Clashes as Israel marks 1967 east Jerusalem capture
JERUSALEM (AFP) 17 May by Shatha Yaish –– Israeli nationalists and police clashed with Palestinians in occupied east Jerusalem on Sunday as crowds of Jewish hardliners marched across the city to mark the 48th anniversary of its capture. Known as Jerusalem Day, the anniversary marks the seizure in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexation of mainly Arab east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community. Police said two officers were wounded by Palestinian stone-throwers and at least four Palestinians were arrested near the walled Old City’s Damascus Gate. The demonstrators were dispersed by baton-wielding police, some on horseback. A police statement said that in one incident “several dozen Muslims scuffled with a group of Jews”. Onlookers said at least two Palestinians were wounded in various clashes, and video footage showed a man being taken away on a stretcher by Red Crescent ambulance staff. A Palestinian cameraman working for France’s TF1 television was beaten with flagpoles by the Jewish marchers, producer Michael Illouz told AFP. He said that Jamil Kadamani was hit on the head, back and hands and taken to hospital for examination. Witnesses also saw journalists shoved by police….
Abolish ‘Jerusalem Day’ – the settler holiday / Gush Shalom
Gush Shalom calls for abolition of “Jerusalem Day”. This is a holiday only to settlers and racists, who get a license to provoke and harass Palestinians . . The real ‘Jerusalem Day’ – when Jerusalem becomes the capital of two states living in peace. A lie does not become a truth, even if repeated forty-eight times. Jerusalem is a not a united city, and has never been a united city in the forty-eight years since 1967. East Jerusalem is a Palestinian area under occupation rule. Just so is it treated by the governmental and municipal authorities of the State of Israel, and by the settlers who are dispossessing the Palestinian inhabitants, with the funding and backing of these authorities. “Jerusalem Day” is not a holiday to Israel’s citizens or to residents of Jerusalem. It is a holiday only for the young settlers, who are given by the Jerusalem Police and the Supreme Court a free hand to hold a provocative “Flag Dance” throughout East Jerusalem – even though in previous years this “dance” developed into an ongoing chain of racist harassment and violence against Palestinian inhabitants. It is time to end the lie and erase this ugly stain from the calendar of the State of Israel. The real Jerusalem Day will be the day when the occupation ends and Jerusalem becomes the capital of two states – West Jerusalem the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine. Only then can Jerusalem truly be a united city, by the free will of all its inhabitants – Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Violence / Attacks / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Arrests
Israeli forces injure Palestinians at Nakba march in Huwwara
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 16 May — Several Palestinians including a journalist were injured when Israeli forces opened fire on a march in the eastern Nablus village of Huwwara commemorating the Nakba on Saturday. Hundreds of Palestinians reportedly took part in the march that set off towards the Huwwara military checkpoint carrying black flags and demanding the Palestinians’ right of return. Israeli forces fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at the march. Many were reported to have suffered excessive tear-gas inhalation, while several others, including a Palestinian journalist, were hit with rubber-coated steel bullets before being taken to the Rafidiya Governmental Hospital for treatment. Palestinian medical sources told Ma‘an that Nidal Ishtayeh, a Palestinian journalist working for the Xinhua Chinese news agency, was hit with a rubber-coated steel bullet above his eye. The bullet burst through the glass visor of his gas mask, showering his eye with glass. A member of the Palestinian People’s Party’s politburo Khalid Mansour was also injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet, as was an Italian protester who was hit by two rubber-coated steel bullets in both her hand and chest. The organizers of the march told Ma‘an that the goal of the march had been to send a clear message to Israel that Palestinians are still holding onto their right of return.
IDF shoots Palestinian journalist with rubber bullet in latest assault
+972 mag 17 May by Haggai Matar — Nidal Ashtiyeh says he was standing away from protesters when Israeli troops shot a rubber-coated steel bullet at his eye. Two IDF officers were recently convicted for assaulting Israeli and Palestinian journalists — Israeli soldiers shot a Palestinian photojournalist in the eye with a rubber-coated steel bullet on Saturday. Nidal Ashtiyeh, a photographer for Chinese news agency Xinhua, arrived at the Nakba Day protest taking place at the Huwwara checkpoint near Nablus late Saturday morning. “It was a quiet protest — no rocks, and it was just starting,” Ashtiyeh explained. There were around 200 protesters, and 20 or so journalists were standing some distance from them, he recalled, adding that all of the journalists had cameras and equipment that made them easily identifiable as journalists. “The soldiers don’t differentiate between protesters and photographers and they just shot at us,” Ashtiyeh continued. “A foreign journalist was lightly wounded and they shot a rubber bullet that hit my gas mask.” The glass from the gas mask’s visor shattered and penetrated Ashtiyeh’s eye. He was brought to a hospital in Nablus. He was released later on Sunday. Ashtiyeh says that doctors told him they would only be able to give him a prognosis in a couple of days. This was not the first time Nidal Ashtiyeh has been attacked by Israeli soldiers….
