Violence / Attacks / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Arrests — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian boy, 10, critically injured by rubber bullet in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 May — A Palestinian child was critically injured after Israeli forces shot him with a rubber-coated steel bullet near the Shu‘fat refugee camp on Thursday, witnesses said. Yahiya Sami al-Amudi, 10, was walking near a checkpoint by the East Jerusalem refugee camp when he was shot by the bullet. He was taken to the Hadassa hospital in Ein Karem with a fractured skull, jaw, and left ear and had surgery to remove his left eye. Medics said he is in critical condition. A spokesman for Fatah in the camp, Thaer Fasfous, condemned the targeting of children with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets. Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said that there were “disturbances” in the Shu‘fat area after locals threw stones at municipality workers. Israeli border police used “non-lethal” weapons and a 10-year-old boy was moderately injured and taken to hospital, he added.
Family of alleged ‘attacker’ receives body, mourns his death
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 May — The Abu Dheim family received the body of relative Omran Omar early Thursday, who was shot by Israeli officers Wednesday after officers claimed he was attempting to run over border guards in occupied East Jerusalem … Relatives and friends bid final farewell to Abu Dheim as mourners carried his body to the town’s cemetery after the funeral prayer … Omran had left home at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday headed for Jabal al-Zaytoun (Mount of Olives), where he works as school bus supervisor at the neighborhood’s school, his wife said. Omran’s brother Shafiq Abu Dheim said eyewitnesses told him that “Omran was trying to make a U-turn in the middle of the road, but was impeded by a truck which was unloading vegetables at a produce shop.” At that point a heated argument broke between him and Israeli officers who were on both sides of the road, when the officers opened fire. Shafiq told Ma‘an that Israeli forces pulled his brother out of the car and “left him lying on the ground for half an hour without receiving any first aid, despite the fact that he was only a few meters away from Al-Maqasid and Augusta Victoria hospitals,” according to eyewitnesses. The forces reportedly fired stun grenades at those who attempted to access the man after he was shot, head of a local follow-up committee of al-Tur, Mufid Abu Ghannam, told Ma‘an Wednesday … Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma’an after the incident that the had man tried to run over two border police officers with his car, leaving them moderately injured. Israeli soldiers, police officers and security guards have recently shot dead or injured several Palestinians in Jerusalem on suspicion that they were planning or carrying out attacks against Israelis. Killed in ‘cold blood’ The family of Omran Omar Abu Dheim told Ma‘an he was killed in “cold blood.” “My husband isn’t interested in politics, neither is he affiliated to any political parties,” Omran’s wife told Ma‘an. “It is a common practice for the occupation to kill Palestinians in cold blood, and to justify the killing, quickly claiming that the martyr was planning an attack against them,” she added. Surveillance cameras in the area, she said, could have revealed the truth, but Israeli forces confiscated the cameras before shop-owners were able to view the footage … Abu Dheim left behind his wife and five children Rasha, 14, Hamza, 11, Raghad, 9, Hala, 6 and Muhammad, 16 months old.
Israeli forces suppress Bil‘in weekly march
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 May — Dozens suffered excessive tear gas inhalation on Friday afternoon as Israeli forces dispersed the Bil‘in weekly march in western Ramallah using tear gas and rubber bullets, locals said. Israeli forces also reportedly targeted ambulances and farmland with tear gas canisters, and caused a fire to break out in land planted with olive trees belonging to locals Mohammad Mustafa Abu Rahma and Ashraf al-Khatib. Palestinians as well as both Israeli and international activists participated in the march. Israeli forces regularly use violent force to disperse the Bil‘in weekly march.
Two Israeli soldiers injured in Silwad
RAMALLAH (PIC) 22 May — Two Israeli soldiers were injured after a pipe-bomb was thrown towards them near Ofra settlement built illegally between Silwad and Yabrud villages in Ramallah, Israeli sources claimed. A military officer was among the two injured, the sources added, pointing out that they were transferred to hospital for treatment as they suffer slight and moderate injuries. Shortly after the attack, Israeli forces intensified their presence in the area in an attempt to look for the suspects.
Playing with fire: IDF to use new weapon on West Bank protests
+972 mag 22 May by Natasha Roth — A new type of sponge-tipped bullet introduced in East Jerusalem last summer has broken arms, fractured faces, destroyed eyesight and killed a teenager. Now a similar projectile is slated for use against Palestinians in the West Bank — Following the introduction last summer of a new type of sponge-tipped bullet into the Israel Police’s arsenal, the Israeli army is now set to begin using a similar projectile in order to disperse demonstrations in the West Bank, according to Ynet [Heb]. The new bullets will be phased in during the coming weeks as a pilot, following which they will be distributed among routine army units. The debut of the new black sponge-tipped bullets in Jerusalem brought with it facial fractures, broken arms, eye loss (predominantly among children) and at least one death. The bullets are a harder version of the blue sponge-tipped bullets previously used by police; made out of heavier material (synthetic rubber), they are far more likely to cause serious injury. The army officer interviewed in Ynet’s report claimed that the new bullets for the IDF have been purchased from a different manufacturer to those used by the Israel Police, and have undergone more rigorous testing. The officer further asserted that their new sponge-tipped bullets are less dangerous than those deployed in East Jerusalem. However, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has thrown this claim into doubt. ACRI attorney Anne Suciu stated that the army’s new sponge-tipped bullets will be “at least as hard as those used by the police.” Although they will be blue — the same color as the old, softer bullets — they are weapons of a different grade, as the original blue sponge-tipped bullets have been deemed “ineffective” in dispersing protests.
