17-year-old killed at checkpoint is 50th Palestinian killed in West Bank this year

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Violence / Raids / Arrests

Palestinian youth shot dead by Israeli forces south of Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 29 Dec — A Palestinian youth was shot dead by Israeli forces at the Tappuah checkpoint south of Nablus in the northern West Bank on Monday. Local Palestinian sources told Ma‘an that Israeli troops opened fire at two young Palestinian men in the Jabal Sbeih area within Beita village, near the Tappuah checkpoint, which is also known to Palestinians as Zaatara. The youth who was killed in the incident was identified by Nablus TV as Imam Jamil Ahmad Dweikat, 17, a resident of Beita. The other victim was identified as Nael Thiab, 17, and he was reportedly evacuated to a hospital in Nablus with moderate to serious gunshot wounds following the incident. Palestinian security sources confirmed that the Israeli liaison department officially notified the Palestinian Authority that Israeli troops shot dead a young Palestinian man and that his body is still with the Israeli army. The slain youth is the 50th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank in 2014, bringing the total Palestinian dead at Israeli hands so far this year to around 2,335, including those who died in Gaza as a result of Israel’s summer offensive….

Youth injured in Beita attack says friend killed in ‘cold blood’
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 29 Dec — A single bullet to the heart fired by an Israeli soldier was enough to kill 17-year-old Imam Jamil Ahmad Dweikat, a youth from the town of Beita south of Nablus slain today while walking with a friend in his home village. Nael Talat Thiab, 17, who was also shot by Israeli soldiers but escaped with only a bullet to the foot, told Ma‘an from his hospital bed at Rafidia Public Hospital in the northern West Bank city of Nablus that he and Dweikat had just left school when his friend’s life was cut short in “cold blood” by the Israeli bullet. “We had just finished our school exam in Islamic education at the school in Beita, where I study with Imam in the first year of secondary school. We went out to buy something things after school and were on our way home when we decided to go to a park in the southern part of Beita,” he told Ma‘an. “We arrived to the edge of the park on foot, but we were surprised to see an Israeli soldier coming toward us from atop a hill. He shot at us four times, but he missed us.” “But then he fired again — one single shot — and hit Imam directly in the heart,” Thiab told Ma‘an. “Imam fell to the ground. I tried to get near him but then he told me: ‘Get away! I’ve been shot.'” “I ran a number of meters, trying to flee from the area, but the same soldier shot another bullet at me, injuring me in the foot,” he said. “I was still able to keep running away and I made it to the hospital after flagging down an ambulance stopped by the side of the road, telling the driver that I had not been throwing rocks or even doing anything (when I was shot).” Thiab’s account of the incident contradicts the Israeli military’s explanation, which said that the pair were shot while throwing rocks at a nearby road … Jamil Dweikat, Imam’s father, was also present at Thiab’s bedside at Rafidia hospital in Nablus but when approached by Ma‘an was unable to speak. Dweikat, 43, was at work at a construction site inside Israel when he was given news of the incident, but he was told that his son had been shot and injured. It was only when Dweikat reached the hospital that they told him his second child of five had died instantly. Although according to Islamic tradition Imam should have been buried Monday night, his family requested that an autopsy be carried out on his body in order to “document the crimes of the Israeli occupation.” … In the wake of the tragedy, the Fatah political movement has announced public commemorations for tomorrow in honor of the youth, who they say was a “member and supporter” of the organization

Elderly Jerusalem man dies of wounds suffered three months ago
IMEMC/Agenciess 30 Dec — Palestinian medical sources in occupied Jerusalem have reported that an elderly man died Tuesday of wounds suffered more than three months ago, after Israeli soldiers opened fire on the funeral procession of a Palestinian child who was killed by army fire. The sources said that, on September 7 2014, resident Mohammad Sa’ady Hasheema, 63, was injured in the face, during the funeral ceremony of Mohammad Sonnoqrot, 16 years of age. Medical sources said Hasheema suffered a serious injury when an Israeli concussion grenade detonated very close to his face, in Wad al-Jouz area, in occupied East Jerusalem. The man also suffered from cancer, and other health conditions, that led to further complications following his injury. The death of Abu Hasheema brings the number of Palestinians killed in occupied Jerusalem this year to 15.

Israeli soldier who murdered teen to be released
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Dec — Israeli Channel 10 reported on its website today that a court has decided to release Israeli soldier and border guard Ben Dery, who murdered 17-year-old Nadim Nowarah in cold blood, during Nakba Day protests on May 15th of this year, outside the Ofer prison, near Ramallah. A video clip of the shooting in Beitunia showed Nadim, along with four other youngsters, being shot after confrontations had already erupted between occupation soldiers in the area and several Palestinian youth. Other video clips showed that Israeli forces were dozens of meters away, and Palestinian eyewitnesses said that the troops used live ammunition. Later forensic examination revealed that the eyewitness reports were correct. Channel 10 added that the court decided to move the soldier from detention into house arrest status. It was also mentioned, according to the PNN, that the soldier recently suffered from psychological issues and depression.

Child injured by army fire near Nablus
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Dec — Palestinian medical sources have reported, on Tuesday evening, that a child was shot and injured by Israeli army fire in Burin village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, while many residents suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official in charge of Israeli settlements file in the northern part of the West Bank, has reported that ‘Amid Nasr az-Zein, 16, was shot by a live round in his thigh, during clashes that took place after the army invaded Burin. Daghlas added that local medics moved the wounded child to a hospital in Nablus, and provided treatment to scores of Palestinians who suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. In addition, soldiers closed the main road leading to ‘Iraq Burin nearby village, stopped and searched dozens of cars, and inspected the ID cards of the passengers for several hours.
Also on Tuesday, soldiers kidnapped a young Palestinian man while trying to cross the Shu‘fat roadblock, north of occupied East Jerusalem. The army claimed that the young man, 19 years of age from the Shu‘fat refugee camp, was “wanted for planning attacks against Israeli targets,” adding that it has been monitoring his movements over the last several days.

Israeli troops shoot, injure 2 Palestinian teens driving in Beit Ummar
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — Israeli forces opened fire at a Palestinian vehicle in the town of Beit Ummar north of Hebron on Monday just before midnight, injuring two teenage Palestinian boys. Spokesman for the Beit Ummar Local Committee against Israel’s Separation Wall and the Settlements told Ma‘an that the two were shot by Israeli soldiers stationed at the main entrance to Beit Ummar. He identified the teenagers as Muhammad Ibrahim Sabri Awad, 17, and Ayish Khalid Sabri Awad, 19.  Muhammad was seriously injured by a gunshot to the head, and Ayish was shot in the thigh. Both were evacuated to al-Ahli hospital in Hebron around midnight. An Israeli spokeswoman told Ma‘an that an improvised explosive device was “hurled” at an Israeli army position in the area.  “The forces fired at the suspected vehicle, which then fled the scene,” she said. “The incident is being reviewed, as well as reports that two Palestinians were injured.”

