Violence / Reprisals / Incursions / Suppression of protests / Arrests
11 injured in march to commemorate murder of Abu Khdeir
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 July — Israeli forces on Thursday injured 11 Palestinians as they suppressed a march in the occupied West Bank to commemorate the murder of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir. Activists attempted to close a road leading to the Geva Benyamin settlement northeast of Jerusalem, which is allegedly home to the three Israelis who kidnapped and murdered the 16-year-old Palestinian teenager last summer. Israeli forces shoved and hit demonstrators with truncheons and rifles, witnesses said, while Jordanian journalist Nibal Farsakh and an international activist were pepper-sprayed in the eyes. Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, coordinator of a local popular committee, told Ma‘an that “activists decided to head to the Adam (Geva Binyamin) settlement to show that Palestinians will not forgive the assassination of a Palestinian child, as well as our refusal of settlements.”
Protesters held posters of Abu Khdeir and chanted slogans against the illegal settlement, which is partially built on private Palestinian land.
Muhammad, 16, was burned to death in July 2014 by Jewish Israelis in a suspected revenge attack for the murders of three Israeli teenagers in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian youth had originally been recognized by Israeli authorities as a victim of terror as Israel marked Memorial Day in April to honor soldiers and civilians killed since the founding of the state in 1948. Muhammad’s family said that Israel only added his name to “improve its image to the world” after the gruesome murder which shocked residents of occupied East Jerusalem. “We refuse that Muhammad’s name be included to the list of Jewish victims, and adding his name to the list will not change the fact of Israeli racism,” the family said. Relatives said that the suspects in the killing have had 12 court hearings since the incident, despite overwhelming evidence of the crime. A Palestinian suspect would have been sentenced immediately, without delays, they said. Muhammad’s father Hussein Abu Khdeir told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities in Jerusalem forced the family to remove a large picture of their son which they put up outside of their home last year, and threatened to fine the family 2,000 shekels ($500) every day that the poster was not removed.
VIDEO: One year since the death of Muhammad Abu Khdeir
IMEMC/Agencies 3 July 7:09 minutes — A year ago, Mohammad left to pray the Dawn Payer…but the settlers’ hands were closer than the Mosque’s steps…the ominous vehicle arrived…kidnapped and burned him…Shu’fat and all of Jerusalem rose up to mourn the Martyr…until today, the three killers have not been trialed. Wadi Hilweh Information Center offers this video in remembrance of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. Photographed by Majd Gaith and Ali Yassin of “Palestine TV”. Prepared and directed by Fidaa Rwaidy To the soul of the Dawn’s Martyr Mohammad Abu Khdeir. [gives us some glimpses of Mohammad we haven’t seen before]
Trial of Abu Khdeir killers ‘a sham’, says family
OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 1 July by Nigel Wilson — Dozens of wooden and brass plaques, along with bouquets of flowers, spill into the living room in Hussein Abu Khdeir’s home. Most of the mementos bear the same image of his son Mohammed, a wide-eyed, skinny teenager in a white baseball cap. A year has passed since Mohammed Abu Khdeir was snatched from the street outside his house. The 16-year-old Palestinian was kidnapped, beaten and driven to a forest in Jerusalem, where he was burned alive. Three Jewish Israeli settlers have admitted to killing Mohammed in an act of revenge. Their trial is ongoing at a Jerusalem court. As Hussein prepares to mark a year on Thursday since his son’s untimely death, the 50-year-old electrician recalls a bright, sporty boy who loved dabke, a traditional Palestinian dance, and was known for his sharp wit. “I took him to work with me sometimes, teaching him the skills to be an electrician. One day his teacher asked me ‘Why are you training him in this work – Mohammed is going to be a comedian, he’s always making the class laugh,'” he recalled. The community here remembers the teenager in a similar light … In Shu‘afat, Mohammed’s siblings are still afraid to leave the family home unaccompanied. Weary-eyed and agitated, Hussein described the ongoing court case as a tortuous ordeal. “When we come home from the trial, my wife and I feel paralysed,” he said. “Once, we came back and couldn’t sleep for four days.” The Israeli police video, in which the defendants confessed to the murder and re-enacted the attack, has been shown during the trial, while the defendants have replayed the attack in court as well, according to Hussein. “We are burning on the inside every time we see them [culprits], when they re-enact the killing, when they describe exactly where they hit him,” he said. “Our blood is boiling. There’s fire in our hearts. I can’t describe this feeling. “The trial is a joke, it’s a sham trial. They are treating the criminals very well, taking them out for breakfast at 11 every day while we wait in the courtroom. The defence lawyer even asked the public prosecutor to show his credentials. It’s a farce.”
Video: Protest commemorating one year anniversary of the killing of Mohammad Abu Khdeir met with military violence
ISM Press Release 3 July — On 2 July 2015, in honor of the first anniversary of the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, Palestinian activists with international supporters blocked a settlers-only road leading to the illegal Adam settlement. Demonstrators cited this road as the road that the murderers took in their search for a Palestinian victim. Journalists, Palestinian and international activists, suffered from pepper spray burns and several were hospitalized. “This is the first in a week of demonstrations for Muhammad Abu Khdeir. One of the murderers, Yosef Haim Ben-David, is from the Adam settlement. This is why the demonstration was held at this settlers-only entrance,” said Abdullah Abu Rahmah, the coordinator of Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Bil‘in. Demonstrators blocked the road to settler traffic in both directions until the Israeli Army and Border Police dispersed the non-violent demonstrators and journalists by pepper-spraying indiscriminately. Three Palestinian activists, four journalists, and two International ISM volunteers were pepper sprayed in the eyes and mouth by a masked Army officer. An ISM co-founder as well as journalists from Roya TV Channel, Reuters, and Palestine TV were severely pepper sprayed in the eyes requiring hospitalization.
One year on, class of Palestinian teen burned alive graduates without him
JERUSALEM (The National) 1 July by Kate Shuttleworth — Suha Abu Khdeir stands out like a sore thumb in the happy high school graduation portrait. The students around her are draped in black gowns and caps and smiling proudly while gesturing with peace signs at the camera but the Palestinian mother in her early 40s is crying her eyes out. The photograph is a poignant reminder of her lingering pain as she commemorates the first death anniversary of her son Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was murdered by Jewish vigilantes on July 2 last year. “Just weeks ago I was invited to the graduation of Mohammed’s class, ” she told The National. “Everyone was happy but me.” In another photo, the students are sitting in their seats but one chair in the front row is empty aside from a white satin covering and a large memorial photo of 16-year-old Mohammed. “Mohammed really wanted to finish his studies, I wish I hadn’t gone to his graduation,” Suha said, explaining that the memory of her son’s violent death is still too raw. During Ramadan last year, Mohammed was abducted outside a mosque in east Jerusalem and taken by car to a forest where he was beaten unconscious with a crowbar and burnt alive.
