Hebron under Passover siege
AIC by Ahmad Jaradat — The southern West Bank city of Hebron is under what local Palestinians are calling a siege to enable tens of thousands of Israelis to celebrate the holiday of Passover this week by invading the city. Israeli forces are stationed at all entrances to Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank with a population of some 170,000 Palestinians … Israeli military presence is particularly pronounced in Hebron’s downtown area. Numerous roads and side streets were closed to Palestinians, particularly those to the east of the Ibrahimi Mosque, thus forcing the thousands of residents living in this area to take alternative, longer routes home which could add up to 12 kilometres to their journeys. The Hebron Defense Committee reports that the army closed off parts of H1, the area of the city ostensibly under Palestinian Authority control, so that Israeli visitors could move about freely. Soldiers further occupied numerous roofs of Palestinian-owned homes in downtown Hebron.
Violence / Attacks / Raids / Arrests – West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian boy, 13, loses eye apparently from Border Police bullet
Haaretz 6 Apr by Nir Hasson — Zakariya Julani, a 13-year-old boy from the Shu‘afat refugee camp in Jerusalem, has lost his eye – apparently from a sponge-tipped rubber bullet fired last Tuesday by a female Border Police officer. Julani’s family and friends said there were no disturbances or rock throwing in the area before the firing. Researchers from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel raised the possibility that Julani was hit by a black sponge bullet of the type introduced into regular use over the past year by Jerusalem police, and is harder and considered more dangerous that the previously used blue sponge bullet. Yahya Julani, Zakariya’s father, said his son was on the way home from school when he passed a building near the entrance to Shu‘afat refugee camp. The area is known for frequent disturbances and confrontations between Palestinian youths and police, but the elder Julani said there were no such incidents at the time. A friend of the boy said a female Border Police officer fired at them from the building’s fourth floor. The younger Julani was wounded in the left eye and taken to Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Karem in Jerusalem, where he was hospitalized and lost his eye. The police have been gradually introducing the black sponge-tipped bullets, also known as Model 4557, for about a year, as Haaretz reported last September. The new riot-control bullets are heavier and cause more serious bodily harm than the blue ones police had used previously. Police are thought to have used black sponge-tipped bullets when they fatally shot Mohammed Sunuqrut of Jerusalem’s Wadi Joz neighborhood in the head in late August. The bullets are made of plastic and are 40 millimeters in diameter, with a sponge tip that is intended to reduce injuries.
Israeli forces stop children’s school bus for 2 hours
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Israeli forces held a children’s school bus on on the main road leading from Nablus for two hours late on Monday claiming one of the children had thrown a stone at Jewish settlers from the bus. A Palestinian Authority liaison official in Nablus, Usama Abu Arab, said that Israeli forces stopped the bus, carrying children between the ages of 10 and 12, along the main road between Nablus and the Israeli settlement of Yitzhar. The bus was returning to Ramallah from a school trip. The children are students at Shuhadaa Silwad school in Ramallah. Abu Arab said that the bus was released after two hours. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed that Israeli forces had stopped a bus because rocks were allegedly “hurled” by people on board, although she had “no information about (the stone throwers) being children.” She said there were no injuries or arrests. Asked why there had been no arrests when Israeli forces claimed rocks had been hurled, she said: “Every case is dealt with differently… This case was dealt with as it was meant to be.” Israeli authorities regularly detain Palestinians for alleged stone throwing incidents. Last March marked two years that five boys from the northern West Bank village of Hares have been held under administrative detention over such allegations. Despite heavily contested evidence, the boys, aged 16 to 17 at the time of their arrest, each faces 20 charges of attempted murder and potential life imprisonment for allegedly throwing stones.
Israeli forces target journalists in West Bank
KAFR QADDOUM, West Bank (IPS) 7 Apr by Mel Frykberg — It is becoming increasingly risky to cover clashes and protests between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters in the West Bank as the number of journalists injured, in what appears to be deliberate targeting by Israeli security forces, continues to rise. During the last 12 months, Israel’s Foreign Press Association (FPA) has issued numerous protests at the manhandling, harassment and shooting of both members of the foreign media and Palestinian journalists. “The Foreign Press calls on the Israeli border police (a paramilitary unit) to put an immediate end to a wave of attacks on journalists. In just over a week, border police officers have carried out at least four attacks on journalists working for international media organisations, injuring reporters and damaging expensive equipment. These attacks all appear to have been unprovoked,” was one of many statements released by the FPA last year. “A change in policy appears to be the reason for unprecedented aggressive behaviour by the authorities against journalists covering demonstrations in Jerusalem,” read another FPA statement. The assaults have included shooting rubber-coated metal bullets directly at journalists on a regular basis. Tear gas canisters, which under Israeli law are meant to be shot from a safe distance in an upward arch so as not to endanger life, have also been shot directly at journalists from close range even when the journalists were out of the line of fire. The rising trend of Israeli security forces using live ammunition against Palestinian protesters has expanded to include journalists as well. Palestinian journalists and cameramen working for foreign agencies and local media appear to be bearing the brunt of these attacks, because assaulting and abusing Palestinians, males in particular, is an integral part of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.
Israel conducted 110 search operations last week, OCHA reports
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 6 Apr – At least 110 search and arrest operations were conducted last week by Israeli forces in the West Bank, during which 132 Palestinians were arrested, mainly in the Jerusalem governorate, according to OCHA’s weekly report … During the week, 64 Palestinians, including five children, were injured across the Occupied Palestinian Territory in the context of demonstrations, during which clashes erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinian stone-throwers. The majority of injuries, says OCHA, took place during demonstrations in commemoration of “Land Day” in both the West Bank, 42 injuries, and in the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) near the fence in the Gaza Strip, five injuries. Other clashes resulting in Palestinian injuries occurred during the West Bank protests, most of which take place on a weekly basis: against the construction of the Barrier in Bil’in, Ramallah; against settlement expansion in An Nabi Saleh, Ramallah; against the closure of one of the main entrances to Kafr Qaddum, Qalqiliya; and against the killing of the Palestinian from al-Jalazun Refugee Camp…
Two Israeli soldiers wounded in West Bank stabbing
Haaretz 8 Apr by Gili Cohen — Two Israeli soldiers were wounded on Wednesday morning in a stabbing attack at the Shiloh Junction in the West Bank. One of the victims was seriously wounded in his upper body and the other sustained light injuries to his back. The assailant was shot and killed on the spot. The soldiers, both around 20 years old, were attacked on Route 60, near the entrance to the Ma’ale Levona settlement and the Palestinian village of Sinjil, just after 10 A.M. They were initially treated by medics on site and then transferred to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. The two soldiers both serve in the Tavor Battalion of the Home Front Command. They were sitting in an ambulance at the time of the attack, called to the area to reinforce the security guards manning the Shiloh area roads over the Passover holiday. The assailant approached the ambulance and stabbed one of the soldiers, a medic, lightly wounding him. The assailant then stabbed a paramedic in his neck, inflicting serious wounds. The lightly wounded medic opened fire on the assailant and killed him.
