Israeli navy kills Palestinian fisherman, 25

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Palestinian killed, two detained as Israeli navy targets Gaza fishermen
GAZA (WAFA) 7 Mar — Israeli naval boats opened gunfire Saturday on Palestinian fishermen offshore al-Sudaniya to the northwest of Gaza, killing one and detaining two others. According to a WAFA reporter, Israeli naval boats opened heavy gunfire on fishermen sailing within the unilaterally-imposed six-nautical-miles fishing zone offshore al-Sudaniya, injuring a fisherman. Tawfiq Abu Rayyala, 25, was shot with a bullet in the abdomen and was transferred to hospital where he succumbed to his wounds. Two brothers identified as Jihad, 22, and Wahid Kaskin, 23, were forced to swim toward an Israeli naval boat, where they were detained and taken to an unknown destination.

Israeli forces shoot, injure 2 fishermen off Gaza coast
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) 5 Mar — Two Palestinian fishermen were shot and injured [Thursday?] as Israeli naval gunboats opened fire at a group of fishing boats off the Mediterranean coast west of the al-Sudaniyya neighborhood in the northern Gaza Strip.  Speaker of the union of Gaza fishermen, Nizar Ayyash, identified the victims as Eid Muhsin Bakr and Ziad Fahd Bakr, confirming that one of them is in a serious condition. The two have been evacuated to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Ayyash added that Israel’s navy arrested three other fishermen.

Israeli forces open fire at Palestinians in southern Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — Israeli forces deployed on the border east of Khan Younis opened fire at Palestinians on Friday. Witnesses report the shots were fired on Palestinians in their agricultural lands in eastern al-Qarrara, north of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an that soldiers fired warning shots as Palestinians approached the fence, after which the individuals turned back. No injuries were reported. Palestinians whose agricultural lands lie close to the buffer zone between Gaza and Israel have reported open fire from Israeli forces as a routine occurrence. The al-Mezan Center for Human Rights reported that Israeli forces have opened fire at the Gaza border 29 times since the Aug. 26 ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian militant groups, killing two Palestinians and injuring 35, including nine children. Occurrences of live fire can deter farmers from accessing their farmland, worsening agricultural production in Gaza, where over 80 percent of the population is food insecure, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

Egypt opens Rafah border crossing to allow entry of two dead women
Middle East Monitor 6 Mar — The Egyptian authorities yesterday opened the Rafah crossing to allow the bodies of two women who died in an Egyptian hospital to enter Gaza, a senior Palestinian official said. Director of the Gaza’s Department of Crossings, Maher Abu Sabha said: “The Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing on Thursday temporarily in order to allow the crossing of the two dead women who passed in Egypt while receiving treatment.” The Egyptian authorities close the Rafah crossing, the main gateway between the Gaza Strip and the world, and open it only for humanitarian cases.

Israel to resume trips to Egypt after four-year hiatus
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 5 Mar — Israeli travel agencies said they would resume organizing tourist trips to Egypt after a four-year cessation that started following the January 25 revolution that had ousted former president Hosni Mubarak. According to travel agents, the first batch of Israeli tourists will arrive in Egypt on the second day of the Jewish Passover holiday at the beginning of next April in coordination with the Egyptian authorities. Israeli tourists stopped visiting Egypt in 2011 when their foreign ministry and counter-terrorism authority had issued warnings in the wake of the unstable security situation that took place in the country as a result of the revolution. Although the security situation became worse under the rule of the current Egyptian leadership, the Israeli tourism authorities said they allowed local travel agencies to organize trips to Egypt after they received pledges from Cairo to provide Israeli tourists with exceptional protection measures.

Egyptian minister: We will confiscate Hamas funds, arrest its leaders
CAIRO (PIC) 4 Mar — The Egyptian Minister of Justice Mahfouz Saber said that a government committee will start confiscating all properties and funds of Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, after being labeled a “terrorist organization”. Mahfouz told Ahramonline website that “Hamas has been labeled as a terrorist organization which is dangerous to the Egyptian national security. Thus, its members in Egypt will be arrested and its funds along with headquarters will be confiscated”. “The government will not appeal the (court) verdict against Hamas which means it is enforceable”, the minister elaborated. For its part, Hamas denied, more than once, its interference in the internal affairs of any Arab country including Egypt. The Egyptian court ruling labeling Hamas as a terrorist organization was censured by many Palestinian and Arab officials and parties.

Fuel to enter Gaza power plant on Friday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — The only power plant in the Gaza Strip is set to resume operations after a fuel delivery on Friday, Palestinian officials said. The Kerem Shalom crossing will be opened as an exception to allow 40,000 liters of fuel to reach the power plant, the Palestinian Authority’s director of border crossings Nathmi Mhannad told Ma‘an. Gaza’s sole power plant was shut down Wednesday evening as funds from Qatari donations for fuel costs ran out. Cash-strapped Hamas pays the PA for fuel imported to besieged Gaza, and had been unable to cover the additional tax costs. In December, Qatar stepped in and donated $10 million to the PA to cover the tax, effectively exempting Hamas from paying it for a short period. The plant requires 550,000 liters of fuel per day to produce at capacity, the Gaza energy authority says. Even with the plant running, Gaza suffers 12 hours of power outages each day. Many individual homes have their own generators, and households can purchase, expensively, fuel that comes into Gaza for private consumption. The power plant was targeted during the Israeli offensive on Gaza by shelling on July 28, completely knocking it out of commission. The Gaza power authority said at the time that the damages from the attack could take up to a year to entirely fix.

Israel resuming some Gaza produce imports halted in 2007
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 5 Mar by Dan Williams & Nidal al-Mughrabi,– Israel will start buying some fruit and vegetables from the Gaza Strip next week, a partial resumption of imports halted when the Islamist group Hamas took over the Palestinian territory in 2007, Israeli officials said on Thursday. They said the measure was designed to help a Gaza economy devastated by last year’s war with Israel, and to make up for a shortfall in produce from Israeli farmlands left fallow during the current Jewish lunar calendar year in accordance with biblical law. The move was welcomed by Jamal Abu al-Naja, director of the Gaza Vegetable Production and Export Association, who said he hoped it would help make up farmers losses and eventually encourage working farms to seek bank funding to expand their production. Some Palestinian farmers stopped cultivating their fields all together or sold their land to housing developers after Israeli markets were closed to them in 2007. Israel, which has been facing international calls to ease its blockade of Gaza, has been gradually relaxing restrictions on commerce across its fortified border since the July-August war which caused widespread destruction in the enclave. It has allowed Israeli transit of Gaza-produced vegetables and Palestinian merchants to the occupied West Bank, and for Gaza farmers to bring tractors in via Israel since November. COGAT, the Israeli military agencies that oversees civilian interaction with Gaza, said a shipment of tomatoes and eggplants would be brought in from the territory on Sunday. “Future stages are expected to include a wider variety of vegetables, totaling 1,000 to 1,500 tons. Each ton is valued at approximately 3,000 shekels ($750),” COGAT said in a statement, adding that the imports were scheduled to run the duration of the Jewish calendar year that expires in September.