Israeli forces detain 15 Palestinians overnight
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 May — Israeli forces detained 15 Palestinians overnight from across the West Bank, an Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an. Two Palestinians were detained in Huwarra south of Nablus, three others from Beit Liqya southwest of Ramallah, one detained from Qalandiya north of Jerusalem, and another from the Kafr ‘Aqab [neighborhood in East Jerusalem]. Four others were detained from the Al-Khadr town in western Bethlehem, one from Idha west of Hebron, two from Yatta south of Hebron, and another from Beit ‘Awwa southwest of Hebron.The spokeswoman told Ma‘an all fifteen were detained for illegal activity, but had no further details regarding what activities the detainees were arrested for. While the four were arrested in Al-Khadr, all aged between 15 and 16, Israeli forces distributed a statement in the area threatening to interfere with the lives of young men who continue to hurl stones at Israeli vehicles traveling on the bypass roads near the town, locals said.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Apartheid / Restrictions on movement
Israel builds nightclub, café over Islamic cemetery in Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 21 May — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) established a nightclub and café over an Islamic historic cemetery in Occupied Jerusalem within the Israeli accelerated moves to Judaize the Islamic landmarks in the city. In a press statement, the Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage condemned the Israeli continuation of desecrating the cemetery. The Foundation which visited the cemetery asked the Islamic and Arab countries as well as the Palestinian people to urgently work on confronting such desecration of the cemetery in which a number of the Sahaba (Prophet Mohammad’s friends) and many of the Islamic scientists were buried over 1400 years. It added that the construction and equipment of the nightclub has been completed for a soon opening after confiscating the cemetery and turning it into a public park. The cemetery is the biggest and oldest graveyard in Palestine. According to Israeli media sources, the facility will be opened in May. It lies on an area of 250 square meters over a land of an area of 450 square meters. It is equipped for public ceremonies with 110 chairs including a bar and a wide courtyard and will be run by an Israeli company.
But see next article
Settlers turning West Bank church compound into new outpost
Haaretz 22 May by Chaim Levinson — Right-wing activist Aryeh King has purchased an abandoned church compound near the Aroub refugee camp between Hebron and Jerusalem, and is refurbishing it ahead of establishing a new settlement outpost at the site, Haaretz has learned. King, who specializes in buying Arab-owned real estate, purchased the property three years ago from its church owners. Massive reconstruction of the compound, which can house 20 families, has been going on for the last few months to ready it for settlers to move in. There are several security guards on the site posing as workers. A new fence has been built, despite a stop-work injunction having been issued by the Civil Administration, since there was no building permit for the fence. None is needed for the refurbishing because the buildings, which stand at the side of Route 60, were constructed long ago, in the late 1940s. Sources say King has not decided when to populate the compound. Even if settlers move in without coordinating the move with the army, sympathetic politicians are expected to quickly exert pressure to recognize King’s ownership of the site and allow the newcomers to remain … King’s purchase was kept secret and only a few people were informed, including officials in the Amana settlement movement and the head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, Davidi Perl. People involved in the project were instructed not to inform the army about their activities there. Security at the compound was handled by private guards, without involving the army. There are numerous security cameras all around.The compound’s location is of strategic importance to settlers, since there is only one settlement, Karmei Tzur, amid numerous large Arab villages between the Etzion Bloc and Hebron. Populating the compound would enable the settler movement to consolidate its hold on the southern part of the Bloc.
Lawyer: abandoned West Bank church compound was not sold to settlers
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 23 May – Swedish-owned church compound between Bethlehem and Hebron hasn’t been sold to settlers, contrary to reports released yesterday, Swedish lawyer says. Israeli rightwinger Aryeh King had allegedly purchased the abandoned church compound from church owners three years ago in order to build a settlement outpost, according to Israeli news source Haaretz. Local sources, however, refuted the report details Friday saying such a sale has not been made and that the current owners have been undergoing refurbishments to turn the compound into a hostel. “The church owns the compound, and is fixing up the existing building to serve as a hostel for Christians, Muslims, and Jews who are passing through,” church lawyer Ari Souko told Ma’an, asking that the church’s title be kept private … While the church remains in Swedish hands, such a sale reported by Haaretz would not have been unlikely. Aryeh King is founder and director of Israel Land Fund, an organization that buys out Palestinian property and homes for resale to Jews with aim to Judaize occupied East Jerusalem and surrounding areas.
90 more West Bank settlement units approved
IMEMC/Agencies 21 May — The Israeli occupation municipality in Jerusalem, Wednesday, approved the construction of 90 settlement units in Har Homa settlement, in Jerusalem. According to the Palestinian News Network (PNN), the approval comes in the wake of EU’s Middle East Envoy Fredrica Mogherini’s visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank. At the same time, Israeli forces continue with their demolitions of Palestinians’ homes in East Jerusalem, under the pretext of having to permit to build. Israel on Wednesday demolished Jerusalem homes in the process of construction, in addition to three stores in Silwan neighborhood.
