Before prayers finished Friday, Israeli military began firing teargas canisters and rubber-coated bullets

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

Escalating violence at Friday demo in Kafr Qaddum
KAFR QADDUM, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 10 Apr — The Israeli military did not even wait for Kafr Qaddum’s Friday demonstration to start before firing at the crowd of demonstrators today. Before prayers had finished the Israeli military began firing at the demonstration with teargas, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets. A 16-year-old child was hit in the head with a tear gas canister. He was taken to hospital with head injuries. International activists working with ISM have observed a pattern during recent Palestinian demonstrations of lethal violence starting at the beginning of the protest. The Israeli military at this demonstration consisted of a mix of regular army and Border police. The military used two military bulldozers and a skunk truck to clear rubble and attempt to disperse the crowd. The protesters responded by disabling both bulldozers and skunk truck with bottles filled with paint thrown at the windscreens of the vehicles. During the course of the demonstration Internationals witnessed a child of approximately 8 years suffering from tear gas inhalation.  Another 8-year-old was wounded in his hand with a rubber-coated steel bullet. The military moved into the village using .22 rifles and throwing stun grenades. The demonstration continued until the military withdrew.

Losing sight of the consequences of ‘less lethal’ weapons
+972 Blog 12 Apr by Natasha Roth — A number of Palestinian children have lost some or all of their sight in the past year as a result of Israeli crowd control measures. Rights group appeals to the attorney general —  Following a series of shootings by Israeli security forces which have caused Palestinian minors to lose all or part of their eyesight, Zakariya Julani, a 13-year-old boy from Shuafat refugee camp, lost his left eye after being shot in the head by a Border Police officer last Tuesday. As with most of the other children before him, Julani had been struck by a 40mm black sponge-tipped bullet, designed to be a non-lethal form of riot control but which has caused a drastic surge in injuries —and at least one death — since its introduction in July 2014. These bullets replaced blue sponge-tipped bullets, which were lighter and therefore less harmful. Junari is at least the fifth minor to suffer a severe eye injury in this way since last summer [Heb]. On July 27, 2014, a 14-year-old boy was shot in the face with a sponge-tipped bullet near Bab al-Hura, in Jerusalem’s Old City, suffering a fractured eye socket and a brain hemorrhage. On August 1, Ala Hamdan, a 14-year-old girl, was shot in the face by a sponge-tipped bullet while standing at the second-floor window of her family home in Issawiya, East Jerusalem. She required stitches, and was left with damaged eyesight….

WATCH: Exposing procedures of police violence in Israel
Israeli Social TV 12 Apr — Police in Israel recently began using a new type of sponge-tipped bullets that cause more extreme bodily harm, including the death of one teenager last year. Social TV interviews Atty. Anne Sucui of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), who explains that the Israel Police attempted to hide changes to its procedures from the public. So ACRI published the documents itself.

Settler assaults in Jerusalem; soldiers raid homes in Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Apr — Israeli settlers who stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque yards under Israeli police protection, on Saturday, assaulted a number of Palestinian female worshipers, according to witnesses. Witnesses said that Palestinian worshippers were attacked by settlers after attempting to fend off the former’s attempts to tour the yards of the mosque, WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency has reported. Settlers assaulted a number of women carrying copies of the Quran and used foul language against them. Israeli police impose restrictions on Palestinian worshipers’ entry, particularly women and youth. Police retains their identity cards prior to their entry in anticipation of any clashes and to be able to detain those who might be involved.
Also on Sunday, an Israeli settler ran over a Palestinian female near one of the gates of Al-Aqsa mosque, before fleeing the scene. The settler ran over a female, who currently remains unidentified, while she was standing at the light railway stop located near the mosque’s Bab al-‘Amoud gate, also known as Damascus Gate, in East Jerusalem … She was transferred to a nearby hospital for treatment, where her medical condition remains unknown. Whereas Israel deals with Israeli cars crashing into Palestinian pedestrians as traffic accidents, it considers similar incidents by Palestinians as ‘terrorist attacks’, upon which shooting and killing orders are easily taken, depriving Palestinians of the right to a fair trial.

Justice unlikely in deadly Kafr Kanna police shooting
+972 Mag 13 Apr by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — The Israeli Police’s internal affairs unit plans to close its investigation into the officer who was filmed shooting and killing Kheir Hamdan in Kafr Kanna [in the lower Galilee] last year, according to a Channel 10 report. The shooting led to days of rioting and clashes with police last November when video of the incident surfaced hours after police put out a short statement saying they had fired a warning shot and believed their lives were in danger. The video showed Hamdan attempting to flee when he was shot, and appeared to show no warning shot. According to the Channel 10 report, the officer who killed Hamdan was never questioned under caution during the internal affairs investigation and will likely not face any criminal charges. Additionally, the Police Investigations Department (PID), reportedly planned to delay announcing the decision until after Nakba Day, May 15, in hopes of not fanning the flames on a day that traditionally sees large protests and commemorative marches. “Arab society will not tolerate another case in which an Arab is murdered by the police, and yet there is no murderer,” MK Basel Ghattas of Balad responded to the report. Calling on the police internal affairs to press charges against the officer, Ghattas warned of the “consequences of closing the case [without charges].”

Soldiers kidnap five Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Apr — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday at dawn, a number of Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, and kidnapped five young men. The Israeli Radio said the soldiers arrested one Palestinian for what the army claimed “conducting attacks against soldiers and settlers,” and two others for being “members of the Hamas movement.”  It added that the arrests took place in Beitello and Deir Samet villages, near Ramallah, and in the southern West Bank district of Hebron. One of the kidnapped Palestinians has been identified as Hasan Yosri al-Hroub, 22, from Deir Samet, near Hebron. Soldiers also invaded the village of Salem, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and kidnapped two Palestinians. Several armored military vehicles invaded the village before the soldiers broke into and searched a number of homes, and kidnapped Tahsin Karkary and Bassel ‘Issa. In addition, soldiers invaded Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethlehem, stormed and searched at three homes, belonging to three brothers in the town, causing property damage, and withdrew later. The owners of the invaded homes are Ahmad, Anwar and Munir Khalil Thawabta.