Settler assaulted hospitalized Palestinian woman in Israeli custody
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — A Jewish settler assaulted a Palestinian woman being held under armed Israeli guard three weeks ago at a Jerusalem hospital, Ma‘an has learned. Yousif Matya, a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, said in a statement that Amal Taqatqa, a Palestinian woman from Beit Fajjar south of Bethlehem who is being treated for gunshot wounds, was attacked by a Jewish Israeli while sleeping in her bed at Hadassah Ein Karem hospital in West Jerusalem. “While sleeping in her hospital bed, she was awakened by a Jewish settler grabbing her hair. He then slapped her in the face,” the lawyer said. He added that Taqatqa had notified the Israeli officers who watch her at the hospital, and they told her they would report the incident to officials. Taqatqa has been held under armed guard at the hospital since early December, when she was shot by soldiers after a Jewish settler claimed she stabbed him near the Gush Etzion Jewish settlement bloc, which is located partially on lands stolen from her village. Her lawyer said in the statement regarding the incident that he was only able to visit Taqatqa after making several requests to authorities.  He said she was improving after several surgeries, pointing out that she was shot five times in the leg, abdomen, chest, and arm. He added that Taqatqa told him that police detectives and intelligence officers had interrogated her while she was staying at the hospital, at one point telling her: “it will make no difference whether you admit to the charges or not because the charges have been documented by cameras and eyewitnesses.” The woman’s father has appealed to Palestinian officials to ask Israeli authorities to allow family members to visit her. So far none have been given permission to see her, the father said.  Her father also called upon Israeli police to “show the footage from surveillance cameras on the road which will prove that my daughter is innocent and the stabbing claims were fabricated.”

Security guards assault, detain Palestinian near Ofra settlement
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 Dec — Private security guards at the Jewish settlement of Ofra north of Ramallah detained a 27-year-old Palestinian man near the entrance to the nearby village Silwad after reportedly assaulting him on Monday. Yasser Abu Zeina was walking near the entrance of the settlement on his way into Silwad when a vehicle belonging to the private security forces of the settlement reportedly stopped him. The security guards then proceeded to beat and detain him before taking him into the settlement. Witnesses said that an Israeli army vehicle was parked nearby and witnessed the incident but did not intervene nor stop the guards from assaulting Abu Zeina. Ofra is built on lands that were confiscated from the village of Silwad by authorities in order to create the Jewish-only settlement. Ofra along with neighboring Beit El sit directly on the main roads leading north from Ramallah, making travel difficult for Palestinian commuters as well as residents of local villages.

How the children looked being shot with sponge bullets
Mondoweiss 29 Dec by Idan Landau — Last week,police shot Muhammad Jamal Ubeid when he stood outside his home in Issawiyah in “East Jerusalem”. A sponge bullet for demonstration dispersal hit him under his eye. Ubeid is 5 years old. This is how he looks. A month earlier, on November 14th, the IDF shot Mayar Amran Twafic al-Natsheh in her head with a rubber-coated metal bullet, while she was riding in her grandfather’s car, together with her grandmother, her mother, and one of her brothers, in the Shufat refugee camp. She was severely hurt and her skull was fractured. al-Natsheh is a 10 year old girl. A day earlier in al-‘Issawiya, on November 13th, IDF shot Saleh Mahmoud in his face. A sponge bullet for demonstration dispersal hit him between his eyes. Mahmoud is an 11 year old boy. He lost his eyesight. This is how he looks….

Israeli army storms village, fires suffocating teargas
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 30 Dec – Several Palestinians suffocated by teargas on Tuesday after the Israeli army stormed the village of Hosan [or Husan] to the west of Bethlehem, according to local sources. Local sources from the village told WAFA an Israeli army force broke into the area and fired teargas canisters towards the schools complex, causing multiple cases of suffocation by teargas inhalation. The soldiers also deployed heavily across the village, broke into several homes, spreading panic among residents. Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers stationed at Abu ar-Rish checkpoint in the Old City of Hebron shot toxic gas canisters towards a number of school students, causing them to suffocate. They received first aid at the scene. B’Tselem , the Israeli human rights information center, stated that “[Israeli] soldiers and Border Police often fire tear-gas grenades directly at demonstrators with the aim of hitting them, or fire carelessly, without ensuring that demonstrators are not in the direct line of fire, in direct contravention of regulations.” The legal center, in a summary report published in 2013, demanded that Israeli security forces “completely prohibit the firing of 40mm tear-gas canisters either directly at individuals or horizontally, in a way that could cause result in injuries.”

Israeli forces maintain new checkpoints near Bethlehem-area village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Dec – Israeli forces have maintained new military checkpoints around the town of Husan near Bethlehem for the past two days, a local official told Ma‘an. Hassan Hamamreh, the head of the village’s local council, told Ma‘an Israeli troops have been regularly closing the northern and western entrances of Husan and conducting search raids. Israeli military vehicles have been deployed around the village and tents have been set up for soldiers near the checkpoint, Hamamreh said. He said the army accuses youths from the village of throwing Molotov cocktails at the entrance of the Betar Illit settlement, which Israel built illegally on the village’s lands. Israeli troops have more than once in the past two days raided schools in the area, provoking locals, Hamamreh added. Forces have detained three Palestinians from the village so far — Qadri Subhi Zaul, 28, Muhammad Abd al-Rahman Hamamreh, 18, and Mutaz Samih Hamamreh, 25.

West Bank raids continue
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Dec — …Israeli forces abducted at least 14 Palestinians in different cities and towns of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, between late Monday and early Tuesday, according to security and local sources reports.  In the town of Sinjil, north of Ramallah, 10 Palestinians were taken after forces invaded the town in a massive predawn arrest raid, according to Mayor Ayoub Swaid. Swaid said that Israeli forces knocked the door of a wedding hall down and locked a dozen Palestinians in the hall for interrogation. A few of those arrested were identified by local sources as: Mohammad Ghafari, Azzam Shabana, Ziad Khalil, Ahmed and Islam Toafsheh, Shadi Masalmeh and journalist Mohammad Ghafari. Soldiers assaulted the mother of Islam Toafsheh and hit her in the face when they tried to arrest her son. They also attacked an ambulance driver upon refusal to allow a canine unit from entering the vehicle for inspection.

Israeli forces detain Palestinian, search homes in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — Israeli forces on Tuesday raided homes and arrested a man in Nablus, Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an. The sources said Israeli military vehicles entered Nablus and that soldiers searched several houses. Israeli forces then detained Muhammad Imad Fahd, 23. A summons for interrogation was issued to another Nablus resident, Ghazi Eiran. Meanwhile, in ‘Askar al-Jadid refugee camp, Israeli soldiers searched the homes of Munther Hassan Abu Leil, Hassan Zaki al-Ashqar, and Marwan Judeh. Clashes broke out in the area just outside Nablus as Palestinians threw stones and Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters, stun grenades, and rubber-coated bullets. No injuries were reported.

