Media Analysis

Israeli forces injure and arrest Palestinians from Hebron area

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Violence / Raids / Clashes / Attacks / Arrests — West Bank / Jerusalem

IOF injures Palestinian worker in Occupied Jerusalem
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 15 Mar — A Palestinian young man from al-Khalil was moderately injured by Israeli army shooting in Occupied Jerusalem on Sunday.  Palestinian security sources told Quds Press that the 22-year-old young man Ihab Aref al-Tardah was transferred to hospital after being shot with a rubber[-coated metal] bullet fired by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) near a military checkpoint in Occupied Jerusalem. The sources disclosed that the youth was trying to cross the Israeli separation wall in order to reach his working place in the occupied city.
http://english.palinfo.com/site/pages/details.aspx?itemid=70658

On Video: Israeli soldiers raid homes, question kids as young as 9
TEL AVIV (NBC News, USA) 13? Mar by Paul Goldman — Masked and armed Israeli soldiers have been recorded forcefully entering Palestinian homes and waking up, photographing and questioning children as young as nine. The videos highlight Israeli efforts to track down young Palestinian rock throwers in the occupied West Bank, according to an Israeli rights group. “We are getting reports of nightly searches by soldiers demanding that Palestinian kids be woken up,” Sarit Michaeli, an activist working for B’Tselem human rights group, told NBC News. “The Palestinians in the West Bank live under Israeli military law so currently the army doesn’t need a warrant or permit to enter Palestinian homes.” … The soldiers who stormed Sameeh Daana’s home at around 1:30 a.m. on February 24 were all wearing black masks, the 45-year-old said. “They went into one room where nine-year-old Saddam was sleeping,” he said. “I kept asking them to let me wake him up while they were outside the room because he will be terrified if they woke him.” The army refused and woke up Saddam at rifle point, Daana said. “The soldiers questioned him in Hebrew and the boy doesn’t even understand Hebrew. They questioned him about throwing stones,” he added. His child wet himself in fear when the soldiers burst into the home, and still hasn’t fully recovered from the experience, Daana said. He added: “He has been living in a state of terror since then and he refuses to sleep alone but in his sister’s room.”
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/israeli-soldiers-raid-homes-question-kids-young-9-n322706

Israeli settler violently assaults Palestinian near Yatta
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 Mar — A Palestinian was assaulted by an Israeli settler east of Yatta in the Hebron governate late Friday, sustaining bruises on his head and across his body. Popular resistance activists said that Hani Badawi al-Dababseh, 24, was assaulted by an Israeli settler from the illegal Mitzpe Yair settlement using a sharp object. The sources added that al-Dababseh was taken to a medical center for treatment. The Israeli forces arrived to the area and took al-Dababseh’s statement regarding his assault, however an Israeli army spokeswoman did not have immediate information on the incident … Mitzpe Yair, home of al-Dababseh’s attacker, is one of four Israeli-sanctioned settlements in the South Hebron Hills and is considered illegal by the international community … While the settlements in the South Hebron Hills are supplied electricity by Israel, in addition to six Israeli outposts, Palestinian villages have been refused access to the power lines that criss-cross their land, and the army has torn down at least three attempts to connect to the Palestinian Authority supply.
http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?id=759889

Numerous West Bank raids, settler attacks on Saturday
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Mar — Israeli forces raided several homes in the occupied West Bank, on Saturday, while extremist settlers attacked Palestinian-owned cars and agricultural lands … In the Safa area of Beit Ummar, at a dawn raid on Saturday, Israeli forces detained one Palestinian man and delivered notices to three others to meet with Israeli intelligence, according to Ma‘an News Agency. Israeli forces abducted Yazan Ashraf Badawi Ikhleil, age 18, who previously spent several months in Israeli jails, as soldiers assaulted Yazan’s brother, Rami, 20, as they raided the Ikhleil family home. Spokesperson for a local popular committee in Beit Ummar, Muhammad Ayyad Awad, said the notices were delivered to 23-year-old Azmi Muhammad Azmi Ikhleil, who was released two months ago from an Israeli prison following three years in Israeli custody, as well as Majdi Adam Salem Ikhleil, 18, and Hassan Ali Hassan Adi, age 21. Israeli forces routinely conduct night raids on towns and villages throughout the occupied West Bank. Haaretz recently reported that the Israeli army carries out an average of 75 raids a week on West Bank Palestinian neighborhoods and villages. Beit Ummar, like many towns that endure night raids, is classified under the Oslo Accords as Area A, where the Palestinian Authority nominally has full civil and military authority.
This past Friday evening, six Palestinian citizens including four children were injured by live and rubber-coated metal bullets during the clashes with the Israeli forces in Silwad town, east of Ramallah. According to the PNN, medical sources reported that the clashes left 5 injuries by live fire, including 3 children and 2 young men, while one child was injured by rubber-coated metal bullets. Sources said that the injured were moved to Palestine’s medical complex in Ramallah.
In addition, seven Palestinians were injured during clashes between the Israeli forces near Al-Jalazon refugee camp, near Ramallah. A medical source in the ambulance services in Al-Jalazon camp reported that one of the youngsters, Malik Gawanmeh, 17, was seriously injured after an explosive bullet caliber hit his right leg which, the medical workers say, will probably be amputated. The sources also added that six Palestinian citizens were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets while others suffered from gas suffocation after the Israeli soldiers threw gas bombs at them during the clashes. A witness said that “more than 100 Israeli soldiers surrounded the camp and tried to subdue the demonstration”.
Meanwhile on Friday, a group of Israeli settlers attacked some Palestinian citizens’ vehicles and smashed its window glass south of Jenin, while many Palestinian citizens suffered from gas suffocation during the clashes with the Israeli soldiers in Al-‘Arqa village, near the city. Local and security sources reported that the settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles on the Jenin-Nablus road, near the illegal settlement of Homesh, under the protection of Israeli police.
http://www.imemc.org/article/70894

Palestinians suffocate during clashes with Israeli army near Jenin
JENIN (WAFA) 14 Mar – Several Palestinians Saturday suffocated by tear gas during clashes with Israeli forces in Fahma village to the south of Jenin, said security sources. Israeli forces raided Fahma village and cordoned it off before proceeding to occupy the rooftop of two local houses, turning them to a surveillance outpost, triggering clashes with locals. The houses belong to Muhammad Sa‘abna and Muhammad Nawasra. Forces opened fire on local houses and fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades at locals, causing dozens to suffocate due to inhaling excessive tear gas.Two suffocation cases were identified as Suhaila, 48, and Jumana Sa‘abna, 19.
http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=28073

