Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
Palestinian man killed during clashes with Israeli forces in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — A Palestinian man was shot and killed during clashes in the Ras al-Jura area of Hebron on Friday, witnesses told Ma‘an. A Ma‘an reporter said Uday Irsheid, 24, was shot in the chest and critically wounded during clashes with Israeli military forces at the northern entrance to Hebron. He later died from his injuries. The clashes broke out following a march called for by Hamas to mark the 28th anniversary of the political party’s founding. Red Crescent officials told Ma‘an that nine Palestinians were shot with live fire and three with rubber-coated steel bullets during the clashes. The injured were taken to a Health Work Committee center for medical treatment . . . Uday’s sister, Dania, was shot and killed by Israeli forces in Hebron on Oct. 25.The 17-year-old was shot dead after police officers allegedly saw “a knife in her hand.” No Israelis were injured during the incident . . . Following an investigation into several cases of Palestinian deaths, Amnesty International found that Dania’s killing was “absolutely unjustified” and called for Israel to end its “pattern of unlawful killings.” . . . Hebron has become the epicenter of violence over the last two months, as roughly 30 percent of the now 117 [or 119] Palestinians to be killed since Oct. 1 were from the Hebron district.
Palestinian shot dead after alleged attempted car attack in Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian after an alleged attempted car ramming attack in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron’s Halhul village on Friday, Israel’s army said. An Israeli army spokesperson said “a Palestinian attempted to ram his vehicle into [Israeli] security forces near Hebron,” adding that Israeli forces responded to the “imminent threat” and opened fire, killing the man. No Israelis were injured in the alleged attempted attack. The Palestinian has been identified as Omar al-Hroub, 55, from Deir Samit village in western Hebron.
Hebron family mourns death of second child in two months
HEBRON (MEE) 11 Dec by Sheren Khalel & Abed al Qaisi — Thirteen-year-old Mohammed Irshied thought his older brother had only been shot in the leg when he arrived alone to the hospital and asked for his brother’s room number. “The police officer at the front just looked at me and said ‘your brother isn’t in a room, he’s a martyr now,’” Mohammed told Middle East Eye a few hours later at the mourning hall where friends and family were gathering to show their respects for the young man. It’s the second time in less than two months that Mohammed has found himself in the same hall mourning a sibling. Israeli forces shot Ouday Irshied, 24, in the chest and leg during clashes in Hebron city on Friday, killing him just six-and-a-half weeks after his sister Dania Irshied, 17, was shot dead at the same city-centre. Mohammed is now the oldest of his four remaining siblings. He and his brother spent most of their time together. At home they shared a room, and together they ran the family’s small bakery in the centre of town. Dania, he said, was his oldest sister and took care of him like a mother.
Soldiers kill a Palestinian in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Dec — Israeli soldiers killed, Wednesday, a young Palestinian man in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, after an alleged stabbing attack targeting an Israeli soldier and a settler. The slain Palestinian’s cousin was killed, near the Ibrahimi Mosque, Monday. Medical sources said the Palestinian has been identified as Yosri Zakariyya Miswada, 21; he was shot in the Shuhada Street, in Hebron city. Israeli sources said a soldier suffered a moderate injury in the chest, while a settler was lightly wounded in his leg, and that they were both transferred to Shaare Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. The wounded settler is the son of “Jewish Home” Member of Knesset, Orit Struck, Israeli Ynet News has reported. Eyewitnesses said the Palestinian was killed near Beit Hadassah illegal Israeli colony, in Hebron’s Old city, and that he was shot with several live rounds, and bled to death after the soldiers prevented Palestinian medics from approaching him. It is worth mentioning that, on Monday, Israeli soldiers killed Yosri’s cousin, Ehab Fathi Miswada, near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.
Medics: Bethlehem youth shot dead with illegal ammunition
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — Malik Akram Shahin, 19, who was shot dead by Israeli forces in Bethlehem [Deheishe refugee camp] overnight Monday, was killed by an explosive bullet fired at his head, medical sources at the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital told Ma‘an. Medics said the explosive bullet smashed Shahin’s skull and exploded inside his head, with the bullet and skull fragments shattering into “hundreds of pieces.” The sources said the positioning of the shot, as well as the type of bullet used, clearly indicates that Israeli forces shot at Shahin with every intention to kill. The use of explosive bullets, also called expanding bullets or “dum dum” bullets, is illegal under international law, and considered a crime of war under the 1899 Hague Declaration and the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute, among others. The bullets are banned due to the brutal damage inflicted on the victim, as the bullets are made to splinter apart and become lodged, instead of making a clean exit through the body. Israel has repeatedly denied claims that its forces use such bullets, though Palestinian medical examiners have on occasion documented their use. Locals told Ma‘an that after Shahin was shot, he was “left bleeding for a long time before he was evacuated to the public hospital in Beit Jala, where medics pronounced him dead.” [IMEMC reports: A Palestinian physician in Bethlehem said, Tuesday, that the Israeli bullet that killed the teen in the Deheishe refugee camp, in Bethlehem, is a new type of internationally banned hollow-point bullet]
Slain Palestinian teen’s mother: ‘They took all our happiness with one bullet’
BETHLEHEM (MEE) 8 Dec by Sheren Khaled & Abed al Qaisi — For the second time in a little over two months, young men from Dheisha refugee camp gathered to carry their dead friend to the local cemetery. When he was alive, the young men – dressed in red to signify their support of the revolutionary socialist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – would have called 19-year-old Malik Shahin their comrade. On Tuesday, they called him their martyr. Shahin was shot dead while trying to protect his neighbours, Mahmoud Damsaa, the 19-year-old’s friend, told Middle East Eye. Locals said Shahin was killed when Israeli forces entered Dheisha refugee camp during the early hours of Tuesday morning on an arrest raid. The overcrowded camp was calm at first, with residents sleeping near heaters, piled under thick blankets during one of the coldest nights of the year. The camp awoke abruptly, disrupting the quiet of the night, they said, as one-by-one residents became alerted to the soldiers’ presence. In minutes, chaos ensued as more than 400 young men left their homes and took to the rooftops, throwing rocks and sporadic Molotov cocktails at Israeli forces. “Malik was on the roof throwing stones like the rest of the young guys, ready to stop the soldiers from arresting our neighbours,” Damsaa said, recalling the moment his friend was killed before his eyes just hours before. “The soldiers threw a sound grenade up on the roof he was on and I saw him jump. He wasn’t expecting it and when he turned his head they shot him.” . . . Less than two months earlier, another young PFLP supporter from the camp, Mutaz Zawahra, was shot dead by Israeli forces during protests up the street from Dheisha. Unlike Zawahra, who was the middle child of five boys, Shahin was his family’s only son.
List of 116 Palestinians killed from October 1 – December 10
IMEMC 11 Dec by Celine Hagbard — The following is a list of names of all Palestinians shot and killed by Israeli fire in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, including one in the Negev, in the period between Thursday October 1st and the end of December 10th, as confirmed by the Palestinian Health Ministry. [Three more Palestinians were killed today, Friday, two in the West Bank and one in the Gaza Strip.]
