Violence / Raids / Attacks / Suppression of protests / Arrests — West Bank / Jerusalem / ’48 Israel
Jewish teens attack Palestinians in two separate Purim incidents
+972 12 Mar by Lisa Goldman — Such attacks have become more common in recent years but media coverage has thinned — Two individual Arab-Palestinian men were assaulted by mobs of Jewish teens in Jerusalem last Thursday night. Both incidents involved victims who were set upon and beaten so severely that they had to be hospitalized. And in both cases the Israeli Hebrew media outlets that reported the story specified that at least some of the assailants were drunk and in costume. Thursday was Purim in Jerusalem. According to tradition, the festival is celebrated by dressing in costume and drinking to excess. One of the incidents, reported in a short item by Walla! News, is described as a “suspected nationalist incident.” The Walla! report notes that some of the teens were drunk, that there were about 15 or 16 of them out celebrating the holiday raucously, in the middle of downtown, very late at night. Several people asked the loud celebrants to be quiet, including one young man in his 20s who happened to be an Arab. The teens assaulted him because he spoke Hebrew with an identifiable accent. “I don’t remember much,” he told the reporter. “It hurt a lot.” … In a separate but remarkably similar incident that occurred around the same time, another group of around 15 raucous, drunk, teen revelers were carousing around downtown, roughhousing with one another and, according to Channel 10, generally smashing things up. Then they spotted a restaurant worker clearing away an outdoor table, recognized that he was an Arab and jumped him. This time, someone recorded the incident with a mobile device, which Channel 10 broadcast (view a longer version here) … The Arab man is going about his job when he’s suddenly jumped by the mob, who beat him, kick him and smash chairs over his head. The reporter says that eyewitnesses told police the assailants beat the Arab man on every part of his body, then dragged him along the pavement and beat him some more, even after he was lying prone and unable to defend himself.
11 injured, 3 detained as Israeli forces attack Nabi Saleh protest
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — A Palestinian was shot with a live bullet on Friday and ten others were beaten by Israeli soldiers during a protest in the central West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, a local activist committee said. Three activists were also reportedly detained by Israeli forces during the march in the town northwest of Ramallah. The detainees include two Palestinian activists identified as Bushra Tamimi and Shireen al-Araj as well as Israeli activist Tali Shapiro. The Palestinian popular resistance committee in the village said in a statement that Israeli soldiers “directly attacked the peaceful march, firing tear-gas canisters, stun grenades and live fire” at protesters. The said that one protester was injured by a live bullet in the leg. Seven other activists were assaulted by soldiers who struck them with the butt of their rifles, the committee said. The statement added that three children were also assaulted by Israeli soldiers during the protest. One of the children was identified as Marah Naji Tamimi, who was taken to the Yasser Arafat Hospital in Salfit after a soldier reportedly beat her on the head with the butt of his rifle. Dozens of other protesters suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation during the protest … The people of Nabi Saleh have been protesting weekly for five years, demanding that lands confiscated by Israeli authorities to build the separation wall be returned.
3 Palestinians injured in weekly Qalqiliya march
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — Three Palestinians, including a 10-year-old boy, were injured by live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets during a weekly march in the Qalqiliya village of Kafr Qaddum, medics said Friday. Ahmad Daas, 10, was reportedly shot in the leg by live bullets while at a relative’s home as clashes broke out with Israeli forces. Mahmoud Gazi, 30, was injured by live fire and photojournalist Akram Darawsheh was hit by rubber-coated steel bullets as Israeli forces suppressed marchers. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters and skunk water at residents, with local youths responding by throwing rocks. Protests are held every Friday in Kafr Qaddum against Israel’s closure of a main road linking the village to its nearest city, Nablus, as well as against the Israeli occupation more generally.
Israeli forces suppress weekly Bil‘in march
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — Dozens of Palestinians suffered from tear-gas inhalation Friday during the weekly protest march in Bil‘in, locals said. Israeli soldiers fired tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at activists, witnesses said. The march set off from the village center as activists waved Palestinian flags and pictures of 15-year-old prisoner Khalid Hussam al-Sheikh, who has been in Israeli custody for two years. Marchers demanded the release of minors held in Israeli prisons, and called for intervention by human rights institutions for their release. Protesters held pictures of American activist Tristan Anderson who was critically injured after being directly hit by Israeli soldiers with a tear-gas canister in the head in the Nilin village in 2009. Pictures of activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by Israeli bulldozers demolishing a home in Rafah in the Gaza Strip, were also carried during the march to commemorate 12 years since her death. This year marked the tenth consecutive year of weekly marches against the Israeli separation wall in Bilin, which was constructed on Palestinian land in 2005. Two members of the Abu Rahmeh family have been fatally injured by Israeli soldiers during non violent marches in Bil‘in, Bassem Abu Rahmah, who was hit in the chest with a tear gas canister in 2009, and Jawaher Abu Rahmah, who died from excessive teargas inhalation in 2010.
Locals commemorate killing of 4 Palestinian activists in 2008
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — Palestinian activists near Bethlehem on Thursday commemorated the 7th anniversary of the death of four Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in 2008, a local committee said. Muhammad Shahada, Issa Marzouq Zawahreh, Imad Kamel and Ahmad al-Balbul were gunned down in a targeted assassination by undercover Israeli forces in Bethlehem seven years ago. Shahada was a member of Islamic Jihad, while al-Balbul was a member of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade. Demonstrators hung pictures of the four men in the village of al-Ma‘sara and sprayed slogans on walls to honor their memory. A march then set off from the village center in commemoration of the four men.
Israeli forces raid yet another family’s home in Tel Rumeida
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 11 Mar — Yesterday on the 10th of March around 1 AM in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli occupation forces raided the home of human rights activist Imad Abu Shamsiya and his family. The soldiers turned the house upside-down; the family watched as soldiers broke one of their cameras and stole the SD card and a hard drive. Imad Abu Shamsiya is a well known member of the Human Rights Defenders and his family has been frequently targeted by the Israeli army and settlers. At least 25 soldiers came to the house. 10 of them went inside and woke up the 7 family members, including children and teenagers between the ages of 11 and 17. The soldiers told the family to gather all in one room, taking photos of everyone and documenting their IDs. After breaking a cupboard, searching through the computer and ransacking the house, they left after approximately 2 hours. All family members have been attacked by settlers and either detained or arrested during the last 5 months. Yesterday, the day before the raid one of Imad’s sons, Awne, age 15, was detained for 3 hours because he refused to give up the name of one of his friends who the soldiers where looking for. The raid on the Abu Shamsiya family is only one of the most recent in a series of home invasions Israeli forces have been conducting in Al-Khalil. The following night at 1:00 AM, soldiers raided the Abu Sneneh family’s home in Qeitun neighborhood. Around forty soldiers broke into the house in the night, forcing open every door and ransacking all the rooms, destroying some of the family’s belongings and remaining inside for three hours.
Israeli forces detain 2 from E1 protest camp
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — Clashes erupted in the Gateway to Jerusalem encampment in eastern Abu Dis between Israeli soldiers and dozens of Palestinian youths on Friday. Lawyer Bassam Bahr told Ma‘an that dozens of Palestinians performed Friday prayers inside the Gateway to Jerusalem camp, stressing their refusal of Israeli plans to isolate Jerusalem from surrounding areas.
