Large West Bank traffic jams as settlers take part in bike race
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 25 May — Heavy traffic jams were reported along the main road between Hebron and Bethlehem on Monday as a settler bicycle race took place in the area. TV crews from Ma‘an satellite said the 30-minute drive between the two cities took three hours as Israeli forces closed a main exit from Hebron connecting to Route 60 as settlers from Kiryat Arba took part in a race. The exits to Halhul and Beit Ummar, both north of Hebron, were also closed.
Violence / Attacks / Raids / Harassment / Arrests – West Bank & Jerusalem
A night of violence in West Jerusalem
+972 blog 25 May by Aviv Tatarsky — For years now young Palestinian men have found themselves the targets of groups of Jewish youths roaming the streets of West Jerusalem on weekend nights. As warm weather returns, so are the attacks. One such attack raises the question: who are the police protecting? — Thursday night, Zion Square, West Jerusalem. Summer is officially here, and the area that was quite empty during the winter is bustling with thousands of people enjoying a night out. Among them are some Palestinians who have come to partake in “Israelization” — or, at least, that’s how some people have begun describing Palestinians who blend into “Israeli” parts of Jerusalem, adopting modes of behavior that we usually ascribe to ourselves. At least one of the Palestinians seems — I don’t know, I didn’t see — to have taken his Israelization one step too far, by chatting up a Jewish girl. Maybe he made her laugh, maybe she almost gave him her phone number. Maybe, as is often the case with guys, he didn’t understand he was not wanted. I have no idea. What I do know is that Israelis don’t want this Israelization. The Palestinian guy runs frantically past me, and a few seconds later, a bunch of Jews are chasing him. The attempted lynching of Jamal Julani immediately comes to mind, an assault that began with such a chase exactly here three years ago. I start running after them.
Israeli forces chase, shoot 4 Palestinians near Qalqilia
JENIN (WAFA) 26 May — Four Palestinian workers Tuesday were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets in an Israeli army chase near the village of ‘Azzun ‘Atma, near Qalqilya, according to security sources. Sources informed WAFA that Israeli forces chased down and shot in the head four workers with rubber-coated steel bullets, while they were heading to their workplaces. The four were identified as Hani Zakarna from Qabatiya, brothers Walid and Mohammed Abdullah and Mohammed Ghannam. They were all transferred to hospital for treatment. Their medical condition remains unknown until the moment.
Jerusalem child injured after being rammed by a settler’s car
IMEMC/Agencies 27 May — Palestinian medical sources have reported that a child was injured after being struck by an Israeli settler’s car, in Ras al-‘Amoud area in Silwan town, in occupied East Jerusalem. The sources said the child, Hani Eskafi, 15 years of age, suffered various cuts and bruises when the car struck him while riding his bicycle and apparently drove away. The incident took place near Ma’ale ha-Zeitim illegal settlement, in Ras al-‘Amoud area; medics provided the child with the needed first aid and moved him to Hadassah Hospital. Paramedic Hani Zeidani said the child suffered various cuts and bruises, and that settlement guards told the family they managed to obtain the information of the driver. The guards did not provide further information to the family, and told them they needed to file a complaint with the police … There have been hundreds of “hit and run” incidents that largely went uninvestigated by the Israeli authorities, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, even though many of those incidents have led to fatalities.
Video: Israeli soldiers shoot 10-year-old
Warning – Graphic – Video shows the moment when Yahiya Sami al-Amudi, 10, was shot by Israeli occupation soldiers, he was walking near a checkpoint by the East Jerusalem refugee camp, when the incident happened [on 21 May]
WATCH: IDF soldiers threaten Palestinian child with false arrest
+972 mag 26 May by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — Israeli soldiers have been filmed harassing the boy’s family in recent weeks, using their home as a photo set, raiding it for no apparent reason — Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian city of Hebron threatened to arrest a 14-year-old Palestinian boy simply for being in the vicinity of people throwing stones last month. In a video released by Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem in recent days, Israeli soldiers can be seen detaining the child, Maher Abu Haya, near his family home on April 6, 2015. In the video, the soldiers argue with the child’s father. At first the soldiers claim that Maher was running away from them with other Palestinian youths who were throwing stones. Quickly, the soldiers change their story and admit that Maher wasn’t running away at all. “Next time, he’ll pay for it,” one of the soldiers says in Hebrew. “He’ll have a big mess.” Whenever stones are thrown, a soldier claims, Maher is nearby. The soldier doesn’t seem to comprehend that there might be other reasons than throwing stones for a 14 year old to be standing outside his own home. “Every time somebody’s throwing rocks we see this kid,” an English-speaking soldier says. “If I see his face again — I don’t care if I see him throw rocks or not, he’s gonna go with us.” “He’s going to go with me and he’s going to be tied up all night,” the soldier continues threatening Maher’s father. “And he’s gonna get punished and you’re going to need to pay to take him back.”
Violations against female Palestinian journalists triple since 2010
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 May — Violations against female Palestinian journalists by Israeli military forces and Palestinian security forces in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have tripled since 2010, a local media group said Tuesday. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) documented 103 violations — 66 committed by Israel’s military — between Jan. 2010 and April 2015. Forty-four were physical attacks, with one journalist killed, while there were also reports of detention, intimidation, confiscation of equipment, and the destruction of homes. Palestinian security forces committed 36 media violations over the same period, with eight incidents of physical attacks and the remainder related to measures preventing access for coverage and threats of arrest. The number of incidents recorded in 2014 represent an “unprecedented jump” in violations, MADA’s general director Mousa Rimawi said, nearly tripling from years prior. While physical attacks and interference by Israeli forces dominated the violations, the report also documented instances of female journalists being threatened with rape and murder [by?] social media users … Female journalists make up around a third of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate. Eighty percent of Palestinian journalists both male and female said they work under self-censorship, according to a 2014 report by MADA. Such self-censorship arises largely from pressures exerted by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the report said.
