200 protesters in Nabi Saleh are met with rubber-coated bullets, then live ammunition

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

VIDEO: Nabi Saleh Land Day protest met with extreme violence and live ammunition
ISM 29 Mar  Video by Anarchists Against the Wall — On the 27th of March 2015, close to 200 protesters from all over the West Bank gathered in Nabi Saleh to protest the occupation in commemoration of Land Day … On March 30th 1976 a general strike and marches were arranged all over Palestinian cities within Israel from the Naqab to the Galilee. The actions were a response to the Israeli Government’s expropriation of thousands of dunams of Palestinian land. During the actions six unarmed Palestinian Israeli citizens were killed, 100 wounded and hundreds more arrested. It was the first time since 1948 that the Palestinians within 1948 Israel organized as a Palestinian national collective and the date is commemorated yearly with a series of protests all over the West Bank. This year the protests began on Saturday the 28th of March in Nabi Saleh. Around 12 pm on Saturday, protesters from all over the West Bank, from Hebron to Kafr Qaddum, gathered in the village of Nabi Saleh. The demonstration was a local protest in commemoration of Land Day and of the two villagers Mustafa Tamimi and Rushdi Tamimi, who were murdered by the Israeli occupation soldiers. After midday prayer protesters made their way down the main road of the village chanting and singing. On the outskirts of the village nine army and border police jeeps was gathered and as the demonstrators approached the road the about 60 soldiers and police rained tear gas on the unarmed and unoffending protesters. Several people suffered from severe tear gas poisoning as the military pushed them back into the village overpowering and arresting one Palestinian activist. The tear gas clouds covered the street for more than 30 meters and the protest spread into the farmlands surrounding the village … As the protest continued the soldiers began firing rubber-coated steel bullets at the protesters who took cover behind stones and trees as the bullets jumped off the road between them. The steel bullets came repeatedly and several protesters were hit and carried from the scene. As the protesters ducked from the rubber-coated steel bullets the sound of M16’s began to fill the air as soldiers started to target Palestinian protesters, children, internationals and journalists on the Hill with live ammunition. Fifteen M16 bullets ricocheted off the stones on the ground very close to the protesters, fortunately not hitting anyone. However, the protest continued for half an hour longer until the military got back in their jeeps and moved back towards the checkpoint at the outskirts of the city. The Land Day protests will continue all over the West Bank throughout the week.

Israeli soldiers raid Palm Sunday celebration in Beit Jala
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Mar — Palm Sunday celebrations in Beit Jala were brought to an abrupt end, on Sunday, when Israeli troops raided the majority-Christian town near Bethlehem and began threatening locals. Palestinian policemen on duty near the celebrations were threatened by Israeli soldiers with arrest during the raid, which took place in the middle of the day as Sunday mass was coming to an end in local churches, Ma‘an News Agency reports. The town of Beit Jala is subject to regular incursions by Israeli forces, even though the large majority of its population lives in Area A, subject to full Palestinian civil and military control under the Oslo Accords. Palm Sunday is celebrated this year on March 29 according to the Gregorian calendar, which is recognized for religious purposes by most Western Christian denominations in Palestine. Orthodox Christians, meanwhile, use the Julian calendar and will be celebrating Palm Sunday on April 5. The raid raises fears of a repeat of last Easter, when Israeli restrictions on Christian worship during the holiday prevented thousands of Christian Palestinians from traveling to Jerusalem and led to chaotic scenes in the city itself. Israeli authorities have in the past come under sharp criticism for the violation of religious freedom of Palestinian Christians, who number around 200,000, including 50,000 in the West Bank, 1,000 in Gaza, and the rest inside Israel. In March of last year, Christians from East Jerusalem issued a statement complaining that Christians are often denied access to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher during the Easter holidays.

Israeli Soldiers Raid Palm Sunday Celebration in Beit Jala

Soldiers invade a number of communities near Jenin
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Mar — Israeli soldiers invaded, late on Sunday evening, several Palestinian villages and towns in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, installed roadblocks, and detained and interrogated scores of local youths. Several Israeli military vehicles invaded Meithaloon town, Siris, ‘Ejja, and the al-Jarba village, before detaining and interrogating dozens of youths while inspecting the ID cards. In addition, dozens of military vehicles were deployed around Ya‘bad town, before the soldiers installed a roadblock on the main junction near Mabo Dotan illegal Israeli colony; no arrests were reported. The army also installed a sudden roadblock on the Jenin-Nablus road, near the ‘Ejja village junction, stopped dozens of cars and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards. The soldiers later invaded ‘Ejja, detained many local youths in the village, and interrogated them. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers were also deployed on nearby hills before searching them.

Israeli forces conduct military training in Birzeit
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Mar — Israeli forces conducted military training exercises in the Ramallah district town of Birzeit earlier this week, according to Israeli media. The Israeli forces’ Territorial Brigade allegedly raided the town, which is just outside the central West Bank city of Ramallah, in what was reported by Israeli news source Haaretz as “preparation for a possible escalation on the ground.” The forces engaged in a variety of potential scenarios including confronting violent mass demonstrations, shooting attacks, and use of live fire by members of Palestinian security forces. While Haaretz reported the exercise was planned with the intention to cause “relatively little disruption to the routine of Palestinian life,” the account included a training exercise that involved a raid on the home of a Birzeit University college student, whose house was searched during the night while he stood in his pajamas with an Israeli soldier. The training exercises come just over a year after Israeli forces shot dead a 24-year old Palestinian in the same town during a raid. Muatazz Washaha was killed after Israeli forces tried to invade his home and arrest him for being part of a leftist political group in Feb. 2014. The forces fired a shell into the home following a brief standoff. Birzeit is in Area A, falling under full civil and military control of the Palestinian Authority according to the Oslo Accords. However, Israeli forces repeatedly enter Area A, most often in military raids launched on a near nightly basis to detain Palestinians. Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din reported that Israeli forces have upheld the practice of using populated Palestinian areas for Israeli military drills since at least 2007. The group filed a complaint against the Israeli Military Advocate General’s Corps in 2013, arguing that such military exercises “sow fear and panic and violate the security and dignity of the residents,” particularly because exercises are often not announced to Palestinian locals in advance, and thus it is not always clear to nearby residents that these are mere drills. The military’s Legal Advisor for the West Bank declared in February 2014 that military training exercises were no longer authorized to be held in Palestinian villages without giving prior notification to the civilian population. However, Yesh Din has criticized the fact that the practice has continued.

Father of three killed in hit-and-run by Israeli settler
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 30 Mar — An Israeli fanatic settler ran over the 42-year-old Palestinian citizen Khaled Youssef Sweiti in the 1948 occupied land on Sunday morning, leaving him dead. A PIC correspondent quoted local sources as reporting that Sweiti, originally from Beit Uwa village to the southwest of al-Khalil and working in the 1948 occupied territories, breathed his last after he was hit by a settler’s car as he crossed an access road near Kiryat Malakhi in eastern Ashkelon. The casualty is a father of three children, the same sources further reported.  The Israeli police, meanwhile, claimed in a statement that the “accident” cropped up as a passenger’s car came at high speed, saying further investigations are underway to determine the circumstances of the death. The police did not apprehend the perpetrator.

