PCHR weekly report: Israeli troops kill 10, wound 21 Palestinians during the past week (7-13 January)
PCHR-Gaza 15 Jan — . . . the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Nine Palestinian civilians, including two children, were killed, and one armed resistance fighter was killed by Israeli troops. 21 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli forces conducted 72 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the southern Gaza Strip. 64 Palestinian civilians, including 8 children, were abducted. [See here for full report, with details of shootings, incursions, demolitions, and other human rights violations.]
Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
Palestinian killed in day’s 2nd alleged attack on Israeli forces
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — A Palestinian was shot and killed on Thursday after a stabbing attack at an Israeli military checkpoint north of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, Israel’s army and media said. An Israeli army spokesperson said that an assailant attacked a military vehicle before stabbing and injuring an officer when the forces exited the vehicle. Israeli forces then opened fire on the assailant in response, killing him on site, according to Israeli media, which reported that a soldier was “very lightly injured.” The attack took place at a flying checkpoint set up by Israeli forces nearby the Palestinian village of ‘Asira ash-Shamaliya, hometown of the alleged attacker who was identified by locals as Haitham Mahmoud Abd al-Jalil [Yassin], 31. Al-Jalil’s body was reportedly transferred from Israeli authorities to Palestinian Civil Affairs officials in Nablus shortly after the incident. Hours before, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian near the Beit Einun junction northeast of Hebron after an alleged stab attempt.
Thousands of Palestinians attend funeral of slain youth in Sair
[with photos] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Thousands of Palestinians in the village of Sa‘ir attended the funeral of 20-year-old Muayyad al-Jabbarin on Friday, a day after he was shot dead at the nearby Beit Einun junction after attempting to stab Israeli soldiers.The funeral procession set off from al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron and made its way to Sa‘ir’s center, where Jabbarin was laid to rest in the “martyrs'” cemetery. A number of national figures took part in the funeral, including Abbas Zaki, a member of Fatah’s central committee. Israeli forces continued to impose severe restrictions on all roads leading into the village, which has now seen 12 residents shot dead by Israeli forces since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory at the beginning of October. Jabbarin was killed at the Beit Einun junction southwest of Sa‘ir on Thursday after he attempted to stab to death Israeli soldiers stationed there. His body was released to local Palestinian officials later in the day, before it was taken to al-Ahli Hospital to undergo an autopsy. In a letter Jabbarin wrote to his family before his death, he asked his parents to forgive him any pain his act would cause them. He said he would “kill two Israeli soldiers and take revenge for all the Palestinians they killed.” He added: “No matter how darkness stays, the sun will rise again, chains will break, and we will all be free one day.”
List of 156 Palestinians killed by Israeli troops since October 1
IMEMC 15 Jan — 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 1 October 2015 and 14 January 2016. Does not include fatalities reported today, 15 Jan. Also apparently does not include Gazans killed in tunnel accidents, although the tunnels are the result of the siege.
4 Palestinians shot by Israeli forces during Friday demos
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — At least four Palestinians were shot by Israeli forces during weekly Friday demonstrations in the occupied West Bank, medics and locals said. In the town of Kafr Qaddum in the Qalqilya district, a teen was injured by live fire and dozens of other demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation, popular resistance coordinator Murad Ishteiwi told Ma’an. Mahmoud Hikmat, 17, was injured in the leg by a live bullet when Israeli forces raided the village with military vehicles and a bulldozer, Ishteiwi said, adding that snipers deployed across olive tree fields and opened fire at protesters. Hikmat was taken to the Rafidiya Governmental Hospital for treatment.
Another Palestinian was shot with live fire in the leg in clashes with Israeli forces at the Western entrance of the village of Tuqu‘ south of Bethlehem. Local sources told Ma‘an the man was taken to the local medical center in the village in stable condition, while several others suffered from tear gas inhalation.
Two Palestinians were shot and injured by rubber-coated steel bullets, one at the northern entrance of Bethlehem, and another in the village of Ni‘lin west of Ramallah.
Palestinians across the West Bank have long staged weekly demonstrations against the ongoing Israeli military occupation. Participation in popular demonstrations increased in October alongside a wave of attacks carried out by Palestinians on Israeli military and civilians, but this month has so far shown a decline in frequency and intensity of such demonstrations. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs documented just over 200 Palestinian injuries during demonstrations during the first two weeks of January, down from a weekly average of over 1000 in the months prior.
Video: ‘Soldiers attack the weekly protest in Kufur Qaddoum’
IMEMC 16 Jan by Saed Bannoura — Morad Eshteiwy, media spokesperson of the Popular Committee in Kafr Qaddoum, said dozens of soldiers and military vehicles, including a large bulldozer, invaded the village from various directions, while Israeli sharpshooters positioned themselves in Palestinian olive orchards. He added that the soldiers fired live rounds at the protesters as they marched from the village, wounding a teen identified as Mahmoud Hikmat, 17, in his leg. Medics provided Hikmat with the needed aid, and instantly moved him to the Rafidia hospital, in Nablus. The invasion also led to clashes between the soldiers and local youths, who hurled stones and empty bottles at them; the army fired additional live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs. Luisa Morgantini, former vice-president of the European Parliament and a distinguished human rights activist, participated in the protest and said she came “to express solidarity with the Palestinian people, who deserve freedom, dignity and justice, and to join the fight against the illegal Israeli occupation.”
Troops kidnap an activist during a nonviolent protest near Bethlehem
IMEMC 15 Jan — At least 350 Israeli, Palestinian and international activists joined a nonviolent protest on Friday near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem. Combatants for Peace Movement, in collaboration with a number of Palestinian and Israeli NGOs organized “The Freedom March the Last Day of Occupation is the First Day of Peace” against the occupation and the violence it creates. Members of Israeli Kemeset Dove Hanin and Abedullah Abu Ma’rouf also joined the protest. The march started from the Batteer village roundabout adjacent to road 60 at 1:30 pm. Protesters tried to close the settlers’ road using puppets representing the wall and the famous Handala Palestinian cartoon. Troops then kidnapped Badier Al Hriyine, a member of Combatants for Peace Movement. The protesters continued along the road 60 until they reached the Israeli checkpoint known to locals as the tunnel checkpoint, that separates the town of Beit Jala from Jerusalem. There troops surrounded the protest and did not allow it to move forward. . . Combatants for Peace Movement is a group of Palestinians and Israelis who have taken an active part in the cycle of violence in the region: Israeli soldiers serving in the army and Palestinians as combatants fighting to free their country, Palestine, from the Israeli occupation. CFP believes that the conflict cannot be resolved through military means by either of the parties, but only through joint action, can we break the cycle of violence and put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Weeks of repression and resistance in Ni‘lin
[with many photos] NI‘LIN, Occupied Palestine 15 Jan by ISM, Ramallah Team — A walk through the olive groves of Ni‘lin village, down the dirt road between stone walls and cacti and past the scattered remnants of spent tear gas canisters, grenades and bullet casings reveals a striking vista: the Israeli-constructed, illegal Apartheid Wall cuts sharply across the fields, the 8-meter-high concrete slabs marked in some places by activist slogans and in others blackened by years of smoke from clashes with Israeli forces. The Wall, completed in 2009 despite a strong campaign of resistance from the villagers, renders completely inaccessible hundreds of dunums of what was once Ni‘lin’s farmland and cuts off travel west from the village, which lies close enough to Tel Aviv for its skyline to be clearly visible from a third floor window. Behind the wall lies the illegal Israeli settlement of Hashmonaim, the large, neatly arrayed houses and orange roofs a constant reminder of the continuing colonization of Palestinian land in the West Bank. Every Friday Palestinian activists from Ni’lin, often accompanied by Israeli and international supporters, attempt to reach the Apartheid Wall in demonstrations against the theft of their land, against the Wall, against the Israeli occupation which has made life in the village so difficult and has in recent months claimed so many lives across Palestine. Ni‘lin residents gathered on January 1st and January 8th, as they do every Friday, in the olive groves between the village homes, school and mosque and the wall and illegal settlements. Israeli forces, as always, were waiting for the demonstrators and quickly attacked with tear gas, rubber-coated metal bullets, and foam-tipped bullets. On January 8th, despite the hundreds of rounds of tear gas fired from the ‘venom’ devices mounted on Israeli military jeeps, protesters managed to advance all the way to the Apartheid Wall itself. Many Palestinian youths climbed the wall in a daring display of resistance.