Day of Rage: commemorating Nakba Day in Ni‘lin
[with VIDEO] NI‘LIN, Occupied Palestine (ISM al-Khalil Team) 17 May — On Friday 15th May 2015, hundreds of Palestinians from all over the West Bank traveled to Ni‘lin for a mass protest commemorating the 1948 Nakba (‘catastrophe’). The local villagers were joined by a large amount of other Palestinian protesters, as well as Israeli and international solidarity activists. There was a high level of media presence. The Israeli occupation forces responded to the peaceful protesters by firing hundreds of tear gas canisters and an excessive number of rubber coated steel bullets. Roughly 12 people were injured, as well as many suffering from tear gas inhalation. Protesters, as well as journalists, were continuously targeted with rubber coated steel bullets … The completely peaceful march was soon halted by Israeli forces who fired tens of tear gas canisters over the entire group using the ‘venom’ (a machine that can shoot 30 canisters at once). The group was forced to disperse but continued to chant and attempted to reach the wall. The occupation forces responded by continuously firing tear gas over the olive groves, reaching hundreds of canisters. The heat from the metal canisters set the dry grass alight, which quickly spread around the olive trees. For local Palestinians, marching towards the wall is a symbolic protest against the annexation of their land.
Palestinian man, his wife injured near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 17 May — Palestinian medical sources have reported on Saturday evening that a man and his wife were injured after a number of Israelis hurled stones on a Palestinian taxi near Gush Etzion, south of Bethlehem. The Palestinian taxi, owned by Sha’ban Ahmad, was driving on the Nahhalin al-Jab‘a road, near the Beit Ayin illegal colony, when it was attacked causing property damage, and the injury of a man and his wife. Medical sources said Abdul-Rahman Rabah Najajra and his wife, were moved to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital, in Bethlehem, after suffering various cuts and bruises.
Recollection and memory, Al-Nakba continues
OFER MILITARY PRISON, Occupied Palestine (Karem (Muhannad)) 15 May — The following post is written by the medic that was present on the scene on May 15th 2014, during the killing of Mohammad Odeh and Nadeem Nuwwarah as protesters commemorated al-Nakba near Ofer Military Prison — …Two kids were going back and forth throwing stones at the three soldiers, even though they kept missing the soldiers they continued to try because they are kids. I went down to open my bag and I looked back to see if it’s safe and I could see the two kids coming back. I can still remember the two kids, and two flags. One green and the other black, one was for Hamas and the other was the Nakba flag. I searched inside my bag to find something that to this day I can’t remember what it was I was looking for. Suddenly I heard a shot. One shot and it was live ammunition. I jumped to the left and went down even though I know it was live and live travels faster than the sound it projects. But it was the natural accustomed reaction. Two seconds is all the time it takes for the sound to disappear. I look to my left and he was falling. Mohammad was falling to the ground. I ran to him as he was two meters away. I was able to reach him before he hit the ground. I looked at him, checking his body. I saw a hole in his chest and I put my hand on it to apply pressure and stop the bleeding, basic first aid training. He held my hand and looked at me trying to say something but he didn’t have the time. I screamed for an ambulance and asked for help. Two people came to help me carry him. The ambulance was 10 meters away, the man next to me was saying “Mohammad stay with us.” That’s how I knew his name….
UPDATE: Israel arrests 9 Palestinians, many suffocate during clashes near Jenin
HEBRON (WAFA) 17 May — Israeli forces Sunday arrested nine Palestinians from across the West Bank and Jerusalem, whereas several Palestinians suffocated by tear gas during confrontations with Israeli forces to the south of Jenin, according to local and security sources. Israeli army stormed the city of Hebron and arrested two local residents after raiding and searching their homes, sabotaging their furniture. They were identified as Osama Hashlamon, 23, and Ashraf Abu Eisha. Army also stormed the nearby town of Beit Ummar, and handed a summons notice to a local resident to appear for interrogation before the Israeli intelligence. In the meantime, the army broke into the village of Silwad, east of Ramallah, and arrested 20-year-old Abdel-Qader Hammad after raiding his house. The Israeli military also summoned two Palestinians during separate raids on the villages of Sanour, south of Jenin, and al-Abidiya near Bethlehem. Meanwhile in Jerusalem, Israeli police stormed the Arab neighborhood of al-‘Issawiya and arrested two Palestinian residents, who were identified as Shadi Alian and Ahmoud Saleh.Police also raided and searched a number of homes in the area during the attack, however, no further arrests were made. Meanwhile, three female worshipers were arrested bu Israeli police after attempting to fend off settlers’ attempts to tour the yards of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Police also arrested Mohammed Ibrahim from the village of Kabul, inside the 1948 lands.