Palestinian teen killed on way to pray in Jerusalem
Mondoweiss 3 July by Allison Deger — Before sunrise 17-year old Mohammed Hani [Sami] al-Kasbah went to morning prayers at a mosque one block from his house in Qalandia refugee camp in Jerusalem, which is separated from the rest of the city on the West Bank side of Israel’s security barrier. By afternoon he returned to the same building, his remains carried by neighbors and relatives for a funeral after he was shot and killed by Israeli forces while trying to cross into Jerusalem. Two of his brothers were also killed by Israeli forces during the Second Intifada. “He walked with the people…with the people who wanted to go to al-Aqsa,” Abu Ismail, 65, al-Kasbah’s uncle told me while sitting on a plastic chair outside of the refugee camp’s main mosque as the ceremony was in progress. To his side, hundreds of Palestinians stood in front of shops that lined the potholed street. The house of prayer was well over capacity as dozens congregated by the two entrances. In every direction Palestinians knelt over asphalt using flags and flattened cardboard boxes retrieved from waste piles in an alleyway as prayer rugs. Masked gunmen and camp residents affiliated with Fatah’s militant faction al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades walked through the main artery, firing salutes every few minutes throughout the afternoon. Between rounds, Abu Ismail motioned to a nearby school where he said al-Kasbah worked in the cafeteria with his father. Quranic verses blared over loudspeakers. “I have been to 40 or 50 funerals,” mourner Mahmoud al-Badtha, 18, also from Qalandia refugee camp said. Al-Kasbah was struck with three bullets — in his abdomen, head and back — at 6:30 am fired by a senior Israeli military officer in the West Bank city of al-Ram next to Qalandia checkpoint. He died in a Ramallah hospital 30 minutes later. Two other Palestinians were also brought to the hospital for injuries from the same incident. The Israeli army said al-Kasbah was part of a group that ambushed soldiers driving in a vehicle, hurling stones at a “very close range,” a spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said. “In response to the immediate danger the forces fired toward the suspect,” the spokesperson continued. After the shooting, the IDF released a photo of the army car. The windshield was smashed with a baseball sized hole in the glass. The Israeli army has opened an investigation into the killing. Yet witnesses say al-Kasbah did not throw stones. Palestinian media reported he was attempting to illegally enter Jerusalem to join the thousands of Palestinians who receive permission by the Israeli authorities to pray at al-Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramadan. Because of his young age, al-Kasbah was ineligible to receive a permit and sought to climb over the wall. [see following photo essay]
Al-Kasbah was preceded in death by two older brothers, Yaser and Samer, both of whom were killed by the Israeli military. “I saw the army when they shot him,” a resident of Qalandia said of Yaser al-Kasbah, killed in [Dec] 2001 also near Qalandia checkpoint. “He was 12 years old.” Forty days later, Samer al-Kasbah was killed outside of the Israeli settlement of Beit El at the age of 15.
Photo Essay: Crossing Qalandia, and the Wall, during Ramadan
Mondoweiss 2 July by Karam Saleem
Palestinians clash with Israeli soldiers north of Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 3 July — Following the deadly shooting of a Palestinian teen by Israeli army fire, earlier Friday, dozens of youths clashed with the soldiers near the Qalandia terminal, north of occupied East Jerusalem. The Israeli army said one of its soldiers was injured in her head by a glass bottle, during clashes near the Qalandia refugee camp. The soldiers also fired rounds of live ammunition, tear gas bombs and concussion grenades at the protesters, causing several injuries. The slain Palestinian, Muhammad Hani al-Kasba, 17, was shot dead, approximately at 7:30 in the morning, as he was climbing the Annexation Wall, in an attempt to reach the Al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers. An Israeli commander shot the Palestinian teen in the back, causing him to fall from a high altitude; al-Kasba died in the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah.
Israeli forces shoot, injure 3 in Duheisha camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 July — Three Palestinians were shot and injured by Israeli forces in the Duheisha refugee camp south of Bethlehem Thursday morning during an Israeli detention raid, witnesses said. Israeli forces reportedly entered the camp in a Palestinian vehicle and detained Raghad Shamroukh, 20 and Waleed Shuhada al-Jafari, 23, before opening fire on Palestinian residents who clashed with the forces during their incursion into the camp. The three injured were taken to a nearby Palestinian hospital for treatment. One of the detainees was the brother of Jihad al-Jafri, who was shot dead by Israeli forces on Feb. 24, 2015, during a similar predawn detention raid…
Thursday morning’s detention raid comes amid routine raids by Israeli forces, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs estimating an average of 87 search and arrest operations in the West Bank per week, many of which take place in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, in contravention of international law. Such raids generally result in clashes with residents. In the cramped space of the Duheisha refugee camp, where over 13,000 Palestinians reside within 0.31 square kilometers, clashes are felt throughout the camp, which has witnessed several injuries and fatalities from Israeli forces over the years.
Israeli forces raid West Bank village in search of shooting suspect
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 July — Israeli forces stormed the village of Kafr Malik east of Ramallah in the central West Bank overnight Tuesday for the second consecutive day, allegedly in search of evidence from a nearby shooting attack the day prior, local residents said. The forces searched for surveillance cameras from shops and gas stations in the village, which is located close to the alleged attack that left an Israeli settler dead and three others injured on Monday night. Kafr Malik residents said fierce clashes broke out between the Israeli forces and young men from the village who pelted the forces with stones and empty bottles. Residents told Ma‘an they believe Israeli authorities may suspect that the gunmen who carried out Monday’s shooting attack night were from Kafr Malik, where Abdullah Ghuneimat, 21, was killed by Israeli forces after a military jeep flipped over and landed on his body around three weeks ago. Monday’s shooting took place at a crossroads near the illegal Shilo settlement in the northern West Bank and, despite the Israeli army’s efforts to set up of roadblocks and impose curfews on surrounding Palestinian villages, the perpetrator or perpetrators got away. Israeli army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said at the time it was not yet possible to determine whether the shooting was carried out by a lone attacker or small group, or was the work of a larger network.
Thousands of Israeli forces to deploy in Jerusalem for Friday prayers
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 2 July — Israel will deploy thousands of police officers, border guards, and special forces in East Jerusalem on Friday as Palestinians head to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for prayers. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said preparations for the thousands of worshipers will begin at dawn. Between 6.30 a.m. and 5 p.m. roads around the Old City, Wadi al-Joz, Nablus road, and Salah al-Din street will be closed. New restrictions imposed on Tuesday will be in place, meaning women aged between 16 and 30 will need permits to enter Jerusalem. The same applies for men aged 30-50, while those under the age of 12 and over 50 can enter without a permit. The announcement was made after several attacks targeting Israeli military and settlers. Ramadan often offers a rare opportunity for Palestinians to visit East Jerusalem, part of the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel, as entry to the city remains strictly limited during the rest of the year. Over 350,000 worshipers performed Friday prayers in the Al-Aqsa mosque last Friday.
10-year-old girl assaulted by Israeli forces at Al-Aqsa
IMEMC/Agencies 3 July — An Israeli special unit police officer was reported to have physically assaulted a young Palestinian girl in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, yesterday. WAFA/PNN said that a 10-year-old Palestinian girl was physically assaulted at the Al-Aqsa holy site by an Israeli special unit police officer, after she chanted ‘Allahu Akhbar’ (God is Greatest), in protest of the provocative incursion of illegal Israeli settlers into the compound. The 10-year-old girl apparently sustained wounds in her legs and received treatment at the scene of the assault.
Child injured in Kufur Qaddoum
IMEMC 4 July — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday, Kafr Qaddum village, near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and attacked the weekly protest, firing dozens of gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets; one child was injured, while many residents suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. The Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Kufur Qaddoum said the child, 12 years of age, was shot with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the head. Soldiers also broke into and searched several homes, and occupied rooftops to use them as firing posts and monitoring towers. The Palestinians in the village used an adjusted leaf-blowing machine that produces high levels of smoke to create a diversion and prevent the soldiers from being able to aim and shoot at them. The army sprayed the protesters, and local homes, with waste water mixed with chemicals, and fired dozens of gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets, during clashes that erupted after the soldiers invaded the village. Local youth hurled stones and empty bottles at the army, blockaded roads with rocks, and burned tires.
