Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Restrictions on movement
Govt. to legalise settlement outposts
AIC 10 May by Connie Hackbarth — Israel’s new government is planning to “legalise” West Bank settlement construction conducted in contravention of Israeli law, according to the coalition agreement between Likud and the Jewish Home. This stands in stark contrast to the demolition policy implemented by Israel against Palestinian-owned homes built without permits — The English-language daily Jerusalem Post reports, based on unofficial copies of the Likud-Jewish Home coalition agreement, that within one month a professional team will be created to formulate a plan for the authorisation of settlement construction in the West Bank – both settlement outposts and building within recognised settlements – that were built “without the involvement of the authorities”, i.e. without the requisite permits. Settlement outposts appeared following the 1993 Oslo Accord, in which the Israeli government committed itself to freeze the building of new settlements. Outposts, while not officially authorised by the government as they are essentially new settlements, are greatly by Israeli public authorities with infrastructure, resources and defense, according to the 2005 Sasson Report, commissioned by then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In the long-forgotten 2003 Road Map to Peace, Israel committed itself to removing all settlement outposts created after March 2001. Some 100 settlement outposts exist today, according to estimates by the Israeli settlement watch group Peace Now.
West Bank village challenges Israel’s iron grip on planning
AD-DEIRAT (AFP) 10 May — It was a large house with three floors and freshly painted pale blue shutters that had just been built for a family of 17. But within a few hours of work by a pair of Israeli bulldozers, all that was left was a mountain of rubble and twisted metal. Like more than half of the homes in Ad Deirat-Rifaiyya — a village of 1,800 residents on a windswept hillside in the southern West Bank — the house was built on land owned by the villagers but without Israel’s approval. Left without a roof over their heads and unwilling to try building again, the family moved away to rented accommodation in a nearby town. It is a scenario that plays out hundreds of times a year across most of the occupied West Bank, where Israel has made it all-but-impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits. The result is wide-scale “illegal” construction, which is then demolished by Israel in a policy that has drawn widespread condemnation. The question of Israel’s iron grip on all planning matters in what is known as Area C — which covers more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank — is now being debated by the Israeli Supreme Court. In a landmark appeal, Ad-Deirat village, Israeli NGO Rabbis for Human Rights and three other organisations are demanding the state end its discriminatory housing policies and return local planning rights to Palestinians. Giving Palestinians control over their own planning would curb the need for illegal building, thereby halting house demolitions, say the petitioners, who have made their case before the Supreme Court and are now waiting for a final ruling … In Ad-Deirat, where most houses lack a permit, the threat of demolition hangs over everyone.”It is a very hard feeling because every day, you see jeeps passing, you think they’re coming to demolish your house,” says Mohammed al-Umur, a 59-year-old farmer who has four wives and 30 children.”This is both a psychological and a financial war with no limit. The feeling is indescribable,” says Umur, who has plowed all his income and that of his sons into defending and then rebuilding four family homes that were razed.”Everyone living here who is over 45 has had at least one house demolished — some of them have been through it two, three or four times,” says Mohammed al-Adra, a taxi driver with 25 children.”The aim of this is to make us leave,” he says.
IDF maps village of Susya as forced displacement loom
+972 mag 10 May by Mairav Zonszein — A Civil Administration inspector accompanied by soldiers arrived Sunday morning in Susya to take photos and measurements of village structures, further stoking fears among its Palestinian residents that they will be expelled from their homes at any moment. Nasser Nawajeh, a resident, longtime activist and volunteer with B’Tselem, took the following photo of the official, who goes by the name Carlos. Israel’s High Court of Justice on Tuesday gave the army a green light to demolish the Palestinian village and forcibly transfer its residents out of Area C of the West Bank. The court refused to issue an injunction that would freeze any demolitions in the south Hebron Hills village before the village’s case is even heard and ruled on by the highest court of the land….
Israel court approves demolition of Bedouin village to make way for Jews
EI 10 May by Patrick Strickland — Israel’s high court ruled on 5 May that the government can evict Palestinian residents of Umm al-Hiran — a Bedouin village in the Naqab (Negev) region of present-day Israel — and build a Jewish-only colony in its place. Although the estimated 700 residents of Umm al-Hiran carry Israeli citizenship and were placed in the village by military decree in 1956, the court “ruled the land belongs to the state and the Bedouins have no legal rights to it,” Israeli daily Haaretz reports … Like the dozens of other “unrecognized villages” in the Naqab, Haaretz notes: “The government has never denied that the residents were moved to Umm al-Hiran by state authorities.” The planned Jewish community to be built atop Umm al-Hiran will include 2,500 housing units for religious Jews, the right-wing Times of Israel reports. Their eviction is part of a broader process of pushing the indigenous Palestinian Bedouin population of the Naqab off their land … The demolitions, however, are not limited to the Naqab. As The Electronic Intifada reported, three homes were recently destroyed in the unrecognized village of Dahmash. The village is situated between Lydd and Ramle, cities in the central region of present-day Israel. Dahmash is also slated to be razed in its entirety. A home demolition was also carried out last month in Kufr Kana, a Palestinian village in the Galilee region.
Opinion: It’s 1948 again for Bedouin tribe / Oudeh Basharat
Haaretz 11 May — The Abu Alkian were expelled in 1948 from their Negev lands, which went to Kibbutz Shoval. A few years later they built Umm al-Hiran, which is now slated to become a new Jewish town named Hiran — I have no doubt that the minister of Zionist history is tearing his hair out right now. The frustration over the ruling of the Supreme Court with regard to expelling the residents of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran to establish a Jewish town called Hiran is driving him out of his mind. Honorable justices, what’s going on here? To evacuate 1,000 Bedouin, you are destroying the Zionist narrative about what happened here in 1948? How can you accuse the residents of being trespassers? They are living for 60 years in the location the state allotted to them. How can you argue once again that the expulsion is taking place during a war, and roll your eyes and say that in war there are inevitably refugees? How can you blame the Arab leaders for supposedly calling on the village residents to leave until they destroy the Zionist entity, and how can it be said that the residents of Umm al-Hiran didn’t want Jews near them, so they deserve to be evacuated? After all, the village residents are willing to live with the Jews. Even before the new government is sworn in, the spirit of Naftali Bennett prevails. This time we aren’t apologizing. This time we aren’t trying to find various and sundry reasons for carrying out the expulsion. No more military or environmental constraints or any other excuses. We’re simply uprooting an Arab to plant a Jew. So whom should we thank? Our justices who removed the mask. This ruling was the greatest gift to the Palestinian narrative. The justices simply prove that the claim that thousands of Palestinians ostensibly “wandered” across the borders in 1948 without the Zionists having any hand in it is totally baseless.