Bahr added that Israeli forces detained two youths identified as Muhammad Sabri Wahish and Jamal Arabiya. The Gateway to Jerusalem camp was set up in protest to Israeli plans to displace Bedouin families from their dwellings in the corridor known as E1, between Jerusalem and Jericho. The camp has been continually re-erected by activists in recent months. The plans, released last summer, include relocation of around 12,500 Bedouins to free up additional lands for settlement construction, especially in E1. Rights groups have slammed the plans, arguing that the forcible transfer amounts to a massive land grab and an attempt by authorities to annex the crucial E1 area, effectively cutting the West Bank in two.
Protests as Jerusalem Marathon passes through Palestinian neighborhood
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — Thousands of Israeli and international runners took part in the Jerusalem Marathon on Friday, attracting protesters on segments of the marathon running through occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinians from Jerusalem protested against the marathon in the al-Musrara neighborhood near the Old City, waving Palestinian flags and proclaiming slogans supporting Palestinian claims to Jerusalem. They also held aloft pictures of President Mahmoud Abbas … Participants in the marathon ran through West Jerusalem as well as segments of Palestinian East Jerusalem, including along the walls of the Old City and historical sites. The Israeli police closed the entrances of the Old City and its streets early Friday in preparation for the marathon.
Twilight Zone: A soldier’s best friend, a Palestinian’s worst nightmare
Haaretz 14 Mar by Gideon Levy & Eva Illouz — More than two months after being brutally attacked by a dog from the IDF canine unit, a Palestinian teenager remains in detention — Hamzeh Abu Hashem, 16, is still incarcerated in an Israeli prison. He’s been in jail for more than two months. It wasn’t easy to find out, this week, exactly where the legal proceedings against him stand. Apparently, it didn’t occur to anyone in the Israel Defense Forces that maybe, after the experience the youngster endured – soldiers set one of their dogs on him brutally – he should be treated a little more humanely, leniently. Even though the army’s cruelty in the West Bank extends to children, too. On December 23, the soldiers in the Oketz canine unit were filmed releasing an attack dog on the petrified teen, and shouting at him, as the dog held him in a vice-like grip, “Who’s a chicken, who’s a chicken, you son of a bitch.” The soldiers are free; their victim is in prison, and no one knows when he will be released, despite the trauma he underwent. Forgiveness, pardon, consideration, humanity or at least psychological treatment for the boy – none are in evidence. Nor has there even been the possibility of letting his parents visit him after he was wounded, if only in order to help calm him down, and themselves, too. Helplessly, their hearts bleeding, the parents watched the video last week. They were under the impression that attorney Neri Ramati was handling their son’s case, but that turned out to be inaccurate. This week, Ramati referred them to another lawyer, Khaled al-Araj, who said he did not know what fate awaits his client. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit stated that because the case involves a minor, all legal proceedings are taking place behind closed doors and nothing about the discussions can be publicized, apart from the fact that he’s been charged with stone-throwing. The continuation of the trial, the IDF added, is set for March 30 … As for the video, it was released by the ultranationalist former MK Michael Ben Ari, who wanted to bask in the glory of the abomination wrought by the bullying soldiers. “The soldiers taught the little terrorist a lesson,” Ben Ari tweeted basely. Ben Ari wanted to disseminate the video clip – to which no viewer can be indifferent – “so that every dinky terrorist who plans to harm our soldiers will learn that there’s a price [to be paid].”….
Palestinian refugees elsewhere
Palestinian consulate in Rome releases names of shipwreck survivors
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Mar — The Palestinian Embassy in Italy published, on Thursday evening, an official report containing the names of Palestinians who survived the wreck of a ship carrying refugees from Syria and Lebanon who fled the war and tried to enter Italy without documents, the Mild News Agency said. The Embassy said it held extensive talks with the Immigration Department and the General Prosecutor’s Office, and managed to obtain a list of 50 names of survivors. Families of two deceased persons managed to identify them. The capsized ship left Libyan shores carrying 200-250 persons, including around fifty from Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon — 43 men, one woman, and six children. Palestinian Ambassador in Italy Mai al-Kaila said two of the dead migrants have been identified as Mahmoud Hmeid, 23, and Ahmad Khaled Hasan, 17, from Ein al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon; and were buried in Sicily. She stated three survivors, identified as Kamal Dababra, Dia’ Mahmoud, and Ahmad Duwwa, were initially sent to Milan, and were later moved to eastern European countries after receiving some financial aid from the Palestinian Embassy. It is worth mentioning that the Italian Coastguard managed to rescue 127 persons, and located the bodies of 10 persons out of 40 who drowned after the ship capsized. 50-60 persons onboard are Arabs from Sudan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, Rami Abdo, head of the Euro Mediterranean Center for Human Rights has reported. Abdo added there has not been report that some of the Palestinians onboard the capsized ship are from Gaza, and that the Palestinians onboard the ship are from Ein al-Hilweh and Saida (Sidon). The ship left Libyan shores on March 3, and capsized on March 4. The confirmed Palestinian survivors are 50; 43 men, one woman, and six children, the Milad News Agency has reported; it also said the list (following) was translated into Arabic after being released by the Italian Authorities.
UNRWA chief joins aid convoy into besieged Damascus camp
DAMASCUS (AFP) 10 Mar — The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees accompanied the first aid convoy in three months to enter the besieged Yarmuk camp in the Syrian capital on Tuesday. Pierre Krahenbuhl said it was “totally unacceptable” that some 18,000 residents of Yarmuk had not received aid for so long. Rebel groups inside the camp, the largest in Syria, have been under army siege for more than a year. More than 200 people have been killed since the siege began, among them dozens who have died of starvation, non-governmental groups say. “There should be distributions more regularly during the week, not just one day and interrupted again,” Krahenbuhl told AFP. The last UNRWA aid delivery was in December, “which from a human point of view is totally unacceptable”. “Certainly there should be no limit to the number of people that we can support in this on a daily basis. This is the thing that has to continue to improve,” he said.
Khashoggi: Egypt to extend Rafah crossing opening hours
RIYADH (PIC) 13 Mar — Thanks to recent inter-Arab understandings, the Egyptian authorities are expected to extend the opening hours of the Rafah border crossing gradually, Jamal Khashoggi, manager of Al-Arab satellite channel, stated Thursday. Khashoggi said on his Twitter page that the Egyptian government has embarked on making arrangements with the Palestinian Authority to open the Rafah border crossing permanently. The Egyptian authorities had opened the Rafah crossing for only a couple of days during this week after hundreds of Palestinian passengers have been stranded at the crossing for several weeks. The opening of the crossing came a few days after Egyptian president Abdul Fattah al-Sissi had visited Saudi Arabia and met with King Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz. Hamas political chief Khaled Mishaal also received an official Saudi invitation to visit the kingdom soon.
Israel resumes imports of Gaza fruit and vegetables, easing embargo
GAZA (Reuters) 12 Mar — Israel imported its first fruit and vegetables from the Gaza Strip in almost eight years on Thursday, in a partial easing of an economic blockade maintained since the Islamist group Hamas seized control of the Palestinian territory. Twenty-seven tonnes of tomatoes and five tonnes of eggplants were trucked across the border under an Israeli plan to bring in around 1,200 tonnes of produce a month. The Palestinians welcomed the move, though the scale fell short of the some 3,300 tonnes they said they had previously exported to Israel monthly … “We hope this will be a new start that will benefit both farmer and economy,” said Tahseen Al-Saqqa, marketing and crossing director in the Gaza ministry of agriculture.
