Violence / Detentions — Jerusalem / West Bank
Israeli forces kill 14-year-old Palestinian allegedly throwing Molotov cocktail
HEBRON (Ma‘an) — Israeli soldiers killed a 14-year-old Palestinian and detained another young boy in the occupied West Bank town of Halhul north of Hebron, after the two allegedly tried to throw Molotov cocktails at passing vehicles. “During routine activity to secure Route 60,” Israeli forces “spotted two suspects attempting to throw Molotov cocktails at vehicles” on the highway, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an. The forces then opened fire on the teenagers, killing one and detaining another, the spokesperson said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that they saw a child lying on the ground after hearing gunshots where Israeli forces were deployed in the al-Hawawer area of Halhul city. One witness told Ma‘an that they saw Israeli soldiers putting the child into a black bag. Another child was seen handcuffed and blindfolded. The Palestinian Red Crescent said Israeli soldiers prevented paramedics from reaching the scene and treating those potentially injured. The child killed was identified as 14-year-old Haitham Ismail al-Baw [photos here]. His cousin, Wajdi Yusif al-Baw,12, was reportedly injured during the incident. The army spokesperson said that vehicles driving on Route 60 have frequently been targeted by Molotov cocktails in recent months. The route runs north-south through the occupied West Bank, connecting to several illegal Israeli settlements and is the site of a number of military-guarded junctions . . . At least three Palestinians were killed in November in the town of Halhul where 14-year-old al-Baw was shot dead on Friday. One of those killed was Hassan Jihad al-Baw, 23, who was shot in the heart during clashes with Israeli military forces. The young man’s sister, 17-year-old Duha Jihad al-Baw, was reportedly detained by Israeli forces earlier this week.
Israeli authorities inform family missing daughter detained for 3 days
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — The Israeli authorities on Wednesday informed a Palestinian family that their 17-year-old daughter, who had been reported as missing, has been held in Israeli custody for the past three days, Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an. The security sources said that the Israeli authorities detained the teenager, identified as Duha Jihad al-Baw, on Sunday, and notified her father, Jihad al-Baw three days later via telephone. During the call, Israeli authorities requested that Jihad come to the Etzion detention center. It was unclear if Jihad was being summoned for questioning or to pick up his daughter. The 17-year-old is the sister of Hassan al-Baw, a 23-year-old Palestinian who was killed in November after he was shot in the heart during clashes in the southern West Bank village of Halhul, where the family lives. Since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory at the start of October, prisoners’ rights group Addameer and Defense of Children International Palestine have documented a massive increase in the detention of Palestinian minors.
Two injured with live rounds, as Israeli soldiers attack weekly protest in Kufur Qaddoum
IMEMC 6 Feb — Palestinian medical sources have reported that Israeli soldiers invaded, Friday, Kufur [Kafr] Qaddoum town, near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and attacked the weekly protest, wounding two with live rounds. Media spokesperson of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in the town Morad Eshteiwy said the army invaded the town, and tried to prevent the Palestinians from holding their weekly protest. He added that two Palestinians, identified as Rezeq Eshteiwy, 29, and Mohammad Rayyan, 24, were shot with live rounds in their thighs, and suffered moderate wounds. Eshteiwy added that several army sharpshooters were deployed in the town, preventing the protesters from marching further, and fired live rounds targeting a home belonging to resident Abdul-Razeq Amer, causing damage to its window. The Palestinians in Kufur Qaddoum have been protesting for more than 13 years, demanding Israel to reopen the main road of the village, after the army closed it to allow the illegal Israeli settlers a faster and easier access to Kedumim colony, built on the villagers’ lands.
Soldiers kidnap three Palestinians, injure several others, in Jenin
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Feb — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Friday evening, three Palestinians, and injured several others, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. One of the kidnapped Palestinians was also shot and injured prior to his abduction. The soldiers invaded a gas station in Mothallath ash-Shuhada village, south of Jenin, and kidnapped Hamza Sayel Jarrar, 24, after shooting him in the abdomen, in addition to Motasem Mohammad Barbour, 20, and Ramez al-Asmar; all from Jenin. The soldiers also shot two young men and a child with live rounds, and several others with rubber-coated steel bullets, while many residents suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, during clashes that took place after the army invaded the village. Head of the Emergency Unit of the Red Crescent Society in Jenin Mahmoud Sa‘adi, said the two young men and the child were shot in their legs, and were moved to a local hospital, and that six other Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets. In related news, Israeli soldiers invaded ‘Aneen village, west of Jenin, broke into and searched a home, belonging to Rami Khader, and used its rooftop as a monitoring tower.
Israeli forces shoot, injure 10 Palestinians in Friday demos
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — At least ten Palestinians were injured by live fire when Israeli forces suppressed demonstrations across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday. Three Palestinian youths were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets in the al-Jalazun refugee camp north of the city of Ramallah, when Israeli forces fired tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition at protesters. Dozens in al-Jalazun were treated due to tear gas inhalation. Three Palestinians were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets in clashes in the village of Ni‘lin west of Ramallah, where Israeli forces fired tear gas before the planned demonstrations even began. However, the protest took place after the noon prayers and headed near lands in southern area of the village which have been confiscated by Israel. Israeli soldiers shot tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets at the demonstrators, injuring three, including one who was hit in the head with a bullet. Meanwhile, clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli soldiers in Bil‘in, west of the city of Ramallah, after Friday prayers, when demonstrators marched from the village’s center to the separation wall. Protesters, including international and Israeli peace activists, waved Palestinian flags and pictures of hunger-striking prisoner Muhammad al-Qiq, demanding his and all prisoners’ immediate release. Bil‘in local popular committee coordinator Abdullah Abu Rahmeh during the demonstration condemned nightly raids by Israeli forces and demolitions in the village, calling them “collective punishment.” . . . [See Gaza section for the rest]
Protesters demand return of Palestinian bodies in occupied East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — Palestinian youths in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir on Thursday took to the streets in protest of Israel’s continued policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinians killed after attempted, alleged and actual attacks against Israelis, locals said. Locals said the protest quickly erupted into clashes, as Israeli forces attempted to suppress the youths. Israeli forces reportedly used rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades against protesters, who responded by hurling rocks and shooting off fireworks at Israeli forces. Three of the 10 bodies being held by Israeli authorities are Palestinians from the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood. Late last month, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat called on the Middle East Quartet to pressure Israel to return the bodies of alleged Palestinian attackers still being held by the Israeli authorities.
