Violence / Attacks / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
Dozens of Palestinians, including children, injured in Jerusalem
IMEMC 12 Sept — Dozens of Palestinians, including children, have been injured on Friday evening and early night hours, in Silwan town, in occupied East Jerusalem, during clashes that took place after Israeli fanatics assaulted an 8-year-old child, while Israeli soldiers invaded homes and fired gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) said the assailants attacked Zeid Abu Qweider, 8 years of age, in Batn al-Hawa neighborhood, repeatedly beating and kicking him, before a young man noticed the attack and intervened. It added that approximately twenty Israeli extremists then assaulted a group of Palestinian children, 5-14 years of age, and sprayed their faces with pepper-spray. Eyewitnesses told Silwanic that several guards of illegal colonies in Silwan also invaded the neighborhood, and hurled gas bombs and concussion grenades. Medical sources said resident Abdullah Abu Naab, 60, and Mahdi Rajabi, 14, suffered burns in their faces and were unable to breathe, before medics arrived at the scene, provided first aid and moved them to the al-Makassed Hospital. The attack also led to scores of injuries, especially among the children, while a pregnant woman was also wounded. Some of the wounded have been identified as Zeid Abu Qweider, 8, Adam Rajabi, 9, Rahaf Abu Qweider, 5, Odai Rajabi, 12, Hamza Rajabi, 12, Yazan Rajabi 12, Walid ash-Sha’er, 16, Asma’ Rajabi (pregnant in her ninth month), 29, and ‘Adel Tawfiq Gheith, 75 years of age. In addition, five children and their parents suffered severe effects of gas inhalation after the Israeli guards hurled a gas bomb into their home. The oldest of the wounded children is 13, and the youngest is only seven months of age. Another family, including an infant, also suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, medical sources said.
In addition, clashes took place in Batn al-Hawa neighborhood in Silwan, after a number of Israeli fanatics invaded it, while Israeli soldiers later invaded the area, and declared it a closed military zone. Furthermore, soldiers attacked dozens of Palestinians in the protest tent in the neighborhood, and hurled gas and concussion grenades on them, before attacking the tent and smashing many chairs. Many teenagers and children were injured after the soldiers attacked them in Batn al-Hawa; the army also fired several gas bombs at a number of homes, while many soldiers started banging on doors causing anxiety attacks among families, especially the children. A young man, identified as Saleh Kash’am, suffered various cuts and bruises after the soldiers repeatedly kicked him in the neighborhood.
Clashes also took place in the at-Tour town, after dozens of soldiers invaded it; media sources said local youths hurled a Molotov cocktail that struck one of the invading police vehicles, and that one officer was injured. The police fired gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets at random, Silwanic said.
The occupation arrests a child after being assaulted by a settler
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 10 Sept — The occupation police released the 17-year old Khalil Raed Abu Tayeh on condition of isolation from the Old City of Jerusalem for one week. The child explained to Wadi Hilweh Information Center that a settler attacked him while walking in Al-Wad Street in the Old City of Jerusalem and within a few moments he was surrounded and arrested by the occupation forces under the pretext of “assaulting a settler”. Abu Tayeh added that the settler attacked him and hit him directly on his eye and he tried to defend himself but the forces arrested and assaulted him. The Center’s lawyer explained that the police accused the child of assaulting a settler and released him on condition of isolation from the Old City of Jerusalem while allowing him to go to school if accompanied by one of his parents for one week in addition to the need of attending an interrogation next week. The lawyer added that the interrogator tried to completely isolate him from the Old City of Jerusalem for one week and prevent him from going to school but he refused that especially that Abu Tayeh is a student in a secondary school and any absence from school will negatively affect him.
Madama villagers foil infiltration attack by Israeli extremists
IMEMC/Agencies 11 Sept — A group of young Palestinian men managed, earlier on Friday at dawn, to foil an attempt by a number of Israeli extremists to carry out an attack in Madama village, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The WAFA News Agency has reported that the Palestinians noticed an unusual activity, shortly after 2 after midnight, when they saw a short, bearded armed man wearing a cap, monitoring some homes in the village, and alerted the families. The infiltrator ran away after realizing his presence became known; he was hiding in an area where a wedding of a villager was held, on Thursday at night. Just seconds later, an Israeli car that was parked near the local graveyard, sped in his direction, picked him up and drove towards a settlement road. The WAFA News Agency said the villagers conducted a search campaign, to make sure the area is clear of infiltrators .
Israeli forces injure 4 during weekly Kufr Qaddum protest
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 11 Sept — Israeli forces injured four Palestinians on Friday in the northern West Bank village of Kufr Qaddum, west of Qalqilya, during clashes that erupted following the village’s weekly Friday protest, a local resistance coordinator told Ma‘an. Popular resistance coordinator Murad Shtewei said Israeli forces injured Yusif Shtewei, 24, with a sponge bullet to the head. Yusif, who is reportedly in “moderate condition,” was taken to Rafidia Hospital for treatment. Aus Amer, 24, Odai Sameer, 23, and Muhammad Aqel,18, were also injured in the clashes. All three men were hit with rubber-coated bullets in their lower extremities and treated on the scene, Murad said. Murad added that Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets as well as sponge bullets, tear gas, stun grenades, and skunk water to disperse protesters. Murad said that hundreds of protesters participated in the village’s march in support of the “Palestinian Authority’s international diplomatic efforts” [referring to UN vote to raise the Palestinian flag there]. Israeli forces raided the village in the early morning and climbed on rooftops of several houses to use the positions in dispersing protesters.
Israeli soldiers take over home of PA police chief in Nablus
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 11 Sept — Israeli military forces on Friday raided the house of the Palestinian Authority police chief in Nablus, Abd al-Latif al-Qaddumi, and turned his home into a military outpost after evicting his wife and children. PA police spokesperson Luay Irzeiqat told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the home in Kafr Qaddum village and locked al-Qaddumi’s family in one room before declaring the property a military outpost. Shortly afterward, Israeli forces expelled the family from the home and took it over. Al-Qaddumi was not present at the time of the incident, with no further details about why Israeli forces seized the property. On Sunday, Israeli forces held al-Qaddumi for more than an hour near the entrance of Hijja village west of Nablus, security sources told Ma‘an. They said that Israeli troops stopped the police chief on his way to Nablus police station and held him for more than an hour before releasing the police officer.
Israeli police detain 39 Palestinian workers near Eilat
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Sept — Israeli police and border forces rounded up 39 Palestinian workers near the southern Israel resort city of Eilat on Thursday, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. Hebrew language media reported that the 39 detained Palestinian workers were all taken to Israeli interrogation centers for questioning. An Israeli police spokesperson could not be reached for comment. The detained workers were from the Hebron district in the southern West Bank, according to reports in Hebrew media. Palestinians from the occupied West Bank are banned from working in Eilat, though tens of thousands have been given permits to work in other Israeli cities. All work permits Israel issues for Palestinian workers include the phrase “allowed to enter Israel excluding Eilat.” Palestinians who seek to work in Israel need a special work permit usually granted by the Israeli Civil Administration in coordination with the Israeli Ministry of Labor. In June Israel agreed to allow 1,500 Jordanian laborers to work in Eilat.
