Violence / Attacks / Raids / Arrests
Settlers attack Palestinians south of Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 19 July — A number of fanatic Israeli settlers attacked, Saturday, several Palestinian shepherds in Khallet al-‘Adra area, in Yatta town south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in southern Hebron, Rateb Jabour, said Israeli extremists assaulted the Palestinian shepherds, and hurled stones at them. He added that several local youths then started throwing stones at the settlers, forcing them to run away. The extremists came from the nearby Ma’on illegal Israeli settlement, built on private Palestinian lands.
Soldiers kidnap four teens in Jerusalem
IMEMC 20 July — Israeli soldiers kidnapped four Palestinian teenagers, on Sunday at night and on Monday at dawn, in Silwan town, in occupied East Jerusalem, after invading, and violently searching, a number of homes. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) has reported that several military vehicles invaded, on Monday at dawn, Ras al-‘Amoud neighborhood, in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and kidnapped one Palestinian. Silwanic said the soldiers kidnapped Suleiman Shehda Qara’in, 17 years of age, from his family home, and took him to an interrogation center in the city. On Sunday afternoon, the soldiers invaded several homes in Ras al-‘Amoud, and kidnapped Ahmad al-Ghoul, 17, Fathi Nasser, 18, Nour Zaghal, 17. Silwanic added that, earlier this month, the three teenagers were detained and interrogated for several hours. On Sunday at night, soldiers stormed the home of Osama Barham, in the at-Tour neighborhood, overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City, and violently searched it. Barham was not at home during the invasion, and the soldiers handed his family a warrant for his arrest.
Israeli army and PA detain 6 Palestinians ‘behind’ West Bank shooting
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 July — The Israeli army and Palestinian security forces have detained six Palestinian “Hamas operatives” responsible for a shooting in the occupied West Bank last month that left one Israeli settler dead and three injured, the Israeli army said in a statement Sunday. The statement identified the alleged shooter as Mehad Hamad, a 26-year-old resident of Silwad northeast of Ramallah. It claimed that he and the other five had “confessed” to carrying out the attacks, although it later added that the investigation only “suggest(ed)” he had personally committed the shootings. Four Israeli settlers were injured in the attack on June 29 near the illegal settlement of Shvut Rachel south of Nablus, with one of them, Moshe Malachi Rosenfeld, later succumbing to his wounds. The statement also accused the men of carrying out a failed attack on Israeli vehicles in northern Ramallah on June 27 that left none injured, as well as plotting an attack on June 6 that was never carried out. The Israeli army said the arrests were carried out in a joint operation with Israeli police and Shin Bet intelligence, but added that two of the men — Hamad and 29-year-old Ahmed Sabri — were detained by Palestinian security forces. It said that they both men remained in Palestinian custody. The army said the attacks were overseen by Ahmed Najar, 39, a “Hamas operative” who moved to Jordan after he was released from an Israeli prison as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011. Najar is still in Jordan, although Israeli Channel News 10 reported that Israel has formally asked the Jordanian authorities to hand him over. Among the others detained was Najar’s brother, 38-year-old Amjad Najar, who it claimed delivered orders to the “cell” from his brother, “as well as funds and weapons.” Ahmed Sabri reportedly also supplied the weapons used, while Faaz Hamad, 42, a “high ranking operative” of Hamas “confessed to plotting the attacks and involvement in another terror attack,” the statement said, without elaborating further. The statement accused 62-year-old Jamal Jamil Yunis — the father-in-law of Amjad Najar — of arranging to demolish the car used in the attacks.
Israeli police: Palestinians arrested for helping others to climb the wall
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 18 July — The Israeli occupation police have claimed they arrested recently a Palestinian cell active in helping citizens from the West Bank to cross into Jerusalem and other occupied areas through the separation wall. 15 members of this cell were allegedly arrested and would be indicted for their smuggling of Palestinians from the West Bank to Jerusalem and the 1948 occupied lands, according to a press release issued by the police on Thursday. The police claimed this cell was able to make millions of shekels from using wooden ladder to help Palestinians climb over the security wall. A week ago, the Israeli police confiscated a number of wooden ladders that had been used by Palestinian young men to climb the wall and enter Jerusalem to pray at the Aqsa Mosque.
Israel arrests three Palestinians east of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 18 July – Israeli forces late Friday, which marked the first day of Muslims’ Eid al-Ftr holiday, arrested three Palestinians near the village of Jaba‘ to the east of Jerusalem, according to local sources. They told WAFA that forces arrested three Palestinians at a flying checkpoint while they were on their way back home. Forces further confiscated their car. They were identified as Sa’eb Abahreh, 28, Fadi, 25, and Yasir Jarrar, 28.
The Israeli authorities have arrested 1545 Palestinians since the beginning of 2015 year, reported Abdel Nasser Ferwana, the director of the Bureau of Statistics in the commission of detainees’ affairs. The rate of arrests since January till April is 9.6% which exceeds the rate documented for the same period last year, said Ferwana. A total of 258 Palestinian under the age of 18 are among the arrested in addition to 77 Palestinians women, the statement reported.
Car bombs target Hamas, Islamic Jihad armed wings in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an/AFP) 19 July — Five car bombs targeting the armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad went off in near-simultaneous blasts on Sunday morning in the center of Gaza City and its northern neighborhood of Sheikh Radwan. Witnesses said the explosions that went off at around 6:30 a.m. appeared to have been caused by bombs placed underneath the cars parked in front of their owners’ homes. Three of the cars were said to have belonged to members of al-Qassam brigades and two to members of al-Quds brigades, the armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Shrapnel from the blasts hit residential houses, shattering windows and lightly injuring two people who were transferred to a local hospital. There were no reports of serious injuries. According to witnesses, the explosions occurred within an interval of 15 minutes. Graffiti on a wall near one of the bombs reportedly read “Daesh,” the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group (IS), although no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks … The explosions appeared to be intended as a warning rather than an attempt to inflict casualties given the early hour, as has occurred with previous incidents. Since last summer’s devastating war in Gaza, there have been growing signs of internal unrest between Hamas security forces and other militant groups, with a string of small-scale explosions. Sunday however marked the first time Islamic Jihad was targeted, in an indication the group is viewed as part of the establishment in Gaza….
