Violence / Raids / Incursions / Arrests — West Bank, Jerusalem
Dutch warn of violent Jewish ‘colonists’ on West Bank
JTA 2 June — The Dutch government issued a travel warning that cautions travelers against violent Jewish settlers. The travel warning was placed online last month on the website of the Dutch central government for the Palestinian Territories. “There are security risks for traveling all over the West Bank including east Jerusalem,” the warning reads. “Be alert when traveling there. Demonstrations and violent incidents occur regularly. Jewish colonists live in illegal West Bank settlements and organize demonstrations regularly around and on the road. These colonists are sometimes violent. At times, these colonists throw stones at Palestinians and international vehicles so be alert when traveling around settlements of Jewish colonists, especially in the hills around Nablus and Hebron.” In referencing violence by Palestinians, the text states: “Palestinians demonstrate regularly against occupation in various places,” adding that “these demonstrations sometimes involve violence. There are always Israeli soldiers present during demonstrations. Avoid demonstrations. Recently, there have been violent incidents in the border area between east and west Jerusalem. They are aimed at Israelis. Be alert in those areas and avoid public transportation.” The warning also applies to the Gaza Strip, where Dutch nationals are advised not to go due to risk of being shot in fights between various Islamist groups. “In addition, there exists a risk of becoming a victim of an Israeli aerial attack,” the warning adds. The Israeli embassy said in a statement that the warning “besmirches a whole segment of society in an unacceptable way.” The embassy intends to take up the issue with the Dutch government.
Tensions soar in West Bank refugee camp
Al Jazeera 1 June by Emily Mulder — Last week, Palestinian security forces raided the West Bank refugee camp of Balata, sparking one of the biggest clashes between the two sides in months. By the time it ended, one camp resident had been wounded by live fire, and another detained by the Palestinian Authority (PA). It was just the latest in a series of confrontations that have unfolded in recent months, as residents say the PA has disproportionately targeted camp residents for petty crimes and failed to provide due process. PA security forces set out to arrest 25 Balata residents in February for “having illegal weapons, disturbing the public order, shooting into the air as well as towards people, and [possession of] drugs,” according to PA security spokesman Adnan Dmeiri. “We don’t have a campaign against Balata. There are fugitives in all areas, and it’s natural for us to want to arrest those who are outside of the law,” Dmeiri told Al Jazeera. But Balata residents, who complain that their camp lacks security and an official body to administer it, argue that enforcement of the law by the PA has been unequal. Balata’s history of armed resistance against Israel has enabled the PA to tout the camp as a centre for corruption, leading to higher levels of detention, analysts note. Some of the men wanted by the PA voluntarily turned themselves in, but told Al Jazeera that they were subsequently tortured and released without charges. “You don’t even know what it is you’ve done, but they keep you there. You give a confession so that you can get out,” said Muhammad Abu Derra, who was detained last month for allegedly firing a weapon….
Israeli forces raid homes near Nablus, detain student
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 3 June – Israeli forces stormed the northern West Bank village of Deir Sharaf west of Nablus overnight Tuesday, ransacking several homes before they detained a young man. Locals told Ma‘an that several Israeli military vehicles raided the village after midnight before soldiers and intelligence officers took into custody Muatasim Ghassan Antari, 20, an undergraduate student at Al-Najah National University. An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an Antari was detained for allegedly being a Hamas operative. The forces also inspected the home of Muhammad Qabalan after they broke open his main door. UN Special Coordinator (UNSCO) recently reported that Israeli forces have conducted a weekly average of 86 search and arrest operations this year, up from 75 a week in 2014. The majority of raids are carried out in Area A, nominally under control of the Palestinian Authority. Antari’s detention Tuesday morning comes as rights groups criticize Israel for targeting Palestinian students, prisoners’ rights group Addameer documenting thousands of university students detained over the years due to Israeli policy that criminalizes “social and political activism on campuses across the occupied territory.”
Israeli troops detain 2 Palestinians in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 1 June — Israeli forces detained two Palestinians during raids into the northern West Bank city of Nablus and the nearby Balata refugee camp overnight Sunday. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that several Israeli military vehicles entered Balata after midnight, where soldiers ransacked several homes before taking into custody 31-year-old Muhammad Salah Hijazi. Separately, Israeli soldiers raided al-Dahiya neighborhood of Nablus near Balata camp and detained a Palestinian journalist 32-year-old Ahmad al-Bitawi. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the arrests, saying that both men were “operatives in Hamas.”
Israeli forces detain 15 across West Bank, East Jerusalem
JENIN (Ma‘an) 2 June — Israeli forces detained at least 15 Palestinians in raids across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem overnight Monday. While local sources said 10 Palestinians had been detained in the West Bank and five in East Jerusalem, an Israeli army spokeswoman said 15 had been detained in the West Bank alone. Palestinian security sources said a man and his son were detained from Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank after Israeli forces stormed the camp overnight. The detainees were identified as 50-year-old Khalid Abu Zeina and his 16-year-old son Riyad. Clashes broke out during the raid between locals and Israeli troops who “haphazardly” fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades, security sources said. At a flying checkpoint near Ramallah, Israeli troops detained Hikmat Mahmoud Auda, 25, and Jasim Mahmoud Auda, 22, both from the northern West Bank village of Sayda in Tulkarem. Israeli soldiers also detained 19-year-old Baraa Ibrahim Hamid from his family house in the central West Bank village of Silwad. Three young Palestinian men were reportedly apprehended from Ein al-Sultan refugee camp in Jericho. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society identified them as Yazan Farid Abu Lawi, Jihad Mahmoud Manasra and Samir Muhammad Rafiq Ibrahim. Israeli forces also arrested 17-year-old Mohammad Salem Faleh Al-Razem and Walid Ahmad Abu Turki, 22, from Hebron. An Israeli army spokeswoman reported different details, saying that there had been two arrests in Jenin, one in Silwad, two in al-Eizariya, one in Surif, three in Sultan and six in Hebron. She said that the Palestinians had either been arrested for affiliation to Hamas or for “disturbing the order.” Five arrests were also reported in East Jerusalem, according to human rights group Addameer. The group’s lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud identified the detainees as Basil Shweiki, 20, Nasim Shweiki, 27, Murad Sheiki, 20, and Hashim Abu Khalid from Silwan neighborhood, and Walid Firawi from his home in the Old City.
