Violence / Suppression of protests / Clashes — Al-Aqsa
Tightened security backfires at Al-Aqsa
Al-Monitor 18 Sept by Daoud Kuttab — The recent violence that erupted at Al-Aqsa Mosque came as no surprise. On Sept. 9, Israel banned two groups of Palestinian Muslims who call themselves the masculine and feminine variants of “Mourabitoun” as illegal organizations. The problem is that in Islamic terminology, every Muslim in Jerusalem who attends prayers at Islam’s third holiest mosque is a “mourabit,” a term that refers to people holding the fort. The condemnation was the equivalent of calling all believers worshipping at St. Peter’s Church part of a criminal organization. The head of the Waqf Department (for religious endowments) in Jerusalem, Azzam Khatib, said in a Sept. 9 press statement that every Muslim who enters Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered a mourabit. Israel’s security apparatus followed the announcement, made three days before the Jewish New Year, with the renewal of its dilution policy. This policy was explained in detail in a June 30 report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) titled “The status of the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy esplanade.” Dilution aims to keep the Palestinian worshippers to a bare minimum whenever Jewish visitors are planning on setting foot in the mosque area. During morning hours until 11 a.m., when non-Muslim visitors are allowed, Palestinian Muslim women are not allowed entry into the entire mosque area, while men are allowed to enter only between 10 and 11 a.m. The entire mosque area is gated and controlled by Israeli police along with token unarmed guards employed by the Jordanian Ministry of Endowments. The Israeli policy seems to be an attempt to empty the mosque area — which makes up about a sixth of the old city of Jerusalem — as much as possible to facilitate visits by Jews to the Haram al-Sharif, which Israelis call the Temple Mount. The women who call themselves mourabitat have been holding religious study sessions in the mosque’s yard, where during certain hours Jewish visitors are given special access to the mosque’s open area by the Israeli security. The women suspend their studies when Jews enter the mosque esplanades and watch them closely for violations of an understanding that visiting Jews during this period are not allowed to pray in the area that Jews call Temple Mount. (Continued)
Who are Temple Mount’s Mourabitoun?
Al-Monitor 18 Sept by Shlomi Eldar — In an Al-Monitor interview, a female Muslim activist discusses her organization’s perspective on defending the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound against what it views as encroaching Jewish pilgrims and activists — The battle over the Temple Mount is heating up. It is no longer just an occasional violent clash between Muslims and Jews, but daily battles with increasingly violent and growing numbers of participants. Loyal “soldiers” in “God’s army” are deployed on both sides, willing to sacrifice themselves in the religious war being waged over one of their holy sites. Heading the Jewish side is Yehuda Glick, chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation who narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in Jerusalem last October. On the Muslim side are two organizations acting together, one for men, one for women, who call themselves the Mourabitoun and Mourabitat, respectively. Their names are taken from a phrase in the Quran that obliges every Muslim to be a “mourabit” (defender) of Islam’s holy places and to protect them against heathens who threaten to desecrate them. As the struggle over the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), escalates, with the Muslims perceiving a real threat to Al-Aqsa Mosque, the number of male and female recruits has grown. The police and General Security Agency (Shin Bet) put their numbers at more than 1,000 women and hundreds of men, who are paid up to 4,000 Israeli shekels ($1,040) a month for their activism. The funding is provided by Islamic charities, mainly the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, (Continued)
Likud Youth ascend to Temple Mount despite Netanyahu’s opposition
JPost 17 Sept by Gil Hoffman — Twenty members of the Likud Youth organization paid a controversial visit to the Temple Mount Thursday morning, despite pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office to cancel the visit. The youth followed in the footsteps of then-Likud leader Ariel Sharon, whose controversial visit to the Mount in 2000 was blamed for Palestinian rioting that had been planned in advance of the visit by then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Officials close to Netanyahu and advisers to Likud ministers called the youth leaders and warned them that the visit was irresponsible and would do more harm than good. The youth leaders were only willing to cancel the visit if Netanyahu would agree to do more to protect Israeli sovereignty on the Mount.
“Because of the events that were on Rosh Hashana, we wanted to strengthen our sovereignty at our holiest site,” said Dor Harlap, one of the leaders of Likud Youth and a candidate for the leadership of its council, the organization’s second-most important post. “We didn’t come to cause provocations or make a mess. We are activists who were elected to the leadership of Likud Youth, and we came to show our presence.” Half of the group were religiously observant while the other half were not. The religious youth held slihot prayers at the Western Wall and immersed in a mikve before ascending the Mount. On the Mount, the group was surrounded by 20 officials from the Wakf Muslim religious trust. Female Muslim activists yelled at the group. Harlap said the group did not hold an illegal prayer session but that he and his comrades did utter personal prayers silently. “We made a similar visit when there were riots last year, and we knew we would be back,” Harlap said. “We prayed in our hearts.”