Israel destroys Bedouin village for 84th time
EI 22 May by Charlotte Silver — Israeli Border Police rolled into the Palestinian Bedouin village of al-‘Araqib, located in the Naqab (Negev) region of present-day Israel, to demolish the few shacks left standing. It was the eighty-fourth time that al-‘Araqib has been demolished since 2010. Two days before, I sat with one of the families that lives on the sparse land. Salim Abu Madegam, aged 48, predicted to me that the Israeli authorities would come soon. “They won’t let any of these structures last more than thirty days,” Abu Madegam said. Like clockwork, Israel won’t let a month go by without destroying whatever stands in al-‘Araqib. For the first thirty days, structures built without permits — which are almost impossible to obtain — are called “fresh invasions” by Israel. After that, there’s more red tape required to demolish them. Michal Rotem, who works for Dukium, the Negev Forum for Coexistence, said Israeli police arrived at al-‘Araqib after a day of demolitions in the Naqab. “They just finished their day in al-‘Araqib,” she told me. Homes were also demolished in two other Bedouin villages that Israel refuses to recognize, a-Zarnug and Abu Grinat. Homes built without a permit were also destroyed in Rahat, a “planned township”, into which many Bedouins were corralled during the 1970s … With or without the help of Israel’s judicial branch, however, al-Araqib’s residents’ determination to remain on the land is undaunted. By the time the sun set yesterday evening, they had already rebuilt all of their tents.
Justice Minister Shaked: Israel’s decision to raze Bedouin town is not discrimination
Haaretz 21 May by Shirly Seidler — Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Wednesday there was no discrimination against Arabs in the High Court’s decision to let the state raze a Bedouin village and put up a Jewish town in its place. Earlier this month, the court ruled that the residents of the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran could be evicted. “I’ve dealt with the case of Jews being evicted from their homes, when the state had put them there, and most of them didn’t receive compensation, only some of them,” Shaked said, noting that the Bedouin were being evicted “so that apartment towers can be built there for other people. I’m not saying that it’s okay or not, just that people shouldn’t say it’s discrimination.”
UN officials: Israel must halt plans to transfer Palestinian Bedouins
UNRWA 20 May — The Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, James W. Rawley, and the Director of UNRWA Operations West Bank, Felipe Sanchez, expressed their grave concern today that Israel is rapidly advancing plans to transfer Palestinian Bedouins in the central West Bank from their current communities. The UN Secretary-General has recently expressed concern in a report of March 2015 that “(p)lans to transfer thousands of Bedouin and herders […] may also be connected with settlement expansion. The Bedouins and herders are at risk of forcible transfer, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as multiple human rights violations.”
Israeli forces demolish 3-story Silwan building
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 May – Demolitions continued in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem as Israeli forces demolished a three-story building Wednesday morning, allegedly being built without a license from the Israeli municipal council. Witnesses told Ma‘an that large numbers of Israeli military vehicles entered the Wadi Qaddum area in Ras al-Amoud escorting three excavators which tore down the building. The demolition comes one day after municipal inspectors ordered and carried out the destruction of three stores in the Ein al-Luzah area of Silwan without prior notice … Owner of Wednesday’s demolished building Ahmad Fahmi Abu Sneina told Ma‘an he tried his best to obtain a construction license, but to no avail, despite costly measures. Abu Sneina said he started the construction process about a year ago. “The occupation municipality has issued a demolition order and over the last months I have managed to postpone and prevent the demolition several times,” Abu Sneina told Ma‘an. Abu Sneina’s lawyer managed to obtain a court decision to stop the demolition while the excavators were demolishing the building, however the municipality immediately appealed the decision and the judge allowed them to resume the demolition. The building comprised eight apartments across three floors, measuring 650 square meters each, with the lower floor including commercial stores. The building was constructed and a portion of the apartments and shops were ready for use at the time of demolition.
Settlers torch 90 olive trees near Salfit
IMEMC/Agencies 20 May — Israeli settlers, Wednesday morning, burned down 90 olive trees in Sarta town, near the central West Bank city of Salfit. Eyewitnesses and farmers from the town said, according to the PNN, that Israeli occupation fire trucks and vehicles arrived to the scene, but did not interfere. The witnesses added that fingers are pointing, again, toward Israeli settlers, since the town is annexed [next?] to the bypass road used regularly by settlers. It is also located between the two settlements of Brukin and Ariel. Journalist and researcher Khaled Ma‘ali said that the olive trees recently have been repeatedly targeted by settlers, causing the damage of thousands of trees in several areas.
Soldiers uproot 20 dunams of agricultural lands in Bethlehem
IMEMC 21 May — The Palestinian Agricultural Relief has reported, Thursday, that Israeli army bulldozers uprooted around 20 dunams of Palestinian farmlands in the Wadi al-Hamra area, in Husan town, west of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. It said the bulldozed and uprooted lands belong to several farmers from Husan and Nahhalin towns. Secretary of the Husan Village Council Rami Hamamra said a large military force invaded the area, approximately at five at dawn, uprooted 20 dunams planted with olive trees and grapevines. Hamamra added that the lands belong to Mohammad Khalil Sabateen, in addition to three brothers identified as Nassim, Mohammad and Suleiman Thieb Sabateen. He further stated that Israel is planning to establish a new illegal outpost that would be added to the Beitar Illit illegal settlement, built on Palestinian lands. In addition, soldiers also closed the main roads leading to Husan and Nahhalin, and declared the area a closed military zone.
Segregation in Israel does not begin or end on buses
+972 mag 20 May by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — There is something disturbingly disingenuous about the 12 hours of furor that erupted over the segregation — and subsequent “desegregation” — of a handful of Israeli bus lines Wednesday morning. When Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered the “unacceptable” segregation scheme suspended, a sigh of relief could be heard sweeping through mainstream Jewish Israel. Democracy lives to see another day; the separation barrier once again kept segregation from infiltrating the Green Line. The bus segregation sparked outrage in Israel not because of the segregation itself (a majority of Israelis support the idea), but because it took place within Israel proper. Palestinian workers’ morning commutes — originating in the West Bank — are already segregated. But heaven forbid that someone be discriminated against — on the basis of nationality — on a public bus originating in Tel Aviv, in Peter Beinart’s “democratic Israel.” The international community might only recognize Israeli sovereignty within the 1949 armistice lines, but Israel makes no such distinction. True, the Israeli army — not the Israeli government — is technically the sovereign power in the West Bank. But the generals take their orders from the government. Thus, a single Israeli regime run by a single government with a single set of ministers, rules over the entire area between the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. Under this singular regime, not only do segregated bus lines already exist, there are also segregated towns, cities and villages; there are segregated legal systems….
