[Second] Druze soldier attacked after speaking Arabic
Ynet 8 Feb by Ahiya Raved — For second time in less than two weeks, Israeli Druze who serves as IDF soldier attacked by group of Jews after speaking Arabic — Razi Khasisi, an Israeli Druze who serves as a combat soldier in the IDF’s Golani Brigade, was beaten after speaking Arabic while at a ‘soldier’s night’ event at a bar in northern Israel. A similar incident took place only a few weeks ago in Jerusalem, highlighting the risks of growing racism in Israel. Khasisi, from the Druze town of Daliyat al-Karmel, was beaten at the Ultra-Sound bar in Kibbutz Yagur on Thursday and taken to a hospital in Haifa. Amir Khasisi, his cousin, spoke to Ynet and said his cousin was attacked after a group of fellow Jewish bar-goers called him “Arab” in a derogatory manner and told him that “you are not wanted here” after they overheard the cousins speaking Arabic – their mother tongue and an official language in Israel. The two sides began to argue vocally, prompting the owner of the bar to throw both groups out. Razi, Amir and another friend went to their car and began to leave the place when the violence began. “A friend of my cousin was driving and Razi was sitting next to him. The group from the bar attacked us in the parking lot. One of them picked up a stone and smashed it through the window. It broke my cousin’s jaw,” Amir recalled. The combat soldier was then taken to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa where he underwent surgery and is still hospitalized because of his wounds. “The insult is worse than the physical pain. He is so proud of his unit and of his service. He loves his country,” the cousin said of Razi’s commitment to Israel and the IDF. “You can see it in his Facebook profile, everything he writes is either in favor of his country or his unit. I just don’t believe something like this can happen. But this just shows that it’s not a matter of patriotism or the IDF, it’s a matter of being allowed to speak your language unhindered. “It is unconceivable that in Israel someone will be attacked just for speaking Arabic in public. We are horrified. Our parents don’t know what to do with themselves and the family is in shock,” he said … Two weeks ago,Tommy Hassoun, another Druze who served in the IDF from Daliyat al-Karmel, was brutally attacked by a group of Jewish men in Jerusalem – reportedly after they heard him speaking Arabic.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Arrests
More peaceful protests quelled with violent dispersal; child kidnapped from Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Feb — Several Palestinian and international activists were injured as Israeli forces dispersed peaceful marches in the occupied West Bank, on Saturday, according to activists and WAFA correspondents. Israeli forces attacked Palestinian and foreign activists who marched in protest of the ongoing closure of the road linking Surif with Al-Jab‘a village, to the southwest of Bethlehem, beating them with the butts of their rifles and firing tear gas canisters and stun grenades at them. Several Palestinians sustained bruises across their bodies while others suffocated as a result of inhaling tear gas. Marching activists waived Palestinian flags and chanted slogans demanding the removal of the metal gate that has been separating Surif from Al-Jabʻa for the past fourteen years … Despite the deployment of Israeli forces in the area and declaring it a closed military zone, activists managed to plant dozens of olive saplings in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, particularly Malak Al-Khatib, age 14, the youngest female prisoner in Israeli jails … Also on Saturday, Israeli forces stormed the Ramallah town of Batonia [or Beituniya], firing tear gas and sound canisters towards residents’ homes, according to witnesses. Witnesses said that soldiers chased Palestinian youth, present near Ofer military camp, all the way to the center of the town, firing tear gas and sound canisters towards residents and their homes. No injuries were reported …
Additionally, Israeli forces, Saturday morning and Friday evening, kidnapped at least two Palestinians, including a child, from the illegally occupied districts of Hebron and Jenin, according to WAFA security sources. Forces deployed in the vicinity of the Ibrahimi Mosque detained nine-year-old Abdul-Rahman Burqan and led him to an unknown destination … Meanwhile, in Jenin, forces stationed at a checkpoint near Huwwara town, to the south of Nablus, also detained a Palestinian young man after stopping the bus he was aboard for over an hour. The detainee, who is a resident from Markah village, to the south of Jenin, remains unidentified.
Israeli troops tear down E1 protest camp for fourth time
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — For the fourth time in a week, Israeli forces tore down on Sunday a protest camp Palestinian activists set up in E1 area east of Jerusalem. A spokesman of the popular resistance committees of East Jerusalem neighborhoods, Hani Halibiyya, told Ma‘an that a bulldozer accompanied by Israeli military vehicles stormed the protest camp “Gate to Jerusalem” at 4:30 a.m. and demolished a room made of bricks which activists built on Friday. In addition, the bulldozer demolished a big tent made of fabric and steel pipes. Halabiyya added that Israeli troops confiscated all the properties they found in the place. He added that Israeli forces also tore down tents which activists set up in another neighborhood east of Jerusalem known as Umm al-Shakhalib. Activists, he said, are preparing to rebuild Gate to Jerusalem for a fifth time. The camp was built in protest against an Israeli plan to build Jewish-only settlements in E1 corridor east of Jerusalem on the way to Jericho where Palestinian Bedouins have been dwelling for decades.
Israeli settler opens fire at Palestinian cars in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma’an) — An Israeli settler opened fire at several Palestinian cars near the village of ‘Aqraba south of Nablus on Saturday. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that an Israeli settler opened fire at several Palestinian cars passing on the main road through the area. Sources added that no injuries were reported. Several Israeli military patrols arrived in the area and stopped traffic for a short period of time following the incident.
IOF opens fire at Palestinian vehicle near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 8 Feb — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) opened fire on Sunday at a Palestinian vehicle at an Israeli military checkpoint near Bethlehem, claiming the Palestinian driver attempted to run over Israeli soldiers at the barrier. The Israeli TV Channel 7 claimed that the soldiers stationed at the checkpoint opened gunfire at a Palestinian car while heading toward the military barrier and after its driver had attempted to run over soldiers. The broadcast said the soldiers hit the vehicle which did not stop and sped away. The IOF as a result launched a search campaign for the driver.
