7500 new settlers moved into West Bank, Jerusalem settlements in six months
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Sept by Saed Bannoura — The Yesha Council of Settlements has reported that the number of Jewish settlers living in the occupied West Bank, including in and around occupied Jerusalem, has reached 382,031, adding that 7,500 Israelis have moved into West Bank and Jerusalem settlements in the last six months. Yesha said that, back in January of 2014, 374,469 settlers lived in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and that the current number of settlers (382,031) is a 2% increase. It said that the biggest settlement is Beitar Illit settlement, located southwest of occupied Jerusalem, with a population of 63,087 Jewish settlers. There are more than 200,000 Israeli settlers living in various settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.
48 new housing units in northern West Bank settlement
Alternative Information Center 16 Sept by Connie Hackbarth — A new neighbourhood in the northern West Bank settlement of Har Bracha was inaugurated last Thursday. The new neighbourhood, planned to include 48 housing units, is a substantial addition to the settlement of 300 families. The inauguration ceremony was attended by senior administration officials, many of whom belong to the Likud party of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Attendees included Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud), a settler who lives in the Bethlehem-area settlement of Neve Daniel; Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud); and government coalition chairperson Yariv Levin (Likud), who lives in Modi’in, located in Israel and the former Israeli-Jordanian no-man’s land between Israel and the occupied West Bank. The settler-affiliated news outlet Arutz 7 reports that at the ceremony, MK Levin stated that “it is appropriate to remember that we are building in Judea and Samaria first and foremost from the power of our right over the land and our obligation to fulfil this right for the generations after us.” Deputy Transportation Minister Hotovely said that “The settlers are the shield of the state of Israel and settlement is the sole way to get across the message that the Jewish people have returned to their land forever.” Hotovely further added that “The government of Israel must continue acting to expand the [settlement?]. Har Bracha, located on a hill overlooking the West Bank town of Nablus, was initially established as a military outpost and was turned over to civilians in 1983. A yeshiva of higher Jewish education was constructed in 1991, which is acknowledged to be the main factor behind the settlement’s rapid expansion. Har Bracha Winery was established in the settlement in 2004 and produced some 10,000 bottles of settler wine annually.
Israeli government plans to forcibly relocate 12,500 Bedouin
Haaretz 16 Sept by Amira Hass — Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank is advancing a plan to expel thousands of Bedouin from lands east of Jerusalem and forcibly relocate them to a new town in the Jordan Valley. Between late August and last week, the administration published nine plans that together comprise the master plan for the proposed new town north of Jericho. The plans were drafted without consulting the Bedouin slated to live there, in violation of the Supreme Court’s recommendation. In explanatory notes to the plans, to which the public now has 60 days to submit objections, the administration said its proposal suits the “dynamic changes” Bedouin society is undergoing as it moves from an agricultural society to “a modern society that earns its living by commerce, services, technical trades and more.” The town is slated for about 12,500 Bedouin from the Jahalin, Kaabneh and Rashaida tribes. It is the third and largest of the towns the administration has designated for Bedouin in the West Bank. The first is already inhabited by some 300 Jahalin Bedouin, though a portion of this plan has been frozen due to its dangerous proximity to the Abu Dis dump. The second, to be located in the northern Jordan Valley, is still in the planning stage. Concentrating the Bedouin into a few permanent towns represents the culmination of a 40-year process of limiting their pasturage, restricting their migrations and refusing to let them build permanent homes in places where they have lived for decades. This process accelerated after the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993….
There’s nothing static about the West Bank ‘status quo’
972mag 16 Sept by Noam Sheizaf — Israel is already carrying out Bennett’s annexation plan, only without the formal annexation part. The West Bank is a very different place than it was 10 years ago. It will be even more different five or 10 years from now — Netanyahu’s government treats all “state land” in the West Bank as if it already belongs to Israel, as opposed to land under dispute. For Israel it’s actually better than annexed land: projects that would take an arduously long time to plan and execute under the civilian planning system in Israel proper can materialize in a matter of months under the IDF military regime in the West Bank. The government has also been transferring Palestinian municipal — and even private — land into its own possession and control. Despite commitments to several American administrations not to build new settlements, the Israeli government has been legalizing outposts for several years now. It even started construction on the first “official” new settlement since the Oslo accords. Most recently, the government appropriated 1,000 acres near Bethlehem for a new settlement. Altogether, 2013 was a record-setting year in settlement construction. There will be no Palestinian state in the foreseeable future. Israel will not allow it, and the political circumstances that would otherwise force it to reconsider its position simply don’t exist. Instead, Israel is maintaining the status quo of occupation in the Palestinian territories. But the term is misleading. There is nothing static about the status quo. Israel constantly strengthens its control over the West Bank — and while doing so, it creates a new reality on the ground.
15 Palestinians killed when boatload of migrants fleeing Gaza sinks near Egyptian coast
IMEMC 15 Sept by Celine Hagbard — A boat carrying nearly one hundred migrants, including dozens of Palestinians fleeing from Gaza, overturned in the Mediterranean Sea near Egypt, on Saturday, killing fifteen of those on board, according to Al-Anadolu news agency. An additional 72 passengers were rescued by the Egyptian navy. The boat left the Egyptian shore Saturday night bound for Italy, but capsized when it hit a rock. Fifteen Palestinians from Gaza drowned, and their bodies were pulled from the sea by the Egyptian navy. The other passengers were rescued and taken to an Egyptian immigration prison. The Palestinians who attempted to flee from the sealed, blockaded Gaza Strip had traveled via tunnel to Egypt, then boarded a boat bound for Europe along with migrants from Egypt and Syria. The boat that sank on Saturday had been dubbed the ‘Abu Othman’, and was off the coast of al-Ajami, near Alexandria, when it hit a rock. The migrant boats travel by dead of night in order not to be noticed, and often lack the technology to detect obstacles, like rocks, in the water. Following the sinking of the boat, Egyptian authorities arrested 153 migrants who were attempting to board a fishing boat near Alexandria, at the port of Abu Qir, before they could get underway. According to the Star-Tribune, each migrant had paid $3500 USD for passage. Those arrested included 43 Palestinians, 35 Sudanese and 18 Syrians, and they included men, women and children. The Palestinians who have risked escaping from the Gaza Strip, to try to reach Europe, say they have nothing left to live for in their native land, which has been sealed off with no ability to export or import, and no economy, since 2006. Such a voyage is expensive and risky, but an estimated 100,000 Palestinians have attempted the trip in 2014 alone.
