Violence / Raids / Clashes / Arrests — West Bank / Jerusalem
10-year-old boy attacked and arrested for playing in the snow
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 22 Feb — On the afternoon of the 21st of February Saleh Abu Shamsiya, a 10-year-old Palestinian boy, was attacked by settler youth in the Al-Khalil (Hebron) neighborhood of Tel Rumeida. Saleh’s father and activist with the group Human Rights Defenders Imad Abu Shamsiya reported that the settlers, who looked around 18-19 years old, surrounded his son while he was playing in the snow and stabbed him in the arm with a sharp metal object about 15 cm long. The soldiers stationed at Gilbert checkpoint, directly beside where the attack took place, did nothing try to prevent the settlers from assaulting Saleh. The boy was then taken to the hospital where the wound required two stitches. The night after the attack, Saleh could not sleep from the pain.
The following day, at 2:40pm, Saleh was again playing in the snow on the hills of Tel Rumeida when he was kidnapped by soldiers and brought to the military base in the Tel Rumeida’s illegal settlement. The 10-year-old boy was kept for about 20 minutes before Israeli police took him to the DCO (District Coordinator Office). After that the boy was handed over to the Palestinian police who informed his father about his whereabouts. Saleh’s family lives very near the illegal Israeli settlement in Tel Rumeida, occupied by some of Palestine’s most violent Zionist settlers. Israeli occupation forces and settlers have repeatedly targeted the Abu Shamsiya family. Saleh’s brothers Awne and Mohammed have both been beaten by settlers, who used to routinely occupy the family’s roof. The nearby illegal settlements, along with the Israeli military occupation, continue to deny some of this family’s most basic human needs such as freedom of movement and the right of their children to play…
Palestinian stabs Jewish man in central Jerusalem, apprehended by mayor
Haaretz 22 Feb b Nir Hasson — An 18-year-old Palestinian stabbed a Jewish man in central Jerusalem on Sunday. The victim, an ultra-Orthodox man, sustained light to moderate wounds. The incident took place at Tzahal Square. A security guard on the scene apprehended the assailant until the police arrived and took him for questioning. A preliminary investigation revealed that the suspected assailant is an 18-year-old illegal Palestinian resident. According to a paramedic who was at the scene, the man was stabbed in the stomach, and was taken for medical treatment fully conscious and in a stable condition. The Jerusalem Municipality stated that it was the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, who restrained the assailant together with his bodyguard, seconds after the stabbing occured. Barkat said that he was driving near the scene of the attack when his team spotted the assailant.”My bodyguard and I jumped straight out of the car, he drew his weapon and together we caught the terrorist until police arrived, and we took care of the wounded, who, happily, was only lightly wounded.” Barkat said that when he and his bodyguards faced the assailant, he threw down his knife. “This too is part of our life in Jerusalem. It’s clear that if he would have looked to continue stabbing he wouldn’t have been alive now. But he threw the knife away,” Barkat said.
Dozens injured in Israeli attack on mosque in Jenin
JENIN (PIC) 23 Feb – The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Sunday evening broke into a local mosque in Zabouba town west of Jenin amid heavy fire of tear gas bombs. Dozens of worshipers were injured during the attack. Local sources told the PIC reporter that IOF soldiers violently and provocatively stormed the town and fired tear gas bombs at the residents who in their turn responded by throwing stones and empty bottles. The clashes spread in the town’s streets and alleys, the sources added. During the clashes, the IOF soldiers deliberately attacked the worshipers while performing the Isha prayer (the night-time daily prayer) in the town’s local mosque, with tear gas bombs. Local shops were also stormed, while the owners were brutally attacked. 30 citizens suffered breathing problems after inhaling tear gas during the raid, the sources reported. Material damages were also reported during the violent attack.
7 injured by live bullets in clashes in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Feb — Seven Palestinians were injured with live bullets in clashes with Israeli forces in ‘Aida refugee camp in northern Bethlehem late Sunday, residents said. They told Ma‘an that Israeli forces, with police dogs, raided the camp and fired tear gas, stun grenades and live bullets, injuring seven youths in their lower extremities. Israeli forces also prevented ambulances from reaching the injured, and fired tear gas at them causing one ambulance driver to suffer from suffocation due to excessive gas inhalation. Israel forces detained a large number of young men from the camp and searched several houses, a witness said. Ali Adwan and Issa Sami Abu Srour were shot with live bullets, while Mohammad Omar Badawneh was shot twice in the thighs. The other injured youths were not immediately identified. Meanwhile, Nabhan Mohammad al-Amouri and Mohammad Fouad Ulayyan were severely beaten.
Live bullet injuries, suffocations reported in WB clashes with IOF
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 23 Feb — Dozens of Palestinian civilians sustained wounds Sunday in a wave of violent clashes that burst out between dozens of Palestinian protesters and the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) in West Bank refugee camps. The IOF troops stormed the ‘Aroub refugee camp, north of al-Khalil, and attacked Palestinian homes and citizens with randomly-shot volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets, by-standers at the scene told the PIC. Confrontations broke out after the Palestinian peaceful demonstrators voiced protest at such a violent IOF assault…
84-year-old Hasan Abd Abu Hashem was hit by a tear gas canister on his way to the mosque to perform dawn prayers, coordinator for the anti-settlement committee in Beit Ummar village to the north of al-Khalil, Mohamed Awad, reported.