PA security officers stab teenager to death in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 25 May — Two members of the Palestinian Authority security forces on Monday killed a teenager during a fight in Nablus, officials said. Security officials said Muhammad Ahmad Hashayka, 16, died from stab wounds sustained during a fight with two security officers in the village of Taluza. The teenager died shortly after arriving at al-Najah Hospital. The security officers, who were not identified, handed themselves in to police, who have opened an investigation into the incident. No further details about the circumstances of the teenager’s death were available and it is not clear whether the suspects were on duty at the time. [According to IMEMC, this event was part of a clan dispute; more information needed]
Ten Palestinians injured near Jenin
IMEMC/Agencies 26 May — Palestinian medical sources have reported that ten residents, including children, have been injured when Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, Jaba‘ town, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. A number of military vehicles invaded the town, broke into and searched a few homes, and interrogated several families. Soldiers also searched old caves in the town, and around it. The invasion led to clashes with local youths, who hurled stones on the invading vehicles, while the soldiers fired several rounds of live ammunition, gas bombs and concussion grenades. At least ten Palestinians, including children, suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, and received treatment by local medics. On Monday at night, the Palestinian District Coordination Office (DCO) managed to secure the release of a Palestinian child, identified as ‘Odai Saleh Mansour, 14, a few hours after Israeli soldiers kidnapped him.
Israel detains 20 Palestinians in East Jerusalem
Middle East Monitor 26 May — Israeli police detained 20 Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem in the past 24 hours, a Palestinian NGO said today. “Since Monday, over 20 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, mostly children, have been detained,” Nasser Qous of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said in a statement. According to Qous, the detainees have already appeared before Israeli courts, which remanded most of them in custody. The remainder, he said, were ordered to pay fines or bail in order to be released. East Jerusalem has recently witnessed clashes between Palestinian residents and Israelis coming to the holy city over the past two days to mark the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Since Sunday morning, tension has been running high around the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex. The tension comes against the backdrop of calls by several Jewish organisations for supporters to enter the holy site en masse to commemorate the holiday.
Bethlehem: Soldiers kidnap a Palestinian
IMEMC/Agencies 26 May — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, Monday, a Palestinian from the northern West Bank city of Jenin, after stopping him on a roadblock east of Bethlehem … Eyewitnesses said the soldiers installed a sudden roadblock near the main entrance of Teqou ‘ village, east of Bethlehem, searched cars, and kidnapped one Palestinian. The kidnapped Palestinian, identified as Mohammad Mahmoud al-Qadery, 27 years of age, is from Bir al-Basha, near Jenin; he was heading to his work in Hebron.
Israeli forces detain 23 Palestinian men overnight
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) – Israeli forces carried out multiple detention raids overnight Tuesday and early Wednesday morning across the West Bank arresting 23 Palestinians. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed that the 23 were detained for “illegal activity” but had no further information regarding the reasons for detention. The raids come as UN Special Coordinator (UNSCO) reported Monday that Israeli forces have conducted a weekly average of 86 search and arrest operations this year, up from 75 a week in 2014 … The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society released information regarding 10 detentions made in Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarem in the northern West Bank, as well as Hebron in the south. The PPS reported in the town of Ya‘abad in Jenin Israeli forces detained Abdullah Said Amarnah, 22, Muhamad Abdullah al-Suri, 25, and Muhammad Abdullah Ghanayim, 24. Three others, Abd al-Rahim Hamadnah, Mahmoud Yasin and Barra Jarara were detained in the village of Asira al-Shamaliyya near Nablus. Eyhab Marwan al-Karaki, 22, Anas Hashlamoun, 24, and Khalid Kafrawi, 22 were detained from Hebron, while Ahmad Kheir Muhammad Salman, 22, was detained in Tulkarem city.
Israeli Navy fire wounds Palestinian fisherman off Gaza coast
Haaretz 25 May by Jack Khoury — A Palestinian fisherman was wounded on Monday morning after an Israeli military ship opened fire off the Gaza coast. Medical officials and fishermen in Gaza said that an Israel Navy vessel opened fire at fishermen’s boats off the northern Gaza Strip. Nizar Ayyash, chairman of the Gaza fishermen association, said that the wounded man, 26-year-old Mohammed Bachar, was taken to a Gaza hospital for treatment. No information was given on the type and extent of his injury, but it seems it was not life-threatening. Palestinians say that Israel was not following an agreement it reached with Hamas after the summer’s Gaza war, allowing them to sail up to a range of six nautical miles (Just over 11 kilometers) from the Gaza coast.
2 Gaza fisherman shot, injured by Israeli navy
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 May — Two Palestinian fishermen were shot and injured by Israeli navy forces off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, a local union said. Nizar Ayyash, speaker of the fishermen’s union in Gaza, told Ma‘an that Muhammad Ziad Bakr, 26, was taken to hospital for treatment after he was shot by Israeli forces. An Israeli army spokeswoman said that a fishing vessel deviated from the designated fishing zone and after warning shots were fired, forces fired at the lower extremities of a fisherman. A direct hit was confirmed, she added. Some hours later, Imad Muhsin Bakir, 26, was shot and injured in the same area and evacuated to Shifa hospital in Gaza City for treatment.
