Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restrictions on movement
Israeli forces demolish mosque in Bedouin Negev village
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 12 May — Israeli forces on Tuesday demolished a mosque under construction in the Bedouin village of Wadi al-Niam near Beersheba, locals said. Heavily guarded bulldozers entered the village accompanied by dozens of Israeli police officers from the southern command and demolished the foundation of the mosque. Labbad Abu Affash, a local committee chief, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces demolish part of a home or other structure in the village every week. In some cases, families demolish their own houses to avoid paying the heavy fines imposed by Israel. “There has been a vicious crackdown against our village in an attempt to force us to move to the town of Shaqib al-Salam instead of recognizing our village which is home to 14,000,” Abu Affash said. Wadi al-Niam is not recognized by the Israeli state and so lacks all basic services such as water. A toxic dump and military firing zone have also been built in the area where the community lives. It is among some 40 Negev villages that Israeli authorities have deemed unrecognized, arguing that the 53,000 Palestinian Bedouins living in them cannot prove land ownership. Some 100 homes in unrecognized villages have been demolished since the beginning of 2015, while Israeli authorities have issued demolition notices to hundreds of others..
Israel to demolish electricity grid in Nablus-area village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 13 May — The Israeli civil administration issued an order Wednesday to completely demolish an electricity grid near the Qasra village in southern Nablus, 48 hours after the village council was delivered demolition orders, a monitor says. In addition to the ordered demolition of the electricity grid, demolition notices were given for a home and water well in the village belonging to Said Mimr Said and Abd al-Hamid Youssef Khrewish, Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an. All demolition orders were given until May 15. Israeli authorities regularly demolish Palestinian structures under the pretext that owners have failed to acquire the proper building permits.
Israeli forces issue demolition order in Bethlehem-area village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 May — Israeli forces on Wednesday delivered a demolition order for a Palestinian agricultural structure located inside of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, local officials said. Head of the Khallet Sakariya village council, Muhammad Ibrahim Atallah, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces issued the order to demolish a 60-meter-square metal structure used as a sheep barn. The barn belongs to Muhammad Ahmad Ismail.
A month ago, Israeli forces delivered two demolition orders to Tayseer Muhammad Ahmad Saad and Khalil Muhammad Mahmoud Saad for their homes. Over 30 residents in the small village have received demolition warrants, Atallah said, adding that villagers are gradually leaving because Israel’s military forces do not allow any new construction. Around 150 villagers have left since 2007, with the population now standing at 500.
Village council appeals land confiscation from 40 years ago
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 May — The ‘Anata village council in eastern Jerusalem district on Monday presented an appeal to the Israeli High Court via the Yesh Din-Volunteers for Human Rights organization to cancel confiscation orders issued by Israel 40 years ago that seized the lands on which Maale Adumim settlement is built. The appeal alleged that while Israel used part of the confiscated lands to build the settlement, the vast majority — close to 30,000 dunams — had not been used and remain empty within the Maale Adumim borders. The illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim lies within the so-called E1 corridor, a large swath of land cutting through the occupied West Bank which Israeli authorities have stated their intention to annex.
The reality exposed by Bedouin women armed with cameras
Haaretz 13 May by Vered Lee — Mahadia Abu-Joda, 53, a mother of 13 and resident of the unrecognized Bedouin village of Za’arura, cradles a red digital camera in her hand. “The first time in my life that I held a camera and prepared to take a picture, about a year and a half ago, I held it upside down and in the wrong direction,” she says through the hijab that conceals her hair and frames her face. Abu-Joda’s photographs appear in one of the four recently published photography books that document life in four unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev from a feminine point of view: … Abu-Joda was born in Gaza. At the age of 16 she married and moved to Za’arura, which is east of the town of Kseifa and today numbers about 2,600 residents. “About two years ago they demolished our home,” she says when asked why she started to photograph. “We didn’t have a place to sleep. I was among the ruins of the house with all my children. It was cold and rainy. I didn’t know what to explain to the children. I myself didn’t understand why the government did that to me. I didn’t know how to protect them. I was in despair. At the time a young girl passed and told me about the human rights project, explaining that we could learn our basic rights and preserve them by means of the camera and photography. Many of the women didn’t understand what she wanted and asked how it would help to photograph ruins. I was immediately attracted. I wanted to document the injustice done to me, I wanted to show everyone the situation in which we live.” Today Abu-Joda lives with her family in a hut made of patched sheets of iron and tin. “We haven’t been able to build a new house yet,” she says.
Israeli colonialism, plain and simple / Amira Hass
Haaretz 11 May — In two court decisions involving shoving Palestinians off their land, Supreme Court justices have confirmed what Israel’s critics are saying: that Israel has been a colonialist entity since 1948 — There is a straight line connecting the Palestinian village of Sussia in the southern West Bank and Atir/Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin community in the Negev. This was highlighted last week by the justices of the Supreme Court. These are two communities of Palestinians that the Jewish state expelled from their homes and land decades ago, and whose families have lived ever since in “unrecognized” villages in shameful humanitarian conditions, forced on them by the Israeli government. One community settled on its agricultural land and the other in an area that the government moved them to during the early years of the state, when the Arabs citizens were under military rule. These are two Palestinian communities that Israel is depriving of their planning rights. Instead, it demands of them to crowd in the pales of settlement it has allotted to them, so Jews can fulfill and rejoice and thrive in their new and expanding suburban fantasies … Next to the tin shacks of today’s Palestinian Sussia (after the army expelled the residents of their ancient village in 1986 and turned it into an archaeological site where Jews could celebrate), Jewish Susya now wallows in its greenery and abundance. After all, it has to grow and doesn’t want to see Arabs living in shacks and buying water at exorbitant prices from tanker trucks.
A tragically unexceptional story of life and death under occupation
+972 blog 12 May by Sam Bahour — Three decades ago the Israeli military government canceled my sister-in-law’s Palestinian residency because she studied abroad for ‘too long.’ Now, Israel is denying her one last visit with her dying father. But my family will not allow her case, like thousands before it, to be buried in silence — My father-in-law, Mughira Barghouty, is dying. At age 91, his health has severely deteriorated over the last six months. He has three daughters: Sawsan, Serene and my wife, Abeer. Serene and Abeer live in Ramallah and have become full-time caregivers to their now bedridden father. Sawsan lives in Amman, Jordan. Of late, Mughira has repeated a single request: to touch his daughter Sawsan’s hand one last time. It was about to happen on the last day of April. Sawsan got all the way to the Israel border crossing, Israeli tourist visa in hand, but she was denied entry and told to go back to Amman. The family is crushed, but not surprised … Several months back, understanding that his health was failing, Mughira made a simple request: he wants to touch the hand of his third daughter, who lives in Amman, to bid her farewell. We immediately passed on the message to Sawsan. Sawsan acted without delay. As a Jordanian citizen, she applied for an Israeli tourist visa — the only way a Palestinian citizen of Jordan can reach Palestine … Sawsan’s first application was submitted on September 23, 2014. She was notified it was denied in December 2014. So she started all over again, submitting a second application on March 2, 2015, paying the 50 JD (US $70) application fee again. She was notified on April 29, 2015 that her Israeli tourist visa was issued. She packed her bags in a hurry and headed out the following morning to the Jordan Border Crossing (near the city of Bisan, which Israel calls Beit She’an) to Israel (90 km from Amman) with a group in the travel agent’s bus … Eventually an Israeli official came and advised Sawsan that she was being denied entry into Israel. Her bus was told to continue on to Israel without her. The Israeli official brought her two copies of a form written in Hebrew and English; she is fluent in neither. The states two reasons for the denial of entry: 1) “Prevention of illegal immigration considerations”; and, 2) “Public security or public safety or public order considerations.” ….