3 Israelis lightly hurt in stone-throwing incidents in West Bank
Ynet 7 Apr by Roi Yanovsky — Three Israelis were lightly wounded in two different incidents of stone throwing in the West Bank on Tuesday evening. A bus traveling on a road connecting Jerusalem and the settlement Geva Binyamin (Adam) was stoned near the Palestinian town Hizma. The bus driver and one of the passengers were lightly wounded from glass shards and were treated on the scene by Magen David Adom paramedics. In Gush Etzion, a private vehicle was stoned at the Efrat junction. The driver was lightly hurt, and he too received treatment on the scene from paramedics.
Women in Balata camp protest PA security crackdown
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Mothers from the Balata refugee camp near Nablus gathered Sunday to protest the ongoing detainment of their sons by Palestinian security forces. The protest marked resulting tensions from a security campaign in the camp launched by Palestinian security forces against those who Nablus governor Akram Rajoub identifies as “wanted criminals.” The clampdown began at the start of February, which Rajoub said at the time would continue until 18 wanted criminals were detained. Seven of the wanted suspects turned themselves in to the police in mid-February, following a meeting between Prime Minister Hamdallah and representatives of political parties in Balata refugee camp, and several others have been detained. According to an agreement sponsored by Hamdallah and Rajoub, those arrested but not proven guilty of any breaches of the law should have been released, locals have stated during past protests. 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 forces detain 8 Palestinians across West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — Israeli forces detained eight Palestinian youths from across the West Bank overnight Monday, locals and Israel’s army said. Three were detained from Silat al-Harithiya and ‘Anin villages in northwestern Jenin, one from Farkha town in northwestern Ramallah, one from ‘Azzun village in southeastern Qalqiliya, and three from Husan town in western Bethlehem … Witnesses also said that clashes erupted between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers when several Israeli military vehicles raided Salfit city in the northern West Bank. Israeli forces are said to have fired tear-gas canisters and stun grenades at the youths. Israeli forces routinely arrest Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, usually on the pretext of security questioning. Around 40 percent of the male Palestinian population has been detained by Israeli forces, according to prisoner rights group Addameer.
Israeli forces detain eight Palestinians, assault another in West Bank
JERUSALEM, April 7, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Tuesday detained eight Palestinians and physically assaulted another in West Bank districts, said security sources and an attorney. Israeli police detained five Palestinian minors from the Old City of Jerusalem purportedly for hurling stones and transferred them to interrogation centers. The detainees were identified as Yousef al-Rouj, 15, Hazem and Husam Sa‘ideh as well as Jabr ‘Abdul-Rahman, 15, and ‘Abdul-Ghani Amjad, 14. In a related matter, 14-year-old Iyad Burqan who was arrested on Monday by the Israeli police is currently awaiting a hearing session to extend his detention. The court also submitted the indictment against 14-year-old Abdulqudos Issa who is currently under house arrest under the pretext of taking part in confrontations with the Israeli police. The court will hold a hearing next Sunday … Meanwhile in Hebron, Israeli soldiers stationed at a flying checkpoint stopped a Palestinian and brutally assaulted him. Muhammad Qatuf, 40, was assaulted with the butts of the soldiers’ rifles, inflicting bruises and wounds across his body. He was admitted into Hebron Public Hospital, where medics described his condition as stable.
Two seriously wounded by Israeli leftover missile
GAZA STRIP (Days of Palestine) 5 Apr — Two Palestinian men were seriously wounded on Sunday when an Israeli leftover missile blew up in eastern Gaza City. Witnesses told Day of Palestine that two men were handling a certain device they found in their farm in Sheja‘ia Neighbourhood in the east of the Gaza City. “Suddenly, the device exploded and the two men were thrown tens of metres away from the place of the explosion,” one of the witnesses, who called the ambulance, said. Spokesman of the Palestinian Ministry in Gaza Ashraf al-Qidra said that the two men were admitted to Al-Shifa Hospital in serious conditions. “One of them is 30 years and the other is 19,” Al-Qidra said. He did not give more details about them. During the latest Israeli war, ten people, including three journalists – one of them Italian – were killed in a similar accident. Similar accidents continued after the end of the war. Hundreds of Israeli unexploded missiles have been found in different places along the Gaza Strip. A large number of people reported unexploded missiles in their partially damaged houses, as well as in their farms. Palestinian civil defence services distributed fliers with pictures of potential suspicious objects that included emergency numbers to be phone in case of finding these objects.
Egypt power station breaks down, cuts off power to Rafah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — A malfunction at the Egyptian power station in al-Arish City in the northern Sinai left Rafah city in the Gaza Strip without electricity late Monday. Jamal al-Dardasawi, spokesman for the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCo), said power was cut off following a breakdown at the al-Arish power plant, which feeds Rafah via three power lines. Al-Dardasawi said GEDCo is contact with Egyptian authorities as they seek to fix the problem. Gaza currently receives electricity from the Egyptian electricity grid, the Israeli electric company, and from a power station inside Gaza. However, these supply lines fall far short of the Gazan population’s needs. While they provide 230 MW of electricity, Pal-Think, a Gaza-based think tank, has estimated that the Gazan people require 350 to 450 MW. In July last year, Egypt, which feeds electricity to the Gazan side of Rafah and to part of Khan Younis, agreed to increase its supply from 27 to 32 MW. However, relations have been strained between the Egyptian government and Hamas, which Egypt accuses of aiding anti-government militants in the Sinai region.
