Settlers uproot 450 olive trees in Salfit
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 21 Apr — Israeli settlers from the Immanuel settlement uprooted some 450 olive trees and saplings from lands in Deir Istiya, northern Salfit, on Tuesday. Mayor of Deir Istiya Amal Qouqash told Ma’an that farmers were surprised that the trees had been uprooted as they went to farm their lands near the illegal settlement. The Immanuel settlement was built on lands belonging to residents of Deir Istiya, according to researcher Khalid Maal. Maali told Ma‘an that “the settlement is near the Wadi Qana area which settlers aim to have complete control over.” Wadi Qana is located inside an Israeli settlement bloc and located in an area within the “seam zone,” cut off from all other Palestinian villages in the region. Surrounded on all sides by Jewish-only settlements, Israeli authorities have long designated Wadi Qana a natural reserve. Such designation prevents Palestinian farming in the area as well as construction, while providing legitimization for Israeli forces to legally uproot Palestinian-owned olive trees. Israeli forces uprooted 120 olive trees in Wadi Qana earlier this month, having delivered orders to the farmers to evacuate their lands more than three weeks prior, farmers told Ma‘an at the time. Since 1967, approximately 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted by Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank, according to a joint report by the Palestinian Authority and the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem.
Violence / Arrests
Israeli settler runs over 4 Palestinians in Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 22 Apr — An Israeli settler ran over four Palestinians from the al-Nabi Elias town in eastern Qalqiliya late Tuesday. Mhanna Fathi Khleif, 38, and his brother Muhannad, 35, had been walking with their wives alongside the town’s main road late Tuesday when the vehicle hit them. Muhannad Khleif said that the settler ran them over “deliberately” despite walking to the far right side of the street. The four were injured and taken to the Darwish Nazzal Hospital for treatment. Medical sources told Ma‘an they received medium injuries including heavy bruising. The Palestinian liaison reportedly contacted the Israeli authorities to follow-up on the incident. The suspect, a resident of the Jewish-only settlement of Ginot Shomron, called the police confessing he was the driver of the car and had been too scared to stop his vehicle outside of the Palestinian village after hitting the pedestrians, Israeli media reported. Police told Israeli news sources that Tuesday’s incident would be treated as a hit-and-run offense. Over 90 percent of investigations by Israeli police into offenses committed by settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem fail to lead to an indictment, according to the UN figures.
Police arrest settler who struck 4 Palestinians in hit-and-run
Haaretz 21 Apr by Chaim Levinson — Palestinian pedestrians say Golf with Israeli plates drove straight at them intentionally and hit them — The Judea and Samaria Police on Tuesday evening arrested an Israeli citizen of the northern West Bank who hit four Palestinians with his car and then fleeing the scene. The hit-and-run occurred at around 8 P.M. on the main West Bank road accessible to both Israelis and Palestinians. The four Palestinians, among them two pregnant women, were walking along the side of the road. One of the Palestinians told reporters that a Volkswagon Golf with Israeli plates drove straight at them intentionally and hit them, though they were walking on the far right side of the shoulder. The driver fled the scene and did not inform rescue forces of the incident. A Palestinian report said that he later called police to turn himself in.
9-year-old boy hit by Israeli military jeep in Nablus district
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — A nine-year-old Palestinian boy was injured after being run over by an Israeli military jeep on the Nablus-Huwwara road Monday. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Muhammad al-Qatuni, 9, from the al-Ein refugee camp in western Nablus was left with moderate injuries after being hit by a military vehicle. The boy was taken to a hospital in Israel by a Red Star of David ambulance. Initial information indicated that it was an accident. Israeli military vehicles use Palestinian civilian roads throughout the West Bank and are not generally subject to traffic regulation
Arab worker stabbed in Herzliya: I’m afraid to go back to work
Ynet 21 Apr by Hassan Shaalan — Worker for Herzliya municipality who was attacked by man shouting ‘death to Arabs’ says: ‘I believe in coexistence. Not all Jews are racists’ — “I saw death before my eyes,” said on Tuesday the Arab municipal worker in Herzliya who was stabbed Monday by a man shouting ‘death to Arabs’. The worker, a 27-year-old resident of northern Israel sustained light wounds and was released Monday night from the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba. He was later summoned to the Gelilot police station for further questions regarding the incident. Within hours of the stabbing, police said a suspect, a 35-year-old man from Herzliya, had admitted to carrying out the attack for nationalistic reasons. The Arab worker criticized the police after claims were made by officers that his alleged attacker was mentally unstable. “The police are trying to treat the incident as a criminal case and are ignoring the nationalistic background,” he stated. “I hope they take this case seriously and punish the perpetrator. If an Arab stabs a Jew, the entire country gets up for it and does not let him off the hook by saying that he is mentally unstable.
Palestinian injured by army fire near Nablus
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Apr — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, an area near the Balata refugee camp, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and clashed with local youths wounding one. The clashes took place after soldiers, and settlers, invaded the Joseph Tomb area in the city. Medical sources said a young man was shot in one of his legs, and was moved to a hospital in Nablus, suffering a moderate injury. Eyewitnesses said dozens of soldiers initially invaded Nablus, and were followed later by seven buses, filled with settlers, in addition to more than 40 armored military vehicles. They added that clashes took place in Amman Street area, in addition to the Industrial Area and close to the Balata refugee camp; the soldiers fired rounds of live ammunition, gas bombs and concussion grenades.