Palestinian driver injured by Egyptian gunfire at Gaza crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an/AFP) 11 May — A Palestinian driver was shot by gunfire from Egypt as he was driving a truck into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing on Monday, Gaza officials said. “A 27-year-old driver who was working at the Kerem Shalom crossing was seriously wounded on Monday morning by shots which were fired from the Egyptian side of the border,” health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said. The incident took place as the driver was on his way to the nearby border city of Rafah after leaving the terminal, which is used for transporting commercial goods between Gaza and Israel and is very close to the Egyptian border. The Hamas-run interior ministry condemned the shooting, demanding that the authorities in Egypt hold “an urgent inquiry”. The source of the fire was not immediately clear, but Egypt has been fighting a dogged insurgency in Sinai that took hold after the army overthrew president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, with militants killing scores of police and soldiers. There have been past incidents of Egyptian border soldiers opening fire on Palestinians. In January, Egyptian soldiers shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian from the border. The Egyptian army accuses Hamas of supporting the anti-regime militants in the northern Sinai, although Hamas strenuously denies the allegations.
Israeli army carries out operations around Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 May — The Israeli military carried out several activities across the Gaze Strip Monday, with fighter jets conducting practice runs in the coastal enclave’s north, military bulldozers crossing into al-Shuja‘iyeh, and border soldiers firing on farmers east of Khan Younis. A Ma‘an reporter said that Israeli F16 fighter jets carried out practice runs over the northern Gaza Strip Monday morning, adding that the sound of the warplanes could be heard across the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Israeli military bulldozers crossed into al-Shuja’iyeh neighborhood east of Gaza City under armed escort. Locals said that the bulldozers passed through the east of the war-devastated neighborhood with sporadic fire from Israeli forces, although no injuries were reported. Much of al-Shuja‘iyeh remains in ruin after Israeli forces heavily shelled the densely populated neighborhood during last summer’s Israeli offensive. In Khan Younis Israeli forces deployed on the borders east of al-Qarrara town opened fire on Palestinian farmers. No injuries were reported. Separately, Israeli naval forces released two Gazan fishermen who were detained on Saturday while out at sea.
PCHR-Gaza: Israeli buffer zone policies typically enforced with live fire
[with map] PCHR/PNN 11 May — Following disengagement from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, Israel unilaterally and illegally established a so-called “buffer zone”, an area prohibited to Palestinians along the land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip. The precise area designated by Israel as a “buffer zone” is not clear and this Israeli policy is typically enforced with live fire … Dimensions On land, inside Palestinian territory: Distance from the border fence, up to which access is permitted: · Second Intifada (2000): 150 metres · According to Israel (2010): 300 metres 22 November 2012: unclear parameters 21 March 2013: 300 metres In reality, attacks against civilians take place anywhere up to approximately 1.5 kilometres inside the border fence. This constitutes approximately 17% of the total territory of the Gaza Strip … Impact On land Approximately 27,000 dunums, 35% of the Gaza Strip’s agricultural land, can only be accessed under high personal risk, as Israeli attacks may result in injury or death of civilians. · 95% of the restricted area is arable land. · After the evacuation of settlements (2005) and ‘Operation Cast Lead’ (2008-2009), the majority of Palestinian families living in the border areas abandoned their land and homes. At sea · Palestinians are completely prevented from accessing 85% of the Palestinian maritime areas recognised in the 1994 Gaza Jericho Agreement….
Israeli forces burn wheat crops in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 12 May — Israeli occupation forces have reportedly opened fire at Palestinian farms in the eastern part of the Gaza Strip, burning a large amount of wheat crops. No casualties were reported, as the farmers fled the region two days ago, after a limited Israeli incursion. Along the previous two weeks, Palestinian farmers, whose farms lie near the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip, have been reporting Israeli occupation opening fire at them. Medical sources also reported that several farmers were wounded during the same time. Farmers in the central area of the Strip told Days of Palestine that Israeli military activities in the area caused the burning of their wheat crops along the eastern borders. “From Monday morning until Tuesday morning, we have been hearing Israeli occupation forces firing bullets and watching them firing light bombs above our farms near the borders,” Hani Ali said. “At the same time, we heard sounds of sonic booms and saw fighter jets flying in the skies,” he further stated, adding, “I expect these activities were military drills.”
Israeli attacks on fishermen in the Gaza Sea
Report from Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 11 May — Israeli Naval forces continued to carry out attacks on Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip during the reporting period (01-30 April 2015), including 15 shooting incidents and a shelling incident that resulted in wounding a Palestinian fisherman while sailing off Beit Lahia shore in addition to the damaging of a fishing boat and fishing nets. The Israeli naval forces have not complied with the ceasefire agreement concluded between Israel and Palestinian armed groups under Egyptian auspices on 26 August 2014. This agreement includes allowing Palestinian fishermen to sail within 6 nautical miles in the Gaza Sea. According to PCHR’s investigations, all attacks took place within the distance of six nautical miles, which proves that Israeli forces’ policies aim to tighten restrictions on the Gaza Strip’s fishermen and their livelihoods. In a serious development, on 07 March 2015, the Israeli naval forces declared via loudspeakers that the allowed fishing area was reduced to four nautical miles and warned Palestinian fishermen from approaching this area along the Gaza Sea. The Fishermen Syndicate in the Gaza Strip declared suspension of fishing in Gaza waters for three days in protest against the Israeli Naval forces’ decision.
Hamas civil servants go on strike in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 May — Civil servants hired by the Gaza Strip’s de facto Hamas leaders went on strike across all Gazan ministries and public institutions except schools on Tuesday. The employees have not been regularly paid since the unity government came together in June last year, although even before that Hamas struggled to pay their salaries regularly. A committee representing the unpaid civil servants issued a statement on Tuesday claiming that the strike came in response to the unity government’s “recklessness” towards the employees’ rights. It accused the unity government of acting fraudulently and said ministers were “completely void of any practical steps towards the inclusion of former employees.” The statement added that schools had been exempted from the strike due to students’ final exams. The employees’ status has been one of the major points of dispute between Hamas and the unity government since the government of politically-independent technocrats was formed last year….
