The Olive Harvest
Settlers beat woman picking olives with her children near Salfit
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 11 Oct — A large group of Israeli settlers on Saturday morning violently beat a young Palestinian woman while she was picking olives from trees in an orchard in the village of Yasuf in the Salfit district in the central West Bank, a Palestinian official said. The assault is the third such attack on Palestinian olive pickers in three days, creating concern about unchecked settler violence as the olive harvest kicks off across the West Bank. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement-related activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that 25-year-old Alaa Fathi Atiyani and her children were picking olives in a field in the al-Masamic area outside of Yasuf village at the time of the alleged assault. He said that ten settlers arrived from the nearby Kfar Tappuah settlement and assaulted Atiyani, beating her “brutally.” Daghlas said Atiyani sustained serious bruises all over her body as a result of the attack. Daghlas added that Israeli troops arrived later and claimed to have arrested the assailants.
On Friday, settlers from Kfar Tappuah attacked the village and burned down several olive trees belonging to a villager. None of the assailants were reportedly detained by Israeli authorities after that assault. Because the attacks occur outside of the village, they largely fall in Area C, which is under complete Israeli military control and thus beyond the purview of Palestinian security forces, who rarely intervene. Villagers are thus subject to the whims of Israeli authorities, who rarely intervene in the violent attacks or prosecute the perpetrators. Arrests, meanwhile, are largely symbolic, and assailants are rarely charged.
Two Israelis held in W. Bank over olive pickers attack
Jerusalem (AFP) 11 Oct – Two Israelis were arrested in the occupied West Bank Saturday after a mob attacked a Palestinian family picking olives at the start of harvest season — a frequent source of tension. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP a Palestinian woman was hospitalised after being beaten with a stick and that two suspects — one of whom was a minor — had been detained. Samri said several settlers attacked the woman’s family as they gathered olives in the village of Kfar Yassuf near the city of Nablus. The olive season is often marred by soaring tensions between the roughly 320,000 Israeli settlers and Palestinian farmers in the West Bank. There are fears that this year could be particularly acrimonious following a string of settler attacks on Palestinians. One Palestinian farmer from Hebron told AFP that violence and intimidation by Israeli settlers had forced her to abandon the olive harvest for the past two years. This year, olive grove owner Hana Abu Aakil said she needs 30 volunteers to collect the crop.
Settlers attack Palestinian olive farmers for 2nd time in 2 days
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 10 Oct — Dozens of Israeli settlers protected by soldiers burned and damaged olive trees on Palestinian lands in the Yasuf village near Salfit in the northern West Bank on Friday, the second such attack in the last two days. Settlers from the Kfar Tappuah settlement set fire to and damaged several olive trees on Friday while Israeli soldiers in the area stood by watching, eyewitnesses said. The lands that were attacked reportedly belonged to Nafiz and Issam Ali Mansour. Issam Abu Bakr, mayor of Salfit, warned farmers against the “settlers’ attacks” and recommended residents work in groups in the lands close to nearby Jewish-only settlements…
The attacks come as the 2014 olive harvest, a major source of income for Palestinian farmers, begins across the northern West Bank, and just weeks before harvesting begins across the south. Attacks on the fall harvest are a key way that Palestinians are forced out of their homes and their lands confiscated for settlement construction, as the loss of a year’s crop can signal destitution for many. According to a 2012 report on Israeli settler violence released by the Palestine Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, every year the olive harvest period sees the highest peak in attacks on Palestinian civilians and property.
Settlers uproot, cut dozens of olive trees near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Oct by Saed Bannoura — A number of extremist Israeli settlers invaded Palestinian orchards near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, before cutting and uprooting dozens of olive trees. Hasan Breijiyya, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in the Bethlehem district, stated the settlers came from Beitar Illit illegal settlement, built on Palestinian lands belonging to residents of Nahhalin, Husan and Wadi Fokkin, and uprooted around 38 olive trees, and harvested them. The settlers also cut [down] around 200 olive trees belonging to Mahmoud ‘Atiyya Shousha, in Ebtat nearby area, next to the settlement. Breijiyya said Israeli soldiers and settlers have escalated their attacks against Palestinian orchards west of Bethlehem by illegally occupying orchards, uprooting trees and burning them, especially in orchards that became surrounded by the Beit Illit settlement, and close to it.
Palestinian farmers, Israeli settlers clash near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 9 Oct — Dozens of Palestinian farmers and Israeli settlers clashed on Thursday evening in the Yanun valley near the Aqraba village south of Nablus. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that several Israeli settlers from Itamar attacked dozens of Palestinian farmers and attempted to steal their olive crop, which belongs to the Abu Rinan family. Clashes then broke out, and no injuries were reported.
The villages south of Nablus are frequent sites of settler violence and Palestinian clashes with Israeli forces as they are located beside the notoriously violent Israeli settlements of Yitzhar, Bracha, and Itamar. Settlers frequently attack a number of local villages and prevent farmers from reaching their lands, according to UNOCHA, in addition to attacks on local olive trees themselves.
Settlers burn orchards near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 8 Oct — Settlers, last night, torched 30 olive trees dating from Roman times, in the village of Nahhalin, to the southwest of Bethlehem, according to a local activist. WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency reports that a group of people from the illgal Betar Illit settlement, located to the west of Bethlehem, set fire to lands adjacent to the settlement which were planted with olive, cypress and pine trees. Thirty Roman-time olive trees were reportedly burnt. The Nahhalin Village Profile indicates that Nahhalin village is an agricultural area, characterized by grape vines, nuts and various other crops. It also shows that 15% of local laborers work in the agricultural sector, the workers of which are listed among the economical groups most affected by Israeli occupation restrictions … Israel has seized an area of 1,411 dunams, accounting for 11.6% of the total area of the village, in order to establish three illegal Israeli settlements. Since the year 2000, Israeli forces have uprooted 450 olive trees, 320 grape trees, and 200 stone-fruit trees. Movement in and out of the village is obstructed by two iron gates set up at the village entrances, permanent and mobile military checkpoints, as well as earth and concrete mounds which surround the village.
Palestinian family attacked by settlers while harvesting olives
BURIN, Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team) 10 Oct — Tuesday afternoon, the 7th of October, olive farmer Mahmoud Rga Mahoud Aid, his wife, and their three children were attacked by a a group of settlers from the illegal settlement of Giv’at Ya’akov. The attack took place on the family´s land near the village of Burin, south west of Nablus. The family had only three days’ permission from the District Coordination Office (DCO) to access their land and pick their olives, starting from the 6th of October. To harvest all the olives on the land would normally take about a month. On the first day of picking, Zionist settlers came down from the illegal settlement and tried to prevent Mahmoud from entering his land. The Israeli military interfered and told the settlers to leave, and Mahmoud was able to finish his working day without further interference from the settlers. On the second day of picking the family was able to access the land but in the midst of picking the nearby soldiers started yelling at them, ”They are coming, they are coming for you!” Mahmoud looked up and saw five male settlers wearing masks coming down from the hill towards him and his family. The settlers started throwing rocks at them and Mahmoud tried to protect his family by covering them with the tarpaulin used to collect the olives in. This helped for a while, but the settlers came closer and physically attacked Mahmoud. They continuously hit him in the chest, stomach and the head, and his foot was badly bruised by a stone thrown by the settlers. The Israeli soldiers watched the settlers attack the family, but didn’t react until a considerable amount of time had passed. Eventually they came down from the hill and told the settlers to leave the area. Mahmoud walked down the hill, wounded, and was stopped by another group of soldiers who detained him for allegedly attacking the settlers and “causing trouble”. The commander called one of the soldiers that witnessed the attack and even though this soldier told the truth, stating that Mahmoud was attacked, the commander asked for Mahmoud’s passport number and personal information to make a file on him. Furthermore Mahmoud lost his permission for the third and last day of olive picking. ver a period of ten years, illegal settlers have destroyed approximately 240 olive trees owned by the family. They have about 60 trees left and the settlers keep taking over more and more of their land.