Israel recognizes Abu Khdeir as terror victim
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities on on Tuesday added Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a Jerusalem teenager burned to death by Israeli extremists last summer, to a list of terror victims located in Mount Herzel, West Jerusalem. Israel marked Memorial Day on Tuesday to honor soldiers and civilians killed since the founding of the state in 1948. The family of Muhammad Abu Khdeir told Ma‘an that Israel only added his name to “improve its image to the world” after the gruesome murder which shocked residents of East Jerusalem. “We refuse that Muhammad’s name be included to the list of Jewish victims, and adding his name to the list will not change the fact of Israeli racism,” the family said. Relatives said that the suspects in the killing have had 12 court hearings since the incident, despite overwhelming evidence of the crime. A Palestinain suspect would have been sentenced immediately, without delays, they said. The father of Muhammad told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities in Jerusalem forced the family to remove a large picture of their son which they put up outside of their home last year, and threatened to fine the family 2,000 shekels ($500) every day that the poster was not removed. Hussein Abu Khdeir added that the Almagor Terror Victims Association in Jerusalem had originally objected to adding Muhammad’s name to the memorial list and called for it to be removed. Abu Khdeir was killed in July 2014 in a suspected revenge attack for the murders of three Israeli teenagers in the occupied West Bank. Three suspected Jewish extremists are facing trial in Jerusalem.
Palestinian teen’s name added to Israeli memorial, riling families on both sides
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 21 Apr by Jeffrey Heller — Israel has added the name of a Palestinian teen to its “Monument to the Memory of the Victims of Terrorism”, upsetting the youth’s parents and a group representing families of slain Israelis with both demanding his name be removed. Sixteen-year-old Mohammed Khudair, according to a murder indictment, was burned alive in July in Jerusalem by three Israelis avenging the deaths of three Jewish teenagers killed by Palestinian militants in the occupied West Bank a month earlier. Both incidents drew world attention and Israel, citing a nationalist motive for Khudair’s death, swiftly declared the Palestinian youth a “victim of terrorism”, enabling his family in occupied East Jerusalem to receive Israeli state stipends. His accused murderers are still on trial, and the case has largely faded from public attention. But it resurfaced in an outpouring of bitterness on Tuesday, the eve of Israel’s annual Remembrance Day for soldiers and civilians killed in decades of conflict, when state-owned radio reported that Khudair’s name had been officially inscribed on the stone monument in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery. The Almagor Terror Victims Organisation, a group founded in 1986 and representing the families of Israelis killed in Palestinian attacks, demanded the government remove the plaque honoring Khudair. “(Khudair’s) name on the memorial debases the memory of all the other fallen people,” Yossi Tzur, an Almagor member whose 17-year-old son was killed in a Palestinian suicide bombing in 2003, told Israel Radio. “He is not part of the Israeli ethos. He is not part of the sacrifice our children made at the altar for the sake of Israel’s establishment and existence,” Tzur said. Khudair’s parents told Reuters they had not been consulted by Israel about adding their son’s name to the memorial, which lists more than 4,000 people. “We can’t accept that his name be included among soldiers who killed his relatives in Gaza, Lebanon and the West Bank,” said Khudair’s father, Hussein.His mother, Suha, said her son was “a Palestinian martyr, and not Israeli”, and their family felt shamed.
Mohammed Abu Khdeir removed from terror victims’ memorial after family’s request
Ynet 21 Apr by Elior Levy — The National Insurance Institute removed the name of Mohammed Abu Khdeir from the Victims of Acts of Terror Memorial at Mount Herzl on Tuesday, following a request by his family. The Khdeir family made their request earlier in the day after discovering the addition of the name from media outlets … Hussein Abu Khdeir, Mohammed’s father, told Ynet that “this is a great initiative meant to honor my son, but I’m more interested with something else entirely: For the court to do justice with those who burned my son alive, and sentence them to the appropriate punishment.” Hussein was referring to the fact defense lawyers for some of the accused plan to claim their clients are mentally unfit to stand trial.
Jerusalem car-ramming suspect confessed to hurting Jews as revenge for his ‘miserable life’
Haaretz 21 Apr by Gili Cohen & Nir Hasson — Details of the investigation of the car-ramming incident at the French Hill junction in Jerusalem in which Shalom Yohai Sherki was killed were released for publication Tuesday. The investigation revealed that Khaled Kutina, 37, a married resident of the West Bank village of Anata, deliberately diverged from his lane and drove toward the bus stop where Sherki, 26, was standing with a 20-year-old woman who was seriously injured. In his initial questioning Kutina claimed that it was an accident, but he later confessed that he had planned to harm Jews as revenge for his “miserable life.” According to the Shin Bet security service, Kutina made the decision shortly before carrying out the attack … Kutina said that shortly before the attack he drove his family from Anata to East Jerusalem, and when they were delayed at a checkpoint he felt great anger that led to his decision to carry out the attack.
Israeli forces detain 4 Palestinians from East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Israeli forces detained four Palestinians from Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem after raiding and searching their homes early Monday. Majdi al-Abbasi from the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan said that Israeli forces detained Bahaa Ahmad al-Abbasi, 19, and his brother Muhammad, after raiding their home in the Ein al-Luza neighborhood. Israeli forces detained Muhammad Nasser al-Abbasi, 20, at around 2:00 a.m. Monday, after raiding and searching his home, and Muhammad Walid Castero, 19. The detainees were transferred to the Russian Compound for interrogation
Army kidnaps 12 in West Bank, storms homes and a telecommunications company
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Apr — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday at dawn, several Palestinian communities in the West Bank different parts of the West Bank, and kidnapped twelve Palestinians, including four children. Soldiers stormed a telecommunications company in Hebron, while Israeli extremists prevented a Bethlehem farmer from entering his olive orchard. Media sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, said the soldiers invaded several neighborhoods, including the in Old City, and kidnapped three Palestinians after interrogating their families and ransacking their property. The sources said the army kidnapped Yazan Yosri Abu Sneina, 22, and two brothers identified as Ashraf, 22, and Sharaf Shukri al-Fakhouri. The soldiers beat the two brothers before kidnapping them. Also, soldiers invaded the al-Jinan Telecommunications Company in the Al-Manara Junction area, in the center of Hebron city, and violently searched it while interrogating the employees. In addition, the army invaded Beit Fajjar town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and kidnapped four Palestinians, after searching and ransacking their homes. Soldiers also invaded Husan nearby town, searched homes and kidnapped four Palestinian children identified as Mos’ab Daoud ash-Sha’er, 13, Amir Mohammad Zaghoul, 15, Abdullah Tareq Shousha, 15, and Abdul-Aziz Hamamra, 15 … In related news, soldiers invaded Faqqou‘a village, east of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, stormed three homes and violently searched them before interrogating the families. Soldiers also invaded Jalboun and Sielet al-Harethiyya nearby villages, and conducted live fire drills near homes in the al-Jalama village, east of Jenin. Furthermore, soldiers invaded Qaffin town, north of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, and kidnapped a former political prisoner identified as Khaled Yacoub Kittana.