Israel cuts back Gaza’s lumber imports
GAZA, Palestine (Reuters) 7 Apr — Israel has cut back lumber shipments to the Gaza Strip, Palestinian importers said Monday, adding to restrictions that could hamper housing reconstruction after last summer’s war. Israeli authorities overseeing the transfer of goods to the Hamas-run enclave were not immediately available to comment. Israel tightly controls the transfer of construction material to Gaza, saying Hamas could use it to rebuild military infrastructure. Palestinian political infighting has also delayed wide-scale reconstruction of tens of thousands of homes damaged or destroyed in 50 days of fighting. According to Gaza importers, 200 cubic meters of lumber used in the construction industry had been brought into the territory daily, and those shipments would now be banned. The number of planks used by furniture factories would be reduced from 6,000 a day to 2,400, the importers added, citing directives they said the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority received from Israel last week.
Israeli authorities tighten siege of Gaza
GAZA (Days of Palestine) 6 Apr — Because of the Israeli ban on construction material, Gazans started using affordable industrial materials to build temporary houses alternative to those destroyed during the three Israeli wars since 2008/2009 — Israeli authorities have banned more goods from entering the besieged Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official said Monday. These goods are used in building temporary houses alternative to the cement permanent houses which were destroyed by the Israeli occupation last summer. Among the banned goods are pinewood, steel pipes and welding rods, Palestinian border official Mounir al-Ghalban said. Israeli authorities also banned goods imported by ten Palestinian companies, he added. It also arrested three merchants.
Israel seizes electronics bound for Gaza militants
JERUSALEM (AFP) 6 Apr – Israeli inspectors at a crossing point into the Gaza Strip stopped an attempt to smuggle in hi-tech electronics destined for Palestinian militants, the government said Monday. Security staff at the Kerem Shalom goods crossing into southern Gaza found the equipment, banned from Gaza under Israeli restrictions, concealed on an Israeli lorry with a permit to take in consumer electronics. The seizure was announced in a defence ministry statement which did not say when the attempt took place. “Among items seized were infra-red cameras, communications devices and remote-control security cameras,” it said. “The suspicion is that the shipment was intended for terror organisations.” The statement said that since the beginning of 2015, more than 100 attempts “to smuggle forbidden goods and substances” had been foiled. Israel imposes strict control over shipments from its territory into the coastal enclave, seeking to prevent the militant Islamic Hamas from getting hold of so-called “dual-use” items with the potential for building fortifications or attacking the Jewish state.
IOF arrests sick Palestinian man at Erez crossing
GAZA (PIC) 7 Apr — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested on Tuesday a sick Palestinian man at Erez border crossing with Gaza while he was traveling for treatment in Occupied Jerusalem. Human rights sources told the PIC reporter that the IOF soldiers rounded up a 25-year-old man called Yahya al-Tarabin who is suffering from severe backache. Tarabin was arrested and transferred to Ashkelon The Israeli forces usually use the Erez crossing as a trap to arrest and blackmail Palestinians including patients.
Report: 39 gunfire attacks on Gaza fishermen in the past three months
GAZA (PIC) 7 Apr — The Israeli navy opened fire at Gazan fishermen 39 times during the past three months, which led to the killing of one of them and the injury of six others, a recent report released by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said. The center, which documented Israel’s violations against Palestinian fishermen since the beginning of this year, reported four incidents of piracy, during which the Israeli naval forces kidnapped 14 fishermen, confiscated four fishing boats and two nets, and destroyed fishing gear five times.
Ministry of Health: Gaza lives at risk if siege continues
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — As millions around the world mark April 7th as World Health Day, the health situation in Gaza continues to worsen as the joint Israeli-Egyptian siege of Gaza continues in its eight year. Gaza Strip Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma‘an that there are hundreds of patients in the besieged coastal enclave who require immediate treatment abroad and whose lives will be at risk if the siege continues amid the increasing need for medical supplies … The secretary of the Ministry Yusif Abu al-Reesh called for the necessity to raise awareness of both health concerns and food security that arise specifically among “the difficulties suffered in Gaza Strip and the continued siege.” … In the same report, James Rawley, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Palestine stated that movement and access restrictions continued to fragment the occupied territory, undermining Palestinians’ livelihoods and impeding their access to basic services. “Continued occupation undermines the ability of Palestinians to live normal lives. Were these factors removed and related policies changed, international humanitarian assistance would not be necessary here,” Rawley concluded.
Hamas arrests Salafi sheikh in Gaza over IS ties
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 6 Apr — Gaza’s Hamas-run security services have arrested a radical Salafist sheikh, accusing him of membership in the Islamic State (IS) group, a security source said on Monday. “Adnan Khader Mayat from the Bureij refugee camp (in central Gaza) was arrested as part of an investigation,” the source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity and without giving further details. Sources close to the Salafists said Mayat had been arrested on Sunday “by the Hamas government security services who fight mujahedeen who belong to the Salafist movement.” Hamas forces have in the past cracked down hard on Salafist groups in the coastal enclave. In a separate statement, sources close to Salafists who are currently being held behind bars accused the Islamist movement of “continuing its raids among our brothers and sons,” denouncing the recent arrest of their two younger members … In recent months, there have been a number statements claiming minor attacks that were signed by “the Islamic State-Gaza governorate” but most were dismissed on jihadist forums. So far, no Gaza-based movement has declared its allegiance with the IS movement, experts say, although they say such claims show a desire on the part of local factions to be included in the IS fold.
Kuwait pledges $200 million to Gaza reconstruction
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — The Kuwaiti government on Tuesday pledged $200 million to support the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official said. Jawad Naji, the Prime Minister’s adviser for Arab and Islamic funding, told Ma‘an that the agreement was signed with Abdal-Wahab al-Bader, Director General of the Kuwait Development Fund. The deal will provide $75 million for the construction of 1,500 housing units and for the construction of water pipes from the north to south of Gaza. Another $35 million will be used for infrastructure projects and $15 million for supporting damaged agricultural and industrial structures.
