‘Made in Palestine’: New slogan for marketing Israeli products
Middle East Monitor 23 Sept — Along one of the roads in the city of Ariha in the north of the occupied West Bank, merchants Khaldoun and Hassan regularly receive 30 tons of dates produced in the neighbouring Israeli agricultural settlements, in preparation for their transfer to one of the packaging factories built on the outskirts of the city, Anadolu news agency reported. Inside the factory, about 13 miners are working on “screening” the dates and repackaging them in bags that read “dates of the Holy Land” in both Arabic and English and “Made in Palestine” in order to market them locally, in the Arab states and in Europe. This is what one of the farms that is owned by Israeli settlers does in order to market its produce of dates to customers of European Union countries after the enforcement of a decision earlier this year to boycott any products of settlements in the West Bank. Anadolu cited a statement issued by the Palestinian national economy minister saying that members of the ministry have found dozens of tons of produce coming from the settlements in this way, on its way to either the local market or to the packaging factories in the city of Ariha and the neighbouring villages.
Danish FM threatens Israel with sanctions
Middle East Monitor 23 Sept — Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard yesterday called for “taking new steps, including changes to our trade relations with Israel” in order to force it to make concessions in its talks with the Palestinians. Danish newspaper Jyllands- Posten reported Lidegaard calling for “imposing Danish and European sanctions on Israel”, noting the commercial sanctions are “vital”. “If nothing happens in the peace talks this time, and if we don’t see a new pattern of response from Israel’s side, then we will need to discuss the possibility of taking new steps, including changes to our trade relations with Israel,” he said. “I hope that it doesn’t come to that, but I think that the EU’s policies are moving in that direction,” he said. Lidegaard’s remarks coincided with his planned visit to Egypt this week. Al-ArabiAl-Jadeed newspaper reported sources saying such clear and open remarks would be discussed by EU foreign ministers. Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed said that through his visit to Egypt, Lidegaard is planning to have a close look at the ongoing talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis. In the same context, the newspaper said that Lidegaard is travelling to Egypt with proposals, including placing international observers in Gaza and lifting the siege to guarantee free movement for goods and people into and out of the Strip. Lidegaard’s remarks are considered unprecedented in his country.
Violence / Raids / Illegal arrests — West Bank / Jerusalem
Thousands attend funeral of killed Palestinians
[with photos] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 23 Sept — Thousands of mourners attended the funeral for two Palestinian men killed by Israeli forces overnight during an ambush in the Hebron area. The funeral for Amer Abu Aisha and Marwan al-Qawasmeh, suspects in the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in June, set off from the al-Hussein Bin Ali mosque in central Hebron. Abu Aisha’s mother took part in carrying her son’s coffin, as her husband and other sons are currently being held in Israeli detention centers. The governor of Hebron said Israel “executed” the men and at no point attempted to detain and interrogate them. The bodies of al-Qawasmeh and Abu Aisha were given to the Palestinian Red Crescent and the Palestinian Military Liaison after the families identified the bodies. Clashes broke out before the funeral, with 20 Palestinians injured by live fire and rubber-coated bullets. One man was shot in the head and medics say he is in a critical condition. Abu Aisha and al-Qawasmeh were killed overnight following a gunfight after Israeli forces surrounded a property they were hiding in. Israel says they were responsible for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June.
Israel carries out extrajudicial killing of two Palestinians suspected in Israel youths kidnapping
Mondoweiss 23 Sept by Allison Deger — Overnight Tuesday Israeli special forces killed two Palestinian men who were suspected of kidnapping and slaying three Israeli youths abducted in June while hitchhiking in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc of the West Bank. Amer Abu Aisha, 32, and Marwan Qawasmeh, 29, had evaded Israeli forces for over 100 days hiding out in their home city of Hebron no more than five miles from the site of where the remains of Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, were discovered over the summer. After 1:00 a.m. a team of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), the police counter-terrorism unit, and the Shin Bet surrounded a carpentry shop where the wanted men were hiding in the basement. Cross fire ensued. Abu Aisha and Qawasmeh were armed with military grade automatic weapons, a M16 and an AK47. Israeli forces shot live fire and grenades. “At a certain stage, they came out and opened fire,” said Brigade General Tamir Yadai speaking to the Jerusalem Post, “one was killed on the spot, and one fell into a pit and I assume he was killed,” he continued
Islamic Jihad: Killing of Qawasmeh, Abu Aisha means war still on
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Sept — The Islamic Jihad movement said Tuesday that the overnight killing of suspects in the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teens is a message that “Israel’s war on Palestinians” is ongoing. The faction said in a statement that Palestinians should “cooperate against Israel to thwart its goals and policies.” It also demanded the Palestinian Authority “end its policy of security coordination with Israel that allows Israeli forces to go in and kill and detain Palestinians.” … Critics say the PA’s policy of “security coordination” with Israel’s military helps facilitate its occupation of the West Bank.
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian south of Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 Sept — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian in a village south of Nablus late Tuesday, security sources told Ma‘an. Palestinian security sources said Muntasir Nafei Mansour, 25, was shot by Israeli soldiers several times in the left foot after an argument broke out between him and the troops at a checkpoint at the entrance to the village of Burin. Mansour was taken to Rafidia hospital in Nablus with moderate injuries, sources added. Israeli forces also detained Mansour’s brother, 22-year-old Nasr, and 19-year-old Baraa Yasi Hussein after the shooting.