One kidnapped, many injured in Nabi Saleh weekly protest
IMEMC 4 July — One Palestinian was kidnapped, while four were shot with rubber-coated metal bullets, and scores suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, after Israeli soldiers attacked the weekly nonviolent protest in Nabi Saleh village, northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee has reported that the soldiers kidnapped Walid Deifallah, 18 years of age, and moved him to an unknown destination. The army fired rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs at the nonviolent protesters, wounding four Palestinians, while scores of residents suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.
WATCH: Police violently arrest Palestinian pretzel vendor for not having license
See Video on Facebook Haaretz 3 July by Nir Hasson — Zaki Sabah, a pretzel-seller in Jerusalem’s Old City who was sentenced in the past to ten years in prison for unpaid fines he collected for operating without a license, was violently arrested on Thursday after a confrontation with police and city inspectors. In a video documenting the arrest posted on Facebook, police are seen aggressively apprehending Sabah and forcing him to the ground after he apparently prevented inspectors from confiscating his stall. For many years, 56-year-old Sabah has been making a living by selling pretzels in the plaza at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. Since he has no permit and all attempts to obtain one have failed, he receives heavy fines from the Jerusalem municipality on a daily basis. Occasionally, Sabah’s stall and goods are confiscated. He has been imprisoned twice for cumulative unpaid fines that were imposed on him. In 2008 he served 11 months and in 2013, after all pending files against him were merged, Justice Tamar Nimrodi sentenced him to 10 years in prison. He was jailed for several weeks before reaching a financial settlement with the municipality.
Israeli soldiers detain Ramallah governor
IMEMC/Agencies 3 July — Israeli soldiers detained, on Thursday afternoon, the Governor of Ramallah al-Biereh, Laila Ghannam, as she was trying to cross the Hizma roadblock, north of occupied Jerusalem, on her way to the commemoration service of Mohammad Abu Khdeir. The soldiers held the governor for more than two hours, and tried to confiscate her mobile phone, and the phones of her delegation members, after alleging they took pictures of them. In a press conference, Ghannam said Israel and its military are always acting on controlling every aspect of the Palestinian life, through its illegal and immoral occupation.
Israel detained 550 Palestinians from Hebron in 6 months
HEBRON (Ma’an) 2 July – Israeli forces have detained 550 Palestinians from the Hebron district of the occupied West Bank since the start of 2015, the Palestinian Palestinian Prisoners’ Society’s Hebron branch reported Thursday. The group of detainees included seven women and 105 teenagers, head of the Hebron branch Amjad Najjar told Ma‘an, adding that 225 of the detainees were sentenced without trial through Israel’s frequent use of administrative detention. Among the detainees, according to Najjar, were 78 patients “who faced a real life threat as a result of detention” due to not receiving “any medical treatment at all” in Israeli custody. Najjar highlighted regular humiliation of Palestinian detainees by Israeli forces, who treat the detainees in a “savage and inhuman way during detention.” The PPS report comes as rights groups claim that Israel indiscriminately detains Palestinians living throughout the West Bank without sufficient evidence for detention. Many of those detained in the Hebron district since the start of 2015 were from the town of Beit Ummar, where over 60 residents were detained between January and March, nearly half of whom were minors.
PA arrests 108 Hamas backers in West Bank
TULKAREM, (PIC)– Palestinian Authority (PA) forces overnight Thursday and at dawn Friday arrested 108 Hamas members in the West Bank, in one of the biggest raids of its kind in months. The campaign is considered as part of the PA’s attempt to stop the recent spate of anti-occupation attacks and activism. Media sources identified most of the arrested citizens as ex-prisoners. Local news outlets published the names of the 108 arrestees, including students and human rights activists. Political bureau member of Hamas Ezzet el-Resheq denounced the panic-stricken security measures undertaken by the Palestinian Authority forces against Hamas affiliates in the West Bank. He slammed the PA apparatuses for coordinating with the Israeli occupation, holding them responsible for the persecution and terror perpetrated against the group’s backers during the holy Ramadan month.
Hamas slams PA arrest campaign against its cadres in W. Bank
DOHA, Qatar 3 July — The Hamas Movement has condemned the Palestinian Authority (PA) for its frenzied arrest campaign against its cadres in the West Bank, accusing it of attempting to stop the growing resistance activities against the Israeli occupation. Hamas spokesman Husam Badran stated in a press release on Thursday that the PA security apparatuses moved at the behest of the Israeli occupation to curb the escalating resistance operations in the West Bank, especially after the latter recently accused Hamas of being behind most of the attacks. Badran said that the current arrest campaign vindicated further the PA security apparatuses’ subjugation to the Israeli occupation. He held PA chief Mahmoud Abbas fully responsible for what he described as the acts of repression and terrorism practiced by his security agencies against the Palestinian people in the West Bank.
Israelis protest against deadly Palestinian attacks
JERUSALEM (AP) 1 July — Several hundred Israelis demonstrated in Jerusalem Wednesday evening, calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to act against a recent surge in deadly attacks carried out by Palestinians. Protesters gathered near Netanyahu’s residence, waving signs that said “Stop the terror wave.” There has been a spate of apparent “lone wolf” Palestinian attacks against Israelis in Jerusalem and the West Bank recently. Two men were killed in separate West Bank shootings, and two people were wounded in stabbing attacks, including a female paramilitary police officer seriously hurt after being stabbed in the neck by a Palestinian woman. “Netanyahu is not acting strong enough against Palestinian terror,” said Mitchell Myers, who lives in the West Bank settlement of Shilo. Netanyahu has been making goodwill gestures to Palestinians for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, he said, while “in exchange we have been getting terror day after day.”
Pictures and details of closing the house of the martyr Odai Abu Jamal with reinforced concrete!!!
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 1 July — The Israeli occupation authorities displaced on Wednesday (in the month of Ramadan) the family of the Jerusalemite martyr Odai Abu Jamal after they closed his house with iron blocks and reinforced concrete. The family of Odai Abu Jamal explained that the occupation forces raided the house in the early morning hours and evacuated the residents and then closed it with iron blocks. After the forces withdrew from “Hosh” Abu Jamal, they raided the surrounding of the house once again and requested the residents not to park their vehicles in that area so that the concrete truck can park and pour the concrete [2 meters high] inside the house; note that the forces broke some of the house’s windows in order to pour concrete through the windows. – Displacement of six individuals – Six persons live in the martyr’s house (his father Abu Ali (54), mother, sister Marwa (29), Ali (23), Mutaz (19) and Mohammad (14). The house consists of five rooms and their facilities and is 300 square meters established since 1936. – Raiding and damaging the house’s furniture – Odai’s mother explained that dozens of occupation forces raided the family house around 2:30 a.m. supported by the canine unit. The forces deployed in the rooms and facilities of the house while the family members were detained in the kitchen and were prevented from moving. Odai’s mother added: “The occupation damaged the furniture and electric appliances and also deliberately broke the glass containers while emptying the kitchen; they also damaged fruits, vegetables and food. She also explained that the forces prevented them from taking their personal items and needs from the house and forced the family members to evacuate the house within minutes to execute the “demolition order” … During the raid, the occupation forces arrested the Martyr’s brother Mutaz Abu Jamal and detained him for several hours and then released him on condition of attending an interrogation on Thursday along with his brother Ali. Odai and Ghassan Abu Jamal passed away on 18/11/2015 after they were shot by the occupation forces after carrying out an attack [killing 5 Israelis] in the synagogue of “Har Nov” in West Jerusalem. The Israeli authorities detained their bodies for one and a half months.
