UN calls for immediate freeze to West Bank home demolitions
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Aug — UN officials on Tuesday slammed a recent spate of Israeli home demolitions east of Jerusalem and called for an immediate freeze on demolitions across the occupied West Bank. Israeli forces on Monday demolished 22 structures belonging to the Jahalin Bedouin community in eastern Jerusalem, leaving 78 Palestinians homeless, including 49 children, the UN Office for the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said in a joint statement. “According to UN records, this is the largest number of Palestinians displaced in the West Bank in one day in nearly three years,” the statement said. The demolitions all took place in the E1 corridor — a large tract of land between East Jerusalem and the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim that Israel has earmarked for annexation.
Read the full statement here (PDF)
IDF destroys 22 Bedouin structures in West Bank, leaving 79 homeless
Haaretz 18 Aug by Amira Hass — The Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria on Monday destroyed 22 huts and animal pens in Bedouin communities near Ma’aleh Adumim, east of Jerusalem, leaving 79 people, including 49 children, homeless and their flocks without shelter in the searing heat. According to United Nations data, this is the largest number of West Bank Palestinians to lose their homes in one day since October 31, 2012. The four communities involved were A-Sa’idi, near the town of A-Zaim, west of Ma’aleh Adumim, and three others to the north of Ma’aleh Adumim: Bir el-Maskub, Wadi Sneysel and Abu Falah, all in the area of Khan al-Ahmar. A total of 400 people live in these communities. Attorney Shlomo Lecker, who is representing the families at Bir al-Maskub, said the demolitions were carried out even though objections to them were submitted in May to Etti Sofer, coordinator of the Civil Administration’s inspections subcommittee. Lecker said that in contrast to the usual procedures, he never received any response to these objections . . . Lecker said he cannot recall an instance in which the authorities carried out demolition orders without responding to the objections and to a request for a delay to allow for legal proceedings. Israel does not include the Bedouin communities in its master plans for Area C, the areas under total Israeli control, which is why Bedouin residents are forced to build huts and other temporary structures without permits from the Civil Administration. In recent years Israel has expedited its demolition activities, along with efforts to concentrate all Bedouin communities in permanent towns.
Israeli forces demolish 12 tents near Jericho
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Israeli bulldozers on Tuesday demolished 12 tents housing families in the al-Fasayel area near Jericho in the southern Jordan Valley, locals told Ma‘an. The tents belonged to Palestinian families from al-Rashayda and al-Taamra, locals said. They added that Israeli bulldozers also tore down several structures in al-Maaber near Jericho. Earlier this month, Israeli forces demolished 18 homes and agricultural stores belonging to Palestinians in the northern Jordan Valley. Governor of Tubas Rabeeh al-Khandakji said that the demolitions were carried out without prior warning.
Israeli forces demolish 3-story building in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Aug — Israeli forces on Wednesday demolished a three-story building under construction in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, locals told Ma‘an. Israeli soldiers and Border Police reportedly escorted bulldozers into the neighborhood in an early morning raid. They closed the main street and proceeded to demolish the building belonging to the Tawtah and al-Tawatnji families, claiming that it did not have the necessary permits, locals said. Members of the Tawatah family said that they began work on the three-story building nine months ago, although one of its lower apartments was 80 years old. They said it that the building consisted of six apartments, with each story measuring 180 square meters. The family said that an Israeli court demanded they pay a fine of 550,000 shekels ($142,000) to postpone the demolition. The family said that after they refused to pay the amount, the court ordered the structure’s demolition.They added that the Israeli bulldozers tore down the entire building, including the 80-year-old apartment.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Suppression of protests / Detentions
Israeli forces shoot Palestinian dead at southern Nablus checkpoint
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Israeli troops shot dead a young Palestinian man in the northern West Bank on Monday after he allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli Border Police officer, the Israeli army said. An Israeli army spokeswoman alleged that the Palestinian man approached Israeli Border Police officers at Tappuah junction, known to Palestinians as Zaatara military checkpoint, asking for “medical assistance.” The spokeswoman said that he then pulled out a knife and attempted to stab an Israeli officer. She said that he struggled with the officer, before other officers opened fire on him. The spokeswoman confirmed that he had been killed. She added that the police officer was lightly injured. Palestinian witnesses said that Israeli forces closed the checkpoint to traffic as large numbers of troops deployed in the area. The Palestinian Red Crescent confirmed the death and said an ambulance had been prevented from approaching the area, which the army cordoned off before handing over the body in a military ambulance. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that the victim did not have an identity card on him. They said that Israeli forces took his body to a nearby military base in Huwwara. They said that the body would be delivered to his family after he is identified.
Israeli forces raid home of killed Palestinian near Jenin
JENIN (WAFA) 18 Aug – Israeli army forces raided before dawn on Tuesday the house of Mohammad Abu Amsha’s family, a Palestinian who was shot dead in cold blood by the Israeli army on Monday, according to his father. Bassam Abu Amsha, Mohammad’s father, said an Israeli army force raided the house located in the town of Kafr Ra‘i, southwest of Jenin, and interrogated him and other members of his family. According to witnesses, an Israeli Border policeman physically assaulted Mohammad, who was present at the site, in an extremely degrading manner. The young man, in return, aimed to push the policeman back, but the soldier shot Mohammad with two bullets in his feet. Another Border policeman, who was stationed at a close military tower, shot him with four bullets in the chest, killing him instantly. The Israeli military and police claimed that Mohammad had attempted to stab the policeman with a knife, but visual evidence of the incident circulated on the internet and proved the inaccuracy of the Israeli army’s narrative.