Video: Israeli forces arrest two children and fire 29 rounds of tear gas at schoolchildren
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM Khalil Team) 23 Sept — The morning started off peaceful as children passed through the checkpoint but as word spread that two Palestinians had been murdered by the Israeli army the night before, tensions began to rise quickly. Israeli forces had a clear presence at the checkpoint from the start. A few small stones were thrown by a small number of young boys, but landed nowhere near the checkpoint. Three Israeli Border police proceeded to fire the first round of tear gas at the children. In total, 29 tear gas canisters and 5 stun grenades were fired. This was extremely excessive and unnecessary as the Israeli border police were clearly in no danger. Two ambulances were called to the scene due to the immense amounts of tear gas fired and a Palestinian teacher stated that 30 school children and 15 teachers suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation … Later on the Israeli forces threw stun grenades and brutally grabbed and arrested two young Palestinian boys between the ages of 14 and 15 years old. One of the boys whilst in a headlock and handcuffed was punched several times in the side. ISM activists ran up to ask the boys their names and correct ages but the Israeli forces were very hostile. They were both forced through the turnstiles and were kept at the checkpoint for a few minutes before Israeli forces marched them to the police station near the Ibrahimi mosque….
Two young Palestinians arrested and abused
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 24 Sept — Monday afternoon in Hebron, two young Palestinian men were arrested and abused north of Qeitun after being falsely accused of stone throwing. 21-year-old Muhammad Ghaleb Abu Sbeih was walking home from work when soldiers from the Israeli military force arrested him. Six boys had been throwing stones in the area and Muhammad was accused of taking part even though the soldiers had no evidence. A local Palestinian stated that Muhammad had been beaten while walking up to the checkpoint where he was held for two hours along with 19-year old Shadi Abdel Hamed Al-Atras. When the boys’ families arrived the soldiers were rude to the mothers and Muhammad’s sister. Muhammad’s mother heard her son’s screams from inside the army jeep in which he was being held captive and beaten. Initially, the soldiers denied that anyone by that name was in the jeep but then changed their tactics and started mocking the family, saying bad words to the women in both Arabic and Hebrew. The soldiers kept laughing and joking around and at one point they wanted the password for Muhammad’s iPhone to access it. After being held inside the jeep for two hours, Muhammad and Shadi were finally driven away and the soldiers shouted, “with love Muhammad“ and clapped. The young men were driven to Kiryat Arba police station and are still being held. According to the DCO (District Coordination Office) Muhammad is being transferred to Ofer court and Shadi has been moved to a checkpoint in Hebron where he will hopefully soon be released.
Mother of Palestinian newborn arrested two days after delivery
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 24 Sept — Arab Member of the Israeli Knesset Taleb Abu Arar has denounced Israel’s abduction of a Palestinian lady just a couple of days after she gave birth to her baby in Soroka Hospital, in Beer Sheva. The captured woman, mother of six Palestinian children, was rounded up by the Israeli occupation patrols under the pretext of being an illegal resident of the 1948 occupied Palestine. Abu Arar, in a letter he dispatched to the Israeli ministers of the interior and minister of internal security on Tuesday, described the arrest as “an act of moral turpitude.” The incarcerated lady delivered her six kids in Soroka hospital in Beer Sheva, south of the 1948 occupied Palestine, before she was nabbed in that very place a few days ago under flimsy pretexts, he added in a press release. The Israeli occupation authorities have turned down the detainee’s appeals to work out her residency and identity status after a temporary residency rule, barring Gazan and West Banker women married to Palestinian “citizens of Israel” from acquiring citizenship, was swiftly issued by the occupation government and closed all gates before the mother.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Family held at gunpoint as Israel arrests another human rights defender
Electronic Intifada 22 Sept by Charlotte Silver — Israeli soldiers raided the family home of Ayman Nasser, legal coordinator of the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, in the middle of the night last Thursday. He is the latest human rights defender in the occupied West Bank to be targeted and detained by the Israeli army. Nasser’s wife told Addameer that a group of soldiers came to their home in Saffa, near Ramallah, at 1:30am on 18 September. After the soldiers ransacked their home for thirty minutes, Nasser was taken away. “Fifteen soldiers raided the house and started shouting at me and my children to get out of the rooms, so we stayed in the living room with six soldiers pointing their guns at us,” his wife said in a statement to Addameer. Nasser, 44, is a longtime human rights activist. In addition to his work with Ramallah-based Addameer, Nasser is the co-founder of the Handala Educational Center in Saffa, which focuses on arts, athletics and education. He has worked with Addameer since 2008. Nasser was previously arrested in October 2012 and held for 93 days before being sentenced for 13 months; he was released in October 2013. Before his sentencing, Nasser endured weeks of interrogation while blindfolded and shackled. Before that he had spent six years, from 1992 to 1997, in an Israeli prison … When Ayman Nasser appeared in an Israeli military court two years ago, Nasser stated that his harsh interrogation sessions lasted up to ten hours and that he was denied the necessary medical treatment he had been receiving prior to detention. The charges brought against Nasser were primarily related to his activism — alleging that he was an activist with the leftist party the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and assisted in the 2012 prisoners’ hunger strike … “Just look at the last three months to see an increase in arresting human rights defenders — whether journalists, PLC [Palestinian Legislative Council] members, writers — we are talking about Palestinian activists in Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah and everywhere in the West Bank getting arrested,” Jadallah told The Electronic Intifada.
