Violence / Suppression of nonviolent protests / Arrests
Israeli forces suppress Christmas march in Bethlehem
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Israeli forces on Tuesday suppressed a peaceful march calling for “Christmas without occupation” in Bethlehem. Demonstrators marched to the Israeli military checkpoint in northern Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas and hand out gifts to children in the area. Marchers held up signs reading: “Jesus came with a message of: Peace, Freedom and Justice” and “We want Christmas without occupation.” Israeli forces prevented demonstrators, some of whom were dressed as Father Christmas, from reaching the checkpoint and fired tear gas at the crowd. Several people were treated at the scene for tear gas inhalation. Mazen al-Azza, an activist with the Palestinian National Initiative, told Ma‘an that the march had a peaceful Christmas message, but “Israeli soldiers did not miss the chance to suppress it by assaulting journalists and peaceful demonstrators.” The ancient Palestinian city — said to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ — is now surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements on all sides. Bethlehem is also cut off from Jerusalem, historically its twin city, by Israel’s separation wall, which runs along the northern side of the city.
Video: Palestinians dressed as Santa Claus protest in Bethlehem
Reuters 23 Dec — A small group of Palestinian protesters in Santa Claus outfits clash with Israeli security forces a day before the start of Christmas celebrations in the West Bank. The demonstrators gathered at Bethlehem checkpoint to protest against ‘Israeli occupation’. The Israeli army, who claim the protesters also threw rocks, use teargas to disperse the crowd
Israel cracks down on shop owners in Jerusalem’s Old City
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Palestinian shop owners say Israel’s Jerusalem municipality has recently launched a crackdown on businesses in East Jerusalem’s Old City, issuing heavy fines to business owners and harassing workers. Imad al-Shawish, who owns a restaurant in the historic walled city, told Ma‘an that municipality officers raided his business on Monday and assaulted workers with iron rods. “They hurled a stun grenade and a tear gas canister inside the restaurant without showing an inspection warrant,” he said, adding that officers detained his business partner Salah al-Shawish and fined him 5,000 shekels ($1,278) without providing a reason. Coffee shop owner Mousa Siyam said that Israeli forces raided his shop in the al-Qirmi neighborhood and threatened to destroy the main door. They confiscated a TV and satellite receiver and fined Siyam 18,000 shekels ($4,600) which must be paid in 10 days. He was also fined an extra 1,000 shekels ($255) because someone was smoking in the non-smoking area. Other business owners told Ma‘an anonymously that the crackdown is targeting shops who pay regular taxes to the municipality, with raids taking place at least three times a week by Israeli forces and municipality officers. On Monday, shop owners went on strike in protest at the clampdown and protested in front of an Israeli police station near Jaffa Gate. Palestinians in East Jerusalem have long complained that high taxes levied by the municipality make it nearly impossible to run profitable businesses.
Israeli forces detain 16 Palestinians in overnight raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Israeli forces detained 16 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem overnight [Sun-Mon], a prisoner rights group said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said Nour al-Shalabi, Muhammad Abu Farha, Alaa Ibrahim Obeid, Ziad Abu Wahdan, and two unidentified men were detained in East Jerusalem. Another four teenagers were detained in al-‘Issawiya and al-Tur, including 12-year-old Ahmad Khalil Abu Sbitan. In Hebron, Khalid Nashat Karajeh, 25, and Muhyi Raja Shalaldeh, 22, were arrested while two others were detained in Bethlehem. One Palestinian was detained in Ramallah and one at the Allenby Bridge crossing, the group added.
Army kidnaps nine Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 23 Dec by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Tuesday at dawn, five Palestinians in Hebron and Nablus districts, in the occupied West Bank, and four Palestinians kidnapped near Ramallah on Monday night, shortly after midnight. Many Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation during clashes between the invading soldiers and local youths. Medical sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, said a number of Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, near the Abu ar-Reesh military roadblock, in Hebron’s Old City. The sources said all wounded Palestinians received treatment by field medics, and did not require further medical attention. In addition, soldiers kidnapped a student of the Palestine Polytechnic University, after invading his home, and ransacking it, in Hebron, and took him to an unknown destination. Soldiers also installed several roadblocks at the entrances of Halhoul and Sa‘ir towns, stopped and searched dozens of cars, and interrogated the residents while inspecting their ID cards. The army also invaded the al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of the city, and kidnapped two Palestinians on a roadblock the soldiers installed near the main entrance of the camp … Furthermore, soldiers invaded Salem town, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and kidnapped a Palestinian identified as Ahmad Abdul-Fattah Issa, 20. The soldiers also invaded Kufur Qalil village, south of Nablus, and several neighborhoods in Nablus city and nearby communities, searched and ransacked a number of homes. Medical sources said several Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, after a number of military vehicles invaded Burin town, south of Nablus, and clashed with local youths. The invasion was carried out by the soldiers after local Palestinians stopped an armed Israeli settler as he was trying to infiltrate into a neighborhood at the edge of the town. The soldiers fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at the residents. In related news, a Palestinian security source said an unspent tank shell, apparently dropped by the army during training, was located between the villages of Jama‘in and ‘Orif, south of Nablus, and that the shell was safely defused … Shortly after midnight, soldiers invaded Doura al-Qare‘ village, northeast of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and kidnapped four Palestinians, after searching and ransacking their homes.
