After torching Palestinian cafe and painting ‘Revenge’ on its door, 4 Israeli teens get community service

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Prisoners / Court actions

Israeli ‘price-tag’ attackers sentenced to community service
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr –The Jerusalem District Court accepted a plea bargain Monday in the case of four teenage Israelis who admitted to setting fire to a Palestinian cafe near Hebron, despite pledges by Israel’s Justice Ministry to combat anti-Palestinian hate crime. Israeli news site Ynet reported that the four teens, who had pre-planned the attack, arrived at the cafe with their faces covered and set fire to couches and armchairs. They caused heavy damage to the electrical system and perimeter fence and spray painted “revenge” on the front door of the cafe. The teens’ lawyers argued that the act was carried out in revenge following a fire at an entertainment complex in the illegal West Bank settlement Beit El, which the teens suspected was started by residents of the Palestinian town of Dura. Attorneys argued the sentences should be reduced as no one was harmed in the incident. While initially charged with incitement and destruction of land with racist motives, the prosecution waived the original charges and the teens were charged instead with one count of arson and sentenced to three months of community service, one year of probation, and a 500 shekel ($126) fine to be paid to the Palestinian cafe owners, Ynet reported. Israeli judge Shirly Renner reportedly said the teens’ actions were a serious offense that could cause high risk to humans, and expressed surprise as to why the boys chose that specific café without evidence of whether the owner was involved in the arson at Beit El … Monday’s plea deal came at the dismay of many fighting for effective Israeli law enforcement against acts of violence committed by Israeli settlers….

Israeli courts give free hand to Shin Bet
Al-Monitor 13 Apr by Shlomi Eldar — It took Israeli security forces eight hours to locate Niv Asraf hiding in the environs of the Kiryat Arba settlement on the outskirts of Hebron, and to discover that the missing 22-year-old had staged his kidnapping April 2 … During the hours Asraf was supposedly “missing,” IDF forces conducted searches throughout Hebron — in the very same neighborhoods where Operation Brother’s Keeper had been conducted 10 months prior in search for the three boys, Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach, who were kidnapped and murdered by a terrorist squad from the Hebron region in June 2014 … Journalist Nahum Barnea, of the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, reported in his April 10 column that during the searches in Hebron, the IDF detained a Palestinian who subsequently confessed to the kidnapping in his interrogation by the Shin Bet. The faked disappearance and forced confession again give rise to doubts about the use of so-called necessity interrogations by the Shin Bet, where the security agency is authorized to employ “special measures” in the interrogation of detainees. It is unclear whether the Palestinian who claimed responsibility for the “kidnapping” of Asraf had indeed been subjected to “necessity interrogation.” However, lawyers specializing in civil rights cases, who represent Palestinians accused of security offenses in military courts, have told Al-Monitor that following the abduction and murder of the three Israeli youths last June, the Shin Bet was granted a sweeping license to conduct interrogations using various pressure methods, which often lead to false confessions obtained under duress. “It is quite clear that there have been many such confessions,” attorney Gaby Lasky told Al-Monitor. Lasky, who represents the Meretz Party on the Tel Aviv City Council, is a human rights lawyer who has represented Palestinians in military courts for many years now….

‘EU must act to free jailed Palestinian parliamentarians’
AIC 14 Apr — 58 Members of European Parliament issued a letter to European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini, urging action to free imprisoned Palestinian parliamentarian and political leader Khalida Jarrar. “Recalling the European Parliament resolution of the 4th of September 2008 calling for “the immediate release of the imprisoned members of the Palestinian Legislative Council,” we urge the EU and its Member States to take immediate action in response to the arrest of PLC member Khalida Jarrar, and to ensure the release of all sixteen detained members of the PLC.” the MEPs stated. “The arrest of Jarrar and other members of the Palestinian Parliament and their transfer from occupied territory into Israel are not only in violation of Articles 49 and 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention but also blatantly violate international conventions and practices regarding the immunity of elected officials….

Violence / Atttacks / Raids / Clashes / Arrests

Israeli army to probe death of Palestinian killed in clashes with soldiers
Haaretz 13 Apr by Gili Cohen — The Military Police’s investigations branch opened an examination into the circumstances surrounding the death of Ziad ‘Awad, 27, the Palestinian who was killed Friday in confrontations with the Israel Defense Forces near Hebron. The military advocate general announced the opening of the investigation as part of the official policy since 2011 of investigating every such death of a Palestinian in the West Bank who did not participate in actual “actions of warfare.” The MAG said it opened the Military Police investigation immediately after the death, and the conclusions would be passed on to him as soon as the investigation ends. ‘Awad was killed, and about a dozen others were injured, in clashes with IDF troops after a funeral near the village of Beit Ummar in the West Bank, said Palestinian officials. The funeral was for ‘Awad’s cousin, Ja‘far ‘Awad, who died three months after being released from an Israeli prison due to his ill health. The Red Crescent said ‘Awad was killed as a result of the firing of live ammunition on Friday …  The force reported it opened fire with tear gas and stun grenades, and later fired at four Palestinians using a certain type of bullet, a 22 caliber known as “Ruger” fired from a special weapon designed for just that purpose, which have less powerful effects compared to regular live ammunition. The IDF said it would investigate the claims concerning ‘Awad’s death, in addition to the Military Police investigation. ‘Awad has already been buried, so it is impossible to conduct further examinations now that could help in determining the cause of his death, said a senior IDF officer. If it turns out that ‘Awad was killed by these special bullets, then he would be the second such case within a month.