Thirteen Palestinians kidnapped in the West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies Monday 22 Sept — Israeli soldiers kidnapped at least thirteen Palestinians in numerous invasions targeting homes in different parts of the occupied West Bank, and took them to a number of military camps. The invasions started earlier at dawn, and lasted for several hours. Local sources in Hebron have reported that several Israeli military vehicles invaded the town of Sa‘ir, north of Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, and kidnapped six Palestinians … In the Nablus district, in the northern West Bank, soldiers invaded and ransacked dozens of homes, and kidnapped four in Burin village, south of the city, and one of Beit Forik, east of Nablus … In Zababda village, south of Jenin, soldiers kidnapped two brothers, both former political prisoners, after breaking into their home and violently searching it.
Eight kidnapped from West Bank districts, 3 injured in Hebron clashes
IMEMC/Agencies 24 Sept — Early Tuesday, eight Palestinians, including two minors, were kidnapped by Israel forces from the West Bank, according to reports by local security sources and activists. WAFA reports that, in the Bethlehem district, Israeli forces raided Taqou‘ to the east of the city, where they arrested three Palestinians between the ages of 17 and 19 years after breaking into and ransacking their homes. They also raided ‘Aida refugee camp to the north of the city, where they abducted one Palestinian after breaking into and ransacking his home. Israeli troops also raided the neighborhood of al-Kharruba, in Jenin, taking one Palestinian after storming his home in a similar fashion. Using canine dogs, troops also raided al-Marah neighborhood, where they kidnapped a 17-year-old Palestinian after breaking into his home. In the Ramallah district, troops took into custody a student of Birzeit University, who is also a resident of Jenin, after breaking into the school’s dormitory, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society. Furthermore, in the Jericho district, troops abducted a Palestinian from ‘Aqbat Jaber, after breaking into and ransacking his home.
In related Tuesday news, WAFA reports that three Palestinians were shot and injured, while dozens of others suffocated from teargas inhalation, during clashes with Israeli forces in Hebron. According to security sources, the clashes erupted in the Hebron University neighborhood and Tareq Bin Ziad junction. Israeli troops fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters at local residents and students, injuring three and causing dozens others to suffer from excessive tear gas inhalation. Two Palestinians were reported to have been directly injured in the head and the knee, and were evacuated to a Hebron hospital; suffocation cases were treated at the scene. The clashes erupted just following the killing of Marwan Al Qawasmi and ‘Amer Abu ‘Aisha, two Palestinians Israel had accused (without proof) of the fatal abduction of three Israeli teenagers on June 12 of this year.
Israeli troops invade Palestinian communities, clash with youth and kidnap civilians
IMEMC/Agencies 23 Sept — The Israeli army conducted, on Tuesday morning, invasions targeting a number of West Bank communities, searched and ransacked homes then kidnapped eight men. Troops also clashed with local youth; no injuries were reported. Local sources reported that Israeli troops searched and ransacked homes in Nablus and Jenin cities in the northern part of the West Bank in addition to the cities of Hebron and Bethlehem, in southern West Bank. Two men were taken when troops searched homes in Jenin city. Two more civilians were kidnapped after troops searched their homes in Al Aroup [?Al-‘Arrub] refugee camp near Hebron. Four civilians were taken by soldiers during home searches in Bethlehem city, local sources reported.
Prisoners / Court actions
Knesset passes new bill preventing pardon for Palestinian prisoners
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Sept — The Israeli Parliament of the Knesset passed, on Monday, a bill which prohibits the grant of pardon or the ease of sentence for Palestinian prisoners by reducing it, in case of a political deal or prisoner exchange. According to WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency, the bill restricts the powers given to the Israeli President when it comes to granting pardon or reducing sentence for Palestinian prisoners convicted of actions against Israelis and, therefore, have been sentenced to life term imprisonment. The powers will, nonetheless, be transferred to the courts. Under this new law, detainees sentenced to life in prison, in “dangerous situations”, are not allowed to request a determination of the period of their sentences, by Israeli courts. WAFA further reports that Palestinian prisoners convicted of murder will not be allowed to request the court to determine the period of their life sentence before 15 years of their sentence, provided that the minimum fixed life sentence equals 40 years. The law was passed at the request of MP Ayelet Shaked, member of the Knesset for the Jewish Home Party.
Twilight Zone: ‘I want to prove my son was killed in Israeli jail’
Haaretz 23 Sept Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Did he die from a beating in jail or commit suicide? Did he try to run over Israelis or was it an accident? What’s certain is that Raed al-Jaabari died in an Israeli prison — The video leaves the viewer perplexed. Was he deliberately trying to run over Israelis, or was it a traffic accident in which the driver lost control of the car? The contradictory reports about the investigation conducted after his death in an Israeli prison raise equally disturbing – and unanswered – questions: Did he hang himself, as the Israel Prison Service claims? Or did he die from blows to the head, as his family and the Palestinian Authority allege? What is incontrovertible is that Raed al-Jaabari died in Eshel Prison, outside Be’er Sheva, on September 9, about six weeks after he was arrested on suspicion of perpetrating a terrorist act by deliberately driving into a group of Israelis at the Etzion Bloc junction, south of Bethlehem in the West Bank. Jaabari turned himself in to the authorities shortly after the incident. A few weeks before his death, a military judge ordered his release from prison after being convinced that the event in question was an accident; that ruling was overturned by a higher instance. Jaabari, 35, a dealer in auto parts and the father of six children, ranging in age from seven months to 11 years, had no record of involvement in security offenses. His father, Abed a-Salam al-Jaabari, is in the fruit and vegetable business and has had an entry permit to Israel for years. He is certain that what happened at the intersection was an accident, and that his son was beaten to death by prison guards. He vows to fight until those responsible for Raed’s death are brought to justice. The Jaabaris are an affluent family. Raed drove a Skoda Superb, a luxury car. It was while driving that vehicle, on July 25, that he was involved in the incident at the Etzion junction. His father says that Raed had undergone surgery on his leg in Jordan a few weeks before, and was taking painkillers. That might explain the loss of control of the car, his father thinks. He had just finished recovering at home, in Hebron, which was apparently why he decided to drive down to the Dead Sea on the day of the incident. “My son wanted to relax a little,” his father explains now….
