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Palestinian Authority officer is killed at checkpoint after allegedly shooting three Israeli soldiers

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Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem

Palestinian shot dead, 3 Israeli soldiers injured in shooting attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — A Palestinian was shot dead after shooting and injuring three Israeli soldiers at an Israeli military checkpoint around the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, witnesses told Ma‘an. Witnesses said a Palestinian vehicle approached the Israeli checkpoint and stopped for inspection. When an Israeli soldier approached the driver’s window, the driver opened fire, immediately shooting the soldier. The driver then shot another two Israeli soldiers, one of whom witnesses believed was hit in his flak jacket. Israeli forces then opened fire, shooting the Palestinian driver dead. Of the three injured, two are in severe condition, while one was mildly injured, a spokesperson with Israel’s emergency medical service, Magen David Adom, said. The Palestinian driver was later identified as Amjad Jaser Sukkar, 34, a Palestinian Authority staff sergeant from Nablus. Hours after the shooting, his body was returned to PA forces and is expected to be buried later that day.

Army kills a Palestinian near Tulkarem
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Feb — Israeli soldiers shot and killed, on Monday morning, a young Palestinian man, south of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, Palestinian medical sources said. The sources added that the soldiers killed Ahmad Hasan Toba, 19, from Kafr Jammal village, south of Tulkarem. Israeli sources claimed the young Palestinian “crossed the Wall into lands of the Sal’it settlement,” illegally built on Palestinian lands near Tulkarem, and that the soldiers rushed to the scene, and conducted searches. The soldiers then located the Palestinian teenager reportedly in the bushes, and “tried to approach him,” to arrest him, but he “pulled a knife and the soldiers shot him dead,” according to Israeli Ynet News said. His father said Ahmad usually works in constructions whenever he has a chance.  The Israel army transferred the body of the slain teen to the Palestinian side. [Haaretz: “According to Palestinian sources, he was trying to cross the separation fence into Israel to look for work.”]

Palestinian shot, injured during alleged car ramming attack west of Ramallah
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian during an alleged attempted car ramming attack in the central occupied West Bank’s Ramallah district, Israeli media reported. Israeli media initially said the driver had been shot dead, but later reported he was shot and injured. The driver’s current condition has not been officially confirmed. No Israelis are believed to have been injured during the incident. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the attack, which took place off route 443, but could not provide further details. Earlier on Sunday a Palestinian Authority staff sergeant, 34, was shot and killed after shooting and injuring three Israeli soldiers near the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El in Ramallah.

Reports: 16-year-old stabbing suspect turns himself in
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — A 16-year-old Palestinian turned himself into Israeli police custody on Sunday in connection with a stabbing attack on Saturday that left one Israeli teen lightly injured, Israeli media reported. Israel daily Haaretz reported that the Palestinian, who has yet to be identified, turned himself in after learning Israeli forces suspected him of being involved in the attack. The 16-year-old is reportedly from a neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. An Israeli police spokesperson could not be reached for comment. Following the stabbing attack, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri told Ma‘an that two Palestinian minors from East Jerusalem had been detained by Israeli forces on suspicions of being linked to the attack, but that Israeli forces were still searching the area.The 17-year-old Israeli who was stabbed and lightly injured was attacked while leaving the Western Wall after prayer on his way to a military prep school in Jerusalem, Haaretz reported. Israeli new site Ynet reported that the Ultra-Orthodox teen had moved to Israel from New York a month and a half ago. Until last week, most Palestinians attacks in 2016 had been directed at Israeli military forces and settlers in the West Bank.This was the first confirmed stabbing attack in Jerusalem since late December, when two Palestinian from Qalandiya were shot and killed after stabbing two Israelis near Jaffa Gate, one of whom succumbed to his injuries.

Israeli soldiers detain young Palestinian in disputed circumstances
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — Israeli soldiers detained a young Palestinian man near the Gush Etzion intersection south of Bethlehem on Sunday afternoon, sources said. Israeli media said a Palestinian had been detained by Israeli forces at the junction on Sunday, although they gave contradictory reports on the circumstances in which he was apprehended. Israeli online news site Ynet reported that a Palestinian tried to escape from Israeli forces but was detained, and later confessed to having intended to carry out a stabbing attack. However, a witness who requested anonymity told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers stopped a Palestinian vehicle at the junction and forced a young man to step out of the car at gunpoint. “They then took him at gunpoint to an open area, where he was forced to take off his clothes and lie on the ground before they violently beat him,” the witness said.

Israeli police assault Palestinian children, photograph them in J’lem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 29 Jan — Israeli policemen on Thursday evening harassed a number of Palestinian children and teenagers in neighborhoods of Occupied Jerusalem and photographed them. The Palestinian Information Center (PIC) reporter in Jerusalem said that Israeli policemen intercepted children aged between 10 and 16 in Shu‘afat refugee camp and Beit Hanina, interrogated them, took photos of them, and assaulted some of them. 12-year-old Ibrahim Abu Khdeir said that policemen searched his clothes and interrogated him on a street as he was on his way to buy groceries. “The occupation soldiers interrogated me, “Where do you live? How old are you? What is your name?” And then took pictures of me and my cousin Baker near a wall,” Abu Khdeir told the PIC. For his part, 15-year-old Fawzi Bukair, from Shu‘afat refugee camp, said that policemen violently pushed him against a wall near the light rail station when he refused to stop for interrogation and photographing like other children, who were exposed to the same situation. Bukair added that the police brutally dealt with him and threatened to arrest him if he did not go immediately to his home after they registered his name and address, took pictures of him. The mother of 11-year-old Saif Abu Khdeir, in turn, told the PIC that an Israeli policewoman beat her son in the face and threatened to arrest him. “The soldiers terrified him and interrogated him violently and harshly, and when he tried to go back home, they refused to leave him before they photographed him,” the mother explained.

VIDEO: Abu Tayeh neighborhood in Silwan . . . constant targeting and various forms of suffering
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 30 Jan — In Silwan and the neighborhood of Abu Tayeh in specific…the sounds of grenades constantly heard by children…merchants about to close their shops…locals ready at any moment to have a broken window or hear their children yelling and terrified…dozens of demolition orders distributed on residential home and commercial stores. Even the only Mosque in the neighborhood (Al-Qa‘qa‘) is under the threat of being demolished…Wadi Hilweh Information Center-Silwan highlighted the daily suffering of locals, merchants and children in this neighborhood.