Soldiers invade Zabouba near Jenin
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Apr — Several Israeli military vehicles invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, the village of Zabouba, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and conducted military training close to the al-Jalama military base, northeast of Jenin. Palestinian security sources said the soldiers invaded four homes and violently searched them while interrogating the families. The homes belong to Samir As‘ad Jaradat, Fadel Jaradat, Abdul-Fattah Jaradat and his brother Karim. The invaded homes are close to the Salem military base; the soldiers fired flares and several sound bombs during the invasion. Soldiers also conducted military training, using live fire, near the al-Jalama village, causing anxiety attacks among the residents, especially the children. The army frequently conducts live-fire training in different parts of the occupied West Bank, and sometimes in Palestinian communities and villages, in direct violation of International Law.
Soldiers kidnap three Palestinians in Hebron, one in Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Apr — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, a number of villages and towns, in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, and the city itself, searched homes, and kidnapped three Palestinians in addition to handing three others military orders for interrogation. Soldiers also kidnapped one Palestinian in Bethlehem. The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) said the soldiers invaded Tarqoumia town, and kidnapped ‘Ali ‘Awwad Fatafta, and a student of the Polytechnic University identified as Saeb Mahmoud Ahmad. Several military vehicles also invaded the ar-Rahma Junction, in Abu Romman area in Hebron city, and conducted training in nearby barley and wheat fields. The soldiers closed the area, and prevented the Palestinians from entering or leaving it. In addition, media spokesperson of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, Mohammad ‘Awad, said the soldiers invaded the town, and broke into the home of Abdul-Fattah Jamil Jawabra, 56, after smashing the front door. The soldiers violently searched the property, and handed his sons Taqi-Eddin, 25, and Ahmad, 18, military orders for interrogation in the Etzion base. Furthermore, the army invaded the home of Ramzi Sa‘id ‘Awad, also after smashing the front door of the property, and searched it. One Palestinian, identified as Khamis Abdul-Rahman al-‘Ajlouni, from Hebron, was kidnapped on the Container Roadblock, east of occupied East Jerusalem. In Bethlehem, soldiers invaded Wadi Fukin village, west of the city, and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Ahmad Mohammad Manasra, 23 years of age, after breaking into his home and searching it.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Restriction of movement
Israel’s High Court blasts state for giving Palestinian-owned land to settlers
Haaretz 21 Apr by Chaim Levinson — Court Vice-President Naor: ‘I don’t understand how this could happen,’ when hearing that state in 1990 gave Palestinian-owned land to settlers — Following a blunt verbal attack on the state’s actions over the course of decades, the High Court of Justice ordered it Monday to show cause why it should not return land in the Jordan Valley to its Palestinian owners, and why those owners should not be permitted to cultivate it. The approximately 5,000 dunams (1,250 acres), located along the border with Jordan, was given in the 1990s to settlers for cultivation. In January 2013 Haaretz revealed that the Palestinian owners of the land had been banned from the area by military order. High Court Vice-President Miriam Naor and Justices Daphne Barak-Erez and Menahem Mazuz were sharply critical of the state at the hearing … According to the state’s attorney, Roi Shweiki, the state did not know how the land came to be transferred because it happened a long time ago … Mazuz said: “The situation here is in fact clear. You admit that this is private land. You admit that the transfer to Ayala Smith [the settler cultivating the land] ostensibly went against the decision of the Ministerial Committee for Security. So the state’s first obligation is to return the situation to its rightful state.” Smith’s attorney, Harel Arnon, said the state believed “one injustice cannot be corrected by another.”
A tale of two Susiyas, or how a Palestinian village was destroyed under the banner of Israeli archaeology
Mondoweiss 20 Apr by Allison Deger — Hiam al-Nawaja dreams to live in what she calls a “normal house.” The 23-year old mother of three small children and sheepherder manages in a cinder block frame insulated with a tarp. The interior is no larger than a generous two-door garage. Her modest home is typical in Susiya, a pastoral Palestinian village set in the rolling south Hebron Hills in the West Bank; all of the 45 families that live in Susiya reside under plastic and concrete. Yet a few short decades ago Susiya’s residents had sturdy stone structures built over ancient caves on a hilltop one kilometer from where their town stands today. The former location, “old Susiya,” is close enough that al-Nawaja can see bulldozed remains from her kitchen window. It was destroyed in 1986 when Israel dismantled the town’s mosque to uncover an ancient Jewish synagogue dating back to the sixth century … Old Susiya is now administered by an Israeli settlement and has been converted into a tourist attraction named “Susya: Ancient Jewish town,” as the brochure states. In this tale of two villages, Susiya and Susya, the Palestinian town is again facing relocation, and the archeological park is hoping to expand on that same piece of land. Until late March an injunction shielded Palestinian Susiya from further eviction. Then the state petitioned to remove all of the remaining structures, Hiam’s house included. It is expected a decision will be issued in writing later this month. Israel wants to connect the archeological site to a residential settlement, also called Susya, that flanks the Palestinian town on the far side. The state argued they need to expand the preservation of historical Jewish sites underneath where the Palestinians now live. A representative for the Susya archeological park told Mondoweiss the expansion is not to continue archeological excavations, rather the land will be used for residential housing. Nonetheless, Susiya and Susya have become a shocking example of Palestinian displacement under the banner of Israeli archeology.