How does the army please settlers? By upping its violence
+972 Blog 20 Feb by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — When the settlers of Halamish complained that the IDF isn’t being violent enough, a brigadier-general assured them that he orders his troops to use unnecessary force against Palestinians — Near the Palestinian villages of Dir Nizam and Nabi Salah lies a settlement named Halamish, also known as Neve Tsuf. About a month ago, after Palestinians threw stones at their vehicles, the settlers of Halamish took the law into their own hands and began “securing” the road leading to the settlement. The IDF didn’t like the initiative, but – lo and behold – did not use its legal authority against Israeli civilians carrying out military actions on their own initiative. Instead, it sent the commander of the AYOSH (Area of Judea and Samaria) Division, Brig. General Tamir Yadai, to talk to the lawbreakers. This conversation, published on the website of the Hebrew daily Makor Rishon (and which includes recordings) is very interesting for several reasons. Take, for instance the comment by Gen. Yadai after a short lecture about the differences between the military situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (listen at 4:37 in the first recording): “I don’t want to say that we changed the rules of engagement, but we became a bit harsh with the people around here; in places where we’d fire [tear] gas or rubber [bullets] in the past, now we fire Ruger [bullets], and sometimes live [bullets]. If I remember the numbers correctly, we’ve had something like 25 people hurt here in the last three weeks.” Hold it. If firing tear gas or rubber bullets was sufficient in the past, what necessitated the change? According to Yadai, nothing changed and the threat level vis-à-vis the soldiers did not increase in any way. So what did change? Well, the atmosphere in the IDF, for one. The army decided to teach the Palestinians a lesson, and therefore increased the level of violence it uses towards them – regardless of the threat they represent. The brigadier-general’s comments are not empty ones – they are mere attempts to boast. B’Tselem, which noticed Yadai’s comment, recorded a series of such shooting incidents [Hebrew].
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
Israeli demolitions leave 4 Bedouin families homeless in Negev
[with photos] BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 22 Feb — Israeli authorities on Sunday demolished four homes belonging to Palestinian Bedouins near the town of Hurah in the Negev Desert in Southern Israel. Bulldozers appeared in the village of Sawah east of Hurah on Sunday morning accompanied by a large number of police officers, who proceeded to demolish the homes soon after arrival. “We are now trying to evacuate furniture and clothes from the houses in the short time limit the Israeli forces have given us,” one of the residents Salamah al-Qassasi told Ma‘an. The Israeli Ministry of Interior apparently ordered the demolition about a month ago. Residents appealed the decision in court, but the court then demanded that they provide a proof of ownership, which they did not have … n 2013, authorities said that the homes of the 1,500 residents of the village were to be demolished because the area had been converted into a closed military zone. Since that time, residents have fought court rulings and prevented the village’s wholesale demolition so far. Authorities have, however, demolished individual homes. The demolitions are part of an ongoing campaign by Israeli planning and construction committees against the unrecognized Bedouin villages in Negev desert, where between 70-90,000 people live.
Hundreds join ‘Open Shuhada Street’ rally despite storm
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — Despite the storm and the thick layer of snow which shut down roads, Hebron’s Youth Against Settlements managed to organize the city’s annual rally to call for the reopening of Shuhada Street. The main street which runs through the Old City to the Ibrahimi Mosque was shut down after the massacre of February 1994 during which an extremist American-born Jew Baruch Goldstein opened fire at Muslim worshipers killing 29 and injuring more than 120. Hundreds including locals and international solidarity activists joined the rally which kicked off after the Friday prayer in Ali Bakka mosque in the city center. They marched toward Shuhada Street and managed to enter it from the east. Activists tried to break the iron gate which Israeli forces have installed since 1994. “This rally defies the Israeli occupation and the snow together,” a coordinator of the group said. Issa Amr added that “snow is temporarily closing roads, but closure by the occupation has lasted long and persistent work against it is needed because if we continue to organize this demonstration, we will show the whole world that Palestinian citizens suffer much more from occupation than from bad weather conditions.” The demonstration, according to Amr, comes also as commemoration of the 21st anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre which left 29 worshipers dead and hundreds injured.
21 years after Goldstein massacre, once-thriving Hebron is a mere memory / Amira Hass
Haaretz 21 Feb — February 25 marks 21 years since Dr. Baruch Goldstein entered the Tomb of the Patriarchs and gunned down 29 Muslims kneeling in prayer at the Ibrahimi mosque. What has happened to the city since that day? — …The Abu Aisha family in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida neighborhood, however, remains at home by choice and determination … Israelis have offered them a large amount of money to move out several times, and each time they refused. They make sure one adult is always in the house. “If we all leave, even for a few hours, the settlers will take over,” a family member says. The IDF’s laws forbid them from receiving any Palestinian guests … Neighbors aren’t permitted to visit the Abu Aisha family, either – not even the brides’ families … Known as the Cage House, their home is covered from the front and sides with iron mesh. “That’s from Arafat’s time ,” says Rima Abu Aisha. “He heard settlers were throwing stones at the house and made sure we got the money to put up the mesh. Before that, we couldn’t put furniture on the balcony, all the window panes were broken, the floor was covered with rocks. We couldn’t sit here like we do now,” she says. But Israelis kept attacking them – either throwing stones, breaking into the house through another door or shooting at them (and killing their songbirds). About six years ago, they installed closed-circuit TV cameras, with the help of B’Tselem. Unknown people once smashed the camera and the family installed a new one (they also have two smaller video cameras). Thanks to the three cameras, the attacks became less frequent.