Youth shot by Israel for waving flag and flashing V sign (report)
Anas Qdeh, 21, had no idea that waving the Palestinian flag and flashing the V sign is a crime for which he will be shot by the Israeli Occupation forces (IOF) which fired explosive bullets directly at his legs while he was with scores of citizens about 10 meters away from the security fence separating Khan Younis from 1948 occupied lands.  – We will never give up on our land – Qdeh told the PIC reporter: “On Friday March 20, I headed to our land east of al-Sanati in Greater Abasan where many youths gather every Friday to stress that this is our land and that we will never give up on it even if Israel isolated it. The IOF imposed a buffer zone adjacent to the security fence along the borderline with the Gaza Strip stretching for distances ranging from 300-700 meters deep into the Strip and shoots whoever enters it. Qdeh clarified the circumstances of his injury saying: “One of my friends wanted to take a picture of me waving the Palestinian flag with the V sign while we were in our land which the IOF is preventing us from reaching in Greater Abasan east of Khan Younis. However, the IOF soldiers started shooting at us and I was hit with an explosive bullet.”  – Explosive bullet – The bullet hit one of the youth’s legs, and the shrapnel scattered to hit his other leg and his cousin Fawzi Qdeh who was nearby. Anas lay on the ground profusely bleeding before he was rushed to hospital to be urgently treated. His cousin Fawzi Qdeh, 23, said with a smile drawn on his face that a piece of shrapnel is still lodged in his left shoulder and doctors told him that it is difficult to extract it at this stage. He clarified that he was rearing his goats in al-Santai lush fields, and when he saw the youths gathering and chanting he joined them to see what was going on and to take photos.

Israeli settlers assault farmer, 2 sons in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 28 Mar — Four Israeli settlers from Bet Ayn in the Hebron area assaulted Palestinian farmers while they were working on their land in Beit Ummar Saturday morning, an activist said. Muhammad Ayyad Awad, coordinator of a local popular committee in Beit Ummar, said that Israeli settlers threw stones at farmer Muhammad Abd al-Hamid Jaber al-Sleibi and his two sons in the Wadi Abu al-Rish area near Bet Ayn. Awad added that four masked Israeli settlers dressed in white threw rocks using slingshots at the farmers from behind barbed wire fences forcing them to flee the area. The farmers reported the incident to the Palestinian liaison office, he said.

Shepherds detained near Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Mar — Israeli forces, Saturday, detained a number of Palestinian shepherds for hours, after chasing them down in Masafir Yatta area, to the south of Hebron, according to a local activist. Coordinator of the popular committee in Southern Hebron Rateb al-Jabour told WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency that Israeli soldiers detained the shepherds for almost five hours after chasing them down the grazing fields, in order to prevent them from grazing their livestock. He said that the move was carried out under the pretext of ‘providing protection for settlers residing in nearby Israeli settlements, built illegally on Palestinian residents’ land.

Israeli forces briefly hold, threaten Ramallah governor
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an )28 Mar– Israeli forces briefly detained the governor of the Ramallah and al-Bireh district, Laila Ghannam, at the entrance of Nabi Saleh village in the northern Ramallah district on Saturday. Soldiers reportedly threatened the governor of “direct targeting” if she continues to participate in the weekly march organized by the popular committee against settlements and the separation wall in Nabi Saleh. Ghannam said “we will not be frightened of detention even if are directly targeted; we will take part in the weekly march and will not be prevented from exercising our rights on our land.” Ghannam was detained in a similar incident in February last year while traveling from Jericho to Ramallah. She said then that her detention was a political message from the Israeli government to PA leaders that Israel wants to impose its authority in every way possible. The people of Nabi Saleh have been protesting weekly for five years, demanding that land confiscated by Israeli authorities to build the separation wall be returned.

Soldiers kidnap ten Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem
IMEMC 30 Mar by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers conducted, on Monday morning, an extensive military campaign targeting dozens of homes in different parts of occupied East Jerusalem, and kidnapped ten Palestinians, after searching and ransacking their homes and property. Amjad Abu ‘Asab, head of the Jerusalem Detainees Committee, said the soldiers kidnapped Ehab al-Jallad, 39, from the al-‘Eesawiyya town, ‘Amro Abu ‘Arafa, 28, and Mohammad Rokn,22, from Ras al-‘Amoud, Fadi al-Ja’ba, 26, from Jerusalem’s Old City, Jihad Taha from Silwan, and Jihad ‘Oweidha, 40, from ath-Thoury neighborhood; all are former political prisoners. He added that the soldiers also kidnapped two children identified as ‘Abed ‘Issa, 16, and ‘Omar Abu ‘Asab, 15, from the Shu‘fat refugee camp, in addition to Mohammad ‘Awsha’ Mona, 20, and another Palestinian of the Bseiso family in the Old City.  He said Israel is deliberately targeting the Palestinians who try to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque, especially amidst the escalating attacks carried out by Israeli fanatic groups. Lawyer Mohammad Kteilat, of the Qodsona Foundation for Human Rights, said the police attacked and kidnapped Samiha Shahin while leaving the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in addition to kidnapping Mohammad Zo’abi, 17, and Ahmad al-Husseini, 17, as they were in the mosque’s courtyards.

Stories from Al ‘Arroub refugee camp
[photos] AL ‘ARROUB REFUGEE CAMP, Occupied Palestine (International Women’s Peace Service) 28 Mar — Situated along the main Hebron-Jerusalem road, across the street from a university, sits the heavily fenced and concrete blockaded main entrance to Al ‘Arroub Palestinian refugee camp. Taysir, a 39 year old former prisoner of the Israeli government and resident of the camp, waits out front of the camp entryway to give an intimate and shocking view of Al ‘Arroub which is home to over 10,000 refugees living on less than a square mile of land and originating from nearly 3 dozen villages from as far away as Gaza … IWPS members are introduced to Nazaar, whose 28 year old brother Eid, married just one year, was shot two dozen times by occupation forces during a raid in the camp as last year’s war in Gaza raged to a fever pitch. The murder took place on the first day’s Eid celebration of the Ramadan month of fasting as Nazaar was driving his brothers to a family meal. He stands beside the poster of his murdered brother as he recalls the horror, “This was an execution. They killed him in the streets in front of everyone. Why? He was happy, he loved life. This was a tragedy.” … The day is ended at the home of a woman who has had every one of her children imprisoned. Two of which still languish in administrative detention. In the room is Taysir, imprisoned four years- A young Palestinian who was kidnapped from a field near school and imprisoned two years along with a film maker and actor who spent “just a year” in Israeli detention … “When I was released from prison, I had drug withdrawal symptoms and had no idea why.” He fears he was drugged during his time in Ben Yamen, Asharon and Demoon Prisons- It is common for Palestinians to be moved from prison to prison, it is a disorienting and unnerving tactic. “They called me three times since I have been released offering me money, a car and a pass to work inside of Israel if I sell Ketamine for them. We don’t need you to collaborate with us, you are our brother, let’s just be friends, they told me.” Collaboration has been reported as a huge point of harrassment, especially for child prisoners, coming from elements of the Israeli military. And drug abuse is rising among residents of Palestinian refugee camps.