Destruction of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque is Israeli groups’ ultimate goal / Ali Abunimah
EI 16 Sept — Over the last three days, Palestinians have come under fierce attack as they attempted with their bare hands, sticks and stones to deter and prevent repeated violent assaults by Israeli occupation forces into Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound. The violence comes as Israeli-backed groups bent on replacing the mosque with a Jewish temple are asserting their presence ever more aggressively. Dozens of Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces who fired stun grenades, tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at worshipers, Ma’an News Agency reported. Early on Monday, Israeli forces forcibly expelled Palestinians from the Bab al-Silsila entrance to the compound in occupied East Jerusalem, activist Khadija Khuwais told the local news agency Q Press. The video at the top of this post, produced by Q Press, shows more of the violent attacks by Israeli forces against journalists and other civilians as well as the firing of stun grenades inside mosque buildings. -Jewish temple plans- The increasingly violent Israeli incursions at one the most revered holy sites for Muslims have accompanied the rise in recent years of so-called “Temple activism” groups. These are organizations whose ultimate and clearly stated goal is the construction of a Jewish “Third Temple” to replace the currently existing structures that make up al-Aqsa mosque. A 2013 report by the Israeli research organization Ir Amim noted that “the Jerusalem Municipality and other government ministries directly fund and support various activist organizations driven by the mission to rebuild the temple.” The Temple Institute, the leading extremist organization of its kind, has already formulated detailed blueprints for the new Jewish temple. (Continued)
Saudi king seeks ‘urgent’ action on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque
MEE/Agencies 17 Sept — Saudi King Salman has appealed to UN chief Ban Ki-moon and members of the Security Council for “urgent measures” after clashes at occupied Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, state media reported late on Wednesday. Salman “expressed strong condemnation of the dangerous Israeli escalation” at the holy site where Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli police for three straight days, the Saudi Press Agency reported. “He called for serious and speedy international efforts and for the intervention of the Security Council to take all urgent measures to stop these violations,” it said. Salman added that the “attack on worshippers” violates the sanctity of religions “and contributes to feeding extremism and violence in the world.” SPA said Salman made the same appeal in phone calls to British Prime Minister David Cameron, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande. Hollande warned on Wednesday that any change in the rules governing Al-Aqsa mosque compound could lead to “serious destabilisation”. Palestinian protesters fear Israel will seek to change rules governing the site, with far-right Jewish groups pushing for more access and even efforts by fringe organisations to erect a new temple.
In Jerusalem, ‘religious war’ is used to cloak colonialism / Nur Arafeh
Ma‘an 18 Sept — The escalating clashes between Israeli settlers and Jerusalemite Palestinians are the harbingers of a major eruption with incalculable consequences. Immediately billed as a “religious war” by the media and Israeli right wingers, they are in fact the outcome of longstanding Israeli plans to Judaize the city and empty it of its Palestinian inhabitants. Nur Arafeh analyzes the major changes that Israel has illegally imposed on Jerusalem and addresses the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)/Palestinian Authority’s (PA) effective abandonment of the population to fend for itself. She concludes with policy recommendations to the PLO/PA, Palestinian academics and analysts, and the international solidarity movement.
Five reasons why Al Aqsa Mosque is under threat
MEMO 18 Sept by Ben White — 1. The ‘status quo’ is already changing In 2014, almost 11,000 Jews entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. This represented a 28 percent increase from the previous year – and almost double the number of Jewish visitors in 2009. While in 2012, Jewish activists entered the compound on average once every 2 weeks, in 2013 this had become once every 4 days, and in 2014, closer to every 2-3 days . . . 2. The extremists in the Knesset Almost a year ago, on 30 October, 2014, and for the first time since 1967, Israel closed the compound to all worshippers for an entire day. Shortly afterwards, amid similar tensions, an article in Ha’aretz pointed the finger of blame at “the Israeli right-wing politicians challenging the decades-old status quo.” . . . 3. The Hebron precedent In 1994, a Jewish settler shot dead 29 Palestinians in Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque. In response, however, Israeli authorities “forcibly partitioned [the mosque] with settlers being given most of the space.” As Ali Abunimah has noted, this is “a precedent many Palestinians fear the Israeli occupation will one day try to repeat at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque.” 4. Why trust Netanyahu? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that Israel does not wish to change the status quo at the compound. But why believe him? From his double-speak approach to Palestinian statehood to the pride he has taken in undermining the Oslo Accords, there is good reason to be sceptical about the Likud’s leaders assurances. 5. The wider context in Occupied East Jerusalem While this may not be about Al-Aqsa specifically, it is essential context for this last week’s events. Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem is 48-years-old, during which time Palestinians have suffered from land annexation, colonisation, discrimination, and repression.
Al-Aqsa and the disaster of division: Will the occupation legalise this chaos?
MEMO 17 Sept by May Khalaf — IMAGES Those monitoring the situation in Jerusalem and the escalations led by the Israeli occupation in Al-Aqsa Mosque since mid-August will certainly have noticed the beginnings of a de facto temporal division of the mosque between Muslim Palestinians and Jewish settlers. There have also been a number of measures taken that suggest the potential for creating legal justification for the mosque’s division. An indication of the occupation’s intention to change the legal status quo in Al-Aqsa is the latest statement made by the Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan. He describes recent developments as “dangerous” and claims they” require the reconsideration of the arrangements in place at the mosque.” “Muslim troublemakers cannot be allowed to turn the holy site into a battleground,” he added . . . In addition to imposing a penalty to deter Muslim youth from engaging in confrontations, the occupation is also striving to empty Al-Aqsa Mosque of the Murabitoun by outlawing them as a “banned group” and prohibiting them from entry at specific times. According to a previous report by Al-Khaleej Online last month, dozens of members of the Murabitoun and Murabitat groups were denied entry to the mosque and long-term ban orders were issued against many others. (Continued)
Violence / Suppression of protests / Clashes / Detentions –West Bank, Jerusalem
Israeli forces shoot, critically injure Palestinian near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Sept — Israeli soldiers shot and critically injured a Palestinian man early Friday at a military checkpoint in eastern Nablus, security officials said. Ahmad Izzat Khatatbeh, 26, from Beit Furik village was taken to Rafidia Hospital where doctors said his condition was critical. He was shot in the shoulder and pelvis, Palestinian security officials said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that the sound of heavy gunfire was heard near the Beit Furik checkpoint and that an Israeli ambulance arrived in the area afterwards. Israeli forces raided the village and carried out search raids following the incident. An Israeli army spokesperson said that a firebomb was thrown at an Israeli army patrol in the area, near the illegal settlement of Itamar, with soldiers responding by shooting a Palestinian suspect and arresting another.
Palestinian teenager shot, injured in Bethlehem clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Sept — A Palestinian teenager was shot and injured by Israeli soldiers during clashes in Bethlehem late Thursday, medics said. Anas Muhammad Saleh, 17, was shot in the thigh during clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers near the ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. He was taken to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital for treatment.
