Israel kills fisherman and reduces Gaza’s fishing space by 2 miles: union
Middle East Monitor 8 Mar — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — The Israeli army on Saturday reduced fishing space off the coast of the Gaza Strip to four nautical miles from the six miles agreed on as part of last summer’s cease-fire agreement, Gaza’s fishermen’s union has said. “The Israeli side asked Palestinian fishermen on Saturday not to exceed four nautical miles in plying their trade,” union head Nizar Ayyash told Anadolu Agency. “Israelis also warned fishermen against venturing into the six nautical miles agreed on in last August’s cease-fire agreement,” Ayyash added. He noted that the move constituted a major violation of a cease-fire deal signed in August of 2014 between Palestinian factions and Israel. The Israeli army however have denied the union’s reports. Israeli Army spokesman Avichay Adraee said on Twitter that no change had been introduced to Gaza’s fishing space, apparently allowing Gaza’s fishermen to go up to six nautical miles from the coast.
Gaza closes down port to mourn
World Bulletin 8 Mar — The Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip decided Sunday to close down the port of the blockaded Palestinian territory to mourn Saturday’s killing of a fisherman by Israel’s navy. The ministry said in a statement that the port closure would last for three days in solidarity with Gaza’s fishermen. It added that the closure also aimed to protest violations committed by the navy of the self-proclaimed Jewish state against the fishermen of the Gaza Strip. On Saturday, a 34-[25?-]year-old fisherman died of wounds he sustained when Israel’s navy opened fire on fishing boats off the coast of Gaza, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The Israeli navy routinely opens fire on Palestinian fishing boats on the pretext that they are fishing in unauthorized waters.
Palestinian injured in Rafah
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Mar — Palestinian medical sources have reported that a resident was injured, on Saturday evening, when an explosive object dropped by the Israeli military during a previous invasion, detonated near him. Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, stated that Sadeq al-‘Aasy, 34 years of age was injured in several parts of his body, and lost one of his fingers … According to UN Human Rights Committee, some 2,256 Palestinians were killed during the July-August aggression, of whom 1,563 were civilians, including 538 children. The report said that unexploded ordnance still litters Gaza, causing further casualties, he said, with an estimated 7,000 devices needing to be defused.
Egypt to reopen Rafah crossing with Gaza [temporarily]
CAIRO (AFP) 7 Mar — Egypt will reopen its Rafah border crossing with Gaza for two days from Monday, for the fourth time since it was closed after a suicide bombing, security officials said. The terminal was shut after the bombing in the Sinai Peninsula in October killed 30 soldiers, and has since been reopened three times. The only access point to the Gaza Strip not controlled by Israel will reopen on Monday and Tuesday to allow Palestinians stranded on both sides to cross. Palestinians who travel through Rafah are mostly students heading to universities in Egypt or beyond, and those seeking medical treatment.
Deal to open Rafah crossing ‘close’
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Sources privy to talks between the Islamic Jihad delegation and Egyptian authorities in Cairo said a deal regarding Rafah crossing is beginning to formulate. The two groups started discussions in Cairo on March 1 to address the need for Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, a need that has taken particular urgency due to the detrimental impact of movement restrictions on the reconstruction of the war-torn areas of the strip. Sources said that Egyptian authorities agreed in principle to opening the crossing on a regular basis soon, before opening it completely on the long run when Sinai calms. Opening the crossing will be contingent on the role of the unity government in its operation, and reliant on a commitment by Hamas to stop interfering in internal Egyptian issues, sources added. Hamas has agreed to let the presidential guards to take charge, as part of a comprehensive plan to merge employees from West Bank and Gaza Strip.
PHOTOS: Gaza farmers on front lines of perpetual war
Al-FARAHEEN village, Gaza (Al Jazeera) 6 Mar by Dylan Collins — Palestinian farmers in the Gaza Strip are struggling to recover from the 51-day war between Israel and Palestinian armed groups that ended with a ceasefire in late August 2014. Twenty years ago, Jaber Abu Daqqa, 61, moved from his hometown of Khuzaa to nearby al-Faraheen, a village that touches Israel’s heavily militarised border with Gaza. “I lost sheep and goats during the war,” he told Al Jazeera. “I came back to this house and found it mostly destroyed. It will cost me $10,000 to repair, I think. I plan on paying for it myself,” he noted, explaining that he prefers not to wait on international aid … Farmers in areas on the border say their situation has only worsened since the last war ended, pointing to the Israeli military’s frequent incursions into their lands and its practice of firing live ammunition at farmers who enter the “buffer zone” between Gaza and Israel.
Italy migrant boats: Palestinian boy tells harrowing story of journey from Gaza to Europe
[with photos] The Independent 7 Mar by Lizzie Dearden — A Palestinian boy who fled Gaza has told his harrowing story of being kidnapped, beaten, imprisoned and starved in his battle to reach Europe for a better life. Yusuf, not his real name, is one of more than 8,000 migrants have made the treacherous crossing to Italy in boats run by ruthless traffickers since the start of this year alone. Save the Children cared for the 17-year-old when he arrived in the port of Lampedusa last month. Despite the horrors of his long journey from Gaza, Yusuf said he knew he was lucky to have made it … Yusuf fled Gaza with a childhood friend after last year’s war and the teenagers were kidnapped in Lebanon before eventually making it to Libya and paying smugglers for their passage across the Mediterranean. “I left Gaza because of the war,” he told Save the Children staff. “You cannot walk 200 metres without knowing if a bomb will go off. “All around me was war and death, I wanted to change my life, I wanted to find a new life.” Unable to attend school for several years, Yusuf said he only knows how to write his own name. He left his mother, ill father and two-year-old sister after his brother died in the summer’s Israel-Gaza war and his cousin was killed by a sniper. He and his friend met relatives in a refugee camp after crossing the Lebanon border but were kidnapped by men who ransomed them for $1,000 (£670). “They threatened to kill us if we didn’t give them the money,” Yusuf said. “They took videos of us being beaten and sent this to my family. They put us in sacks and tied us up to our chins. I saw someone who had his nails ripped from their fingers.” Their relatives eventually raised the money and the boys were freed to track down traffickers and start the journey from Khartoum, Sudan, to Libya with migrants from several countries. [it gets worse….]