Rearrested Shalit deal prisoners announce hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Sept — Prisoners who were rearrested this year after being released in the 2011 Shalit deal announced they would go on hunger strike Tuesday to pressure the Palestinian delegation in Cairo to negotiate with Israel for their release, a rights group said. The Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said Monday that the strike would be observed by 63 prisoners who were among a group of 1,027 freed by Israel under the terms of a 2011 swap arrangement … The strike is timed to coincide with the resumption of indirect truce talks in Cairo aimed at cementing the terms of a ceasefire deal which ended 50 days of fighting in and around Gaza, and which went into effect on Aug. 26.
Israeli courts renew administrative detention of four Palestinian MPs
Middle East Monitor 22 Sept — For the second time, an Israeli military court has renewed the administrative detention of four Palestinian MPs affiliated with Hamas. Director of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Centre for Studies (PPCS) Riyad Al-Ashqar said that Israel issued new three-month administrative terms for the four MPs: Ahmed Mubarak from Ramallah, Khalil Raba’e and Mohamed Tal from Hebron and Abdul-Rahman Zaidan from Tulkarem. Al-Asqar said Israel has arrested 30 Palestinian MPs since mid-July and all of them have been put under administration detention. Israel has released 10 MPs, Al-Ashqar said, and kept 20 of them, meaning there are now 29 MPs held in its jails. The international community and parliaments’ silence on the matter, Al-Ashqar said, is proof that they are taking part in the crimes carried out by the Israel forces against the MPs.
Israel forces Gaza fishermen to undress in attack violating ceasefire deal
GAZA STRIP (Electronic Intifada) 23 Sept by Joe Catron — Nearly a month after Israel’s military offensive against the Gaza Strip ended in an indefinite ceasefire on 26 August, Israeli forces continue to shoot at and detain Palestinian fishermen. The Israeli military has captured ten fishermen and confiscated four fishing boats, while firing live ammunition in dozens of attacks on both the sea and shore of the besieged coastal enclave. A day before its security cabinet ordered the military operation on 7 July, and two days before its forces started intensely bombarding the Gaza Strip, Israel unilaterally reduced the permitted zone it had imposed on Palestinian fishermen to three nautical miles from the shore … In a statement released to media, the Palestinian agriculture and fisheries ministry called the reduction “a war against thousands of the Palestinian fishermen and their livelihoods.” During this summer’s offensive, Gaza fishermen endured severe losses. Only during occasional lulls in the violence did a few dare sail, sometimes keeping their boats in the relative safety of the Gaza seaport. By 10 August, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that Gaza’s fishing sector had already lost 234.6 tons of fish, or 9.3 percent of its annual catch. On 28 August, two days after the ceasefire agreement, Israel once again extended its limit to six nautical miles. Nizar Ayyash, chairperson of Gaza’s General Union of Fishermen, hoped the change would indicate further improvements. At the time, he told reporters the area “will be nine miles by next week and will increase to twelve miles within the next month according to the agreement reached in Egypt on Tuesday.” Instead, Israel began to reverse the shift as soon as attention from international media and foreign governments dissipated, reducing the zone back to five nautical miles on 8 September. By then, its navy’s attacks had already resumed in earnest. Regular bursts of machine-gun fire and the occasional thuds of naval artillery punctuated the silence of early mornings along the Gaza coast. The first capture of fishermen came on 3 September….
