Violence / Invasions / Suppression of protests / Arrests — West Bank & Jerusalem
5 injured, 2 critically, as Israeli forces fire on Kafr Qaddum march
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 12 June — Five Palestinians were injured, two critically, when Israelis forces opened live fire on the Kafr Qaddum weekly march Friday. A coordinator for the village’s popular resistance committee, Murad Shtewi, said that Muhammad Majid, 20, had been shot in the stomach and chest with live rounds and is in critical condition. Ibrahim Mousa, 35, is also in critical condition after he was shot in the abdomen while in his house. Shtewi also said that Muhammad Nidal, 20, and Mouiz Khader had been shot in the leg, and Ayman Farouq, 38, in the hand. Dozens of others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation. Israeli forces had closed down the village’s entrance since the early morning after they declared it a closed military zone. As a result, those injured had to be evacuated from the village in private cars using dirt roads. Israeli forces routinely suppress weekly marches by violent means.In Kafr Qaddum, they also regularly declare the village a closed military zone in order to prevent the weekly march from taking place.The march is carried out to protest the Israeli separation wall and Israeli settlement activity, both illegal under international law.
Dozens injured as Israeli soldiers attack Bil‘in’s weekly protest
IMEMC 13 June by Saed Bannoura — Dozens of residents suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation after Israeli soldiers assaulted the weekly nonviolent protest against the Wall and Settlements in Bil‘in village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Israeli gas bombs also caused fire in olive orchards. The villagers, accompanied by Israeli and international peace activists, marched from the center of the village, carrying Palestinian flags and chanting for national unity, ongoing resistance against the occupation, and the release of all detainees. Today’s protest comes in solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, and to demand local, regional and international human rights groups to pressure Israel into releasing all political prisoners … It is worth mentioning that a Norwegian delegation visited Bil‘in and participated in the protest in solidarity with the Palestinian people. The delegation listened to a detailed presentation by the Coordinator of the Popular Committee, Dr. Rateb Abu Rahma, regarding the successes and experiences over the last ten years, since the villagers started protesting the Annexation Wall and illegal colonies.
Hundreds march at funeral for Jenin man killed by Israel
JENIN (Ma‘an) 10 June — Hundreds of mourners marched at the funeral of Izz al-Din Bani Gharra, 21, in Jenin on Wednesday after he was shot and killed overnight during an Israeli arrest raid. Mourners set off from the Sheikh Zayid Bin Sultan mosque of the Jenin refugee camp where he was shot, and marched through the city demanding justice for his killing. “I lost everything after Izz was killed, it was a shock, my son Izz loves life and he loves Palestine. Israel killed him in cold blood,” Bani Gharra’s mother told Ma‘an. She heard the sound of gunfire shortly before relatives told her that her son had been killed. Fayiza Saleh, the aunt of Bani Gharra, said that Izz al-Din loved life and that his death was part of Israel’s policy of targeting youths in the camp. Atta Abu Irmeileh, a member of the Fatah movement in Jenin, said that Bani Gharra’s death reflects the Israel army’s policy towards all Palestinians. Gharra is the twelfth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza since the start of 2015, according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, with over 900 injured, not including injuries resulting from settler violence.
Soldiers repeatedly beat a Palestinian in al-Jalazoun after firing gas at his home
[with photos] IMEMC/Agencies 13 June — At least 10 Palestinians injured during ensuing clashes — After the army fired gas bombs at his home, in the al-Jalazoun refugee camp, Ramallah, causing the family to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, Shadi al-Ghabbashy tried to stop the soldiers, but they violently and repeatedly attacked him, kicking and beating him, and striking him on the head with their guns, and kidnapped him. Al-Ghabbashy was heavily bleeding from his head, in addition to several parts of his body, as the soldiers kept beating him for nearly ten minutes, throwing him onto the ground, and striking him repeatedly, before cuffing him, and took him to their base, in Bet El illegal settlement, security and military base, Ali Dar Ali of Palestine TV has reported. The soldiers also stopped several Palestinian cars, and used them as shields while firing at local protesters, who clashed with them after invading their town. The soldiers also fired rubber-coated metal bullets at several cars; wounding one man after the bullets smashed the windshield, and struck him in the arm. At least ten Palestinians were shot by rubber-coated metal bullets, and many others suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, while the army said one soldier was mildly injured.
Clashes in Silwan after soldiers close main road to Palestinians
IMEMC 12 June — The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic), in occupied East Jerusalem, has reported that clashes took place, on Thursday evening, after Israeli soldiers closed the main road leading to the town in order to allow military vehicles to pass. Silwanic said the soldiers sealed the al-Magharba Gate road, completely blocking Palestinian access, while allowing Jewish settlers to use it without any obstruction. Scuffles broke out between the soldiers and the residents, before undercover forces of the Israeli army invaded the Bab al-Magharba road area, leading to clashes with local youths. Several Palestinians were injured, while Israeli sources said three soldiers were mildly wounded. In addition, soldiers installed roadblocks near al-‘Ein Area and Wadi ar-Rababa, before stopping and searching dozens of cars, while inspecting the ID cards of the passengers.
West Bank town targeted in detention raids
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 June — Israeli forces detained four Palestinians from the town of Beit Ummar northwest of Hebron Wednesday night. Israeli forces stormed the town and ransacked several homes before detaining Salah Ibrahim Zaaqiq, 38, and Muhammad Salih Zaaqiq 20, said Muhammad Ayyad Awad of the Beit Ummar committee against Israeli settlements. Forces detained two others separately, stopping the Beit Ummar residents in their private cars and taking them into custody, Awad added. The detainees were identified as Ahmad Yasser Zaqiq, 24, and chairman of the Beit Ummar Sports club Hussein Ikhlayyil, 35. Ikhlayyil was stopped by Israeli forces stationed at the Container checkpoint east of Bethlehem and taken to an unknown destination … Awad also reported that Israeli forces ransacked homes of residents Jamal Khalil al-Allami, Abd al-Aziz Mahmoud Abu Ayyash and Arafat Issa Zaaqiq. The forces reportedly locked all family members in one room as they inspected the houses and took photos of its interior. Beit Ummar residents are witness to recurrent targeting by Israeli forces, with over 60 Palestinians detained from the town from January to March 2015, nearly half of whom were minors.
Israeli forces close Beit Ummar market
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 June — Israeli forces on Thursday closed the central vegetable and fruit market in Beit Ummar village for the second day in a row. Spokesman for the popular resistance committee Mohammad Ayyad Awad said Israeli forces detained shop owners in the market and forced them to close their shops. He said that the closure of the market damaged produce and caused huge losses. He added that Beit Ummar municipality, as the owner of the market, filed a complaint to the Palestinian liaisons office and demanded the re-opening of the market.
