Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Restrictions on movement
3 Palestinian homes to be demolished by Israel in Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Israeli authorities on Tuesday delivered demolition notices to three Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Jawad Siyam, head of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, said that Israeli municipality employees delivered three demolition orders to houses in the Ras al-Bustan area. One of the houses that delivered a demolition notice was built 25 years ago and is licensed by the municipality, Siyam said. The Israeli municipality also delivered a demolition order to a store belonging to the al-Abbasi family in the Ein al-Luza neighborhood of Silwan. The orders were delivered on the same day that authorities destroyed a recently-built home in the neighborhood housing 14 members of the same family.
Israel earmarks vast area of Hebron land for annexation
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Israel has earmarked around 2,000 dunams (500 acres) of private Palestinian land for annexation in the Hebron district, local activists say. Muhammad al-Halayqa, an activist in the village of al-Shuyukh northeast of Hebron, told Ma‘an that Israel’s Civil Administration has posted warning notices on the land slated for confiscation. The land belongs to the al-Halayqa, Rasna, and al-Hasasna families. The mayor of al-Shuyukh, Sharif al-Halayqa, says Israeli forces have prevented locals from accessing their land, adding that the areas slated for confiscation are likely going to be used for settlement building. The village council will liaise with Palestinian officials and legal groups to try to prevent the annexation. A spokesperson from the Israeli Civil Administration told Ma‘an that the land in question was designated as “state land.” On Jan. 27, an Israeli court issued an order to confiscate hundreds of dunams of land northwest of Hebron in the village of Beit Ula. The land is located in Area C, under full Israeli security and administrative control. Last December, Israeli authorities declared a vast area of private Palestinian land in the northern Jordan Valley a closed military zone in preparation to confiscate the land, an official said. Ribhi al-Khandaqji, the governor of the Tubas district, said in a statement that the land was located in the Ein al-Sakut area and measured about 10,000 dunams (2,500 acres).
Israel declares a third of West Bank as military zone
RAMALLAH (Press TV news video) 12 Feb by Mohammad Hamayel — Last Monday, Israeli authorities issued a military decree that classifies vast expanses of the occupied West Bank as a closed military zone, forbidding Palestinians from reaching these areas. The affected area makes up around a third of West Bank’s total surface area. It stretches from the Dead Sea in the east to the outskirts of Jerusalem Al-Quds, Bethlehem and Hebron in the west, and to Jericho in the north. It’s believed the decision was originally made as early as in 1967. This decision will effectively close off the eastern regions of the West Bank from any Palestinians living in the area and put it under the Israeli military’s full control. Some critics say Israel wants to re-draw the map. This move also means the uprooting of Palestinian Bedouin communities in these areas and relocating them to reserves near Jericho and east Jerusalem Al-Quds. It will also affect Palestinian economy drastically by closing many farms there. [Speaking: DFLP’s Qais Abu Leila, Popular Resistance Committee’s Yunis Arar]
Israeli bulldozers raze Palestinian homes in Negev
NEGEV (PIC) 13 Feb — Israeli bulldozers escorted by police forces on Thursday stormed the unrecognized Bedouin village Tel al-Meleh in the Negev and demolished a number of Palestinian homes. The homes, owned by the Abu Musa’ed family, were demolished allegedly due to unlicensed construction. Locals said that despite the freezing weather conditions in the region, the Israeli police forces acted with no mercy and displaced the citizens from their homes. They added that policemen physically assaulted and arrested Khalil Abu Musa’ed after he protested the demolition of his house. Earlier on Wednesday, the Israeli police had demolished a number of Palestinian houses in Um Batin village belonging to Abu Kaf family. Head of the regional council for the unrecognized villages Atiya al-A’asam condemned the ongoing Israeli demolition campaigns in the Negev. He said that the recent demolitions took place after right-wing Israeli minister Naftali Bennett issued threats against the Palestinians in the Negev.
Israeli forces confiscate goods from East Jerusalem warehouse
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Israeli forces on Wednesday raided a building in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur and confiscated industrial materials in what the owner said was preparation for demolishing the property. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers and trucks escorted by special forces raided al-Tur and surrounded a building belonging to the Abu Sbitan family that is used as a warehouse for stone. Israeli municipality authority employees allegedly confiscated stones and supplementary electrical equipment from the warehouse during the raid. The building’s owner, Nidal Abu Sbitan, told Ma‘an that the workers raided the building without warning and started emptying steel structures used for selling stones. Abu Sbitan told Ma‘an that two of the structures were built on the family’s land five years before.
UK consul ‘horrified’ by effects of settlements on Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Feb — British Consul General Alastair McPhil on Wednesday said he was “horrified” by the effects of Jewish settlement construction on Palestinian communities in the West Bank. The statement came during a visit to the villages of Turms‘ayyah, Sinjil, Al Mughayyer, and Kusra [Qusra] where he met with local leaders and toured agricultural areas under threat of confiscation by Jewish settlers. “I was horrified today to hear about the impact of settlements on Palestinian villages. Settler violence against Palestinian communities and property is unacceptable and must stop. Restrictions on access to land are hugely damaging to Palestinian farmers seeking to make a living,” the official said in a statement. “The UK’s policy on settlements is clear: they are illegal under international humanitarian law, an obstacle to peace and take us further away from a two state solution.” “The UK is providing practical support to these communities to protect their land and property, and will continue to raise the issue of settlements with the Israeli authorities.” “Today I presented olive trees to the families we visited, as a symbol of our hope that they will be able to access their land in peace,” he added.
Video: The Settlement
Stop the Wall 11 Feb — ”I’ve been jailed in my own house. That’s what we are teaching our children: fear is not allowed here”. He is a Palestinian in Jalud village. He keeps stones on his roof to protect his family from Israeli settlers. His windows have grids on it since a stone broke the glass and hit the ground right next to a 6-month-old baby’s head. But he insists: “I’m not going anywhere. They will have to kill us all, but we’re not leaving”. Daily life in Jalud, a village south of Nablus, in the West Bank, is not easy. The village dates back to at least 1596, according to Ottoman tax registers, and in 2007 its population was 464 according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). In the past ten years, however, four illegal Israeli settlements and outposts were built right next to it – Esh Kodesh, Adi Ad, Ahiya and Shvut Rachel. Since then, harassments and attacks became part of their routine. He saw many of his neighbours leave the village as access to their own groves was severely restricted by the army and the settlers – not to mention when they set them on fire. Those who remain are afraid of simply going to work – also afraid of what they might find when they come back … In situations like these, Jalud residents can only try to defend themselves, without expecting any help from any institution. The multiple stones on the roofs are a rudimentary way of discouraging the settlers to come too close to his house. “They usually come when we are sleeping. So there is always someone here on the roof, awake, to warn the people in case something happens”, says JP. Last time the settlers came and faced resistance, they called the army – who attacked Jalud’s people instead, with teargas bombs and pepper spray. Sixteen of them went to the hospital. No settler was arrested … JP’s children have been hit by stones thrown by settlers more than once. A 4 year old boy from the village was hit in the head and was recovered in hospital for many days. Most of the settlers carry personal guns, and they also throw molotov cocktails at the houses in Jalud, notwithstanding that there are children living inside.
See! Dig harms Hebron property
Alternative News 13 Feb — The Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) is conducting a dig in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida neighbourhood, a dig which is destroying the area — While financed by Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sport, this dig was undertaken at the initiative of Israeli settlers in Hebron. The dig, the fourth in Tel Rumeida, is carried out by the IAA and the University of Ariel, located in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. While David Wilder, spokesperson for Hebron’s settlers, claims all decisions related to the excavations are made by the IAA, the settlers already plan to establish an archaeological park on the site upon conclusion of the dig … While Israel presents these as “rescue digs”, already in the late 1990s the IAA was involved in an excavation of Tel Rumeida, on top of which permanent housing for the Ramat Yishai outpost was constructed from 2001. The Israeli archaeologists’ group Emek Shave reports that many of the remains discovered in this previous excavation are now located under settlers’ houses and are features of a guided tour led by the settlers. Palestinians note that the current excavation in Tel Rumedia will likely be used in the future to connect between the settlement outposts in Hebron’s Old City. The use of ancient sites to attract visitors and strengthen the legitimacy of settlements is known from other areas, including the City of David in East Jerusalem and Sussiya in the South Hebron Hills. Emek Shave estimates that in the case of Hebron, the combined archaeological site and view of the ancient city of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs will have just such an effect, with an especially powerful emotional component.