Explosive device set off near Gaza mosque
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — An explosive device was set off near the al-Radwan mosque in the Sheikh Radwan area in northern Gaza City late Monday. Witnesses told Ma‘an that the sound of an explosion was heard in the area surrounding the mosque. No injuries were reported. Teams from the Ministry of Interior rushed to the area as soon as they were informed of the incident. Gaza has been rocked by a series of violent incidents in recent months, the majority involving attacks on the property of Fatah officials in the Hamas-dominated region. However, it remains unclear what Tuesday’s incident is in relation to. An investigation has been opened into the incident.
How Amnesty International criminalizes Palestinians for their inferior weapons
Counterpunch 6 Apr by Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon — Unlawful and Deadly, Amnesty International’s recent report on ‘rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian armed groups during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict’, accuses Hamas and others of carrying out ‘indiscriminate attacks’ on Israel: ‘When indiscriminate attacks kill or injure civilians, they constitute war crimes.’ The report reiterates a formal symmetry between Israelis and Palestinians (previous reports have accused Israel of war crimes during Operation Protective Edge), asking both parties to take all precautions to respect civilian lives, and reminding them to ‘choose appropriate means and methods of attack’. “The use of weapons that are inherently indiscriminate such as unguided rockets is prohibited. And the use in densely populated areas of imprecise weapons that cannot be directed at a military objective with sufficient precision, such as mortars, is likely to result in indiscriminate attacks and is also prohibited.” There is an implied contrast with Israel’s superior technological capabilities, which the IDF claims allow it to carry out airstrikes with ‘surgical precision’. But the figures tell a different story … Amnesty’s report shows not only how slippery international humanitarian law can be, but also that human rights organisations tend to ignore asymmetries of power, and reproduce them. The report essentially says that using homemade missiles – there isn’t much else available to people living under permanent siege – is a war crime. In other words, Palestinian armed groups are criminalised for their technological inferiority.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Restrictions on movement
With no space to grow, West Bank refugees look upwards
JALAZON REFUGEE CAMP, Palestinian Territories (AFP) by Hossam Ezzedine — Nael al-Sharif is working on an extension to his property in the Jalazon refugee camp in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. But he is not building outwards — instead he’s expanding upwards. In many of the Palestinian camps, which have evolved down the decades into densely populated areas teeming with narrow alleyways, families that cannot afford to buy new land simply add floors to existing property. Sharif, 43, says his two-storey home is too small for his entire family of around 30 people, so he is looking to add another two floors … With growing concerns about safety in the ever-expanding camps, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), has banned construction beyond two floors on foundations not designed to support tall buildings … “Over the years, these camps have transformed from temporary ‘tent cities’ into hyper-congested masses of multi-storey buildings with narrow alleys, characterised by high concentrations of poverty and extreme overcrowding,” the agency says on its website. “The camps are considered to be among the densest urban environments in the world, but because camp structures were built for temporary use, over the decades the buildings have become overcrowded, critically substandard and in many cases life-threatening,” UNRWA says. But the ban has had little effect, with residents saying they have no choice but to look to the sky … Jalazon, seven kilometres (4.5 miles) north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, is one of 18 UN-run refugee camps in the West Bank. Established in 1949 on 25 hectares (62 acres) of land, it was originally home to 2,500 people. Today, Jalazon’s population numbers 14,000, officials at the camp say. Located next to the Bet El Jewish settlement, it is the scene of near daily clashes between youngsters and Israeli troops with the army keeping a close eye on the camp’s perimeter fence….
Israeli settlers raze old monastery in West Bank
Days of Palestine 1 Apr — Israeli Jewish settlers razed on Wednesday an old monastery in Kafr Ed-Deek, to the west of West Bank city of Salfeet. The monastery was built more than 15 centuries ago but Palestinian Christian inhabitants of the area, whose grandsons are still living in the nearby areas. “It was carved in a huge rock in that Palestinian neighbourhood,” researcher Khalid Ma’ali told Days of Palestine. “It is at least 15 hundred years old.” Ma’ali said that the monastery was deserted years after the 1967 Israeli war of the West Bank as most of the Palestinian neighbourhood of Kafr Ed-Deek turned into a settlement for Jewish-only settlers. According to the researcher, the old monastery was built during the Byzantine Empire and it was a shrine for Palestinians from different religions before the 1967 Israeli occupation. “Israeli settlers razed this monastery attempting to erase any historical proof that the location of their illegal settlement [Alisheem] is Palestinian,” Ma’ali said. “They [Israeli Jews] are not haters of Muslims, but of Christians and all other religions,” he added.
Hundreds of settlers storm Nabi Yusuf tomb
NABLUS (PIC) 8 Apr — Hundreds of Israeli settlers stormed at dawn Wednesday Nabi Yusuf [Prophet Joseph] tomb, east of Nablus, amid heavy military protection. The settlers arrived to the area in ten buses since the early morning hours and started performing Talmudic rituals marking a Jewish holiday in total provocation to the local residents, eyewitnesses told PIC reporter. Meanwhile, Israeli occupation forces have intensively deployed throughout the neighboring streets amid heavy fire of sound bombs, the sources added. Clashes broke out in the area during which IOF soldiers fired rubber bullets and tear gas bombs at local youths who were protesting the settlers’ break-in. No injuries were reported.
Settlers storm Yatta park to perform Talmudic rituals
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 8 Apr — Dozens of heavily armed Israeli settlers stormed Tuesday evening Yatta’s municipal park, to the south of al-Khalil, while Israeli soldiers took over the rooftops of several local homes under the pretext of providing protection for the settlers.
The Popular Committee Coordinator in Yatta, Rateb al-Jabour, told WAFA news agency that dozens of settlers from settlements built illegally on Yatta land stormed the Municipality’s park and proceeded to swim in a pool there despite the local residents’ protests. Talmudic rituals were also performed in the area, he pointed out. He said that Israeli forces set up several checkpoints on the road leading to the villages east of Yatta, where they raided the village of Carmel and prevented residents from accessing their agricultural lands. Meanwhile, Israeli forces took over the rooftops of the surrounding Palestinian-owned homes to protect the settlers’ break-in.