General strike in Tel Assabea town to protest killing incidents
NEGEV (PIC) 8 Feb — A general strike took place on Sunday in the Palestinian Bedouin town Tel Assabea (Tel Sheva) in the Negev in protest at the Israeli police failure to curb rampant violence and crime in Arab towns. The general strike, which was called for by the local council and political forces in the town, was intended, in particular, to protest the recent killing of 32-year-old Tayseer Abu Ghanem. Abu Ghanem was killed by anonymous gunmen as he was along with friends on Friday night in a coffee shop in the town. Others, including a child, were also wounded in the attack. This was the fourth murder in Arab towns in one week after unknown armed men had shot dead three Palestinians in the towns of Jet and Tira a few days ago.
Two Palestinian shepherds arrested in South Hebron Hills
[with photos] SOUTH HEBRON HILLS, Occupied Palestine (Operation Dove) 8 Feb — At about 10:40 a.m. four Palestinian shepherds were grazing their flocks on Khelly valley, in the South Hebron Hills area village of At-Tuwani, when the security chief of the Ma’on settlement arrived and called the Israeli army to prevent the shepherds from using land that is the object of settlement expansion. At 10:55 a.m. an Israeli Army jeep arrived in Khelly area and the soldiers started to run after the shepherds. The shepherds, who are all young boys, were scared and began to run away. The soldiers caught one Palestinian shepherd and immobilized him on the ground. Meanwhile Palestinians from At-Tuwani reached the soldiers and, by a nonviolent popular action, freed the shepherds. The soldiers then drove after three of the shepherds as they moved their sheep back to their village. One shepherd was able to run away while the others two were prevented from leaving by the soldiers. At around 11:30 a.m. the soldiers put them inside the army jeep and drove away. At about 8 p.m. the Palestinians were released. This is the fifth time since the beginning of this year that Palestinian shepherds have been harassed in the Khelly area.
Soldiers kidnap a child in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 8 Feb by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Sunday at dawn, a Palestinian child from his family home near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem. The army also invaded Jenin and Bethlehem, broke into homes. The Palestinian TV said the soldiers kidnapped a child, identified as Mohammad Sharifa, after invading, and searching, his family home in Bab Hatta neighborhood near the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It added that the child was moved to the al-Qashla detention and interrogation center in the Hebron Gate area, in the Old City of Jerusalem. In Bethlehem, soldiers invaded Dar ‘Ali area, east of the city, and handed Anas Yousef Suleiman, 19 years of age, a military order for interrogation in the Etzion military and security base … Palestinian security sources in Jenin said the soldiers invaded Ya‘bad town, south of Jenin, before breaking into the homes of ‘Ali and his brother Mohammad Sharif Barry, in addition to Saleh Shouban Herzallah and Sharif ‘Ali Herzallah. The soldiers interrogated the families while searching and ransacking their homes, and withdrew later on after handing the interrogation orders to the four Palestinians.
Dozens protest arrest of Palestinian children in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — Dozens of activists on Sunday held a protest in front of the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem against the arrest of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem neighborhoods, a Ma‘an reporter said. The protest was organized by a committee of parents in the al-Tur neighborhood of East Jerusalem in coordination with several other activists. Demonstrators called for Israel to end its aggressive actions against Palestinian children, especially around schools in al-Tur.
Israeli forces arrest 5 at checkpoint near Jenin
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — Israeli forces on Sunday arrested five Palestinians at a checkpoint near Jenin, Israeli police said. Police spokeswoman Luba al-Samari said in a statement that the Palestinians were attempting to smuggle fireworks through the Salim checkpoint. The statement said the fireworks could have been used in clashes with Israeli forces. Soldiers at the checkpoint received information about a car approaching the checkpoint with two people in it. The two Palestinians in the car attempted to flee, but were arrested in addition to three others who intervened, the statement said.
Israeli forces detain 7 Palestinians in arrest raids
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Israeli forces detained seven Palestinians overnight Sunday in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including four teenagers. In the Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur, teenagers Jamal and Ibrahim al-Zaatari were detained, along with Muhammad Akram Abu al-Hawa, Muhammad Khalid Abu Ghannam, and Mousa Abu al-Hawa. In Nablus, Mansour Samir Awwad, 15, and Muhammad Wadee Musallam, 19, were detained after Israeli forces raided their homes.
Gaza: Man torches himself out of despair
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Feb – A Palestinian man from the Shuja‘iyya neighborhood of Gaza City sustained critical burns after he torched himself on Saturday evening. Witnesses told Ma‘an that a 30-year-old man was taken to Shifa hospital in critical condition after he burnt himself. They said they believe the dire economic conditions could be the motive behind the man’s decision to set fire to himself. This was not the first time in Gaza someone set himself on fire. There have been several attempts especially at shelter centers after the last Israeli military offensive against the coastal enclave.
Palestinian from Gaza dies of his wounds
RAFAH (PIC) 8 Feb — A Palestinian man died on Sunday of his wounds suffered in the latest Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip. Medical sources said the 31-year-old man called Medhat Ghayyad from Rafah city in southern Gaza died on Sunday of his wounds, noting that he was disabled and his health had lately been badly worsening. Israel waged war on Gaza July 7, 2014 that lasted for 51 days and led to the death of more than two thousand Palestinians and the injury of 11,000 others.
In protest of siege, stranded Gaza students hurl diplomas into the sea
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — University students from the Gaza Strip on Sunday threw imitation diplomas into the Mediterranean Sea to symbolize their lost collegiate dreams, they told Ma‘an. Many students who study outside Gaza have all but given up hope of catching up with their college credits after being stranded in Gaza for months due to the closure of Egypt’s Rafah crossing with the Strip. In response, dozens decided to throw symbolic diplomas into the sea in protest against the jointly enforced Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza. One protestor said he had “lost confidence in the humanity of the world and its human rights councils.”