Hamas: Israel hinted at Gaza airport, seaport for long-term truce
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouq said Wednesday that Israeli army commanders told Palestinian businessmen and independent figures that they would allow a seaport and airport in Gaza in return for a long-term ceasefire. “Some people conveyed ideas about an airport and seaport in Gaza to separate it from Israel and consequently from the West Bank for lack of geographic contiguity, and so the Gaza Strip could have access to the outside world without the restrictions of the Rafah crossing and Israeli policies,” Abu Marzouq wrote on his Facebook page. Hamas discussed the idea with the Palestinian national consensus government twice, and multiple times with individual ministers, according to Marzouq. The suggestions by top Israeli officials were designed to isolate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, he said.
Qatar to provide 70% of Gaza reconstruction materials
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Mar — Head of the Qatari project, Mohammed al-Emadi, announced Wednesday that the status of reconstruction in Gaza is to witness a real breakthrough, noting that Qatar is to provide 70% of the needed construction materials for the projects. Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency reports that, during a Wednesday night TV interview, al-Emadi explained that he advised Rami Hamdallah, the head of Palestinian reconciliation government, to form committees similar to the Qatari committees for facilitating the projects. He noted that the stance of the reconciliation government and Israel towards reconstruction of Gaza is positive, expressing hopes that plans could be enacted in just a short time. He said that he is to meet Hamdallah in Ramallah, soon, in order to discuss the Gaza file, and to solve the crisis there. In addition to reconstructing Gaza after the 50-day Israeli assault, Qatar intends to provide work for the unemployed, so that they can support their families.
Israel and Qatar discuss Gaza reconstruction
Ynet 13 Mar by Elior Levy — Officials meet over gulf state’s plan to spend $1bn to rebuild 1,000 Gaza Strip; reported agreement to accelerate delivery of construction materials as funds remain scarce — Officials from Israel and Qatar met this week to discuss the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, according to a knowledgeable Palestinian source. Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Yoav Mordechai held a meeting with a Qatari official visiting Gaza. Qatar announced on Tuesday that it had begun a project to rebuild 1,000 homes as part of a $1 billion aid pledge. Israel and Qatar do not officially have diplomatic relations. Criticism of Qatar in Israel increased at the end of Operation Protective Edge because of its support for Hamas and in light of the fact that it hosts the organization’s political leadership and its leader, Khaled Mashal. Mohammed al-Amadi, head of the Qatari Committee to Rebuild Gaza, arrived in Gaza on Monday. He traveled through Israel from the West Bank and entered Gaza at Erez Crossing, the only place visitors can enter or exit since Egypt closed Rafah Crossing a few months ago with rare exceptions. Al-Amadi visited Qatari project sites in Gaza during his visit. His meeting with Mordechai occurred before his arrival in the strip, according to the Palestinian source. An agreement was reportedly reached to accelerate the delivery of construction materials for rebuilding Gaza through Kerem Shalom border crossing. Meanwhile, Israel has approved for the first time in years the delivery in Gaza of white cement, which is much stronger than ordinary cement.
Kuwait, Palestine ink USD 200 mln donation deal for Gaza
AMMAN (KUNA) 12 Mar — The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) and the Palestinian government on Thursday signed a donation agreement totaling USD 200 million for reconstructing the southern governorates in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip … In a statement to KUNA, Al-Munayyes said that Kuwait had pledged USD 200 million during the Cairo International Conference on Palestine and Reconstructing Gaza held in the Egyptian capital last October. The donation will finance a number of projects like the reconstruction of about 1500 housing units across all the southern governorates in the Strip as well as some infrastructure projects, he added.
Injured Gazans rally to support victims of Israeli offensive
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Hundreds of Palestinians injured during Israel’s summer offensive on the Gaza Strip on Thursday protested in Gaza City against what they say is official inaction for Palestinians disabled by Israeli warfare. Participants in the protest called upon officials to form committees specializing in the affairs and rights of the wounded and to improve Palestinians’ access to medical care and medications, which are severely limited by the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Protester Rami Dabbour told Ma‘an that the number of injured Palestinians in Gaza reaches into the tens of thousands, estimating that around 74,000 Gazans live with some form of physical injury or disability as a result of Israeli attacks on the enclave of 1.8 million people. Around 11,000 Palestinians were injured in Israel’s offensive in July-August 2014, adding to the tens of thousands previously injured in Israeli assaults in 2012, 2008-9, and on a weekly or daily basis in or near the border. Thousands more still suffer complications from injuries sustained before 2006, when the Israeli military directly occupied Gaza. Dabbour said that around 300 people took part in the protest, which set off from the Palestinian parliament’s office in Gaza City en route to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Dabbour called upon the international community to help lift the siege on the Gaza Strip and Egypt to open the Rafah crossing … The blockade has had a particularly debilitating effect for hospitals and clinics in Gaza, as repeated Israeli military assaults have depleted their supplies even as restocking is an impossibility. Wael Faraj, head of the board of the Merciful Hands Charity in Gaza, told Ma‘an at the protest that the hundreds of amputees from the summer war were in need of specific support from the government.
Gaza center aids victims of domestic violence
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — The Gaza-based Hayat Center for Empowering Women and Families is serving increasing numbers of victims of domestic abuse in the coastal territory, according to center coordinator Tahani Qasim. One victim of domestic violence told Ma‘an she turned to the center for help when her husband of three years continued to beat her regularly for no reason. The center assisted her in making child visitation arrangements following her decision to divorce. The woman, who asked to be identified as Mariam, says the main reason behind the collapse of her marriage was her husband’s addiction to Tramadol pills — painkillers often used in Gaza as narcotics — and his inability to provide for his family. Women in Gaza often face “double punishment, from both society and her family” as a result of demanding divorce from abusive husbands, explains Qasim. The center, she says, has managed to work out solutions or reconciliation agreements for 20 percent of incoming cases, without the need for courts. Qasim told Ma‘an that cases of violence against women are often worsened by the lack of security and stability in Gaza, and that the center often receives more women experiencing domestic violence during times of economic hardship, for example during and following wars with Israel. According to the center’s social worker Linda Abu Marsa, the center received complaints from 56 women in 2014. In addition, the center offers consulting services to more than 20 women every day.
Israeli forces open fire on Gaza border near Khan Younis
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — Israeli forces opened fire Friday afternoon on Palestinian lands east of Khan Younis in the souther Gaza Strip near the border. Witnesses said Israeli soldiers stepped out of a military vehicle patrolling the border and opened fire. No injuries were reported. The incident was the second such Israeli military attack on Palestinians in the border area in the last two days.