Gaza medics go door to door to treat thousands of war wounded
Electronic Intifada 12 Sept by Nora Barrows-Friedman — Medical workers have created an outreach program across the Gaza Strip, going door-to-door to treat patients and help families of the injured, ill and wounded take care of their loved ones. This outreach program may be one of the only ways patients can get treatment until medical facilities destroyed by Israel this summer are rebuilt and the siege is lifted, says Basman Alashi, executive director of Gaza’s al-Wafa hospital. Of the approximately 11,000 Palestinians wounded in Israeli strikes on Gaza this summer, about half require rehabilitation care, says Dr. Alashi. However, the only rehabilitation hospital in Gaza was targeted and leveled to the ground in a series of airstrikes during Israel’s 51 days of attacks on Gaza this summer. Dr. Alashi and the al-Wafa hospital staff were able to evacuate the patients — some needing round-the-clock care and monitoring — to other locations, including relatives’ homes. Though the patients are currently being cared for, the need for medical and rehabilitation equipment is immediate and critical, Dr. Alashi told The Electronic Intifada in an interview. Yet despite the urgency of Gaza’s needs, Egypt is preventing the importing of medicine and equipment, says the hospital director. “The Israelis are letting some basic medicines coming in because of the international pressure on them … but the Egyptians are really zero tolerance — they are not allowing anything in,” Dr. Alashi said. Listen to the full interview with Dr. Alashi via the player, or read the full transcript below:
Gaza hospital hygiene workers announce 3 day strike
IMEMC/Agencies 24 Sept — Hospital hygiene companies are to begin a three-day strike in all Gaza hospitals, as of Wednesday. An official has warned against the collapse of the health sector in the Gaza Strip, due to the lack of an operating budget. The companies, in a Tuesday press statement, called on hospitals’ management to take all necessary precautions to preserve the lives of patients, according to Al Ray. “We constantly contacted with Palestinian officials concerned to meet the workers’ demands by reimbursing them for the salaries delayed since five months but had no response,” the statement said. It condemned the ‘indifference’ expressed by the Ministry of Health towards their cause, and stressed the need for setting aside the issue for party advantage…
General Director of Pharmacology in the Health Ministry, Ashraf Abu Mhadi, said during a Tuesday meeting which addressed health sector challenges in Gaza, that the government must shoulder its responsibilities to save the deteriorating health sector. He stated the deficit in public medical services has accumulated, since the consensus government was formed in June of 2014, to $9.3 million, noting that the ministry needs some $40 million annually to meet the minimum needs of basic medicine. Abu Mhadi explained that 38% of the basic drugs are about to run out within days, while there is a deficit of 55% in the medical missions. He detailed the deficits as follows: a deficit of 29% in the surgery and intensive care missions, 14% of cancer drugs, in addition to 12% of primary care medicines. The total expenditure of the Health Ministry on medical missions and drugs since the unity government took office has now reached about $10 million. Yet, the drugs and medical disposables shipped from Ramallah warehouses were reportedly worth less than $2,650,000, according to Abu Mahadi.
Gaza teams deactivate 3 tons of unexploded Israeli ordnance
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Sept — Police teams in southern Gaza have deactivated three tons of unexploded ordnance from Israel’s recent military offensive on the besieged enclave, a statement said Monday. The Khan Younis engineering unit, part of the local police force, said they have deactivated over three tons of Israeli bombs and missile which landed in the southern Gaza Strip but did not explode. The police called on residents to be attentive and act with extreme caution if they find a “suspicious device.” On Friday, three Palestinians were killed and two injured when an Israeli bomb blew up in the Shujaiyya neighborhood of eastern Gaza City. In mid-August, six people were killed and another six were critically injured after an unexploded Israeli missile blew up in Beit Lahiya.
CCTV to document construction material in Gaza
Ynet 23 Sept by Itamar Eichner — Israel, the Palestinians, the UN, and donor nations agreed on a mechanism to allow for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip at an international donors’ conference in New York on Monday night. According to the agreement, all construction materials that enter Gaza will be recorded and supervised to assure they do not fall into Hamas’ hands. Deputy Minister Hanegbi stressed to those in attendance that the mechanism agreed with the UN was intended to assure that dual-use materials that arrive in Gaza as part of the reconstruction effort will not be used in terror activities. Thus, the mechanism mandates that all construction materials will be stored in Gaza warehouses equipped with CCTV cameras.
UN urges EU not to forget Gaza
Euronews 23 Sept — It’s the conflict in the Middle East that many have already forgotten. But more than 100,000 Palestinians have been left homeless by the fifty days of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants. Robert Turner, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, addressed MEPs in Brussels in a bid to drum up EU support ahead of an international donors conference on October 12th. “Europe can play an important role. Europe is Israel’s largest trading partner and the largest donor to the Palestinian Authority. Europe has huge influence on both of those parties and needs to utilize that influence. Europe should not just be a payer but they also need to be a significant player in this exercise,” Turner told euronews. “For building material to be available we have to have the Palestinian Authority’s national consensus government on the ground. We need to have them controlling the crossings, controlling the men in streets, that needs to happen before there will be any building material. Hopefully, in the Conference in Cairo, the donors will be generous on that, but I think there is a real concern that in the absence of any political solution, why rebuild?”
Israeli probes into possible Gaza war crimes draw criticism
JERUSALEM (McClatchy) 22 Sept by Joel Greenberg — Facing a United Nations investigation for possible war crimes committed during its recent military campaign in the Gaza Strip, Israel has launched probes of its own into suspected violations, hoping to ward off prosecution in international tribunals. The army has said it’s conducting criminal investigations into five incidents and that dozens of others were under review. However, Israeli human rights advocates say the inquiries are flawed because the army is investigating itself and the probes don’t cover the legality of orders that led to the alleged violations … Under the Rome Statute outlining the powers of the International Criminal Court, it’s “complementary to national criminal jurisdictions” and can act only when states fail to investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes under their jurisdiction … After review, the Israeli military advocate-general recommended criminal investigations into five cases … Michael Sfard, a prominent Israeli human rights attorney, said army investigations into specific incidents didn’t go far enough because they didn’t probe the legality of top-level orders that had led to the alleged violations. The shelling of crowded neighborhoods in Gaza and bombings of the family homes of suspected militants, in which many Palestinian civilians were killed, apparently were approved by the army’s legal branch, disqualifying it from investigating those same incidents, Sfard said … Figures compiled by B’Tselem show that after looking into 400 incidents of suspected violations in a previous campaign in Gaza, in late 2008 and 2009, the army launched 52 criminal investigations. Only three ended with indictments. Army probes of more than 80 incidents during a 2012 Gaza offensive ended with no criminal investigations, B’Tselem said. B’Tselem said that in light of the army’s failure to effectively investigate possible violations by troops, it would break with previous practice and wouldn’t provide the military with information it had collected about possible wrongdoing in the latest conflict.
