Rivlin: Academic boycotts against Israel are first-rate strategic threat
Haaretz 28 May by Jonathan Lis & Yarden Skop — President Reuven Rivlin yesterday described academic boycotts against Israel as a “strategic threat of the first order.” During a discussion of the issue at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, the chairman of the Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities, Technion president Prof. Peretz Lavie, said it was still possible to stop the snowball effect of the movement, but warned that “we are at the 90th minute.” Lavie, who attended the meeting together with fellow university heads, called for “strategic action” to stop the boycott movement in Europe and the United States. “Anti-Israel student organizations were once very few; now they are at all the leading universities. We are appealing to you to place the issue on the agenda,” Lavie said, addressing Rivlin. During the meeting university heads noted a number of results of the boycott movement, including a significant decline in collaborative scientific research with international companies out of fear that the resulting products would be boycotted, the rejection by academic journals of articles by Israeli researchers and enormous pressure from student organizations on academic leaders around the world to participate in the boycott.
Elderly woman dies hours after entering Gaza via Rafah
IMEMC/Agencies 29 May — Yousra Omar Al Najjar, an elderly woman of 77, died on Wednesday evening, in Gaza’s European hospital, after a case of fatigue she sustained during her way back to the region via the Rafah crossing. The authority of crossings and borders in the Gaza Strip issued a statement explaining that Al Najjar was taken from the Egyptian hall to Al Arish hospital, accompanied by Egyptian army vehicles, where she received treatment before being transferred to the European hospital after entering Gaza. Al Ray reports that, according to a relative of the elderly woman, while she was waiting on the Egyptian she fainted due to a “sun stroke” caused by the high temperatures. The relative added that he tried to coordinate to facilitate her entry to Gaza, and that she was then transferred to the Palestinian side of the crossing, then to the European Hospital, where the doctor told them that she passed away “since a period of time”.
Gaza man succumbs to wounds suffered during last Gaza war
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 May — A Palestinian from Gaza succumbed to wounds he suffered during the Israeli war on Gaza last summer, locals said Thursday. Local sources said Saed al-Nadi, 55, from Jabaliya was receiving treatment in al-Wafaa hospital until he passed away Thursday.
Palestinian fisherman injured by Israeli naval fire
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 May — A Palestinian fisherman was injured as Israeli naval forces opened fire at fishermen off the coast of western Gaza City on Wednesday. Witnesses said Israeli forces injured fisherman Islam Murad, the third Palestinian fishermen to be injured by live Israeli fire this week … Murad’s injury Wednesday comes as Palestinian fishermen face near daily fire, ongoing harassment, and interference with their work from both Israeli and Egyptian naval forces. Egyptian forces injured a Palestinian fisherman with live fire on Monday, shortly after two other Gazan fishermen were shot and injured by Israeli forces earlier in the day for allegedly leaving the designated fishing zone.I sraeli forces also reportedly opened fire on boats Sunday.
Gaza power station to shut down due to fuel shortage
GAZA (Ma‘an) 29 May — The Gazan energy authority has announced that Gaza’s sole power plant will stopping running on Saturday due to fuel shortages. In a statement issued on Friday the authority blamed the Palestinian petroleum authority in Ramallah for reducing the plant’s fuel share. The statement accused the General Petroleum Corporation of preventing the delivery of petrol to Gaza on unreasonable pretexts, ignoring all national and humanitarian considerations, and “deplorably blackmailing” the Gaza Strip. The statement said that they had only been able to purchase enough fuel from local suppliers to keep the plant running for one more day. The plant was shut down for a month earlier this year after the Gazan energy authority was unable to afford the taxes demanded by the PA for importing fuel into besieged Gaza.
Rafah crossing resealed after three days
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 May — The Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing Thursday evening after it was open for three days to enable those stuck in Egypt and other countries to return to the Gaza Strip. Director of the Gaza border and crossings Maher Abu Sabha said that a total of 1,629 Palestinians were able to return to the Gaza Strip from Egypt between Tuesday and Thursday. Traffic was allowed only to enter from Egypt, however exit from the strip was not permitted. The crossing currently has no date scheduled for reopening. Some 15,000 people are registered with the Gaza Ministry of Interior to travel via the Rafah crossing; 3,000 of them are ill, and over 2,500 are students. The number registered is a fraction of the 1.8 million residents who have remained under a Israeli-imposed blockade since 2007. The WHO reported that April was the second month in 2015 that Rafah was completely closed by Egypt in both directions for all travelers, “including for patients and medical aid,” adding that the crossing has been opened for 5 of the 120 days this year so far.
Hamas: We arrested Gaza rocket launchers
Ynet 27 May by Elior Levy — Hamas source tells Ynet rocket fire is ‘against the interests of the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip,’ noting there are mediation efforts underway in attempt to calm situation — Hamas arrested the militants behind the rocket launched Tuesday night at southern Israel, a Hamas source told Ynet on Wednesday. A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit an open area in southern Israel on Tuesday night. No damage was caused, but one teenager was treated for shock. The IAF retaliated against the rocket fire, striking Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance Committees targets near the Gaza airport in the southern part of the Strip, as well as Hamas targets in Beit Lahiya in the northern part of the Strip, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported. The Palestinians reported no injuries in the attacks. “What happened yesterday (the rocket fire) goes against the interests of the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and against our national interests,” the Hamas source said. “We consider the rocket fire to be a dangerous thing.” “Right after the rocket fire, our security forces were deployed to different places across the Strip and hunted for the shooters until they were found and arrested,” the source continued. He noted there were mediation efforts underway between Israel and Hamas in an attempt to de-escalate the situation as soon as possible. While refusing to elaborate on who the mediators were, he said Egypt was not involved.
Israeli army commander recorded ordering attack on Gaza clinic
EI 27 May by Charlotte Silver — An Israeli military commander has been recorded ordering troops to shell medical facilities during the 2014 attack on Gaza. Nerya Yeshurun, a lieutenant colonel, instructed that a clinic in the Shuja‘iya neighborhood be fired upon on 23 July last year to “honor” an Israeli soldier who had been killed a day earlier. His statement amounts to a clear, though perhaps unintended, admission of war crimes. Targeting civilians as an act of revenge is strictly forbidden by international law. Although Yeshurun’s orders were broadcast by the Israeli media at the time, they have not been translated before now. It is remarkable that they did not elicit comment either within Israel or internationally. In an address over an internal army communications network, Yeshurun told his troops to “shoot a fusilade to honor and salute” Dima Levitas, a 26-year-old captian allegedly killed by sniper fire the previous day. Yeshurun instructed that the “fusilade” be directed “at the clinic from which the villains shot at him [Levitas] and took his life.” … The Electronic Intifada was unable to locate reports corroborating Yeshurun’s claims that the shot that killed Levitas came from the clinic. Even Israeli reports haven’t alleged that sniper fire from a clinic killed a soldier on 22 July. In its report about activities by Palestinian resistance fighters in Gaza last summer, the Israeli foreign ministry makes no mention of such an attack….