Israeli forces close Ramallah-area road with cement blocks
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 July — Israeli forces closed a road between al-Jalazun refugee camp and Beit El settlement in northern Ramallah on Wednesday with cement blocks as part of punitive restrictions on Palestinians following a string of attacks on Israeli military targets. Palestinian vehicles will be prevented from using the road in both directions. Israel’s Civil Administration announced Tuesday that it was closing part of Route 60 from Ramallah to the al-Jalazun refugee camp and Beit El. Tuesday’s new restrictions were instated after Israeli military checkpoints in the occupied West Bank witnessed several violent incidents in recent days.
Prisoners / Court actions
Knesset approves regulation to prevent prisoners from using the phone
BETHLEHEM (PNN) 2 July — The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Wednesday approved a regulation to ban Palestinian administrative prisoners from using the phone to contact their families, denying them rights that must be granted to prisoners. Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan (Likud) who suggested the regulation, claimed that the bill “will stop operations and prevent prisoners from giving instructions to activists outside of the prison.” Jpost website said that these restrictions have effectively been in place for years, but had not been codified. The administrative detention policy enables the Israeli government to keep Palestinians in jail without trial or charge for up to 6 months. The detention order can be renewed an indefinite number of times. This has lead to the detention of over 7000 Palestinians in Israeli jails and detention camps without any obvious charges.
Police: Prisoner commits suicide in Bethlehem jail
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 July — A Palestinian detainee committed suicide on Friday in a [PA] Bethlehem prison, in the second suicide in Palestinian detention centers this week. Police spokesperson Luay Irzeikat told Ma‘an that the unidentified man, 32, was taken to a hospital for treatment but was pronounced dead on arrival. Irzeikat said police had opened an investigation into the incident and would transfer his body for an autopsy. The suicide comes less than a week after Hazim Yasin Mahmoud Udwan, 29, committed suicide while being held in a Bethlehem jail on Sunday. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) issued a 2014 report sharply criticizing conditions inside Palestinian detention centers. The report said that “the use of torture has been commonplace in Palestinian detention facilities in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank for many years.”
Israeli Arab man sentenced to three years for joining ISIS
Ynet 1 July by Hassan Shaalan — Hamza Magamzeh left Israel with two friends in order to join ISIS, only to return after 10 days of training to face prosecution — The Nazareth regional court has sentenced a resident of a Yafia, Wednesday, to three years in prison for joining ISIS. Hamza Magamzeh left Israel and infiltrated into Syria through Turkey, in order to join the terror group last year. Magamzeh was arrested upon his return to Israel on the 24th of October 2014. The prosecutor charged Hamza with contact with a foreign agent, membership in a banned organization, conspiracy to commit a crime, and leaving the country illegally, last September … Hamza also recounted the detailed steps he took in joining ISIS. Magamzeh initally made contact with ISIS through their official Facebook page, where he received thorough instructions from a man named Karim al-Anzari. The three made it to the village of Raei in Syria, and were later taken to an ISIS training base … Magamzeh stayed at the camp for 10 days, during which he was in contact with his family and friends in Israel by phone. At the end of the 10 days he decided to leave, and returned to Israel via Turkey.
Spanish MEP to sue Israel over incarceration
ANKARA 30 June — A member of the European Parliament said on Tuesday she would sue Israel after she was arrested and held for more than 24 hours alongside other activists protesting the blockade of Gaza. Ana Miranda Paz, a member of Spain’s Galician Nationalist Bloc, was released from Israeli custody on Tuesday morning and returned to Madrid. She was among activists aboard the Marianne of Gothenburg when the vessel was boarded by the Israeli navy on Monday and escorted to the port of Ashdod. The ship was part of the Third Gaza Freedom Flotilla seeking to highlight Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian enclave and deliver aid. In a statement at the Spanish parliament, Miranda Paz said she would take legal action in the International Criminal Court over the “pirate” intervention and human rights violations. She accused Israeli personnel of using disproportionate force when dealing with those aboard the Marianne, claimed her arms and legs were bruised. Once at Ashdod, she said the activists were detained and the passwords for their mobile phones demanded. She called for those activists still in custody to be released and announced she would join another flotilla to Gaza. “In these ships there were politicians, representatives of civil society, journalists, writers,” she said. “At least we have broken the silence around the blockade on Gaza.” Earlier, Miranda Paz’s party criticized Israel for capturing the Marianne in international waters.
Seven of Marianne activists still kidnapped in Israel
LONDON (PIC) 2 July — The International Committee to Break the Siege on Gaza (ICBSG) expressed on Thursday its deep concern over the Israeli continued detention of seven activists, who were on board the Flotilla boat Marianne while on its way to Gaza. Earlier Wednesday, Israeli authorities informed Freedom Flotilla Israeli lawyer Gaby Lasky of their intention to release three of Marianne activists identified as the Norwegian Herman Rekesten and the two Canadians, Robert Lovelace and Kevin Neish. The seven remaining Marianne activists still in Israeli prison are: Nadya Kevorkova, Russia, Kajsa Ekis Ekman, Sweden, Joel Opperdoes, Sweden, Gustave Bergstrom, Sweden, Jonas Karlin, Sweden, Charlie Andreasson, Sweden, Ammar Al-Hamdan, Norway, Mohammed El-Bakkali, Morocco, Dror Feiler, Sweden, and Ruwani Perera, New Zealand. Coordinator for the committee Zaher Birawi called for the immediate release of all the activists who are still illegally held in Israeli detention centers. He also revealed that the committee embarked on consultations with a number of attorneys and experts in international law to prosecute Israel for its piracy of Freedom Flotilla 3 and for detaining the participants.
Israeli bulldozers enter border area in central Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 July — Several Israeli bulldozers entered an area in the central Gaza Strip on Wednesday, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that six bulldozers left the Kissufim military base and entered an area near the border fence. Shots were fired at Palestinians in agricultural lands in the area, with no injuries reported. Israeli forces stationed along Gaza’s borders routinely enter border areas to level land [including that planted with crops].
Gaza ministry deploys Hamas security forces at Egypt border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an/AFP) — The Ministry of Interior in the Gaza Strip deployed forces along the border with Egypt on Wednesday after attacks in Sinai by militants affiliated with the Islamic State reportedly killed over 70 people. Iyad al-Buzem, spokesman of the ministry, said Hamas security forces and patrols were deployed along the southern border to maintain security and stability. At least 70 people, mostly Egyptian soldiers but also civilians, were killed in attacks and ongoing clashes with Islamic State group (IS) militants in the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, officials said. The attacks, in which car bombs were used, were the most brazen in their scope since militants launched an insurgency in 2013 following the army’s overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi. During the attack, militants took over rooftops and fired rocket-propelled grenades at a police station in Sheikh Zuweid after mining its exits to block reinforcements, an Egyptian police colonel said … In Rafah [Egypt], on the border with the Gaza Strip, a 19-year-old was killed when a stray rocket hit his home during clashes between the military and militants. Warplanes resumed strikes against IS positions into the early hours of Thursday, security officials said.
Analysis: Gazans react to IS threat to take over Strip
Middle East Eye 2 July by Mohammed Omer — Hamas has full control on the ground, and there are no signs of public support for ‘extremist Islamic thinking’ in the coastal enclave — The Egypt-Gaza border witnessed massive blasts since early on Wednesday, as a battle takes place between Egyptian troops and Islamic State members who are trying to take control of Sheikh Zuweid city in Sinai. This explosion of violence coincides with the release of a video on Tuesday by Islamic State (IS) insurgents that threatened to turn Gaza into another of their Middle East fiefdoms. Hamas has been accused by IS of being lax about religious enforcement, according to a video statement from IS. Over the past few months, Hamas has battled with Salafist groups who are believed to be supportive of the Islamic State ideology and who reject the idea of a ceasefire with Israel and any reconciliation between Hamas and the US-backed Fatah … The IS video statement attracted criticism from young Gazans – some mocking it, but many fearing it.
