Media Analysis

Israeli attack on Gaza damaged 75 kindergartens and day-care centers

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The Israeli offensive on Gaza caused full or partial damages to 75 kindergartens and day-care centers
GAZA, Occupied Palestine (Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine) 21 Sept — The Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center field teams have documented full or partial damages to 75 kindergartens and day-care centers caused during the 51 day Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip this summer. DWRC’s field workers conducted field visits to all the kindergartens that suffered damages and collected information through filling out questionnaires and affidavits from kindergarten owners in the five Gaza governorates, with a particular focus on eastern areas, where these damages were concentrated. Among the 75 kindergartens and day-care centers that suffered damages, 12 were fully destroyed and 63 partially damaged by shelling and bombing. They are distributed as follows: 10 are located in the North Gaza governorate, 17 in the Gaza governorate, 17 in the Middle Gaza governorate, 21 in Khan Younis governorate, and 10 in Rafah governorate. These kindergartens employ 629 female workers, including educators, administrators and cleaning agents, and they used to care for and provide pre-school education to 12,671 children. The owners of some of the kindergartens have undertaken repairs at their own cost in order to reopen them and others have relocated to alternative premises near their original location, while a third group has been unable to open their kindergartens or day-care centers to this day.


Palestinian succumbs to wounds from Gaza ordnance explosion
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Sept — A Palestinian who was severely injured after an unexploded Israeli ordnance blew up in the Shujaiyya neighborhood of Gaza City on Friday has died of his wounds. Spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza Ashraf al-Qidra said that Muhammad Riyad Abu Asir, 24, passed away, bringing the total number of dead to three in the explosion. Al-Qidra earlier identified the victims as Ayman Ziad Abu Jibbah, 23, and Abdullah Jibreel Abu Asir, 23.  The Gaza Strip is currently littered with a large number of unexploded Israeli ordnance, a reminder of the more than 50-day Israeli offensive that left more than 2,150 dead, 11,200 injured, and more than 110,000 homeless. Even before the assault, unexploded ordnance was a major concern in the besieged coastal enclave, which has been subjected to four major Israeli offensives since 2006. Although Gaza police explosives teams have been working across the territory to destroy unexploded ordnance and prevent safety threats to locals, lack of proper equipment due to the seven-year Israeli siege as well as lack of resources more generally have hindered efforts.

Gaza families mourn amid failure to find missing shipwreck victims
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Sept — More than two weeks after a boat carrying migrants to Europe sank off the coast of Malta, none of the bodies of Palestinians who are thought to have drowned at sea have been recovered by search teams. Eight Palestinians are known to have survived the Sept. 6 shipwreck that killed around 500 migrants, and they are being cared for between Italy, Greece, and Malta. But Palestinian ambassador to Italy Mai al-Kaila on Saturday told Ma‘an that rescuers have had difficulties recovering bodies from the sea because the boat capsized in international waters. Despite this, however, she said that Italian coastal guards are continuing the search for the missing. Al-Kaila said that Italian authorities have promised to give political asylum to two Palestinians who survived the shipwreck, and the pair will also be allowed to bring their families to live in Italy. Meanwhile, Marwan Tubasi, Palestine’s ambassador to Greece, told Ma‘an Saturday that authorities in that country had granted three Palestinian survivors permission to stay for six months, and that the embassy was working to acquire them Palestinian passports as well…
In Gaza, some families have already started mourning their missing loved ones, as the days have dragged on and no indication of their survival has surfaced. Dozens of family members of the missing migrants on Sunday demonstrated outside the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza City, urging authorities to give them more information on the whereabouts of their missing loved ones. “15 days have passed and we still haven’t received any news about my husband and my son,” said protester Um Udayy Nahhal. Speaking to reporters while carrying a photo of her husband Fawzi Nahhal and her seven-year-old son Udayy, she said that the pair were among the migrants feared dead in the shipwreck … A key part of the problem relates to the issue of jurisdiction, since the fact that the boat capsized in international water — meaning more than 200 nautical miles away from any coast — means no nearby state is immediately responsible for recovery, while the home states of the migrants themselves generally lack the ability to carry out any rescue operations … Jaradat added that the Palestinian foreign ministry had contacted the Egyptian authorities and asked them to prevent human traffickers from sending migrant boats from Egyptian territories. Any action on the part of Egyptian authorities, however, will likely fail to stem the flow of migrants across the sea, which has shot up to its highest level in recorded memory this year. So far, watchdogs say that more than 120,000 migrants have crossed the sea in 2014 alone so far, while more than 2,500 have perished.

Ambassador meets Italian official to discuss shipwreck
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Sept — Palestine’s ambassador to Italy met an Italian official on Saturday to discuss the possibility of providing humanitarian aid to Palestinian survivors of a shipwreck that left nearly 500 migrants dead less than a week ago, the ambassador’s office said in a statement. Ambassador Mai al-Kaila called upon Italy to continue efforts to support Palestinians, especially during times of crisis, the statement said. The assistant to the Italian minister of interior affairs said Italy was saddened by the incident, and that it would do whatever was possible to help. Palestinian consul Ribhi al-Qaddumi and Samir Hamam, the representative of the Palestinian community in Sicily, met with survivors Khamis Breikh and Shadi Jabri, the statement added.