Palestinian accused of setting off car bomb in ‘critical’ condition
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Jan– The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said Thursday that a Palestinian woman who Israel accuses of attempting to set off a car bomb last year remained in “critical” condition in Israeli custody. A lawyer for the society told Ma‘an that 31-year-old Israa Jaabis was severely injured by the blaze that engulfed her car in front of a checkpoint into occupied East Jerusalem on Oct. 10. Israeli police said at the time that Jaabis was attempting to detonate a car bomb, although witnesses said they believed the fire was caused by a technical fault. After visiting Jaabis in Israel’s HaSharon prison, her lawyer said she was bound to a wheelchair, had lost fingers on one of her hands, and suffered severe burns across her body. Jaabis was treated at the Hadassah medical center for three months before she was transferred to HaSharon. Her lawyer added that Jaabis suffered a difficult psychological state and was afraid her eight-year-old son would visit her and see her with the scars all over her body. The lawyer added that Jaabis used to volunteer as a clown in the pediatric care unit of a hospital.
Two Palestinians, from different walks of life, brought together in death at a checkpoint
Haaretz 14 Jan by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — One man was the well-to-do owner of a company, the other a poor student. Israeli soldiers killed both of them at a West Bank checkpoint. Why did they die? Was there a connection between them? — . . . One was a very affluent businessman, propertied and with a family; the other was an abjectly poor student and occasional farmhand. They lived in two neighboring villages, Zawiya and Al-Jadida, outside Jenin in the northern West Bank. People in Zawiya say it’s possible that the wealthy resident of their village gave the poor worker a lift last Saturday in the rain and cold. People in Al-Jadida believe that they never met – until their deaths – and that the student arrived at the checkpoint in a vehicle carrying laborers. What is not in doubt is that these two people were killed together, by volleys of live fire unleashed by Israel Defense Forces soldiers last Shabbat morning at the Beka’ot checkpoint – called Hamra by the Palestinians – that abuts the partially annexed Jordan Valley. Rich and poor were unequal in death, too: The soldiers fired a total of 11 rounds into the affluent man but made do with three for the needier one. Much about the incident is not clear, beyond the oppressive thought that, as in most cases of deaths caused by Israeli security forces in recent months, here too there was no need to shoot to kill, certainly not both men. But the lives of Palestinians continue to be cheap: Their deaths were barely reported in the Israeli media. Said Abu al-Wafa owned one company that imports and sells food, and another that imports cars from Germany. It’s important for his family to elaborate on his financial situation, to show that their loved one could not possibly have been involved in terrorism . . . [Said’s brother] Shaher got a call from the Palestinian security forces asking who was driving the company’s Mercedes, which had stopped at the checkpoint. Shaher set out for there immediately, filled with foreboding. The checkpoint was closed. The Mercedes was parked in the middle of the road, where soldiers usually stand. The only damage seemed to be to the two front windows on both sides, which were shattered. After Shaher identified himself, the soldiers allowed him to approach the vehicle. Next to it there was a body – that of his brother. Shaher remembers now that he thought to himself that the soldiers had, unusually, behaved respectfully: They had placed the body on a stretcher and covered it with a blanket. The Shin Bet security men and police officers who were at the site questioned Shaher about the identity of another dead man, whose body he was shown only in the form of a photo on a cell phone. Did he know him? Did his brother know him? Did he work for their company? Shaher replied that he had no idea who the person was. “I know my brother,” he told his interlocutors. “He knew the rules at the checkpoint. I’m positive he did not make a mistake of any kind.” According to Shaher, a Shin Bet man said they knew his brother was a prominent businessman. “Allah yerhamo,” one officer said. God have mercy on him. Someone told Shaher that his brother was killed while he was still behind the wheel. The van was standing at exactly the spot where it was supposed to stop when approaching the checkpoint. About an hour later the family received Said’s body. That’s an important detail, because the IDF typically takes its time when it comes to returning the bodies of terrorists. (Continued)
Senior IDF officers visit Palestinian terrorists in jail in effort to understand their motives
Haaretz 15 Jan by Amos Harel — Young people who carried out attacks in the latest wave of violence follow a different pattern than in previous periods — Palestinian terrorists held in Israel after being captured while carrying out attacks or attempting to do so during the present wave of violence have received surprise visits in their prison cells over the past month: The commanders of the Israel Defense Forces’ regional brigades in the West Bank. The army officials have come to meet with them at the orders of the IDF’s Central Command. The goal is to understand the background behind the actions of the young people, who are described as “lone terrorists” and do not belong to any terrorist organization. The prisoners are asked what was the direct motive that led to their decision to carry out the attack, why they chose their specific weapons and target, what military dispositions they noticed at the site they chose, and many other questions whose answers could help the security forces understand and prepare better to put a stop to the violence. Similar interviews, in much greater numbers, have been held by the Central Command’s intelligence officers and officers from the IDF’s coordinator of government activities in the territories unit – after the Shin Bet security service has completed its interrogations. Two main understandings have come out of these sessions: One, which is heard in every discussion with senior officers dealing with the matter, is that Israel is facing a long-term, persistent phenomenon. Two, improving the tactical operations of the troops on the ground may help reduce the number of those killed and wounded (and it seems has some effect on reducing the number of attempted attacks), but the present response is far from being perfect, especially in terms of intelligence . . . Frustration and despair The terrorists’ explanations of their motives have changed over the past few months, in a way that is supported by the intelligence analysis of other incidents on the ground. In October, Jerusalem and fears over the fate of the Al-Aqsa Mosque were the central considerations behind the decision to carry out an attack. In November, the general atmosphere was one of preparations for a third intifada, and the attacks were seen as part of a broader initiative. By December, the attacks were mostly a matter of the inspiration of earlier terrorists, and mimicking them. In recent weeks, the main justification given by the terrorists for their motives is the desire to take revenge, to pay back for the deaths of other terrorists, often relatives or acquaintances from the same village or neighborhood. This is especially true because of the rumors in the West Bank that Israel has implemented a policy of executing young Palestinians, even some who never even tried to carry out a terrorist attack. (Continued)
Photos: ISM remembers Tom Hurndall
ISM 14 Jan — ISM remembers Tom Hurndall, British activist and photography student who died over 12 years ago on January 13, 2004. He died of his injuries at age 22, 9 months after an Israeli sniper shot him in the head as he was attempting to bring young children pinned down by Israeli gunfire to safety in Rafah, occupied Gaza.