PA security: No proof Palestinians attempted stabbing attacks
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — The Palestinian Authority security forces on Tuesday said that there was no evidence that Palestinians shot by Israeli forces in recent days, in two cases fatally, had stabbed Israeli soldiers. In the last week, Israeli forces have shot three Palestinians, killing two, who they claimed attempted to stab Israeli soldiers or Border Police officers. However, the spokesperson for the PA security forces, Major-General Adnan Dmeiri, said in a statement that Israel had provided no evidence to support its allegations. He questioned the fact that in each case the Israeli army or police force investigated its own soldiers or officers, “without the interference of any other party.” He said that the investigations had portrayed the Israeli soldiers and officers as “heroes.” Dmeiri criticized the fact that the army and police force were both the investigators and the “executors” of Palestinians.
Jewish fanatics assault two Palestinians, including child in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 18 Aug – Israeli Jewish extremists on Tuesday assaulted two Palestinians, including a child who was pelted with stones, in the Old City of Hebron, according to local and security sources. The sources said a group of extremist settlers assaulted with stones a small Palestinian girl in Hebron’s Old City neighborhood, causing her bruises all over her body. The child, who was identified as Farah Abu Sneineh, was given first aid at the scene. In the meantime, Jewish fanatics physically assaulted a young man in the same area, causing him bruises throughout his body. The man, identified as Yaqoub Komi, 37, was transferred to Hebron’s public hospital for immediate medical treatment.
Four Israelis, one Palestinian wounded in East Jerusalem stone-throwing incident
Haaretz 19 Aug by Nir Hasson — Four Israeli and one Palestinian teens were lightly wounded Tuesday night in a stone-throwing incident near A-Tur in East Jerusalem. They were part of a coexistence summer school involving Jewish and Arab youths and were returning from a class when their bus was attacked. The assailants, believed by security forces to be Palestinian, struck a bus and two private vehicles. A window on the bus was shattered. The five injured received treatment at the scene. Four of them were later evacuated to Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem for further treatment. The four, three boys and a girl aged 16 to 17, suffered light wounds to the head and limbs, and are all fully conscious. Dr. Poznanski Oded, who heads the hospital’s emergency pediatric unit, said the wounded children told him they were returning from the coexistence when their bus was attacked with “large stones”. He said that two of the boys suffered eye injuries while the girl suffered head injuries, and expressed optimism about their recovery. One of the teens’ father said “they were part of a group of Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian teens studying a summer course in cardiology. It is unbelievable that it would be them that would be targeted.”
The occupation arrests a child from Al-Aqsa gates
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 17 Aug — The occupation police arrested on Sunday one child after leaving Al-Aqsa Mosque. Wadi Hilweh Information Center’s lawyer was informed that the police arrested the 12-year old Omar Mahmoud Mustafa Shwayat from the neighborhood of Ras Al-Amoud in Silwan and transferred him to Al-Qishleh police station in the Old City of Jerusalem on charges of throwing stones. Signs of fear were obvious on the child as he was arrested alone and nobody was allowed to accompany him in the police car. On the other hand, 74 [Jewish] extremists broke into Al-Aqsa and carried out a tour into its courtyards amid chants of “God is Great” by the Marabouts; the police detained the IDs of a group of women before entering Al-Aqsa.
Extended school day for Arab schools in East Jerusalem but only for boys
Haaretz 19 Aug by Nir Hasson — The Jerusalem municipality and the Education Ministry will pay for an extended school day in all East Jerusalem secondary schools – but only for boys. Formulated in cooperation with the police, the plan for an extended school day was intended in part to solve the problem of rock-throwing by Arab youths after school lets out. It seems to have been proposed originally by the police, who noticed that most of the stone-throwing took place after schools let out, and near them. The program was introduced in the middle of the last school year, during a wave of violence in the eastern part of the capital. It originally encompassed nine schools in some of the most violent neighborhoods, including Silwan, Issawiya, Shuafat, Beit Hanina, and a-Tur. The schools received additional budgets to provide a longer school day for some 2,000 students. This coming school year, the program will be expanded to 15 schools – in effect, all the public secondary schools for boys. A large portion of the schools in East Jerusalem are private schools.
The occupation arrests one girl and five Jerusalemites from in front of Barzilai hospital
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 17 Aug — The occupation police arrested six Jerusalemites after assaulting them during a demonstration carried out to support the prisoner Mohammad Allan in front of Barzilai hospital. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that the occupation forces suppressed a sit-in held in solidarity with the prisoner Mohammad Allan. The forces assaulted the participants with batons, pepper gas and wastewater in addition to dispersing them by the calvary units. Witnesses explained that the forces arrested Mai Abdeen, Hussam A’bed, Yazan Hamami, Fathi Naser, Amir Bilbeisi and Usama Yassini and detained them in Ashkelon police center. The center was also informed that one young man and one female lost consciousness and were transferred to the hospital while many others fainted and were injured with bruises due to being assaulted by the Israeli forces . . . a group of settlers were also present in the area and verbally assaulted the participants and threw stones towards them.
Israel arrests 6 in West Bank, summons others
WEST BANK (WAFA) 17 Aug — At least six Palestinians were detained late Sunday and on Monday by the Israeli authorities from the West Bank districts of Hebron and Bethlehem, according to local and security sources. In Hebron, the Israeli army detained two Palestinians, identified as Abd al-Rahman al-Khatib and Mo’men Qawasmeh, after raiding and searching their homes late Sunday night. Forces further stormed several neighborhoods in the Hebron area and set up military checkpoints at the entrances of the towns of Sa’ir and Halhul, to the north, where they stopped Palestinian-registered vehicles and checked passengers’ identity cards, causing a traffic jam. Later on Monday, the Israeli army detained two Palestinian brothers from the town of Sa‘ir after they appeared before the Israeli intelligence for interrogation at Gush Etzion military Compound. The detainees were identified as Lu’ai, 17, and Qusai Jaradat, 16. Meanwhile, the army stormed the village of Taqu‘, east of Bethlehem, where they detained two Palestinians and summoned two other youths for interrogation after raiding their homes at dawn. The detainees were identified as Ahmad Saleem Sabah, 19, and Baraa Sabah, 19.
