Palestinians stage sit-in to protest increased Israeli military control over Hebron

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Palestinians stage sit-in for the reopening of Hebron’s Old City
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Local activists continued a sit-in on Saturday outside of an Israeli military checkpoint set up on Hebron’s al-Shuhada street in protest of the military’s total closure of the area. Al-Shuhada street, as well as the Tel Rumeida area of the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, was designated a closed military zone by the Israeli army in November following increased violence in the area. The order was renewed earlier this month and bans all entry to the areas, apart from Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents. Palestinian residents were forced to register in order to gain access to their homes and have reported higher-than-average difficulty traveling through the nearly 20 checkpoints that stand across the Old City. The Youth Against Settlements group, which documents violations carried out by Israeli military and settlers in the Hebron area, initially began the sit-in on Thursday with local residents, demanding the new restrictions come to an end. The director of the group, Issa Amro, told Ma‘an that a numbering system used by the Israeli military to register Palestinian residents of the area and enable their movement echoed systems used by the Nazi regime during World War II. Amro said the sit-in tent would remain until the use of the number system ended and Tel Rumeida and al-Shuhada street were reopened . . .
Local activist Mufid al-Sharabati meanwhile told Ma‘an that the measures implemented by Israel in the last few months have been the most severe since the Ibrahimi mosque massacre took place in 1994. That massacre, carried out by an Israeli extremist on Muslim worshipers, resulted in the division of Hebron into the area of H1, under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and the area of H2 which includes the Old City and surrounding areas under full Israeli military control. “Israel prevents ambulances from reaching locals and residents are always delayed and stopped at checkpoints,” al-Sharabati told Ma‘an, adding that relatives, friends, international supporters and journalists are unable to reach Palestinian residents living in the Old City due to the closed military zone. The Israeli army pledged following the November closure to maintain normalcy for residents following the military order, however Israeli rights group B’Tselem since has said: “There has been no ‘normal fabric of life’ in Hebron for many days, and the measures taken in the name of security are draconian and not dictated by reality.”

Youth Against Settlements Press release

January 7, 2016 Palestinian residents of Hebron are staging a sit-in protest in front of checkpoint 56 at the entrance to Shuhada Street in Hebron in protest of the closed military zones orders for Shuhada Street and the Tel Rumeida neighborhood.

Around 100 Palestinian activists gathered Thursday morning in front of checkpoint 56 at the entrance to Shuhada Street in Hebron to stage a sit-in protest. The sit-in began around 10:00 AM with activists holding signs and sitting under a tent in front of the checkpoint. It protest will be ongoing, continuing 24 hours a day. The activists, which include families with young children, are staging the sit-in in protest of:

  • Closed military zone orders
  • Registering of Palestinian residents with numbers
  • Checkpoints
  • Closures
  • Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land

The action is being organized by the Hebron based organization, Youth Against Settlements (YAS), a Palestinian led nonviolent organization that works to end the closures, restrictions, human rights violations, and military occupation of Palestinian land. The YAS organization and it’s activists are also being targeted by the closed military zone orders.

On November 1, 2015, the Israeli military declared Shuhada Street and much of the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron to be a closed military zone, meaning that only registered residents of the neighborhoods, who have been assigned numbers may enter. The residents must be registered with numbers assigned to them and may not have visitors to their houses.

On January 2, 2016 the Israeli military renewed the closed military zone order through January 31 and released a new map showing the original closed military zone of Shuhada Street and much of the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, with an extension reaching out just far enough to include the house of Youth Against Settlements coordinator, Issa Amro, which also serves as the Youth Against Settlements center.

Issa Amro:
“The families are protesting because they want to live in peace and equality without checkpoints, closures, restrictions, and attacks by settlers and the military.  We refuse to be registered as numbers and have our human rights violated just because we are Palestinian”

Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem

2 Palestinians killed at checkpoint after alleged stab attempt
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Israeli forces on Saturday shot and killed two Palestinian men at the al-Hamra military checkpoint in the northern Jordan Valley, witnesses said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that the two men were stopped at the checkpoint — also known as Beqaot — and asked by military forces to exit their vehicle, at which point the forces shot them dead. The witnesses said they did not see the men wielding knives, and told Ma‘an the two were “killed in cold blood.” The men sold wholesale goods and were reportedly on their way to distribute merchandise to grocery shops, witnesses added. An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an that two assailants attempted to stab Israeli soldiers stationed at the security crossing who opened fire in response to the attack. The two Palestinians received medical treatment on site but were pronounced dead, the spokeswoman said. No Israelis were injured in the incident. The men were identified as as 26-year-old Ali Abu Maryam from the village of al-Jadida and 38-year-old Said Abu al-Wafa from the village of al-Zawiya, both southwest of Jenin in the northern West Bank. The al-Hamra military checkpoint is located in the eastern outskirts of the Nablus district, south of the illegal Israeli settlements of Beqaot and Roi.

Army injures an elderly man in Kafr Qaddoum
IMEMC 9 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Saturday evening, Kafr Qaddoum town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and injured an elderly man with live fire, while many Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. Morad Eshteiwy, coordinator of the Popular Committee in Kafr Qaddoum, said several military vehicles invaded the town, and attacked dozens of residents, holding a nonviolent protest after evening prayers. The soldiers fired several live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs, causing dozens to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. Local youths hurled stones and empty bottles at the invading soldiers, and the army fired more live rounds, gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets. Eshteiwy stated that Maher Amer, 60 years of age, was shot with a live round in his thigh while walking back home after visiting relatives in the area where the invasion and clashes took place. He also said that the soldiers have escalated their invasions into the town, especially due to ongoing weekly protests, held on Fridays, demanding the military to reopen the main road of the town, which has been closed for more than 13 years, to grant the settlers easy access to their illegal Kedumim colony, illegally built on Palestinian lands. Since then, 69 Palestinians have been shot with live fire, while hundreds have been injured by rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades.

7 shot by Israeli forces in clashes south of Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — Seven Palestinians were shot on Sunday by live and rubber-coated steel steel bullets when clashes broke out with Israeli forces in the village of Tuqu‘ south of Bethlehem, locals said. The village’s municipality told Ma‘an that a 17-year-old and a 20-year-old were shot with live fire in the thigh and foot respectively, while five others were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets in clashes that broke out near the western entrance of the village. The two injured with live fire were taken to Beit Jala Hospital in moderate condition, the municipality added.

Israeli soldiers shoot, injure Palestinian near Jenin
JENIN (WAFA) 11 Jan – Israeli troops on Monday shot and seriously injured a Palestinian youth at Mevo Dothan, an Israeli military checkpoint at Jenin-Tulkarm road, according to security sources. The youth, identified as Zaid al-Ashqar from the village of Seida near Tulkarm, was left to bleed on the ground as Israeli soldiers denied access of medical teams to the scene. Israeli troops have killed 152 Palestinians since the beginning of unrest in the occupied Palestinian Territory in early October 2015, according to the Ministry of Health. Over 15,000 others have been reportedly injured.

Prosecution conducts autopsy on slain teens from Sair
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — The Palestinian public prosecution late Friday carried out autopsies on the bodies of four Palestinian teens from the occupied West Bank village of Sa‘ir who were killed by Israeli forces earlier this week. Head of public prosecution in Hebron, Alaa al-Tamimi, told Ma‘an that the autopsies were carried out by Dr. Ashraf al-Qadi after the bodies were delivered to al-Ahli hospital in Hebron. Al-Tamimi was present for the autopsies, as well as prosecutor Ashraf Mashaal and a team of investigators from the Palestinian police force. Evaluations of the bodies showed that all four were “mainly shot in the upper body and in their heads,” al-Tamimi said, adding that investigations had been opened into their deaths. The four Palestinians, aged 16 to 19, were killed on Thursday after reportedly attempting to carry out attacks on Israeli military forces. Three of the teens — identified as cousins from the Kawabza family — were shot dead at the Gush Etzion junction shortly before a 16-year-old from the same town was shot at the Beit Einun junction. No Israelis were injured in either incident. The Palestinian Ministry of Justice has reportedly adopted a resolution to perform autopsies on the bodies of all Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in effort to document “Israeli crimes.” Autopsy reports are often used, among other reports, to file cases against Israeli authorities at the International Criminal Court.