Israeli forces detain four Palestinians from West Bank districts
JERICHO (WAFA) 10 Sept – Israeli forces early Thursday detained four Palestinians from several West Bank districts, said WAFA correspondent. Two Palestinians were detained from Jericho, another from Jerusalem and one from Jenin. Israeli forces raided al-‘Auja town to the north of Jericho, where they detained two Palestinians after breaking into and ransacking their homes. The detainees were identified as Nassar Ifraijat, 55, and his son, Ashraf. Meanwhile, Israeli police detained a Palestinian student while he was heading to his school via Bab Al-Nazer, which leads to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The detainee was identified as Khalil Abu Tayeh, 17. Meanwhile in Jenin district, forces detained a Palestinian after breaking into and ransacking his house in Ya‘bad town to the southwest of Jenin. The detainee was identified as Ibrahim Abu Baker, 21. Both Tayeh and Abu Baker are expected to be held under administrative detention, said our correspondent.
Saying goodbye to Reham Dawabsha
+972 mag 10 Sept by Samah Salaime — Fate brought me to Reham Dawabsha’s hospital bed after she and the rest of her family were burned alive in their home. We had never met before, but something kept bringing me back to see her — . . . At the end of the evening I announced that I was heading toward Tel Hashomer Hospital, “just to say hello and see how the women there are doing. Reham’s mother probably hasn’t eaten since the morning nor slept.” One of the women decided to come along: “I’ll come with you, but my heart is weak. I won’t go in, I’ll wait outside.” “A woman in urgent care is not frightening, the people who put her there are,” I said to myself. We made it to the children’s unit of the hospital, where little Ahmed Dawabsha is still hospitalized. Family members and volunteers sat around a cake. “We decided to celebrate Reham’s birthday anyway,” said one of the volunteers. The aunts ate the cake, crestfallen and with tears in their eyes, wished for her recovery. “Inshallah she will be alright, God is great.” I asked whether Umm Hassan, Reham’s mother, was resting or whether she had eaten at all. The aunts told me that she refuses to leave her daughter’s hospital bed. I began to talk in the direction of Reham’s hospital room, through a long hallway that was empty in the late hours of the night, when my friend asked me: “Why this family, Samah? I know how much we tried to help the sick from Gaza and the West Bank, why are you so attached to the Dawabsha family?” I thought for a moment. “I don’t think it was a choice. Fate brought me here on the day of the attack, and since then I feel like I am a part of this. Poor Reham and Ahmed were burned alive. Just a family sleeping in their home, and someone planned to kill them in the most inhumane way possible. This isn’t cancer from up above, this is a human cancer and they are the victims, and they landed here in a military helicopter without a clue.” I found Umm Hassan and another aunt trying to enter urgent care after they left to pray for a few minutes. The mother stood crying in front of the locked door. (Continued)
Arson suspects not charged ‘to protect intelligence’: Israel
JERUSALEM (AFP) 10 Sept — Israel’s defence minister said Thursday that some of those believed responsible for a deadly firebombing of a Palestinian home are in custody but not being charged to protect intelligence sources, media said. Moshe Yaalon’s remarks were the first official acknowledgement that at least some suspects in the attack, which has increased tensions in the West Bank and sparked international condemnation, are in custody. Authorities have been heavily criticised for charging anyone with the July 31 attack by suspected Jewish extremists in the West Bank that killed an 18-month-old boy and fatally injured his parents. The only survivor was the couple’s four-year-old son, who remains in hospital. Three alleged Jewish extremists are being held in a controversial form of internment without trial — known as administrative detention — but have not been publicly charged. “The perpetrators of the Duma attack are known to the Israeli security services and some are locked up,” Yaalon told journalists. “We have not brought charges for the time being so as not to divulge our sources, but we are continuing our efforts to bring them to justice.” “We are convinced that the attack was perpetrated by Jews belonging to a very extremist group… Measures taken so far, particularly administrative detentions, are aimed at preventing another attack.” Yaalon did not identify the suspects, nor say whether they include the three in administrative detention. Authorities have also restricted the movements of 10 other people.
Israeli security source: Settler murderer of Dawabsheh family played us / Richard SIlverstein
Tikun Olam 10 Sept — Startling developments in the case of the settler murder of the Dawabsheh family in the village of Duma near Hebron. In the attack, it’s reported that at least four settler youth torched the family’s home and watched avidly as their bodies burned on the street outside. It’s been a month since the attack and no one has been arrested and directly implicated in the crime, though according to the settler advocacy group, Honenu, as many as 16 settlers have been arrested since that date. Until now, it hasn’t been known the exact extent of the involvement of any of them in the arson . . . An Israeli security source informs me that one of co-conspirators in the crime, but not the actual firebomber, was a Shabak agent. He did not name this individual. He said: “one of the killers’ inner-circle members – not one of the killers themselves – was a Shabak agent provocateur . . . This raises all sorts of other questions, some of them quite troubling: who is this settler “agent provocateur?” And what does my source mean by the latter phrase? It connotes someone who actually incited the crime in some way, even if he didn’t commit it. If that’s the case — if the Shabak encouraged this individual to provoke a criminal act but didn’t know anything about the actual crime — well, that’s the height of malfeasance. In fact, it may be a repeat of the Rabin assassination. Except that this crime led to three deaths. More questions: is the informant one of those in custody? Or is the informant still at large? If the latter is the case, will this individual ever be charged with a crime? I’d say that’s highly doubtful since it would mean the Shabak might have to explain its relationship with him, how it recruited him, what it offered him, etc. That’s a can of worms the agency will avoid at all costs.
Palestinian prisoner suspends hunger strike, promised release
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Sept – Hunger striking Palestinian prisoner Ameer al-Shammas announced on Thursday that he would end his hunger strike, following Israeli authorities’ decision not to renew his internment, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said in a statement. Al-Shammas, from the southern West Bank district of Hebron, has been held under the policy of administrative detention, which allows prisoners to be detained without trial or charge for renewable six-month periods, indefinitely. Al-Shammas, who will be released at the end of his current six-month session of detainment, began his hunger strike against the policy earlier this month. The detainee made the decision to end his strike on Thursday in the Negev prison during a visit with his PPS appointed lawyer. PPS pointed out that al-Shammas had gone on hunger strike for more than three months last year, which he ended after being promised release, only for Israel to renew his detention. There are currently seven prisoners being held under administrative detainment who are on hunger strike. Prisoners Nidal Abu Aker, Shadi Maali, Ghassan Zawahra, Bader Rozzeh and Munir Abu Sharar all began their hunger strike on Aug. 20, while Bilal Dawood started his strike six days later and prisoner Suleiman Iskafi started, along with al-Shammas, at the beginning of September.
