Violence / Raids / Suppression of protests / Arrests
Two detained teens speak of abuse, torture
IMEMC 15 Dec by Saed Bannoura — Heba Masalha, a lawyer working for the Palestinian Detainees Committee, managed to visit two Palestinian teens held by Israel, who testified to her of horrific abuse and torture by the soldiers and the interrogators. On December 13, Masalha visited detainee Mahmoud Ahmad Hadra, 17 years of age, from the at-Tour town, in occupied East Jerusalem, held at the HaSharon Israeli prison. Hadra told Masalha that when the soldiers broke into his family home to kidnap him, on July 21 2014, undercover officers assaulted him, and a soldier fired a rubber-coated metal bullet, wounding him in his leg, and causing serious bleeding. He added that the soldiers, and undercover officers, then attacked him, and started kicking, beating and punching him, in addition to striking him with their rifles, causing injuries to various parts of his body, especially to his head … On his part, detainee Mahmoud Jamil Gheith, 17, from Silwan town in Jerusalem, and currently held at the HaSharon prison, said he was kidnapped on October 26 2014, at around 10 at night. He was standing in front of his family home when a number of undercover soldiers assaulted him, and started kicking and beating him all over his body. Gheith said the soldiers were punching him, kicking him, striking him on the head and back with their rifles, before they threw him onto the ground and dragged him for more than 200 meters while he was bleeding from several parts of his body, including his nose and mouth. He was then placed in a military vehicle, where he was beaten again all the way to the al-Maskobiyya, while the soldiers were laughing and making fun of him. Gheith was interrogated for 23 consecutive days; he was tortured, physically and emotionally, and was held in a very small, bug-infested cell.
Israel names Border Police officer accused of killing Palestinian protester
Ynet 14 Dec by Aviel Magenzi — Israel on Sunday named Ben Deri, 21, of Rishon Letzion as the Border Policeman charged with shooting and killing a Palestinian teenager during the Nakba Day protests in May. Nadim Nawarah, 17, was hit by gunfire during protests in Beitunia, near Ramallah, that included stone-throwing and tire-burning. Another demonstrator, 22-year-old Mohammed Abu Thahr, was also killed in the same protest. Deri served in the West Bank, and has since completed his military service. Family members and friends said that he seemed despondent while in police custody and could not believe the situation in which he had found himself. They said that the incident had also seriously affected his parents, while relatives said that after three years of risking their lives for their country, Deri and his friends were “very disappointed” by how the state had treated him. it was, they said, a “betrayal” … Siyam Nawarah, Nadim’s father, said following Deri’s arrest in November that investigation into the incident was “Israel’s opportunity to show the entire world that it is a law-abiding nation, meaning that the law is equal for Palestinians and Israelis. Israel must show the world that it will punish the officer in the same way as it would a Palestinian who shot an Israeli.
Hundreds rally against racist group ‘Lehava’ in Jerusalem
972mag 14 Dec by Mairav Zonszein — Hundreds of people protested in West Jerusalem’s Zion Square Saturday night against racism and called to outlaw Lehava, a racist, anti-misegenation group . Three of its members were charged several days ago with an arson attack against a mixed Jewish-Arab school two weeks ago. The protest was organized by a group of activists who identify as: “Jerusalem doesn’t stay silent in the face of racism.” Protesters held signs in Hebrew and Arabic that read “Stop the racism” and “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.” They called out chants like “Lehava’s racism begins in the government” and “Jerusalem will not be silent; outlaw racism.” Among the speakers at the protest was Murad Mana, whose child attends the bilingual Arab-Jewish school in the city which was burned exactly two weeks ago. He said, “We will not allow any bully to burn down our coexistence.” +972 blogger Orly Noy, whose children also attend the bilingual school, also spoke at the rally. “This type of violence does not take place in a vacuum,” Noy told the crowd and wrote in a post later Saturday night (Hebrew). “It sprouts from a bed of growing deligitimization of the Palestinian population in Jerusalem, both inside Israel and in the occupied territories.”
Activists raise Palestinian flag at checkpoint in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — A Palestinian activist, Youssef Abu Maria, was injured Saturday as Israeli forces suppressed a march near the tunnel checkpoint in Bethlehem protesting the death of PA minister Ziad Abu Ein. A Ma‘an reporter said that a group of activists against the separation wall and settlements marched to the tunnel’s checkpoint in Beit Jala and raised the Palestinian flag while shouting slogans about Abu Ein. The activists placed pictures of Abu Ein and Palestinian flags inside the checkpoint before being assaulted and beaten by Israeli soldiers.
Israeli forces detain 4 Jerusalem residents during clashes in al-Tur
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Dec – Israeli forces detained four young Palestinian men during clashes in the al-Tur neighborhood east of the Old City of Jerusalem Saturday evening. Witnesses told Ma‘an that fierce clashes broke out in al-Tur between Israeli troops and young Palestinian men in the main street. To disperse the demonstrators, Israeli troops fired tear-gas canisters, rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades in all directions. Undercover Israeli agents detained four young men two of whom were identified as Fadi Talal al-Sayyad and Omran Rabayaa.
Israeli forces raid 2 Palestinian villages in northern West Bank
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 14 Dec – Israeli troops on Sunday morning stormed two Palestinian villages in the northern West Bank ransacking two homes for inspection. Palestinian security sources in Nablus district told Ma‘an that several Israeli military vehicle stormed the villages of Tell to the southwest of Nablus and ‘Asira al-Shamaliya to the northwest. In Tell, the Israeli troops ransacked the home of Salim Abd al-Munim Ramadan, while in ‘Asira al-Shamaliya, they ransacked the home of Afif Sawalma and handed a summons to his son Amjad demanding that he show up at Israeli intelligence offices for questioning.
Israeli forces fire tear gas in Nablus school
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Israeli soldiers surrounded a high school near Nablus on Monday and fired gunshots and tear gas canisters into the yard, a local official said. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, said hundreds of children were trapped in the secondary school in Burin as Israeli forces fired tear gas and stun grenades outside. Witnesses said they also fired gunshots in the air. The Israeli liaison department notified its Palestinian counterpart that Israeli soldiers raided the school after youths from the village threw stones and empty bottles at settler vehicles on a nearby main road.