Reem Saadallah, a 24-year-old graduate, says she watched the video statement, and is shocked by the “terrible violence” she heard. “Oh Islamic State, that’s all we need now to make life more miserable,” she said. In this case, she expects people to support Hamas more than before, in order to crush Islamic State. “We don’t need such madmen among us – I will support Hamas to get rid of them,” she said, adding that she disagrees with Islamists and could never see Islamic rule as a good model of governance. “If I had to choose between Islamic State or Hamas, I would go for Hamas; at least there is a common ground for national interest here,” she said. Yet those willing to discuss Islamic State with media are very few, as they fear retaliations from extremist groups.
IDF increases presence on Egyptian border
Ynet 2 July — After a day of fighting between the Egyptian army and jihadists in the Sinai peninsula, Israel decides to further bolster border — …The Defense Ministry also decided to close the Nitzana and Kerem Shalom crossings on the southern border on Wednesday, but re-opened Kerem Shalom on Thursday morning. After a series of situation assessments at the IDF’s Southern Command on Wednesday, the army decided to raise the level of alert along the Sinai border, specifically in Kerem Shalom – where the borders of Israel, Egypt and the Gaza Strip meet – which has been prone to attacks in the past. Israel and Egypt maintain their security coordination, but so far the Egyptian military has yet to ask Israel for permission to increase its troops beyond their current numbers in northern Sinai, as the peace accord between the two states mandates.
Ramadan reflections in Gaza a year after the war
Middle East Monitor 2 July — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — Israel did not spare nearly 300 mosques from its airstrikes during last summer’s assault on the Gaza Strip. The conditions of the mosques ranged from the complete destruction of 73 to the partial destruction of 205. These numbers indicate that about a quarter of Gaza’s mosques were subjected to violations. This has impacted worshipers in the Gaza Strip, 99 per cent of whom are Muslim. This is especially true during the holy month of Ramadan, as many Muslims retreat to mosques to read Quran and pray the nightly Taraweeh prayers. The situation is a sad look into the reality of the mosques transforming from beautiful buildings to a plastic room held up by metal rods and covered by a nylon roof held down with wires. This image can be seen in every neighbourhood in Gaza. Despite this, worshippers insisted on decorating these plastic and nylon mosques and hanging Ramadan lanterns and lights in celebration of this holy month. The Palestinians are growing more determined to rebuild the mosques in order to hear the call to prayer echo in Gaza after the occupation’s planes tried to silence them. Images by MEMO photographer Mohammed Asad.
Seeing Gaza through the eyes of an Israeli Dr. Strangelove / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 2 July — Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is right; no one is dying of starvation in Gaza. Cattle feed is indeed being supplied to the biggest pen in the world — Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said there is no humanitarian distress in Gaza. The defense minister also said that the situation in Gaza “isn’t pleasant.” If that’s his definition of the situation in Gaza, then it’s not pleasant to live in a country in which Ya’alon is defense minister. Ever since Dov Weisglass, an adviser to then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, spoke of tightening the blockade on Gaza and putting its residents “on a diet,” we haven’t heard such inhumane remarks about everything that’s going on only an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv. Ya’alon, the newest (and strangest) friend of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, said that there is no siege on Gaza, and in the same breath said he would not allow the recently launched flotilla to enter the (unbesieged) Strip. But his remarks about the lack of humanitarian distress reveal the true world of this Dr. Strangelove from the cowshed of Kibbutz Grofit. Ya’alon is right; no one is dying of starvation in Gaza. Cattle feed is indeed being supplied to the biggest pen in the world. There is no humanitarian disaster. But something else is happening in Gaza, something apparently unique to its residents; they aren’t satisfied with just food. These are strange people who have needs other than just a pita with onion and tomato. For example, sometimes they need water, which is becoming increasingly polluted at a shocking pace; it’s no longer possible to drink the salty water coming out of the taps … Meanwhile, the residents of Gaza, some two million people, if we are permitted to call them that, have a few other needs. Some 100,000 survivors of the warrior Ya’alon’s last campaign have yet to return to their destroyed homes, not one of which has been rebuilt. They are homeless, crowding into the homes of relatives, taking shelter in the rubble or in UNRWA shelters (which house around 10,000 of them). But what are they complaining about? They’re not on the street. Around a thousand of their children have been left disabled for life from that war, but that’s not a tragedy, either.
Life in the ruins of postwar Gaza
Haaretz by Khaled Diab — (This article is part of a series) It was a hardscrabble existence in the Gaza Strip even before last summer’s war. Now, the young dream of emigration and adults despair over ruined homes and lives. Haaretz reports from inside Gaza — Call them the rubble-rousers: A group of destitute men have found a new calling in Gaza – navigating the Strip’s many ruins, created by last summer’s war with Israel. With heavy hammers and pickaxes, they smash away the concrete from around the steel rods, which the owners deem too valuable for the rummagers to take. A train of horse- and donkey-drawn carts makes its way to an industrial crusher, which recycles Gaza’s rubble into gravel that can be used in repair and reconstruction work. Although a small cartload of concrete fetches only $2 and a collector can expect to net just $5-$6 for an 11-hour day after deducting food for his animal, there is no shortage of people “willing” to undertake this backbreaking labor. With the World Bank reporting that Gaza has the highest unemployment rate in the world, reaching a staggering 60 percent among youth – not to mention all the working people who are not being paid – rubble is one of the few growth areas in the besieged and battered economy of Gaza, which is still largely sealed off from the outside world.
Israel intercepts aid flotilla heading for Gaza — and the blockade is hurting Palestinian fishermen too,
The Independent 29 June — As Israel intercepts a flotilla, fishermen in Gaza City tell Sam Masters how the blockade stops them from making a living — …Israel forbids Gaza to have an airport or seaport, except the small fishing harbour. Its warehouses have been reduced to rubble. Gaza fishermen are restricted to venturing no more than six nautical miles from shore. They say that leaves trawlers unable to cast their nets because the deeper waters are found further off the coast. One such fisherman is Zyad. His boat, one of the smaller vessels docked at the port, is around 20ft and painted sky blue. Zyad repairs his green nets, cutting away ripped sections with a short knife. Fishing is in the 47-year-old’s blood: his father and grandfather before him fished the same waters for sardines. For them, the catches were good, he says, and they at least had a fighting chance of success. He says 60 to 70 of Gaza’s fishing fleet have been destroyed in Israeli bombing raids … “Sometimes the fishermen lose control of their nets and they go over the six-mile line. Then they are destroyed. Some are just desperate to catch something and try to go into deeper waters. They try their luck and the Israelis shoot at them. I have been shot at; we have all been. We are all desperate.”
