Violence / Raids / Suppression of protests / Arrests
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — A Palestinian man from the northern West Bank village of Farun died Wednesday morning after he was crushed to death inside an Israeli checkpoint near Tulkarem as he was trying to get to work. Witnesses said 39-year-old Ahmad Samih Bdeir, who was on his way to a construction job inside Israel, choked to death in extreme overcrowding amid large numbers of people trying to cross the al-Tayba checkpoint, also called Shaar Efrayim. The witnesses said the crush occurred because of the extremely slow pace at which inspection procedures were carried out by the Israeli soldiers staffing the facility. The death is the second at al-Tayba this year, after 59-year-old Adel Muhammad Yakoub died in early January as a result of extreme overcrowding at the checkpoint as well. Inspection procedures at the checkpoint typically take hours as every person must pass through metal turnstiles one at a time. The turnstiles in turn are controlled by Israeli soldiers from hidden posts, and workers frequently complain about unnecessary delays caused by the soldiers staffing the checkpoints, who are typically 18- or 19-year-old conscripts finishing their compulsory military service. Following the revolving gates, there are metal detectors and inspection stations. Palestinian are often crowded into metal pens inside the checkpoints, unable to leave or enter, and Israeli soldiers rarely respond to requests for movement from those stuck inside. Sources in the Palestinian Federation of Trade Unions said that more than 15,000 Palestinian workers pass through al-Tayba checkpoint every day. They said that the checkpoint is operated by the Israeli military as well as private Israeli security companies. … Nine days ago, more than 5,000 Palestinian workers refused to cross the checkpoint in the morning protesting what they called “humiliating” inspection procedures.
Israeli soldiers critically injure Palestinian in shooting near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 2 Jan — A Palestinian was severely injured late Thursday after Israeli soldiers opened fire on him near the Burin intersection south of Nablus in the northern West Bank. Omar al-Burini, a taxi driver who was on the scene at the time of the attack, told Ma’an that he “saw Israeli soldiers open fire at a Palestinian youth who was about to cross the Burin intersection where several Israeli soldiers were deployed at the checkpoint.” Al-Burini said that the youth, who he said was around 20 years old and was wearing a gray jacket, immediately fell to the ground after he was shot. Palestinian medical sources told Ma‘an that a Red Crescent ambulance arrived in the area to evacuate the youth to the hospital, but Israeli soldiers refused to allow medics to take him saying his injury was critical and that he needed to be taken to Israel for treatment. Soldiers reportedly refused to identify the youth to medics.
Jewish settler runs over Palestinian child walking to school in Tuqu‘
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — A 10-year-old Palestinian boy was injured after an Israeli settler ran him over on the main road of the Palestinian village of Tuqu‘ south east of Bethlehem early Wednesday. Bethlehem region emergency services official Muhammad Awad told Ma‘an that Amir Majed Ahmad Suleiman, 10, received a number of bruises after being hit by an Israeli settler’s car as he was heading to school in the town. Awad said that the settler immediately fled the area despite the fact that Israeli forces were deployed on the main road of the village. He added that Suleiman was taken to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital in Bethlehem for treatment. The incident comes only three days after an Israeli settler ran over an seven-year-old Palestinian boy from the village of Zif south of Hebron. Recent months have seen a wave of hit-and-runs against Palestinians by Jewish settlers living in the occupied West Bank, as well as reprisal car attacks in Jerusalem. In October, a settler ran over two Palestinian children as they walked near near Ramallah, killing 5-year-old Einas Khalil.
Eyeless in the West Bank: When Palestinian boys play cat and mouse with Israeli police
Haaretz 3 Jan by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — A few weeks ago, police shot a foam-tipped bullet at the face of an 11-year-old boy. He immediately lost one eye and now the other is in serious danger — Salah Suleiman is an 11-year-old fifth-grader from ‘Isawiyah, a Palestinian village within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries. He lost one eye after a bullet was fired at him by the Israeli police, and is now in danger of losing the sight in his other eye, too, according to physicians at Hadassah University Hospital who treated him. They recommended he apply for a certificate of blindness and request transfer to a school for the blind. Now, some six weeks after a policeman fired a foam-tipped bullet into his face, Salah sits in the living room of his house – he hasn’t been at school since the incident – and gropes his way in the dark that has suddenly descended on his life. His face is scarred, his blinded eye is bandaged, and with his other eye, with its deteriorating vision, he can only make out shadows. He is a tidy person, an outstanding student. Since being shot, Salah, whose parents are devoting themselves to his care, has also suffered from mental agitation and nightmares, and he is seeing a psychotherapist. The fact that an 11-year-old boy was shot in the face by security forces made no impact in Israel and did not rattle the police. About three weeks afterward, the police shot a neighbor, Mohammad Obaid – a child of 5 – in the face with a rubber-coated bullet … Salah says that he was caught in the middle, between the police and the children who were throwing stones, and that he himself did not throw any. Salah saw a policeman aim his rifle at him – he says he shouted to him that he only wanted to pass by – and shoot one foam-tipped round that struck the wall behind him. After that the boy remembers nothing … Salah’s father relates that his son wakes up in a fright at night. One time, he says, Salah dreamed about a policeman aiming his gun at him, another time about a policeman dragging him by the feet. One night in the hospital the boy awoke in terror and told his father to call his mother immediately, because policemen were waiting for him outside their house….
Israeli settlers set Palestinian home on fire while family sleeps
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — A group of Israeli settlers set a Palestinian home on fire by throwing Molotov cocktails at it early Wednesday, an official in the southern West Bank said. The mayor of Yatta, near the southern West Bank village of al-Deirat where the incident occurred, told Ma‘an that the incident was “very dangerous and aimed to kill an entire family of seven, including five children.” Mayor Moussa Makhamreh said that a group of Israelis from the nearby Jewish-only settlement of Karmel broke the windows of Mahmoud Muhammad Jaber al-Adra’s home at around 3:00 a.m., throwing Molotov cocktails inside and spraying racist slogans on the outside walls. The slogans included “Death to Arabs” and “Respectfully Leave.” Makhamreh said that a large part of the family’s living room was destroyed by fire in the attack. Following the attack, Israeli police arrived at the scene of the crime and listened to al-Adra and his neighbors’ testimonies of the incident. The Jewish-only settlement of Karmel is notorious for its residents’ violent attacks and threats against local Palestinians [WAFA: The same day, Israeli forces demolished a tent and a cement base for a tent, both belonging to a Palestinian family, in the village of Al-Mufaqarah. The tent was used to store the sheep and wood logs used by the family to heat during winter.]