Israel arrests ten Palestinians from West Bank districts
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 11 Dec – Israeli forces arrested early Thursday 10 Palestinians from several West Bank districts, said security sources. Israeli police arrested Ahmad Taha after breaking into his home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud, and vandalizing his property. They also arrested Muhammad at-Tawil, Muhammad ‘Alaiwat, Ahmad al-Ju‘beh and Ayman Hassuneh in ath-Thuri neighborhood. Meanwhile in the Hebron district, forces raided Dura to the south of the city, and detained Muhammad ‘Odeh Muhammad and Eid Ibrayush. In Bethlehem, soldiers stationed at al-Container military checkpoint stopped and detained Qutaibah Qassem, 28, Mahmoud ‘Ayyad, 30, and Osama Shahin. Qassem and ‘Ayyad are residents of Jabal Handara neighborhood and Duheisha refugee camp, to the east and south of the city respectively, while Shahin is a resident of Dura. As of October 2014, the number of Palestinian detainees and prisoners held in Israeli prisons reached 5,447, said the Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem.
Israel arrests two Palestinians in West Bank, summons four others for interrogation
HEBRON (WAFA) 13 Dec – Israeli forces arrested Saturday two Palestinians and summoned four others from the districts of Hebron and Bethlehem, said security sources and a local activist. Israeli forces arrested ‘Abd-l-‘Al Abu-Mayyala, 25, and Hamza Zablah from the city of Hebron and led them to an unknown destination. They also raided the Hebron neighborhoods of al-Baten, Khalet al-‘Ein and ‘Asida, where they handed Ibrajim Bahar, 24, a former prisoner, a notice to appear before intelligence after breaking into his uncle’s house. They also handed ex-detainees Wahid Abu Maria, 42, and Yousef Sabarna, 25, notices to appear before the intelligence after breaking into their families’ houses. They also raided several Hebron neighborhoods and set up roadblocks at the entrances of Sa‘ir and Halhul to the north of the city, where they stopped and inspected vehicles with Palestinian registration plates traveling along the way and examined passengers’ ID cards. Meanwhile in Bethlehem, forces raided Marah Rabah village to the south of the city, where they handed ‘Amr al-Sheikh, 23, a notice to appear before the intelligence after breaking into and ransacking his family’s house.
Israel arrests six Palestinians in West Bank, Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 14 Dec — At least six Palestinians were arrested on Sunday by the Israeli army and police during night and predawn raids in the West Bank and Jerusalem, according to local and security sources. In Jerusalem, police broke into Jabal al-Mukabir neighborhood and arrested two local residents, who were identified as Ramzi Ewesat, 31, and Alaa Ewesat, 22. They were led to a nearby police station. Israeli police also stormed the neighborhood of Silwan, where they arrested Bilal Gheith, 36, during a wrangle with the police after they handed a demolition notice for the house of a Fatah official, under the pretext it was constructed without a permit. Meanwhile, Israeli army broke into Deheshe refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, and arrested Odai Hamash, 26, as well as summoned a local resident to appear for interrogation at a nearby military compound. Another Palestinian was also summoned after army stormed the nearby village of Beit Fajjar. Meanwhile, the Israeli army broke into the city of Yatta, in the southern West Bank, and arrested Hamad al-Zeer, 27, and Ayman Darabea, 40, after raiding and searching multiple homes in the area. Security sources said Israeli settlers stoned Palestinian vehicles passing at a highway near Hebron, yet there were no reports of casualties.
Otherwise Occupied: Israeli soldiers are licensed thugs applying state violence in the West Bank / Amira Hass
Haaretz 15 Dec — Even without tear gas grenades and grabbing Ziad Abu Ein by the throat, the presence of IDF troops in Turmus Aya was an act of violence in itself — The death of the Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein is more evidence of how the violence of the Israel Defense Forces has become normal, an obvious routine, one that is not seen and not changed. We have been busy with “a heart attack or not a heart attack,” we dealt with “suspending security coordination or not suspending security coordination” and with “how the IDF prepares for escalation.” In other words, we have been dealing with what slightly tickles Israeli fake normalcy. Nobody addressed the naturalness with which a line of IDF soldiers and Border Police and army jeeps set up in a Palestinian field to prevent farmers from accessing their land. There is no criticism of the nonchalance with which the licensed thugs shoot tear gas and stun grenades at old people, women and young people. And why? So they will not come near the unauthorized and illegal outpost of Adei Ad, located on their land. Even without tear gas grenades and stun grenades, even without grasping Abu Ein’s throat – the presence of IDF and Border Police forces there was pure violence. Every pillbox in the West Bank, every military camp and Civil Administration jeep, and every tractor of the Jerusalem municipality in the eastern part of the city, they are all an inseparable part of the state violence.
Jerusalem’s bus drivers are sitting targets / Tirtza Flohr
Haaretz 15 Dec — They can only guess who might be the passenger planning to attack them — About 20 years ago, when suicide bombings were frequent, buses were blown up, dozens killed and hundreds injured, I found myself using public transportation quite often. It was frightening, but that was the only way I could get to the university. Then, one day, the security guards began riding the buses too. They had a permit to peek into people’s bags, to ask them for their identity cards, to verify who they were and what the purpose of their journey was. But what I remember most vividly is one occasion when there wasn’t a security guard on the bus. Two seats in front of me sat a young man who had entered the bus at the same stop as I did, across from the university. After a few stops the seats were full and passengers were standing in the aisles. Yet no one sat in the lone vacant seat next to the young man. Something else was going on too. Whispering. The type that you could notice above and beyond the routine chit chat. The whispering intensified, eventually reaching the driver. At the next station he stopped the bus, stood up and approached the young man. “Open your bag,” he demanded. The young man refused. He did not understand what the driver wanted from him; the passengers were glaring furiously. Finally he got it. “I’m not an Arab,” he told the driver, “I’m not an Arab.” The driver eased off, and the bus moved on. I am not sure who else among the passengers, except for the young man, felt deep shame. When I read Nir Hasson’s article on the violent attacks against Arab bus drivers, this memory resurfaced. Why? It’s not the same thing, these are not the same cursed times. These are different cursed times. But then, as here and now, the bus drivers are in danger simply because they are bus drivers, and Arabs are the targets of hostility simply because they are Arabs.