There’s no escaping Gaza / Anshel Pfeffer
Haaretz (This article is part of a series) — Try as it might, Israel cannot ignore the Gaza Strip. The lessons and implications of last summer’s Operation Protective Edge remain unheeded, but the unavoidable fact is that the fighting will erupt again and again — The Gaza Strip is often described as “the world’s largest open-air prison.” There is a lot of truth in that description, but at least in one aspect, the Strip is open. Few of the residents, or inmates, can leave, but they are free to communicate with the outside world. At any moment, phone conversations on landlines and cellular connections and millions of bytes of data in downloads, uploads, Facebook updates, tweets and emails, digital images, Skype calls, Snapchat messages and videos posted to YouTube are transmitted on the underground cables that pass beneath the Nahal Oz crossing and into the Israeli network. This outpouring of human communication from Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants is naturally a rich mine for Israel’s intelligence services. But beyond the listeners and analysts who are busy translating and collating, few Israelis have any interest in life within the Gaza Strip. The data are routed through Israeli servers and pumped out to the world through the cables laid on the Mediterranean seabed. Gaza’s daily story, its sadness and isolation, its tiny triumphs of everyday life, the clamor and appeals, all pass Israelis by, shut out from their consciousness. Gaza has become a black hole for Israeli civilians. The Israel Defense Forces maintains its billion-shekel “smart” fence around the Strip and deploys thousands of sensors, infrared cameras, radar stations and drones to deter and detect any incoming threats. For the rest of us, Gaza grabs our attention only when rockets are launched and tunnels open up on our side of the border. When that happens too often, on average every couple of years, another massive campaign is launched with hundreds of casualties, mainly on the Palestinian side. And as soon as the campaign is over, Gazans are left with the ruins and Israelis push them out of their minds again. A year later, a United Nations report appears with allegations of war crimes and Israelis simply don’t understand what the world wants from them.
Lion cubs en route to Jordan sanctuary check into Gaza hotel
RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) 3 July — Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers on Friday allowed a pair of lion cubs en route to a wildlife sanctuary in Jordan back into the Palestinian coastal strip after the animals and their entourage had been stuck for several hours on no-man’s land at a Gaza-Israel border crossing. Earlier in the day, the cubs were taken from Gaza resident Saed Eldin al-Jamal, who had kept them over a year as pets at his family’s home in the border town of Rafah, and transported to the Erez crossing with Israel. By the time they arrived at the border, the Israeli side had closed and the cubs remained on no-man’s land after Hamas guards refused to let them back into the Palestinian territory. But after several hours, Hamas allowed them back in and the cubs’ entourage checked into a Gaza hotel, together with the lions in crates, to wait there until the Israeli crossing reopens on Sunday. The Israeli security branch responsible for the crossings said the lions and their entourage showed up out of the blue after the crossing had closed and without any prior coordination and appropriate preparations, unlike in a previous case involving lions.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israeli Police invades church, confiscates furniture
IMEMC/Agencies 1 July by Saed Bannoura — The Israeli police and personnel of the “Israel Land Administration” invaded, on June 29, the local church in the depopulated Christian village of Eqreth [or Iqrit], in ‘Akka (Acre), and confiscated all of its furniture and belongings. “We will never give up. We will remain here no matter what,” Father Suheil Khoury said. “This is our church; this is our land that we inherited from our fathers and forefathers. We believe in our Right of Return, and we will remain steadfast.” Father Khoury told Al-Arab News Agency that officers and an official searched the church, confiscating everything, including chairs and tables, in addition to destroying and uprooting plants in the church compound … Eqreth is a Palestinian Christian village, one of hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns depopulated and destroyed by the Israeli forces prior to the establishment of the state of Israel in the historic land of Palestine. It is located near 25.5 kilometers northeast of ‘Akka, on a hill 550 meters above the sea level, and only a few kilometers away from the Lebanese border. Its inhabitants largely took refuge in nearby villages, and in Lebanon, between 1948 and 1951, after repeated attacks by armed Israeli groups. Eqreth had around 50 homes and 339 inhabitants in 1931, and nearly 490 inhabitants in 1945. It is surrounded by two Israeli settlements: Shomra, established in 1949, and “Even Menachem” that was established in 1950. In 1980, Israel established “Gornot HaGalil” settlement on the village lands. The only building that is still standing in Eqreth is the Roman Catholic Church, while the internally displaced inhabitants continue to hold both repeated protests, demanding their right to return, and annual summer camps to teach the children about their village, history and steadfastness. He added that the Israeli government is practicing illegal policies meant to terrorize Palestinians and force them to leave their historic land.
Israel razes Bedouin village in Negev for the 86th time
Middle East Monitor 2 July — Bulldozers backed by Israeli forces destroyed the Bedouin village of al-Araqeeb in the Negev Desert on Thursday for the 86th time in the last four years. “Israeli bulldozers forced their way into the village under the protection of dozens of Israeli forces,” Attia al-Asam, who heads the regional council of unrecognised Bedouin communities in the Negev, told Anadolu Agency. Israeli forces surrounded the village and displaced the population before demolishing the residents’ houses, the local leader added. Saleem Al-Wakili, a 57-year-old Bedouin resident, said: “it is the 86th time they destroyed my house and I will rebuild it tomorrow.” “The Israelis are trying to exile us from our land by demolishing our homes, but they will not succeed,” he added. The Israeli government classifies approximately 40 villages in the Negev Desert as “unrecognised,” arguing that the roughly 55,000 Palestinian Bedouins living there cannot prove their ownership of the land.
Landmark lawsuit victory for Palestinian landowners
RAMALLAH (PNN) 30 June — Dozens of Palestinians have obtained title deeds for plots of land in West Bank village Kufr Ein after a lengthy wait. After a long process, dozens of Palestinians have succeeded in buying plots of land in Kufr Ein village under TABO title deeds, which are legally binding and may be passed down through the family. Revolutionary project TABO, from Ramallah’s Union Construction and Investment (UCI) organisation, has made available plots of land throughout the West Bank for Palestinian families to buy. TABO secures land in the West Bank before dividing it into ‘affordable’ and ‘accessible’ plots which can then be purchased. TABO founder Khaled Al Sabawi explained that this new batch of title deeds means that ‘more Palestinian families are getting the chance to own a part of their homeland and to build thriving communities in Palestine’. He added that the brilliance of the project lay in its affordability, as most land plots in the West Bank are ‘often out of reach for ordinary people’ … Ramallah resident Sameh Mohammad is one of hundreds of people to have applied for these title deeds. He said that he was very emotional to own a piece of land in Palestine and that TABO’s easy, no-interest payment scheme had encouraged him to apply. Not only does TABO facillitate family investment and land ownership, it protects Palestinian land from illegal Israeli settlement expansion. Because approximately 70% of West Bank land is ‘unregistered’, Israel exploits this legal grey area and uses it to advance its settlement policy. ‘This project is truly a form of real resistance against the occupation,’ said Sameh Mohammed. TABO has sold plots of land all over the Palestinian West Bank, with such areas set to become ‘thriving’ suburban areas. UCI is reportedly even in the process of developing a ‘comprehensive master plan’ for the communities.
Army uproots lands, issues demolition orders against a home, well
IMEMC/Agencies 2 July — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday at dawn, Yatta town, east of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and handed out demolition orders against a home and a water well. Soldiers also invaded Beit Ummar, searched homes and summoned two Palestinians. The soldiers, accompanied by personnel of the “Civil Administration Office,” invaded an area east of Hebron, and uprooted four dunams (0.98 acres) of agricultural lands, near Settlement Road #60. The land belongs to Mohammad Mustafa Jaber. In addition, soldiers invaded the Deerat and Um Sharara areas, east of Yatta town, and handed resident Ahmad Mohammad Salama a demolition order against his home, and a similar order targeting a water well owned by Ali Ibrahim Mohammad.