Demolishing Arab women’s homes is the easy way out
+972 Blog 18 Feb by Samah Salaime Egbariya — What are Arab citizens expected to do when the city only builds for Jews, and why do single mothers almost always pay the price? — On the surface, it was just another illegal dwelling demolished in the city of Lyd (“Lod” in Hebrew). The image of a violence, crime-ridden city combined with that of too many law-breaking Arabs is particularly blinding for both the media and social activists. After all, we are simply talking about a municipality attempting to get its zoning matters straight, that’s all. But let me invite you to take a closer look at what is actually taking place in Lyd, where for the past 10 years, investment and high-momentum construction have been named national-level goals by one government decision after another. There has been no approved zoning plan for decades. Arabs cannot build on their own lands, and plans that are meant to authorize legal construction in the Arab neighborhoods are stuck in bureaucratic pipelines – at least according to the plan for the improvement of the Lyd municipality that was passed by Netanyahu’s government … Not a single housing project has been built for Arabs, not even one meant for the general population where Arabs would also be permitted to purchase homes. None. On the other hand, thousands of new housing units have been built at lightning speed right across from the Arab neighborhoods for the latest gari’n of religious settlers (small communities of religious Jews who move, usually from the occupied territories, into cities with mixed Arab and Jewish population) or other religious groups … if we look a little closer to see whose homes are destroyed time and time again, we will find that even when it comes to the worst attacks on the security of Arab citizens, there is an added layer of discrimination against women, and especially impoverished women.
Israeli settlers chop down 35 olive trees in southern Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — Israeli settlers chopped down more than 35 olive trees aged more than 25 years from the Wadi al-Sweid area in southern Hebron on Saturday, a popular committee official said. Rateb al-Jubour, coordinator of the popular committees against the wall and settlements in Hebron and eastern Yatta, pointed out that the chopped down olive trees belong to the Abed Rabbu family.
Separately, al-Jubour added that the “4×4 Palestine Team,” a group of Palestinians who own 4×4 vehicles who volunteered to help people in emergencies during the snowstorm, had answered more than 40 emergency calls in Yatta and its surroundings. They were mostly ill people in need to be taken to hospitals. The team also helped a Palestinian whose tent was burned after being struck by lightning.
Aida refugee camp flooded by excess settlement water
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Feb — ‘Aida refugee camp, north Bethlehem city, has drowned after the Gilo settlement opened its barrages, throwing all excess rain and melted snow water onto the camp. ‘Aida camp is adjacent to a portion of the Israeli apartheid wall, which is backed by the Gilo settlement, to the northwest, that opened its barrages and flooded the homes of refugees. Sami Hmedan, in charge of water pumps in the camp, said that Israeli occupation authorities opened the barrage water with disregard to the Palestinians and without any official concerns. The water has accumulated in the street and the main electricity station of the camp and, so, has hindered the life and movement there, according to the PNN.
IOA bars Palestinian bulldozers from unblocking snowy roads
RAMALLAH (PIC) 21 Feb — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) on Friday prevented Palestinian bulldozers from removing snow from main roads that connect different West Bank provinces at the pretext they are located in Israeli-controlled areas classified as C. Palestinian sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that the IOA did not even provide alternative vehicles or equipment to clear the snow-covered roads. This Israeli measure has caused traffic difficulties and prevented people from travelling between cities, especially between Ramallah and the northern and southern cities. However, Palestinian bulldozers managed yesterday to open other roads around and inside some cities. In this regard, Ramallah and Bireh mayor Leila Ghannam affirmed that the IOA obstructed Palestinian efforts to open the main roads between Ramallah and the northern and southern sides of the West Bank after they were blocked by mounds of snow.
Homeless Gaza families take stock of losses after winter storm
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — As a severe winter storm buffeted Palestine this week leaving the hilltops of the West Bank covered in snow, tens of thousands of families in Gaza left homeless by Israel’s most recent assault struggled to cope in frigid temperatures along the coast. Scores of families are still living in tents set up beside their destroyed homes, trying their hardest to stay warm despite a severe shortage of electricity and fuel for generators or heaters. The Abu Tayamas are one of those families stuck in the eye of the storm with only a light piece of fabric to protect them. Their tent is located directly beside the ruins of their former home in Khan Younis, bombed to bits by Israel last summer. They complain that officials gave them no support after they lost their home, and they are now stuck living in a worn out tent. “Whatever we do to try to stay warm it is still cold,” Umm Mazen told Ma‘an. “Water runs under our feet, the storm is strong, and the sound of thunder resembles the sound of shelling.” Umm Mazen said that her daughter Mira complains about the deep cold repeatedly throughout the day, but her only response is: “What can I do, dear?”
Gaza’s power generator stops working as Strip runs out of fuel
GAZA (PIC) 22 Feb — Shortages in fuel reserves have forced Gaza’s power plant to shut down one generator, out of two, the plant manager Rafiq Maliha said Saturday. Maliha said, in a press statement, the breakdown has cropped up due to acute shortages in the needed fuel supplies … The authority further slammed the Petroleum Corporation for having trimmed down the quantities of fuel dispatched to Gaza’s sole power plant, saying they are not enough to operate the generators.
Experts: Israel beautifies its siege on Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 21 Feb — Since it has been imposed in 2007, Israeli authorities worked at beautifying its siege on Gaza Strip through declaring a number of facilities from time to time that do not meet the necessary needs of the people of Gaza. The General Authority for Palestinian Civil Affairs has earlier declared a number of new Israeli “facilities” at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. Those alleged facilities include allowing the access of 45 agricultural tractors to the Strip, issuing 450 BMC cards for Gaza businessmen, allowing the travel of 120 patients per day to receive medical treatment in West Bank or Israeli hospitals, approving the travel of 800 merchants instead of 400 per day, and increasing the trade permits (to enter Israel) from 3,000 to 5,000. Gazan students have also been allowed to study in Jordanian universities, while only 50 students were allowed access to the West Bank via Beit Hanoun crossing. In this matter, head of the Popular Committee against the Siege MP Jamal al-Khudari told al-Arabi Jadid newspaper that the declared new Israeli facilities are a natural right for the Palestinian people. What is really needed is to lift the siege on the Strip and to open all the border crossings closed since 2007, he added. Those facilities are not enough to meet the urgent need of thousands of people to travel either to receive treatment or to study abroad, according to his statements.