Home demolition in Jerusalem: ‘Tomorrow, I don’t know if I have a place to sleep’
JERUSALEM, Occupied Palestine (International Solidarity Movement) 20 Apr — On Wednesday night, the Tohta family received a demolition order for their house in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz. After being warned that soldiers would come early on Sunday morning for the demolition, the family was joined by a group of about a dozen international supporters. Despite the warning, nothing happened that night – leaving the family afraid that their house could be demolished at any time without prior warning. After being told by soldiers that during a demolition they “don’t see anything in front of [them]”, meaning everything will be destroyed, Aref Tohta and his family moved their most needed and precious belongings out of the house. They piled up boxes with warm clothes and blankets for the night, as far away from the house as possible, moved animal shelters and gave the five family dogs away knowing that they would be killed in a demolition. A demolition of the family home will leave the fifteen family members without a shelter. Twelve of them are children aged between four and eighteen years. Jenny, an ISM volunteer, staying with the family during the night explained: “any noise – a car door slamming somewhere, a voice heard in the vicinity – made everyone turn their head towards it, fearing an imminent destruction of the house. The fear was visible on everyone’s face”. When no demolition happened, the father believed it was because the army did not want to have an international presence documenting this aggression. Now, the family lives in constant fear of the army showing up without any prior warning and tearing down the house. Aref Tohta explained the uncertainty the family has to live with every day: “Tomorrow, I don’t know if I have a place to sleep”. Wadi al-Joz located directly outside the Old City of Jerusalem, is a vulnerable neighborhood that has seen three demolitions in the last three weeks. On the 31st of March, the army illegally demolished the Amro family home, neighbors of the Tohtas, without any demolition order or prior warning.
Israel demolishes al-Araqib homes for 83rd time
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Israeli bulldozers demolished homes in the Bedouin village of al-‘Araqib in the Negev for the 83rd time on Monday, in addition to a home in the Negev village of ‘Atir, local activists said. Israeli police reportedly imposed a blockade on al-‘Araqib before carrying out the demolitions. Activist Aziz Siyah Abu Mdeighem told Ma‘an: “They smile to us after they demolish our homes and ask mockingly, ‘How are you?’ It is disrespectful to Palestinians,” he said, “We will stay here even if they demolish al-Araqib 100 times.” Meanwhile, in ‘Atir in northeastern Hura in the Negev, bulldozers escorted by Israeli police demolished a home in which a family of 12 had been living. Ibrahim al-Afinsh, who owned the house, said the people of ‘Atir and of the Negev would never give up their rights to their lands. The activist Abu Mdeighem called on Israel “to respect the law, as they claim their country is democratic.” The activist said that demolitions in al-‘Araqib continue to take place, even after the Israeli Higher Court of Justice ruled that al-‘Araqib’s lands do not belong to the state. He said that local Israeli authorities, who dispute the ruling, have filed a lawsuit demanding the court to order residents of al-‘Araqib to pay a daily fine of 5,000 shekels.
Israeli bulldozers level land in al-Khader
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Israeli bulldozers leveled land in the Palestinian town of al-Khader in southern Bethlehem on Monday. Yassin al-Dadou, who owns the 18 dunams of land, said Israeli bulldozers had carried out the action even though he has documents proving his ownership. He said that his family had spoken with lawyer Ghayyath Nasser in Jerusalem, who told them a court session would review the case on Apr. 28. Al-Khader’s mayor, Tawfiq Salah, said: “We have all papers that prove our ownership of these lands.” He added that more than eight Israeli bulldozers are currently leveling land in the area. Al-Khader has suffered heavily under the Israeli occupation. Of the village’s historic 22,000 dunams, about 20,000 are almost entirely cut off by the Israeli separation wall and house three illegal settlements, Efrat, Elazar and Neve Daniyyel, according to the al-Khader municipality. These settlements, which cover nearly 2,800 dunams, are part of a larger block, known as Gush Etzion, which accommodates more than 60,000 settlers. Once an agricultural village, Israeli settlers have seized large swathes of al-Khader’s farmland, and have uprooted olive trees and regularly attack Palestinian farmers trying to reach their land.
Israel sprays Gaza farms with poisonous gases, again
Middle East Monitor 20 Apr — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — Israel has sprayed Palestinian farms with poisonous gases that damaged crops, Qudsnet reported farmers saying yesterday. Poisonous gases were sprayed on Wednesday but their effects started to appear on the crops on Saturday and Sunday. “When I arrived on my farm on Wednesday morning, I was surprised when I saw an Israeli farming plane crossing the borders towards farms inside Gaza,” farmer Ahmed Badawi said. “The plane started to spray unidentified chemicals.” “My farm is 400 metres from the border and I planted several kinds of vegetables. Two days after the Israeli planes sprayed the chemicals, negative effects started to appear on the plants.” Mahmoud Dalloul, another farmer in a different area near the border, said that this was not the first time that the Israeli occupation sprayed poisonous chemicals on their plants … Badawi expected major losses after Israel damaged his plants, according Qudsnet. “Losses of my crops are expected to exceed more than $25,000,” he said. Dalloul also said that he expects major losses this season. “We lost everything during the latest offensive on Gaza that took place last summer,” he said. “Now, we are losing another season.” Images by MEMO Photographer Mohammed Asad.
Settlers fly Israeli flag by Hebron mosque
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 22 Apr — Israeli settlers on Tuesday raised an Israeli flag by the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron. The general director of the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee Imad Hamdan told Ma’an this is part of a series of steps by the Israeli government to “Judiaize” the mosque. The Ibrahimi Mosque currently used by both Jews and Muslims as the site where both faiths believe the Biblical patriarch Abraham is buried, however under an agreement with endowment officials, Jewish visits to Isaac’s Hall are limited to 10 per year. The agreement initially came into place after a Brooklyn-born Jewish settler massacred 29 Palestinians in the mosque after opening fire at worshipers in 1994. Israeli settlers regularly visit the mosque with the protection of Israeli forces, regardless of the agreement. Hamdan described the mounting of the Israeli flag on the mosque “provocative” and “offensive,” demanding the flag be removed. Tuesday’s incident was another in a string of high tensions between Israeli settlers and local Palestinians over the mosque, located in the center of Hebron.