Israel detains Palestinian, summons four for interrogation
HEBRON (WAFA) 14 Mar – Israeli forces detained overnight a Palestinian and summoned four others from the Hebron area, said security sources and local activist. Israeli forces raided overnight al-Samou‘ town to the south of the city, where they detained a local and summoned another one. Soldiers detained Yousef Abu ‘Aqil after breaking into and ransacking his house. They also handed Rami al-Ju‘beh a notice summoning him to appear before the Israeli intelligence after breaking into and ransacking his house in Hebron city.  Meanwhile, forces raided Beit Ummar town to the north of the city, where they summoned three Palestinians for interrogation. According to spokesperson for the local Popular Committee against Settlements Muhammad ‘Awad, troops handed Hasan Adi, 21,‘Azmi, 23, and Majdi Ikhlil, 18, notices ordering them to appear before intelligence after breaking into their families’ houses. They also raided several Hebron neighborhoods and Sa‘ir town, and set up roadblocks at the entrances of Sa‘ir and Halhul, where they stopped vehicles with Palestinian registration plates travelling along the roads and examined passengers’ ID cards.
http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=28071

Six teens, one adult detained by the army near Jenin
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Mar — Israeli soldiers detained, on Saturday evening, six Palestinian teens and one adult, from the al-‘Arqa village, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. The Palestinian District Coordination Office (DCO) managed to secure their release. The DCO said Israeli soldiers kidnapped ‘Orwa Mohammad Hammad, 17, Tareq Mohammad Wakid, 16, Baha’ Mohammad Yahia, 17, Qoteiba Ehad Hammad, 17, Ahmad ‘Adnan Saleh, 17, Mohammad Ahmad Zeid, 13, and Ahmad Kamal Yahia, 35.  The Seven Palestinians were taken prisoner near a section of the Israeli Annexation Wall, west of Jenin. Head of the DCO Office in Jenin and Tubas, Lieutenant Mojahed Abu Dayya, said his office contacted the Israeli DCO and insisted on the release of the seven Palestinians, especially since the area witnessed no clashes or confrontation with the army during, and prior to, the time of abduction. Abu Dayya called on the Palestinians to instantly inform DCO offices of similar incidents, so that they can act on releasing them before the army moves the kidnapped Palestinians to interrogation centers.
http://www.imemc.org/article/70897

Three kidnapped in Jerusalem, West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Mar — At least three Palestinians were kidnapped, on Sunday, by Israeli occupational military and police during predawn raids in Jerusalem and Jenin, according to local and security sources. Witnesses told WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency that Israeli police broke into the Jerusalem neighborhood of al-‘Issawiya, and arrested two Palestinians after raiding and searching their homes. The two were identified as Moath and Omar Ebeid. Meanwhile, the Israeli army stormed the village of Jalboun, east of Jenin, and abducted a local resident after raiding and searching his house, as well as seizing his computer. The man was identified as 22-year-old Ahmad Abul-Rob. Soldiers also broke into the nearby town of Ya‘bad and detained a teenager for several hours. 16-year-old Hamam Abu Baker was subjected to intense interrogation by the army before he was released. In Hebron, army forces broke into the city and the nearby town of Bani Na‘im, where they handed notices to three local residents to appear for interrogation.
http://www.imemc.org/article/70901

4 Palestinian girls arrested at al-Aqsa compound, 1 assaulted
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — Israeli forces arrested four Palestinian girls outside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and another girl inside on Sunday, witnesses said, on a day in which dozens of right-wing Jewish Israelis entered the compound. Witnesses told Ma’an that 16-year-old Ayah Abu Nab was arrested at the al-Aqsa compound’s Chain Gate as she attempted to enter, while Ayah al-Zaghal, 12, Anhar al-Ajlouni, 12, and Randas Abu Sneina, whose age is unclear, were detained as they were leaving by the same gate. The four were taken to a nearby police station. In a separate incident, Israeli police physically assaulted a 10-year-old Palestinian girl, Hadil al-Rajabi, inside the al-Aqsa compound. Sources inside the Palestinian Ministry of Endowment’s Jerusalem office, which is based inside the compound, told Ma‘an that when the officers assaulted the girl, a Palestinian security guard, Abd al-Rahman al-Sharif, intervened to defend her and was also assaulted.
http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?id=759908

Prisoners / Court actions

Detainee suffers memory loss, slurred speech, blurred eyesight
IMEMC 15 Mar by Saed Bannoura — The Palestinian Detainees Studies Center has reported that detainee Mansour Yousef Shahateet, 28, from the southern West Bank city of Hebron, has been severely tortured by Israeli interrogators, leading to memory loss, slurred speech and blurred eyesight. The detainee, from Doura town south of Hebron, sentenced to 18 years, was violently beaten and tortured by undercover Israeli forces and interrogators in prison, and has been held in solitary confinement, his family said. The Studies Center quoted the detainee’s mother stating, after recently visiting with her detained son, that Shahateet was unable to recognize her, had blurred speech and weak eyesight. “My son also suffers from arrhythmia, respiratory issues and a broken leg,” the mother said, “He never has any health issue, or diseases, prior to his imprisonment.” Ra‘fat Hadouna, an expert in detainees’ affairs, held the Israeli prison authority responsible for the Shahateet’s deteriorating health condition, and called in legal and human rights groups to intervene and ensure he receives the needed specialized medical attention.
http://www.imemc.org/article/70896

Israel tortures 95% of Palestinians it arrests
teleSUR 11 Mar — Torture of Palestinian prisoners has been legal in Israel since 1999, despite the country being a signatory of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel tortures about 95 percent of the Palestinian prisoners it holds in prisons, including minors, women and even ill detainees, the former Minister of Detainees Qaddoura Fari, who is also the head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (Nadi Al-Asir), said Wednesday. Fari disagreed with the estimations of a previous report published Friday in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, arguing their information was based on reports from the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet, which is responsible for torturing Palestinian detainees. Torture of Palestinian prisoners became legal in Israel in 1999 when a high court of justice ruled that interrogation methods described as “torture” could be used when it was for the “need of defense,” and in situations in which a detainee was considered a “ticking bomb.” According to the law, prisoners can be interrogated for up to 180 days, a detailed report from the Council for European Relations revealed. The study detailed the torture methods used by the Israeli security forces, including deprivation of sleep, standing in difficult positions, or being exposed to extreme temperatures for prolonged periods of time. It added that the techniques used are conceived to avoid visible marks on prisoners.
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Israel-Tortures-95-of-Palestinians-It-Arrests-20150311-0019.html