Israel’s interior ministry fraudulently transferred $16m to settlements
Haaretz 12 Feb by Chaim Levinson — The Interior Ministry transferred a grant of 62 million shekels to regional councils in the territories in December, falsely claiming that the funds compensated the regional authorities for aid they would have been eligible to receive from the Jewish Agency if they were not over the Green Line. Interior Ministry documents list the reason for the grant as “originally intended to compensate the communities that meet the criteria for receiving aid from the Jewish Agency, which are not eligible for aid because they are over the Green Line.” However, the regional authorities do not meet the criteria for Jewish Agency aid because the Jewish Agency stopped handing out grants to young communities in 2003, due to financial difficulties.
‘Jerusalem Gate’ demolished for the 5th time, activists to rebuild
IMEMC/Agencies 11 Feb — Israeli forces, for the fifth time in a row, have demolished the symbolic popular struggle village “Jerusalem Gate” in Abu Dis, which continues its stand against Israeli policies of demolition and ethnic cleansing by relocating Bedouins in East Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley region. Munther Amira, popular struggle activist and coordinator, said that the demolition was completely provocative and used bigger and stronger machinery than the last four times, in a way to point out that Israel is, in fact, preparing to proceed with the displacements and bulldozing land for the purpose of settlement expansion.
Activists rebuild Jerusalem Gata for sixth time in 10 days
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 12 Feb – The Popular Resistance activists Thursday announced that they have successfully rebuilt the camp village named “Jerusalem Gate” on the lands of Abu Dis and al–Eizariyah, for the sixth time after being demolished by Israeli army forces for five times. Munther Amira, leader of the Popular Resistance Committee confirmed that the camp was demolished on Wednesday, despite numerous attempts by local and international activists to fend off the Israeli soldiers. He told WAFA that the camp has been rebuilt in minutes as the activists were prepared for such a response.
How an Israeli ban on Gazans moving to the West Bank has kept a married couple apart for three years
NABLUS (The Independent) 12 Feb by Ben Lynfield — Rashid Faddah thought that the modest apartment he bought in his hometown of Nablus to live in with his bride, Dalia Shurrab, would be a cosy place to begin raising a family. But three years later Dalia has never even been there. She is stuck in her hometown of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, unable to relocate to Nablus and start her married life because of an Israeli ban on Gazans moving to the occupied West Bank. Israel says the policy, which officials date to 2007, is a response to the seizure of Gaza by Hamas, which they consider a terrorist organisation. Thousands of Palestinians are unable to reunite with their family, including spouses, in the West Bank. “Friends tell me ‘couldn’t you find someone to marry who is not from Gaza?’” Rashid, 35, says. “I tell them that Dalia is the person I chose.” The launch by Dalia’s friends of a Facebook page has had an enthusiastic response in the Arab world. Dalia says the page has received more than 40,000 views, and she’s been inundated with messages, encouraging her to continue the relationship. Their romance began in 2011. Rashid at one point voiced willingness to move to the war-devastated and dangerous coastal enclave, but he says Dalia was against it, firstly for security reasons but also because he would be probably be unemployed in Gaza.
Violence / Raids / Suppression of protests / Arrests — West Bank / Jerusalem
Teen shot, activists pepper-sprayed in West Bank demos
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — Israeli forces on Friday shot a Palestinian teenager with a live bullet during a weekly protest march in Kafr Qaddum, a local popular committee leader said. Popular resistance committee coordinator Murad Shtewi said 17-year-old Jamil Shtewi was shot in the leg when Israeli forces fired tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, and live bullets at protesters. The teen was taken to Rafidia hospital in Nablus for treatment. Dozens of others suffered from tear gas inhalation and where treated at the scene. Israeli bulldozers also pushed the remains of a pile of burnt tires into the yard of local resident Adnan Ali, Shtewi said.
Meanwhile, in Bil‘in, nine activists and a journalist were pepper sprayed while taking part in the weekly protest march. Among those pepper sprayed were Jamil al-Barghouthi, the head of the Palestinian Authority’s committee against the separation wall and settlements, Munthir Amira, the head of the coordinating committee for popular resistance in Palestine, and popular committee member Muhammad al-Khatib. Two Palestinian activists who were sprayed were identified as Abdullah al-Layyan and Kifah Mansour. Two Israeli activists, identified as Tali and Anat, were also sprayed, in addition to a Danish activist and a Dutch activist. The journalist was identified as Issam al-Rimani, a photographer for the newspaper al-Hayat. Israeli forces detained committee member al-Khatib along with an Irish activist named Mike and took them both to an unknown location after assaulting them, handcuffing them, and blindfolding them, witnesses said. – Bil‘in weekly protests near 10-year anniversary – During the march, protesters waved Palestinian flags and pictures of Palestine solidarity activist Kayla Mueller, who was recently killed in Islamic State captivity. Some held signs reading “Kayla lives in our hearts.” Marchers also held pictures of the three Muslim-Americans who were killed in North Carolina earlier this week — Yusor Abu Salha, Razan Abu Salha, and Deah Barakat … Abu Rahmeh added that activities against the separation wall and occupation would continue, and called for activists to take part in Bil‘in’s march next Friday, marking the 10th anniversary of popular resistance in Bil‘in.
(UPDATE): Israeli army assaults elderly [woman], arrests 20 in West Bank
HEBRON (WAFA) 11 Feb – An Israeli force Wednesday assaulted and raided the house of a local activist in Hebron and physically assaulted his elder mother, according to the activist … Amjad al-Najjar, director of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC) in Hebron, said an army force broke into Hebron and smashed the door of his house, before raiding it. He said the Israeli soldiers physically assaulted and beat up his elder mother, causing her to faint. Najjar said the soldiers also ordered all his family members to stay in a single room for hours, adding they sabotaged the furniture of his house, including portraits of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He said that the unjustified predawn army attack on his home caused his children to panic. Photos released by local Wattan news agency pertaining to the attack showed an Israeli soldier raising his arm towards the elder woman, who was lying on the ground at the door of her son’s house in an apparently over-exhausted position….
Activists crash gate blocking Bethlehem village entrance
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Feb — Palestinian popular resistance activists, Thursday morning, destroyed a metal gate blocking the entrance of al-Jab‘a village, to the southwest of Bethlehem, said a local activist. Coordinator of the Popular Resistance Committees in Southern West Bank, Muhammad Mhaisin, said that several activists destroyed the metal gate that has been blocking the road linking al-Jab‘a with the adjacent Hebron town of Surif for the last 14 years. According to WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency, Mhaisin said that the gate added to the tightened Israeli closure and siege imposed on Palestinian communities in the area, making their life miserable and dividing families. The blockade was intended to make life difficult for Palestinian locals and eventually displace them, in order to seize their lands for illegal settlements and expansion purposes, and to secure the movement of settlers along the nearby by-pass road leading to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. Israeli soldiers recently attacked a non-violent protest against the closure of the road linking between Surif and al-Jab‘a, firing tear gas canisters at and assaulting activists.
