Violence / Attacks / Raids / Clashes / Detentions
Violent clashes in Jenin, injuries, intensive destruction reported
JENIN (WAFA) 1 Sept — Israeli army forces demolished a house, set two other homes ablaze, and caused intensive damages to properties during a late night crackdown on Jenin city and the nearby refugee camp, provoking fierce confrontations with local Palestinians, according to local and security forces. According to media sources, at least 40 military vehicles, which were accompanied by bulldozers and squad members of the elite Yamam ‘counter-terrorism unit’, broke into the city in the late night hours and cordoned off the house of Majdi Abul-Heja, a well-known Hamas activist and a former prisoner, in Jenin refugee camp as a prelude to demolishing it. As the military vehicles advanced deeper into the refugee camp and approached Abul-Heja’s home, they came under fire from an unknown source and a soldier was injured. However, The Israeli daily Haaretz said that investigations are underway to determine whether the ‘soldier was shot by a Palestinian or wounded by friendly fire.’ The army then asked Abul-Heja and his family members through speakers to get out of their home and to surrender. Abul-Heja, 40, his son, Suhaib, and his brother, Alaa, were detained by the army before the latter proceeded to demolish their home. The mother was also detained for hours before being released. To be noted, ambulances of the civil defense and Red Crescent, who rushed to Abu el-Haija’s house, were prevented from reaching the site by the Israeli army. Army forces also targeted nearby homes with rocket-propelled grenades, setting two homes ablaze and causing intensive damages and destruction, including the destruction of several retaining walls. The grenades’ firing cut off the power supply in the camp and parts of the city, as well as in the nearby village of Kufr Dan. An army vehicle also ran over a teenager identified as Islam Dababa, 15, causing him minor injuries, according to local sources. Following the Israeli raid, Israeli forces clashed with the provoked local Palestinians in multiple areas in the city and the camp, during which soldiers fired live ammunition, teargas canisters, and stun grenades towards locals, causing dozens of suffocation cases due to tear gas inhalation. Meanwhile, further forces further surrounded another home in the area in search of local Bassam As-Sa’adi, a leader in the Islamic Jihad Movement.
Photos of the month: a long hot summer of hate crimes
Activestills 1 Sept — A Palestinian family is burned alive in their sleep, a 16-year-old Israeli is stabbed to death during the Jerusalem pride march, a hunger-striker calls the shots, and more. These are the best Activestills photos of the month. Photos by: Keren Manor, Ahmad Al-Bazz, Yotam Ronen, Faiz Abu-Rmeleh, Omer Sameer, Oren Ziv / Activestills, Edited by: Anka Mirkin
The devastating effects of night raids on Palestinian families
+972 Blog 31 Aug by Salwa Duaibis — IDF night raids, an everyday occurrence in the occupied territories, ensure that Palestinians cannot feels safe in the one place where safety should be assured — Over the years, the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC) has collected testimonies from Palestinian women in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza on a whole range of issues. However there is one issue, above all others, that stands out due to the frequency with which it occurs and the devastating impact it has on women, their children and entire communities: night raids conducted by the Israeli military into Palestinian villages and homes, which have been taking place on a nightly basis in the occupied territories for the past 48 years. In a sample of 100 instances of night raids conducted since 2014, the one common thread mentioned by the women who provided testimonies to WCLAC was a sense of terror. The raids usually begin at around 2.00 a.m. with aggressive banging at the door or simply an explosion to blow it in. Masked soldiers storm the house as the family tries to comprehend what is happening. Sometimes a family member will be arrested, other times not. Sometimes there is violence, sometimes not. The house will be searched with reports of damaged furniture; wardrobes emptied with contents thrown to the floor, while soldiers leave muddy boot marks throughout the house. Perhaps the most devastating impact these raids have is on the children. Mothers report that their children have problems sleeping after experiencing a night raid. Some children become aggressive, others wet their beds. No one feels safe in the one place where safety should be assured. According to a recent report by WCLAC, it is estimated that the military conducts nearly 1,400 night raids each year, with over 65,000 since military law was imposed on the West Bank in 1967. (continued)
Israeli night raids a routine terror for Palestinian children
EI 1 Sept by Maureen Clare Murphy — It’s a regular and terrifying scene in the occupied West Bank: heavily armed Israeli soldiers, often with large dogs, raid a Palestinian family’s home. They wake the children, arresting one or more of them. This is what happened to Hamza Muayyad Shukri Hammad, 15, when his home in Silwad, a village near Ramallah, was invaded at 2am on Sunday. As reported by the Arabic-language Quds news site, Hamza’s mother said that during the two-hour raid on her family’s home, Hamza and his 10-year-old brother, Bilal, were detained. Soldiers raided Hamza’s room, ransacking it. They confiscated phones and smart devices from the home and a computer was deliberately smashed. An Israeli officer threatened Hamza while searching him, and tried to pressure the boy to confess to charges not specified in the Quds report. Hamza’s mother said “The officer told us that he would treat [Hamza] the way they treated his father and arrest him.” The teen’s father, Muayyad Hammad, is currently serving multiple life sentences on charges that he was part of a cell that carried out military operations against the Israeli army. He has been imprisoned for 13 years, according to Quds.