Gaza Strip: Killing of Bedouin sisters raises questions over Israel’s targeting of civilians
IBTimes 27 May by Kate Shuttleworth in Gaza — On a dirt track south of Khan Younis, Gaza, Ezzat Abu Adwan races his motorbike further into olive and lemon orchards littered with grocery bags full of rubbish, baking in the midday sun. He stops and dismounts, walking down an even narrower path. Remnants of tank tracks are clearly visible in the dirt, a wire fence is flattened and a green gate and concrete wall is riddled with bullet holes. This is where he found the bodies of his two aunts on 22 July 2014. “Hakema was cut to pieces. Nadjah received a number of bullets, one in the neck and one in the stomach. I believe Hakema was hit by a missile directly because, at the end of the day, we only managed to collect half of her body, we couldn’t find her leg,” says the 21-year-old. Hakema Abu Adwan, 66, and Nadjah Abu Adwan, 47, were just two of 2,200 Palestinians killed during Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. The dirt-poor Bedouin sisters living outside Khan Younis would have remained only part of that grim body count were it not for a report by Israeli human rights group Breaking The Silence, published at the beginning of May. The report revealed testimony from soldiers, who were there when the sisters died, who said Israeli forces spotted them talking on mobile phones and, assuming they were scouts for Islamist group Hamas, opened fire. When it was realised they were civilians, the report alleged, the sisters were listed as terrorists anyway. One Israeli soldier, who remained anonymous, said he thought it was “b******t” that the pair were terrorists or scouts.
For boy injured in Gaza beach massacre, war has never ended
[with video] EI 27 May by Belal Dabour — As soon as Israel’s bombs stop falling on Gaza, attention shifts and many forget about the damage and human misery left behind. The experience of Muntasir Baker, 11, shows how deeply the wounds of last summer’s assault continue to affect children. Muntasir was injured in the notorious Israeli shelling of a Gaza City beach on 16 July last year that killed his 10-year-old brother Zakaria Ahed Baker and three of his cousins: 9-year-old Ismail Muhammad Baker, 10-year-old Ahed Atif Baker and 11-year-old Muhammad Ramiz Baker. The Baker boys were among the at least 547 children killed in Israel’s 51-day assault that left more than 2,200 people in Gaza dead. – Seizures – Some of the tendons in Muntasir’s hand were severed and his hand hasn’t been completely functional ever since. The disability is evident as Muntasir speaks in this brief video shot on 7 September at a commemorative football match on the same beach where the massacre took place: Muntasir’s injuries are not limited to his hand, and his trauma is not just physical. He sustained several injuries to his head and now suffers from recurrent seizures which never occurred before. He feels better taking two medications, but these cost about $70 per month – a huge sum for many families in Gaza – so he intermittently takes only the cheaper drug, which costs about $10 per month. The seizures have affected his family, who always have to look out for him for fear that he might injure himself. They also have to take him to the hospital several times a month and sometimes several times a week.
Surviving in Gaza’s caravan houses
GAZA, Occupied Palestine 27 May by Miguel Hernández — …Refugees since 1948, many of them established themselves in Khuza‘a, a peasant village in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. For the last eight months a great part of the family has been living in caravans, as more than 45 homes belonging to the El Najjar family were bombed during the 2014 massacre. In one of those, ISM members met Ashraf El Najjar, member of the family who also lost his home during the umpteenth Zionist massacre. Ashraf is 41 years old and has seen how the Zionist entity bombed his home two times already. The first one was in 2009, during the massacre known as “Operation Cast Lead”, in which Israel also murdered one of his brothers. After that it took him several years to rebuild his home. However, once rebuilt, he could enjoy it just for 18 months, as in 2014 the Israeli occupation once again reduced it to a pile of rubble. This time they also murdered his father, two brothers, two sisters and his cousin. With a smile on his face, despite his terrible circumstances, he shows ISM the caravans were most of his relatives survive nowadays. “We don’t have any hope regarding the reconstruction. No one has been here to check about our situation or needs.” The first caravan he shows ISM is the one of Youssef El Najjar, who is now in the Hospital accompanied by his wife. In the caravan we find Youssef’s daughter Azhar, 18 years old, taking care of the rest of the family. She is responsible for her grandmother, who lies disabled in the only bed in the caravan, and her younger siblings. The youngest, four years old, can only move around by crawling on the ground, as a birth defect prevents him from walking. Azhar explains ISM how the life is in the caravans, “In winter we suffered a lot from the cold and the caravan flooded every time it rained. One time the water reached more than one meter’s height. Another time when the water rose the floods dragged all the sewage into the caravan. Now, in summer, the heat is unbearable, as an oven. I feel like I’m living in a grave.”
In Children’s Eyes — Children and War: Stories from Gaza children in summer 2014
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights 27 May — This booklet is the fruit of a project between Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and Save the Children in 2014. Al Mezan worked with a group of children in Gaza to introduce human rights to them and support their active participation in their protection … In July 2014, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) launched a wide-scale military operation on the Gaza strip. For 51 days, these children, and Gaza children generally, lived through horrors as their homes and neighborhoods were bombarded or invaded. They had to witness their parents, siblings or neighbors; including other children, as they were killed or hurt in IOF attacks. Tens of thousands of children faced forcible displacement, too. Al Mezan decided to work with these children in order to give them a chance to say their stories in a setting where they interacted with psychotherapists to help them deal with the traumas of the war. This booklet is the product of this work. The booklet introduces a series of children experiences in which they tell how they experienced the war. The children were invited to fun days in a protected environment in Gaza. They had sessions in which they spoke about their stories and traumas during the IOF attacks, in which 556 children were killed over the 51-day offensive during which the IOF launched air, ground and naval attacks. The booklet also presents a selection of the drawings by children, which reflect the state they are going through from their suffering to hopes and ambitions, and photos from the psychosocial support sessions.
Israel ‘pressures Ban Ki-Moon’ to get off UN list of children’s rights violators
RT 29 May — Israel is allegedly pulling diplomatic strings to pressurize the UN Secretary-General to exclude it from an annual list of countries accused of violating children’s rights in armed conflicts. Israel denies the allegations. Despite the slaughter of hundreds of Palestinian children in the IDF Israeli operation in Gaza in 2014, Tel Aviv wants to somehow preserve a squeaky clean image and is putting pressure on the UN central office to that end. Initially, the draft of the document prepared by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s special envoy for children, Leila Zerrougui, included the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on the list for attacking schools and hospitals in the Gaza Strip conflict last year, Reuters reported. An opposing side in the conflict, the Palestinian group Hamas, has also been added to the list. Now Ban Ki-Moon is allegedly “leaning toward” omitting Israel from the list of shame, reports Reuters citing diplomatic sources … The decision is due to come within the next weeks, yet the UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Secretary-General hasn’t made up his mind whether to include Israel in the list of serious children’s’ rights violator states. The Israeli Foreign Ministry denies allegations of pressurizing the UN chief.