Bedouin families east of Jerusalem face forced evacuation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 May – Dozens of Palestinian families living in the Bedouin Abu Nuwwar village to the east of Jerusalem will be forced from their land in less than a month, locals told Ma‘an on Saturday. Israeli authorities are evacuating the families to clear way for the expansion of the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, which lies to the west of Abu Nuwwar. Abu Nuwwar is one of several Bedouin villages facing evacuation due to plans by Israeli authorities to build thousands of homes for Jewish-only settlements in the so-called E1 corridor, despite international outcry. Settlement construction in E1 would effectively divide the West Bank and make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state — as envisaged by the internationally backed two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — almost impossible. The most recent plans in E1 will see Bedouin families forced from 389 dunams (98 acres) of land, which will be used to build more than 1,500 settler homes. A spokesman for the Bedouin families Dawoud al-Jahalin told Ma‘an that the Civil Administration had sent a “representative to negotiate with the Bedouin families, who made several offers to convince the residents to move to another location.” He said that the alternative location suggested was a hill west of Al-Ezariya where Palestinian activists have in the past set up a protest camp known as “the Gate to Jerusalem.” Israeli forces have demolished the protest camp several times … The Bedouin families said that they will turn down any Israeli offer and will remain in their land in Abu al-Nuwwar.
Bedouin village razed 83 times must pay $500,000 for demolitions, Israel says
Mondoweiss 9 May by Allison Deger — The unrecognized Bedouin village of al-‘Araqib was in court Wednesday, where the state of Israel argued the southern desert town must pay $500,000 [2 million Israeli Shekels] to cover the cost of demolitions, and more than 1,000 police deployed to carry out the destruction. Since 2010 al-‘Araqib has been razed to the ground 83 times, more than any other locality in Israel. In Israel around half of the Bedouin population, 90,000 Arab-Palestinian herders, live in towns the state does not view as legitimate. Without “recognition,” these villages are pre-approved for demolition. In al-‘Araqib’s case additional legal battles over land ownership prompted Israel to issue the entire desert hamlet the mass eviction order. The state claims it legally expropriated the territory using Ottoman code still on the books during the 1950s. Al-‘Araqib’s residents still have copies of their old deeds and say they are valid and up to date. While individual owners have been charged with the cost of demolishing a home in the past, this is the first case in Israel’s history where an entire town was told it must pay for its destruction. In instances when Israel demolished settlements, outposts the state viewed as illegally constructed in the West Bank, those Jewish-Israeli towns were never later given a bill.
Israeli court orders demolition of 8 Palestinian buildings
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 May — An Israeli magistrates’ court on Sunday ruled that eight buildings in a northern Jerusalem neighborhood must be evacuated and demolished, arguing that the properties are not owned by the Palestinian residents. Residents in the Semiramis neighborhood of East Jerusalem, located in the seam zone area near Qalandiya checkpoint, must demolish the buildings themselves by Aug. 1 after the court ruled that the properties have been owned by Jewish Israelis since 1971. The court also imposed a fine of 49,000 shekels ($12,667) on the owners. The buildings consist of 23 apartments housing 107 people. One of the residents, Akram Abu Shalbak, told Ma‘an that a hearing was held Friday, but the verdict was announced Sunday. A group of Palestinians bought a tract of land in 2002 in the neighborhood, with all parties registering the property with official bodies without any obstacles, he added. Israel then confiscated 10,000 square meters of the land when construction of the separation wall began, with the owners going court to appeal against the annexation. At that time, no Jewish organizations or individuals had claimed any rights to ownership of the land, Abu Shalbak said. In 2004, the owners constructed eight residential apartment buildings and in 2010 a group of Israeli settlers claimed they had owned the land since 1971, producing documents to prove their ownership. The group received support from Arieh King, head of the Israel Land Fund, a group which works to settle Jews in Palestinian neighborhoods.
Israel’s West Bank housing policy by numbers
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP) 10 May — Since seizing the West Bank in 1967, Israel has held full control over all planning matters for both Palestinians and Jewish settlers in an area covering over 60 percent of the territory. Although settlers can secure building permits with ease, the opposite applies for Palestinians who are forced to build illegally, with Israel bulldozing hundreds of such structures every year, rights groups say. – Villages vs. settlements – Over 60 percent – around 360,000 hectares – of the West Bank is classified as Area C, which Israel aims to retain under any final settlement. This is where Israel has full control over security and also civilian affairs which are managed by the Civil Administration. U.N. figures show there are an estimated 298,000 Palestinians living in Area C, in 532 residential areas. There are also 341,000 Israelis living in 135 settlements and 100 or so unauthorized outposts. Less than 1 percent of Area C is designated for Palestinian development, compared to 70 percent which falls within the domain of local settlements, the U.N. says. Palestinian construction in the rest of Area C is subject to severe restrictions and almost impossible to carry out … According to Amnesty International, there were 76 building permits issued to Palestinians between 1996 and 1999. And from 2000-2014, only 206 building permits were issued, Bimkom says. In 2014, Israel granted a single permit.