Around 150 trees cut [down] near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 8 Apr — A group of Israeli extremists invaded Palestinian olive orchards in the al-Jab‘a village, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, for the fifth time in a row, and cut more than 150 olive trees belonging to the villagers. Resident Mahmoud Masha’la, a teacher in a local school in Husan nearby town, said the villagers depend on their orchards as their main source of livelihood, the Quds News has reported. “This if the fifth attack in a row, they are waging a war not only on us, but on our daily bread, our livelihood,” Masha’la said, “They repeatedly attack our lands and orchards, my orchards, my cousins, and many other villagers; this is a systematic policy.” “We really do not know what to do; this is an ongoing war, ongoing aggression,” he added, “We appeal our officials to intervene, and expose the Israeli crimes.”
Environmental terrorism cripples Palestinian farmers
AL SHUYUKH, southern West Bank (IPS) 6 Apr by Mel Frykberg — “Exactly which olive trees do you want to see? The Israeli settlers have cut down thousands. Can you be more specific?” asked the taxi driver, telling IPS that he wished to remain anonymous. About a week ago, Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement of Mezad, in the southern West Bank near the city of Hebron, cut down approximately 1,200 Palestinian olive trees in an act of environmental terrorism, a vindictive act aimed at intimidating their Palestinian neighbours and economically crippling many Palestinian farmers who rely on harvesting olives to make a living … As IPS attempted to take pictures of the remaining carcasses of the 1,200 olive trees hacked down by the settlers, bordering Mezad settlement, Israeli soldiers guarding the site started to approach. We quickly left as the taxi driver, and an elderly Palestinian farmer who had shown us the way, did not want a confrontation. This was the third attack on the olive trees, which belonged to Muhammad al Ayayadah, over a period of several months. Mezad settlement is built on Palestinian land that was confiscated by Israel and the settlers appear to be trying to take over more land for expansion of their settlement. The regular cutting down of olive trees, and the prevention of access to these trees by Israeli security forces, often forces Palestinian farmers off their land as crop losses can cripple them financially.
Israeli marathon in West Bank to shut down main highway
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Israeli authorities will close the Ramallah-Nablus road on Thursday as settlers take part in a marathon, a Palestinian official said Tuesday. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, said that the marathon will pass through the Ariel settlement and extend to the Shilo settlement. The course of the marathon, called the “Bible Marathon,” was based on a run performed by the biblical figure Benjamin in the book of Samuel, according to the official Marathon website. The Shilo settlement which will hold the marathon finish line and after-marathon festivities is home to just under 3,000 Jewish-only residents, and is considered illegal under international law. More than a quarter of Shilo was built on private Palestinian land, according to Israeli human rights group Peace Now, and has been cited in past peace negotiations as an area to be transferred to Palestinian control. The Ramallah-Nablus road, also marked as Route 60, is a main North-South arterial in the occupied West Bank, is expected to be closed from 6:00 am to 1:00 pm. Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, Palestinians have not been able to travel freely on Route 60, which is spotted with Israeli checkpoints when the road passes from areas under Palestinian Authority or Israeli military control. In addition to checkpoints, Israeli authorities established several ‘bypass roads’, enabling Israel traffic to bypass areas of Route 60 that passed through Palestinian jurisdiction. Thursday’s marathon will fall less than two weeks after the “Right to Movement” marathon which took place in Bethlehem last month.
Israel to turn Jerusalem historical school into synagogue
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 7 Apr – Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage has warned of Israeli bids advised by the so-called Temple Mount groups to officially turn the historical Tankaziya School, located within al-Aqsa Mosque compound, into a Jewish synagogue. The Israeli authorities turned the school into a synagogue for enlisted soldiers and a military site for the Israel Border Police gendarmerie in 1969. In an urgent letter sent to the Jerusalem District Police, lawyer Aviad Visoly, head of the Temple Mount Coalition, pushed for allowing temple mount organizations to enter the Tankaziya School, claiming it is a synagogue and a holy site for Jews. Israeli media said Visoly threatened to sue the Israeli police in case his demand, based on the alleged Protection of Holy Places Law, is not met within 24 hours. The lawyer reportedly wrote the letter after he was denied access into Muslims’ al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday and also after an Israeli officer banned him, along with a horde of Jewish settlers, from entering the Tankaziya School. The lawyer claimed the Tankaziya building is a unique Jewish synagogue as it is the only holy site in the world located within the borders of the “Temple Mount” and the unique destination of a set of Jewish rituals. Meanwhile, chairman of the al-Aqsa Foundation, Amir al-Khatib, warned of the serious repercussions of such sacrilegious move.
Israel restricts access to Aqsa compound, bans 3 Palestinians
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — Israeli police imposed restrictions on Palestinian worshipers entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday, one day after three Palestinians were banned from the compound for periods of up to 45 days. Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli police briefly closed most of the compound’s entrances on Monday, leaving only the Chain, Council and Hatta gates open, and prevented all worshipers under the age of 30 from entering the compound. They later re-opened all entrances except for the Iron Gate. A spokesperson for the Islamic endowment, or Waqf, said that Israeli police held worshipers’ ID cards as they entered the compound, using their personal details as leverage to ensure that Israeli restrictions were respected. Witnesses said that a group of rightist Israelis raided the compound on Monday, entering the Moroccans Gate and leaving from the Chain Gate. Muslim worshipers reportedly reacted to the raid by chanting: “Allahu Akbar.”