Kerry announces $71 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Sept — Secretary of State John Kerry announced Tuesday that the US would be providing $71 million for humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip in the wake of the recent Israel offensive. The US State Department said in a statement that $59 million of this amount would be devoted to projects of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, while $12 million would go toward USAID and other humanitarian organizations. “This assistance comes in addition to the $47 million in humanitarian assistance to Gaza announced by Secretary Kerry on July 21, for a total commitment of more than $118 million,” the statement said.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Racism / Restriction of movement
Pace of Bedouin home-razings grows
Haaretz 24 Sept by Amira Hass — The Civil Administration in the West Bank has stepped up demolitions of Bedouin buildings in the E-1 area east of Jerusalem since April. The area is slated for an expansion of the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. The number of such demolitions in the first eight months of 2014 was higher than in any comparable period in the last five years, as was the number of people who lost their homes as a result, according to an analysis by the Association of International Development Agencies of data compiled by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Although demolitions were carried out in only four of these eight months (March, April, May and August), more buildings were razed in the E-1 area in those months (35) than in all of 2013 (21). The number of people who lost their homes as a result rose to 156, from 57. The disproportionate increase in the number of people who were made homeless as a result of the demolitions in the first eight months of 2014 relative to the number of buildings that were razed indicates that a larger proportion of the structures that were destroyed this year were residential. That, as opposed to being used for livestock or other purposes. In Area C as a whole — portions of the West Bank under exclusive Israeli control, according to the Oslo Accords — the Civil Administration razed 346 buildings in the eight-month period, leaving 668 Palestinians homeless. In 2013 as a whole, 565 demolitions left 805 Palestinians homeless…
Bedouin representatives said they think demolitions have escalated recently because the Civil Administration’s plan to resettle them in a new, permanent town north of Jericho is advancing and the agency hopes to pressure them into agreeing to the move…
Over the past 20 years, the Bedouin have repeatedly petitioned the High Court of Justice against demolitions. While the court has never ruled on their claim that the demolitions are illegal in principle, it has repeatedly canceled them on the grounds that the Bedouin have nowhere else to live. The construction of Talet Nueima, even if the Bedouin have already announced their opposition to it, will let the authorities claim they do have somewhere else to live.
Photos: Palestinians protest Ramallah firm’s role in displacing Bedouin
Activestills 22 Sept — Israel’s Civil Administration, the military government that rules over Palestinians in the West Bank, is pushing forward with a plan to remove thousands of Palestinian Bedouin from lands in the occupied West Bank, including an especially contentious area east of Jerusalem known as ‘E1.’ The plan calls for the forcible relocation of as many as 12,500 Bedouin to a new town in the Jordan Valley. Activists recently discovered that the latest plan was commissioned to a Palestinian architectural firm called Assia, which is based in Ramallah. To protest the company’s collaboration with the Israeli Civil Administration, Palestinian activists held a protest outside the firm’s office Sunday.
Palestinian family forced to demolish own house in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 Sept — A Palestinian family has begun to demolish part of a building it owns in East Jerusalem to avoid paying fines after the Israeli municipality issued a demolition order, the owner said Tuesday. Walid al-Ubeidi told Ma‘an that due to the size of his family, he expanded the building from three to four floors in 2002, and to five floors in 2004-2005. He tried to obtain building permits from the municipality for both expansions, but to no avail, al-Ubeidi said. An Israeli court recently ordered the family to demolish the fifth floor and seal the fourth floor by Sept. 25, or else face paying huge fees for the municipality to bulldoze it. Some 18 people from his extended family will be displaced as a result of the demolition, he added.
Cabinet postpones decision on controversial route of West Bank barrier
Haaretz 23 Sept by Nir Hasson — Israel’s cabinet on Sunday put off making a decision on the route of the West Bank separation barrier in the area of the Palestinian village of Battir while it discusses the issue further and examines alternatives. The cabinet had been widely expected to approve a route for the barrier that was opposed by villagers, preservationists, environmentalists, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and even residents of Jewish settlements in the Etzion Bloc. In the wake of an emergency application submitted by Palestinian officials, in June the Unesco World Heritage Committee recognized Battir as a protected World Heritage site, for its ancient agricultural terraces, which are still farmed today. In response, Supreme Court President Justice Asher Grunis ordered the state to reexamine its decision to build the barrier in the Battir area in light of the political implications of the move. Sunday’s cabinet debate was a response to Grunis’ ruling, but in light of the Defense Ministry’s support for the original plan it was thought the resolution would be approved without changes to the route of the barrier. But after Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett raised objections to building the barrier along the proposed route, it was agreed to reevaluate the issue and to examine alternatives that would avoid possible damage to the terraces. Environmentalists welcomed the decision and expressed hope that it was a first step toward a solution that would not require erecting a fence, as did Jewish settlers in the area, who feared being left on the other side of the barrier.
