Violence / Attacks / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Arrests
Israeli forces shoot Palestinian dead at his cousin’s funeral
[with photos] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — A Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli forces on Friday at the funeral for his cousin in the town of Beit Ummar near Hebron. Ziyad ‘Awad, 27, was killed by Israeli forces and thirteen others injured when soldiers opened fire on mourners at the funeral of Ja‘afar ‘Awad, 22, who died at 2:45 a.m. Friday morning from health complications that rapidly deteriorated while being held in Israeli prison. Medical sources told Ma‘an that Ja‘afar had succumbed to the illness at the al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron. Three Palestinians were injured with live fire while 10 others were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets. Dozens of other funeral attendees suffered from excessive tear-gas inhalation. ‘Awad’s funeral was held after Friday prayers, and was followed by tense clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces … Beit Ummar has been severely targeted by Israeli forces as a result of its location, and as of late March, more than 60 Palestinians had been detained in Beit Ummar by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2015, nearly half of whom were minors.
Ja‘afar ‘Awad spent 14 months in Israel’s Eshel Prison in Beersheba, but was released on Jan. 21, 2015 in critical condition after he fell ill in custody. Palestine News Network quoted Prisoner Committee head ‘Issa Qaraqe‘ as saying that ‘Awad’s health complications started when he was administered incorrect insulin shots in Eshel Prison, causing him neck inflation, inability to speak, pain in the head, trembling in the body and an impaired vision. ‘Awad suffered from severe pneumonia, heart problems, and thyroid and pancreas complications by the time he was released. Israeli authorities had agreed to release ‘Awad only after the director of the Prisoners’ Society’s legal department submitted an appeal. He was released with a fine of 40,000 shekels ($10,200). Earlier Friday, the father of Ja‘afar ‘Awad told Ma‘an that he held Israel responsible for his son’s death, calling upon Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other officials to present Ja‘afar’s death to the International Criminal Court … Israeli prisons have come under international criticism for both medical negligence to ill patients and illegal treatment of prisoners, including torture, isolation, and denial of family visits.
The last days of Ja‘far ‘Awad
Former detainee in coma; Abbas orders his transfer to a hospital in Germany
[with photo] IMEMC 8 Apr by Saed Bannoura — Head of the Palestinian Detainees’ Committee ‘Issa Qaraqe‘ said Ja’far ‘Awad, 24, from Beit Ummar town near Hebron, fell into a coma, and his health condition is seriously deteriorating, especially since Israel denied him the right to professional medical treatment while holding him captive. The Palestinian official stated that ‘Awad’s health deterioration started after he was accidentally given insulin injections while in Ehil Israeli prison in Be’er as-Sabe’ (Beersheba) causing various serious health complications. ‘Awad was released from prison three months ago due to his serious health condition, after he suffered from pneumonia, and was moved to the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem, before being later moved to the al-Ahli hospital, in Hebron. On Wednesday morning, ‘Awad, who was imprisoned for 14 months, was moved to the Intensive Care Unit in the al-Mezan Hospital, in Hebron. Prior to his coma, he became unable to speak, suffered deteriorating vision, excessive neck swelling, constant headache, and several other health issues. Qaraqe’ said President Abbas ordered the Minister of Health Dr. Jawad ‘Awwad to closely follow the treatment of the detainee in a hospital in Germany. The official added that ‘Awad is one of the victims of Israel’s ongoing illegal policy of denying detainees the right to professional medical treatment, and held Israel responsible for his life.
12 injured as Israeli forces open fire in Jalazun camp
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — Israeli forces injured 12 Palestinian youths after firing live and rubber-coated bullets during clashes in al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah on Friday. Three Palestinians were injured with live fire and a further nine with rubber-coated steel bullets. They were taken to a Palestinian medical complex with light to moderate injuries. The clashes broke out close to the wall that Israeli is building to seal off the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El. Palestinian youths reportedly threw rocks and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers, who fired live bullets and rubber-coated steel bullets at them … The clashes come just two weeks after thousands of Palestinians attended the funeral of a young man buried in al-Jalazun refugee camp. Ali Mahmoud Safi, 20, who succumbed to his wounds on Mar. 25 after being shot by Israeli forces during a protest near Ramallah a week earlier, was buried in the al-Shuhada (Martyrs’) Cemetery inside the camp. Head of a popular committee in the al-Jalazun refugee camp, Mahmoud Mubarak, said that the camp is being “systematically and unnaturally” attacked by Israel, and that there are daily clashes and injuries in the camp.
UN deputy: Investigations needed for recent violence
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Apr — UN Deputy Coordinator for the Middle East James Rawley called Friday for restraint and calm within the occupied West Bank and pushed for those responsible for recent escalations to be held accountable. “As always,” he remarked, “the United Nations urges that thorough investigations be conducted into these cases and that accountability be ensured.” Rawley’s statements come one day after Israeli forces shot a Palestinian dead in Beit Ummar, and twelve youth were injured with live fire in al-Jalazone refugee camp on Friday … Rawley also expressed concern that the current season of religious festivity would escalate present tensions. Many [Orthodox] Palestinian Christians will celebrate Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday this week, a time that has historically brought increased tensions in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. In a report published in 2012, the US State Department highlighted Israeli policies restricting freedom of worship for Palestinian Christians and Muslims.
Israeli forces suppress Bil‘in weekly protest, arrest 1
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Apr — A Palestinian man was arrested and dozens suffered excessive tear gas inhalation when Israeli forces violently dispersed the weekly protest in Bi‘lin near Ramallah on Friday. Witnesses said that four Israeli military vehicles raided the village at midday, arresting Samir Mohammad Burnat, 40, and taking him to an unknown destination. Hundreds of Palestinian and international activists marched to the Israeli separation wall where a group of Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades at them, witnesses said. The protesters raised Palestinian flags and chanted songs for national unity, and resistance … This year marks the tenth consecutive year of weekly marches against the Israeli separation wall in Bil‘in, which was constructed on Palestinian land in 2005. Two members of the Abu Rahmeh family have been fatally injured during non-violent marches in Bil‘in.