Other Palestinian children in Israeli detention have endured similar trauma as Hamza. -Blindfolded and beaten- During a visit to Megiddo prison on Sunday, Hiba Masalha, a lawyer with the Palestinian Authority ministry for prisoner affairs, took the testimony of three teenagers who were beaten during their arrest and transfer to Israeli detention. Ahmad Ismail Abu Amr, 17, from a village near the West Bank city of Nablus, was beaten all over his body, blindfolded and cuffed by Israeli soldiers who used their weapons to strike him on his head and shoulders when they arrested him two months ago. (continued)
The ‘Pallywood’ smear: Viral images of Palestinian boy’s brutalization bring backlash
Mondoweiss 1 Sept by Annie Robbins — Israel’s defenders on social media are pushing a “Pallywood” narrative in reaction to the video gone viral documenting a soldier’s brutal treatment of a child in the occupied village of Nabi Saleh last Friday. Shortly after the UK’s Daily Mail publicized the incident, it revamped its headline, claiming Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi was a “prolific ‘Pallywood star’“and then claimed that “Questions have been raised over the authenticity …” of the event and the proliferation of the video. The UK’s Guardian got into the act: “a pressing question has emerged: what did the images show? The reality is as complex as it is unsettling and contradictory.” And Ynet is all over the story, alleging the entire incident was staged. The #Pallywood hashtag is prolific on Twitter . . . Let us be clear about the media trend: Israeli hasbara is fighting back against the exposure afforded to activists as a result of last week’s embarrassing photos and video. No doubt the Tamimi’s are getting famous. But that is because they refuse to stop protesting the theft of their village land and spring. Denied any means of self defense, they dare to expose the world to the reality of their lives while the cameras are rolling. They have no guns or bombs, they fight with media and exposure. But the scenes they record are very real. And the whole point is to capture the violence they face, as a matter of routine, on camera. Rosa Parks also planned her heroic action on a Montgomery bus in 1955. But was it staged? Of course not. (cont.)
Meet the teenage girls behind the viral photo from Nabi Saleh
Mondoweiss 1 Sept by Allison Deger — “The pictures went viral. That’s important,” Ahed Tamimi, 14, said, “so the world can see what happens.” Ahed is the blond teen on the far left of the widely-published photo of a violent confrontation between Palestinian women and children, and an Israeli soldier in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. In the frame Ahed is seen biting the soldier after he hits her in the face. Since the now infamous images were first published, the Tamimis, and Ahed in particular, have been visited by droves of journalists wanting to know how the Palestinian family felt when they saw 12-year old Mohammed Tamimi, also known as Abu Yazan, slammed to the ground . . . Ahed and Nour appeared painfully shy while we talked, Ahed more than Nour. Both were dressed in jeans and a t-shirts, Ahed’s with a print of “Lola Bunny,” Bugs Bunny’s love interest. Ahed likes to play soccer and dance. She studies English in school, but is sheepish about using it. When she grows up, she wants to be a lawyer. The two fidgeted on a set of outdoor sofas, then moved into the kitchen to make an evening snack, sandwiches with lebane, a thick Middle Eastern yoghurt, and shata, a red spicy garnish. While preparing the meal, they giggled like young girls do. The night was cool and breezy, a welcome break from a heat wave that had recently covered the region. The laughter from the pair, and arrival of dozens of visitors from towns across the West Bank gave an almost festive mood to the night. It was a far cry from the tumult that had passed four days earlier. (continued)
Israeli teacher under fire for participating in Nabi Saleh demonstrations
JPost 31 Aug by Tovah Lazaroff — An Israeli high school teacher is under fire after he was seen in the Friday YouTube video that went viral, in which Palestinian women and children attack an IDF soldier as he attempts to arrest an 11-year old boy with a broken arm. In the background of that video it is possible to see a tall man, in a bluish-gray T-shirt and a baseball cap, who has since been identified as a teacher at the Avin ORT High School in Ram Gan. The teacher does not attack the soldier, but he does appear to call on him to leave the boy alone . . . ORT, Israel’s Sci-Tech Schools Network, said it had received a complaint about the teacher’s actions, which had occurred during his private time and bore no connection to the school or his job there. It added that the issue was being looked at based on guidelines from the Education Ministry. The Ministry said the matter was being handled by ORT. The teacher could not be reached for comment.
No one is put on trial when a Palestinian family is burned alive
+972 Blog 1 Sept by John Brown* and Noam Rotem — Three years before the attack on the Dawabshe family, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a taxi, burning and seriously wounding members of the Riyada family. Despite incontrovertible evidence showing settlers were behind the attack, the case was closed after a two-week investigation — August 2012. A Molotov cocktail is thrown at a cab, burning an entire Palestinian family. They miraculously survive. Nearby the police find a red bag with a plastic bottle full of gasoline, white latex gloves, and a black lighter with DNA belonging to a Jewish minor from the Bat Ayin settlement. Despite the evidence, not a single person was ever put on trial for this act of terror, a fact that undoubtedly allows these attacks to continue taking place, the last of which led to the burning alive of 18-month old Ali Dawabshe, his father Sa’ad’s death, and life-threatening wounds for his brother and mother, Ahmed and Riham . . . The following article will reveal the police’s case file on the burning of the Riyada family — an investigation that lasts two weeks and ends with no results. It is hard to imagine the same thing happening had the family been Jewish. “We did not find evidence beyond any reasonable doubt that proves the identity of the criminal, the investigation will continue,” said the Jerusalem district attorney. But the investigation did not continue . . . Until today, over three years after the day of the attack, the Riyada family has been denied justice. Meanwhile, the criminals have continued on in their life without paying for their deeds.
Army summons five Palestinians from Jenin
IMEMC 31 Aug — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday morning, the villages of Rommana and Zabbouba, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, stormed homes and searched them, and handed five Palestinians military warrants for interrogation in the Salem military base . . . Media sources said the summoned Palestinians from Rommana have been identified as Zoheir Rashed al-Ahmad, 21, Mohammad Ghazi Mahajna, 24, Abdul-Rahim ‘Amour, 21, and Abdul-Rahim Abu Hammad, 24. They were all summoned after the soldiers invaded their homes, and violently searched them. In Zabbouba nearby village, soldiers invaded the family home of Anas Qassem ‘Atatra, 30, and handed him a military order for interrogation, in the Salem base. In addition, soldiers searched a home belonging to resident Mahmoud Zandeeq, and interrogated the family.
