will meet tomorrow to look into everything regarding the movement of merchandise through the crossing.”
Jordanian MP brings 250 tons of medical supplies to Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Aug — Jordanian member of parliament Muhammad al-Dawayima arrived in Gaza on Friday bringing with him 250 tons of medicines and medical equipment as humanitarian aid continues to flow in to the devastated Palestinian coastal enclave. “God has honored me with a visit to Gaza during the war and aggression, and here I am visiting it again after the victory,” al-Dawayima said as he crossed the border into Gaza via Egypt’s Rafah crossing … The Jordanian lawmaker also said that he had started to work on an initiative to build a fully-equipped hospital in the Gaza Strip in areas which suffer from a lack of medical services. Palestinian foreign ministry official Alaa al-Batta, who escorted the Jordanian guests, pointed out that al-Dawayima was the only parliamentarian who visited the Gaza Strip during the fighting. During his first visit, he added, al-Dawayima brought 100 tons of medical supplies.
Minister: Gaza reconstruction committee starts work Sunday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Aug — The Ministry of Public Works will begin work to “limit the damage” of the Israeli offensive on Sunday, Palestinian public works minister Mufeed al-Hasayneh said Friday. The minister said in a statement that a committee consisting of members from top UN relief organizations UNDP, UNRWA, and OCHA and supervised by the ministry would begin work on reconstruction. Al-Hasayneh added that the committee planned to work in all districts of Gaza, “starting from Beit Hanoun in the north to Rafah in the south,” and that damaged housing units would be repaired.
Group: $40 million worth of damage to Gaza mosques, cemeteries
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an)29 Aug — Israel’s military offensive on the Gaza Strip caused $40.4 million worth of damages to religious sites and cemeteries in Gaza, the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction said Thursday. Over 73 mosques were completely destroyed, 205 partially destroyed, two churches damaged, and 10 cemeteries severely damaged, a report by PECDAR said. In total, over one third of Gaza’s mosques were damaged. The Latin Church in Gaza City suffered partial damage as a result of airstrikes, while the al-Omari Mosque in Jabaliya was completely destroyed. The mosque is believed to have stood on the same site since 647 AD, and the portico and minaret date back to the medieval Mamluk period, or at least 500 years.
With Gaza war over, massive reconstruction awaits
Haaretz 28 Aug by Amira Hass — Rebuilding Gaza will be a huge undertaking, but urgent tasks that need to be done right now already have a price tag of $367 million, according to a request for funds drawn up by the United Nations and a group of aid agencies. This week, several states and independent donors pledged $177 million for these basic measures, which is 48 percent of the amount needed. In essence, the eventual rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip depends on the willingness of the international community to pay for the destruction wrought by Israeli bombing. For now, the most urgent first steps towards reconstruction are being shared by a small group – the Ramallah-based Palestinian reconciliation government, the remnants of the Hamas government civil service in Gaza, the United Nations, and some aid organizations. A partial list of their tasks includes: Immediate steps to prevent disasters, in the wake of the war The location and safe removal of Israeli munitions that failed to detonate. Since the Palestinian police lack the means and knowhow to do this without risking lives, a special UN team has been charged with the mission. Continuing to send badly wounded people for treatment abroad. About a third of the some 11,000 severely wounded people are expected to remain crippled as well as a third of the 3,000 children who were seriously wounded. Treating the skin problems, infections and fungi that developed among many of the hundreds of thousands of displaced people, especially children, who still cannot return home. The reason is the shortage of water and utter lack of clean water … Continuing the daily supply of purified bottled water to the displaced people staying in schools … Continuing to distribute food and basic products (like mattresses and blankets), mainly to the displaced persons … More than 17,000 housing units were destroyed or massively damaged in the bombardments. At least 120,000 people are homeless. The temporary solution could be setting up encampments, at least until winter, when prefabricated structures may arrive … Immediate aid to farmers, especially in the east and north of the Strip, who have lost all their property, including greenhouses, destroyed chicken and sheep pens and cowsheds, livestock that were killed, and fruit trees and crop fields that were destroyed.