PA criticizes Israeli seizing of Palestinian water in West Bank
Middle East Monitor 22 Sept — The Palestinian foreign ministry has strongly condemned the Israeli war on Palestinian water in the occupied West Bank, saying it is part of a series of actions leading to undermining the Palestinian existence in Area C, which is under full Israeli control. In a statement, the ministry said: “In the glare of the sun, the Israeli occupation carries out a war on Palestinian water. It is based on controlling all water and its springs, depriving the Palestinians from using it and making it a subject to political blackmailing.” The ministry continued: “The occupation prevents Palestinians from digging wells, seizes and Judaises fertile lands, closes farms by announcing them closed military zones and preventing owners from entering them unless with entrance permits, which are difficult to obtain.” “The ministry is following up on the issue of closing a number of wells very closely and it has been working on following up on all the Israeli violations aiming to drain the springs of the Palestinian water, as well as to undermine the Palestinian existence in the Palestinian lands.” The reason Israel is doing this, the ministry explained, is to force Palestinians to give up on farming and become dependents on the Israeli agricultural products. “The occupation is working to replace Palestinians, who are legitimate residents, with Jewish settlers, who are occupiers,” the statement said.
Israeli forces demolish 20 tombs in Palestinian cemetery
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Sept — Israeli forces, with the so-called “Nature Authority”, on Sunday demolished 20 Palestinian tombs in occupied East Jerusalem’s Yousufeya Cemetery. The cemetery is located in the area of the Lions’ Gate, according to the Palestinian News Network (PNN), right next to the eastern wall of Al Aqsa Mosque, and were demolished under the pretext that the tombs were built on confiscated land. Head of the Islamic cemetery welfare committee in Jerusalem, Mustafa Abu Zahra, condemned the actions, saying that the Martyrs’ Cemetery was an extension of Yousufeya Cemetery, in the Lions’ Gate, and that it purely qualifies as Islamic property. Mr. Abu Zahra noted that the cemetery is a historical site in which hundreds of Palestinian martyrs are buried, and where a monument was clearly set. He added that the demolished tombs were built several months ago, but were as of yet unused. Abu Zahra refuted Israeli claims, saying that the land is Palestinian property and does not need any licensing.
Israel imposes restrictions around Al-Aqsa ahead of Jewish holidays
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 Sept – Israeli police on Tuesday morning deployed heavily at all gates of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound imposing restrictions on the entry of Muslim worshipers ahead of the Jewish New Year. A Ma‘an reporter in the holy city said Israeli police denied Palestinian men aged under 45 and all women entry to the mosque. Women and men under 45 had to perform dawn prayer in the streets outside the compound, she added. In addition, police kept all gates closed except the Chain Gate and the Council Gate where police officers deployed heavily and scrutinized ID cards of worshipers. Dozens of young men and women who were barred from al-Aqsa gathered outside the gates and chanted slogans denouncing Israeli police procedures and affirming it was their right to access the holy place. Director of the Jerusalem office of the Palestinian ministry of endowment Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib told Ma‘an that Tuesday’s closures of the compound were in preparation for Jewish holidays. He said Knesset member Miri Regev from the Likud party who chairs the Knesset’s interior and security committee had asked the police to prepare the grounds for visits by Jews during holidays.
Complaints filed against MKs for incitement during aggression on Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Sept by Saed Bannoura — The National Democratic Assembly at the Israeli Knesset, in cooperation with dozens of Arab citizens, started a large campaign to lodge official complaints against Israeli Members of the Knesset (MK) for incitement against Arab political leaders, and the Arabs in general, during the Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip. The Arabs48 news website has reported that at least 50 complaints have been officially filed so far, especially after a series of flammable statements of hatred and incitements were uttered by members of Knesset against the Arabs in the country, and the Palestinians in general, during the Israeli onslaught on Gaza. Officials in charge of filing the complaints said the remarks made by senior Israeli officials, and members of Knesset, are racist and very serious incitement to violence against the Arabs. They said many Israeli officials committed serious violations and acts of incitement mounting to crimes as stated by the Israeli laws regarding incitement and racism, but were never brought to justice … one of the most racist statements, that actually resembles an actual death threat against the Arabs, was a statement made by Israeli Parliamentarian Ayeley Shaked of the extremist Jewish Home Party, who called for killing all Arab mothers for giving birth to what she called “snakes.”
Boycott / Divestment / Sanctions
Official: Cairo ceasefire talks still on
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 23 Sept — Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahhar said Tuesday that the Palestinian delegation decided to go ahead with indirect ceasefire talks in Cairo despite deadly violence overnight. “After consultations between the delegation and Hamas officials both in Gaza and abroad, a decision was taken to go ahead with Cairo talks,” Zahhar told Reuters. His remarks followed reports that the Palestinian delegation in Cairo was considering withdrawing from the talks after Israeli forces killed two Palestinians suspected of kidnapping three Israeli youths in June. Senior Hamas negotiator Izzat al-Rishaq told AFP the Palestinian team had been headed to the headquarters of the Egyptian intelligence service which mediates the talks when they learned of the Hebron incident and had turned back in protest. Al-Rishaq said the killings overnight were a deliberate attempt to avoid further ceasefire negotiations. Senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil blamed security coordination between Israel and the PA for the killings, saying that “this assassination couldn’t have succeeded without security coordination in the West Bank.” For his part, Islamic Jihad leader Khalid al-Batsh said “the Israeli occupation deliberately chose to carry out the assassination in Hebron today in an attempt to foil the indirect Egypt-brokered ceasefire talks sponsored scheduled to be resumed today.” The Palestinian delegation, he said, is convinced that the “ugly” operation Israeli forces carried out in Hebron at dawn came to “cover up for what has been committed since the three Israeli teens disappeared in Hebron, and to thwart indirect ceasefire talks which seek to end the suffering of the Palestinian people.”