A Palestinian teen is killed by Israeli forces. His family is struggling to understand why
Haaretz 4 Feb by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Ahmed’s family believes he was trying to sneak into Israel in a desperate attempt to find work. Israeli forces say he sought to stab soldiers. With no witnesses, more questions arise than answers — Hassan Tobi, 56, a plasterer by trade, got up at 5 A.M. on Monday to recite the morning prayers. For two weeks he hasn’t snuck into the town of Taibeh, where he and a few of his sons make a hardscrabble living doing occasional jobs. For 25 years he had a work permit enabling him to enter Israel to work in the town, but last year it was revoked without explanation. Since then, he and his sons occasionally make their way into Taibeh, usually via the A-Ram neighborhood north of Jerusalem, spend a few weeks there and then return to their home on the other side of the separation barrier – a distance of seven kilometers and near-impassable mountains of darkness. This week, Tobi didn’t go to work, so he went back to sleep after concluding the prayers. He recalls now that he thought Ahmed, 17, his youngest son, was asleep in the next room. Two hours later, however, Tobi was awakened by Ahmed’s best friend, Yusuf. He entered the house in a terrified state, woke up the occupants, shook the father’s hand silently, buried his head in his hands and broke into tears. Ahmed had been killed. It happened about one kilometer from the house, at around 6:30 A.M. No one knew that Ahmed had gone out, neither his parents nor any of his four brothers. The “king of the house” – that’s how they describe him. Even now, a day later, no one knows where he was headed or why he left without saying a word. Leaving his cell phone behind, Ahmed apparently walked down the slope of the green valley, with its tranquil olive groves and fields of wild hyssop, toward the separation barrier. It lies a few hundred meters from the edge of his village, Jamal, in the northern West Bank; the settlement of Sal’it is on one side, and the Israeli villages of Tzur Natan and Tzur Yitzhak are on the other. Taibeh is beyond the ridge of hills. From a high vantage point at the edge of Jamal, we viewed the place where Jamal may have been killed, next to the separation fence. It’s equally possible, however, that he was killed a kilometer away, next to the gate through which farmers pass to get to their fields, which is where his body, lying on a stretcher on the road, at the feet of the soldiers, was photographed. Because the shots were heard in the village, the locals are convinced that the soldiers moved the body there and that Ahmed was actually killed near a drainage ditch at the far end of the valley. (Continued)
Witnesses: Molotov cocktails thrown at Israeli bus in Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — An Israeli bus reportedly caught fire after Molotov cocktails were thrown at it in the Ras al-Amud area of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday night, witnesses said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that the bus was carrying Israeli passengers and security guards at the time, who exited unharmed. The witnesses added that Israeli police forces surrounded the area following the incident and interrogated people on scene and searched cars.
Thousands attend funeral of 3 Jerusalem attackers
JENIN (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Thousands attended the funeral of three Palestinians who were killed after a shooting and stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Friday evening, as they were laid to rest in their hometown of Qabatiya. Qabatiya residents Ahmad Rajeh Ismail Zakarneh, Muhammad Ahmad Hilmi Kamil, and Najeh Ibrahim Abu al-Rub, all in their early 20s, were shot dead on Wednesday after carrying out an attack on Israeli border police at the Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They killed one Israeli officer and left another injured in moderate condition. Thousands of locals and residents from nearby villages attended the funeral, as the bodies were taken to the local mosque before being buried in the town’s cemetery near the grave of Ahmad Awad Abu al-Rub, a friend of the three youths who had previously been killed by Israeli forces. Zakarneh, Kamil and Abu al-Rub had wanted to take revenge for their friend’s death, locals said. Israeli forces returned the bodies of the three Palestinians youths on Friday afternoon, handing them over at the Salim crossing west of Jenin on Friday. They were then taken to Khalil Suleiman Hospital in Jenin, before being transferred to Qabatiya. Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh said his office was working around the clock to lift the siege on Qabatiya.
IDF storms Tell and Beita towns in Nablus
NABLUS (PIC) 4 Feb — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Thursday stormed the towns of Tell and Beita in Nablus province. Eyewitnesses told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that a number of Israeli military vehicles stormed and patrolled the neighborhoods of Tell town, amid intensive firing of flares and stun grenades. Local sources in Beita town also reported that seven military vehicles entered the town at dawn Thursday and patrolled its neighborhoods. They added that some invading troops toured Beita et-Tatha area (the lower Beita) and fired stun grenades in the vicinity of al-Shaheed Monument. They added that the military vehicles chased Palestinian cars in the town and obstructed their movement on its streets.
Israeli forces detain 26 across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — Israeli forces detained at least 27 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem during raids on Thursday, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society and locals said. The society said in a statement that Israeli forces detained three 13-year-old children from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. Three were identified as Hamza Abdullah, Muhammad Thaer Farhan and Qassam Shehada. In Qalandiya refugee camp, just outside of Ramallah city in the central occupied West Bank, Israeli forces detained eleven Palestinians during raids in the camp. The eleven were identified as Jihad al-Zaatri,14, Kahlid Abu Ghoush,15, Abed Abu Sayma, 15, Muhammad Ahmad Dari,17, Saed Rukon, 18, Nour Shalabi, 18, Mousa Derar Darwish, 20, Ali Bader, 22, Mousa Dari, Muhammad Jaber and Muhammad Ghrouf . . .In the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin, Israeli forces detained five Palestinians identified as Ahmad Abd al-Afo Nazzal, Thaer Muhammad Abu Ghurab, Ahmad Rashid Abd al-Jaleel, Tariq Ahmad Kameel and Hussam Dhoun. In Halhul, a small village just ouside Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, the PPS said Israeli forces detained four Palestinians identified as Haitham Khalil Ayyad, Hani Masalmah and Muhammad Ahmad al-Fakhouri. In Jericho, Israeli forces detained Ahmad Kahlil al-Sheikh Ibrahim, 26, from Aqbat Jabr refugee camp, the largest camp in the West Bank. A man from the Tulkarem district, identified as Taha Hassan Elimi, was also detained in the Jericho district as he went through Allenby border crossing on his way home from Jordan. Not included in the PPS statement, locals said a man identified as Khalid Atta Adawi, 30, from Qusra village in Nablus was detained during an Israeli military raid of the village. Locals said Israeli soldiers also raided a municipal council hall in Qusra, broke the main door, interior lighting and did a full search of the hall.
The 27 detained on Thursday joined the nearly 7,000 Palestinians currently being held in Israeli jails, many of whom were detained during the near-daily raids carried out by Israeli military forces on Palestinian towns and villages.
Army kidnaps eight Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Feb — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Friday at dawn, at least eight Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank, and summoned several others for interrogation. The soldiers invaded continued their military assault in Qabatia town, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, broke into and searched dozens of homes, and kidnapped five Palestinians. Deputy governor of Jenin, Kamal Abu ar-Rob, said the soldiers kidnapped Rami As’ad Kamil, Jasser Ammar Oweidat, his brother Mahmoud, Ramez Ehneiti and Anas Kamil, all in their twenties . . .