Video: Gaza shipwreck survivors plead for entrance into Europe
Jerusalem Post — Hundreds of migrants were rescued from the sea off the Italian coast this week as the increasing flow of desperate refugees continued to try to cross the Mediterranean despite recent shipwrecks that have cost the lives of some 700 people. In a holding center on the island of Malta, three Palestinians from Gaza described their horrific plight on September 18 after surviving a shipwreck and seeing hundreds of the fellow shipmates die in front of them. “The last baby died in my hands before I left. He died in the afternoon and we left at night. The baby was with his sister, mother and father among the survivors but later the father, the mother and the sister passed away and the baby stayed in my hands,” said 23-year-old Mohammed Awadallah.

Abu Sabha denies receiving official travel ban on Palestinians [traveling] to some countries
Middle East Monitor 21 Sept — The director of the border crossings in the Gaza Strip, Maher Abu Sabha, denied media reports that Egypt has officially informed his authority of a decision preventing Palestinians from traveling to a number of countries. Abu Sabha said in an exclusive statement to Felesteen newspaper: “We were not officially informed of any decision of the sort,” noting that Egypt has returned a number of students travelling to some countries, “but we were not officially informed of a decision.” He pointed out that some media outlets have misquoted remarks by Ismail Abu al-Jbein, an official who works at the crossing when he said that the Egyptian authorities have returned several students travelling to Turkey. He explained that according to Turkish rules only students who have legal residency permits are allowed to enter the Turkish territory. Abu Sabha said: “The third batch of pilgrims from Gaza Strip has already left the Rafah crossing to the Egyptian side on their way to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj this year and there are three more groups scheduled to leave on Sunday,” noting that the Egyptian side have returned two pilgrims citing security reasons. However, Abu Sabha stressed that the current pilgrimage season is better than the previous seasons.

Egyptian army kills Palestinian, detains 2 as they exit tunnel
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 20 Sept — Egyptian border police shot dead a Palestinian and detained two others after they exited the opening of a smuggling tunnel in the border town of Rafah on Saturday morning, Egyptian military sources said. Border guard officers reportedly spotted three men walking out of a tunnel opening in area of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier area on the Egyptian side of Rafah, a town that straddles the border. The sources said that officers shouted at the men to stop, but the men instead attempted to return into the tunnel. As a result, officers opened fire, killing one. The other two men then stopped and were taken into custody. The sources told Ma‘an that the operation came after the Egyptian army announced a state of alert along the border with the Gaza Strip following intelligence information regarding the potential “infiltration” of “gunmen” from the Gaza Strip into Sinai Peninsula.

Jordanian lawmakers leave Cairo after failure to visit Gaza
AMMAN (PIC) 21 Sept — The security situation in Egyptian border areas prevented a Jordanian parliamentary delegation on Saturday from visiting the Gaza Strip, a Jordanian lawmaker said. MP Yehiya Al-Saud, head of the delegation, stated that they had to leave Cairo after they were told that the travel road to Rafah was not safe. “The Jordanian embassy in Cairo and the Egyptian authorities told members of the delegation about the failure of the security authorities in the country to provide protection for them after the bombing incidents that occurred during the past few days on the same route the delegation was to take,” Saud explained.
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Cabinet approves $5 billion plan for Gaza rehabilitation
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Sept — The Palestinian cabinet has recently approved a $5 billion plan for economic revival and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip in the wake of the Israeli assault, a senior official said Saturday. “We will seek to collect international donations in order to materialize our ambitious vision of rebuilding Gaza during the donor countries conference scheduled to be held in Cairo on Oct. 12,” Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Mustafa said in a statement Saturday. The rehabilitation of infrastructure in Gaza will cost $1.9 billion, while reconstruction and rehabilitation of houses will cost another billion. Some $700 million will be needed for humanitarian, social, health, and education aid for Palestinians in Gaza, many of whom lost homes and family members and some of whom became disabled as a result of the war, the statement added….

Israel says to join Cairo truce talks Tuesday
JERUSALEM (AFP) 21 Sept — Israel said on Sunday it would send a delegation to attend indirect Gaza truce talks with Hamas in Cairo next week, although a minister said they would likely achieve nothing. Confirmation that Israel would return to the Egyptian capital on Tuesday to resume negotiations on cementing an August 26 ceasefire agreement which halted 50 days of bloodshed in Gaza, came from a senior Israeli official, who refused to give further details. Egypt, which has played a key role in the talks, had initially invited both sides to resume talks on Wednesday but it was pulled forward because of Jewish New Year which begins at sundown on September 24 and runs into the weekend. The negotiations are to tackle a number of unresolved issues including a Palestinian demand for a seaport and airport in Gaza, and Israel’s demand for militants in the territory to disarm. They will also touch on a proposed prisoner swap agreement which would see Hamas releasing the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in the fighting in exchange for Israel freeing Palestinian detainees … “I don’t have very high hopes for the talks in Cairo as long as Hamas won’t agree to demilitarise Gaza and give up its weapons,” Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told reporters at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “Unfortunately, I don’t see it accepting these principles, so, apart from the immediate rehabilitation (of the enclave), there is no real, long-term solution to the situation in Gaza,” he said. “There is a long-term ceasefire already in place, a truce which is not limited in time,” he said, suggesting there was little more to be achieved. Ahead of the resumption of talks in Cairo, there will be a round of talks between the two heavyweights of Palestinian politics, the Fatah faction of president Mahmud Abbas and its Islamist rival, Hamas. Observers say the outcome of this week’s truce talks will hinge largely on what is agreed at the Hamas-Fatah meeting, which will focus heavily on the future governance of Gaza by the Ramallah-based national consensus government.