Israeli forces detain five Palestinians from Hebron, Jerusalem districts
HEBRON (WAFA) 18 Aug – Israeli forces detained early Tuesday five Palestinians from Hebron and Jerusalem districts, said security sources. Undercover Israeli units raided a local bakery known as Ghaith Bakery on Ein Sarah Street in central Hebron in the southern West Bank, where they detained a Palestinian identified as Othman al-Ja‘bari. The same units detained another Palestinian from Ash-Shuhada Street in central Hebron. The detainee was identified as Wael al-Mashni, 40, from the Hebron town of Ash-Shuyukh, a town to the northeast of the city. Israeli soliders raided Halhul, a town to the north of the city, where they detained two Palestinians after breaking into and ransacking their homes. The detainees were identified as Mahmoud Hijazi and Muhammad Abu Rayyan. Israeli soldiers also raided several other Hebron neighborhoods and set up checkpoints at the entrances of Sa‘ir and Halhul as well as the northern entrance of the city, where they stopped and examined Palestinian registered vehicles and inspected passengers’ identification cards. Meanwhile to the east of Jerusalem, Israeli forces stationed at the Qalandiya military checkpoint stopped and detained a Palestinian young man. The man, whose identity remains unknown, was detained after being brutally assaulted by Israeli soldiers.
A scar on a child’s dreams
UNRWA 14 Aug — A year after the violent summer of 2014, the pain of their injuries lingers for many Palestine refugees in the West Bank. Mahmood is a young teenager growing up in ‘Arroub camp. Clashes occur frequently in the camp – more than once a week – with search operations by Israeli security forces (ISF) occurring every few days on average. Mahmood’s life prospects changed for the worse last year when he stuck his head out of a first-floor window and was shot by Israeli security forces (ISF) firing plastic-coated metal bullets (PCMB). The PCMB struck him on the forehead, fracturing his skull. “Suddenly I found myself in a pool of blood,” he recalls . . . As shown in the UNRWA infographic, live ammunition injuries have increased in recent years. According to UNRWA data, at least 82 Palestinians have been injured by live ammunition in West Bank refugee camps between July 2014 and July 2015. Many of these injuries involve children; between January 2014 and June 2015, a total of 110 Palestine refugee minors were injured, 26 by live ammunition. Another four children lost their lives to live ammunition . . . -Life After Injury- A year after he was shot, UNRWA staff met with Mahmood and his mother and heard about his slow and painful recovery. After the incident, Mahmood was hospitalized for four days and required surgery to remove the PCMB and insert plates to protect his skull. Mahmood’s mother tells us that since his injury, he cannot bear hot or cold temperatures, sometimes turning blue and fainting when he can no longer cope. Mahmood compares his life before and after the injury. “I cannot focus at school for more than 10 minutes,” he says. “I was very good at school [before], but last year I failed science.” Psychosocial factors exacerbate the physiological – stigma and self-consciousness are frequent issues for children trying to return to school following injury. “I cannot play football any more, and my friends stopped playing with me as well,” Mahmood adds sadly. “I always remember what happened and how a part of my head is now platinum.”
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization
Israel builds separation barrier despite court ruling
Haaretz 18 Aug by Nir Hasson — The Defense Ministry resumed construction on Monday of the separation barrier near Beit Jala, south of Jerusalem, even though the High Court of Justice had invalidated the building of the barrier in that region and ordered the state to reconsider it. On Monday, heavy equipment came to the area and uprooted olive trees and earthwork in preparation for the barrier’s construction in the Cremisan Valley, between the city of Beit Jala and the settlement of Har Gilo and the village of Walaja. After nine years of legal proceedings, the High Court of Justice in April accepted a petition against the route of the barrier that had been filed by landowners, the Walaja town council and the Roman Catholic Cremisan Monastery and its related convent. The convent and the monastery would have been separated from one another by the barrier, while the landowners said they would be separated from their lands. “The respondents must swiftly reconsider the various alternatives for the separation fence route in this section,” the justices wrote. Despite this, only three weeks after the ruling, attorney Giat Nasser, who represents the residents and the Beit Jala municipality, received a letter from the Defense Ministry saying it had decided to continue building the barrier along the invalidated route, except for 200 meters near the monastery and convent that would remain a “hole” in the barrier. “They apparently haven’t reconciled themselves to the ruling,” said Nasser. “What they’re doing is ‘feeding’ the court, stage by stage. After they build the fence they’ll say it’s already up, then they’ll ask to build the loops around the monasteries, because there won’t be any choice.” Nasser filed another petition against the barrier last month and asked for an interim injunction to prevent the work from starting. But although such an injunction had been in place for nine years, Supreme Court Justice Uri Shoham refused to renew the injunction, allowing the work to proceed. Now Nasser is demanding an urgent hearing of his petition. “This is the quietest area and there are no problems here,” Beit Jala Mayor Nicola Khamis said Monday. “Today they uprooted 1,500-year-old trees. How they want us to live here in peace, I don’t know.”
In Jerusalem, even a temporary pool is cause for controversy
Haaretz 19 Aug by Nir Hasson — A call for proposals to restore and develop an ancient reservoir in downtown Jerusalem — earlier suggestions for which have included the installation of a giant Ferris wheel and a landing strip for hot air balloons — has drawn opposition from environmentalists, preservationists and people who fear a disruption of relations between Jews and Arabs in the city. Mamilla Pool is a precious archaeological site and also the city’s only vernal pool, a temporary pond that is dry for most of the year and is filled by rain in the winter, providing an important habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals. In addition, the pool lies within Jerusalem’s biggest Muslim cemetery. The municipality will award a prize of 25,000 shekels ($6,550) for the winning proposal . . . The Waqf, or Islamic religious trust, and the Islamic Movement are extremely sensitive about construction in the area, especially after losing a legal battle against the erection of the Museum of Tolerance on the other side of the cemetery.