Soldiers kidnap nine Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 1 Sept — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, earlier on Tuesday, at least nine Palestinians in different districts of the occupied West Bank, during various military invasions, and searches of homes. Media spokesperson of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Mohammad ‘Ayyad ‘Awad, said the soldiers stormed and searched several homes in the town, causing excessive property damage, and kidnapped five young men . . . All the kidnapped Palestinians are former political prisoners; they were moved to the Etzion military base. ‘Awad added that the soldiers handed Hamza Ahmad Abu Hashem, 16, a military warrant for interrogation in the Gush Etzion military base. In addition, soldiers installed several roadblocks in a number of neighborhoods in Hebron city, the main entrance of Sa‘ir and Halhoul towns, and the northern entrance of Hebron city, before stopping and searching dozens of cars, and investigated the ID cards of the passenger. Soldiers also invaded Zawata village, west of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and kidnapped two Palestinians identified as Shaddad Shaher Abu ‘Amsha, 32, and Mohammad Thabet Abu ‘Amsha, 42. Furthermore, soldiers kidnapped Ishaq Abdul-‘Aziz Ashqar, as he was trying to cross the Za’tara military roadblock, south of Nablus. In Bethlehem, soldiers invaded the ‘Aida refugee camp, north of the city, searched a number of homes, and kidnapped Ahmad Mahmoud Ja‘ara, 16 years of age. Clashes have also been reported, on Tuesday at dawn, between local Palestinian youths and Israeli troops in Dahiat Um ash-Sharayet, in the al-Bireh City, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, after dozens of soldiers invaded it. Media sources said the soldiers surrounded the city, especially Um ash-Sharayet area, and besieged a residential building before breaking into several apartments, and violently searching them causing property damage. The sources added that sounds of explosions were heard in the building, while clashes also took place between the invading soldiers and local youths.
Including a father and his son, army kidnaps four in Jericho
IMEMC 1 Sept — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Tuesday at dawn, four Palestinians, including a father and his son, in the West Bank district of Jericho. The Jericho office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that the soldiers invaded, and violently searched several homes, and interrogated many residents before kidnapping four. The four have been identified as Fakhr ‘Awadhat, 52, and his son Saddam, 20, in addition to Mohammad Bassem Hmeidat, 20, and Rafat Mahmoud ‘Ata.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 31 Aug — Israeli forces on Monday detained a Palestinian at a military checkpoint in Beit Ummar north of Hebron. Spokesperson of a local popular committee, Muhammed Awad,said Israeli forces detained Ashraf Khalid Murshed Sabarneh after stopping his vehicle at a checkpoint erected inside the village. Sabarneh was handcuffed and taken to the nearby Etzion military base, Awad added. An Israeli army spokesperson did not immediately have information concerning the detainment.
Earlier this week, Awad pointed out that 127 Palestinians from Beit Ummar had been detained since the beginning of the year, including 53 minors.
Israeli forces arrest PA security officer at Nablus checkpoint
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 1 Sept — Israeli forces on Tuesday evening arrested a Palestinian Authority security officer at the Zatara checkpoint south of Nablus, reportedly for possession of a weapon and ammunition. Security officials told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained the 28-year-old preventative security officer after discovering a machine gun, ammunition, and night vision binoculars in his vehicle.The checkpoint was closed in both directions while the arrest took place.
PA security kidnaps six Hamas members in West Bank
RAMALLAH (PIC) 1 Sept — The Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces on Monday kidnapped six Palestinian citizens affiliated with Hamas and summoned four others for interrogation during raids on homes in different West Bank areas. In Tulkarem, the PA intelligence forces kidnapped two university students from the Islamic bloc of Hamas from their homes. The detainees were identified as Alaa Hamdan and Jawad al-Shalabi. The PA security forces also raided homes in different areas of al-Khalil and kidnapped three citizens believed to be members of Hamas. The detainees are Mohmoud Abu Jehaisha, Diyaa al-Omla and Yousuf Shawar. In Nablus, the PA preventive security kidnapped Fouad al-Safadi, an ex-detainee in Israeli jails. The PA security apparatuses also summoned four citizens from Hamas for interrogation in Nablus, Salfit, Ramallah and Tubas. All of them had spent some time in Israeli or PA jails.
Israel bans 6 guards from Aqsa as entry restrictions continue
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities banned six guards working at the Al-Aqsa Mosque from entering the holy site on Monday, as restrictions on Palestinian access to the compound continued, the PA Ministry of Endowment said. Fadi Elayyan, Tareq Sbeih, Bahaa Abu Sbeih, Arafat Najib, Hussam Sider and Maher Abu Snineh were issued orders from Israeli police banning them from the holy site for two months and summoning them for interrogation at the al-Qishla police station in the Old City. It is unclear why Israeli police issued the banning orders. Restrictions continued on Monday as women were prevented from entering the site while men had their ID cards confiscated upon arrival. One woman, Um Ihab al-Jallad, told Ma‘an that the restrictions on women began last Monday, and Israeli forces [?] have been pushed and assaulted while trying to enter via access gates. “We enter the mosque to pray and read the Quran, it is our mosque. Al-Aqsa is not a synagogue and it is our right to enter any time without any restrictions by occupation,”al-Jallad said. Israeli rightists entering the site often try to provoke Palestinians as they leave the site following tours under armed guard, she added, saying that Palestinians are prevented from entering during the visits. “Al-Aqsa is ours and we will defend it and protect it despite all attempts and restrictions by Israel,” she said. Locals said that Israeli police issued a notice at the Moroccan Gate informing Israeli groups about visiting the site, including advice about booking a day in advance and providing the number of participants.
Wife of jailed prisoner gives birth to baby girl using smuggled sperm
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 Aug — A Palestinian woman on Monday gave birth to a baby girl conceived using sperm smuggled from her husband inside an Israeli prison, Palestinian officials told Ma‘an. The Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs said the woman, who was not identified, gave birth to a baby girl named Hamam in a Ramallah hospital in the central occupied West Bank. The woman’s husband, Mreisheh Muhammad Shreiteh, from the al-Mazraa al-Gharbiya village near Ramallah, was detained over a year ago and was sentenced to six years in prison. The family said they named the baby girl Hamam, which means dove, as a symbol of freedom. The Razan Medical Center for Infertility and IVF said in March that it knew of 35 such births that had been born through artificial insemination using sperm smuggled out of Israeli jails. The first reportedly took place in 2012, when Dalal al-Zein had a baby using sperm smuggled from her husband who had been jailed in Israel for 15 years. Palestinian prisoners are denied conjugal visits by the Israeli Prison Service.