A rubber bullet causes the child Ahmad Abu Hummos to lose his eye, movement and speech
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 30 Jan — The 12-year old Ahmad Abu Hummos is currently at “Aline hospital for rehabilitation therapy” after being injured by a rubber bullet that cause him to lose movement and speech. Abu Hummos was injured by a rubber bullet in his head on the 6th of January that also caused him fractures in the skull and severe bleeding; he was injured while walking in the main street of the village of Esawyeh. Tawfiq Abu Hummos, the child’s father, explained that his son underwent surgery to stop the bleeding. Fractured skull bones were also removed and the child remained unconscious for two weeks. It was later revealed that the bullet caused him to lose speech and ability to respond to the surrounding effects; he is also unable to move his left limbs; note that the bullet hit the left side of his brain. In regards to heading, the extent of damage was not yet determined. The child is also unable to concentrate with his eyes. The child’s father added that his son is being fed through a feeding tube and can only minced food.

Clashes break out near Ramallah as Israeli checkpoint leaves hundreds stranded
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Clashes broke out on Sunday afternoon between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces in the village of Jaba‘a near Ramallah City in the West Bank after a checkpoint was closed, keeping hundreds of cars stranded. Witnesses said that that the Jaba‘a checkpoint, located at one of the main entrances to Ramallah, had been closed by Israeli forces for over three hours, holding hundreds of cars in traffic. Clashes broke out when Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at several vehicles which tried to take alternate dirt roads through the village to reach the southern West Bank. Israeli forces raided Jaba‘a to chase after vehicles, and locals responded by throwing rocks. Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets and seized the keys to several cars. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an there were “violent riots” near Jaba‘a on Sunday, and that Israeli forces had detained one Palestinian who allegedly drew out a knife . . . Locals distributed water to stranded motorists and offered them refuge in their homes. Israeli forces shut down most of Ramallah district’s roads on Sunday after a Palestinian Authority staff sergeant shot and injured three Israeli soldiers at an Israeli military checkpoint near the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. Amjad Jaser Sukkar, 34, was shot and killed on the scene. The Palestinian Authority military liaison director in the Ramallah and al-Bireh governorate, Nadir Hijja, told Ma‘an that people with IDs indicating they were from Ramallah would be allowed to enter the city, but not to leave it. Conversely, Hijja said, Palestinians from other areas would not be allowed to enter Ramallah, but could leave the city. He added that this policy was to be applied for an indeterminate amount of time. Since a wave of unrest began in occupied East Jerusalem in October and spread across the West Bank and Israel, more than 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers, and over 20 Israelis have died in attacks, most of which were stabbings. The rise in tensions has been accompanied by a growing number of checkpoints and blocked roads in the occupied West Bank, despite a statement in January by Israeli army Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, who said that “it would be a bitter mistake to impose curfews and closures” on Palestinian communities, adding that such moves would “work against Israeli interests.”

For first time in current terror wave, Israel severely restricts access to, from Ramallah
Haaretz 1 Feb by Gili Cohen & Jack Khoury — For the first time in the current terror wave, the Israel Defense Forces imposed a partial closure on Ramallah on Monday.  Exit from the city is only permitted for the transfer of goods, humanitarian cases (the sick, pregnant women and others) and for Palestinian Authority officials, in coordination with Israeli authorities. Entry to the city is blocked for anyone other than residents of the city and Israeli Arabs. Israeli military officials decided after a security assessment late Sunday night to block entry to Ramallah for all non-residents, just hours after a Palestinian police officer from Ramallah shot and wounded three Israelis in the area. On Monday afternoon it emerged that exit from Ramallah is being restricted as well. Tens of thousands of Palestinians visit the city daily from the area of Jerusalem and from across the West Bank. This is the first time since the wave of terror began in October that the IDF as surrounded a Palestinian city.  According to a military source, the restrictions were not only imposed because of Sunday’s shooting but also due to security warnings issued for the area and shooting attack cases that have yet to be solved. The decision to close off the city, which is both the West Bank’s economic and political center, was made in accordance with instructions from the political echelon.

Israeli army raids grocery store, home near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 31 Jan — Israeli forces  Sunday raided a house and a grocery store in the town of Beit Sahour, east of Bethlehem, according to security sources. Soldiers reportedly broke into a grocery store belonging to a local Palestinian in the town, where they checked its surveillance cameras, without providing a specific reason behind the raid. Soldiers also raided the house of Fawzi Jubran, a local Palestinian, and interrogated his wife, the sister of Iyad Fnoun, who was expelled to Gaza by Israeli authorities. The troops withdrew from the town without making any arrests.

Intimidation through nightly ‘settler-tour’
[with photos] HEBRON, Occupied Palestine 31 Jan by ISM, al-Khalil Team — On Saturday, 30th January 2016, large groups of settlers, accompanied by heavily-armed soldiers, entered the Palestinian market at night and took it over for about an hour during night-time in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron). Around 9:30 pm, Israeli settlers from the illegal settlements throughout al-Khalil gathered at Bab al-Baladiyya, from where they walked into the Palestinian souq, the market, surrounded by heavily armed Israeli forces. The group of more than 50 settlers started a ‘tour’ of the Palestinian market, with Israeli forces ‘guarding’ them throughout the Palestinian market. Palestinian residents were not allowed to pass and forced to wait at a distance, with soldiers repeatedly pointing the lasers from their guns at them to indicate they have to stop. A walk home at night though, for some Palestinians took almost an hour, instead of the usual 10 minutes. This kind of ‘settler tour’ through the Palestinian market used to take place regularly on Saturday afternoons. During the ‘tour’ Palestinians are often denied to pass, stopped, ID-checked and detained. In the recent months, no ‘settler tours’ took place, but last week they started again with a nightly-tour at 11pm. For the Palestinian residents of the souq, these tours have become a regular form of intimidation and harassment in the past.

Israel summons seven Palestinians for interrogation
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 30 Jan – Israeli forces overnight summoned seven Palestinians from the Bethlehem and Hebron districts for interrogation, said security sources. In Bethlehem district, Israeli forces raided Marah Rabah village, south of the city, where they summoned a Palestinian. They handed Khalil Taqatqa, 21, a notice ordering him to appear before intelligence. Forces also summoned a Palestinian young man after storming his family’s house during a predawn raid into Tuqu‘ town, east of Bethlehem.
The man was identified as Muhammad al-‘Amur, 20. Forces summoned three other Palestinians after storming their families’ houses during a raid into Ad-Duheisha refugee camp, south of the city. Mustafa al-Akhras, 28, Amal ‘Ajamiya, 30, and ‘Abdul-Karim ‘Abbad, 56, were handed notices ordering them to turn themselves over to intelligence. Forces summoned another Palestinian identified as Mahmoud Shanayet as they raided al-‘Ubeidiya town, east of the city.
Meanwhile in Hebron city, forces summoned local Muhammad al-Qawasma and stormed several Palestinian houses during a raid into a Hebron neighborhood. Forces also raided Beit ‘Awwa town, southwest of the city, where they proceeded to storm and ransack several houses, including the family house of Muhammad al-Masalma.