Hares boys mark two years behind bars for alleged stone-throwing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — Sunday marked two years since five boys from the northern West Bank village of Hares were arrested over an alleged stone-throwing incident that saw all five charged with attempted murder, despite strongly contested evidence. The five Palestinian teenagers, aged 16 to 17 at the time of their arrest, each face 20 charges of attempted murder and potential life imprisonment for allegedly throwing rocks. Their arrests on Mar. 15, 2013 followed the hospitalization of a three-year-old Israeli girl, Adele Biton, who suffered severe head injuries when her mother’s car collided with a truck near the Israeli mega settlement of Ariel. Israeli police said her vehicle stopped abruptly after being hit with stones, and accused the five boys of having thrown stones that day at Israeli vehicles driving on Route 5, the highway leading to several nearby Israeli settlements. Twenty Israeli drivers afterwards filed insurance claims stating that stones hit their cars, but there was no eyewitness testimony of the incidents and the police received no calls at the time the boys were allegedly throwing stones. All five boys denied the allegations, but later signed confessions “after being repeatedly abused in prison and during interrogations,” according to “Hares Boys,” an activist blog dedicated to raising awareness of their case. Another boy, then 16, who was arrested along with the five but later released, described his ordeal in a report [#451 on this page] published by the International Women’s Peace Service, an organization that monitors human rights … One of the boys who remains in detention, Ali Shamlawi, was reportedly told upon his arrest to “kiss and hug your mother goodbye. You may never see her again.” The Hares Boys blog wrote in their defense in 2013: “If the boys are convicted, this case would set a legal precedent which would allow the Israeli military to convict any Palestinian child or youngster for attempted murder in cases of stone-throwing.” It added: “The boys are now 16 to 17 years old. If the Israeli military get their way, the boys would only return to their homes and their families at the age of 41.” The five boys are Ali Shamlawi, Muhammad Kleib, Muhammad Suleiman, Ammar Souf and Tamer Souf.
http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?id=759903

Men seized in Israeli raid on Jericho prison mark 9 years behind bars
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Mar — Seven Palestinian men remain in Israeli detention nine years after they were illegally detained during an Israeli attack on a Palestinian prison in Jericho, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a report released on Saturday. The report highlighted the dismal prison conditions faced by Ahmad Saadat, secretary-general of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, as well as Ahed Abu Ghalma, Hamdi Qaraan, Basel Asmar, Majdi al-Rimawi, Yasser Abu Turki, and 75-year-old Fuad Shubaki, who is the oldest Palestinian prisoner currently serving time in Israeli prison. The group was arrested on Mar. 14, 2006 as part of the Israeli military operation “Bringing Home the Goods,” which involved an attack on a prison run by the Palestinian Authority where the men were being held. According to the PPS report, Abla Saadat, wife of Ahmad Saadat, said she has recently been banned by the Israeli authorities from visiting her husband, and most of his relatives have been prevented from visiting him since he was detained. Hazem Shubaki, Fuad Shubaki’s son, said that his 75-year-old father is suffering from difficult health conditions, which are deteriorating due to the living conditions in prison. He said his family is awaiting their father’s return, especially after their mother passed away four years ago without having had a chance to say goodbye to her husband. Shubaki added that the Israeli authorities only allow him to visit his father once a year.
http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?id=759888

State indicts alleged Palestinian terrorist tackled by Mayor Barkat
Jerusalem Post 15 Mar by Yonah Jeremy Bob — The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office on Sunday filed an indictment with the Jerusalem District Court Juvenile Division against a 17-year-old Palestinian for an attempted terrorist attack partially halted when the minor was tackled by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. The Palestinian was videoed stabbing a 30-year-old haredi man at IDF Square in Jerusalem on February 22, before being subdued by Barkat. Multiple spectators referred to Barkat as the “super” mayor following the incident. The Palestinian’s name is being kept under gag order since he is a minor, though initial reports had estimated his age at 19 years old. The defendant was also indicted for separate counts of throwing Molotov cocktails, an improvised explosive pipe, firecrackers and stones at soldiers near the Atarot checkpoint during Operation Protective Edge. According to the indictment, the Palestinian broke through a loose point in the West Bank barrier at some earlier point in February. Next, the indictments said he stole a knife from a store near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem and walked to IDF Square.
When he saw the Haredi man, he attacked him, stabbing him in the chest to try to kill him, said the indictment.
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/State-indicts-alleged-Palestinian-terrorist-tackled-by-Jerusalem-Mayor-Barkat-393984

Gaza

26 of our favorite #AskHamas tweets
Middle East Monitor 15 Mar — On Friday, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas launched a social media campaign, #AskHamas, to reach out to the world. The campaign was launched given the imminent deadline for appeals against an EU court ruling that the movement should be taken off the EU’s list of “terrorist organisations”. The campaign has however attracted an unprecedented number of trolls, spamming the feeds for #AskHamas. Below are some of the best #AskHamas questions and comebacks.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/17528-our-favourite-askhamas-tweets

3rd time in 4 days: Israeli troops open fire at Gaza farmers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — Israeli troops stationed along the border with the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning opened fire toward Palestinian farmers working on their lands on the eastern outskirts of Khan Younis, witnesses told Ma‘an. The soldiers fired gunshots and smoke bombs at agricultural lands and into residential neighborhoods from military watchtowers east of the village of Khuza‘a, forcing farmers to leave their fields. No casualties were reported as a result of the attack, which is the third such incident in the area since Thursday. Khuza‘a is a small agricultural town that was severely damaged by Israel during the summer assault, when more than half of the village’s homes were destroyed and dozens of civilians reportedly killed in three days of intense shelling.
Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire toward Palestinian civilians near the border in the five months since the signing of a ceasefire agreement that ended a more than 50-day assault by Israel on Gaza that left around 2,200 dead and 11,000 injured. The attacks come despite Israeli promises at the end of the ceasefire that restrictions on Palestinian access to the border region would be lessened. The “security buffer zone” before the Israeli assault extended between 500 meters and 1,500 meters into the Strip, effectively turning local farms into no-go zones. According to UNOCHA, 17 percent of Gaza’s total land area and 35 percent of its agricultural land were within the buffer zone as of 2010, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of more than 100,000 Gazans. During the war, the buffer zone covered nearly half of the entire Gaza Strip, but immediately following the cessation of hostilities was reduced to former levels, with promises that it would be pulled back further.
http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=759900

Just 6 months after war, Hamas says Gaza bases near borders rebuilt
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — The military wing of Hamas on Saturday said that it had rebuilt a number of military bases near the Israeli border in the Gaza Strip, asserting that it had recovered from Israel’s summer offensive and was “not afraid” of confronting the occupation again. “No sooner has the war come to an end, than the al-Qassam Brigades started a new stage of the conflict in preparation for the battle of liberation,” a report on the official website of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades said. The report said that fighters from the group had rebuilt military training sites near the border in the north, east, and west of the Gaza Strip, giving lie to Israeli claims that “Operation Protective Edge” in July-August 2014 had caused the group serious damage. Israel’s aim in the operation had been to end rocket fire from Gaza, which Hamas says comes in response to Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip … The report released by Hamas Saturday quoted a military official as saying that the group plans to continue military training near the border “without fear of the occupation’s threats.” The official added that the training sites were being developed and enlarged so they could host all “the training the mujahedeen could need.”
http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?id=759905