Freedom flotilla trawler to arrive in Galicia, Spain
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 May — A ship taking part in Freedom Flotilla III is set to dock in Bueu, Galicia, Spain Saturday in one of several stops before making a final voyage to the besieged Gaza Strip. Marianne will join other ships heading to Gaza in “a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip,” the Freedom Flotilla Coalition said. Gaza has been under a crippling Israeli-administered military blockade since 2007. The Scandinavian trawler Marianne will stop in Spain for the five-year commemoration of a brutal attack on the first Freedom Flotilla in 2010, when Israeli naval forces killed ten human rights activists on board.The incident, which took place in international waters, sparked international outcry. A second flotilla planned for 2011 was unable to reach Gaza after Greek authorities prevented the ships from leaving Athens. The Freedom Flotilla’s Marianne set sail from Sweden earlier this month and is carrying a limited cargo of solar cell panels and medical equipment for the devastated Gaza Strip, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition said after the ship’s initial departure … European MEP Ana Maria Miranda Paz will be one of the passengers when the boat leaves Galicia for Portugal. A range of other public figures are expected to participate in the flotilla, including former Tunisian President and human rights activist Muncef al-Marzouk.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization
History — Ben Gurion’s 1948 letter barred return to Haifa
Dissident Voice 27 May by Jonathan Cook — Over many decades, Israel’s self-serving deceptions about the Nakba in 1948 have been exposed for the lies Palestinians already knew them to be. It was long accepted in the west that, as Israel claimed, Palestinians left their homes because they had been ordered to do so by neighbouring Arab leaders. The lie usefully distracted diplomats and scholars from the much more pertinent question of why Israel had refused to allow 750,000 Palestinian refugees to return to their homes after the war finished, as international law demanded. The myth about the Arab leaders’ order, which had been steadily undermined by the work of the “new historians” of the late 1980s, was decisively punctured two years ago by an Israeli scholar who was given the wrong file by Israeli army archivists. It showed the story of the Arab leaders’ order was concocted by Israeli officials. The same files should also have ended an equally diverting and lengthy debate about how many Palestinian villages Israel ethnically cleansed in 1948 … Again, Israel’s archives confirmed the Palestinian account, with 530 villages razed … Now another, related deception has been exposed. For decades Israel’s supporters have been arguing that Haifa, one of Palestine’s most important cities, was not ethnically cleansed of its population … But now a letter signed by David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister and the engineer of its ethnic cleansing policy in 1948, shows that, far from Haifa’s doors being thrown open, Ben Gurion ordered that the refugees be barred from returning.
Private Palestinian land in Jerusalem slated for confiscation
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) 28 May – Israeli authorities on Wednesday morning left posters in the occupied East Jerusalem town of al-‘Issawiya notifying owners that the property is needed for urgent military purposes for two and a half years. The confiscation order comes amid increasing incidents of demolition of Palestinian homes throughout occupied East Jerusalem and transfer of property from Palestinian to Jewish Israeli ownership in the area. A local committee member told Ma‘an that Wednesday’s orders were posted by officers of Israel’s Civil Administration who classify the confiscation as “seizure for military purpose.” The land, measuring 8,200 square meters, is located in the eastern side of the neighborhood Al-‘Issawiya near an Israeli military base established 10 years ago, Hummus told Ma‘an. The order has been signed by head of the Israeli forces Central Command Nitzan Alon and the land will be used for military purposes until Dec. 31, 2017, according to the order. High-profile Israeli military officers are expected to arrive Thursday morning to delineate the land slated for confiscation. Hummus explained that seizure orders such as the one issued Wednesday “temporarily” reclassify private land for military purposes orders, however orders are automatically renewed and such properties are eventually confiscated from their owners.
Israeli forces demolish Palestinian home in the Negev
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 28 May — In an ongoing campaign by Israeli authorities to push Bedouin communities from the Negev, Israeli bulldozers demolished the home of Ali Hammad Abu Rabia in the Makhul village Thursday, locals said. His home is the third belonging to the Abu Rabia family to be demolished by Israel in the last eight years. Israeli forces closed all entrances to the village while bulldozers demolished the house, locals said. Ali Abu Rabia told Ma‘an that the demolition comes as locals face pressure from Israeli authorities, based on negotiations concerning ownership of lands belonging to the family in different areas in the Kuseifeh and Makhul villages. “We presented a license application for the house and they told us that no more licenses will be given to houses in the Makhul village that were only recognized on paper,” Abu Rabia said, adding that the family had built the home three years ago on their own land, so were surprised when the Israeli Land Authority said that the land belongs to the state. The demolition of the Abu Rabia home by Israeli forces comes as the Israeli Supreme Court gave the green light to confiscating the land of two Bedouin villages earlier this month.
Israel to demolish 14 Palestinian-owned homes in Jordan Valley
JERICHO (WAFA) -28 May — The Israeli authorities Thursday handed several Palestinian residents eviction and demolition notices of their 14 homes, located in two Palestinian towns in the Jordan Valley area, according to local sources. Israeli forces handed several Palestinians notices notifying them of their intent to demolish their 14 homes. The order gave the owners three days to evacuate the homes. In the Jordan Valley’s village of al-Fasayil, the houses that received demolition notices belonged to Ibrahim Salem, AlI, Dawood, Ahmad, Ibrahim, and Yousif Ebaidat, Ali Hassan, Aziz Suliman, Suliman Sawarka, Dawoud Ebaidat, Ibrahim Ebayat,Yousef Nawawra, and Mahmoud Abu Kharbish. Meanwhile in Al-Jiftlik village, Mahmoud Edis , Rasheed Morshed ,Omar Abu Razqa and Mut’eb Atawna, received similar notices. Mayor of the Jordan valley, Majid al-Ftyani, considered this Israeli measure as a continuation of Israel’s displacement policy practiced against the Palestinian presence in the Jordan Valley.
Israeli settlers take over 10 dunums of land in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma’an) 27 May – Dozens of Israeli settlers from the Yitzhar settlement took over land in the Huwwara village in southern Nablus, official says. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an the settlers took over land belonging to Palestinian Yasser Mutie Hussein Ali, planting grapevines in the area. Villages south of Nablus are a frequent site of settler violence and Palestinian clashes with Israeli forces, where locals often attack locals and prevent farmers from reaching their land, in addition to attacks on Palestinian harvest itself. Yitzhar is notoriously violent, with Israeli security forces estimating the majority of a 2014 wave of anti-Palestinian hate crimes were carried out by residents of the settlement, according to Israeli media. Yitzhar residents originally settled on 18 dunams (0.02 square km) of land from neighboring Palestinian villages in 1983 and has steadily grown outward, today covering over 1800 dunums (1.8 square kilometers). The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that over 7500 dunums (7.5 square kilometers) were mostly inaccessible to Palestinians due to violence from residents of the Jewish-only settlement, as of 2012.