IOF artillery bombs Burejij refugee camp in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 6 Feb — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Friday morning shelled agricultural areas in al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that Israeli tanks behind the security fence fired at least two projectiles and opened heavy machinegun fire at agricultural lands to the east of al-Bureij refugee camp. On Thursday, Israeli forces deployed in a border area east of Khan Younis showered Palestinian farmlands and civilian homes with bullets.
UNRWA to provide aid to homeless Gaza families
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — The UN agency for Palestine refugees said Sunday that cash payments would be distributed to hundreds of families in Gaza whose houses were destroyed or damaged during Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2014. UNRWA said in a statement that $1.1 million has been allocated for distribution to some 800 families in the Strip starting next week. Families will be able to receive their share from local banks in Gaza. The statement said the UN agency would continue to support Gaza families whose homes were damaged or destroyed during the war. But much more financial support will be needed in order to give the families the resources they need, the UNRWA statement said. On Jan. 27, the agency announced that it was forced to stop a cash assistance program for tens of thousands of Palestinians to make repairs to damaged and destroyed homes. UNRWA has so far only received $135 million since donors in October pledged $5.4 billion to Gaza for reconstruction.
Hamas official’s car blown up in Gaza
Haaretz 7 Feb — The car of a Hamas official was blown up in Gaza on Friday night, Al-Akhbar reported. It was the second such incident in recent weeks. “Police have opened an investigation after a makeshift bomb blew up the car of Sheikh Sami Hams in Nuseirat refugee camp,” south of Gaza City, a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity. Witnesses said that the car was totally destroyed. Hams was not in the car at the time and no casualties were reported. It was the latest in a series of unclaimed attacks in Gaza against both Hamas and Fatah officials. On January 22, unidentified assailants blew up a car belonging to a Fatah leader. Two days earlier, the car of the chief financial officer in the Hamas military police was bombed outside his home. The bombing spree comes as political tensions mount in the Gaza Strip over the seeming failure of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority to ease the Israeli blockade and repair the damage caused by last summer’s war.
Egypt to allow passage to Gaza pilgrims ‘soon’
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — A high-ranking Egyptian official said Sunday that Egypt would open the Rafah crossings to allow Muslim pilgrims from Gaza to leave for pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Ma‘an that Egypt would coordinate with Palestinians in Gaza on “the humanitarian level” and that Egypt would defend the Palestinian cause in international settings. Meanwhile, he said Egyptian forces would continue to create a 5,000-meter buffer zone with Gaza and destroy tunnels used to smuggle goods into the Strip. Awad Abu Mathkor, the head of a pilgrimage company in the Gaza Strip, had told Ma’an earlier on Sunday that some 7,500 Palestinians who registered for the pilgrimage still awaited permission to leave the territory through Rafah.
Israel detains Palestinian near Gaza border
World Bulletin 8 Feb — The Israeli army on Sunday detained a Palestinian youth from the Gaza Strip after he crossed the border into the self-proclaimed Jewish state. “Israeli soldiers detained the young man after he approached the border fence in eastern Gaza Strip,” an eyewitness told. The Israeli army has not yet commented on the incident. Israel occasionally announces the arrest of Palestinians found trying to cross from the Gaza Strip into Israel in search of work. Palestinian rights groups say that around 20 Palestinians had been detained in January for crossing from Gaza into Israel.
Gaza youngsters flock to Hamas training camps
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 9 Feb — Hatem is only 14 but has already lived through three wars with Israel. Now the young Gazan says he is making sure he’ll be ready to fight in the next one. “The Israelis killed my niece last summer. Now I want to kill them,” he told AFP after completing a week-long youth training camp with militants from the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamist Hamas movement. “I will become a resistance fighter,” the boy said proudly during a graduation ceremony in Gaza. Hatem is one of 17,000 youngsters who graduated late last month from two military training camps where Hamas — the de facto power in Gaza — said it was preparing the next generation to fight against Israel. Children were on the frontline of the latest conflict, with UN figures showing about 500 were killed. And just five months after the war ended, thousands of those who survived signed up to join the Hamas training camps. “I want to join the Qassam Brigades because they are the strongest in Gaza,” said 15-year-old Mohammed Abu Harbid, who also took part in the training. … With the humanitarian situation in post-war Gaza growing steadily worse, a fresh flare-up with Israel seems likely. And with many schools being used to shelter the displaced and unemployment standing at 41 percent, it was not difficult to convince youngsters to join the camps. Hamas insists that teaching children how to fight is a legitimate part of “resistance” activities against Israel. But the camp, which accepts boys and men aged 14 to 21, has incensed human rights activists who accuse Hamas of exploiting children traumatised by war.
Israeli forces bomb remainder of tunnel partially destroyed during Gaza war
Haaretz 9 Feb by Gili Cohen — The Israel Defense Forces over the last few days destroyed the remainder of a Palestinian tunnel reaching inside Israeli territory, after blowing up the Gaza end of it during the war this past summer. Loud explosions were heard in the northern Gaza Strip as the troops completed their work in the Nahal Oz area near the border with the coastal territory. An Israeli military source said that the troops worked alongside the Gaza security fence, but entirely inside Israeli territory. During the mission, a number of old weapons were discovered in the area, including an RPG and machine guns. The army said that the weapons did not appear usable, and that they too were destroyed during the mission. The army said that it had been monitoring the tunnel since Operation Protective Edge this summer, and that “the route of the neutralized tunnel was in continuous IDF control prior to this mission.” Over the last few months, the IDF’s Engineering Corp has been testing three technological means for improving its method of discovering and destroying tunnels. A senior Engineering Corp officer told military reporters two weeks ago that part of these means have already proven recently to be “quite successful.”
Photos: What grows after Gaza’s war?