When an Arab kid is arrested in the heart of Tel Aviv
+972blog 29 Mar by Mei-Tal Nadler — The ugly Israeli is not the one who is filmed yelling at stewardesses or hotel receptionists. It is the one who lives in denial of an entire system that oppresses another people. The one who eats his ice cream as a Palestinian child is arrested right in front of him — A few weeks ago, just days before Israelis headed to the polls, an Arab teenager was arrested on Tel Aviv’s famed Rothschild Boulevard at around 6 p.m. I have no idea who he is, what he did before he was arrested, where he came from or where he is now. Perhaps he stole something, or perhaps he planned to steal or cause harm. He looked no older than 13, maybe 14. A teenager. In this story, I am the local, a passerby who is walking her dog when she sees a strange sight: a young boy handcuffed to a policeman in civilian clothing, with a policewoman walking next to them. “Why are you trying to escape, huh? You thought we wouldn’t catch you?” asks to the policewoman. He looks frightened. I ask him how old is he, but he remains silent. I asked if the officers explained his rights to him, if anyone knows he has been arrested. “He’s a shabakhnik. [A Hebrew term for Palestinians who enter Israel illegally without a permit.] You want a shabakhnik on your street?” asks the policewoman. He is just a teenager, and to tell the truth, I don’t really care whether he is on my street.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Israel seeks permission to demolish ancient Palestinian village
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Mar — The Israeli public prosecution has asked the Israeli High Court of Justice for permission to demolish the ancient Palestinian village of Sussia [Susiya, Susya], and relocate its residents to Yatta, near Hebron, allowing for more “archaeological” work at the site. Israel’s intent was noted in a response to the High Court of Justice regarding a petition filled by Sussia residents and human rights organizations about a year ago, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency. Before this petition was filed, an additional petition was filed by the Regavim organization, funded by settler-group Amana and Isaeli regional authorities in the West Bank, calling for what they claimed Palestinian “illegal outposts” in Sussia to be demolished. The prosecution opposed the court’s temporary injunction against demolition, despite the fact it often supports such temporary injunctions when they are made against illegal Jewish outposts. The petition criticizes decisions made by the Israeli Civil Administration’s planning committee to reject an alternate plan suggested by Sussia residents, stating that the relocation to Yatta is in their best interest. The residents’ petition also seeks to cancel 64 separate demolition orders against all of the 100-or-so structures in the village. Alternately, the residents ask that the Civil Administration offer a different solution that would allow them to continue living on the land, which they own. Israeli attorney Kamar Mishraki-Asad, representing the Sussia residents, told Haaretz, “It’s incredible, but with the settlements, it was already ruled that Sussia land is privately owned and thousands of dunams of land in the area are privately owned by Palestinians. Despite this, for many years the army has prohibited residents from setting up their homes in the area, and has rejected any request for construction or planning permits, in order to keep them away from the Sussia settlement and to allow the settlers to continue seizing the agricultural lands, and expel the residents to Areas A and B. “Now, after residents made great efforts and prepared plans for their village, the army continues its policy while cynically relying on planning concerns,” Mishraki-Asad added. “For years, the army has forbidden water, electricity and drainage infrastructure to be built, and now claims that expelling the residents is for their own good.” [Haaretz article has a map]

131 new housing units within two settlement projects in OJ
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 28 Mar — Hebrew sources disclosed on Friday that the Israeli occupation is preparing for the implementation of  two settlement projects including 131 housing units in Occupied Jerusalem. The weekly Hebrew newspaper Kol Hair stated on Friday that two Israeli companies are working on the construction of two settlement projects; one in Har Homa in occupied Jerusalem and the other in northwest occupied Jerusalem. During the first quarter of the year 2015, an Israeli company sold sixteen housing units in Beit Fagan project, which is to be constructed on Har Homa outpost in Jerusalem, the newspaper said. It added that seventy-seven housing units are expected to be built within Beit Fagan settlement project in five- or six-story buildings. Twelve different housing units were sold as well in another settlement project, which is being established in Beit Horon outpost to the northwest of occupied Jerusalem. The Israeli construction firm which supervises the project revealed that a campaign is being launched for marketing twelve other housing units.

IOA forces Palestinian civilian to knock down his own home
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 30 Mar — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) ordered a Palestinian citizen to self-demolish his own home in Occupied Jerusalem under the pretext of unlicensed construction. The Quds Press news agency quoted the citizen Nidhal Da’na as stating that the IOA forced him to demolish a 1,500-year-old-house of his own near Bab al-Silsila (Chain Gate, one of the gates of the holy al-Aqsa Mosque). He said he cannot but abide by the self-demolition order as the only means to avoid shelling out exorbitant fines imposed by the Israeli occupation municipality, often amounting to 10,000 dollars. Part of the house floor collapsed sometime earlier due to Israeli excavations beneath the al-Aqsa Mosque and its vicinities, the house owner further reported, saying an underground tunnel has been detected beneath the building.

Israeli forces deliver stop-work notices in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 28 Mar  — Israeli authorities delivered a notice to halt construction on a concrete factory, as well as on a home and agricultural road, in the Hebron district late Thursday. Coordinator of a local popular committee in southern Hebron, Rateb al-Jubour, said that Israeli forces raided the al-Bweib area in eastern Yatta late Thursday to deliver the stop-work notices.  The home belonged to Ahmad Muhammad Hassan Daajneh … Thursday’s raid came just days after Israeli forces delivered notices to halt construction at Palestinian residences in the same area, raiding the Deir Moussa area in northwestern Surif in order to deliver stop-work notices to six houses.

Israel orders construction of warehouse near Jenin to stop
JENIN (WAFA) 29 Mar – The Israeli authorities Sunday ordered the construction of a warehouse in the village of Zbuba [PIC says Rummana], northwest of Jenin, to stop, and informed the owner about their intent to demolish it, according to local sources. Ghassan al-Aker, owner of the warehouse which is currently under construction, told WAFA an Israeli military force and staff from the Israeli Planning and Construction Department arrived at the site, and forced the workers to leave before handing the owner a court order regarding the demolition of the warehouse. Al-Aker, who said he had proper paperwork proving ownership of the site and the warehouse, which was intended to be a drug store, said he had so far incurred about $352,000 in the ongoing construction. This part of Zbuba, a village in the farthest northern West Bank, is located in Area C, under complete Israeli control, where Israel rarely issues construction permits for Palestinians.