Right-wing Jews tour al-Aqsa compound under police escort
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 May — A group of right-wing Jews entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound Sunday morning under the armed protection of Israeli police and army officers, witnesses told Ma‘an. The group of up to 30 right-wing Jews entered through the Moroccan gate and were met with cries of “Allah Akbar” from Muslim worshipers. Witnesses said that one of group stopped at the Chain Gate to perform “religious rituals,” but compound security guards along with Muslim worshipers prevented him, and he was led from the compound by Israeli officers. Meanwhile, Palestinian women who Israeli forces have banned from the compound reportedly attempted to gain to access to the compound despite their bans.
PHOTOS: West Bank villagers protest: Open our gate!
Activestills 9 May by Ahmad al-Bazz — Residents of A-Zaim, a village in the West Bank, protested on Friday against the ongoing closure of a gate in the separation wall, which is their only gateway to East Jerusalem. Barring two hours a day, the gate has been closed since a 16-year-old Ali Abu Ghannam allegedly tried to stab a Border Police officer at the adjacent checkpoint two weeks ago. His family claims that Abu Ghannam, who was fatally shot, was killed in cold blood.
Violence / Attacks / Raids / Arrests
Israeli light rail guards assault young Palestinian woman
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 May — A young Palestinian woman from occupied East Jerusalem has accused security guards at an Israeli light rail station, along with Israeli police officers, of physically and verbally assaulting her on Thursday. Natalie Abed Rabbo, 18, told Ma‘an that she had bought a light rail ticket and was boarding the tram, when “all of a sudden, a security guard approached me and accused me of boarding the tram without a ticket.” She said that she showed her ticket to the the guard, but that he ignored it. She added: “I asked him to check the surveillance cameras to make sure that I had bought a ticket, but he refused.” Abed Rabbo said that she then asked to speak to an officer to submit a complaint, but before she was able to do so, “eight security guards attacked me and pushed me into a corner, grabbing me by the neck.” She said that a female Israeli police officer tried to take away her handbag, but that she held onto it. Abed Rabbo said she was able to use her mobile phone to call her family, and that her mother and brother soon arrived on the scene. However, she said: “Special force officers then arrived and they beat my mother and brother, and they cuffed my hands and my feet.” The young woman said she was taken to the Russian Compound police station where she said she was again physically assaulted … Abed Rabbo was released several hours later having paid a bail of 3,000 shekels. She said she was also forced to pay a fine of 200 shekels for breaching tram regulations.
Palestinian woman and her children attacked by settlers
[with VIDEO] AL-KHALIL (HEBRON), Occupied Palestine (ISM, Al-Khalil Team) 9 May — Yesterday evening in Al Khalil (Hebron), a Palestinian woman and her two small children were attacked by settlers from the illegal settlement as they were on their way to the shops. Marwat Abu Remele lives in Tel Rumeida, an area in Al Khalil under Israeli control. She was on her way to buy groceries, when about twenty settlers gathered around them and attacked her son. A Palestinian man, Mohammed Abu Hazerh, promptly ran to protect them from this harassment. Harassment of this kind is not unusual for the Palestinians living in this part of the city. A settler woman managed to convince Israeli soldiers that the Palestinians were in the wrong, and Mohammed narrowly escaped arrest. When the soldiers agreed to release him, the Israeli woman became hysterical and with a crowd of children ran after him. While she was shouting and insulting everyone standing on the street, the settler children spat, harassed and kicked other Palestinians and internationals that had come to witness the scene. The soldiers attempted to stop all filming of what was going on and were failing to prevent the settlers harassing and taunting local people. The Abu Shamsiyeh family, who live on the street where the attack took place, were unable to enter their home as settlers were blocking their entrance. One of the Palestinian women who was trying to film the scene was violently attacked by two settlers….
Settlers attack Palestinian woman and her children in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 20 May — A group of Jewish settlers physically assaulted a Palestinian woman and her young children in the Old City of Hebron in the southern West Bank late Saturday, a local human rights group said. A spokesman for the Hebron-based group Human Rights Defenders, Badee Dweik, said that the assault took place during an attack by settlers on Palestinian homes in the Old City’s Tel Rumeida neighborhood. Dweik said that Mirvat Abu Tuama was walking home with her children Hazim, 10, Rahaf, 8, Lujayn, 5, and Liyan, 4, when they were chased and attacked by the settlers. Settlers were also reported to have hurled stones at the home of Yasser Abu Markhiyya in Tel Rumeida. Another group of settlers attacked a Palestinian teenage girl, Madlin Abu Shamsiyya, while she was trying to capture video footage of them attacking the home of Itidal Qiwar.
Clashes erupt in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 May — Clashes erupted between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers in the neighborhoods of al-‘Issawiya and Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem late Friday.Member of a local follow-up committee in al-Issawiya Muhammad Abu al-Hummus said that clashes broke out when Israeli forces entered the village through its main entrance. Israeli soldiers fired stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets to disperse youths. Meanwhile Majd al-Abbasi from the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan said that clashes erupted in the Bir Ayyub area of Silwan. He also reported that Israeli forces fired stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at youths. Occupied East Jerusalem has been tense for months, particularly due to the ongoing increase in numbers of Israeli settlers that have moved into the area with the assistance of organizations that facilitate the purchase and takeover of Palestinian homes in an effort to “Judaize Jerusalem.” On Thursday, it was announced that Israel had approved construction of a further 900 settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem.
Israel arrests seven Palestinians in West Bank
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 10 May – Israeli army Sunday arrested at least seven Palestinians during predawn raids across the West Bank, according to local and security sources. In Ramallah district, the army broke into Turmus ‘Ayya, north of the city, and arrested three Palestinians from nearby Silwad. They were identified as Malek Ziad, Tamer Murshed and Abdullah Basha. The army also stormed the nearby village of Silwad and handed a local resident a notification to appear before the Israeli intelligence for interrogation. Meanwhile, army broke into Hebron and arrested two local residents, who were identified as Ahmad Junaidi and Nasser-Eddine Shabaneh. In the meantime, an Israeli army force stormed the village of Taqu‘, east of Bethlehem, and arrested 23-year-old Sami Sabah, after raiding and searching his house. Army also stormed the nearby village of Doha and notified a local resident to appear for interrogation. Israeli army further arrested Milad Qabaha, 22, a resident of Tura al-Gharbiyya, west of Jenin, while he was on his way to Jericho.