Israeli settlers raid, pray in Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 21 Apr — Hundreds of Israeli settlers performed prayers in Joseph’s Tomb in eastern Nablus under armed protection early Tuesday. Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces escorted a number of buses carrying Israeli settlers to the tomb where they performed religious rituals. Witnesses said that several Palestinians threw rocks and empty bottles at Israeli forces, who fired tear-gas canisters and stun grenades in response. Locals added that Israeli settlers also smashed several Palestinian vehicles after throwing rocks at them at the Huwwara checkpoint, saying that the group had carried out the attacks after performing prayers in Nablus. No injuries or detention were reported in either incident. [But see story under ‘Violence’ which says one Palestinian was shot in the leg.] Israeli settlers frequently visit Joseph’s Tomb under the protection of Israeli forces. During the visits, Israeli forces regularly raid Palestinian villages in the area and fire tear gas canisters into the nearby Balata refugee camp. Despite lying in Area A under full Palestinian authority, Israeli forces maintain control at the site and prohibit Muslims from praying there. Palestinians believe that Joseph’s Tomb is the funerary monument to Sheikh Yusef Dweikat, a local religious figure. Others believe that the tomb belongs to the Biblical patriarch Joseph. The area is sacred to Jews, Samaritans, Christians and Muslims alike
VIDEO: Israel strangles a Palestinian village
JERUSALEM 20 Apr by Julie Couzinet & Linda Paganelli — The Palestinian village of Nabi Samwil is being strangled by Israel. Within a few years, it could disappear altogether. Nabi Samwil overlooks occupied East Jerusalem on one side and Ramallah on the other. With approximately 300 people in no more than a dozen houses, the village is located in the “seam zone” — an area separated from the rest of the occupied West Bank by Israel’s apartheid wall … The residents of Nabi Samwil are enclosed by settlements, the wall and by an Israeli park that is encroaching onto their land. The national park comprises an archaeological site, which includes the tomb of the Prophet Samuel, an important religious figure for Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. The tomb is surmounted by a mosque which Palestinians can only access on Fridays. It can be closed at any moment to let Israeli settlers access the tomb. The inhabitants are considered West Bank residents and even though they are on Jerusalem’s side of the wall, they are only allowed to go to the nearest West Bank city, Ramallah, for necessary activities such as buying food or accessing medical care. Required to submit to a tight regime of permits, everything in their lives is monitored: from the quantity of groceries they bring to the village to the people visiting.
Lieberman’s bodyguards bar Palestinian from harvesting his field
Haaretz 21 Apr by Chaim Levinson — Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s bodyguards prevented a Palestinian farmer with a field near the settlement of Nokdim from reaping his wheat. Their claim was that “he was too close to the fence.” Lieberman lives in Nokdim, and because of its sensitive location he is guarded by personnel from the Shin Bet security service. On Saturday, a Palestinian farmer (who wishes to remain unnamed) came to his field to reap his wheat, not far from the settlement’s fence. He was accompanied by activists from the Rabbis for Human Rights organization, since he had previously complained that he was subjected to harassment by security guards in Nokdim who often try to restrict his movement. Immediately upon his arrival, the settlement’s security coordinator appeared on the scene, also summoning military forces. The army called on Lieberman’s bodyguards who arrived from Nokdim and took the farmer in for questioning. He was released after one hour. “These actions lead to a de facto annexation of private Palestinian land to the settlement, robbing it from its rightful owners,” sources at the Rabbis for Human Rights organization told Haaretz. “It’s particularly grave that bodyguards of a cabinet member are taking part in this process of removing farmers from land which lies outside Nokdim and its security zone.”
Two elderly men, one guard denied access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Apr — The Israeli Authorities decided, Tuesday, to deny access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, to two elderly men for 30 days, and a mosque guard for ten days. The mosque guard, Hamza Khalaf, 24 years of age, was interrogated, Monday, in a police station in the Hebron Gate area, in Jerusalem’s Old City. He was released a few hours later, and received the order Tuesday. The Police accuses Khalaf of “incitement” for trying to prevent Israeli extremists from invading the mosque compound, and for “not preventing the Muslim worshipers from intercepting the Israelis while entering the mosque compound,” on Sunday. On Monday, two Palestinian elders, identified as Taha Shawahna, 69, from Sakhnin, and Kheir ash-Shamy, 59, from the al-Makr village, received orders denying them access to the mosque for 30 days. Israeli recently issued dozens of orders denying men and women, in addition to several guards of the Al-Aqsa, from entering the mosque compound for different periods.
41 new administrative detention orders issued against Palestinian detainees
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Apr — Israeli authorities, Tuesday, issued administrative detention orders against 41 Palestinian prisoners, including 26 Palestinians from Hebron district, according to the Palestine Prisoners’ Society (PPS). The detainees were sentenced for a period ranging between two months and six months, with twelve of the detainees receiving detention orders without charge or trial for the first time, whereas the remaining 29 detainees had their administrative detention sentence renewed for the second or third time. Administrative detention is the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial and on the basis of secret evidence for up to six month periods, indefinitely renewable by Israeli military courts.