UNRWA: $100m urgently needed in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Feb — UNRWA stated, on Sunday, that US $100 million in aid is urgently needed for families affected by the last Israeli offensive in the region, this past summer. The money is needed in the first quarter of 2015, to allow refugee families with minor damage to repair their homes and to provide ongoing rental subsidies, including to the thousands of families who left UNRWA-run Collective Centres (CCs) and found alternative rental accommodations. UNRWA explained, according to Al Ray, that thousands of families are waiting, but that it has no money: “If we cannot restart the provision of rental subsidies, people, including those who left our collective centers and found alternative accommodation, may be forced to return to those centers.” Due to lack of funds last month, UNRWA recently announced the suspension of its cash assistance programme supporting repairs and providing rental subsidies to Palestine refugee families in Gaza. According to the agency’s initial assessment, concluded in December, 96,000 Palestine refugee dwellings were damaged or destroyed during last summer’s conflict and more than $720 million USD is required to address this need.
Hundreds of Palestinian flee as Israel opens dams into Gaza Valley
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Feb — Hundreds of Palestinians were evacuated from their homes Sunday morning after Israeli authorities opened a number of dams near the border, flooding the Gaza Valley in the wake of a recent severe winter storm. The Gaza Ministry of Interior said in a statement that civil defense services and teams from the Ministry of Public Works had evacuated more than 80 families from both sides of the Gaza Valley (Wadi Gaza) after their homes flooded as water levels reached more than three meters … Gaza civil defense services spokesman Muhammad al-Midana warned that further harm could be caused if Israel opens up more dams in the area, noting that water is currently flowing at a high speed from the Israel border through the valley and into the Mediterranean sea. Evacuated families have been sent to shelters sponsored by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, in al-Bureij refugee camp and in al-Zahra neighborhood in the central Gaza Strip. The Gaza Valley (Wadi Gaza) is a wetland located in the central Gaza Strip between al-Nuseirat refugee camp and al-Moghraqa. It is called HaBesor in Hebrew, and it flows from two streams — one whose source runs from near Beersheba, and the other from near Hebron. Israeli dams on the river to collect rainwater have dried up the wetlands inside Gaza, and destroyed the only source of surface water in the area. Locals have continued to use it to dispose of their waste for lack of other ways to do so, however, creating an environmental hazard. This is not the first time Israeli authorities have opened the Gaza Valley dams. In Dec. 2013, Israeli authorities also opened the dams amid heavy flooding in the Gaza Strip. The resulting floods damaged dozens of homes and forces many families in the area from their homes. In 2010, the dams were opened as well
VIDEO: Gaza village floods after Israel opens dam gates
AFP 00.46 — Part of the al-Mughraqa village in Gaza were flooded on Sunday after Israel opened the gates of a dam along its border with the Gaza Strip.
Photos: Israel ‘opens dam gates’, flooding Gaza: Palestinian agency
Middle East Monitor 22 Feb — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES Israeli authorities have opened the gates of a dam near the Gaza Strip, which led to the flooding of several homes in the enclave, according to the strip’s Civil Defense Directorate (CDD).
Israeli troops open fire at Gaza farmers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Feb — Israeli forces stationed in military vehicles along the southeastern border of the Gaza Strip on Sunday opened fire at Palestinian farmers in their fields in the eastern outskirts of Rafah. Witnesses told Ma‘an that several Israeli military vehicles were seen firing at farmers. Spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra said there were no injuries from the incident.
Spy caught in act by Gaza resistance fighters
GAZA (PIC) 23 Feb — The Palestinian resistance apparatuses caught a pro-Israel double agent who took advantage of the frosty storm hitting Gaza lately, to stake out on resistance kit and agendas. The Majd Security website said the collaborator was caught by the resistance security devices in the act, while raking through land lots believed to be a breeding ground for resistance projectiles. The spy admitted that an officer of the Israeli Shabak intelligence devices asked him to carry out a covert stakeout to gather evidence on underground stockrooms for Palestinian resistance arsenal, taking advantage of the sub-zero temperatures and torrential downpours to perform his mission as stealthily as he possibly could.
Israeli media: Three Palestinian drones flew over Eshkol
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 22 Feb — A flock of drones from Gaza had been hovering over the Eshkol settlements, Israeli media outlets claimed Saturday. The Israeli 0404 online media site, known to be close to the army, said Israeli fighter jets were flown to Eshkol skies afternoon Saturday in search for two or three drones suspected to have taken off to Eshkol skies. “Three Hamas-run aircrafts had been flying near the eastern Gaza borders and returned to their bases after the Israeli fighter jets showed up,” Israeli media sources alleged. The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said in mid-July that they had used a drone of their own making for the first time in the group’s history in a security mission over Israeli skies.