Halifax man desperate for bone marrow transplant from brother in Gaza
CBC News 5 Mar by Carolyn Ray — Mohammed Abuquta desperate for federal government to intervene — A Halifax man desperate for a life saving bone marrow transplant is pleading with the Canadian government to help his brother, who is a match, leave Gaza so he might be saved. Mohammed Abuquta, 30, has acute myeloid leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. In November, he went to the emergency room after feeling sick. He was diagnosed with leukemia and the search for a stem cell match began. Abuquta’s brother, Mahmoud, was able to send a blood sample from his home in Gaza and the brothers tested to be a perfect match. Abuquta was ecstatic to learn there was hope. Then, he realized the complication of getting his brother to Canada. “The only way for me to survive at this moment is for my brother to come and him to give me his stem cells. Without this donation, there is pretty much no way for me to cure or survive,” he told CBC News on Thursday. Without government intervention, Abuquta said his brother cannot leave Gaza. “He hasn’t tried to cross the border. The reason why, he needs permission from Israel.” Abuquta’s hope is that the Canadian government will help his brother get to Jordan, where he will be able to apply for a visitor’s visa. In a letter to the Canadian Embassy obtained by CBC News, Abuquta’s doctor and clinical social workers wrote that “without treatment, his prognosis is poor at best.” … Mahmoud Abuquta was tearful when he spoke to CBC News from Gaza on Thursday. Speaking through an interpreter, Wessam Sheisha, Mahmoud Abuquta said he contacted several Canadian Embassies this week but was told there was nothing they could do because he is not Canadian.
Anger as Foreign Office ‘blocks’ Scottish minister’s visit to Gaza
HeraldScotland 8 Mar by Jody Harrison — Scotland’s Minister for External Affairs and International Development, Humza Yousaf, has accused the UK government of barring him from visiting Gaza on a fact-finding mission to see the impact of half a million pounds of Scottish Government aid for Palestinians. Yousaf has written to his Westminster counterpart, foreign secretary Philip Hammond, in protest after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) withdrew its support for the trip to the Palestinian territory. He said that foreign office officials, who had previously been happy to facilitate the trip, made a u-turn after deciding that security could not be guaranteed and that the foreign policy agenda towards Gaza was reserved to Westminster. A number of UK officials have made the trip in recent months, including Baroness Morris of Bolton, the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to the Palestinian Territories, and Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the FCO with special responsibility for the Middle East and North Africa. Yousaf however has been unable to secure support for a visit to see first-hand the work being done with £500k of funding that the Scottish Government made to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Gaza Flash Appeal in July 2014.
Gazans having fewer children due to ‘harsh reality’
World Bulletin 25 Feb — Somaya Naeem, whose husband lost his job in a Gaza Strip factory after last summer’s devastating Israeli military onslaught, has decided not to heed her mother’s and mother-in-law’s advice to have a fifth child. “There are days when we can’t afford food,” Naeem, 36, told The Anadolu Agency. “We don’t know how we will provide for our four children.” Naeem said that the “harsh reality” in the embattled coastal strip had prompted her to resort to birth control, as it would be “psychologically complicated” to increase the size of her family while its chief breadwinner remained unemployed. Deteriorating socio-economic conditions in the blockaded Gaza Strip appear to have driven many younger married couples to have fewer children, as shown in a recent report that reveals declining fertility rates in the Palestinian enclave. A 2014 census by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics recorded a moderate decrease in fertility rates inside the Gaza Strip, which fell from 6.9 children per mother in 1997 to 5.2 between 2008 and 2010.
Google Play removes Gaza game
Middle East Monitor 6 Mar — In response to Israeli pressure Google Play has removed the Gaza Man game. Yesterday afternoon, Gaza’s children found themselves unable to find the link to download the game on Google Play. “It is new, but it became my favourite game,” Sally Haddad, 12, from Gaza told Days of Palestine. “I had played the game on my father’s mobile for three days. On the fourth day, he bought me a new mobile to download the game and play it myself, but unfortunately, I did not find it,” Haddad said. Gaza Man is a Palestinian game simulating a battle between a Palestinian fighter covering his face with the Palestinian Kuffiyeh (scarf) and aggressive forces using automatic rifles, tanks, drones, fighter jets, etc… The game starts, as it is clear in the game trailer, as the aggressive forces kidnap a boy playing football and harass his mother. Then, the fighter appears targeting these forces and causing them severe losses. The game can still be downloaded and installed from the Gaza Man website directly on to Android devices. – Israeli pressure – Three days after the game was uploaded to Google Play, it was taken down by Google, who claimed it incites hatred against a certain nation. However, it only shows the Palestinian as a superhero. The game received a 4.9 out of five star rating on the app store and largely positive comments from its users. However, Israelis and the Israeli media claimed that the fighter in the game “guns down an endless stream of Israeli soldiers using an assortment of weapons.” They described it as aggressive.
Biogas digester gives renewable fuel to Gaza families
ANERA 2 Mar — Mariam Ahmed was tired of waiting in long lines to fill up her gas canister, but she didn’t have any other option. Cooking gas is in short supply in Gaza. “We queued in long lines to fill our gas tank, sometimes for a whole day and then were often disappointed because the supply station had run out.” She says she had to leave her tank with no guarantee of when it might be filled. To make do, Mariam and her family would burn wood or plastic sheets for cooking and warmth, knowing full well how unsafe that was. The fire produced toxic gases that are harmful to adults and children alike. Her son Ibrahim Ahmad explains, “It is too smoky. It hurts our eyes and causes us to cough and choke.” Thanks to ANERA’s pilot biogas project, Mariam’s future looks a lot brighter. She proudly demonstrates the new mechanism in her kitchen in the central Gaza town of Deir El Balah. Turning a valve on a narrow pipe, she lights a burner on the floor and instantly there is a strong blue flame. “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw blue flames coming from the stove.” Mariam is one of 15 Gaza families to receive a biogas digester at the end of 2014. Another 13 marginalized families in the northern West Bank are also participating in the pilot project.