Hebron-area village buries 4 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Thousands of Palestinians on Saturday attended the funeral of four Palestinians from the occupied West Bank village of Sa‘ir killed by Israeli forces during alleged attacks days prior.Mourners marched to the village mosque for funeral prayers before carrying the bodies of the four to the village cemetery for burial, locals told Ma‘an. Funeral attendees called national slogans demanding an end to factional divisions and a response to ongoing Israeli crimes committed against Palestinians. Three of those buried Saturday were cousins from the Kawabza family: Ahmad Salim Abd al-Majid Kawazba, Alaa Abed Muhammad Kawazba, and Muhannad Ziyad Kawazba. The three were shot dead at the Gush Etzion junction Thursday after they allegedly attempted to stab Israeli soldiers stationed in the area. The fourth to be laid to rest was 16-year-old Khalil Muhammad al-Shalaldah, who was shot dead by Israeli forces after he reportedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack at the Beit Einun junction northeast of Hebron. No Israelis were injured in either alleged attack.The four were killed hours apart on Thursday, and their bodies were handed over by Israeli authorities on Friday.

Tel Aviv shooter killed in gun battle in northern Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Israeli police on Friday shot dead Nashat Melhem, suspected of carrying out a deadly shooting in Tel Aviv last week, in a gun battle in his hometown of Arara in northern Israel. Israeli police spokesperson Luba Samri said in a statement that Israeli police had tracked Melhem down in a building in Arara “using all legally available resources and methods.” She said that he left the building “shooting at forces, who responded by opening fire, resulting in his death at the scene.”  She added that no Israeli forces were injured during gunfire exchange. Israeli’s Channel 2 reported that the building Melhem took refuge in was a mosque in Arara . . . Melhem is believed to have been responsible for a shooting in Tel Aviv on Jan. 1 that killed two Israelis and injured seven. He fled the scene after the attack, allegedly killing a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship during his escape, and sparked a massive manhunt across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. Israeli security measures during the search impacted thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel, with many in the northern Israeli district of Wadi Ara complaining of Israeli conduct at checkpoints. A member of the large Melhem family was quoted by Israeli news site Ynet as saying that they had been targeted by security forces. “This morning I walked through the police checkpoint and they started asking me questions as though I were hiding the gunman. My children were very scared. After they finished checking us, they started crying,” they said. “We are going through difficult and complicated days. I hope the gunman turns himself in, because he’s the only one who can save us from the treatment we are getting.”

Militant group holds symbolic funeral for Tel Aviv shooter in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — A militant group in the Gaza Strip on Sunday organized a symbolic funeral for a Palestinian citizen of Israel killed days after carrying out a fatal shooting attack in Tel Aviv. The Al-Nassar Salah al-Din Brigades, a military wing affiliated to Popular Resistance Committees — a group of Gaza-based militant groups — staged the funeral for Nashat Melhem in Gaza City. Melhem was shot two days before by Israeli forces who launched a seven-day-long manhunt after he killed three people and injured seven others in the coastal city. Gunmen affiliated to the Gaza-based group shouldered an empty coffin and marched from the Saraya crossroads to Unknown Soldier Square, where eulogies were given and participants performed an absentee funeral prayer, before gunshots were fired into the air saluting Palestinian “martyrs.” “This rally is to honor martyr Nashat Melhem, as there is no difference between martyrs from the West Bank and martyrs from the 1948 territories,” a gunman known as Abu Ahmad told Ma‘an, adding that “Palestinian factions are completely ready to confront the enemy in the field.” A spokesman of the Al-Nassar Salah al-Din Brigades, Abu Mujahid, told Ma‘an that the funeral was held “in support of the intifada, its activists and the martyrs who fell.”

Israeli forces raid girls’ school in occupied Hebron
HEBRON, occupied Palestine 8 Jan by ISM, Al-Khalil Team — In the afternoon of 5 January  2015 Israeli Forces raided Al Faihaa elementary school for girls in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron). Children were not in school at the time, only teachers were present. The team of around 8 soldiers entered in order to retrieve video footage from the school’s security system and take photos from the roof which overlooks the checkpoint where a soldier was shot a few days prior. This is one stop of many places the military has raided in search of evidence of the unidentified shooter. The headmaster of the school informed that she was kept at gunpoint and not allowed to leave for an hour. She asked the soldiers to call the Minister of Education and speak with them as she was alone in the office, but they confiscated both the school phone and her personal cell phone leaving her unable to make any phone calls or take pictures. This is not the first time Israeli forces have entered the school. In previous weeks, soldiers entered the courtyard during school time while students were preparing for exams to fire tear gas at a neighboring boys’ school. The school is now on holiday for three weeks, and the headmaster, working at the school for 2 years, explains, “I should come to work during vacation 1 day a week, but no teachers or anyone will come so it’s not safe.” In addition to facing terror from soldiers, teachers and students have also endured harassment and attacks from settlers. The school’s population has dropped in the last year from 260 students to 252, but the headmaster explains that she refuses to transfer students to other schools because “they” (the Israeli Forces and settlers) want this area and the school closed. The school and the neighboring family home where soldiers also entered to take photos, are the only things still open in the area right next to the closed Shuhada street where Palestinians are forbidden. Thus keeping the school open and running is important and a form of resistance against the occupation.

Killings of Palestinians in West Bank hit 10-year high
EI 8 Jan by Ali Abunimah — The first days of 2016 offered no letup in the surge of violence that began in early October, provoked by Israel’s assaults and incursions in occupied East Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound. Since the start of January, at least five Palestinians and three Israeli citizens have been slain. The latest deaths came after the number of Palestinians killed in violence in Israel and the occupied West Bank hit a 10-year high in 2015. By the end of the year, at least 136 Palestinians had been killed and nearly 14,000 injured in the West Bank, according to the UN monitoring group OCHA, the highest figures since 2005. Twenty-four Palestinians were killed in Gaza, the vast majority by Israeli forces firing at demonstrators across the boundary fence, and around 1,500 were injured. Israeli casualties from violence by Palestinians in 2015 were the highest recorded since 2008, with 24 deaths and 350 injuries, according to OCHA.

7 Palestinians kidnapped across West Bank in overnight raids
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Jan — Israeli troops carried out predawn detention raids in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, arresting six young Palestinian men, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said in a statement. Israeli forces detained three Palestinians in the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem, two in the town of Nahhalin in the southern district of Bethlehem, and one near the southern West Bank town of Hebron, the statement said, according to Ma‘an. In Tulkarem, Israeli forces abducted Ibrahim Sami al-Akhras and his brother Muhammad, as well as Ali Ayman Jazmawi. The statement identified the Nahhalin detainees as Ahmad Mahmoud Najajra and Nassar Aqil Najajra. Meanwhile, an Israeli soldier took Munif Kamal Amr near Hebron . . .  According to WAFA, Israeli armed forces also detained a young Palestinian from the town of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron.