Settlers destroy 1200 Palestinian olive trees near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — Israeli settlers on Saturday destroyed more than 1,000 olive trees near the village of al-Shuyukh north of Hebron, in the third such attack on the villagers’ livelihood in recent memory. Local activist Ahmad al-Halayqa told Ma‘an that Israelis from the nearby settlement of Asfar, also known as Metzad, attacked the village and destroyed 1,200 trees. He said that all of the destroyed trees had been recently planted following a similar attack by individuals from the same settlement which had destroyed trees in the area last month. He said that the trees in the area belonged to local Palestinian farmer, Muhammad Abu Shanab al-Ayaydah as well as the children of Abd al-Qader Abu Shanab al-Ayaydah and Mousa Abu Shanab al-Ayayadah. Al-Halayqa told Ma‘an that the settlement of Asfar is located on land confiscated by Israeli authorities from Palestinian residents of al-Shuyukh, and now they hope to expand the land under their control by taking over the area where the olive trees were targeted.

Settlers steal stones near Salfit for paving settlement streets
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Mar — Witnesses and citizens of towns and villages west of Salfit reported that bulldozers were tracking the area and left with several massive stones. Settlers are using this kind of stone to pave new streets of newly built settlements. A Palestinian researcher reported that there are traces of crushed stones in settlements; ground and crushed stones and rocks are to be used in various fields related to the construction of housing units in the settlement, at the expenses of the territory of the towns and the villages of Kafr al-Dik, Rafat, Bruqin, Deir Balut and Sarta. He pointed out that after Israeli PM Netanyahu‘s re-election, fear of a speed in settlement construction is palpable in many areas in the West bank, and, with that, other systemic human rights abuses committed by Israel.

Palestinians protest continuous demolitions in Negev village
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 28 Mar — A march set off Saturday from the Negev city of Rahat for al-‘Araqib village to protest the continuous demolition of homes in the village. The housing structures have reportedly been demolished more than 80 times. The village sheikh, Sayyah Abu Mdeighim, as well as activists and lawyers from the Negev, took part in the march, carrying signs that read: “Stop Demolishing al-Araqib.” Activist Aziz al-Turi told Ma‘an that women, children and elderly people also participated in the protest. He added that other Palestinians should organize similar marches to defend their land against Israeli incursions. Activities marking the 39th Palestinian “Land Day” were also carried out in the al-‘Araqib, commemorating a general strike and marches that took place on Mar. 30, 1976 in protest over Israeli land seizures. Six unarmed Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured by Israeli forces that day.

Prisoners / Court actions

Hamas rocket whiz gets 21 years in jail
Times of Israel 29 Mar by Jonathan Beck — Dirar Abu Sissi has PhD from Ukrainian military academy, said to have helped hugely increase Kassam [Qassam] missiles’ range — The Beersheba District Court on Thursday convicted Hamas engineer Dirar Abu Sissi and sentenced him to 21 years in jail, four years after Israel nabbed the infamous rocket maker. Abu Sissi, known by the sobriquet the “father of rockets,” was convicted as part of a plea bargain that saw him charged with conspiracy to commit murder, arms manufacture, membership in a terror organization and possession of weapons. Prosecutors did not, however, seek an attempted murder charge. The Hamas engineer has been held in Israel since he was reportedly grabbed while traveling in Ukraine in 2011, according to foreign media. He was an official with the military college of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, and was involved in increasing the range of Kassam rockets from six kilometers to 22 kilometers. His worked centered mainly on the rocket’s stabilizer fins and fuel chambers. He was also involved in the production of various types of projectiles, including mortar shells and several types of rockets. The indictment was served in 2011, and the trial took nearly four years, since the prosecution had trouble proving a direct connection between Abu Sissi’s work and the charges of attempted murder. The defendant holds a PhD in electric engineering from the Military Academy of Engineering in Ukraine, and has also taken courses on the control systems of Scud-type missiles. According to international media outlets, he was abducted while traveling to Kiev by train with his wife, en route to take out a visa and immigrate to Ukraine. He was then flown to Israel accompanied by Israeli agents against his will.

Head of the Popular Committee against the Wall released
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Mar — The Israeli Authorities released, Sunday, the head of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, in Nabi Saleh village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah after holding him for more than 24 hours, when the soldiers used excessive force against nonviolent protesters marking the 39th anniversary of the Palestinian Land Day. Dozens of Palestinians marched Sunday in front of the ‘Ofer Israeli military prison, demanding the release of Jamil al-Barghouthi, before the soldiers fired concussion grenades and gas bombs on them. The ‘Ofer prison, and its military court, are built in Palestinian lands belonging to residents of Betunia town, west of Ramallah. The court initially ordered the release of al-Barghouthi after instating a 5000 New Israeli Shekels fine, in addition to trying to force him to vow to refrain from participating in the protests against the Annexation Wall and settlements, but he refused to sign any agreement. Al-Barghouthi became the head of the Committee after the army killed the former head, Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu ‘Ein. Al-Barghouthi is active in popular, nonviolent, resistance activities against the Israeli Annexation Wall and colonies in different parts of occupied Palestine, and was one of many activists who installed the “Jerusalem Gate” protest tent village in Abu Dis town, near occupied Jerusalem.

Israel holds Palestinian minister after IDF judge orders his release
Haaretz 30 Mar by Chaim Levinson — Activist Jamil Barghouti, arrested during a demonstration on Saturday, claims police singled him out in advance — Israeli authorities arrested a Palestinian minister and kept him in jail even after an Israel Defense Force’s judge ruled that there was no evidence he had broken the law and ordered his immediate release. Police arrested Minister Jamil Barghouti, the head of the Palestinian Authority committee against the separation barrier and settlements, during a demonstration on Saturday. Barghouti was participating in a festival in the village of Nabi Saleh, outside Ramallah. The village has been in conflict in recent years with the Jewish settlement of Neve Tzuf. During the event, the crowd began marching toward the settlement, but were stopped by IDF soldiers and police. At a certain point Barghouti waved a Palestinian flag. Several policemen surrounded him and arrested him. After Barghouti’s arrest, the local IDF commander ordered his release. Officers at the police station, however, demanded that conditions be set for his release – including posting a 5,000-shekel ($1,250) bond, a five-day house arrest and a ban against participating in demonstrations for five to 10 days … However, IDF Judge Shmuel Kedar ruled on the basis of the footage that Barghouti had done nothing illegal, and even if there had been any sort of misconduct, the order the police sought was invalid. Kedar added that there was no reason to continue holding Barghouti under arrest, and ordered his immediate release. The military prosecution in West Bank, headed by Col. Morris Hirsch, defied the release order and held Barghouti until 8 P.M. An appeal was scheduled for Monday, with Hirsch insisting that Barghouti post a 5,000-shekel bond as a guarantee that he will appear in court. The IDF spokesman has yet to comment on the case.