Egyptian navy shoots, injures Gaza fisherman
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 May — Egyptian naval forces late Monday opened fire on a Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip, injuring a fisherman from Rafah. Palestinian sources identified the fisherman as Muhammad al-Bardawil … Last week, a Gazan fishing boat was damaged when Egyptian gunboats fired on it, although no injuries were reported. Egypt upholds an Israeli military blockade on Gaza, keeping borders largely closed and limiting imports, exports, and the freedom of movement of its residents.
Egypt opens Rafah crossing with Gaza for 48 hours
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 26 May — Egypt reopened its Rafah border crossing with Gaza for two days from Tuesday, Palestinian border officials said, for the first time since March. Maher Abu Sabha, director of border crossings in the Gaza Strip, said traffic was permitted into Gaza only, to allow the return of Palestinians stranded in Egypt. “I travelled on March 10 for eye treatment for my son, but we got stuck,” Ahmed Al-Hato told AFP. “I just needed seven days, but they closed the crossing,” he said. Egypt closed the crossing, the only access point to the Gaza Strip not controlled by Israel, after a bombing in the Sinai Peninsula in October killed 30 of its soldiers. It has since temporarily reopened the crossing several times.
Egypt military destroyed 521 Gaza tunnels: report
Press TV 25 May — The Egyptian army has destroyed 521 entry points to tunnels under the border with the Gaza Strip, which has been subject to an Israeli blockade for the past eight years, a report says. According to military spokesperson Mohamed Samir, the border guards had demolished the tunnel openings over the past six months, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported on Monday. Samir added that some of the tunnels had railroad tracks and communication rooms. Back in April, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi issued a decree, rendering the digging or using of border tunnels punishable by a life term.
Israel ‘refusing’ to repair disconnected Gaza electricity grid
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 May — Gaza’s electricity distributor has accused Israel of refusing to repair a 12 megawatt grid supplying power to Gaza City that became disconnected in Israeli-controlled territory on Thursday. The Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation said in a statement on Tuesday that the loss of the al-Qubba electricity grid was having a serious effect on the power supply to Gaza City, which has suffered an insufficient supply for years. The statement said that Gazan technicians would need to enter Israeli territory to repair the disconnection, requiring special permission from the Israeli military, but this has so far been denied. The statement said that Israeli authorities were neither allowing Gazan technicians in, nor was the Israeli electricity company making any efforts to repair the damage. Gaza currently receives electricity from the Israeli electricity grid, the Egyptian electric company, and from a power station inside Gaza. However, these supply lines fall far short of the Gazan population’s needs. While they provide 230 MW of electricity, it has been estimated that Gaza requires 350 to 450 MW.
IAF strikes Gaza targets in response to rocket fire
Ynet 27 May by Matan Tzuri et al. — The Israel Air Force struck four targets in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning in response to rocket fire at southern Israel the previous night, IDF spokesman said. The IAF strike targeted Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets, and accurate hits were identified, the army said. “If there is no calm in Israel, the Gaza Strip will pay a heavy price for it, one that causes anyone who chooses to challenge us to regret it,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said. Code red sirens sounded in Ashdod and Lachish near Kiryat Gat in southern Israel Tuesday evening just after 9 pm. An IDF Spokesperson confirmed that one rocket fired from Gaza had landed near Gan Yavne. Police said that there were no reports of damages, but one 15-year-old arrived at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon suffering from shock. Tuesday’s attack was the first time since last year’s 50-day Operation Protective Edge in Gaza that a medium-range Grad rocket was fired into Israeli territory. Defense establishment sources said the rocket was likely fired by an errant Palestinian faction, but Ya’alon stressed, “Hamas is responsible” for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip.
Protesters close bank branches in Gaza for hours
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 May — Dozens of protesters on Tuesday morning demonstrated outside branches of Bank of Palestine across the Gaza Strip, preventing employees from entering the buildings on time, witnesses said. Demonstrators have been protesting for weeks against a decision by the bank to refuse money transfers from abroad to charitable organizations. Participants say they are widows, orphans and family members of Palestinians killed by Israel who benefit from such organizations. The demonstrators carried posters urging Bank of Palestine to end the blocks imposed on the accounts currently barring them from receiving humanitarian support. “Save the orphans of Gaza,” read one large poster signed by the “Union of Those Aggrieved by Bank of Palestine.” Shortly after the demonstration, the organizers announced that they would suspend their protest until next week to give mediators time to work out a compromise.
Hamas executed Palestinians during Israel war: Amnesty
JERUSALEM (AFP) 27 May — The Islamist group Hamas used its 2014 Gaza war with Israel to “settle scores” with rival Palestinians, executing at least 23 in possible war crimes, Amnesty International said Wednesday. A report by the London-based rights group detailed the “brutal campaign of abductions, torture and unlawful killings against Palestinians accused of ‘collaborating’ with Israel” by Hamas, de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip enclave. The report details the “extrajudicial execution of at least 23 Palestinians and the arrest and torture of dozens of others”. “It is absolutely appalling that, while Israeli forces were inflicting massive death and destruction upon the people in Gaza, Hamas forces took the opportunity to ruthlessly settle scores, carrying out a series of unlawful killings and other grave abuses,” Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director Philip Luther said.