Six years later, Abu Rahmeh family still fighting for justice
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Apr — Next week will mark six years since Bil‘in resident Bassem Abu Rahmeh was killed by Israeli forces, and six years of “foot dragging” by the Israeli justice system in properly closing a case on his death, says family and Israeli rights groups. Abu Rahmeh, 30, was struck in the chest by a tear-gas canister on April 17, 2009 at a protest in the village of Bil‘in, and died shortly after of his wounds. The Abu Rahmeh family, joined by village residents and international activists, will visit his memorial next Friday before the weekly demonstration against the separation wall that cuts across Bil‘in residents’ land, Bassem’s cousin Jaber Abu Rahmeh told Ma‘an. “Abu Rahmeh was killed by shooting carried out by IDF soldiers that was negligent at best,” Attorneys Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man and Michael Sfard wrote in a court petition against a court decision to close the case, according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. “The case file of the investigation of the circumstances of his death has been wallowing for years under unpardonable foot-dragging by the investigative and prosecutorial authorities.” In response to the attorneys’ argument that basic investigative acts have never been carried out in the six years since Abu Rahmeh’s death, Justice Menny Mazuz determined April 1 that the State must submit its response to the petition by May 25. Israel’s military prosecutor general decided to close the investigation into his death in September 2013 for lack of evidence, despite the fact that three video segments filmed during the protest prove that Abu Rahmah did not act violently and did not endanger the soldiers in any way, B’Tselem says. Other soldiers in the same video can be seen firing tear-gas canisters directly at protestors in the presence of senior officers and in complete contravention of the open-fire regulations.
Palestinian shot dead after stabbing 2 Israeli soldiers
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Apr — A Palestinian man was shot dead after stabbing two Israeli soldiers on route 60 Wednesday morning, Israel’s army said. The suspect was identified as Muhammad Jasser Abdullah Kararah, 27, from the Sinjel village in the Ramallah district, according to security and local sources. The soldiers were stabbed at the Sinjil junction near the Shilo settlement in the central West Bank, an Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an. One soldier, 20, was critically injured after being stabbed in the neck; the other received minor injuries and then opened fire at the Palestinian male, who sustained critical injuries before being pronounced dead. Israeli army forces and ambulances arrived to the area giving first aid to the soldiers, who were taken in a helicopter to hospital for treatment. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces also raided several areas surrounding Ramallah including Sinjil, Turmusayya, al-Luban al-Sharqiya, and al-Luban al-Gharbiya. Israeli forces detained seven Palestinian youths and took them to identify the suspect’s body, but none were able to identify him, witnesses said. The suspect was not been carrying an ID card. Some of the youths taken to identify the body said the suspect was injured with a bullet in the head, and that there was a “clean knife with no blood on it” next to him. Sources at the Palestinian liaison identified the suspect and said that Israel is still holding his body.
Israeli forces assault Aqsa mosque guards
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Apr — Israeli forces assaulted two guards at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Wednesday, witnesses said. The incident occurred as the guards intervened in the arrest of a Palestinian woman at the holy site, locals told Ma‘an. Hamza al-Nibali and Hussam Mirmish suffered bruising to the head, shoulders and neck following the assault. Islamic Endowment director Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib and director of the mosque, Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, arrived at the scene immediately to protest the assault.
Israeli troops assault Palestinian child in WB
WEST BANK (Days of Palestine) 9 Apr — Israeli occupation troops assaulted on Thursday afternoon a Palestinian child in the village of Qaryoot, northern West Bank — Witnesses told Days of Palestine that the Israeli occupation troops stormed the village of Qaryoot in the south of Nablus. “While the child Samer Musa, 13, was standing opposite to his house’s door, the Israeli occupation troops approached him and assaulted him with the butts of their rifles,” the witnesses said. “A group of Palestinian women from the village took the child from the Israeli soldiers,” the witnesses said, “and moved him to a safe place.” The child suffered scratches and bruises in different parts of his body and taken by a Palestinian ambulance to a Palestinian hospital. Palestinian medics expect that his condition is not critical, but reiterated that he is still in unstable condition.
Israeli settlers, soldiers raid park near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 8 Apr — Dozens of Israeli settlers raided the Al-Karmel park in Yatta south of Hebron on Tuesday, accompanied by Israeli forces. Palestinians spending the day in the park attempted to prevent settlers from entering, but Israeli forces stopped them and forced them to leave the park at gunpoint. Popular resistance committee coordinator Ratib Jabour told Ma‘an the settlers had kicked Palestinians out before swimming in the park’s pool, adding they had arrived from nearby settlements including Maoun, Karmel, Hifat Yaer, Susya, Mitzpe Yair, Hifat Maoun, Avigal, and Beit Yair … Israeli forces also put up several checkpoints on the road east of Yatta, and raided al-Karmel village, preventing Palestinian residents to access their property.
Israelis visit Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, clashes erupt
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 8 Apr — Hundreds of Israeli settlers performed prayers in Joseph’s Tomb near the Balata refugee camp east of Nablus early Wednesday. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that more than 13 buses carried hundreds of Israeli settlers to Joseph’s Tomb under armed security, who performed prayers from after midnight until early morning hours. Sources added that clashes erupted between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces near the site, Israeli forces firing tear-gas bombs and stun grenades while youth threw rocks and empty bottles. An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an the visit to Joseph’s Tomb was pre-organized and nothing out of the ordinary. She added that around 50 Palestinians outside of the area began hurling rocks and burning tires during the visit, to which Israeli forces responded with riot dispersal methods. No injuries or detentions were reported. Israeli settlers frequently visit Joseph’s Tomb under the protection of Israeli forces, who regularly raid Palestinian villages in the area and fire tear gas into the neighboring Balata refugee camp during these visits. Despite lying in Area A under full Palestinian authority, Israeli forces maintain control at the site and prohibit Muslims from praying there.