Israel police: US officials attacked by Jewish settlers in West Bank
JERUSALEM (AP) 2 Jan – Jewish settlers attacked American consular officials Friday during a visit the officials made to the West Bank as part of an investigation into claims of damage to Palestinian agricultural property, Israeli police and Palestinian witnesses say. The incident is likely to further chill relations between Israel and the United States, already tense over American criticisms of Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and Israeli perceptions that President Barack Obama is only lukewarm in his support of Israeli diplomatic and security policies. Settlers have often spoken against what they call foreign interference in their affairs, but this is the first known physical attack against diplomatic personnel. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that a small number of settlers threw rocks at officials who had come to an area near the Jewish settlement outpost of Adi Ad in two consular vehicles to look into Palestinian claims that settlers uprooted scores of Palestinian olive trees the day before … Awad Abu Samra, who owns the land in the village of Tormousyya where the damage to the olive trees allegedly took place, said he accompanied the officials with two relatives. He described the officials as security personnel who had arrived in the village in advance of a larger party from the American consulate in Jerusalem, which was scheduled to arrive in the village later that afternoon. “There were six security guards from the consulate riding in two cars,” Abu Samra said. “When they got out of the cars they were attacked by young settlers from the outpost who were carrying clubs and axes. They struck the cars with clubs but the security guards did not respond with their weapons.” Abu Samra said that after the attack began the American security guards returned to their vehicles and drove away, explaining that they were under strict instructions not to engage the settlers in any way. He said that the planned visit of the additional officials from the consulate was called off after the incident.
US ‘deeply concerned’ over settler attack on convoy
Haaretz 2 Jan by Barak Ravid — The U.S. State Department said on Friday it is “deeply concerned by the incident where U.S. diplomatic vehicle was attacked with stones by armed settlers in the West Bank.” Settlers from the Adei Ad illegal outpost in the West Bank threw stones earlier on Friday at an American consulate convoy, which arrived at the area to examine complaints that settlers destroyed Palestinian-owned olive groves the day before. Jeff Rathke, Director of the Office of Press Relations at the State Department, said there were no injuries, adding that the U.S. is “working with Israeli authorities in their investigation of the incident, including by offering to provide video footage taken during the incident.” The U.S. takes the safety and security of its personnel “very seriously,” Rathke said. “The Israeli authorities have also communicated to us that they acknowledge the seriousness of the incident and are looking to apprehend and take appropriate action against those responsible.” Rathke also strongly denied earlier reports claiming American security guards drew their weapons. “I do want to correct one thing proactively from some of the reporting I’ve read on this incident,” he said. “No American personnel drew their weapons in the course of these events. What has been reported suggesting otherwise is inaccurate.”
Israeli troops attack non-violent Palestinian demonstrations in 5 West Bank villages, wounding one
IMEMC 3 Jan — One boy was injured, and scores of civilians were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation on Friday when Israeli soldiers attacked nonviolent weekly protests organized in West Bank villages. The protests are held every Friday midday in a number of West Bank villages to protest the illegal confiscation of the villages’ land for the construction of the Israeli Annexation Wall. This week, Israeli troops attacked the weekly protest organized by the villagers of Kufr Qaddoum in the northern West Bank. One of the spokespeople for the non-violent movement in the village, 45-year old Khaldoun Abu Khaled, was abducted by the occupying troops. Soldiers also invaded the village and fired tear gas into residents’ homes. As a result, many civilians, including children, suffered effects of tear gas inhalation. In the central West Bank, in the villages of Bil‘in and Ni‘lin, Israeli soldiers attacked the protesters as soon as they reached the gate in the wall that separates local farmers from their lands. As a result, many protesters suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation and were treated by field medics. In the nearby village of al Nabi Saleh, Israeli troops fired several rounds of rubber-coated steel bullets at the villagers as soon as they reached the village entrance. One boy was injured in his leg and was moved to a hospital in the nearby city of Ramallah … In Al-Ma‘asara village, Israeli troops stopped villagers and their supporters at the entrance of the village and forced them back, however, no injuries were reported.
The non-violent weekly protests have gone on every week for more than ten years, with the participants committing themselves to non-violent responses to the Israeli military’s violence.
Report: Palestinian woman injured in E. Jerusalem after bus stoned
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — Unidentified assailants on Wednesday hurled stones at a bus in East Jerusalem, injuring a Palestinian woman, Israeli media reported. The Israeli news site Ynet reported that the woman was lightly injured by glass shards after stones broke a bus window in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The woman did not require hospitalization, the report said. Israeli police are searching the site for the stone throwers, it added.
Molotov cocktails thrown at settler house in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 2 Jan — Israeli sources said Thursday evening that three Molotov cocktails were thrown at the home of a Jewish settler in East Jerusalem earlier in the day. No injuries were reported in the attack, which took place in the majority-Palestinian neighborhood of Ras al-Amoud. A large number of Israeli police reportedly entered the area following the attack to search for the assailants.
Video: ‘They look like they’re in a war zone, but what they’re aiming at is five-year-olds’
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 31 Dec — By 10:30 am on Tuesday morning of December 30, Palestinian children attending school near Qeitun checkpoint in al-Khalil (Hebron) had endured over forty tear gas canisters, multiple rounds of rubber coated steel bullets and stun grenades, and the arrest of a twelve-year-old boy. Israeli forces fired down the road leading from the checkpoint to the schools, filling the street adjacent to the schools with a choking cloud of gas and preventing Palestinians walking through the checkpoint from continuing down the street. As it is exam season in al-Khalil’s schools, children were attempting to reach school between seven and eight am and leaving again between nine thirty and eleven. Israeli military forces kept up a sporadic barrage of fire from the time some children were still walking to school until after school finished, forcing anyone traveling in either direction to brave whistling tear gas canisters and the dizzying smoke which still lingered even after the shooting had halted. Early in the morning, Israeli occupation forces grabbed the twelve-year-old near the checkpoint, accusing him of throwing stones. Eyewitnesses present at the scene denied the accusation. After they took the young boy away to the police station, Israeli army and border police advanced further down the road away from the checkpoint, heavily armed with tear gas, stun grenades, and the long rifles used for firing rubber coated steel bullets. Sometimes they fired systematically, setting off five or more rounds of tear gas at a time; at other times it seemed bizarrely random, as when a single border policeman would suddenly run up the street and fire off a tear gas grenade at the distant crowd of children.
Israeli army imposes curfew on Deir Nitham village
IMEMC/Agencies 3 Jan by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday, the village of Deir Nitham, northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, imposed a curfew forcing the residents under house arrest, and launched a wide-scale search campaign into dozens of homes, kidnapping one resident. Palestinian TV has reported that the soldiers caused excessive property damage to a number of homes, after violently breaking into them and ransacking the property of the owners. The news station added that the soldiers smashed several windows of the home of Dr. Khaled Tamimi, and caused property damage to a number of homes, including the home of Mohannad Othman Tamimi and Ahmad Othman Abdul-Hamid Tamimi, 40, in an attempt to pressure his child, Shehab, 14 years of age, to hand himself in to the army. The soldiers allege the child hurled stones at their vehicles, and is currently “wanted for interrogation.” A member of the Deir Nitham Land Defense Committee, Safi Tamimi, said at least six Israeli military vehicles invaded the village, and imposed curfew, leading to clashes between the invading soldiers and local youths. Tamimi said the village has been under strict Israeli military measures, and siege, in addition to escalating attacks carried out by fanatic Israeli settlers against the residents, their homes and lands.