Egypt invites Turkey FM to Gaza conference in Cairo
Trend 20 Sept — Egypt has invited Turkey to a donors’ conference for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, after months of strained relations between the two countries, Hurriyet Daily News reported. The meeting, initiated by Egypt and Norway, will be at the level of foreign ministers; an invitation to the conference was recently extended by the Egyptian Embassy in Ankara to the Turkish Foreign Ministry. A Foreign Ministry official told the Hurriyet Daily News that Turkey, in principle, had decided to attend the gathering, but the level of participation has yet to be decided. If Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavushoglu participates in the meeting in Cairo on Oct. 12, it will be a breakthrough in ties, as no high-level visit has been paid between Turkey and Egypt since relations deteriorated when the Egyptian military toppled President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Egypt and Turkey reciprocally declared their respective ambassadors as personae non gratae and reduced the level of diplomatic representation in 2013.

Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests — West Bank / Jerusalem

Palestinian school set on fire
[with photos] AS-SAWIA, Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team) 21 Sept — On the evening of the 10th September, unknown assailants broke into the As-Sawia Secondary School, forced open the door and set the school on fire. Bedouins living close to the school saw the fire and alerted the fire brigade. By the time it was put out, the principal’s office and teachers’ rooms were completely burned. “We lost six computers, four printers, all the teachers’ books and materials, but most of all, the administrative documents and files of the students and about the school situation over the past years. The whole damage is around 140,000 shekels,” the principal Adnan Hussein told ISM. The school was closed for three days after the arson attack.
As in many schools in the occupied West Bank, the students and staff of As-Sawia Secondary School suffer from constant settler and military harassment. Three days before the arson, armed settlers who called themselves “security” from one of the nearby hilltop illegal settlements stood at the school gates. When the principal spoke to them, they claimed that children threw stones at the settler cars on their way to school. The school is located by Road 90, which was paved in 1944 and runs across the West Bank. The road is used by Palestinians and by illegal settlers. The children have to walk alongside it to get to school in the mornings and to go home after school. “Our school is suffering both for the settlers and the army,” explained Hussein. “We constantly have the army at our gates, checking ID’s and bothering children.”  … Throughout 2013, the army entered the As-Sawiya 51 times and children and the staff had to put up with teargas, sound bombs and arrests of pupils. Hussein explained, “It is a constant worry that the settlers and the army will come. It is hard enough to control 350 teenagers even in the countries where there is no occupation. It is not easy and we do what we can to try to do our best keep the education for our children going. We have no problem with Jewish people and I can say that many of them are nice and honest, but settlers are generally dangerous people. I know that people should be able to choose where they live, but that does not include taking someone else’s land without permission.”

5 Jewish youths suspected of attacking Arab lawyer
Ynet 20 Sept by Hassan Shaalan, Ahiya Raved — Attorney Ibrahim Kilani says attackers targeted him because he was an Arab; suspects known to police for previous violent offenses —  Five youths were arrested on Friday night on the suspicion they assaulted attorney Ibrahim Kilani in Upper Nazareth because he is an Arab.  Kilani, from Yafa an-Naseriyye, was lightly wounded and taken to the Nazareth English Hospital for treatment. Police said a fight broke out between four 17-year-old guys and a 19-year-old guy and two youths from the neighboring villages. Kilani told Ynet that he went to visit a friend in Upper Nazareth. When he arrived there, he saw a girl crying and speaking in Arabic. “I walked towards her to help her and all of a sudden five Jewish youths approached me and started viciously attacking me,” he said. The attorney said the five attacked him with sticks and caused bruises to his head, among other places. “While they were attacking me, I tried to pretend to be a policeman, but nothing helped. They kept attacking me and used harsh curse words.” He said he managed to escape, but the attackers chased after him. While running, an Arab driver stopped her car and told him to get inside. “She helped me get away from there and call the police. It’s lucky she understood the mortal danger I was in.” Kilani was so outraged by the attack that he said he was considering quitting his job at the Economy Ministry. “This is not the first time I encounter racists….”  Kilani said he hoped perpetrators of such attacks would find themselves behind bars. “What I went through was very scary. This sort of people belong in prison. I’m a man who serves his country and I have friends from all ethnicities. I’ve never even considered hurting someone else and I and others don’t deserve this kind of treatment.” Police arrested the suspects in the assault, who will be brought for a remand extension on Saturday night in the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court.,7340,L-4573078,00.html