In pictures: The occupation attempts to remove paintings drawn on the walls of Wadi Hilweh in Silwan
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 18 Aug — The locals of the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh confronted the occupation municipality’s crews that raided the neighborhood to remove paintings drawn on its walls. The center explained that the municipality’s contractor along with a group of workers raided the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh and had painting tools with them and attempted to remove the paintings drawn on some walls in the neighborhood and claimed that the paintings disturbed the settlers. International artists recently drew paintings in the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh in Silwan with the support and partnership of Madaa Silwan Creative Center. The paintings touched on national issues and some of the hopes and dreams of the Palestinian youth notably the “Panel fig tree” which is famous in Silwan. Four Martyrs were drawn on the leaves of the tree, they are: Ali Dawabsheh from the village of Duma south of Nablus and Mohammad Abu Khdeir from Shu‘fat who were both burned by settlers in July 2014 and 2015, respectively. The third Martyr was Samer Sarhan and the fourth was Milad Ayyash; some leaves were left empty to reflect the Palestinian reality where Martyrs fall in support of their just cause. Another painting was for “Ein Silwan and Ein Silwan Mosque” which are targeted by Elad settlement organization to be Judaized. Palestinian flags and “I love you Silwan” slogans covered several walls in addition to the “Right to return” and Handala. Another picture was drawn for the late Palestinian Poet Mahmoud Darwish and some of his slogans insisting to hold-on to the land and preserve the Arab identity of the city were also written on the walls.
WATCH: How Palestinian land becomes an Israeli national park
Israeli Social TV 18 Aug — ‘Issawiya, a crowded Palestinian village situated on the slopes of Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus, is home to 23,000 people. The municipality is planning to build a national park atop land belonging to the village, rather than building schools and infrastructure that would benefit its residents. The Palestinian residents of the village aren’t taking the decision lying down.
New Diaspora Ministry initiative could open Israel’s gates to millions of non-Jews with ‘Jewish links’
Haaretz 17 Aug by Judy Maltz — Indicating a possible shift in government policy toward “emerging” Jewish communities around the world, Israel’s Ministry of the Diaspora has created a new committee to present recommendations on what it defines as “groups with ties to the Jewish people.” Member of these “emerging” Jewish communities are not allowed to immigrate to Israel today under the Law of Return, which provides citizenship only to individuals who have at least one Jewish grandparent or a Jewish spouse or who have converted to Judaism. “Emerging” Jewish communities cover a wide spectrum. They include groups that claim descent from the so-called “lost tribes,” such as the Bnei Menashe from northeastern India. They also include “bnei anusim” – descendants of Jews forced to convert during the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions. In addition, they include numerous communities in South America and in other remote corners of the world that have recently discovered Judaism and embrace Jewish practices, sometimes converting to Judaism, but often not. Scholars who study “emerging” Jewish communities – also known as “Judaizing” communities – have estimated their numbers in the millions. Should the new advisory committee recommend a change in existing immigration policy, and should the government adopt that recommendation, it could potentially lead to a vast increase in the pool of individuals eligible to move to Israel from around the world.
Israeli military vehicles raze land in Gaza border area
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Israeli military vehicles entered agricultural lands in a border area in southern Gaza on Monday, local residents said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that five Israeli excavators raided the al-Nahda neighborhood near Rafah and leveled Palestinian land. Israeli reconnaissance planes flew overhead during the operation, with Israeli military tanks positioned on the border between Gaza and Israel. Israeli forces frequently shoot at farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach large swaths of land near the border that the Israeli military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians. The “security buffer zone” extends between 500 meters and 1500 meters into the Strip, effectively turning local farms into no-go zones. According to UNOCHA, 17 percent of Gaza’s total land area and 35 percent of its agricultural land were within the buffer zone as of 2010, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of more than 100,000 Gazans.
Sources: Egypt to create ‘fish farms’ along Gaza border
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Egyptian security sources said Tuesday that the Egyptian army is planning to fill a kilometer-long trench along the Gazan border with seawater to be used for fish farming. The project, aimed at preventing smuggling tunnels into Gaza, will also serve a commercial purpose, the sources told Ma‘an. They have already dug 1 kilometer of the 20-meter deep trench, although they said that work is continuing to lengthen it. They said that it would be filled with seawater from the Mediterranean, using pumps and pipelines, adding that engineers were already preparing the pumps. The claims could not be confirmed. The Egyptian military said in June that it was digging a trench along the Gazan border, 20 meters deep and 10 meters wide, outside of Rafah city. By the end of April, Egypt had demolished around 1,110 houses on the Egyptian side of Rafah City to clear the way for a 1-kilometer buffer zone along the border, although in June it was revealed that up to 10,000 more homes might eventually be torn down. The idea of a moat along the Gaza-Egypt border has in the past been suggested several times by both Egyptian and Israeli authorities, who have together maintained a crippling blockade on the impoverished coastal enclave since 2007.
Egypt detains Hamas official at Cairo airport: security sources
CAIRO (Reuters) 18 Aug — Egypt detained a senior Hamas official at Cairo International Airport, security sources said on Tuesday, a day after it reopened the Rafah border crossing to allow Palestinians to travel in and out of the Gaza Strip. Hassan Asseify, the deputy religious affairs minister in Hamas-ruled Gaza, was stopped on his way back from Saudi Arabia to the Palestinian enclave after Cairo airport security found “issues in the security approval for his entrance to the country,” an airport security source said. Asseify will remain in detention until issues with his paperwork are resolved, he said. A second security source said Asseify was detained at dawn on Monday. The Islamist Hamas could not be reached for comment.