Later on Sunday, an Israeli army force set a checkpoint at the entrance of Shuhada village, south of Jenin, causing a traffic jam and provoking residents, which led to clashes. Israeli forces fired teargas canisters and stun grenades towards residents, causing multiple cases of suffocation among them due to tear gas inhalation.
IOF storms different towns of Jenin
JENIN (PIC) 17 May — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Sunday raided homes in the towns of Jaba, Sanur, Meithalun and al-Jadida, south of Jenin city. Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that dozens of Israeli soldiers stormed Sanur town at four o’clock in the morning and handed 39-year-old Iyad Aisa a summons for interrogation from the Shin Bet. During the campaign in the town, the invading troops ransacked the house of Fawzi Habaiba, 40, interrogated him and occupied the rooftops of some homes before leaving the area. The IOF also patrolled several neighborhoods and erected barriers for long hours in the nearby towns of Jaba‘, Meithalun and al-Jadida, with no reported arrests.
IOF storms Jenin towns, attacks citizens in Yabud
JENIN (PIC) 18 May — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Monday attacked Palestinian citizens in Yabud town, south of Jenin city, and stormed other nearby towns. Local sources said that scores of Israeli soldiers aboard 20 military vehicles entered Yabud town at dawn and interrogated some residents as they were heading to the mosque for prayers. Consequently, violent clashes broke out between young men from the town and the invading troops. Several protestors and citizens inside homes suffered from inhaling tear gas during the events. IOF campaigns were also carried out in the nearby towns of Daher al-Abed and Zabada, with no reported arrests.
Egyptian navy violates coastal waters off Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 18 May — An Egyptian naval boat on Sunday afternoon chased a Palestinian fishing boat inside the Palestinian territorial waters of the Gaza Strip. Local sources said that an Egyptian gunboat ignored the presence of Palestinian coast police forces in the area and went after a fishing boat near the shores of Gaza in an attempt to confiscate it. The Egyptian boat were still inside Gaza’s waters until the moment of preparing this report. The incident was seen by the Palestinian authorities in Gaza as a serious Egyptian violation of the Palestinian territorial waters.
Israeli navy forces fire at Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 May — Israeli navy forces on Monday opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza, Palestinian security officials said. One fishing boat was damaged in the incident, with no injuries reported. The fishermen were forced to leave the sea following the shooting.
Siege on Gaza prevents children from receiving needed medical formula
Mondoweiss 16 May by Dan Cohen — …Two-and-a-half-year-old Ahmad Najjar’s condition is a result of Phenylketonuria (PKU), a hereditary disease that causes phenylalanine to build up in the body that can inhibit mental and physical development. He is one of 700 children in the Gaza Strip who suffer from this disorder. PKU can have dire consequences if left untreated. Ahmad Najjar’s 15-year-old cousin, who has the same name, and his younger brother, Rayan, 2, are both afflicted with the disease. 15-year-old Ahmad was never treated and PKU has stunted his mental and physical development … The everyday struggles of caring for a PKU child were drastically exacerbated by Israel’s war on Gaza last summer … The disease is easily treatable in wealthy countries — PKU requires a medical formula that is often in the form of milk as well as a carefully planned diet — but in the Gaza Strip, where 80% of the regular diet is detrimental to PKU patients, this formula is impossible to find. Under the current economic devastation, formula is too costly to import at a minimum of $300 dollars per month per patient. The formula used to be available, but the Israeli/Egyptian siege has suffocated the economy, rendering it simply out of reach for Palestinians in Gaza … According to Akram Asfour, co-founder of BFA, no treatment formula has been imported into Gaza for ten months.