ICC urges Israel to give material for preliminary Gaza probe
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 12 May — The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court warned Israel Tuesday that if it doesn’t provide reliable information for her preliminary probe into possible war crimes in Palestinian territories she may be forced to decide whether to launch a full-scale investigation based on Palestinian allegations. Fatou Bensouda said in an interview with The Associated Press that she hasn’t received any information yet from either side regarding last summer’s Gaza war and urged Israel and the Palestinians to provide information to her. The Palestinians accepted the court’s jurisdiction in mid-January and officially joined the ICC on April 1 in hopes of prosecuting Israel for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Gaza conflict so they are certain to provide Bensouda with information. Israel, however, has denounced the Palestinian action as “scandalous,” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning that it turns the ICC “into part of the problem and not part of the solution.” Bensouda said her office is “making attempts” to contact the Israelis and to reach out to the Palestinians. “If I don’t have the information that I’m requesting,” she said, “I will be forced to find it from elsewhere, or I may perhaps be forced to just go with just one side of the story. That is why I think it’s in the best interest of both sides to provide my office with information.”
Red Cross: Gazans still missing since ‘Protective Edge’ assault
IMEMC/Agencies 13 May — 15 Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip reported the disappearance of their sons in the summer-long Israeli offensive on the region which took place in 2014, the International Red Cross spokeswoman said on Wednesday. According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, Sohair Zaqout said, in a press statement, that the Red Cross has received complaints from 29 families who lost their sons; 15 of them were found, while the other 14 are still missing. She explained that the search process was done with the competent authorities in Gaza, and the Israeli occupation. Statistics collected by the Euro-Mediterranean Observer of Human Rights reveal that more than two thousand were killed in the 2014 Israeli offensive, 530 of whom were children, while 302 were women.
Palestinian Red Crescent Society health care worker lost seven family members during Gaza’s summer violence
IFRC 13 May by Hanne Sorine Sorensen — Anwar Mohamed Abu Suliman was working with the Palestine Red Crescent Society’s Emergency Medical Service (EMS) in the northern part of Gaza during the violence of summer 2014 when he was told his neighbourhood in his home town of Rafah had been attacked. “I received the news when the National Society’s branch in the North was under attack, so the situation was chaotic. I tried to make phone calls and get news about my family, but I couldn’t get any detailed information. Eventually, I was told that five houses in my neighbourhood had been attacked almost simultaneously at 3:15 am,” says Anwar, 40, who has been working with the Palestine Red Crescent Society for 15 years … Anwar lost a total of seven family members during that night; two sisters in law and five nephews and nieces were killed. Six other nieces and nephews of Anwar were also wounded and so was one of his brothers. “We didn’t expect an attack and no warning was given before two rockets destroyed the house. We have no weapons and we were not involved in the fighting,” says Anwar as he walks into the totally destroyed house and picks up children’s pink shoes from the rubble.
Gazan jailed for 15 years for ‘collaborating with Israel’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 May — A military court in the Gaza Strip on Monday sentenced a Palestinian man to 15 years in prison for alleged collaboration with Israel. The man, identified only as ‘J. Gh,’ was detained several years ago for allegedly providing Israel with information on locations of Palestinians working with Hamas. In August last year, 18 suspected collaborators were killed by Hamas when the group announced a crackdown on Palestinians alleged to be working with Israel. Seven of the men were shot dead outside of a mosque while wearing black bags on their heads. Information passed to Israel’s security services by Palestinian collaborators is often used to make arrests and assassinate high-profile political and militant figures. Under Palestinian law, collaboration with Israel is punishable by death. However all execution orders must be approved by the president before they can be carried out. Hamas no longer recognizes the legitimacy of incumbent Mahmoud Abbas, whose four-year term ended in 2009.
Gaza’s honey production slows to a trickle
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 11 May — Beekeepers in Gaza are currently experiencing a low in honey production due to the latest Israeli war on Gaza, during which the Israeli army destroyed vast agricultural lands — Muhannad Hamid waits an entire year for the honey harvest season, which falls annually between April 20 and May 10. During this period, Hamid makes the most profit from honey collection. However, this year, it seems he won’t make any profits, as production has decreased compared with previous years. Hamid, 42, owns several beehives in the town of Beit Hanoun on the northern border of the Gaza Strip. These beehives are his family’s only source of livelihood.
Halt in passport process restricts Palestinian movement
GAZA CITY 12 May by Mohammed Othman — Some students and people seeking treatment in Gaza are unable to travel as they wait for their passports to be issued or renewed, while the Ministry of Interior slowly works on sorting out the procedure — In February, Suleiman al-Dali, a student, lost a scholarship to study for a bachelor’s degree in engineering in Turkey after the Interior Ministry in the West Bank stopped issuing passports to residents of the Gaza Strip that month. Dali, who has a diploma in interior design from the University College of Applied Sciences in Gaza, had waited a long time and endured various hardships before being accepted into the Turkish program after fulfilling all the requirements.
Gaza engineer seeks solution to water woes in territory
GAZA CITY, Palestine (AFP) 13 May by Adel Zaanoun — With Gaza’s supply of drinking water expected to dry up by 2020, a Palestinian engineer is pioneering a machine to make seawater potable for residents of the coastal territory. Diaa Abu Assi, a 29-year-old father-of-two, has spent much of his spare time in the past 18 months developing the system, which he hopes will be instrumental in saving lives in the besieged enclave. “In five years, there will be no drinkable water in Gaza. Water shortages are a real threat to life in Gaza. The only solution is to filter water from the Mediterranean,” Abu Assi says. Funded by Gaza’s Islamic University – which is linked with the enclave’s rulers Hamas – in cooperation with an Omani research organization, the project uses nanotechnology to reduce the salinity in seawater to a drinkable level.
Germany announces $41 million to Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 May — Germany announced Tuesday a $41 million contribution to the UNRWA shelter assistance program in Gaza. With a total contribution of $93 million to UNRWA programs in Gaza to date, Germany is currently the second largest supporter of the UNRWA response to the humanitarian crisis resulting from the 2014 conflict. The funding comes as UNRWA has reportedly received enough in donor pledges to rebuild 200 of the 9,161 Palestine refugee homes that have been assessed as totally destroyed. Director of UNRWA in Gaza Robert Turner praised the move by Germany saying, “More than eight months after the summer 2014 conflict ended, the situation in Gaza remains desperate and the people of Gaza urgently need other donors to follow the excellent example set by Germany.”