Palestinian stone-throwers can now face detention without bail until end of proceedings
Haaretz 9 Sept by Nir Hasson — Prosecutors must now ask for detention until the end of legal proceedings for nearly all suspects charged with throwing stones, under orders issued Wednesday by State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan. Nitzan is implementing nationwide the policy adopted over the past year by the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office, under which every time suspected stone throwers are indicted, the prosecutors ask for the suspect to be held until the end of the case. Stone-throwing charges can be filed against suspects as young as 12 . . . Nitzan distinguished between two types of stone-throwing. In the case of life-threatening violations, like throwing stones at vehicles traveling on the roads, detention until the end of legal proceedings should be requested routinely. In less serious instances, like throwing stones at policemen shielded during a demonstration, other factors may be considered before making the request. The greatest weight will be given to the circumstances of the crime – if a slingshot was used, if a number of stones were thrown, and if the stone-throwing was spontaneous or planned. Only after these issues are decided will the age of the suspect be a factor. Regarding punishments, the new regulation expands the new law passed recently that defines two categories of sentencing for those throwing stones at vehicles. The first, carrying a sentence of up to 10 years, refers to anyone throwing a stone or object at a vehicle to inspire fear or panic, but isn’t liable to cause real harm to the vehicle or its passengers. This category would include, for example, those throwing stones at the Jerusalem light rail, whose windows are reinforced. The second, more serious category, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years’ imprisonment, involves those who threw stones to cause grievous bodily harm, with a high probability that someone could be hurt.
Israeli prison guards use pepper spray against minor prisoners
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 9 Sept – Israeli prison guards recently cracked down on minor political prisoners in Sharon prison and used pepper spray against some of them, according to Heba Masalha, an attorney with the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs (CPA). Masalha said Israeli prison authorities placed a number of Israeli criminal prisoners with Palestinian minor political prisoners in Sharon prison, a matter which enraged the minors, because they were subjected to assault by the Israeli prisoners, including verbal and physical. Ameen Zeyadeh, who represents minor prisoners at Sharon, told Masalha the Israeli prisoners regularly provoke the minors and treat them aggressively, stirring unrest among minor prisoners who knocked at the doors and windows in protest of this mistreatment. In return, prison guards attacked the minors and pepper-sprayed them, causing them intense itching in their faces and eyes. The prison authorities also considered a number of reprisal measures against the minors, including restrictions on the entry of food as well as on the use of prison store. Some prisoners were also placed in solitary confinement in retaliation for knocking on the doors and windows.
Israel outlaws Aqsa compound Muslim groups
JERUSALEM (AFP) 9 Sept — Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon announced Wednesday he has outlawed two Muslim groups active at the volatile Al-Aqsa mosque complex which confront Jewish visitors to the holy Jerusalem site. Yaalon’s office said he had been convinced by Israel’s internal security bodies that outlawing the Murabitat [female group] and Murabitun [male group], a decision he reached on Tuesday, was necessary in order to “defend the security of the state, the well-being of the public and public order”. The groups, it said, were “a main factor in creating the tension and violence” at the site, venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount, and in Jerusalem at large. “They engage in inciteful and dangerous activity against tourists, visitors and worshippers at the site, which leads to violence,” Yaalon’s office said, and “strive to undermine Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount.” The Murabitat and Murabitun are made up of east Jerusalem Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, some of whom are funded by the Islamic Movement’s radical northern wing. They tend to disturb Jewish visitors with cries of “Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)” as they see their presence as aimed at bringing to an eventual change in the status of the site, where non-Muslim prayer is prohibited. [Wikipedia about the Murabitat: The group organises classes at Al Aqsa Mosque from learning how to read and write to university level and Islamic tajweed or the musical chanting of Quranic verses.]
Israeli forces open fire at fishermen, open land in Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Sept — Israeli forces on Friday opened fire at Palestinian fishermen, as well as on open land in two separate incidents in the Gaza Strip on Friday, witnesses told Ma‘an. No injuries were reported in either incident. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces opened fire at fishermen off the shore of the al-Sudaniya area in the northern Gaza Strip. An Israeli army spokesperson said that Israeli forces fired warning shots into the air near the al-Sudaniya area when a boat approached the end of accessible sea area. The spokesperson said the boat then turned back towards the shore. [Fishing boats were also shot at on Wednesday evening and on Thursday morning.]
Separately, locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces also opened fire at open land in the Juhor al-Deek area of the central Gaza Strip. An Israeli army spokesperson said two Palestinians in central Gaza were reported to have been approaching the border fence when Israeli forces fired warning shots into the air Friday evening, but the spokesperson could not confirm that the incident was the same event that took place in the Juhor al-Deek area.
Gas stations run out of petrol as Gaza fuel crisis continues
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Sept — Fuel supplies in the Gaza Strip are running increasingly low, the head of the Gaza Union of Gas Station Owners told Ma‘an on Friday, with some gas stations running out of petrol across the besieged enclave. Mahmoud al-Shawwa said Gaza’s fuel shortage is due to a lack of gasoline coming into the coastal enclave through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing on the border of the southern Gaza Strip. “There are gas stations in the Gaza Strip that are out of fuel, as the quantities arriving into Gaza are little and the priority is to the power station,” al-Shawwa said. Al-Shawwa added that while diesel fuel had entered the Gaza Strip recently, the fuel was all sent to the Gaza Power Plant in order to keep the plant running. The union official said that more diesel is set to enter the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Due to severe fuel shortages, the Gaza power plant has been operating at approximately half of its capacity (60 out of 120 megawatts) or below, and has been forced to shut down on several occasions.
Israel closes Gaza crossing for Jewish holiday
MEMO 11 Sept — Israeli authorities are closing the Karam Abu Salem crossing, Gaza’s sole commercial crossing, for five consecutive days starting today under the pretext of Jewish holidays, a Palestinian official said. “We have been informed that the crossing will be partially opened on Sunday to allow the entry of fuel needed to run Gaza’s only power station,” director of the crossing Munir Al-Ghalban told the Anadolu Agency. Three Jewish holidays fall in September including Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Al-Ghalban warned that the closure would impact the supply of diesel as well as the entry of sufficient quantities of cooking gas, adding that this closure will further increase the suffering of the residents of the beleaguered Strip. Karem Abu Salem is the only commercial crossing through which goods and fuel enter the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the Energy Authority in Gaza warned that the Gaza power plant will stop working if the border is closed for five days. The authority said in a statement that closing the crossing will exacerbate the suffering of Gaza’s residents and result in a sharp decline in the amount of fuel which already enters in very limited quantities.
Israel: Over 800 trucks of building materials, fuel enter Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Sept — Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said Thursday that it allowed 852 trucks of construction materials, fuel, and food into the besieged Gaza Strip. The Israeli army unit said it has significantly increased the entry of goods into Gaza for the reconstruction of the territory, with a total of over 1.94 million tons of construction materials having entered Gaza to rebuild homes, hospitals, schools and roads. The United Nations development agency said last week that Gaza could become uninhabitable for residents within just five years as a result of three Israeli military operations in the past six years and nearly a decade-long economic blockade. The blockade had “ravaged the already debilitated infrastructure of Gaza, shattered its productive base, left no time for meaningful reconstruction or economic recovery and impoverished the Palestinian population in Gaza,” the report said. “Short of ending the blockade, donor aid… will not reverse the ongoing de-development and impoverishment in Gaza,” it said.