VIDEO: Palestinian Authority forces clash with West Bank protesters
MEE 18 Sept — As protests turn to clashes across West Bank, PA forces are seen beating protesters in the streets of Bethlehem — After days of clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, protests flared in East Jerusalem and several West Bank towns on Friday leading to clashes between demonstrators and Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) forces. In Bethlehem, Middle East Eye witnessed PA forces attacking protesters in the streets with batons. At one point, a protester was surrounded by at least eight security officers who kicked him on the ground. Thirteen young people were detained during the clashes, Ma‘an News Agency reported. Later on Friday, eyewitnesses told MEE that locals had closed the streets of the town using burning tires in retaliation against the PA attacks. Critics have attacked the PA for what they say is its close security collaboration with Israel and for security spending which reportedly saw nearly 30 percent of the PA’s budget used on security forces in six different agencies in 2014.
Excessive force used by PA security during rally under investigation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Sept – Palestinian Authority security forces on Friday forcibly dispersed a peaceful rally in the ‘Azza Refugee Camp in Bethlehem in support of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, sparking uproar among residents against the excessive use force by PA security against its own citizens. A video went viral on social media revealing a group of PA security officers violently attacking a teenage boy with clubs during the clashes. Dozens of young men from the Duheisha Refugee Camp south of Bethlehem also demonstrated in the area’s main road later in the evening after PA forces arrested two teenage boys for partaking in the Al-Aqsa rally near the ‘Azza camp. A spokesman for the PA’s security forces, Adnan Dmeiri, told Ma‘an that the attack on Palestinian protesters was “completely unacceptable as it is against Palestinian laws.” “Appropriate punishment will be taken against all officers who used violence against Palestinian citizens,” Dmeiri added. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has reportedly appointed a committee headed by the governor of Bethlehem Jibrin al-Bakri to investigate the events in ‘Azza. Hamdallah said: “What happened in the camp does not reflect the policy of the Palestinian government, or the Palestinian security forces.”
Settlers assault, injure Palestinian in northern West Bank
TULKAREM (PIC) 17 Sept — Jewish extremist settlers assaulted Wednesday night a Palestinian man near Nablus city in the northern West Bank. He was injured and bruised all over his body. The family of the injured young man Saeed Anabtawi, 20, from ‘Anabta town east of Tulkarem, revealed that the settlers attacked him when he was on his way to visit to his fiancée in a town near Nablus. He was assaulted when he reached a road nearby Sahvei Shomron settlement. A Jewish vehicle crossed his way with four armed settlers who attacked him by severe beating. The family said that one of the fanatic settlers fired at Saeed’s car, and then the other three forced him to go out of his car and violently attacked him. He was transferred to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus and his condition was described as moderate.
UN urges calm as clashes continue in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an/AFP) — The UN Security Council appealed for calm and restraint Thursday at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as clashes continued overnight in the neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli forces raided several neighborhoods across East Jerusalem late Thursday as clashes continued for the fourth consecutive day. In al-Tur, Israeli forces raided a local sports club and cemetery and detained Tamer Ziyad Anati, 8, and Ayyub Khuweis, 9, for allegedly throwing rocks. Clashes also broke out in Silwan, Shu‘fat, al-Eizariya, and Jabal al-Mukabbir, with Palestinian youths throwing rocks and empty bottles at Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and sound grenades. Amid the tensions, over 5,000 Israeli police officers were deployed in the alleyways of East Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday as Israeli authorities prepared for further unrest. Israeli forces closed all but four gates leading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque — the Lion, Hatta, Council and Chain Gates — with dozens of Palestinian youths performing dawn prayers outside on the streets after being denied entry to the mosque. An elderly man identified as Ziad Abu Hleil was detained in the compound after he raised a Palestinian flag, while Muhammad Mahmoud Dabash, 13, Laith Imad Dabash, 15, and Salah al-Don Najeh Bkeirat, 17, were detained in the Old City. -UN Security Council calls for ‘restraint’- In a unanimous declaration Thursday, the 15-member panel of the Security Council also expressed its “grave concern” and called for maintaining the rules governing the sensitive site seen as holy by both Muslims and Jews.
Palestinian, 3 soldiers wounded in East J’lem clashes
Ynet 18 Sept — One Palestinian was moderately-seriously wounded by gunfire Friday afternoon while an Israel police soldier was moderately wounded by a firebomb and another two were lightly wounded during clashes that erupted in East Jerusalem’s Jabel Mukaber neighborhood. Two Palestinian teens were consequently arrested in Jabel Mukaber, accused of throwing stones at security forces. The incident came after the relatively peaceful conclusion of Friday prayers on the Temple Mount that Israeli authorities feared would turn violent. Five thousand police officers were deployed in the area and age restrictions were placed on Muslim worshipers entering the mount . . . In addition, Molotov cocktails were thrown on an Israel Defense Forces base in Jerusalem on Thursday night. Firefighters managed to extinguish the flames, and a guard tower was slightly damaged. The Molotov cocktails were seemingly thrown from the direction of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya.
In response to the uptake in violence in recent days, two cabinet ministers have proposed a bill which allows for the fining of parents of minors convicted of throwing stones or firebombs. According to the law as it stands today, parents cannot be fined or forced to pay compensation to victims, if their children are convicted and punished for their crime.
Dozens of Palestinians injured in West Bank protests
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Sept — Dozens of Palestinians were injured on Friday as Israeli forces suppressed protests across the West Bank in support of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound amid ongoing entry restrictions . . . Israeli forces on Friday afternoon shot and injured a Palestinian with live bullets in clashes in Silwad village, northeast of Ramallah, local sources said. Israeli forces raided the village and the house of Muammar Ayyad and assaulted his family members, a number of whom were taken to Ramallah hospital to treat their bruises and fractures. Israeli forces also assaulted and arrested two men, identified as Maher Thaljiya and Riyad Allan, and took them to an unknown destination.