Israeli forces detain 20 in Jerusalem, West Bank arrest raids
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 Apr — Israeli forces arrested 20 Palestinians in detention raids across the West Bank and in neighborhoods in East Jerusalem early Monday. Israeli forces detained three youths from the Silwad town in eastern Ramallah, one from Jenin and another from the Beit Awwa town west of Hebron. Six Palestinians, including three minors under 15 years old, were arrested from the Bethlehem district early Monday, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said. They said the three minors were arrested from Husan village in western Bethlehem, and included Ismail Muhammad Ismail Zauol, Muhammad Mahmoud Zauol and Yazan Badr Shusha. Israeli forces also detained brothers Omar and Saed Ibahim Abu Sabha from Jaba‘a in western Bethlehem, and another Palestinian from the al-Duha area, identified as Muhammad Mutasem Abdullah al-Khatib.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association said that Israeli forces detained Anas Ahmad Obeid, Yazan Muheisen, Moussa Obeid and Muhammad Kayid Mahmoud from al-‘Issawiya village. They also said that two minors were detained from Shu‘fat, Muhammad Ahmad Abu Khdeir and Muhammad Nidal Abu Khdeir. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan said that Israeli forces also detained minors Muhammad al-Qaq and Murad Furukh from the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood. Director of the Prisoners and Detainees’ Families Committee Amjad Abu Asab said that during the al-‘Issawiya raid, Israeli forces “savagely” raided homes, smashing their doors and searching them, and assaulted residents. The Israeli police detained Jawad Barqan, 38, from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem City after raiding his home late Sunday.

Israel to release body of Palestinian who stabbed 2 Israeli soldiers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 Apr — The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Palestinian Liaison announced that Israeli authorities will on Sunday release the body of Muhammad Jasser Karakra, who was shot dead after he stabbed two Israeli soldiers. Karakra, 27, was killed on Wednesday after stabbing two soldiers at the Sinjil junction near the Shilo settlement, north of Ramallah. Israeli forces subsequently held his body, which they sent to an Israeli forensic institute in Tel Aviv. Karakra’s family said that his funeral will take place on Monday, following noon prayers, when the body is received from the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah. One of the Israeli soldiers, 20, was critically injured after being stabbed in the neck. The other received minor injuries and then opened fire at Karakra, who sustained critical injuries before being pronounced dead.


Shin Bet extracts Palestinian confession to crime that never was
Tikun Olam 11 Apr by Richard Silverstein — Nahum Barnea column revealing Shin Bet extracted confession to crime that never happened. Israel’s Shin Bet is famous for extracting Palestinian confessions to terror attacks.  It’s infamous for extracting false confessions as well to crimes suspects didn’t commit.  Now the security police have done themselves one better: they extracted a confession to a crime that never even happened. It all goes back to the “disappearance” of an Israeli, Niv Asraf, outside a West Bank village.  His partner, Eran Nagauker, told a story of a flat tire and Asraf’s entering a Palestinian village to get help, after which he disappeared.  As a result, the entire Israeli security apparatus went on red alert and began scouring the West Bank for Asraf.  The only problem…he hadn’t disappeared.  The entire incident was a hoax.  They later told a new story that Asraf devised the ruse in order to pretend to escape from his captors and win back an ex-girlfriend.  At any rate, Nahum Barnea wrote this in his popular Yediot Achronot column (thanks to Or Shai and the Israeli blog, Hakol Shkarim (“It’s All Lies”) for catching this): “From the first moment, the story stunk.  Nevertheless, everyone went on full alert.  When they [the security services] discovered that the partner lied about the flat tire, they assumed it was a drug deal turned into a kidnapping…They called the IDF central command, brought out 3,000 troops, drones, helicopters, turned Palestinian homes upside down, arrested innocent individuals.  From one of these they even extracted a half a confession.” In other words, in rounding up the “usual suspects,” the Shin Bet managed to find one poor shnook they decided was guilty and managed to get him to confess.  The only problem: the poor guy, wanting to end the torture, confessed.  As Michael Kaminer suggested in his Facebook comment, the Palestinian didn’t know precisely what his interrogators wanted to hear.  Otherwise, it would’ve been a full confession.  And had the crime actually been real, they likely would’ve wasted precious hours interrogating an innocent man.

UN: Israel must end ‘increasing use of administrative detention’ against Palestinians
Middle East Monitor 13 Apr — Israel is increasingly jailing Palestinians without charge or trial, according to the office of a senior UN human rights official. A spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated Friday that the Geneva-based body is “concerned at the continued and increasing use of administrative detention by Israeli authorities against Palestinians.” Citing the case of Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Khalida Jarrar, arrested on 5 April, the High Commissioner’s office said there were 424 Palestinians in Israeli administrative detention as of February, “more than double the 181 held at the same time last year.” Administrative detention, as the UN explained, means that “often on the basis of secret evidence”, Palestinians can be jailed for “periods of up to six months, which are extendable indefinitely.” The official also noted how detainees are “often transferred to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Smuggled Palestinian prison literature gains outside audience
GAZA STRIP (Al-Monitor) 12 Apr by Asmaa al-Ghoull — During the 22 years he spent in Beersheba prison, writer Shaaban Hassouna managed to draft five novels, which he sneaked out in capsules for his family to print. One of his novels, “Shade of a Black Cloud,” received critical and local acclaim. Capsules are often used to conceal and transport a prisoner’s writings to the outside. The prisoner will write on transparent, thin paper and then fold it and conceal it within a drug-like capsule, which he will then secretly pass to a family member during a visit. The family member then swallows the capsule, and the writings are later recovered from excreted feces. Each novel has its own adventure sneaking out of prison. Hassouna said that he has also passed along his notebooks in food boxes.

An ex-detainee faces death after his release
RAMALLAH (PIC) 13 Apr — The family of the ex-detainee Mohamed Taj was forced to sell their own house to meet his lung transplant surgery’s heavy costs as he suffers from severe health deterioration. The family appealed to the Palestinian Authority to intervene immediately to save their son’s life as he suffered pulmonary fibrosis disease while being held in Israeli jails and was released two years ago due to his sharp health deterioration after spending 11 years in custody. In press statements, Taj’s mother stated that her son is in urgent need to undergo a lung transplant surgery. However, the family cannot provide its high cost estimated at 200,000 dollars. “We have been waiting for long months for the PA chairman office’s approval to provide the surgery costs,” she added. Any delay that may occur in the surgery date would worsen his health situation, Taj’s mother quoted doctors as warning. “We decided to sell our home after losing hope in any official response or intervention in this regard,” she continued. “I don’t want to see my son having the same fate as the martyrs Maysara Abu Hamdiya and Ja‘far ‘Awad who were victims of both the Israeli medical negligence policy and PA’s failure in providing them with the necessary treatment in the proper time.”