The Gaza War Map
Virtual tour generated by Panotour by Lewis Whyld
100 Palestinians held at Cairo airport for last 3 weeks
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Aug — More than 100 Palestinians from Gaza have been stuck at Cairo International Airport for more than three weeks after being prevented by Egyptian authorities from traveling to their final destinations. The stranded passengers told Ma‘an that most of the group had escaped from Gaza during a five-day ceasefire in mid-August in order to fly back to their places of residence in Saudi Arabia. Egyptian authorities prevented them from flying, however, because their visas had expired. Abu Ahmad, 54, told Ma‘an that the families’ visas had expired because they were unable to leave Gaza during the Israeli offensive, which lasted more than seven weeks and left more than 2,000 dead. Abu Ahmad said that the families had taken the first opportunity to leave and return to their homes in Saudi Arabia, but were now being forcibly kept at the airport by Egyptian authorities. He added that the families had almost no money to cover their expenses in Cairo. Abu Ahmad said that the dozens of families stuck at the airport had contacted the Palestinian embassy in Cairo and the embassy had appealed to officials in Saudi Arabia, but they were still awaiting a response.
Syrian refugees in Gaza suffer second war
BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 26 Aug by Mohammed Othman — Palestinian refugees from Syria and Syrian refugees who came to the Gaza Strip to escape the war in Syria are caught in Israel’s war on Gaza — Young engineer Abdullah al-Baltaji had only one choice: leave Syria and find shelter in the Gaza Strip after rockets hit his home and private office in the Mezze neighborhood in the Syrian capital, Damascus. He settled with his family in the Shajaiya neighborhood in the eastern Gaza Strip less than a year ago, accompanied by his wife, twin daughters and son. They lived in an apartment built by the Gaza government. Baltaji fled Syria to protect his family from the bloody war that has been raging there for more than three years. However, this was just a prelude to a more dangerous phase that awaited him in the Gaza Strip. “My apartment was destroyed a few months after its construction, just like the other houses in the neighborhood, at the onset of the Israeli war that started over a month ago. I was seriously injured by the splinters of a tank shell that hit me while I was in my apartment. I had a lacerated tendon in my foot, and I couldn’t move. I was left permanently crippled,” he said. Baltaji cannot forget the day when his family’s apartment was reduced to flames, just like the other houses in the Shajaiya neighborhood that were directly shelled. The family and dozens of others escaping their houses and seeking refuge hid in one room that was barely nine meters (29.5 feet) wide and only three meters (10 feet) away from where the rockets fell … Baltaji has been moving between apartments because he cannot find an apartment to rent; prices have doubled following the massive displacement from the neighborhoods of eastern Gaza. He now hopes to leave the Gaza Strip for a country where there is no fighting … The Gaza Strip was a haven for Palestinian refugees in Syria and for some Syrians — with around 1,000 refugees, including 260 families, 20 of whom are of Syrian origin, according to Amawi — until the war made it an undesirable destination….
SodaStream move from West Bank to Negev may put 900 Palestinians out of work
JP Updated 27 Aug by Boruch Shubert — In a new twist to the ongoing saga of SodaStream – the Israeli company located in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim that has been the target of anti-Israel boycotters due to its “controversial” location, despite the fact that it has given gainful employment to 900 Palestinians – the firm is moving its factory to the Negev. While the BDS crowd will be pleased with this move, since SodaStream will now be headquartered in an area of Israel that is not under dispute by the Palestinians, there is a very real possibility that the 900 Palestinian Arab employees will lose their jobs as a result, according to a report by Shalom Life. SodaStream – which produces home carbonation systems that enable users to convert tap water into sparkling water in more than 100 flavors – first came to public attention when actress Scarlet Johansson (who is Jewish) became a spokesperson for the popular brand. Johansson was heavily criticized by anti-Israel activists for representing a company that is situated in “occupied” Palestinian territory, to the point that New York Magazine described SodaStream’s product as “blood bubbles.”