Palestinian security forces arrest journalist in Ramallah-area village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 Dec — Palestinian security forces on Sunday night arrested a Palestinian journalist after raiding his home in the village of Kafr Ein north of Ramallah, a national union said. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate said in a statement that Aysar Barghouthi, a reporter for local TV station Watan, was taken into custody in the raid. The Union denounced the detention of Barghouthi, describing it as a violation of freedom of the press, and demanding the PA release him immediately. A 2013 report by Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms counted 78 violations of freedom of speech by Palestinian authorities, primarily in the Gaza Strip. While officials have said that the situation has improved in the Gaza Strip since a unity deal with signed in April, critics have raised alarm that the PA has continued politically-motivated arrests and detentions against activists and journalists at the same pace as before. The 2013 report also found 151 violations of Palestinian freedom of speech by Israeli authorities, which still constitute the biggest threat to Palestinian journalists.

Israel detained 1,266 Palestinian children in 2014
Middle East Monitor 30 Dec — Israeli forces detained over 1,000 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem over the course of this year, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said Tuesday. Abdel-Nasser Farawna, who heads the PLO’s authority for prisoners’ affairs, said that Israel had detained 1,266 Palestinian children below the age of 15 in the occupied territories throughout 2014. “The vast majority of these arrests occurred in the second half of the year,” Farawna said in a statement. He added that the arrests had increased significantly since the abduction and killing of three Israeli settlers in the West Bank in June. Some 200 of the 1,266 children detained currently remain in Israeli detention facilities, Farawna asserted. “The targeting of children by Israel, especially in occupied Jerusalem, is rising significantly,” Farawna said, stressing that Israeli forces had detained 87 percent more children in 2011 than they had three years earlier. “The children testified that they had been subjected to various forms of torture and deprived of their basic rights,” Farawna said.

Military continues to use dogs to attack Palestinian civilians
[with video] B’Tselem 29 Dec — At approximately 2 P.M. on Tuesday, 23 Dec. 2014, a confrontation developed between several dozen Palestinians and soldiers in the Special Security Area (SSA) surrounding the settlement of Carmei Tzur, south of Beit Umar in the West Bank. The area is the site of frequent confrontations between soldiers and Palestinian residents of Beit Umar, whose land was appropriated for the settlement and the SSA. The SSA, which is supposed to serve as a buffer zone that no one but security forces may enter, was established on privately-owned Palestinian land. The owners need to obtain a special permit to reach and cultivate their land, but such permits are issued for only several days a year. In contrast, security forces allow settlers free access to the stolen land. During the confrontation, Palestinians threw stones at soldiers, who responded with use of crowd control weapons. About an hour after the incident began, at around 3 P.M., two soldiers arrived on the spot with two dogs, who were captured on video by B’Tselem volunteer Muhammad ‘Awwad. According to eyewitness reports, one of the dogs (seen lunging forward at the beginning of the footage) attacked and bit one of the Palestinians confronting the soldiers, 16-year-old Hamzeh Abu Hashem. The soldiers then removed the dogs, handcuffed Abu Hashem, and took him to the settlement of Carmei Tzur. From there, he was taken by ambulance to an Israeli hospital.

Fuel the MomentumGaza

Revealed: Gaza orphans Israel trip was government-backed PR stunt
EI 29 Dec by Ali Abunimah — An Israeli initiative to exploit a group of Palestinian orphans from Gaza to burnish Israel’s blood-soaked image backfired on Sunday when Hamas, the Palestinian political and military resistance movement, put a stop to it. A group of children whose parents were killed in the Israeli assault on Gaza last summer and several adult chaperones were about to pass through the Erez crossing into Israel on Sunday to be greeted by Israeli officials and a media throng. But Hamas officials halted the visit. According to a statement posted on Facebook by the interior ministry in Gaza, security services stopped “37 children of martyrs from departing to the lands occupied in 1948 [Israel] for a suspicious visit to several settlements and occupied cities.” It said the step was taken “to protect the culture of our children and our people and protect them from the policy of normalization.” But it appears the children – though they were the props – were not the target. The visit was the brainchild of an Israeli operative deeply involved in settlements in the occupied West Bank, working closely with the Israeli government. It involved Palestinian counterparts in Israel with ties to the ruling Likud party and the Zionist political establishment. It is unlikely that the non-governmental organization in Gaza that helped coordinate the visit was aware of these facts when it agreed to take part. – Priceless propaganda – The children had been scheduled to visit the Palestinian town of Kafr Qasim and the Bedouin forced-resettlement town of Rahat. They were also to be received by Palestinian Authority de facto leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. But the week-long visit would also have provided Israel with priceless photo opportunities of happy, smiling Gaza children at the zoo in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, as well as several Israeli settlements. Such propaganda would have provided a marked counterpoint to the indelible images from the summer of some of the more than five hundred children killed and thousands injured and terrorized by Israel’s attack. Israeli media, public relations officials and international media sympathetic to them, including the BBC and AP, have presented Hamas’ action as preventing hapless orphans from making what Reuters termed “a rare goodwill visit to the Jewish state.”…. Marian Houk, a journalist currently based in Ramallah, said it was “hard to understand” Israel’s decision to allow the orphans in to “visit kibbutzes, a zoo” and Mahmoud Abbas, while it had recently “refused to allow a man from Gaza to visit his dying 18-month-old son in the West Bank, and then refused to allow him to attend the funeral.” [long and very interesting article]

Turkey to sponsor all Gaza children who lost their fathers in latest war
Middle East Monitor 30 Dec — The Turkish Red Crescent Society announced on Monday that it would sponsor all the Palestinian orphans who lost their fathers in the latest Israeli war on the Gaza Strip. While in the office of the Palestinian minister of social affairs, the director of the Turkish Red Crescent in Gaza Arda Tarhan said to journalists: “We are here to sign the protocol for a project to distribute Zakat funds for 1905 orphans whose fathers were killed in the recent Israeli war.” Tarhan said that the implementation of this project would be in cooperation with the Palestinian ministry of social affairs, noting that each orphan would receive $102 each month. Deputy Social Affairs Minister Yousef Ibrahim said that this money would lessen the suffering of the children who lost their fathers. According to the ministry, the latest Israeli war on Gaza left 2,000 children orphaned.