Hamas completes reconstruction of its naval commando force
teleSUR 15 Mar — During the last Israeli attacks on Gaza last summer, most of the navy members were killed, but Hamas has trained new forces. Palestine’s Hamas resistance movement has completed the reconstruction of its naval commando force composed of dozens of trained divers whose purpose would be to attack strategic targets in Israel, local media reported Saturday. During the Israeli’s summer of 2014 disproportionate attacks on Gaza, most of the Hamas navy members were killed, according to Palestine authorities, however Hamas has trained a new force whose role will be to protect the besieged enclave from further Tel Aviv attacks. According to a government source, the Israeli regime has expressed concern about this situation, since Hamas can use the sea as a long tunnel extending from Gaza in Israel’s south to Rosh Hanikra in the north border with Lebanon. Tel Aviv has already announced that it has deployed a series of “maritime obstacles” in order to counter Hamas’ approach by sea. Israel’s ally Egypt has also expressed concern saying the naval commando unit is intended to harm its gas facilities in the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, the Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar issued a statement saying that his organization was not planning to wage underwater warfare in the region. But both Egypt and Israel have strict security measures that include orders to shoot and destroy Gazan fishing boats that approach them without prior notification.
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Hamas-Completes-Reconstruction-of-Its-Naval-Commando-Force-20150315-0001.html

Gaza police deny Egypt army firing at Palestinian sites
World Bulletin 14 Mar — The Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip on Saturday refuted claims Egyptian army troops had opened fire on Palestinian sites near Egypt’s border with the Palestinian territory. “It is untrue that the Egyptian army had opened fire on Palestinian National Security sites near the Egyptian-Palestinian border,” The ministry said in a statement. “The shootings took place within Egyptian territories,” the ministry said, stressing that “borders with Egypt remain stable and quiet.” Local media in the Gaza Strip had quoted eyewitnesses as saying that Egyptian army forces had opened fire on Palestinian security sites on Friday night.  Gaza’s security forces, which remain under the control of Palestinian movement Hamas, have recently boosted reinforcements on the border between Egypt and southern Gaza in a move that aims to stabilize the area, according to Hamas leaders.
http://www.worldbulletin.net/news/156538/gaza-police-deny-egypt-army-firing-at-palestinian-sites

New Gaza War report praises Israel’s efforts to minimize civilian casualties
JNS.org
13 Mar – A new report on last summer’s Gaza war praises Israel’s efforts to minimize civilian casualties. The report, titled “2014 Gaza War Assessment: The New Face of Conflict,” was commissioned by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and featured a task force of several retired American military officials — headed by General Charles Wald, former deputy commander of the United States European Command — as well as several legal and international affairs experts.  According to the report, Israel “systemically applied established rules of conduct that adhered to or exceeded the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) in a virtually unprecedented effort to avoid inflicting civilian casualties, even when doing so would have been lawfully permitted, and to satisfy the concerns of critics.” Describing Hamas as having the “hybrid” capabilities of a non-state force equipped with advanced weapons, the report slammed the Gaza-based Palestinian terror group for endangering civilians and manipulating the international community to apply pressure on Israel “to terminate legitimate defensive military action.”
http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/03/13/new-gaza-war-report-praises-israel%E2%80%99s-efforts-to-minimize-civilian-casualties/

Hamas says videos reveal PA collaborators who helped Israel kill resistance fighters
Electronic Intifada 15 Mar by Ali Abunimah — Hamas on Saturday released a series of videos which it says contain confessions by agents working for the Palestinian Authority who passed information to Israel that was used to attack the Gaza Strip. In at least one case, Hamas says that information a collaborator passed to his PA handler was used by Israel to target and kill one of its members. One of the videos contains what Hamas says are confessions from PA officers that they were behind a recent series of car burnings that were intended to sow chaos and instability in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has dismissed the Hamas claims. – Confessions of a collaborator?- One video shows a person who is described as “one of the spies collaborating with the Preventive Security who was arrested due to his suspicious behavior of monitoring resistance fighters” during last summer’s Israeli assault on Gaza….
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/hamas-says-videos-reveal-pa-collaborators-who-helped-israel-kill-resistance

Abbas approved Gaza chaos plan
Middle East Monitor 14 Mar — IMAGES & VIDEO — A leaked document has revealed that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas approved a plan prepared by his intelligence services to cause chaos in the Gaza Strip. The document in question is a letter sent by intelligence chief Majed Faraj to Abbas briefing him about the plan, which was based on his coordination with intelligence officers in Gaza. The letter was dated November last year and is written on a PA letterhead. One of the signatories is Faraj with what is believed to be Azzam Al-Ahmad’s signature; he is the Fatah official responsible for reconciliation with Hamas. According to the Palestinian news agency Safa, which was the first news outlet to publish the document, Faraj briefed Abbas on the details of his plan, telling him that it would be a “snowballing, precise” operation. His intelligence officials would form security cells to set fire to cars in order to convey a message of insecurity in Gaza. These cells would also target Hamas, other factions and civil institutions to “embarrass” the Islamic movement. They would also target leaders affiliated to the dismissed Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan, as well houses belonging to Fatah officials loyal to Abbas. The second measure would use social media to publish inflammatory statements bearing names of different groups adopting such activities. The mass media loyal to Abbas would exaggerate the issue when they report the chaos in Gaza, blaming Hamas for what is going on. The third measure would see Fatah contacting all Palestinian factions, including Islamic Jihad, to brief them about what is going on in the beleaguered territory. All of what the letter reveals has already happened.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/17516-abbas-approved-gaza-chaos-plan

Egypt power company to fix line feeding Gaza Strip
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 14 Mar — The Egyptian electricity distribution company sent a team of technicians to fix the power line that provides electricity to Gaza on Saturday, after a failure plunged the coastal strip’s southern Rafah area into darkness on Friday. An Egyptian military source said that the power cable, which runs from el-Arish power plant and provides power to al-Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai and to Gaza, failed due to an electrical overload. The team of technicians arrived under heavily armed security in the area, which has seen a spate of violent attacks. Gaza currently receives electricity from the Egyptian electricity grid, the Israeli electric company, and from a power station inside Gaza. However, these supply lines fall far short of the Gazan population’s needs. While they provide 230 MW of electricity, it has been estimated that the Gazan people require 350 to 450 MW. In July last year, Egypt agreed to increase its supply from 27 to 32 MW.  However, relations have been strained between the Egyptian government and Hamas, which Egypt accuses of aiding anti-government militants in the Sinai region.
http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?id=759894

Kerem Shalom cargo trucks protest low fares
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — Truck owners whose carriers deliver goods into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing suspended work on Sunday to protest insufficient fares. Jihad Isleim, secretary-general of the Gaza Association of Private Transportation, told reporters that truck owners were hoping to urge the Gaza government to enforce a recently approved fare increase. The Hamas-led government recently raised the minimum fare paid by companies importing goods from 12 shekels per ton of goods to 15 shekels. However, the increase has not yet been enforced. Isleim said the current tariff is causing losses to truck owners. Severe border restrictions on imports and exports into Gaza have led to a collapse of the tiny coastal enclave’s economy, but small amounts of goods are allowed in through Kerem Shalom.
http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?id=759907