Two settlers were arrested in the West Bank on suspicion of throwing rocks at the IDF
Ynet 2 June by Itay Blumenthal — Two settlers were arrested Monday night on suspicion of trying to prevent IDF forces from demolishing two uninhabited buildings in the Givat Ronen outpost in the West Bank. During the evacuation of the buildings stones were thrown at the soldiers and spikes and burning tires were placed on the road, but the demolition of houses was completed. No casualties were reported.
Settlers attack Hebron residents in presence of soldiers
IMEMC/Agencies 1 June — Israeli settlers from Beit Hadassa, Beboya and Ramat Yishai, Saturday, attacked citizens from Tel Rumeideh, central Hebron, using sharp tools. According to the official agency (PNN), seven settlers from these settlements, illegally constructed on Palestinian lands in Hebron, attacked citizens with sharp tools, and attempted to assault them in the presence of soldiers who did not move a muscle. Settlers also were shouting racist slogans and insulting the Palestinians. PNN said that the settlers attacked Palestinians in their twenties. No injuries were reported.
Gaza residents: Israeli forces shoot, injure 1, detain 4 fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 June – Israeli forces continued near-daily incursions into the Gaza Strip Wednesday morning, shooting and injuring one east of Khan Younis and detaining four fishermen off the coast of Gaza City. Residents of the village of Khuza‘a east of Khan Younis said that forces in Israeli watchtowers across the borders with Gaza opened fire at a Palestinian man because he came close to the border fence. Separately, Israeli naval forces detained several Gazan fishermen off the coast of Gaza City. Fishermen told Ma‘an that Israeli gunboats obstructed a fishing boat and detained four fishermen on board before confiscating their boat.
3 Gaza fishermen shot, injured by Israeli navy
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 June — Three Palestinian fishermen were injured on Tuesday morning after Israeli naval forces opened fire on fishing boats off the coast of al-Sudaniyya in the northern Gaza Strip. Speaker of the union of Gaza fishermen, Nizar Ayyash, told Ma‘an that three fishermen from al-Shati refugee camp in the northwestern Gaza Strip had been moved to a hospital.
An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed two fishermen had been shot by Israeli forces.She said that after their vessel “deviated from the designated fishing zone,” Israeli naval forces called on them to halt, firing warning shots into the air, then into the water, and then “at the body of the vessel.” … The spokeswoman said that “every deviation from the designated fishing zone is a possible security threat to Israeli security,” as Palestinian vessels “smuggle illegal material and weapons through the maritime zone.”She suggested that vessels heading from the coast may be heading out “to meet” other smuggling vessels.
Israeli troops on Tuesday also opened fire from border watchtowers on Palestinian farmers working on land in Khuza‘a in the southeastern Gaza Strip, with no injuries reported.
Report: Israeli forces detain 5 fishermen off Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 June — Israeli forces on Monday detained five Palestinian fishermen and seized their fishing boat and took it to Ashdod port. Israel’s Channel 7 news reported that the Palestinian vessel was seized and its occupants detained after they crossed into Israeli regional water. It said Israeli coast guards ordered the boat to stop but it didn’t, so they opened fire at it before boarding.
German FM calls for lift on Gaza blockade
IMEMC/Agencies 2 June — The German foreign minister, on Monday, called on Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza in return for Palestinian security reassurances during a visit to the beleaguered coastal enclave. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, heading a delegation of 60 German officials, arrived in the region on Saturday to hold talks with top Palestinian and Israeli officials. During Monday’s visit to Gaza he said the enclave was a “powder keg” at risk of exploding, and called for efforts to quicken reconstruction. “I came out of all my discussions yesterday in Jerusalem and in Ramallah with the hope that all parties are mindful that here we are sitting on a powder keg here and that we must ensure that the fuse does not catch light,” Steinmeier said at a press conference in Gaza City’s fishing port. “We shall only be able to decisively reduce the risks of a fresh escalation if we allow economic development in the Gaza Strip in addition to humanitarian aid and reconstruction,” he said. That would only be possible “with open borders” — a reference to the Israeli blockade restricting movement of goods and people. However, he added that it would only be possible if there was a halt to Palestinian rocket fire on southern Israel.
Palestinians refuse UNRWA’s ‘freezing’ of recruitment in Gaza
Middle East Monitor 1 June — Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip have rejected what they said was a decision issued by the Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to freeze recruitment due to a lack of funding. In a statement issued yesterday, the National and Islamic Forces Group said: “UNRWA’s decision to freeze jobs in its sectors, especially the important ones, is unacceptable and rejected.” The group, which includes several organisations including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, added: “UNRWA’s intention to reduce the health sector services and limit them to primary care will require the cancellation of some important departments, such as physiotherapy, radiology, dental and others, and will consequently end the jobs of the relevant specialists, which is a humanitarian catastrophe.” … Local media outlets recently published information that UNRWA intends to freeze its recruitment drive across its five areas of operation; the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
UNRWA warns services may cease within three months
Middle East Monitor 2 June — The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) warned on Monday that it would stop its operations aimed at helping Palestinian refugees as a result of financial strain, Anadolu reported. UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl warned that the organisation is facing “unprecedented challenges”. He said that UNRWA suffers a financial deficit of $106.7 million this year and that this might result in the halt of UNRWA’s work within three months … Krähenbühl denied that UNRWA had planned to cut the number of its employees. “Currently, we have 30,000 employees, including 12,500 in Gaza,” he said. “All what are we doing is a review of the process of recruiting new employees. It is a mistake to think we will cut the number of employees.”