2 suspects in Gaza car bombings arrested
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 July — The Gaza Ministry of Interior said it arrested two suspects on Sunday in relation to the attacks on five vehicles belonging to the military wings of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. The Ministry’s spokesperson, Iyad al-Bazm, said interrogations with the suspects are ongoing. He also added that the ministry will not allow any interruptions to peace and security in the Gaza Strip.
2 main Israeli power grids providing electricity to Gaza down for days
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 July — A technical error in Israel cut off two main power grids responsible for supplying Gaza with electricity over the weekend. The down lines provide 25 percent (30 megawatts) of the electricity Israel supplies to Gaza. The Number Eight power grid that provides central Gaza and parts of Khan Younis with electricity shut down three days ago, and the al Qubba power grid for the Gaza District shut down on Sunday. The Gaza Electricity Distribution Company said it is attempting to cooperate with the Palestinian Power Authority to repair the broken grids, but said the Israeli army is obstructing these efforts and allegedly preventing the Israeli Electricity Corporation from fixing the grids on the grounds of security concerns. Technicians were also barred for some time from repairing the al Qubba grid when it shut down in May. Gaza currently receives electricity from the Israel, Egypt, and a power station inside Gaza. However, these supply lines fall far short of the Gazan population’s needs. While the three suppliers provide 230 MW of electricity, the UN estimates that only meets half of Gaza’s needs.
IOF attacks Palestinian farmers east of Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 19 July — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Saturday afternoon opened machinegun fire at Palestinian farmers east of the Gaza Strip, with no reported casualties. Local sources told Quds Press that Israeli border troops posted near the security fence opened fire intensively at Palestinian farmers and their homes to the east of al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza. They added that several drones were seen overflying the area while there were unusual military movements along the eastern border with Gaza.
Israeli navy opens fire at Gaza fishermen
GAZA (PIC) 18? July — The Israeli occupation navy early Sunday morning opened heavy machinegun fire on Palestinian fishing boats despite sailing within the unilaterally designated fishing zone. Local sources said an Israeli warship attacked Palestinian fishing vessels sailing in northern Gaza sea, forcing the fishermen to leave for fear of being killed. The attack is another chain in the series of Israeli infringements of the Cairo-brokered ceasefire accord signed on August 26.
Video: Hamas in the firing line?
Al Jazeera Inside Story 19 July — Fingers point at ISIL for car bomb explosions in Gaza aimed at Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement — A string of car-bomb explosions has shaken Gaza City and regional concerns about security. The vehicles belonged to members of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, which rule the Palestinian territory. Speculation as to who was behind the attacks quickly centred on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. Hamas has been cracking down on ISIL supporters since the Syria- and Iraqi-based group threatened to topple Gaza’s leaders. A photo reportedly taken near the scene of one of the explosions appeared to show the ISIL logo. Groups in Gaza, said to be inspired by ISIL, have been firing rockets at Israel in an apparent attempt to undermine ceasefire talks. ISIL has accused Hamas of being soft on Israel and failing to establish Islamic rule in Gaza. How are these latest attacks on Hamas playing into wider regional tensions? Presenter: Adrian Finighan Guests: Ahmad Azem – professor of international relations at Birzeit University. Joseph Kechichian – senior writer at Gulf News. Aymenn Al-Tamimi – a fellow at the Middle East Forum and ISIL specialist.
Here are 6 women trying – against all odds – to build a future for Gaza
The GroundTruth Project 10 July by Lauren Bohn — Madeleine Kulab grew up by Gaza’s glistening blue sea, watching the waves crash into the strip’s 25-mile Mediterranean coastline. But at 13, when her father, who suffered from a form of palsy, could no longer fish, Kulab took the helm and became her family’s breadwinner. Now 21, she says becoming Gaza’s first and only fisherwoman was not easy, both because she is a women and because she lives in a society whose dysfunctional relationship with Israel takes a daily toll. “Even the sea isn’t free here,” Kulab says. “People always looked at me and teased or scolded my dad … they didn’t take me seriously. But we ignored them.”… Aside from the now occasional snickers of men, she also must contend with some of the most restrictive politics in the world. The conditions weigh heavily on everyone, but groups say women are disproportionately and uniquely burdened. “You’re dealing not only with the Israeli siege, but a conservative society and government that places expectations and limitations on you,” says Reem Hairab, a coordinator at Gaza’s Women Affairs Center. “In Gaza, it’s hardest for the women to breathe.” Since last summer’s war, the organization says new women come to the center daily, pleading for extra work as their family’s sole provider. Activists also note a spike in domestic violence and divorce rates. When you’re trapped, says Rami Abdu, chairman of the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, anxiety and tension rise not just politically, but also — and especially — personally. “Women are often on the frontlines of the occupation, of the struggle,” he says. “They often lose the most.”
Love songs fail to save Palestinian marriage after war’s devastating wounds
RAFAH (The National) 18 July by Heidi Levine — One night last January, Wael Al Namla, 27, and his wife Asraah, 22, sang their favourite love songs as they gently stroked what was left of each other’s amputated limbs to the rhythm of music played on their mobile phones. Small battery powered lights, scattered around the room, illuminated the couple as they gazed at each other during one of the electricity cuts that leaves Gazans without power for several hours every day. The next morning, after the electricity – temporarily – came back on, the boiler was able to heat enough water that the family could take turns washing themselves. Wael showered first and then a bath was prepared for their four-year-old son, Shareef, who splashed happily in the lukewarm water despite his partially amputated leg. That morning was a brief moment of domestic tranquillity in the besieged Gaza Strip. Yet, the same wounds that had brought Wael and Asraah closer together during the night ultimately tore their marriage apart. On August 1, 2014, amid the 50-day conflict between Hamas and Israel, the family attempted to flee Israeli shelling in the town of Rafah, but were hit by an air strike. Wael lost his right leg. Asraah lost both of her legs. Their son Shareef, lost the lower part of his left leg. Their second child, Abeer, now two years old, sustained minor injuries and burns. Wael’s 11-year-old sister Nagram and brother Yousef, the sole financial provider for the family, along with his wife, was also killed. Their son Qasay, 9, was orphaned …
On July 3, just ahead of the one year anniversary of last summer’s war, I returned to the Namla home … I asked Wael about his beloved wife. “Where is Asraah?” He turned away and gestured with one of his crutches to follow him up the stairs. “I am taking another wife,” Wael said once we had reached the living room of the family’s home. “She is 20 years old and will arrive in Gaza from London in October. She is the cousin of my father.” Trying not to reveal my shock, I asked: “Is this a love marriage?” Wael, who was sitting across from me in his wheelchair, lifted his lowered head and said, “No, I need help, the war destroyed my life”. Without her legs, Asraah was unable to carry out tasks traditionally performed by Palestian wives, such as cooking and cleaning, and Wael had decided to take another wife who could. Angry and hurt, Asraah said that she would not accept her husband taking a second wife and was told by both Wael and his family to return to her parents’ house….