How the Israeli army obfuscates its use of live fire against Palestinians
Text and photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/ 13 Apr — Recent statements by unnamed military sources attempt to confuse the issue of lower-powered but completely lethal ammunition used against Palestinians —  Let’s be clear: the Israeli military uses many kinds of weapons to kill and maim Palestinians in the West Bank. Many of them are “less-lethal” weapons intended to disperse crowds at demonstrations. Sometimes the people shot are among those throwing stones or Molotov cocktails. Sometimes they’re not. Every once in a while they’re journalists or human rights observers. Often these weapons are employed in routine violation of the regulations that are supposed to govern their use … One aspect of this troubling trend is the increasing use of live ammunition as a crowd control weapon. A new layer of this lethal trend is an accompanying attempt by military sources to obfuscate their nature and justify their use … Two recent likely examples — striking because the phrasing is so similar in two different newspapers — appear in reports on the death of Palestinian youth Ziad ‘Awad, who was shot dead by Israeli forces in clashes following his cousin’s funeral last week: … Jerusalem Post: “Soldiers responded by firing 0.22 caliber bullets from a Ruger rifle, which fires weaker shots compared to live fire, according to the sources.” … First, there is the striking irresponsibility of both Haaretz and Jerusalem Post journalists for not providing any further context as to what constitutes “live ammunition,” despite thorough documentation by B’Tselem and others. Then there is the shocking claim by the unnamed military source that these bullets are somehow not “live fire.”

Palestinian employee assaulted in Israeli workplace
JENIN (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — A Palestinian working in Israel was assaulted in his workplace during a dispute over a “broken mobile phone screen,” his father calling for Israeli accountability for mistreatment of Palestinian workers. Ahmad Nihad Abdullah, 22, from Jenin was working in a phone repair shop in Umm al-Fahm when he reportedly broke the screen of one a phone during the process of repair. Abdullah’s father told Ma‘an that the shop owner locked him inside of the store for four hours, “insanely” assaulting him. After repeatedly hitting his son on the head, he threaten to shoot him. Ahmad managed to call his father pleading for help, saying “they are going to kill me.” The father contacted the Palestinian military liaison office, who in turn contacted their Israeli counterpart and managed to locate and free his son who returned to Jenin with serious bruises on his body and head.  He added that his son had all the necessary paperwork to work legally in Israel, and called on human rights organizations to expose the mistreatment of Palestinian employees in Israel. Abdullah’s place of work Umm al-Fahm is located in the Haifa district of Israel, around 20 km northwest of the occupied West Bank town of Jenin. The town is home to nearly 50 thousand Palestinians, many of which are treated as second class citizens of Israel facing frequent discrimination.

Soldier charged with forcing Palestinian to give him a ride
Times of Israel 14 Apr — The IDF’s Military Advocate General charged a soldier with threatening a Palestinian man to drive him to a West Bank settlement at gunpoint. According to the charge sheet, the armed Israeli soldier forced a Palestinian man at gunpoint to give him a ride to the settlement of Yitzhar in late March. The accused’s name was not published in the Israeli media. The Palestinian man, a 19-year-old resident of the village of Madama, told police after the incident that the soldier signaled him to stop as he was leaving his chicken coops near Road 60 in the northern West Bank, believing the soldier was conducting a routine inspection. The Golani brigade soldier was attempting to leave his military post in an isolated area of the Samaria region, where Israeli vehicles rarely travel. He allegedly entered the vehicle and demanded the driver take him to Yitzhar. “The complainant started driving according to the soldier’s instructions,” the MAG said in a statement. “The soldier didn’t cease his actions even after he saw the Palestinian was full of fear, and silenced him when he made calls for help at passersby. “The incident ended only after the driver drove the car off the road, dumped it into a ditched and fled the scene running,” the statement said.

PHOTOS: Answering tear gas with flowers
Photos and text by Oren Ziv / 14 Apr — Every Friday residents of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, along with Palestinian, Israeli and international activists, attempt to march to the village’s spring. The small spring was taken over by Israeli settlers from the nearby settlement of Halamish years ago, and the Israeli army now prevents Palestinians from reaching it. Before the protest this past Friday, children from Nabi Saleh placed flowers they picked from the surrounding hills into spent tear gas canisters fired at protesters in weeks past. The children of Nabi Saleh take part in the protests against the occupation on a weekly basis. The installation was set up near the village’s main junction, near the home of Neriman and Bilal Tamimi, central activists in the village’s struggle. A week earlier, the Israeli army shot Nariman in the leg with a live bullet.

Israeli forces detain 31 across Nablus in mass raid
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — Israeli forces detained 31 Palestinians across Nablus overnight including 20 Hamas affiliates and several former prisoners. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that more than 50 Israeli military vehicles raided Nablus around 2:00 a.m. Wednesday without informing the Palestinian Authority until already having entered the city. An Israeli spokeswoman told Ma‘an a joint operation was carried out by Israeli soldiers, the Israel Security Agency (also known as Shin Bet), and Israeli border police. She reported 29 detained, all of which were operatives affiliated with Hamas, including officials. Local sources added that Israeli forces raided the Balata refugee camp, al-Namsawi area, the Asira Street, the Old City and other neighborhoods across the city. Witnesses also told Ma‘an that dozens of Israeli soldiers raided the home of Abdullah al-Aker, 32, searching the house for three hours and confiscating 40 thousand shekels ($10,078), computers and mobiles … Most of the detainees are former prisoners. The reported lack of communication by Israeli forces to Palestinian security prior to Wednesday’s raid marks a violation of internationally recognized policy regarding Palestinian autonomy in the occupied West Bank. Israeli entrance into Area A — the approximately 20 percent of the West Bank technically under full Palestinian control as a result of the Oslo Accords — must be taken in only coordination with the PA. Incidents of illegal Israeli incursion occur on a routine basis, with Israeli forces carrying out an average of 75 raids a week on occupied West Bank Palestinian neighborhoods and villages according to Hebrew and English news site Haaretz.