Twilight Zone: Palestinian boy is freed from jail, but not from nightmares
Haaretz 9 Apr by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Hamzeh Abu Hashem, who was wounded by dogs from the IDF canine unit, is finally free from prison. We met a broken and shaken boy — This teenager needs psychological therapy. He stares at the floor, grimaces when asked to relate what happened to him a few months ago, and doesn’t sleep at night. His parents are aware of his situation. But there’s no one to help him, much less pay for any sort of therapy. Apart from one visit by members of Doctors Without Borders, no one has diagnosed or treated him … Hamzeh, terrified that soldiers will come back to his house in the dead of night, as they have more than once in the past, and still shaken by the barking of stray dogs, is waiting for better times … IDF soldiers sicced dogs on Hamzeh last December. Two months later, the ultranationalist former MK Michael Ben Ari posted a video clip documenting the event on his Facebook page, writing, “The soldiers taught the little terrorist a lesson.” His purpose in posting the clip, he explained, was to ensure “that every dinky terrorist who plans to harm our soldiers will learn that there’s a price [to be paid].” Soldiers from the Oketz canine unit were seen in the clip taunting the petrified boy as one of their dogs sank its teeth into him and held him in a vice-like grip. “Who’s a chicken, who’s a chicken, you son of a bitch,” they yelled at the teen, urging the dogs on. The video generated a furor. The IDF, admitting that what had happened was a “serious incident,” suspended the use of dogs to neutralize stone-throwing children, at least temporarily. But no one thought to free the victim of the attack after what he’d gone through. Hamzeh remained in prison. His parents were not allowed to visit him even once.
See! Israeli occupation in pictures
AIC 9 Apr — Israeli occupation in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, as captured by the Christian Peacemaker Teams. ATTACKED WHILE CLEANING CPTers respond to settlers spraying gas inside of a Palestinian home on Shuhada Street. Qamar, 11 years old, was cleaning the former entrance of her house when an Israeli settler sprayed her with a gas, causing her to pass out. The gas inundated the family home where eight children live (4 March 2015) … BLINDFOLDED AND BODY SEARCHED Kamal was arrested for physically not being able to spread his legs far enough during a military body search because he has stainless steal inserts in his legs. Israeli soldiers blindfolded him and tied him up before leading him away … ATTACKED WHILE PLANTING TREES A Palestinian man is taken away on a stretcher by paramedics. While Palestinians attempted to plant trees at Qurtouba School in Tel Rumeida, Israeli settlers attacked the children and supporters, also pushing a 13 year-old Palestinian girl down the stairs (31 March 2015).
Israeli, Palestinian artists demand in-depth probe of Mer-Khamis murder
Haaretz 9 Apr by Yair Ashkenazi — More than 80 Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals and playwrights have signed a petition calling on Israeli and Palestinian law enforcement forces to resume the investigation into the murder of Israeli Jewish/Palestinian actor, filmmaker and political activist Juliano Mer-Khamis in Jenin four years ago. Mer-Khamis was shot from close range on April 4, 2011 by a masked man next to the Freedom Theater he had set up and directed in the Jenin refugee camp. He was 53 when he died, leaving behind a wife, three sons and a daughter. Despite arrests and investigations conducted after his death, a murderer has not been apprehended and the motives for the murder remain unclear … “Instead of focusing on the murderers and on locating them, we’ve seen efforts directed against members of the Freedom Theater at the Jenin refugee camp, which was the victim’s life work,” states the petition.
Yarmouk camp, Syria
‘Yarmouk is being annihilated’: Palestinians in Syria are left to their fate
The Guardian 10 Apr by Kareem Shaheen in Beirut — If they are lucky, Ahmad and his family in the Yarmouk refugee camp will have one meal today: two plates of rice cooked with undrinkable water. Others will have to do with less, perhaps a bowl of spiced water that doubles as a form of soup that will do nothing to ease the all-too-familiar hunger pangs. “We are being killed here, Yarmouk camp is being annihilated,” said Ahmad, a resident of the Palestinian camp just a few miles from the centre of the Syrian capital who was given a pseudonym to protect his identity. Yarmouk, once a bustling southern suburb of Damascus of 200,000 people, has been starved for two years in a relentless siege by Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which has also blocked water supplies for months, a tactic that activists say constitutes the use of water as a tool of war. Now the remaining 18,000 residents, many of whom suffer from ailments ranging from malnourishment to liver disease and illnesses linked to consuming tainted water, are mired on the frontline of the latest offensive by the terror group Islamic State, which has seized the majority of the camp. “The situation inside the camp is catastrophic,” said Ahmad. “There is no food or electricity or water, Daesh [Arabic acronym for Isis] is killing and looting the camp, there are clashes, there is shelling. Everyone is shelling the camp. “As soon as Daesh entered the camp they burned the Palestinian flag and beheaded civilians,” he said.
Statement: PLO will not be drawn into armed conflict in Syria
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — The Palestine Liberation Organization will not be drawn into an armed campaign in the beleaguered Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, a statement said Friday. The PLO said: “We refuse to be drawn into any armed campaign, whatever its nature or cover,” and called for a resort “to other means to spare the blood of our people.” The statement contradicts earlier PLO backing for a joint military operation to be formed with the Syrian government to expel the Islamic State group from the Damascus-area camp. On Thursday, during a meeting in Damascus, PLO official Ahmed Majdalani said that 14 Palestinian factions supported “a security solution that will be carried out in partnership with the Syrian state” in order to clear the camp of extremist militants. Following his comments, on Friday, senior Fatah official Major-General Tawfiq al-Tirawi called on party members in Lebanon and Syria to arm themselves and head to Yarmouk to fight IS. Al-Tirawi told Ma‘an that although Palestinian refugees are neutral in Syria’s civil war, “terrorist groups like IS, al-Nusra Front and others” had pushed Palestinians into the conflict.