Fifteen Palestinians were injured, including six with live bullets, in clashes near Ofer detention center, west of Ramallah.
Medical sources said six were shot with live bullets, and nine others were hit with rubber-coated steel bullets as Israeli forces dispersed a protest in support of Al-Aqsa Mosque near the detention center. Locals said around 90 people participated in the protest.
Three Palestinians were injured at the Qalandiya military checkpoint after being shot by rubber-coated steel bullets as protesters marched from Qalandiya refugee camp following Friday prayers. Dozens more suffered tear gas inhalation. Youths threw rocks, empty bottles, and Molotov cocktails at Israeli forces at the checkpoint, who responded with stun grenades, tear gas, and.22-caliber bullets.
In Bil‘in, Palestinian and international activists suffered tear gas inhalation as Israeli military forces suppressed a weekly march in the village. Demonstrators raised flags and chanted slogans in support of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Christian holy sites, with local popular committee member Abdullah Abu Rahmeh condemning Israeli raids in East Jerusalem’s Old City.
In Kafr Qaddum village in Qalqiliya one minor, identified as Mohammad Abdullah, 13, as well as Nasser Barham, 46, and Bashar Shtewei, 45,sustained gunshot wounds during a weekly Friday march, Popular Resistance Committee coordinator Murad Shtewei said. At least 15 others were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets in the village, Shtewei said. Israeli forces used tear gas and skunk water to disperse protesters during Kafr Qaddum’s weekly demonstration. Shtewei added that Israeli forces raided his home and pepper sprayed his wife, 30, two children, 8 and 6, and his brother, 50, and did not allow medics to enter the house. They later smashed the windows of the house and used it as a military ground.
Youths hurled projectiles at police near Ofer prison and Jalazun refugee camp. Clashes were also reported in Hebron, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya and near the 300 checkpoint in Bethlehem, where witnesses said Palestinian Authority security forces assaulted demonstrators and detained at least 13 youths.
In Ramallah, a march set off from the el-Bireh mosque towards al-Manara Square.
Bus attacked with stones, set ablaze in East Jerusalem
Haaretz 17 Sept by Yair Ettinger & Gili Cohen — A [Egged] bus was stoned and then torched Thursday night in East Jerusalem, the latest incident in a wave of violence that has hit the city recently and has prompted increased police presence at the flashpoint Temple Mount compound. Palestinians pelted the bus with stones as it was driving through East Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighborhood. The [Palestinian] driver fled, but when he returned to the spot later with the police, they found that the bus was on fire, apparently after having been torched. In another incident Thursday night, a bus driver was lightly wounded by shattered glass after stones were thrown at his vehicle near the Hizma checkpoint, at the northeastern entrance to Jerusalem.
10-year-old boy arrested and blindfolded in Hebron
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine 18 Sept by ISM, Al-Khalil Team — Tonight in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces arrested a 10-year old Palestinian boy twice. Both times he was taken to the military base. Marwan Sharabati was playing outside his house, riding a bicycle in the street, in the vicinity of a military checkpoint cordoning off part of segregated Shuhada Street for Palestinians. Settlers from the nearby illegal settlements, who are allowed to freely walk down this street, came towards him, stole the bicycle from him and left with it. Whereas Israeli soldiers at the nearby checkpoint did nothing to prevent this or even interfere, they did arrest 10-year old Marwan, telling his family they were just taking him ‘to bring his bicycle back’. When soldiers forced him to walk down the street towards the military base he was clearly scared and crying. The boy was released from the military base after half an hour and was walked back to the checkpoint by Israeli soldiers. A group of settlers watched the events unfold. Upon Marwan being received by a friend of the family, infamous settler Anat Cohen charged at an international volunteer. attacking her, while soldiers were standing by idly. On Anat Cohen’s request 10-year old Marwan was again arrested by the Israeli army only a few minutes after being released. A Palestinian man who was with him at that moment insisted to stay at Marwan’s side as he is just a small boy. Israeli soldiers coerced both of them to walk down the street to the military base and barely stopped settlers from attacking the man and boy along the way. Both of them were blindfolded and made to sit on the ground in the military base, with soldiers verbally insulting them. All requests of informing the parents and allowing the boy to talk to his father were bluntly refused by Israeli soldiers. The family and friends were, in the meantime, forced to desert the street and go into the house by Israeli soldiers on orders of Anat Cohen . . . After more than an hour of being held in the military base, both the boy and the man accompanying him were finally released but had to climb onto the roof of the house to get back inside as settlers were still at the checkpoint close to the house.
Egyptian army floods Gaza border tunnels
MEMO 18 Sept — IMAGES — The Egyptian army started early this morning to pump large amounts of sea water into large pipes that have recently been extended across the border connecting Gaza and Egypt in an attempt to destroy tunnels used to smuggle goods into the besieged Strip. One of the tunnel owners, a Palestinian man who goes by the name of Abu Mohammad, told Anadolu Agency: “The Egyptian army started pumping large amounts of water from the Mediterranean Sea into the tunnels through large underground pipes that have hundreds of holes in them. These pipes were extended in the past in a trench that extends across the borders between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.” Abu Mohammad also explained that large amounts of water flooded the tunnels that were used to smuggle food, medicine and construction materials from Egypt to Gaza. This caused some tunnel owners to use large pumps to get the water out of the tunnels in order to prevent them from caving in. However, he doubted that the tunnel owners would be able to keep up with the amount of water pumped in by the army. A Palestinian security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the aim of the Egyptian army’s actions is to destroy the tunnels that extend under the borders without having to identify their locations. Bulldozers and diggers belonging to the Egypt government are seen at the Rafah border line as the Egyptian army line up pipes into the ditches to pump sea water in the tunnels at Rafah, Egypt on September 18, 2015. The project, billed as an Egyptian military-operated fish farm, effectively would fill the border area with water and is designed to put an end to the last remaining cross-border underground smuggling tunnels. Images by Anadolu.