21 Palestinians kidnapped across West Bank, Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Apr — At least 21 Palestinians, including minors, were taken by Israeli military and police on Tuesday, most of them during predawn raids on Palestinian towns across the occupied West Bank districts of Hebron, Ramallah and Bethlehem, according to reports by local and security sources. The army forces broke into al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, during the late night hours before abducting Abed Suleiman Titi, 14, Musa Titi, 19, Abdel-Rahman Swelem, Nadim Badawi, 18, and Hazem Ra’i, 15. Israeli soldiers also stormed the city of Hebron, according to WAFA, where they kidnapped 13-year-old Aladdine Saharawneh, and the nearby town of Dura, where they also took Yousef Masalmeh. The two were led to an unknown destination … Meanwhile, army forces broke into multiple locations in Ramallah district at predawn, before abducting at least eight Palestinians. They were identified as Taha Asmar, Jamal Yasin, Abdel-Qadir Barghouti, Majdi Harb, Hammam Harb, Mosab Qasem, Hussein Aqel and Mohammad Aqel. Israeli forces also stormed the village of Rashaydeh, east of Bethlehem, where they kidnapped Majed Rashaydeh, 26, after raiding and searching his home. In the meantime, Israeli police in Jerusalem kidnapped two Palestinians in the neighborhood of Silwan. The two, identified as Foad Kak and Ali Da’na, where led to the Russian Compound detention center in the city. The Israeli army arrested three released prisoners from the Qalqilia governorate. They were identified as Musa Sawi, 29, Imad Ji’idi, 27 and Saleh Daod, 30.

PA police arrest 11 wanted Palestinians from Jenin district
JENIN (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Palestinian police arrested 11 suspects for alleged criminal activity in the Jenin district in the northern West Bank early Tuesday. Police spokesman Luay Irziqat told Ma‘an that Jenin police had carried out a security campaign across the Jenin district on Tuesday. Of the 11 arrested, 10 were were taken from villages and towns across Jenin, while one was detained from Jenin refugee camp.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Discrimination / Racism

For first time in years, Israeli authorities raze house in Galilee Arab town
Haaretz 14 Apr by Jack Khoury — State authorities demolished an illegally built home in Kafr Kana late Sunday night, marking the first time in years a demolition order in a Galilee Arab town has been carried out. A call for a nationwide Arab general strike starting Tuesday was issued in an emergency meeting of the Kafr Kana local council and the town’s residents committee, and echoed by local councils in the Wadi Ara region. Arab communities in the north fear the demolition could mark the beginning of a new wave of such actions by the state. The Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, the main Israeli Arab leadership body, was expected to meet on Monday night to decide what steps to take. The demolished house belonged to Tarak Khatib, and was located inside his family’s olive grove, Khatib said. Khatib admitted to Haaretz that his house was built illegally, without permits, two years ago, and lay outside the residential zone in the town’s master plan. But he pointed out that the government’s refusal to expand this zone in Kafr Kana’s master plan left him with no choice but to build his home illegally. “I need a roof over the heads of my five children and I had nowhere to build,” he said … Demolition sends a message Because it has been years since a Galilee Arab home was demolished, this one appears to be a message to Israeli Arabs of a change of policy in the wake of the recent Knesset election, said Arfan Khatib, a local council member and a relative of Tarak Khatib. The house that was demolished was “easy pickings” because it is at the very edge of the town, meaning police didn’t have to go inside Kafr Kana, he said. “There are another 26 houses that were built without permits in the community,” Councilman Khatib noted. “If you think about the natural [population] growth in the town it is possible to understand the distress it is in. … Some of the neighborhoods look like refugee camps.” The lack of housing in the Arab community has been steadily worsening. On the eve of Land Day two weeks ago, Haaretz reported that some 100,000 housing units would have to be built in Israeli Arab communities over the next decade to meet the demand. Arabs own only some 5 percent of Israel’s land, and freeing up state land for housing construction requires a bureaucratic process that can take up to a decade. The result is massive construction without permits and thousands of demolition orders. The Interior Ministry had yet to respond by press time.

Israel undermines Arab presence in Lod and Ramle
Middle East Monitor 14 Apr — The Israeli authorities have intensified a campaign which targets the presence of Arabs in two historic Palestinian cities. Lod (Al-Lod) and Ramle (Al-Ramlah), like many other places in occupied Palestine, were ethnically cleansed and turned into Jewish-majority cities following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. According to Jordan’s Al-Ghad newspaper, the Israelis have issued demolition orders for 30 homes in Ramle owned by Palestinians. The intention is to build Jewish-owned homes in their place. The latest statistics show that more than 34,000 Palestinians still live in the two cities, split almost equally between Lod and Ramle. They have faced official and unofficial harassment and racial discrimination since 1948. According to a source in Ramle municipality, the 30 homes targeted for demolition were built “without the necessary permission”. This is a common ploy by the Israeli government to evict Palestinians, which has been used frequently in occupied Jerusalem. The residents affected by the demolition orders have joined Palestinians facing similar anti-Arab discrimination in other cities to form a “Popular Committee” to stand up to the “aggression” of the Israeli authorities … Al-Ghad newspaper reported that Lod is facing an even fiercer Judaisation project. Maha Al-Naqib, an Arab member of Lod municipality, told the newspaper that the homes of 400 Arab families are threatened with demolition there. The Israeli authorities, she said, are planning to knock-down two complete Arab neighbourhoods in Lod — Karm Ein Al-Naqib and Bayarat Shneer — in addition to a number of Arab houses near Al-Mahattah neighbourhood. Al-Naqib insisted that all the Arab houses in the city were built on Arab-owned land. She added that any Arab house in the city is in danger of being demolished at any time, despite the owners possessing all of the proper documentation.