Palestinian detainee ties knot behind Negev bars
RAMALLAH (PIC) 13 Apr — 37-year-old Palestinian detainee Hilal Hosni Mohamed Youssef, from Ramallah, tied the knot on Friday with 26-year-old Halima Na‘im Faraj, from Nablus, in the Israeli occupation jail of Negev. According to the Ahrar Center for Prisoner Studies, the groom and the bride were joined in absentia in a typically Palestinian arranged marriage. Hilal reportedly told the fiancée’s brother Ahmad Na‘im, held at the Negev jail, of his intents to ask for his sister’s hand in marriage. The groom’s family, who served as a traditional broker between the to-be spouses, said procedures have been underway to carry out the binding marriage contract at the Islamic court. Halima, a schoolteacher, nodded in agreement as she strongly believed in the inherently altruistic character of Palestinian detainees. Prisoner Hilal Yousef has spent 13 years out of a 17-year-sentence he has been serving at the Israeli occupation jails since 2002 on allegations of involvement in anti-occupation activities.


Gaza man electrocuted inside tunnel
World Bulletin 12 Feb — A resident of the Gaza Strip died on Saturday after being electrocuted as he worked in a tunnel on the border between the blockaded territory and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, a medical source has said. Ibrahim Islih, 21, a resident of the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, was electrocuted as he worked inside the tunnel, the source told. Egyptian authorities have been cracking down on a network of smuggling tunnels between Sinai and Gaza for several months now. The clampdown brought to a halt tunnel digging activities in the Gaza Strip. Egypt says the tunnels are used in militant activities inside Sinai.

Flooding hits Gaza Strip following heavy rain
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Apr — Heavy rain has flooded low-lying areas across the Gaza Strip, including Khaza‘a and Beit Hanoun where thousands of Gazans displaced by the Israeli offensive last summer are living in caravans. Civil Defense spokesman Muhammad al-Midana told Ma‘an that a number of homes in the neighborhood of Kunz Street and Shabia Street in Gaza City had been flooded, and that the Civil Defense had removed swamped cars inside the city and the northern Gaza Strip. He also said that Civil Defense crews evacuated a school when water levels rose sharply in the surrounding area, putting the school at risk of flooding. He said that there had been no reported injured. Meanwhile, witnesses in the low-lying area of Khaza‘a east of Khan Younis said that a number of caravans housing displaced Gazans had been swamped. There were similar reports from Beit Hanoun.

The rising tide of suicide in Gaza — the suffering of a people manifest
MER 8 Apr by Ariana Love — There has been an alarming increase of suicide attempts in the Gaza Strip in response to Israel’s gruesome assault on the Palestinian population this summer. The terrifying trauma and devastating loss, left every man, woman and child with intense feelings of despair and hopelessness. Many are seen walking the streets, in a stupor, avoiding each other’s gaze or mumbling to themselves. Complaints of poverty fill the air and the memories of Genocide are stuck in the brains of everyone. Gaza’s medical and police reports reveal there are 30 to 40 suicide attempts each month. For a 1.8 million population, this is an alarming number, which is anticipated to increase. Dr. Ayman Sahbani head of the reception department at Shifa Medical Complex said they see people eating large doses of medications, poisons such as rat poison and pesticides, cutting themselves, jumping from heights or shooting, burning or hanging. Many of them have been saved at the final moments, while others did not survive. If they survive, they are brought before a psychologist from Gaza’s Community Mental Health Program (G.C.M.H.P.). Dr. Sahbani explained in a press statement something even more disturbing, “those who attempt suicide are younger groups, and all cases are either minors or under the age of 30.” One young female had poured gasoline on herself and lit herself on fire. After suffering severe burns, she was transferred to the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah, and then transferred to the Dar Al Shifa in Gaza City, where she died….

Detention of Palestinian businessmen at Erez crossing on the rise
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Apr — The Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, in a new report documenting Israeli harassment at Erez border crossing, has stated that an increasing number of Palestinian businessmen are being detained while attempting to cross into Israel, via the Erez checkpoint, for routine trips. The number of businessmen detained while traveling into Israel has reached 19 to date, in 2015, compared to only one during the same period last year, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency. While two of the businessmen were released, says the Geneva-based organization, 17 were still in detention at the time of publication. “These incidents raise doubts about Israeli intentions,” says Ihsan Adel, Euro-Mid legal advisor. “Frequent detentions are blatant intimidation, and delays of several hours or longer also disrupt their ability to make their appointments. Despite their statements to the contrary, one has to wonder if the Israel government is deliberately trying to prevent the Gaza economy from recovering.” The report point out that a number of the detained merchants import products that fill daily needs of families in Gaza.

Egypt imposes life jail penalty for cross-border tunnel use
CAIRO (Reuters) 12 Apr  – People who dig and use cross-border tunnels in Egypt could face a maximum penalty of life in jail, state news agency MENA said on Sunday, citing amendments to the penal code targeting activity in the frontier area near the Gaza Strip. Egypt declared a state of emergency in the border area last year after at least 33 security personnel were killed in attacks in the Sinai Peninsula, a remote but strategic region bordering Israel, Gaza and the Suez Canal. There were several militant attacks in the Sinai on Sunday. The amendments to the penal code were passed by presidential decree, MENA said. It also said people who used illegal crossings to transfer goods or equipment could also face a life sentence, as well as people with knowledge of them who failed to report them to the authorities. It said the government had the right to seize buildings on top of the tunnels or any of the tools used to make them.

Aid agencies: Gaza reconstruction barely begun, end to blockade vital
Middle East Monitor 13 Apr — A coalition of more than 40 international aid agencies has urged the international community to take substantial steps to end the misery of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. ‘Charting a New Course: Overcoming the stalemate in Gaza’, published on Monday by the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), and signed off by dozens of leading NGOs, paints a bleak picture and warns of renewed violence. Six months since donors pledged $3.5 billion towards rebuilding a devastated Gaza, the report states that “reconstruction and recovery have barely begun, there has been no accountability for violations of international law, and Gaza remains cut off from the West Bank.” Despite the “unprecedented destruction and suffering” brought about by Israel’s 2014 assault, “only 26.8 percent of money pledged by donors six months ago has been released so far”, with “many reconstruction projects” stalled “due to restrictions on essential material under the blockade.” “Rather than challenging the [Israeli] blockade”, the AIDA report found, “most donors are accepting ways to work around it.”

Gaza bomb squad digs out unexploded Israeli missile
GAZA (MINA) 13 Apr by Fauziah Al Hakim — After 11 days of continuous digging that reached 18 meters underground, Gaza Bomb Squad managed to unearth a massive Israeli unexploded missile. Israel has left behind hundreds of unexploded mortars and missiles in Gaza which caused the death and injury of dozens of civilians, Palestinian Information Center (PIC) was quoted by Mi‘raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting. “It took us more than 11 days of digging. It’s a smart F16 missile it was buried 18 meters under the ground,” said one of the squad members. Experts suggest Israel uses Gaza as a graveyard to dispose of its old ammunition and to renew caches of its weapons. That comes after reports that indicated Israel uses Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories as a testing ground for its weapons.