Israeli fighter jets strike security bases in Gaza
Al Jazeera/Agencies 19 Sept — Israeli fighter jets have struck two national security bases and an empty field in the Gaza Strip, after rockets were earlier fired into southern Israel from the besieged territory. One air strike targeted a national security base east of the Jabalia refugee camp, in the north of the strip, moderately injuring one Palestinian, medical sources said on Saturday. Another air strike hit a base east of Gaza City, in the Zeitoun neighbourhood, while a third hit an empty field in the north of the Gaza Strip in Beit Hanoun. Earlier on Friday, a rocket fired from the strip struck a parked bus in the town of Sderot without causing casualties, Israeli police said. An Iron Dome anti-rocket battery also shot down a rocket over the southern city of Ashkelon. A group called the Brigade of Omar Hadidi, which is believed to be affiliated to the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), claimed responsibility on Twitter for firing the grad rocket at Askelon.
Israeli forces open fire at Palestinians near the Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Sept — Israeli forces on Friday opened fire at Palestinians near the border north of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, witnesses told Ma‘an. Witnesses said Israeli forces opened fire at seven Palestinians who approached the fence north of Beit Lahiya. No injuries were reported.
Israeli army deploys new aerostat north of Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 17 Sept — The Israeli occupation army on Wednesday evening intensified its military moves along the northern border with the Gaza Strip and deployed a new surveillance balloon. A field observer told Quds Press that unusual military moves and drone overflights were spotted to the northeast of Beit Hanoun town, amid intensive firing of flares. He added that the Israeli army deployed a new spy aerostat over the border of Beit Hanoun during those moves.
Livestock prices soar in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 14 Sept by Ahmad Abu Amer — Each year around Eid al-Adha, the demand for sacrificial animals rises simultaneously with their prices, but more Gazans than ever are left unable to buy them as the already difficult economic situation worsens — “They look around, ask about prices and then leave,” Ibrahim Suri commented on Palestinians who visit his farm, where there are hundreds of calves, cows, sheep and goats. He sees a high turnout before Eid al-Adha each year, the most important season for livestock traders, who sell large numbers of animals for sacrifice. In an interview with Al-Monitor, Suri attributed the citizens’ reluctance to buy livestock to rising prices. This situation will result in heavy losses for him, as he recently bought a great number of livestock and could only sell a few. According to him, the prices increased by 20% compared with last year, and he does not believe prices will drop by the 2015 Eid al-Adha later this month. Suri said that before the season is over, he will be forced to sell the livestock for lower prices than he paid for them. He has no hope of recouping his other expenses, including feeding and taking care of the animals and paying the salaries of the additional employees he had to hire for the season. The livestocktrade is an important economic resource for Gaza’s residents, and thousands of dealers, breeders and employees work in this field.
UN envoy says Gaza reconstruction speeding up
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 17 Sept by Fares Akram — The United Nations’ Mideast envoy on Thursday gave a rare upbeat assessment in the Gaza Strip, saying that reconstruction from last year’s war between Israel and Hamas militants is speeding up. Thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged in the 50 days of fighting. The reconstruction of hundreds of houses started last month with help from Qatar, which has donated millions of dollars to rebuild 1,000 housing units. “I’m very happy to be able to report today that the reconstruction effort has visibly accelerated within the last two months,” said Nikolay Mladenov, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process. Construction materials are shipped into Gaza from Israel through a U.N.-supervised program that ensures the goods are not diverted to Hamas . . . However, Miladenov noted that faster reconstruction requires the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority to take full control and responsibility in the Hamas-run territory . . . “We are very far from reaching the goal of restoring normal life to Gaza,” Miladenov said.
VIDEO: Living under Israel’s missiles
The Nation 18 Sept by Dan Cohen and Rebecca Pierce — Four boys of the Bakr family were killed by a missile strike during last year’s incursion. Their surviving family members are still scarred from the attack. More than anyone, children bear the brunt of regular Israeli military assaults on the Gaza Strip . . . After the final cease-fire that ended Israel’s Operation Protective Edge on August 26 of last year, UNICEF estimated that at least 425,000 Palestinian children in the besieged Gaza Strip require “immediate psychosocial and child protection support.” “Data from our community centers shows that about 50 percent of children referred to us have developed post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Dr. Yasser Abujamei, the executive director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme [Very affecting interview with the Bakr family, who lost four children to a missile attack on the beach — including some of the surviving children, who are clearly traumatized still, esp. Muntasir, who has tried to commit suicide more than once, and who becomes unconscious when he thinks about what happened – there is no treatment for him in Gaza.]
Gaza’s untold story
Visualizing Palestine 17 Sept — August 26, 2015 marked the first anniversary of Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip, during which 2,219 Palestinians were killed. However, a large part of the story is left untold. Over half of those killed were refugees who were displaced from their homes in Yafa, Salama, Isdud, and many other villages and towns, as a result of and following the Nakba in 1948. The majority of those killed lived in refugee camps in the Gaza Strip within a 30 mile (50 km) radius of their homes of origin. A total of 1,236 refugees were killed during the 2014 offensive, including at least 309 children . . . There are 1.3 million refugees residing in Gaza who are spread over eight refugee camps, making up almost three quarters of the total population. Since the Nakba in 1948, there has been no true accountability for the myriad of human rights abuses committed by Israel. The denial of justice that refugees have experienced can only be remedied in one way: for refugees to exercise their right of return.