Israeli settlers and soldiers invade Balata refugee camp
Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team) 20 Sept — On the 17th of September, under heavy Israeli army protection, Israeli settlers from nearby illegal settlements entered Nablus with the aim of praying at Joseph’s tomb in Balata refugee camp. Just after midnight, the Israeli army closed the district that surrounds the monument, blocking all the streets leading to the tomb and preventing anyone from passing nearby, either by foot or by car. Around 1am, between eight and 10 buses full with hundreds of settlers invaded the area. Clashes began in the area, particularly in the junction just in front of the entry to Balata refugee camp. Youths threw stones for more than two hours against the army vehicles, that were moving up on the hill and back, seemingly in order to keep them busy and far from the large groups of Zionist settlers. Military trucks also tried several times to run over the Palestinian youths while they were throwing stones. The Israeli army fired many stun grenades, and the road blockades were kept in place until the settlers left the area. Clashes around Balata occur almost weekly, any time that the settlers decide to invade the area for praying. The settlers claim this monument belongs to the Biblical patriarch Joseph, while most of the Palestinians believe that the religious guide Sheikh Yusef Dweikat was buried there, according to Islamic tradition. Though Joseph is a sacred figure as well in Muslim, Christian and Samaritan religion, Muslims are not allowed to pray there. Labeling their own actions as “security measures”, the army can easily shoot down a whole neighborhood and guarantee the Israeli settlers the freedom to move and pray wherever they wish, even in a site which is deeply inside Area A, which is supposed under Palestinian civil and security control. On the other side, most of the Palestinians living in the West Bank are not allowed to pray in their holy places, starting from this Joseph´s tomb to the biggest example of Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem.

Mayor says Israeli forces harassing al-Khadr residents
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Sept — Israeli soldiers and intelligence officers raided the town of al-Khadr south of Bethlehem Sunday and questioned several civilians on the street, locals and the town mayor said. Intelligence officers in plain clothes stopped several young men around noon under the protection of armed troops, witnesses told Ma‘an. Tawfiq Salah, the mayor of al-Khadr, told Ma‘an he attempted to intervene to prevent the officers from questioning residents, but that soldiers forcibly distanced him. Salah denounced what he described as “aggression” against the residents of al-Khadr, adding that Israeli forces had been storming the town on a near daily basis and harassing passersby in the streets.

West Bank: Israeli forces kidnap 6 Palestinians, summon 3 for interrogation
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Sept — Israeli forces early Saturday abducted six Palestinians, including an elderly, from the Hebron and Bethlehem districts of the occupied West Bank, in addition to summoning three others for interrogation, according to reports by security sources. Israeli forces raided al-Arroub refugee camp, to the north of the city, where they arrested four Palestinians aged 18, 19, 21 and 47 years after breaking into and ransacking their homes, according to WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency. They also served two Palestinians, aged 18 and 60 years, with official notices to appear before Israeli intelligence. Troops in the Old City of Hebron took yet another 16-year-old Palestinian, during an extensive raid throughout various neighborhoods in the city, where they set up roadblocks at the entrances of Sa‘ir and Halhul, stopping Palestinian-registered vehicles and interrogating the occupants. Meanwhile, to the southeast of Bethlehem, forces raided Harmala, where they abducted a 59-year-old Palestinian after breaking into his home. They also served one 22-year-old Palestinian from Taqou‘, to the south, with a notice to appear before Israeli intelligence, following a similar raid on his home.

Soldiers kidnap eight Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Sept — At least eight Palestinians have been kidnapped, on Sunday at dawn, during Israeli military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank districts of Hebron, Bethlehem and Jenin. Local sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, have reported that several Israeli military jeeps invaded Beit Ummar town and al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, and Yatta town, south of the city, searched a number of homes and kidnapped four Palestinians … In addition, soldiers kidnapped Ahmad al-Qawasmi also after breaking into his home and ransacking it, in Hebron city.  In Yatta town, south of Hebron, soldiers invaded at least one home, and kidnapped Mohammad Maher al-‘Adra, 22. In Bethlehem, soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians from al-Walaja, west of Bethlehem, allegedly while trying to enter Jerusalem for work, without carrying permits. The three have been identified as Hamza Saleh Ma’ali, 28, Mohammad Salah Ma’ali, 20, and Baha’ Karim Abu at-Teen, 24. In addition, a number of military vehicles invaded al-’Arqa village, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, before the soldiers searched and ransacked a number of homes, and kidnapped a resident identified as Mahmoud Tawfiq Yahia, 21. Soldiers also invaded Borqeen town and Wad Borqeen village, drove around their streets and alleys, and later on withdrew.
On Saturday, at night, several Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, during clashes which took place after a number of Israeli military jeeps invaded Zabbouba village, west of Jenin. The soldiers also installed a roadblock on the main road between the village of Zabbouba and Rommana, stopped and searched dozens of cars, and interrogated the residents while inspecting their ID cards.

Group: Israeli forces detain 11 Palestinians overnight, 152 last week
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) 21 Sept — Israeli forces detained 11 Palestinians overnight and a total of 152 during the third week of September, a rights group said Sunday. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement that Israeli soldiers raided Jenin overnight and detained Mahmoud Tawfiq Yahya. In the Bethlehem district, forces detained Hamza Maali, Muhammad Maali, and Baha al-Teen. Additionally, in Hebron, Wahid Sabarna, Faris al-Titi, Ahmad al-Qaqasmeh, and Muhammad al-Adra were arrested overnight, the statement said. Soldiers also detained three Palestinians in the Nablus district — university lecturer Raed Abu Badawiyya, human rights activist Abd al-Rahman Rihan, and Fahd Sharaya. Israeli forces have detained 152 Palestinians across the West Bank last week — 50 in Hebron, 40 in Jerusalem, 17 in Bethlehem, 16 in Ramallah, seven in Jenin, six in Tulkarem, six in Nablus, and ten in Salfit and Tubas, according to PPS.