Five detainees continue their hunger strike in solitary confinement
IMEMC 2 Sept — The head of the Palestinian Detainees’ Committee Issa Qaraqe said that five Palestinian detainees, held by Israel under arbitrary Administrative Detention orders without charges or trial, are ongoing with their hunger strike since August 20. His statements came during a solidarity protest held in the Deheishe refugee camp, in Bethlehem, as hundreds of Palestinians, including social and political leaders expressed their support to all detainees, especially those held under Administrative Detention orders. Qaraqe warned that Israel might try to force-feed the striking detainees amidst the lack of media attention, especially since the striking detainees have been forced into solitary confinement in the Ela prison in Beersheba (Be’er as-Sabe‘). He added that, by forcing the detainees into solitary confinement, the Israeli Prison Authority could escalate its violations against them, intimidate and even force-feed them. The hunger-striking detainees are Nidal Abu ‘Aker, Ghassan Zawahra, Shadi Ma’ali, Thabet Nassar and Bader ar-Rozza.
Israeli special unit raids section in Nafha jail
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 Aug — Israeli special forces on Monday raided a section of the Nafha prison in the Negev desert, the Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs said. The Israeli Dror unit raided Room 61 in Section 11 of the prison, without providing an explanation. The unit was set up in 1994 as a “narcotics intelligence unit” which also targets crime, according to the website of Israel’s Ministry of Public Security. The section contains several high profile detainees, including a committee representing prisoners from Hamas.
Israeli forces shoot, injure Gazan ‘after crossing border’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Sept — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man near the Gazan border Wednesday morning after they said he crossed the border into Israel. An Israeli army spokeswoman said that soldiers went to the scene after they “identified a suspect infiltrating Israel from the sea.” She could not confirm how he crossed the border, but said he reached the Israeli side. She said that soldiers fired warning shots and ordered him to halt. When he “did not comply,” she said that they fired “at his lower extremities” and a hit was confirmed. She said the Palestinian “was evacuated for medical treatment in an Israeli hospital.” Sources at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon told Ma‘an that the Gazan had been brought to them. They said he had been hit in the leg and was in a stable condition. Israeli news site Walla reported that he was shot while approaching a border sea fence off the coast of northern Gaza, although this could not be confirmed.
Egyptian power line providing power to Gaza damaged
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 Sept — An Egyptian power line providing electricity to Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip was damaged on Tuesday evening, officials in the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCo) said. Officials said the damage would affect the current distribution program of eight hours of connection followed by eight hours without power. Talks are ongoing with the Egyptian company providing the electricity to fix the line, with no details provided about the cause of the damage.
Egypt starts dig on Gaza border to stop smuggling tunnels
RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) 31 Aug by Fares Akram — Egyptian military bulldozers are digging through the sand along Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip in recent days, pressing ahead with what appears to be a renewed campaign to pressure Gaza’s Hamas rulers and stamp out militant activity along the border. 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, Egyptian military officials said. Hamas accuses Egypt of further isolating the beleaguered Palestinian territory. The new excavations seem to be “a tightening of the grip of siege on Gaza,” Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said. Egypt “should not slide into this cliff that agrees with the Israeli policies of siege.” Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade of the territory since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. For several years, Egypt tolerated a smuggling industry, allowing hundreds of tunnels to bring in goods like cigarettes and spare motorbike parts, as well as weapons. These tunnels were a lifeline for Hamas, which collected millions of dollars in taxes and revenues from the smuggled goods. They continued to thrive after longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011 and the Islamist Mohammed Morsi won the country’s first free presidential election. But things changed after the Egyptian army ousted Morsi, a key ally of Hamas, in 2013. The military-backed government accused Islamic militants of using smuggling tunnels to move between Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Hamas denies militants move in and out of its territory.
2 Gaza businessmen detained at Erez Crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 Aug — Two Palestinian businessmen were detained at Erez crossing on Monday afternoon, Palestinian Liaisons office said. The businessmen were identified as Tamer al-Barim and Khalid Baraka both from the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli authorities in June granted Palestinian businessmen from the Gaza Strip permits to cross through the Erez terminal for the first time since 2007. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip may be granted either a BMC permit, allowing its holder to enter Israel through crossings or checkpoints used by Israelis, or BMG permits, which enable the business persons to enter Israel as well to travel via the Allenby bridge as “VIP” travelers for up to six months. The new permits were being issued amid a reported increase in the detention of Gazan business workers at the Erez crossing in March and February of this year. “The Erez crossing has become a trap for Gaza merchants who have newly received entry permits from Israel,” a Palestinian liaison official told Ma‘an in March. Israel, he added, had recently started to issue entry permits to new Gaza traders while veteran businessmen were being denied entry. Palestinians detained at Erez are often interrogated for several hours, sometimes even for days, before they are either allowed into Israel en route to the West Bank or sent back to Gaza.
Erez border crossing closed after Gaza ‘rocket fire’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 Sept — Israeli authorities Tuesday briefly closed the Erez border crossing into Gaza after a rocket was allegedly fired toward Israel from the coastal enclave but fell short of the border. The Israeli army said that rocket sirens sounded in southern Israel early Tuesday morning, but it was believed the rocket “fell short inside the Gaza Strip.” An Israeli army spokeswoman said that Israeli forces were searching the border area. The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) later closed the Erez bording crossing between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip, allowing only “humanitarian cases” to pass. A COGAT spokeswoman said that the crossing was closed between 8 and 10 a.m., “because the army had to search the place, because last night rockets were fired close to the Erez crossing.”