Boat survivors arrive in Malta
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Sept — Three Palestinian survivors of the sinking of a ship near Malta arrived safely in the country after Panamanian trade ships aided in their rescue, Palestine’s ambassador in Malta said. Jubran Tawil said in a statement that a Maltese helicopter transported the three survivors in addition to several bodies. The survivors were identified as Mohammad Awadallah, Ibrahim Awadallah, and Mamoun Daghmash. Daghmash is receiving treatment in a hospital in Malta. The ambassador contacted the survivors and arranged a meeting with them for Tuesday. As many as 500 migrants are feared to have drowned after traffickers rammed and sank their boat in what the International Organization for Migration described Monday as “the worst shipwreck in years.” Horrific details of the shipwreck, told to IOM by survivors, came after dozens of African migrants were reported missing and feared dead after their boat sank off the coast of Libya on Sunday. “If this story, which police are investigating, is true, it would be the worst shipwreck in years … not an accident but a mass murder, perpetrated by criminals without scruples or any respect for human life,” IOM said in a statement. Two Palestinians plucked from the water by a freighter on Thursday after their boat capsized told IOM that around 500 passengers had been on the vessel, which was wrecked on purpose by people smugglers.
According to the survivors, the Syrian, Palestinian, Egyptian, and Sudanese migrants set out from Damietta in Egypt on Sept. 6, and were forced to change boats several times during the crossing towards Europe. The traffickers, who were on a separate boat, then ordered them onto a smaller vessel, which many of the migrants feared was too small to hold them. When they refused to cross over to the new boat, the furious traffickers rammed their boat until it capsized, the survivors told the maritime organization. Both Palestinians spent a day and a half in the water, one wearing a lifejacket and the other holding on to a life buoy with other migrants, all of whom perished, including a young Egyptian boy who hoped to make money in Europe to pay for his father’s heart operation, the organization said.
In a separate incident, dozens were feared drowned after a boat carrying 200 migrants sank off the coast of Libya, with only 36 survivors rescued. Iyad al-Buzum, Gaza’s interior ministry spokesman, wrote on Facebook Monday that Gaza officials were trying to obtain details about Palestinian migrants who were on board the boat.
Shipwreck survivors say traffickers ‘laughed’ as hundreds drowned
Al Akhbar/AFP 16 Sept — Survivors of the most deadly migrant shipwreck in years have described the horrifying moment traffickers capsized their boat and left them to drown, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday. “After they hit our boat they waited to make sure that it had sunk completely before leaving. They were laughing,” one survivor told IOM. Fresh witness testimony confirmed around 500 people drowned after their boat sank off Malta on Wednesday, including up to 100 children who had been making the treacherous journey from Egypt to Italy, according to the Geneva-based organization. After three days at sea clinging to life buoys, a freighter picked up nine survivors. Two Palestinians were taken to Italy while the other seven, including a two year-old girl, were taken to hospital in Crete. One later died and the toddler remains in a critical condition. The Palestinians, aged 27 and 33, told IOM their boat had been intentionally sunk by the people smugglers after the migrants refused to change to a smaller, less seaworthy vessel — a story corroborated by the survivors in Crete. “A violent argument ensued. The 10 smugglers, said to be Palestinian and Egyptian, began yelling,” the IOM said, citing the latest testimony from Greece. The enraged traffickers “rammed” the boat which “began to sink immediately, while the smugglers stayed in the area until they were certain that the migrant’s vessel had sunk,” it said. Those who had managed to jump to safety into the smaller boat were “forced into the water” by their assailants. “When the boat was first struck, one of the passengers killed himself in despair by hanging,” one of the survivors said….
26 post-ceasefire violations documented by Canadian-based think tank
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Sept — On 26 August a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was agreed, bringing a fragile end to a war which killed some 2150 Palestinians (mostly civilians) and 73 Israelis (mostly soldiers), Al Ray reports via Global Research. Since the ceasefire, Hamas has not fired a single rocket, attacked an Israeli target, or done anything to break the terms of the ceasefire.
Israel has done the following:
1. Annexed another 1500 acres of West Bank land
2. Seized $56 million of PA tax revenue
3. Not lifted the illegal blockade (as required by the ceasefire)
4. Broken the ceasefire by firing at fishermen on four separate occasions
5. Detained six fishermen
6. Killed a 22-year-old, Issa al Qatari, a week before his wedding
7. Killed 16-year-old Mohammed Sinokrot with a rubber bullet to the head
8. Tortured a prisoner to the point of hospitalisation
9. Refused 13 members of the European Parliament entry into Gaza
10. Detained at least 127 people across the West Bank, including a seven-year-old boy in Hebron and two children, aged seven and eight, taken from the courtyard of their house in Silwad – and tear-gassed their mother
11. Continued to hold 33 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council in prison
12. Continued to hold 500 prisoners in administrative detention without charge or trial
13. Destroyed Bedouin homes in Khan al Ahmar, near Jerusalem, leaving 14 people homeless, and unveiled a plan to forcibly move thousands of Bedouin away from Jerusalem into two purpose-built townships
14. Destroyed a dairy factory in Hebron whose profits supported an orphanage
15. Destroyed a family home in Silwan, making five children homeless
16. Destroyed a house in Jerusalem where aid supplies en route to Gaza were being stored
17. Destroyed a well near Hebron
18. Set fire to an olive grove near Hebron
19. Raided a health centre and a nursery school in Nablus, causing extensive damage
20. Destroyed a swathe of farmland in Rafah by driving tanks over it
21. Ordered the dismantling of a small monument in Jerusalem to Mohamed Abu Khdeir, murdered in July by an Israeli lynch mob
22. Continued building a vast tunnel network under Jerusalem
23. Stormed the al Aqsa mosque compound with a group of far right settlers
24. Assisted hundreds of settlers in storming Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus
25. Prevented students from entering al Quds University, firing stun grenades and rubber bullets at those who tried to go in
26. Earned unknown millions on reconstruction materials for Gaza, where 100,000 people need their destroyed homes rebuilt. The total bill is estimated at $7.8 billion
Army: Mortar fired at Israel from Gaza for first time since truce
JERUSALEM (AFP) 16 Sept — Palestinians fired a mortar round into southern Israel Tuesday in the first attack since an Aug. 26 ceasefire, without causing any casualties, the Israeli army said.”For the first time since operation Protective Edge, a mortar shell fired from Gaza hit southern Israel,” Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said on Twitter, referring to the military offensive in Gaza. “No damage or injuries reported,” he added.