Palestinians endure increasing Israeli brutality in the Holy City
Middle East Eye 4 Feb by Bethan Staton — Israeli security forces are a constant presence on the streets of East Jerusalem. In the old city, soldiers in khaki patrol every street. Neighbourhoods like Silwan are fortified with wire-covered watchtowers and armoured cars, manned by equally armoured officers. On roads leading from the West Bank, police stop to check to IDs of passers-by on a regular basis, searching for “infiltrators” that may have crossed over the wall illegally. Foreign visitors often feel intimidated by such a heavily armed presence in Jerusalem’s historic streets, though most are unlikely to face serious harassment or questioning. For the Palestinians that live here, however, it’s a different story. According to the prisoners’ rights association Addameer, about 700 Palestinian Jerusalemites, the majority of whom were children, were arrested in Jerusalem in the month of July 2014 alone, and from that month interrogation and detention of Palestinians continued to soar … Thaer, who lives in Silwan and works in West Jerusalem, says that he and his friends are regularly harassed by the armed border police that patrol every street of the city. At 20, dressed in a tracksuit and with close-cropped hair, he smokes constantly, speaking confidently in English. Police officers, he says, routinely search him, confiscate his belongings, or question him aggressively, implying he shouldn’t be in areas of the city other than where his work or home is located. “Every day I go out, they stop me, they go in my car. They ask me, ‘have you got drugs’, or, ‘do you have knife?’” he told Middle East Eye. “They go through the car looking for something, looking through the whole car. It takes 20 minutes every day. He looks at you like you’re a small thing, and he’s big. “That makes a problem,” Thaer continues. “I didn’t want to make a problem with you but now I want to make a problem with you. Why? Because you scream at me. You get somebody in the street, look in his bag, take his ID. Why are you doing that? We’re Arab people, human. Just feel it a little bit.” Often, young men like Thaer are reluctant to report the intimidating treatment they experience: most feel there’s just no point. But in the past, some incidents of police misconduct have been highlighted in the law or media. Last September, three Border Police officers were ordered to compensate a Jerusalem man after they beat him in the street in front of his son. Videos uploaded to Youtube of border police officers humiliating Palestinians – making them slap themselves, or sing absurd and offensive songs – have also drawn attention to some of the abuses that take place in the Holy City.
Palestinian parents tell Israeli police to stop harassing Jerusalem children
JERUSALEM (EI) 12 Feb by Sarah Levy — Palestinians in an occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood are demanding that Israeli police cease harassing schoolchildren. The Parents Council of al-Tur organized a protest against the harrassment at the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality on Sunday. “Our message to the government is that it is very dangerous to leave the police here [in al-Tur outside of schools],” said Mufid Abu Ghannam, a father of two children, ages eight and nine. “The border police don’t bring security to al-Tur; they bring terrorism against small children,” he added. Abu Ghannam told The Electronic Intifada that the presence of so many Israeli police, “hundreds, stationed near the schools from morning until night,” provokes confrontations with youth. The police often use the confrontations as a pretext to fire tear gas and stun grenades. On 21 January, police had fired a stun grenade into a crowd of students outside an elementary school on the main street in al-Tur. When he asked the police why they had thrown the grenade, Abu Ghannam was given a typical answer: the children were throwing stones. “But I had been standing there and I saw with my own eyes that these eight-year-old students had done nothing,” he said. “Afterwards the boys were just standing there crying.” … Some locals suspect that the crackdown on al-Tur may be related to Israel’s planned construction of the so-called Eastern Slopes National Park on Palestinian land in the surrounding area.
Jerusalemite young man survives killing attempt by settlers
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 12 Feb — A Palestinian young workman from east Jerusalem survived a murder attempt after extremist Jewish settlers from an Israeli settlement on the western side of the holy city inveigled him into coming to their area. 21-year-old Anas Manasrah, from Silwan district, told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that he had survived a physical assault targeting his life after a Jewish settler phoned him and craftily enticed him into coming to his home in Beit Shemesh settlement, west of Jerusalem, in order to install curtains. Manasrah, who provides curtain installation services, explained further that he had gone along with his father to the home address of the caller in Beit Shemesh where a group of about seven settlers suddenly attacked them, forcing them to engage in a hand-to-hand fight with them. He added that Israeli policemen came to the area but did not arrest the assailants, noting that an anonymous person talked to him over the phone in Hebrew recently and threatened to burn him alive as happened to the Palestinian child Mohamed Abu Khudair months ago.
Israeli forces make multiple arrest raids in Hebron, Jenin
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Israeli forces arrested 13 Palestinians in multiple detention raids in the southern and northern West Bank overnight Tuesday. Local Beit Ummar committee member Muhammad Ayad Awad told Ma’an that Issam Muhammad Issa Bahar, 16, Mazin Talib Said Awad, 19, Muhammad Ayman Muhammad Ikhlayyil, 19, Ibrahim Khalil Abu Mariyya, 21, Amir Yousuf Azmi Ikhlayyil, 16, Mahmoud Suleiman Mustafa Ikhlayil, 18, and Muhammad Jamil Abu Mariyya, 18, were detained in the town. One man was injured in the leg as Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters during the raid, while others suffered tear gas inhalation. Israeli soldiers also issued summons orders to Imad Abu Hashim, 23, and his brothers Yousuf, 20, and Muhammad 18. Another man, Yousuf Zaal, was attacked by Israeli forces as they raided his home to deliver a summons order to his son, Jihad. He was treated at the scene for his injuries. In Jenin, Said Salih Hamamra, Salih Ali Mousa, his brother Mahmoud, Murad Abd al-Qadir Mousa, his brother Raed, and Bashir Shafiq Mousa were detained.
Israel claims the arrest of Hamas cell in Jenin
JENIN (PIC) 11 Feb — The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) claimed on Wednesday the arrest of a “Hamas military cell” near the villages of Jaba‘ and Marka south of Jenin. Weapons were found in the possession of the cell members, according to Israeli press sources. The sources said that Israeli forces stormed Jaba‘ town at dawn Wednesday and arrested a Hamas-affiliated Palestinian man and raided several homes in the town. Five other citizens including two brothers were detained during the raids. Israeli newspaper Maariv on Wednesday reported that Shin Bet had found weapons in the possession of Hamas activists in a raid carried out in Jaba‘ town. Quoting Israeli military sources, the newspaper added that Israeli forces confiscated 45,000 shekels which, they claimed, were allocated to fund “terror attacks.” Israeli army command claims every now and then its ability to detect and arrest resistance cells in the West Bank. Furthermore, its soldiers have stolen money and jewels from a number of local homes over the past few days.
Soldiers invade several villages and towns near Jenin
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Feb — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday at dawn, a number of Palestinian villages and towns, in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, stormed homes and a local club, and violently searched them. Several military vehicles invaded the at-Tayba village, west of Jenin, stormed a local club before holding dozens of residents for several hours, and searched the place while inspecting the ID cards of the residents and interrogating them. Soldiers also invaded Rommana and Zabbouba nearby towns, and fired concussion grenades. Clashes took place between the invading soldiers and local youths who threw stones at them. In addition, soldiers invaded Ta‘nak [or Ti‘innik] town, and installed a roadblock on its main entrances, before stopping and searching dozens of cars. On Thursday at dawn, many residents suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation during clashes with Israeli soldiers invading Zabbouba town, near Jenin.
ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller’s idealistic journey ran through Israel and West Bank
The Forward 11 Feb by Danna Harman (Haaretz) — Slain Aid Worker Volunteered With Palestinian Rights Group — After graduating from Northern Arizona University in 2009 – after just two and a half years – she set out into the world, traveling and volunteering in northern India and then in Israel and the Palestinian territories. – Defending Palestinians – She apparently spent the hot months of August and September of 2010 volunteering for the International Solidarity Movement, the pro-Palestinian activist group made famous by another American, Rachel Corrie, who had been killed while volunteering with them in 2003 – when an armored Israeli bulldozer demolishing a Palestinian home hit her. According to the ISM, Mueller worked and lived in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, staying with a family called Al-Kurd, “to try and prevent the takeover of their home by Israeli settlers.” She also worked in Hebron, where, according to the organization, she accompanied Palestinian children to school in the neighborhood of Tel Ruimeda, and stayed in a protest tent, together with villagers of Izbat al-Tabib, to try to prevent the demolition of homes in that village. She also joined weekly Friday protests against the Israeli occupation in Bilin and other Palestinian villages, writing frequent blogs about those experiences. “Oppression greets us from all angles,” she wrote in one post. “Oppression wails from the soldiers radio and floats through tear gas clouds in the air … But resistance is nestled in the cracks in the wall, resistance flows from the minaret 5 times a day and resistance sits quietly in jail knowing its time will come again. Resistance lives in the grieving mother’s wails and resistance lives in the anger at the lies broadcasted across the globe. Though it is sometimes hard to see and even harder sometimes to harbor, resistance lives. Do not be fooled, resistance lives.”