Freedom Flotilla: RT journalist in Israeli prison
PIC 19 July by Nadezhda Kevorkova — Seven journalists, several activists and the crew of the Freedom Flotilla ship were kidnapped by the Israeli Army in international waters. An RT journalist was searched six times and detained for a week without charge or trial — …At 2:30 am the first soldiers came on board. Watch how the Marianne’s capture was carried out, filmed by Israeli journalist Ohad and aired on Israel’s Channel 2. This video shatters the Israeli army’s official report that the vessel was seized peacefully. The soldiers were armed with stun guns, which they used to fight the crew. I was in the front of the boat and heard Herman, a Norwegian, and Charlie, a Swede, screaming. It took the Israelis 52 minutes to engage the crew and the captain took the ship’s wheel away from them. Finally, they captured the command bridge. At that moment, the Marianne was 90.5 nautical miles away from the Israeli shore, according to the vessel’s measurements. After that, the soldiers searched the entire ship. They tossed the kitchen, the hold, the saloon, the water storage and the sleeping quarter. They broke off all the hooks which secured the furniture in place and kept its doors closed, so all the contents were now free to fall out and scatter around making loud noises as the vessel rocked on the sea waves. They soon discovered that the engine was broken and the hold was full of water. They failed to fix the engine and threatened to keep beating up the captain until the engine was fixed. They searched everyone on board including the journalists. I was searched in the crew’s quarters by two women wearing masks. Cooking pots, cutlery and buckets rolled loose around the floor … When I was finally let off the boat I said that I refused to answer any questions, provide my identity, have my fingerprints taken, or be photographed until I had received consular and legal assistance, and that this was an illegal abduction of an accredited journalist accompanied by theft of my property, i.e. my satellite and mobile phone … I was placed into a police wagon. There I found Ana, the Swedish journalist. Soon we were joined by a New Zealand journalist, named Ru. Their case was even more interesting than mine. The Israelis tried to convince Ru that she was not a journalist, but an activist. And to Ana they explained that it would be better for her to write books on female circumcision than neo-capitalism.
Detainees / Court actions
The Palestinian dancer who was locked away
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 19 July by Ahmad Melhem — Lina Khattab is a journalism student at Birzeit University and a dancer in the El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe. Her release from an Israeli prison June 11 represented an important transitional phase of her life, as her experience in detention changed her personality and her perception of the future. The Israeli military arrested Khattab, 18, on Dec. 13. After appearing in court 11 times, she was sentenced to prison for six months and a fine of $1,500 on Feb. 16. Yet, prison did not break Khattab’s spirit. During her imprisonment, she learned Hebrew and silk bead embroidery from other prisoners. She has pieces of her work displayed in her living room. In return, she taught her fellow prisoners some dabke moves. Khattab said she was arrested and was severely beaten and abused near Ofer prison, west of Ramallah. Khattab told Al-Monitor, “Two soldiers attacked me with their hands and feet. They dragged me to a military jeep, where two other soldiers were waiting, and they all kept on beating me until we reached the Ofer prison.” … In the investigation center, Khattab was placed in “a cold cell underground,” according to her account. She said she was interrogated by two conscripts in the Shin Bet, a man and a woman. The interrogation started at 3 p.m. Dec. 13 (the day she was arrested) and lasted until the early morning the following day. She was accused of throwing stones, breaking a Jeep window and injuring a soldier in the head….
Postponing the trial of the murderers of the youth Mohammad Abu Khdeir until 22.10.2015
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 16 July — The District Court in Jerusalem postponed the trail of the murderers of Mohammad Abu Khdeir on (15.07.2015) until 22.10.2015. The decision to postpone came to be until the hearing of the psychiatrist in charge of the third suspect named Itmar Zimir from Bet Shemesh in the case “Kidnapping, Burning and killing Abu Khdeir”, and in the coming session oral summaries from the defense and public prosecution will be presented in regards to the case. The court attempted to hold a “closed session” for the three settlers accused of murdering Abu Khdeir, under the pretext that the session is specialized to hear the minor suspect Itmar Zimir and forced the people present to leave the hall, and when his father and mother arrived at Court they strongly objected to be taken out … The martyrs’ father accused the courts committee of trying “to fabricate and draft an agreement behind closed doors to exonerate the murderers the settlers or to mitigate their sentences, denouncing stopping them from attending the session of the murderers of their child Mohammad, and he described it as racism and stressing that he is going to go to the International Criminal Court to prosecute the settlers … – The settler Itmar: I suffer from psychological and family problems!! – The settler Itmar was interrogated by his lawyer and the second settler Yaer Ben David’s lawyer, and from the public prosecutor; the suspect denied through the session his initial confessions that he gave to the police and intelligence, he said that they planned to execute a kidnapping operation and beat up an Arab only and he was shocked when the boy was burnt and murdered.
Palestinian given 14 months for smuggling SIM card to detained brother
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 July — An Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian woman to 14 months in jail for allegedly attempting to smuggle a SIM card to her detained brother, a prisoners’ rights group said Friday. Amal Ahmad al-Sada was initially detained from the town of Halhul in Hebron on Nov. 18, 2014, on suspicions that she had tried to sneak the local Jawwal SIM card into an Israeli jail in the Negev where her brother, Muhammad, is serving a 17 year sentence. She was given a 12,000 shekel ($3,142) fine and sentenced to house arrest in the Kseifa area of Beersheva inside Israel where she stayed for six months with a sponsor carrying an Israeli ID, the director of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said. Amal was then sent back to Halhul under the condition that she return to the central court of Beersheba. After five court sessions, Amal received the 14-month sentence and was banned from visiting her brother in jail in the future. Her brother, Muhammad, was also sentenced to an additional 18 months in jail after his sister tried to sneak him the SIM card, on top of his original sentence of 17 years. He has been held in Israeli jails since 2005. The prisoners’ society condemned Thursday’s sentence against Amal, who they said suffers several medical conditions at risk of deteriorating in detention. The group said that Israeli courts have sentenced mothers and wives of prisoners accused of smuggling SIM cards in the past. Fathiya Khanfar, 60, from the West Bank town of Silat al-Thahr, was detained by the Israeli authorities in February 2013 while visiting her son Rami in the Negev jail, PPS said. She was held for 18 days and sentenced to 11 months in jail following 21 court sessions in the Beersheva district court for allegedly trying to deliver a SIM card to her son….