Qatar calls for honoring Gaza financial pledges
Middle East Monitor 15 Mar — Mohammed al-Amadi, the head of the Qatari Committee to Rebuild the Gaza Strip, on Saturday called on the international community to fulfil the financial pledges it made for the Gaza Strip during a conference in Egyptian capital Cairo late last year. In an exclusive interview with the Anadolu Agency, al-Amadi said that many countries had repeatedly pledged to provide aid for the reconstruction of the Palestinian territory, but that they had yet to fulfil their promises. Al-Amadi, currently on a visit to Gaza, said that Qatar was working “tirelessly” to encourage these countries to shoulder their responsibility toward the embattled enclave. “They [the countries which pledged support] did not honor their pledges in the past, and we’re currently trying to convince the international community to fulfill these pledges,” Al-Amadi said. “Early signs have been positive in this regard: Washington has earmarked $10 million for rebuilding Gaza, while Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and several European countries are going to provide assistance,” he added.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/17523-qatar-calls-for-honoring-gaza-financial-pledges

12 years a prisoner: A Gaza love story
GAZA CITY (+972 Blog) 14 Mar by Abeer Ayyoub — At a modest dressmaking shop in downtown Gaza City, the tailor makes the final touches on Haya Asaad’s classic tight wedding dress. But Asaad isn’t your typical bride: an Israeli court kept her wedding on hold for more than 12 years while her fiancé was behind bars. The story began when Asaad, now 30, was studying business administration. Eyad was a teacher at the same school, and the young couple immediately fell in love. Eyad proposed after only two months; everything went well until the day the two were due to register their marriage at a religious court. Eyad had totally disappeared. Not knowing her fiancé took part in operations against Israel, Asaad didn’t learn anything about Eyad’s whereabouts or condition for three months. He had allegedly been arrested by the Israelis, something she never believed until he called her confirming the rumors. “I immediately hung up the phone. I couldn’t imagine myself talking to someone in an Israeli prison,” Asaad told this reporter on a stroll through Gaza City. “I thought this would put my family life in danger.” Eyad never seemed like a fighter. “He was such a funny and fashionable man; he never talked about resistance or such issues,” Asaad says.
http://972mag.com/12-years-a-prisoner-a-gaza-love-story/104256/

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization

Arab village of Dahmash fears being wiped off Israel’s map
DAHMASH, Israel (Middle East Eye) 11 Mar by Jonathan Cook — Dahmash residents say they are being targeted because they are the only Palestinian community that remains in central Israel — According to Israel’s official records, the 600 inhabitants of Dahmash village live a single building – one that no longer exists. The villagers’ story may sound like the basis for a sinister fairy tale, but their plight is all too real. Next week their case reaches Israel’s highest court and the outcome is likely to decide whether Dahmash, survives or is destroyed. For decades officials have refused to recognise the village’s 70 actual homes, trapped between the towns of Ramle and Lod, and only 20 minutes’ drive from Tel Aviv, Israel’s most vibrant city. Arafat Ismail, the village leader, said that while industrial parks, shopping malls and estates of luxury villas had sprung up all around them, Dahmash’s residents had been treated like “illegal squatters”. Deprived of recognition in their own village, all the families have been registered as living in a building on the edge of the neighbouring town of Ramle. However, that house was destroyed years ago as nearby rail and road arteries expanded. “Now, unless we can stop them, the authorities will wipe our real homes off the map too,” said Ismail, aged 54.  – ‘Stick in their throat’ – What distinguishes Dahmash from the communities around it is that it is Arab, an apparently unwelcome relic from a time when the country was called Palestine. Dahmash’s inhabitants belong to Israel’s large Palestinian minority, which is descended from those who managed to remain inside the borders of the new state of Israel in 1948. Today, these 1.5 million Palestinian citizens comprise a fifth of Israel’s population, but complain of systematic discrimination. Most of their deprived communities are to be found in Israel’s so-called peripheries, in the north or south, out of view of most Israeli Jews. But located in the midst of Tel Aviv and its satellite towns, “Dahmash is like a stick in their throat,” said Ali Shaaban, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, who raises sheep and goats in the village. His own smartly appointed, two-storey home is one of 16 that face immediate demolition if the villagers lose next week’s court hearing … Such fears have only been heightened by bellicose statements from local officials. Yoel Lavi, Ramle’s long-time mayor, told a journalist in 2006 that the government should send in special armed units and military bulldozers as it does in the occupied territories. “When you give the first shock with the crane everyone runs from their houses, don’t worry,” he said.
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/arab-village-dahmash-fears-being-wiped-israel-s-map-1281091020

Israel prepares to evict Palestinian family in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 Mar — Israeli forces surrounded a Palestinian home in the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday in preparation to evict the family from the property, the owners told Ma‘an. Rafat Sub Laban told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the property in the Old City early Monday and ordered the family to leave the house. The family refused, and Israeli forces brought in equipment to remove the front door. The family’s lawyer managed to delay the eviction for two hours in order to obtain a court order to halt the evacuation. The Sub Laban family rented the property in 1956 from the Jordanian government and since that time have been paying rent as “protected tenants,” Rafat said. Settler group Ateret Cohanim filed a petition in 2010 claiming that the property was empty. The family have repeatedly filed appeals against the decision, and a local Israeli court is expected to rule in May.
http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=759916

The West Bank battle for land — and water
WESA radio, Pittsburgh 14 Mar by Emily Harris — On Moshav Na’ama, a big Israeli farm in the West Bank inside the wide Jordan Valley, Inon Rosenblum raises fresh herbs for export. He hires Palestinians to work the fields and pack the crops. The farm is 300 feet below sea level, a desert climate where irrigation is mandatory. Rosenblum won’t say exactly how much water he uses, or exactly where it comes from. “From wells,” he says. “In the mountains.” Then he changes the subject. Water is such a touchy subject here that when a European politician last year brought up disparities between the amounts used by settlers and the amounts available to Palestinians, several Israeli politicians walked out of his speech to parliament.
Sometimes Palestinians take matters into their own hands. Twenty minutes along a highway from Moshav Na’ama, Eed Khamis serves tea to guests in his living room — a plywood shack in a village of makeshift homes. He was born here in the scruffy desert hills between Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, part of a Bedouin tribe evicted from Israel in the 1950s. This encampment now gets water piped in from Israel’s national water company. But Khamis says when settlements first cropped up on the nearby hills, water the Bedouin had previously used was diverted. So they pounded holes in the pipes with nails, he says, and carried the water home. Eventually, Khamis claims, the water company sat down to bargain. “The Israeli water company said we will give you water, so long as no one makes a hole in the pipe,” he says. “This is a strong victory for us.”
http://wesa.fm/post/west-bank-battle-land-and-water

Settlers uproot 70 olive trees in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 14 Mar – Israeli settlers Saturday uprooted dozens of Palestinian-owned olive trees in Khlit al-Adra area in Hebron, according to a local activist. Rateb Jabour, of the Anti-Settlement Committee in Hebron, told WAFA that settlers from the Israeli settlement of Maon, built illegally on Palestinian land in Hebron’s Yatta town, uprooted around 70 olive trees belonging to the family of Shahin. He said that settlers, with the protection of Israeli soldiers, tend to target Palestinians and their properties in the area for the benefit of expanding nearby illegal settlements.
http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=28072