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli policeman suspected of killing Palestinian in Negev released
NEGEV (PIC) 14 Feb — An Israeli court on Friday released a policeman suspected of shooting dead the Palestinian young man Sami Ja’aar a month ago in Rahat town in the Negev. The Israeli Judge Moshe Drori claimed that there was no evidence to retain the policeman in custody despite the fact that the Police Investigation Unit confirmed that he shot at the Palestinian young man who posed no threat to the policeman. The policeman denied the charge and tried to change his story several times during the investigation which indicates his false testimony, according to the investigation unit. A state of anger and tension has prevailed in Rahat town over the court’s decision.
Statement from Corrie family in response to the Israeli Supreme Court’s dismissal of appear in wrongful death of Rachel Corrie
12 Feb — Today we received word from our attorneys that the Supreme Court of Israel dismissed our appeal in the wrongful death case of our daughter and sister Rachel Corrie. Our family is disappointed but not surprised. We had hoped for a different outcome, though we have come to see through this experience how deeply all of Israel’s institutions are implicated in the impunity enjoyed by the Israeli military. It will take some time before we have ability to read the decision in English and to process all the court has said. Nevertheless, it is clear that this decision, affirming the August 2012 lower court finding, amounts to judicial sanction of immunity for Israeli armed forces when they commit injustices and human rights violations … The court has determined that our separate case against Dr. Yehuda Hiss and Abu Kabir Institute, regarding inappropriate ways in which Rachel’s autopsy was conducted, may go forward in the lower court. We continue to be appalled that it requires a lawsuit to have a truthful accounting of what occurred, and complete repatriation of Rachel’s remains. Decisions as to next steps will be made by the family in consultation with our attorneys….
Palestinian teen released from Israeli prison
RAMALLAH (Press TV news video) 14 Feb by Mohammad Hamayel — 14-year-old Malak al-Khatib was released from an Israeli prison on Friday and greeted by her family at the Jubara Checkpoint in Tulkarem. Malak, from the town of Beitin east of Ramallah, was sentenced to two months in prison and a 15-hundred dollar fine for the claimed charges of throwing stones and possessing a knife. While there was an atmosphere of joy in the town of Beitin, there was no denying that the happiest was her family, more specifically her father, who had nothing but pride for his daughter. Malak herself was happy to be reunited with her family and friends as the center of everyone’s attention. Having gone through this experience as a little girl, Malak says she came out much more aware of the world she is in, not being afraid, and thankful for all those who stood by her. [Speaking: Malak and her father]
Call to Action: Free Lina Khattab
Samidoun 12 Feb — Palestinian student Lina Khattab, 18 years old and a first-year media student at Bir Zeit University, will face an Israeli military court once more on February 16. This is her eighth appearance in the military court since her arrest on December 13, 2014 during a student protest to free Palestinian political prisoners. Lina is also a folkloric dancer with the world-renowned El-Funoun Popular Palestinian Dance Troupe and is active with cultural and political student activities at the University. She has been charged with “throwing stones” and “participating in an unlawful demonstration,” two charges frequently used by the Israeli military against Palestinians who participate in public protests against the military occupation. She is facing Israeli military courts, reserved for Palestinians under occupation, which have a 99.74% conviction rate. On January 12, she was denied bail at a hearing in which the military judge said, “looking at her, I can see the characteristics of a leader.”
Palestinian children in Israeli custody victims of ‘forced confession’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Palestinian children being held in Israeli military custody following their arrest are falling victim to abuse designed to coerce confessions, a children’s rights group said this week. “The Israeli military detention system subjects Palestinian children to several days of prolonged interrogation and isolation with the apparent goal of obtaining a confession at all costs,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at Defense for Children International Palestine, on Monday. “The military courts admit these coerced confessions as evidence to convict these children in a complete mockery of due process and fair trial standards.” DCIP said Monday that in 2014 Palestinian children spent an average of 15 days in solitary confinement following their arrest. In one case a child was kept in isolation for a total of 26 days for interrogation purpose, the report said. Over 54 children were held in solitary confinement between 2012 and 2014, and Palestinian children have no right to be accompanied by an adult. Research by the group showed that children arrive at Israeli interrogation centers blindfolded, bound and sleep-deprived and over 75 percent endured some form of physical violence between the period of their arrest and interrogation. In 2014, over 25 percent of Palestinian children signed statements in Hebrew, a language they do not understand. The majority of Palestinian children are detained and charged for throwing stones.
Israeli forces shoot at farmers in northern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — Israeli forces on Friday opened fire at a group of farmers in the northern Gaza Strip, witnesses told Ma‘an, the second such attack of the day on Palestinian civilians in the besieged coastal enclave. Locals said Israeli soldiers at the northern border shot live bullets at farmers who were leaving their lands. No injuries were reported. Only hours before, Israeli soldiers opened fire at Palestinian homes and farmers in the southern Gaza Strip, causing material damage. Locals said that Israeli forces near the border are attempting to prevent local farmers from accessing their fields in the area.
ICC receives report debunking Israel’s ‘self-defense’ claims for Gaza attack
EI 12 Feb by Charlotte Silver — The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) has submitted a report to the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor debunking Israeli claims that last summer’s attack on Gaza was an act of “self-defense.” Since the court began a preliminary examination into the events in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip beginning from 13 June 2014, Israel has attempted to ward off a full investigation by claiming that its 51-day assault on Gaza was an act of defense … “The central message that Israeli forces were protecting Israeli citizens from Hamas rockets was so ubiquitous in the Western media as to eclipse war crimes allegations,” said report author and Vermont attorney James Marc Leas. “But the facts and law do not support the self-defense claims.” – Israeli attacks came first – Analyzing the timeline of events (as reported by Israeli think-tank Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center) in early July 2014 that precipitated Israel’s launch of “Operation Protective Edge,” the NLG report shows that Israel’s air and ground attacks on occupied Palestinian territories preceded any rocket fire from Hamas.
AP Exclusive: Israeli house strikes killed mostly civilians
RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) 13 Feb by Karin Laub, Fares Akram, & Mohamed Dareghmeh — The youngest to die was a 4-day-old girl, the oldest a 92-year-old man. They were among at least 844 Palestinians killed as a result of airstrikes on Gaza homes during Israel’s summer war with the Islamic militant group, Hamas. Under the rules of war, homes are protected civilian sites unless used for military purposes. Israel says it attacked only legitimate targets, alleging militants used the houses to hide weapons, fighters and command centers. Palestinians say Israel’s warplanes often struck without regard for civilians. The Associated Press examined 247 airstrikes, interviewing witnesses, visiting attack sites and compiling a detailed casualty count. The review found that 508 of the dead — just over 60 percent — were children, women and older men, all presumed to be civilians. Hamas says it did not use women as fighters in the war, and an Israel-based research group, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which tracks militants among the war dead, said it has no evidence women participated in combat. In addition: – Children younger than 16 made up one-third of the total: 280 killed, including 19 babies and 108 preschoolers between the ages of 1 and 5. – In 83 strikes, three or more members of one family died. – Among those killed were 96 confirmed or suspected militants — just over 11 percent of the total — though the actual number could be higher since armed groups have not released detailed casualty lists. – The remaining 240 dead were males between the ages of 16 and 59 whose names did not appear in AP searches of militant websites or on street posters honoring fighters.The review was the most painstaking attempt to date to try to determine who was killed in strikes on homes; Israel’s army and Gaza militants have refused to release information about targets and casualties.