11 photos Daily Beast — Following the third Hamas-Israel war in summer 2014, Gazan farmers and civilians were forced to rebuild. Again. Here, Azmi Qudiah’s wife is seen making coffee in their damaged home in Khuza‘a, Khan Younis, southern Gaza, on Nov. 2, 2014. Their family house was damaged for the seventh time. During the war, they evacuated to Khan Younis and upon return, found that their rabbits, chicken and sheep have been killed and their land was bulldozed—they’re only left with 10 pigeons. Because most of the rooms are rubbled and completely damaged, they rented a house, so they can live together again.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court frees innocent 16-year-old after 6-month detention
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — An Israeli central court has released a 16-year-old Palestinian boy, finding him innocent after six months in custody without trial. Muhammad Mahmoud, a lawyer for the Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, said that the judge of the Israeli central court decided to release Mahmoud al-Hadra after ruling that he was not guilty of the charges he was facing. Al-Hadra had been on trial for allegedly possessing weapons and using them against the Israeli army. The lawyer said that the decision came after a hearing session with witnesses. Al-Hadra was detained in late July 2014. A 2011 internal report by the Israeli military court system showed that 99.74 percent of all trials of Palestinians end in a conviction, while appeals by defendants are rejected two-thirds of the time. Once arrested by Israeli forces, it is nearly impossible for a Palestinian to gain freedom through the courts, with only around 25 acquittals in the more than 9,000 cases that pass through the system yearly.
Palestinian family worried about its detained son’s health
JENIN (PIC) 7 Feb — A Palestinian family from Jenin expressed concern and worry about its 19-year-old son, Ahmad Maher Zakarneh, who is detained at Israeli Jalameh prison, due to a health problem threatening his vision. Local sources quoted the family as saying prisoner Ahmad was about to go through a surgery for his eye retina in St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group in occupied Jerusalem this month. The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), however, arrested him shortly before the date of the procedure. The sources also disclosed that the prison administration of Jalameh, where captive Ahmad is held, has renewed his detention for twelve extra days for the continuation of investigation. The family appealed to human rights organization concerned with the issue of Palestinian prisoners to pressure the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to conduct the eye surgery for Ahmad before losing his vision.
Jewish man convicted of planning to bomb hospital released
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 9 Feb –The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) have released Sunday the extremist Jewish settler Ofer Gamliel, member of Bat Ayin Jewish underground group, who was sentenced to a 15-year prison term for a failed bomb plot against an Arab girls’ school in occupied Jerusalem. Gamliel was convicted of plotting to bomb a local hospital in 2003 in Tur neighborhood in the occupied city of Jerusalem and an Arab girls’ school in the same year. He was released early from prison as “he does no longer present any threat to the public,” according to the IOA.
Trial of PLC speaker Aziz Dweik delayed for 12th time
Al-Khalil (PIC) 8 Feb — The Israeli military court in Ofer has postponed the trial of Aziz Dweik, the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), to March 24. Dweik’s wife Najla Othman stated in press remarks that the court delayed for the 12th consecutive time the hearing which was supposed to be held four days ago to look into the detention sentence issued against her husband. According to the wife, Dweik, who is currently serving a 14-month prison term, was indicted for delivering a speech on the anniversary of the Hamas Movement in the West Bank. The Israeli occupation forces kidnapped the PLC speaker in mid-June last year as part of a punitive arrest campaign launched on a large scale in the West Bank following the disappearance of three Jewish settlers in al-Khalil.
Group: 13 Palestinians being detained by Israel every day
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — Israeli authorities detained 400 Palestinians in the month of January, or around 13 per day, an Arab rights group has said. According to a statement by the Arab Group for Development and National Empowerment, the 400 detainees included around 57 individuals who were less than 18 years old as well as 18 women. The group said that most of the detainees were from the West Bank and Jerusalem, but 15 of them were Gazans include four fishermen who were detained while working. Another four were businessmen and merchants detained at the Erez crossing into Israel. The group said that in January Israeli authorities issued orders for the detention without charge or trial of more than 100 Palestinians, a tactic known as administrative detention. Authorities also renewed the administrative detention of dozens, which raised the number of administrative detainees in Israeli custody to around 500 Palestinians. The Arab Group for Development and National Empowerment also expressed concern regarding an increase in “random and group detentions” targeting Palestinians, including women and children, in the statement.
Detainees Committee: ‘Soldiers terrorize children during arrest, interrogation’
IMEMC 8 Feb by Saed Bannoura — The Palestinian Detainees and Ex-Detainees Committee has reported, Saturday, that Israeli soldiers deliberately terrorize Palestinian children during their abduction, and while under interrogation. The Committee said the soldiers continuously shout in the faces of the kidnapped children, assault and beat them, and “drag them to their vehicles in a savage manner, treating them like criminals.” It added that, during interrogation, the children are subject to intimidation, physical and psychological torture, in addition to being threatened that the soldiers would harm their families, especially their mothers and sisters. The Committee further stated that there has been a dangerous increase in the abduction of children in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem, adding that such an escalation indicates deliberate and planned policies. “The children aren’t only beaten and assaulted during the abduction” it stated, “They are often taken to the nearest station; and that is when they are interrogated, forced to stand for extended hours while handcuffed, legs shackled, and blindfolded; they are frequently threatened of bodily harm on them and their families.” The Detainees Committee further stated that the kidnapped children are subjected to the same treatment, torture and assaults the adult detainees go through, adding that Israel violates all international treaties and agreements regarding the protection of children.