Israeli officials: Hamas arrested militants who fired on Eshkol
Ynet 17 Sept by Ilana Curiel — Security sources in Israel said Tuesday night that Hamas arrested the militants responsible for rocket fire on Israel earlier in the evening. Militants had launched a rocket from Gaza on the Eshkol Regional Council, three weeks after a ceasefire was agreed by Israel and Hamas. In response to the artillery attack, Hamas said that it was not aware of any rocket fire on Israel and that the group was committed to the truce. Security sources said late Tuesday that after the rocket fire, Hamas transmitted a message to Israel through mediators, insisting they were honoring the truce and investigating the incident. Israel told Hamas that it expects the group to act to arrest and punish those responsible for the rocket on Eshkol, lest the IDF be forced to respond. Hamas said it intended to arrest the violators and, shortly after, announced to Israel that they arrested the cell behind the attack – assumed to be members of a rebellious faction.
Tears, devastation as Gaza children back to school
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 14 Sept by Sakher Abu El Oun — As hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children returned to school in Gaza on Sunday, Azhar recited a poem eulogising her father, killed by Israeli shelling in the enclave’s recent conflict. “Daddy, what can I tell you, if I say I love you it’s not enough,” the nine-year-old, who was beginning the fourth grade, read to a classroom of teary children. “Today is the first day of school, so even though my dad was martyred in the war — I’m happy,” she told AFP with a smile … This year’s return to the classrooms, teachers and principals said, would focus first on dealing with the emotional trauma many of the children are still suffering. “We listen to their experiences from the (summer) vacation, some stories make us laugh, some make us cry. We encourage them to talk as much as they can,” said Azhar’s teacher, Rima Abu Khatla. Azhar’s father Tamer Jundiyeh was killed in an air strike on the Sheja‘iya neighbourhood, orphaning her and her five younger siblings. “I’m scared the war will start again,” she told AFP, recalling the missiles from Israeli aircraft that hit her house and killed her father. Azhar’s classmate Isra shook as she spoke of the Israeli raid that killed her grandfather and aunt. “The martyrs and wounded were lying in front of us, we were very scared,” the nine-year-old told AFP. “My grandfather and auntie Layla were killed, I saw them in our house.”
War left four million tons of rubble in Gaza, says environmental group
Haaretz 16 Sept — Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge have left four million tons of rubble, five times more than in the last conflict between Israel and the Hamas-controlled enclave in 2012, an environmental advocacy group in the West Bank said on Tuesday … Fifty days of conflict in Gaza between Hamas militants and Israel, which ended late last month, has left swathes of the Mediterranean enclave in ruins. Clearing the millions of tons rubble would be impossible without around $30 million in aid, and would take between six to eight months, the Environmental Education Center of the Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Lands said in a report, NBC reported. The center warned that the degree of desolation may result in humanitarian and environmental disaster, and noted that the Gaza authorities are ill-equipped and can only handle about 20 percent of the rubble.
In Shuja‘iya … loss of a lifetime of hard work in a matter of seconds
GAZA (WAFA) 16 Sept – Palestinian Saber al-Maghni’s attempts to find his home in Shuja‘iya neighborhood, east of Gaza, have failed due to the complete change in the features of the area, which became unrecognizable as a result of the Israeli aggression. Al-Maghni’s home, which has completely vanished, was bombarded during the Israeli aggression on Gaza, which began on July 8th and lasted for almost 50 days before a ceasefire agreement was reached under the Egyptian auspices. Al Maghni, 30, along with many other Palestinians who were displaced due to the aggression, took the opportunity of a brief humanitarian ceasefire, which took place on July 26th, and returned to their neighborhood en masse, wandering through the bombarded streets in search of their homes, but to no avail. ‘It’s as if the ground has opened up and swallowed everything,’ described the residents. “A lifetime of hard work was gone in a matter of seconds …Allah is sufficient for me and how fine a trustee he is,” stammered Maghni, whose clothes were covered with dust from the rubble. Al-Maghni kept on searching for any sign that could lead him to his house, asking friends and relatives to help him find his ‘beautiful home’, which he has not finished paying for. “I moved to my [new] house seven months before the aggression began,” said heartbroken Maghni with teary eyes that turned red from the intensity of his anger, while several of his relatives attempted to calm and comfort him. He went on explaining that he had to borrow money in order to be able to build the house he always dreamed of, stressing that it was deliberately destroyed by Israel during its onslaught on Gaza.
Ministry of Education: Estimated $33 million in educational sector losses
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Sept — The Palestinian Ministry of Education has reported that the educational sector of the Gaza Strip has sustained a staggering $33 million of losses, as a result of the recently-halted conflict in the Gaza Strip. According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, the figure includes $14 million of losses for governmental schools and an additional $3 million for UNRWA schools…..