As part of their policy of targeting fishermen and their livelihoods, Israeli navy forces kill fisherman, arrest two others and confiscate two fishing boats
PCHR 8 Mar — According to preliminary information obtained by PCHR, at approximately 01:15 on Saturday, 07 March 2015, Israeli gunboats chased three fishing boats sailing within 1.5 nautical miles off Gaza seaport. Fishermen said that Israeli navy forces opened fire in the air and at fishermen, who tried to sail back and flee. As a result, a fisherman, Tawfiq Sa’id Abu Reyala (32) sustained a bullet wound to the abdomen and his boat broke down. Other fishermen transported him to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to receive medical treatment. He was admitted to the hospital at 02:30. Medical sources stated that Abu Reyala sustained a bullet wound to the abdomen and the bullet exited from the back, due to which he suffered severe hemorrhage that caused his death at approximately 12:30. A fisherman added that a group of fishermen headed amidst fire on board another boat belonging to Abu Reyala too to rescue him after he was wounded. However, they were fired at by Israeli forces, due to which they fled and left the boat behind. Israeli forces confiscated the two boats and arrested two fishermen: Wahid al-Sayed Kaskin (21); and his brother Jihad (22). PCHR strongly condemns the Israeli ongoing attacks on Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip
Gisha 12 Mar — Yesterday marked the end of a three-day strike declared by Gaza’s fishermen in mourning and protest over the killing of one of their colleagues and the injury and arrest of two others by Israeli naval forces last Saturday. This was the first time since the deadly fighting over the summer of 2014 that a fisherman has been killed off the coast of Gaza. Sources inside the Strip report, however, that fishing in the area has become increasingly unsafe and that naval forces fire on fisherman sailing no farther than six nautical miles off the coast – the Israeli-imposed fishing zone. Palestinian human rights organization Al Mezan said that the fishermen were shot at a distance of only four nautical miles off the coast, a statement that has been confirmed by the Gaza Strip Fishermen’s Association. In fact, according to the Palestinian agricultural coordinator, most cases in which Palestinian fishermen were shot or arrested occurred at a distance of four to five nautical miles off the coast. Gaza fishermen have reported difficulties fishing in the permitted fishing zone due to heavy fire toward them. Mohammad, 16, told Oxfam: “We were about three miles out when the (Israeli) military boats approached us and shouted at us to jump in the water and swim towards them. My friend who was with me immediately jumped. But in winter you can imagine how cold the water is… I was too scared and panicked and refused to jump. Then one of the soldiers shot me in the hand with a rubber bullet. They brought their boat next to mine and arrested me. We were taken away, interrogated and released the next day. But they didn’t return our boat and fishing nets. We lost everything”. Mohammad’s father estimated the damage he sustained at 17,000 USD. Oxfam said there were dozens of similar reports in January and February of 2015 – fishermen who were shot, arrested and had their equipment confiscated even when they were fishing inside the permitted fishing zone … To the best of our knowledge, Israel has never explained why Gaza’s fishermen are confined to six nautical miles off the coast. The frequent reduction of the fishing zone following rocket fire toward Israel, and its expansion as a “humanitarian gesture”, raise grave concern that the size of the fishing zone is not determined solely by security factors.
200 Palestinians from Gaza pray at Aqsa Mosque
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — Two hundred Palestinians from the Gaza Strip on Friday headed to the Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray, Palestinian liaison officials said. Buses from Gaza passed through the Erez crossing at dawn carrying the worshipers, who are all over 60 years old. 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.
Turkish court orders fresh examination of Mavi Marmara
Haaretx 12 Mar — Four Israeli officials are being tried in absentia for the raid on the Turkish ship in 2010, which left nine people dead — A Turkish court has ordered a fresh examination of the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship on which nine people were killed by Israeli troops in 2010 while attempting to break to blockade of the Gaza Strip. In a statement released on Wednesday, the court said that the ship will be examined by a police-appointed expert, victims and the court itself on May 25 in Istanbul, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Restriction of movement
A new settlement neighborhood south of Bethlehem
[with map] BETHLEHEM (PIC) 12 Mar — The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) started the establishment of a new settlement neighborhood on Palestinian-owned lands in Khuder [or al-Khadr] town to the south of Bethlehem, the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ) revealed Thursday. In a press statement released in this matter, ARIJ said that Israeli bulldozers started almost on daily basis razing large tracts of Palestinian lands confiscated from Khuder town as a prelude for the building of a new settlement neighborhood for the purpose of expanding Efrat settlement. In March 2014, IOA issued tenders for the construction of 208 new housing units in the so-called Tel Tamar outpost, ARIJ pointed out. The settlement project will cost more than 53 million shekels ($13 million), according to the center. ARIJ warned against the Israeli settlement expansion project that would change the geographical reality in the region at the expense of Palestinian territories in Khuder town.
High Court to rule over fate of unrecognized Palestinian village
+972 Blog 13 Mar by Rami Younis — The village of Dahamash has been around since 1948, and its residents have the documents to prove it. The authorities, however, have been threatening the unrecognized village with demolition for years. Now residents– a day before the national elections — Israel’s High Court of Justice will hear an appeal by the residents of the unrecognized village Dahamash. The village, located between Ramle and Lyd (“Lod” in Hebrew), is not recognized by any local council. The hearing could set an historic precedent — should the High Court rules in favor of the residents, it will force the state to try and recognize the village, which would prevent home demolitions in the near future. However, if the Court rules against the residents, the threat of demolition will loom larger than ever before. The unrecognized village Dahamash is under the jurisdiction of the Emek Lod Regional Council, a mere 20 minute drive from Tel Aviv. The village has been around since 1948, and its residents even have proof of ownership in the Israel Land Registry. However, the State does not recognize their claim to the land, and does not provide the village with the necessary infrastructure or even the most basic services, such as sewage, roads, electricity, garbage collection or a post office. As opposed to the moshavim (a type of cooperative agricultural community) whose agricultural lands have been cleared for construction, the only thing the residents of Dahamash can do with their land is grow tomatoes. Despite the efforts by the residents, which included demonstrations, a lengthy court battle and funding for a master plan — all construction is deemed illegal. There are currently 16 home demolition orders in the village. The struggle to prevent the destruction has lasted for over a decade, and has been successful due to the support of dedicated activists who supported the villagers over the years.
JNF, settler group seek to evict Palestinian family in Silwan
+972 Blog 10 Mar by Moriel Rothman-Zecher — Over the past few decades, the Jewish National Fund (JNF-KKL), an organization known to many in the diaspora for its work planting trees in Israel (I gave a portion of my Bar Mitzvah money to the JNF), has been working in coordination with ELAD, an extremist settler organization whose explicit goals include the “Judaization” of East Jerusalem. Since 1991, the cooperation between these two organizations has led to eviction of a number of Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. While ELAD’s methods of takeover in Silwan have included shady sales agreements and forceful confiscation in the middle of the night, they are also often done in complete accordance with Israeli law. This fact is often cited as a defense by the JNF and its supporters … In the fall of 2011, the JNF-KKL’s role in facilitating the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in Silwan was spotlighted by a campaign to prevent the eviction of the Sumarin family from their home, directly next to ELAD’s City of David tourist site. The JNF-KKL’s claim to the property was based on the Absentee Property Law, a law that allows the Israeli government to take over properties abandoned by Palestinians during the 1948 war, and which applied solely to Palestinians. In response to the JNF-KKL’s plans, an international campaign was launched by Rabbis for Human Rights, its partner organization in the U.S., Truah (then RHR-NA), Palestinian activists from the Wadi Hilweh Information Center and others … The eviction process against the Sumarin family remains frozen to this day. A few months later, in February of 2012, came another JNF-KKL and ELAD-backed eviction case. This time it was the Ruweidi family who was being threatened. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center published a letter to the JNF-KKL by Juma’a Muhammad Saalim al-Ruweidi, the 85-year-old owner of the house, asking them not to evict his family. In the letter, Ruweidi described the bizarre circumstances of their case, including a falsified declaration of “absentee property” signed by a Palestinian man with no connection to the family or the neighborhood … Activists responded with a campaign of letters and protests, until May 2, 2012 Judge Miriam Mizrahi ruled in favor of the Ruweidi family. In the time since, Juma’a al-Ruweidi passed away, but ELAD and the JNF have not forgotten about his family or his home. Their lawyers have appealed Mizrahi’s decision to the Supreme Court, which will hear the case on Thursday, March 12, at 11:30 a.m.