Allan and Estiti continue their hunger strike for second month
JENIN (PIC) 19 July — Prisoners Mohamed Allan and Alaa Estiti on Saturday entered the second month of their hunger strike in Israeli jails in protest at their administrative detention. Recently, the Israeli jailers in Eshel prison imposed severe punitive measures against prisoner Estiti, a resident of Jenin refugee camp, according to an informed source. Among the measures taken against him, the prisoner, who is locked up in an isolation cell, has not been allowed to bathe for more than two weeks, have new clothes or possess a holy book of Qur’an. The jailers also refused to provide Estiti, who suffers from severe pains in his joints, with a wheelchair. Prisoner Allan, in turn, is also administratively detained in solitary confinement and being exposed to similar punitive measures to pressure him to break his hunger strike. Allan is a lawyer from Einabous town near Nablus city and has already served several prison terms in Israel jails before his recent administrative detention.
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon, Syria
Camp Life: Daily struggles in Shatila
SHATILA REFUGEE CAMP, Lebanon 18 July by Richard Hardigan — “Two weeks ago my five-year-old cousin was shot in the eye and killed.” Amal Mohamed’s face betrays no emotion as she explains what happened. “They celebrated with gunfire, and one of the bullets came down and hit him in the head.” Twenty-two years old, Amal lives in Shatila, a Palestinian refugee camp that lies on the outskirts of Beirut. Established in 1949 to house refugees that were expelled to Lebanon by Zionist forces during the Nakba, it occupies less than a square kilometer of land. It is best-known throughout the world for the massacre inflicted upon it in 1982 by the Christian Phalange militia with the aid of Israeli forces, but that is not the only source of its suffering. For years it has been plagued by overcrowdedness, unemployment, poverty, drug use, violence and hopelessness. It is the violence that angers Amal the most. “Every other day there is some kind of fight. It never stops. Last year my uncle was shot in the head trying to stop a fight.” … It is hard for Palestinians to find work outside the camp. For example, the Daily Star, a Lebanese newspaper has reported that there are dozens of occupations they have been barred from engaging in, including medicine, law and engineering. Amal tells me there are 72 such jobs. Others have put the number at 88. Even menial jobs can be hard to come by, as Palestinians are regularly discriminated against by many Lebanese. “My friend Ahmed,” Amal says, “was working in a hotel downtown. When they got a new manager, he told Ahmed they would have to let him go. Why? Because his accent made it obvious he was Palestinian, and the customers of the hotel don’t want to deal with Palestinians.” As a result most of the residents try to find work inside the camp. This, however, is nearly as difficult….
The noose is tightening around Syria’s Palestinians
YARMOUK CAMP, Damascus (Counterpunch) 17 July by Franklin Lamb — Several credible reports this week from Palestinian refugees who have by various means managed to escape the Syrian, illustrate the increasing pressure and dangers Palestinians are facing here, simply trying to survive. Chances of survival are not likely to improve anytime soon … What is happening this week to Palestinians at Syrian checkpoints between Damascus and the Turkish border has alarmed the Palestinian community here, as well as their supporters. The reason is that once a Palestinian refugee arrives in Europe, he/she can also apply for refugee status for a child, parent or spouse, who, for various reasons was forced to stay behind in Syria. After some months, the European country normally issues visas in favor of the family members so they can travel and the family is then reunited. So far so good…but perhaps no longer … As of this week, more than 6000 refugees have arrived at Lesbos and the numbers keep swelling, all part of the 110,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria who have fled to Europe. As we all know, trips such as these are dangerous. Palestinian refugees from Syria are increasingly trying to travel to Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Belgium, Britain, and France (in that order of preference) to find safety and dignity. About 40,000 have succeeded, to date … Thousands of other Palestinians forced to use ‘death boats’ have died trying … this week, credible reports that Palestinian family members who have received visas to join loved ones in Europe (including parents of minors in Europe), are being stopped at Syrian checkpoints and subsequently jailed or returned to Damascus. There has been no government regulation promulgated on this subject to date and details are still murky. On 7/8/2015 this observer received a Skype call from an eight-member Yarmouk family that the SSSP had helped to resettle in the Netherlands. They reported that their parents, while en route to Turkey to then fly to the Netherlands, were stopped at a checkpoint in Syria, north of Homs, arrested and then jailed. After a few days, friends arranged a bribe and the family was freed, but they were warned by their jailers that “Palestinians can no longer leave Syria for Europe via Turkey or any other route.” As with two other reported cases this week, the only explanation they were given was “if Palestinians left Syria they would lose the Right to Return to Palestine.” Of course this outrageous and feeble excuse is patent nonsense … But what the new “policy” does mean is that “Farah”, and other families from among the more than 110,000 Palestinians who have fled Syria (270,000 Palestinians are internally displaced inside Syria; most of the others are under siege), may not be able to be reunited until the conflict ends or this new checkpoint practice is repealed. UNWRA and UNHCR have been informed of this recent devastating development and have pledged to investigate….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
Israeli authorities issue 3 stop-work orders in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 July — The Israeli authorities on Sunday issued three stop-work orders to homes under construction in the Zaata neighborhood of Beit Ummar in northern Hebron, locals said. A spokesperson for the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar, Muhammad Ayad, said that Israeli forces accompanied officials from the Israeli Civil Administration into the village to issue the orders. Muhammad Sami Sabarneh was given an order to halt constriction on a 160-square-meter house that has had its foundations excavated. A stop-work order was also issued to Bilal Mahmoud Sabarneh for a home of 180 square meters, still at an early stage of construction. An order was also put up on the the window of a 150-square-meter home belonging to Khalil Mahmoud Abu Maria that is currently in the final stages of construction. A planning and construction official reportedly took photographs of the home. Ayad said that all the owners of the homes have the necessary permission to work on their land … According to the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem, Beit Ummar is “subjected to many Israeli aggressions,” with thousands of dunams of Palestinian land confiscated for the constriction of illegal Israeli settlements and bypass roads. Three settlements surround the town — Karmei Zur, Migdal Oz and Kfar Etzion — and Israeli forces and settlers have uprooted Palestinian trees, leveled agricultural land, and demolished a number of homes, according to ARIJ.