18 Palestinians detained in occupied West Bank in predawn raids
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Israeli forces detained 18 Palestinians from across the occupied West Bank in predawn raids on Thursday, locals and Israel’s army said. Locals told Ma‘an that 10 were detained from the Hebron district, including five Palestinians from the village of Sa‘ir. Detainees were identified as Zawadi Ibrahim Shalaldah, 54, Hakim Mahmoud Shalaldah, 52, Yasser Hamed Shalaldah, 44, Musab Salah Shalaldah, 20, and Yasser Mustafa Shalaldah, 24. Fares Kamal al-Rajabi, Imad Naji al-Atrash, Hussam Hassan Abu Sneinah and Ibrahim Muhammad al-Qasrawi were detained from Hebron’s Old City after Israeli forces raided and inspected their homes, locals told Ma‘an. In the town of Beit Ummar north of Hebron, local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma’an that forces detained Murshid Muhammad Zaqeeq and his 19-year-old son Muhammad after raiding their house. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed six arrests made in the Hebron district, all of whom they said were suspected Hamas operatives. Israeli forces also detained four suspected Hamas operatives in the Jenin district and one south of Nablus, the spokesperson said, adding that seven others were detained from the Ramallah, Qalqilya, and Bethlehem areas for suspected illegal activity.
Child among two Palestinians arrested in Jenin
JENIN (PIC) 15 Jan — The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested Friday evening two Palestinians including a 13-year-old child from Ya‘bod town south of Jenin. Local sources affirmed that Firas Amarneh, 36, was arrested at a makeshift checkpoint near Ya‘bod town. The child Islam Atatreh, 13, was also kidnapped while being with his family in their nearby agricultural land after Israeli forces violently stormed the field and took him by force to unknown detention center, the sources added.
Israeli forces shoot dead 2 Palestinians in Gaza clashes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Israeli forces on Friday afternoon shot dead two Palestinians during clashes near al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, medical sources said. Doctors told Ma‘an that 19-year-old Muhammad Abu Zayed had been shot in the head. His body was taken to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah. Medics added that at least 10 other Palestinian youths had been shot and wounded by live fire during the clashes.
Hours later, a second Palestinian died after being shot in the stomach during clashes in the same area. Gaza’s Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra identified the man as Muhammad Majdi Qaita, 26, from Khan Yunis. Qaita had been pronounced dead shortly after being taken to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, the spokesman added.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “multiple riots” were taking place along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel on Friday. The spokesperson said that that a number of Palestinians had “breached the buffer zone” and “damaged” the fence in the central Gaza Strip before Israeli forces “called on them to halt and fired warning shots into the air.” Shots were then fired directly at the demonstrators following the “threat of infiltration,” the spokesperson said . . .
At least 23 other Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli forces in clashes along the Gazan border since the beginning of October, according to the UN Agency for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip initially began demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem when unrest grew in the occupied area in October.
Qassam fighter killed in tunnel accident in Rafah
IMEMC 15 Jan — The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, has reported that one of its fighters [photo] died, on Friday morning, in an accident while working in a border tunnel, in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The Brigades said the fighter, Bassem Ayyoub al-Akhras, 22, died of electric shock while working in a tunnel. Dr. Ashraf Al-Qedra, spokesperson of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, said al-Akhras is from the Shaboura neighborhood, in Rafah . . . Dozens of fighters and tunnel workers have been killed in various accidents in siege-busting tunnels, across the border between Gaza and Egypt, largely after the tunnels collapsed on them, and in other cases after Israel bombarded the tunnels. Many Palestinians, not affiliated with any armed group, resort to working in tunnels to provide for their families due to the dire conditions in the impoverished coastal region.
Israeli navy kidnaps two Gaza fishers
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Jan — Israeli navy ships attacked, on Thursday evening, a number of Palestinian fishing boats, in Gaza territorial waters, northwest of the Gaza Strip, and kidnapped two fishers. The two kidnapped fishers have been identified as Bassem Abu Ryala and Mohammad an-Najjar. Eyewitnesses said the navy ships also fired several live rounds at the fishing boats, causing damage; no injuries were reported.
Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian fishermen off Gazan coast
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Friday morning, with no injuries reported, locals said. A Ma‘an reporter said that after the gunshots were fired, fishermen were forced to return to shore.
Israeli forces level Palestinian land in Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Israeli military vehicles entered the border area of the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday and leveled land near the village of Beit Lahiya, local residents said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that four Israeli excavators crossed 100 meters past the border fence into the Gaza Strip and leveled land north of Beit Lahiya, near the Israeli military site of Zikim. The incursion comes a day after Israeli artillery fire killed one Palestinian, identified as 23-year-old Mousa Z‘aiter, and injured three others near Beit Lahiya. Israeli bulldozers also leveled lands on the Palestinian side of the fence on Wednesday.
Amid fighting in Sinai, Israel evacuates Gaza crossing
Times of Israel 14 Jan by Stuart Winer — Israel closed the Kerem Shalom border crossing into the Gaza Strip and pulled out operating crews on Thursday as the Egyptian Army engaged terrorist forces in the adjacent Sinai Peninsula. Egyptian soldiers, backed with airstrikes, were reportedly operating in the area of Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid, and el-Arish which lie just seven kilometers (4.2 miles) from the Kerem Shalom gateway. Thirteen jihadis were killed in the fighting, reports said. The IDF said it closed the crossing, through which goods are transported into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, as a precautionary measure, and that there was no imminent security threat in the area. The measure was due to ongoing violence in the Sinai between Islamic State militants and Egyptian forces, the military said. The Kerem Shalom crossing is located on the southern tip of the Strip, next to the Egyptian border. Hundreds of trucks delivering food, aid and other goods pass through the Kerem Shalom Crossing into Gaza every day.