Jerusalem tourism gets lifeline from unlikely source: Muslim visitors
Haaretz 7 Apr by Nir Hasson — Tens of thousands of tourists from Muslim and Arab countries visited the capital last year, with Indonesia and Turkey topping the list — …Last week, a group of clerics from the Gulf states issued a ruling permitting and encouraging visits to Jerusalem. This fatwa (religious decree) now joins a growing political and religious debate that has been roiling the Arab world for the last three years; statistics show there has been a significant increase in the number of Muslim pilgrims coming to the city … The Palestinian and Arab discourse on the subject began in 2012, when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on Muslims to visit Jerusalem. Hamas is adamantly opposed to Muslims visiting the city, even if the tour is for religious purposes and would primarily help Palestinian businesses. Because the city is under Israeli control, Hamas believes that visiting it would amount to de facto recognition of Israel … In the meantime, just the fact that there is a debate appears to have created legitimacy for coming to Israel. Most of the Muslim tourists come from non-Arab states like Turkey, India, Indonesia and Malaysia. But there are also groups from Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan and the Gulf states. Groups of Muslim pilgrims also arrive from European countries. The average visit last four days and includes a full day devoted to visiting and praying at the Al Aqsa mosque. The trip also includes the Old City, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jericho and the nearby Nabi Musa site. Most Muslim tourists enter Israel via the Allenby Bridge, but some arrive through Ben-Gurion International Airport. “Often, people tell me they don’t want to come from Tel Aviv [the airport] because that’s Israel. So we explain to them that all of the crossings are controlled by Israel,” says Atiya. He says the security inspection at Allenby can last up to eight or 10 hours, which is very difficult on tourists. “It’s part of the politics. They intentionally make it unpleasant so they won’t come back.” Many of the Muslim visitors come to Jerusalem as part of a pilgrimage to the three holy cities of Islam: After their visit to Jerusalem, they travel through Jordan and on to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. The border inspectors will let Muslim visitors on a one-time visit enter the country without marking their passports with an Israeli stamp – so they can avoid problems later when entering Arab countries.
UN Security Council demands aid access to Yarmouk camp in Syria
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 6 Apr — The UN Security Council on Monday demanded humanitarian aid access to the Yarmuk refugee camp in Syria that has been partly seized by the Islamic State group. The 15-member council called “for the protection of civilians in the camp for ensuring a humanitarian access to the area including by providing life-saving assistance,” said Jordan’s Ambassador Dina Kawar, who chairs the council this month.
Palestine Red Crescent denounced targeting medical staff in al-Yarmouk refugee camp
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 6 Apr – The Palestinian Red Crescent Society Monday condemned the targeting of one of its hospitals in Syria’s beleaguered al-Yarmouk Refugee Camp with a missile, resulting in the injury of three of its volunteer staff and excessive damage to the building. The society, in a press release, denounced the targeting of its medical staff during the ongoing conflicts in the camp, which since the start of the conflict have resulted in the death of seven staff members, including the assassination of Hamas official Yehya Horani last week, and dozens of injury cases. It urged all sides of the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians and to uphold their responsibilities and take all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safe access of medical staff to the victims of the conflict.
Syria offers Palestinians its firepower in Yarmuk battle
DAMASCUS (AFP) 8 Apr by Rim Haddad — Syria said it is ready to offer Palestinians its firepower to support their battle with the Islamic State group in a refugee camp devastated by clashes and aerial attacks. The deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Yarmuk camp has pushed the UN Security Council to demand greater access to residents trapped between the encroaching IS jihadists and besieging government forces. The fierce clashes that began on April 1 have ceased, but regime forces continue to drop barrel bombs on the camp, which lies six kilometres (3.5 miles) from central Damascus. In the capital, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad met with a delegation from the Palestine Liberation Organisation headed by Ahmad Majdalani. “Syrian authorities are ready to support the Palestinian fighters in a number of ways, including militarily, to push IS out of the camp,” said PLO official Anwar Abdul Hadi, who was at the meetings. The “Syrian government had used all its efforts to present humanitarian and medical aid to Palestinian refugees and … it had helped them exit Yarmuk safely,” Meqdad said. “Syria and the PLO are determined to fight terrorism, which has reached Palestinian camps in Syria, notably Yarmuk,” he said, quoted by the official SANA news agency. Speaking after meeting with Meqdad, Majdalani told AFP they had “agreed on the need for a unified position for the Palestinian forces in Syria, in coordination with the Syrian government.” … If achieved, this rapprochement would be significant for Yarmuk, which had seen fierce clashes since the end of 2012 between regime forces and rebels supported by Palestinian groups. Most of the Palestinian factions in Yarmuk are opposed to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad
Haneyya asks Malaysia to assist in halting bloodshed in Yarmouk camp
GAZA (PIC) 7 Apr — Ismail Haneyya, deputy chairman of Hamas political bureau, asked the Federation State of Malaysia to intervene to halt the bloodletting in Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees in Syria. Over a phone call on Tuesday evening, Haneyya offered his condolences to Malaysian premier Dato Najib Razak over the death of his office director along with other staff in the Malaysian recent plane crash, according to a statement issued by Haneyya’s office. Haneyya hailed Malaysia for its supportive positions for the Palestinian people especially in the blockaded Gaza Strip. He urged the Malaysian Prime Minister to intervene in order to stop the bloodshed in Yarmouk camp … a 12-year-old Palestinian girl was killed by an IS sniper bullet in the camp leading to her immediate death on Tuesday evening.
Fleeing the horror of IS atrocities in Syria
AFP 6 Apr — After enduring two years of famine and fighting, Ibrahim Abdel Fatah said he saw heads cut off by Islamic State [Daesh, Da‘ash, Da‘ish] group jihadists in the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk in Damascus. That was it. He fled and hasn’t looked back. Unshaven, pale and gaunt, he has found refuge with his wife and seven children at the Zeinab al-Haliyeh school in Tadamun, a southeastern district of the Syrian capital held by the army. “I saw severed heads. They killed children in front of their parents. We were terrorised,” he said. “We had heard of their cruelty from the television, but when we saw it ourselves… I can tell you, their reputation is well-deserved,” the 55-year-old said. The school is currently home to 98 displaced people, among them 40 children, who have been put up in three classrooms. The usual occupants, schoolchildren, have been evacuated temporarily from rooms where mattresses and bedding now blanket the floor. “I left my house which was the only thing I had. My family lived on rations supplied by UNRWA,” the United Nations agency that looks after Palestinian refugees, the former caretaker said. Anwar Abdel Hadi, a Palestine Liberation Organisation official in Damascus, said 500 families, or about 2,500 people, fled Yarmuk before IS fighters attacked the camp on Wednesday.