Two teens released, forced away from Al-Aqsa Mosque for 30 days
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Mar — The Israeli District Court ordered, Sunday, the release of two Palestinian teenagers from occupied Jerusalem, but also ruled that they would not be allowed into Al Aqsa Mosque and its courtyards for 30 days. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) has reported that the District Court ordered the release of Saleh Sandouqa, age 17, and Khaled Milhes, 16, but ordered them under house arrest for five days. The court also ruled that the two children would not be allowed into the mosque and its courtyards for 30 days, in addition to ordering their families to pay 600 New Israeli Shekels (NIS) each, as well as instating a third party bail of 2,000 NIS that would have to be paid “should they violate the terms of their release”.Silwanic said that the soldiers took the two children last weekend, after the army stormed their homes in occupied Jerusalem.


Israeli navy targets fishing boats off Gaza shore
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Mar — The Israeli navy Sunday targeted Palestinian fishermen with gunfire while they were sailing offshore the city of Gaza, according to a WAFA correspondent. He said the navy fired heavy gunfire towards Palestinians’ fishing boats despite sailing within the six-nautical-mile zone allocated to fishing activities at four nautical miles. The fishermen returned to the shore quickly to escape the attack. There were no reports of casualties, however.

Army fires missile, machine guns toward Gaza farmland
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Mar — The Israeli Army Saturday opened machine gunfire and launched a missile toward Palestinian agricultural land along the eastern Gaza borders, according to WAFA correspondents. A loud explosion and the sound of numerous shots were heard to the east of Al Shuja‘eyya neighborhood, spreading a state of fear and panic among residents and their children, particularly school students near the area. Israeli soldiers stationed at watch towers along the borders, to the east of Gaza city, fired off a missile and opened a hail of gunfire toward Palestinians’ agricultural land, causing damages and financial losses to properties.

Israeli forces open fire on protest at Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — Israeli forces opened fire on dozens of protesters marching on the eastern border of the Gaza Strip near Khan Younis on Sunday. Witnesses said that Israeli forces opened fire on the protesters as they neared the border, adding that no injuries were reported. The protest was called in opposition to the Israeli-administered blockade of the coastal strip as well as to delays in reconstruction. Protesters were also commemorating the 39th Palestinian “Land Day.” Adham Abu Salima, spokesman for a local activist group, the National Committee for Breaking the Siege and Reconstruction, told Ma‘an the protest had been called to mark “refusal” of the blockade and to stand up for Gazan families whose homes are in ruins … Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire on Palestinian civilians near the border since the ceasefire agreement signed Aug. 26, 2014. In February alone, there were a total of 26 incidents of shootings, incursions into the Strip, and arrests, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. The attacks come despite Israeli promises at the end of the ceasefire to ease restrictions on Palestinian access to the border region near the “security buffer zone.”  A number of recent demonstrations in the occupied territories have marked Land Day, commemorating a general strike and marches that took place on Mar. 30, 1976 to protest Israeli land seizures.  Six unarmed Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured by Israeli forces that day.

Turkish medical NGO opens branch in Gaza
Middle East Monitor 28 Mar —  A Turkish medical NGO opened a branch in the Gaza Strip on Friday with the aim of assisting the blockaded Palestinian enclave’s ill-equipped medical institutions, Anadolu has reported. Speaking at the opening ceremony, the community head of Earth Doctors reminded the audience that the territory is besieged by land, sea and air. “Nevertheless,” said Orhan Alimoglu, “we believe that our work will benefit local hospitals and the Palestinian health sector greatly.” He thanked the people of Turkey and other supporters for their donations towards the establishment of the Gaza branch. Alimoglu explained that the NGO would occasionally dispatch doctors from Turkey to Gaza for difficult cases that Gaza doctors could not treat or which required competencies not available in the enclave. Earth Doctors will also support Gaza medical institutions with infrastructure, equipment and medicine, he added.

A Week in Photos: Survivors, art, and destruction in Gaza
Activestills 28 Mar Photos by Anne Paq — Ten photos from Gaza — of survivors and the devastated urban landscape seven months after the last Israeli offensive — This week marks seven months since Israel’s war in Gaza last summer, “Operation Defensive Edge.” During the course of the war, over 2,200 Palestinians were killed. Tens of thousands are still homeless due to Israeli strikes. Almost no reconstruction has taken place because of Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on the import of raw materials into the Strip. The following are images from the Gaza Strip in the past week, March 17-25, 2015, showing the destruction, the lives of survivors, memories of the dead and daily life in the besieged strip of land.

Sneaking across Israeli border last resort for desperate Gazans

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 29 Mar by Hana Salah — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been illegally crossing the eastern border into Israel for years. Yet, what was once a rare phenomenon has now transformed into an almost daily occurrence. Palestinian youths hope to find a better life and jobs across the border, or even obtain refugee status, but they are almost always detained by Israel. Regardless, more and more youths are risking their lives to sneak across the border. In east Gaza’s Maghazi refugee camp, 15-year-old Ismail, a pseudonym, tried to sneak into Israel as a way to escape his family’s difficult financial and psychological situation. Ismail’s aunt, who raised him after his father’s death in 2006, told Al-Monitor, “He would come to me every day with ‘heroic’ stories about his attempt to cross the wire demarcating the border with other boys from the neighborhood. I tried to discourage him, but he wouldn’t stop trying.” According to Ismail, his attempt a few weeks ago was the last. “That day, the border was scary. I was trying to cross the border alone to find a job, since I don’t want to finish my studies at school. I went out after sunset heading toward the border wire. However, suddenly the night lit up with gunfire. Miraculously I survived, and I won’t try this again.”

The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef — and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat
The Independent 29 Mar by Kim Sengupta — The underwater rock formations provide the best fishing grounds off Gaza, but they are just beyond the limit set by the Israelis for local boats. Tawfiq Abu Riyala dreamt up an ingenious plan to solve this problem; but it may have ended up costing him his life. The 32-year-old fisherman had built up his own artificial rock with planks of wood, tyres, and bits of metal, seemingly well within the area in which he and his colleagues are allowed to operate. It was while he was adding to this pile that an Israeli gunboat opened fire, wounding him fatally.Tawfiq and four other fishermen were in two boats that he owned. Both vessels were seized: two of the men were injured; two others arrested. “I told him not to go that day, because the Israelis were doing a lot of shooting; but those boats had cost him $50,000 [£34,000] and he had to earn money to pay back the loan he had taken for them,” said his brother Mohammed, 29. “It may be that the Israelis saw something metallic in his hands and that’s what led to them firing. But he has been building that thing for more than 18 months. They have seen him doing it. So, why shoot this time? And what about all the other shootings?” There were reportedly three other attacks in the previous eight days before Tawfiq’s death. Three men suffered minor wounds and four were arrested. According to Palestinian human rights organisations, Israeli forces have detained 49 fishermen, injured 17 and confiscated 12 boats since the ceasefire agreement in Cairo which ended last summer’s conflict.–and-was-shot-dead-there-by-an-israeli-gunboat-10141357.html