Analysts say boycott could have major effect on Israeli economy
NABLUS (Ma‘an)28 Aug — In the last two months, Palestinians across the West Bank have begun heeding calls to boycott Israeli goods in increasing numbers as popular campaigns have taken to the street to promote the campaign. Economic analysts say the campaign could potentially have a major negative effect on the Israeli economy, and buoy the Palestinian economy as well. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the annual Palestinian consumption of Israeli exports around $3.5 billion, while Palestinian exports to Israel only amount to around $600 million. Azmi Abd al-Rahman, the Director-General of Policy and Economic Studies and spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Economy, told Ma’an that “If applied well, the boycott could create between 70 to 100 thousand job opportunities in the Palestinian lands by providing billions of dollars annually,” which were otherwise being siphoned off to Israel. Abd al-Rahman suggested that these jobs could bring unemployment in the occupied Palestinian territories down by at least a third. He warned, however, that Israel would set major obstacles in order to block the Palestinian boycott campaigns, despite the fact that Palestinian consumption does not surpass 6 percent of the total value of Israeli exports.
Abbas: Israel must make its borders clear
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 Aug — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday demanded Israel makes its borders known and blasted Hamas for maintaining a “parallel” government in Gaza, in a televised interview he gave regarding current political developments. Abbas said in the interview that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and the only thing left to negotiate was the exact borders. “We will not go into a discussion about area A, B, and C. We need each state to finally determine their borders. Israel is the only state in the world with no known borders,” he said in a televised interview. He added that chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and intelligence chief Majid Farraj will meet US Secretary of State John Kerry next week to discuss negotiations. “We are willing to wait a day, a week or a month,” Abbas said, “but not 20 more years.” “If they agree, we will be free with our borders. We will not accept that Israel launches a war against us every two years,” he added, promising that if Israel refused he would be ready to respond.
PLO to pursue diplomatic efforts following ceasefire deal
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Aug — The Palestinian leadership will pursue diplomatic efforts at the UN Security Council in a bid to end Israel’s decades-long occupation following a ceasefire deal in Gaza, a senior Fatah official said late Wednesday. Nabil Shaath told Ma’an that the PLO would first submit an application to the UN Security Council on Sept. 15 demanding a “timetable” for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territory. The Arab League will meet on Sept. 5 to discuss how to support the move. If that request is denied, the PLO will take their case to the International Criminal Court to hold senior Israeli officials such as Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon accountable for Israel’s devastating assault on Gaza, which killed over 2,000 Palestinians. “Taking the case to the ICC is conditional upon the Security Council response to our request,” Shaath said, adding that the issue is being discussed within Palestinian political circles. A permanent unity government, with Hamas as a full partner, will then be formed in order to facilitate the reconstruction of the war-torn Gaza Strip, Shaath added. Palestinian and Israeli delegations will meet at a later date in Cairo to agree on the procedures for operating Gaza’s crossings. Shaath said that Israel accepted the ceasefire deal without the demilitarization of Hamas following pressure from the United States.
Fatou Bensouda: the truth about the ICC and Gaza
The Guardian 29 Aug — Under the laws of the Hague court, my office can only investigate alleged war crimes in Palestine if it grants us jurisdiction in its territory. It has not done so … Whether states or the UN security council choose to confer jurisdiction on the ICC is a decision that is wholly independent of the court. Once made, however, the legal rules that apply are clear and decidedly not political under any circumstances. In both practice and words, I have made it clear in no uncertain terms that the office of the prosecutor will execute its mandate, without fear or favour, where jurisdiction is established and will vigorously pursue those – irrespective of status or affiliation – who commit mass crimes that shock the conscience of humanity. My office’s approach to Palestine will be no different if the court’s jurisdiction is ever triggered over the situation.
Palestinian FM attends presidential inauguration of Turkey’s Erdogan
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 Aug — Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki attended the presidential inauguration for Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, a statement from his office said. The foreign minister held meetings in the morning with Turkish officials to discuss bilateral relations and the latest developments with Gaza. Al-Maliki discussed at length different initiatives to end Israel’s eight-year blockade on the coastal territory.