Israeli siege turns Gaza into resort city
MEMO 15 Sept by Motasem A Dalloul — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — It is now more than eight consecutive years since the strict Israeli, Egyptian and internationally-backed siege was imposed on the Gaza Strip, which has affected all aspects of people’s lives and led to the collapse of many industrial and commercial sectors. To some extent, certain aspects of the social lives of Gazans have also collapsed, for example, the divorce rate has sharply increased while beggars and child street urchins have become daily scenes across the whole Strip as a result of the increasing poverty rate. However, businessman Ali Omar says that the siege has also pushed the Gazans to develop their life in different ways and across different sectors, some of which have even become prosperous, in this tiny coastal enclave. “On top of these sectors, the tourism industry, which was almost dead in Gaza before the siege, [has also seen an uptake]” Omar tells MEMO from a luxurious resort on the shores of the Mediterranean. “I used to spend two holidays abroad every year, one in Egypt and one in Spain.” “As a businessman, I had to pay over $5,000 for my holidays. There were no restrictions on the crossings, but today, there are restrictions and at the same time, due to the economic hardships in the Strip, I cannot afford the same amount of money for two holidays every year.” As an alternative, he said: “I am now spending more than two holidays for the cost of only one. I pay $600 for this resort and spend five days with all my family members using all the facilities in this luxurious beachfront resort.” Gaza now is an active tourism spot, but only for its residents.
Restriction of movement
Israel stops Palestinian PM entering Jerusalem
MEMO 18 Sept — with IMAGES of damage to the mosque — The Israeli army today stopped Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and his delegation from entering occupied Jerusalem, the Palestinian government media centre reported. In a statement the centre said: “Israeli army forces prevented Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, the Director of the General Intelligence Service Majid Faraj and the head of the Preventive Security Service Ziad Hab Al-Rih from entering the city of Jerusalem through the Hizma checkpoint in the east of the city.” “Hamdallah and the delegation had intended to go to the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to see the damage and violations against the mosque in recent days and stand with worshippers.” Israeli police deployed large numbers of forces in occupied East Jerusalem today especially in the old town, its alleys and area around Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Palestinian suspends hunger strike two days after resuming it
RAMALLAH (AFP) 18 Sept – Palestinian Mohammed Allan, being held without trial by Israel, suspended a hunger strike Friday, two days after resuming it, a lawyer for the Palestinian Prisoners Club said. Allan’s recent two-month hunger strike brought him near death and boosted tensions in the occupied West Bank. His detention, scheduled to last until November 4, was suspended by Israel’s High Court on August 19 as he received medical treatment following his hunger strike, which twice left him in a coma. But Israel renewed his detention Wednesday following an improvement in his health and his release from hospital. Lawyer Jawad Boulos said Allan had “suspended his hunger strike Friday morning after receiving an explanation about his judicial situation.” He did not elaborate, but said he would contact Israeli authorities next week with a view to resolving the situation.
Other news, opinion, analysis
Holy See flag to be raised outside UN due to Palestinian proposal
AP 19 Sept — The flag of the Holy See will be raised for the first time outside UN headquarters the morning of Pope Francis’ first visit next week, a United Nations official confirmed Friday. It is a turnaround for the Vatican, whose UN ambassador earlier this month told reporters it had “no intention” of raising the flag before the pope arrives Sept. 25 to address the world body. The General Assembly last week overwhelmingly approved a Palestinian proposal to raise its flag and that of the Holy See as the UN’s two non-member observer states. The Palestinians have announced a ceremony for their flag-raising Sept. 30 after President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the annual UN gathering of world leaders. They see the event as a symbolic step in their quest for an independent state. But the Holy See flag is set to be raised quietly the morning of Sept. 25 along with the flags of the UN’s 193 member states. Two empty flagpoles have been set up outside the main UN entrance.
March in Beirut to commemorate Sabra and Shatila massacre
BEIRUT (PIC) 17 Sept — Dozens of Palestinian and Lebanese activists and civilians took to Beirut streets on Wednesday to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre which butchered some 3,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanese refugee camps. The rally-goers flocked to the cemetery where the slain refugees were buried, lifting Palestinian and Lebanese flags and holding banners calling for the prosecution of the Israeli and Lebanese criminals responsible for the genocide.
A statement by the Thabet Organization for the Right of Return said the Sabra and Shatila massacre is one of history’s most live proofs of Israeli terrorism against Palestinian refugees . . . It added that the Sabra and Shatila genocide can never be subject to the statute of limitations, urging Abbas’s government to instigate a legal battle against the perpetrators of the massacre. Between September 16-18, 1982, in the middle of Lebanon’s civil war and a few months after Israel’s invasion of the country, hundreds of members of the Phalange party – a Lebanese Christian militia – in collaboration with the Israeli army, slaughtered about 3,000 Palestinian refugees, mostly women, children, and the elderly, in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp located in Beirut.
Schools to strike in solidarity with Christians
Ynet 17 Sept by Itay Blumenthal — Christian schools in Israel have been striking since the school year began, in protest of their budgets being slashed by the Ministry of Education, and on Sunday they’ll be joined in part by all junior high and high schools in the country. Middle and High School Teacher’s Associations Chairperson Ran Erez announced Thursday that Sunday classes will start at 10am, as a show of solidarity with the country’s Christian schools. 33,000 pupils haven’t been going to school since September 1.
Security chaos in Nablus haunts the PA
Al-Monitor 17 Sept by Adnan Abu Amer — Unidentified gunmen attacked and stole nearly $850,000 from a Palestinian Investment Bank armored car Sept. 15 at the entrance of Bir Nabala near Ramallah. That same evening, gunmen fired at members of Palestinian security forces in Jenin, injuring some of them. These incidents highlight the security vacuum that has prevailed in the West Bank since early this year, especially in some major cities such as Jenin and Nablus, north of the West Bank. These problems result from clashes between Fatah gunmen and Palestinian security services, and sometimes from family disputes. The deteriorating situation pushed Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to hold a session Sept. 14 for leaders of the Palestinian security forces to follow up on the events. A senior Palestinian official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The state of security chaos in the West Bank has resulted since early 2015 in about 26 Palestinian deaths — seven of which were in Nablus — and the majority of those involved in these incidents are security services personnel.” The tension in Nablus prompted Palestinian security services to launch a security crackdown Sept. 5. (Continued)
How did Rawabi get its water?