UN official warns of further conflict in Gaza
RAMALLAH (AFP) 12 Feb — A top UN official warned Thursday of another potential conflict in the Gaza Strip, urging Israel to lift its blockade and the Palestinians to end in-fighting to avoid further violence. The United Nations also called for an additional $705 million (622 million euros) in humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territories, most of it for Gaza which saw its bloodiest and most destructive war last year. “Right now, things are not going well, and we’re very concerned about the possibility of a further conflict,” James Rawley, UN humanitarian chief for the Palestinian territories, told AFP. “To have a complete recovery of Gaza, even to go back to where we were in July (before the 50-day conflict) requires more than construction material going in. It requires a lifting of the blockade,” said Rawley. “In parallel, we have to see a commitment from the militant groups in Gaza to stop firing rockets at civilians in Israel… and Palestinian reconciliation moving forward” to reassure donors that building materials were not falling into the hands of militants, he added. Rawley called for a “reconstruction hudna (truce) for three to five years” to allow rehabilitation of the increasingly unstable coastal enclave … But Palestinian deputy prime minister Mohammed Mustafa dismissed reconciliation as the principle concern for stability in Gaza. “I think reconciliation will help, but I don’t think it’s the problem today,” he told the Ramallah news conference. “The real test” would be to ensure funding and bring in more construction material, he added.
Taxes on fuel paralyze Gaza’s only power plant
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 11 Feb by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Political conflicts are impeding solving the various crises in the Gaza Strip, such as the unpaid wages of government employees, the closing of the Rafah crossing and the purchase of industrial fuel for Gaza’s power plant. The consensus government in Ramallah is imposing a tax — dubbed the “blue tax” — on industrial diesel before it is sold in Gaza. The deputy director of the Palestinian Energy Authority (PEA) in the Gaza Strip, Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, called for the complete cancellation of this tax on the power plant’s diesel, thus allowing the plant to operate for several additional hours. However, President of the Palestinian Petroleum Agency in Ramallah Fuad Shobaki refused this option and said fuel is stored at Gaza’s power plant. According to the Economic Protocol Agreement, which was signed in Paris in 1994 and incorporated into the Oslo Accord, Israel demanded the price difference of the fuel consumed by Palestinians and that consumed by Israelis not to exceed 15%. Hence, the Palestinian Authority (PA) imposed the blue tax to make up for the difference … The source said the blue tax is not the only tax imposed on the power plant diesel, as there is also value added tax that amounts to 18% and the tax difference of 3%.
Gazans studying abroad are trapped in Strip due to Egyptian border closure
Haaretz 11 Feb by Amira Hass — Palestinian Authority asks Israel to allow stranded students to leave through Jordan crossing — About 1,000 students from the Gaza Strip who are studying at universities abroad have been stranded in Gaza since last summer’s war with Israel. The students — whose studies and, in some cases, scholarships have been jeopardized by their failure to return to their campuses — are among some 8,000 Gazans on the Palestinian Interior Ministry’s waiting list of those who wish to go abroad if and when Egypt opens its border crossing at Rafah. Registration in advance has been required to prevent overcrowding on the few days that the crossing is open. Other than in exceptional cases, since 1997 Israel has not allowed Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip to go overseas by traversing Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, making Rafah their only gateway to the rest of the world … Majdi Ismail, who is a resident of the central Gaza Strip, says if he is unable to leave Gaza by the end of February for medical school in Tunisia, his Tunisian visa will expire. In addition, however, he will lose the full six-year scholarship that he was granted a year and a half ago. He got the scholarship just after graduating from high school in the summer of 2013, he told Haaretz. He was unable to leave the Strip via Rafah at the time and instead used the time to study French in Gaza. He then planned to leave in August of last year, but his plans were scuttled by last summer’s war with Israel. He attempted to cross into Egypt on the occasions when the border was open, but he didn’t manage to get through due to the large numbers seeking to leave. “I am like any university student around the world,” he told Haaretz. “I’m not asking for anything unreasonable or imaginary. I want to study and then return to my country to serve my people. Those are my aspirations and the aspirations of my family, but a few days and nights are liable to determine my future if I don’t leave very soon.”
Palestinian government allows entry of Israeli goods into Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 13 Feb by Hana Salah — The Palestinian government has allowed the entry of some Israeli products into Gaza, after having banned them for years in compliance with the 2013 Import Substitution Industrialization (ISI) policy. The move resulted from the inability of factories to meet the needs of the market, as most of them were destroyed during the 2014 war on Gaza.Hatem Oweida, undersecretary of the Ministry of National Economy, told Al-Monitor, “We have confronted two dilemmas since the last Israeli war. The first is that some producers are facing hardships in resuming production because their facilities were destroyed. Second, the domestically produced goods alone are not enough to meet the needs of the market. Therefore we opened the door to the import of some Israeli goods.” He added, “This is a decision for a limited period to alleviate the situation. We did not take this step to make money from importation fees, as has been said, because the goods we allowed to enter do not necessitate large fees. However, we continue to ban some goods that have domestic alternatives. After a short period, we will reinstate a policy in line with conditions.”
UNRWA’s Gaza Gateway: Providing a new chance for Gaza’s youth
UNRWA Newsroom 12 Feb — UNRWA is piloting a new social enterprise, the Gaza Gateway, as part of an ongoing commitment to enhancing employment prospects for young Palestine refugees in Gaza. The initiative is designed to help young IT graduates gain work experience and employability training, and create new opportunities within the devastated Gaza economy. “It is like a survival kit. It changes your life and gives you a chance,” said Ahmed, a 27-year-old recent graduate working with the Gateway. Approximately 1,000 Palestinians like Ahmed graduate with computer-related degrees in Gaza each year. However, in 2014, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) estimated a 75.1 per cent unemployment rate for Computer Science graduates, making it the sector with the highest unemployment among the specialties studied … The IT industry in Gaza is trapped in a negative cycle: graduates need training and experience to refine their employable skills, but without a stronger skills base, companies cannot grow sufficiently to generate employment. The new UNRWA initiative responds to this challenge by building a bridge from IT graduation to private sector employability,
IMF to pay $2m for healthcare sector in Gaza
Middle East Monitor 11 Feb — The spokesman of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Ashraf Al-Qidra, said on Tuesday that the IMF is to pay $2 million to support the needs of the healthcare sector in the Gaza Strip. Al-Qidra, who hailed this step, said that a quarter of the money is to be paid to cleaning companies as part of their dues [wages] accumulated over the last nine months … Cleaning companies in Gaza went on industrial strike for a 16-day period in order to protest their absent dues over the last nine months. They ended the strike when the government promised to pay them.
Fame beckons for Gaza teen band forged in war
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 13 Feb — After wowing the judges of “Arabs Got Talent”, five young Palestinians who formed a band while bombs rained down are hoping their budding success can raise awareness of war-ravaged Gaza. Their first audition so impressed that they were propelled to the semi-finals of the hit Middle Eastern television show — a spin-off of the British-created Got Talent franchise. The sob stories of hopefuls in the Western talent contest pale in comparison to the trials and tribulations of contestants in the Arab version. The young musicians in Al-Takht al-Sharqi (The Arab Orchestra), who wear the traditional Palestinian keffiyeh around their necks, had to rehearse during lulls in the fighting in Gaza last year. “I would play the darbuka (goblet drum) to try and drown out the sound of the bombardment, but the strikes were always louder,” said Ramzi al-Far, 14. “Staying alive was the priority, so our band practice suffered a bit,” added 16-year-old Siraj al-Sarsawi who plays the Arabian lute. “We were too scared to do anything else most of the time.” … During the war, the band members tried to leave Gaza via the Rafah crossing with Egypt, but were repeatedly turned away, only managing to cross several weeks after the fighting ended on August 26 … For 13-year-old Mahmud Kahil, the youngest member of the group who plays the qanun, a stringed instrument similar to a zither, the emotional build up during the war was just too much. For the last minute of their audition, which was watched by millions of viewers, he played with tears streaming down his face.