Israel to allow 150 Palestinian students to leave Gaza through Erez
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — Israel on Sunday agreed to allow 150 Palestinians who are enrolled in schools abroad but trapped in Gaza due to the closure of the Rafah crossing with Egypt to leave through Israel via the Erez crossing. The decision came during a meeting between Palestinian and Israeli officials on Sunday, during which a number of other issues were also discussed. Sources said that both sides also agreed on allowing heavy machinery to be used for removing rubble from buildings destroyed during the recent Israeli offensive on Gaza to enter the Gaza Strip, in addition to entering reconstruction material. It was unclear when or how the import of such machinery was due to be implemented, however.

Gaza students travel to Jordan via West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — Dozens of Gazan university students who study outside the Strip were allowed to travel to Jordan via the West Bank on Tuesday, a Palestinian official said. Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh said in statement that 38 Palestinian university students passed through Erez crossing to Israel before entering the West Bank and crossing into Jordan via the Allenby Bridge crossing. COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry unit in charge of civil administration in the West Bank, confirmed in a statement that the students had been allowed to pass through. The coordination was approved after the students were denied entry to Egypt through the regularly-closed Rafah crossing with Gaza, the COGAT statement said.

Israeli forces open fire on Gaza fishermen
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Dec — Israeli naval forces on Monday opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip on Monday, while Israeli forces elsewhere shot at a group of Palestinians near the border fence. The two incidents ended without any injuries but were a reminder for Palestinians of Israel’s continuing control over Gaza’s land and sea. An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma’an that Israeli forces opened fire off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip after a “vessel deviated from the permitted fishing zone” of six nautical miles out to sea … A ceasefire agreement reached between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza on Aug. 26 stipulated that Israel would ease its blockade on the Strip and lighten restrictions on fishermen. Since the agreement, Israeli forces have opened fire regularly at Gaza fishermen, saying they have veered outside the “designated fishing zone” which ends six nautical miles from shore. But there have been widespread reports that fishermen have been fired upon even within those boundaries.

Egypt to begin expanding Gaza buffer zone next week
AFP 30 Dec — Egypt said Tuesday work will begin next week to double the width of a buffer zone being built along the border with the Gaza Strip to prevent militants infiltrating from the Palestinian enclave. A 500-metre (546-yard) wide buffer zone is now being built along some 10 kilometres (six miles) of the border, with some 800 homes being demolished in the process. Work will begin next week to expand it by another 500 metres, North Sinai provincial Governor Abdel Fattah Harhur said. Harhur told AFP he had met families from the area to be evacuated and told them they needed to inform authorities of the border city of Rafah whether they want financial compensation or alternative housing. Construction of the buffer zone comes in the wake of an October 24 suicide bombing that killed 30 Egyptian soldiers and wounded scores more. After that incident, Egypt declared a three-month emergency in parts of North Sinai, a remote but strategic region bordering Israel and Gaza. Egypt suspects Palestinian militants of aiding jihadist attacks against its security forces that have increased since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year.

Egyptian forces uncover, destroy 19 Gaza tunnels
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — Egyptian border guards on Monday discovered and destroyed the openings of 19 recently built smuggling tunnels on the Egyptian side of the border with the Gaza Strip in Rafah city, Egyptian security sources said. The sources told Ma’an that one of the biggest tunnels ended inside a house about 1,700 meters from the border. One smuggler was arrested inside one tunnel during the operation, which ended with the demolition of all the tunnels. Separately, border guard police seized about 60,000 pills of tramadol painkillers in Rafah as well as three vehicles loaded with cannabis and smuggled cigarettes. The operation comes as Egyptian authorities prepare to demolish all homes with a 1,000 meter radius from the border, potentially displacing thousands of local residents … The border area used to host hundreds of tunnels which Gazans used to import goods to get around the seven-year-old Israeli siege of the territory.

Memories of war torment Gaza’s children
GAZA CITY, Palestine (AFP) 30 Dec by Mai Yaghi — MUNTASSER SURVIVED an Israeli strike on Gaza this summer which killed his young brother and three cousins. Five months and a suicide attempt later the Palestinian boy remains haunted by the memory. Just a week into the deadly 50-day July-August war, two Israeli missiles slammed into a beach in Gaza City where Muntasser Bakr, 11, was playing football with relatives. Four of them, all aged between 9 and 11, were killed. Muntasser, like countless other children in the embattled Gaza Strip, now faces a personal battle to overcome the trauma and psychological damage caused by the violence. The fighting, which lasted for six weeks after the beach strike, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and wounded more than 10,000. In the densely populated coastal enclave, where more than half of the 1.8 million population is aged 14 and under, children paid a terrible price. More than 500 children were killed – around a third of them 12 and under – and they made up more than a quarter of the wounded. The UN children’s fund, UNICEF, says hundreds of thousands remain in desperate need of psychological help to overcome the long-term mental health damage the war caused. “Since the incident, Muntasser has been receiving treatment from a mental health center,” says his 55-year-old father, Ahed Bakr. “If his appointment is delayed, or he gets his medications late – even by just 10 minutes – you can’t control him.” Bakr, who lost his 9-year-old son Zakaria in the beach strike, looks on worriedly as Muntasser silently chews his nails. “He becomes extremely violent, he breaks everything and then he starts banging his head against the walls. He even tried to throw himself off the roof.” In addition to trying to take his own life, the 11-year-old has also attacked his relatives. “The other day, we found him trying to hang his cousins,” his father says, his hands fiddling restlessly with a packet of pills. Since the bombing, Muntasser is “in another world” and refuses to go to school, the father adds. “What if he were to try and kill one of his classmates?”

In Pictures: Sheltering Gaza’s displaced
Al Jazeera 30 Dec — Children swarm into the yard each time new visitors arrive at the UNRWA school sheltering displaced Palestinians in Beit Hanoun. There are dozens of tiny hands grasping, dozens of tired eyes pleading. This school, known locally as el-Masreyyeen, has for months been home to scores of Palestinians displaced by Israel’s 51-day summer assault on the besieged Gaza Strip. The conflict killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians and damaged or decimated more than 96,000 homes. Outside the classrooms-turned-living-rooms at Masreyyeen, laundry hangs off the turquoise balcony railings lining each floor. Children run after each other on the wet pavement below. Watfa al-Althamna has been living here with her husband and their 11 children for four months, and says it is a challenge every day. “The cold in the winter, there are no mattresses; after having our own land and houses [destroyed], now we are considered poor,” Althamna told Al Jazeera. Exacerbating matters, she has no idea when her family will be able to leave this place. “We don’t know when we are going home… No-one has provided enough money for us to rent a house,” she said. Althamna’s frustration is echoed by many of Gaza’s displaced, who are running out of patience with overcrowded and underfunded temporary shelters and a lack of progress on reconstruction. Milina Shahin, a spokesperson for the UN refugee agency (UNRWA), acknowledged the difficult circumstances – but as for when displaced residents will be able to return home, “it is the question no-one can answer”.