Soldiers demolish a four-story residential building under construction
IMEMC 14 Apr — Israeli soldiers demolished, on Tuesday at dawn, an under construction four-story residential building of 320 Square/Meters, in Wad al-Jouz neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem … The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) said the soldiers, accompanied by employees of the Jerusalem City Council, invaded the neighborhood after surrounding it, and demolished the building.  The building was demolished approximately at four at dawn when the soldiers invaded Wad al-Jouz after declaring it a closed military zone to prevent residents, and even journalists from entering it. Silwanic added that the fourth floor of the building was already furnished and ready for rental, while the three other floors were still under construction. Earlier this year, Israel ordered the owners to stop the construction, and they complied while continuing to file appeals in an attempt to conclude the legal work.

Israelis seize store equipment near Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 14 Apr — Israeli authorities, Monday, seized the content of a Palestinian-owned store in the village of Hazma, northeast of Jerusalem, according to local sources. Witnesses at the scene told WAFA correspondence an Israeli police force broke into the village and searched the store before seizing its content, mostly consisting of construction material and work equipment, pretending that the content was “illegal”.  Earlier, the Israeli authorities demolished a number of private-owned barracks in the village, under the pretext they were close to the Israeli segregation barrier.

High Court success for Al Arakib residents
AIC 12 Apr –A decision of Israel’s High Court is now being published which rejects the state’s appeal and accepts the position of al Arakib residents, the Abu Madyam A-Turi and Abu Freih families: al Arakib residents who are struggling for their land that was stolen from them can bring their arguments before the court in the city of Beer Sheva and to demand recognition of their ownership and annulment of the confiscation of their land in the 1950s. The state wished to block the path to any and all legal hearing on the question of ownership of these lands, which were confiscated in accordance with the Law of Theft–Law of Land Acquisition from 1953 – and to permit the state to automatically register the lands in its name as state lands … It is important to clarify: This is not recognition of Bedouin ownership rights. This is not a substantive ruling on the legality of the acts of theft in the 1950s under auspices of this criminal law -Law of Land Acquisition, which permitted the theft of land remaining to the Palestinians who managed to avoid becoming refugees and remain in their homeland and become citizens. This is only that the state cannot automatically register the stolen land without allowing the Bedouin citizens their day in court. It does not guarantee justice. It is only a small crack, as in the past courts did not dare challenge the legality of the organised land theft to see if there was some justification for the land grab.

‘Israeli cellular companies paid to squat on Palestinian land’
+972 mag 14 Apr by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man —  The companies never even received permits to build antenna towers in the illegal West Bank settlement outpost of Migron, [but] are now asking the courts to let them stay even after the settlement itself was demolished, Walla reports — … For 12 years, Orange franchisee Partner Communications, Cellcom and Pelephone paid approximately NIS 200,000 to Israeli settlers in the illegal West Bank outpost of Migron in order to place cellular antennas inside the settlement, Walla News’s Shabtai Bendet reported Sunday. Furthermore, the cellular companies built their towers without permits from the Israeli army, which is the effective sovereign in the West Bank, including planning and building issues. The Israeli army demolished all of the structures in Migron earlier this year — save for the cellular towers — after a years-long court battle. The settlement itself was built on land owned by neighboring Palestinian villages, without permission and without authorization from Israeli authorities. In other words, the three cellular companies, one of which pays franchise fees to a Paris based company that is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, paid rent to Israeli settlers who were illegally squatting on Palestinian land — for 12 years.

WATCH: Jerusalem’s extraterritorial neighborhood — Shu‘afat Camp
Israeli Social TV 14 Apr [3:20] — The Jerusalem Municipality and Israel Police provide no services to the walled-off neighborhood of Shuafat Refugee Camp, which is inside the city of Jerusalem. Camp residents discuss what they need.

No Arab players need apply to Israeli football team, coach says
EI 14 Apr by Ali Abunimah — The coach of Israel’s Beitar Jerusalem football team has said that he won’t bring on an Arab player out of respect for his club’s racist fans. “I don’t think it’s the right time. It would cause tensions and create much greater damage,” Guy Levi told Israel’s 102FM radio, according to Ynet. Levi said that he didn’t think there were any Palestinian citizens of Israel who would play for his team. “Even if there were a player who fit in professionally, I would not bring him in,” Levi said, “because it would create unnecessary tensions.” While racism is endemic in Israeli football, Beitar is particularly notorious for the violence and hatred of its fans who have habitually rampaged in the streets chanting “Death to the Arabs” and anti-Muslim slurs. Asked if he didn’t think bringing in an Arab player would help change the racist culture of the fans, Levi replied: “Let the education minister change the culture and not ask us to change the culture of a people that is centuries old.”

Restrictions on movement

Palestinian vehicles to enter Jerusalem for first time in 15 years
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Israel will allow Palestinian vehicles to enter Jerusalem for the first time in 15 years on Tuesday, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said. COGAT chief Yoav Mordechai said that the first phase of the plan will see more than 100 Palestinian doctors from the Bethlehem and Hebron districts permitted to enter Jerusalem in private vehicles holding Palestinian license plates, and would be mostly aimed at those working in Israeli hospitals. He said that the next phase will allow for businessmen to move freely. The announcement comes a month after the Israeli authorities allowed Palestinian men over 55 and women over 50 to enter Jerusalem without permits. That announcement also said that married men over the age of 22 would be eligible to apply for work permits, in contrast to current regulations that only allow married men over 24 who have children to apply. As part of Israel’s nearly 50-year-old military occupation of the West Bank, Palestinians are subject to a complex system of movement permits and are prevented from moving freely between different areas of the West Bank as well as into Israel and the Gaza Strip.