Fiberglass said destined for Gaza rockets intercepted at Egypt border
Times of Israel 17 Aug by Stuart Winer — Israeli authorities intercepted a shipment of fiberglass incoming from Egypt earlier this month they say was intended for use by terror groups in the Gaza Strip to build rockets, officials said Monday. The attempt to smuggle the two tons of tubing into the Strip from Egypt via Israel was foiled by the Shin Bet security service and customs officials, according to a statement released by the Tax Authority. A gag order on details of the case was lifted on Monday. The Shin Bet said it believes the fiberglass was intended for use by terror groups in Gaza in the manufacture of long-range rockets. Tax workers at the Nitzana crossing between Egypt and Israel became suspicious of the shipment, which was ordered by a Gaza-based importer and labeled as containing clothes and materials. After opening the shipment for a closer look, tax officials discovered the rolls of fiberglass hidden inside . . . Legal procedures will be taken against the smugglers, according to the statement.
Photos: Gaza’s forgotten residents
AL-NUSIRAT, Gaza (Al Jazeera) 17 Aug by Ahmed Deeb — Gaza’s el-Wafa Center for Aged Care is home to tens of elderly Palestinian men and women, many of whom suffer from physical ailments and have no relatives left to care for them. The home, located in the central Gaza Strip, provides its residents with basic health services, meals and rehabilitative care. Caretakers at the centre, which offers its services free of charge, are paid by donors. The home aims to strengthen ties between its elderly residents and the broader community. Some of the centre’s residents suffer from degenerative diseases, while others have simply been left alone in life with nowhere else to turn.
On Gaza beach, ‘street workout’ flexes its muscles
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 18 Aug by Sarah Benhaida — Face taut, muscles bulging, his rigid body suspended horizontally in the air on a pole, Bakr al-Makadmeh’s “street workout” showcases the urban bodybuilding making ripples in Gaza. With passersby looking on as they enjoy the relative cool of late afternoon on the Gaza beach, the 23-year-old Palestinian carries out a series of exercises with ease as he calls the names in English, alternating between the “human flag,” “back and front lever” and “muscle up.” “These moves, you can’t learn them in just one day, it took me six months to get them right,” he says before dismounting from the bar he improvised with his group . . . Makadmeh works 12 hours a day at a motorcycle spare parts shop, “but every other day we get together in the evening for two hours of street workout,” he tells AFP. For nearly a year he has been training with other young Gazans in the sport inspired by a Swedish fitness trend, which he discovered through YouTube videos . . . Their dream is to take part in international competitions where they could finally meet the athletes they see performing street workouts on the Internet. But in Gaza, such dreams all hit the same wall — its sealed borders closed off by Egypt and Israel, which has kept the Palestinian territory blockaded for nine years.
Healing waters from Hebron to Gaza
Huffington Post 17 Aug by Kate Rothschild — For millennia the Holy Land has attracted pilgrims from all corners of the Earth, devoutly following in the footsteps of Abraham and the patriarchs of all three major religions. We too were on a pilgrimage, not a spiritual one but no less sacred. We were to trace the flow of polluted waters down from the Hebron Stream, through the Negev desert, and into the ancient port of Gaza, an environmental mission. It was a punishingly hot day in July, not the ideal time of year to be peering into an open valley festering with the untreated sewage of 300,000 people. The stench was overwhelming, toxic, the sort of smell you never forget. We were just south of Hebron, in the West Bank, where the stream begins its descent. I use the term ‘stream’ loosely; this is no babbling brook, an oozing trickle of brown liquid slick with raw sewage and industrial toxins. It splutters past smaller Palestinian towns and villages, metres away from drinking wells and agricultural smallholdings. In summer it completely absorbs into the earth, infecting the water table, a primary drinking water source for Palestinians and Israelis. In winter it floods onwards to join Wadi Gaza where it meets the already fetid Gazan groundwater and arrives, an unceremonious underwater mushroom cloud, at the Mediterranean Sea. We visit the site of a planned sewage treatment plant funded by foreign investors, progress is slow, ‘the war’, our guide from the water authority explains . . . Gaza’s water crisis is well documented, although most people are fuzzy on the details. 1.8million people rely almost exclusively on water deemed unfit for human consumption by the WHO. A diseased fresh water table, crippled with upstream and local sewage and infiltrated by seawater presents an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Blue baby syndrome, cholera and typhoid, all plagues of biblical proportion, wait silently in the wings. And yet here, in this most intractable region, on this mother of all issues, there is hope. Just last month Israel completed a new pipeline and agreed to double the amount of water they would sell to Gaza, it took 20 years of diplomacy; it could have taken a month . . . I just have one small, unfurling seed of optimism; knowing that if water could be disentangled from the war, it presents a genuine opportunity for co-operation and relationship building between neighbours. In all the gloom there is a glimmer of hope and it’s right there, in the water.
Restrictions on movement
Israeli forces deny Gaza poet, novelist entry to West Bank
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Israeli authorities on Monday prevented two Palestinian artists from leaving Gaza to take part in a conference in the occupied West Bank. Poet Salim al-Naffar told Ma‘an that he and novelist Ibrahim al-Zant were denied permission to cross Erez after having been invited by the PA Ministry of Culture to take part in a writers’ conference next week in Ramallah. “I and novelist Ibrahim al-Zant were notified by the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs that we could go to the Erez crossing to travel to Ramallah, but representatives of the ministry at the crossing told us that the Israelis refused to let us exit the crossing,” al-Naffar said. Al-Naffar’s poetry featured in A Bird is Not a Stone, a collection of poems by 25 Palestinians artists which was published last year in Scotland.