UN brokers Gaza reconstruction deal
UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) 16 Sept — The United Nations has brokered an Israeli-Palestinian deal on delivering construction materials to Gaza that would ensure they will not be diverted by Hamas militants, an envoy said Tuesday. The agreement on monitoring the supply of materials “must get up and running without delay,” Robert Serry, the UN envoy for the Middle East, told the UN Security Council. The deal would allow private companies to move in to rebuild Gaza after a 50-day war ravaged the enclave and left more than 2,140 Palestinians dead. It addresses Israel’s concerns that cement and other materials could be used to rebuild Hamas tunnels by setting up a UN monitoring mechanism of the imports … Egypt is due to host a donor conference for Gaza reconstruction on October 12, supported by Norway.
PM: Gaza to be focus of New York donor conference
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Sept — Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said Sunday that the challenges faced by Gaza would be the main focus of an upcoming conference in New York. Hamdallah told a local development committee preparing for a Sept. 22 donor conference in New York that supporting Gaza will be the focus of the PA’s report at the conference. The Palestinian Authority’s main priority is supporting the Gaza Strip and its challenges, he added. The PM called on donating countries to provide more humanitarian aid to Gaza, to support the national unity government, and intervene to allow construction material to enter the Strip.
Gaza war leaned heavily on F-16 close-air support
TEL AVIV (Defense News) 15 Sept by Barbara Opall-Rome — Hundreds of the more than 6,000 targets struck from the air during Israel’s 50-day urban war in Gaza were from fighter jets delivering one-ton bombs in record time and in close proximity to friendly ground forces. After-action accounts of Operation Protective Edge show unprecedented use of fixed-wing fighters for close air support (CAS) of urban maneuvering troops. With an F-16 dedicated to every brigade, precision air power provided “pillar of fire” protection for friendly forces fighting less than 350 meters away. That’s more than a three-fold improvement, officers here said, from Israel’s traditional 1-kilometer safety range for fixed-wing CAS. “Until this last operation, we attacked in ranges of about 1,000 meters,” said Brig. Gen. Amikam Norkin, Israel Air Force chief of staff. In a Sept. 10 interview, Norkin said Protective Edge marked the first time fixed-wing fighters were used as dedicated assets to division- and brigade-level forces.
An Israeli drone conference is featuring a product recently used on Gaza
Quartz 16 Sept by Daniel A. Medina — A few weeks after Israel and Hamas signed an open-ended truce to end their nearly two-month-long war in Gaza, Israeli defense contractors are parading weapons used in the conflict at a conference in Tel Aviv. The annual Israel Unmanned Systems conference, which began Sunday and runs through Friday (Sept. 19), is jointly hosted with the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. According to its website, attendees include “senior officials from commercial and government entities” from Europe, Asia, North and South America. The conference’s sponsors include the largest Israeli private defense contractors, among them Haifa-based Elbit Systems. Elbit’s Hermes 450 (pdf), a “multi-role tactical high-performance unmanned aircraft system” (UAS) — in other words, a battle drone — operated this summer in the Gaza Strip, and may have carried out attacks.
Defense Minister Ya’alon: Gaza fighting won’t resume at month’s end
Haaretz 16 Sept by Amos Harel — Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Tuesday that fighting would not resume with the Gaza Strip at the end of this month, despite the difficulties in reaching a permanent Israel-Hamas cease-fire agreement. Ya’alon made the remarks in a conversation with army reporters at the headquarters in Tel Aviv, in response to a question about the situation in the Gaza Strip. He added that Israeli deterrence in the wake of Operation Protective Edge this summer was strong, and he said he hoped that if a solution could be found via Egyptian mediation that would allow reconstruction of the Strip to begin and would fulfill some of Hamas’ demands – this might ensure a relatively long period of quiet.
Resource: How the Shin Bet holds Gaza’s health to ransom
972 Resources 14 Sept — A 2008 report by Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, detailing for the first time the methods Israel’s domestic security services use to exploit the medical needs of Gaza Strip residents in order to extort them into becoming collaborators for Israel — In September 2014, dozens of Israeli army intelligence reservists publicly spoke out about the way that they were trained and ordered to conduct surveillance on innocent Palestinians to find ways of extorting them into becoming informants. Such information included innocent Palestinians’ sexual orientation, which the Shin Bet could threaten to expose, or health problems — their own or that of a family member. The practice of leveraging Gazans’ access to health care in order to get intelligence information out of them has been documented in the past. Six years earlier, in 2008, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I) put out a detailed report on the practice, including testimonies from Palestinians whom the Shin Bet demanded information from in exchange for permission to enter Israel to receive needed medical care. Following the Unit 8200 reservists’ letter, PHR-I responded that soldiers’ testimonies corroborate the testimonies it collected from Gazan patients six years earlier, calling it “direct extortion.” The organization added, “we are encouraged by the fact that these acts also bother those serving in the security forces and we hope that this will bring about a discussion of the matter and an end to this practice.” +972 is republishing the report here in order to explain in greater detail exactly what the reserve intelligence officers are describing:
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israel orders family to evacuate home near Aqsa mosque
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 Sept — An Israeli magistrate court in Jerusalem has ordered a Palestinian family to evacuate a small rented house adjacent to the al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City which the family has been living in for 25 years. The al-Bakri family was ordered to evacuate the house before Sept. 4, 2014. Sadiyya al-Bakri told Ma‘an Tuesday that her family of 18 expects Israeli authorities to forcibly evacuate the family at any moment. “The deadline we have been given has passed and so we expect to be evacuated at any moment. However, we refuse to leave the house we have been living in for several years,” al-Bakri said. She added that her family used to pay rent to the Niaaji family, whom she described as a “protected tenant who has the right to rent the house.” After that, the family started to pay the rent to the Israeli government’s Custodian of Absentee Properties. The agency, she said, claimed that the al-Bakri family isn’t a “protected tenant.” Based on that claim, the Israeli judge ordered the family to evacuate the house.