Egyptian army kills 4 militants in Rafah
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 12 May — Egyptian military sources said four militants were killed by the Egyptian army in [Egyptian] Rafah Tuesday. Sources told Ma‘an that four militants allegedly belonging to the Sinai Province group were trying to smuggle guns on five donkeys when they were spotted by Egyptian army. The militants then ran into a farm where they were surrounded for around an hour. An exchange of fire between the militants and the army ensued and the four militants were killed. Sinai Province, previously known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, has staged some of the deadliest attacks against Egypt’s security forces since the army ousted president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Arrests
Israeli police break arm of elderly Palestinian woman
QALQILIYA, (PIC) 14 May — Israeli occupation cops on Wednesday broke the arm of a Palestinian elderly woman after having detained her for 24 hours on her way back home to Qalqiliya from Jordan. A PIC correspondent quoted the woman’s son as stating: “Israeli policemen broke my mother’s arm after they aggressively shoved her into a patrol of their own.” The casualty, identified as 60-year-old Yusra Mohamed Qatesh, headed to Jordan to renew her passport as part of routine procedures to arrange a Umrah (pilgrimage) trip, the son added. He said the family was shocked as they caught sight of the Israeli intelligence officers cracking down on his mother at the Karama overpass and seizing her for over 12 hours. The Israeli cops dragged the lady to an investigation center in Jerusalem’s Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, where she has been kept in remand until six a.m. on Wednesday. The elderly civilian was verbally and physically assaulted by an Israeli female soldier and two cops who forced her into an Israeli army jeep in an attempt to transfer her to al-Mascoubiya investigation center. “You are a dirty Palestinian” and “We will throw you next to dirty Palestinian women!” were kinds of insults which the casualty firmly rebuffed, moments before the soldiers beat her up, paying no heed to her age or gender. The mother was rushed to a local hospital in Occupied Jerusalem to be treated for the inflicted fractures. She was released shortly afterwards.
Clashes at dawn during IOF campaign in Balata refugee camp
NABLUS (PIC) 13 May — Violent clashes broke out at dawn Wednesday between Palestinian young men and Israeli soldiers in Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus. Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that a large number of Israeli troops aboard patrol vehicles stormed after midnight the eastern area of Nablus and deployed themselves in the vicinity of Balata refugee camp, Amman street and Joseph’s Tomb. During the events, the invading troops intensively fired tear gas grenades at Palestinian homes near Balata refugee camp, causing many residents to suffer suffocation.
In another incident, the Israeli occupation forces (PIC) threatened to kill the students of Madama high school if they dared to leave during the school hours. Local sources affirmed that the IOF made their threat to kill the students during a raid at dawn on homes in the town. They said that invading troops asked one of the residents to tell the principal of the high school in the town that any student leaving during the school hours would be shot dead.
Israeli troops storm northern West Bank village
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 12 May — Israeli forces stormed the northern West Bank village of Ramin in eastern Tulkarem Monday night, with soldiers questioning locals and ransacking homes, locals told Ma‘an. “As night started to fall, more than 10 Israeli military vehicles stormed the village from the south, before soldiers roamed the streets and ransacked several houses,” one witness said. The Israeli troops questioned locals walking on the street, he said, adding that they were physically rough with some of them. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that they did not know why the Israeli troops had raided Ramin. No injuries or arrests were reported.
Israeli forces block off all entrances to Bethlehem town
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 13 May – Israeli forces Wednesday blocked off all entrances leading to the town of Taqou‘, east of Bethlehem, preventing residents’ movement in and out of the area, according to a local official. Head of the town’s municipality, Taysir Abu Mfreh, informed WAFA that Israeli forces deployed and set up surprise flying checkpoints at all entrances leading to the town, preventing residents’ movement … Meanwhile, Israeli forces attacked school students in the early morning hours, spurring confrontations with residents; forces fired tear gas bombs and stun grenades towards residents, however, no injuries were reported.
Jewish man stabbed near West Bank settlement
i24News 11 May — Victim lightly wounded, transferred to Jerusalem hospital — A 19-year-old teenager was stabbed and lightly wounded in his back by an unknown assailant, described by eyewitnesses as a Palestinian man, at the Mishor Adumim junction, near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. The victim was transferred to a hospital in nearby Jerusalem. The police is operating under the presumption that the assailant had nationalist motives. Earlier in April, a 16-year-old Palestinian was arrested in the West Bank following a failed attempt to stab an Israeli soldier at a roadblock near Hebron. The suspect, who charged at the Israel Defense Forces soldier brandishing a knife, was wrestled to the ground and disarmed. He was then transferred to a police station for investigation. No IDF soldiers were injured in the incident.
Palestinian worker falls, dies on Jerusalem construction site
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 13 May – A Palestinian worker died Wednesday morning in a construction site in West Jerusalem, according to Palestinian security sources. The sources identified the victim as 23-year-old Ahmad Azmi al-Jundi from the southern West Bank city of Yatta south of Hebron. He died after falling from a high level at the site. Israeli police spokesperson told Ma‘an they were investigating the incident. In 2014 the number of West Bank Palestinians working in Israel doubled in the last four years to about 92,000, according to Israeli news source Haaretz. Over 30 percent of those working in Israel work without a permit, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, and are often subject to harsh working conditions with few protections.
Palestinian worker plunges to his death in Tel Aviv
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 13 May — A Palestinian laborer fell to his death while working in Tel Aviv in Israel on Wednesday. Mohammad Salim Salama Azaar, 24, from Qablan village south of Nablus, died instantly after falling from a height while installing windows on a building in Tel Aviv, Qablan village council head Hisham al-Azaar told Ma‘an. He was taken to Abu Kabir forensic institute for examination and his body is expected to be delivered to his parents on Thursday.
Israel arrests 12 Palestinians in West Bank
WEST BANK (WAFA) 11 May – At least 12 Palestinians were arrested by the Israeli army on Monday during predawn and night raids across the West Bank districts, according to media sources. Most of the arrests concentrated in al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah, where five local residents were arrested by the Israeli army during a predawn raid, according to Quds News Network, the largest youth-run news network in Palestine. Meanwhile, forces arrested a Palestinian at a flying checkpoint set up at the western entrance of the town of Silwad to the east of Ramallah. He was identified as Haytham Ayyad, 25 … Army forces also arrested two other Palestinians in al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, in addition to two others in Qalqilia and Bethlehem. The detainees’ names were not revealed by the source. An army force also broke into Qalandia refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, and arrested a local resident, identified as Mohammad Zahran. In the meantime, the army stormed the towns of Qabatia and Shuhada in Jenin district, in northern West Bank, and notified three local residents to appear for interrogation before the Israeli intelligence. Faiz Mohammad, 23, from the village of Tura al-Gharbiyya to the southwest of Jenin, was also arrested at a gate in the Apartheid Wall, built illegally on Palestinian land.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 May — Israeli forces deployed near the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron detained a Palestinian on Tuesday claiming he was carrying a knife. Locals identified the detainee as Imad Saadi Suleiman al-Taraweh and said he had been heading to the Ibrahimi mosque to pray. The Ibrahimi Mosque, which is believed to be the burial place of the prophet Abraham, is of religious significance to both Muslims and Jews, and has historically been a flashpoint between Palestinians and Israelis. Last month, a Palestinian man was shot dead at the mosque after he stabbed an Israeli soldier. The incident reportedly took place while Israeli soldiers were preventing Palestinians from accessing the mosque, and came a week after settlers raised the Israeli flag over the mosque. The mosque is also the site where Brooklyn-born Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians in 1994, in an act that many settlers still celebrate.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian youth in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 13 May — Israeli forces on Wednesday detained a Palestinian youth from Nablus and assaulted two others after accusing them of possessing a knife. Palestinian security officials told Ma‘an that four youths were detained in the Jabal al-Tur area and their vehicle searched. Jihad Ahmad Ruhi Akka, 18, was detained and taken to the Huwwara military office south of Nablus after a sharp object was found in the car.