Gaza Strip flower industry dying: official
Press TV 29 Dec —  The Palestine Agriculture Ministry says almost all farmers in the blockaded enclave have stopped cultivating flowers, Sky News Arabia, an Arabic news channel, reported.  The ministry further said that the flower industry in the coastal sliver encountered thorny problems after the Netherlands decided to cut its logistic support for the activity there. According to reports, the flowers cultivated in the blockaded area used to be exported to European countries. However, the flowers produced in the Gaza Strip are now just sent to local markets. Tahsin al-Saqa, the manager of marketing in the Agriculture Ministry in the Gaza Strip, said that as many as ten million flowers were exported from the area in 2010. He, however, noted that in 2013 the number reduced to two and half a million flowers.

Coca-Cola’s investment in Gaza
Middle East Monitor 29 Dec by Yvonne Ridley — Coca-Cola is building a factory in Gaza, but before you applaud such an investment in an area where the economy is shattered and unemployment ranks among the highest in the world, let’s examine the deal more closely. Who will actually benefit from this? It’s a rhetorical question really, because the Palestinians living there will be the long-term losers while the neighbouring State of Israel will count the shekels rolling in. The first of the materials to build the factory came via Israel with a convoy of 10 trucks carrying assembly line machines through the Yitzhak Rabin border terminal; from there the lorries were processed by the Israeli military into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom border crossing last week. This, in itself, is amazing, since only 130,000 tons of construction materials have been allowed into Gaza since the latest Israeli blitz; five million tons are needed to try to rebuild the factories bombed to destruction by Israel in its last two wars against the civilians of Gaza.

Gaza to stop import of electrical appliances from Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Dec — The Palestinian Environmental Quality Authority of Gaza has decided to stop importing batteries and electrical appliances from Israel. The group said in the statement that authority head Kenan Obeid and the Deputy Minister of Economy agreed during a meeting to stop importing batteries and electrical appliances from Israel, especially refrigerators, washing machines, computers and television screens. The statement said that the batteries and electrical appliances have negative effects on the Palestinian environment and importing them helps build up dangerous Israeli solid waste in Palestine, in addition to the fact that these appliances consume double the amount of power as the alternatives. The Environmental Quality Authority also said in the statement that the fees of importing these appliances are “only beneficial” to Israel.

+972’s Story of the Year: Gaza
30 Dec by Samer Badawi — Most of us have become so accustomed to Gaza’s suffering that we can hardly imagine a world without it. But imagine we must. During the fighting this summer, and in its aftermath, many believed the war would be a game-changer, that something would have to give — it hasn’t. Activists, intellectuals and diplomats continue to advocate, but what about the Gazans themselves? Beyond violence, what is their role in ending the siege and attaining freedom? Samer Badawi tackles the questions — and the answers — left buried in the rubble.

BBC response to complaint over its Gaza coverage: If it wasn’t reported by the BBC it didn’t happen
Stop The War Coalition 27 Dec by Amena Saleem — Through misreporting and non-reporting, the BBC presents a thoroughly inaccurate picture of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land — LAST MONTH, the BBC sent an email to the UK-based campaigning organization Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) which was almost comical in its arrogance. It was a response to a complaint made by PSC in October that BBC online reports were referring to the Gaza ceasefire as holding, despite the fact that by the end of October, Israel had breached the ceasefire numerous times since it was signed on 26 August. In fact, Israel has fired on Palestinians in Gaza almost on a daily basis. In its initial complaint, PSC referred to the website of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), which documents incidents of ceasefire breaches. These breaches had been collated in an article published by Middle East Monitor (MEMO), which reported that there was more than one Israeli attack on Gaza every day in September. The MEMO article was also included in PSC’s submission. At the beginning of November, the BBC emailed to say: “You direct us to a non-BBC online report as evidence that the ceasefire has been violated by Israel. While we will not comment on the content or accuracy of what is published elsewhere, we would assure you that we are committed to due impartiality in respect of all our news reports and we are careful that this is maintained.”

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction on movement

Army demolishes five homes in the Negev
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Dec — Israeli soldiers demolished, Tuesday, five homes in a number of villages in what Israel calls “unrecognized villages” in the Negev, although these communities have existed way before Israel was established in the historic land of Palestine. The Ma‘an News agency has reported that the homes have been demolished in Tal as-Sabe‘ village, Um Btein, ‘Ararat an-Naqab and Kaseefa, after the soldiers stormed them, and forcibly removed the families. The residents never received demolition orders from the army; several families, with children and elderly, have been rendered homeless.  Official statistics revealed that Israel demolished more than 1100 homes in the Negev in 2014. The destruction of the village comes part of what Israel dubs as “The Negev Development Plan,” which aims to build Jewish settlements and shopping centers after removing and relocating the Bedouins from their villages

Israeli bulldozers continue to destroy Arab crops in the Negev
Middle East Monitor 30 Dec — Israeli bulldozers of the Israel Land Administration (ILA) have destroyed large swathes of agricultural crops belonging to Arabs living in the Negev. On Monday, the bulldozers, backed by a large force of armed police, continued for the second day in a row to raze thousands of acres belonging to citizens in El-Laqiya, Abu Kaf, Rahatm, Asherat El-Hazeel and other Arab villages not recognized by Israel. The destruction of agricultural livelihood is just part of the ongoing persecution exercised by the Israeli establishment against the Arabs of the Negev. Every year prior to the harvest, giant bulldozers belonging to the ILA are employed to devastate agricultural crops, turning the land from lush green to a deadened yellow. The tens of thousands of acres destroyed every year in the Negev are targeted on the grounds that the land is not legally owned by the Arabs there, even though it has often been in families for generations. The scene of repeated devastation is an emotional one for the farmers as they witness the machines wreak havoc on the crops they have patiently sowed and tended for months. In this way, rather than providing food, income and fodder for their livestock, the land is instead turned into a barren wasteland in a matter of hours. However, such bitter experiences also have positive fruits, and the depreciation of agricultural land in the Negev has instilled a sense of steadfastness and resilience in the local population. The repeated destruction has also deepened the Arabs’ belief in the sanctity of the land, explaining why land is considered to be the core of the conflict that continues to rage between the Israeli establishment and the people of the Negev.