Soldiers invade two villages near Jenin
IMEMC/Agencies 11 June — Israeli military vehicles invaded, on Thursday at dawn, the villages of ‘Anin and Kafrit, in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, stormed and searched a few homes, and clashed with local youths, causing several injuries. Local sources in ‘Anin village said the soldiers broke into and searched several homes, and interrogated the families. Owners of two of the invaded homes have been identified as Radhi Khaddour and his brother Mohammad, in addition to ‘Awad Melhem and his brother Mohammad. The soldiers also searched abandoned old homes, located next to the Annexation Wall, which was built on the villagers’ lands. In addition, soldiers invaded Kafrit village, and clashes with local youths before firing several gas bombs, causing many to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. Three of the wounded are children identified as Karam Eghbariyya, Mohammad Sabri Eghbariyya and his brother As‘ad.
Soldiers kidnap a Palestinian near Jenin
IMEMC/Agencies 12 June — Israeli soldiers invaded, earlier on Friday, the village of Kafrit, southwest of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and kidnapped one Palestinian. The soldiers stormed at least one home, and violently searched it, before kidnapping Hammam Yousef ‘Awwad.
In related news, a Palestinian detainee from Jenin city received Friday a six-month arbitrary Administrative Detention order, without charges. The detainee, Ghassan ‘Adnan al-Atrash, is held in the Negev Detention Camp; the military court informed him they have a “secret file” on him. Such alleged files neither the detainees nor their lawyers have access to.
Israeli rightists visit West Bank tomb under army escort
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 12 June — Hundreds of Israeli rightists under army escort raided the town of Kifl Haris in eastern Salfit after midnight Thursday to visit Joshua’s Tomb, locals told Ma‘an. Israeli forces prevented the movement of Palestinian locals, setting up checkpoints at intersections and entrances to the town, and locals told Ma‘an they were prevented from reaching their homes and workplaces. Israeli rightists, meanwhile, were reported to have shouted anti-Arab slogans across the town’s streets. They reportedly stayed inside the town until the early hours of Friday. An Israeli army spokesperson denied that forces had “raided” the town, but confirmed they had gone as far as the “entrance to Joshua’s Tomb.” Joshua’s Tomb lies close to the center of Kifl Haris, along with a number of other tombs that are believed to be the graves of local holy people but which some religious Jews believe to be the tombs of biblical figures Joshua, Caleb, and Nun. Palestinians who live in the area consider these shrines to be the graves of the prophet Dhul-Kifl, the Sufi saint Dhul-Nun, and another a shrine built by Saladin. Visits by Israelis to sites in areas under Palestinian control across the West Bank often cause tensions with locals, as these visits are accompanied by large armed escorts.Palestinians are restricted from visiting holy sites in Israel, meanwhile, without hard-to-obtain permits from government authorities.
Opinion: Time to end Israel’s impunity
CNN 2 June by Suha Abukhdeir — Last summer, while visiting our family in Shuafat, a neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, my son Tariq was chased, zip-tied, and beaten unconscious by Israeli police officers as he watched a protest. The protest was in response to the kidnapping and killing of his 16-year-old friend and cousin, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, by Israeli settlers the day before. As the policemen lifted my unconscious son’s body away to prison, two officers continued to kick his limp body and face. In prison, he had to wait six hours before receiving medical attention. And we had to wait several months for him to be cleared of wrongdoing in the case. When I first saw Tariq after the beating, I did not recognize him; his face was badly bruised and his eyes were nearly swollen shut. I thought he was dead. I wanted to get closer to him, to see if he was breathing, to let him know I was there. But the hospital officials barred me from entering his room. I wish I could say what happened to Tariq is extremely unusual, but it’s not. Every year, somewhere between 500 and 700 Palestinian children are typically prosecuted in Israeli military courts, according to Defense for Children International Palestine. Human rights groups have documented abuse of these children and, in some cases, torture at the hands of Israeli soldiers, interrogators and policemen. Most likely you have never heard these stories. So why are you hearing about my son? here are two main reasons. One is that Tariq is an American citizen, which has put our case in the international spotlight. The other is that his beating was caught on camera and posted online for the world to see.
Israeli police detain, interrogate 3 children in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police released three Palestinian children from the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem late Thursday after detaining and interrogating them for allegedly throwing rocks at an Israeli settler. The Silwan-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that a private security guard protecting an Israeli settler detained the three children from the al-Ein area in Silwan before calling the police, who took them to a police station on Salah al-Din street in Jerusalem. The detainees were identified as Ahmad Izz Shweiki, 10, Tamer Mazen Shweiki, 12, and Nidal al-Rajabi, 13. Israeli forces reportedly held the children and interrogated them without an escort or lawyer. Their parents were allowed into the police station four hours later. The Israeli investigator allegedly shouted at and intimidated the three during the interrogation in efforts to force the children to admit to throwing rocks, the center said, adding that the children reported that they were prevented from drinking water or using the restrooms for several hours during interrogation. Ahmad Izz Shweiki told the center that during interrogation he was offered a cigarette by the investigator, but he refused. The children requested to see video footage that Israeli authorities told them proved their “crime,” but were not given access to the footage and were later forced to sign an “interrogation paper written in Hebrew.” The two Shweiki children were released without conditions while al-Rajabi signed a third-party bail.
The occupation arrests three children from Silwan
[with photos of the children] SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 11 June — The occupation forces arrested on Thursday night three children while they were near the neighborhood of “Ein Silwan” in Silwan. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that the occupation forces arrested the 10-year old Ahmad Izz Shweiki, 11-year old Mazen Shweiki and the 13-year old Odai Nidal Rajabi. The children’s families explained that the forces attacked their children while they were picking figs in the area of “Ein Silwan” when there were no clashes in the area. The families were informed of the arrest incident after receiving a phone call from friends who were also present in the area. They immediately headed to Salah Eddin Street police station to check on their kids but were prevented from entering and were ordered to stay away from the police center.
30 students to leave Gaza via Erez
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 June — The Palestinian minister of civil affairs said Wednesday that 30 students from the Gaza Strip will be traveling via the Erez crossing to their universities abroad. Hussein al-Sheikh said, in a statement, that this comes under the president and the prime minister’s instructions to provide all that is needed to facilitate students’ travels and provide them with all needed services at the general administration of borders and crossings. The minister added that they are putting forward more efforts to solve the students’ cause of being stuck in the Gaza Strip so they can be able to leave and go to their universities.
Will Israel’s Erez Crossing supersede Rafah?