Israel says doubling water supplied to Gaza
JERUSALEM (AFP) 4 Mar — Israel is to double the amount of water it channels annually to Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip, a defence ministry body said Wednesday. A humanitarian crisis has gripped Gaza since a July-August war with Israel, which controls most of the territory’s resources, its imports and exports as well as the movement of people. The body responsible for coordinating Israeli government activity in the Palestinian territories, COGAT, said it is to increase the volume of water it provides to Gaza from five to 10 million cubic metres (175 to 350 million cubic feet) per annum, beginning within days. The decision was in response to growing needs in the Palestinian enclave, a spokeswoman told AFP. The severe water shortage was due to excessive overuse of groundwater resources along the coast of Gaza, she said. The water is to flow through a new pipe already in place. The Palestinian water authority was not immediately available for comment.

Hamas denies abuse, detainment of Fatah leaders
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 2 Mar by Mohammed Othman — Several Fatah leaders told Al-Monitor that the Hamas-affiliated security apparatuses in Gaza arrested them and violated their basic human rights, which Hamas rushed to deny — Nahru al-Haddad did not expect to be arrested for political reasons in January. The Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip told Al-Monitor how Gaza’s internal security apparatus subjected him and other Fatah leaders to insulting treatment during their detention. Almost two months after this incident, shock is still written all over his face as a result of the poor treatment.

Assailants set fire to home of Fatah leader in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Unidentified assailants threw flammable material at the door of a Fatah leader’s house in eastern Gaza on Thursday. Witnesses said that locals rushed to put out the fire in front of Riyad Abd al-Wahed’s home to prevent it from reaching his car. Police in Gaza started an investigation into the details of the incident. Last month Gaza was rocked by a series of attacks targeting mainly Fatah officials, but also Hamas affiliates. Security forces in the Gaza Strip made several arrests in response to the spate of attacks in the coastal territory.

Film: The Last Ten
Turtle Rabbit films 6 Mar (5.22) — A short about our brothers and sisters in Gaza/Palestine — inspired by a true story written by Mahmoud Gouda from Gaza on Facebook [During the last Israeli assault, a family in Gaza suddenly gets a phone call from the IDF saying that their house has been targeted and they have ten minutes to get out]

9,500 Palestinians still living in Gaza UN schools
Electronic Intifada 6 Mar by Rami Almeghari — Sakher al-Kafarneh used to have 3,000 chickens, 35 sheep, 5 cows and a horse. That was before Israel attacked his farm in the summer of 2014. “We have lost everything,” he said. “Only two cows are still alive.” Ever since the attack, al-Kafarneh and his family have been living in a school run by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees. They make trips to their home in the Beit Hanoun area of Gaza so they can use the toilet. It remains intact, although their house was mostly destroyed. Al-Kafarneh estimates that it would cost $50,000 to repair the damage inflicted on his home and farm. He desperately wants the house to be made habitable again “to restore even a bit of our dignity.” “My wife, three children, my parents and my grandmother all live in one classroom of this school,” he said. “I cannot even describe how miserable our life is here.” Almost 9,500 people in Gaza were taking shelter in UN facilities, according to data released last week … More than 43,500 families have been affected by the destruction of homes. The family of Um Ahmad are among them. Before the attack, this mother of seven enjoyed spending “good times out in the sun” on the roof of the family home. After that home was leveled to the ground, she took refuge with her sister-in-law in Khan Younis, a city in southern Gaza. She and her husband, Khaled Redwan (also known as Abu Ahmad), sleep beside the sofa in the living room. Ten people are taking shelter in that home, which has only one bathroom.

Life in Gaza gives Palestinian satirists plenty of material
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 2 Mar by Rasha Abou Jalal — Gazans have resorted to different means to express their tragic lives and draw the world’s attention to their poor living conditions. Chief among these is satirical art, which, through expressing people’s hardships in a satirical way, helps put smiles on the faces of the downtrodden citizens of Gaza … According to actor and theater expert Ali Abu Yassin, Gazans are eager to laugh and smile, so many have made attempts at a black comedy that reflects the Palestinian reality, in a way that relieves the audience … Comedian Islam Ayoub — best known for his satirical songs that reflect the bitter reality of life in Gaza — said that he wanted his songs to break citizens’ fears and push them to openly express their ideas without restrictions. “Gazans are suffocating from ongoing crises that lack solutions. Therefore, comedy emerged to alleviate the people’s suffering and pain through laughter,” Ayoub told Al-Monitor … Comedian Mahmoud Zuaiter also began to produce satirical videos to reflect the reality of life in Gaza. Zuaiter’s videos address the social and economic phenomena in Gaza and are widely shared on social media. Though Zuaiter’s house was destroyed during the latest war on Gaza, he continued preparing comedic shorts during the war to resist the despair.

Women’s roles in Hamas slowly evolve
Al-Monitor 2 Mar by Adnan Abu Amer — Since its inception in late 1987, Hamas has focused on women’s activities, acknowledging the role of women in upbringing the individual, family and community. Hamas’ interest in women’s affairs has been evident since the early stages of the movement’s formation, when women occupied regulatory positions. Hamas formed the women’s work committee in the late 1980s as a regulatory committee like any other in the movement, with its own budget and public activities. Rajaa al-Halabi, the head of the women’s movement within Hamas, told Al-Monitor, “Hamas views women as a main pillar of Palestinian society, and not as subordinate to men. Since the movement’s inception, women have assumed advanced positions in Hamas and have left their marks in the various organizational committees, thanks to the directives of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of the movement, who allowed in 1987 their access to senior positions within Hamas.”–role-hamas-gaza-leadership-social-mobilization.html