UN database for Gaza aid may give Israel targets to attack – secret memo
EI 13 Jan by Ali Abunimah — The UN was warned that its database of potential aid recipients in Gaza could provide Israel with targets for future attacks, a document obtained by The Electronic Intifada reveals. Diplomats and UN officials were also warned that plans for rebuilding Gaza after it was attacked by Israel in 2014 violated international law. The UN-backed Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM) is illegal and violates the very “right to life” of the Palestinian people, according to a confidential legal opinion by a law professor who analyzed the mechanism for a major aid agency that works closely with the UN. The Electronic Intifada is publishing the full text of the GRM for the first time, along with the legal opinion. Both documents are below. Recall that in 2014, The Electronic Intifada revealed that the GRM, the UN-brokered agreement that was supposedly going to facilitate reconstruction, would effectively reinforce Israel’s control over Gaza. But the UN, the Palestinian Authority and Israel have kept the actual text of the GRM secret, despite demands for transparency from Palestinians whose ability to rebuild their lives has remained hostage to its suffocating restrictions. The expert who wrote the legal opinion, the University of Nottingham’s Professor Nigel White, warned that the UN was becoming an active participant in Israel’s crimes, including enforcing the blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza since 2007. (Continued)
Gaza’s children grow up with trauma
EI 14 Jan by Isra Saleh el-Namey — It has taken Mansour’s mother a long time to learn to cope with her 12-year-old son’s changing personality. Once a top student, Mansour has become aggressive and disobedient. His grades are down, his mother says, and he suffers night terrors. Mansour’s mother can date his transformation to Israel’s war on Gaza in 2014. “He was a top student before then. He used to be a cheerful boy,” she recalled. During the assault, the family had to evacuate their home and move to a UN shelter, a school that was then also bombed. Since then, Mansour’s mother told The Electronic Intifada, he now prefers to be alone at school or at home. He has also started wetting the bed. “He is easily terrified by loud sounds like thunder,” according to his mother who, like other families interviewed for this story, declined to be named in order to protect their privacy. These are classic signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, though as health care professionals at the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP) never tire of pointing out, in Gaza there is never any “post.” . . . It has been nearly a year and a half since the war and Mansour still fears he is dying. He worries that poisonous insects will enter his room at night and bite him. “I feel I walk with a knife in my heart,” he said. The source of his fear is no mystery. His family home still bears the scars of the intense bombardment the Beit Hanoun neighborhood in northern Gaza suffered during the 2014 onslaught. There is neither money nor material to repair the holes in the walls. The kind of visualisation of fear that haunts Mansour is very common among children, according al-Qarra. GCMHP works with children like Mansour to allow them to express their fears in other ways. (Continued)
Campaign collects 500,000 shekels to rebuild Muhannad Halabi home
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — A campaign aiming to rebuild the home of Muhannad al-Halabi‘s family after it was demolished by Israeli forces last week has so far collected more than 500,000 shekels ($126,838), the campaign spokesperson said Friday. Halabi, 19, was shot dead by Israeli forces on Oct. 3 last year after he killed two Israelis and injured two more in Jerusalem’s Old City, in the first stabbing attack to take place in the wave of unrest that has since swept the occupied Palestinian territory. Israeli forces demolished his family’s home in the village of Surda north of Ramallah on Jan. 9. The campaign’s spokesperson, Abd al-Karim Abu Arqoub, said the exact amount collected in donations would be announced during a press conference on Sunday. However, he confirmed that more than 500,000 shekels had been collected so far, including 68,000 shekels ($17,250) and several pieces of jewelry on Thursday alone. Abu Arqoub warned that people had been collecting donations in neighborhoods of Ramallah and al-Bireh under the name of the campaign, but said that the only way to donate was through the campaign box in central Ramallah.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Fury at Israeli plan to build town on historic Muslim village
HITTIN, Israel (MEE) 15 Jan by Jonathan Cook — An Israeli government plan to build hundreds of homes for the country’s Druze population faces stiff opposition after it was revealed that the new community would be located on the lands of Palestinian refugees. The town, due to be built west of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, would be the first new community for members of Israel’s Palestinian minority since the state’s founding 68 years ago. The country’s 1.6 million Palestinian citizens are a fifth of the population. Leaders of the Palestinian minority expressed outrage that officials had selected a site where two Palestinian villages were located until their destruction following the 1948 war that established Israel. Archival evidence shows that the Israeli military razed more than 500 Palestinian villages after the war to ensure their residents could not return. “The decision to build a Druze town on these destroyed villages is designed to light a fuse under the relations between the Druze and other members of Palestinian minority,” Samer Swaid, a Druze political activist, told Middle East Eye. “This is all about Israel reinforcing its divide-and-rule policies over us.” The choice of location is particularly sensitive because one of the destroyed villages, Hittin, has great historical and symbolic importance to Palestinian Muslims. The village was established on the orders of Saladin to commemorate his victory in a famous battle against the Crusaders in 1187. The Crusaders’ defeat, at the Horns of Hittin, led to their exodus from the Holy Land. After 1948, Israel razed all of Hittin apart from its ancient mosque . . . The mosque, which was built on Saladin’s orders, has been fenced off since 2000. “Why If the mosque is an antiquity, is the state allowing it to fall into ruin? No one is caring for it.” Jewish groups have also opposed the decision to build the town. Late last month a protest was staged outside Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem by a historical society that recreates the Battle of Hittin, as well as by archeologists and members of neighbouring Jewish communities. They argue that, given the area’s historical significance, Israel ought to be pressing the United Nations to declare it a World Heritage Site and ban development. (Continued)
Israeli forces demolish homes, structures in Hebron district
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Israeli forces on Thursday demolished a home under construction and uprooted olive trees in the village of Beit Ummar north of Hebron, a local official said. Muhammad Ayyad Awad, a popular committee spokesperson in Beit Ummar, told Ma‘an that “Israeli troops raided Beit Ummar and demolished the house of Yousef Ehmedan Abu Maria, which measured 140 square meters and was under construction.”He added: “They also demolished cement walls surrounding 500 square meters of land which belonged to Saleh Mahmoud Jabawbrah, and uprooted many vines and olive trees.”Israeli forces also demolished a Palestinian-owned barn and structure near the Beit al-Baraka church, which was covertly purchased in 2012 by American millionaire Irving Moskowitz with the intention of turning it into a settlement outpost. “Israeli troops also demolished a barn, which was built in 2002 on 600 square meters of land belonging to Khaled Samahin, and caused damage worth 250,000 shekels ($63,345),” Awad said. The structure near Beit al-Baraka in the southern West Bank district of Hebron reportedly belonged to Farouq Hassan Abu Ayyash. Israeli authorities approved the annexation of Beit al-Baraka to the Gush Etzion cluster of settlements on Jan. 6.
Israeli forces demolish 4 greenhouses, water well in Jordan Valley
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Israeli forces on Thursday demolished four greenhouses and a water well in the Jordan Valley of the occupied West Bank, locals said. Bassam Maslamani, an activist who monitors settlement activity in the Jordan Valley area, told Ma‘an that three Israeli bulldozers escorted by five military vehicles demolished the greenhouses in the Anoun area east of Tubas city. Maslamani said Israeli authorities carried out the demolition of the structures on the grounds that they were built without a permit. The greenhouses belonged to Mahmoud Maslamani, Moussa Ali al-Einabussi, Abu Faisal Massaid and Adnan Abu Muhsen. Israeli forces also demolished a water well Maslamani said was built by an Italian church in 2013 with the approval of Israeli authorities to provide locals and farmers in the Yizra area with water . . . The majority of the Jordan Valley is in Area C — under full Israeli military control — where Palestinian residents are rarely given permits to build or repair their homes, while Israeli settlements have expanded greatly in recent years. Israeli policy in the area has resulted in ongoing demolition of homes and structures belonging to Palestinian residents. Last month, senior UN official Miroslav Jenca slammed ongoing Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the Jordan Valley, shortly after the village of Fasayil was issued demolition orders.