Israeli forces set up ‘surveillance room’ at Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 15 Sept — Israeli forces set up on Monday a new surveillance room at the main entrance of the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron. Director of Hebron endowment Taysir Abu Sneineh condemned the setup as meant to pressure worshipers and mosque visitors, and to “complicate security procedures in the area.” Abu Sneineh said Israeli forces were continuing alleged procedures to turn the Ibrahimi mosque into a synagogue, and “violating all laws of freedom of worship and humanitarian laws.” He added the directorate of endowment filed a notice to Israel and demanded it remove the room and all barriers against freedom of worship and to reaching religious sites safely. “Using their arms the Israeli authorities are controlling the Ibrahimi mosque, and we reject and condemn these racist acts,” Abu Sneineh said.
Violence/ Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests (West Bank-Jerusalem)
Israeli settlers attacked internationals and a Palestinian shepherd
Operation Dove 16 Sept — On [Sunday] September 14th, two Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian shepherd and two international near the Israeli outpost of Mitzpe Yair, in the South Hebron Hills area. During the aggression, the settlers stole video cameras from the internationals and broke one of their phones. Israeli police detained the Palestinian shepherd and one of the internationals for six hours. There were no consequences for the settlers.
At about 9:00 a.m. four Palestinian shepherds from the South Hebron Hills village of Qawawis were grazing their flocks accompanied by two internationals, on Palestinian owned land nearby the Israeli outpost. Two settlers from Mitzpe Yair crossed a closed area (where the access is forbidden to everyone else) in order to attack one Palestinian shepherd, starting to chase away his flock. The two internationals present taped the scene. Afterwards the settlers assaulted the internationals: at first they grabbed one by the neck and knocked him down, they snatched his camera and broke his phone; subsequently the settlers attacked the other one twisting her arm and also seizing her camera. The settlers ran back to the outpost holding the stolen cameras, and the Palestinian and the internationals went to Qawawis village. The Israeli police came to the Palestinian village and asked the shepherd and internationals to follow them to the Israeli Police station in Kiryat Arba settlement, due to one settler claiming that they threw stones at him. The Police officers detained both of them for six hours and questioned them about the incident. Israeli police released them at 5:00 p.m. without consequences.
The South Hebron hills area has suffered from the presence of Israeli settlers’ since the 70′s. Eight Israeli settlements and outposts (among which Mitzpe Yair is one) almost completely isolate 16 Palestinian villages from the rest of West Bank. The settlers’ violence includes overt violent attacks on Palestinians and their animals, damages to private properties, and limitations to freedom of movement with many consequences on their daily life.
Several Palestinians injured near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Sept — Palestinian medical sources have reported that several residents were injured on Sunday evening, during clashes with Israeli soldiers invading the ‘Aida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem. Local sources said that dozens of soldiers invaded the eastern area of the camp, and clashed with a number of youth who hurled stones and empty bottles at them, while the army fired gas bombs, and rubber-coated metal bullets at both the youth and a number of homes. Medical sources said a number of residents received treatment for the effects of teargas inhalation, and received treatment by field medics.
Three kidnapped near Hebron, two in Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Sept by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday at dawn, the town of Beit Ummar, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and kidnapped three Palestinians … Local sources said the soldiers invaded several homes in Beit Ummar, and violently searched them, before kidnapping three Palestinians identified as Rabea’ Hashem Bahar, 26, Issa Ali Awad, 26, and ‘Omar Suleiman Abu ‘Ayyash, 18. The three were cuffed and blindfolded before the soldiers took them to the Etzion military base. Coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, Mohammad Awad, said the soldiers have kidnapped 19 Palestinians, including eight children, since the beginning of this month.
In addition, the soldiers invaded and searched a number of homes in Doura nearby town, and installed a roadblock at its main entrance.
In Bethlehem, soldiers invaded the ‘Aida refugee camp, north of the city, kidnapped two Palestinians, and handed another resident a military warrant for interrogation. Local sources said that the soldiers kidnapped ‘Ali ‘Issa al-Heeh, 30, and Ibrahim Mohammad Abu Srour, 23, after violently invading their homes and ransacking them. The soldiers also handed resident Hamza Ibrahim Malash, 20, a military warrant ordering him to head to the Etzion military base, south of Bethlehem, for interrogation.
Medical sources said the soldiers violently struck and beat two Palestinians, identified as Jihad ‘Ali Sheikh, 25, and Mohammad Saleh Abu ‘Aker, 26.
Also on Monday at dawn, several Israeli military jeeps invaded the towns of Sielet al-Harethiyya, al-Yamoun and Kufr Dan, west of the northern West Bank district of Jenin, and ransacked a number of homes after breaking into them. Local sources said security officers interrogated a number of Palestinians while searching their homes.
13 children kidnapped in Jerusalem; 10 Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Sept — Israeli soldiers invaded dozens of communities in the occupied West Bank, and in occupied East Jerusalem, and kidnapped 22 Palestinians, including ten [13?] children. Palestinian sources in occupied Jerusalem said dozens of soldiers, police and security officers invaded, overnight, dozens of homes in different parts of the city, and kidnapped 22 Palestinians, including 10 children. Six of the kidnapped children are only 12 years of age. The police alleges the kidnapped “participated in clashes with the army and the police in recent days.” The abductions mainly took place in ath-Thoury, Shu‘fat, and Silwan town, south of the al-Aqsa Mosque. An Israeli police source claimed the kidnapped threw stones and Molotov cocktails, at the army, and at the light rail passing through Silwan and ath-Thoury. It added that the kidnapped Palestinians would be remanded under interrogation.
Also on Tuesday, soldiers invaded dozens of Palestinian communities in different parts of the occupied West Bank, kidnapping ten persons.
3 women detained in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 Sept — Israeli police on Tuesday afternoon detained three women as they left the al-Aqsa mosque, witnesses said. Witnessess said Israeli police were deployed at the Lion’s Gate of the old city, where they waited for the women and detained them as they exited. One of them was identified as Ikhlas Ruoud; the other two were not identified.