The world has broken its promises about rebuilding Gaza – and the children will suffer / Chris Gunness
The Guardian 21 Feb — Baby Salma died of hypothermia at just 40 days old. Her body was drenched with freezing rainwater. It was frozen “like ice-cream”. Gaza was hit by a severe winter storm called “Huda” in January. Salma was its youngest victim. I meet Salma’s mother, Mirvat, and 14 members of her extended family in the very place, indeed the room, where Salma slept during her last night at home. They still live there in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, in a tiny three-room wooden structure, covered with plastic. When I see it from the road, I assume it houses animals. The door is a blanket which flaps in the biting wind. It is raining. Water flows in. Mirvat pulls back the sodden carpet that serves as flooring and scoops the wet sand below. Memories of Salma’s death on 9 January are painfully fresh. “The night she died the storm was strong. We were all soaking wet, but some of us managed to sleep. The rain came and in and drenched Salma’s blankets. I found her shaking. Her tiny body was frozen like ice-cream. We took her to hospital, but later the doctor called. Salma was dead. My beautiful girl weighed 3.1kg at birth. She was healthy and would be alive today if we had not been bombed out of our home in the war and reduced to living like this.”… The family tragedy does not end with Salma. Her sister Maes, aged three, is in hospital suffering from respiratory problems brought on by exposure to harsh weather. “I worry that Maes will die like Salma,” says Mirvat. Outside, I meet Mirvat’s sister-in-law, Nisreen, 28. Her son died at just 50 days old in the UNRWA school where the family had taken refuge. “Moemen’s death was unexpected. There was nothing anyone could do to save him. I felt that he was cold. I covered him up and I put him to sleep. The child was sleeping in my lap. When I woke up at four in the morning he was blue. Moemen was dead. I have waited for a boy for five years, and now he’s gone.” … UNRWA, the agency for which I work, was forced to suspend what for this family would have been a life-saving programme just three weeks ago. After the conference in Cairo last October at which donors pledged $5.4bn to rebuild Gaza, we created a $720m project. With the generous pledges at Cairo we were certain the funds would be there. Or so we thought.
Ghalia Abu-Rediah – kindness followed by execution
LoveGaza released 20 Feb by Shawn Robinson — The image is clearly a story of a simple act of kindness… The photograph is a beautiful photograph, showing a gracious display of humanity of a kindly soldier sharing water with a civilian who had the misfortune to be trapped in a heavily bombarded war zone. The intent of the photograph was to do just that, portray the Israeli forces as benevolent and caring for the vulnerable civilians. The reality of this picture is not what is so beautifully displayed. The major who created the posting, when we forwarded him our questions, left us with silence. We keep returning back to his page and his only response was to advise us his official military title. I gave him another opportunity again on February 11, and nothing, just silence. With that said… back to the story. In the photograph is Ms. Ghalia Abu-Rediah, an elderly lady who at the time of this image was 74 years old. She was born in 1941 in Khuza‘a, a village at the time under the British Mandate … On July 20 , the Israeli forces began shelling Khuza‘a with reports of upwards of 360 shell attacks in one hour … The family reported that they prayed that the soldiers would have mercy on Ms. Ghalia and to spare her any harm … After four long days of anxiety and dread, the residents of Khuza‘a were allowed to return as the IDF withdrawal of ground troops suddenly began on August 3, 2014. A neighbour, Imad Abu Metelak was the first back to their neighbourhood and immediately sought out Ms. Ghalia. He immediately located her decomposing body under an olive tree meters from her home. There were no guns in the area nor any evidence of the Palestinian paramilitaries during that time. Her death was shocking and disappointing. Imad located Ms. Ghalia’s family who gathered her remains and carried them to the Nasser Hospital where she was pronounced dead due to an bullet wound behind her left ear. We can only imagine the shock when the family learned of Major Adraee’s Facebook posting showing their beloved relative accepting water from a soldier, knowing she was executed around the time of the photograph being taken.
Hamas accuses Egyptian media of spreading anti-Palestinian lies
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — A Hamas spokesman on Saturday slammed what he described as a campaign of “incitement and deception” by a number of Egyptian journalists against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied reports that Palestinians have been traveling via tunnel into Egypt recently, denouncing what he called a “Zionist-like” network that had spread the rumors and sought to sow discord between Egypt and Palestine. All of the tunnels under the border area, he said, have been destroyed and both Egyptian and Palestinian security forces have been guarding both sides of the borders. Similarly, Hamas interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Buzm denounced the “attempts to accuse the Gaza Strip of (culpability in) the ongoing events in Egypt.” Commenting on a report on an Egyptian TV channel Friday evening claiming that gunmen infiltrated Egyptian territory from Gaza, al-Buzm argued that “the channel which circulated the rumor is the same channel which falsely claimed a few days ago that a Palestinian resistance fighter was killed in Sinai.” … The Egyptian media has widely followed the government’s lead since the July 2013 military coup in denouncing Hamas as enemies of the state and supporters of the Wahhabi insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula. Hamas was an ally of the democratically-elected government of the Muslim Brotherhood’s President Mohamed Morsi, and as Egyptian leader Fattah al-Sisi has cracked down brutally on the party’s supporters, Hamas has also been targeted.
Gazan lady operates NASA’s Orion spacecraft
Middle East Monitor 21 Feb — A Palestinian lady from the Gaza Strip is a leading figure in operating NASA’s Orion Spacecraft and is responsible for software/hardware integration and testing to ensure the spacecraft is functioning properly. The story of engineer Soha al-Qeshawi was published on NASA’s Arabic Facebook page as a success story. The Facebook page’s administrator referred to her as an intelligent Palestinian lady. Speaking about herself, she said, “As a senior software engineer working on Orion, I am responsible for software/hardware integration and testing to ensure all the spacecraft’s computer commands perform as expected for America’s next generation spacecraft designed for deep space exploration.” Al-Qeshawi described her role within NASA’s programme. “Working with bits and bytes all day is much cooler than you might think. I get to simulate Orion missions almost every day, just as if we are flying in space. I test the systems from launch, through flight and back to Earth.” Regarding her role in the system, she explained, “If I find any issues, I resolve them and retest to ensure a smooth and safe flight for our future crews.”