Fatah leader calls for armed Palestinian mobilization to save Yarmouk
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — A top Fatah official on Friday called upon party members in Lebanon and Syria to arm themselves to fight the Islamic State group which has recently seized the Damascus-area Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk. Major-General Tawfiq al-Tirawi told Ma’an that “the suffering of Palestinians in the Yarmouk refugee camp should be ended, and they should be protected from terrorist groups like IS, al-Nusra Front and others.” He called upon Palestinian fighters in Syria and Lebanon to head to the Yarmouk refugee camp to fight these groups. Al-Tirawi said that Palestinian refugee camps are neutral in the Syrian internal conflict but that some “terrorist groups” are attempting to push Palestinians into ongoing events. Al-Tirawi’s call for mobilization is one of the first major calls by a Palestinian leader for an armed response to aggression against the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria. Palestinians have generally struggled to maintain their neutrality in what they consider an “internal” conflict. Before the conflict broke out in 2011, around 500,000 Palestinians lived in Syria, descendants of those who were expelled from their homes by Israel in 1948 and forbidden from returning. Palestinian refugee camps have been the scene of intense fighting in the past, and Yarmouk refugee camp in particular has been repeatedly besieged by pro- and anti-government forces, leading to mass starvation at times. On Wednesday, however, after a period of relative calm albeit continued deprivation, IS militants began an assault on Yarmouk. They were initially repelled by Palestinian fighters but have since seized large swathes of the district. Until that point, fighters from the Hamas offshoot Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdes had been defending the camp from Syrian government forces as well as opposition forces, but al-Nusra Front and IS — who are at odds elsewhere in Syria — reportedly joined together for the assault, despite earlier al-Nusra promises to respect the camp’s authorities.
UN envoy flies to Syria to discuss Yarmuk camp crisis
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday dispatched an envoy to Damascus for talks on the humanitarian crisis in the Yarmuk refugee camp, where starving refugees are trapped in fighting. UN deputy envoy for Syria, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, was en route for Damascus while other UN officials were “in close conversations” with the Syrian government, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. Ban on Thursday issued a strong appeal for action to prevent a “massacre” in the camp after it was overrun by Islamic State fighters on April 1. About 18,000 people, mostly Palestinians, are trapped in fighting between IS jihadists, government forces and other rebel groups. “What is unfolding in Yarmuk is unacceptable,” Ban said ahead of a trip to Qatar where he is due to discuss the crisis. “We simply cannot stand by and watch a massacre unfold.”
PICTURES: Al-Yarmouk is still bleeding
Days of Palestine 9 April. [The photo of the little boy, #16, is haunting. Has he ever had enough to eat? Is he still alive? The photo was apparently taken in January.]
EU increases emergency aid in Yarmouk refugee camp
BRUSSELS (WAFA) 8 Apr – The European Union declared on Wednesday a €2.5 million contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), to deliver life-saving assistance to Palestinian refugees in Syria through cash and emergency relief items. With fighting raging in the Yarmouk refugee camp, on Damascus outskirts, the humanitarian situation has dramatically deteriorated for 18,000 Palestinian refugees and Syrians in the camp, while thousands remain trapped receiving little or no humanitarian assistance. Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management said the suffering of civilians in Yarmouk camp has reached an intolerable level. “Once again, I strongly urge all parties to the conflict to allow immediate and unconditional humanitarian access, and to afford all necessary protection to Palestinian refugees and all affected civilian populations in Syria,” he said in a statement to the press.
From Gaza to Yarmouk: This, too, will pass / Belal Dabour
Al-Araby 7 Apr — It is as if we were made to suffer. The Palestinians in Gaza face wars and relentless sieges; those in West Bank are left alone to endure the theft of their land, settler violence and daily raids; Palestinians in today’s Israel live under apartheid policies, accustomed to being a minority in lands which belonged to their ancestors for centuries. Additionally, there are six million refugees, four generations, who live in the diaspora, atoning for a sin they did not commit. But what pains us the most is that a share of our suffering is inflicted on us by those we call brothers. As we now stand helpless, watching our brothers in Yarmouk refugeee camp in Damascus suffer, there is nothing we can do to help. Nothing that is, except remind them that this, too, will pass. To our refugee brothers in Yarmouk: You have been living a few kilometers away from your original villages, probably able to see your original homes but never able to reach them. But we too, are living the same ordeal: 80 percent of Gaza’s population is made of refugees. Like you, we have lived through this for 67 years, believing that one day it will pass. Like you have now, we have experienced barrel bombs and indiscriminate artillery fire. It is true that they were thrown at us by those who are directly responsible for our plight. But at the hands of your brothers or the hands of your enemies, death tastes the same. Fear not; this, too, will pass. Our misery might differ in time or scale, but the pain is the same. We hear that you are dying from hunger, with food being held at the camp gates, forbidden from entering by those who claim to be fighting for your cause. We have been through this too. When Israel left us to starve we made underground routes so we could get food, but then our brothers shut down those routes, also in the name of our cause.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Unequal treatment of non-Jewish religions
Israel seizes a thousand dunums of land for settlement expansion in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 8 Apr – Israeli forces Wednesday took over a thousand dunums of Palestinian-owned land located between the towns of Beit Ummar and Beit Fajjar in the Hebron district for the benefit of settlement expansion, according to a local activist. Anti-settlement activist in Beit Ummar Yousif Abu Maryya informed WAFA that Israeli forces along with settlers from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of ‘Migdal Oz’ placed a 2,600-meter-long fence around one thousand dunums belonging to Palestinian farmers in the area to expand the aforementioned settlement. He said that farmers and land owners gathered at the scene and attempted to prevent the bulldozers from razing the land, but were prevented by Israeli soldiers who denied them access to the area.