Israeli settlers uproot olive saplings south of Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 14 Mar – Israeli settlers Saturday uprooted a number of olive saplings belonging to a local Palestinian resident in al-Khader village to the south of Bethlehem, said a local activist. Coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlement Ahmad Salah told WAFA that, protected by Israeli forces, a group of settlers forced a Palestinian farmer to leave his farmland located the west of the town and adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlement outpost of ‘Sidi Boaz’ before proceeding to uproot a number of olive saplings. The land belongs to Ahmad Sbeih, 48.
http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=28069

Anger in Hebron as Israeli FM visits Ibrahimi Mosque
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — Hebron governor Kamel Hamid on Sunday condemned a visit by the Israeli foreign minister to the Ibrahimi Mosque earlier in the day, calling it part of a “growing call for desecration of holy places and the creation of chaos.” He also accused Lieberman — the second Israeli leader to visit the flashpoint Palestinian city this week — of “sabotaging the stability that the Palestinian National Authority has created in the city.” Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman visited the mosque, known as the Cave of the Patriarchs in English, as part of his outreach to the extremist Jewish settler vote that forms an important constituency for his Yisrael Beitenu (“Israel is Our Home”) party, and comes amid the last days of Israel’s election season. The visit also came only a week after he said that disloyal Palestinians should have their heads chopped off, comments made during an election rally in the coastal city of Herzliya that raised ire among Palestinians but went widely unremarked upon in the Hebrew-language press. During Sunday’s visit, Lieberman was quoted by the Israeli press as saying that Hebron, a West Bank city where a few hundred Jewish settlers have forcibly taken over a few areas in the overwhelmingly Palestinian center, is a Jewish city and will remain as such … Hebron governor Kamel Hamid called Lieberman’s comments a threat to cancel the 1997 agreement that split Hebron.
http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?id=759909

Restrictions on movement

Israeli forces detain Palestinian businessman at Erez
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Mar — Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian trader at the Erez crossing late Sunday, the Palestinian liaison office said. Muhsin Hamdouna, an electronics salesman, was detained while attempting to cross the border, despite having a valid permit.  In the past two months, Israeli forces at the crossing have detained at least 15 Palestinian businessmen, with 13 still being held in prison custody.  “The Erez crossing has become a trap for Gaza merchants who have newly received entry permits from Israel,” a Palestinian liaison official told Ma‘an. Israel, he added, has recently started to issue entry permits to new Gaza traders while veteran businessmen are being denied entry. It is unclear why Hamdouna was detained. Palestinians arrested at Erez are usually interrogated for several hours, sometimes even for days, before they are either allowed into Israel en route to the West Bank or sent back to Gaza.
http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=759914

Jerusalem lawyer denied access to the city until September 9
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Mar by Saed Bannoura — The Israeli Authorities handed, Sunday, a Palestinian attorney from occupied Jerusalem, a military order preventing him from entering the entire city for six months, in the period between Match, 10 and September 9, 2015. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) said attorney Khaled Zabarqa received the Israeli order, Sunday, informing him “under the Emergency Law,” he “will be denied access to the entire city of Jerusalem, except into his office in Beit Hanina.”  The order included two maps defining all areas he will not be allowed into, which is the entire city of Jerusalem, and the route he must take to reach his office. Eyal Eisenberg, the head of the Israel Army’s Home Front, signed the order that included the attached maps. Zabarqa, member of the Political Bureau of the Islamic Movement, said that order quoted Sections 6, 108, 109 and 110 of the British Emergency law of 1945. In his order, Eisenberg said he believes that the issue is important for what he called “maintaining the security of the state, the public, and law and order; therefore, Zabarqa will not be allowed into all designated areas of Jerusalem as shown in the attached map that is considered an essential part of the order itself.” The order also designated a specific route Zabarqa must take to get to his office in Beit Hanina under all circumstances, for the entire period of the prohibition from March 10 2015 until September 9 2015.
http://www.imemc.org/article/70910

Otherwise Occupied: Israel gives Palestinians a reason to get older / Amira Hass
Haaretz 16 Mar — Palestinians will now be able to leave the West Bank without exit permits, provided they’re women over 50 or men over 55. Your best chance of getting out of Gaza, though, is if you’re a tomato or eggplant — Here is some good news: Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories (“Our prime minister,” as a high-ranking Palestinian official puts it), announced last Thursday that the minimum age for Palestinian residents of the West Bank who are allowed to enter Israel without a permit was being lowered – to 55 for men, 50 for women … Setting a minimum age threshold for entrants not only does away with the need for an exit and entry permit – a waste of time and, some say, humiliation from having to request a permit to travel in your own country, your own homeland, to enter the Palestinian capital, Jerusalem. It also does away with the mantra that has been in use since 1991, when Israel started its own pass system – obliging Palestinians to ask for a personal permit to cross the Green Line. The mantra was that the applicant needed a reason to leave: work, commerce, illness, family, or if he was under the auspices of an important organization and could prove he was a PA official, member of the clergy, or employee of an international NGO. Now the older ones can just use their right to free movement and go wherever they choose, without a special reason or reporting it. Of course, the ones permitted to travel are only those who are not “prevented for security reasons.” This is a vague term, and the criteria for determining who may or may not travel for security reasons lack transparency. Experience shows that, often, they can be close relatives of someone who was killed by Israel Defense Forces gunfire; or participants in a demonstration; or activists in political groups that are not Fatah – and Shin Bet security service officers have put an X in their files. If someone is not allowed to travel freely for security-related reasons, he will only discover this at the checkpoint. But let us rejoice for the ones who are middle-aged and older, and have no such X next to their names….
http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/.premium-1.647019

Palestinian refugees

Uprooted by Israel, abandoned by the world: the plight of Palestine’s refugees
SAN FRANCISCO (Electronic Intifada) 10 Mar by Charlotte Silver — Hisham has spent his 23 years in ‘Aida refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. He lives there with his parents, and has watched all but one of his seven siblings grow up, marry and make their own lives and homes. Living in a camp run by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, Hisham and his family receive basic assistance: a monthly food subsidy, education and medical services. They do not receive the protections to which refugees are entitled under international law. That much became clear when Hisham tried to move to Canada five years ago. After his brother, Muhammad, married a Canadian woman, Hisham sought to join them in Vancouver. Hisham applied for asylum in Canada on the basis that he is a Palestinian refugee. When making his application, he produced a certificate issued by UNRWA. Yet the Canadian government turned down his application, arguing that the certificate was not proof that he was recognized as a refugee. The episode illustrates how Palestinians are afforded less protection than refugees from other countries, a longstanding problem analyzed in a new publication by the Palestinian refugee advocacy group Badil. For decades there have been two separate UN agencies for the world’s refugees: one for Palestinians, the other for everybody else. UNRWA is tasked with providing basic services to refugees from Palestine. Issues relating to other refugees are handled by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The establishment of two separate agencies occurred at the middle of the twentieth century amid fiery debate. Europe was reeling from mass displacement created by the Second World War. Arab states insisted that a separate agency dedicated solely to Palestinians be formed to ensure Palestinians wouldn’t be lost in the chaos of Europe’s post-war upheaval. The right of Palestinians to return to their homes was supposed to be guaranteed. – Loss of safeguard – In September 1948, Folke Bernadotte, a Swedish diplomat, recommended the establishment of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP). One day after making that recommendation, Bernadotte, the UN Security Council’s first mediator in Palestine, was assassinated by the Zionist militia group Lehi….
http://electronicintifada.net/content/uprooted-israel-abandoned-world-plight-palestines-refugees/14330