UNRWA schools in Gaza operate regularly after week of protests
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 Aug — Schools run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip opened regularly on Monday for the first time this school year after an agreement was reached to end protests against overcrowding in classrooms. Suheil al-Hindi, the head of a committee representing UNRWA staff, told Ma‘an that the agency’s 250 schools in Gaza were attended by nearly 250,000 children and 8,500 teachers Monday. Last week was supposed to be the first of the school year, but staff in UNRWA’s schools went on strike to protest overcrowding and unpaid vacations. Parents later joined the protest, saying they would not send their children to school for the rest of the week. The union of UNRWA staff, along with parent committees and factional representatives, decided to end their protest Monday after a preliminary agreement was reached with the agency to reduce class sizes from more than 50 students to a maximum of 38. They said there would be no protests before Sept.10 while a final agreement was reached on all outstanding issues.
Israeli official: Hamas confiscated building materials for tunnels
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Sept — Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) on Tuesday accused Hamas of diverting building materials intended for reconstruction to build smuggling tunnels into the besieged territory. Yoav Mordechai, head of COGAT, told Ma‘an that “members of Hamas seized construction materials from a depository by force and took them to support Hamas’ infrastructure.” Israel has allowed in 1.7 million tons of construction material for the reconstruction process, he added. The senior Israeli official also denied reports that Israel is talking with Hamas, saying: “Israel only has relations with the Palestinian Authority and does not have any connection with any other Palestinian party.” Hamas have not responded to the allegations.
UN: Gaza could be ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020 if trends continue
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 1 Sept by Cara Anna — A new United Nations report says Gaza could be “uninhabitable” in less than five years if current economic trends continue. The report released Tuesday by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development points to the eight years of economic blockade of Gaza as well as the three wars between Israel and the Palestinians there over the past six years . . . The war “has effectively eliminated what was left of the middle class, sending almost all of the population into destitution and dependence on international humanitarian aid,” the new report says. Gaza’s GDP dropped 15 percent last year, and unemployment reached a record high of 44 percent. Seventy-two percent of households are food insecure. The wars have shattered Gaza’s ability to export and produce for the domestic market and left no time for reconstruction, the report says. It notes that Gaza’s “de-development,” or development in reverse, has been accelerated. Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade of Gaza since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007. The report comes as Egyptian military bulldozers press ahead with a project that effectively would fill Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip with water and flood the last remaining cross-border underground smuggling tunnels, which have brought both commercial items and weapons into Gaza.
Video: A year after the bombings in Gaza: Maha Abu Mutlaq, 17 years old
B’Tselem Sept 1:44 minutes — Filmed by: Khaled al-‘Azayzeh — For hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, last summer’s nightmare has become an ongoing reality. Maha Abu Mutlaq, a 17-year-old high school student, told B’Tselem of the reality she must now deal with: “The mood in Khuza’ah is terrible and makes me not want to study. The streets and houses are in ruins. Wherever you go you see wreckage and pictures of the dead on walls and doors. When the school year began, it was very hard for me to concentrate. I kept thinking about our life before the war and how we’re homeless now. The war forced us into a terrible reality.”
Trying to rebuild your house in Gaza is a Kafkaesque nightmare
GAZA CITY (Global Post) 31 Aug by Laura Dean — . . . It works like this: First a homeowner must apply to the Gazan Ministry of Housing and Public Works, detailing the damage and estimating the amount of money they need. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) or the UNDP then assesses the damage, and submits the names of homeowners and materials required to the ministry. The UN also supplies that estimate to the Palestinian Authority (PA), which shares it with Israel, which has final say. Once approved, the Gazan homeowner must sign an agreement saying they will only use the materials to build their house. Then the materials are brought into Gaza. The trucks coming into Gaza carrying materials are checked by the Israeli authorities. Gazan contractors must also have security clearance from the Israeli government. Once in Gaza, materials are stored in warehouses surrounded by high walls that are under 24-hour surveillance by inspectors and cameras. When the homeowners have money from international agencies to buy materials, it is disbursed in stages as the homeowner proves they are indeed using the materials to build houses. For larger projects the cement is also released in stages, out of concern that it might be sold off or used for non-civilian purposes. UN staff accompany the materials to construction sites. Representatives from the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the body providing administrative support for reconstruction under the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism — an agreement between the Israeli and Palestinian governments brokered by the UN — even visit a sample of the construction sites to conduct spot checks. You don’t have to be an expert to see how easily this process could get hung up.
Is Israeli children’s book about Gaza kittens guilty of ‘paw-washing’?
The Forward 31 Aug by Jonathan Paul Katz — My Facebook newsfeed is always alive with kittens, but last week it was alive with political kittens. Israeli author Nurit Sternberg has written a children’s book called “ Tzuk and Eitan Find a Loving Home ,” about two kittens “rescued” from last summer’s fighting zone in Gaza and brought to Israel by the IDF soldier Matan Meshi. Both the kittens and Meshi happen to be real — this story is based on true events — but now they’ve been adapted into cartoon form for the book, which was recently released in Israel. Reactions to the book came in two varieties: the first was about how cute this story was, and how it reflects well on the Israeli armed forces’ wider behavior in the bloody Gaza conflict. The second was about how this story made war “cute,” and whitewashed (paw-washed?) Israel’s bloody behavior in the conflict by playing up cutesy animal sideshows.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization / Restriction of movement
Israel army prevents rehabilitation of Hebron archaeological site
HEBRON (WAFA) 31 Aug – The Israeli army and Jewish settlers on Monday hindered ongoing renovation work at an archaeological site in the town of Bani Na‘im, to the east of Hebron, according to local sources. The sources told WAFA an Israeli army force accompanied by staff from the so-called Israeli Civil Administration, as well as Jewish settlers, broke into the area and ordered all the workers at the site to leave. The site consists of an archaeological house revered by local Palestinians as Maqam en-Nabi Yaqin (Shrine of Prophet Yaqin). Meanwhile, the Civil Administration told the town’s municipality in a phone call that works to rehabilitate the site are prohibited until further notice. Mahmoud Manasrah, mayor of Bani Na‘im, told WAFA that the rehabilitation of the site, which overlooks the Dead Sea, is run by the Ministry of Waqf and Religious Affairs as well as the Bani Na‘im municipality. The project is part of an effort to protect local cultural, religious and historical heritage, he said.