Dear Baroness Ashton: Please endorse a ferry to life
Palestine Chronicle 8 Mar by Ghada Ageel — With an axe in both hands and rage tightening every muscle in his face, the Palestinian physician started hacking at Rafah gate, popularly known by Gazans as Rafah hate. His Russian wife hugged her screaming dehydrated children close, trying to calm them down and simultaneously attempting to grasp and process the humiliation that her husband was experiencing at the very place he had yearned for, for years. The dream of bringing his children to see their grandparents and glimpse his homeland had morphed into a nightmare. Every sweet moment spent in Gaza was now evaporating. On the brink of a disaster, terrified of losing everything he had achieved in long years of painstaking work, he was making a half-crazed, desperate, valiant attempt to change his destiny with his own two hands. Some of the other people stuck there at Rafah gate into Egypt were meanwhile making vain efforts to placate and restrain the doctor. He and his family had planned a three-week visit but had ended up stranded indefinitely in the open-air prison of Gaza with no prospects of leaving. They had already missed their return flight from Cairo, his wife had lost her job in Russia, and his place of work had already sent him final notice before letting him go. Heightening their terror of total financial doom, they had just bought a home and committed to a mortgage. The doctor had applied for a permit to leave via Israel, through the Erez crossing, but as Gazans know, getting such a permit is no less than a miracle. For weeks, he and his small family had been suspended in powerless, unnerving uncertainty. I believe that not one of us, the rest of the people stranded and waiting at Rafah that day, will ever be able to forget the terrible scene. Many were crying, men included. (I can testify firmly to the fact that men, many of them, do cry.) I don’t know what happened to the doctor and his family after this incident. I probably never will. But the sustained uncertainty entrapping this family is a basic fact of life for all Gazans today … A fresh initiative is urgently needed – one that gets around Israeli excuses for maintaining the blockade and provides Gazans with a glimpse of hope. A commercial ferry service to Cyprus seems to be the answer. It is an initiative that could be put into place relatively quickly. It is doable, possible, and innovative – a solution that could be implemented were there a political will.
Addressing housing needs in Gaza
Report from Mennonite Central Committee 6 Mar by Ed Nyce — AKRON, Pa. – Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), through one of its long-time partners in the Gaza Strip, Al Najd Development Forum, is addressing housing needs for families whose homes were destroyed or damaged in July and August 2014 as part of the Israel-Hamas conflict … The U.N. reports that by mid-January, its housing-related funds were depleted, with an estimated 16,000 families still waiting for adequate housing. MCC has programmed more than $700,000 in response to the crisis in Gaza, providing housing repair, emergency food assistance and hygiene kits and bedding. MCC and Al Najd recently completed housing repairs for 20 families whose homes were badly damaged in the conflict, and is committed to doing the same for 50 additional families. Some of the recent work can be seen here: http://mcc.org/stories/addressing-housing-needs-gaza#video-2033. Al Najd is a community-based organization begun by women to provide programs and services for women and their families.
Assistance to internally displaced in Gaza
UN Development Programme 5 Mar — Norway is providing NOK 38 million to help internally displaced people in Gaza. ‘The winter weather in Gaza is creating huge problems for the families who do not have proper homes. Conditions for the most vulnerable people urgently need to be improved,’ commented Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende. Norway’s contribution to these efforts will be channelled through the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), and will be used to provide shelter for families that lost their homes in the conflict of 2014. ‘A large proportion of the internally displaced have sought refuge in school buildings that are not designed to house so many people. We want these schools to be used for what they are meant for – teaching children and young people.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Arrests — West Bank / Jerusalem
Settlers assault elderly Palestinian man in the Old City
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Mar – A mob of Israeli settlers assaulted an elderly Palestinian man from the Silwan neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem Saturday evening. Ahmad Mahmoud al-Qaq said his father, 63, was in Harat al-Sharaf square in the Old City walking home, when four settlers obstructed his way and started to punch him in the face. He sustained bruises in his face. The attackers stopped beating al-Qaq and fled the scene after they saw a group of Palestinians, the son added. He said his father was taken to a medical center in Silwan to treat bruises sustained on his face and possible eye injury. Settlers routinely carry out acts of violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, but are rarely held accountable. In 2014, there were at least 329 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN.
Including children, dozens suffer effects of teargas inhalation as army ‘trains’ in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Mar — Palestinian medical sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, has reported that scores of residents, including children, suffered on Monday morning the effects of teargas inhalation, as Israeli soldiers conducted military training near local schools. The sources said the soldiers fired a large number of gas bombs near the Abu Reesh roadblock, and the elementary schools of Tareq Ben Ziad and Rabe‘a, in the Old City, while concocting training and maneuvers. … In addition, dozens of soldiers and settlers were deployed in various areas in Hebron, including the Islamic Graveyard area, Ta’lat at-Takrouri and al-Karantina areas, and conducted training using gas bombs and concussion grenades. Many children suffered panic attacks due to the loud sounds of the soldiers, and their gas bombs.
[Farmer, his children attacked near Bethlehem]
IMEMC/Agencies 8 Mar — a number of Israelis from the illegal colony of Beit Eyin, built on Palestinian lands near Beit Ummar, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, attacked on Saturday afternoon, a farmer and his children while working on their land. Mohammad Abdul-Hamid Sleibi and his children were in their own land, near the illegal colony, in the Abu ar-Reesh area. Mohammad ‘Ayyad ‘Awad, spokesperson of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar, said five masked settlers hurled stones, using slings, at the farmer and his family, forcing them out of their land. ‘Awad said Sleibi recently managed to obtain an Israeli court ruling allowing him to build a wall around his land due to ongoing attacks.
Israeli soldiers attack mentally ill teenager north of Jenin
JENIN (WAFA) 8 Mar — Israeli soldiers Sunday severely beat up a mentally disabled teenager at al-Jalama military checkpoint to the north of Jenin, according to security sources. Sources informed WAFA that soldiers stationed at the checkpoint severely beat up 17-year-old Mohammed Zakarneh, who suffers from psychological problems, while he was present at the checkpoint. Soldiers further detained the teenager for several hours before the Palestinian liaison committee intervened and managed to release him.
Many injured by army fire near Ramallah, some seriously
IMEMC/Agencies 8 Mar — Clashes took place Sunday near the al-Jalazoun refugee camp, and Silwad town, in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, after dozens of soldiers invaded the area, and surrounded it, before trying to ambush local youths who hurled stones at them, and managed to detonate an explosive near the soldiers. The Palestine TV said some youths in the al-Jalazoun managed to reach close to two Israeli soldiers, before a protester hurled a homemade explosive at them. The soldiers then ran away to different direction, while a stone, hurled by a local youth, struck one soldiers in his left arm. Army sharpshooters then took positions and fired rounds of live ammunition, wounding several Palestinians who were moved to the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah. The wounded Palestinians suffered moderate-to-severe injuries, in their upper body parts. A local doctor said one of the wounded suffered a very serious injury after being shot in the upper-right part of his chest, and was instantly moved to surgery, before being transferred to the Intensive Care Unit.