Extremist settlers ruin olive groves in Nablus village
NABLUS (WAFA) 6 Oct -– Extremist settlers ruined Monday olive groves in Yasuf to the south of Nablus, said a local activist. Settlers from Taffouh [Tappuah?] settlement ruined about 100 olive trees in Yasuf and 20 others in Burin, said Ghassan Daghlas, who is in charge of monitoring illegal settlers’ activities in the area. Daghlas added that settlers also stole the olive harvest in the nearby village of ‘Awarta.
Photo story: Our olive is resistance
Middle East Monitor 12 Oct — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — In the week that saw the first tentative autumn showers, the annual olive harvest began to take shape in Palestine. The harvest is a period of dedicated work and celebration but is also a dangerous time when settler attacks against farmers and their families often reach a peak. The olive tree is a symbol of Palestine, its roots hold steadfastly on to the sacred land. Its aged and weathered bark talks of Palestinian history, and it is in Palestine that the world’s oldest living olive tree is reported to live. The famous al-Badawi tree in the Bethlehem village of al-Walaja was dated at between 4,000-5,000 years old by European and Japanese scientists. According to the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ), an estimated 1.2 million olive trees have been destroyed by Israel in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip since 1967. Settler attacks against farmers and their trees have begun already in the current harvest … Supporting the olive harvest is important for political, economic and social reasons according to Khaled Hidmi, the director of UAWC Ramallah: “Agriculture is a major factor in the Palestinian economy. The olive harvest brings whole families together with different family members having different roles, from the children to the elderly. Trees have been passed down through generations. Israel is trying to colonise our land and destroy our history and communities, so supporting olive farmers becomes a political act.”
Expert: Olive harvest to decline to half of annual average
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 12 Oct — The olive harvest in Palestine is expected to yield only half the amount of olive oil as usual this year, an expert told Ma‘an Sunday. Faris al-Jabi, who chairs the Palestinian National Center for Research and Agricultural Development, told Ma‘an that the 2014 olive harvest would not exceed 15,000 tons of olive oil. In good years, Palestine produces 30,000-32,000 tons of olive oil, but production is expected to decline this year, especially in the Salfit, Ramallah, Tulkarem, and Qalqiliya districts, al-Jabi said. In Salfit and Ramallah, olive oil production is expected to decline to 30 percent of the annual average. As a result, the price of fresh olive oil is expected to rise to 23-25 shekels (around $6.50) per kilo. The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests — West Bank, Jerusalem
Child injured by army fire in Bethlehem
IMEMC 13 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medical sources have reported, on Sunday evening, a child was shot in the head by an Israeli rubber-coated metal bullet, fired by soldiers invading the ‘Aida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem. The sources said the child, Tamer Yassin Abu Salem, 15, was moved to the Beit Jala Government-run hospital in Bethlehem, suffering a moderate injury. Eyewitnesses said many Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, and received treatment by local medics.
On Sunday at night, soldiers kidnapped two Palestinians, from Sielet al-Harethiyya town, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. The two, identified as former political prisoner, Sadeq Abu Hasan al-Kheir, 35, and his uncle ‘Aahed Abu al-Kheir, 45, were kidnapped at a temporary roadblock, on the Jenin-Jaffa Road, and were moved to the Salem military base. ‘Aahed was released later on.
Palestinian teen injured after being attacked by settlers
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Oct — Palestinian medical sources have reported that a local teen was injured after a number of settlers attacked him in Yatta, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Additionally, several Palestinians were injured by army gas bombs, to the south of Hebron. The Red Crescent in Hebron said its medics moved Sakhr Mahmoud Abu Qbeita, 16 years of age, to the al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, suffering moderate injuries. Abu Qbeita was attacked by a number of settlers, in Masafer Yatta, near Hebron.
In related news, Israeli soldiers fired several gas bombs at Palestinian workers near the Ramadeen area, south of Hebron; several workers suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.
Settler runs over teen near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 7 Oct – An Israeli settler on Tuesday ran over a Palestinian teenager near the village of Taqu‘, east of Bethlehem, according to WAFA correspondent. Seventeen-year-old Moath Gazal sustained multiple bruises and injuries throughout is body after an Israeli settler ran over him while driving near Taqu. Gazal was transferred to hospital for medical treatment, where his case was described as moderate.
Jerusalem rail service cut due to stone-throwing
Alternative News 12 Oct by Connie Hackbarth — Travel by Jerusalem’s light rail was severely disrupted Sunday following damage to four carriages by stone throwing the previous night. CityPass, the company responsible for the light rail, announced that frequency of the light rail declined by some 40 percent today, as only 14 of the company’s 23 trains were fully functioning following incidents of stone throwing over the past two months — Thousands of irate Israelis waited impatiently at the light rail’s various stations on this special day of the week-long Sukkot holiday, in which thousands of pilgrims flocked to the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem for prayers. CityPass reports that some 100 incidents of stone throwing at light rail carriages have occurred in the past two months, resulting in damages of some NIS 500,000. These incidents began following the murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammad Abu Khdeir, from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Beit Hanina, on July 2, setting off clashes between protesting Palestinians and Israeli police. 16-year-old Muhammad Abd Al-Majid Sunuqrut was fatally shot in the head by Israeli police on September 1 as he walked through his neighbourhood of Wadi Joz, and died six days later. Clashes between protesting youth and Israeli police further ensued following Sunuqrut’s death and funeral, leading to both injuries and arrests.
Settlers shoot dog in Hebron hills
Alternative News 12 Oct — Operation Dove reports that a Palestinian shepherd from the South Hebron Hills village of Umm al Kheir set out early Friday morning with his flock and dog. He soon heard a gunshot coming from the nearby settlement of Karmel, and after several minutes his dog returned with a bullet wound. Umm al Kheir residents called the Israeli police, and were told to file a complaint at the police station in the settlement of Kiryat Arba. As the police know that Palestinians from Umm al Kheir do not own weapons, they went to Karmel to collect evidence and speak with the settlement’s security chief. To date no action has been taken.
Wadi Fukin protests Israeli land grab
Alternative News 5 Oct — Residents of the Bethlehem-area village of Wadi Fukin have begun weekly demonstrations against Israel’s planned expropriation of 4000 dunams in the West Bank. For five weeks now the villagers have been protesting against this theft of land, 25 percent of which belongs to Wadi Fukin. Unaccustomed to Israel’s military repression, many villagers told the AIC they were shocked when the first protest was met with copious amounts of tear gas. Still the community continued protesting, altering the protest route in order to reduce Israeli violence, and support has been growing. “The fourth demonstration was heavy and well attended”, a protester who does not wish to be named told the AIC. A committee to organize the protests was established and the weekly protest is meant to continue….