Vices provide little relief in besieged Gaza
GAZA STRIP (Electronic Intifada) 2 Mar by Rami Almeghari The economic siege on Gaza, imposed by Israel and enforced by Egypt for eight years, has affected even the most banal behaviors of the Strip’s 1.8 million residents. This includes their ability to indulge in their vices, such as smoking. “Over the past year and a half, prices of cigarettes have tripled, not only doubled,” said Ahmad Abdelhadi, a Palestinian Authority employee. Abdelhadi has resorted to smoking cigarettes of raw tobacco which he rolls himself. When he has some cash, he splurges on a Greek cigarette called Karelia Royal … Others, like 79-year-old farmer Abdelraouf Abdelraziq, have responded to the increased demand for local tobacco. Last year Abdelraziq started planting a local variety of tobacco known as shami, the Arabic term for the region of greater Syria, which includes historic Palestine. Abdelraziq’s family farmed this type of tobacco in Jaffa, on the coast of present-day Israel, before they were forced off their land during the 1947-48 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

UAE-born Gaza artist lives in 100sqft; builds world in isolation
[with photos] Emirates 24/7 1 Mar — More than a year in isolation artist creates ‘100 days of Solitude’ project — Nidaa Badwan’s room is less than 100 square feet, it has a single window and one bulb. Badwaan waits for the light to create the photographs that look like paintings. She is an artist in Gaza who has spent the last one year immersed in her art, shutting herself up in her house for that duration. She has painted one wall with aquamarine paint and covered another in a patchwork pattern of colored egg holders. Alienated by Gaza’s on-going conflict, Badwan, 27, has hardly left the room for more than a year. Within its walls she has created her own world, and a striking set of self-portraits that are at once classical and cutting-edge. [See also NY Times article about her]

Violence / Raids / Attacks / Suppression of protests / Arrests — West Bank / Jerusalem

Israeli forces fire rubber-coated bullet at 7-year-old in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Seven-year-old Anas Yahya Abdeen was reportedly shot with a rubber-coated bullet by Israeli soldiers on Friday evening in his house in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood east of the Old City of Jerusalem.  According to his father, the boy was hit after Israeli troops stormed the house of Abd al-Razeq al-Salayma who allegedly drove his vehicle into a group of Israeli border police in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood earlier on Friday. Anas was standing in the balcony opposite to the house of al-Salayma family when “all of the sudden he started to cry and shout, and we realized later that he was hit by a black rubber-coated bullet in his arm,” the father explained.
Separately, a young Palestinian man was shot with a rubber-coated bullet in his forehead during clashes in the Ein al-Luza area of the Silwan neighborhood southeast of the Old City, according to Majdi al-Abbasi of the Silwan-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center.  He added that clashes broke out in the area between young Palestinian men and Israeli troops, and that Israeli troops arrested a 14-year-old boy Mustafa Baydoun while he was standing outside his house in Baydoun area of Silwan, where clashes also ensued.

Israeli forces shoot, injure 5 teens near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli forces shot and injured five Palestinian teenagers with 0.22 caliber bullets in clashes that broke out Friday near al-Jalazone refugee camp in northern Ramallah. One teenager was shot twice in the chest and seriously injured. Another was hit in the mouth, and the other three in the lower extremities. Palestinians threw rocks and empty bottles at Israeli forces who chased them down by the Beit El settlement located nearby the camp.

Three injured, four kidnapped as Israeli troops attack nonviolent protests in West Bank
IMEMC 6 Mar — Israeli soldiers shot and injured three Palestinian civilians, and kidnapped four international supporters, during weekly nonviolent protests organized in West Bank villages on Friday midday. Two villagers were injured and many more were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation as Israeli soldiers attacked the weekly protest organized in Kufur Qaddoum village, near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia. Eyewitnesses said a 17 year old teenager was shot by a live round in his leg, and another was hit by a gas bomb in his arm. Both were moved to a hospital for treatment.
Moreover, a Palestinian sustained light wounds [Ma‘an: Moussa Muhammad Abu Rahmeh, 18, was injured with a tear-gas bomb in the head], while four French supporters were kidnapped when Israeli forces attacked the weekly anti-wall protest in the central West Bank village of Bil‘in, near Ramallah. In Ni‘lin village nearby village, soldiers attacked protesters with tear gas, causing many too suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. In the nearby Nabi Saleh village, Israeli troops fired several [live?] and rubber-coated metal bullets at the villagers as soon as they reached the village entrance. Moreover, Israeli troops fired tear gas at residential areas causing damage to the houses as some of the tear gas canisters went through the windows inside the villagers’ homes.  In the southern West Bank village of al-Ma‘sara, Israeli troops attacked the villagers and their supporters at village entrance then forced them back using rifle buts and batons; no injuries were reported.

Israeli soldiers attack Palestinian police officers near Ramallah
[with video] IMEMC/Agencies 6 Mar — Israeli soldiers attacked, on Thursday afternoon, a number of Palestinian police officers chasing a suspect who tried to run away through an Israeli military roadblock close to the Bet El military base, built on Palestinian lands near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The incident was partially captured on video that was published by PalMedia agency. Media sources in Ramallah said the police were chasing the suspect who fled towards the Israeli roadblock, when the soldiers intercepted them, attack them, and forced them to surrender under gunpoint. The Raya News Agency stated the soldiers detained the Palestinian police officers for several hours. Palestinian-controlled areas in the occupied West Bank are largely isolated by Israeli colonies, military camp, and roads that are under full Israeli military and security control. In many previous incidents, the police had to quit chasing persons suspected of committing crimes or felonies, because they managed to drive into West Bank areas that are under Israeli control.

VIDEO: Israeli forces invade ISM apartment as part of a campaign of continual harassment against activists in Hebron
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 5 Mar — To date, ISM volunteers in Al-Khalil (Hebron) have faced two attempted night raids, two invasions, and continual daily harassment from Israeli occupation forces. Other organizations in Hebron, including Youth Against Settlements and Christian Peacemaker Teams, have also faced harassment including raids, detentions, and arrests. On the night from the 18 to the 19 of February Israeli Military tried to raid the ISM apartment in Hebron. Four volunteers woke up to a loud banging on the front door at one a clock in the morning. Soldiers constantly banged on the front door, threatening to break it open, if the volunteers refused to open it. Repeated questions for whether they had a warrant to legally enter the apartment were negated and replied with comments such as “we don’t need a warrant” and “I am the law”. The soldiers also threatened the volunteers that if they don’t open the door “bad things will happen.” In order to stop internationals from documenting and getting an overview of the situation, the soldiers aimed green lasers mounted on their rifles through the apartment windows.