Israel opens police station in Silwan to protect settlement outposts
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 12 Mar — In a move aimed at tightening control over occupied Jerusalem, the Israeli police opened a police station in Ein Silwan southern [south of?] al-Aqsa Mosque in the presence of the Israeli Internal Security Minister. Al-Bustan Cultural Center in Silwan said that the city witnessed an intensive Israeli military presence during the opening of the police station and scores of soldiers and intelligence agents surrounded the place, a helicopter overflew the area and a flying checkpoint was erected in Wadi Hilweh to search passing vehicles. One of the residents clarified: “The station is a room that was used for six years as a community police station then it was closed for four years and now it is being re-opened after being rebuilt and enlarged.” He pointed out that Silwan Elementary School is adjacent to the police station. Jawad Siyam, head of Wadi Hilweh Information Center, said that the Israeli government is keen on establishing police centers in Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem to harass the residents and restrict their freedom.
Israel’s National Park growth hits Palestinian families hard
JERUSALEM (Middle East Eye) 11 Mar by Bethan Staton — Wa‘ad Mustafa and Baha‘a Turk were not shocked to see bulldozers in front of their home in ‘Issawiya, East Jerusalem. The boys could do little to stop the vehicles that rolled by from the Israeli base above their neighbourhood on Tuesday, leaving a trail of hard-packed, flattened clay and churned mud. The equipment was escorted, after all, by armed soldiers who fired tear gas at those who tried to stop them: one man, who was in his 80s and already suffering from health problems, was taken to hospital after inhaling the smoke. “We’re living under occupation, this is life,” Mustafa told Middle East Eye with a dry smile … Yesterday, however, the damage was not restricted to homes. Israeli vehicles flattened several walls, storehouses and sheds used for keeping animals, as well as destroying the dirt tracks that local families depend on to reach their homes. Further up the hill, two olive trees were uprooted and pushed across the ridge, and by early afternoon residents of the village were picking through the tracks and assessing the damage. One man, attempting to drive his car down the hill, became immediately stuck in the mess of soil. When structures are destroyed here, authorities justify them in terms of illegality. But there is good reason why the area between Issawiya and al-Tur might be particularly hit by demolitions. This green hillside sloping southwards from the Hebrew University lies between Jerusalem and the West Bank, and borders the Route One road to Ma’ale Adumim. It’s also set to become Mount Scopus Slopes National Park. A controversial project of the National Parks Authority, Mount Scopus is currently being proposed in the Jerusalem area. Slated to be built on some 750 dunums of Issawiya and al-Tur land, it will turn an area that Palestinian residents badly need for development of their communities into nationally protected open space.
Israel approves 49 new housing units in O. Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 11 Mar — The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee on Wednesday approved 49 construction permits for new housing units in Ramot settlement to the east of Occupied Jerusalem. According to the Israeli Hebrew website “walla.com”, the new construction project will occupy two dunums in Ramot settlement to the east of the Green Line.
Ongoing harassment and restrictions on farmers around Nablus
BURIN, SALIM, & ‘AWARTA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 12 Mar — Early spring marks an important time of the year for farmers around Nablus, where critical work must be done to ensure a quality olive harvest in October. In high tension regions, where farmers risk settler attacks while accessing their land, District Coordination Offices have negotiated to ensure specific days when Palestinians can access their land under the “supervision” of Israeli forces. In Burin, farming has been severely restricted by harassment from the surrounding Yizhar and Bracha illegal settlements. Sunday 8th March was the first of only three days in which farmers of Burin were permitted to access their own land. On this day, farmers attempting to reach their olive trees found 75 cut down and the road blocked by large stones, placed by settlers from the nearby illegal settlements. The following day, 3 villagers on tractors were attacked by settlers who threw stones from the hilltops. Israeli forces declared the area a closed military zone and the Palestinians were forced to leave. This restriction remained in place for what would have been their final access day … On Tuesday, ISM volunteers accompanied farmers from ‘Awarta village as they plowed the land around their olive groves. Trees in this valley are reported to be from Roman times, along the ancient route to Jordan. Local residents explained that turning the soil increases crop quality, removing weeds and thus competition for water and nutrients. Military presence had been limited thus far, with little contact with settlers. In previous years, clashes have broken out with residents of the illegal settlement of Itamar, which has recently constructed an access road through the farming land. Many farmers have only 3 weeks a year in total to access their land.
Keeping Palestinian identity alive in Hebron
RAMALLAH (Electronic Intifada) 13 Mar by Narjas Zatat — Once a thriving marketplace, Hebron’s Shuhada street has been closed to Palestinians for the past twenty-one years. Israel used the 1994 massacre at the nearby Ibrahimi Mosque — during which the extremist American settler Baruch Goldstein killed 29 worshippers — as a pretext to tighten its control over the occupied West Bank city … The closure of Shuhada Street is vigorously opposed by Palestinians. The organization Youth Against Settlements (YAS) both documents human rights abuses carried out by the Israeli military and takes direct action against Hebron’s suffocation. In a symbolically important move, the group has succeeded in setting up a kindergarten on Shuhada Street … Issa Amro is a founder of Youth Against Settlements. He spoke to Narjas Zatat. NZ: Why is the Open Shuhada Street campaign so important? IA: Because the main goal of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre was to kill the Palestinian identity in Hebron. The main aim of the settlers in Hebron is to confiscate Shuhada Street and the area surrounding it. They want to connect the settlements inside the city with Kiryat Arba, which is a settlement [on the outskirts of] Hebron. They [the Israeli military] have closed Shuhada Street and confiscated over 520 Palestinian-owned shops. It is the main street in Hebron which connects all of the parts of Hebron together — north, south, east and west. It is the city center. All the main markets are either on Shuhada Street or around it, and the same goes for holy sites. Small Palestinian businesses that specialize in handmade products are also based around Shuhada Street. NZ: Youth Against Settlements has enjoyed a number of small victories. Can you summarize those victories and explain their impact? ….
Two Palestinians receive permits to enter southern city of Eilat, in rare move
Haaretz 12 Mar — The authorities rarely allow Palestinians into the port city, despite the many requests by an Israeli ecological institute — Two West Bank Palestinians have received entry permits to Israel that include Eilat, says a nonprofit group that for years has been trying to win Palestinians permission to enter the southern port city. According to the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement on Wednesday, the two Palestinians study at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies north of Eilat. The Israeli authorities normally prohibit Palestinians with Israeli entry permits from entering Eilat, but they have never explained why. Most affected are Palestinians who study at the Arava Institute. For years, Gisha has been asking the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to revoke the ban; emails to the group show that the authorities have never explained it. In May, Gisha noted that 50 Palestinian businesses had received permits to enter the port for a conference. Gisha argued that the ban was arbitrary and that the benefits of Palestinians studying at the institute were equal to the benefits of commercial ties with Palestinians.