Israeli forces detain child from Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 Sept — Israeli forces on Tuesday evening detained a Palestinian child from near his home in the Ein al-Lawza neighborhood in Jerusalem’s Silwan. The local Wadi Hilwa Information Center’s Majdi Abbasi said police detained Mutaz Yusef Abu Diab, 12, and took him in a police car to the “Beit Jonathan” building. He was later moved to Wadi al-Rababa and interrogated about throwing rocks, Abbasi added.
Clashes take place east of Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Sept by Saed Bannoura — A number of Israeli military vehicles invaded on Tuesday evening, Teqoua‘ town, east of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and clashed with a number of local youth … Local sources said that soldiers fired dozens of rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs, causing several residents to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. On Monday, the army closed all roads leading to Teqoua‘, an issue that pushed Palestinians to take alternate bypass roads, rough and unpaved, to enter or leave their town.
In related news, eyewitnesses said eight sheep belonging to a local shepherd were killed after being struck by a speeding settler’s vehicle, close to the Susiya illegal settlement, built on Palestinian lands belonging to residents of Yatta town, south of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. Coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in southern Hebron, Rateb Jabour, said the settler rammed 14 sheep belonging to residents Taleb and Ibrahim Mohammad No’man, killing eight sheep.
Also on Tuesday evening, Israeli sources said a settler was mildly injured when his car’s windshield was damaged, after a number of youth threw stones at his car, as he was driving in Beit Hanina town, in occupied Jerusalem.
Earlier Tuesday, soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians from the Bethlehem district while they were heading to work in occupied Jerusalem.
Prisoners / Court actions / Exile
Israeli court: ‘Army at fault in killing Palestinian driver’
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Sept by Saed Bannoura — An Israeli court has finally made a decision in an eight-year-old case involving the fatal shooting of a Palestinian taxi driver who was waiting for Palestinian passengers heading to the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The driver, Zakariyya Daraghma, parked his car near a sand-hill, installed by the army to block a main road, and was shot dead by Israeli soldiers stationed nearby. Ibrahim Daraghma, head of the Palestinian General Trade Federation of Trade Unions, said the court will be holding another session on September 19, to determine the amount of compensation to the family. Daraghma was shot dead on April 5, 2006 when an Israeli soldier opened fire at him as he parked near a sand hill blocking the al-Bathan road, linking between the districts of Nablus and Tubas. The slain Palestinian left behind a wife and five children; the oldest of them is 12. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers had no reason to open fire, and that the army left the man bleeding to death. He was just waiting for passengers. Following the killing, the Union said that this is a cold-blooded crime, and called on human rights and legal groups to investigate the murder.
PCHR finds torture evidence among prisoners taken during Gaza assault
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Sept — Lawyers from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights have visited prisoners detained during the Israeli assault on Gaza and confirmed evidence of torture, according to the PNN. The lawyers reportedly gained access to Ashkelon Prison, where they visited 4 Palestinian detainees arrested during the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, subsequently confirming that the prisoners were subjected to various forms of torture whilst in detention. These forms included being beaten and being shackled between two chairs for long hours; a practice called “shabeh”, which inflicts sensory isolation, sleep deprivation, physical and psychological pain. According to PCHR’s documentation, PNN reports that Israeli forces arrested dozens of Palestinian civilians during the offensive on the Gaza Strip; 31 of whom were transferred to Israeli prisons. Later, 4 of the aforementioned detainees were released, while 27 remained in custody and were charged of being members of armed groups — save one Samir al-Najjar, who was charged of being an “illegitimate combatant.” The accusation of belonging to armed resistance groups is crucial, says the PCHR, for as they are considered prisoners of war, no official indictments can be presented under international law. The PCHR continues its efforts to pursue Israeli war crimes through international courts, and based on the principle of universal jurisdiction, to bring them before justice, given that torture is an international crime.
Samer al-Issawi in ‘deteriorating condition’
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Sept — Palestinian detainee and iconic former hunger striker Samer al-Issawi is in deteriorating condition, his family said following a visit with him. According to Ma‘an News Agency, activist Badie Dweik said that al-Issawi was visited by his family at Jalbou prison, where they noticed he was feeble and with a pale face, that he seemed fatigued, and suffered a noticeable loss of weight. Samer reportedly complained about pain in his kidneys and having difficulties in eating. Mr. Dweik also said that Israeli authorities had prevented Issawi’s lawyer from visiting him since late June. Samer served 10 years in Israeli jails and became an internationally recognized icon for the prisoners’ movement after spending 9 months on hunger strike last year. Samer was released, along with 1027 Palestinian prisoners, as a result of an Egypt-brokered deal between Hamas and the Israeli government for the return of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli sports columnist and a former Israeli soldier.
Ailing administrative detainee faces life-threatening conditions
IMEMC 15 Sept by Saed Bannoura — The family of detainee Reziq Abdullah Rajoub, 57, from the southern West Bank city of Hebron, voiced an appeal to human rights and legal groups to intervene for his release, especially amidst his deteriorating health condition. Rajoub’s brother, Hamdan, said the detainee has been repeatedly imprisoned by Israel, spending a total of 22 years in Israeli prisons. His latest arrest came only 15 days after his release. He has various health conditions, and requires gallbladder surgery as soon as possible. “My brother was kidnapped on January 7 2014; Israel issued a six-month arbitrary Administrative Detention, without charges,” the brother said, “He was repeatedly hospitalized due to low blood count, and complications of a surgery that never healed.”… Although no charges were brought against him, Israel refuses to release him, and insists on keeping him imprisoned.
Female detainee denied family visits since six months
IMEMC15 Sept by Saed Bannoura — The Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies and Human Rights stated that detainee Nahil Abu Aisha, 33, has been denied the right to family visits for six months, and is subject to ongoing violations. The Center said she is denied any visits, due to what Israel calls “security considerations”, without providing any details. The family has also been unable to send clothes to their daughter, due to strict measures imposed by the Israeli Prison Authority. The detainee has been repeatedly beaten and attacked by the soldiers, even in court, and she is still being held without any court verdict, especially since Israel’s military courts keep delaying deliberations in her case. Nahil Abu Aisha was taken prisoner on March 13, 2013; she has been previously kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel, and is currently held at the HaSharon Israeli prison along with 19 other Palestinian female detainees.