Gazans divided over billboards featuring foreign donors
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 27 Mar by Hazem Balousha — The Gaza Strip has grown accustomed to billboards thanking foreign donors for their support, but these billboards have done little to lift the siege on Gaza — A few years after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, a new phenomenon emerged. Every now and then, a roadside billboard would be erected, expressing gratitude to a country or figure for providing financial of political support to Hamas, or even funding for a project in the Strip. This month, a new series of billboards appeared in the Strip, erected by a local nongovernmental organization, ​the Palestinian Center for Human Perseverance, which is run by Jalila Dahlan, wife of the dismissed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan, who resides in the United Arab Emirates​. The billboards feature photographs of Emirati princes and express thanks to them for paying for a wedding ceremony for 400 young men and women from Gaza, scheduled for April 4. Just last month, billboards commemorated the 36-year anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, featuring a photo of Al-Aqsa Mosque alongside the flags of Palestine, Iran and Hezbollah. They read: “Congratulations to the Tehran-Jerusalem Axis. 36 years of pride and independence.” The billboard did not bear the signature of any party … The largest and most popular billboards were erected when Qatar’s Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani visited the Gaza Strip in October 2012. The billboards read “Thank you, Qatar,” and included photos of the prince next to Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Hamas government at the time. Under Hamas’ rule, Qatar is Gaza’s biggest financial supporter. The emirate donated nearly half a billion dollars when its prince visited the Strip. The funds went toward infrastructure, housing and specialized hospital projects … Palestinians in Gaza are divided on the billboards. Some described the billboards to Al-Monitor as “the very least that Gaza could offer in appreciation of those countries and figures,” while others believed the billboards were “humiliating to Palestinian dignity.”

Amid Gaza rubble, new center offers kids art, storytelling, and hope
GAZA CITY (Christian Science Monitor) 27 Mar by Christa Case Bryant — In a Gaza City neighborhood that saw some of the fiercest fighting in last summer’s war, a children’s center teaches free thinking, life skills, and ethics — Seated in front of a makeshift puppet theater one rainy recent morning, about 20 girls sat in rapt attention. “Think, think, think, girls!” say an elephant and a zebra, who are trying to help their rabbit friend deal with an enemy tiger. The girls chime in as the animal friends come up with a plan to trap the tiger, and clap when they succeed. The puppet theater, located in a new children’s center in Shejaiya, a neighborhood of Gaza City that saw some of the fiercest fighting between Israel and Hamas last summer, offers a refuge from the fallout of war. “We’re using storytelling and art to teach free thinking, life skills, and ethics,” says Mohammed Isleem, who opened his home to the kids and secured funds for educators and free meals. “I created the Shejaiya Center to bring children after the war … to give them hope, and open their mind.” His daughter-in-law, Doaa El-Jedy, was a driving force behind the center, with training in children’s education and a deep desire to help kids who have lived through so many conflicts they hardly know peace.

For Hamza: Arms sanctions against Israel’s everyday terrorism / Vacy Vlazna
Palestine Chronicle 25 Mar — Meet [photo] little Hamza Mus’ab Almadani of Khan Younis, Gaza. Look carefully, look tenderly, don’t turn away. Please don’t turn away as all the nations of the world have, for decades, turned away from Palestine. Hamza is Palestine. Look carefully at Israel’s savage violation to his once perfect little body when on the 25th July 2014, Israel’s soldiers loaded and fired pale blue artillery shells that discharged white incendiary rain on Gaza in hundreds of phosphorus-impregnated felt wedges as Hamza and his family slept. Imagine the agony Hamza suffered from the moment the white phosphorus struck and burrowed through his soft three year old skin. Phosphorus burns are only contained by blocking off oxygen but the extreme pain and, as you can see, the horrific tissue damage endures. Hamza’s father and two siblings were also burnt but luckily their injuries were less severe. Imagine the wounded family’s terrifying walk through the night to the nearest hospital … The trauma has made a once happy and boisterous child, mute. His inability to speak depresses his parents who try to make life as normal as possible for Hamza.

Palestinian refugees – Syria

UN warns emergency fund for Palestinians in Syria near empty
DUBAI (AP) 29 Mar  — The UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees says just four percent of its emergency work in Syria has been funded so far this year. UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness says the agency needs around $250 million to fund its cash program, which provides cash distributions for roughly half a million Palestinian refugees affected by the war in Syria. He says that if there isn’t immediate funding, the agency will have to stop running the program “in a matter of days.” Gunness was speaking Sunday to The Associated Press from Kuwait, where an international conference will take place Tuesday to raise funds for humanitarian operations in Syria. He says that for the more than 95 percent of refugees reliant on assistance, “it is quite literally a matter of life and death.”,7340,L-4642161,00.html

4 Palestinian refugees tortured to death in Syria
DAMASCUS (PIC) 30 Mar — Four Palestinian refugees were tortured to death in the Syrian regime’s prisons and detention centers, human rights sources said Sunday. The Action Group for Palestinian refugees in Syria stated that the Palestinian refugee Mohammed Jamal died in Yarmouk refugee camp due to the acute shortage of medical supplies, bringing the number of Palestinian refugees who died due to lack of medical and food supplies in Yarmouk camp to 173 victims. The 18-year-old Palestinian refugee Dima Mujahed also died after being tortured to death in Syrian prisons, where she spent more than three years. Walla Khalil, 25, was also tortured to death in Syrian regime’s prisons after being detained for more than two years on charges of “providing help to armed people.” 42-year-old Ismail Shaban, a father of three children, died after being subjected to severe torture in Syrian detention centers. He was arrested on May 20 for distributing food supplies to needy people in the Palestinian besieged camp. The Palestinian female refugee Shahd Abu Yassin, 28, also died of torture in Syrian detention centers. Shahd, a mother of a child, was arrested in 2012 for her relief activity. Since the beginning of the Syrian regime, 367 Palestinian refugees were tortured to death in the Syrian regime’s prisons and detention centers while 819 Palestinian are still detained and their fate remain to be unknown till this moment.