The soldiers also invaded Rommana town, west of Jenin, searched many homes, interrogated families, and summoned Anas Ahmad E’mour, 20, and Abdul-Karim E’mour, 21, for interrogation in the nearby Salem military base. In Nablus, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, the soldiers kidnapped a student of the Najah University, identified as Hassan Ordoniyya. In Budros village, west of Ramallah, the soldiers searched homes and kidnapped two young men, identified as Tareq Sheikh and Jihad Hmeidan. The soldiers also invaded the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, and summoned Othman Jom’a Salah, 38, for interrogation in the Etzion military base. Similar orders were handed to Abdullah Mahmoud Jaber, 20, and Khaled Taqatqa, 20, from Beit Fajjar, and Ali Mahmoud Sheikh, 32, from Marah Rabah village, south of Bethlehem.
Deri cancels Israeli residency for father of terroris
JPost 5 Feb by Ben Hartman — Interior Minister Arye Deri signed an order on Thursday canceling the residency permit of the father of a terrorist who carried out an attack in October. Deri’s predecessor at the ministry, Silvan Shalom, had announced following the attack that he would not renew the permit of Riad Zwid, the father of Ala Zwid [Alaa Raed Zayud? Ziwad?], who on October 11 drove his car into a female soldiers on the side of Route 65 at the entrance to Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, east of Hadera, exited the vehicle and stabbed three people. Ala Zwid, who had been living in Umm al-Fahm, badly wounded a 19-year-old female soldier and lightly-to-moderately wounded a 14-year-old boy and two men aged 19 and 45. Ala Zwid is originally from the Palestinian village of Masilat a-Hartaiyya near Jenin, and moved to Israel a few years ago with his father under the Family Unification Law, after his father married an Israeli woman. As a result of Deri’s order, Riad Zwid will lose his residency status and the medical and social benefits he receives from the state. According to the Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority, over the past 10 years, 13 people have had their residency canceled due to “loyalty violations,” typically relating to involvement in terrorism. Deri said Thursday that the measure “will cause terrorists who intend to carry out attacks to understand that there will be consequences also for their families.”
‘Israel’s AG vetoed my plan to banish Palestinian terrorists’ kin to Gaza’
JPost 5 Feb by Dana Somberg — Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Thursday that his proposal to banish the families of Palestinian terrorists to the Gaza Strip was vetoed by both the current and former attorney general. “Unfortunately, despite my efforts to advance it, there won’t be a deportation of terrorists’ families from Judea and Samaria to Gaza,” the minister told an academic conference in Herzliya on Thursday. Erdan said that he had put forward the plan as a “deterrent measure,” but was met with stiff resistance from the current attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, as well as his predecessor, Yehuda Weinstein. The minister was a guest at a conference hosted by the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. The event was held at an anti-terror think tank under the banner, “the challenge of dealing with the wave of lone-wolf terrorists.” . . . The minister said that authorities were now placing greater focus on social media profiles in an effort to track incitement and narrow down potential threats.
Netanyahu to take action against Palestinian MKs
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to take action against Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset who have visited the family homes of Palestinian attackers in recent months, a Knesset press release said Friday. The Israeli premier, together with Knesset House Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, is to file personal complaints with Israel’s Ethics Committee against the MKs, in what the statement described was an “unprecedented measure.” “Members of Knesset who go to comfort the families of terrorists who murder Israelis are not worthy of serving in the Knesset of Israel,” Netanyahu reportedly said. “I contacted the Knesset Speaker this evening in order to check what steps can be taken against them.” The Knesset statement said the complaints would be filed against Palestinian MKs Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas, all members of the Arab Joint List. Edelstein alleged that the MKs’ visits to the families of Palestinians responsible for attacks on Israelis amounted to “incitement and encouragement to murder,” the statement said. “I see this as seriously harming the Knesset and the State of Israel and hope that this will enter the hearts and minds of Supreme Court judges next time they rule on an appeal of the disqualification of unworthy candidates for the Knesset,” he said.
PCHR Report on Israeli human rights violations in the oPt (28 January – 3 February 2016)
PCHR-Gaza 6 Feb — Israeli attacks in the West Bank & Gaza: Shootings Israeli forces have continued to commit crimes, inflicting civilian casualties. They have also continued to use excessive force against Palestinian civilians participating in peaceful protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the majority of whom were youngsters. Occupied East Jerusalem witnessed similar attacks. During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed 5 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, 3 of whom were killed in occupied East Jerusalem in one incident. Moreover, they wounded 10 civilians, including an Israeli human rights activist and 2 children. Six civilians, including a child were wounded in the Gaza Strip while the remaining others were wounded in the West Bank. Concerning the nature of injuries, 12 civilians were hit with live bullets, 11 others were hit with rubber-coated metal bullets and one was hit with a sound bomb to the face. Incursions During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 81 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 10 in occupied East Jerusalem and its suburbs. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 101 Palestinian civilians, including 24 children. Thirty-five of them, including 15 children, were arrested in East Jerusalem. In the Gaza Strip, on 03 February 2016, Israeli forces conducted a limited incursion in the southern Gaza Strip. They moved about 100 meters to the east of al-Fokhari village, east of Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza Strip. Then then leveled lands for few hours and withdrew later. Full Report here
Prisoners / Court actions
Al-Qiq rejects court freeze on detention, continues hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — Palestinian prisoner Muhammad al-Qiq said Thursday he rejected an Israeli court decision to temporarily suspend his detention without trial and would continue a hunger strike that is now in its 72nd day. The Palestinian Authority Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said the imprisoned journalist viewed the court ruling as an attempt to undermine his resistance against the “immoral and inhumane administrative detention,” referring to Israel’s internment of Palestinians without trial or charge. Al-Qiq also said it was an attempt to undermine public and international opinion that is critical of Israeli policy. The prisoners’ committee said al-Qiq would not end his hunger strike unless Israel agreed to his full release. It added al-Qiq was refusing to receive medical treatment unless at a Palestinian hospital. Earlier Thursday, the Israeli Supreme Court suspended his six-month administrative detention sentence citing medical concerns, with the sentence to be resumed upon an improvement of his health. Qadura Fares, the head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, decried it as a “bad decision,” although he expressed hope al-Qiq might accept medical treatment while a more acceptable solution was sought. Al-Qiq has said he will continue his hunger strike until “martyrdom or freedom.” Shackled to his bed, the 33-year-old journalist is now in critical condition and only able to communicate by written messages. On Thursday morning, a member of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Dr. Mahmoud Mahamid, was able to visit al-Qiq in HaEmek Hospital, where he found him “at imminent risk of death.” The rights group said in a statement that Mahamid was concerned by al-Qiq’s condition, but “encouraged” by the refusal of the hospital’s medical staff to force treat him.