Palestinian MP says exile period has ended
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 Sept — Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar said Tuesday that an Israeli deportation order forcing her to leave Ramallah has come to an end. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine official told reporters that a high-ranking Israeli military official told her that the deportation order had been reduced from six months to one month. On Aug. 20, Israeli forces raided her house and delivered an order demanding that she leave Ramallah and move to Jericho. The place of residence in Jericho was specified in the order. She said the order was in Hebrew and that she refused to sign it when soldiers told her to, and that she was also provided a map for her movement inside Jericho. Jarrar did not obey the order and remained in Ramallah, where her supporters set-up a solidarity tent in the front yard of the Palestinian Legislative Council building. The PFLP official criticized President Abbas’ office for “not contacting her during the entire period since she received the deportation decision.”
Political and other news, commentary
World Bank: Palestinian economy to shrink in 2014
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 16 Sept by Karin Laub — The Palestinian economy is expected to contract for the first time in seven years in 2014, the result of the recent Gaza war, continued Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on Palestinian trade and a drop in foreign aid, the World Bank said Tuesday. The bank issued the report ahead of a meeting next week of donor nations to the Palestinians on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. The bleak forecast is a “wake-up call to everyone” that the status quo, particularly in Gaza, cannot continue, Steen Lau Jorgensen, the bank’s top official in the West Bank and Gaza, told The Associated Press. The bank predicts the overall Palestinian economy will shrink by 4 percent this year, ending a period of growth driven largely by international aid that began in 2007. The downturn is expected to be sharpest in war-battered Gaza, with a projected drop of 15 percent, the bank said.
How do you stop Palestinians unionizing? Cancel their entry permits
972mag 15 Sept by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — In order to sabotage the unionization of Palestinian workers, the owner of an Israeli car garage filed a false police complaint against one of the union organizers, a High Court petition filed Monday by the Ma‘an Workers Advice Center alleges. Hatem Abu Ziadeh, the leader of the Palestinian workers at Zarfaty Garage, located in the West Bank Mishor Adumim industrial park, had his permit to enter his workplace revoked by the Israel Police and Civil Administration after his employer filed a complaint alleging that he was intimidating other employees, the petition states. The High Court petition seeks an injunction ordering the Israeli army to reinstate Abu Ziadeh’s permit to enter the Israeli-controlled industrial zone. According to a 2007 High Court decision, the protections of Israeli labor law apply to Israeli businesses operating in the West Bank and their Palestinian employees. In Depth: A journey into the dark heart of Israel’s permit regime “This petition is about the improper use of the West Bank permit regime in order to harm the Zarfaty Garage’s employees’ [ability] to organize,” Ma‘an wrote in a statement.
Ministry issues licenses for 9 West Bank factories
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 Sept — The Palestinian Ministry of National Economy said Tuesday that it issued nine new factory licenses in August. The ministry’s director, Manal Farhan, said the majority of the factories would produce food, beverages, and chemical products. Over $12 million will be invested in the projects, which are expected to create some 440 jobs. Farhan said that the recent boycott campaign in the West Bank has played a large role in attracting local investors to operate factories as demands soars for Palestinian goods.
Palestine joins European Energy Charter
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 Sept — Ambassador of Palestine to the European Union, Belgium and Luxemburg Layla Shahid on Monday signed the European Energy Charter on behalf of the State of Palestine. She was also representing its energy and natural resource authority, according to a statement from the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Signed at the Hague in December 1991, the European Energy Charter is a framework for international cooperation between European countries and other industrialized counties. Its aim is developing the energy potential of central and eastern European countries and ensuring security of energy supply for the European Union … Secretary General of the European Energy Charter Urban Rusnak and other officials hosted ambassador Shahid at the EEC’s main headquarters in Brussels. Rusnak welcomed Palestine as the 65th signatory of the charter.
Abbas to ask France for recognition of Palestinian state
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Sept — President Mahmoud Abbas will ask his French counterpart Francois Hollande for official recognition of Palestine in an upcoming meeting this week, the Palestinian foreign minister said Sunday. Riyad al-Maliki told Ma’an that Abbas is due to meet Hollande in Paris on Friday before arriving in New York. Abbas will urge the French president to support plans to submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council demanding that Israel withdraw from occupied Palestinian territories. “The world is more convinced now than ever before that Israel has been thwarting international efforts by stealing Palestinian land to build settlements, and that has created a much better atmosphere for a positive international response to Palestinian demands,” al-Maliki said. “We are going there (UN Security Council) to say that it’s time the world took a clear position towards occupation which should come to an end after things have reached an impasse.” Al-Maliki said the PLO are awaiting a response from the United States before UN General Assembly debates start on Sept. 24.
Campaign gives new choices to Druze youth facing Israeli conscription
HAIFA (Electronic Intifada) 16 Sept by Patrick O. Strickland — “From the earliest days of mandatory conscription for Druze, there has been opposition,” says anti-militarization activist Maisan Hamdan. That opposition has become more public and gained more visibility in recent years. Eighteen-year-old Anan Shaheen, from the Druze religious community in Shefa Amr, a Palestinian city in the Galilee region of present-day Israel, recently declared his refusal to serve in Israel’s military. Yet when he arrived at the local military registration offices in Haifa, he was surprised by the news that he was being given an exemption from military service. Shaheen is part of a growing movement of Druze Palestinians who refuse to serve in Israel’s army, which for decades has occupied Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese lands in violation of international law. Though most Druze males are required to complete three years of military service, more and more are choosing imprisonment over serving in Israel’s occupation. Because the majority of the Druze males continue to serve in Israel’s occupation military, conscientious objectors face problems within their own society as well as legal punishment. In the past, this led many young Druze men to intentionally fail a mental aptitude test in order to receive an exemption. Recent years have seen a spike in public refusal, however, as well as growing movement against conscription. The campaigning group Refuse — Your People Will Protect You was founded in March 2013 to provide legal and moral support to Druze conscientious objectors.