How an alleged war crime goes away — and resurfaces a year later
+972 mag 2 June by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — Nobody really noticed the deliberate shelling of a Palestinian medical clinic, even when it was reported in real time during Israel’s war in Gaza last summer. Now, because of reporting by an independent journalist, there is a chance that somebody will be held accountable for what a rights group says is a clear-cut war crime — How does an apparent war crime, recorded and reported in real time disappear from the public realm and the radar of military investigators for almost a year? The fog of war? Hiding in plain sight? It’s not quite clear. The story begins in the middle of one of the deadliest battles of last summer’s Gaza war, in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood, where some 100 Palestinians and over a dozen Israeli soldiers were killed. On July 22, IDF Cpt. Dima Levitas was killed by Palestinian fire. Levitas was laid to rest the next day in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery. Because the fighting was still ongoing, his fellow soldiers were still positioned in the same area where Levitas was killed and were unable to attend his funeral. So they decided to participate remotely, and to give him a 120-mm tank shell version of a 21-gun salute. One day later, on the NRG news site, formerly the website of Ma’ariv and now owned by Israel Hayom, an audio clip was published. According to the NRG report, the clip is a recording — over the army two-way radio — of Lt.-Col. Neriya Yeshurun eulogizing Levitas, and ultimately ordering a barrage of tank fire, “in his honor,” directed at a medical clinic … Despite the fact that NRG published the recording a day after the incident, on July 14, 2014, no investigation was opened at the time. The entire affair simply disappeared for the next nearly 11 months. Until now. Last week, Charlotte Silver published an account of the affair in English on Electronic Intifada. Silver’s article caught the attention of Israel’s Channel 10 News, which before publishing the story again in Hebrew, brought it to the attention of the army. Asked by Channel 10 if the incident was investigated then, or is being investigated now, the IDF Spokesperson said that it “is being looked into.”
Islamic extremist killed as internal tensions hit Gaza
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 2 June by Adel Zaanoun –– A local Salafist leader was shot dead in Gaza City Tuesday during a confrontation with Hamas security forces as tensions mounted between the Strip’s Islamist rulers and its extremist opponents. The violence came as Hamas police and security forces stepped up measures against militants belonging to Islamic extremist groups, some of whom are known as Salafists. The incident occurred during an arrest operation in the northern Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood with Gaza’s interior ministry identifying the gunman as local Salafist leader Yussef al-Hanar, 27. Some witnesses identified him as a Salafist leader while others said he belonged to a group affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group. “Security forces barricaded the house and then violent clashes erupted,” they told AFP. Interior ministry spokesman Iyad Buzum said the fighting began when security forces went to his house to arrest him for unspecified “illegal activities.” Hanar tried to flee, firing as he went … – Challenging Hamas – Around 200 mourners attended the funeral, with Hanar’s body buried in a black flag similar to that of the IS movement, an AFP correspondent said. “They blew up the house and killed him because of his opinions,” his mother Bassima told AFP, saying her son was married with three children and had “never hurt anybody”….
Palestinian gov’t condemns Hamas for killing Islamist rival in Gaza
GAZA (Reuters) 2 June — Hamas security forces killed an activist of a rival Islamist militant group in a shoot-out at his Gaza home on Tuesday, drawing strong condemnation from the Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas … Hamas, which promotes political Islam, has mounted occasional crackdowns on more radical groups that chafe at its engagement with Abbas and truces with Israel. Such groups support the broader struggle led by Islamic State and al Qaeda. From its seat in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Palestinian cabinet deplored what it called Honnor’s “execution.” “Hamas must respect the law and civil rights,” said the cabinet statement, published by the official Palestinian news agency Wafa. “It must not mess with the souls of people. It must cease abolishing security and order and stop trespassing on the authorities of the government and the judiciary.” A spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Gaza said Honnor was a criminal who had booby-trapped his house and that “explosive belts, explosive devices and rifle-propelled grenades were found inside.” A statement posted on a pro-Salafist website disputed the ministry’s account. “The Hamas leadership bears responsibility for this deplorable crime,” the statement said. The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights questioned whether Hamas forces were justified in killing Honnor and urged a public investigation.
ISIS offshoot group claims responsibility for killing a Hamas commander in Gaza
IMEMC 1 June — A group claiming allegiance with ISIS issued a statement, Sunday, claiming responsibility for assassinating a senior Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip, by detonating his store in Khan Younis. The group, calling itself Supporters of the Islamic State in Beit al-Maqdis, said it assassinated Saber Siam for what it claimed, “participating in the heretical war against the Mujahidin,” and called on Hamas to “end its war on religion in Gaza, or face the consequences.” It published a statement on its Twitter account saying it killed Siam approximately at 2:30 at dawn Sunday, by detonating his store, in Khan Younis in the southern part of the coastal region, for “participating in the war on the Mujahidin.” The group also warned the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to stay away from government-run offices and facilities, and all Hamas-run security or military centers, in the coastal region. Hamas officials and Hamas-run websites did not comment on the attack.
Deputy head of Hamas: No progress in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 2 June by Camila Benson — The Deputy Head of Hamas says there has been no humanitarian or economic progress in the Gaza Strip since the national consensus government was formed a year ago … Last June, a government consensus was formed and Haniyeh said he had hoped that a unity government would start taking as much responsibility for Gaza as it does for the West Bank. Haniyeh says the government was given “three main objectives in the Cairo agreement: ending the blockade and accomplishing reconstruction, working on uniting Palestinian Authority institutions in the two parts of Palestine, and preparing for legislative, presidential, and national council elections” and that after a year, not one of these objectives had been met. He said he still believes that the government still has a chance to meet its objectives and represent all Palestinians indiscriminately, as well as to treat the West Bank and the Gaza Strip equally. Despite this, the relationship between Hamas and Fatah is continuing to decline.