MEMO 16 Sept by Jan Selby — In February this year, the new Palestinian town of Rawabi at last managed to secure a water supply, after several years of acrimonious negotiations with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. With the greatest obstacle to populating Rawabi overcome, the first 200 families of this planned “shining city on a hill” have now finally started moving in. Rawabi’s water woes have received extensive coverage in the Israeli, Palestinian and international media, not least owing to a campaign instigated by the town’s owners, the Bayti Real Estate Investment Company. But why did Rawabi encounter such problems? And how did they eventually get resolved? For all the media coverage, the reasons are not well known . . . it is Israeli demands and an Israeli-drafted document which were the ultimate reasons for the hold-up. Under Article 40 of the 1995 Oslo II Agreement – which Palestinian negotiators were simply handed and accepted when they should have known better – all new water facilities in the West Bank require prior approval from a Joint Water Committee, meaning that Israel has complete veto rights over Palestinian water developments in the occupied West Bank. Worse still, while Article 40 did not directly mention water projects for Israeli settlements, it did not preclude them from being brought to the Committee either. Israel exploited this ambiguity by making its approval of Palestinian water projects conditional on Palestinian approval of settlement water infrastructures. For fifteen years, the PA’s pragmatic policy response – pursued with the full knowledge of Presidents Abbas and Arafat – was to consent, however unhappily, to this blackmail and approve every single water facility proposed by Israel for its settlements. This changed only in 2010, when the Palestinian Water Authority and later the PLO Executive Committee decided that they would no longer approve settlement water infrastructures. The result has been five years of deadlock within the Committee. (Continued)
Soap is slippery business in Nablus
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 9 Sept by Aziza Nofal — The city of Nablus in the northern West Bank is famous for its soap industry, and some historians believe the craft originated there more than 1,000 years ago. Soap is a hallmark of the city and of Palestine, which once exported soap products globally. [Moaz al-Nabulsi] told Al-Monitor his family has been working in the soap industry for 240 years, and that in the last 100 years the city had 52 soap factories of which the Nabulsi family owned almost half. Today, however, only seven soap factories produce and sell Nabulsi soap. It is in these factories that oil is heated and mixed with the other ingredients before the liquid is poured into large copper vats that are designed to withstand high heat. After it sets, the soap is cut into the classic cubes and stamped with the Nabulsi trademark seal . . . “The secret of the Nabulsi soap industry is water, specifically the 70 natural springs in the old city. Each soap factory was established over a spring of running water. Moreover, the ingredients used to produce soap are 100% natural,” Nabulsi said . . . “The soap industry has significantly declined in the city in light of the proliferation of numerous types of soap and modern products such as shampoos and detergents,” he said. He also blamed deteriorating business on blockades “and invasions by Israel during the second intifada, when some of these factories were partially destroyed and others were entirely destroyed, such as the Kanaan soap factory.” (Continued)
Double victory for Palestine in FIFA qualifying match
Al-Monitor 15 Sept by Daoud Kuttab — A scoreless soccer game can hardly be considered a victory, but for the Palestinian national team, tying the powerful team from the United Arab Emirates on Palestinian soil was a double victory. Even the leading newspaper in the UAE, The National, described the match as such. On Sept. 8, the Abu Dhabi daily called the results of the historic game, held on the outskirts of occupied Jerusalem, a win for the Palestinian team. It is rare to be able to use the word “historic” to describe a soccer match, but the FIFA World Cup and Asian Cup qualifying match between Palestine and the UAE was truly momentous by local standards. For an Arab soccer team to agree to cross borders controlled by a country with which they are officially at war takes courage, and in this case, reflected genuine support and solidarity with the Palestinian people. UAE coach Mahdi Ali echoed his support for holding the match in an interview with the Emarat Sports website on Sept. 8, saying, “As Emiratis, we consider ourselves victorious just by being in Palestine, which I wish to see as a free and independent state.” After the game, Ali, along with a small group of administrative officials, visited and prayed at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Ensuring the visit to Palestine was not easy. Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Football Association, had been exerting great effort to have official home games played in Palestine. After confronting difficulties with Israeli officials during the FIFA congress held in Zurich on May 29, he was assured that games would not be blocked. FIFA guaranteed Rajoub that the Israelis would not put restrictions on visiting teams or on the movements of Palestinian team members, in particular players from Gaza. (Continued)
Arab push to pressurize Israel thwarted at UN nuclear watchdog
VIENNA (Reuters) 17 Sept — An Arab bid to pressurize Israel over its assumed nuclear arsenal failed on Thursday after Washington and other powers united to reject it at the U.N. atomic watchdog’s annual gathering. The extent of the rejection – with a larger number of ‘no’s than a similar vote last year – will reassure Israel, whose relationship with the United States and other traditional allies has been strained by their support for a nuclear settlement with its enemy Iran. The Israeli Prime Minister’s office described the rejection of the motion – which called on Israel to join a global anti-nuclear weapons pact – as a “great victory” for its diplomatic efforts. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had told world leaders before the vote: “There is no room for a debate of this sort while the main problem in the Middle East is Iran’s attempts to arm itself with nuclear weapons and its clear declarations of its intention to destroy the state of Israel.” Nineteen predominantly Arab states wanted the International Atomic Energy Agency’s member states to express concern over Israel’s nuclear capabilities, call on it to join the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and have the agency regularly report on Israel’s nuclear program. Israel has never confirmed or denied having nuclear weapons under a policy of ambiguity aimed at deterring longtime Arab and Muslim adversaries. On Thursday 61 countries voted against the Arab-drafted resolution, 43 in favor and 33 abstained.