Hunger-striking journalist no longer responsive, says wife
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an ) 5 Feb — The wife of hunger-striking Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq said Friday that her husband’s health had continued to deteriorate and he was no longer responsive to visitors. Fayhaa Shalash, a journalist herself, told Ma‘an that al-Qiq’s health had shown a decline since Thursday when she said he had still been responsive. Shalash expressed her concerns as al-Qiq entered his 73rd day on hunger strike to protest his administrative detention by Israel, internment without trial or charge. Dozens of Palestinians meanwhile performed Friday prayers in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Gaza City in support of al-Qiq. Sheikh Wael al-Zarad called for the release of the prisoner and demanded that journalistic and international rights institutions intervene for al-Qiq’s release. Alongside the Palestinian leadership and other international groups, ICRC last month called on Israel “to find a solution that will avoid any loss of life” in al-Qiq’s case, but the calls have yet to pressure Israel to release the journalist.
Abu Khdeir’s killers sentenced to life imprisonment, 21 years
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — An Israeli court on Thursday sentenced to life one of the Israeli murderers of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir and another to 21 years behind bars, in a ruling Abu Khdeir’s family condemned as too light. The teenager’s family had been seeking life sentences for both Israeli minors, but their defense attorneys claimed their actions had been influenced by a third killer, 30-year-old Yosef Ben-David. Ben-David, believed to be the group’s ringleader, has confessed to the killing [all] along, but has so far escaped conviction pending a last minute psychiatric evaluation. Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old from Shu‘fat in occupied East Jerusalem, was kidnapped and murdered by the three extremists in July 2014. All three confessed to beating the teenager unconscious before pouring flammable liquid on him and setting him alight. An autopsy later confirmed the teen had been burned alive. In addition to the minors’ prison sentences, the court also ordered that they compensate Abu Khdeir’s family with 60,000 NIS ($15,350). However, Abu Khdeir’s family said the sentencing was not severe enough and called again for life imprisonment for both killers. Abu Khdeir’s father, Hussein, told Ma‘an: “Muhammad died again today, and we died with him. Does is it make sense to sentence the killer who kidnapped, tortured and burned Muhammad to only 21 years in prison?” He said the sentence proved Israel was not a democratic country. “Israeli courts have two faces of judiciary: one for the Palestinians and another for the Israelis. “If a Palestinian child throws a stone, he is sentenced to years in prison, but when an Israeli settler burns and kills a Palestinian child, he is sentenced to 21 years.” Hussein and his wife, Suha, said that the sentence would “encourage other settlers to commit more crimes against the Palestinians, because they know that the Israeli judiciary will protect them and cover for their crimes.” . . . At the sentencing hearing last month, both Abu Khdeir’s parents gave impassioned testimonies to the court. Hussein said: “We are trying to live our lives like before. We are going to psychiatrists. But our lives have turned dark. We are not thinking of our lives or our future. We only think of the heinous crime and why Muhammad was burned. My children are afraid and my 14-year-old son, Seif al-Din, sleeps in my bed since the incident — he is afraid to go out of the house. We have nightmares. My wife screams in her sleep.” Meanwhile, Suha told the the court: “I am lost after Muhammad. He took my life with him. I was denied the right to say farewell or see him before he was buried because he was completely burned.” She added: “His pictures are everywhere, and every day I think about why Muhammad was killed — what did Muhammad do to them?”
Amnesty calls for release of teen held under administrative detention
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Amnesty International on Friday called for the release of 17-year-old Palestinian Muhammad al-Hashlamoun, one of two minors the group says Israel is holding without charge or trial under administrative detention. Al-Hashlamoun was detained on Dec. 3 when around 40 Israeli Border Police officers and Shin Bet members raided the building where he lives in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. Amnesty reported that the teen was taken to a Shin Bet interrogation center located within Jerusalem’s Russian Compound detention center, where he was held for 18 days before being transferred to Ashkelon prison for four days. Israeli authorities asked al-Hashlamoun repeatedly about his plans to carry out attacks in Jerusalem — plans the teen denied — before being ordered by the Jerusalem Magistrates Court to house arrest for one week, alongside a $1,260 fine on Jan. 20. Despite the ruling, Amnesty said, Israeli Minister of Defense, Moshe Yaalon, issued al-Hashlamoun an administrative detention order. While the order expires on June 20, administrative detention orders are renewable and allow authorities to hold individuals without charge indefinitely. The 17-year-old’s mother told Amnesty she visited her son in Megiddo prison where she found him “tired and anxious.” Amnesty demanded Israeli authorities to release the teen “unless he is charged with an internationally recognizable offence and tried in accordance with international standards of fairness,” highlighting Israel’s neglect of international law regarding rights of minors.
Israeli authorities hand demolition order to family of stabbing attack suspect
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Israeli authorities handed on Friday a demolition order to the family of a Palestinian who was detained for allegedly killing an Israeli settler in January. Badir Adais, the father of Mourad Adais, said he received a demolition order for his home in the village of Beit Amra in the Yatta area of the southern West Bank, and was given until Feb. 9 to appeal the decision. Mourad, 15, was detained by Israeli forces in January on suspicions that he carried out a stabbing attack against an Israeli woman two days earlier in the illegal settlement of Otniel south of Hebron. The woman, identified as Dafna Meir, 39, succumbed to her wounds.
Israeli forces detain 8, deliver 5 demolition orders in predawn raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Israeli forces on Friday detained at least eight Palestinians and delivered demolition orders to the families of five Palestinian attackers in predawn raids across the occupied West Bank. An Israeli army spokesperson said four Palestinians were detained in Nablus district and four in Ramallah. She said seven were “Hamas operatives,” while the eighth, northwest of Ramallah, was detained for “illegal activities.” Palestinians sources identified four of the detainees as Hassan Urdnniyyeh in Nablus, Anas al-Barghouthi in the village of Kobar near Ramallah, and Tareq al-Sheikh and Jihad Hmeidan in the town of Biddu east of Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Palestinian sources said Israeli forces delivered demolition orders to the families of five Palestinians alleged to have carried out attacks on Israelis. The orders were delivered to the families of Amjad Eleiwi and Zaid Amer from Nablus, both now in Israeli custody, as well as the families of Ihab Maswadeh from Hebron and Omar Assaf and Anan Abu Habseh from Qalandiya refugee camp, all of whom were shot dead.
Families remain isolated in a surrounded building in Qabatiya
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Feb — For the second consecutive day, families living in a residential building in Qabatia town, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, remain isolated, running out of food and water, after the soldiers surrounded the building and occupied its rooftop. The building is inhabited by eight families, and is located near the Central Market, at the northern entrance of the town; its residents are not allowed to leave, and the army also destroyed the water network. The inhabitants are the families of Mohammad Badran, Majdi Nazzal, Rezeq Alawna, Adham Tazaz’a, Mohammad Asasa, and Mohammad al-Johari, with a total of 35 Palestinians, including 23 children, and are running out of basic food supplies and water. On Thursday, medics evacuated a pregnant woman from the building and took her to a hospital after she suffered severe effects of tear gas inhalation. The army initially refused to allow her to leave but the families, and medics, remained persistent. They voiced an appeal to the Red Cross and various human rights groups to intervene, and save the lives of the families, especially due to the large number of children.