PHOTOS: 400 Palestinians marry in mass wedding in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Apr — Two hundred Palestinian couples were married in a mass wedding in Gaza City on Saturday, seeing the ceremony through despite poor weather. A mother of one of the grooms, Rami Abu Amro, said it was a wonderful ceremony that couldn’t be stopped even by the rainy weather. She said that her son will now be able to have his own independent life and family despite difficult conditions in the coastal enclave. Newlyweds Mohammad and Fatima Baraka said they were exuberant to be married in such a traditional and well-organized setting.  Dozens of mass weddings have been held in the Gaza Strip in recent years as a means to help young couples who are struggling financially. Traditional weddings are extremely costly and many couples are forced to delay getting married in order to save money for the ceremony. A political analyst, Talal al-Shareef, said that the Gaza Strip needs more projects like this to serve youths who have lost their rights during eight years of a crippling military blockade imposed by Israel. The ceremony was organized by the Palestinian Center for Human Perseverance, Fata, and was funded by the United Arab Emirates.

Gazans’ unpaid salaries cause rise in social tensions
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 10 Apr by Rasha Abou Jalal — The Gaza government employee salary crisis is having a severe negative impact on the social relationships of those affected. The main victims are the employees who find themselves unable to meet their families’ food needs, as debts keep accumulating and creditors demand repayment. Nearly 42,000 employees were hired by Hamas in the Gaza Strip between 2007 and 2014. They suffer challenging living conditions as the consensus government has been withholding their salaries since it took office in June 2014. Social expert Dardah al-Chaer told Al-Monitor that most employees are now in debt because of the salary crisis and the continuing internal political division. They have been forced to adjust their social habits to avoid embarrassing situations with creditors.

Campaign in Gaza to fight extremism
GAZA (PIC) 12 Apr — The Palestinian ministry of religious affairs said that its office in the Gaza Strip has launched a campaign to fight extremism and ideologies of militant groups through mosques and Friday khutbas (sermons). Deputy minister of religious affairs in Gaza Hasan al-Saifi told Anadolu news agency that mosque preachers were instructed to raise the public awareness about the need to follow the right Islamic values and refrain from supporting extremist opinions. “Those sermons will be part of a plan developed by the ministry in cooperation with scholars and imams to fight deviant and extreme thoughts,” Saifi stated. “Gaza is immune ideologically and religiously from extremist and takfiri ideas, but there could be some people, especially young men, who tend to advocate such ideology and are influenced by information spread by TV channels and websites, so there is need to educate the citizens on the correct religious teachings,” he emphasized.

With few choices, Gaza family makes bombed-out shell its home
National Public Radio (US) 12 Apr by Emily Harris — …The Otaish family has hung fabric at the entry to their destroyed home for privacy. The ground floor walls are gone, so the pile of rubble from the flattened house next door spills over. This four-story home used to hold half a dozen apartments for an extended family. Now, out of more than 30 rooms, just a handful remains intact. Sisters Oleh and Hiba Otaish, both in their 20s, are sleeping in one of those rooms with their parents and several other unmarried siblings. Another bedroom is now home to a couple with three young children who used to share half a floor here. Not all the extended family is back, but over 30 people are now living here most of the time. The family used to have five kitchens; now there are two, both makeshift affairs. Cooking lunch in one, Oleh and Hiba tell their family’s story … Although a few rooms are habitable, this doesn’t seem to be a safe place to live. Electric cords snake through holes in the walls and droop from the ceiling. Most rooms are strewn with chunks of concrete, twisted metal and broken furniture. Blown-out walls open above the street. Crammed in small quarters, Hiba says, family members are getting on each other’s nerves.

Hope is scarce in Gaza — but we haven’t lost it
Electronic Intifada 10 Apr by Jamal Khoudary — The words “Gaza” and “siege” have become closely linked to each other in many people’s minds. This is the result of eight years of total strangulation. In those years, the population increased by 400,000, and a whole new generation was born, a generation which has never seen a single day without power cuts, and who found themselves having to be satisfied with crowded classes, inadequate sanitation and inescapable malnutrition, believing that this is the norm. But this is not the complete picture. Factoring in three major attacks since 2008 and decades of military lockdown by Israel is only the beginning of understanding Gaza’s multiple layers of suffering. We have now arrived at a point where hope is the scarcest necessity of all.

Photos: Meet Gaza’s ‘wonder women’ hoping for peace
The Telegraph 9 Apr — Photographer Ovidiu Tataru has been in Gaza for nine months working with Doctors Without Borders, and has created a series of photos with women dressed in a superhero cape. “I wanted to give a voice to all the women in Gaza, genuine heroes living in a very difficult context: high unemployment rates, war, limited women rights and dramatic gender inequalities,” he says. “I also wanted to get rid of stereotypical images of Gaza reality (destroyed buildings, poor people etc) and to take photos of women laughing, because despite all odds there is hope for peace and a better life.” This photo shows Amal, who lives in Beit Lahia – one of the most affected areas of the war. She is proud to have three children studying at university.

How Orange telecom supported Israel’s massacre in Gaza
EI 8 Apr by Ali Abunimah — The Israeli affiliate of Orange, the French multinational telecom company, provided direct material support to Israeli soldiers who participated in the deadly assault on Gaza last summer. The firm has also sponsored two Israeli military units for several years, evidence of its deep complicity in Israeli military occupation and human rights abuses. One of these units, the “Ezuz” tank company, took part in last summer’s attack on Gaza and was active in specific locations where hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed. Orange, previously known as France Telecom, is a major provider of mobile phone, land line and Internet services in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, including in Jordan and Egypt (through its subsidiary Mobinil). In the UK, Orange operates as part of a joint venture called EE, and in Belgium it owns a big stake of Mobistar.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Restrictions on movement

VIDEO: Illegal removal of solar panels in Khan al-Ahmar, only source of village electricity
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Apr — Solar panels finally brought electricity to the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank, but the residents’ joy was short-lived. A few weeks after the panels were installed, Israeli authorities confiscated them, indicating the latest chapter in Israel’s long battle to quash the strategically located village. PNN reports that, on Wednesday, policemen and Israeli soldiers escorted employees of the Israeli Civil Administration (the governing body of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank) on a trip to Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village located a few kilometers from occupied East Jerusalem. There, they dismantled 11 solar panels, most of which had just been donated and installed by the Palestinian NGO Future for Palestine to give this village a few hours of electricity a day. Israel has a long history of opposing any construction or development projects in Khan al-Ahmar, which is the last Palestinian outpost in the E1 zone in the West Bank. Though the total area of the zone is only about 12 km², it has both strategic and symbolic importance for Israel because it connects the northern and southern West Bank. According to numerous analysts, local NGOs and UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Israel is looking to expel the last Palestinian residents of Khan al-Ahmar in order to connect the Israeli settlement Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem.  Moreover, cutting the last direct link between the north and south parts of the West Bank would further break up the Palestinian Territories, which are already dotted with Israeli settlements, and would create one more barrier to the development of a Palestinian state in the future.