Israeli forces killing ‘in cold blood’, Palestinian families say
EI 11 Dec by Maureen Clare Murphy — . . . Israel continues to withhold and delay transfer of the bodies of Palestinians its forces have killed during alleged attacks. Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI) stated on Wednesday that Israel was withholding the bodies of 12 children, making independent investigation of the circumstances of their deaths nearly impossible. The rights group documented one case in which Palestinian youths hid the body of a boy shot dead by Israeli soldiers near a checkpoint, so that the teenager could be properly buried. Ayman Samih al-Abbasi, from the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, was shot at around 9pm on 29 November and transferred to a medical center in the area, where he was declared dead. “After a while, Israeli forces stormed the area to seize Ayman’s body, but Palestinian youth managed to hide the body and bury it in Silwan cemetery just after midnight,” eyewitness Anwar Abbasi told DCI. Israel claimed that its forces opened fire at Palestinians after firebombs had been thrown at them, but witnesses said that there were no confrontations or stone-throwing when the boy was shot . . . The Israeli rights group B’Tselem has blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for “the transformation of police officers, and even of armed civilians, into judges and executioners.” Jerusalem’s police commander Moshe Edri recently stated that “Anyone who stabs Jews or hurts innocent people is due to be killed,” while Israel’s interior security minister Gilad Arden declared, “Every terrorist should know that he will not survive the attack he is about to commit.” The effect of Israel’s apparent shoot-to-kill policy is that children as young as 13 are being shot dead at close range in the streets even when they pose no immediate threat. (Continued)
Army injures 22 Palestinians in Silwad
IMEMC/Agencies 11 Dec — Israeli soldiers shot and injured, Friday, 22 Palestinians near the western entrance of Silwad town, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah; seven of the wounded were shot with “Toto” [.22] live rounds; one of them suffered a serious injury. Medical sources said seven Palestinians were shot with the illegal Toto live rounds, which detonate upon impact causing larger and more extensive damage, and that most of them were shot in their lower extremities. The seriously wounded young man was shot in his abdomen; bullet fragments penetrated his liver and exited through his back. Another young man suffered a moderate injury after the army shot him in his abdomen. The sources added that fifteen other Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, and dozens suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. A young woman suffered retina damage due to severe effects of gas, after the soldiers fired a gas bomb into her family’s home, while five family members suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. In addition, the soldiers targeted medics, opened fire on a Red Crescent ambulance causing damage to its windshield, and searched an ambulance while transferring a wounded Palestinian to a hospital. The soldiers also fired rubber-coated steel bullets, sponge-tipped bullets and gas bombs, targeting Palestinian journalists, wounding Palestine TV reporter Raghda Atma, while many journalists suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. The invasion and clashes took place after the soldiers attacked hundreds of Palestinians holding a protest demanding Israel to allow the transfer of the body of Anas Hammad, who was killed last week, back to his family for proper burial ceremonies.
Palestinian child shot, seriously wounded in Ramallah clashes
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — Israeli forces on Tuesday shot and seriously wounded a 10-year-old Palestinian boy during clashes in al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah, medics said. Medics said the child was shot in the stomach and evacuated to the Palestine Medical Complex, where he was in serious but stable condition. Israeli forces reportedly fired live and rubber-coated steel rounds at protesters during the clashes.
Israeli settlers prevent Hebron children from reaching primary school
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 10 Dec – A group of Israeli extremists prevented Palestinian children from going to school in the southern occupied West Bank’s Hebron city on Thursday, the director of the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Education Hebron office told Ma‘an. Bassam Tahboub said Anat Cohen, a well-known extremist who frequently harasses Palestinian residents in the area, first “attacked” the school children, “preventing” them from reaching Qurtuba middle school. Following Cohen’s initial attack, other extremists reportedly joined in and began cursing and scaring the children. Instead of attempting to continue to school, the children decided to turn back and head home, Tahboub said. Children who attend Qurtuba school, aged 7 to 16, are often harassed by settlers in the area, as the school is adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit Hadassah in the center of Hebron city. According to Tahboub, Israeli settlers in the area have continuously attempted to have the school closed down.
Israeli soldiers occupy Palestinian house to set up military base
AL-KHALIL (Hebron), Occupied Palestine 10 Dec by ISM, al-Khalil Team — For the last 15 days the family of Abu Shykri Al-Atrarshi have had no access to the top two floors of their house, which was illegally taken over by the Israeli occupation forces and where they set up a military base. Ten Israeli soldiers suddenly showed up at the house in the neighbourhood of Abu Sheineh, Al Khalil; they broke in by smashing a window in the door, took the key and demanded that the family vacate the third floor. The soldiers did not have any documentation to explain or justify the incursion nor did they give an explanation to the family why their house was being taken over. Any questions are ignored and the third floor as well as the rooftop are now off limits. Since the soldiers arrived they have broken the windows, and shot holes in the water tank which supplies clean water to the household. They then took all the blankets on the premises and used them to dry the water leaking from the tanks. The family also reported that once the water supply was fixed the soldiers contaminated the water and used the apartment and roof as a toilet. The soldiers never leave the apartment empty, but a few times per day there is a shift change. This happens at different times every day so there is no knowing when, and the soldiers move in and out as they please anyway. This means there can be soldiers moving throughout the building at any time, terrifying the family- especially the young children who no longer dare to leave the house on their own. The soldiers use the roof as a lookout and also frequently fire weapons such as teargas, from there into the surrounding neighbourhood. The three story house is home to 13 people, now crowded into two small floors- including a young disabled child. They have no idea how long the soldiers will stay, or if the family will get their house back at all. (Continued)
Israeli forces detain Palestinian in Salfit car ramming attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — A Palestinian allegedly responsible for Thursday’s car ramming attack near the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit Aryeh-Ofarim in the central occupied West Bank’s Salfit district, which injured four Israeli soldiers, was captured and detained by Israeli forces overnight, Israel’s army said. An Israeli army spokesperson said Muhammad Abdelhalim Abdel al-Hamid Salem, 37, was detained overnight Thursday in a joint operation between the Israeli army, Shin Bet, and police forces. The spokesperson alleged that Salem was a “Hamas operative with a criminal record,” adding that “during the initial investigation, Salem confessed to committing the attack as a result of incitement in the local media.”
UPDATE: 31 Palestinians kidnapped from West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Dec — Israeli forces abducted 31 Palestinians overnight, including four minors, from various occupied West Bank districts, said the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) and security sources. Israeli forces detained 10 Palestinians from Tulkarem district, seven from Jerusalem district, seven from Hebron district, three from Jenin district, two from Ramallah district, one from Bethlehem district and another from Jericho district, according to WAFA. [details follow]
Solders kidnap eight Palestinians, including six children, in Jerusalem
IMEMC 10 Dec — Undercover Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, Thursday, four Palestinian children as they were leaving their schools in the town of at-Tour, in occupied East Jerusalem, and two children in the Old City, and hurled a number of gas bombs. The soldiers also kidnapped two children in Jerusalem’s Old City, and two young men al-‘Eesawiyya. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) has reported that the undercover soldiers ambushed and attacked several students, and hurled gas bombs, causing many to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. The undercover soldiers then kidnapped four children identified as Amir Sami Abu al-Hawa, 15, Khader Wael Abu Ghannam, 15, Haitham Nassim Khweiss, 13, and Ali Taha, 15. They repeatedly attacked and beat the kidnapped children, and took them to an unknown destination. In addition, the soldiers kidnapped two brothers, identified as Mohammad, 12, and ‘Ala Riyad al-‘Ajlouni, 14, in Jerusalem’s Old City, and took them to an unknown destination. In related news, the soldiers kidnapped two young men, identified as Daoud Yousef Mheisin and ‘Ala Mohammad Diab, from the al-‘Eesawiyya town, in Jerusalem.