Palestinian dies inside Rafah tunnel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Apr — A Palestinian youth died from an electric shock he received inside a tunnel in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday morning, medical sources said. A Ministry of Health spokesperson said that Ahmad Majed Salim al-Saqqa, 19, from the al-Qarrara neighborhood in Khan Younis, was pronounced dead as his body arrived at Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital in the city. Another Palestinian from Khan Younis, Ibrahim Fathi Isleih, 21, died last week after he too received an electric shock inside a Rafah tunnel. Smuggling tunnels that pass beneath the Egyptian border have served as a lifeline to the outside world for Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants since Israel imposed a crippling siege on the coastal enclave in 2007, which is supported by Egypt. While the tunnels are used by Hamas as a source of tax revenue and inflow of weapons, they also supply highly-demanded necessities for Gazans including food, medicine, as well as infrastructure materials including concrete and fuel. At the the tunnel economy’s height, in 2010, the Peace Research Institute Oslo estimated that as many as 15,000 workers and 25,000 traders were involved in the Gazan tunnel economy, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated in 2012 that almost four times more construction material was reaching Gaza through tunnels than through Israeli crossings. However, the industry has declined since 2013 as both Egyptian and Israeli armies bombarded and destroyed the tunnel networks
Palestinian teenager injured in Gaza explosion
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Apr — A Palestinian teenager was injured on Tuesday evening in an explosion caused by an unknown object in al-Shati refugee camp in western Gaza. Spokesman for the ministry of health in Gaza Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma‘an that a 15-year-old was lightly injured in the explosion, and taken to al-Shifa hospital for treatment
Israeli bulldozers enter Gaza, level lands
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Apr — Several Israeli vehicles raided lands in the central Gaza Strip on Tuesday, witnesses said. Sources told Ma‘an that four Israeli vehicles and two bulldozers raided and leveled Palestinian farming lands in eastern Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an that Tuesday’s incursion was “routine activity along the security fence.” Israeli forces regularly enter land in the Gaza Strip falling within the “security buffer zone.” The zone is enforced by Israel on both land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip on the pretext of security, however its exact limits have historically fluctuated and have had a detrimental impact on the Palestinian agricultural and fishing sectors. Forces open fire on Palestinian farmers whose agricultural land allegedly falls within the zone, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. The group reported 16 incidents of shooting and four incursions along the Gaza-Israel border in March alone
Israeli forces open fire at fishermen, farmers in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Israeli military forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen and farmers in the Gaza Strip on Monday, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that naval forces opened fire at fishermen in the northern Gaza Strip near al-Sudaniyya, while soldiers stationed at the border fired at farmers east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. No injuries were reported. Israeli authorities maintained a fishing limit of three nautical miles on all fishermen in the Gaza Strip until August, when Hamas negotiated a six-mile limit as part of the ceasefire that concluded Israel’s two-month summer assault that left 2,200 dead. But Israeli authorities have frequently shot at Palestinian fishermen inside the limit, and three have been killed since then. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reports frequent incidents of shooting by Israeli forces to maintain a buffer zone around the borders of the Gaza Strip. In March, the group noted 16 incidents of shooting on land and four incursions by Israeli military forces
Egypt forces reportedly fire on Gaza fishermen
World Bulletin 20 Apr — Egyptian naval forces have reportedly opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian spokesman said Monday. “Egyptian naval forces opened fire on three fishing boats off the coast of the southern Rafah city,” Nizar Ayyash, head of the Gaza fishermen’s union, told. No casualties were reported. An Egyptian military source said the fishing boats had violated Egypt’s territorial waters. “Warning shots were fired at the boats, which immediately left Egypt’s territorial waters,” the source said.
Goods, aid, construction materials allowed entry into Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Apr — Presidential Commission for the Coordination of Goods into the Gaza Strip, confirmed the admission of 700 truckloads of goods, aid, and construction materials into Gaza, on Tuesday. Head of the commission, Raed Fattouh, informed WAFA that the truckloads were allowed entry through Karem Abu Salem border crossing. He said that the truckloads were intended for the agricultural, trade, and transportation sectors, including, 74 truckloads of construction materials for international-funded reconstruction projects, in addition to another 150 truckloads of gravel for the Qatar-funded road reconstruction projects. According to Fattouh, an unidentified quantities of fuel were also allowed entry into the Strip.
Israel to close Kerem Shalom for 4 days
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Apr — The Israeli authorities will close the Kerem Shalom crossing for four days starting Wednesday, a PA official said. A director of crossings Nathmi Muhanna told Ma‘an that Israeli forces will close the crossing on Wednesday and Thursday for Jewish holidays, afterwards being closed in Friday and Saturday for the weekend. Israeli authorities typically heighten security surrounding Israeli independence day, which will fall this Friday.The crossing is also set to be closed May 23 and 24 for Jewish holiday Lag BaOmer
MoH: 62% of Gaza medicines and disposables depleted
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Apr — The Palestinian Ministry of Health has announced that the crisis of shortage in medicines and medical disposables has been critically aggravated because of the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip for more than eight years. Director General of Pharmacy, Ashraf Abu Mahady, said that the Ministry is now totally lacking 118 kinds of medicines (25%) and 334 kind of medical disposals (37%), according to a report by Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency. He pointed to the significant lack of medical disposables for cardiac catheterization and open heart surgeries, which has reached 80% , and which will lead to the increase of cases needing medical treatment and transfers abroad. He explained that there are several services affected by the shortage of medicines, mainly the complete lack of 32% of primary care drugs, in addition to 54% of the immunological drugs and 30% of oncology drugs, which will have grave impact on chronic conditions suffered by patients in the region.