Qassam fighter succumbs to wounds sustained during Israeli offensive
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — A Palestinian succumbed to wounds sustained during last summer’s Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, medical sources said. The man was identified as Eleiwa Nidal Eleiwa from the al-Zaytoun neighborhood in southeastern Gaza City. The al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement, confirmed that Eleiwa had been an al-Qassam fighter and leader. Several hundred fighters from the al-Qassam Brigades were believed to be among the 2,200 Palestinians killed during the 50-day Israeli assault, although the vast majority of the dead were civilians. More than 10,000 Palestinians were injured during the conflict and nearly 100,000 made homeless. Training by the al-Qassam Brigades has continued despite damage sustained during the conflict and continuing Israeli threats.

Egyptian forces injure Palestinian with live fire on Gazan border
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — A Palestinian was injured when Egyptian army forces open fire on him using live rounds on the Gazan border on Tuesday, security sources said. Sources said the Palestinian was shot in the left shoulder by Egyptian forces as he emerged from a tunnel leading into Egypt. Sources added that he has since arrived at Rafah Public Hospital for treatment. Egypt helps maintain an Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip that has been in place since 2007. The blockade has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans. In February, Egyptian forces opened fired on Palestinian military posts inside Gaza near the border fence, and in January, a Palestinian fisherman was shot in the stomach after he entered Egyptian territorial waters near Sinai.

Israeli naval forces open fire at Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Gaza City Wednesday morning. Fishermen told Ma‘an that Israeli forces had fired at several fishing boats working in the area, and that no injuries were reported. Witnesses added that Israeli F16 warplanes were flying at low altitude at the time … Wednesday’s incident comes just one week after Israeli forces shot and injured Palestinian fisherman Khalid Zayid with a rubber-coated steel bullet while he was working off the coast of Beit Lahiya. Palestinian fishermen continue to be targeted by Israeli forces, facing near daily harassment and interference with their work.

Gaza building collapses months after being hit in war
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — A five-story building that was targeted during the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip collapsed Tuesday afternoon in the central city of Deir al-Balah. Officials at the Civil Defense told Ma‘an that the building belongs to the Zeiter family and had been shelled during last summer’s offensive on Gaza. The collapse caused damage to a three-story building next door, with no injuries reported.

Thousands of workers strike in Gaza
AIC 14 Apr by Ahmad Jaradat — Thousands of government employees in the Gaza Strip are on strike Tuesday in protest of the Palestinian Authority’s continued violation of their rights as civil servants, including payment of salaries. Gazan workers in the ministries of labour, justice, public works and women’s affairs are conducting a one day strike, warning of future actions should their rights continue to be violated. The Union of Government Employees further conducted a protest in front of the Legislative Council headquarters in Ramallah. The Union has denounced recent visits of Palestinian Authority ministers to Gaza, claiming the visits are symbolic and do not address the problems of government workers in Gaza.

Palestinian reporter stabbed to death in Gaza
IMEMC 14 Apr by Saed Bannoura — A Palestinian reporter, working for the Palestinian TV, was stabbed to death on Tuesday at dawn, near his home in the Nasr neighborhood in Gaza city. The reporter, Kamal Mohammad Abu Nahl, 40 years of age, was stabbed, with a sharp object, three times to the neck, throat and his lower back. His brother, Omar Abu Nahl, told the Palestinian Center for Development & Media (MADA) that he received a phone call at dawn informing him that worshipers found his brother’s body near his home, following dawn prayers. He added that his brother, who was visiting, left around 12:30 after midnight, and headed towards his own home, and that he was wearing a suit, but when his body was found he was wearing other clothes. Omar said his brother’s wife was sleeping, but it appears he went home, changed his clothes, and headed out. The slain reporter is a married father of three children. “My brother was a peaceful man; nobody hated him,” Omar stated, “He never had anonymity with anybody.”

650 truckloads allowed into Gaza Strip
Gaza (BNA) 14 Apr —  Israeli occupation authorities opened the Karem Bu Salem land crossing point in southeastern Gaza Strip, allowing entry of 650 trucks laden with commodities for the commercial, agricultural, transportation sectors and assistance. The head of Presidential Committee for Coordination of Goods Entry in Gaza, Raed Fattouh, said the batch of trucks included 93 truckloads of construction materials for international projects, 150 truckloads of gravel for private and roads infrastructure projects in addition to pumping of fuel.

Interview with Dr. Basman Alashi in Gaza
ISM Gaza Team (Valeria Cortes) 11 Apr — “You corner me, you kill me, and on top of that you ask me not to defend myself. Human beings in this world have the right to defend themselves. We, as Palestinians, have the right to defend our land and our families by all means available”, said the Dr. Basman Alashi. The night of the 17th of July 2014 the Israeli occupation forces bombed the Al Wafaa Hospital, in Shija‘ia, Gaza Strip. The hospital´s speciality was the rehabilitation of paralyzed patients. This is the moving testimony of Dr. Basman Alashi, its director: How is it possible to reach the point of bombing a hospital full of patients and medical staff?  “The UN told me that, according to a report from the Israeli occupation forces, the bombing of the hospital was due to the fact that there were weapons within its facilities … I can assure you that this report is completely false; the hospital opened its doors to the international press and to all the foreigners who freely inspected our facilities without finding any weapons at all. Despite all the overwhelming evidence, our hospital was bombed in the middle of the night, with its patients, medical staff, and some international witnesses, still inside the buildings.”  What were the consequences of the bombing by the Zionist occupation forces? “Whilst under Israeli fire, we evacuated the remaining 17 paralyzed patients that still were inside the hospital. We couldn’t take any medication or equipment; we evacuated them just with sheets. That’s why during a cease-fire we asked the Red Cross to take us to rescue some medicines that were vital for our patients. However the Red Cross refused and we had to go by ourselves. We were only able to stay 45 minutes at the ruins of what was the Al Wafaa Hospital. The bombings continued, and we could only recover a very small amount of medicine, as bombs had destroyed most of it. Four members of our staff were injured during the bombing. Luckily these weapons of war injured none of the patients….