UNRWA strikes deal with Gaza employees to end school strike
albawaba 10 Sept — The UN agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza on Wednesday reached a deal with local employees to end a crisis which has the plagued the start of the school year in the besieged territory. Head of the UNRWA employees union, Suheil al-Hindi, said the agreement was reached after a stormy four-hour meeting with UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl. The deal includes a maximum class size of 39 students, down from 50, which will lead to the employment of 270 new teachers in the coming weeks, he said. No agreement has been reached yet on the issue of unpaid vacations. Staff in UNRWA’s schools went on strike on the first day of the school year in August 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. Out of a population of 1.8 million in the Gaza Strip, some 1.26 million are refugees, according to UN figures. UNRWA oversees education for most children — some 225,000 in 245 schools.
Qatari minister unveils new projects in Gaza
MEMO 11 Sept — Head of the Qatari National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, Ambassador Mohammad Al-Amadi, arrived in Gaza yesterday through the Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing in the north of Gaza for the opening of the completed Qatari projects. During a press conference held at the crossing, Al-Amadi said that his visit was in the context of the Qatari National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza’s efforts and for the opening of some projects that they had completed. He also said he would be signing contracts for other projects in Gaza . . . He noted that he met with officials in the Palestinian government in the West Bank as well as Israeli officials and that the meetings were positive and fruitful. He confirmed that the obstacles set forth by the occupation with regards to supplies that enter Gaza such as wood have been removed and that they will enter Gaza regularly. Al-Amadi also reported that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed with the PA to link the Gaza power plant with the gas line and to expand the plant, making it 340 megawatts. He said that the MoU was sent to the Israeli side and that the ball is in their court. “There is no problem increasing the electric energy in Gaza and Israel studied this proposal and had no initial objections to it,” he said.
72 students from Gaza travel through Erez Crossing
MEMO 10 Sept — Some 72 Palestinian students traveled through the Erez Crossing from Gaza to Israel, the Anadolu Agency reported Palestinian sources saying yesterday. Authorities in the occupied West Bank said this is part of the efforts being made to facilitate the travel of Palestinian students to attend universities abroad. Gaza students normally travel through the Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt but, since the ouster of the first freely elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, it has become very difficult for Gazans to leave the beleaguered Strip. Most of the Palestinians in Gaza prefer traveling via Rafah Crossing fearing arrest by the Israeli occupation if they travel via Erez.
287 Gazans perform Friday prayers in Al-Aqsa
MEMO 11 Sept — Some 287 Gazans were able to reach Jerusalem today through the Beit Hanoun crossing to perform Friday prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque. The group, which included UNRWA employees, were allowed through the crossing by Israeli forces. It is worth noting that occupation forces allow Gazans who are over the age of 60 to travel via the Beit Hanoun crossing to perform Friday prayers in Al-Aqsa in occupied Jerusalem after its latest attack on Gaza. This is carried out with complete coordination with the Jerusalem affairs administration.
Dr. Tarak Loubani uses 3D printer to overcome Gaza stethoscope shortage
AP 10 Sept — A Palestinian-Canadian doctor has created a low-cost stethoscope using a 3D printer, the first in a series of inventions he hopes will help alleviate medical supply shortages caused by an eight-year blockade on the Gaza Strip. Dr. Tarek Loubani says his stethoscope can be made for just $2.50 — a fraction of the cost of leading brands — and some doctors say the equipment is just as good. The shortage of basic medical devices in the isolated Palestinian territory “is something that I think we can translate from a big problem to a big win for us in Gaza,” said Loubani, an emergency medicine doctor from London, Ont., whose Glia Project aims to provide medical supplies to impoverished places like Gaza. Hospitals have been struggling since the militant Hamas group took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 and Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the territory. The import restrictions have led to shortages of medicines and basic supplies like medical consumables and IV bags.
Israel’s bombs and blockade cause child labor to rise in Gaza
EI 11 Sept by Isra Saleh el-Namey — Photo: A Palestinian boy repairs a car in Gaza City in June 2013. Child labor is widespread in Gaza. Ashraf Amra APA images — Muhammad is only 12 yet he already has to work. Each morning at 7am he takes to Gaza’s streets, where he sells sandwiches from a little stall. “I have no choice,” he said. “Our house was completely destroyed in last year’s war.” Because of that destruction, Muhammad had to help support his family. Consisting of five girls, four boys and their parents, the family now lives in a rented flat. Muhammad earns approximately 30 shekels ($7.70) per day, all of which he hands over to his parents, who have no regular income. After working for a few hours in the morning, Muhammad goes to school. His older brother takes over the stall until Muhammad’s classes end. “I like my school,” said Muhammad. “I know that getting a good education is my surest way for a decent life. But this is life in Gaza. It’s a kind of living hell.”
Gaza youth paint longest mural in Gaza
MEMO 10 Sept — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — Over 50 young Palestinian artists have participated in a mural painting activity in the Gaza Strip in a bid to break the national record for the longest mural. The previous national record was held after a mural measuring 80 metres long was painted in 2013; the current fresco is 100 metres in length and 1.6 metres wide. The event was oragnised by UNESCO’s Networks of Mediterranean Youth Project (NET-MED Youth) in cooperation with the General Union of Cultural Centers (GUCC), an NGO member of the NET-MED Youth network in Gaza on the occasion of the International Youth Day. Network of Mediterranean Youth Project coordinator in Gaza Rima Saleem told the Middle East Monitor that the event is being held to shed light on the talents of Palestinian youth in Gaza and the difficulties they face in the hope that it will move the world and brings focus on the Palestinian people’s plight there . . . Mariam Salah, 19, named her painting “the false dream”. She said the false dream is the constructed homes, the university graduates who find jobs and rebuild the enclave. “It is a false dream because we do not have any hope to achieve it. None of that will happen. The homes are destroyed, no one works and the reconstruction process is very slow.”
TIFF: Gaza biopic ‘The Idol’ offers unlikely uplift
Hollywood Reporter 11 Sept by Alex Ritman — Director Hany Abu-Assad turns dismay into delight with his Toronto festival biopic about a singer from a refugee camp who won the ‘Arab Idol’ competition — A popular TV show may have already led one feel-good film to Academy Award glory, but seven years on and Toronto could have another Slumdog Millionaire on its hands. Rather than being based on a book, however, the events in Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad’s The Idol actually took place, and just two years ago. The story of how Mohammed Assaf in 2013 won the second season of Arab Idol, the Middle East version of the global talent show, almost seems like it was written with a swooping musical biopic in mind. For Abu-Assad, whose previous two features, Paradise Now and Omar, both earned foreign language Oscar nominations, this tale of triumph over adversity gave him “goosebumps,” despite admitting to having never watched such programs. A 22-year-old wedding singer from a refugee camp in Gaza, Assaf journeyed to Cairo with the hope of auditioning for the popular show, no small feat given the somewhat tight border restrictions around his war-torn homeland. Having persuaded Egyptian security to let him through, he then found that the hotel where the trials were taking place had shut its doors and stopped accepting any more audition . . . . From there, it’s a classic feel-good trajectory; he was allowed to sing, made it to the finals in Beirut and on June 12, 2013, was crowned the winner as thousands of captivated fans watched from TV sets in cafes and courtyards in Gaza and the West Bank . . . The Idol’s shoot saw the crew actually venture inside Gaza, just months after the Israeli invasion last summer and the first time a film has been made there in 30 years. Abu-Assad claims the experience left him in a state of shock. “You won’t believe the amount of destruction there,” he says. “There are ruins everywhere, there’s no electricity at night, no medicine, good food. It’s a big jail and I just can’t believe that humanity is allowing these kinds of crimes.” But from this jail came Assaf, and his “amazing, incredible voice.”