Soldiers kidnap nine Palestinians in Bethlehem, two in Hebron, and one in Jenin
IMEMC/Agencies 11 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday at dawn, Beit Fajjar town and Mrah Rabah village, in the West Bank district of Bethlehem, and kidnapped nine Palestinians. The soldiers also kidnapped two Palestinians in the al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, and one near Jenin . . . Also in Hebron, the soldiers invaded Qeizoun area and handed journalist Mos’ab Shawar Tamimi a military warrant for interrogation, this coming Wednesday. In addition, the soldiers invaded Series [Siris] town, in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Tamer Abu Qash, 22, while heading to work. Abu Qash is from Burqin town, west of Jenin.

Israeli forces detain 60 Palestinian workers without permits
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Jan– Israeli police on Sunday detained 60 Palestinian workers who they said had entered northern Israel from the occupied West Bank without the necessary work permits. Police detained some 40 Palestinians in Sahknin and nearby villages in northern Israel and another 20 Palestinians in Shafa Amr. The contractors that hired the Palestinians were also reportedly detained. According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, tens of thousands of Palestinian workers are forced to seek a living by working in Israel as the growth of an independent Palestinian economy has been stifled by the ongoing Israeli military occupation. As thousands of work permits are denied by Israel, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimates 30 percent of Palestinians work in Israel illegally. These workers are often exploited by contractors who know that they have no other choice but to accept lower pay.

Closures / Restrictions on movement



Army injures 16 Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC 9 Jan — The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has reported, Friday, that Israeli soldiers shot and injured at least 16 Palestinians in border areas, in different parts of the Gaza Strip. The Ministry said eight of the wounded Palestinians were shot with live army fire in their legs, during clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed near the Nahal Oz military base, across the border fence, east of Gaza city. Their injuries have been described as moderate. It added that two Palestinians were shot, also with live rounds, east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza. Two Palestinians were also injured by army fire, east of Gaza’s Sheja‘eyya neighborhood. The wounded were moved to the Al-Aqsa Hospital, in Deir al-Balah, suffering moderate wounds, while scores of residents suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. In addition, soldiers stationed on towers around the Kissufim military base, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, also attacked Palestinian protesters, wounding two with live rounds. They were moved to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. Two Palestinians have also been injured near the Beit Hanoun (Erez) terminal, and were moved to Kamal Adwan Hospital, in the nearby town of Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza.

Gaza fishermen again targeted by Israeli navy
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Jan — An Israeli naval boat, Saturday, opened heavy machine gun fire on Palestinian fishermen’s boats, while sailing within the allowed fishing zone offshore Gaza. WAFA correspondence reported that an Israeli naval boat opened gunfire on three Palestinian boats offshore the northwest of Gaza, causing damages to the boats. No injuries were reported among the fishermen who apparently fled the scene for fear of being injured, killed or arrested.

Hamas official: Rafah crossing initiative lacks vital detail
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — The deputy head of the Hamas movement said Friday that more information was needed regarding an initiative proposed by Palestinian factions for the reopening of the Rafah border crossing. Moussa Abu Marzouq said on social media that the initiative was “mysterious” and lacked any substantial detail regarding security matters on the Gaza Strip’s border crossing with Egypt, adding that the movement would only work in the interest of Gaza residents. “Hamas’ stance does not and will not be against what is good for people,” Abu Marzouq wrote, reiterating that Hamas’ actions regarding the crossing would serve public interest. Palestinian factions — excluding Fatah and Hamas — reportedly drafted an initiative earlier this month for the two rival parties to jointly approach Egypt with a proposal for opening the Rafah crossing. A PLO member from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Jamil Mizhir, told Ma‘an last week that Hamas had yet to respond to the initiative.

Hamas, factions meet on initiative to reopen Rafah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — A meeting was held Sunday between Hamas and a committee of Palestinian political factions regarding ongoing efforts towards reopening the Rafah crossing with Egypt. A Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) politburo member present at the meeting, Talal Abu Tharifah, told Ma‘an that a recently proposed initiative to end the closure was examined and that all parties agreed to meet again on the matter. Abu Tharifah said that the Palestinian Authority had formed the committee of Palestinian factions, who urged Hamas to agree to the initiative because “time is not on the Palestinians’ side.” The Rafah crossing on the besieged enclave’s southern border with Egypt was sealed indefinitely by Egyptian authorities when violence erupted after Muhammad Morsi was thrown from power in the summer of 2013.

PHOTOS: Discover Gaza’s ephemeral walls
TIME 8 Jan by Lucia De Stefani — Federico Scoppa photographs how Gaza is trying to return to normal life — A freelance documentary photographer whose work focuses on the social impact of civil conflicts and under-reported social issues, Italian photographer Federico Scoppa headed to Gaza for the first time in 2013, eager to make a contribution to the wide documentation of the enclave’s dire reality. “The initial idea was just to go [there] and see what the results of the bombing were,” Scoppa tells TIME, “but while walking the devastated streets and crossing neighborhoods completely knocked down, I started noticing spots of color that little by little appeared,” he recalls. “Then I saw that there were people who were coming back and settling back in their ravaged houses.” The spots of color that Scoppa noticed were blankets, sheets, tablecloths and curtains used to cover and temporarily repair the holes left by rockets, to replace a broken window, a missing door, or a crumbled wall, providing protection and privacy for families eager to resume normal life. (Continued)

200 Palestinians from Gaza pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Dozens of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip headed to pray in East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, a Palestinian official said. An official at the Palestinian liaison office told Ma‘an that 200 Palestinians over the age of 60 left the Gaza Strip early in the day via the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip to pray at the holy compound. Worshipers are expected to return back to the Gaza Strip right after Friday prayers. Weekly access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque by Gazans [for a few Gazans over 60] has become routine since October 2014, when some 500 Palestinians from Gaza prayed at the mosque for the first time since 2007, having been prevented by Israel from traveling to East Jerusalem since that time.

Prisoners / Court actions

Gazan 14-year-old sentenced to 6 months in prison by Israeli court
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — An Israeli court sentenced a 14-year-old Palestinian boy from the Gaza Strip to six months in prison, an official from the Palestinian Authority Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs said in a statement. Abd al-Nasser Farawanah said that Israeli forces had detained 13 Palestinian children from the Gaza Strip on Oct. 10 during clashes in the al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Nine of them were released, while four remained in detention and were indicted. The youngest of the detainees, Muhammad Muhsin Ramadan al-Azzazi, 14, is an eighth-grade student from al-Bureij . . . Al-Azzazi told a lawyer from the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, who visited him in the Israeli Ofek juvenile prison on Dec. 22, that three Israeli soldiers attacked him and forced him to take off his clothes at gunpoint. They then handcuffed and blindfolded him before throwing him to the floor in front of their military jeep and beating his entire body with their hands, feet and the butts of their rifles. Al-Azzazi added that one of the soldiers beat his shoulder with a sharp object which caused a deep wound, and that another soldier hit his mouth with a shoe, breaking his front tooth. The boy also said that he vomited blood after being severely beaten in the stomach.“I was held for three days in an open area of a military site near the eastern border of the Gaza Strip, where we would sit on the floor, sometimes under the rain,” al-Azzazi added. “We did not have anything to shelter us from the cold except for shorts they gave us. We suffered of hunger and thirst since we did not get any kind of food or water for the first three days, and we could not sleep.” “We would be constantly beaten and cursed,” the boy said. “After three days I was moved to a police station before being taken to the Beersheba prison, and then to the Ofek prison. “I still suffer from the cold and do not have enough clothing, and I have not yet seen any of my family members,” he continued. . . .