Prisoners / Court actions
Child house arrests rise in Jerusalem clampdown
RAMALLAH (Defence for Children Int’l Palestine) 11 Dec — Othman, 15, is sitting at the top of a narrow staircase in the front porch of his family’s home in the Old City, in Jerusalem. He almost never smiles or laughs, and he doesn’t speak much. He has been under house arrest for the past 11 months, during which time he was only able to leave the house occasionally with his mother or father. Recently, he has been allowed to go to school accompanied by a parent. “That helps. A little bit,” he says. Othman was arrested when he was 14, along with his then 16-year-old brother, Obaid, on November 25, 2013. Israeli soldiers came to the family’s house at dawn and took both boys to the Mascobiyya detention center, where they were interrogated. Obaid remains in detention; the boys have not seen each other since their arrest. The boys’ father says that he hadn’t realized how traumatic the interrogation had been for his younger son. “He didn’t speak about it at first, so we didn’t know. It was only a few months later that we found out that the interrogators were physically violent, and threatened to rape him. He was by himself, so no one knew how bad it was.” Othman is not alone in this experience. According to the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, a spate of interrogations followed by house arrests were recorded over the summer, all involving children from East Jerusalem and the Old City. Between June and September 2014, at least 26 children were ordered to remain under house arrest for periods ranging between one and three weeks. Most were in their mid-teens, but the youngest child was just 12 years old … In the cases documented by DCI-Palestine, the use of house arrest is not connected to serving a sentence of any kind: children have not officially been charged with an offense….
Israeli prison services starts to punish hunger strikers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Dec – The Israeli prison service has started serious punitive procedures against Palestinian prisoners who recently started a hunger strike in solidarity with cellmates held in solitary confinement. Issa Qaraqe, a former minister of prisoners affairs and currently chairman of the prisoners affairs committee, told Ma‘an Sunday that some hunger-strikers were sent to wards of criminal prisoners, some were ordered to pay fines, others were deprived of family visits and still others of buying from the prison cantina for two months. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement that more than 30 prisoners have recently joined 70 others who started a hunger strike seven days ago. The move was to exert pressure on the Israeli prison service to end the solitary confinement of Nahar al-Saadi. Israeli intelligence has accused al-Saadi, who is serving four life sentences in Ayalon prison, of planning to abduct Israeli officers while in custody. For about a month, he has been on hunger strike protesting very dire conditions in solitary confinement. The statement added that the Israeli prison service started moves to quash the hunger strike in the weekend. Five leaders of the strike were moved to other prisons. In addition, the administration of Negev prison has notified 45 hunger-strikers that they would be moved, but they haven’t been told where and when. Thirty prisoners jailed in Rimon have also been told they will be moved.
Report: ’17 detained women face harsh conditions’
IMEMC 15 Dec by Saed Bannoura — A report published by the Palestinian Detainees Committee on Sunday revealed that 17 Palestinian female detainees held by Israel are facing very harsh conditions, harassment and are denied the right to medical treatment. The Committee said Israel is currently holding captive 17 Palestinians women; the oldest is Lina al-Jarbouni, 40 years of age, from ‘Arraba al-Batouf in Akka, who has been imprisoned since more than 13 years, and the youngest is Dima Sawahra, 16 years of age, from occupied Jerusalem. It said all female detainees, held in the HaSharon Israel prison, and are facing very difficult living conditions, medical neglect, constant harassment and violations. On Sunday, lawyer Heba Masalha of the Palestinian Detainees Committee, managed to visit four female detainees, held in the HaSharon Israeli prison, who informed her of constant harassment and violations, including soldiers repeatedly breaking into their rooms to search, and ransack them.[list of female detainees follows]
Jerusalem prisoner ‘attacked’ by Israeli officers during transport
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Dec – A Palestinian prisoner has been quoted by his lawyer as saying that officers of the Nachshon unit of Israeli prison service assaulted him while he was transported from a magistrate court in Jerusalem to Ramla prison. The prisoner 21-year-old Izz al-Din Attun told the lawyer that he was sleeping in the transportation truck when a Nachshon officer pulled him from his chains forcibly, a statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said. Other officers then attacked him on his forehead, chest and back with chains. They claimed that he tried to attack an officer. Attun added that he was moved from Ramla prison to Rimon prison where he asked for medical treatment at the prison clinic, but his request was denied and instead he was sent to solitary confinement for 24 hours. Attun is still in detention.
Israeli military court orders Palestinian terrorist to pay NIS 3.5m to victims’ family
Haaretz 15 Dec by Chaim Levinson — In a precedent-setting decision, an Israeli military court has ordered a West Bank Palestinian to pay 3.5 million shekels ($897,000) in compensation for the murder of an Israeli man and his infant son. The penalty, which was meted out on top of two life sentences, significantly exceeds the amount allowed by Israeli law. The incident occurred on September 23, 2011, an emotionally-charged day on which both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud addressed the United Nations General Assembly and discussed the Palestinian bid for UN membership. Asher Palmer, 25, and his son, Yonatan, were travelling to Jerusalem when a rock was thrown at their car from a passing cab. The rock hit Yonatan in the face and caused his father to lose control of the car, which flipped over a number of times. Both died at the scene. A year ago, Ali Saada was convicted in the case as a member of a cell that had engaged in throwing rocks at Israeli vehicles, and continued to do so after they saw that it could be lethal. [And what about the Jewish terrorists, individual and state? The use of the word ‘terrorist’ accomplishes nothing.]