Israeli terrorist wounded in West Bank attack
PressTV 10 Dec — A former member of an Israeli terrorist organization has been shot and wounded alongside his wife in a drive-by shooting in the West Bank. Shaul Nir, who used to serve the so-called Jewish Underground, sustained serious injuries in the shooting near the northwestern West Bank city of Tulkarem on Wednesday evening. His wife, Rachel Nir, was lightly wounded. The assailants fled the scene, and Israeli police forces have launched an operation to arrest them. The terrorist group to which Shaul Nir belonged carried out a series of terror attacks, including car bomb attacks, against Palestinian officials, and its highest profile plot was to destroy the Dome of the Rock in al-Quds (Jerusalem). Nir, together with three other members of the terrorist group, was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 1983 shooting attack on the Islamic College in al-Khalil (Hebron) and attempted assassinations. His sentences were controversially commuted three times by then president Chaim Herzog, and he was released after serving less than seven years.
Israeli military raids medical center in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Israeli military forces ransacked several homes and a medical center in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem before dawn on Saturday, locals said. Locals told Ma‘an that soldiers broke into al-Sadaq Medical Clinic in the al-Madbasa neighborhood in the center of Bethlehem, removing the clinic’s main door and confiscating equipment. The medical clinic is a part of al-Ihsan Charitable Association, locals added. Israeli military also raided a Bethlehem residential building and broke into three apartments, a Palestinian family told Ma‘an. The Buja family said that soldiers broke into the homes of Ahmad Theib Buja, Muhammad Buja and Ashraf Abu Hlayyil, damaging the interior of the apartments. Separately, Israeli forces raided a science supply store, al-Maktaba al-Eilmia — located in the city center of Ramallah — for the second night in a row. Locals told Ma’an that around ten military jeeps entered the area before clashes broke out.
Israeli forces raid PFLP’s Tulkarem office on group’s 48th anniversary
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Israeli forces on Friday raided the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s office in the northern occupied West Bank city of Tulkarem, local sources told Ma‘an. Sources said Israeli forces smashed the doors of the PFLP office and confiscated all flags, national signs and posters from the center. Tulkaram had been put on lockdown and raided Wednesday night and Thursday after a suspected Palestinian gunman injured two Israelis in a drive-by shooting in the area. Friday marks the 48th anniversary of the PFLP’s creation by George Habash in 1967, following the Six Day War. Jamil Mizher, member of the politburo of the PFLP, said on Friday that the day would be a “day of rage in occupied Palestine, with confrontation of the occupation in all points of conflict.” The left-wing Marxist-Leninist group gained a stronghold in the 1970s as the second largest party in the PLO, and carried that popularity well into the early 2000s. The group lost much of its political influence following the Second Intifada and the signing of the Oslo Accords.
WATCH: Barbecue at the checkpoint? Why not
‘Issawiya, East Jerusalem (Israeli Social TV) 10 Dec — Following a wave of stabbing attacks in Jerusalem, Israeli security forces erected checkpoints and barriers at the entrance to many of the city’s Palestinian neighborhoods, causing untold hardship to the vast majority of residents who had nothing to do with the violence. How would you feel if you found infantry officers holding a barbecue at the checkpoint sealing to your neighborhood?
PCHR Weekly Report: 10 Palestinians killed, 70 wounded by Israeli forces this week (3-9 December)
PCHR-Gaza/IMEMC 11 Dec — 10 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were killed in the West Bank. 70 Palestinian civilians, including 21 children, a female journalist and a woman, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli forces put into effect the house demolition policy on grounds of collective punishment. A house in Nablus was bombed, due to which a mosque and 5 nearby houses sustained material damage. A number of houses were surveyed and their occupants were threatened to leave their houses to be demolished. Israeli forces continued to target the border area along the Gaza Strip. 2 house sustained damage because of the Israeli shells. Israeli warplanes raided a training site in the Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported. Israeli attacks in the West Bank: Israeli forces conducted 114 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank this week. In the West Bank, killings committed by Israeli forces were as follows: FULL REPORT
Extremist Jewish group calls for demolition of Dome of the Rock
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Dec — An extremist Jewish organization on Thursday invited Israeli right-wing activists to participate in a rally calling for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock, Hebrew-language Israeli news sites reported. The Temple Institute — dedicated to building the Third Jewish Temple in the place of the Dome of the Rock — organized the rally in an effort to place pressure on the Israeli government to demolish Muslim facilities in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, according to the reports. The rally is expected to start at Zion Square in West Jerusalem before heading to the Al-Aqsa compound where the right-wingers plan to light candles to commemorate the fifth night of Hanukah. The Temple Institute reportedly distributed dozens of t-shirts calling for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock prior to the rally. One of the t-shirts handed out displayed an image of a lift carrying the Dome of the Rock with a caption reading “waste removal.” The Dome of the Rock — located in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound — is the third holiest site in Islam, and is venerated as Judaism’s most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. The Temple Institute is one of a handful of extremist Israeli organizations who critics say are gaining traction in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government. Controversial Israeli right-winger Yehuda Glick is a major figure in the Temple Institute, which has reportedly received $600,000 shekels ($155,300) in monetary support over the past five years from Israel’s Ministry of Education. The figure was released Thursday in an investigation conducted by Israeli daily Haaretz. The report also revealed that Netanyahu’s defense minister, Eli Ben-Dahan, personally donated thousands of dollars to the Temple Institute.
Right-wing Israelis tour Al-Aqsa, Palestinians denied entry
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — More than 40 right-wing Israelis toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Tuesday morning, while Israeli police denied entry to a large number of blacklisted Palestinians, Palestinian officials said. The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Endowment said that the group of Jewish worshipers toured the compound from 7:30 to 10 a.m. under heavy police escort. Meanwhile, around 60 Palestinian men and women were denied entry to the holy site. They were reportedly blacklisted by Israeli police as “troublemakers.” Tensions have flared at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in recent months, and many Palestinians fear that Israel is seeking to renege on a longstanding agreement preventing non-Muslim prayer in the compound, although Israel has denied that this is the case. Large numbers of Jewish worshipers toured the compound during a succession of Jewish holidays in September, and these tours, accompanied by restrictions on Palestinian worshipers, played a major role in triggering a wave of Palestinian protests at the beginning of October.
Israeli police remove right-wingers from Al-Aqsa compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Dec — Right-wing Israelis were evacuated from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by Israeli police on Wednesday after performing prayers in the area, witnesses said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that around 30 Israeli right-wingers entered the compound via the Moroccan Gate under the armed protection of Israeli police forces. During a tour of the compound, three Israelis began performing prayers before being evacuated by police present in the area at the time, witnesses said.
Separately, Israeli forces stopped a Palestinian woman, Muntaha Abu Snein, from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and banned her from the holy site for two weeks.
