Outrage in Israel as Arab MP says to join Gaza flotilla
JERUSALEM (AFP) 22 June — An announcement by an Arab Israeli lawmaker that he plans to join a pro-Palestinian flotilla seeking to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza caused outrage Monday among the country’s political class. Basel Ghattas, an MP with the Joint Arab List, sparked controversy after he announced he would join other parliamentarians and public figures from around the world in the latest attempt to reach Gaza by ship later this month. The Gaza Strip has been subjected to an Israeli blockade for nine years, which includes a complete ban on ships entering or leaving the coastal enclave’s waters. Pro-Palestinian activists have repeatedly tried to reach the Hamas-run territory by sea but have been blocked by the Israeli navy … “It is the gravest thing possible that an Israeli MP would join the flotilla whose aim is to help the Hamas terror organisation,” said Immigration Minister Zeev Elkin from the ruling rightwing Likud party. “Israeli law does not allow anyone to serve in parliament who supports a terror organisation,” he railed in an interview with army radio. Deputy Foreign Minster Tzipi Hotovely said that joining the attempt to run the blockade was evidence Ghattas was working against Israel.
Israeli forces shoot, injure 2 Palestinians in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 June — Israeli forces deployed on the southern Gaza border shot and injured two young Palestinian men east of Khuza‘a on Monday evening, medics told Ma‘an. The men were left bleeding for a quarter of an hour after they were shot before they were able to call an ambulance. Israeli forces were reported to have opened fire intermittently on Palestinian civilians near the border. Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire on Gazans since the ceasefire agreement signed Aug. 26, 2014 that ended last summer’s devastating 50-day war between Israel and Hamas. In May alone, there were a total of 51 incidents of shootings, incursions into the coastal enclave, and arrests, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. This included 41 shootings, which left nine injured, including one minor.
Israel hits Gaza after Palestinian rocket attack: army
JERUSALEM (AFP) 24 June — The Israeli air force struck a militant target in the Gaza Strip early on Wednesday, the military said, hours after Palestinians fired a rocket into southern Israel. “In response to this attack, the Israel Defence Forces struck the launcher from which the rocket was fired at Israel earlier,” an army statement said. “A hit was confirmed.” The rocket fired earlier fell on open ground in the vicinity of Yad Mordechai, it said, referring to a kibbutz near the Israel-Gaza border. No injuries were reported in either the rocket strike or the Israeli response. It was the fifth such incident in just under a month.
Gaza worshipers barred from Ramadan travel after rocket fire
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 June – Worshipers from the Gaza Strip will be barred from traveling to Jerusalem for prayer in the Al-Aqsa mosque this week after rocket fire from Gaza, the coordinator of Israeli government activities in the Palestinian territories said Wednesday. The announcement come after the rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit an open area near the town of Ashkelon in the western Negev during the early hours of Wednesday, causing no damage or casualties. The 500 men and women scheduled to leave the strip Thursday and Friday will not be allowed to travel because “the security conditions around the crossing aren’t stable,” Yoav Mordechai said, adding that the recent rocket fire landed “not far from the Erez crossing” on the Gaza-Israel border. Mordechai said that Israeli authorities would reevaluate the security conditions next week in order to determine future travel by Gazans into Jerusalem, emphasizing the role Gaza’s current governing power Hamas plays in the decision. “Hamas is responsible for depriving worshipers of prayer in Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan,” Mordechai said. “I am not saying that Hamas fired the missile, but Hamas is responsible because it controls the Gaza Strip.”
Israel returns 19 confiscated Gaza fishing boats
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 June — Israeli authorities on Monday returned 19 Palestinian fishing boats confiscated from fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip. An official at the Palestinian liaison told Ma‘an that the boats were being transferred to Gaza’s seaport where they would be delivered to the fishermen’s union. In April, Israel returned 15 boats it had seized off the coast, in what Palestinian fishermen said was the first time Israel had given vessels back. Fishing union chief Nizar Ayyash said at the time that the return of the boats was welcome but demanded that Israel hand back dozens more vessels still in its possession and criticized frequent Israeli attacks on local fishermen. “It is true this is the first time Israel has returned fishing boats… but its forces fire at fishermen before they’ve even exceeded the imposed limit, especially off southern Gaza,” he said. “There are still 60 boats held by the Israeli navy, and we demand Israel return them,” he added.
Egypt opens Gaza crossing for third time this month
RAFAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 23 June — Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip Tuesday, a Palestinian official said, allowing the delivery of cement supplies into the badly destroyed territory. The move, which also allowed Palestinians to leave and enter Gaza, came almost a year after the outbreak of a bloody and destructive 50-day war between Israel and militant organisation Hamas, with tens of thousands of homes still in ruins. Egyptian authorities have now opened the crossing three times during the last month, making officials in Gaza hopeful that Cairo might ease restrictions on movement to and from the coastal enclave … “Rafah will be open for three days… to allow sick people, students studying abroad and those with foreign residency permits” to come or go, Maher Abu Sabha, director of border crossings in Gaza, told AFP. Cairo was also allowing an “important quantity” of cement of enter the Strip, he said.”This is a sign of a warming of relations with Egypt,” he added
Egypt army digs trench along Gaza border to prevent smuggling
ISMAILIA, Egypt (Reuters) by Yusri, Mohamed and Ahmed Hassan — The Egyptian army is digging a trench in northern Sinai along the border with Gaza in an effort to prevent smuggling, security sources said on Monday, as the government steps up activities to prevent militant attacks that often target security forces. Egypt had already doubled to one kilometer (0.62 mile) the depth of a security buffer zone on its border with the Gaza Strip after some of the worst anti-state violence since President Mohamed Mursi was overthrown by the army following mass protests against his rule in 2013. Authorities are still battling an insurgency in which the most active group, Sinai Province, has pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Hundreds of police and soldiers have been killed in the attacks, which have surged since the army ousted Mursi. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has described Islamist militant groups as an existential threat to Egypt, the most populous Arab country. The trench would help detect more tunnels used in the smuggling trade, which Egyptian authorities see as a threat. Once the trench is dug, no vehicle or person will be able to pass except through the trench. Security sources said passages had been made for vehicles and for pedestrians. They said the U-shaped trench is two kilometers away from the border and will have a depth of 20 meters and a width of 10 meters … Some residents criticized the trench, saying it had choked traffic and had caused the destruction of vegetation, which many farmers in the area depend on.