Mobile health clinics provide emergency health care to thousands of people in Gaza
Oxfam 13 Apr — For the past six months, Sawsan al Najjar and her family have lived crowded together in a small room with cracked walls and a fragile roof. “I fear the walls will fall on us while we sleep,” she says. The rest of the house lies in rubble, destroyed by Israeli bombing during last summer’s 51 days of conflict between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups … Sawsan’s two young children – Ameer, 2, and Ahmed, 16 [6?] – suffer from stunted growth and her husband, Faraj, works day and night to raise money for their special medical treatment. “I used to have my own business, trading motorbikes,” says Faraj. “Business got worse after the blockade began (in 2007), but I made enough to at least feed my family. Then during the war I lost the motorbikes, which were worth $7,000. Now I work 12 hours a day fixing spare parts and I barely get 20 shekels ($5) a day. This is not enough to even buy food.” Their current living conditions make life even more difficult. “Winter was very tough. The rain leaked through the damaged roof and walls and my children are sick all the time here,” says Sawsan. Dr Ihab Dabour helped provide emergency health care to thousands of people during the height of the conflict, despite his own home being bombed. Every two weeks he brings a mobile health clinic, run by the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) and funded by Oxfam, to treat illnesses in the devastated neighbourhood of Khuza’a where Sawsan lives.

Divorce in Gaza comes at steep price
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 13 Apr by Mohammed Omer — Three years ago, Samira Jamil reached a dead end. She had no choice but to divorce her husband by khula, whereby a wife financially compensates her husband. Jamil, whose name has been changed for this article, told Al-Monitor that the main reason behind the divorce was financial: Her husband was stingy. “Stinginess was among the most important reasons for divorce by khula. The list, however, goes on and includes the non-fulfillment of marital duties and financial exploitation,” she said. Lebanese-born Jamil, 52, said that the divorce process took a month and a half. She ceded all her financial rights. “Although I am fragile by nature, oppression strengthened my character. This is why I filed for divorce by khula before the courts. For the process to be quickly completed, I ceded my deferred dowry and the house’s furniture,” Jamil said. “I was ready to give up everything in exchange for divorce.” Sharia courts in Gaza seek to find balance when it comes to the right to file for divorce, so as to change the traditional concept that the sole eligibility to divorce comes from the husband. Sheikh Hassan al-Jojo, head of Gaza’s Supreme Religious Court, said that the Islamic faith advocates partnership between spouses. Therefore, both individuals have a say in their marriage because marriage can only be consensual. “When marriage ends, it should also be consensual,” he told Al-Monitor.

Japan, UN women to assist female victims of gender-based violence in Gaza
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 13 Apr – The Government of Japan Monday donated $848,000 to United Nations Women for a project to support increased access of female victims of gender-based violence in Gaza to protection services, with a particular focus on internally displaced women and girls and those living in overcrowded households. A joint press release issued by Japan’s representative in the Palestinian Territory and the UN, explained the importance of the action saying that ‘In the Gaza Strip, the lack of, and limited access to protection services for victims of gender-based violence dramatically exacerbates their existing vulnerability.”

Israel intensifies effort to find soldiers held by Hamas
Middle East Monitor 14 AprIsrael has intensified efforts to search for its soldiers who were captured by Hamas during last summer’s Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, Palestinian newspaper Al-Resalah reported yesterday. Al-Resalah reported Al-Majd, the Palestinian website specialised in security issues, reiterating that Israel is using several intelligence techniques and strategies to obtain information about the Israeli soldiers in Gaza. Some of the strategies and techniques being used by the Israeli occupation were used to search for the Israeli soldiers imprisoned by Hamas in 2006. However, this time, Israel is putting weight on technology and attempts to recruit senior Hamas fighters. Al-Majd said the Israeli leadership wants to know whether the two Israeli soldiers are and if they are dead or alive.

Palestinian refugees – Syria

IS loses ground in Syria’s Yarmouk camp: Palestinian sources
AFP 14 Apr by Youssef Karwashan — Jihadists from the Islamic State group have lost ground to Palestinian fighters in Syria’s Yarmuk camp, Palestinian officials and a resident said on Tuesday. IS fighters have retreated from much of the territory they seized in the camp in southern Damascus after entering it on April 1, a resident using the pseudonym Samer told AFP. “We haven’t even seen any Daesh members in over three days,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for IS. The withdrawal was confirmed by an official from a pro-Syrian regime Palestinian faction fighting against IS inside the camp. “There are intermittent but ongoing clashes between Palestinian factions and IS,” said Khaled Abdel Majid, head of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, adding that IS had withdrawn from most of the neighbourhoods it previously controlled. IS fighters were now confined largely to the southwest of the camp, with Palestinian factions — both pro- and anti-Syrian regime — controlling most of the east and north of the camp, Palestinian sources said. Syrian regime forces are stationed outside the camp and have maintained a tight siege around it, but Abdel Majid said the Palestinian factions had established a “joint operations room” with government forces. A Syrian security source in Damascus also said “the Palestinian factions have made progress and were able to recapture key points… and the operation is ongoing.” The Palestinian forces inside the camp include the Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis group that is opposed to the regime and has fought alongside Syrian rebels. Fighters from the Palestinian Fatah and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine groups are not participating, Palestinian officials said….

Syria says only 6,000 residents remain in Damascus camp
AMMAN (Reuters) 14 Apr by Suleiman al-Khalidi —  Syria said on Tuesday only 6,000 residents remain in the war-battered Palestinian camp Yarmouk on the edge of Damascus that has seen intensified fighting since Islamic State launched an offensive to seize it from rival insurgents. U.N. and Syrian officials had earlier put at 18,000 the number of inhabitants when Islamic State launched its attack earlier this month. Many have moved to areas mostly southeast of the camp. “The number of those in the camp is less than 6,000 … and the exit of people is continuing,” Information Minister Omran Zoabi told state media. The camp was home to some 160,000 Palestinians before the Syrian conflict began in 2011, refugees from the 1948 war of Israel’s founding, and their descendants. It recaptured the world’s attention this month when Islamic State moved in, worsening conditions for its residents that were already bad as it had been besieged by government forces since 2013, causing widespread hunger, according to aid workers. Pierre Krahenbuhl, head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, told a press conference on Tuesday at the end of a visit to Damascus that relief work was now focused on trying to help those who had fled the camp.