200 Gazans continue weekly visits to Al-Aqsa Mosque
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Two hundred Palestinians from the Gaza Strip headed on Friday to occupied East Jerusalem to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, an official at the Palestinian liaison office said. The group made the visit as part of an ongoing agreement made following the 2014 Israeli military offensive on Gaza. The terms of the agreement allow up to 200 Gazans over the age of 60 to worship at Al-Aqsa on Fridays, who are returned to Gaza immediately following the prayers.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound has been a flash-point in the most recent escalation in violence across the occupied Palestinian territory. The Israeli leadership last month outlawed the Murabitun and Murabitat groups, who had frequently demonstrated at the site against increasing Israeli control over the holy compound.
Israel releases Dawabsha arson suspect on house arrest
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Israel on Thursday released an Israeli settler arrested for suspected involvement in a fatal arson attack on a Palestinian family in July, Israeli media reported. The settler, connected to a Jewish extremist organization, was arrested along with several others as a suspect in an arson that killed three members of the Dawabsha family in Duma village in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. The suspect was reportedly released and transferred to house arrest for five days at his home in the illegal Israeli settlement of Benyamin, east of Ramallah city. The settler, whose name has not been released, is a married father of two. The man was arrested 12 days ago by the Israeli intelligence and presented to an Israeli court on Wednesday, Israeli media reported. His detention was extended to Sunday, but he was unexpectedly released on Friday.
On Dec. 3, Israeli forces announced that they had arrested several Israelis in connection to the Dawabsha arson. The information about the arrests was released after a weeks-long gag order was partially lifted on the investigation. All other information regarding the investigation is still under a gag order requested by the Israeli police. Suspects involved in the attack were identified by Israel’s defense establishment in September, but no charges were filed at the time, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
On July 31, suspected Israeli settlers smashed the windows of the Dawabsha family home before throwing flammable liquids and Molotov cocktails inside. The words “revenge” and “long live the Messiah” were sprayed in Hebrew outside of the house, immediately indicating that the arson was the work of Jewish extremists. Ali Saad Dawabsha, one-and-a-half years old, was trapped in the house and burned alive. The infant’s mother and father, Riham and Saad, later died from severe burns. Orphaned four-year-old Ahmad Dawabsha is the only remaining survivor of the attack and remains in the hospital receiving treatment.
16-year-old Palestinian charged with attempted murder for Jerusalem scissor attack
Haaretz 11 Dec by Nir Hasson — Prosecutors submitted an indictment Friday morning to the Jerusalem District Court for two counts of attempted murder and possession of a deadly weapon against a 16-year-old female Palestinian from Kafr ‘Aqab [Norhan Awwad] who took part in the stabbing of two people in Jerusalem in November. The prosecution requested that the suspect be held throughout legal proceedings. According to the indictment, the accused’s accomplice, a 14-year-old female relative [Hadeel Wajeeh ‘Awwad] who was killed at the scene of the assault, told her some three weeks ago that she wanted to attack Jews in revenge for the death of her brother [Mahmoud ‘Awwad] who suffered a head injury during violent clashes with Israeli security forces in 2013 and died of his wounds one year later. The two teens were said to have left their home in East Jerusalem the next day with school bags on their shoulders and traveled to the city center by bus where they prayed at the al-Aqsa Mosque before buying two pairs of scissors with which to attack their victims. They then allegedly traveled on Jerusalem’s light rail, disembarking near the municipality building and began walking down Jaffa Street. The indictment also detailed that at approximately 11:20 A.M., the younger of the two approached a man sitting on a bench and stabbed him in the neck and back. The man, a Palestinian, was wounded and fled the scene while the two attackers continued walking. Afterward, the 14 year old tried to stab another victim (Continued)
Israeli court convicts 4 Palestinians of ‘forming military cells’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — The Israeli Central Court of Jerusalem on Tuesday convicted four Palestinians of forming military cells within Israel and planning kidnapping operations against Israeli soldiers, head of the Jerusalem Prisoners Committee said. Amjad Abu Asab said the four men were all detained at the same time on March 20, 2013. Abu Asab identified the four as Noor Shihada Ahmad Hamdan, 27, who was sentenced to 12 years in jail, Imad Adnan Subhi Shaer, 32, who was sentenced to 11 years in jail, Amjad Adnan Rajab Razem, 25, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail, and Omar Ghazi Ibrahim Wazwaz, 32, who was sentenced to 32 months.
Israel bans Jerusalem man from entering Old City for 6 months
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — Israeli authorities on Tuesday delivered an order banning a Palestinian man from entering the Old City of Jerusalem for six months, the man told Ma‘an. Hijazi Abu Sbeih, 33, said Israeli authorities banned him from entering the Old City, where he lives and works, for a six-month period. Abu Sbeih said Israeli forces and intelligence initially detained him while inside a store on the Salah al-Din Street, outside the Damascus gate, and took him to the Russian Compound police station, where he was given the order to stay out of the Old City and released. Abu Sbeih said that the order will negatively affect his life, as his home and job are within the Old City walls. Abu Sbeih is a father of three children ranging from age one to five years old.
Israeli court refuses to release elderly Jerusalem woman
MEMO 11 Dec — The Israeli Central Court has refused to release 64-year-old female resident of East Jerusalem Zeinat Oweidah-Jallad on charges of belonging to the Islamic Movement, Quds Press agency reported. Jallad’s lawyer said he filed an appeal yesterday against the decision to extend her detention but the court rejected his request, adding that Jallad is due to stand before the Israeli Conciliation Court this morning. Israeli Radio said Jallad was arrested from the ‘Issawiya neighbourhood of East Jerusalem by Israeli police for suspected ties to the newly outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement. This is the first time someone has been detained for being affiliated with the northern branch of the Islamic Movement since it was banned in November, it added. Jallad is an activist in the all-female Murabitat group, known for opposing a Jewish presence in Al-Aqsa Mosque. She is also the mother of captive Waseem Jallad who has been sentenced to 15 years in an Israeli prison. A group of Jerusalemite women organised a sit-in in front of the District Court to demand Jallad’s release and to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israel releases Palestinian journalist held without trial or charge
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Dec — Israeli authorities released a well-known Palestinian rights activist and journalist on Thursday after being held for 18 months under administrative detention, locals told Ma‘an. Nidal Abu Aker, who has served a total of 14 non-consecutive years in Israeli prison, was released to his family in Duheisha refugee camp south of Bethlehem. Most of Abu Aker’s total internment in Israeli prison had been under Israel’s policy of administrative detention, or imprisonment without trial or charge. He was detained on June 28, 2014, after Israeli forces raided his home in the refugee camp and assaulted him and family members. Abu Aker hosted a radio program called “In their cells” at the Sawt Al-Wehda radio station after establishing the media channel with several friends to promote the issue of Palestinian prisoners. An administrative detention order was issued on Jan. 15, 2015 for being part of an illegal organization and taking part in illegal activities that constituted a threat to the security of the Israeli state, prisoner rights group Addameer said. The military order was implemented despite the argument by his defense that he has the right to express his thoughts and opinions as a journalist. Abu Aker, together with other prisoners, started a hunger strike on Aug. 20 to protest their detention without charge or trial. Around a month later the Israeli Prison Service promised to not renew his detention order.