Palestinians to EU: Suspend trade agreements with Israel to protest demolition of homes
JPost 19 July by Tovah Lazaroff — Residents of the Palestinian village of Sussiya on Sunday called on the European Union to suspend its trade agreements with Israel to protest the pending demolition of unauthorized homes in their herding community in the South Hebron Hills region of the West Bank. European support for Sussiya must be backed with action, the community spokesman Nasser Muhammed Nawajah wrote in a letter he sent to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. “Until today European support of the Israeli economy is expressed in the preferential conditions that Israel receives under its Trade and Association Agreements with Europe. The association agreement stipulates that ‘relations between the parties, as well as all the provisions of the agreement itself shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles’ and that this ‘constitutes an essential element of this agreement,’” he wrote….
Israeli extremists uproot vegetable crops in Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 19 July — Several fanatic Israeli settlers invaded, on Saturday evening, Palestinian farmlands in the town of al-Khader, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and uprooted hundreds of tomato and cauliflower plants and seedlings, in addition to destroying an entire field planted with okra. Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in al-Khader, said the Israeli extremists came from the illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat, built on stolen Palestinian lands. Salah said the assailants invaded more than five Dunams (1.23 Acres) of Palestinian agricultural lands, and uprooted the crops, before running back to their settlement. The invaded lands belong to three Palestinians identified as Jom‘a Salah, Dirar Salah and Samir al-Balboul. Ahmad Salah also stated that the attackers swam in the pool of a local spring, used for both irrigation and drinking.
The brave new world of mapping occupied East Jerusalem
Mondoweiss 16 July by Dan Cohen — While Israel seeks to brand Jerusalem as its eternal and undivided capital, the existence of 300,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites lays bare the apartheid reality of the self-proclaimed Jewish State’s claim. For Israeli military and security firms, occupied East Jerusalem’s unique situation presents unique opportunities to develop new methods of enforcing occupation. Ofek Aerial Photography is one of these companies. This firm has sold a Google Street View-style mapping system to Israeli military and police agencies used to plan operations in occupied East Jerusalem to the smallest detail. Called mobile mapping, the technology can be used for anything from measurements for home demolitions to shooter-style video game simulations of full-force military invasions. The mobile mapping system “acquires two main features, spherical imagery and 360 degrees that can show all the streets and allows you to put overlays and take measurements, and laser scanning that allows you to see the exact same area,” said Ori Isenberg, a representative of Ofek Aerial Photography who I spoke to at the Intelligence, Terror and Special Forces conference last week. The system was particularly useful during the prolonged assault on Shuafat neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem last summer following the murder of the Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir. “There was no mapping in East Jerusalem,” Isenberg said. “They [Israeli military] didn’t know what the doors are made from, if you have bars on the windows, if you have some vehicle going through the street because it’s too narrow…[Now] When they type the coordinates of the house they see exactly what they need to see.”
Palestinian police defuse explosive device left behind by Israeli army
JENIN (WAFA) 18 July – The Palestinian explosives engineering police Saturday defused an unexploded device left behind by Israeli army in the village of Rommaneh to the west of Jenin, according to security sources. They informed WAFA that that explosives’ engineering police managed to deactivate an explosive device after receiving calls by local residents about the presence of an explosive device in the area. The Israeli army usually conducts drills in the occupied West Bank, especially in the Jordan Valley, after forcefully displacing dozens of local Palestinian families due to the proximity of their homes to the training sites. Palestinians living in these areas have to also worry about unexploded ordnance left behind by the Israeli army after the drills, which have led to the death of many Palestinians, including children, over the past years. In 2014, three Palestinians were killed by unexploded ordnance left by Israeli forces in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley, while Gaza remains plagued with unexploded ordnance following the most recent Israeli aggression.
When it comes to Palestinians, Israel’s defense minister doubles as a pedantic linguist
Haaretz 19 July by Amira Hass — Moshe Ya’alon and his chief of staff have redefined Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley as non-residents to justify their temporary evacuation — Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is not only our defense minister, but also occasionally a pedantic linguist. Or perhaps the description should go to Haim Blumenblat, the defense minister’s chief of staff. Blumenblat signed a letter in response to Knesset member Dov Khenin, who had sought to put an end to the repeated practice of evacuating Palestinian West Bank residents of the Jordan Valley in order to conduct military exercises. “The fabric of the lives of the area’s residents should not be harmed beyond recognition for training that can be carried out in another manner and location,” Khenin wrote Ya’alon on July 8. “The ease with which the dignity and liberty of human beings are being trampled is unacceptable and requires a thorough examination,” stated the Hadash party legislator, who had received a detailed account from representatives of grass roots group Machsom Watch on the latest evacuation/torture incident on June 23 and the burnt grazing land the residents found upon their return. In his July 12 response on behalf of Ya’alon, Blumenblat sought to “set things straight,” saying that for his part the hundreds of men, women and children who were required during the Ramadan fast and in blazing heat to pack up their belongings and their flocks and move several kilometers away due to Israel Defense Force training are not “residents.” “There is no basis for use of the terms ‘residents’ and ‘harm to their liberty,’ Blumenblat, a reserve colonel, responded to Khenin. “[Their case] involves the illegal invasion by Palestinians into a firing range site in use by the IDF.”
Israel forgives West Bank and Golan settlements $132.3 million debt
Haaretz 16 July by Chaim Levinson — The World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division has forgiven about half a billion shekels ($132.3 million) of debt owed by settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights over the past four years. The debt resulted from long-term loans given by the Settlement Division to settlements in the Golan Heights West Bank and Gaza, primarily in the 1970s and 1980s. The Gaza debts were wiped out by cabinet decision in 2010. The loans were given to both individual settlers and settlement associations for construction and farming. In the government’s annual fiscal report, released Thursday, the Finance Ministry noted that “collection over the years of loans given through the Settlement Division is negligible or non-existent.” It was also noted that “conditions have not yet been determined for the repayment” of loans for construction.