Islamic Jihad’s coffers run dry
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 2 June by Hazem Balousha — The cutting off of economic support from Iran and the closing of smuggling tunnels to Egypt have left the Islamic Jihad unable to pay the salaries of its personnel — The Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip is suffering from a severe financial crisis that has resulted in a delay of several months in the payment of salaries, both to its military wing (Al-Quds Brigades) personnel and those working for its media and civic organizations, due to the stifling siege imposed on Gaza and the paucity of revenues from its main sponsor, Iran … Since its inception in November 1981, the Islamic Jihad has been receiving generous financial backing from the Islamic Republic of Iran. In addition, its members received military training in Iran and south Lebanon at the hands of Hezbollah, as well as weapons and various types of ammunition from both Iran and Hezbollah smuggled into the Gaza Strip. The same source attributed the current financial crisis suffered by the Islamic Jihad to the financial blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, particularly after the closure of the tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt, and the unrest witnessed in the Sinai Peninsula. He said, “The siege is one of the primary reasons hindering the entry of funds to the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, Iran cut back its financial support at the onset of Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen.”
Fallen soldier’s family demands no Gaza rebuilding until remains returned
Times of Israel 1 June — Hadar Goldin’s relatives meet with President Rivlin after he says reconstructing Strip is an Israeli interest — Members of the family of fallen soldier Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was killed last summer during the war in the Gaza Strip, met on Sunday with President Reuven Rivlin and demanded that Israel act to return Goldin’s remains and the remains of another soldier that are thought to be held by Gaza’s Hamas government. During the meeting they told the president that the government should insist on the return of the bodies of Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul before entering any discussion about rebuilding the devastated Gaza Strip … Goldin was killed in a surprise attack on August 1, 2014, as a temporary ceasefire during the 7-week conflict was due to begin, and his body was dragged into a tunnel by Gazan fighters. On July 20, 2014, Shaul was one of seven Israeli soldiers critically wounded when, amid fierce battles in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, his armored personnel carrier, stuck in the middle of a city street, was hit by a Hamas anti-tank rocket. The army was able to recover the remains of only six soldiers but found no trace of Shaul.
Top West Bank court issues major ruling regarding Palestinian parliament member
JPost 1 June by Yonah Jeremy Bob — The West Bank Military Court of Appeals has ordered Palestinian Authority parliament member Khalida Jarrar to remain in detention until the end of her trial on a variety of charges including incitement to kidnap an Israeli. The ruling has broad implications internationally in relations between Israel and the Palestinians and future close-call cases dealing with accusations against high-profile Palestinians that include classified evidence. Late Thursday, the court ordered Jarrar’s detention extended until the end of her trial, which begins June 22. The charges all stem from her membership in a group related to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine The case has drawn international attention and criticism because of Jarrar’s status as a Palestinian parliament member and is controversial even within the military court system because of the classified evidence involved and an extended delay by the IDF in deciding when to arrest Jarrar. Judge Col. Netanel Benishu of the appeals court reversed a rare victory over the military prosecution for Jarrar, represented by defense lawyer Mahmoud Hassan, in the lower Judea Military Court on May 21 in which the court ordered Jarrar released over the prosecution’s objection…. Further, the lower court ruling was of grave concern to the IDF, since many cases, including dozens in which the IDF rearrested Palestinians released as part of the Gilad Schalit prisoner-exchange deal, involve the IDF exercising discretion in delaying arresting suspects. Many cases, at least at the stage of detention hearings, also involve the IDF presenting secret evidence. Had the appeals court upheld the lower-court ruling, the IDF might have faced a wave of challenges based on issues related to delays in arrests and use of classified evidence.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
Nablus activists to deploy on hilltops to prevent settlement expansion
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 3 June — Palestinian activists in the Nablus area of the northern West Bank are preparing to launch what they describe as the largest campaign against settlement expansion in the area.Palestinian official Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement related activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an Wednesday that the activists plan to install movable houses on hilltops in 35 villages and towns across Nablus district under threat of confiscation by Israeli authorities.The move comes amid an ongoing takeover of private Palestinian land in the hills surrounding Nablus, where several Jewish-only settlements have been established throughout the area over the years. After small groups of Israeli settlers claim the land and gradually grow outwards with the protection of the Israeli military, private Palestinian land is confiscated through legal processes, according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. There are currently 12 illegal settlements and 27 settlement outposts in the Nablus area housing around 23,000 of the “most extremist settlers in the Palestinian Territory,” according to Daghlas.The settlements and outposts surrounding Nablus have gained such reputation largely due to high rates of violent acts by settlement residents against local Palestinians, including uprooting and burning olive trees, vandalism against private property, in addition to violent physical attacks.Last week, residents from the illegal Yitzhar settlement expanded onto local Palestinian land near the village of Huwwara … The hilltop campaign, added Daghlas, is a preemptive move to protect Palestinian land from the ongoing settlement expansion especially as the newly-formed rightist Israeli government begins to fulfill promises made to the settler bloc in the run up to the March elections. The activity was organized by the Nablus district Committee against Settlements in cooperation with the Fatah movement’s recruitment commission headed by Mahmoud al-Aloul.
New settlement road laid in Nablus
NABLUS (PIC) 1 June — Israeli military bulldozers have laid Sunday afternoon a settlement road at the expense of Palestinian-owned land to the south of Nablus. Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that Israeli bulldozers have established under the protection of nearly 50 Israeli soldiers a new settlement road within about 150 meters in ‘Assira town in the city. The settlement road, that links between an Israeli military site with the main water tank in the area, will prevent nearly 20 Palestinian farmers from reaching their agricultural lands, the sources added. ‘Assira town is daily subjected to Israeli settlers’ systematic attacks under Israeli forces’ protection as it is located between Yitzhar and Bracha illegal settlements.