Navy nabs rocket ingredient on way to Gaza
Haaretz 11 Feb by Gili Cohen — The Israeli Navy intercepted a vessel carrying liquid fiberglass, which is used to produce rockets, from Sinai to the Gaza Strip about three weeks ago, the Shin Bet security service said yesterday. Three Gaza Strip residents were captured on board and arrested. In their interrogation they admitted they had been smuggling raw material for the production of rockets and mortars to Hamas’ military wing, the Shin Bet said. The three, Mahmad Bachar, Ahmed Zaidi and Awad Zaidi, were indicted in the Be’er Sheva District Court yesterday over security offenses. The Shin Bet said the three told their interrogators that Hamas smuggles weapons into Gaza by sea from Sinai, as well as other goods it sells to the general population. “Recently Hamas has been making efforts to smuggle products from Sinai to the Gaza Strip, because the Egyptian security forces are preventing smuggling via tunnels,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
VIDEO: IDF stop Palestinian teen crossing Gaza border into Israel
Ynet 12 Feb by Yoav Zitun — Ynet’s military reporter was with IDF forces near the border with Gaza when they were alerted that a Palestinian was illegally crossing into Israel. The following video offers an inside look into the challenges faced by the IDF in securing Israel as more and more Gazans attempt to flee a dismal life in Gaza Strip. [The 12- to 14-year-old kid is forced to strip by the Bedouin recon unit patrolling the area]
Analysis: Hamas quietly returns to the Axis of Resistance / Ramzy Baroud
Ma‘an 13 Feb — Despite its success of rebelling Israeli military advances in Gaza, Hamas’ regional political maneuvers of recent years are not bearing fruits. Jointly isolated by Israel and other Arab parties, unaided by the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, the Islamic Resistance Movement is once again facing difficult choices, and it seems to be choosing a cautious return to its old camp of Iran and Hezbollah. The maneuver this time is particularly risky. Hamas’ other options, however, are too limited or simply don’t exist. The movement is facing formidable challenges: a mired economy, ruined infrastructure, destroyed Rafah tunnels and a persisting Israeli siege. The progress of the Hamas-Fatah agreement last year, followed by the formation of a new government, were meant to be prerequisites to other anticipated moves, including the reformation of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The once promising push for unity was interrupted by Israel’s massive war, the so-called Operation Protective Edge, which killed and wounded thousands. The war also left the already distraught Gaza in its worse shape yet. Instead of speedily setting up government ministries in Gaza, funneling money into the devastated Strip and beginning the reconstruction process right away, the Ramallah-based government of Rami Hamdallah delayed everything in what could only be understood as political reasoning. Without an outlet, however restricted, Gaza will not be able to cope for much longer….
Palestinian legislator barred from standing in Israeli election
NAZARETH, Israel (Middle East Eye) 12 Feb by Jonathan Cook — Israel’s Central Elections Committee (CEC) on Thursday barred Haneen Zoabi, one of the most prominent Arab politicians in Israel, from running for the Israeli parliament in next month’s general election. The decision was backed by all of the main political parties, which dominate the committee. Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s, Yisrael Beiteinu, party had submitted a 50-page dossier of quotes it claimed proved Zoabi supported armed struggle by Israel’s enemies and opposed Israel’s character as a Jewish and democratic state. Zoabi, a member of Israel’s parliament, known as the Knesset, is running for a recently announced coalition of Arab parties, called the Joint List. It is the first time that all the Arab parties in the Knesset have decided to join forces and run together … Zoabi accused the committee of “political persecution”. She told Middle East Eye: “The Jewish parties are constructing a false image of me, one designed to incite against me and the public I represent. It says we have no place in the Knesset or even the public discourse. It fuels the racist atmosphere here.” Zoabi was heckled when she tried to speak with calls of: “You have the blood of our soldiers on your hands”. In her response to the committee, she said: “Why are those calling for death and destruction, land appropriation, and the death of the people of Gaza not standing here? Those attempting to get me banned, they are the ones who should be here.” All of the main parties ignored the advice of Yehuda Weinstein, the Attorney General who on Wednesday night said that there were no legal grounds for disqualifying Zoabi. – Appeal to courts – Disqualification by the CEC is familiar territory for Zoabi. The committee barred her from running in the previous election, two years ago, although the decision was overturned following an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court. Zoabi is one of 11 legislators in parties representing Israel’s minority of some 1.5 million Palestinian citizens, Palestinians who remained on their lands after 1948 and today comprise a fifth of Israel’s population. There are 120 seats in the Knesset … The Joint List immediately announced it would appeal against Zoabi’s disqualification to the Supreme Court. A hearing is likely next week.
Arab list stronger without Zoabi
Al-Monitor 13 Feb by Shlomi Eldar — The removal of Knesset member Haneen Zoabi, known for her provocative anti-Israeli stance, may make it easier for Israelis to vote for the new joint Arab party — …Unlike the previous elections, Zoabi is not running on the Balad slate alone. Rather, she’s featured in a joint Arab party that tenuously connects four Arab parties that espouse different concepts, platforms and worldviews. It is a known fact that the leaders of the Arab parties Hadash, Balad, Ta’al and Ra’am — as well as their activists, supporters and senior and junior members — were forced to blur their huge differences and to conceal and downplay their disputes only to overcome the hurdle of the voting threshold that imperils their political survival. But if the unification is something they believe to have been inescapable, it’s Zoabi’s presence, however, that many of them are struggling with. It seems that many Arab Israeli voters who are neither members nor supporters of Balad see her as an electoral liability. The Hadash movement — Balad’s traditional adversary — views Zoabi as a bona fide obstacle jeopardizing coexistence and the desire of the young and middle generations of Arab Israelis to be integrated into Israeli society. An editor of one of the Arab Israeli newspapers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described to Al-Monitor his feelings following the news of her disqualification: “The forced unification with Balad left Hadash with a very bitter taste, primarily because of Haneen. The acrimonious and antagonistic atmosphere she is espousing is intolerable. She is causing us immense damage. These young men and women look at her with cynicism, stupefaction but mainly with great contempt.”
Q&A: Hanin Zoabi – Israel’s ‘bad Arab’
Al Jazeera 11 Feb by Patrick Strickland — …Zoabi, a senior member of the Balad political party, has long sparked outrage among Israeli political leaders, particularly for her vocal denouncements of discriminatory legislation and the ruling parties in Israel. She spoke to Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera: What are the most important issues facing Palestinian voters ahead of Israel’s upcoming Knesset elections? Hanin Zoabi: The most crucial thing is to fight political separation and the lack of confidence in democratic tools. Palestinians [in Israel] have less confidence in the Israeli Knesset. This is not just the outcome of [Israeli policies] but also a product of the centrists’ silence and the so-called left-wing’s defeat.There is no real left-wing in Israel today. We haven’t effectively used all of the democratic tools at our disposal. We haven’t participated in enough popular struggles to raise our voices against Israeli policies and racism. [Palestinian] discontent is the outcome of the inefficiency of using only traditional parliamentary tools throughout the last 20 years. Popular struggle can complement democratic methods. We have to exhaust all of the tools that we can use to further [the Palestinian case] … Al Jazeera: What were the hardest barriers to overcome in order to forge a united Palestinian electoral list? Zoabi: The three main political streams have come together in the United Arab Party. No one has given up their ideology or political platforms. Nationalists in Balad still believe in a state for all of its citizens. The communists still believe in two nation states [for Jews and Arabs] as a solution, which we [in Balad] disagree with. The Islamists still do not believe in gender equality.