Other news / Opinion

PCHR weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the oPt (18-25 March 2015)
PCHR-Gaza 30 Mar — Shootings During the reporting period, a Palestinian civilian died of wounds he sustained last week. Moreover, Israeli forces wounded 10 Palestinian civilians, including five children, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; seven of whom, including the five children, were wounded in the West Bank, while the other three were in the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces also continued to open fire at border areas in the Gaza Strip … Incursions During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 77 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, six ones in East Jerusalem and a limited one in the Gaza Strip. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 67 Palestinians, including 22 children and 10 women. Thirty-one of these Palestinians, including 16 children and 10 women, were arrested in Jerusalem … Efforts to create a Jewish demographic majority in East Jerusalem: Incursions and arrests On Sunday, 15 March 2015, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Eisawiya village, north of East Jerusalem. They raided a number of houses from which they arrested two civilians. On the same day, Israeli forces arrested 3 girls and a woman, who were present around al-Selsela gate of al-Aqsa Mosque in the old city …  Settler attacks in the city  On Friday, 13 March 2015, 2 settlers attacked Ahmed Mohammed Essa Abu Ta’ah (19) when he was in al-Masharef Mount area “the French Hill”, north of the old city. As a result, he sustained wounds in the face and bruises in the neck….[Full, detailed report at website: ]

Egypt summit: Abbas says relationship with Israel must change
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Mar — President Mahmoud Abbas said, at an Egyptian-hosted Arab summit on Saturday, that the Palestinian relationship with Israel cannot continue as it has in recent years. Speaking at the 26th Arab summit, which convened in the Egyptian town of Sharm el-Sheikh on Friday, Abbas said that Israel had taken over the Palestinian Authority’s powers and responsibilities, citing in particular the confiscation of Palestinian tax revenues. He said: “We have decided to re-evaluate our economic, political and security relationship with Israel, and will be holding elections as soon as possible.” Speaking against “normalizing relations with Israel,” he said: “We are looking forward to activating an Arab financial security net.”

Report: Palestinian Authority will not file charges against Israel in International Court
IMEMC 30 Mar by Celine Hagbard — A new report by the Israeli newspaper ‘Jerusalem Post’, based on unnamed sources within the Palestinian Authority, claims that the PA has agreed to pursue no formal charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court (ICC), in exchange for the release of tax money that had been illegally seized by Israeli authorities. The report came after an announcement on Friday by the Israeli government that they would return to the Palestinian Authority some of the $500 million that they had illegally seized since January, but would not return the entire amount – instead subtracting from the total an arbitrary charge for electric, water and hospital bills. This amount will also not include the tax monies from the month of March, just January and February. So far the Israeli government has not made any statement on whether or when it will release the March tax funds. These are taxes collected by Israel on goods imported into the Palestinian Territories – since the PA does not control any borders, Israel has complete control over all imports and exports. Despite the fact that these taxes are supposed to be directly transferred to the PA, Israeli authorities regularly withhold and seize these funds. The Palestinian Authority (PA) decided in December to join the International Criminal Court. According to the Jerusalem Post, the PA had requested a prosecutor at the ICC to investigate Israeli war crimes in Gaza during the invasion last summer in which, according to UN OCHA, 2,220 Palestinians were killed, of whom 1,492 were civilians (551 children, 299 women). But the Jerusalem Post report claims that their unnamed source has said that because the tax money was released, the investigation will go no further than that

Palestinians deny halting war crimes charges against Israel in exchange for tax revenues
Haaretz 30 Mar by Jack Khoury & Barak Ravid — Senior Palestinian officials have vehemently denied a report in the Israeli media, which claimed that the Palestinian Authority has agreed to halt efforts to get Israeli charged with war crimes in exchange for Friday’s decision by Jerusalem to unfreeze part of the tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA. A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that the report, which first appeared in The Jerusalem Post, was entirely false and merely spin put out by the Prime Minister’s Office. “We continue to seek membership of the International Criminal Court and we expect the ICC to open an investigation into Israeli settlements, as well as the recent war in Gaza,” the official said. “The reports in the Israeli newspapers are nothing more than spin from Netanyahu’s bureau; there was no such agreement. The money that Netanyahu transferred is Palestinian money and he isn’t doing us any favors.” As far as the Palestinian Authority is concerned, the official added, Ramallah is more determined than ever to forge ahead with war crimes charges in The Hague.

Palestinian leadership gains 3 resolutions during UNHRC session
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Mar — The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) approved three resolutions regarding occupied Palestinian territory and Palestinian rights during the 28th regular session. The month long session ended yesterday, bringing praise from PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi for widespread support from the majority of member states for the resolutions. The resolutions called for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, “including their right to live in freedom, justice and dignity and the right to their independent State of Palestine,” confirmed Palestinian right to sovereignty over natural wealth and resources, and condemned the continuation of all settlement activities in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The United States was the only UNHRC member to vote against the three resolutions, drawing criticism from Ashrawi. “Rather than acting in accordance with international law, democracy and human rights, the U.S. made the decision to isolate itself at the expense of Palestinian rights, lives and lands,” she stated in a press release. The agreements highlighted the illegality of Israeli construction and expansion of settlements particularly in and around occupied East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, the demolition of Palestinian homes, the eviction of Palestinian families, and the continuation of construction of the wall on Palestinian land.

Abbas aide calls for ‘Decisive Storm’ against Gaza
Middle East Monitor 28 Mar — Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the religious advisor of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on Friday for the Saudi-led alliance, which is attacking Houthi militias in Yemen, to attack the Gaza Strip, the official PA news agency Wafa has reported. “The Arab nation has to attack any illegal side in the Arab region with an iron hand,” he said during his Friday sermon in Ramallah. “It has to start from Palestine.” He insisted that the protection of legitimacy in any Arab country is the duty of all the Arab leaders. “They have to initiate attacks against outlawed people anyhow and regardless of time and place, starting from Palestine.” He insisted that what happened in Gaza when Hamas took full security control of the territory in 2007, was “a coup” and must be dealt with decisively. “People who carry out coups, must be attacked with an iron hand,” he said. In response, senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar wrote on his Facebook page that everyone who had hoped for the Israelis to defeat Hamas is now calling for the Arabs to do it. “This, he scoffed, “is the worst kind of tyranny.” Habbash did not mention the fact that Hamas won the Palestinian election in 2006 and was thus the legitimate, democratically elected government when this “coup” was supposed to have taken place. Nor did he mention the coup led by his friends in Egypt against President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Morsi was Egypt’s first democratically elected leader. A faction within Fatah, the party to which Habbash belongs, was backed by Israel and the US to stage a coup against the Hamas government in 2007. Hamas discovered the plot and took pre-emptive steps against the plotters, most of whom were expelled from the Gaza Strip.

Opinion: Abbas should fire Habbash immediately / Khalid Amayreh
Occupied Palestine 28 Mar — Mahmoud Habbash, the outspoken aid of Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, has always been a divisive voice at the Palestinian political arena ever since he fled Gaza seven years ago. Almost every Friday, he gives a virulent sermon at the small mosque at the PA headquarters in Ramallah, during which he emits all his bile and vindictiveness on Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Resistance group.  Needless to say, this is not how the dignified Friday pulpit should be used. The Friday sermon should be an occasion for fostering hope and unity among Muslims. It shouldn’t be used as a divisive tool to spread disunity, tumult and hatred. The PA itself had issued stiff rules barring Mosque imams (Friday speakers) from indulging in divisive politics. However, it has been repeatedly noted that Habbash, who was PA Minister of Religious Affairs for years, was the one who violated these rules. This is really symptomatic of a deep dichotomy between what the PA says and what it does … The latest scandal coming out of this man’s mouth was a call on Arab states to send their warplanes to bomb Gaza, effectively to destroy what was not destroyed in the Israeli blitzkrieg against the coastal enclave in summer. “Arab states have a duty to strike those who have violated legitimacy with an iron fist, regardless of the place, time or circumstances, beginning with Palestine,” Habbash was quoted as saying during the Friday sermon he delivered in Ramallah.  He added, “What happened in Gaza was a coup, not a division, and it must be addressed with firmness. There can be no dialogue with coup-makers; they must be hit with an iron fist”. Habbash is absolutely wrong.  We may not agree with Hamas on everything it says and does. But the claim that Hamas carried out a coup against the PA is exactly the antithesis of truth. The well documented reality is that Hamas acted preemptively against a coup attempt by forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas after the Islamist group unexpectedly won legislative elections the previous year.  That coup, led by former Fatah strongman in Gaza, Muhammad Dahlan, was secretly coordinated with Israel and the Bush administration. The full story of that conspiracy was revealed several years ago by the American magazine Vanity Fair.