Haaretz journalists Gideon Levy, Alex Levac detained by IDF in West Bank
Haaretz 22 Dec by Chaim Levinson — Haaretz journalists Gideon Levy and Alex Levac were detained by the Israel Defense Forces at the Tul Karm checkpoint on Monday. The two were stopped by IDF soldiers as they crossed into Israel from the West Bank through the checkpoint at 1:30 P.M. Police were summoned to the spot by the soldiers, and took the two for questioning at the Ariel police station. After being questioned, Levy and Levac were released. The Judea and Samaria Police District’s spokesman said the soldiers had complained they were spit at and verbally abused by the journalists. During their questioning, Levy and Levac were asked by police investigators about insulting the soldiers and entering a forbidden zone – but no spitting accusations were mentioned. Haaretz has requested the IDF military spokesman for a copy of footage taken by checkpoint security cameras, which captured the event. Haaretz stated: “It is the role of the military and police to aid journalists in their essential work, not to undermine it through false accusations, and by all means not to arrest journalists while they are doing their job.” Levy said, “We must call a spade a spade. It was a false arrest of journalists, meant to harm their work. I have been covering the occupation for thirty years and I will continue to do so even if I get arrested every week.”… Only last week, a Jerusalem court ruled that the enforcement of military decrees forbidding entrance to the West Bank – among these, the order forbidding entry to Area A – is discriminatory. Despite that, the orders are still being enforced by the IDF. Since the start of the second intifada in 2000, the IDF has forbidden Jewish Israelis entrance to Area A regions, and to certain roads in areas bordering them. The military’s order states only Palestinians may enter these areas, but in effect the military allows tourists and Arab Israelis passage, while forbidding it to Jewish Israelis.
Guardian reports acid attack on Israelis that never happened
EI 22 Dec by Ali Abunimah — This post has been updated since publication — On 13 December, The Guardian ran an article with the headline “Israeli family suffer burns after West Bank acid attack.” The article by its correspondent Peter Beaumont makes these alarming claims: “Five members of an Israeli family have suffered chemical burns after a substance believed to be acid was thrown over them reportedly by a Palestinian man in the West Bank. Police said the victims included four girls who were sprayed with a corrosive substance by a man who was then shot in the leg by a bystander. The incident took place close to a checkpoint near Beitar Illit, in the southern West Bank. Paramedics who treated the family – including three children aged between about eight and 10 – said the wounds appeared to be acid burns affecting their limbs.” Some reports said a sixth bystander was targeted in the attack. Israeli occupation forces claim the alleged assailant was running after another person with a screwdriver when he was shot. Israel alleges he is a Palestinian and former “security prisoner” from the occupied West Bank village of Nahalin, close to where the alleged incident took place … Vinegar Except there’s one problem. The “acid attack” didn’t take place quite as reported. The liquid allegedly thrown at the settler vehicle was vinegar, as Israeli media reported just hours later. Household vinegar is indeed a weak acid, but wouldn’t cause severe or life-threatening injuries or “chemical burns” … This is a case where Israeli media were more accurate than international publications. The Israeli news website Mako put this posting on its Facebook page on 13 December with the status: “The attack that wasn’t: A Palestinian pours a substance on a car with 5 passengers. Only after great tension did it become clear that it was vinegar.” … That same day, The Jerusalem Post ran a “breaking news” brief, citing Israel’s Channel 2, that “The acid used in the Palestinian attack on six Israelis Friday in the West Bank was actually vinegar.” …
Given that neither the Israeli army, nor the journalist-scribes who took its version for fact, bothered to correct this story, all of it must be taken with a pinch of salt. For instance, the claim that the alleged attacker was going after other civilians with a screwdriver is reminiscent of many previous dubious, unverifiable or outright false claims that Palestinians held or brandished weapons when they were shot. The lesson here is that many journalists are prepared to take Israel’s claims as fact and run sensational stories. At the same time, claims made by Palestinians are routinely treated with utmost skepticism, if they’re reported at all. The question also arises whether journalists were predisposed to accept the initial Israeli claims because of pervasive Islamophobic stereotypes and propaganda associating Muslims or Arabs with “acid attacks” using industrial substances like sulphuric acid that can cause severe disfigurement or death. But there are frequent attacks in the occupied West Bank where noxious chemical agents that cause irritation to eyes, skin and respiration are sprayed into family homes and cars. It’s just that Israel is doing it.
Christmas / Bethlehem
Israel is strangling Christmas but does the West care? / Yvonne Ridley
Middle East Monitor 23 Dec — I wonder how many Christian politicians in the West, from Washington to Westminster, Paris to Berlin, took time out in the past few days to watch their children or grandchildren perform in the school nativity play. While the more sentimental wiped away their tears as they watched the children’s recreation of the Biblical story of the birth of Jesus, peace be upon him, did they give a second thought for those who live in Bethlehem today? … The silence in Washington is seen by Tel Aviv as a green light to continue trampling over human rights of Palestinians every day. The reality is that if Mary and Joseph set off to Bethlehem today the story would be very different; in any case, certainly not one of glad tidings and joy. It is more than likely that they would never reach Bethlehem because of the heartlessness and cruelty of Israeli soldiers, who have full power over who will pass a checkpoint and who will not … Halla Shoaibi of the University of Michigan estimates that within the period that she conducted a study of this phenomenon, 2000 to 2007, 10 percent of pregnant Palestinian women were delayed at checkpoints while traveling to hospital to give birth in the occupied Palestinian territories. One result of this has been a dramatic increase in the number of home births, with women preferring to avoid road trips while in labour for fear of not being able to reach the hospital in time. Their fears are well-founded; according to Shoaibi, 69 babies were born at checkpoints during those seven years, of which 35 died, along with five mothers in childbirth. She believes that this amounts to yet another crime against humanity committed by Israel. The sad reality is that had Mary set out from Nazareth today she would probably have given birth at a checkpoint, and there would be a strong chance of Baby Jesus not surviving. The soldiers might even have ordered her to strip to prove that she was really pregnant before making lewd comments and jokes, such are the indignities encountered daily by those travelling to and from Bethlehem. I know, for I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Hence, every festive season, the sight of cribs and mangers around the country triggers painful memories of that visit to the Holy Land, when I witnessed the callous and inhumane way in which the Israeli checkpoints are manned. Bethlehem is now choked by illegal settlements in the once Biblical landscape. One of the settlements, Har Homa, is built on land where the angels are said to have announced the birth of Jesus to local shepherds which prompted them to head for the stable to view the manger; they, too, would find it difficult to get past the checkpoints.