Gaza families visit relatives jailed in Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 May — Sixty-one Palestinians from the Gaza Strip crossed into Israel to visit relatives in Israel’s Ramon prison on Monday. Among the visitors were 11 children, according to a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza City Suheir Zaqut. She added that 37 prisoners in Ramon will be visited. The ICRC “Family Visits Program” for Gazans was suspended by Israeli authorities in June 2007 when Hamas came to power in the coastal enclave. All communication between Gazan prisoners and the outside world was effectively cut off, prisoners’ rights group Addameer reported, and during a Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike in April 2012, one of the prisoners’ key demands was that the program be reinstated. Israel agreed to resume the visits on the conclusion of the hunger strike, although Addameer has reported that many Gaza prisoners have not been allowed to receive visitors. There were 375 Gazans in Israeli jails as of April 1, 2015, according to Addameer.
Officials say Turkey continues to fulfill Gaza aid pledge
ANKARA (Videonews) 25 May – Turkey is continuing to help in the reconstruction of Gaza following Israel’s devastating military offensive last summer, the Turkish Prime Ministry Office of Public Diplomacy said. Officials added that Turkey has provided $76.3 million to Gaza in 2014 and aid will reach $200 million by 2017 … Turkey had promised to provide $200 million during the 2015-2017 term to support the reconstruction of Gaza and the sustainable development of Palestine. Turkey also said the aid will be carried out on a project basis and step by step. “If the Turkish Republic makes a promise, that promise will be fulfilled,” Serdar Cam, head of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), told Anadolu Agency. “Our statesman’s promise does not hang in the air.”
F-16 rockets do not end the hopes of Gaza’s youth
Middle East Monitor 25 May — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES & VIDEO — Yosef Al-Hissi, 23, from Jabalia Refugee Camp in the north of the Gaza Strip, was a footballer before he was hit by a missile from an Israeli F16 fighter jet and lost his leg during last year’s offensive on Gaza. Despite his appalling injuries, he did not lose hope of continuing his friendship with a ball, but it is now as a basketball player [in a wheelchair] that he is starring in the camp’s Al-Basma Club. In the midst of Israel’s 2014 offensive, Al-Hissi was a happy young man as he went to bed with F16s and drones roaring overhead. He woke, not to find his brother Ali and sister Hala sleeping in the next beds, but to doctors trying to stop the bleeding cuts and bruises all over his body … “I was happy in the hope that the war would end in a day or two and I could go back to playing football with my friends,” he says. In the hospital, though, the doctors told Yosef that he had lost his leg and he might be there for a long time. “I was stunned at that moment. Both my hands were bandaged to the degree that I was unable to stretch down to feel whether my leg was there or not.” … The Palestinian ministry if health said that there are 70,000 disabled people in the Gaza Strip, making up 4.5 per cent of the population. According to a recent ministry report, 13 per cent of the people wounded in last summer’s offensive are disabled due to “new and strange” Israeli munitions that seem to target and sever limbs. “The rehabilitation of these people will take a long time,” the report says. “Artificial limbs cost between $1,000 to $4,000 each.” The ministry has had to halt financial support for those needing artificial limbs because of the continuous Israeli siege and lack of resources, in addition to the ban on the equipment needed for this purpose.
Breaking the glass ceiling: Gaza women open their own businesses
The Media Line 26 May — ‘Women need to become economically independent,’ says successful Palestinian businesswoman Maram Ganem, who owns Gaza’s first fast-food place and a large upscale restaurant in Gaza City — … Fathia Abu Amer lives in the Gaza neighborhood of Saja‘iyya. In her fifties, she runs a successful business from her home, selling colorful dresses for young girls to wear in wedding celebrations. She stores her clothes in a small warehouse with rows of white, red, and purple dresses neatly arranged on one side and quilts, baby blankets and tablecloths along the other wall. Fathia said she started to realize her life-long ambition when she took her first loan in 1995. Fathia travels regularly to Egypt to buy clothes and sell them in Gaza and has become a sales representative for a long list of traders in Egypt and Gaza.
Conflict in Gaza is all part of Israel’s indirect system of control over Palestine / Yehuda Shaul
New Statesman 26 May — 2014’s Operation Protective Edge was just the latest in a long list of operations used by the IDF to “cut the grass” in the region — Eleven years ago I was discharged from my military service as a combatant with the Nahal Brigade of the Israel Defence Force (IDF). After my release I founded the organisation Breaking the Silence together with several friends. Since then, I have spoken with hundreds of soldiers who described their military service in the territories. I never came across such lenient rules of engagement as those described by dozens of soldiers and officers who took part in 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. Their testimonies describe how the IDF conducted itself and can explain to a large extent why there were such fatal results. But the testimonies from Protective Edge do not tell the whole story. They do not recount that last summer’s operation was only the latest in a series of operations conducted by the IDF in recent years in Gaza. (Warm Winter in 2008, Cast Lead at the start of 2009, Pillar of Defense in 2012, and Protective Edge in 2014). They also neglect to explain why it is apparent that it is only a matter of time until the next operation. This succession of operations in Gaza is an expression of a strategy nicknamed by senior IDF officers as “cutting the grass”. Those who advocate for this strategy describe it as a necessary response to the terror threats facing Israel. These officers present the strategy as a defensive tool designed to undermine terror groups’ ability to threaten Israel’s security. They claim that because the threats facing Israel are constant and can never be completely averted, Israel must periodically and cyclically “cut” terror organisations’ capabilities and disrupt their readiness for combat. An operation every two or three years is an expression of cold and calculated logic, not whimsy … In effect, the “grass cutting” policy is but another component of Israel’s system of control over the Palestinian population, both in Gaza and the West Bank. In order to preserve its control, Israel continuously operates to ensure Palestinians remain weak and vulnerable. As a soldier, I took part in countless operations aimed at “lowering the heads” of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. Many other soldiers have and continue to do the same….