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 9 June by Asmaa al-Ghoul — It looks like Israel is allowing more people to cross into the West Bank from Gaza through the Erez crossing, which has raised questions about the possibility of the Erez crossing replacing the Rafah crossing — #Badna_Nshouf_Doffeh (we_want_to_go_to_West_Bank) is a hashtag that has been trending on Facebook since June 3. Hundreds of Gaza Strip inhabitants used it to express their desire to visit the West Bank and its cities. Journalists and young activists posted pictures of themselves holding banners with the name of the campaign “Badna_Nshouf_Doffeh” and “Badna_Nshouf_Quds” (We want to see Jerusalem) accompanied by the hashtag. The campaign began following Israel’s increasing use of permits for citizens from the Gaza Strip to allow them to visit the West Bank through the Erez crossing. This development stirred an important question about whether Israel’s Erez crossing in the north of Gaza might replace the Rafah border crossing — the border between Egypt and Gaza — in providing passage to the West Bank. “In my whole 25 years, I have not been to the West Bank,” said journalist Nidal al-Wahidi, who started the campaign “after noticing an increase in the number of travelers to the other side of the country.” “We young people have the right to travel around and see our Palestinian cities,” he told Al-Monitor.
Egypt to open Rafah crossing for three days
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 June — Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing with Gaza for three days next week, a Palestinian Authority official said Wednesday. Nathmi Muhanna, general director of border crossings, told Ma‘an that Egypt notified his department that the terminal will be open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in both directions. Priority will be given to Palestinians with foreign passports, students and patients seeking medical treatment. Use of the crossing will be based on lists of travelers already registered with Gaza’ Ministry of Interior. Egyptian authorities have done little to alleviate Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip, keeping the Rafah crossing — Gaza’s only connection to the outside world — virtually sealed since October 2014. Egypt is also working on a buffer zone between the Gaza Strip, with thousands of Egyptians along the border already evacuated to make way for the no-go area of land. In late May,1,629 Palestinians used the crossing after Egypt opened it for three days.
Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian fishing boats
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 June — Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Friday, forcing fishermen to flee the area in fear for their lives, a local union said. The union also reported that Israeli forces confiscated eight fishing nets late Thursday. The report comes as several Palestinian fishermen have been detained this month, and three have been shot dead by Israeli forces since September. Risk of death or detention by Israeli forces is compounded by ongoing harassment and interference with their work from Israeli naval forces who frequently confiscate boats and fishing materials, according to documentation by the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.
Gaza farmer injured as Israel attacks combine harvester
GAZA STRIP (EI) 10 June by Rami Almeghari — Raed el-Farra’s combine harvester had broken down. He was trying to replace some of its parts when Israeli soldiers fired on him. Suddenly, “there was blood dripping from my left hand from near my left eye,” he said. Although el-Farra has been involved in wheat and barley farming across Gaza for almost 20 years, the incident during May was the first time that his combine harvester came under attack. Fortunately, el-Farra was able to rush from the scene of the attack — along Gaza’s northern boundary with Israel — to al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital. The bullet with which he was hit disintegrated inside his hand. The use of such weapons is illegal under international humanitarian law. – “Worried”– El-Farra told The Electronic Intifada that he did not regard his attack or the injuries he has sustained as “normal.” He suggested that the Israeli soldiers were probably aware that he was doing nothing more sinister than trying to make a living when he was attacked. The farmers with whom he works normally alert the International Committee of the Red Cross and the relevant political authorities when they venture close to the boundary with Israel. “I am really wondering why this happened,” he said. El-Farra, a father of eight, has been unable to work since the attack occurred. He still has some shrapnel next to his left eye. He is not able to see clearly with that eye.
300 Gazans pray in Aqsa mosque
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 June — Hundreds of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip headed to Jerusalem via the Erez crossing to pray in the Al-Aqsa mosque Friday. An official at the Palestinian liaison office told Ma‘an that 300 Gazan residents over the age of 50 made the trip, pointing out that the Ministry of Civil Affairs arranged coordination for 200, while the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees coordinated for 100 of its employees to travel to the Al-Aqsa compound. The official added that this is the third time that UNRWA has arranged such coordination for its employees. Weekly access to the Al-Aqsa mosque by elderly Gazans has become routine since October 2014 when some 500 Palestinians in Gaza prayed at the mosque for the first time since 2007, having been prevented by Israel from traveling to Jerusalem since that time. The decision to allow elderly Gazans to travel to the mosque was reached as part of the ceasefire deal between Palestinian militant groups and Israel that ended the more than 50-day war last summer.
Palestinian rocket falls short of Israeli border: army
JERUSALEM (AFP) 11 June – Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket toward southern Israel Thursday night but it landed inside the Palestinian territory, the army said. “The rocket that was launched from Gaza earlier this evening, fell short and landed in the Gaza Strip,” army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said on Twitter. Tensions on the border have been rising recently, and on Sunday the Israeli air force hit the Gaza Strip after rocket fire from the territory hit southern Israel the previous night. There were also retaliatory air strikes after three previous rocket attacks since May 26 … The latest round of rocket fire is believed to be related to infighting between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and its Salafist opponents. There have been growing signs of internal unrest between Hamas security forces and extremist splinter groups. Salafists are Sunni Muslims who promote a strict lifestyle based on that of early “pious ancestors”. In Gaza they have made no secret of their disdain for Hamas over its observance of a tacit ceasefire with Israel and its failure to implement Islamic law.
Israel exonerates itself over Gaza beach killings of four children last year
The Guardian 11 June by Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem — The Israeli military has cleared itself of culpability in one of the most controversial incidents in last summer’s Gaza war: a missile attack that killed four children on Gaza beach and injured a number of others. Israel’s advocate general’s office said the attack, which led to the death of four boys aged between nine and 11 was a “tragic accident.” An account of the investigation, posted late on Thursday by military spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner, said the strike had targeted a “compound” which had been known as belonging to Hamas’s Naval Police and Naval Force (including naval commandos)”. But journalists who attended the scene in the immediate aftermath of the attack – including a reporter from the Guardian – saw a small and dilapidated fisherman’s hut containing a few tools where the children had been playing hide-and-seek. Mohammad Ramiz Bakr, 11, Ahed Atef Bakr and Zakariya Ahed Bakr, both 10, and Ismail Mahmoud Bakr, nine, were killed when they were hit by explosive rounds. Three of them died as they sought to flee the beach after the first child was killed.
Family furious as Israel probe clears military in Gaza beach deaths
GAZA CITY (AFP) 12 June — The family of four Palestinian children killed when Israel bombed a beach during last summer’s Gaza war were indignant Friday over the closure of a probe into the incident. The Israeli army, which launched the investigation after the 50-day July-August war ended, announced late Thursday that the “tragic” attack witnessed by several foreign journalists had not violated international law, and said it was closing the case. It was one of the most widely covered and controversial incidents of the war, taking place in full view of international media, including AFP correspondents, who were sitting outdoors very close to the beach at the time of the attack. “Israel behaves as if it’s a country above international law,” Zakariya Bakr, the uncle of the children who died, told AFP. “It’s not unusual for the occupation (Israel), which shells houses with their occupants inside them, and kills children, to declare its soldiers innocent. “We urge the international community to act seriously to stop this farce,” he said, referring to several army investigations into alleged misconduct during the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas … “It was absolutely crystal clear… from the figures running, that they were children,” one journalist said. “They were all very, very small, I thought they were much younger than they were.” At an IDF briefing where probes into Gaza were announced, he said, the army showcased their surveillance capability to distinguish civilians from militants. “There needs to be a question answered, how did they not know they were children?”