Activists garnish Bethlehem tree with Israeli gas canisters
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Palestinian activists on Tuesday garnished a Christmas tree in Bethlehem’s Manger Square with leftover Israeli tear gas canisters and stun grenades from routine clashes in the city. Head of the independent commission for human rights in the south, Farid al-Atrash, said decorating the tree with remnants from Israel’s routine suppression of non-violent protests is part of a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign to show the world the reality of Israel’s 47-year military occupation. “The world has to move to save the Palestinian people and hold the occupation accountable for the its’ crimes against unarmed people in Palestine,” al-Atrash said.
Jesus’ birthplace grapples with modern traffic challenges
AP 23 Dec — It’s Christmas season and the little town of Bethlehem is jammed with a big-city problem: Traffic snarling streets everywhere, including around the church marking the spot where tradition says Jesus was born. The city is considering a dramatic solution to the problem — digging a tunnel under Manger Square. Traffic is a mess year-round. It may be the biblical town of grottos and shepherds’ fields in the minds of many around the world, but Bethlehem is a modern densely populated town of 28,000 with a dizzying weave of small streets that practically guarantee traffic jams … Bethlehem’s municipality hopes to eventually build several tunnels around the Palestinian city, where the urban development problems are myriad. Bethlehem is sandwiched on three sides by other towns. From the north and southeast, it is hemmed in by Israel’s separation barrier and Jewish settlements, leaving it little choice but to build vertically. It is also a main transit point for drivers between the northern and southern parts of the West Bank, compounding its congestion … But the tunnel project could run aground before even breaking ground. The municipality would need to get a stamp of approval from the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO, which has listed the Nativity Church as a world heritage site and would want to ensure its protection. Junaid Sorosh-Wali, an official at UNESCO’s Ramallah office, said the agency would study the plan once approached by Palestinian officials and then determine its position. And, as is always the case when excavating in the Holy Land, any significant archaeological finds could hamper progress on the project. Also, because the tunnel would pass near church grounds, church officials from each of the three denominations that administer the site would need to be involved. Officials at the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches did not return messages requesting comment.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Soldiers demolish a blacksmith workshop near Ramallah
IMEMC/Agencies 23 Dec by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded, Tuesday, Dahiat al-Yasmeen area near the al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and demolished a blacksmith workshop. Resident Mahdi al-Khatib said military bulldozers demolished his workshop, causing property damage estimated by more than 250.000 New Israeli Shekels. He added that, two days ago, soldiers and personnel of the Civil Administration Office, run by the army in the occupied West Bank, invaded the area and informed al-Khatib he needs to head to their main office in Beit El settlement on Wednesday December 24, to discuss his property and legal measures. However, the army did not want to wait for legal procedures, and demolished that property that provides livelihood to several families. Al-Khatib said he, and many families, asked the soldiers to give them a couple of hours to remove the machines and equipment, but the soldiers refused, and demolished the building.
Israel issues demolition orders to East Jerusalem homes
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Israeli forces on Monday issued five demolitions orders to Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, the owners said. Akram al-Shurafa told Ma‘an that his home in al-Tur, which was built in 1938 and inherited from his grandparents, was slated for demolition. The property has all the required legal documents and is registered in his mother’s name, he said. Al-Shurafa says the demolition order is a way of targeting him after he was recently exiled from the city of Jerusalem for five months, together with four other Palestinian community activists.No reason was given for the exile of Faris Abu Ghannam, Daoud al-Ghoul, Majd Darwish, and Salih Dirbas. Meanwhile, Israel issued two other demolition orders to Talal al-Sayyad and Basil al-Sayyad despite the fact neither of them own any properties. Another man, Abdullah al-Hadera, also received a demolition order for his al-Tur home, which was built over 50 years ago, and Nadia al-Moghrabi, who was recently detained with her daughter, also received a demolition order for her home in al-Tur. The Israeli municipality last Wednesday distributed demolition orders to 11 houses, some as old as 30 years, in the Silwan neighborhood for “building without permits.”
Israeli forces issue demolition orders in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Israeli forces on Sunday issued demolition orders for two structures west of Hebron, locals said. Nayif Muhammad Ahmad Itmeiza told Ma‘an that he was issued a demolition order for a steel structures next to his home in Idhna. Israeli forces also issued Ashraf Muhammad Youssif al-Batran a demolition order for a caravan provided by international NGOs. He received the caravan after Israeli forces demolished his home last year, leaving his family of six homeless. The Mayor of Idhna, Abd al-Fattah Isleimiya, said that the town is “under Israeli attack, especially in preventing locals from building in Area C.” The municipality is working to provide locals in the area with basic services, he added.
Palestinians cultivate village land near Bethlehem settlement
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Palestinians from the village of Tuqu‘ cultivated their land on Monday despite attempts by settlers and Israeli military forces to stop them, locals said. Israel’s army prevented a Ma‘an TV crew from entering the area to film the event, claiming it was a closed military zone. The land is located southeast of Bethlehem near the illegal settlement of Nokdim, home to Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman. Locals and the mayor of Tuqu‘ also participated in the event, with the head of the settlement’s security attempting to provoke locals by driving across the agricultural land. Villagers have been unable to cultivate their land in the area for over 15 years, with Israel claiming that it belongs to Nokdim settlement.