Opinion: Egypt must lift Gaza blockade / Khaled Diab
Haaretz 22 June — On visit to Gaza Strip, Egyptian-born writer discovers that despite hardship caused by Israel, Egypt’s siege is the more emotionally painful one. ‘Why is Egypt doing this to us?’ Gazans want to know — With all the paranoia and distrust in the air, many fellow Egyptians may well declare me temporarily insane for having ventured into the Gaza Strip, which I visited late last month. The Palestinian enclave is depicted by influential segments of the Egyptian media as a hornet’s nest of terrorism and anti-Egypt sentiment. But I’d like to reassure my compatriots that they can breathe a sigh of relief. This born and (partially) bred Egyptian made it in and out of Gaza in one piece, and has emerged – after seeing the destitution, destruction and psychological ruin there – more convinced than ever that the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt must end. In case any readers assume that I’m pro-Hamas or even pro-Muslim Brotherhood, let me make it clear from the outset that I am a committed secularist and a robust critic of Islamism and religious fundamentalism in all its forms. But as a rationalist, I take an evidence-based approach to reality. This means that I don’t buy the popular conspiracy theories in Egypt about Gaza. With a straight face, Egypt’s pro-military media has been spreading numerous myths. These include reports that Hamas is behind the Sinai insurgency; that it aided and abetted Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, including a spectacular prison break involving Mohammed Morsi before he became president; and that the blackouts and petrol shortages afflicting a country of 85 million inhabitants were caused because the Morsi regime supposedly diverted supplies to an impoverished territory of 1.8 million people.
Gazan sentenced to 7 years in prison for ‘collaborating’ with Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 June — A military court in the Gaza Strip sentenced a Palestinian man to seven years in prison with labor after convicting him of collaborating with Israel on Tuesday. The man — identified only by his initials and age, “K.S., 45” — was convicted of collaborating with an enemy in violation of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s 1979 revolutionary penal code. Last month two other Gazans were convicted of collaborating with Israel, one receiving a sentence of 15 years and the other 11 years. Information passed to Israel’s security services by Palestinian collaborators is often used to make arrests and assassinate high-profile political and militant figures. In August last year, 18 suspected collaborators were killed by Hamas when the group announced a crackdown on Palestinians alleged to be working with Israel. Under Palestinian law, collaboration with Israel may be punishable by death. All execution orders are supposed to be approved by the president before they can be carried out, but Hamas no longer recognizes the legitimacy of incumbent Mahmoud Abbas, whose four-year term ended in 2009. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said the PLO’s 1979 revolutionary penal code “is unconstitutional when implemented by (the Palestinian Authority), as it has not been presented to, nor approved by the legislature.”
War crimes likely by both sides in 2014 Gaza war: UN
GENEVA (AFP) 22 June by Nina Larson — Both Israel and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes during last year’s Gaza war, a widely anticipated United Nations report said Monday, decrying “unprecedented” devastation and human suffering. The Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict announced it had received “credible allegations” that both sides had committed war crimes during the conflict, which killed more than 2,140 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 people on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers. “The extent of the devastation and human suffering in Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come,” said commission chair Mary McGowan Davis, a New York judge. Israel, which has been harshly critical of the commission since its inception last year, blasted the report as biased, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisting his country “does not commit war crimes.” … The report criticised both sides, but especially decried the “huge firepower” Israel had used in Gaza, with more than 6,000 airstrikes and 50,000 artillery shells fired during the 51-day operation. – 551 children killed – The bombings of residential buildings had especially dire consequences, wiping out entire families, with 551 children killed, a choked-up McGowan Davis told reporters in Geneva … But the investigators also condemned the “indiscriminate” firing of thousands of rockets and mortars at Israel, which it said appeared to have been intended to “spread terror” among Israeli civilians. Palestinian armed groups fired 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars towards Israel, killing six civilians and injuring at least 1,600 others, the commission noted. McGowan Davis said one Israeli woman had described the helplessness she felt when her grandchild pleaded with her to “stop the rockets.”
Palestinian members of Knesset say Israel should be sued at ICC
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 June — Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset said Tuesday that the UN report on last summer’s war in the Gaza Strip provided enough evidence that Israel should be taken before the International Criminal Court.The Joint List, which groups the main Palestinian parties in the Knesset, said in a statement that it welcomed any serious and independent investigation into the conflict and that Israel “should necessarily be sued over the war crimes” it committed.While largely positive about the UN report, the Joint List criticized the commission for “equating the violations committed by Israel and those committed by Palestinian groups.” The Palestinian MKs said that the facts presented in the report showed a huge discrepancy between the two sides, with Gaza suffering disproportionately greater casualties and destruction than Israel.