Israeli forces arrest Palestinian in East Jerusalem, summon 7
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 May — A Palestinian man was detained in a dawn raid by Israeli forces in the neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem Sunday, a day after seven men from Jerusalem were issued police summons while returning to the occupied territories from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Locals identified the arrested man as Hamza Jabir Abbasi, and said he was arrested after Israeli forces stormed his family home in the Ein al-Luza area of Silwan neighborhood …
Separately, Israeli intelligence issued police summonses to seven Palestinians from Jerusalem on Saturday, ordering them to go to Salah al-Din police station in Jerusalem for questioning. The summonses were issued at King Hussein Bridge crossing between Jordan and the West Bank, which the young men were passing through on their way back from the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The men told Ma‘an that Israeli intelligence officers stopped them for several hours at the crossing before issuing the summons ordering them to go to Salah al-Din police station for further questioning.
When the police start acting like a gang
+972 blog 7 May by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — A journalist learns that if you photograph Border Policemen committing a felony, you’ll probably end up paying for it — Near the end of January 2015, Amin Hassan Raneh Alawiya left his home in East Jerusalem’s Al-Azariya neighborhood and made his way to a wedding. As he later described it in his police complaint, upon leaving the house, Alawiya – a photojournalist by profession – noticed a demonstration taking place nearby. Naturally, he picked up his camera and went over to document it. A Border Police officer, whom Alawiya recognized, ordered him to move away. In fact, he gave Alawiya the choice of either moving away, getting arrested or getting shot. Alawiya went back home and photographed from there. Two policemen then came to the house and called Alawiya to come out. When he did the two cops jumped him. They continued hitting him as he was led to their vehicle, and from what they said on the two-way radio, Alawiya understood that he was to blame for disregarding their instructions. Inside the vehicle, the policemen kept hitting him, one of them shouting, “this is for our friend,” and, “our friend will shoot you,” using the name of a third policeman. One of them also used the opportunity to curse the founder of Islam, Muhammad, until the other one told him to stop. Who is the third cop? Ah! This is the core of the story. In May 2014, as part of his job, Alawiya documented Border Policemen assaulting a hooded child in East Jerusalem, after he was suspected of throwing stones.
Prisoners / Deportees
Former prisoner dies of medical complications
JENIN (Ma‘an) 9 May — Former Palestinian prisoner, Rami Kamal Shalamish, 33, from the Birqin town of Jenin, died on Saturday, prisoners’ committee said. Head of the Prisoners and Former Prisoners’ Affairs Committee, Issa Qaraqe, held Israel and the Israeli prisons services responsible, citing Shalamish’s death as a result of medical negligence by Israel against Palestinian prisoners. Qaraqe called upon the international community, the UN’s Security Council, and the World Health Organization to form a committee for an investigation into the conditions leading to Shalamish’s death, as well as those faced by ill prisoners held in Israeli jails. Shalamish was released in 2006 in critical condition from complications related to multiple sclerosis after being given the wrong medications, the committee added. Shalamish’s death comes a month after the death of former prisoner Jaafar Awad, 22, who died shortly after being released due to pre-existing health complications that rapidly deteriorated while being held in Israeli jails … Awad was reportedly given incorrect dosages in insulin shots and was released from Eshel prison after 14 months. At the time of release, Awad suffered from pneumonia, heart problems, and thyroid and pancreas complications, Qaraqe told Ma‘an at the time.
Former hunger striker to appear in Israeli court
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 May – Palestinian detainee in Israeli custody and former hunger striker Samir Issawi, 35, will appear in the Israeli military court of Ofer Sunday, a local committee spokesman said. Amjad Abu Asab, a spokesman of a committee representing families of Jerusalem prisoners, told Ma‘an that an Israeli monitoring committee for freed Palestinian prisoners would tell the court whether Issawi breached the terms upon which he was freed in December 2013. Abu Asab added that Issawi had been sentenced to 30 years in 2002, but was released in 2011 as part of a prisoners exchange deal between Hamas and Israel known as the Gilad Shalit deal. The Israeli forces rearrested Issawi in April 2013 claiming that he breached the terms of the deal. However, Issawi insisted he hadn’t breached the deal and was released upon agreement ending 266-day hunger strike in Israeli custody. He was then rearrested in June 2014.
Israel reinstates imprisonment sentences to 5 ex-detainees
RAMALLAH, (WAFA) 10 May – The Israeli military court of Ofer on Sunday sentenced five Palestinian ex-detainees – who were released in the Gilad Shalit prisoners swap in 2011 and were rearrested in 2014 – to serve the remainder of their original sentences, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC). The five prisoners were identified as Mahdi Assi from Nablus, Khaled Makhamreh from Hebron, Samer al-Issawi from Jerusalem, Nayef Shawamreh from Hebron and Wa’el Abu Jalboush from Jenin. Another ex-detainee; Na’el al-Bargouti, was sentenced to 30 months in jail. He was also released in the 2011 prisoners swap and was re-captured by Israel last June. In June 2014, Israel recaptured at least 50 ex-detainees who were released in the 2011 prisoners exchange deal with Hamas. These prisoners, along with hundreds of others, remain held either under administrative detention – without indictment or trial – or are still awaiting military court ruling. The arrests were made based on a 2009 military article that enables Israeli prosecutors to push for reinstating prisoners’ original sentences if they commit an offence. In these cases, neither the prisoner nor the lawyer is informed of the evidence that can be used to incarcerate them again.