Israeli forces arrest disabled Palestinian man
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM Khalil Team) 9 Oct — Yesterday at approximately 10 PM in the Qeitun region of Al-Khalil (Hebron), a group of 6 Israeli soldiers accused 14-year-old Amjad Taha of throwing fire crackers at them outside of his home. Amjad’s cousin, Muhammad Taha (17 years-old), was standing close by with his 2-year-old cousin when the Israeli soldiers began to aggressively grab Amjad. A few of the soldiers then grabbed Muhammad, who was still holding his baby cousin. The soldiers began to take Amjad, Muhammad, and their baby cousin away from the front of their house. The 2-year-old’s father and the boys’ uncle, Jamil, hearing the soldiers outside his home, came outside to where the boys were to find the Israeli soldiers attempting to take his nephews and son away. Jamil took his baby son from Muhammad and then the soldiers became increasingly aggressive to both boys. The Israeli soldiers proceeded to hit Muhammad in his leg and then push him against the wall causing him more pain. While this was happening, the boy’s uncle, Osama Taha (27 years-old), ran towards Muhammad and attempted to stop the Israeli soldiers from beating him by pushing a soldier away from his nephew. Then the soldier grabbed Osama and told him that he would kill him. The Israeli soldier then shot a live bullet into the air as a warning. Seven more Israeli soldiers arrived at the scene and they proceeded to blindfold Amjad, Muhammad, and Osama. Then the Israeli soldiers violently forced them into an Israeli army jeep. As Muhammad was being forced into the jeep, the soldiers pushed his head onto the vehicle causing him pain. Amjad was also pushed against the jeep very forcefully resulting in a broken finger. The three blindfolded Palestinians were then taken to Shuhada checkpoint in Tel Rumeida and transferred into Israeli police custody. The Israeli police took all of them to the police station by Ibrahimi Mosque in H2 for questioning. Amjad and Muhammad were held there until 1 in the morning. Osama Taha was kept in the police station and then transferred to a prison near Bethlehem where he is currently being held without charge. Osama’s brother told ISM activists: “I can’t believe they still have him. He didn’t do anything. He was just trying to protect his nephew. Osama has learning disabilities. I really fear for how this will affect him and how they will treat him.”
21 Palestinians arrested in Qarawat Bani Hassan since July
QARAWAT BANI HASSAN, Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team) 4 Oct — On the 30th of September, six young men from the village of Qarawat Banea Hassan, south of Nablus, were arrested by the Israeli military … The soldiers entered several houses looking for the men, breaking doors and terrifying the families. The solders arrested two brothers from the same family, the older brother has just got married and his wife is four months pregnant with their first child. She was alone in their house sleeping when the solders broke up two of their doors. The woman had to go to the hospital due to being afraid of miscarrying their child. The solders threatened many of the families, including a 16-year-old brother who they threatened to beat if he did not give information about his brother. Since July, 21 men have been arrested from the village. In July the villagers held a demonstration to protest the massacre in Gaza, and shortly after the arrests began. Only five of the men have been given a date for their trial, the other 16 are still waiting in prison.
Several injuries reported after soldiers invade Nablus to kidnap legislator
IMEMC/Agencies 8 Oct — Several armored Israeli military jeeps invaded on Wednesday, at dawn, the northern West Bank city of Nablus, in an attempt to kidnap an elderly Palestinian legislator, clashing with dozens of local youth and causing scores of injuries. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers invaded the city through the ‘Aseera road, heading towards the al-‘Ein refugee camp, before breaking into the home of legislator Ahmad al-Hajj ‘Ali, 75 years of age, in an attempt to kidnap him. ‘Ali was not at home when the soldiers invaded it; this is the fifth attempt carried out by the army to kidnap the legislator. The invasion led to clashes that extended to the Rafidia area and Tunis Street, while the soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs, causing many Palestinians to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation; no arrests were reported during the invasion.
Soldiers kidnap eleven in West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers kidnapped on Tuesday, at dawn, eleven Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank, and took them to a number of military bases for interrogation … Israeli army radio said the soldiers arrested eleven Palestinians, in different parts of the West Bank, adding that five Palestinians, allegedly members of the Hamas movement, have been kidnapped in the southern West Bank district of Hebron. Among the kidnapped Palestinians are Anas Hatem Qfeish, one of the sons of legislator Hatem Qfeish, Fares al-Qawasma and Ra’fat Sharabati.
Israeli forces detain 19 Palestinians in West-Bank
Ma‘an 12 Oct — Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians from the northern West Bank cities of Nablus and Tulkarem Saturday night and Sunday morning, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said. The group said in a statement that Israeli troops stormed Nablus before dawn and detained Salim Abu al-Saoud from his home in al-Taawon neighborhood. An Israeli military spokeswoman said that forces arrested a total of seven Palestinians in overnight raids in the city of Nablus. Separately, Israeli soldiers stationed at Huwwara checkpoint south of Nablus detained Ameed Masoud Miree as he was trying to cross the checkpoint. A separate statement from the society said that Israeli troops detained 29-year-old Husam Khalid Tammam from Tulkarem at a flying checkpoint near the village of Anabta east of Tulkarem.
88 Palestinians kidnapped since the beginning of October; detention of MPs renewed without charge
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Oct — Israeli authorities have kidnapped 88 Palestinian citizens since the beginning of October, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club. Additionally, the administrative detention orders of six Palestinian MPs have been renewed. The highest percentage of imprisonment was accounted for in Hebron (25 prisoners), followed by Jerusalem (20 prisoners). In Bethlehem the number reportedly reached 11, in Salfit 10, while the remaining prisoners were from the Nablus, Ramallah, Al Bireh, Tubas, Qalqilya and Tulkarm districts.
Also on Thursday, Israeli authorities renewed the administrative detention of six Palestinian Members of Parliament affiliated with the Hamas political movement, sources in the party told Ma’an News Agency.
The decision to keep the six lawmakers in detention without trial or charges reportedly comes after they already completed between three and six months each under similar conditions. As of mid-September, 33 Palestinian MPs and two ministers were being held in detention by Israel.
[note that this is by no means a complete list of arrests during the past week]
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restrictions on movement
Judaisation means housing crisis for Palestinians in East Jerusalem
RAMALLAH, West Bank (IPS) 12 Oct by Mel Frykberg — A deliberate Israeli policy to Judaise East Jerusalem has forced thousands of Palestinians out of their homes and created a chronic housing shortage in the occupied part of the city. Simultaneously, Israeli settlers have been encouraged by the Jerusalem Municipality to settle in the growing number of settlements mushrooming in East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, all illegal under international law. The municipality has employed a number of strategies to ensure a Jewish majority so that the city remains under Israeli control indefinitely while preventing Palestinians from establishing East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.“Since 1967 the Israeli government has pursued a declared policy of maintaining a 72 percent majority of Jews over Palestinians in the city,” according to Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). “Towards that end it has not allowed Palestinians to build new homes, creating an artificial shortage of some 25,000 housing units in the Palestinian sector, while Palestinians are not able to access most of the Jewish neighbourhoods. “This induced shortage raises the price of renting or buying, and since 70 percent of Palestinians live under the poverty line, they are forced to move outside the Jerusalem borders to acquire affordable housing where they can be stripped legally of their Jerusalem residency,” explains Halper. “Such are the political machinations behind the seemingly justified policy of demolishing ‘illegal’ homes, a key element of a broader policy of ethnic cleansing,” he adds.