Federation of Arab journalists backs pursuit of Israel in the ICC
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Feb — The Federation of Arab Journalists has adopted the decision of filing suit, in the International Criminal Court, against Israel and its crimes committed against Palestinian journalists. The federation called, previously, to file a suit against Israeli war crimes at the ICC, at a session held in Tangier over a two day period, called “The Fallen Palestinian Journalists”. A photo gallery was also displayed, in conjunction with the session, with a focus on Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists and occupied Jerusalem.
PM pulled out of deal for demilitarized Palestine, shared Jerusalem, in 2011
Times of Israel 12 Feb by Avi Issacharoff — Peres — acting with Netanyahu’s support — was set to finalize framework with Abbas when PM changed his mind, sources say; PMO denies account — In the summer of 2011, then-president Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas were close to reaching a framework agreement that would have enabled Israel and the PA to restart peace negotiations, Israeli and Palestinian sources told The Times of Israel. In conversations in various European capitals and in Amman over the course of a year, the two reached far-reaching informal understandings, with the knowledge and support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But according to numerous Israeli and Palestinian sources, on July 28 of that year, right before an important meeting between Peres and Abbas in which the president was due to present the PM’s formal authorization of the understandings, Netanyahu backtracked and pulled his support for the initiative. Abbas, who was en route to Amman at the time, turned back to Ramallah following a conversation with one of Peres’s aides. The general framework reached by Peres and Abbas — with Netanyahu’s support — held the following key points, not dissimilar to the framework that US Secretary of State John Kerry sought to finalize last year:
Israel examines remains of 134 Palestinians buried in ‘numbers graveyard’
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Feb by Saed Bannoura — The National Committee assembled for the retrieval of the bodies of slain Palestinians stated that the Legal Department of the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, in charge of the files of slain Palestinians buried by Israel in numbered graves, said that it received an official Israeli statement regarding the release of the remains of 134 persons. The communication came from the Israeli Military Counselor in Tel Aviv, informing the Committee that Israel started initial examinations of the list provided by the Legal Committee demanding the release of the remains, so that they can be properly buried. The Committee said that Israel will be conducting DNA tests for first-degree relatives of the slain Palestinians, in order to identify the remains within the coming months. The Al-Quds Center said it had previously filed an appeal to the Israeli side, listing the names of 134 Palestinians, men and women, buried in numbered graves, demanding the release of their remains for proper burial. The Committee said that Israel was still refraining from providing details on how many numbered graveyards it has, and the exact number of persons buried there, and that Tel Aviv is holding remains of slain Palestinians despite an order by Israel’s Supreme Court ordering the release of 38 persons by the end of December 2013. It further expressed its rejection to the Israeli claims that the number of persons currently buried in numbered graves is only 119, while the official list of names collected by the committee has indicated 220 persons, in addition to 42 yet to be identified names, and 65 persons presumed dead, but their remains were never located.
PA forces arrest 27 in major raids on Hebron-area towns
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 Feb — Palestinian security forces detained 27 people after they stormed the towns of Beit Awwa and Deir Samit in the Hebron region early Saturday, amid what officials say is a growing crackdown on “outlaws” across the West Bank. “Police arrested 20 fugitives, officers from the preventive security (forces) arrested four, and general intelligence officers arrested three,” an official in the Hebron security forces told Ma‘an. The detainees were taken to interrogation centers for questioning following their arrests. According to officials, the detainees in Beit Awwa and Deir Samit were suspected of involvement in “theft” and drug dealing. The Hebron official told Ma‘an that the detentions were part of a serious attempt to target to lawlessness in the Hebron district in particular and in the West Bank in general.
‘Know your enemy’: Palestinian reporters tackle Hebrew
RAMALLAH (AFP) 12 Feb by Hossam Ezzedine — “As the saying goes: Know the language of your enemy,” says Dalal Said, a Palestinian television reporter who is learning Hebrew in a bid to better cover the conflict.She is one of about 30 journalists taking two hours of Hebrew classes a week at a college in the West Bank city of Ramallah with an emphasis on learning to read Israeli newspapers. “We live under occupation so it is crucial that we know what the press says to be able to get the bigger picture,” says fellow student Imad Freikh, who works for a weekly magazine. For Arabic speakers, learning Hebrew can be surprisingly easy because both are Semitic languages and often have similar three-letter roots for a word … During the six-week course at Nasser al-Shiukhi college, the teacher — a Palestinian from Jerusalem who has a degree in Hebrew — tries to add some context to his lessons. While teaching the colours, he tells his students that the word for black is “shakhor”, making sure to add that some Israelis refer to black people as “cushim” – a derogatory term which he says demonstrates a tendency toward racism … – Talking to soldiers – For Ali Obeidat, a journalist who helped organise the course, knowing Hebrew is crucial to access information not always readily available in Arabic. “In some cases, there is no Palestinian source for certain information so the Israeli press is the main source for covering the conflict,” he told AFP. This is often the case when it comes to the number of people injured in a clash with the army or Jewish settlers where Israeli medics are often first on the scene and the only ones with accurate information. Very few Palestinian journalists have official accreditation to cover events in Israel, giving them little access to direct quotes from Israeli officials, so they often pick up such remarks from the Israeli or international press. Knowing Hebrew is also crucial to be able to communicate with Israeli soldiers, whose presence is ubiquitous across more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank.
West Bank settlers want French lawmakers on their side
i24News 13 Feb — Samaria Regional Council’s delegation discusses forming a ‘pro-Israel lobby’ within the French parliament — A Samaria Regional Council’s delegation has been conducting meetings with French parliament members in order to discuss the establishment of a “pro-Israel lobby” within the parliament, Israeli news site Ynet reported on Thursday. The settlers’ group, which provides municipal services for the 29 Israeli settlements in the northern West Bank, said it wants the lawmakers to understand better the delicate coexistence between Jews and Palestinians in the territories, especially the negative implications any EU’s financial sanctions, such as a ban imposed on West Bank Jewish settlements’ imported products, would have also on the livelihood of the Palestinians. Members of the delegation also said they intend to send to Paris a group of Israelis and Palestinians working together in the Barkan Industrial Zone, which includes about 120 businesses and factories manufacturing plastics, metal-work, food and textiles in the West Bank.
Finland provides €2.5 million to East Jerusalem hospitals to sustain patient services for all Palestinians
European Union press release 12 Feb –Today, the Government of Finland is responding with a contribution of €2.5 million to the cash flow problems of East Jerusalem Hospitals as a result of the Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis. The contribution, which is channelled through the PEGASE  mechanism will help to cover part of outstanding costs of referrals of patients for treatment to East Jerusalem Hospitals by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. With an overall contribution of €38.5 million since 2012, the EU and donors have supported referral costs over a period of two years (January 2012 to December 2013) for patients referred for treatment in East Jerusalem Hospitals by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. By addressing this severe debt problem, hospital facilities remained open and medical staff continued working to provide much-needed specialized health services to patients from across West Bank and Gaza.
14 Palestinians from West Bank, Gaza undergo corneal transplants
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Fourteen Palestinians have undergone cornea transplants at St. John Eye Hospital in East Jerusalem, a statement from Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said Wednesday. The operations were performed over the last three days and Dalia Bassa, health and welfare coordinator for the civil administration, supervised the surgeries. The corneas were donated from the United States, with COGAT adding that 96 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip underwent the procedure in East Jerusalem in 2014.
Palestinian saves Israeli doctor
Al-Monitor 11 Feb by Shlomi Eldar — In an interview with Al-Monitor, a day laborer from the West Bank talks about saving the lives of an Israeli doctor and his son from an angry mob in his village — Walid (an alias) had hoped that Justice Shammai Becker, a judge in the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court, would consider his circumstances and not impose a lengthy jail sentence on him. He had been caught staying in Israel illegally and carrying forged documents. He was on probation for committing the same offense, for which he had been tried in the past. Walid was shaking when he was brought into the courtroom to hear the verdict. Even though he never denied the charges, he certainly never dared to dream that an Israeli judge in an Israeli court would not only forgo a prison sentence, but go so far as to describe him as a kind of “Righteous Among the Nations” (an honorific title describing non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews). But the judge did just that in recognition of Walid’s brave action in his village. Walid’s greatest wish had been to receive a work permit in Israel, so that he could support his family. It now looks as if that wish is about to come true.