Restriction of movement
Meeting violence with a violin at West Bank checkpoint
The Guardian 19 July — A group of musicians in a van turn around a dangerous confrontation at a flying checkpoint. An extract from Children of the Stone by Sandy Tolan — One evening, riding home from a concert in Bethlehem, Alá, Rasha, and a few of their fellow musicians suddenly came upon a military barrier erected hastily in the road … “Flying checkpoint,” Rasha said. These were temporary barriers the military erected on the fly for the stated purpose of catching suspected militants, and those without proper documents, who might try to evade the fixed checkpoints. Also known as random or “surprise” checkpoints, they were so ubiquitous that Alá and Rasha were never surprised to encounter them. “It’s normal,” Alá said. Encounters at checkpoints could be deadly, but mostly, for Alá and Rasha, they were humiliating – dehumanizing reminders of who had control. At Huwara, at the height of the second intifada, two pregnant women had been shot on consecutive days; another had given birth to a stillborn baby after waiting for five hours to get to the hospital; a 10-year-old girl had died of a ruptured appendix when soldiers denied her passage; and a man with metastasizing liver cancer, a 45-year-old who worked in a Nablus hummus shop, was denied his wish to die at home. He died at Huwara … “What’s that?” the soldier asked Alá, pointing to her soft blue instrument case. “This is a violin,” replied Alá, now 10 years old. The soldier told her to step out of the van. “Do you know how to play?” he asked. “Yes.” “Play,” instructed the soldier … A haunting melody floated from Alá’s little violin – an “Oriental” sound, as it was called in Israel and the West. Certain and strong, Alá’s notes cut through the low rumble of idling cars and floated above the flying checkpoint, into the night air. “We saw in his eyes, he was shocked,” Alá remembered. “It was something he didn’t understand.” … Then the moment turned. Another soldier walked over to listen. He was smiling and seemed to be enjoying the impromptu concert. “I play, too,” he said when Alá finished. “May I try?” Another soldier asked Amir, the guitar student, if he could borrow his instrument. The soldiers began to play, smiling at Alá and her fellow musicians, who gaped at them in astonishment. Suddenly, to Rasha, the soldiers seemed like normal people. “I do not know how they can do something like this, but at the same time treat people so badly,” she said, genuinely confused. “I don’t know if they have two personalities, or exactly how it works.”
Palestinian police arrest 37 at Allenby Bridge in last week of Ramadan
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 19 July — Palestinian police arrested 37 wanted Palestinians who were among tens of thousands passing through the Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and the occupied West Bank in the final week of Ramadan, police said in a statement Sunday. According to the statement, nearly 42,000 people passed through the crossing during the week — about 18,000 leaving the West Bank, and 23,500 entering. Palestinian police arrested 37 “wanted criminals” that tried to travel via the crossing. Police said they were wanted in separate cases by courts across the occupied West Bank. The statement added that in the same week the Israeli authorities turned back 25 people trying to cross the border. The Allenby Bridge, also known as the King Hussein Bridge, is the only link between the occupied West Bank and the outside world. Passengers have to go through three different checks in order to cross, including a Palestinian control, an Israeli control, and a Jordanian control. Passage through the Israeli control generally includes hours of waiting as well as interrogations and extensive searches.
Palestinians asked to avoid Qalandiya checkpoint due to Eid traffic
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 July — The Israeli Civil Administration on Sunday requested that Palestinians carrying permits to cross into Israel avoid Qalandiya checkpoint due to heavy congestion there. The Civil Administration said that the traffic was being caused by thousands of Palestinians heading into Israel to visit family during the Eid holiday at the close of the holy month of Ramadan, as well as to reach coastal cities to swim. They recommended that Palestinians exit through any other checkpoint or go instead tomorrow.
Other news, analysis
In photos: Hundreds perform Eid prayers at Ibrahimi mosque
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 July — Hundreds of Palestinians on Saturday performed Eid al-Fitr prayers at the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, despite Israeli efforts to curtail worship at the holy site, locals said. The Israeli authorities reportedly prevented the mosque from sounding the Adhan prayer call through its external speakers, claiming it annoyed Israeli settlers living in illegal settlements across the Palestinian city. Hebron’s mayor, Daoud al-Zaatari, condemned the restrictions and said that Palestinians ought to be able to perform all religious rituals and prayers at the Ibrahimi mosque. The Ibrahimi mosque, which is believed to be the burial place of the prophet Abraham, is of religious significance to both Muslims and Jews. The site has historically been a flashpoint between Palestinians and Israelis, particularly after a Brooklyn-born Jewish settler massacred 29 Palestinians there in 1994. Israeli troops today maintain checkpoints at all entrances to the site….
Haneyya: Mishaal’s visit to Saudi Arabia ‘successful’
GAZA (PIC) 19 July — Deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau Ismail Haneyya has expressed his confidence that the recent visit of a delegation from his Movement to Saudi Arabia would be a promising start to rebuild the relations between the two sides. Haneyya made his remarks during his visit on Saturday morning to the families of Palestinian martyrs from al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas in Rafah area to congratulate them on Eid al-Fitr occasion. The Hamas official also expressed his satisfaction with the results of this visit, describing it as “successful and fruitful.” He hailed the Saudi leadership for its positions in support of the Palestinian cause and the efforts it intends to make to end the humanitarian suffering in the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu and Abbas talk for first time in more than a year
JERUSALEM (AFP) 18 July — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to President Mahmoud Abbas Friday for the first time in 13 months via telephone, reportedly wishing him a happy Eid al-Fitr at the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Netanyahu’s office said the PM also told Abbas “that the citizens of Israel want peace” and that “Israel would continue to act toward regional stability.” Israel has maintained an illegal military occupation over East Jerusalem and the West Bank since 1967 while enforcing a nearly nine-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. Attempts at peace negotiations have failed for decades.The last time the two leaders spoke was in June 2014.