Israeli army temporarily halts use of attack dogs in West Bank
Haaretz 5 Mar by Gili Cohen — Inquiry into incident in which a Palestinian youth was bitten by a dog while being arrested finds that the arrest could have been carried out using other means –…IDF Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brigadier Tamir Yadai ordered the halt on Thursday. It will continue until the protocol for the use of dogs is reviewed and practiced. Hamzeh Abu Hashem, 16, of Beit Umar, was arrested about two months by soldiers and a dog from the IDF’s Oketz canine unit. A video of the incident shows the dog biting the youth and a soldier saying, “Who’s a chicken, eh? Who’s a chicken? Great. Very good.” Another soldier is heard telling the dog to “get him.” Hashem, who required medical treatment, has been in detention since the incident, accused of throwing stones at the soldiers.

5 Israelis injured in alleged car attack
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — A Palestinian ran his vehicle into a group of Israeli officers in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem on Friday, Israeli sources said. The driver was Muhammad Mahmoud Abd al-Razeq al-Salaymeh, 22, from the Ras al-Amud neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma‘an the man was driving outside an Israeli border police station between East and West Jerusalem and struck five people, including four border police and one civilian pedestrian. After hitting the group, the man continued driving for around 100 meters, when he attempted to leave the vehicle wielding a knife. When exiting his car he was shot and arrested by border police and security guards, according to Rosenfeld. Israeli medical sources said that three of the individuals hit were injured moderately while another two were lightly injured. Al-Salaymeh is in critical condition. Rosenfeld added that security measures throughout Jerusalem were heightened in response to the incident. Following the attack, the Israeli police summoned the father and brothers of al-Salaymeh to the Russian compound for interrogation. Lawyer of the Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association, Muhammad Mahmoud, said that al-Salaymeh is currently in a hospital for treatment. Mahmoud added that a session will be held at the magistrate court on Saturday for extending the detention of al-Salaymeh. The incident is the first of its kind since a series of similar vehicular attacks in Jerusalem during the Fall of 2014, which killed several people. The attacks were labeled as “terrorist attacks” by Israeli authorities, and the attackers were shot dead at the scene in each case.

Palestinian factions praise Jerusalem car attack
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Mar  — The Popular Resistance movement in Palestine praised Friday morning’s car attack, which left four Israeli border police and one civilian injured in East Jerusalem. “The attack comes as a response to Israeli crimes,” Hassan al-Zaalan, an official at the Popular Resistance movement said following the incident. The Hamas movement also remarked on the “heroic” car attack in East Jerusalem, describing the man’s actions as a “natural response” to Israeli crimes. Spokesperson of the movement, Fawzi Barhoum, added that the “extremist” Israeli government is responsible for the Jerusalem situation.

Army invades various areas in Hebron, Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Mar — Clashes took place on Friday afternoon, after Israeli soldiers invaded various areas in Hebron and Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank. In Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers fired gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets during clashes with Palestinian youths near the main entrance of the ‘Aida refugee camp, north of the city. Similar clashes also took place in the Um Rokba area, close to Israeli bypass road #60, in the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem.  In addition, Mohammad ‘Awad, Spokesperson of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, said dozens of soldiers invaded the ‘Aseeda area at the main entrance of Beit Ummar, and clashed with local youths. The soldiers fired gas bombs, concussion grenades, and rubber-coated metal bullets on the Palestinian protesters. The army claimed the invasion took place after a number of Palestinian youths hurled stones on settlers’ cars by bypass road #60.

Suspected Jewish extremists torch Palestinian cars
AL-MUGHAYER, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 5 Mar — Suspected Jewish extremists torched two cars and scrawled graffiti on a nearby wall in a West Bank village before dawn Thursday, Palestinian residents said, the latest in a series of vandalism attacks. “Settlers regularly come to attack the village, pulling up trees and so on. They’ve twice burned the mosque,” said a witness, who refused to give his name for fear of reprisals. “Around 4:00 am (0200 GMT) I saw the fire and rushed down to stop it. The settlers had already left,” he said. Last week suspected Jewish extremists set fire to a Christian seminary building in Jerusalem, a day after a mosque was torched in the West Bank. The incidents bore the hallmarks of “price tag” attacks, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes. These generally target Palestinians or Arab Israelis but have increasingly also hit Christian and Muslim places of worship.

Ministry of Health denounces IOF breaking into clinic
RAMALLAH (PIC) 5 Mar — The Palestinian Ministry of Health denounced the Israeli storming of one of its medical clinics in the north of Ramallah city. The Ministry’s Public Relations Department disclosed that the Israeli soldiers raided a medical clinic in Ramallah on Wednesday evening. The soldiers blasted open the clinic’s doors and wreaked havoc inside it, according to the statement. The Palestinian Ministry said, in its statement on Thursday, the Israeli attack on the clinic constitutes an offense that breached the international norms and regulations and Geneva conventions. “All of the international conventions clearly stipulate that medical institutions must be neutralized of any conflict, and its sanctity should be maintained”, the statement mentioned.

Soldiers kidnap five minors near Ramallah
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Mar — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday evening, Deir Netham village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and kidnapped five teens, between the ages of 14 and 18. Safi Tamimi, head of the Land Defense Committee in Deir Netham, stated that several armored military vehicles invaded the village from its southern part, detained many children and youths while driving through their village, and kidnapped five. The kidnapped have been identified as Meqdar Fadel Abdul-Haq, 14, Amin Mohammad Tamimi, 15, Shehab Ahmad Tamimi, 16, Eyas Mahmoud Yahia, 16, and Ibrahim Fathi al-Khatib, 18 years of age. The soldiers came from the military base in the Halamesh nearby illegal colony, built on privately owned Palestinian lands. Tamimi said the kidnapped teens were not taken prisoner during clashes or confrontation with the military, but while playing, and running around in their families’ farmlands.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization

Israel demolished 50 Arab homes in the Negev since start of year
Middle East Monitor 6 Mar — Israeli police forces demolished four homes in the Arab village of Sauda in the Negev on Wednesday, bringing the number of homes that have been razed in the Negev since the beginning of this year to approximately 50, according to Suleiman Abu Obeid, a spokesman for Al-Naqab Association for Land and Human Beings. Abu Obeid said that about 50 houses have been destroyed this year, besides the nearly 1,000 homes that were destroyed by Israel in the Negev in 2014. He appealed to all international humanitarian and human rights organisations to “visit the Negev and watch the magnitude of the crimes committed against its people”

Israel to displace Bedouin Naqab village
BEERSHEBA (WAFA) 4 Mar – Confrontations erupted on Wednesday in the Arab village of Sa‘wa in the Naqab desert, after Israeli police and bulldozers broke into the unrecognized village, along with orders to demolish tens of homes, according to local and media sources. PLS48 website, which reports on the Palestinian communities in Israel, said an Israeli police contingent accompanied by bulldozers stormed the small village in the early morning hours, and evicted most of its residents before proceeding to demolish at least four homes, mainly caravans and tin-made structures. The village was first demolished last week, but its Bedouin residents were able to set up caravans to remain in their land.