Fatah accuses Hamas of arresting its members in Gaza
MEMO 9 Sept — Fatah yesterday accused its rival Hamas of arresting tens of its members because of their outspoken support for Fatah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the Anadolu Agency reported. In a statement issued by Fatah’s Supreme Leadership Committee in Gaza, the organisation said that 40 of its members were arrested by Hamas’s security forces in the Gaza Strip, adding that action had been taken because they had recently announced their support for Fatah and PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Fatah called on Hamas to release its members as soon as possible, claiming that its members have been tortured in prison. Meanwhile, the Palestinian interior ministry in Gaza, run by Hamas, told MEMO that the young Fatah members were arrested following clashes between members loyal to Abbas and those loyal to dismissed Fatah leader Mohamed Dahlan.
Gaza’s Jaish Al-Islam ISIS allegiance? Jihadi group statement proclaims devotion to the Islamic State
IBT 11 Sept by Morgan Winsor — One of Gaza’s oldest and most powerful jihadi groups, Jaish al-Islam, has reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group. The short statement attributed to Jaish al-Islam Wednesday has raised fears the militant group also known as ISIS has successfully swelled its official presence in the Gaza Strip. The statement, which was posted to online ISIS forums, proclaimed Jaish al-Islam as an inseparable part of the Sinai Province, an ISIS affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, according to the Jerusalem Post . . . There are suspicions, however, about the statement’s authenticity because there has been no official confirmation from the Gaza-based militant group’s leader. Some commentators on ISIS forums expressed doubt that the pledge of allegiance was real while others celebrated the statement, according to Vocativ.
Israeli mortar-detecting radars fully operational around Gaza Strip
TEL AVIV (Jane’s) 10 Sept by Yaakov Lappin — The Israeli Ministry of Defense has deployed tactical radars made by RADA Electronic Industries to provide early warning of mortars and short-range rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, the Israeli company announced on 9 September. RADA, which produces defence electronics and tactical land radars, says that the Multi-Mission Hemispheric Radar (MHR) systems that the Israel Defense Forces (IDFs) southern command has deployed along the border with the Gaza Strip have now reached full operational capacity.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
In east Jerusalem, settlers plant their flag among Arabs
JERUSALEM (AFP) 11 Sept by Sarah Benhaida –– The Abu Snineh family woke up at their home in east Jerusalem one morning to find Jewish settlers had moved into the building and Israeli flags were on the roof. Their Silwan neighbourhood in the shadow of Jerusalem’s Old City has become a flashpoint in the struggle between ideologically driven Israelis moving in and longtime Palestinian residents. “There are still areas where Jews want to go back,” said Daniel Luria, whose Ateret Cohanim activist organisation facilitates the purchase of homes by Jews from Israel and abroad. “That was our dream, not to live on the outskirts of Tel Aviv or Haifa. It’s to be close to the Temple Mount, where the kings and the prophets walked.” . . . Israel annexed mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War — a move never recognised by the international community. Before then only a few hundred Jews lived there. Now there are 195,000 among a total population of 450,000. In Silwan, a working class district on a steep hillside where clashes regularly erupt, several hundred Jews live among 55,000 Palestinians. New Jewish arrivals move in at night to avoid tensions.The Abu Sninehs’ building is the sixth that has been taken over in Silwan. They are all near one another, forming a small enclave under tight surveillance and with newly paved streets. It stands in sharp contrast to the surrounding Palestinian areas, where public services are essentially non-existent. “Those settlers don’t want to live with us,” said Fakhri Abu Diab, part of a voluntary committee in Silwan elected by residents. “They want to live in our places.” Abu Diab said the latest arrivals showed up at 2:00 am. Five minutes later, the Israeli flags had already been placed on the roof. About 10 security cameras have been mounted on the walls and balconies, and more were being installed. Their plan was to occupy the premises until five Jewish families move in and while a dormitory for Jewish students is set up, said Luria.
Settler housing finishes up by 54.8% from last year
JPost 9 Sept by Tovah Lazaroff — The number of homes built in the West Bank increased 54.8% in the first half of this year, compared with the first six months of last year, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Wednesday. imilarly, there was a 49.6% jump in the number of housing starts in the same period, the CBS said. Its quarterly release of data comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed to London to speak with his British counterpart, David Cameron, about the Quartet’s new push to revive the peace process, which has been frozen since April 2014. Palestinians insist that they will not hold talks with Israel until it halts all building in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem. Israel contends that such construction has no impact on a final status agreement for a two-state solution. In the first two quarters of 2014, ground was broken on 657 new West Bank homes, and an additional 657 units were completed.
High Court to state: Explain plan to raze West Bank Bedouin village
Haaretz 11 Sept by Amira Hass — Khirbet Zanuta existed before Israel was founded, yet has no building permits — Residents of Khirbet Zanuta, south of Hebron in the West Bank, received a reason for hope last week that they won’t be uprooted from the village they and their families have lived in for decades. Responding to a petition by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which represents the village residents, the High Court of Justice issued a restraining order in which it ordered the state to explain within 90 days its intention to demolish the village buildings before finding a reasonable solution for the villagers. The High Court’s position deserves attention, given the rise in the number of demolitions the Civil Administration has carried out in recent weeks in Palestinian communities without providing residents with alternative living quarters. The High Court ruling came after nearly a year of discussions between the sides that went nowhere. The Civil Administration issued 15 demolition orders for village structures in 2007, arguing they were built without permits. Israel refuses to prepare master plans for villages like Zanuta, which existed before Israel conquered the West Bank in 1967 and even before Israel’s founding in 1948 – so there is no legal way to ask for a building permit. The 27 families living in Zanuta make a living from shepherding and engage in subsistence farming. They lived in natural caves until the 1980s, adding stone entrances. The caves began to collapse, and the residents were forced to build tin shacks and tents next to them. Demolition orders were issued against these structures.
Priest offers daily Mass at destroyed West Bank olive orchards
Catholic Herald 10 Sept by Judith Sudilovsky — A separation barrier was put up in the Cremisan Valley in August — Since hundreds of olive trees were uprooted to make room for a separation barrier through the Cremisan Valley, a stretch of land between the West Bank and Jerusalem, adjacent to a largely Christian village of Beit Jalla, Fr Aktham Hijazin, Annunciation Parish priest, has been celebrating Mass daily at the site. Border police who patrol the area prevent some 56 Palestinian landowners from reaching their land. In April, residents celebrated an Israeli Supreme Court decision, which seemingly blocked a plan to build the separation barrier. But just three weeks later the Ministry of Defence sent a letter to the private landowners’ attorney and the Beit Jalla municipality, announcing its intention to build the wall. Despite several legal appeals requesting to see the wall’s new route, the court declined to issue an injunction, and on August 17 bulldozers and tractors began uprooting hundred-years-old olive trees and clearing dirt paths. Attorney Raffoul Rofa, executive director of the Society of St Yves of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, who represented the Salesian Sisters affected by the construction, said a gap is expected to be left open in the barrier around the monastery and convent – at least initially – until a solution is devised to allow the institutions to remain in contact with the Palestinian side . . . “Basically we won (the nuns’) case, but those who lost are the landowners. The Latin Patriarchate believes the people here are very important and will not be left on their own, so we are still involved in the case.” Meanwhile, Palestinians say, Israel is creating space for more settlements while legal appeals are still in the worksA protest by residents during which they tore down a military gate closing off the land was met by tear gas and beatings on August 23. Since then, local Christian leaders have been holding the daily Masses.