Israel to seize some 80 dunams of farmland near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Oct — Israeli forces notified residents of al-Khader, to the south of Bethlehem, Saturday, of their intention to seize about 80 dunams of Palestinian-owned cropland, according to local activist Ahmad Salah … Mr. Salah, who coordinates the al-Khader local committee against the wall and settlement, said that forces announced their decision to seize 79 dunums (approximately 20 acres) of cropland in Ras Salah and al-Thaghra area, located just adjacent to the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of “Daniel“. The seized lands are intended for the construction of settlement units, parks, a synagogue and agricultural roads, according to WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency. Furthermore, Israeli forces gave Palestinian landowners 60 days to appeal at the Israeli Supreme Court to stop the decision. WAFA notes that forces have denied landowners from accessing their lands for the last 20 days.
Israeli official warns Bedouins not to build amid wave of demolitions
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Oct — A top commander in the Israel Land Authority on Wednesday warned Bedouins from building in unrecognized villages, after a spate of demolitions that have prompted renewed concerns among the tens of thousands whose homes are stuck in a legal limbo. Commander for the southern region of the Israel Land Authority’s department in charge of protecting “state land” Ilan Yeshurun was quoted by the authority’s Hebrew-language website as saying that those Bedouins in the Negev desert region who chose to build could be saddled with fines of tens or hundreds of thousands of shekels. He also added that those who violated the law could potentially be imprisoned for up to two years for the charge of construction without permits. The comments come amid fears of a renewed campaign by Israeli authorities to target Palestinian Bedouin communities both inside Israel and in the West Bank. Within Israel, about 90,000 people live in around 35 Bedouin villages in the Negev Desert in the south. Authorities deny them access to basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity and running water, and refuse to place them under municipal jurisdiction, keeping them stuck in areas previously declared “state land” despite their residence there. In the past week alone, Israeli authorities have demolished 13 homes in the Negev, affecting dozens of families. One house was demolished in Tall al-Sabaa, two houses were demolished in Abu Kaff, four structures were demolished in the al-Sayyid village, one house was demolished in Rahat, one house was demolished in al-Dreijat, and a kiosk was demolished in Shaqib al-Salam.
Israel hands [out] orders against nine homes in Bethlehem
IMEMC 8 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Several Israeli military jeeps invaded, on Tuesday evening, the Wadi an-Nees area, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, upon which soldiers handed nine families military orders to demolish their under-construction homes, under the pretext of being built without construction permits. Head of the Wadi an-Nees village council Yousef Abu Hammad said dozens of soldiers invaded the village, and handed the warrants to the families, informing them that they have 45 days to file official appeals with the Israeli Supreme Court. [This is the clan and village famous for its top-rated soccer team]
Israel to demolish homes east of Tubas
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Oct — Israeli forces, on Sunday, notified residents of Khirbet Um al-Jimal, a locale to the east of the West Bank Tubas governorate, of their intentions to demolish their homes, according to a local source … Head of the al-Maleh local council, Aref Daraghmeh, said that Israeli soldiers stormed the area, took photos and verbally notified the residents of intentions to demolish without giving a specific date as to when the order would be implemented. WAFA notes that Israeli forces have demolished the locale several times in the past years, yet residents keep rebuilding it, refusing to leave their land. Israel aims to empty the Jordan Valley of Palestinian residents, who are mainly Bedouin, as it plans to keep the area under its control in any future deal with the Palestinians.
Israel confiscates monastery land for Kinneret leisure area
Haaretz 7 Oct — Monks of the Russian Orthodox Monastery of Saint Mary Magdalen complain that local residents enter the grounds without permission to swim in the hot springs and have barbecues — Israeli authorities have confiscated land belonging to the Russian Orthodox Monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene, on the Kinneret [Sea of Galilee] near Tiberias, for the development of a recreational area, according to the Orthodox Christian Network website. The monastery is located close to the modern town of Migdal, formerly Magdala, where Mary Magdalene was reputedly born. The land was acquired in 1908 by Archimandrite Leonid Sentsov, then-director of the Russian mission in the Holy Land, and a small church was built there in the 1960s. The monastery’s garden has warm springs which reputedly have therapeutic properties. The Russian news agency Interfax reported that local residents of the area regularly destroy the property’s fence, despite a sign reading “Private Property,” in order to swim in the hot springs and have barbecues, leaving behind trash and fires. The monks have also complained that part of the grounds have been turned into a free beach, with large crowds and loud music. Crucifix mosaics that the monks put in the monastery’s basins to prevent people from using them have been disabled and stolen, according to the report.
Palestinian stabbed to death in Silwan
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Oct — In what seems to be related to a case of selling homes to Israeli settlers, a Palestinian man was stabbed to death, on Thursday evening, in Silwan town, occupied East Jerusalem, the Arabs48 news website said. It added that the man, 50 years of age, was stabbed following a family feud resulting from selling a home to Israeli settlers. The man was moved to the al-Maqassed Islamic Hospital, in Jerusalem, where he died of his wounds. According to local sources, the stabber is a member of a Palestinian family that was kicked out of its home by a number of Jewish settlers, earlier this week. However, other sources told the Arabs48 that the murder had nothing to do with the house that was occupied by the settlers, but is regarding a vacant apartment, believed to have been sold to the settlers. Tension has been mounting in Silwan, especially after Israeli settlers occupied, during dawn hours of September 30, 25 Palestinian flats in an apartment building in Silwan. The Arabs48 said it is believed a resident, by the name of Farid Hajj Yahia, a former official of the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement, is behind leaking the apartments to the settlers.
Israeli troops seize Hebron home for military post
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Oct — Israeli soldiers raided a private Palestinian home in Hebron on Sunday morning and turned the third floor of the house into a military post, the owner said. Salim al-Salayma told Ma‘an that Israeli troops broke into his house in the al-Baqaa neighborhood in eastern Hebron and locked him and his 17 family members on the first floor. While the family was locked on the first floor, al-Salayma said, Israeli soldiers brought military equipment to the third floor, turning it to a military post. An Israeli military spokeswoman did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Israeli forces regularly occupy the homes of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank located in what they deem sensitive areas to conduct surveillance and enforce control.