Rabbis plan to build temple on Al-Aqsa ruins
Middle East Monitor 22 Dec — In the clearest indication of the growing dangers threatening Al-Aqsa Mosque, in an opinion piece published on Saturday, Haaretz [Hebrew version only?] discussed a group of rabbis who met to discuss the scheme for the establishment of the Third Temple on the ruins of the mosque. The newspaper published a photograph of a number of rabbis and engineers studying a map of Al-Aqsa Mosque. In a piece written by Professor Ronnie Ellenblum entitled “Bells are ringing for the ultra-Orthodox and Secular” [hebrew], the paper discussed the future of Al-Aqsa Mosque which Jews refer to as the Temple Mount. Although the paper did not identify the rabbis who appeared in the picture, one of them has been identified as Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, president of the Temple Institute, a religious authority that is considered the most enthusiastic about destroying Al-Aqsa Mosque and establishing a temple on its ruins. The research also involved Rabbi Yehuda Etzion, who was responsible for implementing the Hebron University massacre which left 15 students dead or wounded, and was also responsible for implementing three assassination attempts against elected mayors in the West Bank, one of which injured the then Mayor of Nablus Bassam Shakaa, leaving him permanently disabled. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had pledged to the king of Jordan not to take any steps that would change the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Miri Regev, MK for the Likud party led by Netanyahu, announced that she will not allow the continuation of the status quo Al-Aqsa, stressing that the next Knesset will issue a number of laws that will promote Jewish sovereignty over it….
Israeli rightists tour Aqsa compound for Jewish holiday
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Israeli rightists entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah as Palestinians protested near the Moroccan Gate. Mosque guards told Ma‘an that at least 68 Israelis entered and toured the compound under armed guard. Palestinians gathered at the Moroccan Gate — the entrance used by Israelis — and protested the visit. Three Palestinians were detained in the Old City. They were identified as Taha Shawahneh, Bassam Abu Saad and Muhammad Hassan. The site, which is holy to Jews as well as Muslims, has been the focus of months of unrest in East Jerusalem as far-right Israeli groups have sought to advance claims to sovereignty over the site and Israeli police have severely limited Palestinian access. Local Palestinians have been infuriated by a far-right Jewish campaign to potentially divide Al-Aqsa that threatens an ultra-sensitive, decades-old status quo.
Restrictions on movement
At West Bank checkpoint, a fleeting victory for Palestinian laborers
+972mag 22 Dec by Haggai Matar — Thousands of Palestinian laborers refused to pass through a West Bank checkpoint in protest of overcrowding and bad treatment from Israeli guards. A day later, their demands were met at the privatized checkpoint, but many believe the improvements won’t last long — Photo: Palestinian laborers arrive at the first of eight metal carousels they must pass through in the Sha’ar Ephraim checkpoint separating the West Bank and Israel, December 22, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org) — The Palestinian laborers passing through the “Sha’ar Ephraim” checkpoint in the early morning are a strange sight by any standard. Those passing through before dawn mostly look stressed, busy, tired and retreated into themselves. “The hour or two spent inside the checkpoint are more difficult than an entire work day,” one of the workers told me Monday morning. But that wasn’t the case on Monday. Following a strike that took place a day earlier, in which thousands of workers from the Tulkarm, Nablus and Jenin areas decided not to cross into Israel in protest of their treatment at the checkpoint, they walked around with smiles and a sense of victory showing on their faces. They said it was as if a magic wand had been waved; their treatment inside the checkpoint suddenly improved. Inspection points were suddenly operating efficiently, and the guards were treating the elderly and women with respect — exactly as they demanded in their strike the day before. The workers crowded outside the checkpoint — who were waiting for their employers to pick them up or for vans to take them to Tel Aviv and central Israel — were calm and appeared satisfied. “This is all because of the strike,” said one man with whom I spoke. But nobody was rushing to celebrate: “Two weeks, a month, two months — everything will go back to the way it was. Until the next strike,” said A., a resident of Jenin. Others we spoke to expressed similar sentiments. The Palestinian laborers probably know what they’re talking about. Four or five years ago they struck for a day and refused to return … “We work hard all day, arrive home in the evening, don’t see our kids, go to sleep, and at two or three in the morning wake up again in order to get in line at the checkpoint. They don’t even let us dream,” said N., a laborer from Tulkarm. Most of those whom we interviewed asked to remain anonymous. A day earlier, a Palestinian from Bethlehem who gave an interview to Israel’s Channel 1 lost his job in Jerusalem. Nobody wants to take that chance….
Israeli forces set up temporary checkpoint near Jenin
JENIN (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Israeli forces set up a temporary checkpoint at the eastern entrance to the Jenin village of Ya‘bad on Monday, causing hour-long delays to villagers. Locals told Ma‘an that the checkpoint was set up at 7 a.m. and prevented locals from leaving the village for two hours, causing them to be late for work and university. Soldiers searched local youths and confiscated their IDs, before forcing several to return to the village. [This of course is just one instance of something that happens all the time]
Prisoners / Court actions
Palestinian prisoner dies in PA police custody
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — A prisoner held in a Palestinian Authority detention center in Qalqiliya died on Tuesday, security officials said. Osama Rafiq al-Shaer, 37, was being held on drug charges and had been held in a PA jail for 15 days. He collapsed at 7 a.m. and was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Relatives of the victim said they notified police that he was suffering from a heart condition and needed to take regular medication, but police insisted on detaining him. Police officials confirmed that he had a medical record and shouldn’t have been jailed before being examined by a doctor. Qalqiliya district attorney has ordered an autopsy to determine the cause of death, which a special committee will investigate.
Family of Palestinian parliament speaker call for his release
Middle East Monitor 23 Dec — The family of the head of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Aziz Duweik called for national and international rights groups to put pressure on Israel to release him from prison, where he has spent seven months. Najlaa Othman, Duweik’s wife, said yesterday that her husband is suffering from hypertension, diabetes, and kidney pains. Duweik, who is over than 70 years old, needs periodic medical examinations. Othman said she was surprised that the issue of arresting Palestinian parliamentarians has been absent from the international arena. She said she was also surprised as there has been no official action to tell the world about this issue. She lamented the weak popular support. Duweik’s wife said Israel had adjourned her husband’s trial to February 2 and this was the seventh time it was postponed without a reason being given. She noted that her husband is facing charges of giving a speech marking Hamas’ anniversary in the occupied West Bank. Othman said Israel only allowed the family to visit Duweik two months ago, stressing that arresting her husband and banning such visits is a violation of his parliamentary immunity, while the delay in his trial proves the illegality of the measures Israel is using against him. Duweik has been the head of the PLC since 2006. Israel has arrested him on four occasions.