Jerusalem megaplex caught demanding ‘Jewish only’ drivers
+972 blog 22 May by Yael Marom — For months on end Cinema City Jerusalem demanded that a contracted taxi company send only Jewish drivers for some of its workers. When the company refused, the megaplex cut its ties. An investigative by our Hebrew site, Local Call, in cooperation with ‘Ulpan Shishi,’ Channel 2′s flagship news broadcast — “If she wants a Jewish driver, she’ll get a Jewish driver, I don’t understand what difference it makes.” “The two of them just asked for a Jewish driver.” “A woman needs to make it to Mevaseret Zion, I would like a Jewish driver to come pick her up.” “One must ask gently and diplomatically for a Jewish driver for the girls.” These were the words the manager and shift manager at Jerusalem’s Cinema City used when talking to the ride coordinator of the taxi company that drove movie theater workers home at night (the company employs both Jewish and Arab workers). The discriminatory demands were made in recorded phone conversations, as well as by special vouchers that had the words “Jewish driver” written on them, for which Cinema City paid a high price. Local Call was able to get a hold of both the recordings and the vouchers, which are now being exposed for the first time in a special investigative report that conducted in cooperation with “Ulpan Shihi,” the flagship weekend news program on Israel’s Channel 2.
WATCH: ‘Jaffa flotilla’ marks destruction of Palestine’s cultural capital
Israeli Social TV 22 May — Dozens of Palestinians and Israeli Jews sailed along the coast last week to mark the destruction of Jaffa — the former political, cultural and economic capital of Palestine — during the 1948 War. Organized by the Israeli NGO Zochrot, which works to raise awareness of the Nakba and promote the right of return among Israeli Jews, the participants, which included Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi, listened to first-hand stories of the fear, expulsions and mass exodus of Palestinians from the city by the pre-state Zionist militias.
IDF claims it is easing travel around West Bank for Palestinians
Times of Israel 22 May by Jonathan Beck — New roads paved, previously closed junctions reopened, officers say, arguing that terror less likely to flourish if economy thrives — The IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division is quietly promoting actions to ease travel and movement for Palestinians around the West Bank, even as critics in Israel and abroad slam an aborted plan for separate bus lines for settlers and for Palestinians, Israeli military officials said … The policy aims to avoid penalizing Palestinians for the crimes of terror organizations active in the West Bank, officials also told Ynet. Among the moves is the construction of a new access road to the village of Beitin, near the settlement of Beit El. The road opened in the past few days. The Orot junction, near Tulkarem and the settlement of Avnei Hefetz, was recently opened to Palestinian traffic as well. At the same time, the Judea and Samaria Division is working to reopen the northern entry to the Palestinian town of Bani Na‘im, which has been closed for security reasons for an extended period. Another road scheduled to be reopened is the access road to the village of Qadum, which was closed off several years ago due to its proximity to the settlement of Kedumim. Due to the closure, residents of Qadum seeking to travel to Nablus needed to take a half-hour detour.
Israeli firebombs burn crops in northern Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 22 May — Israeli soldiers fired, on Thursday evening, a number of firebombs into Palestinian farmlands planted with wheat, east of Jabalia in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The Civil Defense office in Jabalia said the fire consumed around a dunam (0.247 acre) before firefighters managed to contain it. It added that this Israeli violation was the fourth in 24 hours, targeting the eastern area of northern Gaza, especially around the Shuhada Graveyard, east of Jabalia.
On Wednesday evening, Israeli navy ships opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats in the al-Waha and as-Sudaniyya areas, in Gaza, causing excessive damage but no injuries. On Wednesday morning, several Israeli military vehicles, and four armored bulldozers, carried out on a limited invasion into an area, east of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza:
Israeli forces continue near-daily fire on Gaza fishermen, farmers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 May — Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats while forces targeted farmers in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday. Witnesses told Ma‘an that the navel forces opened fire at the fishing boats off the coast of Al-Nuseirat and Al-Zawayda refugee camps located in the central Gaza Strip. The shooting comes days after a fishing boat was damaged by Israeli fire earlier this week, and on May 10 Israeli forces arrested two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahiya. … Separately on Saturday, Israeli forces reportedly opened fire at Palestinian farmers in eastern Khan Younis. No injuries were reported.
Unknown object explodes in Rafah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 May — An unknown object exploded on Friday in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.The Ministry of Interior in Gaza said in statement that the explosion occurred in al-Shawouth neighborhood in Rafah, and no injuries were reported.Although it is unclear what caused the explosion, over 7,000 unexploded ordnance were left throughout the Gaza Strip following last summer’s war between Israel and Palestinian militant groups, according to officials of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories (OCHA).
Bomb explodes near Bank of Palestine in northern Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 May – An explosive device went off after midnight Wednesday in front of a Bank of Palestine branch in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza strip. Neighbors told Ma‘an they heard a blast at 1:30 a.m. before police vehicles arrived. No casualties have been reported, and the incident has not been claimed. Local media reported that Gaza residents had been protesting earlier in the day in front of the Bank against the bank’s alleged closure of bank accounts. On Tuesday, dozens from needy families and unemployed men demonstrated in front of the Bank of Palestine in the center of Gaza City, south of Beit Lahiya. The demonstration was in protest against a decision by the bank to refuse money transfers to charitable societies in the Gaza Strip. Similar demonstrations took place also a week earlier. Tensions have emerged with banks in the past, as Bank of Palestine ATMs were targeted in attacks in January 2015 in what local media reported was politically motivated, as the Bank of Palestine is based in Ramallah, location of Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority headquarters.