Madrid court shelves 2010 Gaza flotilla investigation
MADRID (Reuters) 11 June by Rodrigo de Miguel & Sarah White — A Madrid court on Thursday shelved a five-year-old investigation into a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, though the probe could potentially be re-opened if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ever visits Spain. The 2010 raid killed nine Turkish activists, while a tenth Turk died four years later from his injuries. Spanish activists were also on board the ships. Spain has pioneered the use of universal jurisdiction, the concept that crimes against humanity can be prosecuted across borders. The law was recently changed, however, so that judges could only investigate such cases if there was a Spanish connection, such as a native victim or perpetrator. The Madrid court said in a written ruling on Thursday that it was closing the case in which Netanyahu and several of his ministers were accused of crimes against humanity. But it left the possibility that the case could be re-opened, saying the investigation was shut until Netanyahu and those targeted by it came to Spain. It did not make clear what steps would be taken if they did.
Hamas claims PA fomenting unrest in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 June — The Ministry of Interior in Gaza on Wednesday accused Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah of instigating unrest in the Gaza Strip after a suspect attempting to allegedly set off a bomb was arrested. Iyad al-Bezem, Hamas minister of interior, said Naim Deib al-Ful, 55, was detained in the al-Shuja‘iyeh neighborhood after attempting to set off an explosive attached to a car. The minister claimed that the suspect admitted under interrogation that he was given orders from Ramallah-based PA officials, notably Major General Sami Nasman, adviser to the head of PA intelligence for Gaza. Al-Bezem also claimed that President Abbas’ adviser on religious affairs, Mahmoud al-Habbash, was involved, without providing further details.
“The same entities have recently tried to take advantage of the regional conflicts to create a state of chaos in the Gaza Strip through creating groups with different names and forms,” al-Buzem said, alluding to recent strife in Gaza. The Hamas minister said several suspects have been involved in disturbances after being recruited by elements in the PA. “Gaza security services will use an iron fist against anyone who tempt to mess up with Gaza security,” he added. Palestinian Authority officials have not responded to the claims.
Palestinian Salafists pose dangerous new problem for Hamas
The Guardian 10 June by Peter Beaumont in Gaza City — There are two conflicting accounts of how Younis Hunnar, a young militant Salafist leader in Gaza, died. The official version recounted by Hamas officials, whose security forces killed Hunnar, is that the 27-year-old militant leader was caught at his house in the Sheikh Radwan area of Gaza City with weapons and a suicide vest. Called to surrender, he instead attempted to set off his bomb vest and was killed in an “intense exchange of fire.” A family member tells a different story. In this version Hunnar, a former member of Hamas’s armed wing – the Qassam brigades – who left two years ago to join a new faction notionally aligned with Islamic State, was hiding at home, fearful of being jailed again. When Hamas security forces stormed his house he was wounded first, then shot with two bullets to the head. Whatever the truth about the exact circumstances of Hunnar’s death, what is certain is that it has become emblematic of resurgent tension between Gaza’s Salafists and Hamas, which governs the coastal strip. The conflict with the militant Salafists – totalling a few hundred at most – has led to a Hamas crackdown and, in reprisal, three rockets fired by the Salafists at Israel. This has in turn drawn air strikes in response, including against targets associated with Gaza’s ruling faction. And it is the Salafists’ successful attempts to draw a military response from Israel that has escalated the problem in recent weeks from a local rivalry marked by a series of minor bombings to something more dangerous.
Gaza faces beach pollution crisis over Israeli blockade
Press TV 11 June — The besieged Gaza Strip’s coastline is facing a pollution crisis as a result of the ongoing Israeli blockade against the coastal sliver, Press TV reports — Authorities in Gaza say the flow of raw sewage into the sea on a daily basis as a result of power outages have contributed to the situation. “The beach pollution is over 50 percent and the main reason for that is the pumping of raw and untreated sewage into the sea. We have a major problem dealing with raw sewage, because realistic sewage plans are not fully operational due to a lack of electricity, as a direct result of the Israeli blockade,” Gaza’s Environment Quality Authority’s Atteya al-Bursh. He added that Tel Aviv has also prevented the construction of additional treatment plants. Gaza has nine sewage discharge points along its 41-kilometer long coastline, which pump contaminants into the Mediterranean. “Living conditions here are harsh, so we come to the sea to escape the heat and to try to have fun. We know the beach is polluted here, but where else can we go? We cannot stay at home because it is hot and there is hardly any electricity,” a Gazan boy told Press TV.
Gaza’s ice cream industry melts
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 11 June by Hana Salah — Although ice cream is popular among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, local ice cream shops struggle to sustain themselves under Israel’s blockade and Hamas’ law on imported goods — Ice cream is a popular treat for Gazans, who are suffering from the emotional stress of the deteriorating political and economic situation, especially since 2007, and who are facing another summer with intense heat. They consume locally produced ice cream at ice cream parlors or eat factory-produced ice cream sold in grocery stores across the Gaza Strip. Kazem’s ice cream parlor in the heart of Gaza City has borne witness over the last 65 years to the Palestinian heritage of locally produced Arabic- and Western-style ice cream. Hajj Abu Kazem Abu Shaaban told Al-Monitor the story of Kazem’s ice cream parlor, which his father, Kazem Abu Shaaban, established in 1950 and developed into a distinctive commercial brand thanks to its recipes that have enchanted Gazans. Regardless of their social status, residents from all over Gaza flock to the shop where the elder Kazem worked hard to develop the ice cream production industry until his death in December 2010.
A Gaza ‘tunnel millionaire’ falls on hard times
GAZA CITY (NY Times) 12 June by Diaa Hadid & Majd Al Waheidi — WHEN Mohammed Sawiri was rich, he bought his lover a cellphone so they could secretly text. He was a “tunnel millionaire,” one of the thousands of Palestinians who became wealthy overnight, by Gaza standards, earning $18 a day hauling goods through one of the hundreds of passageways under the border between Gaza and Egypt. The high school dropout was 17 when he began working in a tunnel. Now, at 23, Mr. Sawiri sells 25-cent cups of tea, Turkish coffee and Nescafé in a Gaza park, facing an ice cream shop where he once ate $1.25 vanilla ices. On a good day, he makes $5, and instead of texting his lover, he slips her letters. Mr. Sawiri is among the thousands of men thrown out of work last year as Egypt cracked down on the tunnels, accusing Gaza’s Islamist Hamas rulers of offering safe passage to militants fleeing Egypt. The men swelled the idle work force in Gaza, where unemployment has soared to 44 percent since last summer’s war with Israel. The tunnels brought in just about every imaginable sort of merchandise — live cows, zoo animals, cars, soda and cement. They flourished after Israel and Egypt imposed tight restrictions on trade and movement in 2007, to punish Hamas for seizing power in Gaza.