Ceasefire talks to continue in late October
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Sept — Indirect talks between Palestinian and Israeli officials will continue in the last week of October, a senior Hamas official said Tuesday. Izzat al-Rishaq said that talks ended Tuesday and both sides presented their demands to be discussed in the next round of negotiations. The Palestinian delegation demanded a permanent truce and ceasefire, the rebuilding of an airport and seaport, and the suspension of all sanctions imposed by Israel since June, including the release of rearrested prisoners and Palestinian MPs.
Abbas to submit resolution to UN Security Council Friday
IMEMC/Agencies 24 Sept by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated that he intends to submit, Friday, a resolution calling for a three-year timetable for the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank, after his scheduled speech at the UN General Assembly. Israeli daily Haaretz said Abbas informed US Secretary of State, John Kerry, that he is determined to submit the resolution proposal as more than twenty years of direct “peace talks” with Tel Aviv failed to achieve their intended goal of liberation and independence, while Israel continues its violations, and settlement construction and expansion activities. Israel does not seem to be concerned about the Palestinian move as its leaders are sure the United States will use its veto power to topple the resolution, as it did numerous times before, while the US insists “only direct peace talks” can bring a resolution to the conflict … On his part, Abbas said his aim is to get the United Nations to set a timetable for direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and to agree on a map that clearly defines the borders of Israel and the future Palestinian State … He added that, should the UN reject his plan; the Palestinians will resume their applications to join more international institutions, including the International Criminal Court (ICC), an issue that would allow the Palestinians to bring charged against Israel for war crime, including Israel’s repeated wars on the civilians in Gaza.
Palestinian lawmaker accuses influential agencies of attempting to assassinate him
Middle East Monitor 21 Sept — Deputy head of the Palestinian Legislative Council Hassan Khreisheh has accused “influential Palestinian agencies” of attempting to assassinate him three weeks ago by shooting at his car while he was driving in Tulkarem. At a press conference on Saturday, Khreisheh announced he would file a lawsuit against the minister of interior and the intelligence chief for their failure to identify the culprits. Khreisheh said the assassination attempt was aimed at “silencing” him, and that it was carried out by “influential agencies with security and financial covers.” He urged the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to prosecute those behind the attack, pointing out that the committee he formed has not reached any conclusions. He lamented the fact that the legislative council is “sidelined”, which emboldened some to “implement their destructive agendas aimed at the fiber of the Palestinian society, in order to guarantee their presence and protect their interests.” He added that he will seek the help of the European Parliament and friendly parliaments to provide him with security against other assassination attempts.
Meanwhile, Palestinian academician and opposition figure Abdel-Sattar Qassem said during the conference that he was subjected to several assaults by members of Palestinian security agencies headed by Abbas, and that he is currently “engaged in consultations with international law specialists to file lawsuits against the Palestinian Authority and security agencies complicit in the assaults.”
Palestinian embassy to open in La Paz, Bolivia
IMEWC/Agencies 24 Sept — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, in New York on Tuesday. Abbas thanked President Morales for Bolivia’s solidarity and political action taken on the Palestine question and, particularly, its recognition of the Palestinian State, as well as its strong position of support during the latest Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip … President Abbas reportedly stressed that, for many years, Palestine has been a gateway for friendly nations to expand relations with the rest of the Arab world, and that this would not be any different in the case of Bolivia. Finally, President Abbas announced the planned opening of a Palestinian embassy in La Paz. Bolivia is a country which has integrated thousands of Palestinian immigrants into their social fabric, people who have contributed to the economic, cultural and social development of Bolivia, and has committed its support to the project, the PNN reports.
Palestinian youth build skills, character at Qalqiliya skate ramp
[with photos] QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 22 Sept by Graham Liddell — Every afternoon in the Palestinian city of Qalqiliya, on a tiny plot of concrete tucked away behind the West Bank’s only zoo, youths gather to skate, rap, breakdance, and practice parkour. The hangout, marked by a mid-sized halfpipe, old mattresses to pad falls, and long-haired gravity-obsessed boys in alternative garb, is an anomaly in the rather conservative city. Indeed, the ramp has become an escape from the prying eyes of relatives and neighbors who are quick to criticize any deviation from the mainstream. Sitting against graffiti-coated brick and watching skaters carve the curves of the ramp, rapper Alaa Dweiri said Thursday that skating and hip hop provided a way for kids to release energy they might otherwise use getting into trouble. “Qalqiliya is almost completely surrounded by the (Israeli) separation wall,” Dweiri, one of the leaders of the crew, told Ma‘an. “God gives everyone energy in life, and everyone has to find a way to expend this energy. These people who are surrounded by the wall don’t have anything to release their energy on,” Dweiri said.
US jury finds Arab Bank liable for backing terrorism
New York (AFP) 22 Sept — In a landmark decision, a New York jury on Monday found the Jordan-based multinational Arab Bank liable on 24 counts of supporting terrorism by transferring funds to Hamas. The verdict came after the jury deliberated for nearly two full days after a month-long trial at the eastern district court in Brooklyn. “This is an enormous milestone,” said Gary Osen, a lawyer on the team representing around 300 American relatives and the victims of 24 attacks carried out in Israel and the Palestinian territories. “For the first time a financial institution is liable for supporting terrorism. The question now is to see how other financial institutions, regulators will deal with their banks and this decision,” he added. Shand Stephens, lawyer for Arab Bank, poured scorn on the verdict, saying it should not have been found on “evidence that thin.” Asked whether the Bank would appeal, he told reporters: “This verdict is going to be reversed.”