Israel live fire injures one, six with rubber bullets in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 31 Dec — At least one Palestinian was injured by live bullets and six others by rubber-coated steel bullets, whereas dozens suffocated by teargas during confrontations with the Israeli army in the village of Silwad, to the east of Ramallah, according to local sources. WAFA correspondent said fierce confrontations broke out between local residents and Israeli army soldiers at the entrance of the village. The soldiers opened fire, injuring at least one resident, while shot and injured around six others with rubber-coated steel bullets. Dozens others suffocated by teargas after the soldiers fired teargas canisters towards them, witnesses said. The incident came only two days after Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian minor and injured another near Zaʻtara military checkpoint to the south of Nablus. Israeli forces have repeatedly shot Palestinians who posed no imminent threat with live ammunition during similar protests, including an April 4 demonstration in the same location. According to Human Rights Watch, the Israeli military has a poor record of bringing soldiers to justice for such acts. Since September 2000, the Israeli military has convicted only six soldiers for the unlawful killing of Palestinians; the most severe sentence imposed was seven-and-a-half months in prison, according to the Israeli rights group Yesh Din. During that time, Israeli forces killed more than 3,100 Palestinian civilians who were not engaged in hostilities, while other Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during so-called “law enforcement activities” in the West Bank, according to reports by B’Tselem, another Israeli rights group.
Israel court okays demolition of Jerusalem attack suspect homes
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 Jan — The Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal to prevent the demolition of the homes of four Palestinians from East Jerusalem who attacked Israelis in West Jerusalem in recent months. “As usual, Israel ended the year 2014 by rejecting the appeal of the al-Akkari family and the families of other martyrs … basing its decision on the strategy of the Israeli ministry of defense according to which demolition orders must be carried out in order to achieve deterrence,” lawyer Midhat Dibah, who defended the al-Akkari family, said. He added that the Israeli ministry of defense pledged at the Supreme Court to try and minimize, through specialized engineers, the impacts of the demolitions on other houses adjacent to those slated for demolition. Human rights sources told a Ma‘an reporter in Jerusalem that the Israeli Supreme Court gave approval to a decision to demolish the homes of Muhammad Jaabis from Jabal al-Mukabbir, who was shot dead on Aug. 4, 2014 after he allegedly ran “deliberately” into an Israeli bus. Furthermore, the court okayed the demolition of the homes of Udayy and Ghassan Abu Jamal, also from Jabal al-Mukabbir, who were shot dead after they attacked worshippers in a synagogue in West Jerusalem. The demolition of the home of Ibrahim al-Akkari from Shu‘fat refugee camp was also okayed by the Israeli Supreme Court. Al-Akkari was shot dead after he ran over an Israeli pedestrian at a light rail stop in Jerusalem. The court gave the Israeli Ministry of Defense 15 days to determine whether to demolish or merely seal off the home of Muataz Hijazi in Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem. Hijazi was shot dead in his Silwan apartment by Israeli soldiers after a brief gun battle, only hours after Israeli authorities said he opened fire and wounded Yehuda Glick, a US-born extremist rabbi who has called for the destruction of the Al-Aqsa mosque and its replacement with a temple. Appeals on behalf of the families against the demolition orders were submitted by Israeli human rights group HamoKed (Center for the Defense of the Individual).
Army kidnaps 14 Palestinians in Occupied Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Dec — Israeli soldiers invaded various Palestinian communities in different parts of the occupied Jerusalem, broke into and ransacked dozens of homes, and kidnapped fourteen Palestinians, including four children. Amjad Abu ‘Asab, head of the Jerusalemite Families Committee of Palestinian Detainees, said the soldiers kidnapped Mahmoud Hadya, Mohammad al-Joulani, Mohammad al-Mohtaseb, Adham Abu Najma, Mohammad Eskafy, Hamza Shweiki and Mohammad Tawil from their homes in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Soldiers also invaded the al-‘Eesawiyya town, in the center of Jerusalem, and kidnapped three Palestinians; two of them have been identified as Bara’ Mahmoud, 16, and ‘Ali Abu al-Hummus, 14. In addition, the army kidnapped a child identified as Nasser Fares from Ras al-‘Amoud in Silwan, and another child, identified as Khader Daoud from at-Tour neighborhood overlooking the Old City. On Tuesday evening, soldiers kidnapped Saif ‘Obeid and Dia’ ‘Obeid in Bab al-Amoud in the occupied city. The two are from the town of al’-Eesawiyya.
Late on Tuesday at night, a number of fanatic Israeli settlers attempted to invade the village of Qasra, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, but members of the local nonviolent resistance committee intercepted the attack, and pushed the settlers out of their village. Following the attack, Israeli soldiers fired gas bombs at the residents, leading to clashes with local youths.
Raids, kidnappings and demolitions by Israeli forces continue across occupied Palestine
IMEMC/Agencies 2 Jan — …Israeli soldiers detained a young man from Jenin, Thursday at dawn, while holding a father and his sons and destroying their homes. Security sources and homes’ owners told WAFA that Israeli soldiers detained 22-year-old Lutfi Abu as-Samn after raiding his home and vandalizing it. Witnesses added that Fakhri Huweil’s home was raided and vandalized, its surroundings dug out. Soldiers also destroyed Fakhri’s cameras and damaged his studio by unleashing police dogs. The homes of two brothers, Naser and Ja’far Abu as-Samn, were also raided and vandalized. Their parents told WAFA that soldiers raided their homes at dawn, interrogated their families and later confiscated their property under the pretext that the two are wanted. The two brothers were ordered to turn themselves over at Salem military camp, west of Jenin. Israeli soldiers also raided the homes of Muhamad Jabarin, inspecting it and tampering with its contents. Meanwhile, in Hebron, Israeli soldiers abducted a Palestinian from Beit Ummar. Mohammad Awad, spokesperson for the Anti-Settlement Committee, told WAFA that Israeli forces raided al-Madabi’ area, west of Beit Ummar, and inspected locals’ homes, detained freed prisoner Saqir Abu Mariah, 40, and transferred him to Etzion military camp.
Israeli forces detain three in nighttime raid on Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 Jan — Israeli forces blew up part of a home and detained three Palestinians during a nighttime raid on Ramallah early Friday, including one reportedly wanted for involvement in stabbing two Israeli policemen in Jerusalem last week. Sources said that Israeli forces surrounded a home in the upscale Masyoun neighborhood of Ramallah before using explosives against the structure. They then entered the house and detained two young men, one of whom was identified as Moussa Muhammad al-Ajlouni, while the other was still unidentified. Israeli media reports later identified al-Ajlouni as a suspect in the stabbing of two Israeli policeman last week. According to the reports, both of the youths detained were East Jerusalem residents.
A third Palestinian was also detained by Israeli forces during the raid after clashes broke out in the area. Sources said that he was assaulted by Israeli soldiers, who beat him with their rifles, before dragging him to a military vehicle and taking him away.
Watch: Israeli occupation police assault Turkish tourist at Aqsa Mosque
FalastinNews 1 Jan — The Israeli occupation police on Wednesday evening detained a Turkish tourist after physically assaulting him at the Aqsa Mosque. Spokesman for the Islamic Waqf Authority Firas al-Debs said that Israeli policemen engaged in an altercation with a Turkish tourist during his presence at the Dome of the Rock in the Mosque and violently subdued him. Debs explained that one of the policemen provocatively talked with the young man and asked for his passport, although the latter did not know how to speak Hebrew, Arabic or English. Afterwards, the young man was taken handcuffed to a police station outside the Mosque for questioning before releasing him.