Prisoners / Court actions
8 Palestinians sentenced by Israeli court, 26 given administrative detention, hunger strike imminent
IMEMC/Agencies 23 Feb — An Israeli military court has sentenced eight Palestinians from the occupied West Bank to serve between 10 and 42 months in the Israeli prison system, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS also stated that Israeli authorities issued administrative detention orders against 26 Palestinian detainees. Detainees throughout the system are set to embark on an extended hunger strike against the unacceptable and repressive measures imposed against them … WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency further reports that, according to PPS, Israeli authorities issued administrative detention orders against 26 Palestinian detainees. 24 had their orders renewed for the third and fourth times, including some who have served years under administrative detention, for either continuous or interval periods. The remaining two received new detention orders without charge or trial. The period of the detention varied between two to six months. Administrative detention is a procedure which allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret information without charging them or allowing them to stand trial … WAFA further reports that, according to the Detainees and Ex-detainees Affairs Committee, Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails are set to embark on an extended protest against the prison administrations’ arbitrary and repressive measures against them.
Israeli prison moves Islamic Jihad prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — The Israeli Prisons Service moved all Islamic Jihad-affiliated prisoners to the cells of the Rimon jail on Saturday, a prisoners rights group said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement that tensions were raised in the prison as the Israeli Prisons Service continued to move prisoners between jails. The PPS added that prisoners in the 4, 5, and 7 sections of the Rimon prison started protesting measures against continuously moving prisoners of the Rimon and Nafha jails. The statement said that Israeli “suppression forces” raided section 4 and clashed with prisoners.
Palestinian refugees in Egypt
Syrian, Palestinian refugees on hunger strike to protest arbitrary detention by Egypt
Middle East Monitor 20 Feb by Ben Norton — Some 56 Syrian and Palestinian-Syrian refugees are on an open hunger strike in protest of over 100 days of detention without charge in Karmouz police station in Alexandria, Egypt, according to reports by the Centre for Refugee Solidarity (CRS). The Sweden-based organisation devoted to monitoring refugee rights in the Middle East and North Africa revealed that 74 refugees are being detained in Karmouz police station. The majority of those held are Syrian and Palestinian-Syrians who had fled Turkey by boat on 23 October, in the hope of seeking refuge in Europe. In early November, the refugees found themselves stranded on Nelson Island, in Abu Qir Bay, where they were arrested by Egyptian coast guards. The public prosecutor ordered the release of the detained refugees on 5 November. Egypt’s Homeland Security apparatus instead issued orders for their deportation. At least 15 women and 15 minors, seven under the age of 10 and one only 10 months old, are among those detained, according to the CRS. The centre said the ongoing detention of minors violates both Egyptian law and the UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty. The refugees have been on hunger strike since 9 February. In addition to demanding they be released, they have criticised what they call “inhumane treatment” they have received at the hands of Egyptian authorities. Amnesty International has reported that the “refugees are being detained in poor conditions with some held in rooms infested with cockroaches, mosquitoes and mice.”
Activism / Solidarity
Bil‘in marks ten years of popular resistance
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Feb — February 20, 2015 marked the 10th anniversary of the weekly demonstrations against the Israeli Apartheid Wall in the West Bank village of Bil‘in. There have been more than 500 Friday protests since Palestinians, usually accompanied by international and Israeli solidarity activists, began marching towards the barrier that divides their village. Dozens of participants suffered from tear gas inhalation during the march today after Israeli forces attacked them, just before they arrived to the old route of the wall. The soldiers used jeeps to chase demonstrators towards the village and fired a lot of tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at them. According to the PNN, some members of families who live nearby also suffered from tear gas inhalation. Despite the cruel weather, a lively demonstration headed from the center of the village to the wall. Participants raised Palestinian flags, banners and pictures of children who are detained in Israeli jails. Palestinians, international and Israeli solidarity activists chanted slogans calling for the demolition of the wall, freedom for Palestine, and for prisoners in Israeli jails. A big main demonstration was planned for yesterday’s 10th anniversary, but, due to the bad weather, it was postponed till next Friday, February 27, so that everyone will be able to participate.
British cyclers set out to remap the Nakba
IMEMC 22 Feb — Cycle ’48 is a collective of 3 British women who all cycled to Palestine from the UK. The project aims to remap the erased histories of the Nakba, promoting the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees whilst exposing the role of the Jewish National Fund in their ethnic cleansing policies. We are standing outside ‘Derech Eretz’, a swish wedding venue nestled between rolling green hills, the ground is littered with red poppies and bright yellow mustard flowers. An immaculate green lawn stretches out before the wood-paneled modern building. In the far corner there is a bar/DJ booth, its walls decorated with irregular golden stones. A few feet above it, higher on the hill, is a beautiful golden ruin with arched windows and doorways. The manager rests one arm casually on the entrance of the venue, where chairs and tables are adorned with beautiful fabric and set ready for a celebration feast. His other arm gestures wistfully in the air as he tells us what he knows of the land we are standing on. “There’s lots of Roman history here”, he begins, avoiding the issue for some time. “What about ’48?” we ask, the year of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe). “Do you know the name of this village?”, we point to the ruins which are now fitted with dramatic lighting. “Mmm”, he strokes his chin. “No, I don’t know the name,” he shrugs. “The Arabs ran away – there were some rumours spread and they left.” “Nobody died”, he is quick to add. “That’s the story, nothing to cry about”. We are standing on the site of Dayr Aban where, in January 1948, the village was surrounded by armed Jewish forces. The village was later completely occupied by Jewish militia in October 1948, all of its inhabitants were expelled, and prevented from returning. Now a wedding venue stands on its ruins … We steal a glance at each other, remembering the cups of tea we have drunk in the past few days with different refugees in camps across the West Bank. They are not just stories. People are still living with the consequences of 1948. In Dheisheh camp, where many of the refugees from Dayr Aban now live, over 13,000 people live in one square kilometre…. Follow our blog, facebook and twitter for the full story and more bike-powered justice pursuits.