Dovish ex-general appointed to liaise with Bedouin in West Bank
Haaretz 6 Mar by Amira Hass — A member of the dovish Peace and Security Association, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Dov Sedaka, has been appointed by the Civil Administration to liaise with West Bank Bedouin over the process of relocating them into several permanent towns, Haaretz has learned. Sedaka’s appointment was ratified on February 11 by the head of the Civil Administration in the West Bank, David Menachem. He is to serve as the go-between with all the Bedouin communities in Area C (the parts of the West Bank under full Israeli control) and their lawyers regarding their concentration into permanent settlements that the Civil Administration defines as “providing a legal and planning solution for the Bedouin population.” He is also supposed to liaise between the various Civil Administration bodies responsible for evicting and relocating the Bedouin, and the military advocate general in the West Bank, and ensure the smooth flow of information to all the concerned bodies. The appointment does not mention the Palestinian Authority as one of the bodies with which he will liaise, even though the relocation plans also directly affect Areas A and B. To date, Sedaka has not approached the Bedouin or their lawyers, and some of them only learned of his appointment through Haaretz.

IOF razes Palestinian homes in northern Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (PIC) 4 Mar — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) used military bulldozers to raze on Wednesday morning  a number of makeshift structures in Ein Karzyielia hamlet in the occupied northern Jordan Valley. Palestinian activist against settlement Hamza Deireyeh told the PIC reporter that the IOF, in military patrols, stormed the area at seven o’clock in the morning, evacuated the structures of its residents, and razed three makeshift homes and three barns. The PIC reporter said that the structures demolished belong to three Palestinian families.

Right-wing activists fail to stop sale of East Jerusalem building to Arab tenants
Haaretz 6 Mar by Nir Hasson — Despite the concerted efforts of right-wing activists, including city councillor Aryeh King, to foil the sale of a Jewish-owned building in East Jerusalem to its longtime Arab tenants, the sale was completed this week. The mixed-use (commercial and residential) building is part of a formerly Jewish neighborhood, known as Eshel Avraham or the Georgian neighborhood, located just outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate. The area’s Jewish residents fled in the 1930s, due to attacks by Arabs, but retained ownership of its properties. Around a year ago, the heirs of the building’s original owners hired Jerusalem lawyer Yoram Zarifi to help them sell it. Two groups vied to buy the building from the sellers, who live in Israel, France and the United States. The first was comprised of the Palestinian commercial and residential tenants who have worked or lived in the building for decades; the second was a number of right-wing activists, including King, who sought to replace the current tenants with Jewish families. After the Palestinian group submitted a higher bid and stood to close on the property, notices were distributed denouncing the proposed sale of the building “to the descendants of our loved ones’ murderers,” among other claims … The law enables Jews, but not Palestinians, to reclaim property they left behind enemy lines in 1948. A number of rightist NGOs have been active in recent years in tracking down the Jewish heirs of properties in East Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods and assisting them in “releasing” the property, held in trust by the Custodian of Absentee Property….

At 11th hour, High Court delays demolition of apartments in West Bank settlement
Haaretz 6 Mar by Chaim Levinson — At the state’s request, the High Court of Justice issued an interim injunction on Thursday delaying the demolition of 24 unfinished apartments built without a permit in the West Bank settlement of Beit El, three days before they were meant to be razed. The buildings were originally slated for demolition no later than this Sunday. Now, it’s not clear when or even if the demolition will happen, since the court’s injunction didn’t specify a new deadline.The apartments are located in two buildings built on Palestinian land that was initially expropriated for military purposes. Construction began in 2010, but was halted by a petition to the High Court filed by the landowner and the Yesh Din human rights organization. In response to the petition, the state initially promised to raze the buildings within a year, but then, under pressure from settlers, backtracked and said it intended to legalize the buildings. Last September, however, the court ruled in a 2-1 decision that the buildings must be demolished within six months, meaning by this coming Sunday.

Settlers attack Palestinian market in occupied J’lem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 5 Mar — Israeli settlers attack Palestinian properties in occupied Jerusalem as part of Israeli systematic displacement and Judaization policy in the holy city. The Galicia Jewish school students have deliberately attacked Palestinian-owned shops in the Old City in Jerusalem in a desperate attempt to force their owners to leave the market. The shopkeeper Sami Salhab said that the settlers used to throw waste on the shops’ roofs, which led to its accumulation and the clogging of storm water channels. The settlers used to deliberately throw waste and woods on the roofs of the stores in the Old City’s market which cause flooding and property damage, the shopkeeper added. Late month, the municipal work crews cleaned up the roofs. However, we were surprised yesterday that the waste has been accumulated again, he pointed out.

Kahane’s grandson banned from West Bank for a year
Haaretz 5 Mar by Chaim Levinson — The Israel Defense Forces this week banished a far-right settler from an unauthorized West Bank outpost from the West Bank for a year, and from Jerusalem for six months. The settler, Meir Ettinger of the Givat Ronen outpost, was also placed under house arrest at night for a period of three months and forbidden to contact six of his associates for six months. Ettinger is the grandson of Kach leader Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the ultranationalist Kach party, which was outlawed for being racist and undemocratic. Ettinger has been convicted of keeping surveillance over IDF troops in a bid to prevent the evacuation of outposts. Ettinger was also one of the 10 extremists who entered the West Bank village of Kfar Kusra in the West Bank in January 2014, were beaten by Palestinians and handed over to the IDF.

Jerusalem old city ad campaign banned by Britain
JTA 4 Mar — Britain’s advertising watchdog has banned an Israeli government tourism ad for showing the Old City of Jerusalem. The ad inserted in British newspapers showed a view of the Old City of Jerusalem’s walls with the words “Israel has it all” on it. The Advertising Standards Authority on Wednesday ruled that the ad is misleading since it implies that the Old City of Jerusalem is part of Israel, the French news agency AFP reported. The authority was responding to an official complaint. The international community does not recognize Israel’s claim over eastern Jerusalem nor does it recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The authority said in its ruling that “the presentation of the ad would mislead consumers into believing that the Old City of Jerusalem was part of Israel and into taking a transactional decision that they would otherwise not have taken.” The entire brochure in which the Old City photo is found is titled “Israel Land of Creation,” and includes photos of the Muslim holy site the Dome of the Rock and the more modern Western Jerusalem. The Israeli government told the authority that it did not intend to make a political statement.