Israeli forces kill Palestinian in Gaza border clashes, injure 58
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Israeli military forces on Friday shot dead a Palestinian and injured 58 others in clashes across the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, identified the victim as Sami Shawqi Madhi, 41. Mahdi was shot in the chest and died instantly during clashes near the al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, al-Qidra said. Israeli forces opened fire at demonstrators along the border east of al-Bureij refugee camp and at the Nahal Oz crossing, where protesters set fire to tires. Locals said Israeli snipers were deployed in the area. There were also reports of clashes near Khan Younis in southern Gaza, and the Erez crossing in the north. Al-Qidra told Ma‘an that a total of 58 Palestinians were injured by live fire during Friday’s clashes in the besieged enclave, adding that at least 30 others suffered from severe tear-gas inhalation. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “throughout the day, hundreds of Palestinians violently rioted along the Gaza Strip border near the security fence.” The spokesperson said that after calling on the “rioters” to halt, Israeli forces opened fire “in order to stop the threat of infiltration” after “the rioters breached the buffer zone and attempted to damage the security fence.”
Demonstrator injured last week in Gaza undergoing two surgeries
[with photo] KARNI BORDER CROSSING, Gaza 11 Dec by ISM, Gaza Team — Last week, during the demonstration at Karni Border Crossing, Ahmad Nabil El-Akhsham (28 years old) was shot in the leg. He was there, as he had been every Friday since the beginning of October. At some point he and the other protestors saw a female IOF soldier pointing her gun at them and immediately he felt a very intense pain in his leg, “it was as if I was receiving a 1000V electric shock”. The next thing he remembers is that the other demonstrators where carrying him towards the road where the ambulances were waiting. The ambulance couldn’t reach them because the soldiers were shooting towards the medics if they approached the demonstrators. He arrived unconscious at the hospital, due to the heavy loss of blood. After a first surgery, the doctors explained that the way he was carried to the ambulance highly aggravated the injury, as he was carried by a group of inexperienced youth who were mostly trying not to get shot. The shot blew away all of his calf and broke his bone in many small pieces. During the first surgery, they put 5 metal bars in order to try to save his leg. Next time the doctors will try to perform a graft in order to reconstruct the calf.
In Gaza, another farmer shot by a sniper for working his land
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip 8 Dec by ISM, Gaza Team — A week ago Mohamed Abu Taima, 29 years old and father of a small girl, was working his land 450m from the separation fence when an Israeli sniper shot him. At 4pm, he had arrived at his land in Al Faraheen, Khan Younees, South of the Gaza Strip. He was shot a few minutes after he started to work. The bullet passed through one of his legs and exploded inside the other one. A few minutes after arriving in the hospital Mohamed underwent a first surgery, and days after a second one. Until now, the doctors don’t know if Mohamed will ever be able to walk properly again. These kinds of attacks have been frequent during the past two weeks.
Israeli navy opens fire at Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of al-Sudaniya in the northern Gaza Strip for the second time on Tuesday, witnesses said. Fishermen told Ma‘an that Israeli naval forces opened fire at fishermen working around six nautical miles off the coast, which is within the permitted fishing zone. Fishermen fled the area, and no injuries were reported . . . Secretary-general of the Gaza Fishermen Union Amjad al-Sharafi told Ma‘an that Israeli navy boats open fire at Palestinian fishermen on a daily basis. Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli naval forces detained two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Gaza and opened fire at fishing boats, local officials told Ma‘an at the time. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Israeli forces fired on fishing boats at least 117 times in the first nine months of 2015, injuring 22 Palestinians. “These attacks occurred in a time where the fishers did not pose any threat to the Israeli naval troops, as they were doing their job to secure a living,” the center said. In the same period, at least 15 Palestinian fishermen were detained.
Israeli military forces level Palestinian land near Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Dec — Israeli military vehicles entered a border area in the central Gaza Strip on Wednesday and leveled Palestinian agricultural land, local residents said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that five Israel excavators entered 100 meters beyond the border fence east of al-Bureij refugee camp before leveling the land. Israeli soldiers fired gunshots in the area, with no reported injuries . . . The “security buffer zone” extends between 500 meters and 1500 meters into the Gaza Strip making large portions of agricultural land off-limits for Palestinians. The Israeli military has made at least 50 military incursions into the Gaza Strip since the start of the year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
PHOTOS: Another winter in Gaza’s makeshift homes
GAZA STRIP (Al Jazeera) 11 Dec by Matthew Vickery — More than a year since Israel’s deadly onslaught on the besieged Gaza Strip, the United Nations refugee agency (UNRWA) estimates that 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza are preparing to spend a second winter in damaged homes and makeshift structures. Despite promises made by Arab nations such as Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to provide funds to rebuild homes, many families are still waiting for aid. With deliveries of concrete hinging on Israeli permits, Gaza’s reconstruction process has faced grinding delays, fuelling a black market with significantly inflated prices for building materials. Many of Gaza’s makeshift homes are unfit for the upcoming cold, wet winter. Some have walls made solely out of plastic sheeting and pieces of fabric, while others are made from pieces of corrugated iron. Other families continue to live in precarious, partially destroyed buildings, with gaping holes and dangerous hanging chunks of concrete. For the families trying to live and survive here, the upcoming winter has become a consuming worry. Rain is already destroying cobbled-together walls, and there is little escape from the cold. Pneumonia killed several Palestinians in Gaza last winter, and many are concerned about what the coming months could bring.
Israel stops entry of cement into Gaza
MEMO 9 Dec — Israeli authorities have stopped the entry of cement into the Gaza Strip, the Anadolu Agency reported the Palestinian Ministry of Economy saying yesterday. Deputy Minister Imad Al-Baz said that the Israeli decision was “surprising” as it was not preceded by any official or non-official notice. After international mediation Israel agreed to allow cement into Gaza in order to let people whose houses were destroyed during last year’s Israeli war rebuild their properties. Israel agreed with the UN on tight controls on the entry of cement. “The ministry was surprised that Israel stopped allowing cement in,” Al-Baz said, noting that his ministry immediately contacted the UN which said it is currently in contact with Israel regarding the issue. Al-Baz described the Israeli decision as “oppressive”, noting that 30,000 citizens had applied for cement to build, rebuild or renovate their homes.
Gaza: No Palestinians attempted to infiltrate Egypt
MEMO 9 Dec — A senior Palestinian official in Gaza yesterday denied Cairo’s claims that the Egyptian army undermined an attempted infiltration of 14 Palestinians from Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula, Quds Press reported. Head of Municipality of Rafah Fathi Ridwan said that the 14 Palestinians were tunnel workers and they were trapped inside a tunnel for four hours after the Egyptian army pumped water in the area. All the 14 workers were rescued by the Palestinian civil defence services in the Gaza Strip. Regarding the tunnels, Ridwan said: “If there was no siege on Gaza these workers would not have worked in tunnels. There would have been no tunnels at all.” Since mid-2013, when the Egyptian army ousted the first freely elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian army started a fierce war on the tunnels which had been the lifeline for the besieged coastal enclave . . . Ridwan refuted Egyptian claims that the 14 Palestinians were terrorists and they aimed to destabilise the situation in Sinai, stressing that the Palestinians are the most interested party in a stable Egypt.
Hamas celebrates 28 years since its formation
MEMO 11 Dec — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — Tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza took part in marches to celebrate the 28 years since Hamas was founded. During the march in northern Gaza, Deputy Chief of the Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh said that after 28 years, Hamas is still a strong and growing movement that works towards liberating Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque. “The Hamas supporters in northern Gaza are so many that they do not all fit in Al-Katiba Square, therefore we held various celebrations in various municipalities,” he said, adding: “You are the closest point in the Gaza Strip to the liberation of Palestine from the occupation.” Images by MEMO photographer Mohammad Asad.