PHOTOS: Snow on Jerusalem’s holy and unholy monuments
Activestills 21 Feb — Snow blankets Jerusalem and the hilly West Bank late Thursday and Friday, shutting down roads and highways, covering holy sites and the separation wall alike. In Gaza, heavy rain causes flooding in the war-torn Strip.
PCHR weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the oPt (12-18 February)
PCHR-Gaza 23 Feb — Shootings: During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded 5 Palestinian civilians, including a child, in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli navy forces continued to chase and target Palestinian fishermen. Moreover, Israeli forces continued to open fire at border areas … Incursions: During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 58 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 46 Palestinians, including 3 children and 4 women. Seventeen of these Palestinians, including 3 children and the 4 women, were arrested in Jerusalem. [Full, detailed report here]
Palestinians threaten to end security ties with Israel
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 22 Feb — The Palestinian president has threatened to stop security coordination with Israel if the country continues to withhold millions of dollars of Palestinian tax revenue, a senior Palestinian official said Sunday. Nabil Shaath said President Mahmoud Abbas warned European leaders on a trip to Europe last week that Palestinian officials would discuss the matter during a Palestinian central council meeting next week. “We have told the international community that we will not be able to continue the security coordination and the Palestinian Authority itself may not be able to continue functioning if Israel continues stealing our money,” Shaath said.
Israel to buy 14 F-35 stealth fighters from US
JERUSALEM (AFP) 22 Feb — Israel is to purchase 14 F-35 stealth fighters from US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin at a cost of around $110 million each, the defence ministry said Sunday. “The defence ministry will purchase an additional 14 F-35s for around $3 billion, each plane costing an average of $110 million,” a ministry statement said. The $2.82 billion deal, which includes other technological and training elements, was signed at the weekend after being approved by a ministerial committee in November. It includes the purchase of 14 stealth fighters as well as the option to buy another 17. It is the continuation of an agreement signed in 2010 to purchase 19 F-35 planes.
86% of Israeli Arabs oppose Islamic State
Ynet 22 Feb by Hassan Shaalan — Poll examining Jewish-Arab relations in Israel finds 54% of Jews are afraid to enter Arab villages, while 85% of religious Jews do not want their child to share a classroom with an Arab student — …Eighty-six percent of Israeli Arabs said they believed the Islamic State group was harming Islam’s image, while the Jewish public thought at least 30 percent of Israeli Arabs supported the Islamic State. The survey dealt with relations between the Jewish and Arab sectors in Israel, finding that 77 percent of Jews and 68 percent of Arabs in Israel noted a significant decline in Jewish-Arab relations following Operation Protective Edge and other security and nationalistic incidents that occurred over the past year. Over half of the Jewish public (54 percent) is afraid of entering Arab communities for shopping, traveling and so on. Among those who identified themselves as religious (78 percent) or rightwing (71 percent) there was a higher rate of people afraid to enter Arab villages and cities. This is an increase from a survey in 2014, when only 41 percent of Jews admitted such concerns. Israeli Arabs, on the other hand, appeared unaware of the Jewish population’s concerns, with 78 percent saying they didn’t think the Jewish public was afraid to enter Arab villages and cities. With that in mind, one third of Israeli Arabs said they felt less secure when walking around areas in which there’s a large Jewish population. Thirty-six percent of Jews did not want their children to share a classroom with Arab students – among them most of religious Jews (85 percent) and most of those who identified as rightwing (65 percent). On a more positive note, 52 percent of Jews said they were interested in getting to know the Arab public better – a 14 percent rise from last year. Ninety percent of Arab respondents said they thought there’s a chance of reaching coexistence with Jews, while only 66 percent of Jews thought coexistence possible….
Tongue-tied: Arab and Jewish Jerusalemites are flocking to study the other’s language
Haaretz 22 Feb by Nir Hasson — East Jerusalem Arabs are filling up Hebrew classes almost as fast as the courses can open, and a similar thing is happening with West Jerusalem Jews studying Arabic. Arabs consider Hebrew a must to make a living in the west of the city, while both leftist and rightist Jews are learning Arabic … Some people regard the language phenomenon as a sign the city is becoming binational. As long as it was believed the city could be divided politically, the demand to learn the other language remained low. According to these people, now that the city’s future seems binational, the demand to get to know the other side is growing. Clearly more Arab Jerusalemites know Hebrew than Jewish Jerusalemites know Arabic. Knowledge of Hebrew is most common among young men, while women, children and older adults have limited facility in the language and cannot read or write it. Everyone interviewed for this article agreed that the “Israelization” of East Jerusalemites was responsible for Arabic speakers learning Hebrew. They want it for leisure-time activities as well as employment and studies. In addition, the separation barrier in East Jerusalem has separated many Arab Jerusalemites from Palestinians in the West Bank. It has thus increased their dependence on West Jerusalem … Interviewees for this article agreed that the language phenomenon has nothing to do with recognition of the occupation. Still, most Hebrew-language students asked not to be photographed; Hebrew is considered a necessary evil, an activity that might be seen as giving up one’s Palestinian identity … “There are three kinds of Jews who study Arabic. Some are in daily contact with Arabs and want an easier, nonaggressive means of communication. Some are conscience-stricken but they don’t necessarily study. It’s important to them to say they’re studying,” Ben-Badis said. “Then there are those who study Arabic out of fear. They want to stop being afraid of Arabs; for example, settlers who want to feel more secure in their homes.”