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Residency / Restrictions on movement
Israeli forces demolish house in Silwan neighborhood
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 27 May – Excavators escorted by Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian house in Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday morning. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers along with inspectors from the Jerusalem municipality stormed Wadi Qaddum area in Silwan in the early morning and blockaded the area before excavators razed a newly built apartment. Wednesday’s demolition comes as Silwan neighborhood residents face increasing pressures from the Israeli government to leave the area. Last week Israeli forces flattened a massive three-story building allegedly built without a licence, as well as three stores in the Ein al-Luzah area of Silwan without prior notice. Several demolition orders were also distributed in the area. Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem witness to an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of ongoing demolition of Palestinian homes and eviction of Palestinian families … The homeowners or an Israeli police spokesperson have not responded for comment on Wednesday morning’s demolition, however witnesses said the owners had finished the apartment only a few days ago and were preparing to move in shortly.
IOA threatens to seize furniture of house in Beit Safafa
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 26 May — Israeli civil servants escorted by policemen on Monday stormed and searched the house of Mohamed Salah and his family for the fifth consecutive time and assaulted his kids in Beit Safafa neighborhood, south of occupied Jerusalem. Salah told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that Israeli policemen physically assaulted his kids during the raid while he was at work and demanded his family to pay 2,000 shekels in order to cancel measures to confiscate the furniture of the house because of his failure to pay debts amounting to 20,000 shekels. He said that the raid was the fifth since the beginning of the current month as part of an Israeli plan to force his family to leave its house in Ras Beit Safafa in order to expand a settlement outpost. Salah had received about one week ago a notice from the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) in Jerusalem ordering him to pay 22,000 shekels and threatening to confiscate the furniture inside the house.
Israel to demolish electricity grid, water well in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 25 May — The Israeli authorities delivered a demolition order to an electricity grid and a water well in the western Hebron village of al-Kum on Monday. Local Ismail al-Rujoub said that Israeli forces stormed the village and delivered the orders for an electricity grid of 800 meters owned by the al-Yassiriya municipality that currently provides power to a village neighborhood of 10 houses. Al-Rujoub said that the case required legal expertise to be solved. The Israeli authorities also delivered a demolition order for a water well with a 450 cubic meter capacity belonging to Muhammad Abd al-Hafith al-Rujoub. Al-Rujoub added that this was the second time in a row he had received a demolition order for the well.
West Bank village wakes up to no water
Activestills 26 May Text and photos by: Ahmad al-Bazz — The municipal council of Qarawat Bani Hassan was not warned that their water supply was going to be nearly shut off for days, and attempts to get answers from Israel, through the Palestinian Authority, did not bear any fruit — Last Wednesday, without any prior warning, the majority of houses in the West Bank village of Qarawat Bani Hassan, near Salfit, woke up to find that they had no running water. Municipal workers checked the village’s main water valve, located on Road 505, a few meters from the illegal Israeli settlement outpost of Ma’ale Israel. “We discovered that the main water valve was almost shut off, [and locked in place] with a lock and chain in order to limit our portion of water and prevent anyone from increasing it,” said Hosam Asem, the manager of Qarawat Bani Hassan municipal council … According to the municipal council, the supply of water for each villager has now been reduced to about two liters per day, as all of the neighboring Palestinian villages now receive a total of 97 cubic meters per hour. The four surrounding Israeli settlements, Barkan, Revava, Kiryat Netafim and Ma’ale Israel were reportedly not affected by the crisis.
Bethlehem …. Settlers burn farmlands
IMEMC/Agencies 26 May — …a number of Israeli extremists set fire to nearly 10 dunams (2.47 acres) of Palestinian agricultural lands in the al-Kaneesa area, in the village of Husan, west of Bethlehem. Local firefighters managed to contain the fire before it spread further.
IDF transferred private Palestinian land to settlement, state reveals
Haaretz 26 May by Chaim Levinson — Government response to High Court petition shows that hundreds of square meters belonging to the Samsara family were mistakenly declared state lands in 1983 and transferred to the Shim’a settlement for its expansion — In the 1990s, the Civil Administration transferred the land to the World Zionist Organization, who outlined a plan for the expansion of the Shim’a settlement, which was then authorized in 1999. This past year, the services of the Amana organization – which develops settlements in the West Bank – were retained by the Mount Hebron Regional Council to lead the project’s construction. Before breaking ground, the Civilian Administration returned to the area and surveyed the territory again, discovering that the Samsaras’ land was mistakenly included in the area initially declared state lands. However, to rectify the error, the Civil Administration only sent out a letter informing the parties of the change, but failed to make sure no construction was being conducted on the land – a scenario that soon played out as work began. The land’s owners petitioned the top court together with Rabbis for Human Rights’ lawyer Kamer Mashraqi Assad, demanding a halt to construction … Last week, High Court Justice Anat Baron rejected the demand for temporary injunction halting the construction, citing the fact that work in the area had been stopped voluntarily and there was no need for the courts to intervene.