American millionaire funded transfer of West Bank church to settlers
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 May — A Swedish company established in 2007 was used to cover up the sale and transfer of a West Bank church compound to settlers funded by American millionaire Irving Moskowitz, Israeli media reports. Spotlight has been held on the church compound, located nearby the Palestinian refugee camp al-‘Arrub between Bethlehem and Hebron, for the last week due to contradicting allegations regarding the compound’s ownership. Pastor Keith Coleman, head of the church that originally owned the compound since the 1940’s, told Haaretz that the compound was sold to a Swedish company called Scandinavian Seamen Holy Land Enterprises in March 2008. While Coleman believed the group was a church group based in Haifa planning to renew the use of the church, Haaretz reported “The Swedish group was established in Stockholm in 2007, and seems to have been used as a cover for transferring the ownership of the compound to the settlers. The group does not seem to have any offices.” After buying the property, the Swedish group registered the purchase with the Israeli Civil Administration in 2012 and received necessary approval, the report said. Following registration with the Civil Administration, the Swedish company announced its dissolution. The group had no offices or assets except for this church compound at the time, Haaretz said. Ownership was then passed to the nonprofit organization American Friends of the Everest Foundation. The American organization operates from occupied East Jerusalem. and its sole contributor is American millionaire Irving Moskowitz. Haaretz reports that the Everest Foundation owns several properties in occupied East Jerusalem totaling a value of $12 million.The report added that Moskowitz is also the main funder behind the activities of Israeli right-wing activist Aryeh King, founder and director of Israel Land Fund, an organization that buys Palestinian property and homes for resale to Jews with the aim of ‘Judaizing’ occupied East Jerusalem as well as Palestinian neighborhoods in Israel … Actual renovations being carried out to prepare the church compound for transformation into a new West Bank outpost come to the dismay of local Palestinians. The church lies in a sensitive location, which when settled, will see Israeli settlements stretch all the way from the Gush Etzion settler bloc south of Jerusalem to the cluster of settlements around Hebron.
Stamping a new identity on Palestine’s landscape
EI 28 May by Sarah Irving — Gardening is supposed to be benign, organic, a balm to the modern urban soul. What could be more innocent, more life-enhancing, than nature? As Garden State — Corinne Silva’s photographic exhibition at London’s Mosaic Rooms — shows, gardens can also be a tool of colonization. The show is a multi-faceted discussion of the power relations written across the landscapes of historic Palestine. The first half of the exhibition, “Gardening the Suburbs,” comprises dozens of small images taken by Silva in Israeli settlements across the occupied West Bank and new towns within the State of Israel. They show how landscaping and gardening have been used to assert ownership of the land, erasing indigenous plants and animals and replacing them with an uneasily sterile and generic “Mediterranean” style. As the exhibition brochure points out, many of these gardens could be located in California or southern Spain. Anything distinctive about the scene has been eradicated. – Environmental havoc – It is clear that we are seeing the impacts of the latest in a long line of impositions of colonial desires onto colonized landscapes. In Australia, for instance, homesick settlers brought European animals and plants to “tame” the native terrain, and wreaked environmental havoc in the process. The enormous ecological damage being wrought on the Dead Sea is a closer example of the effects of human hubris.
‘Fury’ at appointment of Palestinian in Israeli city
AIC 25 May — Local residents and some city council members of the northern Israeli town of Nazareth Illit have expressed strong opposition to last Tuesday’s appointment of Dr. Shukri Awad as deputy mayor of the town. The appointment, which is primarily honorific in nature and carries no remuneration, was made by city council members as part of a wider political deal. Echoing racist language of the past, city council member Nadav Tubul told local press that “I have nothing against the Arab sector, I work with them and have friends amongst them, but in the city’s situation today such a move will only bring deterioration. City council members sold their principles and ideology this week for files, chairs and jobs, and threw away all the promises to their voters.” Nazareth Illit was founded in the 1950s overlooking the city of Nazareth and as a way to promote Judaisation of the Galilee, which had a relatively large Palestinian population. It is estimated that some 20 percent of Nazareth Ilit residents are Palestinian citizens of Israel. City council member Nadav Tubul reported that Mayor Shimon Gaspo had asked that he come live in Nazareth Ilit in order to strengthen the Jewish character of the city, and that the appointment of a Palestinian “contradicts the promises” and that the public would judge those who supported the move.
Settlers invade Palestinian park
AIC 26 May by Ahmad Jaradat — Some 100 Israeli settlers invaded a northern West Bank park belonging to the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) on Monday. Settlers have targeted this area for settlement expansion. Arriving in three buses, the mostly young Israeli settlers entered the park, situated in an area called Mas’odiyya located to the northwest of Nablus, after attacking and chasing away the Palestinian guard. PGFTU spokesperson Mohammed Atawna told the AIC that “in this area there are some 200 dunams of land targeted by Israeli settlers, who invade from time to time. Just a few weeks ago, on May 1, we had a celebration in the park during which we expressed our resistance to settler aggression. Yesterday more settlers than usual invaded our park, and all under the protective eye of the Israeli army.”
Photos! Israeli occupation this week
Christian Peacemaker Teams 28 May — See the Israeli occupation of Hebron this week.
Restriction of movement
Day after partially opening it, the army closed the Beitin-Ramallah road
B’Tselem press release 27 May — Reason provided: Palestinian drivers did not obey a stop sign erected to favor settler traffic — In the last few days, the Israeli authorities completed the reopening of the road that connects Palestinian villages Beitin and others in the northeast Ramallah District with the city of Ramallah via the DCO checkpoint. Due to existing restrictions in the DCO checkpoint, the opening allowed access to Ramallah only for the use of private vehicles and in one direction only. However, this partial improvement in the freedom of movement of Palestinian area residents was short-lived: only one day after the much-publicized reopening of the road, the army blocked it off with rocks. The grounds given were that some of the Palestinian drivers did not obey a stop sign placed on the road in order to give the right of way to Israeli settlers from Beit El. The original closure of the Beitin junction to Palestinians was in order to allow Beit El settlers exclusive use of the road on their way to route 60. The repaving of the road, which the army blocked with a dirt pile 15 years ago, was recently completed. On Monday, 25 May, the Palestinian DCO notified the Beitin village council that the road was now open for traffic. Although the Beitin road used to be the main route for 60,000-70,000 Palestinians to reach Ramallah, the army placed a stop sign at the exit from the village to the road, so that the 6,000 settlers of Beit El would receive the right of way. It should be noted that the settlers waged a campaign against reopening the road to Palestinians.
Israel prevents DFLP official from traveling via Erez
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 — Israeli authorities prevented Saleh Zeidan, member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine party, from traveling via the Erez crossing to Jerusalem for medical treatment in the A-Maqasid Hospital on Thursday.The DFLP party said that the procedure was a continuation of Israeli violations against Palestinians.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian woman at Erez crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 May – Israeli forces on Wednesday detained a Palestinian woman at the Erez crossing on her way back from Israel to the Gaza Strip after visiting relatives living in Israel. A Gaza-based prisoners’ rights group Waed identified the woman as Sana Al-Hafi, 42, and mother of seven from the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. A spokesperson for the Coordination of Government Affairs in the Territories (COGAT) did not immediately respond for comment on Al-Hafi’s detention.
Gazans pass through Erez crossing to pray in Al-Aqsa
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 May — Dozens of Palestinians left the Gaza Strip early Friday to pray in the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Sources at the Palestinian liaison told Ma’an that 190 Palestinians above 60 years of age headed to the mosque compound via the Erez crossing. Weekly access to the Al-Aqsa mosque by Gazans [over 60 years old only] has become routine since October 2014 when some 500 Palestinians in Gaza prayed at the mosque for the first time since 2007, having been prevented by Israel from traveling to Jerusalem since that time. Friday’s trip comes as tensions continue around the compound, as dozens of right-wing Jewish Israelis entered the compound under the protection of Israeli forces earlier this week to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.