‘Fouda’ brings the chaos of the West Bank to television
Times of Israel 12 Feb by Jessica Steinberg — The new YES drama described as a ‘gut punch’ is co-created by The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff — “Fouda,” a new drama about undercover Israeli agents searching for a Hamas terrorist, brings the simmering, real-life tensions of the West Bank to the TV screen. Written by Times of Israel correspondent Avi Issacharoff and the series’ lead actor, Lior Raz for the YES satellite TV company, the series focuses on a team of mistaarvim, the term used for Israeli soldiers dressed like Arabs in order to carry out a military operation. The word is based on the historical term used for Jews who lived in Arab lands, speaking the native Arabic and adopting the customs of the land in order to fit in. “Fouda” offers a different kind of undercover operation. The show’s agents live in a constant state of fouda, or chaos, an Arabic word frequently used by the agents to describe moments when their cover is blown and they have to get out, fast.
Sister of murdered Muslim student talks to Anderson Cooper on CNN
CNN 11 February — [Still in shock, sister of murdered man talks about her family, saying that they gave her the strength to appear so soon after the tragedy. Clearly America has lost a lot with these people gone. Good interview with Cooper being very supportive and sensitive. Deah Barakat’s memorial Facebook page can be found here]
Remember Yusor Abu-Salha as more than just a victim of the Chapel Hill shooting / Rana Odeh
The Guardian 13 Feb — My best friend and sister was murdered this week. The world needs to know what it lost when we lost her — Please do not feel sorry for me. This is not about me or my pain, but rather about my dear best friend and sister, Yusor Abu-Salha, her sweet sister Razan Abu-Salha and her loving husband Deah Barakat. I want you to remember Yusor for who she was, for this to serve as a reminder of who she is and will always be to me and those close to her, and to pay tribute to her parents for raising such an outstanding woman … Why am I – why is everyone else she knew – so infatuated with Yusor? Yusor was one of the most sincere people I know: she genuinely cared for others, both those she knew and those she did not. She worked to be an active human of this world through her philanthropic work; she extended a helping hand to anyone who needed it regardless of any label or belief, to anyone in the world because she, along with Razan and Deah, spread their help across state and international lines. Her volunteerism did not just begin in college: ever since middle school, she was first in line to be of service to others at every opportunity. We love her because of her heartwarming smile and her kindheartedness, the way she revered her family, the way she loved her friends and the way she welcomed strangers into her life.
UN chief praises three young Muslims killed in North Carolina
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) 13 Feb — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday praised three young Muslims killed in North Carolina as representing the best values of global citizenship and said he was deeply moved by scenes of thousands of people mourning their deaths. Deah Barakat, 23, a University of North Carolina dental student, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, a student at North Carolina State University, were gunned down on Tuesday in Chapel Hill. All three were involved in humanitarian aid programs … “At a time of troubling tensions stoked by those who seek to twist the teachings of faith and sow division, these three young people represented the best values of global citizenship and active community compassion to build a better world for all,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Friday.
Abbas consoles father of Muslim students killed in US
RAMALLAH (PIC) 14 Feb — Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas on Friday phoned the father of the two female students who had been murdered by an American extremist a few days ago in North Carolina. According to his office, Abbas offered his condolences to Mohamed Abu Salha over the death of his daughters, Razan and Yusor, and his son-in-law Diya Barakat. He expressed his sincere fatherly sympathy with their families for their great loss and asked Allah Almighty to bestow His mercy upon them and make His Paradise their eternal abode.
Gaza youths call for closing US institutions after murder of three Muslims
GAZA (PIC) 13 Feb — Youth activists and groups in the Gaza Strip called on Palestinians to join a peaceful rally to be staged Monday outside offices of US organizations in protest at the murder of a Muslim family by an American extremist. 23-year-old Dhia Barakat, from Syria, along with his 21-year-old Palestinian wife Yosr Abu Salha and her sister Razan, 19, were shot dead Wednesday afternoon by an American citizen near North Carolina University. The youth groups denounced, in a statement Thursday, the silence maintained by the American mass media and the US administration on what they said was a terrorist attack. The activists called for closing the headquarters of American institutions in Gaza, including Amideast, the Orthodox charity and Mercy Corps.
London holds vigil for murdered Muslim students in North Carolina
LONDON (Press TV news video) with Amina Taylor — The tragic deaths of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan touched those who heard about the murders. It was the reporting of the story however, that infuriated many who saw the clear bias when the victims of violence were Muslims as opposed to alleged perpetrators. The location of this demonstration [Thursday] is not without significance protesters have gathered outside the offices of the BBC – that’s the British Broadcasting Corporation; the State broadcasters. they want them to know that they also stand accused of misrepresenting Islam and Muslim issues both at home and abroad.
Obama’s tepid, belated condemnation of Chapel Hill murders does little to ease fears
EI 14 Feb by Ali Abunimah — US President Barack Obama finally issued a condemnation and condolences regarding the brutal execution-stye murders of three young American Muslims in their home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Tuesday that caused shock around the world. Obama’s statement came after days of mounting anger at his silence, an appeal from the father of two of the victims and a stinging rebuke from Turkey’s president. “Yesterday, the FBI opened an inquiry into the brutal and outrageous murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Deah Shaddy Barakat and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha” Obama’s statement reads. “In addition to the ongoing investigation by local authorities, the FBI is taking steps to determine whether federal laws were violated.” … “No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship,” Obama said. “Michelle and I offer our condolences to the victims’ loved ones.” With those words Obama indirectly acknowledged the victims’ families belief that their loved ones had been targeted because they are Muslim, amid a growing and unchecked atmosphere of anti-Muslim incitement by politicians and media. Obama’s statement also came after a blaze badly damaged the Quba Islamic Institute in Houston, Texas, early on Friday morning. Houston fire officials suspect arson. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly condemned the silence of Obama and other top US officials over the Chapel Hill murders. “If you stay silent when faced with an incident like this and don’t make a statement, the world will stay silent toward you,” Erdogan said during a state visit to Mexico on Thursday. “I ask Mr. Obama, where are you, Mr. President?” It was a question many others were asking, too. The outrage over Obama’s long silence was compounded by the White House’s initial statement that the president had “no specific reaction” to the killings. This contrasted with his swift condemnation and condolences in other cases of mass, religiously or politically motivated violence. Many people considered it especially important for the president to push back quickly and forcefully against a rising tide of Islamophobia. But the president’s belated statement, which fails to specifically name the hate that incited the murder of three young Muslims, does little to instil confidence that he intends to be any more proactive in fighting against bigotry and racism. Indeed given that Obama is escalating his drone campaign of killing Muslims, including children such as the Yemeni thirteen-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman, the president appears to be very much part of the problem.
Houston Fire Dept: Accelerant used in SE Houston Islamic community fire
HOUSTON. Texas (KTRK) 13 Feb — Fire officials now say an accelerant was used in a fire that broke out at an Islamic community and education center in southeast Houston early Friday morning, and now a group is calling for an investigation into whether the fire was the result of a possible hate crime. Houston fire officials say the fire at the Quba Islamic Institute started around 5am. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but we’ve learned HFD says the accelerant was used, which usually points to a purposeful act. Those same investigators met with leaders at another Islamic center just miles away, letting them know that this was an act of arson and to be on alert. The Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on state and federal authorities to investigate the fire as a possible hate crime … The assistant imam said they found a vandalized, smashed table on their property this morning and that he also said just last night, someone had driven by, screaming mocking chants. Earlier this week, a masked man had been lurking around the institute, and had to be chased off the property. The mosque and school at the front of the property were intact, but people who use them are feeling a sense of anxiety.