Israeli police detain 4 women, 2 children in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 Sept — Israeli police on Sunday afternoon detained four Palestinian women and children from Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. Zahiya Nimer, in her 60s, and Muna Bayyaa, with two children aged 8 and 13 accompanying her, and two other unidentified women were detained. Witnesses said the women were chased after they left the al-Aqsa compound until they were detained at the gate.

How the IDF abdicates its monopoly on violence in the West Bank
972blog 19 Sept by Yossi Gurvitz for Yesh Din — The IDF grants arrest and other powers to civilians in West Bank settlements and outposts but fails to ensure they are held accountable. In essence, the army has privatized law enforcement — Privatizing the state’s use of force should be a source of concern to us all. Such a process – and particularly when the powers are transferred to a body with a clear political agenda – creates uncontrolled militias. This is the process that has occurred in the West Bank due to the army’s policy of delegating some of its law enforcement powers to civilian security coordinators, as discussed in Yesh Din’s new report, “The lawless zone.” … The transfer of military powers to civilians is particularly serious when it is to a group of civilians with a distinct ideological viewpoint, who are motivated by an aspiration to seize additional Palestinian land and who refuse to recognize Palestinian land rights in the West Bank. The transfer of quasi-military powers to an ideological group, some of whom do not recognize the State of Israel and some of whose leaders have called for the elimination of the democratic regime, can only be seen as the army waiving its authority to exercise power. Or in other words – privatization.

Resource: Privatizing law enforcement in, around settlements
[with VIDEO] 972 Resources 19 Sept — ‘The Lawless Zone’ is a report by Yesh Din on the transfer of policing and security powers to the Civilian Security Coordinators (CSC) in Israel’s West Bank settlements and outposts. The report presents an analysis of the institution of the CSCs as an inherent aspect of the biased and chaotic state of Israeli law enforcement in the occupied Palestinian territories. The report demonstrates how the regime of civilian security coordinators undermines the rule of law in the West Bank to the point of stripping it of all meaning. It constitutes another layer in Israel’s dereliction of its duty to protect the Palestinian residents of the West Bank, Yesh Din writes. Read more about the report here. Watch a video explaining the civilian security system here.

Prisoners / Court actions

Jerusalem prosecutor harshens policy against Palestinian stone-throwers
Haaretz 22 Sept by Nir Hasson — The Jerusalem district prosecutor’s office has instituted a harsher policy regarding Palestinians suspected of throwing stones or other disturbances of the peace – requesting remand until the end of proceedings. The new policy, in place since July, also applies to minors. As a result, dozens of Palestinian minors have been jailed for a month or two before their trial starts. The prosecutor’s office said the policy does not differentiate between Arabs and Jews, but in the case of Jews the court is usually willing to entertain an alternative to jail, while such alternatives are usually rejected when it comes to Arabs. In internal discussions it has been said that these are punitive measures to deter suspects from further participation in disturbances. The policy change began shortly after the murder of the Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir on July 2. In the days following the murder there were dozens of incidents of stone throwing … Together with the indictment, a request for remand until the end of proceedings is automatically submitted. Such a request is made in the case of any suspect over the age of 14, the youngest age the law permits incarceration until the end of proceedings … According to figures collected by attorney Mohammad Mahmoud, who represents several of the East Jerusalem detainees, 58 Palestinian minors are currently under arrest for participating in disturbances in East Jerusalem. T., a 16-year-old from Shoafat, was a relative and classmate of Mohammed Abu Khdeir and has no criminal record. According to the indictment he took part in one stone-throwing incident on the day of Abu Khdeir’s murder or the following day. He was arrested a month later and a probation officer recommended that he be released … However, the prosecution objected, stating concerns over “releasing the respondent in the area of Shoafat, which is a tense area, and his return to school where he might be influenced by his friends to take part again in riots of this type.” Magistrate’s Court Judge Sharon Larry-Bavly accepted the prosecution’s position. However, Jewish suspects are released even when they stand accused of far more serious offenses, and despite the prosecution’s remand request. For example, on Sunday the Supreme Court ordered the release to house arrest of four minors from West Bank settlements suspected of setting fire to a coffee shop in the Palestinian village of Dura.

Tulkarem families allowed jail visits for first time in 3 months
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 21 Sept — About 200 Palestinian families left Tulkarem in the northern West Bank for Israel’s Negev prison on Sunday morning to visit their children after having been deprived of visits for three months, a prisoner rights group said. The Tulkarem branch of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement that Israeli prison authorities have been imposing “collective punishment” on Tulkarem-area prisoners since June, refusing to allow family members to see their imprisoned relatives. The statement said that even today, the wife of Palestinian prisoner Hasan Theib from Tulkarem was denied a family visit despite the lifting of restrictions on most other families … Under international law, it is illegal to transfer prisoners outside of the occupied territory in which they are detained, and the families of Palestinian prisoners face many obstacles in obtaining permits to see their imprisoned relatives.