Extremist settlers vandalize Islamic cemetery in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 11 Sept — Israeli extremists, last night, spray-painted racist graffiti on the walls of ar-Rahma Islamic cemetery, outside Jerusalem’s Old City, according to local sources. Shortly after Islamic Waqf personnel discovered the anti-Arab graffiti, the sources added that they attempted to remove it, but were prevented from continuing their work by Israeli police.
Israeli army razes Palestinian-owned land near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 9 Sept –The Israeli army on Wednesday razed Palestinian-owned agricultural land and seized the irrigation network in al-Baqa’a area, east of Hebron, according to the landowner. The owner, Badran Jaber, told WAFA that an Israeli army force accompanied by heavy machinery broke into al-Baqa’a, and proceeded to raze his land, which is planted with tomato and other summer crops. Forces also seized the irrigation network present at the land. The owner said that forces further razed a nearby land belonging to another local, where they damaged the irrigation network.
Ramallah district road opened after 15 years of closure
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Sept — The Israeli authorities on Wednesday reopened a West Bank road between Ramallah and the eastern village of Beitin that has been closed 15 years, Israel’s Civil Administration said. Beitin residents have been forced to take a route to Ramallah almost 20 kilometers in distance since 2000, even though the village lies just three kilometers from Ramallah. It was initially reported that the road was reopened at the end of May, but an Israeli Civil Administration spokeswoman said that further maintenance on the road for “safety” reasons had delayed its opening. The Civil Administration said that the reopening was part of “continuous” efforts to improve residents’ movement in the area. However, only private vehicles — after obtaining special permits — will be allowed to use the reopened road, while taxis, buses and trucks will remain banned. An opening ceremony was attended by representatives of the Beitin village council, the Ministry of Local Governance, and the Ramallah and al-Bireh governor’s office, as well as Palestinian and Israeli liaison officers.
Palestinian refugees – Syria, Lebanon, Jordan
Palestinian refugees joining exodus from Syria
KOFINOU, Cyprus (AFP) 11 Sept — Palestinian pensioner Zahra Zahroura always imagined seeing out her days in her adopted Syrian hometown of Homs, sustained by the hope that being made a refugee once was enough for any lifetime.But as the war in Syria worsened the 84-year-old was forced to flee a second time, aiming for a new life in mainland Europe but making it only as far as Cyprus, lucky to be alive at all. “My husband worked and we lived well. But we had to leave because of the war,” says Zahroura, who was rescued on Sunday with more than 100 people aboard a small fishing boat that had drifted for three days under the scorching Mediterranean sun. “All the houses were rubble, everything was destroyed by the bombing.” Zahroura is one of a growing number of Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon joining the hundreds of thousands of Syrians fleeing the war on the perilous journey to survival in Europe. Her boat was carrying 115 refugees — including 54 women and children — which had set off from the Syrian port of Tartus before picking up more people in Lebanon’s Tripoli. According to an official at Cyprus’ Kofinou camp, where those rescued are staying, most of the passengers aboard were Palestinians “from Lebanon or Syria”. Palestinians, many of whom were driven or fled from their homes when Israel was founded in 1948, have experienced some of the worst horrors of Syria’s four-and-a-half-year civil war that has killed more than 240,000 people. (continued)
UNRWA chief says agency still facing budget crisis
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The UN agency for Palestinian refugees is still facing a budget deficit despite raising $81 million in funding last month, the UNRWA commissioner general said during a news conference on Thursday. Pierre Krahenbuhl, during a news conference held in Gaza City, said UNRWA received $81 million of its $101 million deficit, but that the organization still needs more donor support. Krahenbuhl added that European Union member-countries have pledged to donate more funding to UNRWA, without adding further details . . .Krahenbuhl, in an interview with IRIN news, called the deficit the “most serious financial crisis ever,” adding that the risk to the organization’s “immediate core activities” was “unprecedented.” “We can’t have another year like this,” Krahenbuhl told IRIN . . . During Thursday’s press conference, Krahenbuhl added that Saudi Arabia is UNRWA’s third biggest donor country.
Saudi Arabia pledges $7.6M for Palestine refugees in Jordan
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 10 Sept — The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), has pledged $7.6 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for a series of works in Jordan to upgrade and equip health centres and schools for Palestine refugees throughout the country, as part of an overall package of $35 million for the Agency. SFD Vice-Chairman and Managing Director H.E. Eng. Yousef al-Bassam, who authorized the grant, said, ‘Jordan has been host to Palestine refugees since the Nakba, with over 2 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA living in the country. By providing the Agency with this $7.6 million pledge, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia pays tribute to Jordan and its people, who continue to provide Palestine refugees with a safe and secure place where they can lead fulfilling lives for themselves and their children.’ The contribution will be used for the comprehensive refurbishment of 10 UNRWA health centres that serve 116,000 Palestine refugees. The cash will also provide new medical equipment for the health centres.
EU: Landslide vote for West Bank product labeling
Ynet 10 Sept by Itamar Eichner — The European parliament approved a decision calling for the labeling of settlement products on Thursday, with a vote of 525 for and 70 against. Only a small number of European states currently require the labeling of settlement products; however there is now a growing fear that the labeling will become a union-wide policy. “The policy stinks of boycott,” a foreign ministry spokesman said. One of the vote’s articles includes a statement made by 16 European foreign ministers who backed the move in April. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response, “We remember what happened when Europeans marked Jewish goods. The EU decision is a distortion of justice and logic.” “The state of Israel views the vote with severity, especially the call for labeling products,” the Foreign Ministry responded. “The labeling of products is an act of discrimination which reeks of a boycott. We are talking about an attempt to force a political solution under the guise of a technical move,” the statement continued . . . In the decision, which was approved by a crushing majority, the EU parliament called for a renewed approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. “The parliament urges the EU to become a real political player in the Middle East peace process, which would benefit the troubled region as a whole.”