IDF issued 119 orders to seize Palestinian property in 2013, up from one in 2011
Haaretz 13 Oct by Chaim Levinson — The Israel Defense Forces issued 119 orders to confiscate property from Palestinians in the West Bank in 2013, compared to just one such order in 2011. In a response to the civil rights organization Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, the IDF did not specify the items that were seized or what was done with them. The state has until the end of this month to reply to a High Court of Justice petition against an injunction issued last December that prohibits Palestinians from appealing property confiscations through the military court system. Israel’s Defense (Emergency) Regulations, laws that were introduced during the British Mandate and remain in effect in the West Bank, authorize the military commander to confiscate any property he believes to be linked to an act of violence that was committed or might be committed in the future. This regulation was rarely used in the past, but recently the army has been using it extensively … Military officials explained the higher incidence in the law’s use by saying that the army is “dealing with an increase in rioting and the strengthening of the terrorism infrastructure in the Judea and Samaria region.” … Hamoked submitted, in the name of two Palestinians, a petition to the High Court against the injunction prohibiting appeals. The appellant, Dr. Tahani Sarawy, a physician from Nablus, was arrested at the Allenby Bridge border crossing with 1,000 Jordanian dinars in her possession. Although she claimed that the money came from her savings and was intended as assistance for her elderly parents, the cash was confiscated from her at the crossing on the claim that it belonged to Hamas. Sarawy appealed to the military court in Ofer, but the new injunction against appeals was issued during the appeal hearings. For this reason, the military judge, Amir Dahan, suspended the hearing to allow Sawary to fight the injunction in the High Court … In addition, the Yesh Din non-profit organization submitted a petition to the High Court in the name of two sisters, Elham and Sayal a-Shtayyeh, whose father was shot to death by a settler. Five thousand shekels were confiscated from them on their entry into Israel from Jordan.
Copying settlers, Palestinians mark hiking trails in West Bank
Haaretz 13 Oct by Zafrir Rinat — Palestinians have begun marking hiking trails and putting up signs for tourist attractions in the West Bank, copying a tactic settlers have employed for years in an effort to strengthen their hold on the territory. The Palestinian signs and trail markings, in the Nahal Refaim area south of Jerusalem, were first spotted by staff from the field school in the settlement of Kfar Etzion. The signs, in both Arabic and English, point out natural attractions like cliffs and springs. Yaron Rosenthal, the director of the field school, said the Palestinians have also created trails for hikers. Rosenthal said he was pleased by the Palestinian initiative. “The Nahal Refaim area has a rare concentration of heritage sites, and we’re happy that our Palestinian neighbors have also begun developing a hiking culture,” he said. “I hope that together, we’ll succeed in preserving the unique landscape we received from previous generations, so that future generations will also enjoy it.” The Kfar Etzion field school has cooperated with the Palestinians for years, albeit with limited success, in battles to preserve traditional Palestinian agricultural areas near Wadi Fukin and Battir, including the fight against the planned route of the separation fence in that area.
Israel to close Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslims for Jewish holiday
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 8 Oct — Israeli forces will shut down Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque to Muslim worshipers from Sunday morning to Monday evening to allow right-wing Jews to visit the holy place during Sukkot holiday. The Hebron office of the Palestinian Ministry of Endowment told Ma‘an that Israel notified the chief custodian of the Ibrahimi mosque of the closure decision. Deputy director of the office Jamil Abu Dawood described the decision as “assault against one of God’s houses harming Muslims’ feelings.” The mosque, known by Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs, was the scene of a massacre of 29 Palestinians by a Jewish extremist in 1994. Israeli authorities divided the religious site as a result, with one section used as a mosque and the other as a synagogue, often with the two faiths allowed entry on different days.
Thousands pray in streets due to Aqsa restrictions
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Oct — Thousands of Palestinians performed noon prayers in the street on Friday as Israeli authorities barred men under 50 from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Israeli police forces deployed heavily throughout East Jerusalem as all roads leading to the holy site were closed. Palestinian men under 50 gathered in Wadi al-Joz, Ras al-Amud, Saladin Street and in the alleyways of the Old City to pray at noon. Israeli authorities banned men under 50 from entering the compound Thursday evening.
Dozens hurt in Aqsa clashes as Israeli police ‘force Muslims out’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Oct — Clashes broke out early Wednesday at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli police officers, leaving dozens hurt, sources said. Security guards at the mosque told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stormed the compound at 7:30 a.m. ahead of expected visits by right-wing Israelis on the occasion of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, or the Feast of the Tabernacles. Israeli forces forcibly removed worshipers, attacking some of them with clubs, the guards said. Some Muslim worshipers clashed with Israeli officers in the compound before managing to take refuge inside the mosque. As worshipers threw stones, soldiers fired tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets, injuring dozens of Palestinians, Al-Aqsa Mosque director Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani said. Some of the stun grenades were fired into the Al-Aqsa Mosque itself, causing a fire to break out, and fire fighters were not immediately allowed access to the area, al-Kiswani added. “The compound is almost empty of Muslim worshipers, while Israeli forces allowed herds of extremists to storm it and move freely,” he said. Witnesses said that eventually Israeli forces succeeded in forcefully removing Palestinians from the compound, besides those who had taken refuge in the mosque itself. Instead, they closed the doors of the mosque and locked them with chains, trapping worshipers inside, the witnesses said.
Israeli police confiscate identity cards of Gaza worshipers at Aqsa
[photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 7 Oct — Israeli police on Tuesday confiscated the identity cards of Palestinian worshipers from Gaza who were praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, witnesses said. Israeli police confiscated their identity cards as they entered and also prevented worshipers from Gaza from taking food into the courtyards. Separately, clashes broke out near the Hatta Gate as Israeli police imposed restrictions on Palestinians under 50.
Gazans make rare Eid visit to Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa
Jerusalem (AFP) 5 Oct – Hundreds of elderly Gazans paid a rare visit to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday after Israel eased tight restrictions on movement over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. It was the first time since 2007 Muslim worshippers from Gaza were granted permission to travel to the ancient shrine in Jerusalem’s Old City, an Israeli rights group said. The move to ease access over the Muslim feast of sacrifice was announced by Israel just over a month after a ceasefire ended a 50-day war in Gaza which killed almost 2,200 Palestinians and 73 on the Israeli side. Under the terms of the deal, Israel agreed to ease restrictions limiting Palestinians’ freedom of movement. The Israeli army said in a statement it had given permits to a total of 500 Gaza residents [out of 1.8 million people] over the age of 60 to visit the plaza over the course of three days until the feast ends on Tuesday. The first group arrived at the Al-Aqsa mosque plaza during the morning and were allowed to stay there until 3:00 pm (1200 GMT), after which they were taken back to the Gaza border, an AFP correspondent said. Many hadn’t visited the shrine — the third holiest site in Islam — in decades, kissing the ground as they entered. “I haven’t been here for 35 years. Everything has changed,” smiled Umm Dallaleh Fayyad, a woman in a black abaya and a vibrant blue headscarf. “It’s like being in paradise.” The move was hailed by Gisha, an Israeli NGO which calls for freedom of access and movement for Palestinians, which had repeatedly petitioned the courts over the matter, without success…. Israel also granted permits to 500 Gazans to visit relatives in the West Bank and said it would allow some exports — predominantly fish — to be shipped from Gaza to the West Bank … But Gisha said it was concerned such moves were being presented as “a gesture for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, rather than a permanent change.”