Palestinian prisoner serving 24 years signs marriage contract
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Dec – A Palestinian prisoner who has been serving a 24-year sentence in Israel since 2003 on Saturday signed an official marriage contract at a religious court in Nablus upon which he became officially and religiously married to his 35-year-old cousin. The Ahrar Center for Prisoners Studies and Human Rights said in a statement that 40-year-old Riyad al-Zamil and his 35-year-old cousin Khuloud Faysal Hannun signed a marriage contract and became officially husband and wife. The bride signed the contract herself at the religious court in Nablus, while the groom’s brother Tariq signed the contract on behalf of him by virtue of a Power of Attorney. The groom has been detained since 2003 and is supposed to spend 14 more years in Israeli custody. Three years before he was detained, he and his cousin planned to get married but never followed through. Several family members attended the ceremony which brought an atmosphere of joy to the family despite that the rituals were different from traditional rites. “Getting married gives long-term prisoners a new spirit and more hope, resilience and challenge,” says the director of the Ahrar center Fuad al-Khuffash.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Video: Forces drought hits Jordan Valley farmers as Israel steals their water
EI 14 Dec by Jimmy Johnson — This new short film, Farming Without Water: Palestinian Agriculture in the Jordan Valley, casts light on the forced drought affecting Palestinian farmers due to chronic shortages caused by Israeli occupation and settlement. “They treat us as if we were a thorn in their side,” says Jordan Valley farmer Ismail Sharhan of the Israeli occupiers. Sharhan talks about the major land losses farmers like himself have faced due to Israeli confiscations and “security” fences. Ninety-one percent of the fertile Jordan Valley is now off limits to Palestinians due to settlements and closures by the Israeli military. “Sometimes when we have no drinking water, we cannot cook or do our house work,” says farmer and householder Anwar Ismail. She says that farmers often have to shorten their growing season due to the occupation-induced water shortages. She also speaks about the lack of water for livestock.
Israel jails village leader over peaceful protests against settler land theft
EI 13 Dec by Adri Nieuwhof — More than seven months after his arrest, an Israeli military court has sentenced Palestinian human rights defender Murad Shtaiwi to nine and a half months imprisonment and a fine of ten thousand shekels ($2,550). As coordinator of the Kufr Qaddoum Popular Committee, Shtaiwi was involved in weekly peaceful demonstrations against the Israeli occupation. The military court — a system in which Palestinians have few rights and no due process –convicted Shtaiwi over his role in the demonstrations. Shtaiwi’s trial lasted five only five days but was stretched out over five months, during which he was denied bail during the prolonged adjournments. The serious delay of his trial can be regarded as yet another form of punishment. Shtaiwi was charged under Israeli ”Military Order 101“ of 1967 for organizing and participating in the weekly protests. The military order criminalizes many Palestinian civic activities and violates the right to peaceful protest enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Israel ratified in 1991 … Since 2011, Shtaiwi and residents of Kufr Qaddoum in the northern occupied West Bank have staged weekly protests against the expansion of the Israeli settlement of Kedumim which is built on land stolen from their village. In 2003, Israeli forces closed the main road linking Kufr Qaddoum to the city of Nablus, which passed through Kedumim. Residents have to take a detour of about three times the distance. The weekly protests also call for the reopening of the main road. The situation in Kufr Quddoum and the weekly protests is highlighted in this new video by Addameer.
Israel declares Palestinian lands ‘natural reserve’ for the purpose of settlement expansion
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Dec — For the continued political goal of illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, Israel has zoned hundreds of dunams in the town of Kafr El-Deek, West Salfit, as an area of ‘natural reserve’. According to the PNN, Israeli authorities, Sunday, confiscated a bulldozer from a citizen working on expanding a road in the area. Mr. Rafat Zein Eddine, from Kafr El-Deek, said that occupation forces stopped him from expanding the earthen road, claiming that it was ‘natural reserve’ and prohibited any further action. They confiscated his bulldozer without mentioning when it might be released. Researcher Khaled Ma’ali explained that the area, called Banat Bar, is located to the south of Bido’il [Peduel], Zahav and Leshim settlements. Thus, the Israeli occupation, through this activity, aims to expand these illegal settlements on account of Kafr El-Deek. Mr. Ma’ali added that this is the second announcement, by Israel, of a nature reserve in Salfit, after Wadi Qana, where Israel has banned Palestinians from constructing or planting, in order to expand eight illegal settlements surrounding the village. Israel so far has seized about 90% of Kafr El-Deek village, and continues to do so, unabated.
Israel notifies Palestinians of home demolition orders in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 14 Dec – The Israeli authorities Sunday notified Palestinians of orders to demolish their homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, according to local sources. Witnesses told WAFA that Israeli police, accompanied by a staff from the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem, broke into the area and handed notices to local residents regarding the municipality’s plan to demolish their homes, under the pretext of building without a permit. Issuance of construction permits for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, occupied since 1967, has been restricted. The authorities rarely issue such permits, forcing the majority of the city’s residents to build houses to seek shelter without a permit.
Bombast with a side of bleakness in Open Bethlehem film
EI 11 Dec by Sarah Irving — …Leila Sansour’s film presents a highly personal portrait of her father’s native city and of her own love/hate relationship with it. It intertwines three narratives: that of Bethlehem as a historical city, of Sansour herself and that of the Open Bethlehem campaign, an effort to raise the profile of the city as it is encircled by Israel’s wall and literally dozens of settlements. … Some of these historical images are amongst the most fascinating aspects of the film, including as they do rare scenes and insights into the fate that has befallen the city. Old engravings and photographs of Rachel’s Tomb, for instance, trace in sad detail its trajectory from a simple, dignified shrine on a quiet hillside, visited by Muslims, Christians and Jews alike, to a site accessible only to Jews and completely encased in Israeli military concrete. This combination of the personal and political forms the backdrop to Sansour’s decision, during the second intifada, to return to Bethlehem to make a film about Israel’s wall. Devastating The footage she took in those early days includes devastating interviews with people like Khalil Musallam, who died, broken and bitter, soon after the wall cut him off from the businesses he’d spent forty years building up. Like Musallam, an aging farmer fights back tears as he looks over the remains of his seventy-year-old olive trees, cut by the Israeli army to clear a route for the wall. “Security — they’ve swallowed the whole universe with this word,” says one bereft Bethlehemite.