Unraveling the media spin on Yarmouk
Middle East Eye 10 Apr by Linah Alsaafin — Residents in the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp tell a very different story of recent violence from the one carried in the mainstream media — When the Islamic State (IS) group entered Yarmouk in southern Damascus last week, the Palestinian refugee camp was thrust back into the media spotlight. Caught between the rockets of Syrian government forces and violent militants who have seized territory in northern Syria and Iraq, factions inside Yarmouk, chiefly the Palestinian group Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis, fought fierce gun battles with IS. With concern over the fate of the camp growing, the PLO sent a delegation from the West Bank to Syria to discuss the plight of the refugees with Syrian authorities. An initial statement from PLO official Ahmad Majdalani said that Palestinian factions had agreed to cooperate with Syrian government forces inside the camp to counter IS. However, another statement released shortly afterwards from the PLO leadership in Ramallah contradicted this, saying that they refused to be drawn into military actions. Saeb Erekat, the PLO’s chief negotiator, supported the move and stressed that Palestinian factions within Yarmouk have refrained from meddling in “a conflict that isn’t theirs”.
Residents of Yarmouk, however, offer a very different version of events. “Palestinian militias allied to Bashar al-Assad like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command [PFLP-GC] are the ones who dragged the camp into the Syrian conflict,” 30-year-old journalist Ahmad, a resident of the camp, told Middle East Eye via Skype on Thursday. “Before, the camp was a safe haven, a neutral zone for people in the areas around it,” Ahmad said. “These militias, led by PFLP-GC’s Ahmad Jibril, are the ones who began kidnapping and arresting activists within and around the camp and handing them over to the regime.”

Other news

Palestinian cabinet members head to Gaza on Sunday
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Members of the Palestinian cabinet will head to Gaza on Sunday to discuss ways to implement unresolved issues from a reconciliation deal signed between political factions last year. The cabinet said in a statement that officials will discuss administrative issues regarding PA employees in Gaza before the split between Hamas and Fatah in 2007. A committee has already been tasked with registering pre-2007 employees as a step to resolving the issue.

PLO: 2 months for ICC to receive Israeli war crimes and settlement files
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Apr — Nabil Shaath, PLO central committee member and the International commissioner for the organization, said on Sunday that the Palestinian committees working on the Israeli war crimes case will file lawsuit against Israeli occupation authorities at the ICC, in Lahai, within the next two months. Shaath, in a statement to Al Khalij Online said that all the sub-committees following the basic committee on Israeli war crimes, are working day and night to collect evidence and documents to submit to the ICC. Documents include evidence regarding the Israeli settlement expansion, and the last offensive on Gaza which killed more than 2,200 people according to UN statistics … The committee, headed by Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat, consists of 31 Palestinian politicians of all stripes, academics and human rights activists, as well as representatives of Palestinian institutions such as the ministries of justice and foreign affairs.

Israel: Settlement agriculture harms Palestinian children
JERUSALEM (Human Rights Watch) 13 Apr — Out of School, Doing Risky Work for Low Pay — Israeli settlement farms in the West Bank are using Palestinian child labor to grow, harvest, and pack agricultural produce, much of it for export, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The farms pay the children low wages and subject them to dangerous working conditions in violation of international standards. The 74-page report, “Ripe for Abuse: Palestinian Child Labor in Israeli Agricultural Settlements in the West Bank,” documents that children as young as 11 work on some settlement farms, often in high temperatures. The children carry heavy loads, are exposed to hazardous pesticides, and in some cases have to pay themselves for medical treatment for work-related injuries or illness.

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

Report: Shin Bet thwarts attack by alleged Hamas ‘military cell’
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli intelligence claims to have detained a Hamas “military cell” that had plans to attack Israeli military targets at the Container checkpoint east of Jerusalem, Israeli media reported Tuesday. According to Hebrew-language news website Walla, Shin Bet intelligence services, in coordination with the Israeli army and police, thwarted a Hamas military operation that had been planned for the Jewish holiday of Purim, celebrated this year on Mar. 4. Shin Bet claims they detained the “cell” before they were able to carry out the attack. The detainees were identified as Muin Nour Shaer, 25, from Burqa village in Nablus and Daoud Adwan, 32, from al-Eizariya in Jerusalem. According to an IDF statement, Ma‘an Nur Al-din Ahmad Shaer was head of the terror cell, from Burka.  “Shaer, an operative of the Hamas terror organization, initiated the terror attack and orchestrated the planning process. In the past, Shear has served time in prison for his involvement in a shooting attack at IDF soldiers, between the years 2009-2011,” the statement said. The statement added Shaer had planed to recruit a third person, “to take the role of the driver, and allow the terrorists to flee the crime scene immediately after the attack.  “In order to prepare for the attack, members of the terror cell went through extensive weapons training, and an AK-47 type rifle, as well as a 9mm caliber gun and 40 bullets were found in their disposal” The report gave no evidence to support the allegation of the two men’s ties to Hamas. They will be charged in coming days in Israeli military courts. Israel frequently arrests Palestinians on charges of being members of alleged “Hamas cells” or “terror cells.”