Hunger-striking journalist refuses vitamins as protest enters 51st day
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Palestinian prisoner Muhammad al-Qiq stopped taking vitamins on Thursday as he entered the 51st day of a hunger strike he began to protest his detention without trial, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said. Qadura Fares, head of the prisoner’s society, told Ma‘an that al-Qiq, a 33-year-old journalist from the southern West Bank town of Dura, had decided to stop taking to vitamins in order “to put pressure on the Israelis.” Fares said the decision also marked al-Qiq’s determination to go on with his hunger strike, despite the continued deterioration of his health. After visiting the prisoner in HaEmek Medical Center in Afula, a lawyer for the society, Jawad Boulos, told Ma‘an that al-Qiq was now in critical condition, suffering severe weakness, muscles pains, and eye trouble. Boulos said that one of al-Qiq’s hands and one of his feet were handcuffed to the hospital bed, and that he was being watched by six prison guards. He added that a number of doctors from the Israeli Prison Service visited al-Qiq on Thursday to evaluate his condition. The Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs warned earlier in the week that the Israeli authorities may be preparing to force-feed al-Qiq, in what would be the first use of a controversial practice approved by Israeli lawmakers last year. However, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, which has been closely following al-Qiq’s case, told Ma‘an on Wednesday that doctors at HaEmek Medical Center had “no intention” of force-feeding him. A spokesperson for the group said the medical center’s ethics committee had assured them of their refusal to go through with force-feeding, which the Israeli Medical Association considers tantamount to torture.
The Gazans in Jordan: Between the curse of exile and government restrictions
MEMO 14 Jan from Arabi21 — The decision by the Jordanian government to reinstate the requirement that refugees in Jordan of Gazan origin obtain work permits has shed new light on the plight of this segment of the population. They have, for a long time, been demanding that restrictions imposed on them are eased and they be afforded rights in the country that has hosted them for many years and in which they have almost become citizens. Recently, the Jordanian government enacted a decision that obliges Gazans to obtain work permits and pay an annual fee of 180 Jordanian dinars per permit, despite living in dire conditions. The government later rescinded its decision after it came under intense pressure from parliamentarians and the public. It however kept the requirement of the work permit in place but without having to pay the fees. In effect, this decision means that Gazans in Jordan will be treated like foreign labourers and that job opportunities available to them will be restricted because they will have to work only as the permit allows. This is despite the fact that Gazans in Jordan are already suffering because of exclusion from many jobs. Jordan imposes numerous restrictions on Gazans living in the country. They are issued with temporary two-year passports upon conditional security clearance. Additionally, they face obstacles obtaining medical care; enrolling their children in public universities; and securing jobs for them after graduation. They are also denied the right to own property because of the political sensitivity associated with being refugees who should not be made to settle permanently, as the government argues. (Continued)
Palestinians in Lebanon revolt over reduction of UNRWA services
JPost 14 Jan by Maayan Groisman — Outraged Palestinian refugees in Lebanon took to the streets in Tripoli on Thursday to protest against UNRWA’s decision to reduce the medical and educational services it supplies to the refugees due to lack of funds. Hundreds participated in the protest that took place outside UNRWA’s building, carrying banners saying: “No to reduction of UNRWA services” and waving the Palestinian flag. One of the demonstration’s organizers warned that, “This demonstration is only the beginning of our fight against UNRWA’s scandalous decision” and demanded the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, act in order to convince UNRWA’s donor states to hold up their obligations. Following UNRWA’s decision, many schools will be closed, so the number of students per class will grow, making schools more crowded, and many teachers will be fired. However, the main victims of the decision are people who suffer from chronic diseases that require hospitalization, since UNRWA will no longer finance their hospitalization. The Palestinian uprising that started with general strikes in UNRWA’s offices, schools and hospitals in all of the Lebanese refugee camps has escalated to violence. One man who suffered from anemia lit himself on fire in protest of UNRWA’s refusal to continue financing his hospitalization expenses. In a press statement released following the events, the Hamas movement claimed that “UNRWA’s decision to reduce services to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is a crime and we must fight against it through peaceful means.”
UNRWA cuts claim the life of another Palestinian woman in Lebanon
BEIRUT (PIC) 15 Jan — Another Palestinian refugee woman was proclaimed dead on Thursday after Lebanese hospitals refused to provide her with medical care at the pretext that the UNRWA stopped to pay for the health services offered to Palestinian refugees. The Lebanese news website al-Nashra said that Saada Rumeid, from Burj el-Shemali refugee camp in southern Lebanon, died in Balsam hospital after several specialized hospitals refused to have her at the pretext they did not receive certain papers from the UNRWA, which recently decided to shrink the services it provided for the Palestinian refugees. A few days ago, another Palestinian refugee also died after the UNRWA refused to pay for her medical treatment in a hospital. A Palestinian young man, a resident of Burj el-Shemali camp who suffers from thalassemia, torched himself recently after he failed to cover his medical expenses due to UNRWA cuts.
UNRWA launches $817 million appeal for Palestine, Syria
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — The UN agency for Palestinian refugees on Thursday launched its annual appeal of $817 million of emergency funds for Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory. Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA’s commissioner-general, said in a statement the funds would contribute to both “a measure of stability at a time of spreading radicalization and a measure of dignity for a community that has been deprived of a just solution for far too long.” The agency said that 95 percent of the estimated 450,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria were now reliant on the agency for humanitarian assistance, the majority of whom were displaced, while thousands more remained trapped in areas of active conflict. “Tens of thousands have fled to Lebanon and Jordan where, despite the generosity of host countries, they face increasing marginalization and despair,” the agency said. In the occupied Palestinian territory, UNRWA said that Palestinian refugees were “exposed to the lasting consequences of an occupation now approaching 50 years and a decade-long blockade, which define every aspect of their lives.” It said that 830,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip now depended on humanitarian assistance, up from 80,000 in 2000. The statement said that in the occupied Palestinian territory, the funds would be focused on the needs of refugees “exposed to displacement and home demolitions, as well as on reconstruction efforts in Gaza.” In Syria, meanwhile, UNRWA aims to “run one of the largest cash assistance programs in an active conflict zone,” as well as to provide “innovative education programs benefiting hundreds of thousands of Palestinian and Syrian children.”