Israeli court sentences ex-prisoner’s mother to 12 months in prison
GAZA (PIC) 19 Sept — A Palestinian ex-prisoner’s mother was sentenced by the Israeli Salem military court to one year in prison and fined 24,000 shekels. The Palestinian prisoners’ center on Friday said a 12-month prison term was issued against 54-year-old Rasmiya Muhamad Balawna, from Tulkarem, on allegations of contacting and transferring funds to hostile parties. Rasmiya Balawna is the mother of Palestinian ex-prisoner Shadi Balawna, who was exiled to Gaza for one year and sentenced to 24 years in prison before he was released in Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner swap deal. The mother was arrested on February 24 by the Israeli occupation forces after raiding her house and confiscated 24,000 shekels owned by the family. The center condemned such an arbitrary sentence issued under flimsy pretexts and groundless charges fabricated by the Israeli intelligence apparatuses. The center held the Israeli occupation fully responsible for Balawna’s life as the latter has been diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure.
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Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Discrimination / Restriction of movement

UN warns over Israeli plan to relocate West Bank Bedouin
JERUSALEM (AFP) 21 Sept — The UN’s Palestinian refugee agency on Sunday urged the international community to oppose Israeli plans to relocate thousands of Palestinian Bedouin from the central West Bank. “If such a plan were implemented this would … give rise to concerns that it amounts to a ‘forcible transfer’ in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” banning involuntary population relocation in occupied territory, UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl said. “It might also make way for further Israeli illegal settlement expansion, further compromising the viability of a two-state solution,” he said in a statement. “I urge the Israeli authorities not to proceed with the transfer …and I also urge the donor and state community to take a firm stand against it.”

Mossawa: ‘Worsening situation for Arab community in Israel’
PNN/IMEMC 20 Sept — Mossawa, the advocacy centre for Arab citizens in Israel, recently published its latest report on systematic discrimination suffered by the Arab community within Israel. The latest Israeli offensive in Gaza has triggered a worsening situation, with raised tensions and racist incitement against Palestinians. According to the Palestinian News Network (PNN), Mossawa’s updated report on the Legal Status of Arab Citizens in Israel has detailed all discriminatory laws, proposed legislation and policies implemented by the Israeli government. The findings “paint the picture of a worsening situation for the Arab community in Israel.” Since the elections in 2009, over 35 discriminatory bills have been proposed in the Knesset — more than any other Knesset assembly. Arab citizens in Israel are discriminated against in almost all aspects of life, from education and employment to land allocation. Mossawa’s report points to the lack of an official constitution, as well as a paradoxical definition of Israel as both a Jewish and Democratic state, as key factors in the continuing discrimination against Arab citizens. There has been growing discrimination, racism and out right violence against the Arab community — both Christian and Muslim — leading up to and during Israeli aggressions on the Gaza Strip.

Kindergarten for special needs Arab children turned into kindergarten for religious Jewish children
IMEMC 21 Sept by Saed Bannoura — Just one day before the new school year, the Lod City Council decided to turn an Arab kindergarten for children with special needs into a segregated kindergarten meant only for children from religious Jewish families.  The Israeli decision was made without any consultation or prior notice. The building was first used last year, to provide services for Arab children with special needs, especially since the city council is not providing them with the much-needed services it does for Jewish families in the country. Just before the new school year started, the City Council sent a letter to the Arab families telling them that the kindergarten had been moved to “another place,” and that the building will be used as a kindergarten only meant for children of religious Jewish families. Since the beginning of the new school year, the families of the Arab children have been protesting in a tent they installed in front of the kindergarten.  “My child has been sitting at home for three days now, an Arab mother says. “They eventually told us to send him to the Zahra’ kindergarten; they just made the decision unilaterally, without asking the parents, without telling them what is going on.”  The Arabs in Lod are positive that the issue at hand is a direct discrimination against them, and pointed out a video published by a Lod City Council member representing the “Jewish Home Party,” in which he said: “I am pleased to announce the start of the new school year, here in the “New Ma’oz” kindergarten that we officially dedicated yesterday.” He said, “It is a Jewish kindergarten, in this Jewish neighborhood that was established seventeen years ago.” Talking to Israeli Channel 2, an Arab parent said this move is an underground plan to turn Arab neighborhoods, again, into Jewish communities. “This neighborhood, which they named Ramat Eshkol, is inhabited by both Jewish and Arab families,” the parent said. “The Arabs are a majority in this neighborhood, but it seems they are planning to remove us, and turn it into a Jewish-only neighborhood.”  The new kindergarten where the Arab children with special needs will be moved to has been renovated. But, the families say it is not fit for children with special needs, and is far away from their homes, according to Channel 2. “Arab children do not have a kindergarten in the neighborhood,” Arab member of the Lod City Council, Maha Naqeeb, said, “while Jewish families that don’t live in the neighborhood have a kindergarten for their children, here.”

Israel bans Muslims from Ibrahimi Mosque
HEBRON (Ma‘an) — The Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron will be closed to Muslim worshipers on Thursday and Friday, an official at the mosque told Ma‘an Sunday. Hijazi Abu Sneina told Ma‘an the mosque would be open to Israeli settlers during the two days of Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year, but closed to Muslims. The Ibrahimi Mosque, believed to be the burial place of the prophet Abraham, is located in central Hebron, a frequent site of tensions due to the presence of 500 Israeli settlers in the Old City.