Meet the human GPS who’s saving Bedouin lives
Haaretz 15 Dec by Eetta Prince-Gibson — Nearly 100,000 Israelis who live in unrecognized villages in the Negev rely on one man — a medic, ambulance driver and IDF tracker — for emergency medical care — …Scores of small encampments and settlements are scattered across the landscape. These are the “unrecognized villages”. The State of Israel has recognized 18 Bedouin villages and cities, but only half of the Bedouin population lives in them. The rest are scattered throughout the Negev. Considered illegal by the state, the villages not entitled to any basic services, such as health and education; there are no public buildings and the villages are not connected to the electrical, water and sewerage infrastructures. They do not appear on any official maps. No roads lead to them and no GPS-based apps provide directions to the tents and make-shift homes. “I’m the GPS in this area,” says Yasser Abu Rejila, 42, a dark-skinned man with a tight, wiry build and a wide smile. He adds with a smirk, “I’m WAZE, too.” Abu Rejila, 42, who grew up in one of the 35 unrecognized villages in the region, is a senior paramedic and ambulance driver. For nearly nine years he has been driving and staffing the only ambulance that provides services to the nearly 100,000 Bedouin — all Muslim Arabs and citizens of Israel — who live in this 400- square kilometer swath stretching from Be’er Sheva to Mitzpe Ramon … Most trained first responders and rescue services cannot reach these villages, which have neither access roads nor street addresses. Without Abu Rejila, injured people would have to transport themselves to the hospital or clinics in Be’er Sheva over the rough terrain, putting themselves at increased risk for further injury and death. But Abu Rejila knows the land. To an untrained eye, the landscape offers no cues, but he can find every village, home and tent. “I’m a Bedouin,” he says.
Extremist settlers continue to storm Al Aqsa
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Dec — Israeli settlers again stormed Al Aqsa Mosque, this Sunday, guarded by Israeli “special forces”, Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency reports. According to a worshiper at the mosque, about 15 Israeli settlers stormed Al Aqsa from the Mughrabi gate, during the morning hours, touring its courtyards in the presence of hundreds of worshipers from Jerusalem and pre-1948 occupied lands and, finally, exiting from the door of al-Selsela. The mosque’s congregation confronted the militant incursion chanting “Allahu Akhbar!” (God is Greatest!), as Israeli police stationed at the gates confiscated the personal IDs of a number of women and some men. Some of the settlers reportedly provoked the worshipers, in addition, while one tried to climb to the plate Dome of the Rock, making provocative gestures. Al Aqsa guards intervened and the settler was promptly ejected from the courtyards. “Students for the Temple”, “Women for the Temple”, “Hliba” and other organizations have called upon their supporters to take part in wide raids on the mosque, in preparation for the Hebrew Festival of Lights.
Gaza fisherman injured by Egyptian fire
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — A Palestinian fisherman was injured by live fire shot from an Egyptian surveillance area on the borders with the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, an official said. Head of the Gaza fishermen union Nizar Ayyash told Ma‘an that an Egyptian surveillance site on the Egyptian-Palestinian border across from Rafah opened fire on fisherman Ali al-Bardawil. Ayyash added that al-Bardawil was taken to the Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah where he was treated for injuries to his hand and stomach.
Karem Abu Salem crossing open to goods, aid into Gaza
RAFAH (WAFA) 14 Dec – Head of the presidential commission for coordinating the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, Raed Fatuh, Sunday said that the commercial crossing Karem Abu Salem, south of Gaza, was opened Sunday morning to allow the entry of truckloads of goods and aid into the strip. He told WAFA that 420 trucks carrying goods for both the agricultural and commercial sectors and aid purposes entered Gaza; of those 51 were trucks carrying cement and gravel for international reconstruction projects and 100 trucks carrying gravel for infrastructure work sponsored by Qatar. Fatuh added that the trucks also carried diesel used to run the power station, which was hit during the latest assault on Gaza, and transportation as well as gasoline and cooking gas.
Leaked video contradicts IDF version of deadly incident during Gaza op
Ynet 14 Dec by Elior Levy — Al-Aqsa news channel airs video taken during Operation Protective Edge showing Hamas terrorists calmly returning to the Strip after firefight with IDF that resulted in death of 2 soldiers, while army said they fled the scene — Two days after Palestinians revealed leaked video footage from an IDF investigation showing Hamas members infiltrating Israel by sea at the Zikim beach in southern Israel, the Al-Aqsa news channel aired another video showing a serious incident during Operation Protective Edge in which two IDF soldiers were killed. The IDF has yet to officially respond to the leaked video, which shows a contradicting version of an incident that happened during the summer war. “The cell members were not warded off or chased,” said Hamas, contradicting the IDF’s claims that Israeli forces managed to chase the Hamas militants and push them back into Gaza. The said video refers to an incident which led to the deaths of Major Amotz Greenberg, 45, and Sergeant Adar Barsano, 20, after Hamas terrorists infiltrated into Israel from a tunnel from within the Gaza Strip.
Abbas: Gaza reconstruction ‘main concern’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that the main concern of the Palestinian government was the reconstruction of the war-torn Gaza Strip. Abbas said at the start of a Palestinian leadership meeting in Ramallah that “we are committed to reconstruction, and we called for the (Cairo aid) conference.” Abbas added that the issues up for discussion are going to the UN Security Council, the meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention and calling on the UN secretary-general to form a committee to look into the death of a Palestinian minister. Among other topics to be discussed are reconstruction of Gaza, peaceful popular resistance, joining international conventions, limiting Israeli-Palestinian relations, and stopping security coordination.