Israeli police detain five women in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 1 Jan — The Israeli police Thursday detained 5 women who were praying at al-Aqsa Mosque, for attempting to stop yet another provocative tour carried out by extreme religious Israelis, said WAFA correspondent. The women are reportedly from different areas in East Jerusalem; such as Jabal al-Mukabir, Shu‘fat refugee camp and Sour Baher. One of them is 16 while two others are 19 years old. Some of the detained women were identified as Malak Atoun and her cousin and Ikhlas Ra’oud. WAFA correspondent reported that all of the detained women were led to Qashla detention center in Bab el-Khalil gate in the old city of Jerusalem. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri justified the detention saying they were chanting religious slogans at the Israelis who were in the Mosque’s yards and tried to end the visit. She said in a press release sent out to news agencies that the five women are undergoing interrogation at the moment. The detention of the five women came amid a provocative tour during which extreme Israeli soldiers broke into al-Aqsa Mosque from al-Maghariba gate under heavy Israeli protection. The provocative tours are usually called for by a number of extreme religious Jewish groups such as Students for the Temple, Women for the Temple, Hliba, and Union Temple.
14,952 Israelis broke into Al-Aqsa Mosque in 2014
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 1 Jan — Al-Aqsa Association for the Waqf and Heritage said that around 14,952 Israelis, including settlers, police, ministers and members of Knesset stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque during the year 2014. The association reported in a statistical report prepared with the help of witnesses staying daily in Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound that the 14,952 included 12,569 settlers, 1,102 intelligence members, 1,084 soldiers in military uniform, and 197 public figures, including ministers, deputy ministers and members of the Knesset; an average of 1246 Israelis per month overall and 1047 settlers in specific. The previous numbers illustrate an increase by 12.7% of Israelis from 2013 in general and 39% of settlers in specific. A total of 13,268 Israelis were reported to have broken into Al-Aqsa Compound, 9050 of which are settlers. The highest number of incursions was reported in June (2134), followed by September (1615) and October (1600). Al-Aqsa Association mentioned a number of figures who broke into Al-Aqsa compound in 2014 including, Minister of Settlement and Housing Uri Ariel, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Moshe Feiglin, Secretary of Homeland Security Yitzhak Aharonovich, Deputy Minister of Transportation Tzipi Hotovely, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ze’ev Elkin, Jewish Home member of the Knesset Shuli Mualem, and Likud Rabbi Yehuda Glick, and head of Jerusalem municipality Nir Barkat. The association attributed the rise these raids to support by political figures, such as head of the Interior Committee in the Knesset Miri Regev, in addition to the increasing number of religious edicts that allowed Jews to break into the Al-Aqsa, after they used to prohibit it. In addition, the arrest and prosecution of the Muslim worshipers and setting many age restrictions on access to Al-Aqsa Compound during week days were some of the ways to empty the holy site.
200 Palestinians leave Gaza Strip to pray in Jerusalem
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Jan — Some 200 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip traveled on Friday to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem after having received permission from Israeli authorities. Sources with the Palestinian liaison told Ma‘an that the group traveled through Israel via the Erez crossing, which was partially open Friday for emergency cases.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Disrespect for other religions / Restriction of movement
Israeli settler targets Dormition Church in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 31 Dec – An Israeli settler was arrested for attacking the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem, and vandalizing a cross and a statue, reported local media. The Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Center of the Heads of Churches of Jerusalem (JIC), Yusef Daher, told WAFA the church was attacked by an Israeli settler who vandalized its content, an incident that is not the first of its kind. In 2013, a similar attack took place where vandals targeted the church, where Virgin Mary passed away, by spraying graffiti on its walls with anti-Christian slogans such as ‘Christians are monkeys’ and ‘Christians are slaves”. According to media reports, the church’s guard arrested the settler after the latter jumped over the wall and vandalized the cross and the statue which were at sight. Daher said such incidents take place often. The only difference this time that the Israeli police arrested the settler the same day, he said.
86 Israeli attacks on religious Islamic, Christian sites in 2014
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 1 Jan — Al-Aqsa Association for Waqf and Heritage reported that Israel had carried out around 86 assaults on and violations of Islamic and Christian Palestinian sites in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem in 2014. It said in a report published on Wednesday that about 30 cases of assault on mosques, 21 cases of assault on graveyards, six cases of attacks on Christian holy sites, and other sporadic attacks, including preventing the call for prayer in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron for hundreds of times amounting to dozens a month, were documented. To the previous list, the association added the complete destruction of 73 mosques, the partial vandalism of 197 mosques, and damaging of one church during the war on Gaza. Al-Aqsa Association recorded five cases of burning mosques or parts of them, including the burning of Ali bin Abi Talib mosque in the village of Deir Estia, in Salfit, spraying of racist slogans on a shrine in Anata town near Jerusalem, Abu Bakr mosqe in Umm al-Fahm, and Abu Bakr mosque in the town of Aqraba, south of Nablus, and the Great Western mosque al-Mughayir village in Ramallah. Other incidents were recorded such as the attacks on two mosques and Islamic shrines with racist writings and improper and Talmudic words. The report also documented the demolishing of five mosques in Nablus, Jerusalem and Naqab.
Meanwhile, six cases of assault on Christian holy sites were recorded by the association. In April, price tag groups vandalized a monastery in Rafat west of Jerusalem and an extreme Israeli threatened a priest in Nazareth. Another incident happened in the same month, when price tag groups sprayed racist comments near the Roman church in Jerusalem. In May, Israeli extremists sprayed offensive comments about Jesus Christ near a church in Beersheba. Meanwhile other Israelis wrote offensive comments about the prophet Mohammad and Jesus, an incident which coincided with the Holy See’s visit to Palestine … In 2014, according to the report, Israeli forces and settlers efforts increased to take control over Waqf land to turn it into Jewish shrines; among these attempts were putting up fake gravestones and raiding the sites….
Israel demolishes residential structures in Jordan Valley
TUBAS (WAFA) 1 Jan — The Israeli authorities Thursday demolished residential Bedouin-oriented structures in Kherbet Um al-Jamal, a small village near Tubas in the central Jordan Valley, according to local sources. Head of al-Maleh village council, Aref Daraghmeh, said Israeli soldiers and bulldozers arrived in the area and demolished around 25 residential structures, most made of tinplates, and animal barns. Daraghmeh said the demolition left around five Palestinian families homeless. Israeli army and police have repeatedly vandalized Palestinian residencies in the Jordan valley under the pretext of construction without permission … Israel has heavily invested in transferring the Jordan Valley into a completely Israeli area, primarily in agriculture, targeting to ban territorial contiguity between a future Palestinian state and the rest of the Arab world. To this end, tens of settlements and agricultural outposts have been established by Israel in the Valley, which makes up about one-third of the total area of the occupied West Bank.
Israel confiscates store’s contents near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM, December 31, 2014 (WAFA) – The Israeli authorities Wednesday confiscated the content of a commercial store in the village of Hosan, to the west of Bethlehem, according to local sources. A local activist told WAFA an Israeli army force accompanied by heavy machinery broke into the village, before raiding the store and ravaging its content. The cost of the content ravaged by the Israeli army is estimated at around $65,000. The village of Hosan has been subject to recurrent army incursions during the past three days, including provocative firing of teargas canisters and stun grenades, according to the sources.