IOF rounds up six Palestinians in West Bank
WEST BANK, (PIC) 13 May — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) rounded up six Palestinian men after storming their homes in different locations in the occupied West Bank at dawn on Wednesday. Hebrew sources revealed that the Israeli forces launched at dawn hours an arrest campaign which led to the detention of six Palestinians who were taken to investigation centers. Neither reasons of arrest nor detainees’ identities were announced. The sources pointed out that the arrested Palestinians include young men from al-Khader town near Bethlehem who got arrested for alleged charges of stone throwing at IOF soldiers and settlers.
PA intelligence kidnaps students from homes in Al-Khalil
Al-KHALIL 13 May — Security forces from the Palestinian Authority intelligence apparatus at dawn Wednesday raided a number of homes belonging to students from the Islamic bloc at Polytechnic University in al-Khalil [Hebron] and kidnapped some of them. According to the Facebook page of Hudaifah Abu Sarhan, head of the student council at the university, the PA intelligence forces stormed at dawn the house of student Obadah al-Hashlamoun, member of the student congress in al-Khalil, and arrested him. The intelligence also kidnapped the father of another student named Alaa al-Haroub in order to pressure him to turn himself in after not finding him at home. A student identified as Hatem al-Junaidi was also kidnapped from his home in al-Khalil, while another one was phoned and asked to turn himself in. Abu Sarhan has appealed to the university presidency to assume its responsibilities towards its students and protect them. The Islamic bloc, Hamas’s student wing, and the Fatah-affiliated student bloc had won the same number of seats in the council election at Polytechnic University, but the former was eligible to form the council after entering into an alliance with the Palestinian left, which won one seat.
Armed men fire at presidential vehicle near Nablus camp
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Armed men opened fire at the Palestinian president’s guards while in their vehicle in the al-Quds Street near Balata refugee camp outside of Nablus late Tuesday. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that a presidential guard, ranked as major and from the Asira al-Shamaliya village, was driving the vehicle at the time. The vehicle was hit with seven bullets before the armed men fled the area. No injuries were reported. Sources told Ma‘an that security services formed a committee to investigate the details of the incident. Altercations between residents of the Balata refugee camp and Palestinian security forces have been on the rise, most recently following a security campaign launched by the Palestinian Authority in February 2015.
Nakba / Right of return
Palestinians mark 67th Nakba anniversary in Ramallah festival
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 May — Thousands of Palestinians commemorated Wednesday the 67th anniversary of the Nakba and renewed their demands to return to their cities, villages and lands that they were forced to leave in 1948. During a festival in Ramallah,crowds set off from Yasser Arafat’s tomb toward Yasser Arafat square holding Palestinian flags, black flags and signs reading the names of destroyed Palestinian towns and villages. The march was headed by a military musical group. Governor of the Ramallah and al-Bieh district Laila Ghannam said in a speech on behalf of the president that Jerusalem must return to its people despite Israel’s plans to “Judaize” it. Ghannam added that Palestinian people still carry the keys to the homes they were displaced from despite the 67 years that passed. PLO executive committee member Zakariya al-Agha said that the Nakba had imposed a reality of suffering that is still ongoing. Al-Agha said that 67 years proved that the Palestinian people will not forget and that they have the historic and legal right of return to their homes that they were displaced from in 1948.
On Nakba Day — help stop the ongoing Nakba
SALEM, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Huwarra Team) 7 May — The farmers and shepherds of Salem, near Nablus, are asking for you help. They are being beaten, humiliated and pushed off their land. They are asking you to join them on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th to help them save their harvest. In the village of Salem, near Nablus, the wheat is ready for harvesting. Once the crop has been collected, the sheep and goats will graze on the leftovers in the field and the shepherds will then milk them in order to make cheese and butter. The animal’s droppings are dispersed on the land; a perfect cycle is created. However, Israeli occupation forces have forbidden the farmers from harvesting the wheat and forbidden the shepherds from crossing the road that cuts through their land, dividing it in two. See report written by the International Women’s Peace Service here. Harassment happens on a daily basis and many of the shepherds can recount life-threatening stories. This is the case with Rabih, for instance. Only five days ago, as he was taking his sheep out to graze and was accompanied by his young nephew who was going out into the fields to work for the first time in his life; Israeli soldiers arrived. They pointed their guns to his brother’s head, threw his nephew to the ground and attacked Rabih with the butt of an M16 rifle. They ordered Rabih to take his clothes off. When Rabih refused they beat him and took him away blindfolded and handcuffed and threw him out hours later in the middle of the countryside. “I am getting used to being humiliated”.
Shepherds and farmers are asking for a large number of people to accompany them on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th May. From early in the morning, they will attempt to work a part of their land to the east of Salem that the occupation forces are preventing them from using. A call out will be made on the mosque’s megaphone to gather as many people from the village as possible.
Day of return to Igzem village in Negev next Friday
NEGEV (PIC) 13 May — The Islamic Movement in the 1948 occupied lands decided to organize a procession of 20 buses next Friday to transport Arab citizens from different occupied villages and towns in the Negev to the ethnically-cleansed village of Igzem.
About one thousand citizens are expected to participate in the day of return to Igzem, according to the organizers. The event will take place at the invitation of Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement, who urged last Friday during a sermon in the Lakiya village the Arab citizens of the Negev to take part in the procession to Igzem.
iNakba app shows two sides of Israel’s war story
KABRI, Western Galilee (Haaretz) 13 May by Judy Maltz — Visitors touring the battlegrounds of Israel’s War of Independence can now also learn how Palestinians experienced these events. A guide to the ultimate dual-narrative tour — A group of young families survey the impressive memorial to the soldiers ambushed near the kibbutz of Yehiam during the War of Independence in 1948. Their guide relays the story of the 47 brave Jewish fighters killed while delivering supplies to the under-siege kibbutz. Their convoy, he recounts, was targeted by Arab villagers hiding out in the Muslim cemetery just a few dozen meters away. The grounds of the Yehiam Convoy Memorial contain some of the original armored vehicles that came under attack on March 27, 1948; a plaque bearing the names of the fallen soldiers; and a map showing the area as it looked back then, dotted with Arab villages. Until a year ago, visitors curious about what transpired at this site 67 years ago would have relied on the Jewish-Israeli version of events – the one spelled out on the visitor information signs and monuments scattered on the premises, not to mention official government and Israel Defense Forces websites. Now, though, a mobile application called iNakba provides relatively simple access to the other side of the story as well. Not only at this particular site, but also at many other flash points of the first big Jewish-Arab war – known by Israelis as the War of Independence, while the Palestinians term what happened to them when the State of Israel was founded as the Nakba (or “catastrophe”). Nakba Day is marked annually on May 15, a day after the Gregorian calendar date for Israeli Independence Day.