Monitor: Jewish settlers take over building in Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 Sept — Dozens of Palestinians were hurt in clashes that broke out Tuesday after a group of Jewish settlers took over a building in the Silwan neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, a local monitoring group said. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said in a statement that the group of settlers, under army escort, took over an empty building in the Batan al-Hawa area of the neighborhood that belonged to the descendants of a local Palestinian identified as Jihad Sarhan. The information center said that the settlers claimed it belonged to the far-right Jewish organization Ateret Cohanim. They added that it may have been illegally sold to the settlement organization. “The building adjoins another building whose owner secretly sold [his building] to the settler organization, which took it over last Thursday,” the information center said, suggesting that Tuesday’s building may have been “illegally included in the suspected deal.” It was reported that up to 60 settlers moved into Thursday’s building, which belonged to another member of the Sarhan family. Large numbers of soldiers reportedly accompanied the settlers to the building Tuesday, and after they broke through the main door, violent clashes erupted with local youths. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that Palestinians hurled firebombs at Jewish settlement enclaves in the area and at Israeli military vehicles. Israeli forces responded by firing rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters “haphazardly between the alleys of Batn al-Hawa.” The statement said that dozens of young men were hurt. Israeli troops also reportedly detained Samah Sarhan and Mahir Sarhan during the clashes. Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem that is seeing an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of home demolitions and the eviction of Palestinian families. Last week, the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department slammed what it termed Israel’s “systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians” in Silwan.
Israeli settlers vandalize electricity tower in Kafr Qaddum
QALQILYA (Ma‘an) 2 Sept — Israeli settlers on Wednesday vandalized the main transmission tower providing electricity to the northern West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum, causing a power outage across the village for several hours, locals said. Murad Ishtewi, a local popular committee spokesman, told Ma‘an that this was the second time settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Qedumim had caused a power outage in the village. He added that the settlers may have taken the action in response to the weekly protest Kafr Qaddum stages each week. Hamza Jumaa, head of the village council, said that Israeli soldiers, as well as Qedumim settlement’s security guards, prevented an electrical technician from reaching the transmission tower to repair the damage for several hours.
Rivlin: West Bank settlements are as Israeli as Tel Aviv
JPost 1 Sept by Tovah Lazaroff — The settlements in Samaria are as much a part of Israel as the country’s largest city Tel Aviv, said President Reuven Rivlin as he visited an elementary school in the community of Peduel. “Sometimes, people talk of the state of Tel Aviv or the state of Jerusalem, the Jewish state and the state of Israel,” Rivlin said as he stood in the school’s courtyard to help celebrate the first day of classes. “Those who live here know that there is no such thing as the state of Tel Aviv or the state of Jerusalem. There is just one country, the state of Israel,” said Rivlin.
Israeli forces demolish 25 Bedouin structures north of Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 31 Aug — Israeli forces on Monday demolished at least 25 structures, including several homes, belonging to Palestinian Bedouins near the village of Jaba‘ northeast of Jerusalem on Monday morning, an Israeli human rights group said. B’Tselem said that Israeli forces arrived at the al-Khdeirat Bedouin community and demolished 25 structures which serve 11 families for residential and other purposes. “Around 100 persons were left homeless, including about 70 minors, some of whom began the school year a few days ago,” the group said. Israeli forces claimed the structures had been constructed without the necessary permits, a press statement issued by the Palestinian committee against the wall and settlements said. It added that some of the structures were built in 1975 and 1976.”These demolitions take part in the context of efforts by the military and the Civil Administration to push Palestinian communities out of Area C,” B’Tselem said.
Israeli forces seal main roads in East Jerusalem neighborhood
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 Sept — A number of Palestinian students in the al-Tur neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem were prevented from reaching their schools on Monday after Israeli forces completely closed the village’s main street with concrete blocks, locals told Ma‘an. Khalid Odah Abu Sbitan, a member in the parents committee in al-Tur schools, said that traffic was unable to travel along the main road and on Suliman al-Farisi street, making it difficult for children to reach three of the village’s schools. He said that students aged 4-12 faced particular difficulty reaching their schools because of the blocks, and the parents committee had to organize the students so they could find a route avoiding them. Abu Sbitan said that Suliman al-Farisi Street is the main and only entrance for two schools, Jabal al-Zayton and al-Mahaba wal-Eman kindergarten school, as well as a village mosque known as Suliman al Farisi, the village cemetery, and Jabal al-Zaytoon club. Israeli forces often seal off streets leading into al-Tur following clashes between local youths and Israeli forces. The closures prevent the movement of residents and hinder crucial services including ambulances and school buses.
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon, Syria
Jund al-Sham militants ‘control third’ of Lebanon refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Aug — A Fatah official in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp said Monday that the Jund al-Sham militant group has control over four of the camp’s 11 districts following recent fighting between armed groups. “What is happening mirrors the state of things in the country,” Munir Makdah, a Fatah official in Ain al-Hilweh camp, told Ma‘an. “They aim to destroy the camp and force the Palestinian refugees to leave Lebanon, as happened to the Palestinians in Syria.” He alleged: “There is an Israeli-American plan through both internal and external groups to destabilize the camp.” The population of Ain al-Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon has swelled after thousands of Palestinian refugees fled Syria’s brutal war. Syria’s largest refugee camp, Yarmouk, was devastated after anti-regime militant groups, including al-Nusra Front fighters, took up positions inside the camp causing the Syrian army to set up a brutal siege.