Strike in Kafr Kanna after night of clashes
Ynet 13 Apr by Hassan Shaalan — A general strike was declared Monday in Kafr Kanna [in the Galilee] following riots that broke out overnight after security forces demolished a home in the Arab town built without the required construction permit. Six residents, including the head of the town’s local council Mujahed Awawdeh, were lightly hurt in clashes with the police. Overnight Sunday, police forces and Border Police officers sealed off the neighborhood and evacuated the home of Tariq Al-Khatib, a resident of the town. Following the evacuation, family members who were at the scene told the officers: “You destroyed the home, and we will rebuild it.” Khatib said in response to the incident: “I built on land that I inherited. The state has no right to demolish the home, and even if they destroy it 100 times, I will rebuild it.” He further said: “Where else can we live? We have no roof over our heads. Instead of helping the Arab citizens, the country is trying to drive us out.” During the demolition, dozens of residents gathered at the scene and tried to prevent it from taking place: “Allahu Akbar,” they shouted, calling the police forces “terrorists” …  Following the demolition, a general strike was declared. The Nazareth police said they were ready for any disruption of order. Security forces are currently stationed at the entrance of the town in order to prevent the blocking of roads.,7340,L-4646544,00.html

Settlers take over historic village in Salfit
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Apr — Israeli settlers from Leshem colonial settlement, west Salfit, today, have taken over the historic village, Deir Sim‘an, on the lands of Kafr Deek and Rafat … Deir Sim‘an castle dates back to the Roman Era and is held to be a very important Palestinian landmark, the Palestinian News Network reports. It is located a few kilometers west of Kafr Deek village. It has been controlled and isolated by Israeli occupation forces, which now dominate more than 1,000 dunums in the area. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli settlers are using bulldozers and working around the clock to make roads to the castle, in addition to erecting walls around the village. For his part, researcher Khaled Ma‘ali said that the site has been under threat since the announcement of Leshem settlement in 2012. Settlers now surround the village from all directions, and it cannot be reached unless through a route that the settlers made from the south. Ma‘ali pointed out that occupation forces plan on stealing this site which counts as one of the most beautiful features of Palestine, as happened before with the religious sanctities of Kafr Hares, which they claimed they affiliate to “prophets from the old ages.” Ma‘ali assured that the International Criminal Court will consider this theft and damage to the archaeology, and that it rises to the level of war crimes.
In related news, Israeli housing minister Uri Ariel has vowed to enable Israeli settlers to reach the top of Mount Ebal, in Nablus, for holding religious rituals. Ariel, during a visit on Friday to the mount, said that he will coordinate with the military and other ministries, to let the settlers reach the top for prayers, claiming that the mountain was a holy place in historic Judaism. The settlers will be transported by wheel-drive vehicles, and the roads will be fixed to ease the journey for them. Ebal mountain is one of the highest peaks in the Palestine and rises to 3,084 feet (940 meters) above sea level. The mountain has been occupied by Israel since the 1948, and is marked by a military camp built decades ago.

High Court to hear Palestinian demand for village planning autonomy
Haaretz 12 Apr by Jack Khoury — Petitioners hope to end demolitions in areas under Israeli control by reinstating local zoning boards — …The petition, which was first submitted in April 2011 by the village council of Dirat Rafa‘aya with the support of Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations, demands the reinstatement in Areas C of the West Bank of the local and district planning committees that were in operation before the Israeli occupation in 1967. It was submitted against the Defense Ministry, the Israel Defense Forces and the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. One of the petitioners, the Israeli group Rabbis for Human Rights, argues that under the current planning and zoning system in Areas C, which according to the Oslo Accords are under full Israeli control, the Palestinians are disenfranchised: The IDF, rather than the Palestinians themselves, control the mechanism by which new construction is approved. The petitioners say the army rarely approves new building, adding that the lack of master plans for the majority of the communities means that very few building projects have legal approval. In advance of Sunday’s hearing, Amnesty International issued a four-page statement in support of the petitioners in which the organization said there was no similar case elsewhere around the world in which local residents were deprived of planning powers.

A tale of two marathons — and a microcosm of Israeli apartheid
[with map] Middle East Monitor 9 Apr by Ben White — The West Bank was cut in two today so Israeli settlers could run a marathon. For seven hours, from 6am to 1pm, Israeli forces shut down the Palestinians’ main north-south road in order to facilitate the ‘Bible Marathon‘, a race that cut east across the West Bank and finished at Shilo settlement. Aside from the very start, almost the entire route was inside the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), a further sign of Israel’s de-facto annexation of the West Bank and the emergence of an apartheid, ‘one state’ reality. The race incorporated Ariel University, an Israeli institution located in the illegal settlement of the same name. Shilo, which hosted the finish line and post-race festivities, has a population of some 3,000 Jewish settlers, and is surrounded by Palestinian villages in the heart of the West Bank. The settlers’ marathon came two weeks after the third Palestine Marathon took place in Bethlehem. Some 3,000 Palestinian and international runners participated, including 46 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who received last-minute permission from Israel to access the West Bank. Organisers, however, were unable to find a single course of 42km without encountering an Israeli checkpoint or roadblock. Bethlehem is hemmed in by the Wall, settlements, and Israeli-controlled land. Full marathon runners were thus obliged to complete two laps of the same route. UN data published last October documented 490 different obstacles to Palestinians’ freedom of movement inside the West Bank, including checkpoints, earth mounds, and road gates. This does not include the Apartheid Wall, cutting Palestinians off from lands and neighbouring communities.