In Silwad, clashes also took place between dozens of local youths and invading Israeli soldiers, before the youths managed to surround three soldiers near some homes, after the soldiers invaded them. After three hours of clashes, two more soldiers tried to reach the home, but were met by dozens of protesters, and ran away dropping some gas bombs while trying to escape. The youths then hurled the gas bombs on the soldiers, forcing them to retreat to a greater distance. The clashes lasted for more than three hours, before more soldiers arrived at the scene, and secured the retreat of the soldiers.
Palestinian activists clash with Israeli troops near protest camp
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 7 Mar – Dozens of young Palestinian men were injured Friday during clashes with Israeli forces near the Bawwabat al-Quds (Gate to Jerusalem) protest camp, east of the Old City of Jerusalem near Abu Dis. Fierce clashes broke after activists approached Israeli military vehicles patrolling one of the hills slated for confiscation east of Abu Dis. Activists raised Palestinian flags on military vehicles, clashes then extending to the main street, a spokesman for popular resistance committees in Jerusalem and its surrounding neighborhoods, Hani Halabiya, told Ma‘an. Israeli troops fired stun grenades, tear gas canisters and rubber-coated balls at the protestors, added Halabiya. Seven were hit by rubber-coated bullets with one individual hit in the face, while dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation. A Palestinian cameraman, Mahmoud Ulayyan, was hit by a rubber-coated bullet in the leg, said Halabiya. Earlier on Friday, dozens of worshipers and popular resistance activists performed Friday prayer at the Gate to Jerusalem protest camp, and Sheikh Khalid Ulayyan delivered a sermon that included discussion of Israeli violations of Palestinian rights across the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. The Gateway to Jerusalem camp was set up in protest to Israeli plans to displace Bedouin families from their dwellings in the corridor known as E1, between Jerusalem and Jericho. The camp has been continually re-erected by activists in recent months.
Activists attacked for removing Israeli-installed gate separating Bethlehem villages
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 7 Mar – Palestinian popular resistance activists Saturday were attacked by Israeli soldiers after they removed a metal gate installed by the latter at the entrance of the village of Jaba‘a, south of Bethlehem, almost 14 years ago. Coordinator of the Popular Resistance Committees in southern West Bank, Mohammed Mhaisin, told WAFA that a number of activists managed to remove the earth mounds and iron gate placed by Israeli forces at the entrance of Jaba‘a village, before they were attacked by soldiers. Forces attacked the activists, leaving two of them to suffer from bruises throughout their bodies. They were identified as Yousif Abu Maryya, and Nasir Masalmeh. The gate has separated Jaba’a from its neighboring village of Surif for the past 14 years. Mhaisin said this blockade was intended to make life difficult for Palestinian locals and displace them in order to seize their lands for illegal settlements expansion purposes and secure the movement of settlers along the nearby by-pass road leading to the illegal settlement bloc of Gush Etzion.
Woman, teen kidnapped in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Mar — The Israeli police kidnapped, Sunday, a Palestinian woman and a teenage girl while leaving the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, and took them to a police station in the Old City. Eyewitnesses said the police kidnapped Saja ar-Razem, 16, as she was leaving the Al-Aqsa Mosque through the al-Majles Gate (The Council Gate), and took her to the al-Qashla police station. In addition, soldiers kidnapped a woman, identified as ‘Abeer ‘Odah, after stopping her as she was leaving the mosque, and after forcing her to wait for a long time after confiscating her ID card. Sheikh ‘Omar al-Kiswani of the Al-Aqsa Mosque said he tried to talk the Police into releasing the woman, but they refused and took her to the police station for interrogation.
Shin Bet secretly arrests IDF Druze soldier suspected of exposing secret meeting between Syrian rebels, IDF intelligence
Tikun Olam 3 Mar by Richard Silverstein — If you want a lesson in the ways of the Israeli security apparatus–how it manipulates law and media in service to its interests–take a lesson from the case of Golani Druze Sedki al-Maket. As I reported a few days ago, the security apparatus arrested him (in secret, of course) and slapped a gag order on the case. No Israeli reporter could report the name of the detainee or the charges against him. Thanks to a report in Syrian state media, I was able to expose his identity. My own reporting added the reason why he irked the security apparatus to the extent that it arrested him and likely will bring charges that will send him to prison for years … Now, Syria’s state media outlet reveals two other Golani Druze were arrested along with al-Maket. They are Sheikh Atef Darwish from Baka‘ata and Fidaa Majed al-Shaer from Majdal Shams. A confidential Israeli Druze source informs me that yet another Druze has been arrested. His detention is still secret inside Israel, as is his identity. I can report that he is an IDF soldier, Hilal Halabi, from Daliyat Al-Carmel (near Haifa). My guess is that Halabi serves in the Golan. He knew about the meeting between IDF and Syrian rebel commanders. He conveyed the information to al-Maket, who used it to film his video.
Palestinian security forces arrest at least 28 Hamas members
Ynet 9 Mar by Elior Levy — Palestinian security forces have begun a large-scale operation to arrest Hamas operatives throughout the West Bank on Sunday night. As of midnight, 28 individuals had been arrested, including released prisoners, academics, and students.
Israeli soldier fires warning shots in clash with settlers
Haaretz 8 Mar by Chaim Levinson — An Israel Defense Forces soldier fired a shot into the air Sunday after being surrounded by residents of the West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin while trying to make arrests. The incident began when investigators from the Judea and Samaria District Police unit that deals with hate crimes arrived at the settlement at 11 A.M. on Sunday to arrest two youths suspected of involvement in violent clashes with Palestinians. After the two were taken into a police car, settlers surrounded it in an attempt to prevent police from taking them into custody. Soldiers were called in as backup, and they were also subsequently surrounded by dozens of settlers. One of the soldiers feared for his life and opened fire into the air. Commander of the Etzion Brigade, Col. Amit Yamin, arrived at the scene to investigate the incident. The IDF Spokesman’s Unit said, “Dozens of Jewish rioters violently clashed with IDF soldiers and threw stones at them, so one of the soldiers fired into the air. The IDF views such incidents as grave. Apart from being illegal, they also distract the army from its main mission, ensuring safety in the area.”