Israeli extremists bulldoze Palestinian lands south of Nablus
IMEMC/Agencies 2 June — Bashar Qaryouti, Coordinator of Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Qaryout village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, said Israeli extremists bulldozed and uprooted, on Tuesday morning, Palestinian lands in preparation to pave a road linking between two illegal colonies built on the villager’s lands. Qaryouti said the planned illegal road is meant to link between Shilo and Eleya colonies, built on privately owned Palestinian lands. He added that the new Israeli plan would lead to further illegal annexation of Palestinian lands, and to destroying the southern road of the village. Qaryouti said the village’s size with its lands used to be 22,000 dunams; all but 366 dunams have been illegally annexed by Israel to the construction and expansion of settlements, and for military usage, the WAFA New Agency has reported. He also stated that the villagers managed to obtain a ruling from the Israeli Supreme Court denying the settlers access to the bulldozed area, as it contained an archaeological site, but they violated the order. In addition, Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of the Israeli Settlements File in the Palestinian Authority, in the northern part of the West Bank, has reported that Israeli bulldozers also uprooted Palestinian lands close to Road #60, linking between Nablus and Ramallah. Daghlas stated that Israel is apparently planning to illegally confiscate dozens of dunams of Palestinian lands to link the two above-mentioned colonies.
Israeli forces demolish 3 houses in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 2 June — Israeli forces demolished three Palestinian homes in the Silwan neighborhood and Salah al-Din street in occupied East Jerusalem early Tuesday morning, the owners told Ma‘an. They were told that the houses were demolished because they had been built without necessary licenses from the municipal council. Nidal Abu Rmeila said bulldozers under Israeli army escort had demolished two apartments, totaling 140 square meters, that he had been building in Silwan near the Moroccan Gate of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound … Abu Rmeila said Israeli troops had assaulted members of his family when they evacuated the home before the demolition. He said that relatives Hashim Abu Rmeila, Izz al-Din Abu Rmeila and Nur al-Din Abu Rmeila sustained bruises, while his 70-year-old mother was injured when soldiers fired tear gas canisters into the house.
Separately on Tuesday, Israeli forces demolished the upper story of a house on Salah al-Din Street near the Old City belonging to Rafiq al-Salayma. A relative of the owner Abu Jabir al-Salayma told Ma‘an that Israeli troops raided the house at 6 a.m. and forcibly evacuated the family before workers set about demolishing the upper floor.The family house was built long ago, al-Salayma said, but “because the house was too small” they had added a new floor and roofed it with clay tiles.The demolitions come less than a week after another house was demolished in Silwan.
IOF raze agricultural structure north of Jenin
JENIN (PIC) 1 June — Israeli military bulldozers razed at noon Monday an agricultural structure claiming closeness to Salem military camp to the north of Jenin city. Local sources said that Israeli soldiers in several patrols and a bulldozer demolished the agricultural facility which belongs to a Palestinian man in Rummaneh nearby town. The Israeli forces warned the owner against trying to rebuild the facility which constituted of a water well and a room, the sources added. The owner of the farm underlined that the forces razed his farm and uprooted the olive trees despite possessing official ownership documents. http://english.palinfo.com/site/pages/details.aspx?itemid=71953
Soldiers deliver destruction notices against four homes south of Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 2 June — Israeli soldiers and members of the “Civil Administration Office” run by the army in the occupied West Bank, invaded Tuesday Um Salmouna village, south of Bethlehem, and handed orders against four under-construction homes. The army claimed the homes were being built without permits, and informed the families they needed to stop the construction work. Head of the Um Salmouna Village Council Mahmoud Taqatqa said the homes belong to Hussein Mohammad Taqatqa, Ja‘far Khalil Taqatqa, Nassim Ali Taqatqa and Salim Ahmad Taqatqa. Each home is around 200 square meters. The village is subject to repeated violations and has lost large areas of its lands to the military, Israel’s illegal colonies and bypass roads. Approximately 16.2% dunams of its lands are isolated behind the Annexation Wall, in the western area of the village.
Israel to remove Palestinians’ tents in Area C near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 1 June – Israeli authorities Monday notified local residents of Khirbet at-Tawil, south of Nablus, to remove tents that shelter their families, according to a local source. A local activist told WAFA that an Israeli army force stormed the village and handed eviction orders to local residents of Khirbet at-Tawil, which is a frequent target for Israeli violations. The Israeli violations include property demolition, collective relocations and Israeli military drills. Israeli forces have delivered many demolition and eviction orders to local residents of the village. On May 3, the Israeli army conducted military drills using live ammunition near the village, damaging hundreds of dunums of Palestinian-owned land. According to a local study, Israeli forces aim in reality to “displace the hundreds of citizens living in Khirbet al- Tawil under the pretext that the village is located within Area C and is situated within an Israeli military zone used for the training of the Israeli army.”
Israel probes purchase of West Bank church by American and settler ally
Haaretz 2 June by Chaim Levinson — The Israeli authorities [are to] investigate the purchase of a West Bank church compound by an American businessman who reportedly hopes to turn it into a new Jewish settlement. The Israel Defense Forces’ Civil Administration, which is in charge of the West Bank, is examining the legality of the transaction, focusing on whether the buyer had been misrepresented. In the West Bank, land transactions need the military’s approval. Last week, sources told Haaretz that a nonprofit group controlled by U.S. businessman Irving Moskowitz had bought the abandoned compound near the Arroub refugee camp between Hebron and Bethlehem. In the purchase three years ago from the church owners, Moskowitz was helped by an ally on the Jerusalem city council, Aryeh King, who specializes in buying Arab-owned real estate. The compound was built by an American missionary; he established a tuberculosis hospital at the site, where he was buried after his death in 1954. A year ago the Civil Administration issued a stop-work order for a new fence around the compound, but this was not enforced. In recent weeks, soldiers were told renovation work there was being done to set up a church-affiliated hostel, so the soldiers did not inquire further. The compound sits in a strategic location between Hebron and the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. Eight buildings dot its 10 acres. Palestinian activists have demonstrated against the prospect of settlers moving in, and Knesset members from Zionist Union and Meretz were expected to visit the site Tuesday at the initiative of Peace Now.