Israeli soldiers kidnap eight Palestinians in Hebron, two in Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded, earlier Sunday, the southern West Bank district of Hebron, searched homes and kidnapped eight Palestinians. The soldiers also invaded Bethlehem city and kidnapped two others. Media sources in Hebron said the soldiers invaded the al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, searched many homes and kidnapped two Palestinians, identified as Baha’ Jihad Al-Hamouz, 17, and Mohammad Ahmad Abu Sil, 20. The soldiers also kidnapped a sports journalist identified as Mahmoud Fathi Qawasma, in addition to Salah Issa Abdul-Mohtasib, Abdul-Hafith Adnan al-Mohtasib, and Dia Eddin Hosniyya, 17, from their homes in Hebron city. In addition, the soldiers kidnapped Mohammad Ibrahim Halayqa, 23, and Ismael Maher Halayqa, 21, from Shiokh [al-Shuyukh] town, as they were heading for work. In related news, the soldiers invaded Tareq Bin Ziad area, south of Hebron city, and fired gas bombs, causing dozens of residents, especially schoolchildren, to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In Bethlehem, several military vehicles invaded Saff Street, violently searched homes and kidnapped a Palestinian, identified as Mohye Mohammad Suman, 18.  Another Palestinian, identified as Mohammad Taha Abu Latifa, 22, was kidnapped from his home in the al-Ja’ba [al-Jaba‘a?] village, west of Bethlehem, after the soldiers invaded it, and searched homes. The soldiers also installed two roadblocks on the Ramallah-Nablus road, north of Ramallah, and near the main entrance of Nabi Saleh village, before stopping and searching dozens of cars. It is worth mentioning that the Israeli soldiers have kidnapped more than 44 Palestinians, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, in the past two days.

PCHR Weekly Report on human rights violations in the oPt (21-27 Jan 2016)
PCHR-Gaza 30 Jan — Shootings . . . During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed three Palestinian civilians, including two children, in the West Bank. Moreover, they wounded 22 civilians, including three children; 12 of whom, including a child, were wounded in the Gaza Strip while the remaining others were wounded in the West Bank. Concerning the nature of injuries, 11 civilians were hit with live bullets and 11 others were hit with rubber-coated metal bullets . . . Incursions  During the reporting period,Israeli forces conducted at least 73 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and four ones in occupied East Jerusalem.During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 47 Palestinian civilians, including seven children. Eleven of these civilians, including four children,were arrested in East Jerusalem. Among the arrested were Hatem Qafisha (56), PLC member representing the Change and Reform Bloc of Hamas movement, and engineer Essa al-Ja‘bari (49), a leader in Hamas movement and former Minister in the 10th Palestinian Government. Both of them were arrested from their houses in Hebron. See Full Report.

Prisoners / Court actions

Hunger striker says ‘Palestinian journalists on the frontline’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — Imprisoned Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq sent a statement on Friday from the hospital where he has been held under Israeli custody since his 68-day hunger strike has brought him near to death. The 33-year-old father of two from the occupied West Bank village of Dura launched the strike after being detained in November and held in Israeli prison without trial or charge. “Palestinian journalists have always been on the frontline,” al-Qiq said in a statement delivered by a lawyer for the Palestinian Authority’s Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs. “They [Palestinian journalists] are now experiencing forceful and abusive detention because they have been the voice of human conscience, exposing crimes and oppressive practices of Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people,” al-Qiq said. “Palestinian journalists including myself are paying the toll of a racist Israeli policy,” al-Qiq wrote, referring specifically to “journalists who are shot and detained” all over the occupied Palestinian territory. “When people are been treated tyrannically, they are no longer worried about the consequences even if the toll is life. Thus, I entrusted myself in God’s hands and I will continue with this hunger strike, until martyrdom or freedom,” al-Qiq said in his statement. The hunger-striker’s message was read in public during a rally held following Friday prayers in al-Qiq’s Hebron-area hometown.

Al-Qeeq: Hunger-striking journalist writes testament
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Jan — By day 66 of Muhammad Al-Qeeq’s hunger strike, the Palestinian journalist wrote his testament [will], hoping that he could see his wife and children before dying. Al-Qeeq, who has been on hunger strike, now, for 66 days, in protest of administrative detention, wrote his testament as seen in the photo above. His handwriting reflects his deteriorating health, as the words can hardly be read. In his testament, he hopes to see his wife and children, and he asked to be laid to rest in his mother tomb. Muhammad, a 33-year-old husband and father of two small children, was taken by Israeli forces inside his Ramallah home, at 2:00 a.m. on Nov. 21 . . . Like 660 other administrative detainees held by Israel at the end of December, Al-Qeeq has no access to the charges against him, which are kept in classified files by Israeli forces.

Palestinian PM meets with family of imprisoned hunger-striking journalist
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and the head of the Palestinian Authority’s Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe‘ met on Sunday with the family of hunger-striking prisoner Muhammad al-Qiq. Hamdallah said the Palestinian government was exerting all efforts to obtain the immediate and unconditional release of al-Qiq, who has been on a hunger strike for 69 days to protest his ongoing administrative detention — internment without trial or charge. On Saturday, a report by the HaEmek Hospital, where al-Qiq has been detained since his condition worsened, confirmed that the Palestinian journalist was in a critical state and had lost his ability to speak. Hamdallah told al-Qiq’s family that the PA had contacted a number of international organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, to pressure Israel to release al-Qiq or to allow his family to visit him. The Israeli Supreme Court delayed on Wednesday its decision on whether or not to release al-Qiq, approving to continue the detainee’s administrative detention until his medical condition had been examined.

Health minister calls to allow Palestinian medical team to oversee health of hunger striker al-Qiq
NABLUS (WAFA) 31 Jan — Minister of Health Jawad Awwad Sunday demanded that a Palestinian medical team be allowed to oversee and provide medical care to hunger striking Palestinian detainee in Israeli jails, journalist Mohammad al-Qiq, whose health has reached a very critical stage in Israeli hospitals. Awwad warned that the critical health condition of al-Qiq cannot withstand any further delay to release him, noting that he is on the verge of death. The minister called on the international community to intervene to ensure the release and save the  life of al-Qiq, who has been on hunger strike for 68 consecutive days against being detained without a charge or trial . . .  Meanwhile, Heba Masalha, a lawyer working for the commission of detainees and ex-detainees affairs, said after she was allowed to visit al-Qiq on Sunday, that he is in a very critical condition; he is hardly able to communicate as he has completely lost his ability to speak, coupled with a 60% loss in his hearing ability. She noted that al-Qiq is suffering from a severe eye infection, noting that both eyes have turned bloodshot red, adding that he still refuses to undergo any medical checkups and take any nutritional supplements and relies on water only, fearing that he’d lapse into a coma within the next few hours.

Israeli authorities issue administrative detention orders against 55 Palestinians
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 31 Jan – Israeli authorities Sunday issued administrative detention orders, without charge or trial, against 55 Palestinian detainees, including a former minister of local government and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS said that 32 detainees received administrative detention orders for the first time, noting that the rest of the detainees, who have been held without charge or trial for years, had their sentences renewed. It said that former minister Issa al-Ja‘abari and PLC member Hatem Qafesheh received  imprisonment sentences without charge or trial for a period of four months.