Settlers to open bypass road near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 9 Apr – Israeli settlers Thursday proceeded to open a bypass road near the illegal settlement outpost of ‘Sidi Bou’ez’ near the village of al-Khader, south of Bethlehem, according to local sources. Tawfiq Abu Salah, head of the village council of al-Khader, told WAFA that settlers proceeded to raze Palestinian owned land near the village, which is a prelude to opening a new bypass road for settlers. The settlers were nevertheless forced to stop their work by aggravated local residents, said Abu Salah. He noted that should the road be completed, more than 400 dunums of Palestinian land could be threatened with seizure, and that local farmers would be unable to access their lands in the area. Bypass roads cater to the interests of Israeli settlers who, even before the outbreak of the Intifada (uprising), wanted to be able to commute to Israel and through the West Bank easily and safely, reports the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. Bypass roads have also been viewed as a way of making settlements more attractive to prospective residents. The idea of a bypass roads system, which enables access to settlements and travel between settlements without having to pass through Palestinian villages, was first raised during the settlement push in the late 1970s.
First permanent home celebrated in West Bank outpost
AIC 8 Apr — Over 300 Israeli settlers participated in a housewarming ceremony Tuesday evening for the first permanent home in the northern West Bank outpost of Kumi Uri, near the Yitzhar settlement. Houses in Kumi Uri had hitherto been makeshift structures. The settler-affiliated news site Arutz 7 reports that a “happening” was conducted, including presentations, tours and musical performances. Kumi Uri is situated on a hill near the settlement of Yitzhar, located south of the Palestinian city of Nablus. Yitzhar residents are renowned for their extremist beliefs, attacks against local Palestinians and even violence against Israeli military forces.
WATCH: Israeli soldiers party in demolished settlement outpost
+972 8 Apr by Haggai Matar — The Givat Sorek outpost, built on private Palestinian land, was destroyed by Israeli soldiers just a week ago. Now it has become an area for soldiers to relax and barbecue.The “Givat Sorek” outpost, which was was established in the wake of the murder of the three teenagers last June is located between the Karmei Tzur settlement and the Palestinian city Halhul. According to Yehuda Wald, who chairs the Karmei Tzur secretariat, the outpost included a synagogue in honor of the teens, and a rest spot for soldiers serving in the area. The only issue is: the outpost was established on privately owned Palestinian land belonging to residents of Halhul. The residents, along with Israeli NGO Rabbis for Human Rights petitioned the High Court, demanding that the outpost be demolished. While leaders in Karmei Tzur reject the claim that the land belongs to Palestinians, the High Court established that the outpost was illegal, ordering the state to demolish it … On Tuesday, an activist with Rabbis for Human Rights and Ta’ayush visited the sight of the outpost, only to find a large group of Golani soldiers relaxing in a new structure that had been established alongside the ruins of the outpost. An officer who was on the scene spoke with the activist, stating that he is not aware that the structure is illegal, and that he received permission from his commander to relax there with his soldiers.
Amid Israeli restrictions, Holy Fire to be broadcast in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — A coalition of churches and organizations in Jerusalem and Bethlehem have announced that the Holy Saturday festivities in Jerusalem will be televised to worshipers inside the West Bank, allowing those prevented from attending by Israeli restrictions to take part as well. The Holy Saturday service in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre — an Orthodox ritual that is believed to involve the miraculous lighting of a fire at the tomb of Jesus Christ, and is followed by the fire’s spread across Palestine and the world — will be broadcast on special screens in both Bethlehem and Beit Jala. The Bethlehem Peace Center said in a statement that the screenings were a coordinated effort by the the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, the municipality of Bethlehem, the Bethlehem Peace Center, and the Beit Jala Greek Orthodox Parish of the Jerusalem Patriarchate … Israel distributes a limited number of permits to allow Palestinian Christians to attend religious festivals in Jerusalem, but the screenings will allow the thousands who were restricted from going to take part in the festival, which is known in Arabic at “Saturday of Fire.” … In the past, Palestinian Christian officials have decried Israeli restrictions on the community’s access to holy sites in Jerusalem.
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian fisherman off Gaza coast
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Apr — Israeli forces on Wednesday shot and injured a Palestinian man with a rubber-coated steel bullet as he was fishing off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip. Local sources said that fisherman Khalid Zayid was shot while he was at sea off the coast of the town of Beit Lahiya … Twenty-nine attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinian fisherman have have been reported since Sept. 1 by Gaza-based watchdog al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, however due to the normalcy of such incidents, attacks often go unreported.
Israeli forces open fire east of Khan Younis, 1 injured
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — Israeli forces injured a Palestinian civilian after they opened fire east of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip on Friday. Witnesses said the Israeli soldiers, stationed on the border to the east of the city, fired on both civilians and their farmland in the al-Sanati area … Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire on Palestinian civilians near the border since the ceasefire agreement signed Aug. 26, 2014 that ended a devastating 50-day war between Israel and Hamas. 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.
Gaza official denies arrest of IS member
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — The Gaza Ministry of Interior on Thursday denied the existence of the Islamic State group in the Gaza Strip. Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bizm said in a statement that there were no known IS members in Gaza, and denied that security forces had made any arrests connected to the group. He added that “exaggerations” by media outlets were completely untrue. The official said a man was arrested after refusing to respond to a subpoena twice. Al-Bizm said the man had already been released. Earlier Thursday, supporters of IS in Gaza called for the release of several members they said had been detained by Hamas security services. The group, which calls itself “Supporters of the Islamic Caliphate State,” demanded that security forces release the men in the next few days, adding that “threats and political arrests will not succeed in failing IS’s unification project.” On Monday, Hamas-run security services arrested a radical Salafist sheikh, accusing him of membership in the Islamic State group, a source told AFP. “Adnan Khader Mayat from the Bureij refugee camp (in central Gaza) was arrested as part of an investigation,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity and without giving further details. Hamas forces have in the past cracked down hard on Salafist groups in the coastal enclave.