Ramallah district road opened after 15 years of closure
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 May — The Israeli authorities on Monday reopened a West Bank road between Ramallah and the eastern village of Beitin that has been closed 15 years. Beitin residents have been forced to take a route to Ramallah almost 20 kilometers long since 2000, even though the village lies just three kilometers from Ramallah. Only private cars will be allowed to use the reopened road, while taxis, buses and trucks will be banned. The road will also be used by Israeli settlers from the illegal settlements of Beit El and Psagot. Director of the local PA liaison office, Nadir Hajji, said that “long negotiations with the Israeli liaison office” had been required to convince the Israelis to reopen the road. The Israeli Civil Administration reportedly described its reopening as a “good will gesture” to the PA. They had previously informed the Beitin municipality that they would only agree to open the road if it underwent improvements to make it more usable. The road’s inauguration on Monday morning took place after the road had been leveled and repaved with asphalt.
Israel revokes Jerusalem residency status of prisoner’s wife
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 25 May — Israeli authorities have revoked the residency status of a Palestinian woman from East Jerusalem after having lived in the city for 23 years, less than two weeks after her husband was sentenced to nine months in an Israeli prison over activity on Facebook. The Israeli Ministry of the Interior refused 43-year-old Muna Abdullah al-Shalabi’s “family unification” application citing “security” reasons. Her husband, Omar al-Shalabi, is the former secretary-general of Fatah in Jerusalem, and was earlier this month sentenced to nine months in an Israeli prison for allegedly inciting anti-Jewish violence and supporting “terror” in posts and comments on Facebook. Muna al-Shalabi said that her ban from Jerusalem had been enacted to exert further pressure on her husband. Israelis authorities claim that she was given the chance to defend her application in February but that she did not come forward, leading them to refuse it. However, al-Shalabi denied that she had been given any earlier opportunity to challenge the ban, saying that she had not received any orders from the Ministry of the Interior before the most recent one. She has been living in the al-Suwwana neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem since she married her Jerusalem-resident husband 23 years ago. Until the ban, she had been allowed to live in East Jerusalem through the “family unification” application process….
Prisoners / Court actions
Palestinian parliament speaker sentenced to year in prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 May — An Israeli court on Monday sentenced Palestinian Legislative Council speaker Aziz Dweik to 12 months in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of 6,000 shekels. The Ahrar Center for Prisoner Studies said 14 hearings were held for Dweik since his arrest on June 16, 2014, after the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens near Hebron. The prosecutor had sought a sentence of 14 months for Dweik. [PIC: Israel is now detaining 12 Palestinian MPs]
Despite deteriorating health, Adnan ongoing with his hunger strike
IMEMC 26 May — The head of the Palestinian Detainees’ Committee Issa Qaraqe’ warned of serious complications, and life-threatening health setbacks, as detainee Khader Adnan continues his hunger strike for the 23rd consecutive day. Qaraqe’ said Adnan, held in solitary in the Ramla Israeli Prison Clinic, is refusing even vitamins or any sort of treatment, and that he is only drinking water. He suffered a serious weight loss, severe headache, and sharp pain in his joints and abdomen areas, in addition to general weakness, and fatigue. Qaraqe’ held Israel and its Prison Authority responsible for the life and well-being of the detainee, and said Adnan is demanding an end to his illegal, arbitrary Administrative Detention, without charges, in direct violations of all international, legal and humanitarian laws and treaties … Israel is holding captive around 500 Palestinians under Administrative Detention orders; some were taken prisoner years ago and never faced charges.
Israel releases Hamas official Dirar Hamdana
NABLUS (PIC) 2 May — Israeli jailers last night released senior Hamas official Sheikh Dirar Hamdana, one of the exiles to Lebanon’s Marj al-Zohour camp in 1992, after spending 27 months in prison. Osama, the son of Sheikh Hamdana, told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that the Israeli administration of the Negev jail released his father on Monday night at al-Daheriya checkpoint south of al-Khalil. Scores of citizens and relatives gave him a warm reception near the checkpoint and took him in a vehicular procession to his home in Asira ash-Shamaliya town, north of Nablus city.
Palestinian refugees – Syria
Jihadists, Palestinians battle in Syria refugee camp
DAMASCUS (AFP) 26 May – Islamic State group jihadists in Syria are trying to retake positions they lost in previous fighting in the Yarmuk refugee camp in southern Damascus, a Palestinian official said on Tuesday. “There is intermittent fighting between Palestinian factions and IS and Al-Nusra Front which are trying to retake positions in the centre of Yarmuk,” Khaled Abdel Majid, head of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front which is close to Syria’s regime, told AFP. When jihadists from the two groups entered Yarmuk on April 1, they took 60 percent of the camp before pulling back into around 40 percent. They currently have a presence in the south near the Damascus district of Al-Hajar al-Aswad. Abdel Majid said Palestinian groups control 40 percent of the camp, in its north, and that some 20 percent makes up the front line. He said Syrian regime aircraft have bombarded Al-Hajar al-Aswad, which is jihadist-held. A security source in Damascus said only that in Yarmuk the fighting “stops and then starts again”. Chris Gunness, the spokesman for UNRWA, the United Nations refugee agency for Palestinians, expressed alarm at the reports of fighting.