High Court greenlights racial profiling at Israel’s airports
+972 mag 11 Mar by Edo Konrad — High Court rejects petition calling for an end to racial profiling against Arabs at Ben-Gurion Airport, yet refuses to make a principled ruling on the policy as a whole — Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected a petition by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), demanding an end to racial profiling at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday. The petition — which the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed in 2007 against the Shin Bet, the Transportation Ministry and the Israel Airports Authority — sought to eliminate the category of “Arab nationality” as a criteria for conducting special security checks in the airport. The petition described how Arab passengers often undergo humiliating treatment, including extra searches and questioning that are not applied to Jewish passengers, and called for all passengers to be subjected to the same security criteria, regardless of nationality.
Israel relaxes permit restrictions for elderly Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — An Israeli official said Thursday that permit restrictions for West Bank Palestinians wishing to enter Israel will be relaxed beginning Sunday. The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Yoav Mordechai, said in a statement that as of Sunday, men over the age of 55 and women over the age of 50 will be allowed to cross into Israel for daily visits without the need for permits. As part of Israel’s nearly 50-year-old military occupation of the West Bank, Palestinians are subject to a complex system of movement permits and are prevented from moving freely between different areas of the West Bank as well as into Israel and the Gaza Strip. The announcement signals a minor relaxing of the policy primarily for elderly Palestinians, though Mordechai said that work permit regulations would also be slightly relaxed. Mordechai said in the statement that married men over the age of 22 will be eligible to apply for work permits starting Sunday, in contrast to current regulations that only allow married men over 24 who have children to apply. Israel allows about 30,000 Palestinians from the West Bank to work inside Israel, but these permits are easily revocable and are subject to major restrictions on both movements and rights. The numbers are also a far cry from the 1990s, when thousands more worked inside Israel. Because Israel maintains almost complete control over the Palestinian economy, the decrease in numbers allowed to work inside Israel have led to widespread unemployment and high levels of emigration.
Prisoners / Court actions
Possible agreement to end prisoner protest
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Mar — A preliminary agreement has been reached between representatives of Palestinian prisoners and Israeli prison authorities, stopping protests which detainees should have started yesterday and that would have culminated in a mass hunger strike, next month. Palestinians have been protesting against mistreatment in prisons of the Israeli state, isolation, administrative detention (without trial or sentencing) and the difficult living conditions, according to Palestinian correspondence (PNN/Nena).
Israel places 42 Palestinians under administrative detention since March 1
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 11 Mar — The Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC) Wednesday said that the Israeli authorities have issued administrative detention orders against 42 Palestinian prisoners since the beginning of March, 2015. PPC said that the Israeli authorities Wednesday issued administrative detention orders against 13 Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli jails, bringing up the total number of prisoners detained without charge or trial since the beginning of March to 42 prisoners. PPC said that 11 prisoners have had their detention without charge or trial renewed numerous times, while the remaining two received new orders. Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret information without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.
15-year-old Palestinian enters 76th day in Israeli custody
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) — Fifteen-year-old Palestinian Khalid Hussam al-Sheikh entered his 76th day in Israeli custody on Wednesday after he was sentenced to four months’ jail time and given a 2,000 shekel ($495) fine for throwing rocks and burning tires. Al-Sheikh’s family told the Ahrar Center for Prisoners Studies and Human Rights that Khalid was not medically treated by Israel since he was detained on Dec. 25, 2014 despite the fact that he suffers from anemia. The family said that Khalid is currently being held in the Ofer detention center near Ramallah, and that they had not seen him since his detention, pointing out that they applied for visit permits long ago but have not received approval.
Sentencing three young men from the village of Esawyeh on charges of stabbing a settler in Jerusalem
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 9 Mar — The District court judge sentenced on Monday three young Jerusalemite men on charges of stabbing a settler and severely injuring him in the area of Damascus Gate in July 2013. The young men are: Ahmad Sha’ban (21) sentenced for 9 years of actual imprisonment and a fine of 25 thousand NIS, Sultan Rabah Abu Hummos (20) sentenced for 7 years of actual imprisonment and a fine of 15 thousand NIS and Mahmoud Rajabi who was sentenced for 30 months of actual imprisonment and a 5-thousand NIS fine. It is noteworthy that the occupation authorities arrested the three young men in July 2013 and were detained since then at Al-Maskobyeh, and Asqalan, Jalboo‘ and Nafha prisons.
Other news / Opinion
PA finance minister: We can no longer hold the pieces together
Haaretz 13 Mar by Amira Hass — Minister Shukri Bishara tells Haaretz that, with Israel freezing tax revenues, and the Palestinian Authority in emergency mode,’things will go out of control.’ — This week, the taxes and Customs duties that Israel is withholding from the Palestinian Authority reached 1.74 billion shekels ($435 million), after regular payments to Israeli hospitals, the water company, Mekorot, and Israel Electric Corp. were deducted. The taxes and customs duties — or clearance revenues — that Israel collects and is supposed to transfer to the Palestinians (for a fee of 3%) constitute roughly two-thirds of the PA’s yearly domestic revenue and three-quarters of the public sector’s wage bill. March marks the third consecutive month in which PA employees received only 60 percent of their salaries (those who make less than 2,000 shekels a month received the full amount). No one knows how much of those salaries will be paid next month. Some assume, or hope, that Israel will transfer the funds after Tuesday’s election. But PA Finance Minister Shukri Bishara says he has no idea whether that will happen. He and the rest of the Palestinians are living shrouded in uncertainty. “I find it particularly painful that the Israeli government went straight to the economic policy, to coercive tools,” Bishara told Haaretz. “Security is typically vulnerable and becomes exposed,” Bishara says. “You cannot expect the same degree of command and control and commitment from your security forces if you do not meet their basic requirements, financial requirements,” he says. “[The] Israeli government should be careful about this. It is an area of vulnerability that they should not underestimate.”
Hamas and Tehran boost ties as Meshal meets Larijani in Doha
Haaretz 12 Mar by Jack Khoury — Hamas leader Khaled Meshal met with a senior Iranian official in the Qatari capital Thursday, reflecting the group’s efforts to return to Iran’s orbit, Palestinian sources close to Hamas said. Hamas and Tehran were close before the group broke with Syrian President Bashar Assad during the Syrian civil war. On Thursday, Meshal and Iran’s speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani, discussed regional developments, the Palestinian issue, the blockade of Gaza and “Israeli threats,” Hamas said in a statement. According to Arab media reports, Hamas and Iranian officials have been meeting in Tehran in recent months. The relationship began warming after the Gaza war last summer. At a rally in Gaza several weeks ago, Hamas military spokesman Abu Obeida thanked Iran for its logistical and military support.
Hamas Twitter campaign backfires with torrent of abuse
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 13 Mar — Palestinian Islamist group Hamas launched a campaign on Twitter Friday aimed at improving its image, but was immediately hit by a barrage of sarcastic and mocking messages — The movement, which controls the Gaza Strip and fought a 50-day war with Israel last summer, said its English-language initiative #AskHamas was designed so officials could answer questions from social media users. The campaign was timed to coincide with the deadline for a European Union appeal against removing the group from the EU’s terror list, Hamas said … “The #AskHamas campaign… will begin Friday and continue for five days,” said an Arabic-language statement posted on Hamas media official Taher al-Nunu’s Facebook page. “It is aimed to send a message to the European public… which demonstrated its solidarity with the Palestinian cause… that Hamas is not a terrorist movement, but a nationalist liberation movement.” That was a reference to demonstrations in European capitals against Israel’s July-August campaign in Gaza … Nunu posted a link to Twitter account @HamasInfoEn, which showed pictures of the officials who would be answering questions, including the movement’s most senior leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniya. “Truth from the mouth of the horse”, it tweeted. But before the campaign even went live, Twitter users were already posting mocking messages under the #AskHamas hashtag. “If a tree falls in the woods, and there’s no one to hear it fall, is it still Israel’s fault,” one user asked..”Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?” another jibed..Hamas had apparently expected online detractors to try to sabotage the campaign, tweeting that “Zionist propagandists will try to convince you that this is a rocket, not a tweet. Do not fall for that.”..On Friday evening, the movement had not yet posted any answers to users’ queries…A spoof account named @AskHamas had begun to retort with sarcastic answers, but @HamasInfoEn stressed it was the only official account for the campaign.