No work for hundreds of Palestinians as SodaStream leaves West Bank
RAHAT(The National) 9 Sept by Kate Shuttleworth — Nearly 500 Palestinian workers from the controversial SodaStream factory inside the Israeli-occupied West Bank could lose their jobs following the company’s decision to move most of its operations inside Israel. SodaStream, which makes home-made carbonated drink machines, will shut down its factory in the illegal Jewish settlement of Mishor Adumim next week. The company used to employ 600 Palestinians in the West Bank, but fired 100 workers over the past year when it began moving its operations to the new factory near Rahat — the largest Bedouin town in the Negev desert. Palestinians who want to work inside Israel require an entry permit. Sodastream has, however, only managed to obtain 130 permits, which means the rest of the 370 workers will likely lose their jobs. Of the permits obtained, only 37 workers passed the stringent security checks to work in Israel. The move also means that West Bank workers must now travel for hours from Palestinian villages to larger cities, before crossing a major Israeli checkpoint with tight security controls every day. Taxim Mohsin, 27, travels five days a week from Abu Dis to the factory next to Rahat in the Negev, spending about three-and-a-half hours on the road each day in addition to his 12-hour work shift . . . “This closure is a clear-cut BDS victory against an odiously complicit Israeli company,” said Mr Barghouti. He added that moving the factory inside Israel would not alleviate any pressure on the company “as the company is moving to a location where it is directly colluding in the ethnic cleansing of Bedouin Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Naqab [Negev]”. (Continued)
A new unofficial boycott against Israeli academics may be underway
Haaretz 10 Sept by Judy Maltz — Academic told participation in conference conditioned on her denouncing the occupation — Several recent cases of Israeli academics being singled out for discriminatory treatment by colleagues overseas have sparked concerns among university leaders in the country. In one case, an attempt was made to ban a professor from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev from a conference held in South Africa unless she delivered a statement there denouncing the Israeli occupation. The conference, organized by the International Society of Critical Health Psychology, was held in mid-July at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. The ultimatum, drafted by a senior academic at the hosting university, was ultimately rejected by the academic association. Nonetheless, the Israeli academic, who had been targeted and said she would have refused to comply had it been approved, did not end up attending the conference after being warned that her participation might touch off anti-Israel protests on campus. The Israeli academic requested that her name not be published . . .In another incident, a request by two Israeli scientists to obtain a sample of an antiserum referred to in an academic paper was rejected by its author, a professor of biology at the University of Bordeaux in France, because of their nationality. In his response to their request, he wrote: “As long as I see no serious effort made by your home country to achieve peace with those who lived in Palestine before the present population arrived I will not send you any antisera.” In wake of the incident, the president of the Israeli university where the two researchers are employed sent a protest letter to his counterpart at the University of Bordeaux . . . In a third case, an Israeli professor was recently informed that he had been disinvited from participating in an international research effort based at Florida International University because one of the team members was a Lebanese academic who could face penalties in her country if it were discovered that she was collaborating with an Israeli scholar. (cont.)
UN votes in favor of raising Palestinian flag at headquarters
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Sept — The United Nations General Assembly voted late Thursday in favor of raising the Palestinian flag at its headquarters in New York by an overwhelming majority, in a symbolic diplomatic victory in the PLO’s campaign for statehood. A resolution was adopted by member states with 119 in favor, eight voting against — including Israel and the United States — and 45 abstentions. President Mahmoud Abbas hailed the decision, adding that the struggle will continue until the flag is raised over the “eternal” Palestinian capital of Jerusalem. “It is a symbolic thing, but another step to solidify the pillars of the state of Palestine in the international arena,” said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative to the UN. “We are looking forward to the day that the flag is raised, at the end of the month, with the presence of President Mahmoud Abbas, and we hope that the flag will also be raised that day in homes, schools, shops, universities, institutions and everywhere that you see appropriate,” he added. PA Minister of Foreign Affairs, Riyad al-Maliki, called the vote a “historic moment” and thanked countries who voted in favor, saying they have sent a message of hope to Palestinians. Countries who abstained, or voted against, must reconsider their position towards the peace process, he added. “The Palestinian flag symbolizes the struggle and sacrifices of our people. We remember our brave martyrs, prisoners, the wounded and their families that have made sacrifices for Palestine to live.” In Paris, Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah called the flag vote “a step on the road towards Palestine becoming a full member of the United Nations.” The Palestinian and Holy See flags can be raised outside official United Nations buildings, including in Geneva and Vienna.
EU parliament calls to reactivate Gaza border assistance mission, calls for end to blockade
Ynet 10 Sept — According to a resolution passed in the EU Parliment: “Ending the blockade of the Gaza Strip, its urgent reconstruction and rehabilitation following the 2014 summer war must be a humanitarian aid priority for the EU and the international community, MEPs urge the EU and other donors to live up to their promises to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), which has been under serious financial stress.” “They also call for the EU Border Assistance Mission EUBAM Rafah to be reactivated “with a more ambitious mandate and adequate means” to “play a concrete role in the control of the Gaza Strip’s borders with Egypt and Israel.” The resolution was passed by 525 votes to 70, with 31 abstentions.
Palestinian FM to meet French prime minister in Paris
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Sept — Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Riyad al-Malki, will meet with his French counterpart, FM Laurent Fabius, in Paris on Thursday, al-Malki said during a radio interview. Al-Malki said five agreements will be signed during the meeting, including political and financial agreements, as well as French-funded projects to support water and education sectors in the Palestinian territory. Al-Malki added that the meeting will also focus on developments related to the French initiative to end the Israeli occupation. Thursday’s meeting will be the first joint meeting between the two offices.
Christians in Israel might seek to close holy sites over schools
JERUSALEM (AFP) 10 Sept — The heads of Israel’s Palestinian Christian schools said Wednesday they might seek the closure of holy sites that attract thousands to Israel every year in order to pressure the state over a funding dispute. The schools have been on strike since the academic year started on September 1, with parents and school officials accusing the government of discrimination in funding their establishments. The action affects about 33,000 pupils at 47 schools, most of which are run by the Roman Catholic church but also including Protestant and Orthodox institutions. School officials say they receive only one-third of the subsidies Israel provides equivalent Jewish schools, and that they will stay on strike until their demands are met. A meeting Wednesday with the director of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, as well as education and finance ministry officials, failed to resolve the dispute. The schools’ leaders said that besides establishing protest tents outside the education ministry, they were “seriously considering” pressing their communities to shut down Israel’s Christian holy sites. “This would be a painful step for Israel, which could affect it economically and tarnish its reputation,” spokesman Botrus Mansour, who is also principal of the Baptist school in Nazareth, told AFP. “Pilgrims who come here and see the sites closed will ask why, and hear about Israel’s anti-Christian discrimination,” he said. Israel is home to some of Christianity’s holiest sites.
Protests outside Downing St as Netanyahu arrives in UK
LONDON (AFP) 9 Sept — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Britain on Wednesday for talks with Prime Minister David Cameron as hundreds of pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators clashed outside Downing Street. Police intervened to break up the scuffles as around 500 protesters gathered outside Cameron’s residence in London ahead of a meeting of the two leaders on Thursday. The Israeli leader’s focus was firmly on Iran as he touched down, once again criticising a landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and Western powers agreed in July . . . More than 108,000 people have signed a petition urging the arrest of Netanyahu for war crimes, enough for the issue to be considered for debate in Britain’s parliament. Israel’s embassy in London called it a “meaningless publicity stunt”.