Qaraqe calls for intervention to save 2 hunger-striking prisoners
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — The head of the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs called on rights groups to intervene to save the lives of hunger-striking prisoners Muhammad Ahmad Suleiman al-Qiq and Abdullah Abu Jaber.Issa.  Qaraqe said the two prisoners had entered a critical stage of their hunger strike, and that Israel’s prison service and prosecution were indifferent to their demands and their lives. Qaraqe said the health condition of Abu Jaber, a Jordanian prisoner who has been on a hunger strike since Nov. 8 and held in solitary confinement in the al-Ramla prison hospital, had severely deteriorated. Abu Jaber is on hunger strike to obtain his release and to attract the attention of the Jordanian government to intervene and end his suffering. Qaraqe added that al-Qiq, a journalist from the village of Dura near Hebron, is in very bad condition. Al-Qiq has been on hunger strike since Nov. 24, 2015. Al-Qiq was moved to the Afula hospital after losing 22 kilograms. He is reportedly unable to move without a wheelchair due to fatigue and exhaustion, and has already fallen into and come out of a coma.

Group: Majority of Jerusalem Palestinians detained in 2015 were minors
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — Israeli forces detained more than 1,900 Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem in 2015, the majority of whom were minors, a prisoners’ rights group said on Sunday. A spokesman for the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies, Riyad al-Ashqar, said in a statement that around two-thirds of those detained from the occupied city were minors, 65 of whom were put under house arrest. Al-Ashqar slammed Israel’s use of house arrest on Palestinians under the age of 14 as an attempt to skirt Israeli law regarding imprisonment of minors that in effect “turns the child’s house itself to a prison and the family members to wardens.” Israeli authorities launched a series of new measures in November in response to an increase in unrest in occupied East Jerusalem that had escalated in the months prior. Included in the measures was a bill approved by the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation that enables minors from 12 years of age to be given custodial sentences for committing “nationalistically-motivated” crimes. Following the approval, prisoners’ rights group Addameer said that children convicted of such crimes would not actually serve the sentences until reaching the age of 14, as current criminal law in Israel prohibits custodial sentences against children under 14. The group reported that the Knesset — Israel’s parliament — meanwhile changed an existing national insurance law to enable authorities to remove social benefits provided to children convicted of “nationalistic-motivated” offenses and “terrorist activities” while they served time in prison. Israeli juvenile courts were also granted the ability to charge families of children convicted of such crimes fines of up to 10,000 shekels (US$2,580).

Israeli Jew sentenced to 21 months for stabbing Arab in politically motivated crime
Haaretz 11 Jan by Sharon Pulwar — Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Sunday sentenced a Jewish man who stabbed an Arab [Palestinian-Israeli] in Herzliya last April to 21 months in prison. Oz Segal, who was convicted of causing injury under aggravated circumstances and possessing a knife, will also have to pay the victim 12,000 shekels ($3,000) in compensation. Segal took a kitchen knife, approached an Arab street cleaner and stabbed him in the back while yelling “Death to Arabs!”  Judge Shamai Becker rejected Segal’s claim of insanity and wrote in his verdict, “Not only did Segal know he was committing a crime, but, on the contrary, if we were to adopt his argument (which is absurd, in our opinion), that he was being chased by ghosts and voices and wanted to hide from them in prison, then he chose a solution and a tool that will achieve what he sought – being put behind bars … Not only did he choose to commit a crime, but it was he and no other – no ghost, no voice, no angel – who chose to stab an Arab.” The prosecuting attorney, Meital Seti, asked for a sentence of between 18 and 38 months, primarily because Segal had no previous criminal record. His defense attorneys asked that he be sentenced to community service. Becker sentenced him to prison and wrote, “The act [Segal] committed was exceedingly serious. I doubt that words can describe the feeling or the situation of a man who earns his living cleaning streets, who was doing his thing without bothering anyone, to suddenly have someone come up from behind for no reason, with a knife in his hand and wishing him to die, and stab him.”

Cop won’t stand trial for killing Bedouin Israeli
+972 blog 10 Jan by John Brown* — Despite DNA evidence and a failed lie detector test, the police officer who allegedly shot and killed Sami al-Jaar will most likely not face criminal charges — New and disturbing details on the deadly shooting of a Bedouin man by an Israeli police officer have come to light, after +972′s Hebrew site Local Call reported that the Police Investigations Department (PID) intends to close the case on grounds of “insufficient evidence.” According to the findings, the officer in question was found to be lying in a polygraph test, and a DNA test concluded he fired the deadly shots . . . A bullet matching the officer’s weapon — with Sami’s DNA on it — was found at the scene of the shooting. While polygraph tests are not admissible in court, this test proves conclusively that the officer in question had indeed fired it, hitting al-Jaar.

When an Israeli assaults a Palestinian, justice is hard to come by
+972 blog 9 Jan by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — A story of assault in Hebron perfectly exemplifies how police investigations fail when the victim is Palestinian — More than five years ago, on July 16, 2010, a young Hebronite by the name of Muhammad Abd Al-Raouf Abdrazeq was attacked by two Israeli civilians without any reason. In his police statement, which was backed by the testimony of a Border Police officer as well as by security cameras, Abdrazeq described how a group of Israeli civilians came from the direction of the Cave of the Patriarchs, when suddenly two men split off from the group. One of them grabbed him by his shoulders and prevented him from escaping, while the other one beat him severely. An Israeli soldier standing idly by decided it was none of his business. A Border Policeman who noticed the attack came running, and according to his testimony called out to the soldier, yet the latter refused to budge. The assaulters escaped, saying “Good Shabbos” to the soldier, and vanished without him trying to stop them. The incident led to two parallel investigative paths: Abdrazeq lodged a complaint with local Hebron Police, and, aided by Yesh Din, with the Military Police Criminal Investigations Division (MPCID). This post will track the two paths. The police track is relatively simple. The police undertook a rather effective investigation: . . . let’s summarize what we have here: A. A victim who identifies one of his assailants. B. A policeman who confirms the details of the incident, as described by the victim. C. Security footage that shows the assault (albeit only capturing the back of the attackers). D. An alibi witness who refuses to support the suspect’s version. So what did the police do? Closed the case for lack of evidence, naturally. (Continued)

Punitive demolitions

Israeli forces demolish home of Palestinian killed after stab attack
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Israeli forces demolished the home of a Palestinian suspected of having killed two Israelis in October, after large numbers of Israeli military vehicles stormed the village of Surda north of Ramallah in the central West Bank at dawn on Saturday. Muhannad al-Halabi, 19, was shot dead by Israeli forces on Oct. 3, 2015 after he killed two Israelis and injured two more in Jerusalem’s Old City, in the first stab attack to take place in the wave of unrest that has continued in the West Bank and East Jerusalem . . . Locals told Ma‘an that clashes broke out in Surda between young Palestinian men and Israeli troops who were in the village for the demolition. Witnesses and medical sources said three young men were hit with rubber-coated steel bullets — one in the back, another in the leg and a third in the hand. Before the demolition, Israeli forces closed traffic on the road between Ramallah and Surda. The road is a main route to several villages and towns in the northern outskirts of the Ramallah district. Ambulances and reporters were denied access to the area. Israeli troops also deployed in the outskirts of Ramallah and the village of Abu Qash, locals said. Al-Halabi’s family had evacuated the house four days after the attack and moved to live in the city of Ramallah in anticipation of their house being destroyed. An initial objection to the demolition was filed by the HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, an Israeli human rights organization, on Oct. 17, 2015. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Israeli High Court of Justice froze the demolition order for al-Halabi’s home along with several others on Oct. 22, but the court later rejected an appeal against the demolition.