UN report proves Israel’s ‘roof-knock’ warning no way to prevent civilian casualties
Haaretz 22 June by Ilene Prusher — For many Gazans, there’s no way to tell an Israeli warning from the real thing, not to mention the little time left to flee before airstrike comes — A knock on the roof. It almost sounds like a courtesy, a warning at take-off: In the event we decide to reduce the building in which you reside to rubble, you will hear a knock on the roof advising you to move toyour nearest exit. The Israel Defense Forces, Israeli politicians and others who engage full time in “hasbara,” that problematic art of explaining Israel’s point of view, argue that the IDF is the most moral army in the world, and that it goes above and beyond other militaries at war to avoid civilian casualties. One proof of this is the “roof-knock” procedure, in which a building is subject to a minor missile strike, followed by a truly destructive one a few minutes later. The problem is, if you were a Gazan and the IDF gave your building a little rap on the head, would you necessarily know that this was your personal warning to get out? Or would think that you’re already done for? Would you perhaps crouch in the bathroom with your family hoping that if you stay away from the windows, you’d be safe? Would you worry that if you were seen fleeing in panic, you’d be treated as fair game – as anyone moving in the middle of the fighting often is, according to anonymous soldiers’ reports published by Breaking the Silence? And if you understood that this was the knock you’d heard about and you had minutes to get out of the building, would you be able to pull everyone together in time? Would you know which direction to run in? Would you even be sure whether your building was actually hit, as opposed to your neighbor’s? I ask this honestly, as a reporter who was once working in Gaza during a round of tension. My colleagues and I were sure the tall building we were in was hit because it shook so violently. It was just an IAF plane breaking the sound barrier, it turned out, as it struck a target elsewhere….
Israeli brigade commander: Excessive caution in Gaza caused harm to soldiers
Haaretz 24 June by Amos Harel — Commander also slammed decision to open military probes into fighting, claiming officers will hesitate to order troops to fire in future battles — The Israel Defense Forces exercised excessive caution during Operation Protective Edge last summer, according to a brigade commander who fought in Gaza, who spoke with Haaretz before the Monday release of the UN report on the fighting there. “I have no pangs of conscience,” said the commander. “If anything, I think we were too humane. There were instances where the excessive caution caused harm to soldiers.” The remarks by this commander, whose force played a major role in the fighting and suffered casualties, reflect the position of most of the commanders who operated in Gaza last summer.
US opposes bringing UN Gaza report to Security Council
Haaretz 24 June by Barak Ravid — State Department says U.S. rejects process by which an investigative committee was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council and is against any further work on the report within the UN, in both New York and Geneva.
Book: Doctor Mads Gilbert on working under siege in Gaza’s Shifa Hospital: ‘My camera is my Kalashnikov’
The Guardian 23 June by Harriet Sherwood — Amid a dense jumble of chaotic streets and overcrowded apartment buildings not far from the seafront, the Shifa hospital is in many ways the beating heart of Gaza. Like any hospital, it is a place of life and death, relief and agony, hope and despair. But the Shifa is more remarkable than most. Over the past 10 years, it has dealt with four intense conflicts, and since 2007 has endured a blockade that has led to shortages of drugs and equipment, regular power crises and the near-impossibility of medical staff leaving Gaza to train, widen their experience or attend conferences. The Shifa is a hospital under siege. During last summer’s war in Gaza, as on previous occasions, the dead and injured were brought to the Shifa day and night during seven weeks of bombardment by Israeli forces. Palestinian medics often worked for 30 hours at a stretch, snatching short breaks then returning to duty. Among them was Dr Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian anaesthetist and trauma expert – and a veteran of wars in Gaza. Gilbert – who describes himself as a “political doctor” and a practitioner of “solidarity medicine” – has written a book, Night in Gaza, which describes his time at the Shifa last summer.
Mohammed Assaf launches UNRWA’s ‘#SOS 4 Gaza’ campaign
albawaba 22 June — UNRWA today launches a global Ramadan campaign to support the children of Gaza. #SOS4Gaza features seven children putting messages expressing their hopes and dreams in bottles, which they send to sea. The campaign is championed by UNRWA Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Youth and Arab Idol star, Mohammad Assaf. It is based around a film that features the children of Gaza against a backdrop of devastation caused by last year’s conflict. “Despite all challenges, children in Gaza have dreams and want a future, like every other child in the world,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl. “It is humbling to see that the children featured in the video, who, like 950,000 others in Gaza, have grown up surrounded by poverty and conflict, have not lost hope.”
Zoabi removed from meeting during verbal fight on Gaza flotilla
Ynet 23 June by Moran Azulay — House Committee meets to discuss impending flotilla to be joined by MK Ghattas; Israel Beiteinu MK calls for legislation on conduct of Arab peers — The political storm surrounding MK Bassel Ghattas of the Joint Arab List and his decision to join a flotilla meant to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, came to a head Tuesday at a House Committee meeting during which MK Haneen Zoabi, also from the Joint Arab List, was removed during aggressive verbal arguments [see video]. During the meeting MK Sharon Gal from Israel Beiteinu said that the conduct of Arab MKs should be regulated by a formal bill that will be presented to the legislative committee on Sunday inspired by Zoabi’s participation in the Mavi Marmara flotilla in 2012 when Israeli commandos boarded the ship and were met with violence. Members of the Joint Arab List claimed at the event that the flotilla due to set out from Greece has peaceful intentions while MKs from other parties called for Ghattas’ suspension in light of his decision to participate in the flotilla.
Local tourism in Gaza witnesses cautious growth
KHAN YUNIS, Gaza Strip 22 June by Mohammed Othman — Ibrahim Hamed, 25, and his friends are planning to spend a day at a small private resort in the coastal area of Sheikh Ajlin in Gaza, where resorts are among the entertainment options. “Demand has become higher on these places. Private entertainment places during summer are limited in Gaza. Recently, we noted high attendance at resorts and it is a great chance for family and friends to gather and for recreation,” Hamed, an accountant, told Al-Monitor. Gaza’s public free beaches are considered a retreat for most Gazans — a place where they can relax and have fun. Despite economic hardships imposed by the Israeli siege that has been in place since the summer of 2006, investors seem to be seeking to invest in resorts in the Gaza Strip. However, it looks like they are treading cautiously.http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/06/gaza-local-tourism-resort-turnout-economic-conditions.html
Violence / Arrests — West Bank, Jerusalem
Seven Palestinians arrested, dozens injured
AIC 23 June by Ahmad Jaradat — Israeli forces arrested seven Palestinians overnight and early Tuesday morning, of whom three were children. The forces further injured dozens of Palestinians during clashes that erupted in the Bethlehem and Jerusalem areas. Israeli soldiers raided the ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem and arrested five Palestinians. The Palestinian News and Info Agency reports that the detainees were identified as Muhammad Abu Ghoush, 19, Hamza Malash, 22, Isma‘il Saqer, 21, and Munjed Abu ‘Aker. Israeli police also detained three Palestinian children and injured dozens of others in clashes that broke out in different areas of occupied East Jerusalem. These detainees, from the neighbourhood of Silwan, were identified as Muhammad Shahin, 15, Mousa Abu al-Hawa, 16, and Muhammad Mughrabi, 17. Clashes broke out in the East Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Silwan, A-Tur, ‘Issawiya and the Old City, during which Israeli police fired stun grenades and tear gas.