Palestinian town sealed for 2nd day after deadly attack
JENIN (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Israeli forces on Friday continued to seal the occupied West Bank town of Qabatiya, the hometown of three Palestinians who were shot dead after carrying out an attack that left an Israeli officer dead in Jerusalem earlier this week. The Jenin-district town has been closed since late Wednesday, hours after the attack took place. Qabatiya residents Ahmad Rajeh Ismail Zakarneh, Muhammad Ahmad Hilmi Kamil, and Najeh Ibrahim Abu al-Rub, all in their early 20s, were shot dead on Wednesday after carrying out an attack on Israeli Border Police at the Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. One Israeli officer, 19-year-old Hadar Cohen, was shot in the head and later died, while another officer was left in moderate condition with stab wounds across her body.
Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces closed the Khirbat al-Wahid road Friday with bulldozers, cutting off the last opening for movement in and out of the town. Agricultural roads that locals had been using as detours to cross out of the town were also closed, sealing in Qabatiya’s more than 20,000 residents. However, a Ma‘an reporter said at least one agricultural road was open on Friday.
Sporadic clashes were ongoing since early Friday between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers deployed in the al-Hisbeh area of the town, locals added. At least nine Palestinians were reported injured on Friday after Israeli forces reportedly fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters at the northern entrance of Qabatiya, locals told Ma‘an. Medical sources said three were injured in their feet by live fire and were taken to the hospital in Jenin for treatment in a moderate condition. They were identified as Yousif Ali Asous, Ihab Maher Kamil, and Muhammad Kamal Zakarneh. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an the continued closure of Qabatiya, saying that all movement in and out of the town was prohibited with the exception of humanitarian cases, “according to security assessments of the area.” Qabatiya erupted into chaos when Israeli forces stormed the the town on Thursday, detaining 10 and injuring at least four with live fire, one critically. A 15-year-old was also left in critical condition after being run over by a military vehicle. During the raid, Israeli forces notified the families of the three youths who committed Wednesday’s attack that their homes would be demolished. PLO spokesperson Ali Zakarneh told Ma‘an at the time that Israeli forces announced that Qabatiya had been designated a closed military zone, and would remain a closed zone for at least a month.
Israel extends closed military zone status in Hebron’s Old City
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Israeli forces extended the closed military zone status of a part of the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, activists said on Friday. Palestinian activist group Youth Against Settlements said they had learned that the Tel Rumeida neighborhood would remain a closed military zone for another month after Israeli authorities renewed the status until March 1. Tel Rumeida has been closed off since Nov. 1 by Israeli forces, who have prevented both Palestinians and foreigners from entering the closed military zone. Jawad Abu Aisheh, an activist with Youth Against Settlements, told Ma‘an that the renewed status of the area jeopardized access to a center used by the group in the area, but that the organization would keep meeting to denounce the Israeli policies. Abu Aisheh added that an activist sit-in, which has been ongoing for nearly two months, would continue to denounce the closed military zone in both Tel Rumeida and other parts of Hebron. “In a few days, we will start a local and international campaign to open Shuhada Street,” parts of which have remained inaccessible to Palestinian residents since the Ibrahimi mosque massacre in 1994, he said.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Ongoing colonization in Hebron: Israeli forces prepare [for] the illegal invasion of Palestinian houses by Israeli settlers
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine 3 Feb by ISM, al-Khalil Team — On February 3rd 2016, Israeli occupation forces violently opened the door of houses in the vicinity of the Ibrahimi mosque by cutting the door locks with a disk grinder, and then entered these houses. The houses are located in al-Sahla Street near the Ibrahimi mosque, settlers illegally invaded and occupied them two weeks ago, but were then evicted by the police and army the next morning. After the Israeli army removed the door-locks of the two houses, Israeli construction workers took the external and internal dimensions of both Palestinian properties as if they are already owned by Israeli settlers. The settlers were protected during their illegal activities by big groups of soldiers. Palestinian residents who walked through the checkpoint in front of these houses were body-checked and harassed by the soldiers. The video below illustrates how inhumane and degrading these body-searches and ID-checks are, with soldiers ordering Palestinians to take off clothing regardless of weather and treating them without even a slight bit of dignity.
60 Palestinians homeless after Israel razes West Bank village for army training zone
Mondoweiss 4 Feb by Allison Deger — Some 60 Palestinians awoke Tuesday morning to the sound of bulldozers razing their West Bank village in the South Hebron Hills as the Israeli army cleared the grounds to expand a live-fire training zone, according to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem. The military demolished 22 structures in the herding community of Khirbet Jenbah, a ramshackle town with houses made of tin, tarp and stone. Thirty-two children were left homeless. The community had been engaged in a lengthy legal fight against the demolitions since the year 2000. As part of a campaign to support the areas under threat the Israeli human rights group B’tselem conducted a series of interviews in 2013 with residents about the impending demolitions. Halimah Abu ‘Aram, 41, a mother of four and a herder with her husband in the village of Khirbet al-Majaz, nearby Khirbet Jenbah spoke with B’tselem after being informed the injunction that had protected her house was going to be lifted: “We have no school in the village because the military won’t let us build one. So our children have to walk to the school in al-Fakhit, which is about 10 kilometers away. They walk there and back in the cold and in the heat. We have no medical clinic. Once every two weeks, volunteer doctors come to al-Fakhit. Women, myself included, have to get there by foot. If someone is seriously ill, we have to take them by donkey or tractor over a grueling route. In the past, we used camels.” (Continued)
Israel demolishes 9 Palestinian structures in Jordan Valley
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Israeli forces on Thursday demolished five homes and four other Palestinian-owned structures in the Jordan Valley town of Tammun in the occupied West Bank. A spokesperson for Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told Ma‘an that Israel’s Civil Administration as well as security forces demolished the structures because they were built illegally “without necessary permits.” “As part of this enforcement, five residential tents and three buildings that were used as sheds, and a tin construction used as a restroom were demolished,” COGAT said. Images sent by COGAT show a European Union symbol on the side of the structures, suggesting they may have been internationally donated. Israel routinely demolishes “illegally built” Palestinian homes and structures in areas under military occupation where building permits are difficult for Palestinians to obtain. In the last week of January alone, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs documented the destruction 42 of Palestinian-owned structures across the occupied Palestinian territory. The demolitions displaced 168 people, including 94 children.