Sheikh Kamal Khatib’s access to al-Aqsa banned
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 1 June — The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) banned on Sunday Sheikh Kamal Khatib, deputy head of the Islamic movement within the Green Line, from having access to al-Aqsa mosque for six months. The Islamic Movement strongly condemned the Israeli decision against its deputy head, considering it a part of Israeli religious suppression policy practiced against Palestinians.
PHOTOS: For Palestinians, checkpoints can pop up at any time
Activestills 2 June by Ahmad al-Bazz — Nearly 60 percent of the 96 Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank do not lead to Israel, but rather separate Palestinian cities and towns. Sometimes, checkpoints pop up in response to security incidents, other times there is no explanation at all — Israeli forces sealed the Nablus district and closed the city for 90 minutes on Sunday afternoon, after contact was lost with an Israeli truck driver who was initially feared kidnapped but who resurfaced a short time later. Soldiers blocked the main three entrances of the West Bank city of Nablus — the Huwwara checkpoint, Beit Furik checkpoint and Beit Iba checkpoint — in addition to a number of gates in surrounding villages. Hundreds of cars full of students and workers were forced to wait on both sides of the checkpoints. The checkpoints were reopened [after] the Israeli army confirmed that contact had been reestablished with the driver and no incidents had been reported. This was an extraordinary incident. But Palestinians suffer from checkpoints — especially flying checkpoints that appear without any notice — on a daily basis. Days earlier, Israeli troops closed the only gate to the Palestinian villages of Beit Furik and Beit Dagan, also near Nablus. There are 96 fixed checkpoints in the West Bank, 57 of which are internal, only 39 of which lead to Israel — the remaining 57 separate Palestinian cities and towns, according to B’Tselem.
Bourj el-Barajneh: Death by neglect
[with photos] BEIRUT (IRIN) 1 June — Draped with water pipes and high voltage wires, the major fuse box that splits power from the grid in the center of Beirut’s Bourj el-Barajneh is known locally as the “wall of death.” Rusty and exposed, it stands at head height on a major thoroughfare in this overcrowded Palestinian refugee camp. Several people have died tinkering with it over the years, and yet nothing has ever been done to make it safer.For a symbol of the struggle Palestinian refugees face in trying to live a basic but dignified existence when 18,000 human beings are squeezed chaotically onto just one square kilometer of land, look no further.According to camp officials, 48 people have died from electrocution in Bourj el-Barajneh in the past five years. The majority of these accidents were preventable, but the combination of a lack of funding, Lebanese political intransigence and Palestinian infighting have scuppered any chance of carrying out the simple reforms that could have saved dozens of lives … In 2010, new legal restrictions were introduced prohibiting building materials from being imported into Bourj el-Barajneh. This has created crippling delays.To bring in the materials needed to tackle the electricity crisis, the Palestinian popular committee still needs permission. But the Lebanese government is hostile to improving infrastructure in the camp as this is seen as encouraging permanent refugee settlement.
UNRWA and Microclinic International partner to fight diabetes epidemic among Palestinian refugees
UNRWA 1 June — In response to an exploding type 2 diabetes epidemic, UNRWA is delivering improved health services to millions of Palestine refugees across the Middle East following reforms. New initiatives such as the Family Health Team (FHT) model and a partnership with Microclinic International (MCI) are key to these reforms. The cornerstone of the reform is the implementation of the FHT model, which offers a primary care package focused on providing comprehensive and holistic primary health care for the entire family. The FHT was designed to improve the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of health services, particularly targeting non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and hypertension. As refugees are living longer due to improved health services, and NCDs are becoming the main cause of mortality, the challenge of dealing with emerging health needs is increasing. NCDs are now responsible for more than 70 per cent of deaths among the refugees UNRWA serves. These chronic diseases are costly to treat, and often lifestyle and behaviour-related – resulting from sedentary lifestyles, obesity, unhealthy diets and smoking
FIFA: Palestine’s own-goal / Sharif Nashashibi
Al Jazeera 2 June — The backlash against the Palestine Football Association adds to the frustration with the PA’s ineptitude and duplicity — “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that,” said former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly. Similarly, the backlash over the Palestine Football Association (PFA) dropping its threat to seek Israel’s suspension from FIFA is about much more than the sport itself. Here was a chance to suspend Israel from the international governing body of association football, whose competitions include the World Cup, the Champions League and the European Championship. The threat was based on a host of racist and discriminatory policies towards Palestinian football, including Israel’s hampering of the PFA’s activities, restricting the movement of players, and curbing the import of sports equipment and visits by foreign teams and individuals. Israel’s suspension from FIFA would have been a massive contribution to the country’s increasing international isolation. It would have also brought important exposure to the Palestinian cause through a novel and huge platform, the world’s most popular sport, whose fans may be largely unaware or uninterested in the politics of the conflict. – Golden opportunity – However, a golden opportunity to show Israel the red card turned into an own-goal due to the PFA’s mishandling. It had insisted before and during the FIFA Congress in Zurich on Saturday that it would not back down on the suspension vote, only for its president, Jibril Rajoub, to do just that at the last minute.
Palestinian football chief defends FIFA move
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 2 June — Palestinian football chief Jibril Rajoub said Tuesday he took full responsibility for an 11th-hour decision to withdraw a bid to have FIFA suspend Israel from the world footballing body. Rajoub announced the surprise decision Friday at the annual FIFA congress in Zurich, sparking jubilation in Israel but anger among the Palestinians, some of whom have demanded his resignation as head of Palestinian Football Association (PFA). “I take full responsibility for this matter,” he told reporters in Al-Bireh near Ramallah, insisting that the resolution had not been dropped but only suspended. “From the start, I said this was about sport, not politics.” … Rajoub admitted that the PFA had come under a lot of pressure from fellow associations as well as from UEFA chief Michel Platini to back off from the move. “Most of the football associations told us they would vote against us if we presented the motion as it was,” he said … But Rajoub denied that Abbas was involved in the decision to drop the resolution, insisting the president “had nothing to do with it.”