Settlers protest reopening of Palestinian stores in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 3 July — Dozens of settlers, lead by extremist Baroukh Marzel, gathered today near Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in order to protest against the reopening of Palestinian stores. This protest comes after the decision of the Israeli army in Hebron to allow the stores to reopen, after they were closed by military order almost 21 years ago. In the words of Marzel, this decision supports Palestinian ‘vandals’, and will lead to a life of danger for the Hebron settlers. According to the Palestinian News Network, hundreds of Palestinian shops and warehouses in the heart of Hebron old city were forced to close by the IOF in 1994 – twenty-one years ago – after the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre during which 29 Muslims were killed by Israeli extremist settler, Baruch Goldstein. Israel promised in 1997 to reopen the street for trade, however this promise fell flat as, 21 years later, the street is still earning its nickname: Ghost Town.
UNRWA to close hundreds of schools
IMEMC/Agencies 2 July — UNRWA might close 700 Palestinian refugee schools due to funding crisis faced by the organisation, a senior official has said. Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Robert Turner, told French newspaper Le Monde that UNRWA is facing difficulties in offering its services to Palestinian refugees in light of the continuous Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. “The situation is worrying and the organisation’s funds do not cover the emergency humanitarian needs,” he said. “The organisation suffers from a budget deficit estimated by $100 million.” “If this crisis is not solved by the start of next year,” Turner said, according to Days of Palestine.“UNRWA would not be able to open 700 schools and this will affect the life of about 500,000 children in the five areas of our operation.” He said that 248,000 out of the 500,000 children to be affected are from the Gaza Strip as 252 schools in Gaza are expected to remain closed.
New cabinet reshuffle on consensus government
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 July — A cabinet reshuffle on the national consensus government will be taking place in few days, a member of the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization said Wednesday. Ahmad Majdlani said the reshuffle is slated to include five ministers, some new and some reassigned from the previous cabinet. President Mahmoud Abbas assigned PM Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday to make “slight changes” to the existing government, while talks regarding forming a new national consensus government are still ongoing. Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, said that Hamas is refusing any reshuffle without the consensus of all parties, and that the Hamdallah-led government has neglected Gaza Strip in every way possible. In a previous statement, Abu Marzouk had told Ma‘an that Hamas wants a consensus government to govern both the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and that the group would Hamas will retain its control on Gaza Strip and split from the coming government if it was not actively included in the process. Al-Ahmad’s PLO-appointed committee began consulting Palestinian factions on forming a new government on Saturday, nearly two weeks after the dissolution of the current government was announced on June 16 at a Fatah council meeting.
Several hurt as hundreds celebrate passing Tawjihi exams
[photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 July – Several West Bank residents sustained wounds and burns on Friday night as hundreds across the occupied area celebrated the commencement of Tawjihi, results of high school exams, after the Ministry of Education published the results, police said. The Palestinian police spokesperson unit reported that 13 young men sustained cuts and burns in their hands from fireworks, with a total of ten firework-related incidents reported in Nablus, two in Jenin and one in Hebron. Nearly 81,000 Palestinian students participated in exams this year, seeking to obtain the General Secondary Certificate, or Tawjihi, across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in May and June. The Tawjihi certificate is equivalent to a high school completion certificate, and is required for students who wish to pursue undergraduate studies. In Palestine and other Arab countries, the score on the test determines which programs a student can enter, generating high levels of stress among the student populations. When exam results are made public, hundreds take to the street honking in celebration and launching fireworks.
With eye on Israeli Arabs, new Palestinian TV channel goes on air
Haaretz 3 July by Jack Khoury — People entering a café in the Dodge Center shopping mall in Upper Nazareth, overlooking the Galilean city, in the past two weeks have run into a man with a microphone and ear piece, who directs them to a distant place and says “shhhh, shooting in session.” In a few minutes they realize that the café is an open television studio, operated by the new Palestinian channel F48 (short for Palestine ‘48). The channel, operated by the Palestinian TV and Radio Authority, focuses on Israeli Arabs and its programs are part of a package offered by the Egyptian satellite company Nilesat, aimed at Palestinians and the Arab world. The Palestinian Authority and especially President Mahmoud Abbas pushed to launch the project, citing the vital need to bring the story of Israeli Palestinians to those in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as to the entire Arab world. Prime Minister and Communications Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered to check whether the channel was legal and threatened to close it down. An Israeli Arab activist suggested that the government fears losing control over the Arab public in Israel.
Netanyahu stresses unity between Israel and Egypt in fight against terrorism
Middle East Monitor 2 July — After a series of deadly attacks that claimed the lives of dozens of Egyptian troops in Sinai, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has affirmed that Israel and Egypt are on the same side in the fight against “Islamic terrorism.” Egyptian online newspaper Almesryoon.com, which has been monitoring Israeli media coverage of the incidents in Sinai, reported that Netanyahu sent consolations and concerns to Egyptian President Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi following the death of the recent Egyptian “victims of terrorism” … News One, an Israeli website, published an article entitled “Terror targets the regime of President Al-Sisi,” noting that the Egyptian president has called for “accelerating the execution of death sentences against the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood after the assassination of the Egyptian Attorney General.” This Israeli website commented that the Egyptian leadership is afraid that the Islamist might eventually gain control. “Al-Sisi’s regime is considered the most active in fighting Islamic terrorism among all the other Arab regimes,” the website added.
Israel says Hamas linked to IS assault on Egyptians
JERUSALEM (AFP) 2 July — A senior Israeli officer said Thursday the militant Palestinian movement Hamas played a part in attacks by the Islamic State group on Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula. “In the latest attacks Hamas gave support with weapons and organisation to groups supporting IS,” Major General Yoav Mordechai, said in an interview in Arabic with Al-Jazeera television. The Egyptian military said 17 soldiers and 100 militants had been killed but medical and security officials said the death toll was at least 70 people, mostly soldiers. Dozens of jihadists also died. The Israeli army Thursday ordered the closure until further notice of Route 12, a desert highway along the Sinai border, “in light of the current situation.” Media said the closure would go into effect at 5 am (0200 GMT). “We have examples of Hamas commanders who actively took part in such support,” said Mordechai, quoted in a Hebrew-language summary of the interview released by his office. “Wael Faraj, a battalion commander in the military wing of Hamas, smuggled wounded from Sinai into the Gaza Strip,” it quoted him as telling the Doha-based broadcaster. “Abdallah Qishta, a senior Hamas military instructor, trained operatives of “the Sinai Province organisation”, he added, referring to the Egyptian affiliate of IS. There was no immediate comment from Hamas, the rulers of the Gaza Strip, which adjoins northern Sinai
Hamas says claim it supported Sinai attacks ‘propaganda’
GAZA CITY (AFP) 3 July — Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Friday dismissed as “propaganda” an Israeli claim that it provided support for this week’s jihadist attacks against Egyptian soldiers in Sinai. “The occupation’s (Israel’s) statements about Hamas helping IS are stupid accusations… and propaganda that aims to incite against Hamas,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP, referring to the Islamic State group, whose fighters carried out the attacks. “Hamas has made efforts and taken stated measures to secure the border” between the Gaza Strip, which it controls, and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, he said. “We are intent on (preserving) Egypt’s security.”