Israeli forces issue stop-work notices in Hebron-area town
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 1 Jan — Israeli authorities on Wednesday evening issued stop-work notices to three buildings owned by Palestinians in the southern West Bank town of Idhna in Hebron district. The owners told Ma‘an on Thursday morning that Israeli troops stormed the village and handed them warrants to stop construction on the buildings they have been using as metal scrap storage space. The buildings were constructed 10 years ago, according to the owners. The Israeli forces claim that the buildings were constructed in Area C according to Oslo Accords which is under full Israeli military control, and the owners have not obtained the needed construction licenses from the Israeli Civil Administration. Locals said that Israeli settlers also raided the town several times in the past few days. Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank in areas under its control. It has demolished at least 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures since occupying the West Bank in 1967, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
VIDEO: Israeli soldiers close key checkpoint in Hebron
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 31 Dec — At approximately 14:30 yesterday afternoon, ISM activists approaching Checkpoint 56 from both directions found that it was closed and Palestinians were stuck on either side. Israeli soldiers gave conflicting excuses for closing the checkpoint, none of which were supported by any apparent evidence. On the H2 (Israeli controlled) side of the checkpoint, ISM members were told that a youth had thrown a Molotov cocktail from the H1 (Palestinian Authority controlled) side. On the H1 side, a soldier shouted down to an activist: “Hey! You speak English? Tell the people we cannot open the checkpoint because the people on the other side are throwing stones!” However, there were no stones on either side, nor were there broken glass or large patches of liquid on the ground as would be seen from a Molotov cocktail. A survey of the area showed nothing at all out of the ordinary. This did not stop the soldiers from behaving in a crude manner, as shown in the video below. Palestinian human rights activist Issa Amro asked the soldiers why the people below, who were causing no problems, couldn’t pass. The soldier in the observation box shouted, “I hate you! F*** you! I’m gonna eat you!” The soldiers also launched a sound grenade, also without any apparent reason. When asked by an ISM activist why they would not open the checkpoint, the soldier simply referred to his commander. Checkpoint 56 not only separates H1 and H2, but separates many Palestinians from their homes and workplaces. Hundreds of people, including children, pass through the checkpoint every week and are subject to random searches and detentions, which disrupt their day-to-day activities. Checkpoint closures like this are one more form of harassment people have become accustomed to because they can happen at any time.
Israeli settlers uproot 5000 olive tree saplings near Turmus‘ayya
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Jan — Jewish settlers have uprooted more than 5,000 olive tree saplings in agricultural lands east of the town of Turmus‘ayya in the central West Bank north of Ramallah, locals said Thursday. One of the owners of the lands targeted, Awad Abu Samra, told Ma‘an that in the last week settlers have repeatedly raided the area to attack the olive tree saplings. The attacks are reportedly carried out in order to ensure that Palestinian farmers are unable to plant in the area and thus force them to leave the land, leaving it open to confiscation by settlers. He estimated that the assailants had managed to uproot around 5,000 olive tree saplings out of a total of 8,000 that had been planted since mid-December in the area, known as al-Zahrat. The saplings had been planted in honor of slain Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein, who died after being beaten by an Israeli soldier during a march to help plant trees and protest land confiscation in the area on Dec. 10. Abu Samra said that the settlers who carried out the attacks most likely came from the nearby settlement of Adei Ad, an outpost of the Jewish-only settlement of Shilo located nearby. That settlement was built on lands confiscated from local Palestinians. Abu Samra said that each day settlers carried out the raids in which they uprooted hundreds of saplings under Israeli army protection, and that they had uprooted the saplings and broken their roots so as to prevent them from being replanted. Jamil al-Barghouti, president of the Resistance Committee against the Wall and the Settlements, told Ma‘an that the “barbaric act” occurred under the cover and protection of the Israeli army. Barghouthi, who lives in the area, said that he had seen with his own eyes settlers attacking farmers as they worked in the area, in a bid to kick them off the land and seize it for the settlement. He stressed that the committee will re-plant thousands of olive trees and will provide full assistance to farmers to help them cultivate the land again.
Analysis: The silent cry of Bethlehem
Ma‘an 2 Jan by James Zogby — …It is the peaceful little town that played an out-sized role in history; the birthplace of Jesus, the child born in a cave, heralded by angels, and visited by shepherds and kings. For hundreds of millions of Christians world-wide, these are the images that define Bethlehem. Sadly, in reality, all of this is but a fantasy, since the pressures of daily life confronted by the residents of this historic community paint a remarkably different portrait. Suffering under an Israeli military occupation since 1967, Bethlehem is slowly being strangled. It is losing land to settlement construction, hemmed in by a 30 foot high concrete wall, stripped of its resources, and denied access to external markets. As a result, 25 percent of Bethlehem’s people are unemployed, while 35 percent live below the poverty level … The town has lost so much land to Israeli confiscation for settlement construction that, because it can no longer expand, it must build vertically. As a result, what is left of Bethlehem has become overcrowded, with traffic congesting its narrow streets. Israeli leaders often complain that they must expand their settlements further so that their young can find housing. And they insist that they must continue to build their wall, in order to protect their people who live in these illegal colonies. What they do not say is that the expansion of the mammoth projects at Har Homa, Gilo, Har Gilo, Betar Ilit, Giva’ot, and more are occurring at the expense of Palestinians living in the Bethlehem region. The Israelis call these colonies “neighborhoods of Jerusalem.” This is but a crude effort to obfuscate the reality that they are all built on Bethlehem area land — illegally confiscated by Israel and then unilaterally annexed to what they call “Greater Jerusalem.” As a result, Palestinians now retain only tenuous control of 13 percent of the Bethlehem region — with the Israelis still threatening to take more. In fact, the 22 Israeli settlements built in the Bethlehem region, the roads that connect them, and the wall that protects them were all built on land taken from Palestinians.
Palestinian fisherman critically injured in Israeli naval attack
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 Jan — A Palestinian fisherman was critically injured early Saturday after an Israeli warship opened fire on his vessel off the coast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. The incident came as a number of Israeli military vehicles crossed the border near Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, razing agricultural land in a limited incursion in violation of the August ceasefire. Medical sources said that Israeli forces opened fire with machine guns before firing a shell at a small fishing boat belonging to a Gaza resident identified as Jamal Numan, a resident of al-Shati refugee camp in western Gaza City. The sources said that Numan was critically injured in the attack, and was taken to Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah for treatment. They said that Numan’s fishing vessel was completely destroyed by the shell fired by Israeli forces. An Israeli military spokeswoman said that the Israeli military “identified two vessels in the southern Gaza Strip approaching the Egyptian border in an attempted smuggling attempt. “They called on suspects to halt and fired warning shots into the air,” she added, and opened fire at the vessels after they “failed to comply.” “One vessel returned to the shore and the other sank,” she said, adding that the “suspects were identified returning to shore.”
Also on Saturday morning, Israeli military vehicles crossed the border into Palestinian agricultural lands in the region of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. Sources said that the vehicles exited a military base on the Israeli side of the border before crossing into Gaza and razing agricultural land belonging to local farmers. The sources added that the limited incursion was accompanied by heavy gunfire in the direction of local homes. An Israeli military spokeswoman asked about the incident denied that any incursion occurred.