Palestinians facing death sentence in Egypt argue innocence
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an/AFP) 21 May — Death sentences issued by an Egyptian court against dozens of Palestinians have shocked Gaza in the wake of seeming appeasement between the Hamas movement and the Egyptian authorities last month. The court delivered the verdict last week, in which deposed Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi and 128 defendants were accused of plotting jailbreaks and attacks on police during the uprising that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Hamas said that several of those sentenced to death are “martyrs and prisoners in Israeli jails, including martyrs Raed al-Attar and Taysir Abu Snimeh, and prisoner Hassan Salameh who has been in Israeli jails since 1996.” Naim Abd al-Al, a Palestinian from the Rafah refugee camp who was sentenced to death by the Egyptian court, told Ma‘an that he didn’t understand how his name was on the list, as he has never been to Egypt and has never left the Gaza Strip … Abd al-Al, 38 years of age and a father of 8, said he does not belong to any faction and is an employee in the civil defense services. He demanded the Egyptian judiciary system to verify the accusations before ruling “unjust sentences.” Since Egypt’s military ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Egyptian authorities have accused Hamas of aiding militants who have waged a string of deadly attacks on security forces in the Sinai Peninsula.
Solar panels could save patients in Gaza’s hospitals, thanks to a new fundraising campaign
WASHINGTON (HuffPost) 21 May by Akbar Shahid Ahmed — The electricity is there one second and cut off the next. Each time it goes, it can take a struggling patient’s life with it. That’s a lesson Tarek Loubani, a Canadian emergency room doctor, has learned over four years of volunteering to treat residents of Gaza … Because the power supply in Gaza is so fickle, often running for only a third of day, Loubani said working in Gaza means providing medical treatment in ways that would shock his colleagues back in Ontario … Loubani said he sees the electricity situation as “catastrophic.” And he’s had enough. Though he’s a doctor by training, the young Canadian is now taking on the role of a fundraiser and visionary. Here’s what he and a team of other medical practitioners have cooked up: a plan to keep Gaza’s hospitals running for the community’s most desperate patients using a resource no blockade can cut off — the sun.Loubani, along with fellow doctors Ben Thomson and Dalal Dahrouj of the University of Western Ontario and filmmaker Amy Miller, started a campaign called EmpowerGAZA late last month.
IHH delivers bread aid to Gaza
IHH 19 May — IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation started a project involving distribution of free bread to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The Gazans are living in very hard conditions due to the blockade imposed by Israel. Therefore IHH has started a campaign to deliver free bread to the people for one month. The Zakat office under Ministry of Waqf will carry out the delivery of bread to 14,000 families in Gaza. The campaign will run for one month and cover all neighbourhoods in Gaza. The bread packages will contain 50 pita breads special to Palestine. Each family will receive one to two packages daily. The packages prepared by IHH has already been distributed in the following Gazan neighbourhoods: Rafah, Khan Younus, Dar al-Belah, Centre, Jabwaliya, Beit Hanoun and Beyt Lahya. [how is IHH getting the aid into Gaza?]
‘…but still with a few hope in our hearts’
Khuza‘a, Gaza 20 May by Inas Jam — Editor’s note: This is the testimony of a 23 year old woman who survived the land invasion of Khuza‘a, Gaza, in the summer of 2014. This is the original version of her writings and no edits have been made — …When we arrived to Khan Younis we received the bad news, my grandfather had been killed by the occupation. My uncle, who also stayed in Khuza‘a, explained me what happened: “grandfather went out from the basement to tell the soldiers that there were just men, women and children in those homes, who had no weapons to defend themselves. But the soldiers killed him putting two bullets in his heart. Everybody was crying then, we were frightened. After that they took us out and took the men to the homes that they were using as base and put them in front of the windows, as human shields. Later they started hitting the men with sticks. Then ordered Alaa Qudaih (the nephew of my grandfather) to take off the clothes of my grandfather. Alaa couldn’t stop crying while doing it. After he covered him with a red blanket. Finally the occupation ordered us to leave Khuza‘a and go to Khan Younes.
Gaza facing dangerous fiscal crisis: World Bank
JERUSALEM (AFP) 22 May — The Gaza Strip has the world’s highest unemployment and Palestinians, Israelis and donors must take action to avoid a “dangerous fiscal crisis,” the World Bank said Friday. The report, prepared ahead of the bi-annual meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) which coordinates international donor support for the Palestinians, comes nearly a year after the 50-day conflict between Gaza militants and Israel, in which around 2,200 Palestinians were killed. According to the World Bank, the virtual disappearance of Gaza’s exports can be explained by no other variable than “war and the blockade.” “The impact of the blockade imposed in 2007 was particularly devastating, with GDP losses caused by the blockade estimated at above 50 percent and large welfare losses,” the report said of the blockade imposed by neighbours Israel and Egypt. The World Bank urged the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the donor community to take “actions” and carry out “reforms” in order “to reverse the recent and worrisome slowdown in economic growth” and “avoid a dangerous fiscal crisis.” The report said unemployment in Gaza increased in 2014 “to reach 44 percent — probably the highest in the world,” with the poverty rate in the Palestinian territory reaching 39 percent, despite the fact that nearly four of every five Gazans receive “some aid.”