Hamas: Israel lying about Mengistu’s date of entry and his mental state
JPost 17 July by Yasser Okbi of Maariv Hashavua — Israel and Hamas not communicating via a third party for Ethiopian-Israeli’s release, official says — Israel is lying about when Ethiopian-Israeli Avera Mengistu entered Gaza, and contrary to Israeli claims, he is not mentally ill, Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of Hamas’s political bureau, says. The news that Avera Mengistu and an unnamed Israeli Beduin man were missing in the Gaza Strip was reported earlier this month, after a publication ban was lifted on the story. “The Israeli citizen of Ethiopian descent, Avera Mengistu, was taken prisoner during the war of aggression against Gaza, Operation Protective Edge,” Abu Marzouk said. He said Israel was lying when it claimed that Mengistu entered Gaza in September 2014. He said Israel requested information on the “Ethiopian soldier” in August 2014. Abu Marzouk said that Mengistu, 28, entered the Strip in an IDF uniform during last summer’s war after walking 40 kilometers from Beersheba. He also denied that Mengistu had psychiatric issues, saying that Israel claimed this in order to “disparage him” because he is black and it does not really care about him. Repeating what Hamas said earlier this month, an official from the organization said on Thursday that it would provide information on the missing Israelis only if Israel released Palestinians who were rearrested after being released in the Gilad Schalit prisoner swap in 2011. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking after the publication ban was lifted, said Israel was doing everything in its power to free Mengistu and the Beduin Israeli.
Gaza trade unions urge boycott of Israeli labor federation
EI 17 July by Ali Abunimah — Fifteen trade unions in Gaza have jointly renewed their support for the boycott of Israel and its labor institutions that are complicit in the violation of Palestinian rights. To mark the 10th anniversary of the boycott movement, the member unions of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) – Gaza Strip, are reaffirming their “unwavering commitment to the call of Palestinian civil society for … boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel (BDS).” “We salute and appreciate the many trade unions and federations in the world who heed the call of BDS and would like to reiterate our call on all comrades and activists for freedom and justice in unions and federations all over the world to boycott Israel because of its racist, settler-colonial regime,” the Palestinian trade unions say. In particular, the trade unions “underline the importance of boycotting the Histadrut because of its blatant complicity in Israel’s policies including occupation, settlement building, apartheid and hijacking of Palestinian workers’ rights.”
[UK] Government lifts remaining restrictions on arms sales to Israel after yearlong review
The Independent 16 July by Cahal Milmo — The Government has lifted any remaining restrictions on arms sales to Israel following a year-long review of 12 export licences for weaponry which it admitted may have been used in last year’s bombardment of Gaza. Business Secretary Sajid Javid’s department said it was now satisfied that the licences for material including components for military radar and tanks meet the UK’s export criteria, which ban any sale of arms where there is a “clear risk” that they may be used to commit serious breaches of human rights … The Independent revealed last month that Britain approved fresh arms deals with Israel worth £4m within weeks of the end of the Gaza conflict, with the first licence being granted within six days of the announcement of a ceasefire.
Court denies equal work conditions for Palestinians in West Bank legal no-man’s-land
JPost 19 July by Yonah Jeremy Bob — Judges: 1967 Jordanian law, not Israeli law, still applies — The National Labor Court on Sunday denied three Palestinians who work in a factory in the Nitzanei Shalom industrial area near Tulkarm equal work conditions to Israelis in a ruling that may have implications for both Israeli-Palestinian work relations and the diplomatic process. The court ruled that the factory’s location is essentially a legal no-man’s-land because of its special circumstances. The case concerned whether the Palestinian workers’ legal rights should be determined by Israeli law or 1967 Jordanian law, as the industrial workspace is located in Area C of the West Bank. International law stipulates that an “occupying country” is supposed to apply the law that already existed to the local population before it came under its rule. Israel has always taken the position that Jordanian law applies to Palestinians in a wide variety of areas since it conquered the West Bank from it in 1967. Despite the state’s position, the High Court of Justice issued a 2007 ruling stating that Palestinians who lived in the West Bank but worked for Israelis in the Givat Ze’ev settlement were entitled to the same work conditions as Israelis. This included pay, vacation days and termination pay. The precedent spurred hopes for the Palestinian workers, and their supporters at Combatants for Peace and the Wac-Maan Workers Advice Center, that the court would adopt a similar position in this case. The court ruled for the employers in this case, however, because it said that the industrial zone near Tulkarm, where the factory is situated, falls into a special category because it is part of a joint effort agreed under the Oslo Accords. The purpose of that agreement was to supply jobs to Palestinians. For that reason the court ruled that Jordanian, not Israeli law, should apply … The Palestinians’ lawyers argued that the key distinction should not be the mix of employees, but rather the fact that the employer was Israeli and that the area is under Israeli military control in Area C of the West Bank where the PA has no jurisdiction … Shiloni added that both Israeli and current Jordanian law are much more modern and favorable for workers. A spokeswoman for Combatants for Peace said that if the court fails to apply Israeli law to the industrial zone, it will continue to be a legal no-man’s-land in which chemicals and other pollutants are dumped in a way that harms the environment. She claimed the employers there came to the area knowing they could exploit legal loopholes to avoid taxes, environmental laws and workers’ rights laws.
Searching for incitement in Palestinian mosques — harder than you think
The Seventh Eye 19 July by Anat Saragusti — Channel 10 News wanted so badly to prove that Muslim preachers in Israel and the occupied territories use their Ramadan sermons to incite against Jews. Something went wrong along the way — “Incitement in Mosques.” That was the headline of a campaign that ran on Israel’s Channel 10 News this week, and which featured the station’s reporter on Arab affairs, Zvi Yehezkeli. The promo spots, like all of the teasers in the broadcast, were frightening, including dramatic background music, photos of ISIL, and sermons about jihad, mujahadin, Al-Aqsa and other words likely to send any Israeli Jew running into the bomb shelter. The campaign gave the impression that ISIL is amassing on our borders and Yehezkeli is the true prophet, here to lay the facts before us … And then the piece itself was broadcast. It was no coincidence that they called it a “special project.” Twenty minutes is considered an eternity in television news. For the show, Yehezkeli wore black clothes, a black cap and shot his stand-ups with mosques in the background. I tried to pick out the wheat from the chaff … The bottom line: most of the sermons were “boring” according to Yehezkeli, dealing mainly with issues of religion and spirituality. “This does not represent all the mosques,” he says at the end of his report. Many of the preachers did not speak about political issues, did not mention ISIL, nor did they incite or call for violence. On the contrary, the preacher at the main mosque in Gaza actually called for peace and tranquility, and his sermon was a shining example of humanistic Islam … A preacher in the Dome of the Rock openly espoused ISIS’ ideology, and one flag belonging to Islamic State could be seen there. There was also talk of radical settlers trying to take over Islam’s holy sites. Jerusalem Police told Channel 10 that it does not hesitate to detain and indict in such cases.