Israel bars UN special rapporteur from visiting W. Bank and east J’lem
NAZARETH (PIC) 21 Sept — Makarim Wibisono [from Indonesia] , the new UN special rapporteur  on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, said that Israel did not allow him to visit the West Bank and east Jerusalem on an official mission. “Despite my best efforts, I have not been granted access by Israel to the occupied Palestinian territory at this time,” Wibisono said in a press release. “I deeply regret not having the opportunity to visit the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and to speak face-to-face with victims and witnesses of Israel’s alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.” Wibisono started his first official visit to the region on 20 September. He will visit Jordan and Egypt during his mission, and will seek to access Gaza through the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip. The special rapporteur is supposed to gather first-hand information on the current human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories following Israel’s military operations during the past two months, which resulted in the killing of at least 1,473 Palestinian civilians, including 501 children.
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IOA bars entry of UN special reporter to Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 19 Sept — Head of the popular committee against the siege MP Jamal Al-Khudari strongly condemned the Israeli decision to prevent the new UN special reporter [rapporteur] on the Palestinian occupied territories Makarim Wibisono from entering the Gaza Strip. MP Khudari said that such decision reflected Israel’s disregard for the international law and its attempts to conceal the crimes its army had committed in the Gaza Strip. “Such practices will never succeed in hiding the truth and the criminal image of the Israeli occupation state,” he added.
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Other news, opinion

PCHR Weekly Report on Israeli human rights violations in oPt (11-17 Sept 2014)
Palestinian Center For Human Rights 21 Sept — … Shootings: In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical source pronounced a member of an armed group dead of wounds he sustained on 11 July 2014, when an Israeli drone targeted a group of Palestinians east of Hamoudah gas station at the entrance of Beit Hanoun village. In that attack, a Palestinian was killed and 2 others were wounded. On 17 September 2014, Israeli forces opened fire at a group of fishermen who were sailing near the border fence. As a result, a fisherman sustained a bullet wound to his right leg. The fishermen was standing 200 meters off the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel and giving directions to his sons who were fishing in a rowing boat … In the West Bank, 2 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded during 2 other peaceful protests on Selwad – Yabroud road near street (60), northeast of Ramallah; and in Bab al-Zawiyah area, in the centre of Hebron. Incursions: During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 55 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 40 Palestinians, including 9 children and a woman. Nineteen of those civilians, including 7 children and a woman, were arrested in Jerusalem. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces moved about 150 meters into the east of al-Qararah village, northeast of Khan Yunis. They levelled lands along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel….   FULL REPORT [very long and detailed]

Israel-Palestinian ‘solution’ to be put to UN Security Council
PARIS (AFP) 19 Sept — A “solution to the conflict” between the Israelis and Palestinians will be put to the UN Security Council, French President Francois Hollande said Friday after meeting Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in Paris. “We will have a resolution, to be presented to the Security Council, that will say very clearly what we expect from the (peace) process and what the solution to the conflict must be,” Hollande told reporters in a joint news conference with Abbas. The French president said that stop-start negotiations had gone on “too long” and “there is a perception that there will never be a solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even though we know the outlines” of a possible deal.” The most recent armed confrontation, which in July and August killed 2,140 Palestinians — most of them civilians — and 73 on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers, was “the third time that Gaza has been destroyed,” Hollande said. “What we must look for is a durable peace accord,” he said, adding that stalled peace talks “must now reach their end.” Abbas urged “all countries to assume their responsibilities to end a conflict that has lasted more than 66 years.” “Making peace will give added legitimacy to the fight against terrorism in the region,” he added. Abbas, who is trying to build support ahead of a new Palestinian diplomatic push within the United Nations, said that France could give impetus to an Arab League-backed plan calling for an end to Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the formation of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders. After France, he is to go on to New York to participate in the annual UN General Assembly starting September 24.

PM heads to US for New York conference
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Sept — Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah left Palestine for the US on Saturday to take part in a conference in New York, a statement said. On the top of the agenda of the Ad Hoc Liason Committee conference will be the reconstruction of Gaza and Israeli violations at Palestinian religious sites in Jerusalem. Hamdallah will meet with several ministers and officials to discuss ways for the international community to support Palestinians, especially in Gaza and East Jerusalem, the statement said. The conference will be held on Sept. 22. The AHLC is a 15-member committee devoted to developing policies to assist the Palestinian people, according to its website. It is chaired by Norway and co-sponsored by the US and the EU.

Fatah, Hamas to meet in Cairo next week, official says
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Fatah and Hamas will hold talks in Cairo next week in attempt to iron out issues that have prevented the full implementation of a unity deal agreed upon in April, a senior Fatah official said Saturday. Azzam al-Ahmad said in a statement that talks to finalize national reconciliation would take place sometime in the middle of the week … In April, Hamas and the Fatah-led PLO signed a unity agreement to bring the West Bank and Gaza under the jurisdiction of one government. Since the new government was officially sworn in in June, Hamas has demanded it take responsibility for paying its 45,000 employees, 27,000 of whom are civil servants. But the unity government has been noncommittal and earlier this month Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said he was under pressure from the international community not to pay Hamas employees’ salaries. Throughout Israel’s assault on Gaza, Hamas and Fatah put up a united front, working side-by-side to further indirect truce talks with Israel in Cairo, which resulted in an open-ended ceasefire that took effect on Aug. 26. But in the aftermath of the war, tensions between Hamas and Fatah have increased, with Abbas accusing the Islamist movement of running a “shadow government” in Gaza and Hamas leaders arguing that the unity government is not doing enough in the Strip.