Palestinian liaison facilitates release of 6 detained by Israel
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — The Palestinian military liaison with Israel reportedly facilitated on Friday the release of six Palestinians who were detained by Israeli forces from the Nablus area of the occupied West Bank. The head of the military liaison, Osama Mansour, told Ma‘an that three of those released had been detained by Israeli forces for possessing knives in their vehicle after they had slaughtered livestock. Mansour identified the three as Rami Dweikat, 30, Alaa Khader, 20, and Said Khader, 22. Mansour said Israeli forces had also detained three others from the village of Salem while they were planting olive trees. The detainees were identified as Nabil Muhammad Ishtayeh, 55, Wajdi Nabil Ishtayyeh, 35, and Sultan Abed Awwad, 50. The six were released hours after they were initially detained, Mansour added.
Palestinian Authority security forces coordinate with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank in line with the Oslo Agreements, and have faced criticism that such coordination works in favor of Israeli, not Palestinian, interests. PA intelligence chief Majed Faraj remarked last week that PA forces had prevented around 200 attacks by Palestinians against Israel, in addition to confiscating weapons and detaining around 100 Palestinians. The remarks brought a storm of criticism from several Palestinian factions who said that Faraj’s statement was “an insult to the struggle and sacrifices of Palestinians.”

Jerusalem Jewish-Arab school arsonists’ sentences harshened
Ynet 31 Jan by Telem Yahav — The Supreme Court on Sunday increased the jail sentences for two brothers charged with setting fire to the Hand-in-Hand bilingual school in Jerusalem in November 2014. Nahman and Shlomo Twito, who were sentenced last summer to 30 months and 24 months in jail respectively, each had eight months added to their sentence. Nahman, 18, will now serve a 38-month sentence, while Shlomo, 20, will serve 32 months. The sentence of Yitzhak Gabbai, 22, is still under debate due to the fact that he confessed to arson but not to incitement on Facebook, meaning that he has not yet been charged. His original sentence was three years in jail . . . The indictments filed against the Twito brothers and Gabbai said that the three are members of Lehava, a far right-wing group opposed to Jewish assimilation and co-existence between Jews and Arabs.,7340,L-4759935,00.html

3 teens indicted for allegedly vandalizing Dormition Abbey
JPost 31 Jan by Yonah Jeremy Bob, Daniel K. Eisenbud — The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office filed an indictment on Sunday with the city’s district court against three minors from Jerusalem, aged 15-16, forwriting anti-Christian graffiti on the Dormition Abbey and on parts of the Via Dolorosa on January 16-17. “May his name be obliterated,” “Death to the heathen Christians the enemies of Israel,” “Go to hell” and other messages were crudely scrawled in red ink, drawing international condemnation. Due to the defendants’ ages, their identities remain under gag order. They were charged with destroying property based on hostile religious motives and with harming religious sensitivities. A statement put out by the Justice Ministry described the crime as follows: “The three walked through Hagai Street in the Old City, eventually arriving at the third stop of the Via Dolorosa walk. One of the defendants started writing messages on the site to insult Christianity and Jesus. The second defendant served as a lookout while the first wrote the messages. Next, they proceeded to the fifth stop on the Via Dolorosa, writing additional messages. Two hours later, one of the defendants met up with a third defendant and the two of them went to write offensive messages on walls and doors next to the Dormition Abbey.”


Report: Hamas naval commando dies at sea during ‘jihadi mission’
JPost 30 Jan –Hamas affiliated media sources reported on Saturday that one of the group’s naval operatives died overnight during a
mission at sea opposite the Gaza coast, Israel Radio reported. Palestinian media initially reported that the deceased was a fisherman who drowned when he fell off his boat. Israel news outlet Walla named the commando as Hamdi al-Sultan, adding that he died while carrying out a ‘jihadi mission.’ The IDF does not comment on incidents that occur outside of Israeli territory.
In September, Hamas announced that another member of its naval commando unit drowned in a training accident off Gaza. During Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, four divers reached Zikim Beach, north of Gaza to try and attack Israeli targets.
They were eventually identified by IDF lookouts and killed in a strike by the Israel Navy.  Last year, Customs officers and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) intercepted an attempt to smuggle diving suits into the Gaza Strip. Security sources assess that the package was part of Hamas’s attempts to build up its offensive military capabilities.

Israeli occupation navy opens machinegun fire on Gaza fishermen
GAZA (PIC) 31 Jan — The Israeli occupation navy on Saturday evening opened heavy machinegun fire on Palestinian fishermen off Gaza’s shore. The Israeli navy gunboats unleashed random spates of machinegun fire on Palestinian fishing boats setting sail off Gaza waters. The Palestinian fishermen at the scene were forced to leave the sea and go back home for fear of being killed in the attack.

Palestinian cancer patients prevented from treatment (VIDEO)
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Jan — Israeli Major General and coordinator of Israeli government activities in the Occupied Palestinian territories, Yoav Mordechai, has admitted that his government prevents cancer patients in Gaza from receiving treatment. Earlier this week, Israel imposed a travel ban for patients through the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, in the north of the Strip. Israel has given no reason for the ban on patients who were previously allowed to enter Israel on medical grounds. Mordechai said, in an interview with the Palestinian daily news paper Al-Quds, that his government has its excuses for such policies. Reportedly, he claimed that the patients from are commissioned, by Hamas, to “sabotage” the Israeli economy. Soha Hussein, wife of a 53-year old cancer patient from Gaza, emphasized in an interview with Days of Palestine: “My husband is too sick to be able to serve himself. How can you imagine he would be able to leave the hospital and collect intelligence information?” But Yoav Mordechai is of a different opinion. “Hamas’ cynical exploitation of Israeli entry permits is forcing Israel to think twice before it issues permits to Gazans,” he said, warning that the Israeli authorities to “close the Strip and completely prevent travel of Gazans from the Strip.”
According to teleSUR, Palestinian female cancer patients participated in a sit-in in Gaza this week in order to protest Israel’s refusal to allow female cancer patients from Gaza to cross into Israel to seek medical help, which they have been receiving for years . . . According to the Gaza Health Ministry, there are more than 14,600 cancer patients in the Gaza Strip. The AHP also says that 30 percent of them have been able to receive medical treatment in Israeli hospitals. Many of the hospitals in Gaza simply cannot provide the optimized treatment for cancer, as a result of Israeli attacks on hospitals and extremely limited access to medical supplies. At the same time, according to an interview with Dr. Hamdan in Al-Akhbar, “Patients in Gaza have no access to the medication they desperately need for their treatment. Even under normal circumstances, there are 45 kinds of cancer treatments that are not available in Gaza. Not to mention that from time to time, the Ministry of Health in Gaza declares acute shortages of medicine.” And, on top of this, there are only four doctors available for nearly 15.000 cancer patients. Israel has, in the past, used cancer-inducing bombs such as Dense Inert Metal Explosive, known as DIME (linked images extremely graphic), in addition to depleted uranium charges. According to nuclear data, people living in the dispersal zone are expected to acquire cancers, birth defects , stillbirths, and other known, unknown or untraceable and undiagnosable diseases.