Israeli authorities release 3 Palestinian prisoners
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — Israeli authorities released three Palestinian prisoners on Friday after they finished their sentences. Head of the a committee for prisoners’ families in East Jerusalem, Amjad Abu Asab, said that Issa Riyad Moussa Siyaj was among the released prisoners. Siyaj was detained on Nov. 7, 2013 while taking part in a campaign inside the Al-Aqsa religious compound and was sentenced to 16 months in prison. The prisoner was moved between several Israeli jails and was sanctioned by authorities for taking part in open hunger strikes in solidarity with administrative prisoners during his time in custody … Siyaj is married and is a father of three, the youngest of the children being a one-year-old who was born while his father was in Israeli custody … Prisoners’ families committee representative Abu Asab said that authorities at HaSharon jail released Ayman Samih al-Abbasi, 16, from Ras al-Amud town after 17 months in Israeli custody. He added that al-Abbasi was detained on Nov. 11, 2012 for a two-week period and was then released but sentenced to house arrest for 10 months. After this period, he turned himself in and spent 18 months in Israeli jails after being accused of stabbing an Israeli settler in the Ras al-Amud area. The prison authorities also released Bassem Daana, 23, from the Ein al-Luza neighborhood of Silwan after spending two months in custody.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization
Israel publishes tenders for 580 hotel rooms in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — Israel has published tenders for 580 hotel rooms in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabber, a researcher told Ma‘an Sunday. Settlement affairs researcher Ahmad Sublaban told Ma‘an the rooms would be built on an area of 70 square kilometers which Israel confiscated when it occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. He said they were a part of a larger plan to build 1,350 hotel rooms, a project approved in 2010. The plan has been in the works since 2003, and was approved during a visit by US President Barack Obama, stirring controversy. Israeli authorities plan to build 3,000 hotel rooms in Jabal al-Mukabber, Sheikh Jarrah, Beit Safafa, and Wadi al-Joz, Sublaban said. Some 2,700 of those rooms have been approved over the past several years. He said that Israel has recently been building hotel rooms in the settlements surrounding Jerusalem, specifically in Maale Adumim and Mishor Adumim. Last week, Israeli authorities approved the construction of 93 settlement units in Ramat Shlomo, the researcher added.
Report: Israel approves 64 new settlement houses in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — A local planning and construction committee of the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem has approved a call for bids to build 64 new settlement houses in Ramot settlement in the northern outskirts of East Jerusalem. The Israeli website Arutz Sheva reported that Meretz-affiliated councilor Yosef Pepe Alalu opposed the decision. He maintained that construction in the West Bank would ruin the opportunity to finalize a peace deal with the Palestinians. The Jerusalem municipality, in response, said the constructions were not new but had been approved in the past and then underwent some engineering amendments which necessitated new approvals.
Israeli settlers set up mobile homes in Nablus-area village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — Israeli settlers on Saturday set up mobile homes in Jalud village south of Nablus on Saturday, a local official said. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settler activity in the northern West Bank, said that several Israeli settlers set up five mobile homes in the Jabal Abu al-Rakha and Jabal Kweik areas in southern Jalud. The areas are located between the illegal Israeli settlement outposts of Adi Ad and Esh Kodesh, Daghlas said.
Khater: Number of Jews doubled in occupied Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 8 Feb — Head of Jerusalem International Center Hassan Khater expressed his concern about the growing number of Jewish inhabitants in eastern Jerusalem compared to the Palestinian natives. Before 1967, 100% of the inhabitants in East Jerusalem were Palestinians with a zero percentage for the Jews. However, 50% of the inhabitants at present are Jews, Dr. Hassan Khater said in a press release on Sunday. Khater added the Israeli occupation has managed to confiscate 89% of Jerusalem lands leaving only 11% for the Jerusalemite people. He pointed out that the enormous acceleration in Judaization of Jerusalem has not been met with significant change in the forms and methods of resistance which is confined to repeated emotional media discourse, according to Khater.
PM orders demolition of EU-funded Palestinian ‘settlements’ in West Bank
Times of Israel 6 Feb by Justin Jalil and JTA — European Union official defends unlicensed construction in Area C, says Palestinians have a right to build there — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to move forward with a plan to demolish some 400 Palestinian structures built in the West Bank with European funding, Israeli media reported Friday. The prime minister’s order came shortly after a Thursday exposé in the Daily Mail claimed that the EU sank tens of millions of euros into homes which were not granted building permits by the Israeli government. Official EU documentation discovered by the newspaper stated that the buildings were intended to “pave the way for development and more authority of the PA over Area C,” raising concerns that the governmental organization was taking sides in the dispute by shaping the demographics of the Israeli-controlled territory. A portion of the homes, which largely resemble prefabricated caravans, were built in the E1 area between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim and near the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus, according to Israeli news site NRG. According to the Daily Mail, the construction in 17 locations cost tens of millions in EU public funds … Shadi Othman, a communications officer at the Office of the European Union Representative in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, spoke to the Daily Mail Thursday about the union’s funding the construction of the 400 homes for Palestinians in the West Bank’s Area C, which according to the Oslo Accords remains under Israeli control until a negotiated final agreement. “This is part of the work done to build the future Palestinian state which will live side by side with Israel,” Othman said … “Palestinians have a right to live there, build schools there, have economic development.” An unnamed Israeli government source claimed the venture exemplified “the double standards of the EU”, which “deplores Israeli settlements in the West Bank while simultaneously funding its own for Palestinians: “If Israel started building houses in the middle of Hyde Park, the British government would immediately take them down… The EU is doing things that would never be acceptable in Europe.”