Palestinians tell of ‘battle’ to get to Asian Games
AFP 20 Sept — The head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee told Saturday of the “battle” to get to the Asian Games just weeks after a brutal 50-day war in Gaza.  Jibril Al Rajoub said that 37 sports officials and journalists had died in the beleaguered strip during the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Al Rajoub told AFP that three of the dead were sportsmen in Gaza. “Our participation in Incheon is a national and political battle,” he said. “Even although the Palestinian people are living in circumstances that limit their movement inside Palestine and outside also, and financial difficulties we are facing, we were able to take part in this Asian Games with 80 sportsmen, including seven women, in 12 disciplines,” the official said. He praised the men’s football side which has won its first two games and sits top of its group … “All our players are under 22 with no one from the first team, which has already qualified for the Asian Cup in Australia,” in January, he added. “But I’m sure that after the good performance here, some of the players will join the Asian finals…”–spt.html

S&P maintains Israel’s sovereign debt rating, see little fiscal impact from Gaza war
Haaretz 21 Sept by Moti Bassok & Haaretz — Israel to retain its A+ rating despite costs of Operation Protective Edge, though agency expects recent war to contribute to slowdown in 2014 … Decision makers breathed a sigh of relief following the announcement by the world’s largest credit rating agency … Still, the agency does expect the war to “constrain economic activity in the third quarter,” after seeing a slowdown in the first half of 2014. It lowered its projection for real GDP growth in 2013 to 2.3%, but forecasted that annual GDP in 2015-2017 would return to 2012-13 levels of 3%. Per capital income is currently above $38,000, “making Israel one of the highest-income economies,” added S&P.

Israel mulling fee at Palestinian crossings
Haaretz 19 Sept by Tali Heruti-Sover — A draft law was prepared by the Defense Ministry this week that would allow it to impose a special fee on goods passing through crossing points between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza. The size of the fee has not yet been determined, but the aim of it is to cover the cost of operating the stations, of which there are more than ten, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday. It said the crossing points cost it some 200 million shekels ($54.7 million) a year to operate, not counting direct security expenses. “It includes a range of cargo handling services provided for free (unloading, loading, handling, weighing, etc.),” the ministry said in a statement. “These services are normally provided for a fee at all land, sea and air crossing points in Israel and all over the world.” If the law is approved, it would mean that all trade between Israelis and Palestinians would be taxed, including food and gasoline, that until now has moved freely. The Defense Ministry said the proposed legislation characterizes the levy as an “operating fee,” not as a tax, and would be set according to the costs of operating the stations and for funding improvements in services.

Psst! The most popular boy’s name in Israel in 5774 was really Mohammed
Haaretz 21 Sept by Ilan Lior — Names that were clearly Arab in origin were omitted from much-publicized list by population authority, which only included Hebrew names — The list of the year’s most popular names for newborns did not include obviously Arab names, the Population, Immigration and Border Authority confirmed on Sunday. The authority circulated a list with the 10 most popular names for boys and for girls under the heading, “The most common names among babies born this year” – referring to the Jewish year 5774 – but neglected to mention that the list only included Hebrew names. According to this list, Yosef was the most popular boy’s name, followed by Daniel, Ori, Itai, Omer, Adam, Noam, Ariel, Eitan and David. However, the name given most often to newborns during 5774 was actually Mohammed. Moreover, the ranking for Yosef – which was in fact the second most commonly given name – also includes Arab babies named Yusef, which in Hebrew is spelled the same way. It turns out that the population authority only omitted clearly Arab names like Mohammed and Ahmed – which would have been the ninth most common name, had it been included.

To those who reject Israeli Arabs: We don’t want to live among you anyway
Haaretz 22 Sept by Oudeh Basharat — Give us back our land, allow us to build new communities that will suit our way of life, and I promise you that we won’t even think of coming near you — …I once visited the home of the late poet Taha Muhammad Ali. He showed me a check for 6 shekels (less than $2) he had received from the Israel Electric Corporation, a rebate for a mistaken calculation. With his unique sense of humor he said: Really, this is a law-abiding country. They steal an entire homeland without permission, while they make sure to return the 6 shekels with all due respect.” But he was mistaken. After all, Saffuriya, the village from which he was uprooted, was transferred to Jewish ownership based on the Absentee Property Law, a law that is a black mark on human civilization. This law – although I grew up at its knees, was burned by it when I was prevented from access to my parents’ land – I am unable, despite all my efforts, to digest. And now, after this law, comes the Acceptance Committees Law: First they steal Arab land legally, and when the Arabs look for places to live, they are thrown to the dogs, also legally. I would like to declare here that even if I am given a spacious home in one of those communities, I will refuse to accept it. After all, how can I agree to live among a gang of racists, which will almost certainly reject any Arab who wants to live there? And maybe it will reject anyone different from them. Am I crazy enough to raise my children in a place that is a Siamese twin of a white community during the benighted days of America? … What is infuriating here is that the Arabs are presented as though they preying on a rich and cultured society – as people who are running for their lives from their primitive villages, with their conflicts among extended families and their violence, to move to the paradise established by the white man. Absurdity is rife here. After all, most of the ills of the Arab village are a direct result of the terrible overcrowding and mainly of the violence …  We, the original landowners, are presented as beggars at the village gate. The feeling of the Arabs today is identical to the feeling of the ancient Arab poet who said: “Like the camels in the desert … who were killed by thirst … and are laden with the water of life.” That is the feeling of the Arabs when they pass near Malul, Safuriya, Umm al-Zinat. There was an abundance of land there owned by their parents, but at the moment they are living according to the recommendation of Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan in his time, “like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.” (listserv) (archive)

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How many of those kindergartens were being used by Hamas for military purposes?