Palestinian refugee driven into new exile by IS
BAHARKA REFUGEE CAMP, Iraq (AP) 14 Jan by Bram Janssen with Salar Salim— As a nine-year-old boy, Ibrahim Mahmoud fled his hometown of Haifa on the back of a truck during the 1948 war that attended the creation of Israel. Now, as a hunched old man, he is once again encamped far from home, having fled the Islamic State takeover of the Iraqi city of Mosul. His life of exile is framed by wars that redrew borders and scattered centuries-old communities, and his trauma is shared by millions across the Middle East, who have packed their belongings and bundled up their families to seek safety far from their homelands, joining the largest wave of refugees since World War II. His odyssey began in 1948, when he was among the estimated 700,000 Palestinians who fled their homes or were driven out in Israel’s War of Independence . . . “We fled our homes in Palestine in 1948 to Jordan on the back of a truck,” Mahmoud said. His family then flew to Basra, a sweltering city at the southern tip of Iraq, on the Persian Gulf . . . In the mid-1970s, Mahmoud, his wife and five children moved to Mosul after he was told by an old man who had fought in the 1948 war that he would feel more at home in the northern city. “He told me there was a place in Iraq just like Palestine. There’s grass everywhere and rivers. And they have oranges there,” he said. The city was just as the man had described, but Mahmoud struggled to make ends meet, in part because of the crippling international sanctions imposed on Iraq in the 1990s. His children were forced to work instead of attending school. “We had to make sure there was bread on the table, so that’s all we could give them,” he said . . . As the fighting slowly died down and U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq in 2011, Mahmoud might have thought his lifelong flight from war was finally over, that while he may never see Haifa again he could at least live in peace. But then a hot summer’s night in June 2014 was shattered by the grimly familiar thud of explosions and rattle of gunfire, as the Islamic State group swept into Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city . . . Mahmoud and his family, which by then included 11 children, remained until August of that year, before once again packing their belongings and bidding farewell to a place they had called home. “I saw people being beheaded in the streets. What kind of life is that?” Mahmoud said. Now he and his family live in the Baharka refugee camp in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, where some 4,000 people huddle in tents pitched along muddy roads . . . So nearly seven decades after he climbed aboard a truck that would carry him into a life of exile, Mahmoud wants to pick up and leave one more time, hoping he can find a lasting home for his children.
Other news / Opinion
Israeli forces suppress Islamic Movement meeting in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Israeli police suppressed a meeting of the Islamic Movement in occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday, using tear-gas and stun grenades, witnesses said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that the meeting suppressed by forces was a conference organized by a campaign opposing a ban placed on the Islamic Movement. The meeting reportedly discussed the issue of public institutions currently banned by the Israeli government. Israeli forces fired stun grenades at the crowd in attendance and detained at least one person, identified by witnesses as Hajj Abu Bakr al-Sheimi . . . Israel’s security cabinet outlawed the Islamic Movement’s northern branch in Israel in November, giving Israeli security forces the green light to imprison anyone acting on the movement’s behalf, as well as to seize property belonging to the organization. The Islamic Movement’s northern branch, led by Sheikh Raed Salah, has been a vocal critic of Israeli activity at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem — the third holiest site in Islam and historical flashpoint site.
How Israel’s military government keeps Palestinians in the dark
+972 mag 14 Jan by Natasha Roth — A long-running legal battle over the transparency of Israel’s military government took another step on Wednesday when a Tel Aviv District Court judge rebuked the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) over its continued failure to publish and publicize all of its policies and procedures. COGAT is obligated to publish these policies under Israel’s Freedom of Information Act [Heb]. COGAT, which is part of the Ministry of Defense, oversees Israeli policy in the West Bank and in relation to the Gaza Strip. Within COGAT sits the Civil Administration, which operates directly in the West Bank. Each is the subject of two separate legal petitions by Israeli human rights NGO Gisha over their non-compliance with the FOIA, which has led to a protracted fight for them to publish all their procedures and have them translated into Arabic. These documents affect around 4.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. Access to the policies and procedures is critical for Palestinians to be able to know their rights and understand how to access them. The documents cover dozens of practical administrative issues such as the procedure for issuing entry permits from Gaza and the West Bank into Israel, dealing with medical requests from Palestinians in the Strip and the West Bank and arranging for Palestinians to travel between the two. The latest stumbling block in this process came back in summer 2015, when COGAT suddenly stopped updating its website. In response to an inquiry by Gisha, COGAT announced that their website had stopped functioning and that they were working to fix it . . . Six months after COGAT’s website broke down — during which it did not publish a word of information in Arabic or Hebrew — the body did, under the shadow of a potential court appointment, finally launch a “temporary” website that includes all COGAT policies and procedures in Hebrew and Arabic, as well as its annual report, which it is also legally obligated to publish. Despite the apparent progress, COGAT seems to have done next to nothing to publicize the temporary website. There is no link on its official website. (Continued)
Hamas denies secret negotiations with Fatah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — The Hamas movement denied on Wednesday any negotiations with the Fatah movement regarding forming a national unity government .Spokesperson of the movement, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Ma‘an that “leaks about secret negotiations between the Hamas and Fatah movements to form a national unity government are false.”Press reports had mentioned secret negotiations between the two movements to form a national unity government. Abu Zuhri had previously said that his movement is ready to form a national consensus government.
CNN lists Palestinian Museum opening on ‘Nakba Day’ among hottest new attractions of 2016
JPost staff 14 Jan — CNN on Wednesday listed the Palestinian Museum, set to open in Bir Zeit [photo], north of Ramallah, in May, as one its “nine best attractions opening in 2016.” The museum’s opening is scheduled to coincide with Nakba Day, in which Palestinians mark the “catastrophe” of Israel gaining independence in 1948. The Palestinian museum is included on CNN’s list alongside Shanghai Disneyland, a film-themed park in Dubai, the new FIFA soccer museum in Zurich, San Francisco’s new Museum of Modern Art, a Noah’s Ark-inspired theme park in Kentucky, a mega-mall in Qatar, the refurbished Darling Harbor in Sydney and the UAE’s version of Paris’s most famous art museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi . . . The museum is touted as a harbinger of humanitarian projects and as a vehicle for, “the empowerment of the Palestinian people,” according to the museum’s website. The museum’s creators hope the institution will also be a way of teaching young Palestinians about their heritage.
Arrest of Palestinian journalist reflection of ‘political chaos’
Al-Monitor 14 Jan by Daoud Kuttab — The arrest of Palestinian journalist Salim Sweidan and his detention for four days has exposed a broken legal system where understandings are replacing the rule of law — Palestinian journalist Salim Sweidan, owner of Nablus TV, was released Jan. 12 after having spent four days in jail. Sweidan, a member of the board of the Maan News Network, the leading independent satellite station and news website, was released on a bail of 1,000 Jordanian dinars ($1,400) after publishing an online apology. In an interview with Al-Monitor, Sweidan said that the reason for the arrest was that his TV station’s website republished a news story that had been written about the circumstances surrounding the arrest of a Hamas cell accused by Israel of killing two Israeli settlers in October 2015 . . . According to a testimony by his brother, Anees Sweidan, to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) on Jan. 11, Salim was accused of six charges, namely “the publication of articles harmful to Palestinian national unity, assault of Palestinian national unity, incitement as well as inciting sectarian conflicts, verbal abuse and contempt.” (Continued)
Cut from a different cloth: Palestinian textile company bridges the divide
BEIT JALA, West Bank (The Guardian) 15 Jan by Kate Shuttleworth — Tamara Alarja walks between the factory floor, where machines making and dyeing fabrics are whirring, and her office, where 20 orders are in progress. The Palestinian woman, 29, is managing the only remaining textile factory in historic Palestine. Not only does the business have a history of female leadership, it is defying the Israeli occupation and bridging the Israeli-Palestinian divide by servicing both markets. The business started from Tamara’s grandmother’s house in the Palestinian Christian town of Beit Jala in the mid-1960s. Leila Alarja, now 79, and her husband, Geries, 85, had little money in the 1960s – Geries worked as a waiter in a local hotel and Leila started sewing at home. They had nine children . . . By the 1980s, Arja Textile Company was fully operational and in the 1990s two tall factory blocks were built around the couple’s house, employing more than 120 local Palestinians . . . Today, the factory produces half of its own fabric (the rest is imported) and employs 70 people, of whom 50 are women, a figure that defies a trend in the Palestinian territories . . . On one side of the factory, Muslim Palestinian women wearing headscarves are producing dresses for conservative Muslim women. On another side orders are being filled for Christmas sweatshirts. Pre-packaged orders sit next to a pile of T-shirts for Christian pilgrims visiting Jerusalem’s Old City. Tamara flicks through a booklet of cotton items that are in high demand in Israel. It includes leggings, crop tops, shorts, wrap dresses and harem pants – things you’d see on the beach in Tel Aviv. Her two biggest customers are a distributor in Israel that serves secular markets and another in the West Bank city of Hebron catering to Muslim women. (Continued)
Palestinians appeal for poet on death row in Saudi Arabia
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 14 Jan — Palestinian intellectuals and writers have gathered in the West Bank to read poems and call for the release of a Palestinian poet awaiting execution in Saudi Arabia. Thursday’s readings in the city of Ramallah were part of a campaign launched by the International Literature Festival in Berlin for works of Ashraf Fayadh to be read in 42 countries to press that his life be spared. Human Rights Watch says Fayadh was convicted and sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy, spreading atheism and having illicit relationships with women, based on photographs found on his mobile phone. He told the court the photographs were of women he had met at an art gallery. Poet Mahmoud Abu Hashhash says no poet “should be punished for his creation” but awarded for his art.