100 housing units built in Gaza with Maldivian aid
[with VIDEO] Minivan News 17 May — The International Federation of Red Crescent (IFRC) has completed 100 housing units in Gaza with the US$1.9 million raised by the Maldivian media. According to a video report by the Qatari Red Crescent, Palestinian families took up residence at 27 housing units at the ‘Maldives sheltering centre’ completed in February while the remaining 73 shelters are now also occupied. Each unit has a bedroom, kitchen and toilet. Water and electricity services have also been provided at the centre. The housing units were built with funds raised through the ‘Help Gaza’ telethon carried out by local media in response to the destruction caused by last year’s Israeli military offensive. The telethon raised a record MVR29.4 million (US$1.91 million), which was handed over to the Qatari Red Crescent in August last year. The Red Crescent also used donations from the Maldives to repair water and sewerage systems and provide supplies to health centres. The 100 units, estimated to provide housing for 700 Palestinians, are built in areas where Israeli airstrikes destroyed housing, schools, and other infrastructure during the heavy raids in mid-2014.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restrictions on movement
Israel to build roundabout in Bethlehem town
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 16 May — Israeli authorities Saturday informed al-Khader town’s municipality to the south of Bethlehem of their intent to built a roundabout in the town at the expense of Palestinian-owned land in the area, reported a local activist. Coordinator of the anti wall and settlement committee in the town, Ahmad Salah, informed WAFA that he received a phone call from an official of the Israeli civil administration in Gush Etzion settlement bloc, informing him of their intent to build a roundabout in the town; which if built would take over land belonging to five locals in the area. The land belongs to Mohammed Ghareeb, Hassan Salah, Khaled Salah, Mohammed Mousa, and Ibrahim Sbaih. Activist Salah stressed that this Israeli project aims to take over more land for the benefit of expanding the nearby illegal settlement of Ifrat.
Settlers uproot hundreds of olive trees near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 May — Israeli settlers destroyed and uprooted hundreds of olive saplings in the Palestinian town of al-Shuyoukh northeast of Hebron in the southern West Bank. Local activist Ahmad al-Halayqa told Ma‘an that about 80 acres of land planted with olive saplings had been vandalized by Jewish settlers from nearby illegal settlements and outposts. This is the fourth time settlers have vandalized and uprooted olive saplings in the area, he added. The land, according to al-Halayqa, belongs to Muhammad Au Shanab al-Ayayda, Abd al-Qadir Abu Shanab al-Ayayda and Mousa Abu Shanab al-Ayayda. The saplings had recently been replanted for the fourth time.
Rabbi who murdered innocent Palestinian shopkeeper dead (report)
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 17 May by Khalid Amayreh — A settler rabbi who in 1988 murdered in cold a Palestinian shopkeeper in downtown Hebron (al-Khalil) has died. Moshe Levinger shot and killed Kayed Salah as the victim was standing at the entrance of his shop. Levinger spent ten days in custody for the murder on petty charges of “negligence in using a firearm.” Levinger is considered the founder of the Jewish settlement nucleus in al-Khalil. He was also a prominent leader of the settler movement known as Gush Emunim, a violent group dedicated to the expulsion of Palestinians from the occupied territories and the establishment of a Talmudic kingdom. Levinger openly praised the perpetrator of the Hebron massacre of 1994, Baruch Goldestein, calling him a great saint. When reminded that 29 innocent human beings were murdered by Goldestein said “I am sorry for the death of 29 flies as well.” Levinger said on several occasions that Palestinians ought to be given three choices, either enslavement by Jews as water carriers and wood cutters, or expulsion, or physical extermination.
Video: Israeli settlements explained
Jadaliyya — In this three-minute episode, which originally aired on AJ+ Labs, host Dena Takruri explains what Israeli settlements are, the violence they cause to Palestinians, and their critical role in fueling conflict.
Israeli authorities cut off access to farmland in Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 17 May — The Israeli authorities are to close a gate in northern Qalqiliya used by Palestinian farmers to access their land beyond the separation wall for three days starting Sunday morning, locals told Ma‘an. “We have been informed by the joint municipal council of four villages, Kafr Jammal, Kafr Zibad, Kafr Abbush and Kafr Sur, that the main route to our agricultural lands behind the wall through a gate in Falamya village will be closed by the Israeli occupation,” a farmer from Kafr Jammal told Ma‘an. Ashraf Abd al-Rahim added that farmers were told they could access their lands through another gate in the village of Jayyus. However, the Jayyus gate lies several kilometers to the south and farmers would have to take a long route of dirt roads, he said. The mayor of the joint municipal council of the Kafr villages Abd al-Ghani Murshid confirmed to Ma‘an that the Palestinian civil liaison office had notified him that Israeli forces would shut down the Falamya gate for three days starting Sunday. He said that Israeli forces said farmers would be allowed to access their land through the Jayyus gate, which will be open for six hours a day. Locals told Ma‘an that farmers and local organizations would stage a sit-in strike near the Falamya gate to protest the Israeli decision.
Catholic peace movement deplores Israel’s refusal to grant its secretary-general entry to Palestine
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 16 May — Pax Christi International, a global Catholic peace movement, deeply deplored Israel’s refusal to grant its Secretary General entry to Palestine to attend the World Assembly and 70th Anniversary Celebrations that took place in Bethlehem on May 13. “Refused entry into Palestine/Israel by the Israeli authorities, José’s absence is a great sadness to us. We fully support our Secretary General. Knowing him to be a man of integrity, we can think of no reason why he should be refused entry,” stated a press release issued by the global movement. Speaking from Amman, José [Henríquez] expressed his strong disagreement with the decision of the Israeli border officials and added: ‘I am living this experience in deep solidarity with the Palestinian people. This is only a small part of what they have to experience when they are denied access to East Jerusalem for medical care, family reunions and even for religious celebrations.”