Abbas to meet Kerry at Egypt economic conference
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in the Egyptian coastal town of Sharm el-Sheikh on Friday, where he is expected to discuss the economic crisis facing the Palestinian Authority with US Secretary of State John Kerry. The talks are part of the Economic Development Conference hosted by the Egyptian government, and are expected to include King Abdullah II of Jordan, as well as Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. Global political and business leaders have gathered for the three-day conference primarily to look into investing in Egypt after four years of tumult. Last month, the US voiced fears that the Palestinian Authority may be teetering on the brink of collapse due to a lack of funding, as Israel withholds taxes and donor aid stalls.
Wake-up Call: 47 years of disenfranchisement / Ami Kaufman
+972mag 9 Mar 3:03 — Did you know that in 15 out of Israel’s 20 elections one in three people living under Israeli rule haven’t had a vote? Ami Kaufman has a wake-up call for you — Israeli democracy – Israel likes to call itself the only democracy in the Middle East – a villa in the jungle. But before Israelis go to the polls to vote for a new government this March, it’s important to remember one thing – elections do not necessarily mean you’re a democracy.
WATCH: Bringing Gaza’s voices to Israeli voters
Israeli Social TV 12 Mar — Elections are often imagined as a celebration of democracy. But what about those who have no vote to give? –– Eatai Cohen-Milo: Under Israel’s control 12.5 million people live, but 4.5 million live under total military occupation. They depend on the government in many areas, such as water, taxes, construction, housing, but cannot vote for it. Our campaign was undertaken to raise the issue of the occupation. In order to acquaint eligible voters with the reality in the territories under their control, voter slips were passed out [in mailboxes]… but with a slight change. The voter slips [that] were passed included names of Gaza families killed in ‘Operation Protective Edge’….
Israel security officials recommend barrier on Jordan border
JERUSALEM (AFP) 14 Mar – Israeli security officials have recommended building a barrier along the border with Jordan — the Jewish state’s only frontier that does not yet feature a fence. “Security officials recommended the construction of a security barrier to protect the new airport which will be built at Timna” some 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of resort city Eilat, an army spokeswoman said, without elaborating. Work has already begun on the new airport near Eilat, which lies across the Jordanian border from the port city of Aqaba. Newspaper Haaretz reported that the planned 30-kilometre (19-mile) barrier was designed both to protect the airport and to foil attempts by would-be “jihadist infiltrators” from Jordan, which is home to some extremist sympathisers and a number of radical clerics. It was unclear whether the government would approve construction of the fence. Israel has a fence on its southern border with Egypt, also near Eilat, that was erected in 2013 to keep out illegal African immigrants. The Jewish state also has a border fence with the Gaza Strip and barriers on the frontiers with Syria and Lebanon, both countries it is technically at war with. The huge steel fence that runs along the Syrian frontier through the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights was built after the Syrian civil war broke out, for fear of a spillover of fighting and an influx of refugees. Israel also has a vast separation barrier that runs through the West Bank, which it began building during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which lasted from 2000-2005.
Gas deal for future Palestinian power station terminated
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Mar — The Palestine Power Generation Company (PPGC) is set to terminate a $1.2 billion deal with the Israeli-American Leviathan reservoir partners that would have supplied natural gas to a future Palestinian power plant, it was reported on Wednesday. The controversial deal, which was signed more than a year ago, allowed for the sale of approximately 4.75 billion cubic meters of gas over the course of 20 years to the PPGC, to fuel a future power plant in Jenin with a 200-megawatt capacity. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange reported that the PPGC notified the Leviathan partners of the deal’s termination on Tuesday. The Jerusalem Post reported that the termination came as the consequence of a looming antitrust dispute over the Leviathan partnership. The Leviathan field, one of the world’s largest offshore gas fields, is currently overseen by a partnership between American company Noble Energy and the Israeli company Delek.
The battle to be Israel’s conscience / Eve Fairbanks
The Guardian 12 Mar — For 25 years, the human-rights group B’Tselem has diligently catalogued the violations of its own government. Can it convince Israelis to listen? — On 15 August last year, five weeks into the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Hagai El-Ad, the director of B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation, appeared on a morning radio show to discuss the conflict. Throughout the fighting, B’Tselem did what it has done for 25 years since it was founded during the first Palestinian intifada: document human rights violations by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza. It compiled film and testimony gathered by volunteer field researchers on the ground, tallied daily casualty figures that were used by the local and international press, and released names of individual Palestinians killed by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). B’Tselem’s founders intended it to serve a purpose unlike any other organisation in Israel’s fractious political atmosphere: to provide pure information about the Israeli military’s treatment of Palestinians, without commentary or political agenda … B’Tselem, in Hebrew, means “in His image,” from the line in the Book of Genesis: “And God made man in His image.”
In Israel, a good Arab is an invisible Arab / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 12 Mar — The woman who will light a torch on Independence Day is just the type of Arab that Israel likes — an invisible one — My hearty congratulations to television presenter Lucy Aharish, who was chosen to light one of the beacons on Independence Day. On the anniversary of her nation’s disaster she will stand on Mount Herzl, not far from the ruins of the Arab village of Deir Yassin, the separation barrier and the Aida refugee camp, and light the beacon to the glory of the State of Israel. Aharish recalled that she was moved by the invitation, even to the point of tears. Her mother said on hearing the news that it was “a slap to all the racists.” We can assume that many “non-racist” Israelis will also be moved at the sight of the Arab woman who grew up in Dimona and appears on Hebrew television without an accent, participating in the fundamental ceremonies of their Jewish, democratic state. This is the way Israel rewards her exemplary behavior. The committee that chooses those who light the beacons wrote that Aharish “promotes social pluralism and positions that call for coexistence in our country.” In the eyes of the Zionist establishment, Aharish is a good Arab. It turns out that in our enlightened state, a good Arab is an invisible Arab, when it comes to his identity. Why was Aharish chosen? Because she – how shall we put it – does not look Arab, sound Arab or dress like an Arab. The “coexistence” of the establishment that chose her is actually “uni-existence,” everyone in its image. The deal is obvious: If you act like Jews, talk like them and think like them, you will be considered good Arabs, and maybe even Israelis. Because that is how we want you to be – like us. Not like the Zoabis. In other words, you are better off assimilating. But that is a double standard. The same Zionist establishment whose representatives put a beacon in Aharish’s hand and that sees Jewish assimilation into the Diaspora as a national disaster enthuses over the assimilation of Arabs. Would the committee have rewarded assimilated Jews in Europe? Would it say to a Jewish television host in America who distanced himself from every symbol of his people that he was contributing to “pluralism” or to “coexistence”?