2 Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Palestinian prisoners Zayid Salman and Muatasim Jaradat have ended their hunger strike after reaching a deal with Israel’s prison service. A prisoners’ radio station said that the two men, both senior members of Islamic Jihad, went on hunger strike in support of Nahar al-Saadi, a Palestinian prisoner who had been on hunger strike for the last month following more than a year held in solitary confinement. Both Jihad members have been moved from solitary confinement as part of the agreement.
Israel charges 8 Palestinians over Facebook incitement
AFP 22 Dec — Eight Palestinians from annexed east Jerusalem were indicted on Monday for inciting anti-Jewish violence and supporting “terror” in postings on Facebook, a justice ministry spokeswoman said. The eight men, aged 18-45, were charged at Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court with “incitement to violence or terror and supporting a terrorist group” on Facebook, a ministry statement read. The incriminating posts were put online in recent months as a wave of violence rocked the city during which several Palestinians staged lone wolf attacks killing nine people. The defendants “directly called for violence and terror against (Jewish) citizens and security forces and praised, encouraged and supported these deeds and their perpetrators” on the Internet, the statement read. Among the remarks posted online were “It is good to kidnap soldiers”, “Zionists flee because you’ll soon be killed by a car” and words expressing hope that a rightwing Jewish activist who survived an assassination attempt in October would die a painful death, the indictment said. All eight were arrested earlier this month in what police said was their biggest operation yet aimed at halting incitement to violence on social networks.
Two Israeli Arab rappers cleared of incitement charges
Haaretz 24 Dec by Jack Khoury — After two years of fighting charges of incitement to violence and support for a terror organization in songs they performed in 2010, two Arab rap singers from Haifa finally won their case. The prosecution originally agreed to drop the charges for lack of evidence but the rappers, Wala Sabit and Jowan Safadi, who were charged over songs they performed at a coexistence festival in Haifa, fought until the court declared them not guilty. In July 2010, the pair, accompanied by dj Bruno Sabag, performed a song in Arabic and English called “Search Me” and containing the lyrics “I’m a terrorist, but I have no explosive belt around by waits/I have no bomb under my arm, no machine gun on my shoulder/I’m a soldier in the army of conscience/I’ll shoot you with bullets of poetry/I’ll assassinate you with a monologue/I’ll commit suicide with the bomb of a dance troupe and I’ll torture you with the beat of drums/” Reports on the songs appeared in the local media, claiming that the words were actually: “I’m a proud Arab/a suicide bomber/I will murder your mother and your sister too.” A few days later, then-National Union MK Aryeh Eldad asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to launch an investigation against the two singers on suspicion of incitement.
Rafah open for third day as thousands wait to cross
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Egyptian authorities kept the Rafah crossing with Gaza open for the third day on Tuesday, as waiting lists to use the terminal exceed 30,000. Around 630 Palestinians left Gaza and entered the Egyptian Sinai through the Rafah crossing on Sunday after Cairo authorized a temporary reopening of the border. Over 30,000 Palestinians have registered to use the crossing, which Egypt has only opened twice in two months. Huhair Samir, who is married to a Palestinian-Canadian, says she has been trying to see her husband abroad for nearly a year, but hasn’t been able to leave due to the near-constant closure. “My daughter wants to immigrate to Canada where her husband has been waiting for her since about a year, but we are paying a toll because of the closure of the crossing. We have paid a lot of money to obtain a visa for her,” her father told Ma‘an. Egyptian citizen Yusriya Abd al-Salam told Ma‘an she has been stranded in Gaza since September after she came to check on her home, which was destroyed by Israel during its military offensive. She lives in Egypt with her husband, who is from Gaza, and children but is unable to return while Rafah remains closed. Nasr al-Bayid said that he obtained a referral for treatment at the Nasser Institute Cancer Center in October, but he wasn’t able to reach Egypt before it expired. He says he has been shuttling back and forth between Ministry of Health offices nearly every day to renew it, in case Rafah is suddenly opened.
220 tons of medical supplies enter Gaza via Rafah
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — The Egyptian Red Crescent supervised the entry of 220 tons of medical supplies into Gaza on Monday via the Rafah crossing, officials said. The medical supplies were sent by Algeria and Qatar and arrived at Alexandria port and the city of el-Arish in northern Sinai, before being transferred to Gaza.
Israel allows 400 trucks of goods into Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Israeli authorities opened the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza on Tuesday to allow food and fuel supplies into the besieged enclave, a PA official told Ma‘an. Raed Fattouh said that 400 trucks of goods for the trade, agriculture, transport, and aid sectors were allowed in. The delivery included 100 trucks of materials for Qatari-funded infrastructure projects.
Hamdallah forms committee to control Gaza crossings
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Monday formed a committee to take control of Gaza’s crossings in a move aimed at accelerating the reconstruction process. The PM said in a statement that the committee will be headed by civil affairs minister Hussein al-Sheikh, with head of crossings Nathmi Mhanna and deputy minister of civil affairs Nasser al-Sarraj as members. The committee requires the support of the unity government in order to carry out its work, which will begin immediately.