Palestinians dismiss reported Netanyahu initiative
JERUSALEM (AFP) 26 May — Palestinians on Tuesday angrily dismissed reported remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would like to negotiate the future annexation of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Haaretz newspaper on Tuesday quoted “an Israeli source” briefed on last week’s meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini as saying that Netanyahu wants to resume talks with the Palestinians, with his goal being to reach understandings on the borders of settlement blocs that Israel would annex under any peace agreement. “The prime minister explained that in this way, it would be clear what parts of the West Bank Israel could continue building in,” the newspaper reported. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP the concept was “completely unacceptable .” “Netanyahu’s proposal to discuss the borders of settlement blocs is an attempt to legitimise the settlements,” he said. “The borders that should be set are the borders of the internationally recognised state of Palestine based on 1967 borders. Settlements should be stopped instead of being legitimised.” Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said the plan attributed to Netanyahu was “a disingenuous and manipulative exercise in political and legal deception.”
UN warns of ‘deteriorating’ Palestinian situation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 May — A UN body has issued a grave warning about the deteriorating political and security situation across the occupied Palestinian territories, pointing to a “lack of political horizon,” in a report released Monday. The report was prepared by the UN Special Coordinator (UNSCO) for the Middle East peace process ahead of the bi-annual meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee that coordinates international donor support for the Palestinians. It said that the untenable “status quo” in the occupied territories will “inexorably lead to the continued erosion of living conditions for Palestinians and for Israelis alike and will undermine the security and stability of all.” The report noted “grave concerns” about divisions in the Palestinian political leadership, but also said that “there is no immediate prospect that a return to negotiations with the Palestinians will be an immediate priority of the new Israeli administration.” UNSCO called on the Israeli government to take credible steps to affirm its commitment to the two-state solution, including a freeze on settlement activity and opening Gaza’s border crossings. “2014 saw the highest number ever of tenders for settlement construction in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank for ten years,” the report said.
Border guards fired but not prosecuted for stealing from Palestinians
Times of Israel 26 May by Judah Ari Gross — Five border security guards were fired for stealing from Palestinians traveling through a crossing between the West Bank and Jordan. But despite multiple incidents over an extended period of time, the authority did not hand the case over to police, according to a Tuesday report. The Israel Airports Authority — which, in addition to monitoring Israel’s civilian airports, also manages its land-to-land border terminals — began investigating allegations that the contract workers were robbing Palestinians crossing through the Allenby Bridge in February. Upon being presented with the results, the workers admitted to stealing personal items, Ynet news reported. “It seems that since it deals with Palestinians, the authority did not think it was so serious,” an anonymous source at the crossing said. Thousands of Palestinians pass over the Allenby Bridge, which is controlled by Israel, each day and undergo a security check before being allowed through. The five security personnel used that as an opportunity to steal tobacco and other small personal items that the travelers put in the X-ray machine, they admitted.
Unprecedented demonstration in Jerusalem due to Israeli discrimination against Christian schools
PNN 26 May — Office of Christian Schools in occupied Palestine — On Wednesday, the 27th of May 2015, at 11:00 AM, an unprecedented demonstration will be held in the plaza in front of the Lev Ram building in Jerusalem (Ministry of Education headquarters) by the Christian Schools in Israel protesting on the discriminatory policy of the Ministry of Education towards their schools. Participants in the demonstration will include clergymen (Bishops, Priests, Nuns, and Pastors) in addition to parents of children in Christian schools throughout the country. The Christian schools in Israel consist of more than 30,000 students, almost equally divided between Christians and non-Christians. Most of these schools were Palestinian, and began operating years before the establishment of Israel. They were built and developed through donations from abroad. They provided and still providing the general Arab community with quality education that has resulted in the high achievements of the Christian schools. This high quality education is displayed, among other things, in the number of Christian schools listed at the top of the Ministry of Education’s published categories. While achieving high academic results, they also teach their students Christian doctrine and instruct them according to the Christian values of loving others, forgiveness and tolerance. These schools belong to the “recognized but not public” classification of schools in the Ministry of Education and receive partial funding from the Ministry. The rest of their funding comes from fees that are collected from the parents. For years, the Ministry of Education has been consistently cutting the budget of Christian schools (45% in the last 10 years). This has forced the Christian schools to raise the service fees that are collected from the parents to a level that has become a heavy burden on the parents, especially for parents from the Arab sector where the average family income is well known to be lower than the national average. Last year the Ministry of Education issued new regulations that even limited the ability of Christian schools to collect fees from the parents. The combination of these two things, substantial budget cuts and limiting allowable fees, is actually viewed as a death penalty for these schools….
European journalists and media activists explore the West Bank
[with video] BETHLEHEM (PNN) 26 May — A group of journalists and media activists from Palestine and Europe today finished a 10 days educational tour around the occupied West Bank.The purpose of the tour, led by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee as part of the Beyond Walls-project, was to develop a way in which journalists and media activists can help local Palestinian communities spread information about their daily struggles under the Israeli occupation. Stories that usually fail to reach the mainstream media. The group visited the villages of Kufr Qaddum, Nabi Saleh and Bil‘in. In Kufr Qaddum, the Mayor explained how the villagers face daily problems with being cut off from their lands. Ever since the IOF closed the main road that leads to the village, the inhabitants have had no choice but to drive a half hour detour when entering or leaving the village. The group walked along the road in which the protests against the occupation takes place each Friday in the village. There was still a distinct smell in the air of chemical skunk water that the Israeli forces use against the villagers, and the remains of burned tires. Later in the afternoon, the group visited a young man, who was slowly healing after being shot in his leg during one of the protests.