Vehicles vandalized in Abu Tor and light rail attacked in Shuafat over weekend
Jerusalem Post 9 Mar by Daniel K. Eisenbud — One day after an Arab terrorist was shot after he ran down four Border Police officers and a pedestrian outside a Jerusalem police station, a wave of vandalism was carried out Saturday night in the capital’s Abu Tor and Shuafat neighborhoods. According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the Abu Tor attack took place at approximately 10 p.m. when a group of Arab youths targeted vehicles belonging to Jews parked in the mixed neighborhood. Police were called in after residents reported that rocks shattered the windshields and passenger windows of the cars, he said. No injuries were reported, Rosenfeld added, and the assailants fled into the night without being apprehended. Later Saturday night, rocks were thrown at a light-rail train passing through Shuafat, causing damage to the train, Rosenfeld said. Two Arab Israelis were apprehended and placed under arrest by police minutes later, Rosenfeld said. No injuries were reported.
International Women’s Day
In Photos: Int’l Women’s Day in Israel-Palestine
Activestills 8 Mar Photos by Yotam Ronen, Anne Paq, Basel Yazouri, Oren Ziv, Faiz Abu Rmeleh, Ahmad al-Bazz, Keren Manor — From asylum seeker struggles to the assault on Gaza, women were on the front lines of some of the major struggles in Israel/Palestine. In honor of International Women’s Day, Activestills brings you the best photos of the women who pushed for justice between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
Israeli, Palestinian women protest on both sides of Israeli checkpoint
+972 Blog 7 Mar Text by Yael Marom Photos by Anne Paq, Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills.org — Ahead of International Women’s Day, Israeli and Palestinian women demonstrate against the occupation. Israeli security forces use tear gas to break up the protest — Roughly 500 Israeli citizens (of both Jewish and Palestinian backgrounds) along with around 1,000 Palestinian women (from the West Bank), demonstrated on both sides of the Qalandia checkpoint Saturday afternoon. The protest was meant to demonstrate Israeli-Palestinian solidarity in opposing the occupation, ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday. The 1,000 Palestinian women marched from the Qalandia Refugee Camp toward the checkpoint that separates Jerusalem and Ramallah, attempting to reach the Israeli side. As the women approached the checkpoint Israeli security forces fired tear gas, stun grenades and sprayed pepper spray at them in order to forcefully disperse the protest. Dozens of the women were wounded, at least 10 of whom were taken for further medical care.
On the Israeli side, hundreds of women — from Nazareth, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Shefa-’Amr, Jerusalem and more — held signs reading: “Equality yes, racism no”, “Enough have died for the occupation”. They also chanted to tear down the separation wall. The three women candidates on the Joint List, Aida Touma-Suliman, Haneen Zoabi and Nabila Espanioly, also took part in the demonstration. Israeli security forces prevented those on the Israeli side from approaching the checkpoint’s gate.
Israeli forces respond to Women’s Day march with violence
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Mar – More than 30 Palestinians, mostly women, were injured as Israeli troops forcibly dispersed a peaceful march marking International Women’s Day at Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah on Friday. Israeli soldiers fired tear-gas canisters, stun grenades, rubber-coated bullets, and pepper spray at hundreds of women to prevent them from reaching the checkpoint. Fourteen of the 30 injured were evacuated to hospitals. The rally began at Qalandiya refugee camp and marched toward the nearby checkpoint. Witnesses say more than 1,000 women joined the rally along with Palestinian political leaders. When the rally neared the checkpoint, Israeli soldiers barricaded themselves behind the steel gates and attacked female participants in the face with pepper spray as they approached. As defiant women refused to move back, Israeli soldiers showered them with tear gas and stun grenades, forcing them to move. A Ma‘an reporter present at the event explained that altercations broke between Israeli soldiers and journalists after the soldiers “deliberately” fired tear gas at the journalists. A heavy traffic jam then ensued on the main road in both directions causing bottleneck backups near near Qalandiya checkpoint, where vehicles travel between Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Hebron. Palestinian lawmaker representing the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Khalida Jarrar said the rally was a message from Palestinian women confirming that they would continue to struggle against Israeli occupation until Palestinians achieve freedom and independence.
Female Palestinian prisoners remembered on Women’s Day
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — Marking International Women’s Day, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society released a statement dedicated to 20 Palestinian women serving in Israel jails. The statement highlighted Lina al-Jarbouni who has been in Israeli custody since 2002. Al-Jarbouni has played a major role defending the rights of Palestinian women in Israeli jails, acting as a representative in talks with the Israeli prison service, said the statement. Al-Jarbouni was born in 1974 in the town of ‘Arraba in Galilee, which Israel occupied in 1948. She finished high school but never had the chance to realize her dream of studying nursing when she was detained by Israeli forces on April 18, 2002. Originally sentenced to 17 years, the sentence was lowered to 15 after her lawyer appealed the court decision. She has been in Hasharon prison ever since. Having served 13 years in Israeli custody, the statement added, she suffered from severe cholecystitis, but the Israeli prison service “neglected” her, and she had to wait a year before she could have a cholecystectomy, according to the prisoner’s society. Her family had hoped she would be released in 2011 as part of the Shalit prisoner swap deal between Hamas and Israel. “As a family we had some of the toughest days when Lina was not included in the prisoner swap deal in 2011,” family members said. They highlighted that Lina’s mother continues to visit her in Israeli jails despite the fact that she is in her seventies. The statement ended with a list of Palestinian women currently serving in Israeli custody.
Over 34,000 Gazan women displaced since Israeli onslaught: NGO
Middle East Monitor 8 Mar — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES – Last year’s Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip has led to the displacement of 34,697 Palestinian women, while 791 others lost their spouses, a Palestinian NGO said. “According to the monitoring and documentation operations carried out by the centre, last summer’s Israeli war on the strip has left 293 women dead,” the NGO said. “Moreover, 34,697 women have been displaced after their homes were destroyed, while Israeli forces razed 2,604 other homes owned by women,” the NGO added. The centre added that “791 Gazan women have lost their husbands because of the war, and 600 others suffered abortions [may mean ‘spontaneous abortions’ (‘miscarriages)].”