Israel violates Gaza ceasefire nearly every day
EI 22 Dec by Maureen Clare Murphy — After Israeli warplanes bombed Gaza on Friday, the BBC described the air strike on “a Hamas facility” as “the first such action since the declaration of a truce in August.” The short BBC News item, essentially a repackaged Israeli army press statement, added that the strike was “in response” to a rocket fired earlier from Gaza. The casual reader would understand this to mean that Israel has held its fire since the August ceasefire which ended the intensive bombing this summer that claimed more than 2,200 Palestinian lives. However, the reality is that Israel has fired on Palestinians in Gaza nearly every day since the 26 August truce … The August ceasefire deal brokered by siege-enforcing Egypt, while never made transparent to the public, reportedly called for the opening of Gaza’s crossings, allowing the entry of reconstruction materials needed to rebuild Gaza’s devastated neighborhoods, the extension of the permitted fishing areas off Gaza’s shore and the relaxation of access restrictions in the areas along Gaza’s perimeter fence with Israel. These truce conditions are similar to those that ended twelve days of Israeli bombing — claiming hundreds of Palestinian lives in Gaza — in November 2012. Like its relentless violations of that earlier ceasefire, Israel has violated the August agreement with total impunity. Here is a brief breakdown:….
Gaza ripe for new explosion, analysts warn
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 21 Dec by Adel Zaanoun — Barely four months after a bloody conflict battered Gaza, experts warn that a new war could be in the offing if reconstruction is not accelerated and Palestinian divisions remain. Since the end of the deadly 50-day war between Israel and Hamas, which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 73 in Israel, little has changed on the ground in Gaza. Swathes of the territory lie in ruins and tens of thousands of people remain homeless. With reconstruction still conspicuous by its absence and talks to bolster the August truce repeatedly postponed, frustration is growing in Gaza — and with it the danger of a new outbreak of violence. This weekend, for the first time since the war ended on August 26, Israeli warplanes struck southern Gaza after militants fired a rocket over the border, the third time this has happened in four months. Although nobody was hurt on either side, the exchange of fire raised concerns that the fragile truce could deteriorate rapidly. Last week, as Hamas militants paraded through Gaza with rocket launchers and missiles in a show of force to mark the 27th anniversary of the Islamist group’s founding, they were quick to warn that the situation was unsustainable. “If there is no reconstruction of what Israel destroyed, we warn you that there will be an explosion,” warned the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing. “If our demands are ignored, there will be consequences for the enemy, its people and its leaders.” – Slipping towards war – The glacial pace of reconstruction is the most immediate concern for Gaza, where UN figures show more than 96,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in the war, leaving 100,000 people homeless. Palestinian officials say Israel has effectively blocked reconstruction by limiting supplies entering Gaza, but diplomatic sources say the UN-brokered mechanism has taken longer than expected to get up and running. The process has also been slowed by infighting between Hamas and Fatah, its West Bank-based rival which dominates the Palestinian Authority and has been tasked with managing reconstructionGaza-based analyst Walid al-Mudallal agreed that Hamas was under increasing pressure … “If it remains frozen in terms of reconstruction, war will be the only option. Hamas will have no choice,” he said. Figures cited by international aid charity Oxfam indicate 287 truckloads — each carrying around 40 tonnes of essential building materials — entered Gaza in November. But officials say that if Gaza is to be rebuilt within three years, it would need to be receiving at least 7,000 tonnes — or 175 truckloads — every day .. .’At boiling point’ Reconstruction aside, analysts say the conditions which led to the deadly summer conflict are largely still in place….
Gaza’s orphans still traumatised after Israel’s summer war
GAZA (The National) 23 Dec by Kate Shuttleworth — Inside the waiting room of a Gaza clinic, a small girl with her head bandaged sits on a stool, looking at her toes. A nurse leads Bisan Daher, 8, to a curtained treatment room, lifts her on to the black vinyl treatment bed and playfully puts gauze bandages on her legs and arms like pretend leg warmers. Slowly, Bisan emerges from her shell and breaks into a smile. She is distracted enough for the nurse to remove the dressing from her head. Bisan has lost an eyebrow and suffered a deep wound to her forehead, but her emotional scars run much deeper: she lost her mother and father, four brothers and sisters and a niece when an Israeli F16 jet bombed her family home. Bisan is one of 1,500 children who lost both their parents during Israel’s 50-day war on Gaza in the summer. The same United Nations statistics say 373,000 children in Gaza will need psychological support because of the war, as most lost someone they knew. and often their homes too … Inside the small third-floor apartment in a relatively leafy neighbourhood. Bisan sits in the corner of the bedroom she shares with two nieces. “I really want to see my mum and dad again,” she says weakly as she looks towards a small plastic toy dressing table with a cloudy mirror. The little girl is mostly speechless and lacks expression. Nearly four months after the fighting stopped, she still requires daily checkups and dressing of her wounds at the clinic run by the charity Doctors Without Borders. “I try to keep her engaged playing with other children. I tell her stories and play with her. I do my best to keep her busy by asking her to arrange her toys,” Noha says. Bisan lay unconscious and buried under rubble for six hours after the air strike on her home. She draws a lot of pictures of aircraft in the sky, tanks and ambulances but then she scribbles out the images and rips them up. “What terrifies her the most is the sound of the ambulance,” says Noha. “She will say the ambulance is coming to get us because they are going to strike the home, let’s go and leave the home. “When she’s asleep she wakes up suddenly crying, calling out to ask what has happened. Since the incident until today she hasn’t been able to sleep well in the night. She doesn’t sleep. As you see she is always silent. She was very active before.”
What I’ve learned living through three wars in the Gaza Strip / Alaa Radwan
Mondoweiss 23 Dec — “Peace is the opposite of war. War is the opposite of peace.” That was how my English teacher at school first taught me the concepts of war and peace. My teacher never explained what each of them means. I realize now that no matter how hard my teacher would try to convey the meaning of war and peace to me, she would never do it as excellently as life in Gaza did. I am 22 years old now; and three times in my lifetime wars have taken place … My grandmother one day told me that everything has a good side and a bad side, even a war. Everybody knows the dreadful face of wars. Those who have experienced wars, like Gazans, know best! “What good side, for God’s sake, could be in a war or a siege?” I stood still and asked myself. After three bloody Israeli wars, I found out the answer! Appreciate everything in life Old people say: “you never know what you have until you lose it.” We, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, never had a normal life; hence a Gazan values life like nobody else does … During the summer’s Israeli assault, being exposed to horrible scenes of buildings falling down, of people losing their lives, of memories and dreams fading away, I just wanted to survive. I told myself I no longer need electricity. I do not want to “dream” to travel abroad to pursue my own dreams anymore. I do not want anything. I just wanted to survive. To survive was all what I needed. Luckily enough, I survived … Another advantage of living in Gaza is having the ability to cope with the most difficult situations. Despite recurring Israeli assaults, power cut and fuel shortage, life in Gaza goes on. It always does.