Poster art tells story of Palestinian struggle
Al-Monitor 29 Aug by Badar Salem — Dan Walsh did not realize he would be documenting more than 60 years of Palestinian history when he began assembling the world’s largest collection of Palestinian posters decades ago. Yet his Palestine Poster Project Archives (PPPA) might be joining the documentation registry of the world’s foremost heritage, which includes the Phoenician alphabet, the Magna Carta and Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital,” among others. Some 1,700 posters, which represent the core of the Liberation Graphics Collection of Palestine Posters, have been nominated for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Memory of the World program, which includes 301 heritage resources of “outstanding universal value.” Since 2009, the 67-year-old Irish-American activist and graphic artist has been digitally archiving thousands of posters created by Palestinian and international artists in solidarity with the Palestinian’s quest for justice. Walsh’s collection includes almost 10,000 Palestinian posters by 1,900 artists from 72 countries.
Egypt evicting Rafah residents to create a buffer zone
RAFAH, Egypt (Al-Monitor) 28 Aug — Concern has spread among residents of the border areas in the northern Sinai Peninsula following the Egyptian army’s planned establishment of a buffer zone on the Egyptian side of Rafah along the border with the Gaza Strip. The undeclared move prompted local concern that a new reality is being secretly shaped, and that the government has adopted a policy of strategic patience to draw the map of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the expense of the people in Sinai. The Egyptian army has stated its military operations in Sinai are part of the war on terrorism, yet residents believe the operations are designed to forcibly displace them. Informed authority sources told Al-Monitor that the army’s plan to establish a buffer zone will take two years to implement and will necessitate the razing of homes located about a kilometer (0.6 miles) inside the Rafah border. The plan also necessitates building a large barrier equipped with surveillance cameras and lights, and deploying ground sensors to abort any Palestinian attempts to dig tunnels or smuggle arms. An official source explained that several countries seek to achieve stability in the area and will help the Egyptian authorities fund the project. The source refused to name these countries … A source who is a member of the Sawarka tribe and close to Sinai authorities told Al-Monitor that the border operations — namely, the demolition of houses — are designed to control the area where Hamas is promoting its influence through the tunnels.
Analysis / Opinion
What is Abbas’ mystery proposal? / Daoud Kuttab
Al-Monitor 19 Aug — Israeli and international circles are searching for clues as to what the new Palestinian political initiative will contain. In a television interview with Egypt’s Sada al-Balad, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he was planning a major political surprise that will be made known in the coming weeks. In his victory news conference in Doha, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, revealed that he was made privy to the Palestinian initiative, but refrained from revealing any details. The plan will be submitted to US Secretary of State John Kerry when Abbas meets him on Sept. 3 and will be also presented for approval to the Arab League in a meeting of Arab foreign ministers on Sept. 7…
What Palestinians, however, don’t want is an empty peace process that has no end game. Therefore, whatever Abbas has in his diplomatic pocket will most certainly be a time-based proposal. The peace process offered by the Palestinian leader will have an end date so as not to allow the Israelis to drag their feet while dismissing peace. Another element that will surely be included in the Abbas surprise will be joining international agencies, including the International Criminal Court (ICC). Abbas has succeeded in getting the written approval of all Palestinian factions to join the Rome Statute. The Ramallah-based leader has said repeatedly that Palestinians are no longer without negotiating assets. Abbas is well aware that both Israel and the United States are extremely opposed to the Palestinians joining the ICC and the court investigating Israeli war crimes in Gaza. Abbas is also aware that there is a strong push by the Palestinian people to hold Israeli war criminals accountable. But since it takes 60 days after legally joining the ICC for such a decision to become effective, Abbas is likely to leverage this issue. A likely inclusion in the Palestinian offer would be a demand for the United States to join 138 UN countries that have recognized the state of Palestine as a non-member observer state based on the 1967 borders. The United States voted against the resolution, although it has publicly supported the two state-solution based on the 1967 borders. Such recognition doesn’t require the approval of the pro-Israel Congress. US-Israel relations are at an all-time low, and a serious yet clever Palestinian proposal to Washington could, if well-conceived, produce the desired result. A US-recognized state of Palestine will shift the discussion to how to make the state of Palestine free rather than continuous debate as to the purpose of the talks. The Palestinian offer will also include a reference to the need to suspend settlement activities. This might be difficult for Israeli politicians, but if faced with the threat of being tried for war crimes, it might be the easier of the two issues. Since the talks were suspended on the issue of prisoner release, one of the more likely elements to be included in Abbas’ peace proposal will be the release of the fourth batch of veteran Palestinian prisoners.