Violent settlers cleared despite smoking gun (literally)
+978 blog 9 May by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — When the prosecution closes a case for lack of evidence, despite the abundance thereof, we realize how seriously it takes its role — The location was Qusra, a village in the Shiloh Valley; the date, September 16, 2011. Fathallah Mahmoud Muhammad Abu Rhoda went out with his three sons to pick figs. A short while after reaching their land, they noticed about 10 Israeli civilians standing around their water hole. The Palestinians demanded the Israelis leave the place; the interlopers refused. The residents of Qusra — a village that has already proven it can defend itself against marauders — began heading to the area. An argument ensued, and according to Abu Rhoda’s testimony to the police, three of the settlers (who were armed) opened fire on the Palestinians. One bullet hit Abu Rhoda in the thigh. Of the three, two were armed with rifles and the other with a handgun. From the police testimony, we see that the handgun’s owner also sicced a dog on the Palestinians. The complainants managed to photograph some of their attackers, among them the handgun owner. Four days after the incident, Abu Rhoda filed a complaint with the police. Almost three years later, on August 6, 2014, the prosecution informed Yesh Din that it closed the case for lack of evidence. After a series of 14 phone calls, we managed to photocopy the case file on December 15 2014 — more than four months after the case was closed. However, it was immediately apparent some of the material was missing. We continued requesting it until February 2015. From the evidence we finally received, it turns out that there is more than enough evidence to indict the handgun owner, E … In total, the following evidence was marshalled against E. A. He was identified and photographed by the complainants. B. His handgun was identified as a the one fired during the incident. Despite the evidence, the police recommended that the case against E. be closed due to — get this — lack of evidence. The recommendation was accepted by the prosecution.
Nativity Church deportees commemorate 13th anniversary
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 May — Palestinians who were deported from Bethlehem to the Gaza Strip in 2002 after taking refuge in the city’s Nativity Church on Sunday marked their 13th year in exile with a rally in front of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s offices in Gaza City. The Nativity Church deportees used the occasion to reiterate their call on the Palestinian leadership to end their exile. Taking part in the rally were the 26 deportees who have lived in the Gaza Strip since May 10, 2002, when Israeli forces ended a nearly 40-day siege on the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. Around 220 locals, including several dozen resistance fighters as well as around 40 priests and nuns, sought sanctuary inside the church on April 2, 2002 when Israeli tanks surrounded Bethlehem. The church leaders accepted their request for sanctuary based on an age-old custom, but the Israeli military outraged the world by responding with attacks on the ancient holy place that left eight dead and 27 injured. The siege came to an end when the Israelis struck a deal with Palestinian leaders that ultimately saw 39 Palestinians exiled to Gaza and Europe … In March, the deportees issued a statement to mark five years since one of their members, Abdullah Daoud, died in exile in Algeria. The statement said: “As the anniversary of his death comes, Nativity Church deportees in the Gaza Strip and European countries still suffer from being banished, eliminated, forgotten and ignored by everyone, without any exceptions, as they cannot see their families, travel and are deprived of their rights of having a decent living.”
Israeli forces injure 3 farmers, arrest 2 fishermen in northern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 May — Israeli troops shot and injured three Palestinian farmers in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday afternoon and arrested two fishermen off Beit Lahiya’s coast, locals told Ma‘an. The three injured men, from the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, were first evacuated by ambulance to Shifa hospital in Gaza City and later transferred to the European Hospital in Khan Younis. Medics said one of the three sustained serious wounds.
Separately, Israeli navy forces arrested two Palestinian fishermen off the coast in Beit Lahiya. A human rights group told Ma‘an that Israeli gunboats fired warning gunshots at a fishing boat before arresting two fishermen on board. The sources identified them as Khalid and Muhammad al-Sultan from Beit Lahiya … Israeli forces, stationed in military watchtowers, have recently intensified shooting attacks against Palestinian farmers who have been busy harvesting wheat in farmlands near the border with Israel. Saturday’s shootings came one day after a 17-year-old Palestinian was critically injured when Israeli forces shot him in the head.
Israeli navy attacks fishermen off Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 10 May – Israeli naval boats Sunday opened gunfire at Palestinian fishermen offshore the coast of al-Sudaniya, northwest of Gaza, according to local sources. According to WAFA reporter, Israeli naval boats opened heavy gunfire on fishermen sailing within the unilaterally imposed six-nautical-miles fishing zone offshore al-Sudaniya, forcing the fishermen to sail back to the shore.
Gaza: Children in crisis
Palestine Chronicle 10 May by Hilary Wise — Mona Samouni was 10 years old when she lost her home, her parents and 19 other relatives, after they were crushed before her eyes in one of the bombing raids of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2009. In an award-winning film, she speaks of her past experiences with an almost eerie detachment, as if she is telling someone else’s story. One can only guess at what is going on behind that calm facade, as she sends a heartbreaking message to other, luckier children: “I ask the children of the world to take good care of their mothers and fathers… People don’t appreciate the blessings they have till they lose them.” For years after that shattering event, Mona obsessively drew and redrew the images that haunted her – “a sea of blood and body parts”. She suffered recurring nightmares, fits of anger and lack of concentration at school. But thanks to a loving family environment and intensive therapy, she seems to be gradually recovering. ‘Continuous PTSD’ Of the 900,000 children in Gaza, UNICEF reckons 373,000 are in need of “psycho-social first aid”. The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP), which runs three psychiatric clinics in Gaza treating both children and adults, struggles to cope. Psychiatrist Yasser Abu Jamei, who heads the GCMHP and who himself lost many members of his extended family in last summer’s onslaught, said: “There was no place for parents and children to hide… You never knew where the bombs were going to fall.”
UNDP clears quarter million tons of rubble generated in hard-hit Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 7 May – Since the beginning of 2015, the UNDP [UN Development Program] has cleared a quarter of a million tons of rubble generated in 270 hard-hit locations as a result of the Israeli 2014 summer aggression on the Gaza Strip, according to a UNDP press release. The UNDP stated that it has been removing the debris generated in hard-hit areas across the war-torn coastal enclave and has so forth successfully removed a quarter million tons of rubble from a total of 270 hard-hit locations, including al-Shaja‘iya, Gaza City, Rafah and Khan Younes, paving the way for Gaza reconstruction. The removal of the debris comes as a direct result of the $14 million agreements signed between the UNDP’s Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Sweden and Japan during December 2014 to remove the rubble generated as a result of the latest Israeli onslaught on the war-torn strip. According to a previous UNDP press release, the USAID contribution will enable UNDP to clear around 65% (649,177 tons) of the rubble generated in hard hit areas in Rafah, Khan Younis, Gaza City and northern governorates. The project will be implemented over a period of one year and will generate approximately 116,852 workdays. UNDP estimates that around two million tons of rubble were generated during the 51-day Israeli military onslaught on Gaza. The ongoing removal of rubble will enable more than one million people in the targeted areas to have access to basic services, particularly water and sanitation, reduce the risk of collapsing buildings and the threat of UXOs and other remnants of war.