Tensions boil as PA and Jordan spar over FIFA presidential elections
JPost 2 June by Khaled Abu Toameh — Tensions between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority are mounting over the elections for the presidency of the International Federation of Football (FIFA). The Jordanians claim that Jibril Rajoub, Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), did not vote for their candidate, Prince Ali, during FIFA’s 65th Congress last week in Zurich – a claim that Rajoub, who holds Jordanian citizenship, has strongly denied. The Jordanians insist that Rajoub had voted for Sepp Blatter, the current president of FIFA. Jordanian media outlets on Tuesday quoted an official source in Amman as saying that Rajoub has been declared persona non grata and banned from entering the kingdom. Many Jordanians have also called on their government to revoke Rajoub’s Jordanian citizenship and ban him permanently from entering the kingdom. Despite the decision, Rajoub was permitted to cross into the West Bank on Monday after arriving at the Queen Alia International Airport from Tunisia, The Jordan Times reported … On Tuesday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas visited Prince Ali at his home in Amman in a bid to ease tensions between the two sides … Following the visit, Abbas was quoted as saying that “Jordan and Palestine are one people living in two states.” Abbas expressed hope that nothing would negatively impact this relationship.
Palestinian Authority launches TV station for Israeli Arabs
Haaretz 2 June by Jack Khoury — The Palestinian Authority has launched a television channel aimed at Israeli Arabs, named “F48” (Falastin 1948). Controlled by the PA and funded by it and the PLO, the channel will be broadcast as part of the package offered by Palsat, Palestinian satellite television. In the past months, Minister Riad al-Hassan, CEO of the Palestinian Broadcasting Authority, held numerous consultations in an effort to promote the project, including meetings with Israeli Arab public figures, journalists and writers. Production companies will film shows from the Galilee, Negev and the north-central Triangle, then transfer the footage to F48’s broadcasting room in Ramallah and relayed to the satellite broadcast from there. On June 18, the first day of the Ramadan fast, the first test programs will be aired, and the broadcasts are to be gradually expanded from there. The plan is to focus mainly on social and cultural programming, with no decision yet on whether to air news-related shows. This is because of the high cost of producing news shows, as well as the sensitivities and range of views of the target audience … Palestinians told Haaretz that the new channel is part of their attempt to connect with Israeli Arabs. “The Palestinian leadership understands and is really beginning to grasp that there won’t be a diplomatic solution, not in the foreseeable future,” said one official, adding that this is leading to a change in the Palestinian leadership’s policy. Previously, Palestinian citizens of Israel were completely removed from the decision-making process in the Palestinian movement, but that trend has begun to be reversed in the last few years, the official added, noting that the momentum has increased in recent months with the emergence of the Joint Arab List, which was greeted enthusiastically in the Palestinian Authority.
Palestinian PM: We’ve experienced direct talks, and they were a failure
JPost 1 June by Herb Keinon — Direct negotiations with Israel were a failure, and as a result the Palestinians now want to see negotiations go through the UN, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said in an interview published on Monday. “We hope negotiations will be resumed, but within a new framework,” Hamdallah told The Washington Post. And the new framework, he said, should set the end of 2017 as the deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from the territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state. These terms are expected to be in a resolution to be brought to the United Nations Security Council before September by France and New Zealand. Hamdallah said that the French initiative was being coordinated with the US. He said if such a resolution was passed – meaning one that defines the final parameters of a deal and sets a timeline – “I’m sure we can go back to negotiations.” He said that the Palestinians “have certain assurances from the United States that after the Iranian deal, they will resume negotiations between us and the Israelis.”
Israel urges Switzerland to stop funding leftist NGO Breaking the Silence
Haaretz 2 June by Barak Ravid — Israel urged the Swiss government on Tuesday to stop funding an exhibition by the left-leaning NGO Breaking the Silence, which is scheduled to open in June in Zurich. A senior official in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland, Yigal Caspi, called the head of the Middle East and North Africa Division in Switzerland’s Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday to issue a formal complaint, and request his government quit funding the NGO’s exhibition. The Israeli official, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter, noted that Caspi “vigorously protested” Swiss support for the exhibition, which, he emphasized in his conversation with the Swiss official,” serves to slander Israel.” As such, he said, the Israeli government is concerned by the fact that Switzerland is financing it. The exhibition, which is due to open in June in Zurich, would include photos and testimonies of Israel Defense Forces soldiers alleging human rights violations in the West Bank.
Survey: 35% of Jewish Israeli teens have never interacted with Arab peers
JPost 2 June by Hayah Goldlist-Eichler — A survey released Tuesday showed 35 percent of Jewish Israeli youth had never spoken with an Arab youth. The survey also showed that 27% of Arab Israelis reported never having spoken with a Jewish youth and 18% of Jewish Israeli youth reported never having spoken with an ultra-Orthodox youth. For the survey, 400 Jewish and Arab Israelis from the ages of 12 to 18 from all sectors – traditional, religious, secular, and ultra-Orthodox, took part, showing trends of intolerance towards each other. More findings from the survey showed that 41% of Jewish youth think that Israel should be more Jewish than democratic versus only some 25% who think that Israel should be more democratic than Jewish. Interestingly, the majority of Arab youth in the survey reported feeling part of Israeli society in some way, with approximately 40% of them stating they feel part of Israeli society “to a large or very large extent”. Over a third of ultra-Orthodox youth said they feel part of Israeli society only “to a certain extent” or less.