UN unity over plight of Palestinians in Damascus camp
BBC News Video 7 Apr — Jim Muir reports. Aid workers say conditions in Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, are growing increasingly desperate for civilians trapped by fighting … IS fighters stormed much of the camp last week … For the Palestinian refugees there, it’s meant another episode of fear and terror on top of everything the past two years have brought them.
PLO official: Daesh repelled from parts of Yarmouk camp
DAMASCUS (PIC) 8 Apr — The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said on Tuesday that Daesh militants have retreated from parts of the Yarmouk refugee camp, the largest camp for Palestinian refugees in Syria. “Daesh organization now controls only 60 percent of the Yarmouk camp after they had seized 90 percent of it,” Anwar Abdel-Hadi, who oversees the PLO’s affairs in Syria, said. The Palestinian popular committees have taken over the western and northern parts of the camp, the official added. Abdel-Hadi said that clashes are still ongoing between Palestinian popular committees and Daesh militants, who have been firing at anyone trying to enter or exit the camp. Sources from inside the camp said at least 17 refugees have been killed in the violence that has recently flared up, four among whom were killed in the clashes that rocked the camp late on Monday evening. Leader of the Free Palestine Liberation Army, Khaled Al-Hassan, along with three other fighters, were killed while clashing with Daesh militants at the Camp.
If only there was oil under Yarmouk
972 Blog 6 Apr by Samah Salaime Egbariya — Monday morning, on the morning show on Israel’s Channel 10, which was co-hosted by the station’s military correspondent because the regular hosts are on vacation, they were supposedly discussing recommendations for the Israeli holiday traveler … The host, Or Heller, kept the jokes coming. “Yes, in the Yarmouk Camp … well ISIS are the only ones eating there.” Making fun at the expense of my people in the camp that has been under siege for three years really got to me. I got up and went to the kitchen without changing the channel and listened to the rest of the program from afar. And then, another half-joke comes out of the television set, this time as part of their map of holiday traffic jams, about what icon Waze should have to indicate where ISIS is in the Yarmouk Refugee Camp. I couldn’t get over the anger and the pain, and wasn’t able to continue my daily routine. People don’t understand just how bad the situation is in the Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. Tens of thousands of Palestinians, famished and under attack, are sitting prey for a group of fighters/rebels/terrorists/Assad supporters. We, the Palestinians, and the entire world, don’t really know who’s against who or what they are guilty of. There have been more and more reports of bodies, horrifying murders and wounded in recent days….
Arrested on Christmas Day, 15-year-old remains behind Israeli bars
Electronic Intifada 6 Apr by Patrick O. Strickland — Hussam al-Sheikh held up a picture of his 15-year-old son, Khaled, and explained how Israeli soldiers arrested him on Christmas Day. Khaled was arrested while playing with friends near Israel’s wall in the occupied West Bank to the south of Beit Anan, the Jerusalem-area village where the al-Sheikh family lives. Israeli soldiers accused him of throwing stones, although Hussam maintains there was no one in the area to hurt. “How does throwing stones at a concrete wall hurt anyone?” he asked. “Are we really supposed to believe that a 15-year-old child is a threat to Israel?” Recalling that Khaled was arrested around 3:00pm, Hussam said he was not allowed to see his son until midnight. “I arrived at Binyamina, the settlement where they were holding him. I was only allowed to see him through glass,” he told The Electronic Intifada, explaining that the child’s face was bruised and covered with dried blood … “We always hear horror stories” Hussam worries about his son’s health. Because Khaled suffers from anemia, he has to visit the doctor for checkups regularly and take medicine three times a day. “The [Israeli] authorities won’t let me talk to him, so I cannot be sure if he is receiving the proper health care,” Hussam said. Though Hussam and his wife have submitted several requests to visit Khaled in lockup, Israeli authorities have not replied to any of them. “We are still waiting for a response,” he said. Hussam was only able to see his son during court hearings at Ofer, an Israeli military prison near Ramallah. However, he was forced to sit in the back row and was warned he would be expelled if he attempted to communicate with Khaled. “He looked very sick,” Hussam recalled. “That’s why I am worried they aren’t giving him the right medicine, or maybe not the right dosage. His illness has to be monitored closely by a doctor. We always hear horror stories about health care in [Israeli] prisons.” … Hussam believes that the bruises and blood on his son’s face were the result of soldiers beating him while they were en route to the interrogation center in Binyamina. Khaled is not Hussam’s only child to be arrested by Israel. Three more of his sons were also arrested at various times throughout their childhoods. Each of them, he said, experienced physical violence at the hands of Israeli soldiers. These are not isolated cases….
Family of detained child granted visit permit dated after his scheduled release
IMEMC 8 Apr by Saed Bannoura — The Israeli Authorities issued a permit for the family of child detainee Khaled Sheikh allowing them to visit their detained son, for the first time, on May 7 2015, although the child is scheduled to be released on April 24, 2015. The Head of the Census Department of the Palestinian Committee of Detainees, and a member of its follow-up committee in the Gaza Strip, Abdul-Nasser Ferwana, said the permit was granted to Khaled’s mother and his brothers. Ferwana added that Israel continues to violate the rights of all detainees, especially imprisoned children, and their families, in direct violation of International Law. “Khaled, 15 years of age, will be released on April 24; the permit is for May 7” the family of the detained child said, “This is another method Israel uses to prevent the families from visiting with their detained loved ones.” The family called on local and international legal and human rights organizations to intervene, ensure the release of their child, and all detained children.
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.
PA: Israeli forces raid Nafha prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — The Palestinian Authority’s prisoners department said on Monday that Israeli forces raided Nafha prison and assaulted prisoners before moving others to solitary confinement. The department said in a statement that special forces raided the cells, assaulted prisoners with batons, and damaged their property. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said prison guards raided wards 12 and 13 of the prison, and searched cells before moving eight prisoners to solitary confinement. The PPS said in a statement that the prison administration informed six of them that they would be returned, while the other two will be moved to Rimon prison. They also imposed punishments on them including banning them from the prison yard until Thursday and cutting off electricity.