Violence / Incursions / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Arrests
5 Palestinians detained, 5 injured in clashes in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 May — Israeli forces detained five Palestinians and injured five more in subsequent clashes at the southwestern entrance to al-Issawiya neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stopped a car at the neighborhood entrance and asked for one of the passengers, the wife of a Palestinian prisoner, Anwar Jamjoum. The car was then ordered to drive to a nearby Israeli military base. After Nahla Mheisen, a passenger in the car, and her son questioned the reasons for their detention they were assaulted by Israeli forces, witnesses said. Mheisin was reported to have briefly lost consciousness. All five passengers were detained, and the car was seized. Clashes then broke out in the area, and five Palestinians were injured by shrapnel from stun grenades as well as rubber-coated steel bullets. Israeli forces regularly block entrances to al-Issawiya, and clashes between locals and Israeli troops frequently break out.
Israeli forces suppress Bil‘in weekly march
BIL‘IN (Ma’an) 29 May — Dozens of Palestinian and international activists suffered excessive tear gas inhalation on Friday as Israeli forces dispersed the Bil‘in weekly march. Witnesses said that Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas canisters, and stun grenades at the protesters as they approached the Israeli separation wall. The stun grenades caused a fire to break out that swept through lands belonging to Bil‘in residents Mahmoud Abd al-Hadi Samara, Ashraf al-Khatib and Taysir al-Khatib. Protesters were reported to have chanted songs and raised red cards, calling for the suspension of Israel from FIFA. The Palestinian Football Association’s bid to oust Israel was due to be voted on at FIFA’s 65th congress in Zurich Friday, but was called off at the last minute when, for unknown reasons, the PFA dropped the challenge.
Soldiers attack Kufur Qaddoum weekly protest
IMEMC 30 May by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly protest against the Wall and Settlements in Kafr Qaddum village, near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, fired live rounds and gas bombs, leading to one injury by live fire, while many suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee said Mohammad Nidal, 18 years of age, was shot with a live bullet in his leg, and was moved to a local hospital. The Committee added that the soldiers invaded the village, while firing dozens of rubber-coated metal bullets, gas bombs and rounds of live ammunition, in addition to spraying the protesters with wastewater mixed with chemicals (also referred to as skunk water.) The soldiers invaded the village as the protesters were starting their weekly procession, while they marched chanting against the occupation, illegal settlement activities, ongoing violations, and carried red cards calling for expelling Israel from the FIFA.
Soldiers attack Nabi Saleh weekly protest
IMEMC 30 May — Several Palestinians have been injured, Friday, as dozens of soldiers attacked the weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall and Settlements, in Nabi Saleh village, northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Similar to protests in Bil‘in nearby village, Kafr Qaddoum near Qalqilia, and other areas in the occupied West Bank, the protesters marched carrying Palestinian flags, and posters, in addition to red cards calling for kicking Israel out of the FIFA due to its ongoing illegal occupation and violations. The protesters also conducted a mock football match at the village entrance that was sealed by the army years ago, before the soldiers attacked them by firing dozens of gas bombs and concussion grenades, causing many to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. Also on Friday, soldiers assaulted the nonviolent protesters against in the al-Ma‘sara village, near Bethlehem, and attacked them with clubs and batons.
Soldiers invade al-Yamoun and the Jenin refugee camp
IMEMC/Agencies 29 May — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday at dawn, various neighborhoods in the al-Yamoun town and the Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank district of Jenin. Two Palestinians were kidnapped in Ramallah and Hebron, on Thursday evening. Media sources said the soldiers stormed the home of Jamil Sa‘adi, in the Jenin refugee camp, and violently searched it, causing excessive property damage. The soldiers told Sa‘adi they were searching for his two sons, Hamza and Ibrahim, in order to arrest them, but they were not home. On Thursday evening, soldiers kidnapped a young man, identified as Odai Younis Shawamra, after storming into his home in Um ash-Sharayet area, in the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the soldiers also attacked Odai’s father and his brother, causing cuts and bruises. Also on Thursday evening, soldiers kidnapped a student of the Polytechnic College in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, after stopping him on a roadblock near the southern entrance of Bethlehem.
VIDEO: The day we all died
Defence of Children International – Palestine 24 May — See the impact prolonged military occupation has on Palestinian families — One year ago, on May 15, Palestinian teen Nadeem Nawara (age 17) was shot and killed by Israeli forces near Israel’s Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank. An hour later, Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh Salameh Abu Daher (age 16) was fatally shot in the back in nearly the same spot. “The bullet that killed Nadeem did not just kill him. It killed me, my wife, my son, and it killed my daughter,” says Nadeem’s father, Siam. Nadeem’s family and friends were struck hard by his loss. The Day We All Died, a short film produced by Defence of Children International – Palestine, attempts to provide a glimpse beyond the headlines to see the impact prolonged military occupation has on Palestinian families.
In 7 months: 3 Jerusalem children shot in the eye by IOF black-tipped sponge bullets
RAMALLAH (PNN) 27 May — The 10-year-old child, Yahia Al-Amoodi, on Wednesday was the third child during the last 7 months to be shot in the eye by Israeli black-tipped sponge bullets, which are used against Jerusalemite civilians regularly. In his statement to the Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP), the child’s father said that his son had left the house in the afternoon of 11 May in order to collect his sister from the Kindergarten. On his way, he stopped approximately 100 meters from his home in Shu‘fat refugee camp to watch a group of children gathered in the street. There, he was suddenly shot in the eye. Yahia’s father added that one of the soldiers, based on the third floor of an unfinished building opposite the camp checkpoint, shot at the child’s upper body. The child fell, bleeding, when another soldier, on the sidewalk opposite the building, shot him directly in his left eye from a distance of 35 meters. His father indicated the absolute lack of clashes in the area at the time. After the unprovoked attack, Yehia lost his left eye and a glass eye was substituted. He also suffered severe fractions to his skull and jaw, where doctors had to insert platinum plates. Yehia is still receiving treatment in Hadassa Ain Karem hospital, Jerusalem. He has undergone three surgeries up until now, and will have to receive food intravenously for 6-12 weeks. His father added that he also suffers from speech difficulties.
The Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP) documented two similar cases of children who lost their eyes due to black-tipped sponge bullets. Zacharia Joulani (13) from Shu‘fat camp on 31 March was shot near the same site as Yehia, and Saleh Mahmoud (12) from ‘Issawiya neighborhood lost his right eye and sustained major damage to the left after he was shot on 11 November last year.
Mohammed Sinnokrot (16) died on 7 September last year of wounds he had sustained on 31 August. He had been shot in the right side of his head, causing skull fractures and a cerebral hemorrhage, according to media reports. Black-tipped sponge bullets, according to Haaretz investigation, were heavier and more dangerous in comparison to the blue bullets which IOF have used previously.
VIDEO: Life after a live ammunition injury: Basel Kamal Safi
Defence for Children Palestine 13 May — On December 4, 2014, Basel Kamal Safi, then 17, sustained a gunshot wound when he found himself in the midst of clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth in the West Bank village of Beitillu. The injury led to two surgeries, and now Basel must use a wheelchair to get around. The incident has also caused financial hardship for Basel and his family. DCIP spoke with Basel about the impact the injury has had on his life. [Basel’s parents requested permits to take their son to Al-Maqased Hospital in Jerusalem for treatment. These were denied. No soldier has been charged with any crime for this incident.]