961 Palestinian refugees missing in Syrian prisons
LONDON (PIC) 31 Aug — Within the International Day for Enforced Disappearance Victims, the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria (AGPS) documented 961 Palestinian prisoners in the prisons of the Syrian regime, noting that the real number may exceed 1,500 detainees, because of the fear of many detainees’ families to reveal the disappearance of their children. The AGPS renewed its call for the need to disclose the locations of missed refugees in branches of the Syrian security prisons, demanding the release of all refugees who have been forcibly disappeared. The AGPS also emphasized the need to disclose the number, names, and places of burial of prisoners who died under torture. For its part, the AGPS monitoring and documentation team confirmed that the group has documented 414 Palestinian victims who died due to torture in the prisons of the Syrian regime.
Other news, opinion
Abbas has ‘no intention’ of standing in coming PLO election
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Sept — President Mahmoud Abbas told Fatah’s central committee that he has no intention of standing in the the coming elections for the PLO Executive Committee, the secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Amin Maqbul, said Tuesday. Maqbul told Ma‘an: “Abu Mazen said that he wants to give a space for other factions to participate. … We asked him to think again, especially in this hard and serious period, and amid the effort by some people to get rid of him.” Maqbul did not identify any individuals by name, although he also alleged that a number of Palestinian factions are tying to “complicate” Palestinian political statutes. The Fatah secretary-general said that although Abbas will quit as head of the PLO, which he has presided over for 10 years, Abbas does not intend to retire from politics and will remain Palestinian president.
Only 16 percent of Palestinians back Abbas, but support for others even lower
Haaretz 2 Sept by Amira Hass — The Palestinian public has very little faith in its political leadership, the trust in the Fatah movement is higher than that for Hamas, and the great majority of Palestinians support keeping the Palestinian Authority. These are the main results of a public opinion poll released on Monday by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center. Other major findings showed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has no clear successor if he chooses not to run again, and a lack of any sympathy or support for ISIS or its sister movements, whether in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank. The poll, conducted between August 19 and 23 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, revealed quite a number of surprises, unexpected answers, and even contradictions. Only 16 percent of the Palestinian public said they trust Abbas, but the trust in other Palestinian leaders was even lower: Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh (12.5 percent); Marwan Barghouti of Fatah, who is serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison for murder (7.1 percent); Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal (4.2 percent); and the former leader of Fatah in Gaza Mohammed Dahlan (3.2 percent). The lack of trust in the leadership stands out in particular in light of the high support for keeping the PA in its present format – in other words, preserving the existing political status quo: 71.7 percent of those surveyed said the PA should not be dismantled, as opposed to 23.7 percent who wanted to do away with it. This support comes despite the public’s dim view of the PA’s accomplishments. While the trust in various Palestinian political movements is not high, it is still far higher than that for their leaders: 35.4 percent said they trust Fatah, while only 20 percent said they trust Hamas. The survey was based on face-to-face interviews with 1,199 men and women over age 18: 749 from the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and 450 from the Gaza Strip . . . There was a rise in the percentage of those who support holding legislative and presidential elections, even if reconciliation between Hamas and the PA is not completed – from 34.8 percent in November, 2012 to 58.9 percent this August. (continued)
Palestinian lawmakers invited to PNC session
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 Aug — The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) confirmed Monday that all its members have been invited to an upcoming session of the PLO’s legislative body, the Palestinian National Council (PNC). The general secretariat of the PLC — the Palestinian parliament — said that invitations had been delivered to lawmakers of all factions, including Hamas, across the entire occupied Palestinian territory. The invitations were sent out by Salim al-Zaanun, the head of the PNC, with the suggested agenda for the two-day session, which is expected to convene on Sept. 14-15. The PLC’s general secretariat added that the invitations were in accordance with Palestinian law, under which PLC members are also voting members of the PNC. The lawmakers are among the PNC’s 740 members. The PLC general secretariat added that together with the PNC, it was working on all administrative and technical procedures to ensure the attendance and participation of all PLC members at the PNC session. The PNC, responsible for deciding on PLO policies, is convening to a elect new Executive Committee, the PLO’s primary executive body, for the first time in 20 years.
Israel opposes Palestinian flag-raising at the UN
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 1 Sept – Israel on Tuesday expressed strong opposition to a draft resolution that would allow the Palestinian flag to be raised at the United Nations ahead of the annual gathering of world leaders later this month. Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor appealed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Sam Kutesa, the General Assembly’s president, to block the move, which would break with the UN practice of flying only the flags of member states. Prosor said in a letter to the UN leaders that the Palestinian move was an attempt to “score easy and meaningless points at the UN” and that this was “not the path to statehood, this is not the way for peace.” A draft resolution was presented last week to the General Assembly requesting that the flags of Palestine and the Holy See be hoisted alongside those of the 193 member states. Both the Vatican and Palestine have non-member observer status at the United Nations. The draft resolution, co-sponsored by 21 countries including Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, is expected to come up for a vote before September 14. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it was up to the General Assembly to decide whether the flags of Palestine and the Holy See should be raised at UN headquarters in New York. Raising the flags of non-member states is “uncharted territory” and Ban will look to the General Assembly “for guidance” on how to respond, said Dujarric
Dispute with Israel keeps Palestinian Christian schools shut
JERUSALEM (AFP) 1 Sept — Palestinian Christian schools in Israel stayed shut Tuesday, delaying the start of the new academic year, in a funding dispute with authorities in Israel. The strike action affects around 33,000 pupils, mostly [?] Muslim Palestinians, at 47 schools run primarily by the Roman Catholic church. “All the schools are closed after a call for an open-ended strike,” said the spokesman for Christian schools in Israel, Botrus Mansour. Palestinian Christian schools and Israeli authorities have been in tough talks over state funding for them and their 3,000 employees. “For a year and a half, we have been holding talks with the Israeli authorities and several figures have intervened, even the Vatican,” said Mansour. “A week ago, President Reuven Rivlin and Education Minister Naftali Bennett made very positive comments … But we still haven’t seen any serious proposal. We’ve tried everything and have no option left but to go on strike,” he said. Traditionally, the schools received 65 percent of their budgets from the state, with parents paying the balance . . . Current state financing covers only “29 percent of the overall cost of a primary school,” the schools said in a statement. “It is a matter of equality,” according to Father Abdelmassih Fahim, director of schools for the Catholic church’s Custody of the Holy Land. “A Jewish Israeli child has the right to 100 percent (of school costs covered by the state) while our schools don’t, while our teaching is among the best in Israel.” The student population at the schools is 60 percent Palestinian Christian and 40 percent Palestinian Muslim. The schools have a history predating Israel’s foundation in 1948 and are run primarily by the Roman Catholic Church.