[This site is a gold mine of information about the Nakba and what happened to the Palestinian villages depopulated and usually razed by the new state of Israel. There is a page for almost every village, with many photos available, before and after the destruction or takeover of the village.]
By repressing memories of the Nakba, Israel helps them grow stronger / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 14 May — The State of Israel should be bowing its head tomorrow. It should be bowing its head out of solidarity and empathy for the pain of a fifth of its citizens and to take responsibility for their tragedy; to bow its head in apology for what happened. Tomorrow, May 15 – the date of the declaration of the State of Israel – is Nakba Day, the anniversary of the Palestinian people’s catastrophe; a day to commemorate its fallen, its lost villages and land. One needn’t be a Palestinian to identify with their pain; you can be an Israeli Jew, or even a Zionist, and respect those for whom your Independence Day marks their tragedy. Nor is there any need to accept the Palestinian historical narrative in order to recognize that the native people suffered a terrible calamity. One can respect the other’s pain, about which there is no historical doubt, and, if we want to be honest and brave, one can also ask if the State of Israel has ever atoned for what it did, whether deliberately or accidentally, with forethought or lacking choice, in 1948. Has it ever abandoned the policy that caused the Nakba? Isn’t it the same policy of dispossession, occupation, oppression, destruction, and expulsion that continues to this day, 67 years after 1948, and 48 years after 1967? Nakba Day ought to be a national commemoration, even if it involves a minority, the same way Mimouna, the Saharna, and Sigd (an official holiday by law) are marked, even though they are the traditions of minority groups. There should be sirens and memorial services in the state’s Arab communities and special television broadcasts for everyone … But the truth is that there is no greater proof of Israel’s insecurity about the justness of its cause than the battle waged to forbid marking the Nakba … Israel started to battle the Nakba immediately after it occurred; it did not allow the refugees to return to their homes and lands and confiscated their abandoned property. It destroyed nearly all of their 418 villages out of foresight, covered them with trees planted by the Jewish National Fund and prevented any mention of their existence. The primitive concept was that one could erase the memory of a people with trees and suppress its pain and consciousness with laws and force. This country of monuments forbade any monument to their tragedy. This country of commemoration days and wallowing in grief forbade them to mourn.
US issues warning to citizens ahead of Nakba Day
Haaretz 13 May — The U.S. Consulate urged its citizens to exercise caution ahead of Nakba Day on Friday, citing “the possibility of demonstrations within Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.” In a statement issued Wednesday, the consulate said that some Nakba Day demonstrations in the past “have become violent,” and urged U.S. citizens to “be aware of [their] surroundings at all times, monitor the media, and avoid demonstrations and other crowds as events can turn violent without warning.” The consulate also recommended U.S. citizens “traveling to or residing in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). ” During last year’s Nakba Day, two Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli Border Police near Ramallah, prompting an investigation and claims that Israeli soldiers used live bullets.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israel sentences Palestinian to 9 months for Facebook posts
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 May — The former secretary-general of Fatah in Jerusalem has been sentenced to nine months in an Israeli prison for activity on social media. The Israeli magistrate’s court in Jerusalem handed the sentence to Omar al-Shalabi after he was convicted of inciting anti-Jewish violence and supporting “terror” in posts and comments on Facebook. Al-Shalabi was one of eight Palestinian men detained in December 2014 in East Jerusalem under the same charges. Their indictment said that Israeli intelligence had monitored the men’s Facebook postings since last June, after three Israeli settlers were kidnapped and killed in the occupied West Bank. The intelligence said that their online comments had raised tensions across Jerusalem and encouraged acts of “terrorism.” They cited in particular postings on the murder of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was kidnapped and killed by a group of Jewish extremists in July, as well as on a spate of Palestinian attacks on Israeli military and civilians that mostly took place in occupied East Jerusalem. The indictment included details of the Facebook postings such the number of “likes,” “shares” and “comments” by friends on Facebook … Separately in April, Israeli police arrested a 17-year-old for a week for a posting on Facebook … Israelis on social media routinely and openly incite violence against Palestinians, especially during heightened periods of tensions such as this summer’s military offensive on Gaza, but none have yet faced prosecution. In recent months, the Palestinian Authority has also arrested Palestinians over postings on Facebook.
WATCH: Racism-filled march curbs Palestinian movement in Jerusalem
+972 mag 12 May by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — High Court dismisses petition to re-route the ‘Jerusalem Day’ march away from the Muslim Quarter, but tells police it expects them to act against the type of racist incitement for which the ‘March of the Flags’ is notorious — Two Jerusalem-based NGOs on Monday lost a legal battle to keep Israel’s hyper-nationalist, racist and often violent “March of the Flags” Jerusalem Day procession from passing through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City later this week … The NGOs launched a campaign earlier this month to try and stop the march from passing through the Muslim Quarter. Each year, while permitting the nationalist march to proceed, police ban Palestinian residents from their own streets outside their homes and businesses — ostensibly in order to protect them from “March of the Flags” participants … Palestinian shopkeepers are told to shutter their stalls and stores ahead of the march. [very much reminiscent of the Orange Parades in Belfast, Northern Ireland]
6 crazy things Israel has done to maintain racial purity
Alternet 12 May by Zaid Jilani — Israel bills itself as the Middle East’s only democracy, but it is increasingly clear that this label depends a lot on how you define the Middle East, and how you define democracy. Perhaps the sharpest dissonance between the description of Israel as a liberal democracy and its actual policies is the drive for racial purity. Israel insists on being the historic homeland for the world’s Jews, something few would disagree with. But it also insists on being a Jewish-majority country, at all costs. In order to maintain its Jewish majority, it must demonize non-Jews, particularly Muslims and Christian Arabs, as “demographic threats.” Here are five [six] crazy things the Israeli government or the Israeli people have done to maintain this racial makeup. 1. No-Sex Contracts: In 2003, an Israeli company importing Chinese workers required them to sign a contract agreeing not to marry or have sex with any Israelis. No legal action was taken against the company, as Israel has no laws protecting workers from such demands. 2. Birth Control Without Consent: For years, the Israeli government was injecting Ethiopian Jewish immigrants with birth control, “often without their knowledge or consent.” When the practice was exposed in 2013, it was ordered to be halted. 3. Deporting Non-Jews: Anyone in the world with Jewish lineage can move to Israel and claim citizenship. But if you’re not Jewish, things can be dicey. Many refugees from African conflicts have fled to Israel to claim asylum. Israel has locked many of them into massive camps in the desert. It has granted asylum to 0.07% of those seeking it, deporting many others….