Isolating six women from Al-Aqsa Mosque for 15 days
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 22 June — The occupation forces arrested on Monday six women after they left Al-Aqsa Mosque. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that the occupation forces arrested Sana’ Rajabi, Samah Ghazzawi, Amani Tawil, Njood Abu Sneineh, Fatina Hussein and another female who is yet to be identified. Lawyer Ramzi Kateelat from Qudsuna organization for Human Rights explained that the police released the six females after detaining and interrogating them for several hours. They were released on conditions of isolation from Al-Aqsa Mosque for 15 days and signing a 5-thousand NIS third-party bail.
The occupation detains 50 Palestinian workers in Tel Aviv for several hours
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 22 June — The occupation forces and its intelligence detained on Sunday (21/6/2015) 50 Palestinian workers for several hours in Tel Aviv police center. Ashraf Abbasi-a worker- explained to Wadi Hilweh Information Center that the occupation Special Forces and Israeli Intelligence suddenly raided on Sunday morning one construction site in the area of “Hertzilya” in Tell Aviv and detained all the workers in the area and checked their personal IDs and also prevented them from talking to each other; Abbasi pointed out that the forces attacked him while he was in the car with his supervisor and detained them both. Abbasi added that the occupation forces detained all the workers (6 from Jerusalem, 3 from Bethlehem and the rest from the 1948 lands) and detained them inside the construction site from 7:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. During the detention, the forces made the workers turn off their cell phones and then they brought a bus and transferred all detainees to Tel Aviv police center. Abbasi added that they were all interrogated individually and the interrogation was focused on the name of Israeli contractors. The workers were released without any conditions at 5:00 p.m. but were not taken back to their working site and were left without any means of transportation. Abbasi explained that the Israeli forces also detained 5 Israeli workers but immediately released them without any interrogation.
Israel responds to lone attacks with collective punishment
+972 mag 22 June by Natasha Roth — The Defense Ministry cancels travel permits for 500 Palestinians, and work permits for an entire West Bank village — Israeli authorities responded on Monday with collective punishment to two attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem that left one Israeli dead and two injured in recent days. The Defense Ministry canceled special travel permits for 500 West Bank Palestinians who had been granted permission to use Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport. (Palestinians are normally forbidden from using the airport, and must cross by land into Jordan in order to fly from Amman to their destination.) Authorities also canceled entry permits (effectively work permits) for all of the residents of the village of Sa‘ir, home to a Palestinian man who attacked the Border Police officer in Jerusalem. Authorities did not draw any connection between the Palestinian attackers and the people who had their travel and entry permits revoked. Over the past week, Israel’s various government and military PR organs have been hammering away furiously to promote the authorities’ goodwill toward Muslims during Ramadan and their compassion in allowing Palestinians to do radical things such as pray, travel to different towns to visit their relatives [Ar] and fly abroad. Now, some of those “treats” have been canceled. And the defense minister threatened to enact even more collective punishment measure. For the residents of Sa‘ir, the cancellation of their entry permits into Israel has two ramifications. The move does not “just” prevent Palestinians from entering Jerusalem to pray, B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli explained in a statement on Monday, it also means that those who are employed in settlements and in Israel proper are now unable to reach their places of work. Many residents of Sa‘ir were turned away at entrances of settlements in which they are employed Monday morning, according to B’Tselem. In this, and in the cancellation of permits to fly abroad, the Israeli government is meting out collective punishment, which is illegal under international law. The use of collective punishment is routine in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank (not to mention Gaza, whose siege is collective punishment on a massive scale). Whether it is enclosing thousands of Palestinians inside a village; dousing entire neighborhoods with rancid-smelling “skunk” water; closing roads or demolishing houses, Israel has a loose, unofficial policy of punishing the collective for the actions of a few….
Israeli forces arrest Jewish West Bank settler in overnight raid
albawaba 23 June — The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and the police arrested a Jewish settler from Yitzhar before dawn on Tuesday, according to the pro-settler news agency Tazpit. There is no word yet as to the reason for the arrest. The suspect, who was described as a young man in his 20s and the married father of one child, will be brought before the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court for a hearing on his extended detention. Yitzhar is considered one of the more ideologically extreme settlements in the West Bank, with a number of its residents suspected of taking part in so-called “price tag” incidents of vandalism against Palestinians.
No increase in West Bank terror attacks this year, Shin Bet says
Haaretz 23 June by Gili Cohen — There has been no increase in the pace of attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem this year compared to 2013 and 2014, according to data released by the Shin Bet security service on Sunday. Through May 2015, there were a total of 579 attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem and the overwhelming majority of them (493) involved the throwing of firebombs. The rest were shootings, stabbings, attacks with motor vehicles, or bombings. The number of attacks through May in both 2013 and 2014 was similar … From 2010, however, there has been a steady increase in the annual total of attacks, with 455 attacks (88 percent of them firebombings) in 2010, to 1,793 attacks in 2014, 84 percent of them firebombings. Dozens of Israeli civilians and security personnel have been killed in terror attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem or in attacks originating from the West Bank since 2007, with the annual number ranging from five people (2007, 2009, 2013) to 17 in 2008 and 19 in 2014. The only recent year in which there were no Jerusalem/West Bank related terror deaths was 2012.