Gaza medical team achieves victory over genetic disorder
MEMO 8 Dec — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — Gaza doctors have achieved unprecedented success as they were able to prevent a child from being born with Sanfilippo Syndrome through pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), Palestinian Safa news agency reported yesterday. Malak was the first child born in her family not to have been inflicted by the genetic disease. Safa reported that her parents had three children who all had the syndrome; two later died from it while one is living with its side effects. Banon Fertilisation Centre in Gaza used IVF to ensure the foetus did not carry the disease . . . Fertilisation specialist in Gaza Na’eem Al-Sharif hailed the fact that Gazans could achieve this success despite the tight Israeli siege.
Israeli restrictions destroying Gaza’s furniture industry
EI 11 Dec by Isra Saleh al-Namey — Life as a carpenter in the besieged Gaza Strip is proving frustrating for Nahed al-Horani. Suffocating Israeli restrictions are denying carpenters in Gaza the essentials of their trade: wood, carpentry tools and paint. Israel bans or severely restricts “dual use” construction materials which it says can be used for military purposes, such as building tunnels, as well as for civilian needs. These restrictions profoundly impact ordinary Palestinians in Gaza. “All these unbearable constraints on our main equipment prevent us from having our products in the finest order,” al-Horani said. “The impact on the quality of our work has become severe.”
Antika: Crowdfunding green home decor in Gaza
[with photos] Stepfeed 11 Dec by Noha Medhat — Despite everything that’s going on in the Gaza Strip including the ongoing unrest and economic turmoil, many young people are remaining hopeful and in small ways, trying to make a positive difference in their communities. One such example is Antika, an interior design project in Gaza, named after an antique in Arabic, that aims to encourage people to recycle waste material and turn it into something beautiful they can use to decorate their homes and brighten their days.
The Palestinian ex-prisoner who teaches Hebrew in Gaza
Haaretz 11 Dec by Abeer Ayyoub — At the small mixed-gender training room of the Nafha center for Hebrew and Israeli studies, six students of various ages have gathered. “Me’ayin is the Hebrew word for ‘from where,’” the teacher, Ahmed Alfaleet, explains. Alfaleet, the head of the center, was once a prisoner in Israeli jails. The 42-year-old was one of the more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners exchanged for abducted soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011; after he was freed, he decided to take on the challenge of spreading the Hebrew language in Gaza. After all, it’s so important, and so few people know it . . . Released prisoners now represent the cultural bridge between Israelis and the more than 1.8 million Palestinians living in Gaza . . . since the second intifada erupted in 2000, Israel has stopped letting in thousands of workers from the enclave. Alfaleet says Gaza is connected to Israel whether people like it or not. “As an occupier, enemy or as neighbors, Israel exists next door to Gaza, so we have to deal with it,” he says. His more than 70 students in four classes are journalists, doctors and businesspeople who have to communicate with Israelis. He says he’s very satisfied with the results; most of his students now speak Hebrew fluently
The story of everything: the Palestinian Steven Hawking
We Are Not Numbers by Said al-Yacoubi — [Professor Hedar Anan’s sons Saleem and Ameer were finally diagnosed with the degenerative muscle disease known as Duchenne muscular dystrophy after two years were spend traveling to and from Egypt with Saleem, looking for an accurate diagnosis and treatment for his child . . . Their parents knew the disease would prevent their children from living normal lives. The challenge for Ameer was trying to stay independent. He decided to live his life normally like everyone else. He decided to never lose hope and to refuse to give up. He started this fight by saying NO to the wheelchair until he was completely unable to walk and had no other choice. Ameer also asked his father to make a special spoon for him to use when eating. He refused to be fed by others. It was difficult, but his will was stronger. As the disease progressed, his arms became weaker and he couldn’t do even simple activities. His laptop was his gateway to the world. Ameer used to write and make new friends through social media. He was well known for his voracious reading and love for writing poetry. He was one of the most active members of a well-known reading club called Diwan Gaza, and that is where I met him first. Ameer believed disability is a disability of the mind, not the body, and spent all of his life trying to prove it. Everyone who met him was convinced that Ameer was capable of anything . . . Eventually, Ameer earned a college diploma in multimedia. He scored the highest grades among all of his classmates, and was honored by the college president at his house and later in front of the students and media. Ameer was the first in the Gaza Strip to develop the idea of a 3D map for navigating the city. He worked on this project until the last days in his life. He also dreamed of founding an association for people suffering from disabilities and submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Transportation for a project that would help disabled people move around Gaza City. Then, on one dark night, on the 16th of September, Ameer died. He left a message for us: “I lived, my friends. I suffered but I succeeded. I wasn’t disabled. I defeated my disease. And it’s now up to you to defeat your own diseases.”
Film review: ‘The Idol’: Singing in Gaza
Manorama 11 Dec by Arathi Kannan — Language: Arabic Director: Hany Abu-Assad It was the time when Palestine was divided and families became refugees in the Gaza Strip. Mohammad Assaf used to sing as a boy for their amateurish band. His sister used to tell him that one day, they must all go to Cairo and sing in the Opera house. She was more confident about him than he ever was.
Based on a true story, and featured in the World Cinema category in IFFK this year, The Idol narrates the euphoric story of Mohammad Assad, the single contestant from Gaza, who won the Arab Idol contest, the Arab version of the global ‘Idol’ contests taken up by different countries, in the year 2013. [Continued; includes 1:22 minute clip from the film]
Shaked: State will raze Jewish terrorists’ homes if attacks persist
JPost 10 Dec by Yonah Jeremy Bob — Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on Thursday made a major departure from a past position she has held, telling Israel Radio that “if there will be more terror attacks by Jews, we will also do house demolitions of Jews.” Until now, when Shaked has repeatedly been asked, including by The Jerusalem Post, about why it is legal for the state to demolish Palestinian terrorists’ houses, but not Jewish terrorists houses, she has answered there are not enough Jewish terrorists to justify the step, and stopped there. On Thursday, Shaked echoed similar sentiments, but went a big step further in a way that might anger her right-wing constituency, in volunteering that theoretically the state might start to demolish Jewish terrorists’ houses in the future. Shaked stated, “the justice system does not discriminate between blood and blood. The story of house demolitions is different because it’s not a punishment, it’s a step toward deterrence.”
‘Jews can’t be terrorists’, Jewish Home MK says
+972 Mag 10 Dec by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — ‘When you push an entire population up against the wall, when you demonize them and trample their rights, [the situation] will explode in the end,’ the Israeli parliamentarian writes with no sense of irony — . . . The context of Smotrich’s article is Israeli authorities’ draconian treatment of the suspects in the arson-murder of the Dawabshe family in Duma earlier this year, which senior politicians have called a “Jewish terrorist” attack. The suspects have been reportedly held in administrative detention, been prevented from meeting with their attorneys, and have subject to pressure in ways that likely violate their civil rights. He is right in opposing such draconian law enforcement tactics — against anybody. I argued as much myself, here. The problem is that he believes Jews and Palestinians are entitled to different rights. He believes what is unacceptable for Jews is acceptable for Arabs.