Thousands in Gaza plan int’l protest: It’s impossible to live here
+972 blog 19 Apr by Yael Marom — A group of young activists in Gaza are organizing an international day of solidarity to protest against the impossible conditions and human rights violations created by Israel’s and Egypt’s siege, the occupation, internal Palestinian conflicts and poverty — “Life in Gaza has always been hard. But after Israel’s last attack it became impossible to live here. The problems became worse and the conditions deteriorated to the point that it is no longer possible to live humanely — and nobody cares,” Sajida Alhaj, 21, says in a Skype interview. Alhaj is part of a group of young activists in Gaza that last month published a call for a mass protest in the Strip on April 29, demanding an end to the siege, the occupation and the human and civil rights abuses that accompany them … The idea behind the protest in Gaza is to get everyone onto the streets, to fill the central squares, with people of all affiliations and ages, decrying the problems from which Gaza suffers: the occupation, the siege, internal conflicts, the lack of electricity, poverty, holdups in rebuilding after the war, unemployment and a deteriorating education system. The activists say they have gotten the various Palestinian factions on board and received permission from the authorities in Gaza. So far, over 12,000 people have joined their Facebook page. A group of Israeli women has already answered the call to action and is organizing a solidarity demonstration in Tel Aviv on the same day as the Gaza protest. “It is important that there is a protest in Israel,” Alhaj says. “It is important that people in Gaza know that there are people in Israel who care about us and who oppose the occupation, who are calling to lift the siege and open the borders.” Such solidarity gives hope, she adds….
In war, there is no safe place for Gaza’s children
+972 blog 21 Apr by Natasha Roth — There came a point early on during last summer’s Gaza war when it seemed we reached a nadir. Four children, all under the age of 12, were killed by an Israeli naval attack while playing soccer on a beach. The boys were directly struck by two shells, which also seriously wounded four other children. It was, as we now know, about to get infinitely worse for Gaza’s children. A new report released by Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) documents the consistent targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure by the Israeli army during the 50-day war. Part of Defence for Children International, an independent NGO, DCIP conducted its research in Gaza between the end of the war and the beginning of 2015, examining the sites of attacks and taking sworn affidavits from victims, eyewitnesses, families and neighbors … The report’s statistics make clear that in an area where 43 percent of the population is under the age of 14, any conflict will have a disproportionate impact on minors. By the end of the war, 547 children had been killed — 535 as a direct result of Israeli attacks. 3,347 were injured, of whom 1,000 were left permanently disabled … How did Israelis respond to all this violence? A minority protested, certainly, but no widespread crisis of conscience occurred. There is, of course, the argument that the citizens of Israel were not fully aware of the scale of destruction in Gaza; only a fraction of the round-the-clock news broadcasts focused on what was happening “on the other side,” while the Israel Broadcast Authority and the Supreme Court banned a B’Tselem radio advert reading out the names of the children killed in the conflict. Nonetheless, a week after that day on which 59 children were killed, footage emerged of a crowd of right-wing Israelis chanting at a pro-war demonstration in Tel Aviv: “Tomorrow there’s no school in Gaza, they don’t have any children left.” Somehow, they knew exactly what the army was doing in Gaza.
‘I just want to be human’: Teenage boy tells story of desperate migrant boat journey to Italy
The Independent 20 Apr by Lizzie Dearden — As Europe is accused of “closing its eyes” to the tragic deaths of hundreds of desperate migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean, one boy from Gaza has told his harrowing story. Yusuf, 17, survived being kidnapped, beaten, imprisoned and starved in his battle to reach Europe for a better life.He fled conflict and poverty, like many of the refugees pouring into Italy from Syria, Somalia, South Sudan and other war-torn countries. As well as exploitation and abuse at the hands of human traffickers on land, migrants face a treacherous boat journey that claimed the lives of 950 people in the most recent shipwreck, on Sunday. Here is Yusuf’s story, in his own words: “My family is in Gaza, it is a small family. I have a mother and father and a little sister, who is two years younger than me. My brother died during the last conflict. My father is very ill and can hardly walk; he has a tumour on his hand. My cousin was killed by a sniper. “I left Gaza because of the war – you cannot walk 200 hundred meters without knowing if a bomb will go off. All around me was war and death, I wanted to change my life, I wanted to find a new life. I haven’t been able to go to school for years, I only studied for two years. I only know how to write my name. “I left Gaza with my best friend and travelled through the border to Lebanon. I’ve known my friend since we were very, very young. When we arrived in Lebanon we stayed with extended family members who are refugees living in a camp.“My friend and I wanted to go to Europe but we were kidnapped. The people put us in a jail and I really don’t know how long we were in there for….
Leaked emails expose Sony concern over reports its cameras used in Gaza attack
EI 20 Apr by Ali Abunimah — Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal was proud to add her name to a letter with some 200 other Hollywood big wigs supporting Israel last summer in the midst of its bombardment of the occupied Gaza Strip. But leaked emails released recently by Wikileaks show that behind the scenes company executives were worried about reports associating the Sony brand with the Israeli assault that left more than 2,200 people, 547 of them children, dead. On 19 August, Stevan Bernard, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s head of corporate security wrote to David Diamond, executive assistant to company chairman and CEO Michael Lynton, to inform him about a media report “that Sony CCTV’s [sic] were being used as a part of the guidance system for Israeli rockets that were bombing Gaza.” “In fact,” Bernard wrote, “they held up part of the camera housing for all to see.”….
Yarmouk camp, Syria
Yarmouk fights to save the music
[with video] Ynet 20 Apr by Roi Kais — Only days ago, the last pianist in the embattled Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk, Ayyam al-Ahmad, was posting videos online in which he gave a voice to the residents’ suffering. Sadly, his precious instruments were burned by Islamist militants this weekend. Local sources told Ynet that on Friday the Palestinian musician, who is the last member of his Youth of Yarmouk band still in the Damascus camp, attempted with friends to move some of his instruments outside of the camp, to a neighboring town in Syria because they were in danger of being destroyed by Syrian military shelling. On the way out of the camp, Ahmad and his friends reached a roadblock manned by Islamists, apparently from Jabhat al-Nusra, with a wagon containing the instruments. After inquiring about the contents, the Islamists poured gasoline and burned the instruments. They were worth about two million Syria pounds – slightly less than 25,000 euros. “Music is forbidden, but what they are doing to us is not,” said the local sources. When Ahmad and his friends returned, sources in Yarmouk said, they closed Ahmad’s music store out of concern that it would be a target.