A decade after Israel left, Gaza remains familiar yet different
[many photos] Ynet 12 June — On the ruins of Netzarim, the Palestinians built a theme park with a giant ferris wheel, while public buildings in Neve Dekalim are now a branch of al-Aqsa University. Where Ganei Tal once stood, the children of Khan Younis are now enjoying water slides. Maurizio Molinari, a correspondent for Italian newspaper La Stampa, went back to the settlements Israel evacuated in the summer of 2005 — Standing on a small hilltop by the side of the road is a green sign in Arabic: “The Palestinian Authority, the Liberated Lands Administration, the liberated land of Taibe.” For the residents of the Gaza Strip, this is Taibe, the good land. For the Israelis who once lived here, it will forever be Netzarim. It’s been 10 years since the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, and all traces of the Netzarim settlement have disappeared. It has simply been wiped off the face of the earth.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Court nixes bid to end Israel’s iron grip on W. Bank planning
JERUSALEM (AFP) 11 June by Hazel Ward — Israel’s Supreme Court has dismissed a Palestinian petition that sought to end discriminatory housing policies in the occupied West Bank and would have returned local planning rights to the Palestinians. The ruling, handed down Tuesday, was in response to a petition filed by the West Bank village of Ad-Deirat, the Israeli NGO Rabbis for Human Rights and another three organisations. The case relates to Israel’s iron grip on all planning matters in what is known as “Area C” — which covers more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank — where it is all-but-impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits. The result is wide-scale “illegal” construction, which is then demolished by Israel in a policy that has drawn widespread condemnation. The petitioners had sought to return planning rights to the Palestinians, thereby curbing the need for illegal construction and halting hundreds of house demolitions that Israel carries out every year in the West Bank. They also presented evidence to show that a two-tier planning system based on ethnic-national background exists in the West Bank: a civil and representative planning system for Jewish settlers, and a military system without representation for Palestinians. But the judges rejected the claim of discrimination, and said they were satisfied that a state proposal to engage in consultations with the local population would answer the problems.
Twilight Zone — Bitter waters: Settlers invade ancient pool under Palestinian control
Haaretz 12 June by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Dozens of Israeli soldiers ordered Palestinian children to get out of a swimming pool in Area A – ostensibly under PA control – in advance of a visit by hundreds of settlers — It’s a day that won’t be forgotten in the arid, far-flung village of Al-Karmel, in the southern reaches of Mount Hebron. Even now, two months later, the residents are overwrought when they tell the story of what happened, their rage and feeling of humiliation still palpable. No blood was shed that day, no one was arrested or beaten, no home was demolished, no disaster occurred. But still, in Al-Karmel they haven’t forgotten. The mayor of the nearby city of Yatta remembers; the lifeguard, the gardener and the eyewitnesses remember. But above all it’s the children who remember: It was they were removed, forcefully and under the threat of rifles, from the water, because the settlers were coming. The lords of the land swept into the park under the aegis of the Israel Occupation Army, which kicked the Palestinians out of the only recreation site in the area … The pool was renovated with funds from Yatta and donations, collected from both wealthy West Bank Palestinians and from abroad, at a cost of about 4 million shekels ($1 million), and the place was transformed. The pool is surrounded by a low wall, to prevent from jumping in, and the city now is planning to install a high fence, to prevent access to the site when it is closed. The terraces, decorative landscaping, Hebron stones, washrooms and a spring that gushes from the rock next to the pool – all make this one of the most spectacular outdoor sites in the West Bank. The renovations are scheduled to be completed this year. A restaurant and café will be built, at a cost of another 1.2 million shekels, says Yatta Mayor Mussa Mhamra, in addition to the fence. The fence is obviously sorely needed. [Read the whole story here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/newprofile/LV8BfbOPyqA ]
Israel bulldozes ‘Araqeeb village for 85th time
NEGEV (PIC) 11 June — Israeli bulldozers escorted by policemen on Wednesday demolished the Palestinian village of al-‘Araqeeb and displaced its residents for the 85th consecutive time. Local sources reported that the policemen forcibly evacuated the residents from their homes before bulldozing them. Many Palestinian Bedouin villages in the occupied Negev are not recognized by the Israeli government and are exposed to repeated demolition campaigns.
Palestinian farmer’s land leveled near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 June – Israeli forces leveled private Palestinian agricultural land in a village west of Bethlehem on Thursday, a non-profit organization which defends Palestinian land rights said. Bulldozers protected by Israeli military vehicles leveled 35 dunams (4 acres) of land belonging to Palestinian farmer Sabri Rashad Manasra from Wadi Fukin, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, a Palestinian organization dedicated to supporting Palestinian farmers, said. The local council of Wadi Fukin explained that Manasra’s land is located between the illegal Israeli settlements of Beitar Illit and Tzur Hadassah, which together house over 50,000 Jewish residents. Council head Ahmad Sukkar told local news agency Wafa that Israeli authorities are creating an industrial and commercial zone in the area on private lands confiscated from Wadi Fukin and the nearby village of Husan. A spokesperson for the Israeli Coordination for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) confirmed that the land was leveled, denying that it was to create an industrial and commercial zone but rather because there had been a “violation of state lands.” Wadi Fukin’s 1,300 residents learned in August 2014 that over 1,000 acres private land belonging to the village and neighboring Jaba‘ was declared state land by Israel’s Civil Administration.
Military again evacuates Khirbet Humsah residents for maneuvers, orders evacuation of three other communities
B’Tselem 10 June — Yesterday morning, 10 June 2015, ten Palestinian families were evacuated from the small sheepherding community of Khirbet Humsah, in the northern Jordan Valley, so that the Israeli military could train on adjacent land owned by the residents. The families, numbering 69 persons – including 43 minors – had to leave their homes on military orders at 6:00 a.m. They took with them water, food, and their livestock and went to areas some distance away until they were allowed to return. When the families returned home, they found that some of their cultivated farmland and grazing areas had been burnt, apparently by fires started by military shooting. They also found the tanks in which they keep water for the livestock riddled with bullet holes. The residents also reported finding unexploded ammunition close to their homes. A week earlier, on 3 June, Civil Administration (CA) officials came to the community and served residents with an order stating that they must evacuate their homes on 10 June 2015 and 16 June 2015 for seven hours at a time, as of 6:00 a.m. Over the past two years, the military has forced residents of Khirbet Humsah to evacuate their homes more than 40 times for various periods, in order to facilitate training there. The last time that occurred, in early May 2015, the families were particularly hard hit as they were required to leave their homes for several hours every day, over the course of an entire week. Among them were eight of the ten families forced to evacuate yesterday, too.