The Palestinians of east Jerusalem
AFP 17 May — As Israel marks 48 years since it seized the eastern Arab sector of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War, here are some key facts about the area and its Palestinian population. POPULATION Some 310,000 Palestinians live in east Jerusalem alongside 200,000 Israelis in 15 settlement neighbourhoods. Another 300,000 Israelis live in west Jerusalem. HISTORY Jerusalem was divided geographically by the 1949 armistice agreement which ended the fighting after Israel’s establishment the year before. Jordan held the city’s eastern sector until the 1967 war, when it was occupied and annexed by Israel in a move never recognised internationally … GEOGRAPHY Before 1967, Israel held 38 square kilometres (15.2 sq miles) of land in Jerusalem while Jordan held six square kilometres (2.4 sq miles) in the east. In 1967, Israel seized the Jordan-occupied area plus another 64 square kilometres (25.6 sq miles) of adjacent land from 28 West Bank villages, thus annexing a total of 70 square kilometres (28 sq miles) to the area it already held in west Jerusalem. Today, this area is referred to as east Jerusalem. PALESTINIANS’ STATUS & RIGHTSIn 1967, Israel granted east Jerusalem Palestinians permanent residency status — a blue ID card giving them access to social benefits and health care. They do not have full citizenship, although they can apply if they meet certain conditions….
For Jerusalem’s Palestinians, a city of poverty and division
+972 mag 17 May by Natasha Roth — More than one quarter of Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents live behind the concrete separation barrier; Israel has revoked the residency of over 14,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites since ‘reunifying’ the city in 1967, including 107 last year alone — Three-quarters of East Jerusalem’s 300,200 Palestinian residents live below the poverty line, including 83.9 percent of children, according to a new report published by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).The state of affairs is attributed, in large part, to a lack of investment by the state as well as the fact that more than 25 percent of Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents live on the other side of the separation barrier. The report was released in the run-up to Jerusalem Day, an annual celebration of what Jewish Israelis view as the reunification of Jerusalem, which occurred when the Old City was captured by Israeli forces on June 7, 1967 … Since 1967, approximately 26,300 dunams of land have been expropriated by Israel in order to build government offices and Jewish residential neighborhoods, according to ACRI. Israel has revoked the permanent resident status of — effectively exiling — 14,416 East Jerusalem Palestinians since 1967. Last year, Israeli authorities revoked the residency of 107 Palestinians, including 12 minors. Between 2011-14, authorities demolished 302 structures in East Jerusalem, 98 in 2014 alone. As a result, 208 residents were displaced from their homes. The rate of such incidents has increased since the return of punitive home demolitions last year.
Infographic: East Jerusalem by the numbers, 2015
+972 Resources 17 May — Ahead of Jerusalem Day 2015, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) released a factsheet detailing the disparities between the city’s Jewish and Palestinian residents and the systemic discrimination in East Jerusalem. The following infographic accompanies the report. Read more here.
Prisoners / Court actions
Shireen Issawi beaten in prison
16 May — Shireen Issawi, the sister of legendary hunger striker Samer Issawi, has told Hanan Al Khateeb, attorney of the Council of Prisoner Affairs, that she suffered a brutal beating in Hasharon prison on May 3, 2015. Shireen stated that on that day, prison guards invaded the female prisoners section under the false pretext of one prison guard having been attacked. When Shireen and five other female prisoners protested against being taken into isolation, she was assaulted and savagely beaten on all parts of her body, leading to injuries and severe pain. She added that the prison guards were shouting at the prisoners wildly, and threatened to post pictures of the beatings on social media. She was taken into isolation in Ramleh prison, under the false accusation of incitement. She was subjected to an internal trial and then sentenced to 7 days of isolation, and one month without family visits….
Khader Adnan refuses to take medical tests, continues strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 May — Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, 37, continues his open hunger-strike that he started 12 days ago, demanding an end to his administrative detention by Israel, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society says. Adnan told a PPS lawyer, who visited him in solitary confinement in the Israeli HaDarim jail, that the Israeli Prisons Services began imposing sanctions on him since the first day of his strike. Sanctions have included sending him to solitary confinement, preventing him from going out to the jail’s yard, receiving a radio or a newspaper, and having a pen or a writing book. Adnan said that he refuses to take medical tests or vitamins, and is currently only drinking water. His main goal is to prevent Israel from tarnishing the achievement of prisoners who secured their freedom by going on hunger strikes in the past, only to be rearrested by military forces, he wrote in a letter earlier this week. Adnan was detained on July 8, 2014 and sentenced to administrative detention for the 10th time in his life. In 2012, Adnan’s 66-day hunger strike in an Israeli prison in 2012 inspired hundreds of prisoners to take on Israel’s policy of holding detainees without charge.According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Center for Studies Israeli authorities have issued over 300 administrative detention orders for Palestinians since the beginning of 2015, six times as many as were issued in the same period the previous year.