Shin Bet steps up questioning of traders leaving Gaza
Haaretz 30 Jan by Amira Hass — Gazan businesspeople arriving at the Erez crossing with exit permits are being forced to wait hours and then face questioning. If Israel eventually lets them through, they can expect similar treatment from Hamas upon their return — Residents of the Gaza Strip, including businesspeople and traders with ties to the Palestinian Authority, have complained that the Shin Bet security service has been grilling them to obtain more information about the situation in the Hamas-run enclave. The extensive questioning comes as they leave Gaza via the Erez crossing, even though they had already received exit permits after lengthy security checks. Sometimes, the Gazans say, they are required to wait hours to be questioned, making them late for business meetings they have set up in the West Bank or Israel. Other times, they wait several hours but the questioning isn’t carried out and they’re instructed to return to Gaza and come back another day. From testimonies and complaints compiled by the Israeli Gisha organization (which works to ensure the freedom of movement for Palestinians), it appears the phenomenon has become much more widespread in recent months.
It was previously reported that patients on their way for medical treatment in the West Bank or Israel have been required to undergo Shin Bet questioning at the Erez crossing (as a condition for their being allowed to enter). And fishermen arrested on their boats under the pretext that they have crossed beyond their permitted fishing zone also told Haaretz they were immediately taken in for questioning by the Shin Bet, which sought to obtain information about their neighbors and relatives, and what was happening in Gaza. Reports from the Strip indicate that this practice is continuing, and that fishermen who are detained and released are later questioned by Hamas in Gaza.
What is new, however, is that the complaints are now coming from traders and other businesspeople who, in an Israeli effort to expand economic activity in Gaza, have been granted permission to cross into Israel on a regular basis with permits that are renewed every few months. Those delayed at the border are afraid to talk openly about having been questioned or what they have been asked – out of concern they will later be questioned by Hamas security forces. The widespread assumption among residents in Gaza is that compulsory questioning at the border is one of the Shin Bet’s means of trying to recruit people who will collaborate with the Israeli security service on a regular basis. Gazans with whom Haaretz has spoken have said the questioning and delays at the border are creating and reinforcing an atmosphere of suspicion against various segments of the Gazan population – particularly those with ties to the PA . . .
Last year, Palestinians made a total of 171,309 crossings into Israel at Erez, according to Gisha’s figures. (This is not the number of people who crossed into Israel, since most crossers did so several times). About 55 percent of the recorded crossings were by traders and other businesspeople, while 18 percent were by patients and those accompanying them. The figures reflect a 127 percent increase over 2014, when there were 75,238 crossings at Erez . . . In spite of the increase, Gisha stressed that the exit permits represent only a tiny fraction of the 1.8 million Gaza population. For example, in September 2000, 500,000 crossings of workers into Israel were registered.

PA Ministry of Health sends $1.5 million in medical supplies to Gaza
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health sent a medical aid convoy worth over six million shekels ($1,514,617) to Gaza in 18 truckloads of medicine and medical equipment, a statement said Sunday. The supplies included medicine for chronic diseases as well as venous solutions, antibiotics, baby formula, lab equipment and emergency room equipment.

Homeless Gazans struggle during harsh winter
AFP 31 Jan — Azza al-Najjar struggles in vain to keep her two-year-old warm by wrapping him in blankets in her prefabricated metal home as a winter storm lashes the Gaza Strip. “The cold increases the suffering of people here,” the 24-year-old mother says. “My son has breathing problems and with the weather his condition has worsened.” The family have been staying in the temporary home in the city of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza since theirs was destroyed in the 2014 war between Israel and Palestinian militants in the enclave. But recent rains battering the besieged Strip have seen schools and roads closed, while families like Najjar’s have watched water and mud seep through the doorway into their homes. She, her husband and two children — the youngest of whom is just six months old — live in a metal box just five metres (16 feet) by three metres. It includes just one bedroom, a small corner for cooking and a bathroom. “There is no electricity, water, food or gas,” she says. “We don’t even have firewood.” . . .  – ‘Cold like a morgue’ – Her husband Samir, bundled up under blankets, watches helplessly as water gushes past their home. “We live — but that’s only because we’re not dead,” says the 30-year-old, who became wheelchair-bound after being shot by Israeli forces in 2008. The family survives on donations from charities that “are not enough”, he adds. Their home is one of around 100 that an NGO from the United Arab Emirates built as a temporary measure after the war, but that are woefully inadequate for the winter rains. Some families have stretched plastic sheeting over their roofs in a bid to prevent leaks. With UN schools closed by the weather, older kids play idly in the rain. Three huddle around a small fire in a desperate bid to warm frozen bones. Life in a mobile home is “cold like a morgue in winter and like a furnace in summer,” said Abdullah al-Najjar, 48, who also lives with six family members in one of the temporary shelters . . . .

UN chief ‘alarmed’ by Hamas leadership’s pledge to keep building tunnels, firing rockets at Israel
UN News Center 30 Jan — Alarmed by recent statements from the Hamas leadership in Gaza about the group’s intention to continue building tunnels and firing rockets at Israel, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said such remarks and actions do “serious disservice” to the enclave’s long-suffering people and put at risk the international community’s humanitarian and development efforts. “Such statements and actions put at risk reconstruction, humanitarian and development efforts by the international community and Palestinian and Israeli authorities. They also do a serious disservice to the long-suffering people of Gaza,” said Mr. Ban in a statement issued by his spokesperson. After three devastating conflicts in seven years, people in Gaza and the people of southern Israel deserve a chance for peace and development, the Secretary-General’s statement continued, underscoring that every effort must be made to improve the living conditions of the people of Gaza. “The Secretary-General reiterates his condemnation of terrorism in all its manifestations,” it concluded.

Hamas: Collapsed Gaza tunnel was used to ‘kidnap’ body of IDF soldier Oron Shaul
JPost 31 Jan by Khaled Abu Toameh — Since 2014 Gaza war, Hamas has claimed it is in possession of the body of fallen IDF soldier deemed missing in action — The tunnel that collapsed east of Gaza City last week is the same one that was used to kidnap IDF soldier Oron Shaul during Operation Protective Edge, Khalil Al-Hayeh, a senior Hamas official, revealed on Sunday. Seven Hamas members were killed in the tunnel collapse last week; four others survived. Hamas said that the seven men were members of its military wing, Izzadin Kassam. They were renovating the tunnel that was partially destroyed during the war, Hamas said. Al-Hayeh denounced UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, who criticized Hamas for building the tunnels. “The tunnel in which the Al-Qassam men were martyred is the same one that was used to kidnap the Zionist soldier Oron Shaul during the aggression against the Gaza Strip,” the Hamas officials said during a ceremony in Gaza City to commemorate the slain the Hamas members. “The weapons that we possess are for defending our people and holy sites,” Al-Hayeh said. “Ban Ki-moon and all the others need to know that these weapons are for self-defense.” He also accused the UN chief of having previously “justified the crimes of Israeli ‘occupation’ against the Palestinian people.”