Restriction of movement
Israel bars shot Palestinian from treatment in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AFP) 10 June — Israel has barred a Palestinian photographer allegedly shot in the eye by an Israeli soldier from entering east Jerusalem for specialist treatment, he told AFP on Wednesday. Nidal Shtayyeh, who works for Chinese news agency Xinhua, was wounded while covering a small demonstration at Huwarra checkpoint near the northern West Bank city of Nablus on May 16. As he was covering the rally, Shtayyeh was hit in the face by a rubber bullet which entered his eye, causing serious damage, he told AFP … Shtayyeh was rushed to Rafidiya hospital in Nablus for initial treatment but was prescribed specialist help at St John’s eye hospital in annexed east Jerusalem. As a Palestinian living in the West Bank, Shtayyeh had to apply for an Israeli permit to enter Jerusalem. But Israeli authorities turned down his request. He tried again two more times — once through the Red Cross and once through a private Israeli lawyer. But both requests were rejected … Shtayyeh’s lawyer, Itai Matt, told AFP that his client had been informed it was the Shin Bet preventing his entry, despite his having been granted such permission in the past. According to Matt, Israeli security services “regularly bar entry to anyone wounded by the army.” “They even bar entry to wounded children seeking treatment in Jerusalem, because they are worried that anyone wounded will try and take revenge after their treatment,” he said.
PA says Israel to allow worshipers to access Jerusalem for Ramadan
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 11 June — The Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank announced a plan Thursday to facilitate Palestinians’ movement to Jerusalem that was agreed upon with Israel for the holy month of Ramadan. A PA committee said in a statement that it had been agreed upon with the Israeli side to give permits to Palestinians to visit relatives in Israel from June 17 to July 22, without determining specific ages for all weekdays except Friday and Saturday including those who are above 12. The two sides agreed on allowing Palestinians between 35 and 40 to receive permits to pray in the Al-Aqsa mosque for the whole week, except Friday and Saturday, while men above 40 are only allowed on Fridays without permits, and women of all ages are allowed into the mosque without permits on Fridays. Palestinians, men and women, above the age of 40 will be allowed to apply for permits to visit relatives in the Gaza Strip but only if they are first-degree relatives. It is expected that Palestinian buses will be allowed to enter Jerusalem on Fridays going from Ramallah to Damascus Gate and back.
Prisoners / Court actions
Khader Adnan unable to stand as hunger strike enters 39th day
JENIN (Ma‘an) 12 June — Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan entered his 39th day on hunger strike Friday as his health continues to deteriorate, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies said. Rafat Hamduna, director of the center, said that Adnan’s weight was dropping to dangerous levels and he is no longer able to stand up or move. The director called on Palestinian, Arab and international actors to take notice and support Adnan’s cause, adding that the detainee is defending the humanitarian rights of the 500 or so Palestinians being held under in Israeli administrative detention. Adnan, a father of six children, was detained on July 8, 2014 and sentenced to administrative detention for the 10th time in his life.
Israeli universities help Shin Bet torturers recruit students
EI 12 June by Ali Abunimah — Israeli universities are passing on personal information about their students to Israel’s Shin Bet secret police. According to Haaretz, the universities give the internal intelligence agency (which is notorious for its use of torture) lists of their graduates, including identity card numbers, to use in an effort to recruit them. The revelation will likely bolster support for the international boycott of Israeli universities called for by Palestinians. The matter came to light when “a number of social activists, along with thousands of other citizens, received a letter from the Shin Bet saying that, ‘according to the data in our possession,’ they had been deemed qualified for various positions in the Shin Bet’s intelligence operation,” Haaretz reports. A member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, investigated the matter and was told in a reply from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Shin Bet gets the information directly from the universities.
University student released after 6 months in prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 June — Birzeit University student Lina al-Khatab was on released on Thursday afternoon from prison after six months. Dozens of her family members and friends welcomed her after she was released at Jabara checkpoint south of Tulkarim. Khattab was detained on Jan. 13 during a march by the university students near Ofer prison, and she was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 6,000 shekels.
Amer Ba‘jawi, youngest detainee in Israeli prisons
IMEMC 11 June by Bassam Shweiki — Amer Ba‘jawi, a 14-year-old Palestinian child, a pupil of the seventh grade from the village of Ya‘bad near Jenin in the northern part of the West Bank, is the youngest detainee in Israeli prisons and detention centers, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said. His father Abed Ba‘jawi – who himself was repeatedly imprisoned by the army – said that soldiers of a nearby watch tower arrested Amer on May 23rd, along with his friend “Sanad Masharqah,” 16 years of age. Both were taken to Huwwara military camp near Nablus, where they were held three days, before the army moved them to the “Mageddo” detention facility. The Israeli military prosecution filed charges against both children. The charges include “infiltrating a military watch and causing damage,” in addition to “endangering soldiers’ lives,” and “throwing stones towards a vehicle of an Israeli settler, endangering his life as well.” The charges were made during a military court hearing last Tuesday June 9. Abed Ba’jawi said his child was brought into the courtroom handcuffed, and wearing prison clothes. He added that, as a father, seeing his son in such conditions, he asked the military judge, whether it was “humane or rational to indict a child with ridiculous charges,” or “to treat children with this level of brutality,” but he was expelled out of the courtroom. The Israeli military court will be holding another hearing on July 28.
Activists stop Israeli-Palestinian conference in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 June — A group of activists on Friday stopped a conference in occupied East Jerusalem from going ahead that they accused of contributing to the “normalization” of the Israeli occupation. The conference had been organized by the “Creativity for Peace” group and was set to take place in the Legacy Hotel. However, the hotel reportedly cancelled the event after they were contacted by the activists. The hotel management had apparently been unaware of the conference, believing instead that a tourism company had booked the hall. Creativity for Peace is a non-profit organization that works with young Israeli and Palestinian women on “collaborative leadership and peacemaking,” according to the organization’s website. Some activists allege that organizations aiming to facilitate dialogue and understanding between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians without addressing political realities “normalize” the Israeli occupation. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel argues that partnership and dialogue groups often ignore the stark inequalities between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians living under occupation.
Arabs divided on visiting Jerusalem
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Al-Monitor) 12 June by Ahmad Melhem — Political and religious authorities in Palestine continue to disagree on visits by Arabs and Muslims from around the world to Jerusalem, split between seeing such trips as defiant support of Palestine and as normalizing relations with Israel — On May 22, a group of worshipers in Al-Aqsa Mosque verbally assaulted Chief Justice of Jordan Ahmed Halil as he headed to give the Friday sermon, accusing him of entering Al-Aqsa under Israeli permission, sparking the old Palestinian dispute over Arab visits to Al-Aqsa under occupation. Palestinians disagree about Arab visits to Jerusalem from religious and national perspectives. While the Palestinian Authority encourages such visits — as long as they do not lead to a normalization of relations with Israel — many national and religious figures believe these visits further entrench the Israeli occupation, contribute to the normalization of relations and embellish Israel’s image before the world. This altercation sparked a new point of contention between the Fatah movement, which considered the visit to Jerusalem a move in the national and religious battle, and the Hamas movement, which held that the need to visit Al-Aqsa cannot justify the risk of normalization of relations with the occupation.