Which countries are failing to deliver Gaza aid?
JERUSALEM (IRIN) 22 May by Annie Slemrod — Gulf Arab states and Turkey have spectacularly failed to fulfill their pledges to Gaza, contributing to a two-thirds shortfall in promised assistance to the beleaguered enclave, a new report reveals. Qatar has delivered just 10 percent of the $1 billion it promised, while Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait between them have handed over just over $50 million of the $900 million they pledged, according to a new World Bank report … The release of the World Bank’s numbers comes a month after UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, said that not a single one of the more than 5,000 completely destroyed homes in Gaza had been rebuilt. Big donors come up short Although $5.4 billion was widely vaunted as the takeaway figure from the Cairo conference, only $3.5 billion of it was actually allocated to Gaza. As of late April, donors had given only 27.5 percent of the promised $3.5 billion, or $967 million. However, only 35 percent of the aid pledged – or $1.2 billion – was actually fresh, with the majority coming from reallocated donations and emergency funding delivered as the bombs were still falling. Of this new aid, just 13.5 percent – or $165 million – has come through (see chart below).
IDF’s newest weapon against Hamas: Mini Gaza
Arutz Sheva 22 May — Unique new 3-D model at 50 square meters in size will give IDF officers special training to be one step ahead of the terrorists. The IDF has a new tool to prepare for the apparently inevitable next round of fighting against Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza – a miniature training model precisely rendering the terrain of the terror stronghold. The three dimensional model was recently built at the IDF Southern Command’s training base, and exposes all of the topographical structure of Gaza, its cities and towns, as well as the security barrier and Jewish communities in the adjacent Gaza Belt region. A wide variety of drills meant to prepare for various combat realities in the area will be made possible thanks to the model, which will give IDF trainees an in-depth level of knowledge regarding the lay of the land. The model, which is 50 square meters in size, “creates training of a higher level than looking at a map or aerial photographs,” said the base’s commander, Lt. Col. Yaron Buskila. “The installation allows officers to learn the scope of the land before arrival at the front and starting continuous security (activities),” said Buskila.
Stuck in Gaza, hackers open lines to the world
GAZA (Reuters) 21 May — With jobs scarce and time on their hands, some tech-savvy Gazans have found a new way to make money, hacking Internet-based phone lines and routing international calls for a fee. Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) hacking has been a phenomenon for years. But now Gaza, sealed off by a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt, is getting in on the act by using the strongest link it has to the outside world, the Internet. There are various ways of hacking VoIP networks, but people familiar with the practice in Gaza say it involves using dedicated servers to scoop up as many telephone IP addresses as possible, especially from big corporations and businesses … For those doing it in Gaza, a strip of land 40 km long and 10 km wide, where 1.8 million people live, it’s a chance to use their technical skills to earn cash at a time when jobs are few and unemployment hovers at 50 percent. “What can we do? Die or find a way to live?” one 25-year-old hacker, working out of a house in southern Gaza, told Reuters. He and others requested anonymity. A successful hacker can do well. Some are said to earn up to $50,000 a month if they manage to get hold of good lines, although they can also go weeks without earning anything.
Iran reportedly stops financing Gaza’s Islamic Jihad
i24NEWS 21 May — Iran has stopped funding the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization, the Palestinian daily Al-Quds reported on Wednesday. The severing of ties has led the group’s Secretary General, Ramadan Shalah, to leave Tehran, where he had holding discussions with the government, and head for Beirut. Tehran has taken this step, said Gaza-based Islamic Jihad official Jamil Abdul-Nabi, because of the movement’s refusal to adopt a clear position in support of Iran’s involvement in Yemen. Despite its pro-Assad position, Islamic Jihad has asserted repeatedly that it is taking a neutral position regarding the Yemeni issue. Attempts by Hezbollah to mediate between Islamic Jihad and Tehran have failed, sources told the Palestinian newspaper. Islamic Jihad is already facing a financial crisis and has closed the head office of its main satellite TV channel, Palestine Today, and cut the number of employees in its office in Gaza. It has also dismissed dozens of employees in other locations and has not paid full salaries for the others for about four months. One of the group’s senior officials in Gaza, Hisham Salem, has established a new group called “Al-Saberoon,” which is in full ideological and political agreement with Iran.
Gaza’s next war: Will Isis-inspired Salafi jihadis overthrow Hamas?
IBT 21 May by Kate Shuttleworth — At a checkpoint in Deir el-Balah in Gaza, a Hamas policeman stands in dark blue uniform amidst a landscape of destroyed buildings and dried-up fields. Nearby is pile of plastic, concrete and broken wood, the remains of a mosque that has since been torn down. It was here that until a week ago radical Salafist Palestinians who idolise Islamic State (Isis) and have been accused of a series of bomb attacks gathered. Hamas, the Islamist group that have controlled Gaza since 2007, destroyed the makeshift mosque on 3 May. But the Gaza Strip’s problem with radical Islam neither began, nor ended, in this dusty patch of land off Salahaddin Road. Domestic tensions have reached boiling point, with Hamas-led security forces claiming to have thwarted a roadside bomb attack on a busy central street said to be an attempt by ultra-radical Salafist supporters of IS. Hamas claims the group aimed to detonate the 30kg bomb on a busy intersection next to the main market in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighbourhood, heavily damaged during the 2014 war with Israel, and was stopped with just minutes to spare. “The bomb had a timer on it and there was a getaway car waiting for him,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. Two men were arrested but Barhoum would not name them. The latest incident comes after an escalation in attacks by the Salafists and a concerted effort by Hamas to clamp down on them. The Islamist party – which seized control of the Strip in 2007 – believes the Salafi groups are destabilising its power base and have set up dozens of new security checkpoints across the Gaza Strip.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israel releases ex-minister after 10 months in prison
Middle East Monitor 22 May — The Israeli authorities released the Palestinian Authority’s former Minister of Prisoners, Wasfi Kabha, on Thursday. Hailing from the northern West Bank city of Jenin, Kabha has spent 10 months in prison, the Ahrar Centre for Prisoners and Human Rights reported. “Kabha arrived home after he was released at Jubara checkpoint near Tulkarem,” said Ahrar in a statement. He was arrested on 15 June last year after the kidnapping and murder of three settlers in Hebron; he was then held under administrative detention. It is alleged that Kabha was assaulted whilst in Israeli custody being transferred to Megiddo jail. He was placed in solitary confinement in Hadarim before being sentenced to 10 months in prison. The former minister served in the Hamas-led government elected in 2006 and is one of the most prominent leaders of the Islamic movement in the West Bank.