Locals raise funds to rebuild demolished home of Palestinian attacker
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — A group of activists on Sunday began a campaign to raise funds for the reconstruction of a home demolished by Israel belonging to a Palestinian who killed two Israelis in October. Israeli forces demolished the family home of Muhannad al-Halabi on Saturday in the village of Surda north of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. The punitive demolition — illegal under international law — came around three months after the 19-year-old was shot dead by Israeli forces on Oct. 3, 2015 after he killed two Israelis and injured two more in Jerusalem’s Old City. A spokesman for the group, Abd al-Karim Abu Arqoub, told Ma‘an that a donation box had been placed in the well-traveled thoroughfare of Yasser Arafat Square in Ramallah to collect donations, and is expected to remain in the square for a week. “This campaign is a message to the Israeli occupation that whatever procedures they take, people will continue to support the families of martyrs and victims of occupation,” Abu Arqoub said, referring to the support as the “collective responsibility” of Palestinians. The campaign to rebuild the home has reportedly been supported by the Syndicate of Palestinian Engineers which announced the syndicate would take charge of designs, blueprints, licensing and technical supervision during the construction process. Such fundraising campaigns have become common since Israel increased a policy of punitive home demolition against Palestinians who carried out or were suspected of carrying out attacks on Israeli military or civilians.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

WATCH: 3D modeling helps visualize Palestinian right of return
Israeli Social TV 9 Jan — For three years, a group of young Palestinian citizens of Israel has been meeting in order to imagine and plan their return to the destroyed villages from which their parents and grandparents were expelled. The project they initiated, “Udna” (“Return”), aims to give the younger generation an awareness of the Nakba, and to create actual models for return. The displaced descendants of one such destroyed village, al-Ghabisiyya, made a 3D simulation of what their village might look like if and when it is rebuilt.

Israeli excavations force family to leave their home in Silwan
IMEMC 10 Jan by Saed Bannoura — The ongoing Israeli excavations under Palestinian homes in Wadi Hilweh, in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, forced a Palestinian family to leave their home after it became unsafe due to the excavations [see photos]. Um Mahmoud Siyam said that she and her family, with the help of relatives, have been forced to move out of their home and remove all of their furniture and belongings, after the property became completely unsafe due to the cracks in its walls and foundation resulting from the Israeli excavations underground. “We sleep in fear, wake up in fear, that our property could collapse at any given moment,” she said, “We had to disconnect the electricity in fear of fires.” She also stated that the walls in the kitchen, bathroom and one of the bedrooms are starting to collapse, in addition to the cracks in the floor and water flooding the property, as Israel continues to illegally dig and carry out excavations in the area . . . Many Palestinian homes and buildings in Wadi Hilweh have been impacted by the ongoing Israeli excavations, with clear and dangerous cracks appearing in the walls and ground, rendering them unsafe and endangering the lives of dozens of Palestinians, who largely have no other alternatives, or financial resources. Palestinian officials in occupied Jerusalem said the excavations, and the ongoing illegal Israeli policies of home demolitions and the removal of the indigenous Palestinians from many homes and residential and commercial buildings in the occupied city to replace them with Jewish settlers, are part of the illegal attempts to fully control the holy city.

Six families in Jerusalem wait for their homes to be demolished
[with photos] ISM 9 Jan — On Thursday, January 7th, the ISM went to visit Kifaya Rishek, a widow who lives in Beit Hanina, occupied East Jerusalem, waiting for her home to be demolished. But Kifaya is not alone, she lives in this house together with her five children and 16 grandchildren, including 11 year-old, Malak, who is physically disabled. Their financial situation is very difficult; Murad and Ashraf, who have 4 children each, both work cleaning the Cinema City. Sharif has 5 children, and works selling toys in a store. Mohannad has 1 child and works in construction, but his salary is unstable since he works when he is called in by the company. Her daughter, Faiza, is divorced and also lives here with her 2 children. These 5 families who live here will be left homeless. In 2012, the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem came to Kifaya’s house to tell them that they planned to build a road that would pass through the land where they live and that they would demolish only the outdoor kitchen that sits in the terrasse. With time, the Israeli authorities changed their plan and said they would demolish the whole house. Kifaya brought her case to court, with the intention of having the lawyer convince the municipality to change the direction of the road so that it would pass through another piece of land that her family owns together with another family, named Zaloum. She would attend the court hearings, but they were always in Hebrew, which she does not understand. In the end, she lost her case in the High Court, leaving her and her family with no more options in the Israeli controlled legal system. All of this is happening even though the house and land belongs to them: all payments are up to date, including their monthly taxes . . . The demolition order became effective a week ago, which means that the family lives in the house waiting every day for the workers to come with the bulldozer. This kind of collective punishment creates a horrible life for Palestinians, as they are all incredibly anxious, sad and absolutely uncertain of not knowing when they will lose their house, because Israel does not give any prior notice as to when they will come with the bulldozer. The demolition can happen at any time, maybe a week, a month or a year ahead. And the family will not only lose their house, since the intention is to build a road, they will also lose their land. Unlike other families who, after the demolition, can still build another home on the same land, the Rishek family is being expelled.The children’s teachers are seeing signs of distress. They have told the parents that they are not concentrating and their grades are going down in school. Malak says, “I’m afraid that when I go to school, when I come back the house will not be there anymore.”  But the extent of their loss goes far beyond the material loss of their home and land. Since the family is very poor, they cannot afford moving to another neighborhood inside Jerusalem, therefore, they will be forced to relocate inside the West Bank, becoming refugees. This means they will lose their jobs, the children’s school and Malak’s therapy program, their health insurance, and pension plans. Once the family leaves Jerusalem, they will lose their Jerusalem identity cards, together with all their social benefits (Continued)

63-year-old widow lives in an isolated home facing a checkpoint
[photos, map] JUBARA, Occupied Palestine 4 Jan by ISM, Tulkarem Team — In the outskirts of the village of Jubara, bordering the Jubara checkpoint, sits the home of 63-year-old, Shawqiye Hamaide, Umm Yousef. Mother of two daughters and grandmother of 6 children, Umm Youssef is originally from the village of Beit Lid, but moved into this house 35 years ago when she married her husband, who was born here. Today, after her husband passed away many years ago and her daughters married and left the house, she lives here all by herself in this very isolated area. Her home is very old and poor; there are several cracks in the roof and walls, where water leaks in the winter. The windows do not have glass panes, but only shutters, making it very cold in the winter. Sometimes, in the summer, snakes get into the house through the shutters. In 2000, when the Israeli army began building the Apartheid Wall in front of her home, the soldiers threatened her to leave saying that the bulldozers’ movement of the land might make her house fall, since it is a very old construction. But despite this threat, she refused to leave. She wants to live here for the rest of her life and die in this home . . . Life in this vulnerable and marginalized area has only become more stressful since the visit of a man claiming to be a Palestinian from the city of Nazareth knocked on her door approximately a year ago. Saying that he wanted to marry a woman from the West Bank, he first offered Umm Youssef to buy her house for 1 million shekels. The man has come to her door 7 times this year already, finally doubling the offer to 2 million shekels. But not only she is not interested in selling her home, it is also highly unlikely that someone would want to pay such a high price and start a newly married life in a house of such poor conditions. Finally, her suspicions about this man being an Israeli trying to continue colonizing land were confirmed when she saw him one day wearing the military uniform in the checkpoint. She says that he and another man changed their clothes to civilian clothes, and drove a car towards Tulkarem. She suspects these people could be part of the Shabak or Mossad. It is a common tactic of the Zionist project to use third party intermediaries to buy Palestinian land and then sell it to Israeli citizens, settlers or authority, in an attempt to continue colonizing and cleansing the native population. In many cases, Palestinians who sell their land this way do not know the intentions behind these purchases. Therefore, Umm Youssef’s decision to not sell her home away is crucial to prevent further colonization of Palestinian land.