UNRWA cannot rebuild Gaza due to lack of funds
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Apr — UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA has only received funding to reconstruct 200 of the 9,061 houses destroyed in Gaza, said a report released on Thursday. While some 60,000 Palestine refugee families have been able to complete the repair of their damaged homes with assistance provided through UNRWA, the majority of funding pledged by the international community for reconstruction following the most recent war in Gaza has not materialized, similar to promises made after previous wars. According to Ma‘an News Agency, UNWRA said that the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, a temporary agreement between the governments of Israel and Palestine concluded in September 2014, allows the entry of building materials for repair, but the process for rebuilding totally destroyed homes remains yet to be agreed upon. While import of construction material is banned by Israel but possible for UN-led projects following a lengthy approval procedure since 2010, the UNRWA shelter self-help program is completely reliant on the GRM, limiting the range of reconstruction possible.
Gaza public employees launch strike in renewed unpaid salaries protest
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Apr — The public workers union in the Gaza Strip announced that a general strike would be in effect Thursday across all public institutions in protest against the government’s continued to failure to pay salaries to tens of thousands of employees of the former Hamas government. The strike announcement signals a renewed determination by public workers to pressure the Fatah-Hamas unity government to address the simmering crisis over the workers, whose future has been uncertain since the April 2014 unity deal.
Mohammed Assaf fights the good fight for the troubled people of Gaza
Albawaba 9 Apr — Arab Idol star and UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador Mohammed Assaf was once again fighting the good fight for the people of Gaza. The international singer flew out to his hometown on Sunday to fulfill another one of his duties as a UN Ambassador. This time, he participated in the United Nations Mine Action Service’s (UNMAS) Wednesday event, which was a ceremony celebrating the International Day of Mine Awareness & Assistance in Mine Action. Assaf was at hand to campaign for this worthy cause, which hoped for a more peaceful and land mine-free Gaza. Despite his superstar status, this young chap has certainly not forgotten about his roots, or his people. To mark the occasion, the singer delivered an emotional speech on the dangers of land mines and later rocked the stage with a performance of his best hits. An excited crowd cheered Assaf on as he sang to a large audience, including those who were left disabled by the Gaza-Israel war. During his charitable trip, the 25-year-old star also visited the UNDP offices and met with staff & their families. But before his trip to Palestine, Assaf was busy recording the opening theme tune of a new TV series titled “Sadeeqaati Al Azeezat” (My Dear Friends)….
Gaza police seize Banksy’s disputed ‘Weeping Goddess’
AFP 10 Apr — Gaza police have seized a work by famed street artist Banksy from a man who bought it for $200 from a family that later said it was duped, both sides told AFP. Bilal Khaled, accused of buying the work painted on a door belonging to the Darduna family without telling them its real value, said Friday “the police seized it yesterday under a court order”. The now homeless family in the impoverished Islamist-run Palestinian enclave says they were “tricked” into parting with the valuable collector’s item. At the end of February, the artist, who chooses to remain anonymous, released an online video showing three works he painted on the walls of Gaza homes destroyed in Israeli air strikes. The disputed graffiti shows the Greek goddess Niobe weeping on a metal doorway which was all that remained standing of the Darduna family home. Khaled said it “will be stored at Khan Yunes public library until this issue is resolved”.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli courts convict hundreds of Palestinian children
BEIT ANAN, occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 10 Apr by Patrick Strickland — When Israeli soldiers detained Hussam al-Sheikh’s 15-year-old son Khaled on Christmas Day last year, he expected to pay a fine and bring the boy home within a few hours. “A few weeks earlier, some young boys from our village were arrested for allegedly throwing stones,” Sheikh told Al Jazeera. “They all came home the next morning after their parents paid a small fine.” Accused of throwing stones, Khaled was arrested near the Israeli separation wall in Beit Anan, a village near Sheikh in the occupied West Bank. Yet, upon arriving at the police station at the Binyamina settlement where the boy was being held, Hussam learned that his son would not be allowed to go home with him anytime soon. “When we got to the police station, he had been beaten up and there was blood on his face,” Sheikh told Al Jazeera. “After five court hearings, he was sentenced to four months in prison. How does a 50-year-old man sit on a bench and decide the fate of little children?” The Israeli military court that sentenced Khaled also fined his parents 2,000 Israeli shekels ($510) – a costly amount on top of the lawyer and court fees the Sheikh family already had to pay. Palestinians tried in Israeli military courts are convicted at a rate of more than 99 percent, according to a 2011 military document leaked to the Israeli daily Haaretz. “Why is this necessary?” Sheikh asked. “Can you seriously tell me that these kids throwing stones at a concrete wall pose a threat to their state? Or to their soldiers in armoured jeeps?”….
Detainee dead after Hebron detention center catches fire
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 8 Apr — A military intelligence detention center belonging to Palestinian security forces in Hebron caught fire on Wednesday, killing one person in detention at the facility. Palestinian firefighters and civil defense rushed to the scene and managed to extinguish the fire but were unable to do so in time to save the detainee’s life. Director of Hebron Governmental Hospital Walid Zaloom identified Rabi Mahmoud al-Jamal as the fatality. Head of military intelligence in Hebron, Ibrahim Zawahra, told Ma’an that an investigation had been launched to determine the causes of the fire. Military prosecutor Issa Amro, meanwhile, said an autopsy had been ordered to determine the cause of death.