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian in north Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Jan — A Palestinian man was shot and injured by Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday, an official said. Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said a 25-year-old man was shot in both feet from one of the watchtowers near the border with Israel east of Jabaliya. The man was taken to Kamal Adwan hospital in moderate condition, al-Qidra said. An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an that there was a “riot of about the 50 Palestinians” in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday, and that Israeli soldiers fired warning shots in the air to disperse the protesters.Soldiers then fired at the lower extremities of one “instigator,” the spokeswoman said.
Earlier, Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinians in the al-Farrahin area east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.Witnesses said that Israeli forces deployed east of al-Farrahin at the border opened fire on Palestinians as they were hunting birds in an open area near the border. No injuries were reported. On Nov. 23, Fadil Muhammad Halawah, 32, was shot dead by Israeli forces while hunting birds east of Jabaliya.
Palestinian killed by Egyptian forces at Rafah border
IMEMC/Agencies 2 Jan — Egyptian military forces, late Friday, shot and killed a Palestinian at the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza. Witnesses told Ma‘an News Agency that Egyptian soldiers opened fire at four Palestinians in the al-Salam neighborhood of Rafah, killing one and arresting the other three. Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra stated that Zaki al-Houbi, 23, was shot dead and taken to Abu Yusif al-Najjar hospital in Rafah. The Interior Ministry in Gaza demanded Egypt to investigate the shooting, and prosecute those responsible for his death. It described the attack as a serious escalation and excessive use of force against an unarmed Palestinian who did not pose any threat to the soldiers or Egypt’s security. The Ministry said the Palestinian was unarmed, and was trying to get into Egypt searching for work due to poverty and very difficult conditions resulting from the Israeli siege and ongoing attacks on the coastal region. Egypt and Israel maintain a jointly imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip,
Hamas condemns alleged shooting of Gazan by Egyptians
GAZA CITY (AFP) 2 Jan — Hamas on Saturday condemned the fatal shooting by Egyptian border guards of what they said was a Palestinian minor on the Gaza border on Friday. “We condemn the killing of the child Zaki Hopi by Egyptian army gunfire on the borders, we consider what happened as a dangerous development and excessive use of force,” the organization said in a statement. “What happened is not appropriate to neighborly relations between brothers.” Gaza emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said that Hopi was 17 years old and not 23 as previously stated. He was killed in the Gaza frontier town of Rafah by Egyptian soldiers firing from across the border, Qudra said, although the motive was not immediately clear. The border troops shot Hopi “in the back and the bullet settled in the heart. He died on the spot,” he told AFP. Hopi is the first Palestinian “to have been killed in a long time” along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, according to Qudra.
2014 the toughest year on record for Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — 2014 has been the toughest year on record for Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, a union official said Tuesday. They faced recurring attacks before, during, and after Israel’s summer offensive that left around 2,200 dead, and the periodic tightening of restrictions on their livelihoods has cost them millions. Head of the Gaza Fishermen’s Union Nizar Ayyash told Ma‘an that the fishing sector in Gaza lost an estimated $9 million, particularly as a result of the fact that Israeli forces prevented the Strip’s 4,000 fishermen from engaging in any fishing during the 50-day summer war. This decline in revenues comes on top of the restrictions imposed for the last eight years as part of the Israeli siege, which severely limited the range Palestinians can fish in and led to a poverty rate around 90 percent for fishermen, even before the war. Ayyash said that while previously fishermen used to catch 4,000 tons of fish, the total had since fallen to less than 1,500. The economic hit Palestinian fishermen have taken over the past year comes in addition to the massive destruction of property they faced during the July-August conflict. Harbors used by fishermen were targeted and destroyed by Israeli forces during the summer offensive, with 36 fishermen’s storage rooms destroyed and three partially damaged. 52 boats were also destroyed, in addition to the fishermen’s possessions being burned in the destruction. Israel also detained Palestinians engaged in fishing numerous times during the year, carrying out 18 raids across the Strip in which 56 fishermen were detained. They also confiscated 21 boats and 14 fishing nets. Despite the August ceasefire agreement, Israel resumed targeting Gazan fishermen soon after. Although the agreement ostensibly increased the fishing zone allotted to Palestinians from three nautical miles to six and was meant to push it to twelve, fishermen say that so far Israel has kept it at six and has even attacked within that limit. All this despite the fact that the zone is technically set at 20 nautical miles, according to the Oslo agreements signed between Israel and the PA in the early 1990s.
Israeli navy detains 3 Gaza fishermen
World Bulletin 1 Jan — Israel’s navy on Wednesday detained three Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip, an official from Gaza’s fishermen union has said. “Israeli naval vessels besieged a fishing boat off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip’s city of Rafah, hitting it with machinegun fire before detaining the three fishermen who were on board,” union head Nizar Ayyash told The Anadolu Agency on Wednesday. The Israeli army has not issued an official comment on the three fishermen’s detention or stated its reasons for holding them.
Najia Warshaga: injured Palestinian girl who became symbol of Gaza war
The Guardian 1 Jan by Hazem Balousha in Beit Lahia and Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem — The place where nine-year-old Najia Warshaga lives in Beit Lahia, Gaza, with her mother, Majdolen, and her five-year-old brother, Ali, was once the garage of a three-storey building. It is 50 metres square, there are a few mattresses on the ground for sitting and sleeping, and a few blankets for warmth piled in the corner. Their own home was bombed. They stayed for a while with an uncle at his home. Now they live here. The place has a little toilet which Majdolen, 31, cooks next to. The family’s laundry hangs on a rope warmed by the winter sun. It is a stark, cold and unhygienic place for which she has to pay 300 shekels a month (£50) despite having no income. In August, her daughter, Najia, became a symbol of the Gaza conflict – a picture of an injured girl, her weeping face smeared with blood. The image was taken by the Associated Press photographer Khalil Hamra and was shared on social media around the world after it featured on the Guardian’s front page. The family had fled their rented apartment in Beit Lahia to the shelter of a UN school in nearby Jabaliya, also in northern Gaza, then to a second school where the family had sought sanctuary. Except it was not safe. Crowded with about 3,300 people, Najia and her family were sleeping in a classroom with seven other families when it was struck by a missile at 4.30am. Fifteen people were killed, and more than 100 were injured, including Najia, Majdolen and Ali. These days Najia is a symbol of something else. In a coastal strip where – according to some estimates – 100,000 people still remain displaced, Najia and her family have become a metaphor for the limbo into which many Palestinians have been pushed by the Gaza war. Najia has become a representative of not only the war but an aftermath that has barely been ameliorated. The nine-year-old seems a little less shy and withdrawn than last time the Guardian met her. Then she was almost catatonic, wrapping herself – her mother said then – in a blanket even in the August heat. Five months on she is more able to speak and smiles from time to time. But the trauma is still present.
Prisoners / Court actions
Palestinian convicted in kidnap murders of 3 teens
JTA 31 Dec — An Israeli military court has convicted the alleged leader of the terrorist cell that kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers in June. Hussam Kawasme of Hebron on Wednesday was convicted of planning and financing the kidnapping and murder of Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel, a dual Israeli-American citizen. Kawasme, who was arrested in July, was convicted based on his own confession, according to the Jerusalem Post. Kawasme said, according to the indictment handed down in September, that funding for the attack came from Hamas in Gaza. Kawasme said he used the money from Hamas to buy the car used in the June 12 kidnapping, as well as four firearms. The money was procured through his brother Mohamad, the indictment said. Mohamad Kawasme had been deported to Gaza after being freed from an Israeli prison in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange….