New museum to honor Palestinian history, culture
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 25 May — The Palestinian Museum became a member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) on May 11, making it the first Palestinian establishment of its kind to join the council of more than 32,000 museums — a powerful show of support for the museum’s future activities. The Palestinian Museum’s cornerstone was laid April 11, 2013, funded by the nonprofit Welfare Association. It sits on about 40 acres in Birzeit, near Ramallah. Once complete, the museum will be the largest institution dedicated to conserving Palestine’s heritage, history and national culture, as well as presenting these aspects of Palestinian culture to the world through modern technology. The museum is located on a hill near Birzeit University. Designed by an Irish architecture firm, the museum is modern with a distinguished, civilized facade. The architectural style is derived from historic Palestinian agricultural terraces that divided land with stone walls to prevent erosion and conserve rainwater. Several gardens, orchards and original Palestinian flora surround the museum.
Game for ancient grain: Palestinians find freekeh again
NPR 26 May by Danielle Cheslow — In early May, Nasser Abufarha drove through the rural farmlands around Jenin in the northern West Bank and noticed the timeless features of village life. Young boys harvested cauliflower bigger than their heads, a sun-beaten old man passed on foot with a hoe propped against his shoulder and middle-aged women strolled to their modest homes on a path between waving wheat fields. But there was one new element, says Abufarha, a Palestinian-American businessman and the founder of the largest fair trade exporter for Palestinian produce. On plateaus overlooking a patchwork valley of farmland, men wrapped head to toe in flameproof clothing furiously raked piles of wheat into the air and fired propane blowtorches at the grains. They were burning the husks of wheat harvested three weeks early to yield a roasted grain called freekeh. While the chaff turns black, the young green wheat kernels inside take on a smoky, nutty flavor. Freekeh is one of the Middle East’s famed “ancient grains” — it’s been cultivated in the region for more than four millennia. The word comes from the Arabic word meaning “to rub,” which is how farmers stripped away the burnt husk from the green grain in the age before heavy machinery combines. Traditionally, Palestinians have used it to thicken soups eaten on Ramadan and as stuffing for chickens. But in the last several decades, many Palestinians opted for cheaper, imported rice for main dishes. Now, Abufarha says this version of wheat is coming back.
Tense talks on Israel expulsion vote at FIFA
ZURICH (AFP) 26 May — FIFA leaders on Tuesday stepped up efforts to head off a vote called by Palestine to expel Israel from football’s world body claiming unfair treatment of its players. “Negotiations are still going on but they are very complicated,” a top FIFA official told AFP. “There may not be a solution until the final hours,” added the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has held talks with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in a bid to prevent the politically charged vote at a FIFA congress on Friday. FIFA would not discuss the talks. But a spokeswoman for the governing body said “only Palestine can withdraw the demand to suspend Israel from the agenda.” Palestinian Football Association president Jibril Rajoub has so far refused to withdraw the motion that will require the backing of three quarters of the 209 member federations to pass.
Sources: US Justice Dept to bring corruption charges against FIFA officials
WASHINGTON (CNN) 27 May by Evan Perez & Shimon Prokupecz — The U.S. Justice Department plans to announce corruption charges against senior officials at FIFA, the world’s soccer governing body, law enforcement officials say. Up to 14 people are expected to be charged Wednesday based on an indictment in federal court in New York. Arrests were being made overnight in Zurich, where members of the scandal-plagued organization were gathering for an election Friday that could give its leader Sepp Blatter a fifth term. Blatter isn’t among those being charged, the officials say. But he was among those investigated, and officials say that part of the probe continues. Current and officials seen as close to Blatter are expected to be among those who face indictments.
Israel asking US for 50% increase in next defense package
WASHINGTON (JTA) 26 May — Israel reportedly wants the US to increase its annual defense assistance package by half, to an average $4.5 billion. Defense News reported this weekend that Israel and US officials have in recent months begun negotiations on the next 10-year aid package. The previous package, negotiated by the George W. Bush and Ehud Olmert governments in 2007, averaged $3 billion of assistance each year, for a total of $30 billion, from 2007-2017. The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants that to increase to $42-45 billion over the 2018-2028 period, Defense News reported, adding that President Barack Obama during his March 2013 visit to Israel “endorsed in principle” that range. Defense News quoted “US and Israeli experts” as saying that the amount would be separate from any package the United States offered Israel as compensation for the Iran nuclear deal now being negotiated between Iran and the major powers. Like the defense assistance package currently in place, it is also separate from the $1.2 billion in materiel the United States stores in Israel and which under certain conditions is available for Israeli use, and from the approximately $500 million in US funds provided to Israeli anti-missile development each year.
Erdoğan opens ‘Saladin’ airport in Turkey’s restive southeast
ISTANBUL (AFP) 26 May — President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday opened a new airport in a restive eastern province dogged by a Kurdish separatist insurgency, naming the facility for a celebrated Muslim medieval leader of Kurdish origin. Erdoğan inaugurated the airport in Yuksekova in Hakkari province, close to the border with Iran and Iraq, alongside Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in a joint appearance ahead of June 7 elections. They announced the airport would be named for Selahaddin Eyyubi to remember the 12th century founder of the Ayyubid dynasty who led Muslim resistance against Christian crusaders in the Middle East who sought to control Jerusalem. Of Kurdish origin, he is known simply as Saladin and in Arabic as Salah ad-Din. “We are naming this airport Selahaddin Eyyubi to send a message of solidarity and brotherhood and to say that Jerusalem belongs to Kurds, Turks, Arabs and Muslims forever.”