New EU draft resolution draws stark distinction between Israel, West Bank settlements
Haaretz 15 Jan by Barak Ravid — Israel’s Foreign Ministry is making last-ditch efforts this weekend to block a pending European Union resolution that emphasizes the distinction between Israel-proper and the territories it captured during the 1967 Six Day War. Adoption of the resolution could lead to new sanctions against Israeli settlements in the West Bank, senior officials in Jerusalem and European diplomats told Haaretz. The resolution is expected to be published on Monday, at the conclusion of the monthly meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, comprising the foreign ministers of the 28 EU member states. It was initially expected to be relatively moderate, but the draft’s wording got increasingly harsh with regard to Israel during Thursday’s session at EU headquarters in Brussels, according to senior Israeli officials. European and Israeli diplomats who have seen the latest draft of the resolution presented Haaretz with its main points: The draft stresses the distinction made by the EU between Israel and the settlements . . . “EU agreements with the State of Israel are only applicable to the State of Israel [and not to the settlements, B.R.]. The EU and its member states are united in their commitment to ensure full implementation of existing EU legislation and agreements applicable to settlement products. The EU reaffirms its decision [to label settlement products, B.R.] and doesn’t consider it a boycott of Israel, which the EU opposes.” The draft says the EU will consider taking steps to save the two-state solution. “The EU will continue to closely monitor developments on the ground and their broader implications,” says the draft. “The EU will consider further action to protect the viability of the two-state solution, which is constantly eroded by new facts on the ground.” The draft backs France’s suggestion that an international support group be established to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and to convene an international peace conference in order to restart regional, multi-sided negotiations between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states.
Israel summons Swedish ambassador
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Jan — The Israeli government has summoned Swedish ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser over Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström’s call for a probe into Israeli “extrajudicial executions” of Palestinians. According to Israeli news outlet Ynet News, on Wednesday this week, Mr. Nesser was urgently summoned to the offices of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and was rebuked by Deputy Director-General for European affairs Aviv Shir-On. Shir-On expressed the Israeli government’s anger at what he called Wallström’s “twisted presentation of reality”, and her “biased, even hostile treatment of Israel.” He added that, due to these comments, by the Swedish minister, Sweden should expect to be excluded from any role that pertains to Israeli-Palestinian relations. According to the PNN, the real meaning of this statement was that the Israeli government will no longer allow Sweden to promote any projects in the occupied Palestinian territories.
EU to provide €12 million to Palestinians living in extreme poverty
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — The European Union announced Friday that it would be sending €12.3 million ($13.4 million) to the Palestinian Authority’s social allowances program to benefit poor Palestinian families living in the West Bank and Gaza. The contribution is the final portion of a €50 million ($54.5 million) pledge made by the EU in 2015 for the cash transfer program of the Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs. The EU said in a statement that it and its member states had contributed 40 percent of the program’s funding. “The steady deterioration of the socio-economic conditions in Palestine is a matter of concern,” EU representative Ralph Tarraf said. “One out of four Palestinians live in poverty. The situation is worse in Gaza, with an estimated poverty rate of almost 40 percent.” “The national cash transfer program plays an essential role in helping households in need to attain a minimally acceptable standard of living,” he added. “We are committed to continue our support to social protection. “An estimated 121,000 Palestinian households, two thirds of them in the besieged Gaza Strip, are reportedly enrolled in the program.
Israeli plan for minorities slammed as bid to ‘divide and conquer’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Jan by Chloe Benoist — A plan approved by Israel’s cabinet last week to provide half a billion dollars worth of assistance to Israel’s Druze and Circassian minorities has been denounced by leaders of Israel’s Palestinian community as a “divide and conquer” tactic. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the 2 billion shekel ($510 million) multi-year plan “for the development of the Druze and Circassian communities” at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday. The plans followed the earlier announcement of a 15 billion shekel ($3.8 billion) five-year plan to address the gaps in access to infrastructure and discrepancies in rights between Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and their Jewish counterparts. While it was not initially clear whether the assistance to the Druze and Circassian communities was included in this larger plan, Netanyahu warned separately on Sunday that the larger plan for the development of other “Arab communities” was dependent on the implementation of a law enforcement plan alongside it.
Alan Rickman’s Gaza play censored by theater staging David Bowie’s ‘Lazarus’
EI 15 Jan by Abraham Greenhouse — As the world mourns the recent deaths of legendary performers David Bowie and Alan Rickman, it is difficult not to draw a connection between the two men. Both born in London, they died during the same week, both of cancer, both aged 69 – coincidences that the media did not wait long to point out. Both men had also co-written plays that were to be produced at the same New York theater . . . More striking, however, than the two men’s differing approaches to their impending deaths was the very different manner in which their work had been treated by the same New York theater. In 2005, Rickman directed the initial London run of My Name is Rachel Corrie, a play based on the writing of the US activist crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza two years prior. Rickman had been moved to produce the work, staged at London’s Royal Court Theatre, after reading Corrie’s published emails in 2003 . . . A wild success in London, the play was set to be staged at the New York Theatre Workshop in 2006, but the legacy of Rachel Corrie was to meet with very different treatment than that of David Bowie. As Viner told Democracy Now!, “The production schedule was finalized. Both sides of the Atlantic had agreed on a press release that was going to go out to the press, announcing the production of My Name is Rachel Corrie, and then the Royal Court, as I was told, received a telephone call saying that the play was to be postponed indefinitely.” . . . The play was ultimately staged at New York’s Minetta Lane Theatre. . . Update — Rachel’s cousin, Beth Corrie, posted the following statement to her personal Facebook page, which she has granted permission to share: “There will be many tributes to Alan Rickman, all richly deserved, but something very few will know about or mention is that Rickman was a strong supporter of Palestinian human rights, and it was his idea, along with Katherine Viner, an editor at the UK newspaper The Guardian, to take my cousin Rachel Corrie’s emails and journals and turn them into an excellent play . . .”