IOA postpones PLC speaker’s trial for 14th time
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 18 May — The Israeli Ofer military court has postponed the trial of Aziz Dweik, the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), to May 25 to announce its final verdict. Dweik’s wife told the PIC that her husband was charged and brought before Ofer court for delivering a speech in support of Palestinian resistance three years ago. The Israeli Attorney General has earlier called for sentencing Dweik to 14 months imprisonment, a sentence that was rejected and described by his lawyer as unfair and illogical. Dr. Dweik, who was elected as the PLC speaker in 2006, was arrested several times by Israeli forces and spent four years in aggregate in Israeli prisons. The Israeli occupation forces kidnapped the PLC Speaker in mid-June last year as part of a punitive arrest campaign launched on a large scale in the West Bank following the disappearance of three Israeli soldiers in al-Khalil.
Israel holds Jordanian-Canadian businessman, denies him lawyer
Haaretz 17 May by Barak Ravid & Chaim Levinson — The Shin Bet security service has arrested a Jordanian-Canadian millionaire and held him for 12 days without permitting him to see a lawyer. Ibrahim Siyam, 58, had been invited by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to attend a conference in Ramallah on developing the PA economy. But when he arrived together with a group of other Jordanian businessmen at the Allenby Bridge border crossing about two weeks ago, he was arrested by the Shin Bet and taken to the Kishon interrogation facility for questioning. Siyam is originally Palestinian, but left the region decades ago. Today, he divides his time between Jordan and Canada and is a citizen of both countries. He owns various companies around the world, including in China, Qatar and Croatia. The Shin Bet accuses him of involvement in Hamas activity, but the details of the suspicions against him are classified. A military court twice approved an extension of his detention, and he is currently being held until next Sunday. His lawyer has appealed to the Supreme Court against the Shin Bet’s refusal to let him meet his client, to no avail. Both Jordan and Canada have protested Siyam’s detention to the Foreign Ministry, and particularly the fact that he hasn’t been allowed to see a lawyer.
IOA releases the journalist Bushra al-Tawil
TULKAREM (PIC) 18 May — The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) released on Sunday the former Palestinian prisoner, prisoners’ rights advocate, and journalist Bushra al-Tawil after being detained for ten months behind Israeli bars. Bushra, who was detained several months ago in total violation of Wafa al-Ahrar (Shalit) swap deal as she was liberated during the exchange deal in 2011, was released at Jabara checkpoint in Tulkarem … Bushra, 20, was arrested on July 1 from her home in el-Bireh, in the West Bank. She is one of over 600 Palestinians rounded up in mass raids and arrests by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank in mid-June 2014. She was first arrested at the age of 17, when she was held in administrative detention without charge or trial until her release in December 2011 as part of the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange deal. After her re-arrest, Israeli authorities re-imposed her previous 18-month sentence in total violation of the exchange deal terms. Bushra is the spokesperson of the Aneen Al-Qaid Media Network, a local news agency specialized in covering news about the Palestinian detainees, and political prisoners.
Soldier who ordered Palestinian to drive him to settlement has sentence lengthened
Haaretz 18 May by Gili Cohen — A soldier who stopped a Palestinian car and demanded that the driver take him to the settlement of Yitzhar had his sentence lengthened on Sunday – to four-and-a-half months’ imprisonment – by a military appeals court. In March, the soldier, who serves in a Golani reconnaissance battalion, was walking outside his base and started to head toward the bus stop for Yitzhar. According to the charge sheet, after he stopped a Palestinian car, he ordered the driver to take him to the settlement, one of the most militant in the West Bank. The driver, Bader Yasser from the village of Madameh, near Nablus, thought he was being kidnapped and rammed his car into a tree and fled. The indictment said, “The soldier did not stop what he was doing even when he understood that the Palestinian was terrified, and silenced him when he tried to ask passersby for help. The incident ended only after the driver swerved his car off the road.”