Unprecedented settlement activity in Deir Ballout
SALFIT (PIC) 4 Feb — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) are fiercely targeting the town of Deir Ballout west of Salfit with unprecedented settlement activity and are increasingly threatening demolition and seizure of lands, buildings and property in the town. The latest step targeting the town was on Tuesday 2/2/2016, when the construction of four houses and a mosque were halted, and an iron gate was placed at the entrance to the town . . . Mayor of Deir Ballout, Kamal Mousa, pointed to the ceaseless targeting of the town’s lands so as to expand Leshem settlement. He continued: “Four houses were notified to stop construction, as well as a nearby mosque which is also threatened with demolition, and the Israeli army told the residents that the olive trees and plants in the region must be removed. We do not know what the IOA will do to the infrastructure of the water system and electricity grid.” He explained that the so-called Construction and Organization Department in the Israeli Civil Administration ordered a freeze to work and construction of a number of Palestinian buildings in the village of Deir Ballout under the pretext of unlicensed construction. This pretext is used often by the IOA to justify such practice. Big losses Mousa said that the houses are located in Zayyav area and Khallit Swindi in the Bab al-Marj area; and that new settlement units are being built to the east of the Palestinian houses threatened with demolition. Owners of threatened lands and homes appointed two lawyers to object and plead on behalf of them to recover their lands. Regarding the cultivated land area, he said that 200 dunums had been previously confiscated in favor of Leshem settlement and the currently endangered lands area is 500 dunums; all are agricultural lands planted with olives and other trees, which entails big losses to farmers. In his turn, researcher in settlement affairs, Khaled Maali, explained that the “Israeli military orders received by the residents of the village of Deir Ballout stipulate that the constructed buildings violate the Cities, Villages and Buildings Planning Law of Jordan no. 79 of 1966 and which was amended later (after the war of 1967) by the IOA on the basis of the military command; to fit their interests of settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
Soldiers demolish two tents near Hebron, injure a Palestinian in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Feb — Israeli soldiers demolished, on Thursday evening, two residential tents in the Susiya village, southeast of Yatta town, in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, and confiscated them. The soldiers also shot and injured one Palestinian, east of Bethlehem. Head of the Susiya Village Council Jihad Nawaj‘a said several army vehicles invaded the village, and demolished the two tents which belong to Nasser Ahmad Shreiteh and his four family members. He added that international rights groups granted the two tents to the family several months ago, to provide them with shelter. Nawaj‘a strongly denounced the Israeli attack, the ongoing demolitions and removal of dozens of tents, structures, homes, sheds and wells owned by the Palestinians in Susiya and Masafer Yatta areas, and described the attacks as acts of vengeance and outrageous discrimination. He further stated that Israel aims at removing the Palestinians from the area in order to replace their homes and dwellings with illegal colonies.
In addition, the soldiers shot injured a young Palestinian man in Teqoua‘ [or Tuqu‘] town, east of Bethlehem, after several Israeli military vehicles invaded it. The soldiers fired several live rounds, gas bombs and concussion grenades; the young Palestinian was shot with a live round in his thigh, and was moved to the local clinic.
Holidays in occupied West Bank
IOL 3 Feb by William Booth — Airbnb slammed for offering rooms with a view in Jewish settlements — The Airbnb host said that once his guests saw the view, “nobody wants to talk politics”. Igal Canaan, a Jewish settler, threw open the doors of his designer flat to reveal a jaw-dropping panorama of blue sky and Judean wilderness. “In the morning, you can see shepherds with their flocks,” said Canaan, pointing out the place associated with the birth of the prophet Jeremiah, maybe, there just over the hill. “The view is totally biblical.” All this, plus swimming pool, kitchenette, fast wi-fi and maybe a welcome bottle of wine, just 20 minutes from Jerusalem, for about $80 (R1 284) a night. The guest reviews call it awesome – but according to the Palestinians, it is also very wrong. The Palestinian Authority says offering vacation rental properties in Jewish homes in the occupied West Bank, through US-based sites such as Airbnb, Booking.com and TripAdvisor, violates international law. These cozy cottages and vineyard villas are not in Israeli “neighborhoods”, as some listings suggest, but in Jewish settlements that most of the world considers illegal and the US government calls “ illegitimate” and “unhelpful” to the peace process, not exactly what one wants to contend with on vacation. Israel’s government opposes this terminology and says the land in the West Bank is “disputed”. Some Israeli government ministers argue it is not even “occupied”. It seems the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will now take place on TripAdvisor as well as at the UN Security Council. (Continued)
Israeli forces shoot, injure 10 Palestinians in Friday demos (continued)
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — At least ten Palestinians were injured by live fire when Israeli forces suppressed demonstrations across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday . . . Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian when clashes broke out east of the Gaza City neighborhood of al-Shuja‘iyya by the Nahal Oz crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Medical sources told Ma‘an the Palestinian was shot in the lower extremities and was in moderate condition after being taken to the al-Shifa hospital for treatment. Clashes also reportedly broke out near the Erez crossing in northern Gaza Strip and near al-Bureij refugee camp in the central district of the besieged enclave, where a Palestinian was shot and injured in the foot. Witnesses added that Israeli forces also opened fire on farmlands in the Hujr al-Deek area in the eastern Gaza Strip, where Israeli military vehicles have an active presence.
Limited Israeli incursion east of Rafah
GAZA (PIC) 5 Feb — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Thursday morning advanced into Palestinian lands to the east of Rafah in southern Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip and leveled lands for unknown reasons. The PIC reporter revealed that three Israeli military bulldozers advanced into lands near the Karm Abu Salem military camp in Rafah for a limited distance estimated at 100 meters. Another Israeli engineering unit set up its equipment near the red watchtower of the camp.
Egyptian power lines to Rafah disconnected for maintenance
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Feb – An Egyptian electricity company which supplies power to the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday notified Gaza that two main grids would be disconnected in Rafah city. Sources in the Rafah office of Gaza’s electricity company told Ma‘an that the grids feeding Rafah city were disconnected due to to maintenance activity in Station 66 in El-Arish city across borderline with the Gaza Strip. The cut in power came shortly after one of Gaza’s power plant generators was turned off Friday afternoon due to a fuel shortage, the sources said. The two lines disconnected Saturday supplied Rafah residents with 20 megawatts of electricity, the sources added.