Israeli minister aims to impose 20-year sentence for throwing stones
IMEMC/Agencies 29 May — Israeli Minister Ayelet Shaked has proposed a sentence of 20 years in prison for Palestinian boys throwing stones at Israeli forces, reports Days of Palestine. Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported, Thursday, that Shaked is promoting legislation aimed at giving harsher punishment to stone-throwers, without having to provide proof the accused intended to harm anyone. Shaked’s first piece of legislation since entering the Justice Ministry will be brought to vote on Sunday, at the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. About a thousand indictments are served every year against stone-throwers, but the difficulty in proving the rioter’s intent to cause damage is, in many cases, a factor in the minor penalties given, if at all. Shaked plans to add a new kind of offense to the law, which would prohibit the throwing of a stone or an object not only with the intention to cause harm, but also in order to interfere with or impede a police officer from performing his duties. PNN further reports that, in addition, Shaked’s proposal would expand the law against rock throwing to expand punishments for individuals who throw rocks at police or police vehicles. Such attacks would be subject to a special penalty and harsher punishments would be imposed. A new threshold will be set that does not require proving intent to cause harm, and the punishment for such an offense will be up to 20 years in prison. Shaked, from the Jewish Home party, called for the murder and genocide of the Palestinian people the past summer, including mothers and children.
Israeli forces detain 3 minors from Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 May — Israeli forces raided the town of Al-Khadr in southern Bethlehem for the third time this month, detaining two minors on Wednesday. Deputy head of the Al-Khadr municipality Ismail Issa said that those detained were Osamah Suleiman Hammad Salah, 15, and Hisham Muhammad Hisham Mousa, 16. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided several other homes in addition, delivering a notice to Omar Abd al-Salam Salah, ordering him take his son Yazan, 14, to the Etzion detention center. Yazan is now being held by Israeli intelligence interrogators at the center, Issa said … Al-Kahdr youth have been targeted several times this month by Israeli forces, Wednesday’s incidents bringing the total number of teenage residents detained from the town this month to 11. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the four arrests at the time, alleging that they were detained for “involvement in criminal activity and riots.” During a raid on May 20, Israeli forces reportedly distributed a statement in the area threatening to “interfere” with the lives of young men who continue to hurl stones at Israeli vehicles traveling on the bypass roads near the town. Al-Khadr residents have regularly clashed with Israeli forces since Jewish-only settlements have slowly grabbed land from locals and the erection of the Israeli separation wall severed locals from their farmland. Most recently, Israeli forces razed lands near Al-Khadr in April in order to build a road to a new settlement, with 400 dunums (0.4 square kilometers) of land threatened with future construction of a settlement outpost.
Israeli police detain 5 Palestinians from Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 May — The Israeli police detained five Palestinians from the Beit Hanina neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem late Thursday. The Israeli police said that forces detained the five minors on suspicions of throwing Molotov cocktails at the home of an Israeli settler in the area. Residents of Beit Hanina regularly encounter Israeli forces in the area due to the trend of increasing presence of settlers who often received armed protection funded by the Israeli government. Takeover of homes by Israeli settlers in the Palestinian neighborhood is part of an ongoing government policy aimed to maintain a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, by way of pushing Palestinians out of occupied East Jerusalem through home demolition, eviction, and other policies.
Prisoners / Court actions
Interview: Maureen Clare Murphy on hunger striker Khader Adnan
KBOO Radio 30 May — A Palestinian hunger striker has entered his twenty-fifth day without food, and is unable to move or stand up. Khader Adnan is a prisoner held by Israeli authorities for the past year without charges or trial. He is protesting the so-called ‘administrative detention’ imposed by Israeli authorities which is used to hold Palestinians indefinitely without ever having a day in court or knowing why they are being held. This is the second time that Khader Adnan has gone on an extended hunger strike. While imprisoned previously in 2012, he gained international publicity for a sixty-six day hunger strike. He almost died during that strike, according to medical professionals who treated him, and he has undertaken the current hunger strike with the intention that he will continue until death unless the Israeli authorities and international community address the issue of indefinite detention without charge. For more, KBOO spoke with Maureen Clare Murphy of the Electronic Intifada, who has been following Khader Adnan’s hunger strike.
Twilight Zone: Palestinian MP’s crimes: Visiting prisoners and talking to the media
Haaretz 28 May by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Nothing demonstrates political persecution better than the 12 counts on which Khalida Jarrar was convicted and jailed — …The charge sheet has everything but the kitchen sink. The more the counts, the less substance they have. “Membership in an illegal association”; “holding office therein”; “performing a service for the illegal association”; and one count referring to incitement. But even the major prosecution witness related to the incitement charge stated that he “is not certain whether the defendant personally spoke about abducting soldiers, but noted that this matter was mentioned many times during the rally” (according to the judge’s remarks). The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian left-wing party (it has a military branch) that was a member of the PLO and took part in the elections to the Legislative Council (the Palestinian parliament), is an “illegal association.” [Judge Major Haim] Balilty has confused it with the Popular Front – General Command, under the leadership of Ahmed Jibril … The indictment against parliamentarian Jarrar, the gist of which is read out by the judge, provides some tragicomic relief. If it weren’t so sad it would be hilarious. Is this what a person of such standing is brought to trial for? For this she has already spent two months in prison? … Not a muscle twitches on the judge’s face during his mechanical recitation of the indictment. His words are largely swallowed up by the noise of the audience and the hum of the air conditioners. What he says could only be construed as a particularly perverse parody of military justice. No one laughs (or cries) at the grotesque charges of visiting a book fair, delivering a speech, giving a media interview, visiting a protest tent or congratulating a released prisoner. It’s all enshrined in the laws of the occupation, and Jarrar has been imprisoned for two months for it.
Ethiopian IDF soldier beaten by cops is suing the police
Ynet 27 May by Yoram Yarkoni, Naama Cohen-Friedman — Damas Pakada, the IDF soldier of Ethiopian descent whose assault by police last month led to a turbulent protest by Israeli Ethiopians, has decided to sue the police for compensation. In a lawsuit filed at a Tel Aviv court on Tuesday, Pakada is demanding NIS 390,000 including legal expenses (some $100,000) in compensation from the police. The lawsuit, which was filed against the two police officers involved in the incident, claims that if the assault had not been documented on camera – Pakada would have likely been accused and convicted of serious charges of assaulting police. Pakada’s attorney, Eyal Abulafiya, claims this is a case of police brutality motivated by racism, “one of the more shocking cases seen recently in Israel, which was documented by security cameras by coincidence.” He went on to say that on top of police displaying serious racism, this was a display of hatred which in this case provided a rare glimpse “into a regular habit, which is wrong to the core, that happens frequently at the Israel Police, who use violence against civilians, make false accusations, and more.”
Activism / BDS
Activists target ‘normalization’ march in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 28 May — Activists confronted participants in the so-called “Jerusalem hug” march in which Palestinian and Israelis participated in Jerusalem on Thursday. Palestinians from Jerusalem gathered near Damascus Gate, where the march took place, and started telling Palestinian participants in the event that it had “normalization” goals. There were minor scuffles and exchanges of swearing between the two sides. Head of Fatah’s Jerusalem youth council Ahmad al-Ghoul told Ma‘an that Palestinian participants in the march — from the West Bank cities of Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus, and Tulkarem — were deceived into joining it by luring them with permits to enter Jerusalem. Al-Ghoul said that the organization claimed that the march was a “humanitarian project for people in the West Bank” and provided them with permits and the necessary transportation without showing them the “normalization” goals of the visit. He added that such organizations equate the “victim and the executioner” and show the world a picture of Palestinians and Israelis living in peace and love, spending millions of shekels in the process. Israeli police detained Mahdi Abu Sbeih and Shadi al-Labban, who were trying to stop the march.