Ethiopian Jews hold fresh protest in Israel: police
JERUSALEM (AFP) 12 May — Hundreds of Israeli Ethiopian Jews joined activists in the northern coastal city of Haifa on Tuesday to protest against alleged racism, a police spokeswoman said. The demonstration passed peacefully under the watch of dozens of police officers, according to the spokeswoman. Ethiopian Jews in Israel have staged several rallies against alleged police brutality and racism in recent weeks and some gatherings have turned violent as they clashed with security forces. One protester in Haifa interviewed by public television said Tuesday’s demonstration was “intended to ensure that members of our community aren’t judged solely on the colour of their skin by Israeli society”. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met members of Israel’s Ethiopian community this month in a bid to ease tensions after a video emerged showing two policemen beating a uniformed Israeli [army] officer of Ethiopian origin.
Officer who beat Ethiopian Israeli soldier dismissed from police force
JERUSALEM (JTA) 13 May — The Israeli police officer who was caught on video beating an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier was fired. Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino made the announcement Wednesday at Netanya Academic College, the Hebrew-language Ynet news website reported. The dismissal comes two days after a dismissal hearing with police officials. “He had a lot of arguments, and we had an in-depth discussion on this issue, along with the legal counsel, the discipline department, the attorney general and head of human resources. After the hearing, everyone decided that he should be dismissed from the police,” Danino said. It is not known what will happen to a second police officer seen in the video, Ynet reported.
Ethiopians call for integration, not isolation, in Israeli army
Haaretz 13 May by Gili Cohen and Noa Shpigel — Leaders of the Ethiopian immigrant protest movement say it’s time for the Israel Defense Forces to stop its special programs for integrating young people of Ethiopian origin and should instead train them in regular courses, saying distinctive treatment increases their isolation from other Israelis. “It doesn’t seem logical to me that the army says, ‘we’ll make you a separate course,’” said Genato Mengistu, one of the leaders of the recent Ethiopian protests. “We don’t need these favors, loosen up. People were born here; the language they know is Hebrew; they aren’t aliens for you to experiment on and then show off. Why don’t they have a special course just for French immigrants? “How long can they keep on saying that integration is slow and it takes time?” he continued. “We are here in Israel almost 30 years. There was always racism and it will remain, the question is if you leverage it negatively or positively.”
Palestinians say they number 12.1 m people worldwide
JERUSALEM (AFP) 12 May — The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday it has recorded a population of 12.1 million people, of whom 4.6 million live in the occupied territories and the remainder abroad. The figures show that at the end of 2014, 2.8 million Palestinians lived in the West Bank and 1.8 million in the Gaza Strip. In the impoverished Gaza enclave, the population of 4.9 people per square kilometre makes its density one of the world’s highest. Of the 4.6 million people in the Palestinian territories, 43.1 percent are refugees. The balance of 7.5 million Palestinians live in exile, the majority in 31 UN-installed refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. UNRWA, the world body’s aid agency for Palestinian refugees, has 5.49 million people registered on its books. The figures were announced ahead of Friday’s 67th anniversary of the “Nakba”, or “catastrophe” in Arabic, the day when Palestinians mourn Israel’s establishment in 1948. In a statement, the head of the statistics bureau said that in 1948, “1.4 million Palestinians lived in 1,300 towns and localities in historic Palestine”. After the war that followed Israel’s creation, “Israel took control of 774 towns and villages, destroyed 531 and committed 70 killings and massacres in which 15,000 people died”, she said. Some 154,000 Palestinians decided to remain on their land after that conflict, and their Arab Israeli descendants now number nearly a million and a half. Other figures made public by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel NGO show that Palestinians make up 37 percent of the population of Jerusalem. The eastern part of the holy city was captured in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community. Of the Palestinians in east Jerusalem, 75 percent live below the poverty line and the homes of almost 40 percent are threatened with destruction because they lack building permits from Israeli authorities.
Israel steps up diplomatic action as fears grow over FIFA suspension
Haaretz 13 May by Barak Ravid — Israel’s Foreign Ministry has been waging a worldwide campaign in recent weeks aimed at foiling a Palestinian attempt to get Israel suspended from FIFA, soccer’s international governing body. The Israeli campaign has included talks with sports ministers and heads of soccer federations in more than 100 countries, supplying incriminating information on Palestinian soccer players who have supposedly been involved in terrorist activity, and attempts to blacken the name of the Palestinian soccer federation’s chairman, Jibril Rajoub. Crunch time comes on May 29, when representatives of soccer federations from more than 200 countries will gather in Zurich for the annual FIFA Congress. Item 15.1 on the agenda is the “Proposal by the Palestinian Football Association for the suspension of the Israel Football Association,” the culmination of a two-year drive spearheaded by Rajoub … First, he alleges that Israel is restricting the travel of Palestinian soccer players abroad and between the West Bank and Gaza. It also limits the entry of soccer teams from Arab countries into the West Bank, damages Palestinian soccer facilities and imposes limitations on the transfer of equipment from overseas to Palestinian teams, he claims. Secondly, Israel allows five teams from its settlements to play as part of its soccer federation, despite Palestinian arguments that they come from occupied territory over which the federation has no authority. Rajoub demands that these teams stop playing. Thirdly, Rajoub demands that Israel take significant action against displays of racism at soccer matches held in Israel, especially at games played by Beitar Jerusalem. His fourth argument is that the Teddy Stadium, in which Beitar plays, is beyond the 1967 “green line,” so that international games played there should be prohibited. (The final of the European Under-21 tournament was held there in 2013.)
West Bank electricity grid to be connected to Jordan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an)13 May — The occupied West Bank’s electricity grid will be connected to Jordan as part of an initiative to interconnect power usage in the Arab world, the head of the Palestinian Power and Natural Resources Authority said Wednesday. Head of the PA body, Omar Kittanah, said that electricity grids in Jericho have already been connected to those in Jordan as part of the Eight Country Interconnection Project, which includes Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine, and is expected to be completed over the next three years. The most recent project phase, submitted by the Palestinian Power and Natural Resources Authority and approved by Palestinian cabinet ministers Tuesday, will seek to build a high tension line feeding Jordan with enough capacity to power the entire West Bank in the coming few years. A separate line will eventually be built to send electricity from the West Bank to the Eight Country Grid via Jordan in the future, pending Palestine’s access to power sources, Kittanah said. The PA has started to look for funding for the Jordan-Palestine connection, which is expected to cost around $100 million. Given that member states have special funds for supporting economic and development projects, funding the project will not be difficult to obtain, Kittanah said. The connection will improve the quality of electricity in the West Bank while also reducing the price, he added. Kittanah said Gaza’s power lines will be connected to Egypt as part of the Eight Country Grid Interconnection, with funding for the connection already secured. Bids for the project in Gaza were allegedly offered in 2011, but “political conditions have so far prevented progress,” Kittanah told Ma‘an. Israel will not likely interfere with the grid expansion as lines have already been built between Jordan and Jericho, the PA official said. Expansion of the grid project comes as Palestinian dependence on Israeli electricity has been an ongoing point of contention between the two parties for years….