Top UN official says war-hit Gaza on ‘disastrous trajectory’
JERUSALEM (AFP) 4 Feb b Mike Smith — A top UN official helping oversee Gaza’s reconstruction following its 2014 war with Israel says the territory is on a “disastrous trajectory,” with Israel’s blockade and Palestinian divisions hampering recovery. Robert Piper, UN deputy special coordinator for the Middle East peace process as well as humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, spoke to AFP after returning from one of his regular visits to the impoverished Gaza Strip . . . AFP: What were some of your impressions from your visit? Piper: “Progress is continuing on the recovery process, but there’s no changes to the underlying fragility of Gaza. It remains on a frankly disastrous trajectory of de-development and radicalisation as far as I can tell… The blockade remains firmly in place . . . AFP: What is to blame for the slow reconstruction? “I think the honest answer is everyone shares some of the responsibility, but without question the biggest obstacle to a rapid reconstruction process is the blockade… “But let me just push back a bit on your presumption, which is that the reconstruction process is going desperately slowly, and I really don’t accept that as necessarily true. Tough though the conditions are… over 70,000 people have accessed materials and repaired their houses… Another 15,000 or so have got it underway. Almost all of the health facilities have now been repaired or reconstructed. Almost all of the schools that were damaged have now been repaired or reconstructed. Almost all of the damage to the water and electricity network by the 2014 hostilities has now been repaired. “The biggest gap in repairs — in restoring Gaza to its June 2014 status — is in the reconstruction of houses, the ones that are totally destroyed as opposed to the ones needing repair work.” Does it bother you that Hamas seems to be rebuilding tunnels when there is so much other work to be done?”We’re getting our information second-hand on these sort of things, through the media in many cases. So I think firstly we don’t have enough direct information on which to make a judgement about how big or small this phenomenon is. What we know about is the operations we’re involved in, where we don’t see any evidence of large-scale fraud and movement of materials to nefarious objectives. That’s what we know about.” (Continued)
US forks over $100 million for Israeli tunnel detection research
NAZARETH (PIC) 3 Feb — The US will contribute more than $100 million in an Israeli technological research project aimed at detecting tunnels leading away from the Gaza Strip, Amos Gilad, Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs at Israel’s war ministry, on Tuesday told Israeli Army Radio. The radio, however, said the army had looked into complaints about such tunnels leading into “Israeli territory” but did not locate any. Israelis living in the settlements near the Gaza Strip border have been reporting hearing sound of digging underneath their homes, and vibrations that cause their walls and floors to tremble. But so far the Israeli army, which attempted to verify the complaints, is insisting there are no tunnels down below. MK Offer Shelakh, a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, told Israel Radio that “Israel possesses the capacity to act against tunnels that appear to be reaching across the border, but it must use restraint so as not to ignite the next war under conditions in favor of the enemy”. On Monday, Shelakh told reporters in the southern region that “Israel’s current ability to deliver a decisive blow against the Hamas digging is quite limited under the current international conditions”.
Turkey’s IHH funds construction of residential neighborhood in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 5 Feb — Palestinian minister of works Mufid al-Hasayneh on Thursday signed an agreement with the Turkish relief group IHH to build a residential neighborhood for the impoverished families in the Gaza Strip. The agreement was signed during a ceremony held at the headquarters of the ministry of works in Gaza. Minister Hasayneh hailed the generous support provided by Turkey and its people for the Palestinian people and their national cause. The minister stated in press remarks that the neighborhood would be built in Johr Addik area, south of Gaza City, affirming that his ministry would start to carry out the project immediately. The neighborhood will include 132 housing units and will be earmarked for the housing of the poorest families in Gaza, according to the minister. For his part, head of IHH Mohamed Kaya stated that his foundation would continue its support for the Palestinians and their steadfastness until the liberation of their whole land. Kaya pointed out that the number of the housing units are not enough to accommodate all poor families in Gaza and pledged to work hard to build more units later.
Travel agency in isolated Gaza recalls the ‘golden’ 1950s
GAZA (Reuters) 5 Feb by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Nabil Shurafa’s travel agency in Gaza was once packed with clients booking flights to London, Paris, New York or cities across the Arab world. These days, he’s lucky if anyone comes in, as so few people can get out. The posters of the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and a map of the world look out of place on the walls, given the sense of isolation that pervades Gaza, a narrow strip of land hemmed in by Israel on two sides, Egypt to the south and the blockaded Mediterranean to the west. “Once borders are closed, things switch off,” said Shurafa with a sense of resignation. A plastic model of a passenger plane stands on his desk, next to the silent phones. When Shurafa’s father opened the bureau in 1952, it quickly earned a reputation as a helpful and reliable agency. Back then, Gaza was governed by Egypt and there was not much of a border to speak of. Gazans could book a plane ticket and take a four-hour bus or train to Cairo to catch their flight. The agency had a close relationship with BOAC, the forerunner of British Airways, and Air France and is general sale agent for each. It remains a member of IATA, the International Air Transport Association. “The era from 1952 to 1967 was a golden one,” Shurafa, 53, told Reuters. People used to travel to Gaza as well, at least until the 1967 Middle East war, when Israel captured Gaza from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan. “Gaza was like a duty-free zone, with Egyptians coming to buy goods brought by merchants from Lebanon,” he recalled. There was also a boom in the late 1990s, after the Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians, and Gaza opened Yasser Arafat International Airport in 1998. But the years since have seen a steady decline in business as Gaza has become more and more cut off from the world. When the second Palestinian uprising erupted in 2000, the airport’s runway and control tower were bombed by Israel and it remains in ruins. Since 2007, when the Islamist group Hamas seized control of the territory following a brief civil war with the Western-backed Fatah movement, entry to and exit from Gaza have become even more restricted, both by Egypt and by Israel (Continued)
In surprise move, France rejects Israeli drones
EI 5 Feb by Ali Abunimah — Campaigners in France are welcoming a decision by their country’s military not to buy the Watchkeeper drone, which is based on a model Israel has used in hundreds of lethal attacks on Palestinian civilians. Watchkeeper is built by a joint venture between Israel’s biggest arms maker Elbit Systems and the UK subsidiary of France’s Thales. Defense News reported that “Watchkeeper was widely expected to be selected,” but instead the French government picked the Patroller drone made by domestic consortium Sagem . . . More than 8,000 people had signed a petition launched by BDS France in September calling on the defense ministry not to pick the Israeli drone.