Netanyahu to Hamas: Israel will strike with greater force than 2014 war if attacked from tunnels
JPost 31 Jan by Herb Keinon — PM warns Palestinian terror group against reestablishing network of underground passageways. — Israel will respond more forcefully than it did during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge it it is attacked from the Gaza Strip’s terror tunnels, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday. Netanyahu, speaking to the annual meeting of Israel’s ambassadors and consul-general, related to the recent Hamas threats and boasts about those tunnels. “If we are attacked from the tunnels in the Gaza Strip we will respond with great force against Hamas, with much greater force then we used during Operation Protective Edge,” he said. “I think they understand this in the region, and in the world,” he added. “I hope we do not need to do this, but our defensive and offensive capabilities are developing rapidly, and I do not suggest that anyone test us.” . . .  During a funeral Friday for the Hamas operatives who were killed when the tunnel impaled them, senior official Ismail Haniyeh vowed that the Islamist organization will continue in building its network of underground passages. Hamas officials said that they were “proud that hundreds of our men are working quietly to prepare for defending and protecting our people over and under the ground.”

Israel and Hamas are in an underground race against time in Gaza
Haaretz 31 Jan by Amos Harel — Frequent accidents suggest the militant group is in a rush to build its attack tunnels, while Israel is stepping up efforts to thwart the threat; But a new war in Gaza isn’t yet inevitable — Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Sheikh Ismail Haniyeh, was forced to reveal a small part of his group’s intentions on Friday, following the collapse of a tunnel that killed at least seven members of its military wing. In his Al-Omari Mosque speech eulogizing the dead, Haniyeh said the military wing had dug tunnels around Gaza “in order to defend the Palestinian people and liberate the holy sites.” He also took pride that the tunnels were “double the length” of those dug in the Vietnam War, and explained that the present period of calm was not a time of rest in Gaza, but is being exploited by Hamas fighters making preparations for the next military campaign. Haniyeh claimed the tunnels delivered “a strategic victory” over Israel during the last war (Operation Protective Edge) in the summer of 2014. He praised the fighters of “eastern Gaza” who are busy digging tunnels into Israeli enemy, while in “western Gaza” they are continuing their daily trials of firing rockets into the Mediterranean . . . In recent weeks – since Haaretz’s first report about Hamas rebuilding its network of attack tunnels – the two sides have traded statements. Senior Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Education Minister Naftali Bennett (who is a member of the security cabinet), have commented on the possibility that Hamas will again attack via the tunnels. “Hamas is ready for the next round,” an officer from the IDF’s Gaza Division told residents from a regional council in the Gaza border region. Hamas responded with threats via the Palestinian press. What’s happening on the ground is equally interesting. The large number of accidents and problems Hamas has run into underground could show that someone in Hamas is in a rush to prepare their offensive tools ahead of a possible decision on an attack. On the Israeli side, last week we saw pictures of intensive efforts to locate such tunnels east of the border with Gaza.(Continued)

New restaurant in Gaza excites local palate with Chinese touch
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (NewsAsia) 31 Jan by Majd Al Waheidi, MediaCorp — Although Chinese restaurants can be found all over the world, Kaza Meza, meaning “several qualities” in Arabic slang, is slightly different. The restaurant seems to be living up to its name as it is the first of its kind in the Gaza Strip to serve Chinese cuisine; many customers are eager to give it a try. “I was very, very happy when I heard that a restaurant in Gaza started the Chinese food line in their restaurant. So, we came today and tried it. It was very exciting,” said Roba Abo Marzouq, a local university student. Opened three months ago, the restaurant is becoming a favourite for students and families alike, with prices of food ranging from US$5 to US$10 – something that most can afford, especially as poverty is high in this coastal enclave . . . Ironically, the restaurant’s chef, Mohammed Neim, has never been to China, or even any Chinese restaurant for that matter. Instead he learnt all he knows from YouTube, which – coupled with his long experience in cooking Middle Eastern food – helped him source ingredients to cook seven different Chinese dishes. “After a marketing study, we found out that there is a gap in the Chinese food. So, we wanted to be the first,” said Mohammed Al Masrii, the restaurant’s Marketing and PR director. “We have seven meals such as Szechuan noodles and chop suey. Gazans are thirsty to try something new and to break the routine.”

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Settlers’ secret deal to buy two houses in Hebron
Ynet 30 Jan by Oded Shalom and Elisha Ben Kimon — Negotiations began five years ago and included dozens of secret meetings; the payment was made at a Kiryat Arba gas stop: An envelope with money for the deeds to the property on 36 Al-Shuhada Street; now, the Palestinian seller is in hiding with a death sentence over his head, while his son was taken by the PA to pressure him into turning himself in, and the buyers are waiting on the decision: Can they move in? — . . . On Thursday, January 21, in a well-planned operation, 17 Jewish families, accompanied by dozens of settlers and supporters from all across the country, arrived at 36 Al-Shuhada Street and moved in with bells on. They didn’t need to break in the doors, as the settlers had the keys. They received them, they say, after having bought the house, obtained all of the original paperwork and signed all of the required documents.  Standing on the middle of the snow-covered street, just outside the house, the story of how it was purchased sounds like a thriller whose ending has yet to be written. The narrator is Shlomo Levinger, 42, the son of Moshe Levinger, a leader of the Jewish settlement in Hebron who passed away last year. Shlomo is the principal of a primary school in Kiryat Arba and a member of an NGO called “Enlarge the Place of Thy Tent” (Isaiah 54:2), which deals with the “liberation” of homes in Hebron, the city of the ancestors. What this in effect means is buying real estate from Arabs. This isn’t the first real estate deal he’s been involved in. Before that were the Machpelah house, located next to the Cave of the Patriarchs, and Beit HaShalom, also known as Beit HaMeriva, depending on your political inclination.And yet, it feels like this deal is more nerve-wracking than all the others. The drama behind the scenes is intense, as the seller is currently staying with some of his family members in a safe house in central Israel, protected by the NGO. Meanwhile his son and some of his brothers are being held by the Palestinian Authority under the threat that if he, the seller, doesn’t turn himself in, “they will never see the light of day again.” (Continued),7340,L-4759748,00.html

Demolition orders to displace an estimated 80 individuals
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Jan — Israeli authorities notified Palestinian Bedouin families, on Thursday, of the planned demolition of their houses, giving them a deadline of February 1st to evacuate the structures. The structures are situated between the occupied West Bank cities of Nablus and Ramallah, according to Al Ray. Suleiman El-Zawahra, a Palestinian citizen, said that the families were told to evacuate the structures, stressing that the demolition process targets more than 30 facilities which are used for housing and ranching. In an interview with Quds Press Service, El-Zawahra noted that the structures belong to a number of Palestinian Bedouin families, and are inhabited by around 80 individuals. He explained that Israeli authorities have declared the region a “closed military zone” which means building and residing there are prohibited. He stressed that the Bedouin families have been living there for nearly 30 years. El-Zawahra explained that the families were told to evacuate the area years ago, but filed a petition against the decision. The court recently rejected the appeal. He pointed out that the families do not have any alternative accommodation. sraeli authorities continue to demolish many Palestinian Bedouin villages in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in order to expand Israeli settlements.