Hamas organizes massive military parade in Gaza on anniversary
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Dec – Although Hamas officials announced two weeks ago that the movement decided to cancel Gaza City celebrations for the 27th anniversary of the movement’s founding, it organized a massive military parade Sunday on the occasion as top officials delivered zealous speeches. The first official to address the audience in the televised ceremony was Abu Ubayda, the spokesman of the group’s military wing the Al-Qassam Brigades. “We warn of the moment of explosion which won’t be in the interest of occupation.” … All the group’s military divisions participated in the parade including artillery, naval fighters, tunnel units, snipers, defensive units, infantry and anti-aircraft units.
Hamas condemns attack on French center in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — The Hamas movement condemned Saturday an explosion targeting the French Cultural Center in Gaza City on Friday. Hamas leader Ahmad Yousef told Ma‘an that the movement condemns the attack and that such an action does not serve the Palestinian cause. “Why at this specific time at which France has a generous stand toward Palestine?” Yousef added. A Palestinian was injured late Friday in the explosion near the French Cultural Center in western Gaza City. Gaza police spokesman Ayman al-Batneiji told Ma‘an that the Gaza police, explosives engineering and the criminal investigations department arrived to the area and opened an investigation into the incident. It was the second explosion that occurred at the same site in less than a month. The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the attack, saying that “the side responsible for such a criminal action does not belong to Palestinians as culture is a major part of the Palestinian identity.” The statement added that those responsible for the explosions are “ignorant and do not appreciate the role of culture in the Palestinian national fight.” The ministry said the “attack on the French Center was an attack on the Palestinian culture as well.” The target of this attack was the recent strong stand by the French as a government, Senate, and people, the statement added.
Hamas launches test rockets toward the Mediterranean Sea
Ynet 13 Dec by Elior Levy — Hamas’ military wing launched three rockets aimed at the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday, Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip reported, as part of experiments designed to restore Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades’ firepower to what it was before Operation Protective Edge. This marks the third day in a row that test rockets were launched. Prior to the test rockets launched on Saturday, similar experiments had been conducted on Thursday and Friday. On Tuesday morning, Hamas conducted a similar test, launching a couple of rockets. The sounds of the explosion ricocheted through the Gaza Strip and even resulted in a false report within Gaza that the explosions came from shots by Israeli tanks aimed at the Buriej refugee camp.
Why is Israel preventing rights experts from entering Gaza?
Haaretz 8 Dec by Amira Hass — Israel prevented experts from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch from entering the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge, and it still is preventing them. As a result, no independent professionals (for example, a certain retired British military officer) have been able to check in real time the army’s claims and versions; for example, about weapons caches or firing near or from inside UN buildings. If the Israel Defense Forces and its legal advisers were so sure they were adhering to international law, why were they scared to let these experts enter Gaza — alongside the many journalists who were allowed in? It could very well be that every word in the IDF spokesman’s recent statement on the decision to investigate “exceptional incidents that occurred during Operation Protective Edge” is truthful. But these words — true or not – are just a veneer covering the problematic layers of Protective Edge and all Israeli military operations against the Palestinians. The IDF, its lawyers and its commanders hold a monopoly on information from Israeli theaters of war because of the IDF’s technological superiority. So they also hold a monopoly on concealing information, telling untruths and dismissing the findings of Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups — and of course on ignoring Hamas’ claims … This monopoly on information and the sophisticated methods for gathering it lets the IDF choose a few “exceptional” cases in order to portray the rest as proper and passing an objective self-examination. The IDF has decided to conduct a criminal investigation into the bombing that killed the entire Abu Jama family in Bani Suheila. But as rights group B’Tselem has found, 72 IDF bombings of populated buildings killed 547 people, including 125 women under the age of 60, 250 minors and 29 men and women over 60. Of course, this doesn’t mean the rest (men under 60) were a “legitimate target.” What makes the bombing of the Abu Jamas manslaughter and the rest appropriate?
Surf’s up in Gaza Strip for the brave amid hardship
GAZA CITY (AP) 13 Dec by Fares Akram — As wintry winds battered the Gaza Strip, sending many inside, two Palestinian men instead rushed for the breaking waves of the Mediterranean Sea. Mohammad Abu Jayyab, 41, and his friend Ahmad Abu Hasira, 35, represent two of about two dozen surfers catching waves in the blockaded strip, which has endured three devastating wars with Israel in six years, the most recent this summer. The Gaza Surf Club describes the sport as a way to “forget about the hardships of living in Gaza.” But that’s not really the case as the two men splash into water cold enough to take their breath away even in wetsuits. Raw or only partially treated sewage now churns into the waves. “We take to the sea engulfed with fears of infection. In the past, the water was better,” said Abu Jayyab, a father of five. The sewage in the Mediterranean stems from long-standing electricity shortages linked to a border blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. Rolling power cuts disrupt pumps handling sewage for the strip’s 1.8 million people … When Abu Jayyab started out as an amateur in the 1990s, he used homemade wooden boards that injured him at least four times. Now, the clubs’ boards bears the logos of world organizations that donated them, including Surfing 4 Peace, founded by American surfer Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, who died in November at age 93. “God bless his soul,” Abu Jayyab said.
Gaza jobless rate reached 60% after Israel war
14 Dec — The unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip has soared to nearly 60 percent after Israel’s summer war on the Tel Aviv-blockaded Palestinian enclave, Press TV reports. During the aggression, which lasted for 50 days, entire industrial zones were directly hit by Israeli warplanes and tanks, some of them beyond repair. Businesses lost millions of dollars worth of machinery and equipment and two office buildings housing dozens of companies were completely destroyed … According to the World Bank, nearly every second person in Gaza was unemployed even before the recent Israeli war. Unemployed workers say they have lost hope of getting any work. “Most of us are sitting around without work because we have no factories to return to. After the war, things only got worse and it’s near-impossible to find any type of job. Many carpenters, plumbers, construction workers, and mechanics have lost their jobs,” said one man.