Israel misappropriates $6b of WB resources per annum (report)
PIC 7 Feb — Research institutions and economists said that “Israel misappropriates at least 6 billion dollars of the West Bank resources; oil, gas, marble, rare minerals from the Dead Sea, as well as agriculture and tourism activity.” In October 2013, a study issued by The World Bank indicated that the Palestinian economy lost about 75 billion dollars throughout 22 years of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations as a result of preventing the Palestinians from exploiting the lands known as the (C) areas, and that Israel controls 46% of the Palestinian gross domestic product (GDP). According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the real GDP in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was 7.3 billion dollars last year. The World Bank further said that Israel and Jordan together gain about 4.2 billion dollars from the annual sales of the Dead Sea products which comprise 6% of the world’s supply of potash and 73% of the world’s production of bromine whereas the Palestinians are completely prevented from utilizing their rightful resources, bearing in mind that one-third of the western shore of the Dead Sea lies in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
After years of deliberations, Israeli high court orders removal of 9 homes in Ofra illegal colony
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Feb by Saed Bannoura — The Israeli High Court ordered, on Sunday, the removal of nine homes illegally built in the “Ofra” colony, built on privately owned Palestinian lands in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, and gave the Israeli government two years to implement the ruling. The decision was made after a number of human rights groups, legal organizations, and owners of the Palestinian lands, filed appeals demanding the removal of the illegal construction. Residents of ‘Ein Yabroud, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, along with Yesh Din and B’Tselem Israeli Human Rights groups filed the appeal against the illegal construction in 2008, demanding the removal of homes illegally built on privately-owned Palestinian lands. The developments were built without the approval of the Israeli “Civil Administration Office,” run by the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank. It was recently revealed that the Israeli Housing Ministry financed the construction of dozens of homes illegally built in Ofra settlements, despite its knowledge that the Civil Administration never approved those constructions.
Restrictions on movement
When the Other isn’t perceived as human everything is possible
QALANDIYA 7 Feb by Tamar Fleishman — The ambulance was detained for about six hours and in it was a resident of Gaza, who had been discharged from a hospital in Nablus after over going heart surgery. For six hours the ambulance had waited on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint for someone to solve the bureaucratic mess. But apparently no one thought it to be an urgent matter. No one on the other side of the rifle or of the computer or of the phone thought that letting a person suffer like that for six hours was terrible. There are regulations and there are rules and there are orders that are given by someone and preformed by someone else, but the person on the other side, the one on the gurney, doesn’t count. “No co-ordinations have been made” they told the ambulance driver, which in Israeli army code means that the GSS won’t authorize the patient to cross the checkpoint and head home. How could it be that someone who had been thoroughly inspected not so long ago and received permission from the very same authority to leave the Gaza strip, had crossed Erez checkpoint, got on an Israeli ambulance, drove to Qalandiya checkpoint and from there continued to a hospital in Nablus for life saving heart surgery, and now when heading back and lingering between life and death, unable to move without help, escorted by a doctor that was sent on behalf of the hospital to keep him alive, has in a blink of an eye turned into a security threat to Israel? He posed such a serious threat that it was necessary to prevent him from crossing the checkpoint and heading home. This can only be answered by stating that anything is possible in the interaction between the occupier and the people under his rule. Once the matter was resolved and it turned out that there is no prevention on the passage of this patient, and he and the relative that escorted him were allowed to cross the checkpoint, they had to say their goodbyes to the doctor, as there was a prevention on his passage and he couldn’t continue taking care of the patient during his ride to the Gaza strip … The patient switched four gurneys that day, three ambulances and crossed two checkpoints. There are many excuses for such conduct and many explanations and they are always “by the book”. And even if this person hadn’t survived the abuse he went through during the hours of detainment at the checkpoint, no one would have been held accountable just as no one would have been held accountable if he hadn’t survived the trip from Qalandiya to Erez checkpoint.
Palestinian villagers of Deir Istiya fear roadblock’s creeping permanence
Haaretz 1 Feb by Amira Hass — The army barricades the village after each report of rock-throwing, but residents say Israel simply wants their land — The question of who’s giving the orders doesn’t matter to residents of the Palestinian village of Deir Istiya, in the northern West Bank … What’s important to the residents of the village, which is on the road between Salfit to the south and Nablus to the northeast, is that the army repeatedly closes the main, northwest entrance to Deir Istiya for weeks on end before reopening it briefly only to block it again. They are told that it’s in response to the alleged throwing of rocks or Molotov cocktails, or the burning of tires. Soldiers have also blocked side entrances, through the olive groves, with boulders … The closure of the main entrance cannot stop young people from hiding in the olive groves and throwing rocks before running back to the village, but it does keep ambulances from using the fastest and shortest route into Deir Istiya. It prevents students from going straight from the village to the university and blocks Palestinian Authority employees from the most direct commute. Instead, everyone uses the narrow, winding roads within and between villages. The closure lengthens the journey, costing precious time especially for laborers who work in Israel or in Nablus. Taxis coming from the north discharge passengers, usually loaded down with parcels, at the side of the highway. Children and old people, particularly women, navigate their way through the earthen mound and the rocks alone, only to board a shabby-looking taxi van on the other side, waiting to take them home. The IDF Spokesman’s Office told Haaretz by phone on Thursday that each closure of Deir Istiya’s main entrance is only for a few hours. But that contradicts reality, as experienced by the villagers and documented by activists from Engaged Israeli Dharma, an organization that combines action for social justice with the practice of Buddhism. The disparity between reality and IDF claims was noted in two letters sent by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel in late October and early November to IDF Judea and Samaria Division Commander Tamir Yadai. The letters have yet to be answered … In addition to the closures, foot patrols of six soldiers frequently make the rounds of the village in the afternoon or evening. They force shops to close and detain young people for a few hours, occasionally slapping one here or there. At night soldiers enter the village, firing tear-gas canisters and concussion grenades at darkened homes. Residents wake up from the noise and the burning tear gas … The villagers are astounded that as long as the entrance to the village is blocked, the army does not claim that someone from Deir Istiya threw rocks. But the moment the boulder barrier is cleared, the IDF again claims that an unidentified perpetrator, who has not been apprehended, threw rocks and it blocks the entrance once more. [Mayor Amal] Abu Hijleh and other villagers are convinced that the rock-throwers are collaborators who were recruited by Afik or his predecessors.