Parents protest meeting of soldiers, kindergarteners
AIC 27 May — In protest of a meeting between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian kindergarten children, parents in the Palestinian town of Taybe in central Israel declared a school strike Wednesday — The meeting between Palestinian kindergarten pupils, citizens of Israel, and soldiers was organised by the nearby Jewish-Israeli town of Tel Mond in preparation for Israeli Independence Day last month. On its Facebook page, the Tel Mond municipality noted that kindergarten children from Tel Mond and Taybe gave care packages to the soldiers. Hedva Bemani, director of kindergartens in Tel Mond, noted that “all 15 of the kindergartens which participated in the campaign reported the children’s great happiness over the meeting. The soldiers were welcomed with hugs and kisses, and the soldiers promised to come next year.” Taybe parent and activist Abed Shahin Haj Yahya criticised the CEO of Taybe, Galit Levi. Speaking with the Israeli news portal Ynet, Yahya contended that she “exploits the children’s innocence to bring them to a meeting with an Israeli soldier who holds a weapon and an Israeli flag. This means she crossed all red lines. Today’s strike and demonstration are our reaction to these events. I call on her to leave the municipality as she offended all the residents.” The Taybe Parents’ Committee added that “We will not be silent about such a meeting. To our sorrow the education department did not notify us that a meeting between Israeli soldiers and our children was set to take place. Had we known, we wouldn’t have allowed it.” The parents added that today’s strike was held so they would “be heard by the responsible bodies.”
Online database ‘exposes’ pro-Palestinian college students in bid to block further jobs
The Forward and Josh Nathan-Kazis 27 May –A new website is publicizing the identities of pro-Palestinian student activists to prevent them from getting jobs after they graduate from college. But the website is keeping its own backers’ identity a secret. “It is your duty to ensure that today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees,” a female narrator intones in a slick video posted to the website’s YouTube account. Called Canary Mission, the site has posted profiles of dozens of students and recent graduates, alongside those of well-known activists like Omar Barghouti, founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Some of the students are active in Students for Justice in Palestine; others were involved in recent pro-BDS resolutions at campuses in California. Many of them have relatively thin activist résumés. “The focus on young people and students is an effort to try to tell people that there will be a price for you taking a political position,” said Ali Abunimah, founder of the pro-Palestinian website The Electronic Intifada. “It’s an effort to punish and deter people from standing up for what they believe.” … The individual dossiers on the Canary Mission’s site are lengthy and detailed, and include videos and photographs of the activists. In the case of some current students, the site lists their majors. There are links to Facebook pages, Twitter pages and LinkedIn profiles, and lengthy descriptions of pro-Palestinian student groups and movements to which these students have alleged links. “I think it’s creepy and I think it’s McCarthyist,” said Max Geller, an SJP member who is profiled on the site. “This is not a badge of honor. This is scary.” Geller said that some of what is written about him on the site is untrue, and that he has contacted an attorney.
Palestinians drop bid to have FIFA suspend Israel
ZURICH (AFP) 29 May by Ryland James — Palestinian football chief Jibril Rajoub withdrew his association’s bid to have FIFA suspend Israel from international football on Friday before shaking hands with his Israeli counterpart. “I have decided to drop the resolution for the suspension,” Rajoub told the FIFA congress in Zurich before shaking the hand of Israeli FA president Ofer Eini. “A lot of colleagues, whom I respect and whose commitment to the ethics and values of the game I appreciate, told me how painful it is to hear of the issue of suspension. “But I want to protect the Palestinian footballers, to let them enjoy the privilege of the game as others do.” But Rajoub demanded that FIFA help tackle racism and problems of movement facing Palestinian players in the occupied West Bank before waving a red card at delegates to emphasise his point. “I think it’s time to raise the red card against racism and humiliation in Palestine and everywhere. It is time,” he fumed. Palestine, which has been a FIFA member since 1998, had wanted the governing body to expel Israel over its restrictions on the movement of Palestinian players. It had also opposed the participation in the Israeli championships of five clubs located in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. In an equally passionate address, Israeli football chief Eini said it is now up to the two associations to find a common ground to promote football and help each other in the troubled region. “Football must serve as a bridge to peace,” said Eini … A FIFA committee, which will include figures from both the Israeli and Palestinian governing bodies, will be set up to resolve issues facing those in football on the West Bank after the congress voted for the initiative.
Palestinians withdraw call to suspend Israel from Fifa
The Guardian 29 May by Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem — Sepp Blatter overrules attempt to refer status of Israeli clubs to UN, prompting Palestinian Football Association to drop suspension motion — The Palestinian Football Association has withdrawn its call to have Israel suspended from Fifa in a chaotic last minute climbdown at the congress of football’s governing body in Zurich. Following days of negotiations, and the mediation of Fifa president Sepp Blatter, the Palestinian moves at the scandal-ridden congress appeared comprehensively outmanoeuvred by feverish Israeli lobbying and the opposition of senior Fifa officials, including Blatter. As details of an impending deal emerged, the Palestinian delegation came out of the last round of talks expecting the congress to vote on an amendment to refer the main sticking point, the status of five Israeli clubs based in illegal settlements on the West Bank, to the United Nations. But the Palestinian move was overruled by Blatter, to the clear dismay of the Palestinian delegation, whose lawyer tried to appeal from the floor. Instead, the issue will be referred to a new Fifa committee. Palestinian delegation members complained after the vote that the amendment voted on was not the one it had drawn up, which called explicitly for UN referral. The announcement came at the end of a long day in which Palestinian delegation members had insisted they would not back down on the suspension vote … Following the withdrawal of the request to suspend Israel over claims of its racist and discriminatory policies towards Palestinian football, 90% of delegates voted to set up a new monitoring inspections committee to oversee a mechanism to ensure movement of players and equipment. The size of the vote in favour of the motion – 165-18 – is likely to be the only consolation for the Palestinian side, which has been pushing a long-term campaign over what it says are Israeli abuses of Palestinian football. The outcome seemed certain to be a cause for celebration for Israel.
With courage and anguish, a Gaza athlete speaks out
Times Warp 28 May — His name is Iyad Abu Gharqoud; he is a soccer player and a resident of Gaza, and he speaks to us directly from The New York Times today, allowing us to hear his anguish — as well as his courage — in telling his own experience of Israeli oppression. This is a rare occurrence in the newspaper of record, and we should savor the moment. It is true that Abu Gharqoud’s op-ed piece “FIFA Should Give Israel the Red Card,” appears in print only in the international edition, but it is also to be found online, with a reasonably prominent position on the World page. The essay, calling on FIFA to suspend Israel for its treatment of Palestinians, is notable for its ring of genuine feeling: his love of soccer, his grief at the suffering he has endured and witnessed and his fear of Israeli reprisals for this moment of speaking out. The young athlete writes to us from Bureij, a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, where his family has lived since they were driven from their home near Beersheba in 1948. He has found “great joy” in playing soccer, but as a professional he has come up against the fact that Palestinians under occupation live “at the whim of Israeli officials.” His teams, Hilal al Quds and the Palestinian national team, are often held up at check points or prevented from traveling altogether; players, coaches and referees are denied travel rights, harassed and imprisoned; and two athletes were permanently maimed last year when Israeli border police shot them in their feet. Abu Gharqoud writes of the special agony of Gaza, where Israel bombed soccer fields and recreation areas last summer, where four boys died under Israeli shells as they played soccer on a sandy beach and where Israeli missile fire killed eight soccer fans as they watched a televised World Cup game.