Al-Aqsa / Old City of Jerusalem

Palestinians decry Israeli court’s ruling to uphold Jewish prayer in Al-Aqsa compound
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 4 Mar – Palestinian organizations criticized the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruling which ostensibly backs claims that Jews are allowed to pray in al-Aqsa Mosque compound. While Jewish extremists praised the ruling and considered it a “historic victory” as Israeli media sources reported, al-Aqsa Foundation for Islamic Waqf and Heritage published a report claiming that the move aims to legalize Jewish control over the Islamic site. On Sunday, Judge Malka Aviv said the police ban on far-right extremist Yehudah Glick visiting the compound was issued “without appropriate consideration, was arbitrary, and only out of concern for the consequences of the broadcast.” Glick, who was shot and seriously wounded during an annual event organized by the ‘Temple Mount and Eretz Yisrael Faithful Movement’ in Jerusalem in 2014, filed a law suit against the Israel Police for banning him for two years from visiting the compound, based on video evidence of him praying there … As Israeli media reported, the Supreme Court upholds Jews’ “theoretical” right to pray at the compound, but gives the security services the green light to ban Jews from performing rituals should such action result in potential unrest. The Islamic Waqf and Heritage reported that it is the right time to stipulate clear administrative rules regarding Jewish prayer in the compound … Following the ruling, Glick’s lawyer said, “Starting from today, all Jews are allowed to pray on the Temple Mount. There is no longer any crime in prayer itself.” While Jews considered the ruling as a first step that will eventually allow all Jews to pray in the compound, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “committed to upholding the so-called status quo” in November 2014.

Jerusalem set to unveil controversial plan for cable car in Old City
Haaretz 5 Mar by Nir Hasson — Surveyors have visited the courtyard of a church on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion several times over the last few months. Their goal is to find a site for a giant pillar that will help support a cable car running to the Western Wall, the Old City and the Mount of Olives. The Jerusalem municipality has been quietly working on this ambitious cable car project for several years. But the plan is expected to spark fierce opposition, on both diplomatic and environmental grounds …  Thursday morning, however, the French paper Le Figaro reported that the municipality recently hired the French company SAFEGE to do a feasibility study. SAFEGE then contracted with another French company, Poma, which specializes in cable cars, the report said … The municipality plans to unveil the cable car project at a press conference in another few weeks. According to a plan obtained by Haaretz, the car will run through four stations, in the following order: the First Station complex near Emek Refaim Street; the Old City’s Dung Gate, which leads to the Wall; the Seven Arches Hotel on the Mount of Olives; and Gethsemane. Aside from the stations, however, the cable car will require dozens of enormous pillars to support the cables. Those pillars would have to run straight through Jerusalem’s holy basin and be built next to some of the city’s most sensitive religious sites. One proposal, which was ultimately rejected, even had the cable car running above the southeast corner of the Temple Mount.

200 Gazans head to pray in al-Aqsa
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — Two hundred Palestinian Gazans headed to pray in the Al-Aqsa mosque via the Erez crossing on Friday. The Palestinian liaison told Ma‘an that the 200 were all over 60 years of age. On Oct. 5, some 500 Palestinians in Gaza prayed at the mosque for the first time since 2007, having been prevented by Israel from traveling to Jerusalem since that time.

Palestinian refugees

Latest distribution updates from Yarmouk, 5 March 2015
UNRWA 5 Mar — Our spokesperson Chris Gunness has the following to say on the situation in Yarmouk Camp: “UNRWA distributed food parcels and jars of jam to 339 families in Yarmouk today, 5 March. This was the first food distribution since 6 December, 2014. “Syrian authorities and GAPAR directed UNRWA to enter Yarmouk via Tadhamon, an adjacent neighbourhood to the east. With the active facilitation and support of Syrian authorities, UNRWA used this route to safely reach a new distribution area in the Malak area of Palestine Street, inside Yarmouk. Civilians received food parcels in a calm and orderly manner throughout the day, with no security incidents.” … “To address the profound suffering experienced by civilians trapped in Yarmouk, UNRWA calls for the distribution of humanitarian assistance to continue without interruption. If facilitation and safe conditions are assured and maintained, UNRWA has the capacity fully to meet the humanitarian needs of civilians in Yarmouk.”

TOMS helps keep Palestinian children’s feet warm mid-winter in Jordan and Gaza
WASHINGTON, DC (UNRWA) 6 Mar — UNRWA is pleased to announce a partnership with TOMS [Shoes, LLC] to support Palestine refugee children in Jordan and Gaza. In addition to giving shoes to UNRWA students, TOMS supports local distribution expenses through its ‘Last-Mile Contribution’, which is used to cover the cost of freight, vehicle rentals, fuel, storage and labor required to get the shoes to the feet of the children. In Gaza, UNRWA provides education to approximately 240,000 students in 252 schools. The shoes were distributed to approximately 100,000 eligible children in March. Many families, living on less than US$ 1.53 per person per day, lack even the means to meet their basic food and living requirements. Receiving an essential item such as shoes for their children allows families to free some resources to purchase food.


Torture of Palestinian detainees by Shin Bet investigators rises sharply
Haaretz 6 Mar by Chaim Levinson — In the second half of last year, there were 51 instances of torture reported, compared to eight in the first half of 2014 — Mohammed Hatib, a Hamas activist from Hebron, is a childhood friend of Marwan Kawasme, who masterminded the abduction and subsequent murder of the three teens from Gush Etzion in June 2014. Hatib was arrested shortly after the kidnapping and interrogated by the Shin Bet security service. He denied any knowledge of the affair and said he had no idea where Kawasme had disappeared to. Hatib’s questioning very quickly turned into torture, what the Ofer Military Court judges call “required by necessity,” “exceptional questioning,” or “special means.” Under torture, Hatib admitted to serving as a lookout for Kawasme and his accomplice, Amar Abu-Aisha, on the night of the abduction. This was a lie; the investigation showed that there was no lookout. The Shin Bet and the military prosecution did not believe Hatib, as can be seen by the indictment he was served, in which there is no mention of involvement in the abduction. He stands accused of firing a rifle in the air in 2006 and later taking part in a large number of Hamas rallies and protests. Hatib’s questioning under torture is part of a trend, that began in the second half of 2014, of the increased use of torture by the Shin Bet, according to an attorney who represents many suspects accused of security offenses, information collected by Haaretz from military courts, and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.