Ministers: We were not allowed to leave hotel in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — Ministers in the Palestinian unity government have decried their treatment by Hamas during a visit to the Gaza Strip that ended in disarray on Monday, while Hamas officials have returned blame over the debacle. The ministers, who were visiting the coastal enclave in the hope of solving an employee dispute, allege that Hamas prevented them from meeting anyone by keeping them in the hotel and not allowing visitors in to see them. Minister of Health Jawad Awwad told Ma‘an: “Hamas hindered our work and prevented us from communicating with people and with our friends,” noting that the visiting delegation was kept under guard and no one was allowed into the hotel to meet with them. He said: “We were not comfortable, and we felt a kind of offense,” adding, “We were put under pressure. We cannot work under pressure.” A Hamas spokesman rejected the claims, saying the ministers had refused to leave the hotel. The delegation of 40 government officials, including eight ministers, crossed into Gaza on Sunday in a bid to tackle a dispute over employees
New Zealand seeks UN resolution on Israel-Palestine
AFP 22 Apr — UN Security Council member New Zealand is working on a draft resolution to revive long-stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. France has begun consultations on a text that would outline the parameters of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, but Ambassador Jim McLay said Tuesday that New Zealand’s friendship with Israel and the Palestinians means it could make a contribution. “New Zealand wants this Security Council to focus on a practical outcome — and we have been working on a text that might serve the purpose of getting negotiations started,” said McLay. The ambassador emphasized that the timing was right to move forward, after the Israeli elections and before the United States becomes embroiled in the campaign for the presidency in 2016. McLay added that New Zealand was open to supporting the French initiative “if it has a chance of succeeding,” but he made clear that action was needed soon.
Israel frees impounded Palestinian funds
Jerusalem (AFP) 20 Apr – Israel on Monday unblocked close to half a billion dollars it confiscated from Palestinian tax revenues since the beginning of the year, the Palestinian Authority said. The Palestinian finance ministry said it received 1.8 billion Israeli shekels ($460,000, 428,500 euros) and would from Wednesday pay December and January salary arrears to 180,000 civil servants, who have been on 60 percent pay … Israel has not said whether it would now resume normal monthly payments. Israel’s state-run Electric Corporation on Monday withdrew a court suit to have its outstanding bills paid directly from the confiscated money, after the High Court of Justice ruled it had no legal right to do so. Israeli officials say that the Palestinian Authority owes the Jewish state more than $500 million for electricity, water and medical treatment received by Palestinians in Israeli hospitals.
PA police arrest 22 in Tubas, in fresh arrest raids
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Palestinian police arrested 22 wanted Palestinians from the Tubas district in the northern West Bank on Monday. Police spokesperson Luay Irziqat told Ma‘an that in addition to the 22 arrests, Palestinian police had issued 27 fresh arrest warrants and eight police summons.The arrests are only the latest in an apparent crime sweep by Palestinian police forces across the West Bank in recent days … A police spokesperson said that all Friday’s arrests took place in Area C. Under the Oslo Accord, Israel has full civil and military authority in Area C, and Israeli forces rarely arrest Palestinian criminals who they do not deem a “security threat” to Israel. International Crisis Group reported in 2010 that while Israel has in the past allowed Palestinian police forces to carry out limited operations in Area C, these have mostly been for purposes of fighting Hamas, and rarely to combat ordinary crime … The recent spate of arrests suggests that Israel has been allowing increased Palestinian police activity in Area C, which for years has harbored Palestinian criminals, including collaborators with Israel, the ICC report said. The arrests also come shortly after Palestinian police were permitted to open police stations in the Jerusalem-district villages of al-Ram, Biddu and Abu Dis earlier this month. The villages are in land classified as Area B, where the PA is also required to coordinate security efforts with Israel.
Replacing carpet at Jerusalem shrine reveals religious rift
AP 21 Apr — It began as a routine remodeling project: Muslim authorities replacing an old carpet worn thin by masses of worshipers at the Dome of the Rock, the iconic, gold-topped shrine that overlooks the Old City of Jerusalem. But there is no such thing as routine remodeling when it comes to the most contested piece of real estate in Jerusalem, where the presence of a mere screwdriver can threaten to ignite religious tensions. The carpet has sparked a verbal holy war over the hilltop compound, which is revered by Jews and Muslims whose competing claims often spill over into violence. Israeli archaeological authorities say the repairs were carried out behind their backs, and an Israeli government minister urged an immediate halt to the work, claiming it might cause irreparable damage. Frustrated Israeli researchers say previously undocumented ancient floor designs were discovered when the old carpets were peeled off, but they didn’t get a chance to document the designs before workmen covered them up with the new carpet.And some researchers claim the Bible’s deepest secrets may lie beneath some of the newly exposed floor designs … Sheikh Azzam Tamimi, the head of the Waqf, said the work is long overdue and has defiantly proclaimed that he was forbidding any Israeli involvement. “Our work in Al Aqsa is transparent,” he told The Associated Press. “We are only putting down carpet and felt. Nothing more, nothing less.” … While Jerusalem may be the most excavated city in the world, the Dome of the Rock and its hilltop plaza are an archaeological gold mine that has never been properly dug because of the political sensitivities surrounding the site.
Who is building Israel’s homes?
Haaretz 16 Apr by Nimrod Bousso — There are around 50,000 foreign workers in the trade, of whom 82% are Palestinians. A dearth of training has made it a labor to find Israeli workers — …Construction decades ago was a common job among the Jews; even a distinguished one, next to agriculture – it fit the Zionist ethos of reviving the land and building the nation. The “New Jew” in the Zionist vision was not afraid of physical labor, unlike his contemporaries in the Diaspora … Times changed. Following the Six-Day War, low-cost Palestinian labor became available and the Jews were crowded out, Feiglin says. But that’s just part of the story. In parallel with Jews leaving the profession, training for would-be builders dried up. Vocational colleges run by the state closed, one after another. In recent years, however, the issue has resurfaced because the construction industry is desperately short of workers.