Pope creates first Palestinian saints at Vatican mass
VATICAN CITY (AFP) 17 May by Laure Brumont– Two 19th-century nuns on Sunday became the first Palestinians to gain sainthood during an open-air mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square attended by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. The pontiff urged the faithful to follow the “luminous example” of the two 19th-century sisters and two others, from France and Italy, who were canonised along with them on a sunny spring morning. Marie Alphonsine Ghattas was born in 1843 in Jerusalem during its rule by the Ottoman Empire, and died there during the British mandate period in 1927. She was beatified — the final step before canonisation — in 2009. Mariam Bawardy was born in Galilee, now in northern Israel, in 1846. She became a nun in France and died in Bethlehem in 1878 and was beatified by pope John Paul II in 1983. Around 2,000 pilgrims from the Palestinian territories, Israel and Jordan, some waving Palestinian flags, attended the mass as well as Abbas, who had a private audience with the pope on Saturday.
Pope meets ‘angel of peace’ Abbas after treaty announcement
VATICAN CITY (AFP) 16 May — Pope Francis met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Saturday, calling him “an angel of peace,” days after the Vatican said it was preparing to sign its first accord with Palestine, to the anger of Israel. Abbas met the pontiff for about 20 minutes at a private audience … The Vatican said in a statement the pope and Abbas discussed the peace process with Israel and that “the hope was expressed that direct negotiations between the parties be resumed in order to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict”. “To this end the wish was reiterated that, with the support of the international community, Israelis and Palestinians may take with determination courageous decisions to promote peace,” it said … They exchanged gifts with the pope giving Abbas a medal with a figure of the angel of peace “which destroys the evil spirit of war”. “I thought of you because you are an angel of peace,” he told Abbas. On Wednesday the Vatican announced that it was preparing to sign its first treaty with Palestine, two years after officially recognising it as a state. A bilateral commission is putting the final touches to the agreement, on the Catholic Church’s life and activities in Palestine.
Israel continues to criminalise marking Nakba Day
HAIFA (Al Jazeera) 14 May by Patrick Strickland — Activists now face difficulty in commemorating Palestinian dispossession during Israel’s founding due to Israeli law. — Each year on May 15, Palestinians across the world commemorate the Nakba (catastrophe), or the 1948 establishment of Israel that led to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians being displaced from their homeland. The estimated 1.7 million Palestinians who carry Israeli citizenship and live in villages, towns and cities across the country are no exception. Each year, protests, marches, lectures and other events to mourn their ancestors’ dispossession are held in Palestinian communities across Israel. Yet, since 2011, Israeli legislation has made mourning the Nakba publicly difficult for Palestinians and others in Israel. The “Nakba Law” authorises Israel’s finance minister to revoke funding from institutions that reject Israel’s character as a “Jewish state” or mark the country’s Independence Day as a day of mourning. Although the Nakba Law has yet to be technically implemented, human rights groups and activists say it has a dangerous deterrent effect and is meant to intimidate Palestinians and others who view Israel’s establishment as a day of mourning for Palestinians. Among those who could be potentially affected by the Nakba Law is Zochrot, an Israeli non-governmental organisation that aims to keep the memory of the 1948 events alive and promotes the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.
Introducing Birthright for evangelical Christians
The Forward 17 May by Nathan Guttman — Conservative Jewish funders and Christian donors of Hobby Lobby fame have joined forces to launch a Christian Birthright trip, modeled after the successful program that has taken thousands of Jewish young adults to Israel for the past 16 years. Covenant Journey, a subsidized evangelical 11-day trip to Israel that was officially announced May 8, will bring 250 students to the Holy Land by the end of the summer. It aims to bring thousands more in the upcoming years. Just like the Taglit-Birthright Israel program it is modeled after, Covenant Journey seeks to strengthen American students’ love for Israel. But instead of having them mingle with young Jewish soldiers, participants walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and visit Christian holy sites. According to the program’s founder, the results from a recently launched pilot tour were encouraging. Participants in the trip were transformed into enthusiastic pro-Israel advocacy messengers.
Netanyahu: Jerusalem has and always will only be the capital of the Jewish people
JPost 17 May by Herb Keinon — Jerusalem historically has been the only capital of the Jewish people, and so it will remain, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Sunday at the government’s official Jerusalem Day ceremony at Ammunition Hill. “We need to tell the truth, without fear,” Netanyahu said. “This is where we began our path as a nation, this is our home and this is where we will stay.” In comments that left no doubt as to whether he would agree to share the capital with a Palestinian state, Netanyahu said Israel will ensure that the city remains open and tolerant. “Only under Israeli rule will there be freedom of worship for all religions in Jerusalem,” he said. “Believers pray at their holy sites not in spite of our rule in the city, but precisely because of it.” The prime minister, who recalled growing up in a divided Jerusalem and catching a glimpse of the Old City through binoculars from certain vantage points in the capital, said it would never again revert to being “wounded and split.”
Why is Jerusalem called Jerusalem?