Video: ‘We have hope’ – new music from Gaza’s Revolution Makers
EI 22 Dec by Ali Abunimah — Ever since I first heard them perform live in Gaza City in May 2013, I have enthusiastically followed the work of the Palestinian hip-hop duo Revolution Makers, brothers Osama and Mohammed Elsusi. Despite Israel’s summer massacre of more than 2,200 people and destruction of large parts of Gaza, they are still making music. This is their latest track and video, aptly named, “We have hope.” The video is beautifully but simply shot against a background of Gaza’s landscape. In Arabic, subtitled in English, the first melodic lines of the lyrics are: We have hope – for liberation of which we dream / We have consciousness we must fight for / We have Jerusalem – that needs to be in light / We have a homeland which hopes to be freed.
Gaza receives machinery for Coca-Cola plant
Reuters 23 Dec –Israel allows 10 trucks to enter Hamas-ruled territory; Palestinians hope to have Strip’s first Coke factory up and running by end of 2015.
Freed Israeli conscientious objector: They tried to break me
+972blog 23 Dec by Daniel Beller — After 177 days in Israeli military prison and 10 trials, ideological conscientious objector Uriel Ferera is a free man. When Ferera arrived at an IDF induction base on Sunday he was under the impression that he would be heading back to jail for an eleventh time. Instead, he was told that the IDF was releasing him from military service for “incompatibility on the basis of grave and bad behavior.” Ferera says that the army had previously offered for him to see a military psychiatrist in order to justify his release from service on psychiatric grounds. “But the mental health officer, that’s a way for the army to wash its hands [of me]. They don’t want to face the truth. I insisted and was sentenced [to prison] 10 times. In the previous sentencing, the military judge said that it in all likelihood it would be the last time.” … The hardest day was his first day in prison, Ferera explained. “They tried to break me, with verbal and physical violence.” The other prisoners weren’t aware of why Ferera was there, he continued, and they didn’t really care. “In military prison, everyone is on their own. Even when I was put on trial, the judges didn’t always know my background.” The IDF’s Prison 6 was tough, Ferera explained following his release from the army. “When they saw that I had gotten used to the place, they transferred me to Prison 4.” Ferera was worried about the transfer, he said, because it’s the same prison in which another conscientious objector, Omar Sa’ad, became ill and was hospitalized in serious condition. “But Prison 4 had a less tough atmosphere. They didn’t try and break me there like in Prison 6.”
Israeli legal systems
Resource: Two legal systems – discrimination under military occupation
+972 Resources 22 Dec — One of the most prominent and disturbing characteristics of Israeli military rule in the West Bank is the creation and development of an official and institutionalized legal regime of two separate legal systems, on an ethnic-national basis. The long-standing residence of citizens of the State of Israel, the occupying power, in settlements at the heart of the occupied territory – which contravenes international law in and of itself – has led to systematic discrimination that is anchored in legislation and rulings that affect every aspect in the lives of Palestinian residents of the West Bank. This dual system of law is the focal point of a new report by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, “One Rule, Two Legal Systems: Israel’s Regime of Laws in the West Bank.”
Judges aren’t cogs in the occupation, they’re the oil that keeps it going / Haggai Matar
+972mag 22 Dec — A new report maps out the two separate legal systems in the occupied territories — one for Jews and one for Arabs. At a launch event for the report, senior jurists showed up and argued it’s not their fault whatsoever. Former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner asked: What can we do? The answer: A lot — There was something mesmerizing about listening to representatives of the legal establishment speak at a conference held by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) last week. Mesmerizing and terrifying. The hardest thing was hearing Dalia Dorner — one of the most important judges in Israel, a recent candidate for the Israeli presidency, the president of the Israeli Press Council and an icon of sorts among the liberal camp — explaining that the Israeli Supreme Court actually has no influence on the reality of the occupation. In fact, she simply shirked all responsibility for the decisive role played by the judicial system in the establishment and consolidation of the military regime in the occupied territories.
Other news, opinion
VIDEO: Take a (virtual) ecological tour of the occupied West Bank
Israeli Social TV 23 Dec — From the separation barrier’s effects on animal migration and plant-life to insufficient sewage infrastructure to the discriminatory use of nature reserves, the occupation’s impact goes far beyond the personal and political — it’s also an environmental hazard. Social TV takes you on an ecological tour of the occupied West Bank.
Jamil al-Barghouthi appointed to replace Ziad Abu Ein
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday appointed Jamil al-Barghouthi to replace Ziad Abu Ein as the head of the Palestinian Authority committee against the separation wall and settlements. Abu Ein died after being assaulted by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration in the village of Turmus‘ayya in the Ramallah district on Dec. 10.
PA rejects US proposal to delay statehood bid
IMEMC/Agencies 23 Dec — Palestinian foreign minister Dr. Riyad al-Maliki says that Palestinian leadership has rejected US Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal of bumping the Palestinian resolution bid for statehood post Israeli elections. The Palestinian News Network (PNN) reports that, according to Dr. Maliki, Kerry tried to convince Palestinian leaders, during talks last week, to delay the presentation of the proposal before the United Nations Security Council, saying that it would harm Israeli elections. Senior PA officials stated, this past weekend, that they were under heavy pressure not to request a vote on the resolution at the UN … Palestinian leadership, on Monday, announced changes to the statehood bid, which includes the placement of currently occupied East Jerusalem as the fundamental capital, and basing the state on the 1967 borders. Changes included halting any Israeli provocative actions including successive attacks on Al Aqsa Mosque compound and the continued desecration of Christian and Muslim holy sites. Adjustments were also reportedly applied to the issue lands under threat of Israeli seizure and other attacks.