Israeli forces deny Palestinians entry to Aqsa compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Israeli forces deployed heavily at all gates to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City Tuesday morning and denied a large number of Palestinian worshipers entry to the holy site, witnesses said. Israeli police officer denied entry to many Palestinian men and women, in addition to children taking part in a summer camp, witnesses said. Only employees of the Islamic Endowment were given unrestricted access after Israeli police checked their identification. Meanwhile, right-wing Israelis were allowed to tour the compound under the protection of Israeli police officers. Tensions have risen sharply at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in recent weeks, with near-daily clashes as right-wing Jewish organizations call on their members to tour the site.
Prisoners / Court actions
PA: Israel offers to free hunger striker in November
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Aug — The Israeli military prosecution on Wednesday morning offered to release Palestinian hunger striker Muhammad Allan when his administrative detention expires in November, the head of the Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs said. Issa Qaraqe said that Israel offered to release Allan on Nov. 3 when his six-month interval in administrative detention — internment without trial or charge — comes to an end. Qaraqe said that Israel would also pledge not to detain Allan under administrative detention again. As of noon Wednesday, Allan was not believed to have responded yet, although Jawad Bolous, chief lawyer for the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, told Ma‘an that he was at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon seeing Allan.
Hunger striker wakes from coma, vows to continue protest
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Aug 4:16 pm — Palestinian hunger striker Muhammad Allan on Tuesday woke from a coma after four days and immediately pledged to resume fasting if Israel did not resolve his case within 24 hours, Palestinian officials said.The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said that Allan “declared in front of his doctors that if there is not any solution to his case within 24 hours he will ask for all treatment to stop and will stop drinking water.”The Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs confirmed that Allan had communicated his intention to carry on his hunger strike, which is now in its 64th day.The 31-year-old lawyer from southern Nablus has been receiving life-saving medical treatment, but threatened to have this brought to an end if Israel does not end his administrative detention and release him.He confirmed that he was not willing to be deported abroad for four years, an offer the Israeli state made Monday during a Supreme Court hearing while listening to arguments on whether to release him.”We are categorically refusing that proposal,” Allan’s lawyer, Jamil al-Khatib, said after the offer was made. The court ultimately postponed a decision to another hearing on Wednesday, claiming that they wanted to study Allan’s medical file . . . At a hearing on Monday, one of the doctors treating Allan said that if he were to resume his hunger strike he was likely to go into a fatal decline . . . After he slipped into a coma, Israeli doctors used artificial breathing equipment, fluids and vitamins to keep him alive. Allan’s protest has raised questions over whether Israel will seek to invoke a law passed last month allowing prisoners to be force-fed when their lives are in danger . . . The law requires the authorities to seek a court order to allow for force feeding, which they have not done.
250 administrative detainees in Negev jail to start hunger strike
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Some 250 Palestinian administrative detainees being held in Israel’s Negev prison on Tuesday began an open-ended hunger strike to protest their internment without trial or charge. A representative of the prisoners told Ma‘an that Israel uses the policy of administrative detention “to coerce the Palestinians and deprive them of their life.” The mass hunger strike comes as Palestinians across both the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel have rallied in support of Palestinian prisoner Muhammad Allan, a 31-year-old lawyer from southern Nablus who has been on hunger strike for more than 60 days. The lawyer, who on Friday slipped into a coma, also undertook his hunger strike to protest his administrative detention. There are currently approximately 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in the Negev prison, 250 of whom are being held in administrative detention. At the end of June, there were a total of 370 Palestinians being held in administrative detention, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem. The prisoners’ representative in the Negev jail told Ma‘an that the hunger strike would go on “until Israel’s policy of administrative detention comes to an end.”
Samer and Shireen Essawi announce an open hunger strike
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) — The head of Jerusalemites detainees and prisoners families committee, Amjad Abu Asab, said that the Jerusalemite prisoner lawyer Shireen Essawi announced solidarity with the prisoner Mohammad Allan who is also a lawyer and announced an open hunger-strike; note that she is imprisoned in Hasharon prison. Shireen’s brother, Samer, also joined prisoner Allan along with a group of other prisoners in Jalboo’ prison and announced their open hunger-strike until Allan achieves his fair demands.
SEE! Palestine marches for Muhammad Allan
AIC 17 Aug Photos: Samidoun. Protests throughout Palestine on 15 and 16 August took to the streets, demanding freedom for imprisoned Palestinian lawyer Muhammad Allan, 31, held under administrative detention without charge or trial . . . Protests were organized in cities, villages and refugee camps in all areas of Palestine – Occupied Palestine ’48, the West Bank and Gaza – including Nablus, Tulkarem, Saffa, Al-Khalil, Huwwarra, Kufr Qaddoum, Wadi ‘Ara, Dheisheh camp, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Rafah, Gaza City and more. In Kufr Qaddoum and Huwwarra, Palestinian protests were repressed by Israeli occupation forces; in Kufr Qaddoum, occupation forces shot live ammunition at protesters
Video: Israeli celebrate child slaughter outside hunger striker’s hospital
EI 18 Aug — This video shows Israeli police and right-wing extremists violently attacking and assaulting Palestinians who had gathered outside the hospital where a Palestinian hunger striker is gravely ill. Flag-waving Israeli extremists sing songs celebrating and calling for the slaughter of Palestinians, especially children. The events occurred on Sunday, when hundreds of Palestinians and supporters protested in Askalan (Ashkelon) in the south of present-day Israel in solidarity with Muhammad Allan . . . Police assault [Palestinian] protesters, dragging them away and confiscating Palestinian flags, and use a water cannon and pepper spray . . . At the same time, extreme right-wing Israeli Jews can be seen assaulting protestors without police intervention and indeed with police protection . . . Many openly declare support for Meir Kahane, the founder of the violent anti-Palestinian organization Kach. They chant anti-Arab slogans including a song celebrating the mass killing of children in Gaza: “Why is there no studying in Gaza? Because there are no children left there.” “Gaza is a cemetery,” they sing, and “Death to reporters!” These same genocidal songs were heard on Israel’s streets during last summer’s 51-day assault on Gaza that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children.