Israeli home demolitions in Jerusalem leave 2 families homeless
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — Israeli authorities on Tuesday destroyed three homes, a restaurant, and a butcher shop in the East Jerusalem village of Jabal al-Mukabbir in a dawn raid that left two Palestinian families homeless. The raid brings the total number of Palestinian properties destroyed by Israeli bulldozers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem so far this year to 561, displacing more than 1,165 people, according to UN figures. Israeli police escorted inspectors from the Israeli municipality into the neighborhoods of al-Farouq and al-Salaa in the village, where they demolished the homes without allowing residents to remove their belongings and furniture. Displaced homeowner Khalid al-Halasa said that he and his six family members were not at home when the bulldozer arrived, destroying his 100 square meter home that he only finished building three months ago. Imad Abu Mayyala told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers also demolished his 100 square meter house, where he and his seven family members had been living in since August. Additionally, Israeli bulldozers demolished a restaurant and a butcher shop made of steel bars and tin sheets in the area. The buildings, which belonged to Aziz Jaabis, measured 70 square meters and had been built seven months ago. Jaabis told Ma’an that his loss from the destruction amounted to 150,000 shekels ($38,000). Israeli bulldozers also demolished a house that was under construction belonging to a local named Ali Ruweidi. The structure measured 150 square meters. The bulldozers also demolished a wall surrounding a tract of land in the neighborhood, and leveled the land itself. The owner of the plot was from the Bashir family. One local, however, managed to avoid saving his structure from the Israeli bulldozers which intended to destroy it during the Tuesday said. Muhammad Salama Shqeirat told Ma‘an that he paid an Israeli court $40,000 shekels ($10,200) and got a court order to stop the demolition of his 90 square meter home, which he completed building three months ago.

Israel ‘legalizes’ a settlement outpost in Salfit
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Dec — Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon ordered the “Civil Administration Office,” run by the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank, to legalize the El Matan illegal settlement outpost, built on Palestinian lands belonging to residents of the central West Bank district of Salfit. The decision grants the outpost a legal status that enables the Israeli government to provide it with all services and infrastructure, including expanding and paving roads leading to it. Two months ago, the Israeli government illegally confiscated 100 dunams (24.71 acres) of Palestinian lands in Qana valley, west of Deir Estia in Salfit, after declaring them as a “natural reserve” in order to annex the lands to the settlement, before declaring it as settlement #24 in Salfit. The outpost was established in 2000 by a group of fanatic Israeli settlers from the nearby illegal settlements of Karnei Shomron and Ma’ale Shomron. Since then, Israel has been preventing the Palestinians from entering their farmlands in the area, especially after Tel Aviv declared it as a natural reserve.

Settlements pour factory wastewater and skunk in Palestinian valleys
SALFIT (PNN) 28 Dec — Eyewitnesses and Palestinian shepherds on Sunday complained that the factories in the Industrial Zone of “Barqan” Israeli Settlement near Salfit, North West Bank, every Thursday and Friday utilize the weekend, to pour its waste-water all at once in the Salfit valleys. Researcher Khaled Ma’ali said that the waste-water from the Barqan factory is not poured gradually, but instead it is poured all at once during the weekend, according to eyewitnesses. Eyewitnesses added that four industrial zones of the Israeli settlements pour the ‘skunk water’ into the valleys of Salfit, which are Ariel, Barqan, Imanu’el and Ale Zahav. The four zones are located North West the district of Salfit. Ma’ali assured that the environmental pollution caused by the settlement industrial zones needs long years to recover, and will cause several environmental damages.

Israeli forces prevent farmers from farming land
HEBRON (WAFA) 30 Dec — In an attempt to pressure the residents of Imnezil village in [the South] Hebron [Hills], Israeli soldiers prevented Palestinian farmers from entering their farmlands, said local sources on Tuesday. According to the coordinator of the National Committee Against the wall and the Settlements, Rateb Jbour, Israeli forces prevented the Ismirat family from entering their lands and farming the land under the pretext of having no entry permit. Imnezil is surrounded by settlements from both the north and south, in addition to the Segregation Wall, built around the village in 2005.  In previous attempts, Israeli forces demanded, through military orders delivered to the residents, the removal of the solar cells that supply electricity to the village, and stopped the project that provides the village with water.

Palestinian owners access Bethlehem farm after 15-year Israeli ban
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Dec — Palestinian farmers from the region of Jabal al-Iqban area east of Bethlehem on Monday were able to enter and cultivate their lands after being prevented from doing so by Israeli authorities for more than 15 years.  Head of the Hanata municipality Nayif Obayyat told Ma‘an that settlers from the El David and Kfar Eldad settlements nearby unsuccessfully tried to prevent the land owners from the al-Tnuh family from reaching their lands. Obayyat added that the settlers entered the area and insulted the farmers, who were able to reach their lands through prior coordination with Israeli military authorities. The farmers told Ma‘an that the lands occupy an area of more than 100 dunums (25 acres), surrounded by Israeli settlements and illegal outposts. Settlers control more than two thousand donums of land in the area surrounding the plot, and have ringed it with barbed wire to prevent the Palestinian owners it was confiscated from from entering the area.

Israel’s oil drilling in Golan criticized
SOUTHERN GOLAN HEIGHTS (Al Jazeera) 30 Dec by Creede Newton & Patrick Strickland — Drilling for oil in occupied Golan is part of a larger plan to increase Israeli settlement activity, rights groups say — Heavily subsidised Jewish-only settlements, large Israeli military areas and tanks dot the rolling green hills in this part of the Golan Heights; Syrian territory occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war. In addition to the ubiquitous signs warning of landmines, remnants of Syrian life are everywhere; bombed-out homes, dilapidated schools, crumbling hospitals. Most of the region’s indigenous Syrians – an estimated 90,000 Christians, Muslims and Druze – were expelled from the 70 percent of the Golan Heights under Israeli control. Today, only some 20,000 Syrian Druze live in six villages still standing in the territory, while more than 21,000 Israeli settlers reside in dozens of Jewish-only colonies built atop villages demolished after the war. It is here that Afek Oil and Gas, an Israeli company, has been granted exclusive license to conduct exploratory drilling for oil. Afek is a subsidiary of Genie Energy Limited, a New Jersey-based company for which former US Vice President Dick Cheney is an adviser ... Though the project has been harshly criticised by a slew of Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum, the condemnation has also been voiced on nearly uniform environmental grounds. Dov Hanin, leader of the left-wing Hadash political party, has “particularly expressed concerns for the fate of the nearby [Sea of Galilee]”, the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post reported in July … Israel is regularly criticised for plundering resources in the occupied Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, particularly water and land. Lesser-known, however, is its long history of exploiting natural resources in the Golan Heights. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the occupied Golan Heights control “the main water sources” of Israel. The BBC reported that the area accounts for a third of Israel’s freshwater supply….

Israel tells Turkish woman to deposit $7,700 to stay in Hebron for a month
Haaretz 30 Dec by Amira Hass — Israel has demanded that a Turkish woman married to a Palestinian resident of Hebron pay a refundable deposit of 30,000 shekels ($7,635) in exchange for entering the country for a month. The reason: The authorities fear the woman will move to the West Bank. Y.A., a merchant from Hebron, married O.A. early this year. By order of the Israeli Embassy in Turkey, he contacted the District Coordination and Liaison Administration in the Hebron region to obtain an entry permit for his wife. His applications were not granted, and he said he was told that such permits were issued only in rare cases and under special circumstances.  Attorney Lea Tsemel contacted the ombudsman at the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) at the Defense Ministry, which is responsible for granting entry permits to people entering the West Bank from the Allenby border crossing. Only after Tsemel contacted them were the authorities ready to issue a visa – but for only one month, upon payment of a deposit of 30,000 shekels that is due to be returned to her when she leaves … Tsemel said Turkish citizens should not have to pay for the privilege of entering Israel or the West Bank. “There is no reason on earth why a Turkish citizen should pay money to enter Israel or the territories,” she said. “Thousands of Israelis enter Turkey each and every day without depositing money when they go in.”