Israel must stop undermining and under-funding Christian schools / Oudeh Basharat
Haaretz 1 June — More than 30 percent of Israel’s Arab MKs are graduates of Christian community schools, but the government seems determined to stop them flourishing — …The alumni of these schools have similarly outstanding academic achievements, even though only 4 percent of all Arab pupils study in them. For some reason, the state’s leaders seem determined to crush these producers of Arab MKs and academics. What are they thinking? That every Arab flower must be trampled upon? That every sign of culture must be smashed? That every successful school must be strangled? And then they complain that the Arabs don’t take responsibility for their own fate! … Let me make it clear that these Christian schools are not run the way religious Jewish schools are. They teach all the subjects of the core curriculum and are open to all. Half the pupils who study there are Muslims, and these schools encourage meetings with Jewish children – in the belief that all are created in God’s image.
Obama: Netanyahu’s Palestine stance erodes Israel’s credibility
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 2 June – U.S. President Barack Obama said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s terms for diplomacy that might lead to a Palestinian state meant Israel had lost international credibility as a potential peacemaker. Obama also suggested that continued U.S. diplomatic defense for Israel at the United Nations over the Palestine dispute may be reviewed, while reaffirming U.S. support for Israeli security in a conflict-riven Middle East. In an interview with Israeli television aired on Tuesday, he offered a bleak outlook for decades of negotiations on Palestinian statehood bearing any fruit during the 18 months he has left in office. “I don’t see the likelihood of a framework agreement,” Obama said in an interview with Uvda, a current-affairs program produced by Israel’s top-rated Channel Two and Keshet television. “The question is how do we create some building blocks of trust and progress.”
Hamas cannot be partner for peace: Israel PM adviser
JERUSALEM (AFP) 1 June — A long-time foreign policy adviser of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday ruled out the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas as a potential peace partner for Israel. “There is no question that Hamas is part of the jihadist universe,” said Dore Gold, incoming director general of the foreign ministry and former ambassador to the United Nations. “It is not a candidate to become a political partner,” he told journalists as his conservative think-tank, the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, unveiled a study of the 2014 war in Gaza, where Hamas is the de facto power. Gold was named to the foreign ministry post last week by Netanyahu, who has retained the ministerial portfolio himself. The position of deputy foreign minister is held by an ultra-Orthodox MP from the far-right fringe of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party.
Israel expects Germany to lead fight against boycotts, product labeling from West Bank
Al-Bawaba/Reuters 31 May — Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday that Israel expects Germany to lead the fight against the labeling of products manufactured in the West Bank. “Boycotting goods harms the entire fabric of life in Judea and Samaria, both for the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Hotovely said. Israel has been critical of any move to label produce from Jewish settlements clearly or distinguish them from goods produced by Palestinians, arguing that the distinction is part of a larger effort to impose a Palestinian state on Israel. Hotovely said that Israel faces a front of boycotts originating from Europe. The newly-minted deputy foreign minister said she appreciated Germany’s firm stance against Iran becoming a threshold nuclear power. She also said Israel appreciates Germany’s “uncompromising position” against the rising anti-Semitism in Europe.
NGO threatens legal action against Israel over Hamas claim
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 2 June — A British non-governmental organization is threatening legal action against the Israeli government over its accusation that the organization is linked to the militant group Hamas — while denying that the Hamas leader called the NGO to congratulate it. The Palestinian Return Center this week was granted consultative status at the United Nations, prompting Israel’s U.N. mission to protest that the organization is associated with Hamas and “promotes anti-Israel propaganda.” The organization said the claim that it is affiliated with Hamas is unfounded. The group said it defends the right of return for Palestinian refugees and has existed for almost two decades. On Tuesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s office announced that Haniyeh had called the NGO’s leader, Majed al-Zeer, and congratulated him on its new U.N. status. But a spokesman for the Palestinian Return Center, Sameh Habeeb, said al-Zeer had not received a call from Haniyeh. Later on Tuesday, a Haniyeh spokesman sent a message to reporters asking them “not to deal” with the earlier announcement about the phone call.
Israeli government abandons Ethiopian-Israeli reportedly held captive in Gaza
Mint Press 2 June by Richard Silverstein — Indeed, Israel has completely abandoned its responsibilities for almost all African refugees under international humanitarian law. But should that come as any surprise? — In October 2014, just after Operation Protective Edge ended, an Israeli Facebook friend of mine reported a rumor that an Ethiopian-Israeli citizen crossed into Gaza and was detained there. The next day I confirmed the truth of the story through an independent Israeli source. Here is what I wrote then: “An Israeli-Ethiopian from Ashkelon crossed the border into Gaza several weeks ago. The man was allegedly mentally ill and no one knows what drove him to do this. He is being held by authorities in Gaza. Israel has placed a gag order on the incident and the media may not report it. His family has been told not to speak to the media as this might endanger him by raising his profile, though I’d venture to guess that the real reason is that it would embarrass the Israeli government and raise his value in a prisoner exchange.” Another rumor was that he’d been swimming off the southern coast and a strong current had taken him from Israeli waters to Gaza. Once there, he was reportedly picked up by a vehicle, presumably security officials, and driven away. He hasn’t been seen since. Hamas offered further circumstantial evidence via a billboard it erected in Gaza which featured images of Oron Shaul, an Israeli Defense Forces soldier, who Israel claims was killed during the war. Shaul’s image is displayed behind bars, indicating that Hamas claims he is alive. Another interesting feature on the billboard is an avatar with a question mark, which indicates Hamas claims it has a mystery captive, which points to the Ethiopian-Israeli … There is also a gag order on the story, which prohibits Israeli media from covering it. Even some Ethiopian journalists refused to speak with me, concerned about their own vulnerability in Israeli society. Yesterday, for example, Haaretz quoted Israeli and Hamas officials denying that German foreign minister Franz Steinmeier was once again negotiating for a prisoner exchange which would return the remains of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin to Israel. Not a word in this story about an actual live Israeli held in Gaza. The pernicious gag prohibits it. This secrecy serves the interests of the Israeli government, but not the interests of the victim.