A glimmer of hope against incitement and racism
+972 Blog 19 Feb by Samah Salaime Egbariya — Jamal Zahalka promises that the Joint List will remain together for a long time, Dov Khenin tugs at our heart strings, the head of the Islamic Movement speaks of the men and women who make history, and Ayman Odeh, who heads the slate, calls on Arab members of the Zionist parties to come back home. [highlights of speeches from the Joint List’s Arabic-language campaign launch]
WATCH: 12-year-old winner of Ma‘an reality show releases first song
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Feb — Teenage Palestinian singer Miral Ayyad, who won Ma‘an Network’s Best Talent competition, has produced and released a first video clip of her own [below]. The video Shwait Haky (“A few words to say”) has been dedicated to Palestinian children. The song was written by Bashar Tmeizi, while the melody and arrangement were made by Rami Arafat. The video clip was directed by Muhammed Faraj … In her clip, Ayyad talks about Palestinian children, especially in the Gaza Strip, and how they try hard to endure their suffering to tell the world that despite misfortunes and calamities there should always be a glimpse of hope. The production took three months and the video clip includes footage filmed in the Gaza Strip, Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jerusalem. “While we were shooting in Bethlehem, a group of tourists were listening and they asked for a translation, and when I finished singing they all started to applaud,” Miral told Ma‘an on Sunday … Miral, from Abu Dis in East Jerusalem, was 12 years old when she was announced the winner of Ma’an’s reality show competition “Best Talent” for competitors under 16 years old in July 2014.
Film review: Censored voices of Israeli soldiers become uncensored in documentary 50 years later
Middle East Monitor 20 Feb by Jessica Purkiss — Voices censored by the Israeli army for nearly 50 years can finally be heard in a powerful documentary that recently premiered in the Sundance Film Festival. After an initial introduction “Censored Voices” leads into grainy footage showing the triumphant return of Israeli soldiers from the 1967 war … Weeks after the war ended, Avraham Shapira and Amos Oz travelled from kibbutz to kibbutz with a borrowed reel-to-reel tape recorder. They asked the returned soldiers to recount their emotions. They wanted to, in the words of Oz, “try to explain the fact that we’ve all encountered, that people did not come back happy from this war. There is a sense of sadness that the newspapers don’t address.” But when they moved to publish what they had gathered, the Israeli government censored 70 percent of the material. Shapira published the remaining 30 percent in his book “The Seventh Day: Soldiers’ Talk about the Six-Day War.” Years on, filmmaker Mor Loushy convinced Shapira to give her access to the tapes. She traced some of the voices they recorded and asked the men behind them to take part in the documentary. We listen as these men, now almost 50 years older, hear the recordings for the first time and the past erupts into the present … After the war ends, the brutality does not stop. They recount orders to shoot Egyptian soldiers even after the ceasefire had begun, the callous killing of Syrian men, now refugees, yards away from their wives and children, and a 70-year-old Palestinian man forced to carry his lifetime’s belongings on his back- scenes that echo those of the Holocaust. Watching the elderly man take one last look at his house and weep, one of the soldiers says: “I had an abysmal feeling I was evil, a despicable person and nothing can make that feeling go away.”
Book review: ‘Khirbet Khizeh’ by S. Yizhar
Nearly 70 years ago, an intelligence officer with the newly formed state of Israel moved with a group of soldiers into a Palestinian village whose women, children and old people were rounded up, herded into trucks and sent across the border. The village was demolished to make way for the new Jewish state. The deportation was a small piece of the Palestinian exodus — some of it at gunpoint, some of it not — that accompanied the upheavals of the birth of Israel in 1947 and 1948. We don’t know the name of the village that the intelligence officer, Yizhar Smilansky, moved into that day, or exactly what he saw. But the events he witnessed so haunted Smilansky that he wrote a novella about his experience and gave it the same name as the fictional place where he set his story: “Khirbet Khizeh.” The book, published in Hebrew in 1949 under the pen name S. Yizhar, became a landmark of Israeli literature, sparking debate over successive generations about the events that attended the formation of the Jewish state; it has been part of the curriculum of Israel’s schools. Remarkably, “Khirbet Khizeh” was translated into English only in 2008, and it wasn’t published in Britain until 2011; it has now been brought to the United States for the first time by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. (Smilansky died in 2006.) … The operation is completed in less than a day. We aren’t told precisely why the village is being evacuated, or what is happening in other parts of Israel as the operation unfolds. And yet this narrow focus gives the book its extraordinary emotional force. “Khirbet Khizeh” is told in the first person, by an Israeli soldier who participates in the operation. Over the course of the day, he is swamped by feelings of ambivalence, revulsion, complacency and resignation — even as the soldiers around him carry out their jobs without, apparently, feeling much of anything. The Palestinians, mostly passive and mostly silent, condemn their enemies by glances that will prove unforgettable. As the story moves forward, the operation to deport the inhabitants of Khirbet Khizeh forms a kind of scar, not just on the narrator’s psyche but, you begin to imagine, on Israel itself. It is difficult to read this book and not feel deeply disturbed.
Video: ‘She just wants chocolate! What is she, an Arab?
+972 mag 22 Feb by Ami Kaufman — Israeli social media is talking about one thing today: the video showing Israeli passengers cursing and threatening a flight attendant on their way to Varna, Bulgaria. The headlines are pretty much the same all over, and include the words: “Watch: The Ugly Israeli,” in reference to what Israelis see as the rude behavior they are notorious for worldwide. However, few (including mainstream media) paid attention to the little gem hidden in the video, a one-liner that epitomizes the casual racism so widespread in the Jewish state. The flight attendant refuses to sell chocolate to a passenger (apparently he was busy with another passenger, it’s difficult to discern the exact reason). Things heat up. Then, her sister sitting across the aisle says at 0:28 in the video below: “She just wants to buy chocolate, what is she – an Arab?”