Right-wingers claim they deprived B’Tselem of €100,000 award
Haaretz 18 Sept by Oded Yaron — Human rights group was leading online vote for Dutch award, but after right wing social media campaign, B’Tselem failed to make it to next stage — Israeli right-wing activists are taking credit for preventing the human rights organization B’Tselem from receiving a €100,000 award from the Dutch government . . . A B’Tselem Facebook post calling for its supporters to vote for it, under the slogan “Foreign funding to end the occupation? Certainly,” aroused the ire of right-wing activists in Israel, who mobilized their forces to vote for anyone but B’Tselem in the online poll. What followed was an online war. The right-wing organization My Israel, supported by Ronen Shoval, one of the founders of the Im Tirtzu organization and chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel, published a list of the candidates they recommended their followers vote for . . . “Thanks to all who voted,” Shoval posted on Facebook after the results of the voting were announced. “We won because they won’t receive money. We won because we acted for the sake of Israel and the IDF. We have love and we have faith and in the end we will win.”
Symbolism over Palestine is not enough / Sharif Nashashibi
MEE 16 Sept — What use are things such as passports, flags, embassies, stamps, dialing codes and internet domains when the state itself exists only on paper? — There is little debate that last week’s UN vote to raise the Palestinian flag at its headquarters and offices was anything other than symbolic – the Palestinian representative to the UN himself described it as such. However, that does not make the move insignificant. The General Assembly vote was yet another display of the strength of international sympathy with the Palestinian cause. There were 119 votes in favour, 45 abstentions and only eight against, including four tiny island states (the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and Tuvalu) with a combined population of around 187,000. The move was also another sign of Israel’s inability to reverse Palestine’s increasing international footprint. Had this latest vote meant nothing, Israel would not have campaigned against it and reacted angrily afterwards, as its ambassador to the UN had asked the secretary-general and the General Assembly president to block the move. Despite its well-oiled propaganda machinery, formidable lobby groups and alliance with the USA, this is another indication that Israel is losing the PR war internationally. The vote also highlighted, once again, the gap between world opinion as reflected in the General Assembly, and the woefully undemocratic Security Council, where the US veto is so often wielded or threatened in aid of Israeli impunity. (Continued)
Why do they throw stones? / Samah Salaime
+972 17 Sept — Nearly every discussion on Jerusalem in the Israeli media revolves strictly around stone throwing and Islamic extremism. Yet not a single word is said about the occupation — Only in Israel can one speak about an intifada without mentioning the occupation. Only here can one change the IDF’s open-fire regulations without addressing what soldiers are doing on Palestinian land, with who sent them to walk around neighborhoods and cities, and for what purpose . . . I listened for hours to the news broadcasts and interviews on the topic of stone throwing. Not a single journalist mentioned the ongoing attacks or what Jews are doing to Palestinians. Not a single word on the settlements in occupied territory. In fact, they didn’t even use the word settlements: “We are five minutes from Pisgat Ze’ev, that is, Jerusalem,” said one of the interviewees on Israel Radio, “why do they throw stones?” Yes, you are broadcasting from a settlement that is near a checkpoint or the separation wall. In case you forgot or didn’t know, I am here to remind you: you are living on land that was stolen from Palestinians by force. A place where Palestinians are still being murdered and imprisoned to this very day. You are living in a place that does not belong to you — where you will never, ever feel safe. This is the price of the occupation. Your secured homes and armored vehicles — at the expense of the tax payer — will not increase your feeling of security. And even if all the stone, egg, and tomato throwers rot in prison, this will not end until the occupation ends and you reach some kind of an agreement with your neighbors . . . Israeli security forces accompany “a handful of extremists,” who have somehow become convinced that this mosque is the new nuclear threat that puts the Jewish state at risk. They enter the compound forcefully, accompanied by armed policemen and the full backing of this or that minister, who dreams of gaining the same fame as Ariel Sharon did just 15 years prior when he entered Al-Aqsa compound and sparked the Second Intifada. The Jews who enter the mosque and wander around its gates are often those who start the violence. Not a single Palestinian has entered the Western Wall compound. Not a single member of the Murabitat or Murabitun (more on them later) has started violence for the sake of provocation, at least according to the videos and reports that do not make it to your television screens. (Continued)
All stone throwers – Jew or Arab – are created equal / Allison Kaplan Sommer
Haaretz 18 Sept — Government endorsement of deadly force against all stone-throwers and making it the law of the land will technically apply to Arab and Jew alike — . . . But before Israelis pat their government on the back for taking such steps to deter future incidents, they should pause and ask themselves whether they are ready to declare all stone throwers – or, as the prime minister would put it – attempted murderers – equal. The consequences of government endorsement of deadly force against all throwers of rocks, bottles and explosives and making it the law of the land will technically apply to Arab and Jew alike. And let’s not fool ourselves – Jews are no strangers to rock-throwing. Recent examples of Israelis using stones as weapons against Palestinians are numerous, especially, but not exclusively in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Residents of East Jerusalem have thrown stones at the neighboring Palestinian refugee camp, Shuafat. Just last January, settlers threw stones at an American convoy containing diplomats who came to examine complaints that settlers destroyed Palestinian-owned olive groves. And Palestinian complaints of stone-throwing and firebombing as harassment methods happens again and again. And then there is the frequent use of stone-throwing in situations utterly unrelated to the Palestinian conflict. Protesting crowds of ultra-Orthodox Jews have thrown stones while decrying everything from army recruitment, to archaeological digs, to Shabbat desecration, to members of their community being arrested for tax evasion. Stones have also been hurled at the cars of secular and national religious women deemed to be inappropriately dressed in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. And can we really forget so quickly that it was just last April, that angry Ethiopian youth stood in the streets hurling stones, bottles, and firebombs at storefronts and police in the heart of Tel Aviv. Would anyone advocating using live fire against them? Nearly all leading politicians prefer to ignore this reality when they advocate for increasingly harsh measures against stone-throwing, certain that they should, and will, only be applied to Palestinians. But once upon a time it was thought inconceivable that administrative detention measures designed to apply to Palestinians would be taken against Jews – and today it is a reality. (Continued)