Israeli forces level private land to make way for military tower
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — Israeli forces have been leveling private Palestinian land south of the occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem in preparation to build a military tower in the area, residents said. A resident of the village of Tuqu‘, Issa Froukh, told Ma‘an that Israeli excavators have leveled 2.5 dunams (0.6 acres) of land since Wednesday, covering the area with cement. Froukh said that the forces plan to build a military tower on the privately owned land, adding that Israeli authorities uprooted olive trees in the area around twelve years earlier . . .
Last month, locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces razed Palestinian lands in the Wadi Sair area in the neighboring district of Hebron, also with the intention of constructing a new military tower. Local activist Ahmad Halayqa said at the time that the tower would inhibit Palestinian movement in the area and would be located near the Asfar Israeli settlement, which was also built on Sair village land.

High Court to IDF: Let Palestinians fight property confiscation in military court
Haaretz 10 Jan by Chaim Levinson — Army gets four months to put procedures in place that will allow for some form of appeal in the West Bank and not by petitioning the High Court of Justice — The High Court of Justice has ordered the Israel Defense Forces to cancel an order issued by then-Central Command chief Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, which prevented Palestinians from appealing in military courts against the confiscation of their property by the IDF . . . The IDF has increasingly used confiscation orders in recent years. In 2013, 119 such orders were issued, in comparison to just one in 2011. Under Israeli security legislation governing the West Bank, the military commander, or anyone he authorizes, can confiscate property or money implicated in illegal activity. The property or money goes to the regional treasury and is appropriated for public use . . . Until the order was issued, Palestinians could appeal confiscations in Israeli military courts in the West Bank . . . The lawyers for the human rights organizations that originally petitioned the High Court on the matter said the decision was the obvious one, because in most cases the confiscated property came from people of very limited means who were unable to petition the High Court to ask for their property back.

This is how settlers take over Palestinian land
+972 blog 8 Jan by Dror Etkes — From audacious fraud and forgery to military seizures for ‘security needs’ and the ‘public good’ to dusting off antiquated Ottoman laws, the Israeli settlement enterprise has no shortage of tools for taking over Palestinian land in the West Bank — . . . At this point, you’ve probably gathered that the story of Abdelatif Hassan Samarin, D.K. Shah and Al Watan never actually took place. The full story of how the settlers of Migron — with the help of both the Binyamin Regional Council and the Amana settler movement — tried to take over the plot of land that belonged to Samarin, who in reality passed away in his village in 1961 at the age of 80, can be found here. This is just one of dozens of stories of forgery I have encountered in my work in the West Bank over the past several years. The names of the “buyers” and the “sellers,” as well as the places where the “transactions” were made, change from case to case. But in the majority of cases, that same settler company owned by the Binyamin Regional Council and Amana — which ironically is called “Al Watan” (homeland, in Arabic) — was involved in fraud. And despite the fact that the names of those involved in these shady deals are well known to the police, not a single one of them has been put on trial. Meanwhile the fraudulent purchases continue — especially of land adjacent to settlements, located between the separation barrier and the Green Line. (Continued)

Airbnb lets you vacation in illegal West Bank settlements
+972 blog 7 Jan by John Brown* — Fancy a vacation with breathtaking views of the Holy Land? Airbnb will let you rent out luxurious cottages atop barren hilltops, making no mention of the fact that they are in settlements on occupied land — Airbnb, it has come to our attention, enables anyone to rent rooms and vacation homes in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Anyone who is not of Palestinian descent, of course. Without exception, the listings, some which appear to be luxurious cottages and others that are caravans sitting on barren hilltops, make no mention of the fact that they are in settlements on occupied land. Almost all claim to be in Israel, despite the fact that they lie beyond the country’s borders. Exploring the Airbnb website turns up dozens of cheap rooms and homes with pastoral views and many just a short drive from Jerusalem — all pretty enticing. Especially if nobody tells you that you’re paying to be a settler [for a?] few days. . . .


Jerusalem must plan playgrounds for Palestinian neighborhoods, court orders
Haaretz 10 Jan by Nir Hasson — Jerusalem must draft a plan to build playgrounds in the Palestinian neighborhoods of Shoafat and Beit Hanina, the Jerusalem District Court has ruled. The ruling was in response to a suit filed against the city over nine months ago on behalf of residents of the two East Jerusalem neighborhoods by Yosef Havilio in the name of the Tzahor nonprofit advocacy organization. Havilio is a former legal adviser to the municipality. The number of playgrounds per capita in the Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem is just one percent of the national standard and 30 times smaller than in the city’s Jewish neighborhoods, according to the suit. On average, the petitioners claimed, there is one playground for every 1,000 residents in Jewish neighborhoods, compared to one per 30,000 in Shoafat and Beit Hanina. These two neighborhoods, with a combined population of 60,000, have just two playgrounds, according to the suit. A third was built recently, after residents purchased the land themselves and had it zoned for public use.

AJC condemns desecration of Catholic cemetery near Jerusalem
Haaretz 10 Jan — The American Jewish Committee condemned on Sunday the desecration of a Catholic cemetery belonging to a monastery near Jerusalem, calling to bring the perpetrators to justice. Unknown assailants desecrated the Catholic cemetery, which belongs to the Beit Jamal Monastery near Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem. Several crosses were broken in the incident. The vandalism took place last month but only became public in recent days after a police complaint was filed. “The Beit Jamal vandalism is an attack on Christianity and an assault on freedom of religion in Israel,” said Rabbi David Rosen, AJC International Director of Interreligious Affairs. “It is essential for Israel to do its utmost to prevent such odious acts and to punish the perpetrators.” The Franciscan monastery has been a target of vandalism in the past. Catholic officials say that a similar incident took place in the end of September, and in March 2014 anti-Christian slogans were spray-painted on the monastery’s walls. In 2013 a firebomb was thrown at the monastery.

Israel committed 1336 violations against holy sites in 2015, says official
RAMALLAH, (WAFA) 10 Jan – Israeli authorities and settlers committed over 1336 violations against Muslim and Christian holy sites in the occupied Palestinian Territory during the year 2015, Minister of Religious Affairs and Awqaf, Yousef Ide’es, said on Sunday. He said these violations included attacks on shrines, holy sites, worship places and Islamic cemeteries.

Israeli Welfare Ministry, foster agencies traffic in Palestinian children / Richard Silverstein
Tikun Olam 9 Jan — A few months ago, I wrote about a shocking Israeli Supreme Court decision which ratified the officially-sanctioned theft of children from a mixed Jewish-Palestinian couple and their adoption by an Orthodox Jewish couple who planned to raise the children with no access to their birth identity.  The decision was flagrantly racist and defied many Israeli child welfare regulations.  But it was the decision of the highest court in the land.  One which foreign observers continue to mistakenly credit with being a beacon of western democratic values.  No longer. Tonight brings a new saga of judicially sanctioned racism and woe perpetrated again by the Israeli Welfare Ministry (run by Minister Haim Katz) and its child services agency.