And now to compare the numbers of ‘terror deaths’ perpetrated by Palestinians with those committed by Israelis:
Fatalities, Palestinian and Israeli, according to B’Tselem
Since Operation Cast Lead (19 January 2009 – 30 April 2015) [does not include deaths in Operation Protective Edge 7 July – 26 Aug 2014, since B’Tselem still considers those numbers to be preliminary; PCHR gives the numbers of Palestinian deaths in that conflict as 2,191 and Israeli ones as 71]:
Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians: 25 West Bank, 16 Israel;
Israeli security force personnel killed by Palestinians: 4 Gaza, 3 West Bank, 5 Israel.
Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces: 490 Gaza, 129 West Bank, 5 Israel.
Palestinians killed by Israeli civilians: 7 West Bank, 4 Israel.
During Operation Cast Lead (27 Dec 2008 – 18 Jan 2009):
Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians: 3 Israel.
Israeli security force personnel killed by Palestinians: 5 Gaza, 1 Israel.
Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces: 1,391 Gaza, 7 West Bank.
Before Operation Cast Lead (29 Sept 2000 – 26 Dec 2008):
Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians: 39 Gaza, 200 West Bank, 492 Israel.
Israeli security force personnel killed by Palestinians: 97 Gaza, 146 West Bank, 89 Israel.
Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces: 2,998 Gaza, 1,792 West Bank, 69 Israel.
Palestinians killed by Israeli civilians: 4 Gaza, 41 West Bank, 2 Israel.
Note that a number of fatalities are not counted in these statistics, including suicide and other bombers – see B’Tselem site for details.
Prisoners / Court actions
Jailed Palestinian lawmaker pleads innocence
+972 mag 23 June by Haggai Matar — Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar, who was arrested in March and has been imprisoned ever since, pleaded innocent Monday as her highly publicized trial began in the Ofer military court in the West Bank. The trial was attended by Jarrar’s family members, a number of journalists, as well as a delegation of EU diplomats who expressed their concern over her detention. Jarrar, who serves in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has been charged with 12 counts relating to her membership in the party, which is defined by Israel as an illegal organization. Nearly all the charges have to do with Jarrar’s participation in demonstrations, interviews, speeches and visits to solidarity tents for Palestinian prisoners. Only one charge relates to incitement to kidnap Israeli soldiers, despite the fact that the witness to this charge admits that he is not sure he heard Jarrar say anything to that extent … Before the hearing began, a prison service official allowed Jarrar to hug her two daughters, Yaffa and Suha, who came for a visit from Canada, where they are studying. Family members are generally forbidden to speak with Palestinian prisoners during the proceedings — and certainly not touch them — and are not allowed to sit in the front rows of the courtroom. Perhaps the presence of journalists and diplomats affected the behavior of the members of the prison service. At the end of the hearing, Jarrar’s daughters thanked the crowd for their support, saying that they are leading an international campaign for her release, which has won the support of parliamentarians and diplomats across the world. Knesset Member Aida Touma-Suleiman has also called for Jarrar’s release.
Married to Khalida Jarrar: Bound, separated by the Palestinian cause
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 June, updated 23 June, by Killian Redden — “She’s my life, she’s my soul,” says Ghassan Jarrar. “Time has stopped since she was arrested, and also life.” The 55-year-old pauses, his eyes glistening with tears, and he smiles. “You know, we have a pet here, a cat. You cannot believe how much he misses her.” Posters showing his wife, Khalida Jarrar, have been put up throughout the Ramallah apartment where she was arrested more than two months ago. An elected member of Palestine’s parliament — the Palestinian Legislative Council — Khalida also heads the PLC’s prisoners’ committee and is the Palestinian representative on the Council of Europe. Asked why the Israelis arrested her, Ghassan smiles. “Because she is Khalida. They don’t want anyone to tell the truth or speak freely,” he says. “I am still convinced that she is a prisoner of freedom of speech. They don’t want people like that to be outside, with their people.” There have been suggestions that her position on the Palestinian committee overseeing developments at the International Criminal Court may also have contributed to her arrest.
B’Tselem: Courts turning into ‘hollow formality’ for Palestinians in West Bank
JPost 22 June by Yonah Jeremy Bob — B’Tselem was set to publish early Monday a report that argues that pre-verdict detention of Palestinians in the IDF’s West Bank courts forces huge numbers of Palestinians into plea bargains and turns the whole system into a “hollow formality.” The extremely thorough 41-page report, based on 260 case files, gathers an unprecedented amount of data from both independent and IDF sources on the topic and includes a myriad of quotations from hard-to-get IDF court opinions which explain a wide range of issues. Quoting Judge Lt.-Col. Ronen Atzmon, who wrote: “Always remember that the primary rule is that suspects or defendants are entitled to their freedom, and one should not arrest them. Detention is the exception rather than the rule,” the human rights group says that judges’ actual application of the law has turned this principle on its head. The overwhelming rule now, the report maintains, is for Palestinians to be detained until the end of their trial – the opposite of what Atzmon said should be happening. The report says that the only real exception to this rule is that Palestinians charged for traffic violations are usually released pending trial instead of being detained pretrial. According to the report, the impact of the extremely high percentage of pre-verdict detentions is to convince most Palestinians to plead guilty. This is because if they try to fight the charges against them, they may end up being in jail longer, waiting for their trial to conclude, than if they just admit guilt and get a mild jail sentence, the report notes … The report puts the number of Palestinians from 2008-2013 in pre-verdict detention for up to a year at between 606 to 1,378, with 2013 rising back into the 1,300 range and over 151 being held for up to two years.