Australia’s Labor Party wants to ban Israel trips for its members
SYDNEY (Haaretz) 4 Feb by Dan Goldberg — The opposition Labor Party has been plunged into another battle with Australia’s Jewish leaders following a proposal by pro-Palestinian lawmakers to ban its members from participating in sponsored trips to Israel. The motion by Labor Friends of Palestine, which will be moved at a state conference in Sydney beginning February 13, has triggered a bitter backlash, with one Jewish leader blasting it as “intellectually offensive and discriminatory” and an Aboriginal leader describing it as “verging on anti-Semitic.” If passed, it would preclude state MPs from New South Wales, party officials and Young Labor members from joining paid trips to Israel. The motion says the ban should be enforced while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “continues settlements, refuses a Palestinian state [and] brutally mistreats Arab residents of the West Bank.” Taking part in paid-for trips “in the circumstances is an insult to the Australian community who support our party,” the resolution says. But Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine, a former national president of the Labor Party who has been on a sponsored trip to Israel, slammed the motion. (Continued)
French government partners with Israeli settlement profiteer
EI 4 Feb by Ali Abunimah — The French government is giving high-profile backing to an Israeli company that profits from settlements built on occupied Palestinian and Syrian land in violation of international law. This month, Israel’s biggest supermarket chain Shufersal is sponsoring So French So Food, which it bills as a “Festival of scents and flavors from France.” The event is co-organized by the Institut Français, the French government’s cultural arm, and Shufersal. It is also sponsored by the city of Toulouse. During the month, Shufersal is heavily promoting French products in its stores. Shufersal’s marketing materials and store displays for So French So Food state that the campaign is a partnership with the French embassy. The Electronic Intifada has confirmed that these displays are being used in Shufersal stores in West Bank settlements. The promotion will also bring more than two dozen French chefs and artisans to Israel. It aims to help French companies, whose executives will travel to Israel as part of the event, to export their goods. But by backing this initiative, the French government will also help boost the profits of a company that operates extensively in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights.
Hamas: Reconciliation talks between delegations, not leadership
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — Hamas said Wednesday that no meetings have been scheduled between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal as part of the latest reconciliation initiative. Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said the talks between rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas would only see involve representative delegations from the two movements. Ahmad Bahr, a member of Hamas and deputy speaker for the Palestinian parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), said during a press conference in Gaza City on Tuesday that the latest initiative hoped to establish a national unity government composed of all Palestinian factions. He said that as soon as this government was formed, it was hoped the PLC would convene, in what would be its first session since 2007. Bahr said the initiative would also agree on dates for legislative, presidential, and national council elections across the occupied Palestinian territory, and would work toward new elections for the Palestinian National Council (PNC), the PLO’s legislative body. He called on Fatah and Hamas to meet their “historical, national, and humanitarian responsibilities” to reunite the Palestinians, and applauded the upcoming meeting between the two movements in Doha this week. The meeting, currently scheduled for Feb. 6, was announced by Hamas official Ismail Radwan on Saturday and is the latest in a series of attempts to reconcile the two movements since they violently fell out with one another in 2007.
PLO Executive Committee hails effort to hold Israeli-Palestinian peace talks
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — The Palestinie Liberation Organization Executive Committee held a meeting Thursday evening at the Palestinian presidential headquarters in Ramallah City to discuss internal Palestinian issues, current political developments and subsequent missions and responsibilities. The committee welcomed efforts by France to holding an international peace conference to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The PLO Executive Committee called for international guarantees to initiate a political process to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in accordance with international law, ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state under a committed timeline with an international follow-up framework.
Bill penalizing businesses that don’t deliver to West Bank clears hurdle
JPost 3 Feb by Lahav Harkov — The Knesset approved legislation seeking to fight location-based discrimination in a preliminary reading Wednesday. The bill, proposed by MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi) states that customers who face location-based discrimination could sue businesses for up to NIS 50,000, without proof of damages. “Whoever lives over the Green Line,” Moalem-Refaeli, who lives in Gush Etzion, said, “knows well the policies of many companies that deliver products or provide services and discriminate against a broad population group…based on the customers’ place of residence.” The Bayit Yehudi MK said that residents of Arab villages and people living in remote areas of the periphery often face the same problem. MK Youssef Jabareen (Joint List) mockingly asked Moalem-Refaeli: “Now you care about equality?” “If this proposal was limited to within the Green Line, not the occupied territories, we would have supported it,” he stated. “Most of the people who need this bill are settlers, and it is a legitimate political stance not to want to provide services in settlements.”
Israeli dissident ordered to submit Facebook posts to military censor
EI 4 Feb by Ali Abunimah — An Israeli Jewish dissident has been ordered to submit his social media postings to military censorship. Yossi Gurvitz, who writes in English and Hebrew for a number of publications, is frequently critical of his country’s abuses of Palestinian rights, and of its official ideology, Zionism. “The military censorship served me with an order today, demanding to pre-vet any post or Facebook status I wrote about the IDF [Israeli army] or the defense ministry system,” Gurvitz wrote in a series of Tweets on Wednesday. “I do not intend to comply with the demand and I am considering my legal options,” he added. “The demand to pre-censor posts and status basically kills new media in Israel,” Gurvitz stated . . . Gurvitz is one of about 30 social media users and bloggers to have received similar orders in recent days, according to the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz, but he appears to be the only one speaking out loudly about it. Elad Hen, the editor of Hevra (Society), did confirm to the Israeli publication The Seventh Eye that his leftist journal received a similar notice. Gurvitz has written for +972 Magazine and blogs for the human rights group Yesh Din.
While Brazil rejects Israeli envoy, it inaugurates Palestinian embassy
RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) 5 Feb — A new building housing the first Palestinian Authority embassy in the Western Hemisphere was inaugurated in Brasília. The PA’s envoy to Brazil, Ibrahim Alzeben, led Wednesday’s event, which was attended by left-wing Brazilian government officials, representatives of Arab countries and members of the local Arab community. A week earlier, Alzeben attended the International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony held by the Jewish community in the Brazilian capital, saying “I could not be absent. It is very important to remember this date.” The inauguration of the embassy comes as Brazil and Israel tussle over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nominee to fill the vacant Israeli envoy position.
Haaretz editorial: Netanyahu’s policy of conflict management has failed Israel
5 Feb — Barring empty talk of heavy handed responses, Israel’s right wing government seems to have no real solution to violence. After four bloody months, the time has come return to peace talks — . . . Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the situation is simple. On Wednesday he said that Islamic terror is flooding the whole world and that here, too, the wave of terror is the result of incitement. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said this week that the solution is to invest more in stopping incitement. Both of them think that the Palestinians’ situation is good and only unnecessary incitement is driving them out of their mind. Really, what’s so bad about the Palestinian situation? They’ve only be living under occupation for 48 years, with no hope in sight. Their land is being stolen. More and more settlements are being built on it. They are deprived of freedom of movement. They are attacked in their own homes. They are humiliated. They are being prevented from developing economically, which leads to widespread unemployment – and they are in the depression of a people who see no chance of establishing a state of their own, with dignity and control of their own fate instead of occupation. Nothing justifies terror and murder of innocent people and the terror attacks must be condemned. But from the dawn of history, every people under occupation has fought to be free of it, including the Jewish community before the establishment of the state. Netanyahu was the one who trampled the buds of negotiation because he did not want a two-state solution. Instead, he instituted a policy of conflict management, based on continued oppression. Now that this policy has failed, he is trying to use even more force. But steps like collective punishment and house demolitions only deepen the despair, which leads to more outbreaks of violence. The whole world is demanding that Israel come back to the negotiating table to reach a two-state solution. After four bloody months, the time has come to do so.