Israel releases Jerusalem teen detained for Facebook post
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Apr — Israeli police on Wednesday released Hadi al-Ajlouni, 17, after being arrested last week for his activity on social media, the teenager told Ma‘an. Al-Ajlouni was released after paying a fine of 1,000 shekels ($254) and was sentenced to seven days under house arrest. He was also banned from Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for 30 days. The teenager said he was detained on Friday while leaving his house in the Old City on suspicion of planning an attack on Israelis. During an interrogation at the Russian Compound detention center, Israeli officers said they suspected him of the charges after he wrote “forgive me” on Facebook. The teenager said he wrote the post for personal reasons after an argument with his brothers. “I was accused of planning an attack because on Thursday I wrote ‘forgive me’ on Facebook, but I denied the charges,” he said. Israeli intelligence officers showed him several posts he had published on his Facebook page since 2010, including one saying “Palestine” and others with pictures of Al-Aqsa Mosque, marches, and the kuffiyeh. He was interrogated a total of three times during his time in police custody. In December, eight Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem were indicted for inciting anti-Jewish violence and supporting “terror” in postings on Facebook, the largest operation yet aimed at halting incitement to violence on social networks. Israelis on social media routinely and openly incite violence against Palestinians, especially during heightened periods of tensions such as this summer’s military offensive on Gaza, but none have yet faced prosecution.
Deir Yassin anniversary
67 years later, Deir Yassin still bleeding wound for Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — Palestinians on Thursday marked the 67th anniversary of the massacre of more than 100 Palestinian civilians by Zionist forces at the village of Deir Yassin. “The Deir Yassin massacre was a turning point in the history of the people of Palestine, and it continues to serve as a necessary reminder of Israel’s ongoing policies of displacement, dispossession and dehumanization, and its willful erasure of the Palestinian narrative and human presence in historical Palestine,” senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement. Ashrawi noted that the massacre was one of the first in what would become a long line of Israeli military attacks on Palestinian civilians, noting: “Deir Yassin, Nasir al-Din, Haifa, Yazur, Bayt Daras, al-Tantura, al-Lydd, al-Dawayima, Saliha, Qibya, Kafr Qasim, and Shuja’iyya, among other names, will remain forever engraved in our hearts and minds and always serve as symbols of Palestinian steadfastness and perseverance.” … Deir Yassin has long been a symbol of Israeli violence for Palestinians because of the particularly gruesome nature of the slaughter, which targeted men, women, children, and the elderly in the small village west of Jerusalem. The number of victims is generally believed to be around 107, though figures given at the time reached up to 254. The attack was part of a broader strategy called Plan Dalet by Zionist groups to scare Palestinians into flight ahead of the expected partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. It was led by the Irgun group, whose head was future prime minister Menachem Begin, with support from the Haganah and Lehi. In order to ensure only Jews were left in the “Jewish state” — nearly half of whose inhabitants were Palestinians — massacres were committed by these Zionist groups in a number of villages in the hope that the ensuing terror would lead to an Arab exodus. Thus the attack on Deir Yassin took place a month before Partition took place, and was part of the reasons later given by neighboring Arab states for their intervention in Palestine. The combination of forced expulsion and flight that the massacres — most prominent among them Deir Yassin — precipitated left around 750,000 Palestinians as refugees abroad. Today their descendants number more than five million, and their right to return to Palestine is a central political demand.
Palestine Remembered: Dayr Yasin
[Articles, photos, satellite image, videos…. This site aims to include a page on every Palestinian village, whether still in existence or not.]
Video: Deir Yassin remembered
AIC 9 Apr — very short video on commemoration ceremony attended by Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals. The names of all the victims are read, and there are some photos of the remains of the village.
FAQ: Deir Yassin massacre
IMEU 13 Apr 2010 — The massacre at Deir Yassin is one of some two dozen documented massacres of Palestinian civilians by Zionist forces seeking to transform Palestine into a Jewish state. If the import of catastrophes were gauged only in numbers of people slaughtered, Deir Yassin may not have taken on its central role in the Palestinian national consciousness. However, the terror at Deir Yassin triggered a mass flight of Palestinians who feared for their own lives. When Israel was established, more than 700,000 Palestinians lost their homes and belongings, their farms and businesses, their towns and cities. Jewish militias, and later, the Israeli army, drove them out. Israel rapidly moved Jews into the newly-emptied Palestinian homes. This tragic event and its consequences lie at the core of the Palestinian/Israeli problem.
Palestinian police deploy near Jerusalem for first time
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 9 Apr — Palestinian police have for the first time been deployed in three areas of the West Bank near annexed east Jerusalem, Palestinian and Israeli sources said on Thursday. “For the first time, members of the Palestinian police wearing uniform and carrying weapons have been deployed in Abu Dis, Al-Ram and Bido,” Palestinian police spokesman Louay Erzikat told AFP, saying the deployment had begun on Wednesday. “This deployment is intended to target criminals and is the result of coordination” with the Israeli authorities, he said. The Israeli army confirmed that Major General Roni Numa, head of the military’s Central Command, had agreed to let the Palestinians open police stations in all three areas. “The purpose of these stations is to address criminal matters as well as to maintain public order for the Palestinian population in area B surrounding Jerusalem,” a spokeswoman said.
Palestinian medical union to boycott Israeli laboratories
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — The Palestinian Medical Examination Union decided Friday to stop the transfer of medical tests to Israeli labs. “This decision comes in harmony with the decisions of the Supreme National Committee and the national movement for the peoples’ boycott of Israeli goods and products,” union head Osama al-Najjar said in a statement. He added: “Based on this decision we will stop converting medical laboratory tests to Israeli laboratories and conduct them within Palestine in addition to boycotting Israeli products and goods.” No further information was given regarding when the boycott would begin. The decision came shortly after Palestinian factions decried the Israeli policy of medical negligence against Palestinians in Israeli prisons, following the death of former prisoner Jaafar Awad Friday morning.