Activism / BDS
BDS 2014 roundup
IMEMC/Agencies/Palestinian BDS National Committee/PNN 1 Jan — For Palestinians and people of conscience everywhere, 2014 will be remembered as the year in which Israel carried out its bloodiest massacre, ever, of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip. 2014 was also a year of resistance which saw continued resistance and unprecedented international solidarity with Palestine, and huge steps forward for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Here’s a roundup of some of the key BDS developments of 2014: January – Scarlett Johansson helps bring BDS to the mainstream The year opened with an international controversy over the decision of Hollywood A-lister Scarlett Johansson to become a brand ambassador for SodaStream, the Israeli drinks machine manufacturer that operates a factory in an illegal Israeli settlement. The move attracted particular attention because the Lost in Translation star was also an ambassador for Oxfam, an international NGO that condemns illegal Israeli settlements. Oxfam faced huge pressure to ditch Johansson and publicly criticised her decision. Ultimately it was Johansson who brought the saga to a close when she stepped down as an Oxfam representative, but not before social media memes about her support for Israel’s apartheid regime had gone viral and the BDS movement had received unprecedented international media attention. SodaStream’s share price suffered the first of many hits. Dutch pension giant divests from Israeli banks In a move that laid the foundation for other European funds to follow suit later in the year, Dutch pension fund PGGM announced it was divesting tens of millions of euros from 5 of Israel’s biggest banks due to their deep involvement in Israel’s crimes against Palestinians. The fund manages the pensions of 2.5 million people….
15 powerful ways student activists stood up for Palestine in 2014
EI 29 Dec by Nora Barrows-Friedman — For student Palestine solidarity activists around the globe, 2014 was a year of victories, challenges and creative resistance. In the US, students took on university administrators who had bent to pressure from Israel lobby groups. They held momentous divestment resolutions demanding that their universities pull investments from companies profiting from Israel’s human rights violations. Students led direct actions in response to Israel’s summer assault on the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians and destroyed tens of thousands of homes, schools, mosques and other buildings. They rallied in support of Palestinian American community leader Rasmea Odeh when she was persecuted by the US government. They joined anti-police brutality protests in Ferguson, New York City and Oakland, making important connections. Students have become a forceful voice of consciousness in human rights movements from the US to Palestine. Here is a list of the top fifteen times US students stood up for human rights, free speech, academic freedom and their rights to organize for Palestine in 2014.
In photos: Santa Claus sprays graffiti on separation wall in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Jan — Palestinian activists dressed in Santa Claus outfits on Thursday sprayed graffiti demanding an end to the Israeli occupation and freedom for Palestinians on the Israeli separation wall in the southern West Bank town of Bethlehem. Activists handed out candy to passing vehicles in celebration of Christmas and the New Year as others wrote slogans on the eight-meter high concrete wall that cuts Bethlehem off from neighboring Jerusalem. One of the youths involved in the activity said the aim was to pass on good wishes to those celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem and hopes for a new year full of happiness for Palestinian children. The activity took place at a major intersection in Bethlehem where the Israeli wall reaches into the heart of the city to cut off the tomb of Biblical matriarch Rachel from the city around it. Once a shared Jewish, Christian, and Muslim place of worship, the annexation of the area by Israel’s wall has also meant that non-Jews are no longer allowed to enter it. Instead, they are confronted by the wall’s watchtowers on every side, while access is only allowed from the Israeli side through a checkpoint forbidden to non-Jews. Local activist Mazen al-Azza told Ma‘an that the activists hoped to draw attention to the “danger” the wall represents for Bethlehem, particularly at Christmas since international attention is focused on the city and tens of thousands of foreign tourists pass through.
Unity government delegation leaves Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Jan — A delegation of ministers from the Palestinian national consensus government finished its trip to the Gaza Strip on Friday, amid expectations that it would return accompanied by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah within the coming weeks. Members of the delegation, which was composed of eight ministers and 39 civil servants, struck an upbeat tone as they headed back to the West Bank via the Erez crossing on Friday, after spending more than three days in Gaza. “The visit included some difficulties,” Minister of Agriculture Shawqi al-Ayasa told Ma‘an, “but it was generally positive and all difficulties must be confronted.” Al-Ayasa added that he believes there is no other option but to resume work and fully achieve reconciliation between Palestinian political factions. He also said that the positive outcomes of the visit will become apparent soon, highlighting that further visits to Gaza were in the works.
PA criticizes Nigeria’s decision to abstain on UN statehood vote
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 31 Dec – A senior Palestinian official criticized Nigeria’s decision to abstain from voting on a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) draft resolution calling for an end to Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestine by 2017. The official, who requested anonymity, told the Anadolu Agency, ‘We knew the US and Australia would vote against the draft resolution, but we were very disappointed by Nigeria, which abstained from voting.” The UNSC on Tuesday rejected a draft resolution calling for an end to Israel’s decades-long occupation within three years. The motion, which was submitted on Monday by Jordan after having been agreed upon by Arab states, failed to win the minimum nine votes required from the 15-member council, with both the US and Australia voting against the proposal. The United Kingdom, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Korea and Lithuania all abstained from voting, while Jordan, France, Russia, China, Argentina, Chad, Chile and Luxembourg all voted in favor … The official said that, before the vote, the Palestinians had received confirmation from Nigeria’s delegation at the UN that it planned to vote in favor of the draft. “45 minutes before the voting session, we were informed that Nigeria would abstain from voting,’ he added. According to the official, the Arab Group at the UN had coordinated with the African Group to ensure that the Nigerian delegation would throw its support behind the Palestinian bid for statehood. ‘We believe that [Nigeria] was subjected to pressure that forced it to change its position,’ he said.
Palestinians present ICC membership request to UN
AFP 2 Jan by Carole Landis — The Palestinians formally presented a request to the United Nations on Friday to join the International Criminal Court, a move that would allow war crimes complaints to be filed against Israel. Membership of the Rome Statute, which governs the ICC, would open the way for Palestinians to pursue criminal complaints in The Hague, but is firmly opposed by Israel and the United States. “This is a very significant step,” Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters. “We are seeking justice for all the victims that have been killed by Israel, the occupying power.” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is to review the so-called instruments of accession and notify state members on the request within 60 days. “We are honored that we are the 123rd state-party of the ICC, which will be effective in about 60 days from now in accordance with the rules and procedures of the ICC,” Mansour said. Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas signed requests to join the ICC and 16 other conventions on Wednesday, a day after the Security Council failed to adopt a resolution paving the way to full statehood. The move is part of a shift in strategy for the Palestinians, who are seeking to internationalize their campaign for statehood and move away from the US-led negotiation process.