Sentencing two Jerusalemite prisoners . . . extensions of arrest
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 18 Aug — The District court in the occupied city of Jerusalem sentenced on Tuesday two Jerusalemite prisoners for actual imprisonment. Al-Dameer organization lawyer Mohammad Mahmoud and lawyer Tarek Barghouth from the Ministry of Prisoners explained that the District court sentenced the prisoner Mohammad Bseiso for 13 months of actual imprisonment and the prisoner Mohammad Muna for 7 and a half months of actual imprisonment on charges of assaulting a settler. The court also imposed a 2500-NIS fine on each of them for “compensation to the settler” and a suspended probation of 7 months for three years. Bseiso and Muna are currently imprisoned in Jalboo’ prison. They were arrested on 29/3/2015 and are residents of the Old City of Jerusalem. Lawyer Mahmoud added that a session of “reading indictments” was held for the prisoners Ahmad Ghazzawi and Ibrahim Ghazzawi and the judge extended the arrest of Mohammad Qirresh until 23/8/2015. He added that the Magistrate judge decided to release Thaer Abu Sbeih with a 500-NIS bail and house arrest for 5 days.
5 Palestinians indicted in deadly West Bank attacks
Times of Israel 17 Aug — Israel’s military prosecutor on Monday indicted five Palestinians suspected of committing terror attacks that killed two Israelis in the West Bank in recent weeks. Danny Gonen, 25, was shot in the upper body in an attack near the settlement of Dolev, northwest of Jerusalem, in mid-June. He was transferred by IDF helicopter to Tel Hashomer Hospital, where he died soon after . . . Malachy Rosenfeld, 25, from Kochav Hashachar, was killed in a drive-by shooting near the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, north of Ramallah, at the end of June. Three other people were wounded in the attack that killed Rosenfeld. Muhammad Abu Shahin, Amjad Adouan and Ashraf Amar are charged with Gonen’s murder, while Abdallah As’hak and Faiz Ahmed are suspects in the shooting attack that killed Rosenfeld.
PA accuses Hamas of ‘Gaza split’ talks with Israel
RAMALLAN, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 18 Aug — The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday accused Hamas of holding secret talks with Israel that would endorse the separation of Palestinian territories. Arab and Turkish media have carried reports, picked up by Israeli media, claiming Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip were holding talks. The talks were reportedly aimed at reaching an eight- or 10-year truce, with Israel removing its blockade on the coastal Palestinian territory. Israel on Monday denied it was engaged in “any meetings with Hamas, neither directly, nor via other countries or intermediaries.” But the Authority weighed in on Tuesday, insisting there were talks that would cause Palestinian disunity. “There have been negotiations and they are on the verge of reaching an agreement about a truce of eight to 10 years,” Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki said. The agreement would see Israel lift its blockade of Gaza and “allow maritime passage” to nearby Cyprus, Malki told France 24 television. “We don’t know if it will happen tomorrow or in a month,” he said, adding that “there are mediators who are doing their utmost to reach this agreement.” The Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Hamas’s rival, said former British prime minister Tony Blair was acting as a mediator in the talks. “The Hamas-Blair agreement … paves the way for division and the isolation of the Gaza Strip,” said Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf. This, he added, would help “Israel to achieve its goal of preventing the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders” and including Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem, he told Palestinian radio on Monday night . . . In Gaza, Hamas number two Ismail Haniya once again rejected any possibility of a Palestinian state in Gaza alone. Hamas sources recently admitted an “exchange of ideas” via third parties, but officials have told AFP on condition of anonymity that the topics discussed were “solely humanitarian, not political.”
Are Israel and Hamas really talking about ending Gaza siege?
EI 18 Aug by Ali Abunimah — Israel and the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas may be close to a long-term truce for Gaza, an advisor to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said. Although murmurs of a such a deal have appeared in media for months, the official’s comments would appear to give them slightly more weight. In an interview with Alresalah, a Gaza-based newspaper close to Hamas, on Monday, Yasin Aktay also said that Israel and Turkey were nearing a deal over Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara. Israel’s May 2010 assault on the ship, part of a Gaza-bound flotilla, killed nine Turkish citizens and a Turkish teen who held US citizenship, badly damaging relations between the two countries. The Turkish official said there had been significant progress toward a long-term truce that would end Israel’s 8-year blockade of Gaza. Aktay, deputy chairman of Turkey’s ruling AK party, said that the recent visit of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to Ankara was related to the effort. Up until now there has been no visible progress on the long-term truce that was supposed to be discussed within weeks of the 26 August 2014 ceasefire that ended Israel’s 51-day assault on Gaza . . . Aktay said that Turkey had pledged to build a seaport and rebuild Gaza’s airport if an agreement is reached. He also said that there had been talks between Turkey and the government of Cyprus over the establishment of a maritime corridor to Gaza via Cyprus . . . The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has categorically denied its involvement in any such negotiations. “Israel officially clarifies that there have been no meetings with Hamas,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement. “Not directly, not through another country and not through intermediaries.” “The denial published by the prime minister’s bureau is not false,” a report in the Israeli daily Haaretz observed. “However, from conversations with a number of Israeli figures – those with official functions and those without but involved in the issue – it emerges that the picture is more complex.” “Israel is not holding negotiations on a ceasefire with Hamas, but it is certainly checking the feasibility of the matter,” an Israeli source told Haaretz.