Opinion: They’re Palestinians, not ‘Israeli Arabs’ / Saree Makdisi
Los Angeles Times 27 Mar — Can you imagine reading an editorial in a respected newspaper today discussing the rights of “Negroes” or “Chinamen”? Probably not. And yet, like other newspapers in this country, The Times continues to use the generic term “Arabs” or “Israeli Arabs” to refer to the Palestinians who live inside Israel, falsely distinguishing them from the Palestinians who live in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 or those who were driven into exile during the destruction of Palestine in 1948. The term is, at best, an archaism from the mid-20th century that Palestinians themselves resist using. Using it is akin to using “Negroes” or “Coloreds” instead of “African Americans” or calling Asians “Orientals.” In general, the term that an ethnic or national group uses to designate itself is surely preferable to the terms that its antagonists have historically used to designate it. But what’s at stake here is not merely rhetoric but a form of historical distortion that makes it all but impossible for readers to fully grasp the nature of the conflict. Palestinian artists and intellectuals as well as the most important institutions of Palestinian civil society inside Israel, including the human rights organization Adalah and the Mada al-Carmel research center, use the term “Palestinians” to identify and affiliate themselves and to assert their indissoluble connection to the rest of the Palestinian people … Just as Palestinians existed as a people before the dismemberment of their homeland, they continue to exist as a people afterward. To refer to some Palestinians as Palestinian and others merely as deracinated “Arabs” is to doubt or negate their claim to a national existence as a people both historically and in the present … Moreover, to use different designations for the Palestinians inside Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied territories and in exile is to obscure, if not to deny altogether, the unity and continuity of the Palestinian people. The fact that the Palestinians inside Israel are an integral part of the Palestinian people is absolutely central to the history of this conflict as well as key to its resolution. [The use of the term ‘Israeli Arabs’ also implies that they are incomers from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc. and not indigenous to what is now Israel – that may actually be the purpose of the term.]

Palestinian female judges gavel down taboos
Al-Monitor 22 Mar by Ahmad Melhem — For centuries, men in the Arab world have dominated important state positions, such as in the Sharia judiciary — which settles status issues, such as orphan care, divorce, custody and inheritance among others, based on Islamic legislation. Then Palestinian attorney Kholoud al-Faqih defied the “norms” and decided to open that closed door, becoming the first woman to occupy the position of Sharia judge and to walk down that ambitious path. On Feb. 15, 2009, a huge surprise was in store for Palestine. President Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential decree appointing Faqih to the Sharia judiciary. This constituted an unprecedented move in Palestine and the Arab world, as the position was generally monopolized by men. Faqih told Al-Monitor that her judiciary journey started when she obtained her bachelor’s degree in law in 1999, then a master’s in law from Al-Quds University in 2007. In 2001, she received her license from the chief justice’s office, which granted Faqih her license to practice Sharia law, and she also received her license to practice civil law from the Palestinian Lawyer’s Union. She then worked as an adviser in several women’s organizations and as a defense attorney for women in legal and Sharia courts. Regarding her interest in becoming a Sharia judge, Faqih said that she noticed during her work the absence of women in the Sharia judiciary. This prompted her to search for the underlying reason and prepare a legal and Sharia study regarding the obstacles, according to the 1976 Jordanian personal status law applicable in Palestine since the West Bank was administratively affiliated with Jordan. She could not find any legal or Sharia text forbidding women from working in the judiciary. So, she moved forward in her endeavors.

The long road to Bethlehem / Mya Guarnieri
+972 mag 28 Mar — After taking a job at a Palestinian university in the West Bank, Jewish journalist Mya Guarnieri feels that the center of her life is increasingly on the ‘other side’ of the Green Line. Israeli soldiers give her a hard time for being a Jew in ‘enemy territory’ and it becomes more and more difficult to live in Israeli society [Mesmerizing and inspiring account of a physical move and a mental transformation – don’t miss it.]

Why are US taxpayers subsidizing right-wing Israeli settlers?
Mother Jones 11 Mar by Josh Harkinson — That’s what this human rights group is asking the IRS — …Here in the United States, meanwhile, few politicians have questioned why American taxpayers continue to subsidize the Hebron settlers, accused by international observers of human rights violations that include thefts, battery, and murder. In 2003, the most recent year for which figures are available, an estimated 45 percent of the settler community’s funding came from the Brooklyn-based Hebron Fund, whose status as a tax-exempt nonprofit allows Americans to write off donations to the group. “The Hebron Fund has supported, either directly or indirectly, a wide array of acts that are definitely not charitable,” says John Tye, the legal director for the global activist group Avaaz, which last week petitioned the IRS to revoke the Hebron Fund’s nonprofit status. “They are basically using a small group of Jewish settlers in the West Bank to push Palestinians out of their homes…” …  This isn’t the first time a group has asked the IRS to revoke the Hebron Fund’s nonprofit status. In 2009, a similar complaint was submitted by the Washington-based American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. The IRS never responded. (listserv) (archive)

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“Father of three killed in hit-and-run by Israeli settler” Ghastly. May he rest in peace and may the illegal, fanatic settler be held accountable by imprisonment and financial responsibility for the children and wife. ( I can dream for justice, can’t I?) I must say that I very much appreciate… Read more »

“Former Tunisian President affirms that he will be on board Tunis, March 30, 2015 Representatives of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) and partner organizations traveled to Tunis last week where they participated in the World Social Forum. During the WSF they met with several Palestinian and Tunisian civil society organizations.… Read more »

So it’s not enough that they killed them. They also make a mockery out of “respecting” the dead, or any other religion, or any other survivors. Sick. “Israel still holding 19 bodies of Palestinian fighters killed in Gaza war …..Of the 19 Palestinians, one was buried in October, though no… Read more »

Saturday, protesters from all over the West Bank, from Hebron to Kafr Qaddum, gathered in the village of Nabi Saleh. … After midday prayer protesters made their way down the main road of the village chanting and singing. On the outskirts of the village nine army and border police jeeps… Read more »