Mogherini calls for resuming Palestinian-Israeli peace process
BRUSSELS (AFP) 27 May — EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called Wednesday on Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace negotiations, saying the situation on the ground was “not sustainable.” Mogherini issued the remarks after eyewitnesses said the Israeli air force carried out four strikes on militant targets in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday, hours after a cross-border rocket attack on the Jewish state. “We see the situation on the ground as not sustainable and (it is) an illusion to think the status quo is an option,” Mogherini said at the opening of an annual meeting in Brussels of the donor coordination group for the Palestinians. “As we have seen (in the) last hours on Gaza there is no status quo at all. If we don’t have positive steps, we will have negative steps,” said Mogherini, who last week travelled to the region to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leaders.
Palestine ambassador to Russia leaves role for Turkey
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 May — Ambassador of Palestine to Russia, Faed Mustafa, will leave Moscow for Ankara Friday, where he will submit his credentials as ambassador of Palestine to Turkey. Mustafa told Ma‘an he “is leaving Moscow as relations between Palestine and Russia have reached their highest point at political, economic, cultural and other levels.” A farewell ceremony attended by several ambassadors of Arab countries was held in his honor, where the deputy Russian FM presented a high-profile badge of honor to Mustafa. Mustafa served six years as ambassador to Russia after serving 11 years in different positions at the embassy. During Mustafa’s period as ambassador, more than 20 cooperation agreements were signed between Russia and Palestine, and President Mahmoud Abbas visited Russia eight times.
Few regrets in Mideast over Blair resignation
RAMALLAN (AFP) 28 May by Nasser Abu Bakr with Delphine Matthieussent in Jerusalem — Tony’s Blair resignation as Middle East peace envoy has been widely welcomed by Palestinians who say his term was useless, and even some Israelis agree he failed to accomplish much. For the past eight years the former British prime minister had been tasked by the Mideast Quartet to help mediate a peaceful settlement to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Quartet — the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States — had appointed him to support the Palestinian economy and institutions in preparation for eventual statehood. But the Quartet’s goal of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel has not been met, and talks between the two sides have been frozen since April 2014. Palestinians accuse Blair of siding with Israel at their expense, and unleashed a torrent of criticism against him. “He did nothing for the Palestinian cause but was used by Israel to justify its occupation and settlement policy,” Palestinian negotiator Mohammad Shtayyeh said. “We are happy that Tony Blair is going. He should have resigned a long time ago.”
Israel president wouldn’t rule out Hamas talks
JERUSALEM (AFP) 27 May — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin appeared to challenge a longstanding taboo on talks with the militant Islamic Hamas on Wednesday, saying he favoured dialogue with everybody. The role of president is largely ceremonial, but during a tour of northern Israel a reporter asked Rivlin his opinion on talks with Hamas, the de facto power in the Gaza Strip. “It is really not important to me with whom I speak, but rather about what we are speaking,” he replied in remarks broadcast on television and radio. “I have no aversion to holding negotiations with anyone who is prepared to negotiate with me,” he said. “The question is what they want to negotiate about. If they want to negotiate my very existence, then I would not negotiate with them.” Israel, along with much of the international community, maintains a ban on overt, direct contacts with Hamas, although it held indirect truce talks through Egyptian mediators after last year’s war in Gaza.
Christian schools in Israel say budget cuts hurt community
RAMLE, Israel (AP) 28 May by Areej Hazboun — It was an unlikely display of protesters: nuns cloaked in white, a black-clad priest clutching a golden scepter and dozens of Arab schoolchildren picketing outside the hulking headquarters of Israel’s Education Ministry. Their message, raised high on large banners: “Take your hands off our schools.” Private Christian schools are among Israel’s highest ranked educational institutions, established by churches in the Holy Land hundreds of years ago — long before Israel’s own creation. But school administrators are accusing Israel of slashing their funding as a pressure tactic to get them join the Israeli public school system — a move they say would interfere with the schools’ Christian values and high academic achievements. They are also complaining of discrimination, since as Israel moves to cut money to Christian schools it continues to fully fund large private school networks that cater to ultra-Orthodox Jews. “Even if we are a minority, we have an ancient message,” said Father Abdel Masih Fahim of the Franciscan Catholic order and principal of the Terra Santa School in the central town of Ramle. “We want to be treated equally, not only in education but also in every other aspect of life.”It is the latest sign of trouble for Christians in the Holy Land. In the birthplace of Christianity, Christians are a tiny minority, making up less than 2 percent of the population of Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Druze soldiers up in arms over move to disband battalion
Ynet 26 May by Yossi Yehoshua — A storm is raging over the Israel Defense Forces’ recent decision to disband its all-Druze Herev Battalion: High-ranking Druze reservists opposed to the move have sent a harshly worded letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which they call on him to intervene. The Druze officers warn that if the decision is not rescinded, they will petition the High Court of Justice and stage demonstrations outside the Kirya base in Tel Aviv. Herev was formed in 1974 and around 400 Druze soldiers currently serve in the battalion, which is involved primarily in routine security duties along the border with Lebanon. According to the IDF, the decision by Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot came after a poll among Druze soldiers found that 99 percent would rather integrate into the rest of the army than remain in a separate unit. The move, said an IDF source, follows “a series of consultations, including with the Druze community leaders, who supported the desire to integrate the Druze youth into other combat units in the army.” But a different tune is coming from within the Druze community.
Opinion — Why no one is talking about Gaza ’rounds’ anymore / Alex Fishman
Ynet 29 May — Analysis: The main achievement of Operation Protective Edge is concealed in the fact that Israel and Hamas have discovered no one is going to help them and they will have to get along on their own — The flare-up following the Grad rocket fired at Israel on Tuesday night was “terminated” in a quiet dialogue between Israel and Hamas. Not through an Egyptian, Swiss or Qatari mediator, and not through a UN emissary. And this is, basically, the significant change taking place vis-à-vis Hamas, far from the public eye. It was publicly reported that Israel and Hamas relayed messages to each other through a Palestinian source. We may assume that this Palestinian source came from Gaza, just like we may assume that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon didn’t examine him thoroughly to make sure that he isn’t hiding a Hamas membership card. There have been direct talks between the IDF and Hamas in the past in regards to tactical incidents on the fence, but this time it’s fundamentally different. For the past six months, Hamas has been conveying a real desire for a direct dialogue with Israel on a long-term “tahadiya” (lull). The political Israel is unprepared for public talks with Hamas on a long-term agreement, but the security and military Israel – mainly the coordinator of the government’s activities in the territories and the IDF chief of staff – sees the advantage concealed in it, and it should be said in the defense minister’s favor that he is not preventing it….