Israel advances ‘softer’ force-feeding bill aimed at hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners
Haaretz 23 June by Jonathan Lis — Country’s doctors slam proposal, with leading medical ethics expert calling it ‘insane’ — The state will advance a more flexible version of the bill that would allow the force-feeding of hunger-striking security prisoners, rather than the tougher version approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation last week, the attorney-general’s office announced on Monday. The main difference is that the softer version raises the bar for when a hunger striker can be force- fed, calling for such feeding only if a physician believes that without it, “There is a real possibility that within a short time the prisoner is at risk of death or irreversible disability.” This milder version had been agreed on by the previous government. During a debate on the bill in the State Control Committee, doctors sharply criticized the milder version of the bill as well, saying the difference is not significant and that there is no way to identify the point at which there is immediate danger to life. The Public Security Ministry’s legal adviser, Yoel Hadar, told the panel that doctors could anesthetize a prisoner so that he can receive nourishment. Prof. Avinoam Reches, a former chairman of the Israeli Medical Association’s Ethics Bureau, said the whole process was “insane” and unethical, and that any physician who agreed to do it would face disciplinary action by the ethics tribunal … “The Knesset has passed a law preventing cruelty to animals and a law that forbids the force-feeding of geese, but there is no law against cruelty to human beings,” Reches continued. “What does it mean to feed a person against his will? It means to cuff his hands and feet, and insert a tube that is liable to tear his esophagus. Inserting a feeding tube three times a day over a period of incarceration is impossible to do. One certainly can’t anesthetize someone three times a day. There’s no such animal.”
Knesset: Select police interrogations can continue without being videotaped
JPost 24 June by Yonah Jeremy Bob — The Knesset State Control Committee on Tuesday extended for another 18 months an exemption for police from videotaping the interrogations of certain security detainees. The move came after a 7-4 vote, but committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky slammed the government for “disrespecting” the panel. According to Slomiansky, the government had years to come up with a new legal framework for addressing the issue in a way that balanced security concerns with detainee rights, but failed to make progress and shamelessly asked for a five-year extension right before the existing exemption was to expire … Supporters say the exemption is necessary to avoid videotapes from falling into the wrong hands, something that could endanger interrogators, reduce detainees’ willingness to cooperate, and expose interrogation techniques. A long line of critics has slammed the exemption as illegal or even dangerous to democracy.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Hebron: Open shops or Israeli propaganda?
Alternative News 22 June by Ahmad Jaradat — Israel’s decision to allow 70 shops to reopen in Hebron is nothing more than an exercise in public relations, say residents of the city — Following Israel’s announcement concerning opening of the shops, the mayor of Hebron, Dr. Daoud al Za‘tari, and his council members conducted a press conference on Al Sahla Street. Al Za‘tari announced that the shops were opening thanks to efforts by the Hebron municipality and Palestinian leadership. While al Za‘tari noted that numerous other issues must be resolved, including opening the hundreds of additional closed shops as well as Al Shuhada Street, he called on the owners to reopen their shops and bring life back to this area of downtown Hebron. Local Palestinian residents, however, view Israel’s opening of the shops as an exercise in public relations, nothing more. This is because downtown Hebron will remain a ghost town, what with its checkpoints, iron and electronic gates and the numerous closed streets and alleyways. And without opening the main Shuhada Street, life cannot be normal in this area. Issa Omro, a local Palestinian activist and coordinator of the Youth against Settlement group, told the AIC that “these newly opened shops will mean nothing for the city and its residents if the checkpoints remain everywhere. How will people reach the shops on Al Sahla Street? How will shop owners bring in merchandise? And how will local residents reach the shops if the street entrances are closed?” “How can we imagine a normal life where hundreds of armed settlers are walking around and playing their favourite game of attacking Palestinians, houses and the shops?” Omro continues.
Home demolition orders in Hebron hills
AIC 23 June from Operation Dove — While the inhabitants of the Palestinian village of Susiya are still living under the threat of eviction, the Israeli authorities continue to enlarge the danger of demolitions in various villages of the South Hebron Hills area. Israeli officials delivered demolition orders for two tents in the Palestinian village of Al-Mufaqarah and for one house, one tent with a floor and one cave in the Palestinian village of Jawwaya. According to the United Nations, in the first four months of 2015, Israel demolished more than 200 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C of West Bank and East Jerusalem due to lack of building permits, military operation or punishment.
Unique farm project offers sustainable high-tech for Negev Bedouin
Haaretz 23 June by Zafrir Rinat — Combining traditional agricultural skills with cutting-edge technology, and a little help from New York, Wadi Attir farm produces energy, protects the land and saves water — An amazing farm project has started operating in the past year on the outskirts of the Bedouin town of Hura, close to a thicket of warehouses, factories and unapproved buildings. The goal of Project Wadi Attir is to develop a model for a sustainable desert community in the Negev. This is not a project that the know-it-all establishment forced on the Bedouin, but rather an initiative with the blessing of the Bedouin residents, who are full partners in establishing and running the revolutionary farm. Government institutions have supportedt he project, helped to arrange all the necessary permits and approval, and – in an exceptional step – even agreed to provide state-owned land for the farm, which is located outside the municipal boundaries of Hura, in southern Israel … First and foremost, however, the area is reserved for the agricultural projects, with special emphasis on saving water and energy, as well as land conservation. This requires finding a number of ways to balance the various interests. For example, allowing for use of the land without causing soil erosion or repressing the natural vegetation – all while the local population is undergoing the traumatic process of moving to permanent dwellings and while often being cut off from traditional sources of knowledge about life in an arid region.
Palestinians stand their ground in Wadi Fukin
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Al-Monitor) 22 June by Aziza Nofal — Hassan Manasara, 86, and his wife, Jamila, 82, live a primitive life in a 100-year-old cave located on family-owned land on the southern side of the village of Wadi Fukin near Bethlehem, facing the Israeli Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit. Manasara has a big house in the center of Fukin, but he left it to live in an isolated cave with his wife about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) away from their home. They did this to safeguard their land, which is threatened by expropriation by Israel. The patch of land where the cave is located is a home for old people who cultivate the land and own livestock — which has been deterring Israeli bulldozers from carrying out works in the area, especially as many neighboring areas have been bulldozed by Israel. “Two years ago, we received a warning from the Israeli authorities that this land will be expropriated for the construction of a wall and the expansion of the settlement on its side. Since that day we have been living here,” Jamila Manasara said. The octogenarian couple, their sons and grandsons tried to build another small house on the land they own, but the Israeli Civil Administration refused their request and threatened to demolish whatever they build. The solution, therefore, was to live in the cave.