Israeli decision to return Palestinian land in Jordan Valley fake promises
JORDAN VALLEY (PIC) 1 Feb — An expert in Israeli illegal settlement activity said Israel’s announcement of its decision to return 5,000 dunums of Palestinian lands in the Jordan Valley, in the eastern occupied West Bank, have remained an unfulfilled promise. Palestinian expert Khaled Maali said such promises make part of Israel’s intents to whitewash its crimes against the Palestinians and mislead the international community into believing that misappropriation is legal. Maali attributed the decision to the simmering pressure exerted by the international community and human rights bodies so as to force the Israeli occupation to freeze illegal settlement construction. He added that such Israeli claims aim at pulling the wool over the world’s eyes and absorb international pressure. Maali quoted Haaretz newspaper as stating that the decision to return the lands to their Palestinian owners came following an appeal they filed to the Supreme Court. An investigation conducted by Haaretz in 2013 proved the appeals legitimate after it found out that 5,000 dunums were registered in the Tabu department under the Palestinian property heading. Expert Khaled Maali said though the Israeli occupation government vowed to hand 14 land lots back to their Palestinian owners, none of such vows became true, just as has been the case with similar Israeli pledges to return 500 dunums of Palestinian lands in western Salfit province, in the northern occupied West Bank.

Israeli army bans Palestinian from building house in Beit Ummar
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 1 Feb — The Israeli occupation army on Sunday evening ordered a Palestinian to stop building his new house in Beit Ummar town, north of al-Khalil city. Anti-settlement activist Mohamed Awad said that Israeli soldiers stormed Wadi al-Sheikh area near al-Khalil-Jerusalem road and put up a notice ordering Osama al-Alami to stop construction works in the house. Awad added that the soldiers confiscated construction materials and equipment from the site.


Indiana legislature unanimously passes anti-BDS bill
JTA 30 Jan — The president of the Jewish Affairs Committee of Indiana, which lobbied for the bill, thanked the state House for its passage — The Indiana House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill banning state dealings with entities that boycott Israel. The bill sent to the state’s Senate on Jan. 26 defines “the promotion of activities to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel” as meeting the standard of “extraordinary circumstances” necessary under state law to mandate divestment from a company. The Indiana bill states that the effort to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel is “antithetical and deeply damaging to the cause of peace, justice, equality, democracy and human rights for all people in the Middle East.”  The bill is one of about a dozen now under consideration in state legislatures that would counter the BDS movement. The businesses defined in the bill include commercial enterprises and non-profit organizations, which would mean that the law, once passed, would apply to universities. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement has focused its efforts on campuses and scholarly associations. Funds that would be mandated to divest from businesses that boycott Israel include the teachers’ retirement fund and the public employees retirement fund . . . Should the state Senate approve the bill, Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican known for his pro-Israel leadership while he was in the US Congress, is expected to sign it.

Italian academics call for boycott of Israeli universities
Ynet 29 Jan by Itamar Eichner — The academic boycott against Israel continues to broaden, with a new petition signed by 168 academics and researchers in Italy calling to suspend all agreements with Israeli universities as well as the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology in Haifa.  The petition comes three months after 343 British academics signed another petition calling for an academic boycott of Israeli universities on the grounds that they participate in violations of international law and support the occupation. The Italian academics and researchers, who belong to seven separate universities across Italy, claimed in their petition that the Technion engages in military research and develops weapons that the IDF uses to “repress the Palestinian people.”The petition continues: “We, the undersigned scholars and researchers at Italian universities are deeply troubled by the collaboration between the Israel Institute of Technology “Technion” and Italian universities.  “Technion is involved more than any other university in the Israeli military-industrial complex. The Institute carries out research in a wide range of technologies and weapons used to oppress and attack Palestinians.”  “Israeli universities collaborate on military research and development of weapons used by the Israeli army against the Palestinian population, providing undeniable support to the military occupation and colonization of Palestine,” the petition continues.,7340,L-4759523,00.html

Other news / Opinion / Review

Hamas, Fatah leaders to meet in Doha in February
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — Hamas official Ismail Radwan announced on Saturday that a meeting between Hamas and Fatah leaders would take place in early February in Doha. Radwan told Ma‘an that arrangements were being made for a meeting at an unspecified date in the Qatari capital, in which both parties would discuss a reconciliation agreement. Radwan added that Hamas was committed to implementing the existing reconciliation agreement instead of coming up with a new agreement. He called on the “hesitant” Palestinian factions to support the latest efforts financially, politically, and morally. Last week, Fatah officials reportedly discussed a rapprochement with Hamas, with Fatah central committee member Amal Hamad noting that “there is a real invitation for the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements to form a serious national partnership.” . . . The two Palestinian parties have had particularly tense relations since Hamas won legislative elections in 2006 and became the ruling party in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian Authority officials have criticized Hamas for creating a shadow government in the Gaza Strip and blocking efforts to reach political unity. Hamas has in turn accused the PA of executing a plan to “eradicate” the movement from the West Bank, saying that an arrest campaign of hundreds of members was carried out by the PA to target reconciliation efforts between the two factions.

Abbas calls on 26th African summit to push toward international conference to revive deadlocked peace procress
ADDIS ABABA (WAFA) 30 Jan – President Mahmoud Abbas Saturday called upon the African Union Summit to push toward an international peace conference to renew the deadlocked Middle East peace process and bring about the two-state solution. Addressing the 26th session of the African Union Summit (AUS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Abbas called on the AUS to support efforts aimed at the convention of such a conference in order to bring about the two-state solution. Abbas also called for the formation of an international working group; similar to P5+1 to help solve regional crisis. During his speech, Abbas stressed the need for the activation of the UN Security Council’s role and welcomed the French Foreign Minister Lauren Fabius’ initiative to convene an international conference to safeguard the two-state solution. Fabius had announced Friday that his country would recognize a Palestinian state within weeks if the bid to break the deadlock fails. “In the coming weeks, France will take… steps in order to organise an international conference gathering each of the parties’ principle partners — principally Americans, Europeans and Arabs — in order to preserve and to bring about the two-state solution,” Fabius was quoted by AFP as saying.