Israeli forces prepare to demolish houses of 2 Palestinian attackers
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — Israeli forces on Tuesday raided two Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem and the central West Bank in preparation for home demolitions in the areas, locals told Ma‘an. Sources in the Salfit district’s Qarawat Bani Hassan village said Israeli forces raided and took measurements of a family home belonging to Palestinian prisoner Abdul-Aziz Marie in preparation for a punitive home demolition. Israeli forces detained Marie as an accomplice in the stabbing and killing of two Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem at the start of October. Muhannad al-Halabi, who committed the attack, was shot dead at the scene. Marie’s family called for the Palestinian Authority and international community to stop the demolition.
In occupied East Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood, Israeli forces stormed the home of Omar Yasser Iskafi, who was was shot and killed after he allegedly hit one Israeli with his car before stabbing another with a knife on Sunday. During the raid, Israeli forces took measurements of the home, informing the family that the building would soon be demolished. Israeli forces reportedly detained the entire family during the raid. Witnesses said that Israeli troops seized the Palestinians flags and a large poster depicting Skafi as a martyr for Palestine.
Israel threatens to demolish homes of 2 alleged Palestinian attackers
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 10 Dec — Israeli forces early Thursday threatened the imminent demolition of homes belonging to two Palestinians shot dead while allegedly carrying out attacks on Israeli military forces, locals said. The military forces raided the Hebron-area homes of Taher Fannoun and Abdul-Rahman Maswada before taking measurements and issuing verbal warnings of demolition, locals told Ma‘an.
Nineteen-year-old Fannoun, a student at Hebron University, was shot dead alongside his cousin Faysal Abd al-Minem Fannoun, 15, on Dec. 4 in Hebron. Israeli authorities said at the time that the two youths were searched as they crossed a military checkpoint in the Tel Rumeida area, but later returned and stabbed a soldier in the face before other Israeli soldiers shot them dead.
Separately, Maswada was killed after reportedly stabbing and injuring an Israeli soldier and settler in Hebron’s Old City Wednesday. He was the cousin of Ihab Zakariya Maswada, 21, who was killed by Israeli forces on Monday after he stabbed an Israeli near Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque. Israeli authorities since October have launched a campaign against alleged attackers and their families in efforts to “deter” future attacks. Such efforts include mass-arrest raids, the sealing of Palestinian towns, and punitive home demolitions . . . Israeli rights group B’Tselem condemned the practice in October as “court sanctioned revenge,” carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization
Israel declares Palestinian land ‘state land’ for 1st time since 2014
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Israel’s civil administration declared private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank as “state land” in the first such designation since 2014, an Israeli watchdog reported. Peace Now said in a statement on Thursday that the administration designated 30 dunams (7.4 acres) of land belonging to the Palestinian villages of Jinsafut and Deir Istya as “state lands” last month. While Israeli settlements have already expanded and built on the land in question, the group said that such a declaration is an effort by the Israeli government to “retroactively legalize construction” for surrounding settlements. The last declaration of “state land” by the administration took place in August 2014, when 4,000 dunams (990 acres) of Palestinian land west of Bethlehem were allocated for the expanding Gush Etzion settlement bloc. Peace Now reported that over 6,000 dunams of Palestinian land have been officially labeled as “state land” since Benjamin Netanyahu has stood as Prime Minister.
The recent declaration of “state land” in the occupied West Bank comes as discriminatory land allocation continues in occupied East Jerusalem . . . Land allocation in East Jerusalem is dictated by the Israeli government’s policy of “Judaization” that has been carried out since the state occupied the area in 1967. Only 14 percent of East Jerusalem is zoned for Palestinian residential construction, ACRI says, while one-third of Palestinian land has been confiscated since 1967 to build illegal Jewish-only settlements.
Israeli army razes agricultural land, uproots olive trees in West Bank
MEMO 9 Dec — Israeli forces yesterday razed agricultural lands and uprooted old olive trees in the Shufa neighbourhood of Tulkarm, [in the] north of occupied West Bank, Quds Press reported. According to Quds Press, ten Israeli military vehicles escorted four Israeli bulldozers that razed an agricultural area of about 27 dunams (0.027 square kilometres). Anti-settlement activist Abdul-Karim Dalbah told the site that the bulldozers razed around 200 olive and citrus trees. Dalbah noted that the Israeli army also damaged a large greenhouse, adding that the olive trees were taken to an unknown location. The Palestinian activist said that a number of Israeli settlers accompanied the troops, adding that the army claimed that these farms are part of Israeli state land and prevented journalists from covering their aggression. According to Dalbah, the Israeli army also claimed that the land was deserted before it was razed but the owners said that they have documents proving their ownership.
Video: Israeli officials remove 30-year-old Islamic sign in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Dec — Israeli municipality officials on Wednesday removed a 12-foot sign depicting a Quranic verse in classic Arabic calligraphy that has been displayed in a Palestinian shopping center outside the Damascus gate in occupied East Jerusalem for more than 30 years, a local shop owner told Ma‘an. Mustafa Abu Zuhra said Israeli municipality workers used a crane to take down the large sign right outside his shop, which read “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” According to Zuhra, the Israeli officials told locals that the sign was taken down because “it is a symbol of Islam and cannot be displayed.” Zuhra added that sign had stood outside his store for decades and has been properly licensed through the city.
Arab Bank wins US appeal to block thousands of terror damages claims
Times of Israel 9 Dec by Stuart Winer — Court upholds ruling that rejects foreign lawsuits against Hamas-facilitating financial institution — A US appeals court ruled Tuesday that non-US citizens could not sue the Jordan-based Arab Bank Plc for damages over its support of Palestinian terror groups who carried out attacks in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a 2013 ruling rejecting foreign lawsuits against the bank, which was being sued by American citizens amid claims it provided material support for the Hamas terror group during the period 1995-2005, Reuters reported. In 2014 the bank was found guilty of supporting Hamas, which has carried out dozens of terror attacks against Israelis, killing hundreds, including some US citizens. The three-panel court ruled the previous ruling “remains the law of this circuit” despite a later 2013 Supreme Court ruling that opened the possibility for foreign nationals to sue the bank for damages under the Alien Tort Statute, a 1789 law that is sometimes used as the basis for human rights abuse lawsuits. Foreign victims had used the US Supreme Court ruling to argue that dismissing their claims was longer “good law.” The Arab Bank said the ruling affected claims by more than 6,000 foreign plaintiffs. In August 2015, Arab Bank reached a settlement over claims it shared responsibility for a wave of Hamas-sanctioned suicide bombings in Israel in the early 2000s that left several Americans dead or wounded. Details of the deal between more than 300 plaintiffs and Arab Bank weren’t disclosed (Continued)
Fatah central committee member barred from leaving the West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Dec — Israeli authorities on Thursday barred a member of Fatah’s central committee, Sultan Abu al-Einen, from leaving the occupied West Bank into Jordan, Abu al-Einen told local Mawteni radio. After holding Abu al-Einen at the Allenby border crossing with Jordan for more than four hours, Israeli authorities reportedly told the committee member that he was barred from traveling for “security reasons.” Abu al-Einen said the travel ban “will not deter us from continuing our struggle to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state.” In 2013, Abu al-Einen came under fire after praising a Palestinian attack and killing of an Israeli settler, calling the attacker “a heroic fighter.” Five US congressmen condemned the comment, and wrote a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, calling for the firing of Abu Einen, who served as Abbas’ adviser on civil society organizations at the time. The PA refused, and Abu al-Einen has held his position on the central committee.