Israeli opposition leader fears new Palestinian uprising
JERUSALEM (AP) 18 Aug by Josef Federman — Israel’s opposition leader on Tuesday warned that a new Palestinian uprising could be looming after a recent spate of violence and called on both sides to reduce tensions and restart peace talks. The appeal came during a meeting in the West Bank with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a rare face-to-face encounter after a more than yearlong diplomatic standstill. Officials on both sides said that Abbas initiated the meeting with Isaac Herzog, leader of the opposition Zionist Union, in response to the violence of recent weeks. Addressing reporters at Abbas’ West Bank headquarters in Ramallah, Herzog said the two men held an “in-depth” discussion that lasted more than an hour. He said they agreed “first and foremost” that a new “intifada,” or uprising, must be prevented. “We have agreed that in order to prevent a third intifada we must combat terror on the one hand aggressively, and on the other hand move toward a diplomatic process,” he said. “We must ignite the process yet again and give it another effort.”. . . For now, the odds of bringing Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu together for a meeting — much less restarting peace talks — appear virtually nonexistent
Yom Kippur to once again coincide with Muslim holiday
Ynet 18 Aug by Hassan Shaalan — Muslims in Israel have called on the government to take steps to prevent potentially violent clashes next month, when Yom Kippur is due to coincide with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, also known as the Feast of the Sacrifice [which is the most important Muslim holiday, commemorating Ibrahim/Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son]. Concerns stem from the possibility that Arab business owners in mixed Jewish-Muslim cities will remain open on September 23, the day of Eid al-Adha and Yom Kippur. The Muslim holiday is generally a source of great revenue for local Arab business owners thanks to the celebrations, but 2015 is not the first time that the two holidays have fallen on the same day. “Last year we all respected the Jewish community; we gave up and closed our businesses and missed the most important work days of the year,” Acre resident and entrepreneur Rashid Anabatai told Ynet. “In my opinion, we need to do the opposite this time and we need to be allowed to work as usual and allow people to come visit us.”
In Palestinian hip-hop, even love songs become political
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug by Anna Kokko — A Palestinian boy and a Jewish girl get stuck in the elevator. The girl changes her military uniform to civilian clothes, and the boy pays her a compliment: “Looks better on you, the green don’t suit you.” The girl responds: “Without the sniper lens, you look cute too.” This is the scene described in “Mama I fell in love with a Jew”, one of the most recent hits from Palestinian hip hop group DAM, who have spent the last year touring around Europe and the Middle East playing their album ‘Dabke on the Moon’, released in 2012. “It’s getting great. People are jumping from the beginning (of the concert) to the end,” Tamer Nafar, one of the founding members of DAM, tells Ma‘an just two days after the band’s tour in Turkey. Established in 2000 by brothers Tamer and Suhell Nafar and their friend Mahmoud Jreri, DAM is the first Palestinian hip hop group and among the most successful in the Middle East. Based in the town of Lod, or al-Lidd in Arabic, located southeast of Tel Aviv, the group rose to international fame after the release of their single “Min Irhabi” (Who’s the Terrorist) in 2001 during the Second Intifada . . . -From children’s rights to female empowerment- Over the years, DAM has been rapping about topics ranging from living conditions in their hometown to women’s rights, freedom, and the Arab revolutions in 2011. The sounds are a mixture of both Western and Arabic instruments. “We have a more metaphoric approach to subjects now. Musically, we have become more open-minded and work with different producers,” Nafar says. Many of DAM’s songs have also featured visiting artists. In “Mali Huriye” (I Don’t Have Freedom), for instance, a group of Palestinian children sing about how all other children in the world have freedom except them. The band’s latest single, “Min Inta” (Who You R), released last spring, includes the band’s newest member Maysa Daw. The lyrics of the song criticize patriarchy within Arab societies.
Spain: Jewish singer’s concert axed over Palestinian issue
MADRID (AP) 18 Aug by Ciaran Giles — Organizers have canceled a concert by the Jewish American singer Matisyahu at an international reggae festival in Spain after he declined to state his position regarding a Palestinian state. Rototom Sunsplash festival organizers said on their Facebook page they canceled the Aug. 22 concert because the singer declined “to declare himself regarding the war and in particular the right of the Palestinian people to have their own state.” The World Jewish Congress on Sunday slammed the cancellation as anti-Semitic and urged Spanish authorities to take action. Concert organizers declined to give further comment Tuesday, referring only to their statements on Facebook. In the statements, the organizers said the festival has always supported the Palestinian people’s rights and denied they had cowed [bowed?]to the pro-Palestinian group. They said they regretted Matisyahu wouldn’t be playing. “We did not say NO to Matisyahu because he has Hebrew roots or as a Zionist, but we just simply considered inappropriate organizing something that would certainly generate a conflict,” one statement said.
US concerned over Israeli treatment of Arab-Americans
WASHINGTON (AFP) 18 Aug — The United States expressed concern Tuesday regarding Israel’s treatment of US citizens traveling to the country following recent reports of Palestinian-Americans being denied entry. “The US government seeks equal treatment and freedom to travel for all US citizens regardless of national origin or ethnicity,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said. “Specifically, the US government remains concerned at the unequal treatment that Palestinian-Americans and other Arab-Americans receive at Israel’s borders and checkpoints.” . . . Kirby said this was an ongoing subject of discussions between the US and its ally Israel.
PA. Iran discuss appointment of ambassador to Palestine
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — The Palestinian Authority and Iran have discussed the possibility of appointing an Iranian ambassador to the State of Palestine, a senior PLO official said Tuesday. Ahmad Majdalani, a member of the PLO’s executive committee, told Ma‘an that the idea was discussed with Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif as part of improving bilateral relations. “Our relationship with Iran is an urgent necessity concerning international and regional developments,” the PLO official said. The current Iranian ambassador to Jordan could serve as a non-residential ambassador to Palestine, Majdalani, also President Mahmoud Abbas’ representative to Iran, said.