Other news / Opinion / Analysis / Reviews

Hamas official blasts PA failure to hold new elections
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahhar on Saturday accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of failing to fulfill his promise to hold elections for the Palestinian parliament. In a televised interview with the Hamas-affiliated al-Aqsa TV channel aired Saturday evening, Zahhar rejected Abbas’ invitation to Hamas to sign a document pledging to take part in presidential and parliamentary elections. He demanded that instead of asking Hamas to sign new agreements, the president uphold his own responsibilities to hold the elections as outlined by the Cairo agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas in 2012. The statement signals ongoing disagreements between the two largest Palestinian parties regarding the future of the government of national unity currently in place, less than a year after its formation was agreed upon to much fanfare.
http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?id=759902

Tony Blair to step back from role as Middle East peace envoy – report
The Guardian 15 Mar by Rowena Mason — Tony Blair is to step back from his role as a peace envoy for the Middle East, according to a report. The Financial Times said the former prime minister is preparing to change his role as envoy for the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators in a move that could be announced this week. The quartet consists of the UN, the EU, Russia and the US. Sources told the newspaper that he is embarking on negotiations to “recast” his role while remaining involved in the peace process.He is said to have met John Kerry, US secretary of state, and Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, to discuss a possible job change. A US-led push to revive the Middle East peace process collapsed last year. Kerry has expressed a wish that whatever government is brought to power in the Israeli elections this week will “meet the hope for peace”. There have long been concerns about a potential for a conflict between Blair’s role in peace negotiations in the Middle East and his business interests, since he advises a number of foreign governments.
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/15/tony-blair-to-step-back-from-role-as-middle-east-peace-envoy-report

From Palestine to Mahmoud Darwish
Middle East Monitor 15 Mar — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — Mahmoud Darwish was born in the Galilean village of al-Birwa of March 13th 1941. Forced from his home village in 1948, along with hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, Darwish spent much of life in exile but Palestine never left him. This Palestinian experience of displacement and exile, and a profound love for his homeland, was the focus of much of his literary work which saw him go on to become the national Palestinian poet and the leader of the resistance poetry movement. Yet throughout his life, his literary work and his political activism became deeply intertwined. In 1970, Darwish first joined the PLO and was later elected to its executive committee in 1987. The following year it was Darwish who wrote the text for the ‘Palestinian Declaration of Independence’ that Yasser Arafat proclaimed in November of that year. Yet only 6 years later, Darwish penned his resignation following the signing of the Oslo Accords. Darwish died in Houston, America, in 2008 and his body was returned to Palestine where he was finally laid to rest alongside the Ramallah Cultural Palace. His death was felt deeply by across Palestine and by Palestinians the world over and his State Funeral was followed by 3 days of national mourning. On the fourth anniversary of Darwish’s death, the Mahmoud Darwish Musem was opened alongside his tomb in Ramallah. At the opening ceremony, then Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad stated that the museum, “was made to befit this poet’s enormous imprint on the Palestinian people”.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/17525-from-palestine-to-mahmoud-darwish

Interview: What Hamas’ media think of Israeli elections
+972 Blog 15 Mar by Rami Younis — How is the Palestinian media covering Israeli elections? What do they think of the Joint List? A media survey covering Palestinian outlets in Israel proper, the West Bank, Gaza and beyond. And an interview with the editor of Hamas’ official newspaper — …In most major Palestinian outlets, elections are covered in a mostly unbiased manner, since Palestinians see no point in differentiating between Netanyahu, Herzog or Livni. Instead, coverage focuses on updates, polls and analysis, while most of the headlines describe how some Israeli politicians choose to use Palestinian blood for the sake of their campaigns. Over the past week, most of the media has focused on Avigdor Liberman, who said Israel should chop off the heads of disloyal Palestinian citizens. “The ISIS ideology long ago permeated into the Israeli elections,” wrote the news site Al-Aqsa, which belongs to the television channel of the same name, and which broadcasts from the West Bank. They didn’t forget, of course, to add a link to Likud’s campaign video, which compared the Israeli Left to the Islamic State.
http://972mag.com/interview-what-hamas-media-thinks-of-israeli-elections/104299/

AP analysis: In fractured Israel, all electoral bets are off
JERUSALEM (AP) 14 Mar by Dan Perry — Deeply divided and foul of mood, Israelis are headed toward what seems like a referendum on their long-serving, silver-tongued prime minister, the hard-line Benjamin Netanyahu. But with so many of them having despaired of peace talks with the Palestinians, the focus is mostly on Netanyahu’s personality, his expense scandals and the soaring cost of living. And as no candidate is likely to win big in the wild jumble of Israel’s political landscape, the outcome of the March 17 election could well be a joint government between Netanyahu and his moderate challenger Isaac Herzog. It’s an irony, because the animosities are overwhelming. Much has changed in the world since Netanyahu first became prime minister in 1996, but Israel remains stuck with the question of what to do with the highly strategic, biblically resonant, Palestinian-populated lands it captured almost a half-century ago. Israelis know it is their existential issue, but it seems almost too complex for a democracy. After decades of failed peace talks under every sort of government, the whole festering thing has become such a vexation that politicians seem to fear it, and voters look away. When he called the early election in November, Netanyahu seemed a shoo-in, but somewhere things went wrong. Notorious around the world for American-accented eloquence in the service of a tough stance, he is extraordinarily divisive at home, where he has been prime minister for the past six years, and for nine in total.
http://news.yahoo.com/ap-analysis-fractured-israel-electoral-bets-off-072920462.html

Palestinians ask: The two-state solution or the two-state illusion?
NPR 14 Mar by Steve Inskeep — Palestinians in the West Bank don’t get to vote in Israel’s election on Tuesday, but they do have opinions. And at a time when talks toward creating a Palestinian state have stalled, there are Palestinians like Ahmad Aweidah who are seeking alternatives to the traditional call for a two-state solution. Aweidah is among those busy building the outward signs of a Palestinian state. Such efforts were visible when we went to visit him in the city of Nablus. His office is upstairs from the National Bank of Palestine, so named even though there is no country by that name. Aweidah is CEO of the Palestine Exchange, a stock market. He’s a burly man with a friendly face. He has a modest office, with the windows open to catch the breeze. In this electronic age, the exchange doesn’t bother with an opening or closing bell … He says the trading activity is a kind of barometer for Palestinian prospects. “If you look at the market for the last couple of weeks you do get the impression that people’s expectations are that things are not going to be that great,” he said … Aweidah has his own hopes for Tuesday’s election: he wants victory for Prime Minister Netanyahu, and others he considers hostile to Palestinians … “It would be very good for the Palestinians to have them in power,” he added. “Because Israel [would be] isolated, because of such a government, because of their actions and their craziness.” Aweidah is a businessman who generally tries to steer clear of politics. But in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, everything is political. “The more isolated Israel is, the better it is for us,” he said….
http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/03/13/392765111/palestinians-ask-the-two-state-solution-or-the-two-state-illusion