Other news

The month in pictures: February 2015
Electronic Intifada 6 Mar — Israeli forces fired on Palestinians in Gaza every day during the month of February, particularly in the so-called Access Restricted Areas along the Gaza-Israel boundary, the United Nations monitoring group OCHA reported. The Rafah crossing with Egypt — the sole exit and entry point for the vast majority of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents — remained closed throughout the month. According to OCHA, an estimated 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza were waiting to cross into Egypt, including medical patients and students. The crossing was was opened only 158 days last year and was last opened in both directions between 20 and 22 January, OCHA reported. Only ten trucks of exports were allowed to leave Gaza via the Israeli-controlled commercial crossing between 3 February and 2 March. “Since the imposition of the blockade in June 2007, Israel has banned almost completely the exit of goods from Gaza to the West Bank and Israel, which were the main markets for Gaza products,” OCHA stated.  – Settler attacks – Meanwhile, in the occupied West Bank, Israeli settlers reportedly set fire to a Greek Orthodox Church in East Jerusalem and to a mosque in Jaba village near Bethlehem on 25 February. “In both incidents, racist graffiti was sprayed on the buildings’ walls,” OCHA reported.

PLO leadership votes to suspend security cooperation with Israel
The Guardian 5 Mar with Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem — The leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organisation has voted to suspend all security co-operation with Israel, insisting that Israel – as occupying power – should assume all responsibilities for the Palestinian territories under international law. A statement issued by the PLO’s central committee on Thursday night announced it was calling for the suspension of “all forms of security coordination given Israel’s systematic and ongoing non-compliance with its obligations under signed agreements, including its daily military raids throughout the State of Palestine, attacks against our civilians and properties.” Although the final decision to implement the council’s decision rests with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, well-informed sources told the Guardian that Abbas supported the decision … Security cooperation between the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank and Israel has long been seen as key to maintaining a fragile calm between the two sides and its ending would mark a serious escalation of the recent crisis between the two sides that has worsened since the collapse of US-led peace talks almost a year ago. The move comes only a couple of weeks before Palestine’s formal accession to the international criminal court on 1 April when Palestinians are expected to present cases alleging serious breaches of international law to the court of last resort. That in turn would trigger the United States Congress to order the withholding of US aid to the Palestinian Authority under a law passed by Congress. With most of that US aid going to support the Palestinian security forces that would – some analysts suggest – bring about a de facto end to security cooperation in any case. The decision by the PLO’s central committee follows the decision by Israel to withhold tax revenue – $127m per month – it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority after Abbas applied to join the ICC. As a result, the authority has struggled to pay the wages of its employees for the past two months, including police forces.

PA to pay 60% of civil servants’ wages for third month
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 4 Mar – The Ministry of Financial Affairs (MFA) Wednesday announced that public servants will only receive 60% of their salaries for February, as Israel continues to withhold the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority for the third month in a row. Those who receive a salary of 2,000 shekels ($500) or less will receive a full salary, said an MFA spokesperson, while those who receive more than 2,000 shekels will only receive 60% of their salary, remaining above the 2,000 shekels limit. Employees also received 60% of their salaries for December and January, leaving the remaining 120% a debt on the government’s treasury, which sought loans from local banks to be able to meet its financial obligations towards its employees.

Abbas says talks with Israel still on table
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 4 Mar by Nasser Abu Bakr– Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Wednesday talks with Israel are still on the table, despite moves against the Jewish state at the UN and numerous failed rounds of negotiations. Abbas was addressing the Palestinian leadership at the opening of a two-day conference in the West Bank to discuss the future of the Palestinian Authority (PA), whose existence is under threat after Israel cut off a key source of funds. “We ask all countries of the world to recognise the state of Palestine,” he said. “But we want to say to the Israeli side, these recognitions do not mean in any way that we do not want to negotiate, or that we’re running away from negotiations.” There was no immediate Israeli reaction to Abbas’s speech.

Netanyahu aide denies PM agreed to return to ’67 lines in talks with Palestinians
Jerusalem Post/JTA 6 Mar — An aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied on Friday a report in an Israeli tabloid which claimed that the premier had agreed in principle to an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines.  “The prime minister never agreed to a return to the ’67 lines, a partition of Jerusalem, and recognition of the right of return,” the aide said. “His position on these issues remains unchanged.” According to the popular circulation daily Yediot Aharonot, Netanyahu considered an agreement with the Palestinians that would have uprooted West Bank settlements and recognized Palestinian claims in Jerusalem. The document was the result of secret talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority during Netanyahu’s previous term, from 2009-2013, the daily reported. In the document considered by Netanyahu’s envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s confidant Hussein Agha, Israel would agree to negotiate a peace deal on the basis of the 1967 borders, with land swaps and terms that would allow Israelis living in the West Bank to choose whether to remain under Palestinian rule. The prime minister’s office told Yediot that the document was a draft initiated by American mediators and subject to vetoes of the negotiating parties. Israel Radio quoted officials as saying that Netanyahu ultimately rejected the terms.

Number of Palestinians working in Israel doubled over four years, central bank says
Haaretz 4 Mar by Moti Bassok — The number of Palestinians from the West Bank working in Israel both legally and illegally doubled in the past four years to about 92,000 in 2014, in many cases displacing overseas guest workers, the Bank of Israel said yesterday. But Palestinians working in Israel get paid less than their Israeli counterparts – even those working for the same employers – and few are getting pension and other benefits, the central bank noted. Palestinians entering Israel with a permit pay “significant” fees to Palestinian and Israeli labor contractors. Nevertheless, wages in Israel are considerably higher than in the West Bank, the Bank of Israel noted in an excerpt from its 2014 annual report released in advance. Palestinians with Israeli work permits earn an average of 186 shekels ($47) a day, compared with 87 shekels in the West Bank. Palestinians have been displacing foreign workers because they are more reliable and stay at their jobs longer, the central bank said. “In recent rounds of hostilities, including the period of Operation Protective Edge [last summer], the defense establishment allowed most Palestinian workers to continue to enter Israel on a regular basis,” the report said. “Such a policy diminishes one of the advantages that employment of foreign workers held over employment of Palestinian workers in the past.” The government has been easing the entry of West Bank Palestinians into Israel, for instance increasing the number of overnight-stay permits to around 14,000 from 10,000 last year, and lowering the minimum age for getting a work permit. Nevertheless, Israel only allows married men over age 24 into Israel to work.