Weekly Report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (4-10 June)
PCHR 11 June — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian in Jenin refugee camp in north of the West Bank. Israeli warplanes carried out 3 airstrikes against training sites, but no casualties were reported. Israeli navy forces opened fire 4 times at Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza Strip Sea. 5 fishers were arrested, 2 of whom, including a child, were wounded Israeli forces conducted 70 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 3 limited ones in the southern Gaza Strip. 53 Palestinian civilians, including 7 children and a woman, were arrested….[long, detailed report]
Doctors union, PA ministry near agreement over crisis
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 June — Officials from the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health and the Union of Doctors are nearing an agreement to solve the ongoing crisis in the health sector, officials from the talks said Thursday. The union went on a comprehensive strike, except for emergencies, on Tuesday over the arrest of a doctor by Palestinian security services after a woman in his care died during childbirth. Several resident doctors from hospitals in Jenin, Rafidiya, the National Hospital of Nablus and the Palestine Medical Center also resigned in protest. The union had reportedly agreed to a deal proposed by the ministry and will end all strike action and urge doctors to return to their posts. The doctor at the center of the crisis was detained on Monday after a woman under his care died during childbirth. He has been fined 10,000 Jordanian dinars ($14,107) and prevented from leaving the country. Following his release from jail, he must also register with local police until the next court session on July 1.
1100 Palestinian refugees killed in Yarmouk since 2011
DAMASCUS (PIC) 11 June — More than 1100 Palestinian refugees have been killed in Yarmouk refugee camp since the outbreak of the Syrian events in 2011, a rights group said. The documented martyrs were victims of torture, bombing, armed clashes, and the tight siege imposed on the camp for more than two years, the report clarified. 176 Palestinians were starved to death due to the acute shortage of food and medical supplies in Yarmouk camp. The Action Group for Palestinians in Syria (AGPS) reported that 2880 Palestinian refugees as a whole were killed in Syria over the four years, in addition to thousands of missing and detained persons. 80,000 Palestinians were forced to leave their refugee camps in Syria. 28,000 [?] refugees of them managed to reach Europe, while the rest fled to the neighboring counties amid very difficult living conditions.
EU provides vehicles, equipment for Palestinian Civil Defense
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 June — The European Union representative, John Gatt-Rutter, on Tuesday transferred 14 vehicles including five rapid response vehicles and nine administrative support vehicles to General Mahmoud Issa, the director general of the Palestinian Civil Defense. Twelve mobile lighting masts and fifteen mobile electric generators were also delivered to facilitate rescue operations by the PCD at night. The transfer was part of a €3.7 million grant of equipment by the EU to the Palestinian Civil Defense. “The Palestinian Civil Defence has shown itself to be an increasingly professional rescue force, able to serve the community in difficult circumstances. We have witnessed a remarkable development in its capacity over the past few years,” Gatt-Rutter said in a statement.
Video: The Wanted 18: Israel blocks Palestinian filmmaker from making NYC film premiere about intifada cows
Democracy Now 12 June — The annual Human Rights Watch International Film Festival is underway here in New York City, but one of its featured directors won’t be able to attend his film’s U.S. premiere this weekend. That’s because Israel recently deemed Palestinian filmmaker Amer Shomali a “security threat” and prevented him from traveling to Jerusalem to obtain a U.S. visa. Then he went to Amman, Jordan, where the U.S. approved a visa but said their visa machine was broken. Shomali had previously attended half a dozen European festivals without incident, and his film has drawn international acclaim. Interestingly, the film, “The Wanted 18,” shows how Israel has historically tried to undermine any form of Palestinian nonviolent resistance by branding such resistance as dangerous and threatening, and recreates an astonishing true story from the First Palestinian Intifada when the Israeli army pursued 18 cows, whose independent milk production on a Palestinian collective farm was declared “a threat to the national security of the state of Israel.” We speak to Amer Shomali in Ramallah.
Palestinian dance group keeps folk art alive
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Al-Monitor) 10 June by Ahmad Melhem — El-Funoun is a dance troupe whose performances underscore the importance of Palestinian folk art while combining cultural authenticity and modernity — with the idea that art is a part of the revolutionary and popular movement against the occupation — Under the name El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe, Mohammad Yaacoub and friends Mohammed Atta and Wassim al-Kurdi embarked on a journey of interpreting Palestinian folk songs accompanied by dance and dabke (Levantine Arab folk dance) shows with the objective of preserving Palestinian heritage and folklore. El-Funoun, whose members have volunteered their work since its inception and continue to do so, was the first troupe for mixed folk arts in the West Bank after the 1967 occupation. It has performed nearly 1,000 shows locally, regionally and internationally, and produced 15 performances that combine cultural authenticity and modernity. The three co-founders of El-Funoun said there are reasons other than the preservation of Palestinian folklore behind the group. Co-founder Yaacoub told Al-Monitor, “We decided to establish El-Funoun to be part of the change, and because we believe that art is a part of the revolutionary and popular movement against the [Israeli] occupation, and an authentic component of the popular fabric and its national and cultural aspirations, under the prevailing secrecy surrounding cultural events given the occupation harassment.”
Shin Bet says it foiled Hamas money trail from Gaza to West Bank
JPost 10 June by Yaakov Lappin — The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced on Wednesday the arrest of a Gazan woman suspected of transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars from Gaza to the West Bank for Hamas activities. Sana‘a Hafi, 42, from the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, allegedly transferred the money to her brother Hassin Abu Kayuk, who is serving time in an Israeli prison. He allegedly sent some of the money on to Hamas members in Judea and Samaria. Hafi also allegedly used currency exchange businesses to get the funds to Hamas operatives in the West Bank, security sources said. “Every one along the chain took a commission, and passed the funds on,” one source told The Jerusalem Post. Hafi was arrested at the Erez crossing on May 26 while trying to enter Israel from the northern Strip. “Hafi said during questioning that a large part of the money she transferred to her brother was used, among other purposes, to purchase a luxury apartment and a vehicle. She added that she got the funds from Hamas’s Al-Nor organization, which transfers money to prisoners and to the families of Hamas ‘martyrs’ and wounded members,” the Shin Bet said. Hafi allegedly used currency exchange businesses to circumvent bans on the movement of Hamas money using electronic bank transfers. Southern District prosecutors charged her with providing services to an illegal organization, unlawful use of terrorist assets, and contact with a foreign agent. Last month, customs officers and the Shin Bet announced the interception of 40 diving suits on their way to the Gaza Strip.