Aqsa Child festival concludes its activities
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The 13th Aqsa Child festival at the Aqsa Mosque concluded its activities on Saturday evening despite Israeli restrictions that had prevented the participation of more children. Hundreds of Palestinian children from Jerusalem and the 1948 occupied lands participated in the event and its activities, especially the drawing contest. In a speech during the festival, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, head of the Supreme Islamic Council in Jerusalem, affirmed that the Palestinians have the right to look after the Aqsa Mosque and defend it against desecration attempts by Jewish settlers because it is part of their faith to protect the Mosque. “We have to keep our future generations attached to the Aqsa Mosque,” Sheikh Sabri said. “The Israeli police become reluctant to escort Jewish extremists into the Aqsa Mosque when they find its courtyards abounding with Muslim worshipers because they are afraid for them and their own safety,” he added. For his part, Palestinian artist Yousuf al-Rajbi, who participated in the festival, pointed out that the Israeli police prevented the entry of many drawing tools to the Aqsa Mosque. “Even if we are unable to bring in anything, we can draw with a stone, an olive branch, a piece of wood … because what is important is to achieve our goal. The festival does not mean drawing a picture, but it means that our continuous presence in the Aqsa Mosque despite all Israeli obstacles and challenges proves that we are the rightful owners of this place,” the artist underscored.

Israeli military procedures increase in Jerusalem; Christians prevented from reaching church
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Apr — Israeli police, on Saturday, beefed up their military presence and procedures across Jerusalem, preventing Christians from reaching Al Qiyamah Church to celebrate their holidays. WAFA correspondence reports that Israeli police set up hundreds of military checkpoints and roadblocks at all entrances of the old city of Jerusalem and at all roads leading to the church, under the pretext of securing the Christians’ celebrations of the Holy Saturday and Easter, on Sunday.  However, the Israelis’ intensified procedures prevented Christians from reaching the church in Jerusalem, while the ones from the West Bank were denied access due to Israel’s refusal to issue them entry permits into Jerusalem.  According to al-Jazeera website, “For almost a decade, the Easter celebrations have been marked with clashes between local Christians and Israeli troops, who regularly prevent worshipers from accessing the religious sites.”

Yarmouk camp, Syria

Hamas: Aknaf Bait al-Maqded not affiliated with the Movement
GAZA (PIC) 12 Apr — Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, denied again having any connection with Aknaf Bait al-Maqdes brigades in Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees in Syria. The senior Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said, in a statement posted on his Facebook page, “Hamas does not have any military formations in Syria”, stressing that Hamas has no relation whatsoever with Aknaf Bait al-Maqdes or any other armed group. Aknaf Bait al-Maqdes was one of the biggest armed parties controlling the Yarmouk camp before the alliance between Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State (IS) which took over most of the camp. As Aknaf Bait al-Maqdes has not announced belonging to any party, some allegations have been rumoring that most of its fighters were working as bodyguards at the office of the Head of Hamas political bureau Khaled Mishaal before it was moved from Damascus in Syria to Doha in Qatar. Masri described what has been taking place in Yarmouk camp as “a massacre targeting the Palestinian existence”.

The Palestinians of Yarmouk and the shameful silence when Israel is not to blame / Mehdi Hasan

The Guardian Comment Is Free 12 Apr — Palestinian refugees are being starved, bombed and gunned down like animals. “If you want to feed your children, you need to take your funeral shroud with you,” one told Israeli news website Ynet. “There are snipers on every street, you are not safe anywhere.” This isn’t happening, however, in southern Lebanon, or even Gaza. And these particular Palestinians aren’t being killed or maimed by Israeli bombs and bullets. This is Yarmouk, a refugee camp on the edge of Damascus, just a few miles from the palace of Bashar al-Assad. Since 1 April, the camp has been overrun by Islamic State militants, who have begun a reign of terror: detentions, shootings, beheadings and the rest. Hundreds of refugees are believed to have been killed in what Ban Ki-moon has called the “deepest circle of hell”. But this isn’t just about the depravity of Isis. The Palestinians of Yarmouk have been bombarded and besieged by Assad’s security forces since 2012. Water and electricity were cut off long ago, and of the 160,000 Palestinian refugees who once lived in the camp only 18,000 now remain. The Syrian regime has, according to Amnesty International, been “committing war crimes by using starvation of civilians as a weapon”, forcing residents to “resort to eating cats and dogs”. Even as the throat-slitters took control, Assad’s pilots were continuing to drop barrel bombs on the refugees. “The sky of Yarmouk has barrel bombs instead of stars,” said Abdallah al-Khateeb, a political activist living inside the camp … In Yarmouk, throughout 2014, residents were forced to live on around 400 calories of food aid a day – fewer than a fifth of the UN’s recommended daily amount of 2,100 calories for civilians in war zones – because UNRWA aid workers had only limited access to the camp. Today, they have zero access.“To know what it is like in Yarmouk,” one of the camp’s residents is quoted as saying on the UNRWA website, “turn off your electricity, water, heating, eat once a day, live in the dark.” Their plight should matter to us all – regardless of whether their persecutors happen to be Israelis, Syrians, Egyptians or, for that matter, fellow Palestinians.

PNC head calls for quicker response to Yarmouk crisis
AMMAN, Jordan (Ma‘an) 13 Apr — The head of the Palestinian National Council, Salim Zanoun, has called on the Palestinian leadership to speed up efforts to resolve the ongoing Yarmouk crisis. Zanoun said that residents of the beleaguered refugee camp don’t need discussion, but political and material support. His comments were directed at the PNC’s executive committee, the highest executive body of the PLO, which is composed of 18 members. The executive committee is elected by the much larger PNC, which has nearly 700 members. Zanoun made his comment as he met with PNC members in Amman to discuss the crisis in Syria, among other issues. He called on PNC members across the occupied Palestinian Territories to donate to residents of Yarmouk camp, saying it was “a national duty.” A one-week period has been set in which to raise donations, and Zanoun added that the council had so far raised 13,150 Jordanian Dinars ($18,600).

PLO: IS is using heavy arms in Yarmouk camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Apr — The Islamic State (Daesh) militant group in Syria is using heavy weaponry and artillery in ongoing fighting in the beleaguered Yarmouk refugee camp, a PLO official said Sunday. Ahmad al-Majdalani, the PLO envoy to Syria, told Ma’an that despite heavy fighting with the Syrian army IS have maintained their positions in the camp and have redeployed to arrange future attacks. “Political solutions regarding the Yarmouk crisis are over as IS has closed all doors on any political solution and is currently gathering its forces in the Yalda area in Syria in preparation to attack the camp,” the official said. Al-Majdalani, who returned from Syria at the weekend, will meet with President Abbas upon his return from Moscow to discuss the crisis. Pierre Krahenbuhl, who heads the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, on Monday called on all sides to respect the beleaguered civilians trapped inside Yarmouk … Although the PLO has publicly rejected Palestinian involvement in a military campaign, citing a longstanding policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of Arab nations, on Saturday Majdalani said the situation was out of the hands of the Palestinian leadership. He told Ma‘an that the resort to military action had been imposed on Palestinian groups inside the camp.