The Grinch who stole Palestinian Christmas
RAMALLAH 10 Dec by Aziza Nofal — Activist Hekmat Bessiso recently wrote on her Facebook page, “If the birthplace of Jesus Christ does not celebrate Christmas, who in the world will? I hope Palestine remains full of lights every December. Our struggle is enduring, and this is why we should preserve our joy.” Bessiso’s comments were in protest of a Nov. 23 declaration by the Council of Churches of Ramallah city and municipality to cancel the annual Christmas tree lighting and limit Christmas celebrations to religious rituals because of the current unrest. It said the decision had been made out of respect for victims and the wounded. As of Dec. 8, the number of Palestinians killed during the two-month-old intifada stood at 117. Bessiso, a Muslim from Gaza, now lives in Ramallah. She told Al-Monitor that the annual tree-lighting ceremony in the city, held on Dec. 19, is an event she always attends with her son, Yazan, 10. She calls for preserving all manifestations of Christmas joy and celebration because, she says, it gives Christians a sense of belonging to this land, which would not be complete without them. According to the most recent (2007) census by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Ramallah and neighboring villages are home to 10,800 Christians out of a total 275,000 residents. Christians belong to six churches — Latin, Coptic, Catholic, Evangelical, Lutheran and Greek Orthodox — which are represented by the local Council of Churches. “The occasion could have been used to encourage the intifada that started on Oct. 1 and express our suffering,” said Bessiso. “We could have lit the Christmas tree with the names of all the victims.” She further stated, “This intifada is not momentary and might continue. It is unacceptable to ban all manifestations of joy on holidays, which are the only events that are collectively celebrated.” Bessiso also spoke of the rituals that reflect Muslim-Christian coexistence in Ramallah as well as in Palestine in general, noting that Muslims participate in Christian holidays and vice versa. “We are the country of Christ, and we are more entitled to celebrate his birth in light of the current Palestinian situation. Religious ceremonies have a Palestinian national character, and we should not be deprived of this aspect of the holidays. On the other hand, by celebrating Christmas, we would be sending to the world a strong national message that we are under an Israeli occupation that is murdering our people, but we are still enjoying life.” Bessiso said that unlike in previous years, this year she will stay at home and watch celebrations around the world on television.
Walking through Israel and Palestine: why the Abraham Path is an exercise in hope
The Guardian 11 Dec by Peter Beaumont — Enjoying the outdoors on the West Bank and its borders presents special challenges. On my way to a climbing trip, I have run into Israeli army flying checkpoints, and been stopped mountain-biking by police: had I heard gunshots? I hadn’t. On the other side of the equation is a beautiful landscape – rolling desert and sharp limestone hills, carved by deep wadis where goatherds tend their flocks. It is a place of surprising encounters: youths clattering their horses across stony tracks, shady valleys full of Palestinian picnickers who invite strangers to sit down. The Abraham Path is an exercise in the possibility of change. Conceived just over a decade ago by William Ury, an academic working in the field of negotiation at Harvard University, its vision is an ambitious one: an initiative to connect, by means of a long-distance path, places associated with the biblical patriarch Abraham, a figure revered in Islam, Judaism and Christianity. It begins among the ruins of Harran in Turkey, where tradition has it that Abraham first heard the call to “go forth”, and when (and if) it is completed, the route will pass through Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine and Israel. For Ury, it was intended as a practical exercise in negotiation. Since it opened in 2008, circumstances have reshaped some of those goals. The path, for now, has become a network of connected trails and places of encounter, much less a transnational enterprise. The conditions for the path’s eventual realisation have become more difficult – most obviously in Syria, now plunged into internecine war. Swedish photographer Maja Daniels’ portraits and landscapes, taken before the recent outbreak of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, speak to the achievements and inherent possibilities that still remain. They also document a situation that, in just over two months, has been overtaken: the potential for rural tourism and cultural encounters in Palestinian villages is circumscribed by fresh violence.
Walking with Abraham: a journey through Palestine, Israel and beyond – in pictures
The Guardian 11 Dec — It’s an ambitious plan: a path that follows in the footsteps of the father of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Photographer Maja Daniels meets those living and working along the way
Photo of burned Palestinian house takes first prize in Israeli competition
Haaretz 11 Dec by Itay Stern — The winners of Local Testimony, a photojournalism competition, were announced Thursday evening. In first place was AFP photographer Menahem Kahana with his shot of three women standing in the burned-out home of the Dawabsheh family in the West Bank town of Duma, where Jewish arsonists killed a Palestinian baby and his parents. “Like the three sirens of mythology, like three angels witnessing abuse, stand three Palestinian women, appalled at the horror revealed to them in the Dawabsheh home, burnt to the ground,” the judges wrote in their explanation for their choice of photo of the year . . . Local Testimony is an exhibition for photojournalists covering Israel and the Palestinian territories, and the participant photos of 2015’s competition are currently on show at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv.
Egyptian newspaper warns of ‘most dangerous Israeli Facebook pages in Arabic’
Ynet 11 Dec by Roy Kais — “Five Arabic language Israeli pages that you should stay away from” – that was the headline of an article that recently appeared in the Egyptian daily “Alwatan,” which attempted to warn its readers, specifically the youth among them, of “Israeli pursuits.” The article starts out discussing the history of “Zionist plots” dating back to the 19th century, namely to establish a political entity through “the takeover of Palestinian lands using religious justification.” The article then claims that Israel has, “with recent technological advances, attempted to promote normalization with the Zionist enemy using social media pages, in an attempt to convince followers that Israel is a ‘state.'” In first place on the “dangerous Facebook page list” is of Avihay Adraee, the head of the IDF’s spokesperson’s Arabic division, one of the more well known Israeli figures in the Arabic media in which he appears frequently. “The posts that appear on his page aim to improve the image of the Israeli occupation forces,” the article said. “He convinces his followers that the army only serves to protect the Zionist entity, and avoids speaking about Israel’s wars in Gaza, and the thousands of dead, and human rights abuses against the Palestinians.”
America’s ‘Made in Israel’ policy that you’ve probably never heard of
Al-Monitor 7 Dec by Julian Pecquet — Much has been said about the EU’s new guidelines for labeling Israeli settlement goods, but the US has had similar rules for decades — Now that little-known US labeling policy is poised to become the next battleground as two-state solution champions and hard-line pro-Israel advocates face off over just what it means to be “Made in Israel.” “There are a number of members of Congress who are interested specifically about how the US rule is or is not being followed,” said Dylan Williams, the vice president of government affairs for the liberal J Street lobbying group. “And, more broadly, how the United States can further sharpen the distinction in US law and policy between Israel and the territories.” At issue is 1995 guidance — still in force today — from the Treasury Department that requires goods from the West Bank or Gaza Strip to be labeled as such. The guidance, which was last updated in 1997, applies to the 1985 trade pact with Israel and was meant in part to boost support for the fledgling Palestinian Authority created by the Oslo Accord. US policy differs from the recent EU rules on one key point: It does not mention “settlements” or differentiate between the Israeli or Palestinian origin of the goods, harkening back as it does to a time when the two parties were trying to turn over a new page. In other respects, however, the two policies are remarkably similar. (Continued)
Correction: Due to an editor’s error in searching images, this post originally appeared with an image of Malala Yousafzai presented as that of Dania Ersheid, who was killed in Hebron. We apologize for the error. –Ed.