Erekat: UN to vote on Palestine bid before end of year
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — The United Nations Security Council will vote on a draft UN resolution that sets terms for a final Israeli-Palestinian peace deal before the end of 2014, PLO official Saeb Erekat said Tuesday. Speaking to Russian media, Erekat said that the PLO have made several amendments to the draft submitted last week and that the vote would take place “very soon” at any time before the end of 2014, in nine days. PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki had said Friday that the vote could take place within 24 hours, but it never materialized. Meanwhile, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine on Tuesday urged the Palestinian leadership to “immediately withdraw” the draft resolution, arguing that the leadership is presenting a confusing picture of the bid … “Both the original version and the amended version, including the French and British remarks, is beyond repair and reform, and should be withdrawn immediately without delay.” The only solution, according to the group, is to withdraw the resolution before it is discussed at the UN and invite all Palestinian groups for a comprehensive national dialogue.
Abbas says to cut ties with Israel if UN resolution fails
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday said the PA will cut ties with the Israeli government if a draft resolution presented last week to the UN fails to pass. Speaking to reporters in Algeria, Abbas said if the UN Security Council resolution fails the leadership will be forced to take the “necessary political and legal decisions,” the Algerian Press Service reported. “In case of failure, we will no more deal with the Israeli government which will then be obliged to assume its responsibilities as an occupier,” the news agency said. Abbas said that Palestine will “ultimately regain its independence” with East Jerusalem as its capital, and will not succumb to “Israeli hegemony and oppression.” The president met his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Monday during a three-day official visit.
Jailed Fatah leader criticizes UN resolution on Palestine
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi on Monday criticized the UN resolution submitted to the Security Council by the PLO, urging the Palestinian leadership to reword the proposal. In a letter received by Ma’an from jail, Barghouthi said the UN resolution is an “unjustified fallback which will have a very negative impact on the Palestinian position.” The senior Fatah leader said he has always urged the leadership to take the question of Palestine to the UN to obtain a security council resolution, but any proposal must be in-line with inalienable national principles. Barghouthi urged the leadership to comprehensively revise the wording of the draft resolution to focus on the major issues of settlement expansion, Jerusalem, prisoners, and the blockade on Gaza. Any talk of land swaps will weaken the Palestinian right to self-determination and a sovereign state on land occupied in 1967, he added, noting that such a measure would be used to legalize settlement building. The PA must also confirm that settlements are illegal, war crimes, and must be removed. The leadership must also demand that East Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine and insist on the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their former homes in Israel, in line with UN General Assembly resolution 194. The popular leader also criticized the draft resolution for not including the issue of Palestinian detainees. “Though the issue of prisoners isn’t part of the final status core issues, it should be confirmed in any resolution that freeing all prisoners is an absolute right and a precondition for peace.” The draft resolution should also include an immediate demand to end the “crippling siege” imposed on Gaza, especially after the “massacres” committed against the Palestinian people this summer. “We must stop negotiating with ourselves uselessly,” he added. Barghouthi is serving five life sentences for alleged involvement in attacks on Israeli targets.
Jordan extradites PA official on corruption charges
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Jordan extradited a Palestinian Authority official suspected of embezzling millions of shekels on Monday, the head of the PA’s anti-corruption unit said. Rafiq al-Natsheh said during a press conference that former accountant for the Palestinian General Directorate of Petroleum, Shadi Hamzeh, was delivered by Jordan to face questioning by the PA. Hamzeh, together with three other unnamed officials, are suspected of embezzling over 45 million shekels ($11.4 million). Natsheh hailed the cooperation of Jordan and Interpol in delivering Hamzeh. All four suspects are currently being detained by the PA. They are suspected of using bribes, exploitation, and forgery to embezzle the funds. There are currently six suspects involved in embezzlement living outside of the Palestinian territories and the PA is working to bring them back to face trial, al-Natsheh added.
Some 30 senior public Israeli figures questioned over public sector corruption
Haaretz 24 Dec by Yaniv Kubovich — Suspects include members of Knesset, a deputy minister, a former minister, the heads of regional authorities, among others — More than two dozen senior figures in the Israeli public sector have been detained for questioning over suspicion that they illegally allocated funds to non-sanctioned organization and laundered money through a straw company. The approximately [30?] suspects also allegedly granted personal favors, engaged in bribery, and pushed for their associates’ promotions. The investigation, which has been ongoing for about a year, involved searches of homes and offices of the suspects, and computers and documents have been confiscated.
New report claims that 2.6 million Israelis live in poverty
Ynet 22 Dec by Omri Efraim — A new report released by the Latet foundation on Monday paints an even starker picture of poverty in Israel than a gloomy official report published last week. According to the charitable organization, a quarter of the children whose parents accept assistance from foundations were reported as going to sleep hungry several times a month, with 36% of children whose families receive aid were forced to work in order to keep the family afloat … The Latet report also revealed a 14% increase in the amount of senior citizens who receive assistance that are forced to forgo medication and treatments. Over 70 percent of the charity-recipients reported a shortage of sufficient nutrition, with 10 percent being forced to scavange for food in trash cans, beg for change, or eat leftovers found in the garbage … According to the new index, some 2,546,000 Israelis live below the poverty line – including 932,000 children.
MK Zoabi’s office broken into in suspected political burglary
Ynet 21 Dec by Hassan Shaalan — The Nazareth offices of MK Hanin Zoabi were broken into overnight Saturday by unknown assailants, who caused damage to the office and stole computers. MK Zoabi says she thinks she was personally targeted as no other computers were stolen. Police forces arrived at the scene and began their investigation , but no arrests have yet been made.