Displacement schemes targeting Palestinians in Jaffa (report)
PIC 20 June — The Israeli Judaization and displacement schemes have escalated especially in Jaffa city, north of Occupied Palestine, as the Israeli Authorities approved new settlement schemes targeting the city which was occupied in 1948. The so-called Israel Lands Administration (ILA) and Israeli Planning and Building Committee in Tel Aviv endorsed a huge Judaization and settlement scheme which will be established on the ruins of the Palestinian homes and lands in Nozha neighborhood in Jaffa … ILA claims that the Palestinian residents who live in this area will be expelled under pretext that these lands are “state owned” and that the Palestinians are illegally living in them and they will be compensated if they agree to leave. -First phase- Abdul-Qadir Satal, head of the Popular Committee in Jaffa, told Quds Press that this settlement project is part of the Israeli government policy to Judaize the city, and it aims to build 5000 settlement units and not only 1500 settlement units as declared. He clarified that this malicious scheme complements previous Israeli Judaization schemes. Satal added: “The residents of Nozha neighborhood are being subjected to displacement for the third time; as they were expelled to Ajmi neighborhood after destroying about 3000 homes so as to build homes for the Jewish settlers, then they were forcibly displaced to Nozha neighborhood and now they are being displaced again but this time they don’t know where to go.”
High Court to debate demolition of homes in West Bank outpost
JPost 21 June by Tovah Lazaroff — The High Court of Justice is slated on Monday to debate the demolition of 17 homes on private Palestinian property in the Derech Ha’avot outpost located in the Etzion region of the West Bank. At the heart of the case is a push by the Gush Etzion Regional Council to introduce a legal concept into West Bank land cases that would resolve property disputes between settlers and Palestinians through minor land swaps. In 2010, the state declared its intention to legalize the Derech Ha’avot outpost, which is adjacent to the Elazar settlement and which is now home to 60 families. It made this declaration to the High Court of Justice in response to a Peace Now petition to demolish the entire outpost, whose buildings were built without authorization. The case was then closed. But a subsequent state survey of the land revealed that there were 17 homes on lots that were privately owned or partially owned by Palestinians. In October 2014, Peace Now, together with the Palestinian property owners, petitioned the court to demolish the 17 homes. The Gush Etzion Regional Council this month submitted a request to the Higher Planning Council of Judea and Samaria to re-parcel the property on which the Derech Ha’avot outpost sits through a program that is known as “unite and divide,” in which land is swapped between the outpost and the Palestinian land owners. The state has since asked the court for a 90-day delay to explore that possibility of a land swap, in which the lots on which the 17 homes stand would become state property in exchange for giving the Palestinian land owners other plots of land in that area. The court, however, denied that request to delay the hearing and asked to hear oral arguments about the plan on Monday.
Israeli settlers use chainsaw to destroy over 60 olive trees
NABLUS, Occupied Palestine 23 June by ISM Huwwara Team — On Sunday, 21st of June, residents of the Jamma‘in village in the Nablus region discovered that Israeli settlers had cut down over 60 Palestinian-owned olive trees. They suspect that the trees had been destroyed the previous day with a chain saw. The trees were owned by farmers from both Jamma‘in and Yasuf; both villages are situated close to each other just south of Nablus. The olive trees were said to be over 150 years old and have been harvested by generations of the Zeiden family, as well as others from the Yasuf village. 40 of these trees belonged to three brothers from the Zeiden family, who when witnessed the destruction to their land said, ‘We have lost our livelihood’. With the olive harvest only a few months away, this year the family will lose a major portion of their income from the production of olives and oil. The brothers explained how devastated they felt after seeing the trees cut down. They said that after they themselves had spent tens of years seeing that the trees were well kept and healthy, and then harvesting them yearly, it wasn’t only an economic catastrophe but also emotionally traumatic. For the brothers, and other locals, the trees had become symbols of years of memories, which they have now lost.
Palestinians seize former premier’s funds
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 23 June — The Palestinian Authority has seized the funds of an NGO headed by ex-prime minister and former IMF and World Bank official Salam Fayyad, his office said on Tuesday. Fayyad’s office did not specify the amount seized from his non-profit Future for Palestine organisation, but told AFP he would take legal action to ensure the money was returned, without saying if he would directly sue the PA. Palestinian media quoted an anonymous security services official as saying it was “suspected that the funds seized were to be used for political means”, without elaborating, and that the case was now in the hands of the public prosecutor. Fayyad resigned from the premiership in 2013 after six years in the post, over disputes with PA head and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. He founded Future for Palestine in 2013 with the aim of supporting development projects in the Palestinian territories.
Up for adventure: the ascent of rock climbing in the West Bank
The Guardian 23 June by Peter Beaumont in Ein Qiniya — Rubaa Bledi, 16, is being lowered to the ground having completed her first rock climb. “I was trembling!” the Palestinian schoolgirl says breathlessly as she rests her head on her knees. Her face is hidden for a moment by her headscarf and helmet. “I wanted to know if I could do something risky,” she says when she recovers. “I wanted to know if I was up to the adventure.” It is Saturday and we’re on the cliffs of Ein Qiniya, a band of bulging orange limestone that fringes a valley full of thorn scrub and olive groves outside Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital of the West Bank. Rubaa is one of a group of about 20 Palestinians, including students and telecoms workers, attending a course run by Wadi Climbing, an initiative set up by two young Americans. The participants have travelled from across the West Bank – from nearby Ramallah, Jenin and Nablus – to attempt a sport in its infancy in the occupied territories.