If Gaza’s borders were opened, ‘100,000 young people would leave’
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera America) 6 May by Alice Su — Part one of a two-part series looking at life in Gaza. The second segment will focus on economic challenges for the Palestinian territory. Rashid al-Najjar peered over his desk at Salim Marifi, 28, and Abdullah Shahin, 26, students at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University. They completed coursework toward degrees in accounting and literature but didn’t have diplomas because they couldn’t pay their tuition. Najjar, the vice dean of financial affairs, slammed a fist on the table. “The young people are lost. There is no future for them,” he said. Many of the university’s 15,000 students can’t afford even half their tuition, he added. Those who graduate face a 45 percent overall unemployment rate, which rises to 63 percent among youths. Meanwhile, electricity runs only six to eight hours a day in the Gaza Strip. More than 160,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in last summer’s war with Israel, and 100,000 people are still homeless. International donors pledged to give $3.5 billion in reconstruction funds in October, but barely a quarter of that has materialized so far. Israel’s economic blockade continues, Palestinian leaders are divided, houses lie in ruin, and youths feel unable to escape from or change the situation. “If the borders opened for one hour, 100,000 young people would leave Gaza,” Najjar said. Shahin and Marifi nodded. “I’d go to Somalia, Sudan — anywhere but here,” Marifi said. Gaza has an exceptionally high education rate and young population; one-fifth of the population has a bachelor’s or associate degree, and 64 percent are under 25 years old. The literacy rate is 96.9 percent.
Marianne heads for Gaza today!
GOTHENBURG, Sweden (Ship to Gaza) 10 May — Marianne of Gothenburg will leave her home port at 7 pm on the 10 of May. The trawler, which has been acquired by Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway jointly, departs for a voyage of almost 5000 nautical miles to eastern Mediterranean and the blockaded Gaza Strip. Marianne will join other ships and together they will form the “Freedom Flotilla III” in order to perform a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip. In passing Marianne will call at European ports for manifestations against the blockade. The First three ports will be Helsingborg, Malmö and Copenhagen. The subsequent ports will be announced in press releases. – Cargo – Marianne is not a cargo ship, but she will bring a limited cargo of, among other things, solar cell panels and medical equipment. – Delegates – In addition to a crew of five people, Marianne will have up to eight delegates as passengers in each section of the route. The names of these individuals will be announced as time progresses.
Palestinian refugees in Syria
PLO pushes for food and shelter in devastated Yarmouk
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 May — While relative calm prevails in the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, the fighting and struggle have not yet stopped, Executive Committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Ahmed Majdalani said Saturday. “The situation inside the camp is deteriorating and miserable, conditions are difficult by all accounts,” Majdalani said in an interview with local media outlet Mawtani. He added that while the security situation is likely more security outside of the camp, refugees who have been forced from the camp “have been left without basic necessities and are living in difficult conditions.” During his visit to Syria, Majdalani confirmed that that the PLO delegation stressed the need to provide security, stablility, and protection to fellow Palestinians who remained inside the Yarmouk refugee camp, as well as provide all the daily needs of those forced to flee. Yarmouk, which is Syria’s largest refugee camp lying seven kilometers south of Damascus, was initially overrun by extremist militants from the Islamic State group on April 1, and the group subsequently took over a significant portion of the camp.The group has now been pushed back to the southwest of the Damascus district, according to PLO official Anwar Abdel Hadi. Palestinian factions meanwhile control the north and east part of the camp, with “intermittent clashes between the jihadists and factions,” Abdel Hadi said. The camp’s population has shrunk to just 7,000 people, added Abdel Hadi, with thousands of residents who fled the IS onslaught now in shelters in the capital.
Other news / Opinion
The Al-‘Awda Awards Festival — Celebrating culture and demanding return
Middle East Monitor 9 May — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — Palestinian arts and culture continues to be shaped by Palestinian stories of exile and displacement. From the classic works of Mahmoud Darwish and Khassan Kanafani to the many Palestinian grassroots cultural troupes in refugee camps, villages and cites across historic Palestine, the struggle for home remains a constant thread. Tapping in to this ongoing practice, the al-‘Awda Awards is an annual competition that calls for entries in a range of cultural categories based around themes of the ongoing Nakba. The al-‘Awda Awards is organised by BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights and has become an annual feature of the national calender. Entry is open to both Palestinians and non-Palestinians around the world in categories including short stories, photography, posters and short films. An estimated 1500 people from across the West Bank and Jerusalem packed in to the Convention Palace in the Bethlehem village of Al-Khader for the final awards ceremony. Various dignitaries and speakers were invited including national political and religious leaders, and buses brought children and families from many refugee camps. Cultural performances by refugees from Ibda‘a Center in Deheisheh camp and Lajee Center in ‘Aida camp kept the audience entertained throughout the evening. Plaques along with cash prizes to support ongoing cultural work were awarded to the top three places in each category. Award winners who were able to reach the ceremony took to the stage to receive their awards yet for the several award winners from Gaza a separate ceremony was held inside the imprisoned coastal enclave due to the enforced Israeli siege which denies travel along with so many aspects of life.