Prisoners / Court actions
‘You killed my son’: Cop who shot Bedouin man is back on the job
+972 Blog 5 Mar by John Brown* and Michal Rotem (translated from Hebrew by Ofer Neiman) — When Khaled al-Ja‘ar called the police to report drug dealers in his neighborhood, he never thought they would kill his son. Now he is turning to Israel’s top court to demand that his son’s killer, who has since been released and put back on the job, be arrested and prosecuted — …On Wednesday, January 14, during a police raid in neighborhood No. 26 in Rahat, an officer from the Rahat police used his side arm to shoot to death Sami al-Ja‘ar, a 22-year-old man on his way home from work. About a month later, on February 12, the officer admitted his involvement in the shooting and was arrested for the purpose of interrogation, but released to house arrest a short while later. Two weeks ago, Sami’s father, Khaled, petitioned the High Court of Justice asking for an order nisi, via Adv. Shmuel Zilberman. Khaled is demanding that the officer suspected of killing his son be rearrested until the end of legal proceedings, thereby cancelling his release. In addition, he is demanding that all the officers suspected of assaulting him be interrogated and/or arrested. The petition was filed with the High Court, but while hearings of this type are usually scheduled within a few days, a date for the hearing of this petition has yet to be set. Meanwhile, the officer who killed Sami is back on the job.
French activists arrested during Bil‘in protest to be deported
IMEMC/Agencies 8 Mar — Israeli authorities decided to deport four solidarity activists from the France-Palestine Solidarity Association. arrested while joining the people of Bil‘in in their weekly demonstration against the occupation and apartheid wall, on Friday. International supporters have been joining the Bil‘in demonstration for over 10 years now. However, it’s the first time for the French delegation, who joined last Friday’s demonstration after listening to a presentation by the Popular Committee regarding the colonial oppression and resistance efforts of the village … Israeli soldiers who disapproved of the French activists’ participation in the demonstration decided to arrest them and, later, made a decision to deport them, putting their names on the ‘black list’, according to Israeli sources. Therefore, the four activists cannot visit Palestine again, any time soon.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement / Apartheid
IDF cancels status of firing zone to enable expansion of nearby settlement
Haaretz 8 Mar by Chaim Levinson — GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon signed an order in January canceling the status of an army firing zone in the Jordan Valley, which will allow for the expansion of the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. However, the army continues to demolish Palestinian homes in the Jordan Valley claiming they are in firing zones. The area in question is called Firing Zone 912, which was declared a firing zone more than 40 years ago. It extends from Ma’aleh Adumim (east of Jerusalem) to the Dead Sea in the east and Umm Daraj in the south, and is still used by the Israel Defense Forces for training, particularly by the Armored Corps. There are a number of army bases in the area, including the Nabi Musa base. On January 18, Alon signed an order reducing the size of the firing zone, which covers approximately 150 dunams (about 37 acres). There is a master plan for the area that earmarks it for the construction of dozens of housing units to expand Ma’aleh Adumim. Work has already begun in the area and a sign has been erected announcing the construction of 88 units in the area, called Nofei Adumim … researcher Dror Etkes, who is involved in a study of “closed areas” in the West Bank, told Haaretz, “This is another example of the fiction known as firing zones, which cover almost 1 million dunams in the West Bank. Most of them are not used by the army but constitute land reserves, of which Israel is gradually making use when it suits.”
Israel demolishes Palestinian house near Tulkarem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Mar — Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian home in the Tulkarem village of al-Jarushiyya on Monday, locals told Ma‘an. Locals said that Israeli soldiers raided the village and demolished a two-story house owned by Palestinian judge Kifah Abd al-Rahim Sholi. Israeli forces claim the house, which was under construction, lacked the necessary building permits. The home is located near Israel’s separation wall.
Israeli bulldozers uproot farmlands east of Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 8 Mar — Several Israeli military vehicles, accompanied by two armored bulldozers, invaded Kisan village, east of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, bulldozed and uprooted Palestinian agricultural lands. Hussein Ghazal, head of the Kisan Village Council, said a large military force surrounded the village before invading it, and uprooted lands near its northern entrance. Ghazal added that the lands belong to residents from Sa‘ir town, near Hebron, and the Bethlehem family of ‘Obeyyat. The official said Israel is trying to illegally confiscate the Palestinian lands to build factories that belong to nearby illegal colonies, adding that the Israeli plan would isolate the village from its surrounding Palestinian areas. Kisan has been subject to repeated Israeli military invasions that included uprooting farmlands, home invasions and arrests, in addition to destruction of homes and other property.
Israeli forces uproot 300 olive trees in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 9 Mar — Israeli forces uprooted 300 olive trees on private Palestinian land in the Nablus village of Salem on Monday, Palestinian liaison officials said. Director of the Nablus District Civil Liaison Office Luay al-Saadi told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers uprooted the trees 48 hours after his office requested that Palestinian farmers be given access to plow the land. The fields are located near the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Skali.
Activists plant saplings near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Palestinian activists planted olive tree and vine saplings Friday on lands in the al-Khadr village of southern Bethlehem near the Efrat Israeli settlement. Volunteers planted some 200 olive tree and vine saplings during the day, organized by the Agricultural Relief Committee and the Palestinian Voluntary Work Committee. The campaign coordinator from the Agricultural Relief Committee, Zihad Salah, said that planting fruitful saplings in al-Khadr is a confirmation of the identity of lands threatened with confiscation, enhancing Palestinians’ resistance against Israel and settlers’ violations that aim to force people living near the Eli Azar and Efrat settlements to leave their homes and lands.