ISIS affiliate claims responsibility for rockets fired from Sinai into Israel
Haaretzs 3 July by Jack Khoury, Gili Cohen & Shirly Seidler — Islamic State’s Egypt affiliate, Sinai Province, said on Friday in a statement posted on Twitter by supporters that it had launched three Grad rockets towards “occupied Palestine” earlier in the day. Israeli security forces said earlier that two rockets landed in open areas in Israel’s Negev region. No damage or injuries were reported. A short time beforehand, rocket sirens sounded in Israeli communities near the Gaza border, after which security forces began a search for the projectiles. Both rockets have since been located … Israel continued to maintain a high alert following the terrorist attacks in Sinai this week, and closed Route 12, near the Israel-Egypt border, at 5 A.M. Friday morning. The decision was made by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon with the recommendation of IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. The road closure was defined by the military as temporary. One of the attacks in Sinai was carried out only four kilometers from the border with Israel, an officer in the IDF Southern Command said on Thursday. In response, the Israeli military has intensified its intelligence gathering efforts in the area.
UN calls on Israel, Palestine to prosecute Gaza war crimes
GENEVA (Reuters) 3 July – The United Nations called on Israel and the Palestinians on Friday to prosecute alleged war crimes committed in the 2014 Gaza war and to cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s preliminary investigation. The 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution, presented by Muslim states, by a vote of 41 to one, with five abstentions. Israel’s closest ally, the United States, was the only country to vote against. While the Council has no binding powers, its moral authority raises the pressure on both sides to hold accountable perpetrators of killings of civilians and other violations. Israel denounced the resolution as an “anti-Israeli manifesto”. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the council, suggesting it was singling out his country when it should be focusing on the actions of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or the militants of Islamic State, also known as ISIS … Palestinian Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi said the government had set up an independent committee on Thursday to probe allegations, and it would respect its legal obligations. In Geneva, Israeli Ambassador Eviatar Manor said: “Israel is fully committed to investigating all alleged violations of laws of armed conflict.” Explaining his country’s ‘no’ vote, U.S. ambassador Keith Harper said: “We are troubled that this resolution focuses exclusively on alleged Israeli violations without any express reference to Palestinian violations.” Britain’s ambassador Julian Braithwaite said: “Israel has the right to defend itself against indiscriminate attacks. But it is a principle of international humanitarian law that the use of force in self-defense must be proportionate.”
Britain still arming Israel despite fear weapons will be used against Gaza
The Independent 2 July — The Government has been accused of ignoring its own evidence that British weaponry may have been used by Israel in its assault on Gaza last year after fresh arms deals worth £4m were approved by Britain within weeks of the conflict. Figures seen by The Independent reveal that the UK gave the go-ahead for dozens of military exports to Israel, including components for drones and air-to-surface missiles, in the immediate aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, which claimed more than 2,000 lives, including those of hundreds of Palestinian civilians. Campaigners said the exports showed that the Government was conducting “business as usual” in its arms sales to Israel and turning a “blind eye” to the risk that UK-made weaponry could be used in any fresh clashes between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The refusal of the Government to suspend these licences caused a split in the Coalition and led to the resignation of Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi, who said Britain’s stance during the air and sea assault had been “morally indefensible”. She said all arms sales should be stopped with immediate effect. Ministers pledged last year to review all existing licences to Israel to assess the risk of British weaponry being used in the Occupied Territories and publish the results. But new figures published today in a report on arms exports show that Britain has in the meantime continued to sell weaponry worth millions to Israel, both directly and via third party countries including Germany, America and Italy….
Muslims, Jews hold joint iftar meals for Ramadan fast
The Media Line 30 June — Jewish families hosted by Palestinian families for post-fast meal; ‘I wanted to share the good precious holy moments of Ramadan with other people,’ says Arab woman hosting Jews for iftar — As the call to prayer marking the end of the day-long Ramadan fast echoed from a nearby mosque, the two dozen people sat down and began eating … What was unique here is that most of the guests had never met the hosts, Bronka and Aref Tahboub, before this night. The Tahboubs had opened their home to a group of Israeli Jews who wanted to experience the iftar meal. “There are so many things here that we don’t control,” Aref told The Media Line in fluent Hebrew. “But Arabs and Jews have to live together. I’ve worked with Jews all my life and I want my children to get to know Jews.” The meeting was organized by Kids4Peace, a grassroots organization that brings Muslim, Christian and Jewish children in Jerusalem together. About 25 Jewish families signed up to be hosted by Palestinian families, along with their children.
A year after Gaza war, southern Israel slowly recovers
NIRIM, Israel (AP) 3 July by Aron Heller — On the last day of last summer’s Israel-Hamas war, Gadi Yarkoni and two of his closest friends were fixing an electricity line next to the cowshed in their kibbutz in southern Israel that had been damaged by rocket fire from neighboring Gaza. On that Aug. 26, a final cease-fire was about to go into effect and they thought they had weathered the worst of the 50-day war that had driven away most families from their small agricultural community. Just as it was all about to end, a mortar shell landed by Yarkoni, killing both his friends and blowing off both his legs. Now, a year later, the 48-year-old father of three is walking again, thanks to prosthetics, and was recently elected head of the Eshkol Regional Council where he is helping rebuild Israel’s hardest-hit region in the war. Yarkoni’s community, long pummeled by rockets from the Hamas-run territory next door, is battered but buoyant — and is even seeing a surprise surge in population, with 500 new residents in Eshkol alone … The war killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to U.N. figures. Israel counted 73 deaths, including six civilians. All but one of the Israeli civilians were killed in the five regional councils in southern Israel that surround the coastal strip of Gaza. The Eshkol council got the worst of it, absorbing about a fifth of all Hamas fire in the war. Of the council’s 14,000 residents, more than 2,000 are still in psychological care and a quarter of the children have post-traumatic symptoms, according to the local trauma center … But with daily life quietly resuming, Yarkoni said business opportunities have blossomed.
“1913: Seeds of Conflict’: New doc explores little-known history of Palestine
ReligionDispatches 29 June by Shaul Magid — n his 1967 book Israel: An Echo of Eternity, Abraham Joshua Heschel refers to “the jungle of history.” An interesting locution, and apt. A jungle is a place where things seem to co-exist against all odds — nature at its best and most beautiful, but also at its worst and most vicious. If history is a “jungle” — nature at its most beautiful but also its most unforgiving — then an historian is an explorer: she must try to make order of chaos and find meaning in dense overgrowth. It is thus appropriate that Ben Loeterman’s new film “1913: Seeds of Conflict” deploys an agricultural metaphor. History is a jungle. The film, premiering June 30 on PBS, consists of rare and often striking footage of early twentieth-century Palestine, mostly taken from a newly discovered film from 1913: Noah Sokolowsky’s, “The Life of Jews in Palestine.” Loeterman’s film offers this footage along with interviews with a team of experts and short dramatizations featuring significant individuals of the time. The script of these dramatizations is taken directly from letters, court cases, and speeches, all in their original languages (with subtitles). While such dramatizations can often seem trite or contrived, they are used quite effectively in the film. Even hearing the Arabic, German, French, Hebrew and Turkish gives one a feel for the multiethnic dimension of this particular corner of the jungle. 1913 is not a year many point to as the germ-cell of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Loeterman suggests that it is; not in any obvious way, no seismic event, national conflict or political edict. Rather, three things happened in 1913 that frame this film. First, Sokolowsky’s film “The Life of the Jews in Palestine” was made, containing the earliest moving images of Palestine; second, Arthur Ruppin’s speech at the Zionist Congress that year focusing on “conquest of the land” through land purchasing that set the Zionist nationalist agenda on a new course; and third, a local skirmish between an Arab who stole some grapes near the Jewish colony of Rehovot on his way to selling his produce and a Russian-Jewish guard who beat him brutally not for, as the guard later said, “stealing grapes from a Jewish colony but stealing grapes from the Jewish people.” Two people died: one Jew and one Arab. Loeterman’s film argues that this local skirmish was a match that ignited a fire.