Tulkarem street vendor sets fire to his stand
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 10 May — A fruit and vegetable seller on Sunday set fire to his stand in the West Bank city of Tulkarem in protest over a decision by local authorities to remove the stand, which was his main source of income. Local sources told Ma‘an that Palestinian police arrested Muhammad Awwad, 30, after he set fire to the fruit and vegetable stand. Awwad set up the stand near a mosque in the center of Tulkarem in the northern West Bank in the hope of earning a living after he was released from Israeli prisons several months ago. A number of municipal councils across the West Bank have cracked down on street vendors in recent years claiming that they disrupt movement of vehicles and people and are unattractive in appearance. In 2013, a street vendor attempted to set himself on fire in Nablus after police confiscated his fruit stall … The attempted act recalled Tunisian street vendor Muhammad Bouazizi, who in 2010 set himself alight following the confiscation of his stand, an act that sparked the Tunisian Revolution and revolutions across the wider Arab world.
Security services drain Palestine’s budget
Al-Monitor 10 May by Adnan Abu Amer — Palestine’s security services continue to receive the bulk of the Palestinian Authority’s annual budget, to the detriment of other vital sectors — The Palestinian Authority (PA) is going through a severe financial crisis, especially since Israel froze in December 2014 the transfer of tax funds, which amount to $130 million per month. However, surprisingly, the budget allocations to the security services in Palestine’s 2014 general budget amounted to 28%, or $1 billion out of $3.8 billion, according to a February 2015 Ministry of Finance report. In 2013, security expenses accounted for 19% the budget, and 31% and 32% in 2011 and 2010, respectively. Although not available to the public, Al-Monitor was able to obtain figures from Palestinian official sources, who preferred to remain anonymous, reflecting the number of security personnel and their distribution among security services, as well as the security services’ financial expenses (wages, salaries and operating costs). Vice President of the Legislative Council Hassan Khreisheh told Al-Monitor that he questions the veracity of the data published by the Ministry of Finance, since the numbers are inaccurate and represent an attempt to embellish the situation. “The security-related expenditures are much higher, reaching 35% of the public budget,” he said. “The PA does not purchase tanks or planes, and the weapons held by security services are supplied by Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Arab and European countries. Yet these expenses confirm that the PA intends to militarize society to preserve its existence.”
Group birthday celebration of children born using smuggled sperm
Middle East Monitor 9 May — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — Palestinian prisoners are denied conjugal visits by the Israeli Prison Service, and so Palestinian women found a new way of becoming pregnant. Back in 2012, Dalal al-Zebn gave birth to Mohamed al-Taher, after what is believed to be the successful artificial insemination of its kind. Her husband, Ammar al-Zebn, has been behind Israeli bars since 1998, but his sperm was carefully smuggled out of prison. Since then, some 24 wives of jailed Palestinians have used smuggled sperm to conceive children, four of whom live in the Gaza Strip and the rest of whom are from the West Bank. Images below of a mass birthday party held in Gaza for these children on Thursday.
Palestine to host Saudi Arabia on West Bank
Reuters 10 May — Saudi Arabia will travel to the West Bank to face Palestine in a World Cup qualifier in June, the head of the Palestine FA told Reuters on Sunday. “I have just received a message from the Saudis saying that they are coming, it’s a great show of support,” PFA president Jibril Rajoub told Reuters in a telephone interview. Three-times Asian champions Saudi Arabia, who have played at four World Cups, will be the highest-profile team to visit Palestine since they were authorised to play World Cup qualifiers at home in 2011. The first World Cup qualifier to be played on the Israeli-occupied West Bank was against Afghanistan the same year and Palestine also hosted Thailand at their 12-capacity Faisal Al-Husseini stadium. National associations can ask FIFA to move World Cup qualifiers if they are unhappy with security and logistical arrangements. Visiting teams to Palestine have to pass through Israeli passport control and checkpoints.
Palestinian FA to press for FIFA ban on Israel
JERUSALEM (AFP) 10 May — The Palestinian Football Association vowed Sunday to push ahead with efforts to have Israel suspended from FIFA following joint talks with the world football body’s president Sepp Blatter in Zurich. But both sides agreed to continue talking with Blatter, who announced plans to visit the region for top-level talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on the issue ahead of the upcoming FIFA Congress, in Zurich on May 29. News of the visit was announced by Blatter on Sunday as he met with Israel Football Association chief Ofer Eini and his Palestinian counterpart Jibril Rajoub. FIFA said the main purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Palestinian FA’s request to suspend their Israeli counterparts at the upcoming FIFA congress which starts on May 28. But the Palestinians said there had been no progress at the meeting, adding they would not be deterred from efforts to have Israel suspended.
Today’s pleasant story:
WATCH: The Israelis who drive Palestinian kids to the hospital
Israeli Social TV 8 May — Oftentimes advanced medical care isn’t available in Palestine, and while the PA pays for many Palestinians to be treated in Israel, one crucial hurdle stands in the way of actually receiving treatment: getting from the checkpoint to the hospital. Social TV tags along with the Israelis who volunteer to drive Palestinian children to the hospital.
Stray dogs a serious problem in the West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 May — A video on Facebook of young men torturing a stray dog in the West Bank city of Bethlehem has sparked a debate across the occupied territory, with calls for authorities to find a humane solution to the hundreds of stray dogs roaming the West Bank. The dogs, which travel in packs through the night, are known to be dangerous, but up until now, officials have failed to find an effective solution to the problem. Ministry of Health official Asaad Ramlawi said that 840 people were bitten by stray dogs in the West Bank in 2014, noting that the antibodies are very costly. They have also been known to attack and kill Palestinian livestock, and in February, local farmers in Salfit told Ma‘an that a pack of stray dogs had killed 33 sheep on a single farm. Palestinian police spokesman Luay Irzeiqat said that police departments across the West Bank constantly receive complaints about stray dogs attacking children and elderly people, as well as attacking livestock and damaging crops. He said that police coordinate with municipal councils to try and fight the phenomenon, but that this was mostly restricted to poisoning the animals.