End to separate burial for fallen soldiers whose Jewishness is in doubt
Ynet 11 Jan by Yossi Yehoshua — Soldiers whose Jewishness is in question will no longer be buried in a separate section of the military cemetery on Mount Herzl, after Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon recently signed off on an amendment to the procedure governing military burials. The issue came under the spotlight nearly years ago, when in April 2013 then-IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz conducted a traditional Memorial Day ceremony at the military cemetery.   As per tradition, Gantz had intended to lower the Israeli flag over the grave of most recent IDF casualty, and did so at the burial place of Lt.-Col. (res.) Shlomo Nitzani, who had died six months previously.However, the actual most recent IDF casualty was Pte. Yevgeny Tolochko, who was buried in a separate section of the cemetery reserved for soldiers whose Jewishness is in doubt . . .    According to the new procedures, Jewish and non-halachically Jewish soldiers will now be buried in the same section of the cemetery by the relevant authorities, although not next to one another. Fallen soldiers whose Jewishness is under question will be buried “four cubits” – or two meters – away from where halachically Jewish soldiers are interred. It is the hope of the IDF and security establishment that the new rules will bring an end to discrimination and to the upset suffered by the families who feel humiliated by having their relatives buried in a separate section of the Mount Herzl cemetery.,7340,L-4750494,00.html

Boycott / Divestment / Sanctions

BDS Ireland: CRH pulls out of Israeli assets, ends complicity with occupation
ISPC/IMEMC 10 Jan — A report released today by Ireland’s largest multinational corporation, CRH, confirmed that the global cement giant has divested from its 25% stake in the Israeli cement market. The company has been a focus of a sustained campaign calling for such a divestment from the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) and other groups for over a decade, due to role its Israeli subsidiary Nesher Cement plays in supplying materials for the building of Israel’s illegal separation wall, checkpoints and settlements. In the report CRH stated that it had “completed 13 divestments in 2015, the largest of which was the disposal of CRH’s 25% equity stake in its Israeli operation.” That 25% stake was held in the Mashav group, the holding company for Nesher Cement, the sole producer of cement in Israel. Nesher is involved in the building of the separation wall in the West Bank which annexes Palestinian land to Israel, and has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice. Nesher’s actions support and sustain the ongoing Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land. Nesher Cement is also used in the construction of illegal colonial settlements in the occupied territories, checkpoints that impede travel and commerce for Palestinians, and more than 700 kilometres of Israeli-only roads in the West Bank (See the Who Profits? website for details of Nesher’s involvement). (Continued)

Bait Yehudi bill would put labels on products from EU
JPost 8 Jan by Lahav Harkov — MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi), saying “what goes around comes around” with legislation, has proposed a bill to label products from countries that label Israeli products. The bill, which is on the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s docket for Sunday, is a response to the EU’s directive for member states to label products from the West Bank, Golan Heights and east Jerusalem, which sparked an uproar in Israel and among politicians from the Right to the Center-Left.
Moalem-Refaeli’s bill would require products imported from countries that label Israeli goods, or wares from parts of Israel, to be labeled “Attention: This product is manufactured in a country that chose to label goods from the State of Israel” in Hebrew. Anyone who breaks the law, if it passes, would be fined NIS 226,000.

New York bill would create official blacklist of Israel boycott supporters
EI 8 Jan by Nora Barrows-Friedman — A law being proposed in New York would create an official blacklist of supporters of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Legal experts and activists say the measure is reminiscent of the McCarthy era and could have drastic consequences for individuals, organizations or firms who engage with the campaign to pressure Israel to respect Palestinian rights. Anti-BDS legislation was also introduced this week in California. Two New York bills — one introduced in the state senate and another in the assembly — would require the state government to “develop, using credible information available to the public, a list of persons it determines boycotts [sic] Israel.” Individuals or entities included on the state’s blacklist would be barred from partnering with state agencies unless they can demonstrate in a written statement that they are “not engaged in boycotting Israel.” State pension funds would also be prohibited from investing in institutions that have divested from Israel . . . The New York bills are “the most egregious, most McCarthyite, most obvious violations of people’s First Amendment rights,” Josh Ruebner, policy director for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, told The Electronic Intifada . . . .

Other news

Painting of jailed Fatah leader removed from Paris exhibit after Israeli protest
i24news 4 Jan — The Israeli Embassy in France has been successful in petitioning the removal of a painting of Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti from a Paris auction house, the Israeli news site Ynet News reported Monday. The controversial painting depicted jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti as the Palestinian version of Nelson Mandela, and was due to be auctioned with funds raised going to support the Reporters Without Borders organization. The painter of the piece further compared Barghouti to Mandela in an inscription that reads “Nelson Mandela was also called a terrorist in the 1950s.” In a letter protesting the display of the painting, the Israeli Embassy denounced the comparison, stressing that Mandela opposed the use of violence while Barghouti is a convicted murderer and a terrorist, said Ynet. Barghoutti, sentenced for life in prison for planning deadly suicide attacks and other operations, remains, despite his incarceration, a leading power in Fatah and is widely respected in the Palestinian public.

Palestinian forces detain journalist for ‘false reports’ against PA
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Jan  — Palestinian Authority security forces detained Palestinian journalist and Ma‘an News Network board of directors member Salim Sweidan on Thursday. Sweidan was reportedly detained due to a report published on the website of Nablus TV, which Sweidan runs in the northern West Bank. The report accused the PA’s preventive security service in Nablus of helping Israel detain locals from the village of Beit Furik who allegedly shot dead an Israeli settler and his wife on Oct. 1, 2015. An Israeli military spokesperson said at the time that several shots were fired at the settlers’ car from a passing vehicle, which fled to a nearby Palestinian village following the shooting. Nablus prosecution accused Sweidan of slandering public authorities, making up and publishing false news, violating Palestinian press laws, publishing items which contravene nationalistic responsibilities, breaching journalistic ethics, publishing material inciting hatred and violence, and publishing material that can harm national unity. The district attorney decided on Sunday to extend his remand for 24 hours. Ma‘an Network’s board of directors have strongly denounced Sweidan’s detention, saying that “preventive security should have denied the report if it was not true, rather than treat journalists this way.”

Algeria pays US$26m for Palestinian Authority’s budget through Arab League
CAIRO (WAM) 10 Jan — Algeria on Sunday paid US$26 million in support for the 2016 budget of the Palestinian National Authority. In a statement, the Arab League said the financial support was ordered by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. A cheque was handed over by Algerian Ambassador to Cairo and Permanent Representative to the League of Arab States, Nazir al-Arbawi, to Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi, on the sidelines of an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers. The statement noted that Algeria has honoured all its financial commitments to help the Palestinian people’s struggle for their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

US: Israeli defense minister ‘undermining’ two-state solution
ISRAEL (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — The United States came down Friday on a decision by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon to incorporate a southern West Bank church compound into the illegal Gush Etzion settlement bloc. Spokesman for the US State Department John Kirby said during a press briefing that the US was “deeply concerned” about Yaalon’s move, which “effectively creates a new settlement on 10 acres” of occupied West Bank land. “Along with the regular retroactive legalization of unauthorized outposts and construction of infrastructure in remote settlements, actions such as this decision clearly undermine the possibility of a two-state solution,” Kirby said. Kirby reiterated that the US views settlement activity as “illegitimate and counterproductive to the cause of peace.” “Continued settlement activity and expansion raises honest questions about Israel’s long-term intentions and will only make achieving a two-state solution that much more difficult,” Kirby continued. The church compound, known as Beit al-Baraka, is situated on 38 dunams (9.3 acres) of Palestinian land in the Hebron district. The compound’s incorporation into Gush Etzion enables the construction of a continuous line of settlements from the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of Jerusalem to a cluster of settlements around Hebron. An investigative report by Israeli daily Haaretz in May alleged that American millionaire Irving Moskowitz purchased Beit al-Baraka through a Swedish company years prior with the intention of turning it into a settlement outpost.