Welcome to the Israeli Arab ghetto / Sayed Kashua
Haaretz 15 Jan — Why do these shootings keep happening in your communities, I’m asked sometimes. That’s what happens, I respond, when the state ignores your existence, and violence mediated by criminals is used to resolve disputes — “Why does it keep happening in your communities?” I remember the redhead television director asking me after another case of murder was reported in the Israeli media – because cases of murder are the only events in Arab communities that sometimes reach the Israeli media. “Because,” I found myself overcoming my grief and replying to him, “because if you were to close the village of Beit Zayit for 20 years, so that everyone born is forced to live there, I guarantee you that it this will start among you, too. I guarantee you that brothers will start shooting one another over a square meter of land.” . . . “Where to?” an old friend from Wadi Ara who called me this week almost shouted at me when I urged him to get out of there. “Where can I go – where will the children go to school? And who wants us, anyway? The people in Afula?” he said mockingly . . . It’s the same country, and distress of the kind that afflict its Arab locales exist elsewhere as well. But in those places, people at least harbor the illusion that their fate is not sealed at birth, that with education and work they might be able to escape the inferno. That’s an almost impossible illusion for Israel’s Arab citizens, who have been educated to understand that they have no alternative other than to live in their native village. The problem is that for almost seven decades now, the country has remained the same country, but the village is no longer a village.
I’m Palestinian and I’ve been incited / Umar al-Ghubari
+972 blog 15 Jan — Israeli government ministers, ‘Arab affairs’ analysts, and regular citizens incite against us — but they’re also inciting us. And yet, despite it all, we restrain ourselves — Yes, you read the headline correctly: I’m an incited Palestinian. Every day they incite me. My most prominent and significant inciters are the leaders, the commentators and most of the journalists of the State of Israel, and ordinary Israelis too. Social networks and the masses of online commenters in Israel comprise a volcano of incitement. It’s clear to me that they actually want to incite against Palestinians, but their words come back like a boomerang and incite the Palestinians, too. A newscast on any given Israeli television channel is a proven recipe for angering and inciting Palestinian viewers. Analyses and predictions by Zionist commentators constitute aggression and provocations to Palestinians. The despicable verbiage of people who call themselves “experts on Arab affairs” is laden with slander and manipulations that arouse disgust toward Arabs, and when Arabs hear them they mainly feel dread and explode in anger. Yes, it’s they who incite me and make me fume. Every time Israeli leaders talk about Arabs, Palestinians, or any other formulation drawn from these words, they express hostile, racist, patronizing, threatening and humiliating attitudes with alarming ease. There is no doubt that the current prime minister is a star in this context, but he hasn’t invented a thing. He may have improved the method and embellished the formulations, but he has no exclusivity over racism. (Continued)
Israel’s volunteer thought-police
+972 mag 15 Jan by Dahlia Scheindlin — Right-wing activists have been infiltrating human rights and anti-occupation organizations. The spies did do serious damage, but to a much bigger target than they intended: Israeli society — Two weeks ago I wrote about a right-wing group trying to recruit people to a “top secret” mission: spying on left-wing organizations in Israel. The outfit was largely a one-man show. I thought it was a colorful but probably not very serious example of the latest “hasbara” antics – propaganda or public diplomacy – gone too far. I was naïve. Two weeks later, we learned that right-wing impostors have been infiltrating, befriending and filming left-wing organizations for several years. Israel’s vaunted investigative news program “Uvda” aired a damning story about far left-wing activist Ezra Nawi based on the documentation of such self-anointed spies. Breaking the Silence, the ex-soldiers’ testimonial organization, found another mole who had burrowed into its inner circle as well. The daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot ran a lengthy spread revealing (rather banal) details of a meeting the group held with former director-general of the Foreign Ministry and retired ambassador Alon Liel. Amir Beit Arieh, the young man who had spied on Breaking the Silence, told Channel 2 this week that the goal was to trap those on the far left “who will stop at nothing,” he says, to end to the occupation. So infiltration is no longer a threat but a reality. What do we need to know about this, and what does it mean? (Continued)
Why the West Bank refugee camps refuse to join the Third Intifada / Avi Issacharoff
JENIN (Times of Israel) 15 Jan — Beneath a sign showing Saddam Hussein alongside various well-known shahids (martyrs), the residents of Jenin’s refugee camp are engaged in heated debate. At issue is whether to put up a banner commemorating the “shahid” Nashat Milhem, the Israeli Arab terrorist who killed three Israelis in a shooting attack in central Tel Aviv on January 1. Jenin refugee camp became a violent symbol during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. It was here that the toughest battle against the Israeli army took place: 23 Israeli troops were killed, 13 of them in the single worst incident to take place during the operation, and dozens of Palestinians were killed. The residents of the camp have been seeking new heroes ever since, but not everyone is eager to accept the idea of the monument to Milhem. A worker in a nearby clothing store says that putting up such a sign will bring Israeli troops and Shin Bet personnel to the camp. “Why do we need that now?” he asks. After the tough and tumultuous years that the camp endured, today, even as the “intifada of knives” rages elsewhere, local residents are enjoying one of the calmest periods they have experienced over the past decade. And many don’t want it to end. “There have been no Jews here for months, and the Palestinian Authority has not come in either,” says M., a former wanted man who served a four-year sentence in a PA jail and was an inmate in an Israeli prison before that. “So you see: Everybody here is calmer.” M., a father of three, knows all the Israeli reporters on Palestinian affairs by name. During the Second Intifada, he accompanied Zakaria Zubeidi, the commander of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, around the camp. Zubeidi has lived in Beitunia (Ramallah) ever since the PA forced him to move there so that it could keep a close eye on him. M. and a few of his friends are waiting for passengers in the camp’s downtown section, near the Sheikh Khalifa Mosque. The Jenin Refugee Camp Barbershop is near us, and the group of men in their 20s and 30s run a Jenin-style gypsy cab service in which passengers travel from one place to another in the camp — for money, of course. “How do you explain the fact that no resident of the camp took part in the ‘intifada of knives’ over the past three months?” I ask him. “It’s not an intifada. It’s a fad,” he says. “Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm, Jericho — nothing is happening in any one of those places. Things have calmed down even in Hebron. True, people were killed there, but it’s a passing phase. The ones that created this intifada were the media and Facebook. “And let’s be honest,” he continues. “What did we gain from the Second Intifada? What did we get? Those of us who live here in the camp paid the heaviest price. And what did that do for us? Did we get representation on the Revolutionary Council [one of the leadership groups] or on the Central Committee [Fatah’s supreme leadership group]? So why should we take part in this? What will we get out of sending a kid to stab somebody with a knife? . . . “Still,” he notes, “I can tell you one thing: As long as there is an occupation, these ‘fads’ will keep on coming back, again and again. It will never be over.”