Next head of ‘Civil Administration’ said Palestinians are sub-human
+972 blog 8 May by John Brown — After the Oslo Accords, the Israeli army renamed the Military Government of the West Bank the Civil Administration. MK Eli Ben-Dahan was just appointed to oversee the Administration, which oversees the theft of Palestinian land, settlement expansion and controls the movement of millions of Palestinians —
“[Palestinians] are beasts, they are not human.” — MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, Aug 1, 2013. (Hebrew)
“A Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile, even if he is a homosexual.” — MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, Dec 27, 2013. (Hebrew/English)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finalized the formation of a new government this week when he signed a coalition agreement with far-right settler party Jewish Home. As part of the agreement, Rabbi Ben-Dahan will be Israel’s next deputy defense minister, responsible for the army’s “Civil Administration.” The Civil Administration is responsible for all aspects of the occupation that don’t involve boots-on-the-ground security operations — it administers planning, building, and infrastructure for both Jews and Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank. It also administers the Palestinian population database and is responsible for granting and revoking entry and travel permits for Palestinians, controlling every aspect of their movement. In other words, the man slated to take charge of an organization entrusted with supervising the theft of Palestinian land and supervising Palestinians’ lives, is a racist who said he does not see them as human, but rather as animals
Ethiopia demands explanation from Israel for racism
Ynet 10 May by Itamar Eichner — Ethiopian Foreign Ministry expresses concern over ‘police brutality’ in Israel and ‘years of widespread discrimination’ — The Ethiopian government has expressed concern over Israeli authorities’ treatment of Ethiopian-Israelis. It appears Addis Ababa has been following the violent clashes over the past few weeks between Israelis of Ethiopian origin and police, while several Ethiopian news outlets accused Israel of racism and brutality towards Ethiopian Israelis. The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry issued a statement several days ago that, while cautious of openly criticizing the Israeli government, extensively quoted Israeli leaders admitting the mistakes made in the integration of Ethiopian Jews. Among others, President Reuven Rivlin is quoted as saying that “Israel has made mistakes in handling the Ethiopian Jewish community,” and described their suffering as an “open and bleeding wound in the heart of Israeli society.”
PolitiFact denies Israeli ties to Baltimore police despite evidence
EI 10 May by Rania Khalek — PolitiFact, the Tampa Bay Times’ political and media accountability project, has refused to issue a correction to an article that wrongly denies, against all evidence, Israel’s role in training Baltimore police. Under the cover of counterterrorism training, senior commanders of nearly every major American law enforcement agency, including the Baltimore Police Department, have traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation enforcement, a fact that US corporate media outlets studiously avoid examining or even acknowledging. Last week, PunditFact, which is overseen by PolitiFact, broke with that tradition, but rejected that any such relationship exists between Israel’s security apparatus and Baltimore police.
New Israeli government makes no pretense of peace / Daoud Kuttab
Al-Monitor 8 May — For the first time in 20 years, an Israeli government will be sworn in without a mention or plan of resolving the Palestinian conflict. This is actually a good thing, for it reveals the true nature and position of Israel. Israelis have in the past boasted that when it comes to Palestine, they negotiate the conflict among themselves. Now there is no mention, no program and therefore no more pretense that Israel wants peace and the only thing holding back the winds of peace is the absence of a Palestinian partner … If Israel is now exposed as a state that has no intention of ever withdrawing from occupied Palestinian territories, what options are available to wrest these lands away from it? The only viable solution is to make this occupation very costly to the occupiers. As a country that is enjoying a healthy Western lifestyle and economy, it is a no-brainer that the most appropriate and civilized way of ending the occupation is through international sanctions, boycotts and divestment. Israeli officials and the Israeli public are extremely aware of their own Achilles’ heel. They have successfully depicted every opposition to their occupation as racist and anti-Semitic, as opposed to simply a position opposed to the illegal occupation. Israel has legislated against boycotts and is pushing its biggest ally, the United States, to pass anti-constitutional laws that ban boycotts of Israel. In their zeal to legislate efforts to ban boycotts, the pro-Israel lobby has convinced loyal US members of Congress to submit legislation that contradicts US foreign policy by erasing the Green Line between the occupied territories with the State of Israel.
The quantum mechanics of Israeli totalitarianism / Mark LeVine
Al Jazeera 7 May — …In calling Israeli rule totalitarian, I am not arguing that the government mimics the worst policies of thought control and ideological purism practised by the 20th century’s Fascist and Communist states … Rather, I’m talking about a much deeper level of control, at what can only be described as the quantum level of Palestinian daily life. To understand how it feels to live as a Palestinian today you need to think like a particle physicist, not a social scientist. Moving through the space of Israel/Palestine involves negotiating a host of forces that the average Palestinian has about as much control over as the average electron or proton does of the nuclear and quantum forces determining its path. And it’s through this near total control of the space that Israel is able, in George Orwell’s description of totalitarianism, to “control the past as well as the future”. Israeli geographer Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) coined the “matrix of control” to describe these forces. The name evokes numerous overlapping layers of control, including the physical infrastructure of settlements and their security corridors and zones, bypass roads, closed military areas and even “nature reserves”. The matrix also includes the bureaucratic and legal/planning levels, and the use of large-scale violence and imprisonment to control people’s behaviour and movement … The matrix is continuously adjusted with as much care as Israel has adjusted the caloric intake of Gazans during its periodic intensifications of the Gazan siege. Three, four and five dimensions A look at the group of detailed maps created by ICAHD reveals upwards of two dozen parameters of control that can intersect at any given coordinate on the map. But the map is only a two dimensional representation of a multidimensional and multi-levelled reality. It’s not just various forces meeting on the ground. When you’re walking through the 97 percent of the West Bank that is in Areas B or C and thus under Israel security control, you realise that the matrix extends both under the ground you’re walking on and above your head. Below ground, Israel controls all the water resources in the West Bank, and for 50 years has systematically taken most every possible well, stream, aquifer or other water source from Palestinians (in direct violation of international law, it must be remembered). It also controls the airspace above Palestinians’ heads, as the constant buzz of Israeli fighter jets training overhead in the Jordan Valley, and the ubiquitous presence of drones and helicopters almost everywhere at any time, and the prohibitions on building new floors on existing structures makes clear….