Police: Suicide rates rose alarmingly in the West Bank in 2014
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Mar – Suicide and suicide attempts in the West Bank rose noticeably in 2014 and have become a serious phenomenon which necessitates studies to try and restrict it especially among youths and in the countryside, Palestinian police say.  Police spokesman Luay Irzeiqat told Ma‘an that police investigated 32 suicides in 2014 compared to 19 in 2013 and eight in 2012 marking an alarming jump of 400 percent since 2012.  According to police records, 22 people committed suicide by hanging themselves with ropes in 2014, while six jumped from heights, two took overdoses of pills, one took pesticides and one took poison.  The number of males was 21 compared to 11 females for the same year. Twelve of the Palestinians who committed suicide in 2014 were married men and women, and 20 were unmarried. The lowest suicide rate in 2014 was in refugee camps with only three cases out of 32, compared to 21 in the countryside and eight in cities. Hebron district in the southern West Bank had the highest rates with nine suicide cases followed by Nablus in the north with eight cases. Bethlehem in the south and Qalqiliya in the northwest had only one case each. The highest rate of suicide was among young people 18-25 with 34.3 percent and the lowest was among adults older than 46, according to police statistics. Psychological disorders topped the motives for suicide followed by family disputes, then emotional troubles. Financial troubles were also among the motives but to a very low degree, according to police.

Report: Arab women paid higher than men
Middle East Monitor 6 Mar — Arab women receive higher wages than men, a report released by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics to mark International Women’s Day which falls on 8 March revealed. According to the report, Arab women’s wages per hour are 6.1 per cent higher than men. The report pointed out that women spend more years in education than men; therefore they ultimately make more money. [However] Nearly 75 per cent of Arab women are unemployed including a majority of university graduates.

After decades of conflict, Israeli women say ‘enough’
JERUSALEM (AFP) 6 Mar by Delphine Matthieussent — As Israel readies for a general election, the issue of peace with the Palestinians has been noticeably absent from debate. But a group of women is seeking to change that. Braving intermittent rain to stand for hours outside Israel’s parliament building in Jerusalem this week, thousands of women, young and old, religious and secular, Arab and Jewish, chanted and waved placards, demanding a solution to the conflict be found, or at least discussed, by politicians. The Women Wage Peace organisation, formed after a devastating summer war in the Gaza Strip that killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 73 people on the Israeli side, are hoping their voice will be heard as Israelis go to the polls on March 17. “We’re the only non-partisan organisation which is working on the ground to bring new hope for peace, and bust the myth that there is no one we can talk to about it,” says Michal Shimar, a founder of the group. Women Wage Peace counts some 7,000 members, all female, and another 15,000 supporters mostly active on social media, Shimar says.The group’s aim is to push the next government, whichever that is, to resume peace talks with Palestinians and come to a final agreement that will end decades of often bloody conflict.

Jewish-Arab running group leaves race out of marathon
Times of Israel 5 Mar by Melanie Lidman — More than 25,000 people are expected to pound the pavement on March 13 for the fifth (full) Jerusalem marathon, including 2,200 from 60 countries other than Israel and 6,000 people running to raise money for charity. If you’re one of the participants, or cheering along the sidelines, keep your eyes peeled for a dozen teenage girls in white shirts. They may not be talking to each other, because they don’t speak the same language, but they’ll certainly be rooting for one another. The girls are members of a new running initiative called “Runners Without Borders” that brings Arab, Jewish, and Armenian girls together. But unlike other coexistence initiatives spearheaded by international groups or well-established organizations with executive boards and fundraising committees, the powerhouse behind this running group is a high school student and runner named Shoshana Ben-David from Jerusalem …  Ben-David previously participated in a Jewish-Arab summer art camp, so she had experience with cross-cultural dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel Lobby Watch: Did Rome college censor Ilan Pappe because of ‘Zionist intimidation’?
ROME (Electronic Intifada) 2 Mar by Stephanie Westbrook — Ilan Pappe, the outspoken Israeli historian, has criticized an Italian university for succumbing to “Zionist intimidation” by canceling a debate in which he was scheduled to take part. Just days before the 16 February debate was due to take place, the University of Rome III denied the event’s organizers use of its prestigious Center for Italian and French Studies for the debate. The event — dealing with the use and abuse of identity in Europe and the Middle East — did go ahead, but at a different venue. The last-minute cancelation is another case of preemptive muzzling by an institution of higher learning. “It is very disturbing to see how freedom of speech is framed in Europe,” Pappe told The Electronic Intifada. “Ridiculing the prophet Muhammad in cartoon is the litmus test for a society that cherishes freedom of speech; however an open candid conversation about Israel and Palestine is disallowed as an incitement.” … This is just one instance in a disturbing trend of efforts to shut down discussion of Palestinian rights and history in public spaces in Italy, and the more alarming tendency of authorities to succumb to pressure and unfounded accusations.

The story of a young man in the Israeli lobby
Middle East Monitor 2 Mar by Hossam Shaker — It is interesting that the AIPAC conference programme includes one session dedicated to a young Palestinian man. At first glance, it would seem as if the Israeli lobby in America was supporting peace and harmony, but there is no need to be optimistic. This young man was a “former Palestinian” who said that Israel is right in everything it does and that the violations committed by its army are legitimate; it is victim blaming and the glorification of the executioner. At first, the story may seem interesting; a Palestinian boy leaves his family, country and cause and attacks his culture under false justification spun by the occupation’s propaganda. In addition to this, he is also the son of a Palestinian Hamas leader and therein lies the extraordinariness of his story, making it very exciting. Those who have kept up with the story since its beginning, with the sudden emergence of the young man named Mosab, and then transforming the suspicious story into the book Son of Hamas/The Green Prince, followed by the efforts made to promote the book and the production of a film with the same title, would find themselves facing a hollow media bubble … The pro-Israeli propaganda tried to portray Mosab as an innocent boy whose conscience woke up and he emerged to tell the truth. However, this young man’s journey was not one of an awakened conscience, but a journey of falling into the grips of the Israeli intelligence, which lured him and used him to spy on his community. They then carried him up to the propaganda platform before the world to talk in the language of self-hate. (listserv) (archive)

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everything reported as ‘fact’ on MW except for “alleged” attempted murder of 5 women by Palestinian who rammed them with his car. noted.

Something to do motzei shabbat – By Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man |Published March 7, 2015 Tens of thousands in Tel Aviv demand Netanyahu’s ouster “Ten days before Israelis head to the polls, masses turn out in anti-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv. Latest polls put Zionist Camp ahead of Likud but it’s still unclear who can form a coalition. Tens of thousands of Israelis attended a rally to demand a new government Saturday night in Rabin Square.… Read more »

Another shocking round up and very depressing

The story about the PLO voting to cease security coordination with israel is actually a huge story. I also read it in the guardian and Al jazeera. I’m wondering if this is actually real or will Abbas veto it?

Thanks Kate