Beit Ummar: Heart of Darkness
Palestine Chronicle 16 Sept by Stephen Williams — The title of Joseph Conrad’s novel “Heart of Darkness” refers both to a geographical entity- colonial Congo in the 19th Century- and to a spiritual and moral wilderness in which the human soul is debased by hatred and greed. And last week I was there; in Beit Ummar. But it wasn’t Beit Ummar itself that was the Heart of Darkness- on the contrary, there I found kindness, compassion and resilience -“samud”- amongst the community. The darkness was outside, in the settlements that surround it, and among the settlers themselves whose behaviour impinges on every aspect of the lives of Beit Ummar’s citizens. Economic growth, education, family relationships, all suffer at the hands of a group of invaders who think themselves above the law; as indeed they usually are. I’ve travelled to Hebron on a number of occasions over the past decade but this time, Abdullla wanted me to drive another route from Bethlehem. It took as past a succession of settlements that, clearly, before long will amalgamate and become a continuous conurbation. And then, pressing up against the town of Beit Ummar itself were Migdal Oz to the east, Karmei Zur to the south, Efrat, Kfar Etzion to the north. Each one occupies Palestinian land. Each one is intent on further expansion as the indigenous community is hemmed-into its ever-shrinking reservation. There are times when the visitor to Palestine is battered by the litany of daily injustices, casual cruelties and acts of petty spitefulness which dominate the lives of an occupied people. As I sat with the Mayor, Nasri Sabarna, and his team, I learnt how their lives were ordered by the whims of settlers and of how even the youngest were subjected to their hatred. The day before, the Mayor had managed to extract a boy from the clutches of the IDF who had hauled him off to one of the settlements at the behest of its inhabitants. A word to a soldier is enough; that child did something, said something or looked at him inappropriately. “Would you like to see a photo?” the Mayor said. I nodded. And there he was; a frightened child of eight, snatched from family and friends by heavily-armed soldiers, acting at the behest of settlers. Eight years old. I marvel at the lack of embarrassment on the part of these callow youths of the IDF whose role, it seems, is to jump at the command of any settler, however crazed, malicious or mendacious. Shame? Embarrassment? Evidently not; the next day a child of a similar age was subjected to the same treatment nearby in Hebron. The scene was captured by ISM volunteers on camera. It is no surprise that, as the Mayor reported, Beit Ummar has a higher percentage of child detainees than anywhere else in Palestine. The settlers have seen to that…
Will an independent Scotland be a boost for Palestinian nationalism?
Times of Israel 17 Sept by Raphael Ahren — A yes vote in Thursday’s referendum could mean another critical voice in the EU and embolden separatists in the Middle East, say some Israeli officials. Others are unfazed — More people live in Israel than in Scotland, and yet many Israelis are among those anxiously awaiting the results of Thursday’s referendum, which will decide whether Scotland will remain a part of the United Kingdom or become an independent state. If the 5.3 million Scots were indeed to split from the UK, the repercussions would be felt around the globe, possibly invigorating separatist movements everywhere – including, perhaps, the Middle East. For this and other reasons, some of the eight million Israelis fear a yes vote could spell more trouble for this already unstable region and for the Jewish state in particular. Others shrug off the referendum as largely meaningless beyond the British Isles. Still, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has deeply penetrated the political discourse in Scotland on a local level, acknowledged Dotan, who is married to a Scot. “There is quite a lot of pro-Palestinian sentiment,” he said. During this summer’s Operation Protective Edge, the government in Edinburgh released more than half a dozen statements critical of Israel and reportedly called for an arms embargo against the Jewish state. Several local councils flew the Palestinian flag in solidarity with Gazan victims of the Israeli operation … If the Scottish get their own state, the Welsh, Catalonians, the Basques, the Quebecois and many other nationalist movements across the globe will feel emboldened to push for independence as well, a spirit which could also impact not only the Palestinians, but also, some in Jerusalem fear, Israeli Arabs. There is no such mass movement yet, but Israeli authorities have long feared that the country’s approximately 22% non-Jewish minority, especially in the Galilee, will one day demand independence, especially in the wake of the establishment of a Palestinian state east of the Green Line. Scotland splitting from the United Kingdom cannot be compared to Czechoslovakia being dissolved into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, as both parties agreed to part in peace. But in this case the rest of the UK wants to prevent the split, meaning that a possible victory for Scottish nationalism could be seen as a proof that unilateral breakaways are possible. “Suddenly everybody will come and demand independence,” the Israeli official said.
Palestinian bagpipers pull for Scottish independence
[with video] AFP 16 Sept by John Davison — A British Mandate legacy, Christian scout troop in Beit Jala want Palestinians to have freedom, and Scots too — Scottish independence campaigners have found an unexpected source of support ahead of a landmark referendum on the fate of the United Kingdom — Palestinian bagpipers. In a small hall in the West Bank, far from the tussle over Scotland’s future, pipers and stick-twirling drummers burst into action as local scout troop members march up and down for weekly practice. The deafening display appears more like the kind of spectacle seen on the streets of Edinburgh than in the predominantly Christian town of Beit Jala. But the scouts insist the bagpipes’ Scottish heritage translates perfectly to the Palestinian struggle for their own independence. “The Scots used to have bagpipes on the battlefield, so for me, it’s part of resistance,” said Majeed Qonqar, 31, who joined the scouts aged 10 and has played the pipes since he was a teenager. “As a bagpipe player, and knowing the history of bagpipes, I like to call it an instrument of war,” he said. And as they long for their own Palestinian state, the band members say they support those Scots seeking to break away from Britain in the historic referendum on Thursday. “Every person wants to be able to decide for themselves. So if they want to separate from the UK, then of course I support them,” said piper Issa Musallam, 23.