Abbas asks ICC to probe ‘Israeli war crimes’ since June ’14, Palestinian source says
Haaretz 1 Jan by Amira Hass — The International Criminal Court would consider the period since the day three Israeli teens were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank, which includes the Gaza war — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a declaration Thursday asking the International Criminal Court to investigate suspicions of war crimes “committed in Palestine” since June 13, said a nongovernmental Palestinian source who for years has taken part in Palestinian plans to join the court. Palestinian government officials have not yet confirmed the source’s comments, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he expects any ICC bid to fail. The declaration was enabled after Abbas signed the Rome Statute on Wednesday night and requested that the Palestinians join the ICC. The following morning PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat delivered the request, along with 19 letters of accession signed by Abbas, to the United Nations’ main office in Jerusalem. On Friday they will be received by the UN secretary-general in New York. The request to investigate war crimes was sent to the Palestinian ambassador in The Hague so it could be submitted to the court, the nongovernmental source told Haaretz. “As far as the Palestinian leadership is concerned, everything that had to be done to join the International Criminal Court has been done,” a PLO official added. The source said leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad had declared they were willing to risk being tried at the ICC as long as it discusses Palestinian allegations about Israeli war crimes.
Palestinian refugee flees West Bank violence for a new life in Britain – only to be put in a coma by thug’s brick attack in Birmingham
Mail Online 2 Jan by Gemma Mullin — A Palestinian refugee who fled the violence of the West Bank for a new life in Britain has been left fighting for his life after a vicious brick attack near his home. Mahmoud Hussein, 46, had left his flat in Stechford, Birmingham, to make a trip to a nearby chemists to pick up a prescription when he was brutally assaulted outside shops. The father of five, who got a job at Land Rover after moving to the UK eight years ago, suffered a head injury, fractured jaw, a fracture above his right eye and a serious injury to his knee. He had to undergo brain surgery and has been in a coma since the attack two weeks ago while his distraught wife, Eman Tahaineh, 38, keeps a bedside vigil at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. She said: ‘It’s very difficult, I’m counting the hours and minutes until he wakes up.’ The couple, who have been married for 15 years, have four children
The year in photos: Palestine-Israel in 2014
Activestills 31 Dec — Images help shape the way we understand the world. A powerful image can resonate in the minds of millions and affect the public agenda, leading to increased awareness, activism and policy initiatives. This year we witnessed the worst attack on Gaza in decades, endless violence and hostility in Jerusalem, housing struggles inside Israel, ongoing home demolitions in Bedouin villages and in the Jordan Valley, as well as the continuing struggle for freedom by the community of African asylum seekers. Activestills selects the most powerful, important and moving images of 2014 — presented in chronological order. Photos by: Ahmad al-Bazz, Fiaz Abu-Rmeleh, Shiraz Grinbaum, Keren Manor, Tali Mayer, Anne Paq, Ryan Rodrick Beiler, Yotam Ronen, Basel Yazouri, Oren Ziv / Activestills.org
Study: Half of Israel’s Jewish, Arab pupils want no contact with each other
Haaretz 2 Jan by Or Kashti — Nearly half of secular Jewish students and Arab students are not interested in having any contact with each other, a new study has found. Even when the children are young, in the first few grades of elementary school, they don’t want to study with those who are different from themselves, play with them during recess or meet with them after school, according to the study conducted by the Ono Academic College. Secular Jewish children tend to shun those who are different than they are whether the other children are ultra-Orthodox, of Ethiopian background or have special needs. However, the intolerance towards these groups wanes as the children get older while the antipathy that Arab and Jewish children have for each is more persistent. The findings leave an opening for hope, however, suggesting that the education system could play a role if it wishes to help bridge the divide, at least with respect to intolerance of some of the groups.
Israel ex-minister: Settlement funding is corrupt
JERUSALEM (AP) 1 Jan — Israel’s former finance minister on Thursday said the government’s rush to allot tens of millions of dollars to West Bank settlements last month amounted to corruption, as he sought to link the secretive spending spree to a growing wave of scandals ahead of March elections. With the accusations, former Finance Minister Yair Lapid took subtle aim at the powerful West Bank settler movement, whose allies in parliament appear to be poised for a strong showing in the vote. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Lapid last month for what Netanyahu said was disloyalty. The move led to the collapse of the coalition government and the call for early elections. Lapid said that before his dismissal, he was called to a meeting with Netanyahu and other ministers and told they wanted to transfer 300 million shekels ($76 million) to West Bank settlements. Lapid said he tried to block the funds, but once he was fired, the money was quickly pushed through before parliament was dissolved. Lapid called the funds “money that goes directly to those who vote for them in the primaries.” “They gave me the impression that if I didn’t transfer the money then the government could collapse. I refused, because that’s corruption,” Lapid said.
Killing 40 civilians in one go is ‘reasonable’, says Israeli army ethicist
EI 31 Dec by Rania Khalek — Since the Israeli army killed more than 2,200 Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip last summer, including more than 500 children, a dedicated army of official and unofficial whitewashers has been mobilized on a mission to rescue Israel’s bloodstained public image. Such was the case on 4 December, when dozens of people, including this writer, filed into the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Manhattan’s Upper West Side for a panel discussion titled, “Defense with a conscience: Exploring military ethics in Israel.” Convened by the liberal Zionist New Israel Fund and moderated by Jane Eisner, editor-in-chief of the liberal The Jewish Daily Forward, the event was advertised as a discussion about “‘moral armies’ and the challenges of defensive wars in today’s new Middle East.” Among the panelists were Israeli military “ethicists” Asa Kasher and Moshe Halbertal, as well as retired US Air Force Major-General Robert Latiff. Kasher and Halbertal co-authored the Israeli military code of ethics, which has guided the army’s conduct during Israel’s increasingly ferocious military assaults against the Palestinians it occupies as well as its neighbors over the last two decades … The ethicists Appealing to right-wing Zionist sensibilities, Kasher dominated the discussion, arguing that Palestinian civilians — or as he calls them, “the neighbors of the terrorists” — had to die to protect the lives of Israeli combatants. In an exclusive interview following the panel, Kasher’s extremism reached new heights. He told me that Givati Brigade commander Ofer Winter was right to carpet bomb the southern Gaza City of Rafah to prevent the capture of an Israeli soldier, an order that killed the soldier and 190 Palestinians in a matter of hours, though Kasher insisted that “only forty” were killed….
Why the world doesn’t see Palestine’s suffering
Al-Monitor 31 Dec by Daoud Kuttab — One of the most exasperating problems facing Palestinian efforts to end the Israeli occupation has been conveying to the world the daily suffering that they endure under it. The difficulty of the effort continues, as the Palestinians struggle to find an effective strategy internally or through the world’s leading forum, the UN Security Council, to lift the occupation. The interest of politicians, pundits and journalists usually peaks about the Palestinians after sensational news generating major headlines, such as multiple killings, major settlement activities or various political machinations. Real-life, everyday events occurring throughout the occupied territories are rarely covered, although they are accessible through various public platforms. To bring this issue to light, there is a need to look at the micro picture, not just the big picture. A painstaking observance of daily events in the occupied territories gives a contextual picture of why ending the occupation is the No. 1 priority of Palestinians. Here is a list of news items from Dec. 28 as reported by the official Palestinian news agency, WAFA: -Three injured as Israeli soldiers suppress peaceful protest in Beit Hanoun, north Gaza -Israeli soldiers raid Hebron school in search of two students -Israeli settler runs over 8-year-old near Hebron -Israeli bulldozers raze wheat crops near Nablus … Major news agencies report on the big stories, but the above types of stories often appear to lack punch because of the absence of field reporting, photos and videos. The situation facing Palestinian journalists, especially cameramen and women, trying to cover events in the occupied territories reveals another problem too often underreported.