Palestinians want UN timetable to end Israeli occupation
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 6 Apr by Edith M. Lederer — The Palestinians are “ready and willing” to see if the U.N. Security Council has “the political will” to adopt a resolution with a deadline for ending Israel’s occupation and establishing a Palestinian state, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador said Monday. Ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters that adoption of a resolution with a timetable would be “one of the most effective measures to combat extremism in our region, because extremists receive their fuel from the injustice of the Palestinian people.” “If there is a just solution to this conflict … in a short period of time, then you’ll take away from them the main source of recruitment and mobilization,” he said, adding that it would also contribute to resolving perhaps 70 percent of the “burning issues in the Middle East.” Mansour said the United States holds the key. U.S. President Barack Obama has said he will reassess U.S. policy toward Israel following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comment before last month’s election that he would not allow the establishment of a Palestinian state on his watch. That could be a possible sign that Washington would no longer shield Israel in the Security Council.Last year, the council rejected a Palestinian resolution demanding an end to the Israeli occupation within three years.
US says recognition of Israel not part of Iran nuke deal
WASHINGTON (AFP) 6 Apr — US President Barack Obama has rejected a call by Israel for any nuclear agreement with Iran to be conditional on Tehran’s recognition of the Jewish state’s right to exist, branding it a “fundamental misjudgment”. Speaking after Israel proposed its own terms for the accord, Obama told US radio network NPR Monday that demands for Iran to recognise the country go beyond the scope of the agreement. “The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognising Israel, is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms,” he said in a drive to sell the deal to a hostile Congress. “And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.” … Intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz told journalists Monday that while an earlier pledge by Obama to back Israel’s security was appreciated, it did not outweigh the potential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran … Steinitz said that since Thursday’s announcement officials have studied the proposals carefully. “A comprehensive analysis of the Lausanne framework reveals the extent of the irresponsible concessions given to Iran and makes clear how dangerous the framework is for Israel, the region and the entire world,” he said. “We are going to do an additional effort to convince the US administration, to convince Congress, to convince Britain and France and Russia not to sign this bad deal, or at least to dramatically change it and fix it.” Steinitz said Israel preferred a diplomatic solution to the issue but it reserved the right to take military action against Iran if necessary.
FIFA president opposes Palestinian bid to bar Israel
i24news 7 Apr — FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Tuesday expressed his opposition to a Palestinian bid to bar Israel from international competition, saying such a move would harm soccer’s governing body itself. Blatter is due to meet Palestinian Football Association (PFA) chief Jibril Rajoub in Cairo later Tuesday to discuss PFA calls for Israel to be suspended by FIFA for its “racist behavior against Arabs.” … In its draft resolution asking Israel to be barred, the PFA also protested at the creation of “five clubs in settlements on land occupied since 1967, clubs participating in Israeli national championships in violation of international law.” The PFA last called for Israel’s suspension in November after Israeli forces raided its headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. It has also cried foul over Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinian players. To be passed the Palestinian resolution must win the support of at least 156 other delegates at the 209-member FIFA congress.
PA to evacuate up to 800 Palestinian students from Yemen
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — The Palestinian Authority has managed to secure the evacuation of up to 800 Palestinian students from Yemen and a number of Palestinian families, a PA official told Ma‘an on Tuesday. He said a “crisis cell” has been working over the last few days to secure their safe departure to several Arab countries from war-torn Yemen. The body was formed under the directive of President Mahmoud Abbas and has been overseen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the head of Palestinian intelligence, Majed Faraj, and the Palestinian ambassador to Yemen, Diab al-Luh. Al-Luh previously said that there are some 800 Palestinians studying in Yemeni universities. The PA official said that efforts will continue to secure the departure of all Palestinian still inside Yemen.
From an Israeli combat soldier to conscientious objector
Haaretz 6 Apr by Gili Cohen — After two years in the Israel Defense Forces, Yaron Kaplan, 21, of Lod, is declaring himself a conscientious objector and is refusing to continue his service because of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. While every year there are dozens of draftees who refuse to serve because they object to the occupation – some 50 youths last year alone – for someone to opt out for this reason in the middle of his service is relatively rare … “From the moment I began my training I understood how violent this place is,” he recalled. “It was a totally traumatic experience. Every time we would do shooting practice, we would be ‘executing’ someone – ‘Now we shoot Mohammed; now we shoot at Ahmed,’” he said … He said he took leave from the army during the period before the Knesset election and volunteered for the Joint List – the amalgamation of three Arab parties and Hadash, an Arab-Jewish party. It was only then that it became clear to him that he did not want to continue his army service. “I understood something that until then I’d been avoiding; that I can’t expect or demand from a person that he be my partner, or that he should really see me as a partner for dialogue as long as I am imposing a military regime on him,” he said … After Passover he plans to present himself at his base and be sent to prison.
Israel admits its fire killed Spanish UN peacekeeper
[includes map, into on Shebaa Farms] BBC News 7 Apr — A Spanish soldier who was killed in Lebanon in January died as a result of Israeli fire, Israel’s military says. Corporal Francisco Javier Soria Toledo was hit by Israeli artillery following a Hezbollah attack which killed two Israeli soldiers, according to a military statement. The 36-year-old UN peacekeeper was killed near the village of Ghajar, in the Shebaa Farms area, on 28 January. The Israeli military said there had been no intention to harm UN troops. Hezbollah said at the time that its attack on the Israeli soldiers was retaliation for an air strike that killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian Revolutionary Guards general in the Syrian Golan Heights 10 days earlier. Cpl Soria was part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil), which is made up of more than 10,000 troops from 38 different countries.
Hackers target Israeli website after Anonymous threats
Al Jazeera 7 Apr — Pro-Palestinian hackers attack several dozen websites, replacing them with photos of a Muslim holy site in Jerusalem — The hacking campaign, called #OpIsrael, has been taking place every April 7 in recent years and is a protest against Israeli policies towards the Palestinians. Israel’s Computer Emergency Response Team, a civilian cyber security group, said Anonymous attacked a few dozen websites belonging to Israeli musicians and non-profit organisations on Tuesday. Israeli website Ynetnews reported that the sites hacked included an educational centre and an association for urologists. No major government websites were affected.