Who really profits from Israel’s permit regime? / Haggai Matar
+972 mag 6 Mar — The number of work permits the Israeli army gives to Palestinian workers nearly tripled, a new Bank of Israel report reveals. Did all those people suddenly become less dangerous, or do the permits serve interests other than security? —The normative framework for viewing Israel’s permit regime is that it stems purely from the state’s security needs — a tool that allows the state to differentiate between those Palestinians who threaten Israel’s security, and those who do not. This notion remains largely unchallenged despite the fact that, time after time, its arbitrariness is made clear: during every Jewish holiday the permits are canceled and a full closure is imposed on the occupied territories. People who are otherwise considered non-threatening workers are jailed for a few days in the West Bank. During every major Muslim holiday, and especially during Eid el-Fitr, all of a sudden the checkpoint gates swing open, allowing thousands of Palestinians to enjoy one day at Al-Aqsa Mosque or at the beach in Tel Aviv. And then they return to their previous classification as “dangerous,” as if they didn’t pose a threat during the holiday. And all that is without even getting into how work permits and medical procedures as a way to extort Palestinians as collaborators — to use Palestinian society against itself … From the Israeli point of view, it is important to understand how the permit regime serves employers while harming the employees — Palestinians and Israelis alike. Palestinian workers’ dependence on their employers, who can not only fire them but also prevent their entry into Israel or the settlements (where they often work) almost at will, makes it difficult for those workers to demand their rights, leaving their average monthly wages far below the legal minimum, NIS 3,500 a month ($875). Undocumented workers make even less, around NIS 2,700 a month ($675), according to the report.
Refugees in Syria
How Yarmouk refugee camp became the worst place in Syria
The Guardian 5 Mar by Jonathan Steele — Yarmouk, near the centre of Damascus, prospered as a safe haven for Palestinians. Under siege, it is now a prison for its remaining residents, who survive on little food and water, with no hope of escape — On 18 January 2014, barely five miles from the centre of Damascus – with President Bashar al‑Assad’s office complex visible in the distance – a small crowd of desperate people emerged from a seemingly uninhabited wasteland of bomb-shattered buildings. News had spread throughout Yarmouk, a district of the capital that is home to Syria’s largest community of Palestinians, that the government and rebel groups had agreed to allow a delivery of food, briefly opening a crack in a year-long siege that had starved the area’s civilians and caused dozens of deaths. Families had sent their strongest members to collect the newly arrived supplies, and the hungry throng filled the entire width of a street, throwing up dust in the morning light. The relief workers making the delivery recalled one woman, gaunt with malnutrition, who fell down and was too weak to rise. She died on the spot. The scenes were such that some of these experienced aid workers needed trauma counseling when they returned to headquarters in Damascus.
Other news / Opinion
Israeli mass rally calls for replacement of Binyamin Netanyahu
The Guardian 8 Mar by Mairav Zonszein in Tel Aviv — Tens of thousands of Israelis attended a rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday evening to call for the prime minster, Binyamin Netanyahu, to be replaced in elections later this month. Organised under the banner, “Israel wants change” and dubbed an “anti-Netanyahu” event, the rally was headlined by former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who told the crowd Israel is facing the worst leadership crisis in its history. “We have a leader who fights only one campaign — the campaign for his own political survival … I am not a politician and not a public figure, and I came here this evening without personal aspirations, not looking for a position and without a grudge or bitterness,” he said. “To those who say we don’t have any alternative, as somebody who worked directly with three prime ministers: there is a better alternative,” Dagan said. He and former Israeli general Amiram Levine, who also addressed the rally, both used the word “apartheid” to describe the direction Israel is headed, 972 Magazine reported. Israel police estimated around 40,000 attended the rally, while the organisers claimed the number was closer to 80,000 … The rally was organised by One Million Hands, a pro-two state, ad-hoc campaign founded by three Israelis, whose mission is to replace Israel’s current government. “We concluded that Netanyahu, the Likud is the real obstacle. We have to remove the main obstacle,” Dror Ben Ami, one of the campaign’s founders, told the Guardian.
Netanyahu agreed to withdraw to ’67 lines, document confirms
Haaretz 8 Mar — …Some six months ago, Haaretz published details of the intensive negotiations from the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks brokered by John Kerry that took place between December 2013 and March 2014. These included the framework agreement meant to resolve all of the core issues of the conflict. Conversations with members of the Israeli negotiating team laid out the positions that Netanyahu presented to Kerry and that appeared in the last draft of the document. Netanyahu, in a first, agreed that talks would be based on the 1967 lines with land swaps, meaning he would be willing to withdraw from more than 90 percent of the West Bank. As for refugees, Israel proposed creating a special system by which individual requests from Palestinians would be examined in an individual or humanitarian basis. Netanyahu refused to include any mention of Jerusalem as the two states’ shared capital, but was ready to accept wording that referred to future aspirations on the subject or a general sentence about not being able to resolve the conflict without solving the status of Jerusalem. Senior Israeli and American officials involved in the talks claim that despite the breakdown of peace talks, the framework document they worked on remains relevant. The officials suggest the document may be reintroduced at a later date, before Obama ends his second term. It will either serve as a starting point for renewed talks or as the basis for a peace agreement put forward by the Americans. Netanyahu on Friday responded to the report in Yedioth Ahronoth, calling it “a bunch of nonsense.” “I never agreed to divide Jerusalem,” he said at a conference of Likud voters in Yehud. “I never agreed to return to ’67 lines, I never agreed to recognize the right of return and I never agreed to forgo out presence in the Jordan Valley. Never.” Netanyahu called the report another “trick” before the election on the part of Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes.
Netanyahu denies report he’s backed off two-state solution
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 8 Mar — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office denied reports on Sunday he has backed away from a 2009 commitment to seek a two-state peaceful solution with the Palestinians. A statement by Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party widely reported by Israeli media said he had said that a speech he gave six years ago agreeing for the first time to Palestinian statehood as a solution to decades of conflict was now “irrelevant.” Netanyahu “never said such a thing,” his office said in a statement responding to the reports. Likud had apparently issued the remarks to debunk earlier Israeli media reports suggesting Netanyahu had in a previous term of office negotiated a broad withdrawal from land Israel captured in a 1967 war. The party’s statement, apparently issued by hardliners, said Netanyahu had also suggested “there would be no withdrawals or concessions, that this is simply irrelevant,” referring to swapping any occupied land for peace. Netanyahu’s office denied this, too, saying he has long adhered to a policy that “under current conditions in the Middle east any land that is handed over would be grabbed by Islamist extremists.”
Camp David’s Malley to head Middle East desk at National Security Council
JTA 8 Mar — The White House named Robert Malley, a U.S. negotiator at the 2000 Camp David talks, to lead the Middle East desk at the National Security Council … In replacing Philip Gordon, who has been Middle East coordinator since 2013, he assumes responsibility for Israel and the Palestinians as well as North Africa and the Persian Gulf … Malley drew some pro-Israel criticism for his published assessment in 2001 of the 2000 Camp David talks, in which he said that the prevailing narrative, that the Palestinians were at fault for their collapse, was a misapprehension and ignored Palestinian concessions and Israeli failures at the talks. As the director of the Middle East Program at the International Crisis Group, a think tank, he also met multiple times with Hamas officials and said parties to the peace process must at some stage engage with the terrorist group, which controls the Gaza Strip. At least two pro-Israel groups expressed concerns about the appointment over the weekend.