Israel vows crackdown after ‘lynching’ of wounded Syrian
Majdal Shams (AFP) 23 June by Michael Blum — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Tuesday to track down Druze in the occupied Golan Heights who fatally assaulted a wounded Syrian on his way to hospital in Israel. “This is very severe,” Netanyahu said of the incident. “We will find those who carried out the lynching and bring them to justice.” Monday’s attack, roundly condemned by local Druze leaders, came as the community feared for the fate of its brethren in Syria after rebels there attacked them. Two Syrian men were being taken to hospital by Israeli military ambulance late Monday when dozens of Druze in the town of Majdal Shams stoned the vehicle, forcing it to stop, dragged the men out and beat them. “As a consequence of the attack one of the passengers died and another was critically injured,” a police statement said. An Israeli soldier and an officer in the ambulance were also assaulted. Police did not identify the Syrians or say what their medical condition had been before the attack. Israel has a policy of giving medical assistance to wounded Syrians who reach Israeli lines. Syrian Druze are traditional allies of President Bashar al-Assad, and the rioters on Monday probably believed the men in the ambulance were rebels fighting to unseat him … The Syrians attacked on Monday “got what they deserved,” said Souad Fahad al-Din, 33, a saleswoman in Majdal Shams. “It should have been expected,” she said. “Israel has no right to treat them and then send them back there to carry on killing.”… Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War … Shalicar said Israel had treated more than 1,600 Syrians in the past three years.
Hundreds of Ethiopian-Israelis clash with police in Tel Aviv protest
Haaretz 22 June by Ido Efrati and Yaniv Kubovich — Violent clashes erupted between police and protesters at an Ethiopian Israeli protest in Tel Aviv on Monday. Police arrested 19 protesters so far, and main roads were blocked. Hundreds of Ethiopian Israelis have been protesting since the afternoon against what they say is the police’s racist attitudes toward their community, as well as against a recent decision by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to close a criminal investigation into a police officer who manhandled Demas Fekadeh, an Ethiopian soldier … The protesters waved flags against racism, upon which slogans included “Violent police should be locked up,” and chanted phrases like, “We’ve had enough, we’re a new generation.” [See Reuters video]
Israel, Jordan discreetly foster ties amid regional chaos
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) 22 June by Karin Laub — A new Jordanian think tank that focuses on Israel is tucked away on the seventh floor of a glass-fronted Amman office building, without a sign announcing the presence of the Center for Israel Studies. It’s the sort of discretion still customary in Jordan when it comes to anything concerning Israel. Broad segments of Jordanian society, where a majority have Palestinian roots, oppose “normalization” with Israel even 21 years after the two countries signed a peace deal. Yet ties have grown stronger between the governments since the regional rise of Islamic militancy unleashed by the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. Israel and Jordan have signed deals on natural gas and water desalination in recent months and Israeli officials say security cooperation is closer than ever. Israel needs Jordan as a security buffer on its eastern flank, and is putting a premium on helping to ensure the stability of the pro-Western kingdom, which faces potential threats from Islamic State militants who control large areas in neighboring Syria and Iraq. Jordan, chronically short on water and energy, needs Israel as a supplier to diversify imports and prevent further shocks to its fragile economy. Israel, meanwhile, is considering hiring workers from Jordan’s troubled tourism sector in its Red Sea port of Eilat.
Worth a try?
JERUSALEM (The Economist) 23 June — A new model from an unlikely source — THE small packed hall in West Jerusalem did not look like a standard Israeli left-wing function. The usual suspects from the dwindling Israeli “peace camp” were there, but among the audience earlier this month there were also religious men with kippot and beards and modestly-dressed women, as well as a group of Israeli-Arabs. The first public meeting of Two States—One Homeland, a joint Israeli-Palestinian group which has been meeting in private for three years, drew over 300 people from diverse backgrounds. The simple two-state solution still favoured by the international community these days looks more elusive than ever … The new initiative is designed to offer both members of both populations freedom of movement throughout their homeland, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, while maintaining two parallel jurisdictions and citizenships, one for Israelis and one for Palestinians. It is a gradual trust-building approach that aims at allowing both nations self-determination, which has attracted an unlikely collection of supporters. Eliaz Cohen, a poet and a settler from Kfar Etzyon, describes his colleagues as “Israelis and Palestinians who are prepared to say this is a homeland of two nations and who realise no-one should face the trauma of being torn from their land.” In other words, the settlers can stay in the West Bank; and West Bank Palestinians can return to sovereign Israel. Two States—One Homeland is still an idea in early evolutional state and its supporters admit that they have yet to come up with detailed plans on thorny issues such as shared ownership of natural resources and the migration of Jews and Palestinian refugees to the joint homeland. The first public meeting was originally scheduled to take place in Bet Jalla on the Palestinian side of the green line but was shifted westward after the organisers were criticised for being “collaborators.” There is no date yet for a launch in the West Bank.
Film: New evidence from 1967 war reveals Israeli atrocities
Electronic Intifada 23 June by Ilan Pappe — “In the operation we had to cleanse the inhabitants. This uprooting of a villager, rooted in his village and turning him into a refugee, by simply expelling him, and not one, two or three of them but a real eviction. And when you see a whole village is led like lambs to the slaughter without any resistance you understand what is the Holocaust.” — An Israeli soldier’s testimony in the documentary Censored Voices, directed by Mor Loushi (2015) — In the wake of the June 1967 war, the Israeli author Amos Oz, then a reserve soldier in the Israeli army, together with a friend collated interviews with Israeli soldiers who participated in the war and asked them about the emotions the fighting triggered in them. The interviews were published as a book titled Conversations with Soldiers, more popularly referred at the time by my generation as the ”shooting and crying” book. The military censor (a function that still exists today, held recently by the present minister of culture, Miri Regev), erased 70 percent of the evidence since he claimed it would have harmed Israel’s international image. This month an industrious Israeli filmmaker, Mor Loushi, is showing her new documentary based on most of this erased material. The atrocities reported by the soldiers include forced expulsions, like the one quoted above, graphic descriptions of summary executions of prisoners of war and hints of massacres of innocent villagers.