Love struggles to bridge Gaza and West Bank
Daily Star 8 Feb — He said he fell for “her ideas, her thoughts.” She said he made her forget she was overweight, and “feel beautiful.” They flirted awkwardly at a conference in Amman, Jordan, where they met in 2011. Then, in flurries of text messages over a few weeks, they discovered they both were interested in photography and astronomy and craved the Saudi rice dish kabsa, reports The New York Times. Their mobile phones both had the Backstreet Boys song with the lyrics: “I don’t care who you are/Where you’re from/Or what you did/As long as you love me.” They got engaged, exchanging rings and completing a contract to marry in an Islamic court. But theirs is a love unfulfilled. Dalia Shurrab, 32, lives here in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, and Rashed Sameer Faddah, 35, in the West Bank city of Nablus. Romance is not among the humanitarian reasons for which Israel allows Palestinians to travel from here to there. Now, the couple has started a Facebook campaign calling on President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to “Deliver the Bride to the Groom.” “I have the love of my life — he’s really warm and kind, he always tries to make me happy, he’s proud of me,” Shurrab said, blushing and giggling as she shared their story. “When we cannot achieve what we are dreaming of, it dies slowly inside of us.” … In a report last year, two Israeli groups, B’Tselem and HaMoked, documented dozens of cases in which Israel, which lies between the territories, prevented Palestinians from passing through for weddings, funerals or other needs. Israeli policies have “made daily life unbearable for families split between the two areas,” the report argued. International law enshrines “the right to family life,” it said, yet for many Palestinians, “the simplest matters — starting a family, living together with one’s spouse and children, and keeping in regular contact with the families of origins of both partners — can no longer be taken for granted.”….
Palestinian refugees in Syria
Food aid delivered to Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees
DAMASCUS (PIC) 9 Feb — The Marhama charity organization Sunday said it managed to dispatch 1500 food parcels, containing varieties of 20 food items, to the Yarmouk refugee camp for Palestinian refugees in war-torn Syria. 500 food rations have been distributed over the past couple of days after the organization hardly managed to gain access into the refugee camp Friday due to the security mayhem rocking the region. Head of the campaign, Rashad al-Baz, said the relief packages entered the camp via the relatively-calm Yalda and Babila areas, following a series of arrangements struck with Syrian parties. He said the delegation escorting the humanitarian convoy has been on the alert to the dire living conditions endured by Palestinian refugees at the Yarmouk camp, where neither food nor water are fit for human consumption.
PCHR report on Israeli human rights violations in the oPt (29 Jan-4 Feb)
PCHR-Gaza 8 Feb — Shootings: During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian boy and wounded 5 others, including 4 children, in the West Bank while a child sustained a bullet wound in East Jerusalem. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces continued to open fire at border areas, while Israeli navy forces continued to chase and open fire at Palestinian fishing boats … Incursions: During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 55 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 52 Palestinians, including 11 children and 2 women, one of whom is a journalist. Eleven of these Palestinians, including 7 children and the journalist, were arrested in Jerusalem. In the Gaza Strip, on 29 January 2015, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence arrested 2 Palestinian children, who attempted to sneak into Israel via the border fence, east of Rafah. On 30 January 2015, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence arrested 3 Palestinian civilians while sneaking into Israel via the fence as well, east of Rafah. In addition, on 02 February 2015, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence, northeast of al-Bureij refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip, arrested 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, while attempting to sneak into Israel too…. Full report
Abbas orders body to oversee Palestinian ICC cases
RAMALLAH (AFP) 7 Feb — Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on Saturday ordered the formation of a committee to oversee cases to lodge with the International Criminal Court, in a move likely to further anger Israel. The Palestinians formally joined the ICC last month, in a move that will enable them to submit war crimes and crimes against humanity complaints against Israel. The new committee will be headed by chief negotiator Saeb Erakat and include various figures from the Palestinian political scene, universities and human rights organizations, said the official Wafa news agency. The committee “will identify and prepare the documents and records that the state of Palestine will present to the ICC,” the agency said, citing Abbas.
How Israel freezes Palestinian revenue
WorldBulletin 5 Feb — Israel to withhold millions of tax revenues in retaliation for the Palestinian Authority application to the International Criminal Court — …To be able to make sense of the Israel’s ability to simply cut off their revenue at will, a step back to the Paris accord is necessary. Up to 1994, when Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed the Paris Economic Protocol, the economic appendix to the Oslo Peace Accords, the Israeli military had directly administered trade with the territories since their occupation in 1967. While the accord reeked of rhetoric, it turned into law the informal customs that were already in place, permanently binding Palestinians almost entirely to Israel’s trade policy, and preventing the Palestinian economy from growing, stunting them and making them dependent on Israel – the lower “internal” taxes left Palestinian businesses no choice but to import goods from Israeli markets rather than the outside world. This forces 70 to 90% of the imports of Palestine to come from Israel. Israel’s [has the] exclusive right to collect taxes on imports at both external Israeli ports and “internal” crossings with the Palestinians. On the remaining crossings where Palestinians have a right to collect taxes, Israel has repeatedly refused to allow the presence of Palestinian custom agents. It is through these arrangements that import taxes owed to the Palestinian Authority go through Israel and ultimately their decision if the money goes back to the PA or in this case, not. Israel’s control over Palestinian trade taxes is the direct result of Israel’s refusal to agree to sovereign Palestinian borders (the so-called two-state solution), which is necessary for independent fiscal tax collection.
Environmental authority warns against Israeli toxic waste dumping
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — The Palestinian Environment Quality Authority on Saturday said that any individual found responsible for exporting hazardous waste from Israel to Palestinian lands will be sentenced to lifetime imprisonment and hard labor. The statement comes amid increasing concern over Israeli companies dumping toxic materials in Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, with implicit Israeli government support and the use of local Palestinian collaborators. The statement said that the Environment Quality Authority, also known as the Ministry of Environmental Affairs, is attempting to put an end to all forms of Israeli violations against the Palestinian environment … The statement comes in response to the recent discovery by customs police of a truck carrying Israeli asbestos waste to dump in Tulkarem. Israeli businesses located in Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank regularly dump their waste in rivers or in public areas that flow down and negatively affect the environment of nearby Palestinian villages. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that settlements are generally located on hills above pre-existing towns. While Israeli authorities enforce relatively restrictive laws against destruction of the environment inside Israel, many factories have moved to West Bank settlements because the authorities there are lax in enforcement and Palestinian authorities are helpless to stop them.