Israel to release MP Khalida Jarrar
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 May — An Israeli court on Thursday ruled to release imprisoned Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar, the head of the Palestinian Authority’s Prisoners’ Affairs Committee said. Issa Qaraqe‘ told Ma‘an that Jarrar will be released and forced to pay a 20,000 shekel ($5,180) fine. The court gave the prosecution 72 hours to appeal the decision. Jarrar was detained on April 2 from her home in the Ramallah neighborhood of al-Bireh, and was held and interrogated at the Ofer detention center before being taken to Hasharon prison inside Israel. She was charged by the Israeli military prosecution later in April. According to a report by Amnesty International, Jarrar was charged by the Israeli military prosecution with membership of an illegal organization, participation in protests, and incitement to kidnap Israeli soldiers. Jarrar’s defense team argued there was no basis to the incitement charge and that it was vindictive, Amnesty said. The majority of Palestinian political organizations are considered illegal by Israel, including those that make up the PLO, and association with such parties is often used as grounds for imprisonment, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer. Jarrar was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006 as a member of PFLP.
Palestinian refugees — in and from Syria
Lifelong refugees: Palestinian boat people search for a new home
+972 blog 21 May by Samah Salaime — After escaping the horrors of the Syrian Civil War by boat, a group of Palestinian refugees washed up on the shores of Greece. Now they are wandering the streets of Athens without food or shelter — After four days at sea, with no food or fuel, 175 Palestinian refugees were rescued by the Greek navy. After fleeing the horrors of war in Syria for neighboring Turkey and paying huge sums to their smugglers, who promised to bring them to Italy (not to mention ensure they had entry permits, as well as food and drink), the refugees found themselves living in the streets of Athens. Dreaming of reaching Europe on one hand, while facing the possibility of deportation on the other. Some of those same refugees are members of the Salaime family, from the Palestinian village Sajara, which was destroyed in 1948. My family’s village. As it made its way to the beaches of Greece, the same boat carrying the Palestinian refugees washed up on the shores of my consciousness. That’s it, I can no longer pretend that that the war in Syria is far removed from me or my children. Now that members of my village, along with other refugees, have escaped from Yarmouk and Al-A’idan refugee camps, there are people who will tell the story. There are photographs of the boat and there are children begging for a piece of bread, after they lost all their food at sea. There are the tears of a helpless mother as she faces her children. And there is the human trafficking between Syria, Turkey, Egypt and Italy. “War traffickers,” said Abu Ahmad Salaime, a 54-year-old engineer who was chosen to head the group of refugees who left Turkey in an old, rusty boat carrying 175 people. There was no single whole family on the boat. Everyone has been separated between Syria and Turkey. “They don’t put the entire family on one small boat in the middle of a huge sea,” said one of the survivors. And anyway “who has the money to pay the smugglers, who take between $5,000 and $10,000 per person?
Yarmouk situation update, 20 Mary 2015 | Issue No. 31
UNRWA 10 May — UNRWA conducted humanitarian operations in Yalda, Babila and Beit Saham today, continuing a second round of food assistance for civilians displaced from Yarmouk. Humanitarian activities continue in Tadamoun, to the north-east. SITUATION REPORT UNRWA personnel established a distribution point in Yalda, serving displaced civilians in the three areas of Yalda, Babila and Beit Saham, to the south-east of Yarmouk. A total of 1,200 families were provided with food parcels and 3,000 packets of bread were distributed. Fresh and dry food sufficient to provide a daily hot meal for 600 individuals for one week was also provided to a community kitchen serving displaced civilians … The vulnerability of civilians in Yarmouk remains of the highest severity. UNRWA is deeply concerned that without access, the most basic humanitarian needs of up to 18,000 Palestinian and Syrian civilians, including 3,500 children, continue to be left unmet.
Report: French UN resolution sets 18-month deadline for Israeli-Palestinian deal
Haaretz 20 May by Barak Ravid — The resolution will only be submitted after the June 30 Iran deal deadline — A draft of the proposed French United Nations Security Council resolution on the Israel-Palestinian conflict was published by the French newspaper Le Figaro on Wednesday. According to the newspaper, the draft resolution, which is being promoted by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, calls for the immediate resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and their conclusion in a permanent agreement within 18 months. If no agreement is reached in the allotted time, France will recognize the Palestinian state, according to Le Figaro. The draft has been circulated by the French Foreign Ministry to the Arab League and UN Security Council members such as Britain and Spain. Fabius set the relatively short deadline due to the ongoing deterioration of conditions in the West Bank. Another reason is the desire to complete the negotiations before the end of President Francois Hollande’s term in 2017.