Organic farms in the West Bank — hemmed in by smokestacks, separation wall
TULKAREM, West Bank (Al Jazeera) 14 Apr by Creede Newton — As the sun reaches its midday peak, Oday Taneeb loads the last tomatoes harvested from his family’s organic farm — a rarity in the West Bank — onto the truck that will take them to the town market. “Today’s a good day to be outside,” Taneeb, 25, said. “The air is clear.” Like most farmers, Taneeb has an early call time for work — 4 a.m. — and divides his days between demanding manual labor, looking after thousands of plants in roughly 12 greenhouses, and salesmanship at the local market. But he and his family face a challenge that most organic farmers do not: the immediate and long-term effects of the Israeli occupation that has left his farm isolated and also at risk of serious pollution. The Taneeb farm is surrounded by the conflict. On one side, there is the Israeli separation barrier that cordons off the West Bank, commonly referred to as “the wall.” On the other three sides are 11 Israeli factories inside an enclosed industrial zone in Israeli-controlled Area C of the occupied West Bank. The Israeli factories arrived in the 1980’s, partially on land that Taneeb’s father, Faiz, once plowed … Residents of Tulkarem develop skin and lung cancer at rates “four times higher” than those of neighboring cities, according to a forthcoming study overseen by Dr. Abdelfatah Tareq, the director of the Tulkarem governorate’s health department. “We call them the ‘death factories,’” Tareq told Al Jazeera. “They cause undeniably bad consequences on the people and environment of Tulkarem.” ….

Meet Israel’s only female Muslim bus driver
Haaretz 14 Apr by Tali Heruti-Sover — Even in 2015 Israel, female bus drivers are a rare sight – not to mention female Arab bus drivers. And yet there is one: Suhaila Fadila, 44, a mother of four, who has been driving for the past three years. A resident of the town of Tira in the Galilee Triangle, Fadila is a devout Muslim who wears a hijab, makes sure to dress modestly and drives a Metropoline bus in Kfar Sava. The Metropoline company provides service in an area including Be’er Sheva and Tel Aviv, along with other destinations in the southern and central parts of the country … How did you become a public transportation driver, of all things? Fadila: “I’ve always liked to drive, and when my husband decided to get a bus driver’s license I asked – Why not me?”… In a country where relations between Jews and Arabs are often tense, Fadila is a ray of light. To date she reports that she encountered reactions stemming from her external appearance on only two occasions: once when two female soldiers stood at the door to the bus and one said to the other: “You’re not boarding this one.”… Apparently, Fadila will soon lose her unique status: The finance and transportation ministries will soon be jointly offering a course to teach some 30 Arab women how to drive a bus, in light of the overall shortage of drivers in the country.

PM Netanyahu, President Rivlin attend event at opening of colossal police facility
Jerusalem Post 13 Apr — In an era when it has been beset by scandal and bad press, the Israel Police on Monday held the official opening of a colossal, NIS 2.9 billion academy they say will herald a new era of excellence and professionalism for the organization. The 64,000-square-meter facility sprawls over 23 hectares outside Beit Shemesh, and according to police will consolidate 20 regional police training centers under a single roof. The facility will include mockups of a nightclub, a courthouse, and a mall, for anti-terrorism units and regular patrol units, as well as a mock traffic circle to train in directing traffic. It will also have training grounds for canine units, bomb disposal police, and crime scene units, as well as nine shooting ranges. The sprawling facility will have 1,050 beds and space for 1,800 officers to study at any given moment….

How Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor was concealed from the US
Haaretz 15 Apr by Amir Oren — …  Many of the details surrounding Israel’s nuclear story have already been revealed through research and via the declassification of secret information, including information released by the U.S. government – but there was more to be mined. Nuclear history researchers Avner Cohen and Bill Burr are releasing a new trove of old documents this week on the Website of the National Security Archive of George Washington University in Washington, providing new angles on the story. Two of them are especially eyebrow-lifting: The role played by Richard Kerry, (the father of current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry) and the story behind the birth of the tale that the Dimona reactor was ‘only’ a textile factory …  Official Israel continues to maintain to this day, 45 years after the disclosure of the efforts to build the facility at Dimona, that its declared purpose was “part of the national effort to develop the Negev, extensive research, study and applied activity aimed at expanding basic knowledge and to further economic development.” From the moment it was caught, Israel admitted the nuclear goal – but stressed that like the small Sorek reactor, Dimona was meant for peaceful purposes. (listserv) (archive)

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“Israeli judge Shirly Renner reportedly said the teens’ actions were a serious offense that could cause high risk to humans, and expressed surprise as to why the boys chose that specific café without evidence of whether the owner was involved in the arson at Beit El.”

Does the learned judge think that, if the cafe owner had somehow been connected with an earlier case of arson, that would have been an extenuating circumstance or excuse?

“JERUSALEM (AFP) — Vandals have smashed gravestones at a Maronite Christian cemetery in a village near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, Israeli police said on Wednesday. Police opened an investigation after receiving a report about damage to a number of graves at the Christian cemetery in Kufr Birim, spokeswoman Luba Samri said, indicating that the tombstones were “broken and displaced.” Kufr Birim is a derelict Palestinian village whose inhabitants were evicted by Israeli forces 1948… Read more »

The Jerusalem District Court accepted a plea bargain Monday in the case of four teenage Israelis who admitted to setting fire to a Palestinian cafe near Hebron … Israeli judge Shirly Renner reportedly said the teens’ actions were a serious offense … and expressed surprise as to why the boys chose that specific café … Perhaps the boys were looking for a specific Palestinian to torch, but when they couldn’t find one they chose the… Read more »

I wonder if community service might include clearing up the rubble of demolished Palestinian homes .

Collective punishment: “Soldiers from the Israel Border Police last week blocked all entrances and exits from the West Bank village of Hizmeg as punishment for local incidents of stone-throwing. In addition, the IDF placed a large sign in the Palestinian village, north of Jerusalem, calling for residents to provide information about those “disturbing the peace.” The IDF spokesperson did not deny that the sign had been placed, but argued that the military does not use… Read more »