Top Abbas aide testifies at Dahlan graft trial
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 8 Feb — A senior aide to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas took the stand Sunday in the trial of exiled Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan who is being tried in absentia on corruption charges. The trial of Dahlan, once a leading figure in Abbas’s Fatah movement who headed Gaza’s powerful security forces, began in December. The former security chief, who was expelled from Fatah in 2011 and now lives in the United Arab Emirates, has not been in court for any of the hearings in the West Bank city of Ramallah. According to his legal team, the 53-year-old is on trial in connection with the alleged misuse of $17 million (15 million euros) in expenses. In an appearance before the court on Sunday, the head of Abbas’s office, Hussein al-Araj, said he had not seen any documentation justifying how the money had been used by Dahlan. Asked if he had asked Dahlan for paperwork to justify the expenses, he said: “No, and I don’t know if anyone else asked this either.” Araj’s testimony was dismissed as “empty” by Sevag Torossian of Dahlan’s defense team, who said it would now be necessary for Abbas himself to testify. “In calling Araj to testify, the court has used up its last fall guy and now it must face the consequences,” he told AFP, suggesting that Araj had testified in a bid to avoid Abbas being called to the stand.
Mideast Quartet calls for speedy resumption of peace talks
MUNICH, Germany (AFP) 8 Feb – The Middle East Quartet powers called Sunday for a speedy resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, urging both sides to avoid any action that could undermine efforts to settle the conflict. Talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in April despite the efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry to broker a deal, setting the stage for a bloody war in Gaza just a few months later. On Sunday, Kerry met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, European Union foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini and UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference to review the situation in the region. “The Quartet underlined the importance of the parties resuming negotiations as soon as possible with a view to reaching a just, lasting and comprehensive peace,” a statement said. The Quartet also “recalled the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative — with its vision for a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict — and the vital role of Arab partners,” it said. “Pending the resumption of negotiations, the Quartet called on both parties to refrain from actions that undermine trust or prejudge final status issues.” The Quartet was set up in Madrid in 2002 as part of efforts to find a comprehensive settlement to the conflict, with the Arab Peace Initiative approved by the Arab League the same year.
Turkey pulls out of Munich conference to avoid Israeli delegation
ANKARA (Reuters) 6 Feb by Tulay Karadeniz – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu pulled out of a security conference in Munich at the last minute on Friday, saying he did not wish to attend a joint session with an Israeli delegation. Relations between the formerly steadfast allies remain strained since a major rupture in 2010, when Israeli marines killed nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists in clashes aboard a ship that tried to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip. A tenth Turk later died of injuries from the incident. “I was going to attend the conference but we decided not to after they added Israeli officials to the Middle East session at the last minute,” Cavusoglu told a news conference in Berlin, where he has been meeting Turkish ambassadors based in Europe. Withdrawing from the meeting was nothing to do with Turkey’s relationship with Germany, he said in the remarks broadcast by Turkish state television TRT. Israel’s delegate to the Munich conference, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, said that by staying away from the conference, the NATO power was “effectively identifying with radical Islam and terrorist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas” and “heavily clouding Turkey’s future and character”
Belgium’s parliament approves conditional recognition of Palestine
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Feb — Late on Thursday, the Belgian parliament approved a resolution calling for official recognition of Palestine as a state … The recognition text, which was rejected by the left and green opposition, invites the Belgian government to recognize a Palestinian State “at the right time” taking into account several considerations: the positive impact of this recognition to restart a negotiation process between Israel and Palestine, the evolution of cooperation within the European Union, and the existence of a Palestinian government exercising full authority over the entire Palestinian territory.
Israeli politicians demand that Netanyahu cancel Congress speech
Haaretz 7 Feb by Jonathan Lis — Leaders of the country’s center-left parties criticize premier’s intention to address U.S. Congress as election ploy that will harm Israel — Leaders of the country’s center-left parties on Saturday sharply attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intention to address a joint sitting of the United States Congress before the elections. They spoke only hours after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden joined a growing list of American lawmakers who have announced that they will not be present for the speech.Zionist Camp co-leader Isaac Herzog called on Netanyahu to cancel the planned address “for the sake of Israel’s security.” Speaking to world leaders at a global security conference in Munich, Herzog said that the planned speech “endangers the citizens of Israel and the special relationship between Israel and the U.S.”
Video — Rawabi: A new Palestinian city in the West Bank
BBC News 7 Feb — Rawabi is the first new Palestinian city to be built in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. It is the idea of the American-Palestinian multi-millionaire Bashar Masri, who is building homes for 25,000 Palestinians. But there is no running water – and there are fears the situation will also remain hostage to Israeli-Palestinian politics. The BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet has been following developments for the past year.
Feature: Palestinians cultivate mushrooms for first time in West Bank
JERICHO (Global Post) 6 Feb by Iman Joma‘a, Omer Othman — Over the past few weeks, Hani Ismail, Palestinian vegetable vendor from the West Bank town of Jericho, didn’t import Israeli mushrooms anymore as he depends on the Palestinian mushrooms grown for the first time in the West Bank. Amoro farm of mushrooms in Jericho is the first farm ever in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that produces such kinds of white mushrooms which is desirable in the Palestinian territories, mainly by various restaurants. “Now I do not import any mushrooms from Israel. My customers prefer the locally-grown mushrooms,” Ismail told Xinhua. “I used to import this kind of mushrooms from Israel and I used to sell three boxes every day. Now I sell 10 boxes because our mushroom is more desirable.” The idea of launching the new business of growing white mushrooms in Jericho came to the mind of Samir Khreisheh and three of his friends as they were dining at a restaurant in the town, where one of them asked “where do you get this mushroom from? And why do not we grow it up here?”