PLO backs Jordan’s Prince Ali in FIFA presidency bid
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Sept — The PLO on Thursday publicly backed Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al Hussein in his bid to succeed FIFA president Sepp Blatter, a member of the Youth and Sports Committee said. Ali Ishaq said that backing the Jordanian candidate is in the interests of Palestinians, Jordanians and Arabs. The Palestinian official said that FIFA needs fundamental reforms and transparency, which Prince Ali bin Al Hussein would bring to the international body. Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al Hussein on Wednesday launched his bid to succeed FIFA president Sepp Blatter, saying he is the only candidate with the “guts” to confront corruption in football’s governing body. “I stand here in this ancient place in the timeless heart of Amman to once again launch my candidacy for the presidency of FIFA,” he told a gathering within the ruins of the Jordanian capital’s Roman amphitheater. Prince Ali, 39, is a former FIFA vice president who led an unsuccessful challenge as a reform candidate against Blatter for the top job in May, just two days after the arrest of seven FIFA officials in Zurich.
US sanctions aim at Saudi-Hamas finance link
WASHINGTON (AFP) 10 Sept — New US Treasury sanctions Thursday took aim at financial links between Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which the US labels a terrorist group. The Treasury named Hamas political bureau member Saleh Aruri; Saudi-based Hamas financier Mahir Salah; Abu-Ubaydah Khayri Hafiz Al-Agha, a Saudi citizen and “senior Hamas financial officer”; and al-Agha’s company Asyaf International Holding Group for sanctions. It said Aruri has since 2013 “overseen the distribution of Hamas finances” and works closely with Salah. Salah, a dual British and Jordanian citizen, has led the Hamas Finance Committee in Saudi Arabia, which the Treasury called “the largest center of Hamas’s financial activity.”
Population parity in historic Palestine raises hard questions for Israel
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 10 Sept by Luke Baker — While Israel remains predominantly Jewish, Arab numbers within the area of historic Palestine are now close to eclipsing the Jewish population, creating a dilemma for supporters of a “one-state solution” to the region’s conflict. Long-term demographic trends mean that those who want Jews and Palestinians to live together in a single, enlarged Israeli state – including President Reuben Rivlin – face a difficult question: how could Israel remain both democratic and Jewish if Arab voters became a majority within its borders? The United States and European Union still support a two-state solution: Israel and Palestine side-by-side. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recommitted himself to the goal despite appearing to abandon it before elections in March . . . The numbers show that while 74.9 percent of Israel’s population is Jewish (6.3 million people), 20.7 percent (1.75 million) are Arab, both Muslims and Christians, made up of Palestinians who remained in Israel after its founding in 1948. The remainder are mostly non-Arab Christians. This leaves Jews with a clear demographic edge, even if Arab population growth is slightly higher. But the picture gets complicated when Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem is taken into account, as well as its relationship with Gaza, which was occupied until 2005 and remains tightly controlled. The Palestinian population of the West Bank and East Jerusalem was 2.79 million in 2014, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. In Gaza, it was 1.76 million. That gives a total of 4.55 million in the areas that the Palestinians seek for their own independent state. Coupled with the 1.75 million Arabs in Israel, that is 6.3 million people of Palestinian origin in Israel and the Palestinian territories – the same number as there are Jews.
Past Jewish year sees sharp rise in olim numbers
Ynet 11 Sept by Omri Efraim — About 13% more people chose to immigrate to Israel in the previous Jewish year than the one before it. The largest numbers came from France (7,350), Ukraine (6,868), and Russia (5,900). About 29,500 new olim immigrated to Israel from 97 different countries in the past Jewish year – a rise of about 13 percent when compared to the year before (26,000). This, according to statistics published Wednesday by the ministry of immigrant absorption and the Jewish agency, ahead of Rosh Hashanah . . . Thousands of these new olim are academics and young people whose aliyah was arranged through special projects run by the immigrant absorption ministry and the Jewish agency. Around 3,000 of the olim have training and/or experience in the technology and engineering fields, and over 1,000 are doctors or other medical professionals.
The lost fortunes of Palestine’s dynamic Ottoman-era merchants
Ma‘an 9 Sept by Charlie Hoyle — The pink stone mansions hidden among the modern urban geography of Bethlehem — surrounded by an eight-meter high concrete wall and penned in by Israeli settlements — contain a rich untold history of phenomenal global success: The city’s pioneering 19th century merchants .In the relative geographical fluidity of the Ottoman Empire, long before the creation of the Israeli state and its subsequent military occupation, a merchant class emerged from the historic Palestinian city which would transport the image of the Holy Land to the rest of the world via devotional objects produced by local craftsmen. “You would find Bethlehemites in the Philippines, Australia, Sudan, Russia, the Ukraine, and all over the Americas,” Dr. Jacob Norris, a Lecturer in Middle Eastern History at the University of Sussex, told Ma‘an. “It was almost like a brand name you could recognize all over the world.”
US and Israel on verge of producing missile shield
MEMO 11 Sept — Director of the Missile Defence Agency (MDA) said that the US and Israel are weeks away from reaching a draft agreement regarding the co-production of Israel’s air defence system known as “David’s Sling” that the two countries developed together. MDS Director US Navy Vice Admiral James Syring also added that negotiations and discussions are ongoing in Tel Aviv about the defence system that passed a series of tests last April. It is expected to be operational next year. David’s Sling is being developed and produced by a partnership between Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd and Raytheon Co, one of America’s biggest arms companies. For his part, Robert Scher, assistant defence secretary for strategy, plans and capabilities, said that the US government has given over $3 billion to Tel Aviv for David’s Sling and other missile defence programmes since 2001.
Israel reopens embassy in Egypt
Al Jazeera 9 Sept — Israel has reopened its embassy in Egypt, four years after it was stormed by dozens of protesters in violence that led to the evacuation of the Israeli ambassador. The Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that its director-general, Dore Gold, had traveled to Cairo to “rededicate” the embassy. “The Israeli embassy in Egypt is back in operation today,” the ministry statement said. “Today, exactly four years ago, the Israeli diplomats were forced to leave the Israeli embassy.” Yitzhak Levanon, Israeli ambassador, and other staff were airlifted from Egypt after demonstrators stormed the city centre embassy in September 2012 in a protest over the shooting of five Egyptian security guards by Israeli soldiers pursuing those who had ambushed and killed eight Israelis along the border. Haim Koren, Israel’s current ambassador to Cairo, attended Wednesday’s ceremony, along with an Egyptian diplomat and the US ambassador to Egypt, the Israeli statement said. Israeli diplomats have been working mainly from the ambassadorial residence in a Cairo suburb. Ties between Israel and Egypt have grown warmer since the Egyptian army overthrew ex-president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.
Israeli nuclear whistle-blower under house arrest over interview
JERUSALEM (AFP) 10 Sept – An Israeli court put nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu under seven days’ house arrest Thursday for giving a TV interview more than a decade after completing an 18-year jail term, media said. Army radio said he was arrested in the morning after an interview on privately owned Channel 2 last week in defiance of the terms of his 2004 release. He later appeared in a Jerusalem court and was confined to his home for a week and barred from using the Internet, the radio said. Court officials could not be reached for confirmation. The former nuclear technician was jailed in 1986 for disclosing the inner workings of Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant to Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper. He spent more than 10 years of his sentence in solitary confinement. In Friday’s interview, the content of which Channel 2 said was cleared for broadcast by the military censor, he said he longer has any secrets to spill and just wants to join his new bride in Norway.