To see how racist Israel has become, look to the left / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 15 Mar — The new levels of Arab-hatred being displayed are shocking, and so are the Israeli public’s acceptance of them — …The racism of the campaign season has been planted well beyond the rotten, stinking gardens of Lieberman, Naftali Bennett, Eli Yishai and Baruch Marzel. It is almost everywhere. Our cities have recently been contaminated by posters whose evil messages are nearly on a par with the slogans “Kahane was right” and “death to Arabs.” “With BibiBennett, we’ll be stuck with the Palestinians forever,” threaten the posters plastered on every overpass and hoarding, on behalf of the Peace and Security Association of National Security Experts. It is impossible to know their level of expertise on matters of peace and security, but they are clearly experts in incitement. The message and its signatories are considered center-left, but it too spreads hate and racism. “We’ll be stuck with the Palestinians forever”? Yes. The Palestinians aren’t going anywhere. Even if a Palestinian state is established, some of them will remain in Israel. What are the country’s Arabs supposed to feel when they see such hateful ads directed against them? And what’s so bad about being “stuck” with them? Are they infected with some disease? Being stuck with Lieberman is much worse. Such is the state of public discourse in Israel. Yair Lapid and “the Zoabis,” in reference to Haneen Zoabi, Moshe Kahlon who says he won’t sit in a government coalition “with the Arabs,” Isaac Herzog who will conduct coalition negotiations with all the parties with the exception of the Arab ones, Tzipi Livni and her obsession with her Jewish — and also nationalistic and ugly — state.
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.646914

An unusual view
The settlement enterprise has not blocked a two-state solution / Shaul Arieli
Haaretz 16 Mar — Don’t believe the illusion Benjamin Netanyahu has created. Unfortunately, Israel invests enormous resources in an unfeasible goal — …Most of the Israeli public and the international community believe that the settlement enterprise has become so established under Netanyahu that a two-state solution is impossible. But this conclusion has no basis in fact. Figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics show that during Netanyahu’s 2009-2013 term the number of Israelis living in the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem) grew at an annual rate of 5 percent — an additional 69,000 people over five years. This rate is almost double the rate for Israel proper, but 75 percent of the new West Bank residents chose to live in the large settlement blocs — exactly the same percentage as before Netanyahu was elected. …  During the Annapolis peace talks in 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed to annex — as part of land swaps — these settlement blocs, whose area is no greater than 5 percent of the West Bank. If we add to them East Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods — nearly 1 percent of the West Bank where some 200,000 Jews live — then with a swap of only 6 percent of the West Bank, Israel can preserve its sovereignty over (and the homes of) 35 of every 40 Israelis living over the Green Line. These figures show that despite the investment of tens of billions to expand the Jewish presence outside the settlement blocs, the Palestinian dominance over 94 percent of the West Bank has been preserved. In these areas there are 26 Palestinians for every Jew, and they own private land there too … The settlements of the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea region, which Netanyahu and his ministers often use as an example of the settlements’ importance for security needs (a baseless claim), are the last priority for allocating resources. The population increased by only 216 there during those five years, only 3.6 percent, even lower than population growth for Israel proper. About a third of these communities, all of them nonreligious, saw a fall in their populations … Even in East Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods there is no visible influx of residents, despite Bennett’s declarations about “Judaizing Jerusalem.” Over the past five years the number of these residents grew by only about 5,000 (and many of them are Arabs). This reflects growth under the Israeli average. Given these numbers, if Jewish population growth in Jerusalem remains stable, within a decade the city will have an Arab majority. … The “achievement” of building a Jewish-settlement system separate from the Palestinian one merely blocks the contiguity of the Arab population. Dozens of small isolated settlements on the hilltops depend on roads built on a completely illogical diplomatic, security, geographic and economic framework, as well as a heightened military presence. With the help of these settlements, Israel has achieved control over the Palestinians and prevented the natural development of their communities. Israel has maintained this situation for decades via enormous budgets that are only growing. True, this threat is not great enough to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, but it is expected to raise the price Israel will have to pay for a solution to the conflict, whether agreed on or dictated….
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.647008

Gaza novelist writes of lives framed by recurrent wars
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 11 Mar by Mohammed Daraghmeh — A Gaza novelist who was shortlisted for a prestigious Arabic literature prize but couldn’t attend the announcement ceremony because of alleged Hamas harassment says he learned story-telling from his refugee grandmother, who recounted happier times. As a boy, Atef Abu Saif began writing down his grandmother Aisheh’s stories about life as the wife of an orange merchant in the Mediterranean city of Jaffa — before she and her relatives fled during the war over Israel’s creation in 1948. She ended up in the Gaza Strip’s Jebaliya refugee camp, 70 kilometers (45 miles) to the south.  Abu Saif, 41, has continued writing since then, through two Palestinian uprisings, clashes between rival political factions and three full-fledged wars pitting the territory’s militant Hamas rulers against Israel. His most recent novel, “A Suspended Life,” tells the stories of several Jebaliya residents and their struggle to carve out normal lives amid the recurring mayhem. “The main message is that life in Gaza is a break between wars,” Abu Saif said in a recent interview in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “This break deserves to be lived.”
http://www.macon.com/2015/03/11/3631412_gaza-novelist-writes-of-lives.html

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Israel’s interminable cruelty and illegality just keeps grinding on, without any official objections made nor actions taken by the ‘west’ that funds this terror machine. It is excruciating to read about; I can’t really imagine living with it. “Abbas approved Gaza chaos plan” You have to be kidding me! If this is true, he needs to face charges. ——— ““A Suspended Life,” tells the stories of several Jebaliya residents and their struggle to carve out… Read more »

Amira Hass is a treasure. “Otherwise Occupied: Israel gives Palestinians a reason to get older / Amira Hass” – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/03/israeli-palestinians-hebron#sthash.CRMITsib.dpuf After her achingly funny and clever title & subtitle that includes: “Your best chance of getting out of Gaza, though, is if you’re a tomato or eggplant”, she writes an article that should enrage any sentient being and ends it with: “Since 1997, Israel has forbidden the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip… Read more »

Just read this in Haaretz:

“History

Eli Eliahu

For this home
trees were chopped down before their time
some shrubs were uprooted
from the ground, anthills
crumbled, birds abandoned
their nest, a mole fled
from the flaming heat of earth overturning.

For this home,
villages were emptied of their inhabitants,
wells were blocked, sheep
scattered to the winds.

For this home
people forgot
their mother tongue.”

http://www.haaretz.com/life/culture/poem-of-the-week/1.647105?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Powerful, eh?