Greed, family breakdowns afflict Gaza society
GAZA CITY 9 Dec by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Gaza’s society is reeling from the stresses of the last Israeli war, with families falling apart amid great psychological pressure — Hajja Zakia Mustafa, 86, used to sit in front of her house under the sun, chatting with her neighbors to ease her loneliness. Her ground-floor house was perfect for her, as she used to walk a few steps out of it to find herself surrounded with people. Three months after the war on Aug. 3, during which her home was destroyed as a result of a nearby blast, Mustafa had to move in to her children’s houses, before they all agreed to let her live on the second floor alone. This is when everything changed, and her health started deteriorating. Her weight dropped by half, as weeping and praying became her only consolation in her solitude. “I sit most of the times by myself. I cannot get used to the flat. I can’t even hear the call for prayer and I don’t see the sun,” Mustafa told Al-Monitor. She added that, until today, she has not received any compensation. Her son registered the whole house in his name, knowing that a wall separated his place from his mother’s house, and cheated her on compensation. This phenomenon of seeking personal benefit is not only limited to Mustafa’s son, as it has become a common feature among people in the postwar period … Psychologist Akram Nafeh confirmed that Gaza’s society is in a state of distress and general frustration following the harsh war and its unexpected repercussions. “During crises such as wars, people usually become more spiritual. However, once the war is over, material things become of great value, pushing people to look after their own interests at the expense of others. In their subconscious, people believe that making financial gains means that they are still alive,” he told Al-Monitor … Another social problem emerged as a result of the psychological effect of the war. Atef Mohamed (a pseudonym), who is 26 and lives in one of the refugee schools in the Shati refugee camp, told Al-Monitor: “I was about to abandon my family and divorce my wife. I used to have violent fits of anger and would hit my wife and four children, to the extent that I almost killed them once. “Everything changed after the war. Everything I owned no longer existed. My house in the Shajaiya neighborhood had been flattened, as well as my small shop where I used to sell cell phones. Life is unbearable. I suffered from depression and used to lose my temper. Had it not been for the medication I have been on for about a month, I would have destroyed my family.”
Trauma and despair on the increase in besieged Gaza
MEMO 12 Dec by Arianna Love — Cases of trauma and acute despair are being seen more often by medical professionals across the besieged Gaza Strip. Almost every family, it is claimed, is affected, and the problems are leading to a marked increase in suicide attempts. According to Dr Ayman Sahbani of Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital, most of those trying to kill themselves are under 30 years of age. Local officials say that there are between 30 and 40 suicide attempts every month, and the figure is expected to increase. “We see young people who have swallowed rat poison and pesticides, overdosed on medication, cut themselves or jumped off high buildings,” said Dr Sahbani. “There are also shootings, self-immolation and hangings to deal with.” Survivors are often helped by staff at the Community Mental Health Programme in Gaza. Psychologists there speak of a “sense of hopelessness”, particularly among the young, which is exacerbated by the effects of the Israeli-led siege, which prevents students from traveling abroad for study and work and has destroyed the local economy … In fact, UNICEF reported in September that 430,000 children are in need of such support immediately. The cost of failing to treat children suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex PTSD is far too high. Doctors point out that they can set broken bones, but when it comes to rebuilding someone’s psychological integrity, this is something else. “Israel and its supporters in the West don’t understand this,” they claim. “They’re creating psychological damage for these kids that will be with them for the rest of their lives and will be carried through the generations.”
PCHR report on Israeli human rights violations in the oPt (4-10 Dec 2014)
PCHR-Gaza 13 Dec — Shootings: During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed Ziad Abu ‘Ain, Director of the Palestinian Authority Commission against the Annexation Wall and Settlement Activity and member of the Revolutionary Council in Fatah movement. Israeli forces also wounded 16 Palestinian civilians, including 7 children, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; 14 of whom, including the 7 children and a photojournalist, were wounded in the West Bank; while the other two ones were wounded in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, 3 girls and a woman were wounded due to the explosion of suspicious objects of the Israeli military remnants in the family house in the Gaza Strip, and 2 brothers were wounded in a similar incident in the south of the Gaza Strip … Incursions: During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 64 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 93 Palestinians, including 13 children and 3 women. Thirty of these civilians, including 9 children and 2 woman, were arrested in Jerusalem. In the Gaza Strip, on 09 December 2014, Israeli forces moved about 200 meters into the east of al-Qarara village, northeast of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. They levelled lands along the border fence for few hours and withdrew later. On 02 December 2014, Israeli forces station along the border fence, east of al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, arrested 2 Palestinians attempting to sneak into Israel through the border fence. Full, detailed document available on the PCHR website
US torture report shows the danger of Israel’s legal loopholes
972 blog 13 Dec by Nadeem Shehadeh and Amjad Iraqi — In American discourse, torture is a dark stain on the country’s recent history. In Israel, there is no law against torture and the justification of its use is still mainstream — The United States Senate this week released its long-awaited report on the CIA’s use of torture during the so-called “War on Terror.” A significant revelation in the report was that the CIA relied upon an Israeli High Court decision on torture and other Israeli policies as legal justifications for its own torture practices. These include the vague concepts of “necessity” and “ticking bombs,” and the use of enhanced interrogation techniques defined misleadingly as “moderate physical pressure.” Since the Israeli High Court handed down its decision on torture 15 years ago, the ruling has been lauded by many observers as “revolutionary” for its supposed regulation of the use of torture to obtain information from suspects for urgent security purposes. However, as demonstrated by the Senate report, and as Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations have long-argued, the High Court’s ruling is riddled with serious flaws – or more accurately, deliberate shortcomings – that merely grant the appearance of a progressive approach to the use of torture. A chief problem is that torture is not a crime under Israeli law. From the outset, this violates provisions of international human rights covenants ratified by Israel, such as the Convention Against Torture, that forbid the use of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (CIDT) in all their forms.
Netanyahu lauds Christians serving in the Israeli army
Haaretz 15 Dec by Noa Shpigel — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Upper Nazareth on Sunday night to attend an Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum event in honor of the upcoming Christmas holiday. Hundreds of people attended the event, including many soldiers. The forum, headed by Father Gabriel Nadaf, encourages Christian Arabs to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces. Netanyahu told the crowd of how he had accompanied his son Avner to the enlistment office on December 1. The very next day, he noted, Nadaf accompanied his own son, Jubran, to the enlistment office, and, like Avner, Jubran volunteered for combat service. “We are brothers, we are partners – Christians and Jews and Druze and Muslims who defend the State of Israel,” he said.