How many new schools has Israel built in East Jerusalem? Depends on who’s counting
Haaretz 31 Aug by Nir Hasson — Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat likes to boast about his administration’s investment in primarily Arab East Jerusalem, but statistics released by the municipality last week don’t correspond with data recently given by various council departments to a local NGO. According to the municipality, there will be 112 new classrooms in East Jerusalem elementary schools and 68 new secondary school classrooms when the school year starts Monday. But according to data given to Jerusalem nonprofit Ir Amim, there will be only 38 new classrooms in East Jerusalem, with another 44 under construction and some 400 in the planning stages. The municipality also said there would be five new schools opening in East Jerusalem. However, according to the Ir Amim report, there will be just the one new school, in the Beit Safafa neighborhood. The municipality said it hadn’t meant five new schools built from scratch, but that various residential buildings had been rented and turned into new learning facilities. These schools are relatively small: one has nine classes, another eight classes, and the third – a cluster of kindergartens for autistic children in Abu Tor – has only six classes . . . There will be 89,543 pupils studying in East Jerusalem this year, comprising 36 percent of all Jerusalem’s pupils. However, there are over 22,000 children and teens not registered in any local school, public or private. At least some are presumed to be studying outside Jerusalem, but no one seems to know where the rest will be.
How Israel honors the murderers in its midst
EI 31 Aug by Stanley Heller — Two days after Israeli settlers burned to death an 18-month-old baby earlier this summer, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared: “What distinguishes us from our neighbors is that we denounce and condemn murderers in our midst and pursue them until the end, while they name public squares after child murderers.” He made the same claim last year after Muhammad Abu Khudair, another young Palestinian, was burned to death . . . Deliberate killing of civilians and glorification of the killers is disgusting. Yet is it true that the Israeli government denounces and condemns all terrorists and war criminals? Let’s start small. Take the example of Shlomo Ben-Yosef. He was hanged by the British administrators of Palestine in 1938. He and others threw grenades in a failed effort to kill the the passengers aboard a Palestinian bus. Today there are streets named after him in Akka and Tel Aviv. Ben-Yosef was part of the Irgun, the Zionist armed group that was led by Menachem Begin, later Israel’s prime minister. The first Irgun attacks began around April 1936 and by the start of the Second World War, as many as 250 Palestinians had been killed by the group. (cont.)
Gaza attack pushed US electrical workers union to back Israel boycott
EI 1 Sept by Ali Abunimah — The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America – known as UE – voted this month to back the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel. This makes it only the second national union in the United States, and the largest so far, to take such a step. Palestinian trade unionists and activists are warmly welcoming the move. UE represents more than 30,000 workers across the country in a range of private and public sector occupations. -‘Breaking point’- “We reached a breaking point when Israel launched the war on Gaza in 2014, killing over 2,000 people including 500 children,” Carl Rosen, president of UE’s Western Region and a member of the national executive board, said in an emailed statement from the union, explaining why the resolution came this year. Rosen added that backing BDS “is a necessary step for labor to take in order to bring about a peaceful end to the conflicts there.” UE notes that the resolution “points to Israel’s long history of violating the human rights of the Palestinians, starting with the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians in 1947-48 that turned most of Palestine into the State of Israel.”
Egypt gas find sparks panic in Israel about Israeli reserves
JERUSALEM (AP) 1 Sept by Daniel Estrin — Egypt’s new natural gas bonanza is causing an uproar in Israel, with energy stocks plummeting and recriminations over indecisiveness and infighting that have delayed production from the country’s own gas fields. The government is currently struggling to get parliament to approve its natural gas business plan, but observers fear Israel may need to reassess everything now that Egypt, which had been cast as both an export destination and a partner, may have found its own independent solution. Israel’s offshore gas reserves had long been regarded as a future cash cow for the resource-poor country, and gas exporters in Egypt were expected to be the key customers of Israel’s yet untapped Leviathan field. But plans to develop Leviathan are suddenly up in the air after Italian energy company Eni SpA said Sunday it had found the “largest-ever” gas field in the Mediterranean Sea off Egypt’s shores. The field is located in shallower seas than Leviathan, likely making it easier for companies to extract, in a country with none of the regulatory chaos of Israel.
How dare Egypt discover gas? / Zvi Bar’el
Haaretz 2 Sept — No Israeli leader bothered to pick up the phone and congratulate Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi on the natural gas discovery that could extricate his country from some of its economic woes. That is because Egypt, which fights terror and is a partner in the battle against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, “betrayed” Israel. It discovered an artery of life in the sea and destroyed the Israeli dream of making money. It made the stock market dive and shook up “our” gas companies, which until a moment ago were trying every trick to rob the till. Moreover, by having the chutzpah to discover gas in its waters, Egypt also rudely interfered in Israel’s internal affairs. It forced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop his ostrich-like race to approve the government’s proposed deal with the gas companies and instead look those firms right in the eye. What Sheshinski [who headed a panel on natural gas policy], MK Arye Dery, the virtual opposition and the “hostile media” could not do, Egypt did with its natural gas discovery, which is already looking like an economic Yom Kippur War — no less. (continued)