EU diplomats tell PA: You’re not doing enough to reconstruct Gaza
Haaretz 8 Mar by Barak Ravid — Envoys from Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Spain meet with senior Israeli diplomat, praise Israel’s action to ease Gaza humanitarian crisis — The five largest European Union members – Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Spain – protested to the Palestinian Authority last week that it was not doing enough to rebuild the Gaza Strip, according to European diplomats and senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials. Envoys from the five nations met last Thursday with Alon Ushpiz, a senior diplomat in the Foreign Ministry, for talks focused mainly on the situation in Gaza. During the meeting, which took place at the Foreign Ministry office in Jerusalem, the European representatives surprisingly praised Israel’s actions over the past few months to promote reconstruction in Gaza and ease the humanitarian crisis in the Strip. The Europeans complimented Israel’s cooperation with the reconstruction apparatus that the United Nations is operating, Israel’s doubling of the water supply to Gaza and the ease on export restrictions from the Gaza Strip to Israel, the West Bank and abroad.
Palestinians welcome cancellation of Israel-PA gas deal
Electronic Intifada 8 Mar by Ali Abunimah — Palestinian activists are welcoming the cancellation of a lucrative deal in which the Palestinian Authority would have purchased at least $1.2 billion worth of natural gas from an Israeli consortium over the next twenty years. The news is likely to add to pressure on Jordan to cancel a similar deal from which Israel would reap vast profits. And on the Palestinian front, vigilance is needed to defeat long-term efforts by Israel and the Palestinian Authority to give Israel ultimate control of the rich gas fields off Gaza’s coast.
IDF unveils new method for destroying terror tunnels
Ynet 4 Mar by Yoav Zitun — Less than a year after operations to destroy tunnels built by Hamas, the IDF has been training extensively to prepare for the possibility of similar structures being used by Hezbollah. Sources in the IDF estimate that the Shiite organization will, like Hamas, exploit the advantages of underground tunnels and attempt to kidnap soldiers. While there has been no specific intelligence pointing to digging of tunnels beyond the northern border, it is believed that Hezbollah will, in the event of a third war in Lebanon, use tunnels against IDF soldiers conducting maneuvers in Lebanese territory … n recent weeks, the Nahal Brigade’s reconnaissance battalion — the first fighting force to enter Gaza during the ground operation in Operation Protective Edge — has practiced destroying tunnel openings by blowing up concrete blocks that weight hundreds of kilograms.
Organizers of women’s conference on polygamy threatened
Haaretz 5 Mar by Jack Khoury — The event in southern Israel next week could hurt the Joint List ticket of Arab parties, critics say. — The organizers of a women’s conference on polygamy in the Arab community have received threats but vow to go on with the event, which focuses on the Bedouin in the south. The conference is scheduled for early next week at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be’er Sheva. While the conference is scheduled to mark International Women’s Day on Sunday, the fact that it is taking place in the run-up to the March 17 election has generated criticism. The organizers do not deny that the timing is linked to the fact that two men on the Arab community’s Joint List ticket are in polygamous marriages in violation of the law. The conference is the initiative of Itach/Ma’achi, a women-lawyers group for social justice, and three Bedouin women’s groups from the Negev: the Association for the Improvement of Women’s Status, the Rahat Women’s Association and the Banat Al-Badiya Association.
Otherwise Occupied: Palestinians start food fight as boycott intensifies / Amira Hass
Haaretz 9 Mar — Although Palestinian boycotts of Israeli products only have a marginal impact on the Israeli economy, they do serve a greater social purpose — Tnuva and Osem products are disappearing from the shelves of Palestinian grocery stores and supermarkets. However, the shop owners are boycotting these and other Israeli companies, more because several high-ranking Palestinians have publicly embarrassed them than out of patriotic fervor. It began about three and a half weeks ago, when the National Committee against Israeli Punitive Measures announced a campaign to boycott the products of five Israeli companies for as long as Israel held on to Palestinian tax revenues it had collected at the international borders. The committee, which is headed by high-ranking Fatah member Mahmoud al-Aloul, gave the stores two weeks to clear their shelves. In the meantime, after some people ridiculed linking the end of the boycott to the return of the tax funds, a statement was made that the boycott would be indefinite. The committee is not a governmental one and the boycott is not legally binding – unlike the boycott of products from the settlements, which is enshrined in an official government decision (supervision of this boycott was stopped, however, due to lack of desire or funds, and it is only partially observed). At the end of the two-week period, the committee members went to several grocery stores and supermarkets, accompanied by the media (including Israeli journalists), and publicly humiliated vendors who had failed to comply. And last Monday, Fatah youth members confiscated a truck carrying Tnuva milk, worth several tens of thousands of shekels, and spilled the milk in the middle of al-Manara Square, Ramallah … A boycott allows large-scale participation by people in the act of rebellion, without lifting a stone or firing a shot. The roughshod military-colonialist occupation sticks its hands into every facet of human life and disrupts it: from cradle to grave, and beyond. There is no way to respond individually to every such violent act of disruption. A boycott redirects the feelings of anger and hatred, and the desire for revenge – which are justified, natural and understandable – into channels of mass action (what is surprising is the small number of individual violent expressions of those justified, natural and understandable feelings). Whatever their motivations may be, the high-ranking members’ boycott initiative (an echo of popular, not official, initiatives) is evidence of the changes in the internal Palestinian political climate. And it is definitely not the last word.
Why Israel’s Jews must vote for the Arab list / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 8 Mar — The Joint List is the clear ray of light in this election season. It’s important for many Arabs to vote for it, and no less important for many Jews to do likewise. There is no more appropriate way for anyone who is guided by moral and ethical standards to demonstrate empathy and register protest. Those who hesitate because it’s an “Arab party” should remember the role that Jews played in the African National Congress during the apartheid era. They did not recoil because it was a black movement. They did not hesitate because it was not their battle, supposedly. The ANC was the movement of the oppressed natives of South Africa, and the Joint List is the movement of the oppressed natives of Israel.