Other news / Opinion

Jewish settlements accused of using Palestinian child labor
JERUSALEM (AP) 13 Apr — A leading international human rights group on Monday accused Jewish settlements in the West Bank of using Palestinian child labor in farming, calling it a violation of international law. Human Rights Watch said the settlement farms, most of them in the Jordan Valley, employ children as young as 11, pay them low wages and subject them to dangerous working conditions. In a 74-page report, the New York-based group said hundreds of children work in the settlement farms, often in high temperatures, carrying heavy loads and are exposed to hazardous pesticides. Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war and has built dozens of settlements there since. Palestinians from nearby villages often find employment there in construction and agriculture. Human Rights Watch said it interviewed 38 children and 12 adults in Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley. According to the report, Palestinian children often drop out of school to pick, clean and pack asparagus, tomatoes, eggplants, sweet peppers, onions and dates, among other crops. HRW says international law, as well as Israeli and Palestinian law, sets 15 as the minimum age of employment, though many of the children interviewed by the group said they began working at 13 or 14. “Israel’s settlements are profiting from rights abuses against Palestinian children,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Children from communities impoverished by Israel’s discrimination and settlement policies are dropping out of school and taking on dangerous work because they feel they have no alternatives, while Israel turns a blind eye.”

Religious unity at Easter
Middle East Monitor 12 Apr — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — The traditional Easter parade through the streets of Ramallah took place on Saturday despite unusual heavy storms which at one stage threatened to prevent the march reaching the city centre. The parade has been held for many decades and as usual drew large crowds to the streets. In Ramallah, Easter is celebrated with public events according to the Orthodox calendar whereas Christmas is marked according to the Catholic calender. This practice is respected by both major Christian communities in the city and was begun as a way to ensure major Christian festivals could be celebrated publicly by both denominations collectively. Although a Christian festival, both Christian and Muslim scout troupes participate in the Easter parade. Similarly, the Islamic Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr festivals are marked with large public parades which are joined by both religions. The realities of Palestinian religious acceptance are a long way from the standard Zionist propaganda claims of the persecution of Christians by a fundamental Islamic society. Religious rights are widely respected and observed and the struggle of Palestinians remains a collective one against Israeli settler-colonialism.

Orthodox Christians mark ‘Holy Fire’ rite in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AFP)  11 Apr — Thousands of Christian pilgrims filled Jerusalem’s ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher on Saturday for the “Holy Fire” ceremony on the eve of Orthodox Easter. The ceremony, celebrated by Palestinian Christians across the Holy Land, takes place each year on “Holy Saturday,” or “Saturday of Light” in Arabic, marking the day following Good Friday, when Christians believe Jesus Christ was crucified in Jerusalem, and the day before Easter, which marks his resurrection from the grave. Palestinian Christians as well as Eastern Orthodox Christians from around the world believe that on the Saturday between these two holidays, a divine fire from heaven appears above his tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Believers hold that this fire ignites candles held by the Greek Orthodox patriarch, in an annual rite dating back to the 4th century that symbolizes the resurrection of Christ. Every year, thousands gather in Jerusalem’s Old City to welcome the fire, which is subsequently brought to churches in Palestinian towns and villages throughout the Holy Land. This year both Palestinian Christians as well as large numbers of East European pilgrims swiftly passed the light on from candle to candle as it emerged from the church. The flame is also flown out to Greece and other Orthodox countries. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said tens of thousands of Orthodox Christians flocked to the church and surrounding streets in the annexed East Jerusalem’s Old City for the ceremony, held under a heavy police presence.

Palestinian Christians resist Israeli conscription
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 9 Apr by Amhad Melhem — Within the Green Line (the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948), there have been attempts to recruit young Christian Palestinian men into joining the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Israel began a conscription campaign and established a forum to recruit Christians in the Israeli military service in August 2012, led by Orthodox priest Gabriel Nadav, who enjoys the support of the Israeli government. He called for the recruitment of young Christians in the occupation’s army before Israel began to call on young men to join the service in April 2014. Christians fear the calls for recruitment could turn into mandatory service, like when the youth of the Druze community were forced to join the IDF in the mid-1950s. They fear that whoever refuses to serve would end up in prison like Omar Saad, a Druze from the village of Maghar Galilee, who plays music in the Edward Said Institute. He was first arrested back in October 2012.

Armed men shut down main street in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 13 Apr — Armed men from Balata refugee camp closed a main road in Nablus early Monday, preventing cars from coming in and out of the city, locals said. The closure of Jerusalem Street was reportedly in protest against the continued detention of 17 men in a Palestinian Authority jail in Jericho. The men were detained as part of a crackdown by PA security forces against wanted criminals who had taken refuge in the camp. Security officials told Ma‘an that the PA cannot allow disruptive acts like closures to continue … The clampdown in Balata began at the start of February when the governor of Nablus declared that 18 wanted criminals were hiding in the camp. Some residents in the camp have accused Palestinian security forces of detaining individuals wanted by Israel and have demanded an end to security coordination between the Palestinian and Israeli security forces. March witnessed near daily clashes between PA security forces and gunmen and youths from the camp, according to locals. During one incident, two children sustained gunshot injuries during an exchange of fire between gunman in the camp and Palestinian security officers. The most populated refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, Balata houses an estimated 23,000 on less than a kilometer of land.

Israeli penalties threaten security cooperation with PA
Al-Monitor 9 Apr by Shlomi Eldar — The issue of the tax funds continues to rock the Palestinian Authority (PA). Two days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the green light to unfreeze the funds withheld in January 2015, less than a third to cover PA debts to Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that he would refuse to accept the money and turn instead to the International Criminal Court (ICC). During an April 5 speech in Ramallah, he said, “We are returning the money. Either they give it to us in full or we go to arbitration or to the court (ICC). We will not accept anything else.” Immediately after the refusal, PA employees were notified that in light of the financial situation, their salaries would be slashed by 40%. This elicited great agitation among the staff, including security forces and civil servants, all of whom have been only partially paid in the past four months. They’re angry that at this stage, the PA is only threatening Israel with filing a complaint with the ICC — a process that could take a very long time, while they remain without a means to provide for their families and pay off debts … a temporary solution has been found. During his tour of the Gulf states, Abbas apparently won a $100 million loan from Qatar, allowing him to pay the remainder of the salaries that were cut. That is, until the next crisis comes along. But this is not where the affair ends, and the turmoil in the PA has not entirely dissipated. Senior Fatah members are unequivocally demanding that Abbas treat Israel the way the latter treats the PA and repay it “by the same token” — namely, by employing sanctions.