IMF: Donors need to support West Bank, Gaza recovery
WASHINGTON (AFP) 20 May — The International Monetary Fund called Tuesday for more donor aid to support the recovery of the West Bank and Gaza Strip economy, citing an uncertain outlook for the Palestinian territories. The IMF said in a report that the reconstruction process in the Gaza Strip, ravaged by the war between Israel and Hamas that ended last August, “is moving far more slowly than expected.” The economic cost of the 50-day war is estimated at $4 billion for Gaza, the IMF noted, as tens of thousands of homes and business were destroyed and the area was under Israeli and Egyptian blockades … A key uncertainty is the continuation of clearance revenues, revenues collected by Israel in the form of indirect taxes on imported goods and later transferred to the Palestinian Authority, which account for two-thirds of total revenues. Israel froze the transfer of the revenues from December to March, wreaking havoc on the Palestinian authority’s finances. The IMF projected a mild economic recovery in the Israeli-occupied West Bank this year, with growth at 2.5 percent, in part based on the assumption of steady transfers for the rest of the year … Whatever measures the Palestinian authorities take to repair finances, the IMF said, they “might not be sufficient to fully close the financing gap” and “additional donor aid would be needed.”
US sells Israel bombs in $1.8bn arms deal
Middle East Monitor 21 May — US Defence Department approved a deal to supply Israel with $1.8 billion worth of precision guided munitions and bombs, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported yesterday. According to the paper, the Pentagon said that the deal, which was announced yesterday, includes 14,500 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), an arms system attached to bombs that enables precision targeting with GPS intended for fighter jets. In addition, Haaretz said, the deal includes 8,000 bombs (of the types MK-82 and MK-83) suitable for JDAM. The air force will also receive 50 bunker busting bombs, effective up to six metres, as well as over 4,000 small bombs, weighing 110 kilogrammes each. The Israeli air force will also receive 3,000 Hellfire missiles, which are fired from Apache helicopters. “These munitions will enable Israel to maintain operational capability of its existing systems and will enhance Israel’s interoperability with the United States,” Haaretz reported a Pentagon statement as saying.
Report: Swiss court orders Israel to pay Iran $1.1 billion in oil pipeline dispute
Haaretz/Aluf Benn 20 May — An Israeli oil company, the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company, has been ordered to pay $1.1 billion in compensation to Iran by a Swiss court, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported on Wednesday. In response, Israel clarified that it will not pay the debt to the Iranians. “Without referring to the matter at hand, we’ll note that according to the Trading with the Enemy Act it is forbidden to transfer money to the enemy, including the Iranian national oil company,” the Finance Ministry statement said. The compensation ruling follows a long-running legal battle between the two countries over the revenues from an oil pipeline joint venture that dates back to before the Islamic Revolution … The joint venture between the two countries, which began under the Shah of Iran in 1968, was a project for selling Iranian oil to Europe via Israel … The jointly-owned pipeline was effectively nationalized by Israel after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, after which Iran turned from being Israel’s ally to its enemy, and Iran’s assets were expropriated.
Saudi Arabia signs US$111.5 million agreement with UNRWA
Amman (UNRWA) 20 May — The Government of Saudi Arabia has signed seven agreements totaling US$ 111.5 million in assistance for Palestine refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) … The contributions cover all five fields of UNRWA operations, with US$10 million for Palestine refugees affected by the conflict in Syria, whether they are in Syria itself or in neighboring Jordan and Lebanon; US$15 million for the continued reconstruction of the Nahr el-Bared camp in Lebanon; US$74 million for Palestine refugees in Gaza to repair their homes damaged during last summer’s conflict, and in support of health and education programmes in Gaza; and US$12.5 million for rehabilitation and reconstruction of schools and shelters in the West Bank. This latest agreement brings total contributions from Saudi Arabia through SFD to nearly half a billion dollars since 1994, with Saudi Arabia now the Agency’s third-largest donor for the second year running.
Israel appeals to Platini to sway FIFA from Palestinian suspension bid
JERUSALEM (AFP) 22 May — The Israel Football Association appealed to UEFA president Michel Platini on Friday to speak out “loud and clear” against the Palestinian bid to vote the IFA out of FIFA next week. The annual FIFA Congress, which begins on May 28, includes the Palestinian Football Association’s proposal to suspend the IFA from world football. IFA president Ofer Eini told Platini in a letter that FIFA had twice refused his request to have the Palestinian bid removed from the Congress agenda, mentioning FIFA’s own attempts to have the item struck. “IFA is facing one of its most crucial situations since it was established in the year 1928, finding ourselves in the need to defend ourselves against a proposal which is totally political and has nothing to do with the objectives of FIFA and the spirit of football”, Eini wrote.
Venezuela to increase Palestine representation to full embassy status
SAO PAULO (PIC) 22 May — Venezuela decided on Friday to increase its diplomatic representation in Palestine to full embassy status, according to the Venezuelan minister for foreign affairs. “Following instructions from President Nicolás Maduro, we will raise our representation in the heroic Palestinian states to embassy level,” Delcy Rodríguez announced on social media Friday evening. The decision comes after a visit by Palestinian foreign affairs minister Riyad al-Maliki to Venezuela this week, during which 18 agreements of cooperation and a contract were signed covering a wide range of strategic areas. Formal diplomatic ties between the two nations were established in 2009 under late President Hugo Chávez. Venezuela went on to expel Israeli representatives as a sign of support for the Palestinian cause especially after Israel’s summer aggression on Gaza.