The long road from Gaza to Jerusalem’s Lions Gate
Haaretz 7 Oct by Jack Khoury — Greeted by dates, coffee and long-lost relatives, 1,500 Gazans visit Jerusalem, with message for Israelis: We want to live. — On the road to Lions Gate, in the eastern wall of Jerusalem’s Old City, Jerusalem resident Ata Abu Shakir waited Monday for his cousin to arrive from the Gaza Strip. It had already been nearly three decades; what were a few more hours? Fatma married a Gaza resident in 1986 and, until Monday, had not set foot in Jerusalem or seen any of her relatives since then. When Abu Shakir finally spotted her, his eyes filled with tears. “God, God, thank you,” wept Fatma, whose name has been changed because of the sensitivity of the issue. She fell into her cousin’s arms, then begged him, “Take me to visit the graves of my mother and father; I want to speak with them.” “You see what a disaster this is,” Abu Shakir told an observer. “Why should a woman like this have to suffer so? What sin did she commit that she can’t visit the city where she was born for more than 28 years? Why does she have to see only her parents’ graves, and not her parents themselves?” Fatma is one of the approximately 1,500 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who have been allowed into Israel since Sunday to pray at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque in honor of the Id al-Adha holiday, which began Saturday and ends Tuesday. All were at least 60 years old, and their faces showed both their joy at visiting the holy site and their despair at the situation back in Gaza … The visitors had remarkably similar answers when asked about the situation in Gaza. “It’s a catastrophic situation — we have nothing,” said Aziza, a woman in her 70s whose family home in the Nuseirat refugee camp was destroyed during the summer’s war between Hamas and Israel. “We have nowhere to live and nowhere to evacuate to.”
PA: No plan to change Aqsa access for Jews
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Oct — The Palestinian legal counselor of Jerusalem affairs has denied that the Islamic endowment department received a notice of changing entrances of al-Aqsa mosque. Earlier an Israeli army-affiliated radio station reported a plan to assign one of the al-Aqsa gates for Jews to enter the compounds. The station reported that the Israeli ministry of tourism was working on a plan to allow Jews to enter the compound through the Cotton Merchants Gate in addition to the Moroccan Gate.
The legal counselor, Ahmad Ruwaidi, told Ma‘an that the Islamic endowment department of Jerusalem denied receiving any notice of changing al-Aqsa’s entrances. He pointed out that Islamic religious sites in Jerusalem, including al-Aqsa, are under the custody of Jordan, “which refuses to make any changes in al-Aqsa that would make it easier for Jews to raid the compounds.” The presidency condemned in a statement “unacceptable” announcements because Jerusalem and its religious sites are a “red line” and such a step is considered a unilateral one that would harm any chance of peace. Taleb Abu Arar, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, also said in a statement that opening an additional gate for Jews to enter the al-Aqsa compound was opening an additional “gate to war.”
Ashrawi: Opening 2nd Aqsa gate to Jews ‘insulting’ to Muslims
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Oct — PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said Monday that a new plan to allow Jewish Israelis to enter East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound through a second gate was a “loud insult” to Muslims around the world. “Israel is creating a new reality at the expense of Palestinians, their religious rights, sites, and historical identity,” Ashrawi said in a statement. “They are violating the sanctity of religious sites without consequences, which completely terminates possibilities for peace and will ultimately drag the whole region into disastrous clashes.” Ashrawi, who is a Palestinian Christian, also said that Israel was using religion to control holy sites that do not belong to it. She called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for what she called “violations” against Muslim and Christian holy sites in East Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine.
Young man dies of wounds suffered during Gaza offensive
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medical sources in occupied East Jerusalem have reported that a young man died, on Friday, of wounds suffered during the latest Israeli onslaught on the besieged Gaza Strip. The man, identified as Arafat Soheil Tafesh, succumbed to his wounds at the al-Maqassed Charitable Islamic Hospital in East Jerusalem. His father told a Press TV correspondent in Gaza that around 200 Palestinians were also injured in the Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza when his son was wounded, after the army bombarded it. The father said his son was first moved to the Shifa Hospital in Gaza, where the doctors operated on him for several hours, and that the hospital had already been flooded with dozens of wounded Palestinians. Following a successful resuscitation, the young man’s condition deteriorated again, and he fell into a coma before he was eventually moved to al-Maqassed Hospital, where he died of his wounds. The father said that he was walking home with his sons, Arafat and Ammar, who were both wounded in the Israeli bombardment when Arafat suffered a very serious injury, and bled heavily before the medics managed to enter the heavily bombarded neighborhood.
Palestinian dies of wounds sustained in Israeli assault on Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Oct — A Palestinian from the southern Gaza Strip died Saturday of wounds sustained in Israel’s recent assault on Gaza, medical sources said. Palestinian medics identified the man as Jamal Abu Libdeh, 50, from the Khan Younis district. Abu Libdeh was wounded when Israeli forces struck an area outside his home in the village of Bani Suhaila. He was taken to Gaza’s European hospital. Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel’s five-week war on the besieged coastal enclave and some 11,000 were injured.
Israeli navy opens gunfire on fishermen off Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 7 Oct – The Israeli navy on Tuesday opened a hail of gunfire on Palestinian fishing boats offshore the coast of Sudaniya, northwest of Gaza City, according to WAFA correspondent. The incident occurred when an Israeli navy gunboat approached several Palestinian owned fishing boats, targeting them with gunfire despite navigating within the 6-mile nautical zone allowed for Palestinians to fish in. No injuries were reported, however. Israeli navy continues to target Palestinian fishing boats almost on a daily basis as well as targets even farmers on mainland Gaza, which constitutes a breach to the understandings of the ceasefire agreement signed between the Palestinians and the Israelis on August 26 in Cairo.
Soldiers open fire on farmers in southern Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Oct — Israeli soldiers stationed across the border fence with Gaza opened fire, on Thursday morning, at several Palestinian farmers working in their lands east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Local sources said that soldiers stationed on military towers in Kissufim military base, across the border fence, opened fire targeting farmers in the Sanati area, east of Abasan al-Kabeera, and al-Qarara, east of Khan Younis. The sources added that the attacks started around 6:30 in the morning, and also targeted homes which the civilians had to leave during the Israeli aggression on Gaza. Damage was reported but no injuries.
Officials: PA not taking control over Gaza crossings
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Oct — Palestinian sources on Sunday morning categorically denied reports claiming that the Palestinian national consensus government would begin taking charge of crossings between Israel and Gaza beginning Sunday, raising doubts regarding the promised opening of the border. Director of Gaza crossings Mahir Abu Sabha and undersecretary of the former Hamas-run Gaza ministry of interior Kamil Abu Madhi told Ma‘an on Sunday that the unity government would not take charge of crossings Sunday. A source close to the matter confirmed to Ma‘an: “No changes at all have been made to the Palestinian teams operating border crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip.” Their remarks directly contradict a statement by the deputy prime minister of the national consensus government Muhammad Mustafa, who on Friday told reporters that his government would assume control of Gaza crossings Sunday. According to the terms of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians that ended a 50-day Israeli assault over the summer, the Israeli blockade would be “eased” and all materials entering the Gaza Strip would be checked by Palestinian Authority crews to ensure no weapons enter Gaza. The agreement’s implementation, however, has been so far frustrated, with no clear timeline nor certainty regarding the exact details of the end of the siege and the beginning of reconstruction.