Judge sentences Rasmea Odeh, insisting case is not ‘political’
Electronic Intifada 12 Mar by Ali Abunimah — Palestinian American community leader Rasmea Odeh was today sentenced to eighteen months in prison and a fine of one thousand dollars for lying on an immigation and citizenship application. US District Judge Gershwin Drain pronounced the sentence after an intense, two-hour hearing during which Odeh told the court “I am not a terrorist, I am not a bad woman.” Her US citizenship has also been revoked and she faces deportation to Jordan. The 67-year-old remains free on bond and can stay in the United States pending her appeal, which is likely to take at least six months. Following the hearing, Odeh’s lead attorney Michael Deutsch told supporters the prison sentence was “unjust” and “unnecessary” and confirmed that the conviction and sentence would be appealed. But there was also palpable relief among the dozens of people who rallied outside the courthouse in downtown Detroit, and a broad smile on Odeh’s face, given that the judge rejected a government request to impose a lengthy sentence of five to seven years and allowed her to remain free on bond … – “Terrorism hysteria”- The government argued that the sentence should be particularly harsh because Odeh had failed to disclose a 1969 “terrorism” conviction in an Israeli military court on her immigration application. Odeh has always maintained that she was forced to confess to involvement in two bombings one of which killed two people at the SuperSol supermarket in Jerusalem, after weeks of prolonged torture and sexual assault by Israeli interrogators. Assistant US Attorney Jonathan Tukel put on a video and slide presentation which he told the judge would contain “absolutely conclusive proof that [Odeh] was involved in the SuperSol supermarket bombing.” It included brief clips from documentaries made in 1993 and 2004 which the government claimed show associates of Odeh making statements implicating her in the attack. But none of the clips played by prosecutors, in Arabic with English subtitles, offered any such clear proof as far as The Electronic Intifada could see or hear … No clip showed Odeh taking credit for the supermarket attack … Drain also said he believed Odeh had lied in her trial testimony about how she filled out her US immigration forms, and admonished her for violating his orders not to mention to the jury her torture and mistreatment in Israeli custody. Because of this “obstruction of justice,” he increased the possible sentencing range by three months.
But this is what most Americans will see about the case:
US activist gets prison for lying about Israel bombing
DETROIT (AP) 12 Mar by Ed White — A judge sentenced a Chicago activist on Thursday to 18 months in prison for lying about her convictions for bombings in Israel when she sought U.S. citizenship, calling her a “terrorist” from decades ago who has turned to “good works.” Rasmieh Odeh, 67, also was stripped of her citizenship and will be deported, probably to Jordan. But she will remain free while she appeals the conviction, a process that could take more than a year. “The offense is serious but it’s not extremely serious,” said U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain. Odeh helps run Chicago’s Arab American Action Network, an education and social services agency, and more than 100 supporters filled the courtroom or spilled over into another room to watch a video feed of the hearing. Many took a bus or car-pooled from Chicago, then marched and chanted in front of the courthouse while waving Palestinian flags. Odeh was convicted of two bombings in Jerusalem in 1969, including one that killed two people at a market. But in 2004, she answered “no” on her U.S. citizenship application in Detroit when asked about any past criminal record. She also didn’t disclose it a decade earlier when she was granted a visa.
Secret history of my geography teacher, also co-founder of Hamas / Ramzy Baroud
Dissident Voice 13 Mar — This is not my geography teacher, or, more accurately it is not at all how I remember him. A series of APA images published by the British Daily Mail and other newspapers showed Hamad al-Hasanat lying dead in a mosque, surrounded by a group of Hamas fighters. On top of his lifeless body, as worshipers came to offer a final prayer before burial, rested an assault rifle. Hasanat was buried among the refugees of the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, in the central Gaza Strip. He died on March 2nd, at the age of 80. “Hammad al-Hasanat co-founded the terrorist group (Hamas) on December 14, 1987,” wrote the British tabloid by way of introducing the black Palestinian leader. I say ‘black,’ although, skin colour was never an issue worth discussing within the Palestinian Gaza political context. But Hasanat had an affinity to Africa. I should know that. He was my geography teacher, and my favourite one throughout my three years at the Nuseirat’s UNRWA Boys’ Prep School.
Baseball program brings together Arab and Jewish kids
Haaretz Sports Staff 13 Mar — While initially a little wary of each other, by the end of the two-day program, new friendships were formed and more than a few stereotypes were broken — In Friday’s unseasonal March sunshine, a group of sixth graders played baseball on the field at the Baptist Village in Petah Tikva. The sounds were no different than in any other game, with fielders on base shouting for the ball and batters excited at a solid hit. What was different was that out of the 28 kids on the field, 13 were Jewish kids from Modi’in and 15 were Arab kids from Ramle, participating in the Baseball for All (Baseball Le’Kulam) pilot program sponsored by the Israel Association of Baseball and Play Global … All the participants were new to the game, and over the two days learned not only the fundamentals of the game, but also how to work and play together. “This is the first program the IAB has run that aims specifically to bring Arab and Jewish kids together,” notes Fish … “Jewish and Muslims together is more fun,” Giora, 11, from Modi’in, pronounced. Adam, 12, from Ramle, was enthusiastic about two things – the game of baseball and his new friend Sagi from Modi’in: “Sagi is now my best friend,” he enthused, giving the Modi’in 12-year-old a boyish hug.
Film Review: Where Palestinians and settlers meet as equals
Haaretz 13 Mar by Ilene Prusher — Inspired by the maverick Rabbi Menachem Froman, Ali Abu Awwad and Shaul Judelman established Roots, a wooden shack in the West Bank where a large slice of hope is served with the coffee — Somewhere on a little piece of farmland in the West Bank, wedged between a cluster of Jewish settlements in the Gush Etzion bloc, there is a small wooden shack where unlikely friendships are blossoming. Here, Palestinians and settlers are defying the expectations and meeting as equals, with hopes for a better future. The key players are Ali Abu Awwad, a Palestinian from Beit Ummar (near Hebron), and Shaul Judelman, an Israeli who grew up in the United States and moved to Israel 14 years ago, spending much of that time in settlements: first to Bat Ayin and, a few months ago, to Tekoa. The story of what brought them together runs through Tekoa, which was home to Rabbi Menachem Froman (who died two years ago this Friday according to the Hebrew calendar). The out-of-the-box rabbi practiced what he preached: dialogue and connection with his neighbors. He even held meetings with Hamas figures, with whom he found it possible to talk from one religious person to another. The most avid supporters of Froman’s mission and message were bereft when the mystic with the long, white beard passed away in March 2013, following a long struggle with cancer. The story of his work in the last five years of his life, and an examination of the legacy he left behind, is the narrative that runs through a new documentary, “A Third Way – Settlers and Palestinians as Neighbors” directed by Harvey Stein. Stein, who moved to Israel from New York close to a decade ago, first met Froman in late 2008 to make a small film about him, and was taken with the way he was building bridges in a place full of disconnect….
This newslist doesn’t usually cover Syria, except for the Palestinian refugees there, but this satellite photo must be seen
Eighty-three percent of lights have gone out in Syria
UNITED NATIONS (IPS) 11 Mar — A single image can be more powerful, more descriptive and more potent than an entire essay – ‘ a picture says a thousand words,’ as the cliché goes. So it is in Syria, where despite the undoubted millions of words penned about atrocity after atrocity, bombing after bombing, a newly-released set of satellite images spell out the true devastation wrought on the nation. Since the start of the conflict in 2011, more than four-fifths of lights across Syria have gone out.