Vatican recognizes state of Palestine in new treaty
VATICAN CITY (AP) 13 May — The Vatican officially recognized the state of Palestine in a new treaty finalized Wednesday, immediately sparking Israeli ire and accusations that the move hurt peace prospects. The treaty, which concerns the activities of the Catholic Church in Palestinian territory, is both deeply symbolic and makes explicit that the Holy See has switched its diplomatic recognition from the Palestine Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine. The Vatican had welcomed the decision by the U.N. General Assembly in 2012 to recognize a Palestinian state and had referred to the Palestine state since. But the treaty is the first legal document negotiated between the Holy See and the Palestinian state, giving the Vatican’s former signs of recognition an unambiguous confirmation in a formal, bilateral treaty. “Yes, it’s a recognition that the state exists,” said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi….
Obama: Palestinians deserve an end to the occupation
Ynetnews 13 May — US President Barack Obama gave an interview on Tuesday with Asharq al-Awsat, an Arabic international newspaper based in London. “I will never give up on the hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” said Obama, “Palestinians deserve an end to the occupation and the daily indignities that come with it. That’s why we’ve worked so hard over the years for a two-state solution and to develop innovative ways to address Israel’s security and Palestinian sovereignty needs.” Obama’s comments came prior to a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in which he is due to sit with key leaders of six Arab nations from the Middle East. While his hope remains, Obama said, “It’s no secret that we now have a very difficult path forward. As a result, the United States is taking a hard look at our approach to the conflict,” suggesting that the EU is not alone in considering policy adjustments with Israel. “Addressing the lasting impact in Gaza of last summer’s conflict should also be central to any effort,” concluded Obama. “Ultimately, the parties will need to address not just Gaza’s immediate humanitarian and reconstruction needs, but also core challenges to Gaza’s future within a two-state context, including reinvigorating Gaza’s connection with the West Bank and reestablishing strong commercial links with Israel and the global economy.”
Teen beaten by Israeli police meets at White House as he prepares to return to Jerusalem
CNN 11 May by Jake Tapper — As the debate about excessive police force against unarmed civilians rages throughout the U.S., the Obama administration is involving itself again in the case of an American teen severely beaten by members of the police force of Israel, a U.S. ally with whom there already exist increased tension. CNN has learned that White House National Security Council staffers recently took the unusual step of meeting in the West Wing with Tariq Khdeir, the Tampa teenager of Palestinian descent beaten unconscious by Israeli police last summer during a protest in East Jerusalem … “The U.S. government has remained closely engaged with Tariq and his family since his return from Jerusalem,” a White House official confirms to CNN. “As part of the follow-up on pending issues related to his case, National Security Council staff met with the Abu Khdeirs recently.” The meeting, which took place April 15, came as Tariq and his family [were] preparing to return this summer to visit other relatives in the Shu‘afat neighborhood of Jerusalem; they sought assurances from the White House that there would be no Israeli retaliation against Tariq, who is now 16. Tariq’s mother Suha told CNN that Tariq “has changed” and may now have PTSD because of the beating, which was captured on cell phone video … White House officials, she said “didn’t guarantee anything.” … Behind the scenes, Obama administration officials continually voice frustration if not anger at incidents involving Israeli police or soldiers using force against U.S. citizens such as Tariq. “We are working with the Israeli authorities and expect to receive a meaningful answer from the investigation into the American citizen’s death in Silwad in October,” a senior administration official told CNN, referring to Orwa Hammad, 14, a Palestinian-American killed by Israeli Defense Forces on Oct. 24 … Based on numerous conversations with administration officials on background, there is a widespread belief within the Obama administration that the Israeli government does not take these incidents against American citizens with the seriousness U.S. officials believe they merit….[includes video of Tariq describing his beating. His cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir had earlier been burned alive by ‘Jewish extremists’]
Israeli general sees common interests with Hamas
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 12 May — Israel and Hamas share common interests, and the Palestinian Islamists must stay in power in the Gaza Strip to prevent the enclave descending into chaos, an Israeli general was quoted as saying on Tuesday. Major-General Sami Turgeman, who as commander of Israel’s forces outside Gaza had a leading role in last year’s war with Hamas, cast the group in a pragmatic light in remarks reported in the top-selling Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. By doing so, he appeared to take a softer public line toward Hamas than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has likened the movement to Islamic State insurgents sweeping Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the region. Speaking to the heads of Israeli villages on the Gaza periphery on Monday, Turgeman said Hamas seeks stability and “does not want global jihad” — a term Israel uses to describe Islamic State, al Qaeda and their off-shoots. “Israel and Hamas have shared interests, including in the current situation, which is quiet and calm and growth and prosperity,” said the general. With neither side apparently interested in renewed conflict for now, an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that halted fighting in the 50-day conflict last July and August has largely held. “There is no substitute for Hamas as sovereign in the Strip. The substitute is the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) and chaotic rule … and then the security situation would be much more problematic,” Turgeman said.
West Bank settlers optimistic over new Israeli government
JERUSALEM (AP) 13 May — As the new Israeli government prepares to take office, the West Bank settler movement appears poised to wield influence perhaps like never before. After squeezing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in coalition negotiations, the pro-settler Jewish Home party has gained control over several powerful government ministries — putting it in position to push forward with an agenda that includes nationalist school studies, money for settlement construction and an assault on a judiciary it believes to be too liberal. This ambitious plan seems sure to raise tensions at home and speed up a seemingly inevitable clash with the international community, which is still eager to promote the establishment of a Palestinian state … But among the settlers themselves, there is widespread expectation that the government will remove restraints on construction and push for aggressive expansion, said Yigal Dilmoni, the spokesman for the Yesha Council, an umbrella settler lobby. “There is a pretty permanent reality in Judea and Samaria, one that is almost irreversible,” he said, referring to the West Bank by the biblical names favored by nationalist Israelis. “We are optimistic but not power drunk. … We are not looking to fight, but the world cannot dictate something that Israeli democracy voted against.” More than 350,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and 200,000 more in east Jerusalem — alongside more than 2 million Palestinians who, unlike the settlers, cannot vote in Israeli elections. The Palestinians want these areas — captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war — included in their future state, and say the ever-growing population of settlers could make it impossible to divide the territory. The international community regularly denounces Israeli settlement of occupied lands as illegal or illegitimate.
Israel looks to justify future strikes on civilian areas
BEIRUT (Daily Star) 14 May by Nicholas Blanford — Israel has warned once again that civilian areas of south Lebanon could be heavily bombed in the next war with Hezbollah, blaming any future destruction on the party for its alleged construction of military facilities in towns and villages. The Israeli military showed the New York Times satellite images of southern Lebanese villages that claim to pinpoint specific Hezbollah military positions among the buildings such as command posts, rocket-launching sites and bunker entrances. The small hilltop village of Mhaibib alone contains 25 separate facilities and nearby Shaqra, a much larger village, boasts 400 military sites, according to the Israeli army … It is not the first time that the Israeli military has used information technology to rattle sabers on Hezbollah’s alleged military preparations in south Lebanon.