The case for dismantling Israel’s human rights organizations
+972 Blog 18 July by Noam Rotem — By doing the army’s job for it, Israeli human rights organizations enable the IDF’s ongoing dereliction of its obligation to protect the occupied Palestinian population — The Israeli human rights organizations operating in the West Bank are doing noble work. There should be no argument about that. They are on the front lines of injustice every single day. With varying levels of success, they attempt to deliver a modicum of justice to the robbed and beaten Palestinian population. These organizations invest massive resources into representing and advocating for Palestinians as they face Israeli authorities. From field workers who meet with victims, to research divisions that sort through and make sense of mountains of data and injustices, to attorneys who search for the clauses and sub-sections of the laws that were violated, to media departments that disseminate that information in Israel and across the globe, and countless departments, regiments and brigades in the crumbling army of human rights. – The humanitarian arm of the IDF – The military comparison is intentional. To a certain degree, these organizations serve as the humanitarian arm of the IDF. They give the Palestinian population assurances, or hope, of a non-violent, bureaucratic resolution — in the name of the occupier. To the Palestinians and the rest of the world, these organizations are the “good guys” in the struggle, somebody to turn to for redress about injustice or the violation of the law. But should NGOs really be responsible for upholding the rule of law, or are they just filling a vacuum created by the negligence of the sovereign — the IDF? One thing needs to be made crystal clear: as an army occupying a civilian population, the IDF’s fundamental obligation is to protect that population. In reality, the IDF does everything in its power to not fulfill that role; in many ways, the IDF relies on Israeli human rights organizations to fill that role for it. But if occupying a civilian population obligates Israel to protect that population, as is required by international conventions Israel has signed and ratified, then the IDF has outsourced that obligation….
Despite its wishes, the EU only deepens the occupation
+972 mag 16 July by Noam Sheizaf — The European Union is substituting pressure on Israel for dialogue. How else will it be able to continue building schools and solar panels in the occupied territories? — The European Union is one of the most demonized bodies in Israel at the moment, and the hate is no longer coming only from the extreme right. The working assumption in the Israeli mainstream is that the EU is biased against Israel, that it supports different forms of sanctions and boycotts, and that it is trying to isolate Israel and force it to withdraw from the occupied territories. The truth is entirely different. While the EU might support the two-state solution, and the leaders of its member states are far more committed to two states than the Obama administration, it is also one of the main bodies helping Israel maintain the status quo in the West Bank and Gaza. The goal of Israel’s policy is maintaining the current reality in the occupied territories, in which Israel effectively rules the West Bank, continues to support settlement growth, enjoys quiet due to security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and the IDF is able to act freely. All this is done without having to bear the real cost of the occupation, especially since foreign bodies fund the Palestinian Authority, train its police officers, prevent chaos in the refugee camps and maintain civil infrastructure. The EU is one of the sustainers of the status quo. In fact, it has built the PA twice — once after Oslo, and once again after Israel destroyed the civil infrastructure in the occupied territories during the Second Intifada. Since then, Israel has taken on less and less responsibility for the civilian population under its rule (except for in Area C of the West Bank, where creeping annexation has become the norm)….
Haaretz Editorial: What underlies Beitar Jerusalem fans’ hooliganism
19 July — With their racist remarks, their conduct and their antidemocratic legislation, Israeli politicians legitimize the phenomenon called Beitar Jerusalem — The wild behavior of Beitar Jerusalem soccer fans in Belgium last Thursday should surprise no one. That famous “handful” of fans – which is not a handful, but a large group of a few thousand – long ago took control of the club and is holding it hostage to its racist views, supported by violent actions that are not met with significant punishment by the authorities … Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev was quick to denounce the behavior of Beitar fans, whom she said “stained an entire country.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also took the trouble to release a statement: “We will not allow Beitar fans to hurt the image of the country,” he said. However, the problem is not Israel’s image in the world, but the overt racism that is fueled by exactly those same officials who are now condemning it. Netanyahu and Regev are preaching to others what they themselves do not practice. With their racist remarks (“The Arabs are flocking to the polling stations”), their conduct (threatening the funding of Arab cultural institutions) and their antidemocratic legislation – which is so typical of the government they head – they legitimize the phenomenon called Beitar Jerusalem. In recent weeks, Haaretz’s sports section has been leading a campaign called “Until an Arab plays for Beitar.” Its goal is to break down the wall of racism that has typified one of the country’s veteran soccer clubs, which in all its 79 years has never seen fit to sign an Arab player….
One man’s search for harmony on the West Bank
The Observer 19 July by Ivan Solotaroff — An excerpt from Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land by Sandy Tolan — In the spring of 1996, a pair of bullet-proof Chevy Suburbans pulled into the West Bank refugee camp of Al Amari, bearing an American chamber-music ensemble to teach music to the camp’s children … Before their return to Jerusalem, the ensemble performed Brahms’s Piano Quartet in G Minor. One element of that music changed Ramzi’s life, instantly and forever. “Four melodies at once?” he recalls almost two decades later. “I was shocked by it, terribly confused. In Arabic music, the orchestra plays only the one.” … As he began to explore the viola more deeply, a seed was planted: the idea of music schools for the children of the occupied territories. Eventually to be called Al Kamandjâti – the Violinist – these would help bring culture, hope and what he would later call the “face of a state” to a land that had been largely without all three for half a century. When Palestinians speak of what was lost in the Nakba – their exodus and refugee life after the creation of Israel – farms, fields and houses are most usually invoked. “But the musical life of Palestine was quite active before 1948,” Ramzi tells me. “Famous singers and players, ensembles, orchestras. They thought their life as refugees would end, soon, and music was never seen to. Over time, it became only songs of protest and imprisonment; not love, life, faith, nature. The normal.”