Israeli NGOs feel the heat from Netanyahu’s new government
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 10 June by Allyn Fisher-Ilan — On a backstreet in Jerusalem sit the sparse offices of B’Tselem, an Israeli organisation that has long been a bane of successive governments, tirelessly flagging military abuses in occupied Palestinian territory. Set up by a group of academics, lawyers and politicians more than 25 years ago, the NGO – whose name means “in the image of” and is a synonym in Hebrew for human dignity – has at times portrayed itself as the conscience of the nation. But legislation being proposed by Israel’s new right-wing government threatens to severely limit the work of B’Tselem and scores of other Israeli NGOs that receive millions of dollars each year in donations from foreign governments and foundations. While the legislation is in draft form, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party says she is determined to crack down on those who take foreign money and then criticise Israel, accusing the NGOs of “eroding the legitimacy of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.” An earlier legislative draft she submitted before rising to cabinet rank after a March election proposed a tax of up to 45 percent on foreign donations unless otherwise approved by a committee of defence and foreign ministry officials. From the point of view of advocacy groups, the proposals are a dangerous step that would put Israel in a category with the likes of Russia, Turkey and neighbouring Egypt, which often struggle to accept internal criticism and have banned some NGOs … There are more than 30,000 NGOs registered in Israel, about half of them active. But the focus of frustration for Shaked and her supporters are around 70 whose work focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and which receive funds either from the European Union as a whole, or individual governments, including Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and Norway.
Most Israeli Jews support West Bank bus segregation: Poll
IBT 11 June by Aditya Tejas — A majority of Israeli Jews support segregated buses for Palestinians and Jewish people in the West Bank, according to a poll published Wednesday. The segregation policy was briefly instituted in May before being stopped one day later, amid a severe international backlash. A Peace Index poll conducted in May by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University’s Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution, found that 52 percent of Jewish Israelis supported segregating Jewish and Palestinian passengers on West Bank buses, while 42 percent said they were opposed to the practice. Seventy percent of Arab respondents opposed the measure. The poll also quizzed respondents on other issues relating to Jewish settlement of the occupied territories and Israeli international diplomacy. When asked about a hypothetical boycott on goods produced in occupied lands, 79 percent of Jewish Israelis and 59 percent of Arab Israelis said they were not in favor of such a measure. Most Jewish Israelis also said they would not move to the occupied territories even if they were offered good housing at a low price…
Israel denies spying on Iran talks hotels
GENEVA (AFP) 11 June by Abhik Chanda — Swiss and Austrian investigators have launched probes into alleged spying in hotels hosting delicate Iranian nuclear talks, with Israel denying Thursday its secret services were involved. The revelation comes in run-up to a June 30 deadline for a historic agreement between Iran and world powers on curtailing Tehran’s nuclear programme in return for relief from punishing sanctions, and a day after a Russian-based security firm said a computer worm widely linked to Israel was used to spy on the negotiations. Israel is vehemently opposed to a nuclear deal with Iran, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning that the accord would not “block Iran’s path to the bomb”. But it has denied spying on the talks with deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely telling Israeli army radio on Thursday: “There is no basis to the all the international reports on Israel’s involvement in the affair…”
Spain passes citizenship plan for descendants of Jews expelled in 1492
MADRID (AFP) 11 June by Daniel Silva – Spain’s lower house of parliament approved Thursday a law that eases the path to citizenship for descendants of Jews who were forced to flee the country five centuries ago during the Inquisition. The measure aims to correct what Spain’s conservative government calls the “historic mistake” of sending Jews into exile in 1492, forcing them to convert to Catholicism or burning them at the stake. “This law says much about who we were in the past and who we are today and what we want to be in the future, an open, diverse and tolerant Spain,” Justice Minister Rafael Catala said before it was approved. The law — which comes into force in October — grants dual citizenship rights for Jews with Spanish ancestry, who are known as Sephardic Jews … The new law gives Sephardic Jews the same dual citizenship privilege Spain currently grants only to people from its former colonies and neighbouring Portugal and Andorra. [And what about the descendants of the Muslims who were treated the same way?]
The Jewish state has no more room for ‘good Arabs’ / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 11 June — There were once so-called good Arabs, and they are no more. Israel finished off the genre. Norman Issa, a man of the theater who dared boycott settlers, is finding out — Norman Issa did almost everything possible to be a good Arab. He was born a Christian (not a Muslim, like all the terrorists; Israelis love Christian Arabs); studied at the Beit Zvi School for the Performing Arts; married Gidona, a Jew; cooked a dumpling and added pomegranates for the refreshment on “Master Chef VIP;” acted on stage in Hebrew; played Amjad, a good Arab, of course, on the TV series “Arab Labor,” which was written by another good Arab, Sayed Kashua, whom Israelis so love to love. If only we had a few more such Normans and Sayeds, then we certainly would already have had peace. That is how we like them, the Arabs, when they make us laugh in Hebrew. Hummus, chips, salad and comedy series on Channel 2. There were once good Arabs, and they are no more. Israel finished off the genre. If there is an Israeli patriot, then Issa is the man. If there was an Arab who could serve as a model for living in coexistence, then he is the character. Trying to preserve his honor and identity, balancing on a thin line. In interviews he told me how he loves the land and also its residents; what more could we ask for? “There is nothing worth going to war over as far as I’m concerned,” said this charming man in an interview with Haaretz Magazine two years ago … Now it is over. Norman’s path has been blocked. The end of the good Arabs who are not total collaborators. Issa dared to follow his conscience and asked the theater where he performs to be excused from appearing before settlers in the Jordan Valley in a play with the symbolic name “Boomerang.” And his request came flying right back at him, that’s for sure: Nationalistic Israel knocked him down. In the dying spasms of the good Arab, he pleaded on Tuesday: “You cannot expect that I, as an Israeli Arab, will go against my conscience and appear in places that are subject to dispute.” “Places that are subject to dispute,” Issa called the clearest province of apartheid and ethnic cleansing in the territories – the Jordan Valley, with its exploitative and abusive settlers dressed up as members of innocent kibbutzim and moshavim. In the Jordan Valley they expel shepherds and destroy their villages, deny them electricity and water, and imprison them behind hills of dirt. There in the Jordan Valley stand facing each another the green settlements and the arid villages. There the apartheid is pure, visible to everyone. That is where Issa did not want to perform. These people, who live in this reality and are to a great extent responsible for its creation, he is not able to entertain. Issa is worthy of praise for that. It is not his right, it is his obligation. In a country that was confident of the justice of its cause, the prime minister would have invited him and lauded him for his civic and moral awareness. Now the Cossacks of culture are threatening the apple of Issa’s eye: The Elmina Theater in Jaffa … This is the end of the story that’s known in advance: We are a Jewish state, there is no room here, not for Issa and not for Kashua. They should have known it from the start.