Detainees / Court actions

Israeli court extends detention of 5 Palestinians for Facebook posts
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Dec  — An Israeli court on Sunday extended the detention of five Palestinians from East Jerusalem related to charges of “incitement” on their personal Facebook pages, lawyers said. The five were detained along with three others in mid-December for their Facebook posts, and following interrogation Israeli authorities decided to indict them on charges of “incitement and support for terror organizations.” Lawyers Tariq Barghouth, who works for the Palestinian Department of Prisoners’ Affairs, and Muhammad Mahmoud, from Addameer human rights group, asked the judge to release the defendants conditionally but the judge refused.  Instead the judge extended the detention of the five and was scheduled to respond late Sunday to the lawyers’ request about the other three. As of press time, their fate was still unclear … Israeli authorities have in recent years detained numerous Palestinians inside Israel as well as in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank for posting comments or statuses on Facebook they said somehow praised violence against Israel. Reporters Without Borders ranked Israel 112th in the world for press freedom in its 2013 report, arguing that while Israeli journalists enjoy freedom of expression, there are major structural barriers related to military control and security issues that prevent a free press more generally. The limitations imposed against Palestinian citizens of Israel and residents of East Jerusalem are generally much higher than those against Jewish citizens of Israel.

Judge: Equality in the West Bank, just not for Palestinians
+972 blog 29 Dec by Hagai El-Ad — In a refreshingly bold statement, an Israeli court recently seems to have firmly upheld the core values of justice and equality: the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled a few weeks ago that the law “must be uniformly enforced upon all members of the population, regardless of nationality, religion, race, or any other distinction.” (Hebrew) Moreover, he wrote, any action taken by the Israeli army that discriminates between Jewish Israeli citizens and non-Jewish Israeli citizens “contravenes the principles of justice and equality enshrined in Israeli law, and the Court will not allow such discrimination to be practiced, nor will it convict or punish the victims of this discrimination.” “When a major-general’s order [the commander of the West Bank military regime] applies to all Israeli citizens, no Israeli citizen should experience the degradation of discriminatory [restrictions on using] a road based on his nationality, religion, race, or ethnic appearance,” the ruling continued. Thus wrote Judge Dov Pollock in his acquittal of an Israeli settler who broke through an army checkpoint that prevented him from entering Area A in the West Bank. The ruling did not mention the word “Palestinian” even once. The principle is indeed admirable: all should indeed be equal before the law. But what if “all,” in this case, excludes an entire population, apparently so invisible that a ruling upholding equality does not so much as acknowledge their existence? It takes a truly surreal distortion of facts to refer to Israelis alone as “the population” in the West Bank and utterly ignore the Palestinians who live there. If the Palestinians in the West Bank are not the “population,” what exactly are they in the eyes of the court? Apparently, an Israeli citizen can break through a military checkpoint and be acquitted of all charges under the principle of equality. A Palestinian who does the same thing will likely be shot and killed.

Other news

Palestinian statehood resolution fails at UN council, US votes against
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) 30 Dec by Louis Charbonneau — The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday rejected a Palestinian resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and the establishment of a Palestinian state by late 2017. The resolution called for negotiations to be based on territorial lines that existed before Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war. It also called for a peace deal within 12 months. Even if the draft had received the minimum nine votes in favor, it would have been defeated by Washington’s vote against it. The United States is one of the five veto-wielding permanent members. There were eight votes in favor, including France, Russia and China, two against and five abstentions, among them Britain. Australia joined the United States in voting against the measure. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power defended Washington’s position against the draft in a speech to the 15-nation council by saying it was not a vote against peace between Israel and the Palestinians … She said the text was “deeply imbalanced” and contained “unconstructive deadlines that take no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.” To make matters worse, Power said, it “was put to a vote without a discussion or due consideration among council members.” She did not spare Israel either. “Today’s vote should not be interpreted as a victory for an unsustainable status quo,” Power said

Students at elite Israeli school protest ‘oppressive’ army
JTA 30 Dec by Ben Sales — The Israel Defense Forces oppresses people, the letter said. The army creates inequality, perpetuates injustice and corrupts social values. The letter didn’t come from a foreign protest group, but from teachers and graduates of one of Jerusalem’s elite high schools, the Israeli Arts and Sciences Academy, or IASA, and it encouraged the school’s students to refuse to participate in mandatory military service. The letter, which was published Sunday and included nearly 60 signatories, focused mainly on Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank, but it also noted the “oppression and dispossession” of non-Jewish Israelis and called this summer’s military campaign in Gaza a “massacre.” “Refusal means voting with our feet against a policy that cannot be tolerated,” the letter says. “Under a regime which negates any chance for diplomatic and social normalcy, which can ignore and squash sweeping social protest, refusal today is a brave and necessary act of civil resistance to unacceptable crimes.” Most Israelis see the military as a unifying institution and a protective bulwark in a dangerous region. Army service is widely considered a rite of passage, with a majority of Israelis serving for two or three years and many continuing as reservists for decades. But for the third time this year, a group of Israelis has published a letter opposing participation in certain military activities because of the occupation. In March, dozens of high school students published a letter announcing they would not serve in the IDF, and in September 43 elite intelligence officers from the 8200 unit declared they would no longer carry out operations targeting Palestinians.

Census reveals Palestinians to surpass 12 million by the end of 2014
Middle East Monitor 30 Dec — Palestinian people living in the occupied territories, Israel and abroad will reach 12.1 million people by the end of 2014, a statistical report has revealed. Of these, 35.4 per cent are predicted to be under 15 years old. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said on Monday that 4.62 million Palestinians live in the occupied territories, 1.46 million live in Israel, 5.34 million live in Arab countries and 675,000 in other countries. “More than one-third of the population, or 1.79 million, people live in the Gaza Strip and about 2.83 million live in the West Bank,” the report said. According to the report, “about 43.1 per cent of Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are refugees, 38.8 per cent in the West Bank and 61.2 per cent in the Gaza Strip.” The report pointed to a decline in fertility rates in recent years, which fell from 6.1 per cent in 1997 to 4.1 per cent during the period of 2011-2013. It also highlighted a decline in the average household size from 6.4 members in 1997 to 5.2 members in 2013 (4.9 members in the West Bank and 5.8 members in the Gaza Strip). Meanwhile, the crude birth rate appears to be declining and is expected to fall from 32.3 births per 1,000 people to 29 births by 2020. The estimated crude mortality rate, currently at 3.7 deaths per 1,000 people, is expected to fall to 3.4 deaths per thousand by 2020 … The data showed that a majority of the Palestinian community living in Israel, or 35.4 per cent of the population, are younger than 15 years old. The total fertility rate of Palestinian women in Israel was defined as 3.4 births in 2013, a relatively high rate compared with the average fertility rate in Israel, which is estimated at 3.1 births per woman for the same year. The data predicted that the number of Palestinians living in Israel and the occupied territories will outnumber Israeli Jews by as early as 2016. According to the report, the number of Israeli Jews will decline to 49 per cent of the total Israeli population, or 6.87 million people, compared to 7.14 million Palestinians predicted by the end of 2020.