Senior Hamas official slams Iran
Ynet 31 Jan by Elior Levy — A senior Hamas official, Mousa Abu Marzouk, attacked Iran in a taped phone conversation that was leaked online on Sunday morning. Abu Marzouk can be heard saying that Iran has not provided Hamas with any aid since 2009 and that any Iranian declarations to the opposite are lies. Furiously reacting to Iran’s statements that it supports Palestinian resistance, Abu Marzouk said in the conversation that “the story is not as they describe it. They are incredibly manipulative people. We’ve received nothing from them since 2009. Everything they’re saying is a lie.”  Abu Marzouk also addressed Iran’s excuses for halting weapons shipments to Hamas’ armed wing in Gaza. “For every boat that they’ve lost since 2011, they claimed that it was on its way to us, for example the one that was caught by Nigeria,” he said . . . Abu Marzouk’s conversation was leaked to an al-Aswat newspaper reporter in Ramallah. The timing is significant, coming just days after a report emerged about Hezbollah’s attempt to renew close ties between Iran and Hamas by setting up a meeting in Beirut between Abu Marzouk and senior Iranian officials. The aim of the meeting was to try and win back Iranian support for Hamas in the wake of Tehran’s spat with Saudi Arabia. Hamas sources refused to confirm or deny the authenticity of the conversation, only saying that it is solely the intelligence services of countries such as Israel that are able to intercept phone calls.,7340,L-4759977,00.html

Hamas leader Meshaal in Jordan to visit his ailing mother
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal arrived in Amman on Sunday after Jordanian authorities allowed him into the country to visit his sick mother. Meshaal is expected to stay until Wednesday, Jordanian news site Ammon reported. Meshaal was banned from Jordan in 1999, but he was allowed to visit the country in 2009 after his father’s death. He traveled to Jordan again in 2011 to see his mother, and in 2012 for a political visit brokered by the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Ibn Hamad al-Thani. After being banned from Jordan, Meshaal stayed in Syria from 2011 to 2012. He has since been based in Qatar.

US gives $12M to aid World Food Program for food assistance in Palestine
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 31 Jan – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) West Bank and Gaza Mission announced on Sunday a $12 million contribution to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) for food assistance in the West Bank and Gaza. This contribution will provide 10,200 metric tons of food assistance to 95,000 food insecure people in Gaza and an additional 41,500 food insecure people in the West Bank, USAID said in a  statement.  This money will also support the West Bank electronic voucher program benefiting 50,000 vulnerable Palestinians.  The electronic food voucher program in the West Bank is an innovative way to provide food assistance while supporting the development of small businesses and the local economy through the procurement of locally produced foods.

‘But you don’t look like an Arab’ / Muhammad Kabha
+972 blog 31 Jan — Years of failed coexistence projects between Jews and Palestinians, which were always intended to show Jews that we too are human beings, brought me to the conclusion that enough is enough — . . . When I was 14 they took us to the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace at Givat Haviva to participate in a special project between my school and another school from the Jewish city of Bat Yam . . . After a few introductory meetings at Givat Haviva, which took place entirely in Hebrew, it was time to visit each other in our homes. From the get-go we understood that there had been kids from Bat Yam who had refused to participate in the project. Furthermore, not everyone who came to the meetings at Givat Haviva agreed to the home visits. Including Sivan. Nevertheless, the teachers asked us to host them like we know how to, the way it is customary in our culture. Khaled and I welcomed Dudu and Yossi at Khaled’s house. As is customary, Khaled’s mother cooked good Arab food. Dudu and Yossi weren’t afraid to come to our homes in the village — quite the opposite, they were very curious. They were surprised when they realized that we sleep on beds. They were even more surprised when they saw a computer in Khaled’s room. After mulling the question for a while, Dudu asked about the animals that are supposed to live with us in our homes.
When we went to Bat Yam two weeks later, they didn’t invite us to their homes. Instead they hosted us at their school where they prepared a special buffet of hummus, falafel, pastas, salads — and cake. When the school bell rang they all rushed home and left their guests at the school. That’s how the coexistence project ended, the project in which our teachers and moderators unintentionally taught us it is our responsibility to prove that we, almost like our Jewish counterparts, are human beings. The coexistence project only made more apparent the master-slave dynamic created by the occupation. Until that day I had loved hearing the phrase: “But you don’t look Arab.” Not anymore.

Review: ‘The Settlers’ gives Sundance a window into extremist West Bank movement
JTA 30 Jan by Uriel Hellman — What is a settler?  That’s the question that opens the new documentary film “The Settlers,” which premiered last week at the Sundance Film Festival. Written and directed by Shimon Dotan, the film offers an answer almost immediately: a religious fundamentalist driven by messianic ideology who believes Jews have the exclusive right to the West Bank and may use all manner of subterfuge, violence and law breaking to fulfill the divine imperative of settling the Holy Land. There is truth in this answer, but it is not the whole truth. Most settlers, as Dotan himself acknowledged in an interview with JTA, do not fit this description. They are “economic settlers” – Israelis who live in the West Bank because it’s cheaper than living in Israel proper. They are overwhelmingly law abiding, reside mostly within commuting distance of major Israeli cities and include secular Jews among their ranks. Dotan said that 320,000 of the West Bank’s 400,000 settlers fall into this category. Only the remaining 80,000 are “ideological settlers,” who live there for reasons of religious or political principle. Of those, a fraction are extremists. That context is largely missing from his film, which focuses almost exclusively on the far-right religious extreme – the hilltop youth who illegally occupy remote outposts, the young Jews who perpetrate and celebrate violence against Palestinians, residents of the most fanatically anti-Arab communities in the West Bank . . . Dotan’s film forces us to reckon with the ugliness in the settler movement, even as he showcases the West Bank’s beauty with some stunning aerial photography. His subjects are the settler from Tekoa who proudly declares himself a racist, the father who talks jovially to his young sons about beating up Arabs when they grow up, the settlers who want their enterprise eventually to swallow the Kingdom of Jordan — and maybe even all the land from the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates in Iraq . . . The film features interviews with unrepentant members of the Jewish Underground, who in the 1980s carried out bombing attacks against the Palestinian mayors of Nablus, Ramallah and El Bireh (two were maimed, one escaped unharmed), plotted to blow up the mosque at the Temple Mount and planted bombs on Arab buses. Israeli officials caught them and defused the bombs before they exploded . . . Palestinian violence against Israelis goes almost unmentioned, except for a few oblique references. In Dotan’s film, the only Palestinians we see are victims. Palestinian violence is “irrelevant” to this story, Dotan said. (listserv) (archive)

About Kate

American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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