Israeli and American academics demand US and EU sanction Israeli leaders
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Dec — PNN reports that a group of Israeli and American academics calling themselves “genuine Zionists” have sent written demands to the US government and European countries insisting that they impose sanctions on Israeli politicians Naftali Bennett, Uri Ariel, Moshe Feiglin and PM Benjamin Netanyahu. This demand, according to Haaretz, comes as a result of the call from the four Israeli party leaders for merging the West Bank into Israel, disrupting the peace process and international law. The group is calling for the withdrawal of investments and the imposition of sanctions on the country, noting that though this campaign will not necessarily achieve peace, any extremist Israeli leader who violates international law must be punished, as any serious negotiations must be subjected to that law in order to achieve such a peace. Furthermore, the group is demanding that the US freeze the four Israeli leaders’ bank accounts within the US and in EU countries, in addition to banning the extremist leaders from entering the United States and the EU as a punishment for their actions. The petition was signed by 20 Israeli and American academics who said that the extremist Israeli actions are offensive to Israel.
Netanyahu lands unexpected endorsement: the Boycott Israel movement
A Special Place in Hell 8 Dec by Bradley Burston — Benjamin Netanyahu, his re-election campaign dogged by polls showing mounting voter disapproval of his performance as prime minister, has struggled of late to win decisive endorsements, even within his own Likud party. From at least one sector, however, Netanyahu has received an endorsement as ringing as it was unsolicited – that of Omar Barghouti, a leading figure in BDS, the international movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel. Barghouti, speaking recently at an event held at Columbia University Law School in Manhattan, credited broadly negative world response to Netanyahu and his government’s hardline policies, for much of the movement’s success in recent years. “We’ve got to give credit to Netanyahu,” Barghouti said in remarks quoted on the pro-BDS Mondoweiss website. “Without him we could not have reached this far, at this time”. “It could have taken much, much, much, much longer, but with the help of the Israeli government, our biggest closet supporters in the world, we’re going much faster”.
Little headway in UN push for Palestinian resolution
AFP 13 Dec by Andre Viollaz — Negotiations on a UN resolution to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects are making little headway, with Europeans waiting for a US response to proposals as the Israeli election campaign steams ahead. US Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to Rome on Sunday for a key meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss initiatives at the United Nations. Jordan last month circulated a draft Palestinian text to the Security Council setting November 2016 as a deadline for the end of the Israeli occupation. But the text ran into opposition from the United States, which has veto power, and other countries that felt it lacked balance, diplomats said. It was never put to a vote. France stepped in last month to try to cobble together along with Britain and Germany a resolution that would win consensus at the 15-member council. The text would call for a return to negotiations with a view to achieving a two-state solution by which Israel and a Palestinian state would co-exist. Negotiations have hit hurdles over whether to include a two-year deadline for talks on a final settlement to be completed. France is also proposing to host an international conference to launch the new peace track, bringing in all the key players in a show of support for a final settlement. Supporters of a UN resolution are hoping to win US backing or at least ensure that Washington will not oppose the measure — which would be the first text adopted by the council on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 2009. “There is a window of opportunity,” said a European diplomat. “There is a willingness from the Americans to consider options at the UN.”
Erekat: UN resolution by Monday
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday that a resolution to end the Israeli occupation will be submitted to the UN Security Council “in the coming few hours, or maybe on Monday.” Erekat told the official Palestinian radio station that he would meet US Secretary of State John Kerry in a European capital in the coming two days. “We want a clear and specific resolution for a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, resolving all the final status issues, releasing all detainees and refugees and labeling settlement activity illegal and should be stopped immediately, including in Jerusalem,” Erekat said. Kerry left early Sunday for a series of meetings in Europe seeking to head off an end-of-year UN showdown over the Palestinian bid for statehood. His first stop was to be Rome where he will meet separately with both Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu … Kerry is due to meet Lavrov on Sunday, shortly after arriving in Rome. Talks with Netanyahu follow on Monday, after which the top US diplomat is expected to travel on within Europe although no stops have yet been announced.
How a Galilee Palestinian beat the odds to become an Arab Idol finalist
972 Blog 12 Dec by Yael Marom and Henriette Chacar — On his way to the finale of one of the most important shows in the Arab world, Haitham Khalailah had to deal with the Shin Bet, restrictions on the movement of Palestinian citizens and the fraught connection between Palestinians in Israel and the rest of the Middle East. Will he be the second Palestinian in a row to be crowned winner? — Haitham Khalailah, a 24-year-old Palestinian singer from Majd al-Krum, competed Friday night in the finale of Arab Idol – the most popular singing competition in the entire Arab world. Hundreds of millions of viewers will have to decide by Saturday night whether Khalailah — who was able to unite Palestinians in the occupied territories, Israel and around the world — should win. The other two finalists are Hazem al-Sharif of Syria [who ultimately won the competition] and Majd al-Madani from Saudi Arabia. Haitham sang two songs in the semifinals, the first of which was Saber Ruba’i’s “Ahla Nisaa al-Dunia” (“The most beautiful women in the world”), followed by “‘Ala Dal’ona,” one of the most important and well-known Palestinian folk songs, which had the entire studio audience on their feet … The fact that Haitham made it to Arab Idol is in itself a clear-cut political declaration on the part of the Arab world, as well as by Palestinian contestants who insist on maintaining their connection to the Arab world. Haitham, like Majd Kayyal before him, is part of a group of young Palestinians in Israel who are crossing borders and refusing to give up their identities, as well as their cultural and national connection to Arabs across the globe. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was the first to grant legitimacy to Manal and Haitham. The leader of the Palestinian Authority took an unusual step by giving each of them official Palestinian travel documents, which allowed them to reach Beirut.