Haaretz 17 May by Elon Gilad — …Going by the archaeological evidence found so far, Jerusalem was founded about 6,000 years ago, and it may have had roughly that name from the beginning. A city “Rushalimum” is mentioned as an enemy of the pharaoh in an ancient Egyptian list dating from the 19th century BCE, about 4,700 years ago. If it is indeed Jerusalem, it is the earliest reference. The first sure reference to the city is in the Amarna Letters, an archive of correspondence discovered in Upper Egypt dating from the 14th century BCE, about 2,700 years ago. In those letters, between Egypt and their administrators in Canaan (which Egypt controlled at the time), the name is rendered as “Ursalim”. But what does the name mean? “Ursalim” is most likely a compound of two words in Western Semitic (a prehistoric language that would later birth Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Ethiopic and more): the verb yaru (“to establish”) and the name Shalim (or Salem), the Canaanite god of dusk. If accurate, then the name “Ursalim” (and Yerushayalim) would have meant “Shalim’s city” or “Established by Shalim,” indicating that Shalim was the original tutelary deity of the city. Some claim the root s-l-m in the name Jerusalem refers to “peace,” shalom, not a pagan god. It is possible, but unlikely: if it were the pre-biblical Hebrew word for peace, shalāmu, in the city’s name, it would have produced the name Yerushalom.
Israel’s leaders honour Ethiopian Jews, decry racism
JERUSALEM (AFP) 17 May – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday denounced racism against the country’s Ethiopian Jews who have complained of alleged police brutality and institutionalised discrimination. “There is no place for racism and discrimination in (our) society, none,” Netanyahu said at the annual commemoration for around 4,000 Jews who died while trying to flee their homeland for Israel in the early 1980s. They perished while en route to the Ethiopian-Sudanese border where they waited in transit camps to be airlifted to Israel, with around 8,000 survivors completing the journey. “We shall fight with all possible force against this unacceptable phenomenon. We shall simply uproot it from our lives,” he told an audience containing many Ethiopian immigrants, some in tears as they recalled those who died trying to reach the Jewish state. Subsequent waves of immigration and the birth in Israel of a new generation have brought today’s Ethiopian-Israeli community to about 135,500 people.
Defying their rabbis, more and more Haredim go online
Haaretz 18 May by Nati Tucker — …It was just a few years ago that the rabbis fought the Internet with all their power and the few Haredim who dared to use it did so in secret. The rabbis still look askance at online activity, but gradually the Web has come close to winning legitimacy. Today, more and more websites are being set up and the number of users has skyrocketed. Even the big advertisers like Bezeq are rushing into the Haredi digital market. The phenomenon has many social and cultural implications for the integration of the ultra-Orthodox into Israeli society and the workplace, not to mention many new business opportunities.
Jordan commerce minister meets Hamdallah in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 May – The Jordanian Minister of Industry and Commerce Maha al-Alion Sunday met with Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah to discuss Palestinian-Jordanian economic relations. The discussions focused on the formation of a “higher joint committee” between the two countries, which Hamdallah said would be a helpful tool for increasing commercial exchange between Jordan and Palestine as well as with other countries around the world. Hamdallah and al-Alion discussed other ways that cooperation with Jordan could support the Palestinian economy. Suggestions included encouraging religious tourism from Jordan to Palestine, establishing joint commercial centers, and increasing the list of products imported and exported between the two countries.
Re-enactment of murderous Israeli siege on Christian holy site / Stuart Littlewood
Dissisent Voice 17 May — A play that re-tells one of the most shameful episodes in the continuing Israeli occupation of Palestine had its premiere this week at The Lowry in Salford, Manchester. It is called The Siege. The Freedom Theatre company, which produced the play, had traced exiled Palestinian resisters scattered across Europe and collected their accounts of that infamous event … The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was built by Constantine the Great and dates from AD330. It is probably the oldest Christian church in the world. I haven’t seen the play, nor am I likely to as it is not being performed anywhere near where I live. But I have been to the Church and in 2006 interviewed a survivor of the 40-day siege. His account is included in my book Radio Free Palestine. The young man who was there throughout the siege — let’s call him George — is not a ‘fighter’, gunman or terrorist. This is his gut-wrenching story … The worst time was the final week – no food and only dirty water from the well. They resorted to boiling leaves and old chicken legs into a soup. George ate only lemons and salt for 5 or 6 days. Many were so ill by this time that they were passing blood. Outside some 15 civilians had been indiscriminately shot in the street or in their homes. The IDF refused to allow the dead inside the Church to be removed for decent burial … 8 defenders were killed inside the Church, some by the robotic guns and some by snipers … Imagine how the story might have ended if the world hadn’t been watching. It deserves to be told and re-told for ever. I hope the Freedom Theatre puts it out on DVD so that all can see.