Nice story of the day
Video: Father of the Kittens
7 Mar posted by Alyateema AlqsaLion — [This good old man spreads blessings, greetings and candy/other food among all who go to Al-Aqsa – including the cats!  He is called Father of the Kittens — like the famous Companion of Prophet Muhammad (Abu Hurairah, ‘Father of the Kitten’) who was always seen with his cat.]

Rightist NGO operating tunnel dug illegally near Western Wall, say petitioners
Haaretz 13 Apr by Nir Hasson — The right-wing NGO Elad is managing and using a tunnel dug illegally under the Davidson Archaeological Park near the Western Wall in Jerusalem, according to a petition submitted to the High Court of Justice on Sunday. The petition was submitted by Emek Shaveh, an organization of archaeologists and community activists who protest the political use of archaeology. The petition concerns a tunnel that was dug over the past eight years by the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by Elad. Part of the tunnel was a street during the time of King Herod and another part was a drainage channel dug under that street in the same period. The tunnel leads from the Pool of Siloam at the bottom of the City of David, via the Givati parking lot, between the entrance to the City of David excavations and the Dung Gate, and ends at the Davidson Archaeological Park.

Why have we not seen articles by Hass in Haaretz lately? Because she is on the road spreading the message.
Destroying Palestinian society is deliberate Israeli policy, says Amira Hass
GreenLeft 10 Apr by Narendra Mohan Kommalapati — About 150 people filled the St Kilda Town Hall on April 7 for a public meeting with visiting Israeli journalist, Amira Hass. Hass is a veteran Israeli columnist and reporter, lives in the West Bank among Palestinians and works for Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The Australian Jewish Democratic Society organised the forum. Hass spoke about Israeli governments deliberately rejecting the Palestinian offer in the 90s to have a state on just 23% of historical Palestine. Accepting the offer would have meant recognising Palestinians as equal and ending the colonialist project of Israel and ending the privileges of Jewish Israelis, a task Israel’s rulers were not prepared to undertake … During the five-year interim period after Oslo, Israel built the infrastructure for perpetuating military occupation. Before Oslo, Gaza and the West Bank were seen as one unit. However in 1991 Israel disconnected Gaza from the West Bank by introducing a system of passes for Palestinians to travel between the two places. For 20 years, Palestinians were one people and Israel stopped this connection. It is this isolation that is serving as a breeding ground for Hamas to flourish. Since 2007, Gaza has become a vast prison, freedom of movement, re-union with family, the opportunity to study and work are denied to Gaza, on top of the wars and killings by the Israeli military. In the West Bank, Palestinian society has been reduced to Islands in the middle of Jewish settlements, backed by the Israeli military. While Palestinian space is being shrunk, their travel time has doubled and tripled.

A message to Obama from a Palestinian teenager
Falastin News 12 Apr –Dear President Obama,  I am 14 and live in the Palestinian Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. Almost four years ago my family and I were evicted from part of our home by Israeli settlers, backed by Israeli court decisions. The process has made life almost unbearable for me and tens of thousands of Palestinians. Settlers are working towards Jewish control of all of East Jerusalem, at times using violence against Palestinians. This was once a beautiful neighbourhood. Everybody was so close, and before part of my house was evicted, I was never afraid of going to sleep. We used to have no worries. Now it doesn’t feel like a Palestinian neighbourhood any more. All the signs are in Hebrew, and the music too.  The people who’ve been evicted have lost financially and emotionally. My father has stopped going to work for almost a year, because it was so crowded and dangerous and every day there was tension and violence, so he couldn’t just leave us alone in the house with the settlers. The little kids wet their beds. My sister couldn’t sleep. The settlers have a dog in our house and every time it went past, she wet herself.  This thing that happened tore us apart. We were one big family, and now everyone lives in a different city. We are extremely uncomfortable and uncertain about what is going to happen here.  Children my age and much younger are regularly arrested, interrogated and beaten by Israeli police, and violently attacked by settlers. For most of my life I have felt unsafe and threatened in my own neighbourhood and even in my own home. Mr President, you have the power to change that. The most simple thing you could do is see our situation for yourself and speak out about it, to see the reality and talk about what you see. It’s not like you don’t know what’s happening here. I’m sure you know everything

Four more arrests in case of IDF soldier who passed on classified info
JPost 13 Apr by Ben Hartman — Four men were arrested in the West Bank on Saturday night on suspicion of receiving classified information from a soldier serving in the area. Officers from the nationalist crimes unit of the Judea and Samaria District police make the arrests, as an extension of a case that broke earlier this month with the arrest of soldier Elad Sela from the Bat Ayin settlement in Gush Etzion. Sela is in Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) custody on suspicion of passing on information about troop movements to “right-wing elements.” The information reportedly related to IDF plans for dealing with unauthorized construction in Judea and Samaria as well as other details related to how troops operate in the area. There remains a gag order on the rest of the details of the case, but police said on Sunday that the four suspects arrested the previous night will be released with some restrictions after they undergo questioning. When Sela was arrested on April 1, police said they expected an indictment to be issued against him already in the coming days. He has yet to be charged, as he continues to undergo questioning. The nationalist crimes unit of the police works in collaboration with the Shin Bet and deals mainly with “price tag” incidents, acts of violence and/or vandalism committed against Arabs in order to protest government policies in the settlements. (listserv) (archive)

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Thank goodness for capsules! Thank you for the gorgeous video of the Father of the Kittens~ reminiscent of “all creatures, great and small”, and of the commonplace kindness and generosity of Palestinians. It’s some of the most beautiful footage of Al- Aqsa that I have seen in a long while! He is also so gentle and so loving~ he actually reminds me of my Grandfathers. Alyateema has captured a living gem. Thank you to the… Read more »

I wanted to share one headline that gives me the willies: “Annual Nazi-hunting report downgrades U.S., commends Germany The world’s predominant Nazi-hunting group took the United States to task over its failure to prosecute a member of a notorious Nazi unit who lived quietly in Minnesota for decades in its annual report released Monday. The Simon Wiesenthal Center report lowered its ranking of the U.S.’s Nazi-hunting efforts from A to B. It was the first… Read more »

Kate, here’s a video by HRW “Dangerous Child Labor on West Bank Farms

Published on Apr 13, 2015
Israeli settlement farms in the West Bank are using Palestinian child labor to grow, harvest, and pack agricultural produce, much of it for export. The farms pay the children low wages and subject them to dangerous working conditions in violation of international standards.”

(Palestinians speak, as does Bill Van Esveld )

Thank you for this, just. Heartbreaking. These Jewish “settlers” (land thieves) are heartless beyond belief.