Minister: Reconstruction material to enter Gaza next week
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Oct — Palestinians will be able to begin importing reconstruction material into the Gaza Strip through Israeli-controlled crossings starting next week, Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh said on Wednesday. Al-Sheikh told Ma‘an that Palestinian Authority crews will begin taking positions at Kerem Shalom and Beit Hanoun crossings as of next week in order to facilitate the transfer of goods.
Egypt reopens Rafah to Gaza students following Eid
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Oct — Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza early Wednesday after closing it for five days over Eid al-Adha. Mahir Abu Sabha, the head of Gaza’s border crossing department, said students who study abroad will be able to leave Gaza on Thursday and Friday. The Rafah crossing is the principal connection between Gaza’s 1.7 million people and the outside world, but Egypt largely keeps it shut as part of the jointly-enforced Israeli blockade.
Algerian medical delegation arrives in Gaza to conduct surgeries
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Oct — A delegation of Algerian doctors arrived in the Gaza Strip Saturday where they will carry out surgeries on Palestinians who sustained injuries during the Israeli military offensive over the summer. Muhammad Miree, who chairs al-Weam charitable society which coordinated the visit, told reporters that the Algerian surgeons would stay in Gaza for two weeks to carry out “sensitive” surgeries in different specializations. He added that the Algerian delegation brought several containers loaded with medicines and medical equipment, but the shipment is still waiting to be shipped from Egypt’s El-Arish city.
Islamic State group flyer claims responsibility for Gaza attack
Ynet 8 Oct by Elior Levy — Handbill says bombing French Cultural Center for its ‘immorality and heresy was radical Islamist organization debut operation in Strip — The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a Tuesday night explosion at the French Cultural Center in Gaza City, according to an unverified proclamation published Wednesday morning in the Strip. The announcement said this was “the debut operation for the Islamic State group in the Gaza Strip.” Around midnight local time, several explosions rocked the French Cultural Center, causing damage but no casualties. The center resides in an upscale new building built two years ago … Though the announcement attempts to lay claim to the group’s first attack in Gaza, it is signed with the incorrect date — October 10 — three days after the alleged attack. The veracity of the declaration has yet to be verified. While this would be the first time the Islamic State group’s claimed responsibility for a bombing in Gaza, other radical Salafi organizations have existed in the Strip for years — operating with the same intent as the Islamic State. One of these factions was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni three years ago in the Strip. Hamas has maintained a close watch over these groups who see the Strip’s rulers as “too liberal and moderate” and have tried to topple the established terror organization.
Weapons of mass distraction / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 12 Oct — Can you believe it? Groups hiding arms in places of worship, schools, even kindergartens. Welcome to pre-state Israel, where comparisons with Gaza are not welcome.– The synagogue is bursting with worshippers. It is Yom Kippur. They are asking forgiveness. They have updated their accounting of the soul. It’s hard to know whether anyone noticed the blue sign near the entrance – installed by, among others, the Culture and Sports Ministry – which reads, “Rishpon’s settlers came to live here in 1936. Two months later, the disturbances of 1936-1939 broke out … To protect their property, the settlers acquired weapons but the British, who were the rulers of the land, prohibited the possession of weapons. They were therefore concealed in a hiding place under the foundations of the first public building. In that building was a grocery, a clinic and a kindergarten. The entrance to the secret weapons storage was underneath the kindergarten toilet.” Hmmm. Weapons storage in a kindergarten? A weapons hiding place under a clinic? The entrance through the kindergarten toilet? Woe to the eyes that read such words! The Haganah [the pre-state Jewish underground army] used the civilian population as human shields. It took cynical advantage of that population, hiding weapons in clinics and kindergartens, and thus endangered their lives. The conclusion is clear: The children of Rishpon were a legitimate target. Responsibility for their deaths was on the shoulders of the Haganah, which used them unscrupulously and put their lives at risk. The British had the right – not to say the obligation – to blow up that kindergarten, as well as the adjacent clinic. Weapons concealed in their basement. Just like at the Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip. Just like in Gaza’s UNRWA schools, which became shelters for war refugees. Israel claimed that weapons were being concealed in the basements and, therefore, those sites could be bombed.
Real Gaza rehabilitation requires more than Israel ‘lifting restrictions’ / Amira Hass
Haaretz 12 Oct — The question is whether the Palestinian leadership can get from Israel what it didn’t demand in recent years – the restoration of freedom of movement for people between the Strip and the West Bank — The preface to the Palestinian reconciliation government’s plan to rehabilitate Gaza states, “The government will no longer accept the isolation and oppression of our people in Gaza.” Consciously or not, the statement – which is to be presented to representatives of the donor countries meeting in Cairo today – reveals rare self-criticism. It determines that, at least since 2007, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority became habituated to the isolation forced on the Gaza Strip, and even acceded to it. Or, in other words, in many respects the PA gave up control of the Strip, although for lack of choice – and mainly for humanitarian reasons – it continues to allocate a large portion of its budget to salaries and welfare payments to the Gazan population. The question is, does the Palestinian leadership have any new bargaining chips to get from Israel what it didn’t know how to demand in recent years – the restoration of freedom of movement for people between the Strip and the West Bank? At least according to the rehabilitation plan, it seems the Palestinians’ strong suit now is the international desire to douse the huge humanitarian conflagration caused by the war in Gaza. The conference in its current configuration would not be taking place if not for concern over loss of control in yet another volatile focal point in the region. But the Palestinians are not stopping at reconciliation and rehabilitation. According to their statements Saturday, Hamas and Fatah are talking about moving forward from a reconciliation government to a unity one. In recent days, a proposal was even made that they would run together for election. In this way, the problem of the rivalry between them would be solved, some semblance of democracy preserved, and the danger neutralized that Israel will nullify the election by mass arrests of Hamas representatives, as it did in 2006. The surprising show of sincerity by the Palestinian leadership is timed to coincide with the Israeli admission that isolating Gaza, which it did for years, has failed.
Other news, opinion
Donor states pledge $5.4 bn to Gaza, urge peace talks
Cairo (AFP) 12 Oct by Jo Biddle and Jay Deshmukh — International donors pledged about $5.4 billion in aid to the devastated Gaza Strip on Sunday and urged Israel and the Palestinians to renew peace efforts. The conference in Cairo aimed at financing the reconstruction of swathes of Gaza destroyed in a 50-day July-August war between Israel and Hamas. “The participants pledged approximately $5.4 billion (4.3 billion euros),” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende, reading out a closing statement at the conference which Norway co-hosted. “The participants pledged approximately $5.4 billion (4.3 billion euros),” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende, reading out a closing statement at the conference which Norway co-hosted. Gas-rich Qatar led the way with a promise of $1 billion in aid to the coastal enclave. US Secretary of State John Kerry said Gaza was facing an “enormous” challenge. “The people of Gaza do need our help, desperately, not tomorrow, not next week, they need it now,” Kerry told the gathering of some 30 global envoys. Kerry, who failed to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians earlier this year, urged peace talks to prevent renewed violence in the enclave and said the two sides needed to make “tough choices”. Arab and European envoys echoed his call. The crowded coastal enclave, ruled by the Islamist militant Hamas movement since 2007, remained a “tinderbox,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned, announcing plans to visit Gaza on Tuesday … There is widespread concern that — after three destructive conflicts in the past six years — any help to the enclave would eventually be lost in more violence… The Palestinian government unveiled a 76-page reconstruction plan ahead of the conference, with the lion’s share of assistance to build housing.