Arson suspected in fire at B’Tselem’s office building in Jerusalem
Haaretz 11 Jan by Nir Hasson — One lightly wounded; building also houses the offices of ‘Hand in Hand,’ the organization behind the bilingual school targeted in a 2014 arson attack — A fire broke out on Sunday evening in a building that houses the office of human rights group B’Tselem, in Jerusalem’s Makor Haim neighborhood. The fire department said they suspect an arson was the cause of the fire. Firefighting crews rescued a person who was trapped on the fourth floor of the building, a fire department spokesperson said. The person was lightly wounded from smoke inhalation and evacuated to Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem. B’Tselem’s offices were empty when the fire broke out, around 10:00 P.M. The spokesman said that the fire was contained around 11:00 P.M. The fire department reported that there were two centers of combustion, both on the first floor where B’Tselem’s offices are housed. Most of the damage from the fire occurred at B’Tselem’s office . . . The Israel Airports Authority’s offices are also on the building’s first floor, as are the offices of “Hand in Hand,” the organization behind the bilingual school targeted in a November 2014 arson attack. Two Jewish extremists affiliated with the radical right Lehava group were convicted over the crime and sentenced to 30 and 24 months in prison, respectively. B’Tselem said that “we are still waiting for the findings of the fire investigator. However, if it is discovered that this was an arson attack, it must be seen in the context of the wave of government incitement and smear campaigns against Israel’s human rights groups, and B’Tselem in particular.” “Naturally, the damage to our offices will not stop our work of documenting and exposing the harm to human rights under the occupation,” B’Tselem added . . . Peace Now said that “the arson at the B’Tselem office is an attempted attack that miraculously did not claim human lives, and the cabinet ministers, led by Netanyahu are responsible. The government must stop its incitement campaign against the left and order Israel Police to secure left-wing NGOs from any attempt to harm them.”

How an Israeli group plans to infiltrate human rights monitors
EI 8 Jan by Charlotte Silver — An Israeli propaganda, or hasbara, organization is seeking to infiltrate Israeli human rights groups. The Center for Public Diplomacy and Israeli Hasbara announced that it aims to plant secret operatives at HaMoked, an organization that campaigns against Israel’s abuses of Palestinians living under occupation, by sending people to apply for job openings. In an email distributed in December, the Center for Public Diplomacy and Israeli Hasbara directs viewers to current job listings at HaMoked, which it describes as promoting an “inaccurate analysis of international law, with the goal of criminalizing Israeli actions.” The email also notes that HaMoked received funding from the governments of France, Holland, Norway and Spain. The Center for Public Diplomacy and Israeli Hasbara, a private group, claims its goal is to combat “the defamation of Israel around the world.” (Continued)

Dozens protest in support of Israeli conscientious objector
+972 mag 10 Jan by Haggai Matar — Tair Kaminer is expected to be sentenced to a month in military jail for refusing to enlist in the IDF. Kaminer: ‘Military jail frightens me less than our society losing its humanity.’ — Approximately 40 demonstrators accompanied Israeli conscientious objector Tair Kaminer to the Tel Hashomer induction base on Sunday, where she is expected to be sentenced for her refusal to enlist in the Israeli army . . . Kaminer, 19, recently finished a year of national service with the Israeli Scouts (“Tzofim”) in the southern development town of Sderot. There she volunteered with children who suffer from trauma due to multiple wars in Gaza and continual rocket fire on the city. “The children I worked with grew up in the heart of the conflict and have had extremely difficult experiences from a young age, experiences that caused them to feel hatred, which can be understood, especially when it comes from young children,” Kaminer wrote in a statement several days ago. “Like them, many children who grow up in Gaza or in the West Bank, in an even more difficult environment, learn to hate the other side,” she continues. “They, too, cannot be blamed. When I look at all of these children, and the next generation on both sides and the reality in which they grow up, I see only more trauma and pain. And I say enough! That is why I refuse: so that I do not take an active part in the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the injustices that the Palestinian people face under occupation, so that I do not take part in this circle of hate in Gaza and Sderot.” (Continued)

How respectable journalists are joining attacks on Israel’s left
+972 mag 10 Jan by Haggai Matar — The country’s top investigative news program airs a hidden-camera sting operation carried out by a shady right-wing organization, and fails to ask the tough questions and give the necessary context —  Uvda, Israel’s most prominent investigative television news program, dedicated its 600th episode on Thursday to joining the massive-and-growing campaign against the Israeli Left and human rights NGOs in the country. The show’s host, Channel 2’s Ilana Dayan, known as a courageous and decent reporter who recently won the prestigious Sokolov Award for outstanding journalism, failed miserably and demonstrated poor journalistic judgment. The entire episode was based on a story handed to Uvda by a relatively new and secretive right-wing NGO, comprised of former military personnel, and which aims to “expose the true face of anti-Israeli organizations” – i.e. left-wing groups working against the occupation. Its juicy revelation: the right-wing organization followed Ezra Nawi, an activist who has dedicated the past few decades of his life to protecting Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills from settler and state violence. They secretly recorded as he bragged about informing on Palestinians who sell land to Jews, to the Palestinian intelligence service, so that they can be tortured and executed by Palestinian authorities – according to his own words. This, according to Uvda and the right-wing NGO, is proof of Nawi’s questionable morals, and by proxy, those of anyone involved with him and of the entire Israeli Left — somehow. As Edo Konrad mentioned here yesterday, the highest echelons of Israel’s government were quick to jump on board . . . But more importantly, Uvda’s researchers ignored some crucial pieces of information which must be addressed. First of all, although Prime Minister Netanyahu promptly accused the left and the Palestinian Authority of the murder of innocent people, the show, with all its undercover work and investigative resources, was not able to prove that any person was actually harmed by Nawi’s actions. It is true that Palestinian law prescribes capital punishment for anyone convicted of selling land to Israelis, but the show made no mention of the fact that the Palestinian Authority has not carried out a single execution since Mahmoud Abbas came to power in 2005, more than a decade ago. . . .

In Gaza and Jerusalem, a Palestinian and an Israeli teach the enemy’s language
Haaretz 10 Jan by Shaina Shealy —  A Palestinian who teaches Hebrew and an Israeli Jew who teaches Arabic: Two men in love with their enemy’s language, who hope teaching it can boost mutual understanding It’s a late spring lesson at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Arik Sadan is introducing his students to the Arabic verb zara, visit. He asks if they have plans to go abroad over the summer vacation. Modeling the grammatical construction of a double negative, he tells his students, in slow Arabic, that he does not have a passport that is not Israeli. There are many countries in the Arab world he would like to visit. Some of them though, he says, do not welcome Israelis. At 40, this Jewish Israeli scholar is a renowned expert in Arabic, due mainly to his book, “The Subjunctive Mood in Arabic Grammatical Thought.” But as an Israeli, Sadan cannot attend academic conferences in countries that do not recognize Israel and it can be difficult to forge relationships with colleagues in the field.
Beyond Israel’s southwest border, Sobhi Bahloul also wrote a book, “Kitaba Wa’Ti-ibrya” (Hebrew Book). Divided into seven parts, it comprises the Hebrew-language curriculum for the Gaza Strip. Bahloul trained all of the territory’s 12 Hebrew teachers. Bahloul, 53, is a native of the Gaza Strip who has been speaking Hebrew more than half his life. In 2002 he earned a master’s degree from Tel Aviv University in Hebrew language. After the Islamist Hamas organization took control of the Gaza Strip, in 2007, Bahloul became Hamas’s go-to guy for all things Hebrew. (Continued)

Israeli-Palestinian love story omitted from curriculum tops bestseller list
JERUSALEM (AFP) 8 Jan — A love story between an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian Muslim has become an unlikely bestseller, after Israel’s education ministry refused to allow the book on the high school curriculum. Dorit Rabinyan’s Gader Haya, known in English as Borderlife, was left off courses last week to avoid encouraging relationships between Jews and Arabs, sparking a backlash by Israeli cultural figures and a buying frenzy. The e book has shot to the top of the fiction chart, becoming s a bestseller in bookstores and online . . . Deals to sell the rights in Hungary, Spain and Brazil had been discussed, while publication in the US, France and other countries, where translation deals had been agreed, would be sped up, the agent said. Reflecting on the controversy, Rabinyan said that while she was “worried” about the future of Israeli democracy, she had been encouraged by the support she received. (listserv) (archive)