What it’s like to be the most hated man in Israel / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 27 Aug — It was four years ago. The British newspaper The Independent published an interview under the title: “Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?” The question was groundless – I wasn’t the most hated, and certainly not the most heroic. In the summer of 2014 the answer would be more succinct – I’m the most hated, second only to Khaled Meshal. Unpleasant, but not too terrible, at this point. The narrator must not become the story; a journalist is always the means, not the end. And yet, it’s impossible to ignore the troubling question: How did one journalist – and not the most widely read or the most widely distributed – become an object of such rage and hatred? How is one small cracked mirror, a tiny pocket flashlight, capable of evoking so much fury? How is it that one voice made so many Israelis, from left and right, north and south, blow their top? It can only be that even the last of the inciters are conscientious people. They too feel, apparently, that something is burning under their feet, under the rugs of justifications and defenses they laid for themselves. Otherwise, why are they seething with such rage? And why are they no longer sure they’re in the right? The truth is, I’m very proud of what I wrote in this wretched war and I’m ashamed of the responses – which said more about Israeli society than they did about anything I wrote. It’s a society that is denying itself to death, fleeing from the news and lying to itself in its propaganda and its hatred. No other war had turned my stomach, every day and every hour, like this one did. The horrific pictures of Gaza haunted me. They were almost not shown in the Israeli media, the greatest voluntary collaborator of this war. I thought it was impossible to not be appalled by the crimes in Gaza, that it was okay to express compassion for its residents, that 2,200 killed people are an outrageous matter – regardless whether they’re Palestinians or Israelis. I thought it was okay to be ashamed, that it was necessary to remind ourselves that some people bear responsibility for the brutality, and these people aren’t only Hamas, but first and foremost the Israelis, their leaders, commanders and even their pilots. For the average Israeli, who has become accustomed to blame the Arabs and the whole world for all his country’s wrongs, it was too much, certainly at a time of war … There were enough people who wrote and spoke, ad nauseam, about Israel’s right of way, which is always absolute and about the Jewish victim, which is the only victim in the world. I wanted to say something else as well – and the majority opinion almost went berserk. So let them get angry, let them hate me, let them attack and ostracize me – I’ll go on doing my thing.
Gaza deaths aren’t worth a mention in leading Israeli newspapers / Haggai Matar
972mag 25 Aug — Five members of the Joudah family were killed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza on Sunday. Yedioth Ahronoth, one of Israel’s most widely-read papers, dedicated not a single word to the incident — Monday’s issue of Yedioth Ahronoth, the “newspaper of the country,” includes not a single mention of the fact that the IDF killed a mother, her four children and another two-year old girl on Sunday. Nothing. Doesn’t exist. Didn’t happen. This morning, Yedioth readers were greeted with plenty of information about what happened in southern Israel. The front page discusses the tragic death of four-year-old Daniel Tragerman, as well as the beginning of the new school year. The opening spread goes into detail about Tragerman’s funeral, followed by three pages dedicated to the school year (which is also discussed in the daily supplement), two pages on the hundreds of families who are leaving the towns surrounding Gaza, one page on the Palestinian Authority, a spread on Israeli soldiers and one more page on stone-throwing in the West Bank. The page dedicated to the Palestinian Authority includes a short blurb on the assassination of Hamas Financial Officer, Mohammed Al-Ghoul. Inside the text there is a mention of the fact that “several people were killed” in an attack on a commercial center. “Several people.” That’s it. Just like that. Page 10 at the bottom. And without a single word on the killing of five members of the Joudah family: mother Tasneem Issam and her children, Muhammad, Rawia, Rajd and Osama, along with another two-year-old girl. Nothing. Twelve pages dedicated to news on the fighting, without any room for mentioning a family that was killed. Every person in this country ought to be worried by this kind of reporting, especially from such a prominent newspaper. This isn’t even a question of concern and empathy. It’s a question of knowledge. Does the Israeli citizen have the necessary knowledge in order to understand the fighting? To understand what is happening or what each side sees in the other? To understand the motivation behind the fighting and what will help end it? Yedioth Ahronoth’s readers are justifiably flooded with information on the distress of the residents of the south, but they don’t know a thing about what happens in Gaza.