A look at destruction in Gaza in Hamas-Israel war
CAIRO (AP) 12 Oct — Here is a look at the scope of destruction in Gaza during the Israel-Hamas war this summer, based on statistics from the United Nations, other international agencies and the Palestinian government. HOMES About 100,000 housing units were destroyed or damaged to varying degrees, exceeding an initial estimate of 60,000, according to U.N. surveys. Of those, about 20,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged. DISPLACED More than 100,000 people are still displaced, with about 57,000 living in communal shelters, including U.N. schools and 47,000 with host families. BUSINESSES Close to 1,000 industrial enterprises, such as workshops and factories, were damaged or destroyed, along with more than 4,200 shops and other commercial enterprises. INFRASTRUCTURE More than two dozen water wells were damaged. Close to 50 kilometers (31 miles) of water networks and more than 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) of sewage pipes were destroyed. Gaza’s only power plant was badly damaged. RUBBLE About 2.5 million tons will need to be removed.
Egypt’s Sisi tells Israel ‘now is the time to end conflict’
Cairo (AFP) 10 Oct – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged Israel to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians as an international donor conference opened in Cairo on Sunday to raise funds for Gaza. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has asked for $4 billion (3.2 billion euros) to reconstruct the Gaza Strip, devastated during a 50-day conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in July and August. Donors are wary of committing large funds in the absence of a permanent peace treaty, with Gaza having undergone three destructive conflicts in six years. “I call on the Israeli people and the government: now is the time to end the conflict… so that prosperity prevails, so that we all can have peace and security,” Sisi said in his opening remarks. PA president Mahmud Abbas repeated his calls for an internationally set timeframe for establishing a Palestinian state, telling the global envoys in attendance that the latest conflict had destroyed government institutions in Gaza.
Israel summons Swedish envoy over Palestinian state
Jerusalem (AFP) 7 Oct — Sweden is the seventh EU member country to recognize a Palestinian state — The Israeli foreign ministry on Monday summoned Sweden’s ambassador to protest over Stockholm’s declared intention to recognise a Palestinian state. Ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser was called in by the ministry’s deputy director general for Europe, Aviv Shir-On, who “protested and expressed Israel’s disappointment” after Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loefven announced his intention to recognise a Palestinian state, the ministry said.
Christian clerics urge recognition of Palestinian state
Jerusalem (AFP) 10 Oct – Three leading Christian clerics in the Holy Land appealed Friday for more European governments to recognise a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. The call from the Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Lutheran prelates — all of them Palestinian — came after EU member Sweden last week announced its intention to recognise Palestinian statehood, to the anger of Israel. “From Jerusalem, our occupied capital, we send our urgent message to the whole world and particularly to Europe — we are yearning for justice and peace,” the three churchmen said in an open letter. “Recognising Palestine and defining Israel’s borders is a first step towards that goal.”… “We are tired of calls for resumptions of negotiations while we can’t reach our churches due to a foreign power and our people continue to be humiliated by an undesirable occupation,” the letter said … Other EU member countries that have recognised a Palestinian state are Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania.
US Jerusalem Consulate official applauds Palestinians for eliminating gender gap in education
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 11 Oct – A US Jerusalem Consulate General official applauded Friday the Palestinians for largely eliminating the gender gap in education. In an article published on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl, Deputy Principal Officer, Dorothy Shea stated: “Palestinians should be applauded for largely eliminating the gender gap in education.” She called for paying greater attention to eliminating the gender gap in workplace. Here is the full text of Shea’s article: … Palestinians should be applauded for largely eliminating the gender gap in education. Unlike in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa, Palestinian girls and young women enjoy equal access to education as their male counterparts. In 2012, girls accounted for half of all students enrolled at Palestinian schools, making up 50% of the primary school population and 54% of secondary school students. In fact, last year’s statistics show an even stronger female presence in higher education, where 58% of students were young women. Among graduates, too, women form a clear majority – around 60 % in 2012. The literacy rate is 94% for women, one of the highest rates in the Middle East.
Labour split on vote over Palestine state
The Guardian 12 Oct by Patrick Wintour — MPs are expected on Monday to vote on whether or not to recognise the Palestinian state, though Ed Miliband, faced by a rebellion across the Labour party, has been forced to backtrack on plans to require his MPs to follow a three-line whip to support recognition. Almost two dozen MPs who support Israel have tabled an amendment calling for the formation of a state only after a formal peace deal between the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority. It is not clear what amendments will be accepted by the Speaker, John Bercow. The vote is entirely symbolic, but may be taken as a sign of the extent to which Israel is losing the battle for public opinion in Britain.
White House jabs Netanyahu over American values critique
Washington (AFP) 6 Oct — The White House delivered an extraordinary public rebuke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, after he said US criticism of Israeli settlement building ran counter to “American values.” It was another turn for the worse in the tense relationship between President Barack Obama’s administration and Netanyahu, amid deepening fallout from a meeting between the two leaders last week. After those talks at the White House, Washington strongly condemned reported Israeli plans to give the go-ahead for thousands more settler homes in East Jerusalem, prompting Netanyahu to return fire in an interview broadcast on US television Sunday. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it seemed “odd for (Netanyahu) to try to defend the actions of his government by saying that our response did not reflect American values.” “It’s American values that lend this country’s unwavering support to Israel,” Earnest said.
Israeli binationalism is old news / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 5 Oct — Just accept it, Israel became a binational state 47 years ago when it occupied the territories. All that’s left is to decide whether it will be binational with a democracy or an apartheid regime — It’s a judgment-day weapon: the binational state. The left warns against it as if it were a national disaster, a near-holocaust; the right, meanwhile, won’t even recognize it as a possibility. And to support it? God forbid. It barely exists. The Jewish state is the mother of all consensuses, the holiest of holy cows, the raison d’être, even if no one knows what it is exactly and even if the “Jewish” is in effect nationalist. For nearly all Israelis, binational is the end of the story. And now Israeli journalist Rogel Alpher has joined the alarmists (Hebrew edition, October 2). “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone and face reality: Israel is on its way to being a binational state. What do you intend to do about it?” Alpher asked. My telephone line hasn’t been cut, my clocks have not stopped and I tried to face reality: The binational state is already here, and has been for a long time. It’s less scary than it’s made out to be, and what remains is to fight over its character. It’s hard to believe how the denial and repression machine succeeded even in this – in depicting the binational state as being in the future. Around six million Jews and nearly five million Palestinians (Israeli Arabs and West Bank Palestinians) live under one government, in one state, and it’s not binational? If not, what it is? Mononational? Two nations, one government – and it’s not binational? For 47 years it has been totally binational. Not even binational in the making or temporarily binational. A binational state, for all intents and purposes. If it looks like a binational state, walks like a binational state and quacks like a binational state – then what is it? Seeing as Israel never – absolutely never – seriously intended to relinquish its occupied territories, this binational state has already raised two generations of binational citizens and subjects.