Governor: ‘Suspicious’ envelopes pose no threat
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 29 Dec — The governor of the Hebron region in the southern West Bank Kamil Hmeid told reporters on Monday that lab tests performed a suspicious envelope received by a Hebron school Sunday showed that it does not pose a threat. The statement comes only a day after a headmaster of a school in Hebron received a package from Italy that caused him and two employees to fall ill immediately upon opening. The envelope was only the most recent in a string of similar suspicious packages received by Palestinian officials in recent weeks. Hmeid said that tests on the envelope received Sunday showed that nothing inside of it posed a threat, although he did not explain why the school employees had fallen ill. Hmeid added that the issue is being followed up on at “the highest levels” and is being taken seriously by authorities.

Unity govt to ‘work out’ issue of Gaza employees
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — The Palestinian unity government pledged Tuesday to “work out” the issue of government employees in Gaza. Ihab Bseiso, the spokesman of the national consensus government, said in a news conference that the unity government would guarantee the positions of all employees who worked for Hamas government ministries before the formation of the West Bank-Gaza government. The unity government will also offer open positions to Palestinian Authority government employees, Bseiso said. He said the government had “several solutions” to the issue of government employees and salaries, without elaborating. The Hamas movement responded in a statement by saying it disapproved of the national consensus government’s decisions regarding Gaza employees. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the decisions favored Fatah leadership at the expense of Palestinian reconciliation, without providing further details regarding the decisions.

‘Palestinian security forces held teen hostage for 3 days’
+972 mag 30 Dec by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — Now a Palestinian human rights NGO is demanding the PA hold the perpetrators accountable — Palestinian security forces in Ramallah kidnapped and held a teenager hostage for three days in order to compel his father to turn himself in, according to affidavits secured by human rights organization Al-Haq. The child was released when his father was eventually taken into custody. Husam Abu Saleem, 16, was at his Ramallah home on the afternoon of September 18 when two military jeeps pulled up looking for his father, Jamal Abu Saleem. When he told the officers that his father wasn’t at home, a man identified as Brig.-Gen. Sharif ordered the teen be taken into custody. When the boy’s mother attempted to intervene, Brig.-Gen. Sharif allegedly told her, “even if he stays for three months, he will not be released until his father surrenders himself.” Kawthar Abu Salem, Husam’s mother, was familiar with the officer because her husband, who the security forces were looking for, works for the Palestinian National Security Forces.

Palestinian court adjourns Dahlan trial over corruption charges
Middle East Monitor 29 Dec — A Palestinian court in Ramallah has ruled to adjourn the trial of former Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan over corruption charges. Dahlan’s lawyer, Sevag Torossian, told AFP that the court took the decision on Sunday to move the trial date to 22 January, 2015. Torossian added that the Palestinian court had refused to give him access to documents relating to his client. Dahlan, the former Palestinian Authority (PA) security chief, was dismissed by Fatah in 2011 and has been living in the UAE where he holds a senior security position. He did not attend the first hearing session for his trial in Ramallah ten days ago. AFP received a copy of a message sent from Dahlan’s lawyer to the PA public prosecutor saying that he had filed two court applications to see his client’s documents but both were denied. In the message, Torossian said: “In April 2014, Palestine signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to a just trial.” He added that this right “was not respected” in Dahlan’s case. Dahlan enjoys good relations with the United States, which attempted to help him carry out a coup against Hamas after its victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections. He was dismissed from Fatah over corruption charges in 2001.

Israel uses Gaza as a testing ground for weapons, says Barghouti
Middle East Monitor 29 Dec — Mustafa Barghouti has accused Israel of using the Gaza Strip as a testing ground for new weapons. Speaking during a review of 2014 in Ramallah, the Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative reminded listeners that Israel is now the third largest arms exporter in the world. “There is conclusive evidence that it used the Gaza Strip as a test bed for its deadly weaponry,” he claimed. The Israelis, he added, fired around 21,000 tons of high explosives at the besieged territory during its war against Palestinian civilians in July-August 2014. That’s the equivalent of two nuclear bombs, noted Barghouti. “Israel has launched four devastating wars against Gaza,” he added, “during which it has used internationally-prohibited weapons, including white phosphorus, as well as barrel bombs.”

US finds Israel fourth most ‘unacceptable’ country
Ynet 29 Dec by Yitzhak Benhorin — The US State Department described Israeli actions as “unacceptable” 87 times in 2014, with only three countries being more “unacceptable,” according to a Foreign Policy article published last week. Journalist Micah Zenko searched the State Department’s website for usage of the term, and his “top ten” list shows Israel sandwiched right between North Korea and Pakistan. Zenko pointed that the US officials regularly use the phrase “but then do very little in response to prevent or deter those actions from reoccurring.” Most of the condemnations relating to Israel involved building in settlements or the announcement of plans to construct additional housing behind the Green Line. Government spokespeople also castigated Israel for civilian casualties during Operation Protective Edge. US Secretary of State John Kerry recently used the “unacceptable” label to refer to North Korea’s alleged hacking of the Sony Corporation.,7340,L-4609152,00.html (listserv) (archive)

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Thank you for the update Kate. This is just so depressing. I note that the 17 year old was shot right through the heart. So many are either shot through the heart or through the head. This is the hallmark of sniper execution They are criminals and murderers and capable… Read more »

Isn’t this the hallmark of a desperate entity (GoI)? It seems like maybe they know they’re going down, but instead of stopping all hostilities, they are going full speed ahead and consequences be damned. Unbelievable criminality. Always shoot and always shoot to kill.

Even assuming the boys were throwing rocks: Rocks versus high powered rifles. Another david versus goliath reversal. I do hope when the icc tallies up these 50 deaths and multiplies them by the 12 years the rome statute allows…they add up to qualifying numbers…and israel is affixed with a permanent… Read more »

Absolutely. This creature Abbas is and always has been a traitor to his people. He works for Israel and the U.S. We can only hope there is a special place in hell for him one day.