Hamas official says group to cooperate with ICC
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — A senior official in Hamas on Friday said the group is prepared to cooperate with the ICC to obtain justice for Palestinians. Khalil al-Hayya said in a statement to Ma‘an that Hamas is confident of victory against Israel in any “legal battle.” Working with the ICC does not contradict the movement’s tactics, he said, adding that Hamas will continue with armed resistance. Palestine joined the ICC on April 1, 90 days after joining the court’s founding Rome Statute. Exasperated after decades of failed negotiations with Israel and no prospect of achieving statehood anytime soon, Palestinian leadership has been waging a campaign for recognition at international bodies including the ICC. ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in January launched a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes during last year’s Gaza war. Any probe of alleged Israeli crimes in Gaza would also include an investigation of the firing of rockets and mortars by Palestinian militants at civilian areas in Israel.
Kale project challenges Israeli control over Palestinian agriculture
BEIT QAD (Ma‘an) 8 Apr by Alex Shams — Up a small, bumpy road on a hill overlooking the northern West Bank town of Jenin, a food revolution is slowly taking shape. Blessed with a temperate climate and just a stone’s throw away from the fertile soils of the Lower Galilee, the area has long been home to some of Palestine’s most bountiful agricultural production. Israeli restrictions on the Palestinian economy, however, have deformed the market, pushing many farmers to produce low-quality produce aimed for export even as locals are forced to rely on expensive Israeli imports. At a farm near the village of Beit Qad, a new project is spreading a previously unknown vegetable in the area with the hope that it will not only improve access to healthy and natural produce, but also directly challenge the Israeli occupation’s control over the very food Palestinians eat. The Kale Project is a joint venture by two organizations — Refutrees and the MA‘AN Development Center (no relationship to Ma‘an News Agency) — that hopes to introduce the leafy purplish-green vegetable to the Palestinian market en masse … Approaching the farm in Beit Qad is a tricky endeavor. Winding north from Ramallah, the road passes Israeli checkpoint after Israeli checkpoint and Jewish settlement after Jewish settlement. The rolling hills and fertile soil they hide are permanently scarred by the occupation, while the displacement of farmers by Israeli policies of land confiscation has systematically eradicated the generations-old connections between farmers and the land.
Veolia sells BDS-targeted Israel businesses
Palestinian BDS Nat’l Committee/AIC 9 Apr — Palestinian civil society activists have heralded the decision by French corporate giant Veolia to sell off nearly all of its business activity in Israel as a huge victory for the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The sale follows a worldwide campaign against the company’s role in illegal Israeli settlements that cost the firm billions of dollars of lost contracts … Veolia has now reported that the sale of its water, waste and energy contracts to Oaktree Capital, a Los Angles based investment firm, has been completed, leaving its stake in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail as its only business interest in Israel.
Palestinian prisoner obtains MA degree in Israeli studies
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Apr — On the 13th anniversary of his detention by Israeli forces, Palestinian prisoner Maslama Thabet has obtained his Master’s degree in Israeli Studies from the al-Quds Open University in Abu Dis. The Thabet family congratulated Maslama and thanked the jailed Fatah senior leader Marwan Barghouthi for supervising his Master’s thesis. Maslama dedicated the accomplishment to his mother’s soul who passed away in Sept. 2014 without having any chance to visit her son in jail.
Lebanon civil war still haunts families of disappeared
BEIRUT (AFP) 11 Apr by Rana Moussaoui — Forty years after Lebanon’s civil war began, the families of thousands of people who disappeared are still haunted by the conflict and fighting to learn of their loved ones’ fate. “We just want to know what happened to them… we want a grave where we can leave flowers,” Wadad Halawani, president of the Committee of the Families of the Kidnapped and Disappeared, told AFP. The civil war lasted 15 bloody years from 1975 to 1990, killing more than 150,000 people and leaving some 17,000 missing, according to official figures. The conflict primarily pitted Christian groups against Palestinian factions backed by leftist and Muslim parties, with significant regional and international intervention … But despite the long-running protest and various campaigns, the parties to the civil war have refused to share information about the missing.
Putin to meet with Palestinian leader Abbas Sunday
MOSCOW (AFP) 9 Apr — Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in Moscow on Monday where the issue of Middle East peace talks will be raised, Russian authorities announced Thursday. “The two leaders will hold talks concerning key aspects of Russian-Palestinian relations and their future, with particular attention on the trade, economy and humanitarian sectors,” the Kremlin said in a statement. There will also be “an exchange of ideas on the process of Israeli-Palestinian talks and other problematic regional situations,” the statement continued, adding that North Africa would also be on the agenda. Abbas is also scheduled to meet with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday to discuss economic and investment issues.
Doctor’s orders led this journalist to discover his Palestinian neighbors
Haaretz 10 Apr by Nir Hasson — After heart surgery, doctors told journalist Eliezer Yaari he needed to walk. His feet led him to a nearby Palestinian village – a microcosm of political developments in Jerusalem – and a new book with some frank observations –– … Almost 50 years have passed since Israel conquered and annexed East Jerusalem, and it’s been 15 years since the mines were cleared, but the border remains clear and sharp. Few Israelis cross it. In the past two years, however, Yaari crossed and recrossed the (in)visible boundary time and again. He struck up conversations with residents of Tsur Baher and photographed them. The result is a book, “Beyond the Mountains of Darkness,” probably the first book written in our time by an Israeli Jew about a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem. (It will be available in English as an eBook later this month; in the meantime, a teaser can be seen at http://eliezeryaari.com/the-book/.) … Yaari provides fascinating documentation of the complexity of Palestinian life in Jerusalem: On the one hand, efforts to achieve social and economic integration in Israeli society; on the other, tenacious adherence to a Palestinian and Islamic identity, and to waging the struggle against the occupation. Above all, though, the book offers a picture of an intimate, unforgettable acquaintanceship between neighbors on the two sides of the border in Jerusalem.