Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine 6 Mar by ISM, al-Khalil Team — Kindergarten children in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) often face harassment and intimidation by Israeli forces on their way to kindergarten. Listen to this audio recording of a discussion between an international volunteer and the soldiers about why the soldiers ‘have to’ scare the kindergarten children and see it as ‘their job’. Israeli forces justify the intimidation and harassment of the children, between the ages of 4 to 6 years, that are forced to walk up a broken path – as the paved road on the other side of the fence is only allowed for Israeli settlers from the illegal settlements in al-Khalil – and then past a checkpoint on their daily way to and from the kindergarten, saying that they ‘need to scare them’ because otherwise they would ‘grow up and stab a soldier’. Listen to the full recording.
Palestinian woman shot after alleged stab attempt in Jerusalem’s Old City
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — A Palestinian woman was shot and injured Tuesday after allegedly attempting to stab Israeli officers stationed in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, according to police reports. Police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said a 51-year-old “Arab Jerusalemite woman” attempted to carry out a stab attack on officers deployed on al-Wad Street. Officers opened fire and “immediately neutralized” the woman, al-Samri said, adding that the woman sustained injuries but her condition was not immediately known.
Palestinian woman arrested for allegedly planning stab attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli police on Monday arrested a Palestinian woman who they allege was planning to stab Israeli border police officers at the Container checkpoint east of Jerusalem. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that officers noticed the woman approaching them in a “suspicious” manner with a backpack. They ordered that she put the bag down, then, after approaching her and searching the bag, discovered a knife inside it. Samri alleged that the woman later confessed to having gone to the checkpoint with the intention of carrying out a stabbing attack. [PIC: Another Palestinian girl was kidnapped by the IOF from al-Khalil city in the early evening hours and on the same allegations.
Soldiers invade an orphans’ charitable society in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Mar — Several Israeli military vehicles invaded earlier Monday, a charitable society for orphans, in Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and violently searched it, causing property damage, and clashes. The soldiers also invaded a barn and searched it. Mohammad Ayyad Awad, the media spokesperson of the Popular Committee in Hebron, said dozens of soldiers invaded the charitable society, in the al-Bayada area, after smashing its front doors. Awad added that the soldiers smashed doors inside the charitable society, and violently searched it, in addition to holding the guard in one of its rooms. The soldiers also invaded the office of the head of the charitable society Ahmad al-‘Omari, searched orphans’ files, and confiscated three hard drives. The invasion of the town led to clashes between the soldiers, and dozens of local youths, who hurled stones and empty bottles on the military vehicles. The army fired gas bombs, causing several Palestinians to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. In related news, the soldiers invaded a barn in Beit Za’ta area east of Beit Ummar, detained its owner, Na‘im Hmeidan Abu Mariya, and searched the property after ordering the family to shut their mobile phones down.
Army injures a Palestinian near Bethlehem, kidnaps another
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Mar — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday at dawn, the al-Khader town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, shot and injured one Palestinian and summoned three others for interrogation. The army also kidnapped a Palestinian from the town, as he was crossing a military roadblock.
VIDEO: Israeli forces attack peaceful demonstration and suffocate civilian population
[includes 10-minute video of this beautiful village under attack] NI‘LIN, Occupied Palestine 5 Mar by ISM, al-Khalil Team — On 4th March 2016, the village of Ni‘lin held their weekly protest against the illegal Israeli occupation, the illegal settlements and the theft of the village’s land. Israeli forces attacked the peaceful demonstration inundating the whole area with massive amounts of tear gas. As they came into the village with their jeeps, they directly targeted houses and a public park and thus the civilian population not even involved in the demonstration. Many suffered excessive tear-gas inhalation, ten needed treatment by medical personnel, including a 3-year old boy that was playing with his friends in the public park. Israeli forces targeted the ambulance assisting the injured by firing tear-gas straight at it. Additionally to the large amounts of tear-gas, Israeli forces fired rubber-coated metal bullets at protesters, injuring one person in the leg.
Israeli soldiers invade ‘Arraba, near Jenin
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Mar — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday evening, the town of ‘Arraba, southwest of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, before breaking into and searching a coffee shop and a car dealership, near the town’s junction. The soldiers invaded and ransacked a coffee shop belonging to resident Jihad Mousa, before interrogating him, and several other Palestinians. In addition, the soldiers invaded a car dealership, owned by resident Ayman Ghaleb, and searched it. The soldiers also drove around provocatively, and harassed several residents, pushing many youngsters to hurl stones on the military vehicles, while the army fired gas bombs. It is worth mentioning that dozens of soldiers were deployed on the main roads leading to the towns of Ya‘bad, Kfeirat, and Um ar-Meehan, and installed many roadblocks before stopping and searching dozens of cars. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers also invaded several olive orchards and searched them.
Clashes erupt as Israeli forces enter Hebron-area village
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Clashes broke out between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces during a raid in al-Shyoukh village north of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, locals said. Local said Israeli troops raided al-Shyoukh and closed the village’s northern entrance. The sources said youth threw stones at Israeli forces after they entered the village, and Israeli soldiers responded with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas. Dozens of Palestinians suffered from severe tear gas inhalation.
Israeli forces place concrete barriers near Gush Etzion
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli forces on Monday erected concrete barriers near a road junction in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of Bethlehem that has seen numerous deadly encounters in recent months. Trucks unloaded the concrete blocks onto the main road and erected them in front of a hitchhiking station and bus stop used by Israeli settlers. More than 10 Palestinians and at least three Israelis have now been killed at the Gush Etzion junction since a surge of violence shook the occupied Palestinian territory at the beginning of October last year. Most recently, Israeli forces shot dead a 34-year-old Palestinian woman on Friday morning after she allegedly rammed her car into an Israeli soldier stationed there. Palestinians from the woman’s home village of Husan rejected claims the mother of four had intended to attack anyone when she was killed. The road junction has been referred to by some Palestinians as “death junction.”
5-year-old Duma attack survivor to visit Real Madrid on March 17
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Mar – Major Spanish football team Real Madrid will be welcoming on March 17 a young Palestinian boy whose family was killed in an arson attack committed by Israeli settlers last year, the Palestinian Football Federation said on Saturday. Ahmad Dawabsha, 5, was the sole survivor of a deadly arson attack carried out by extremist Israeli settlers on his family home in the northern West Bank village of Duma on July 30 last year. The child lost both his parents, Saad and Riham, as well as his 18-month-old brother, Ali. Federation president Jibril Rajoub said in a statement that Real Madrid “sympathized with Dawabsha after a photo of him wearing the team’s uniform in his hospital bed went viral,” and agreed to host Ahmad later this month. Ahmad will be accompanied by two adult family members, as well as a representative of the Palestinian Real Madrid supporters club. Rajoub said the Spanish team’s move — which was coordinated by the Palestinian ambassador to Spain Kifah Udah — was “appreciated, and would have humanitarian dimensions.” A campaign for Ahmad to meet his idol Cristiano Ronaldo has garnered international support in past months.
Knesset panel: It’s OK for Shaked to meet family of alleged Duma killers
JPost 6 Mar by Arik Bender — A parliamentary ethics panel ruled on Sunday that Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked acted within the bounds of her duties by meeting with the family of one of the Jewish extremists charged in the murder of three Palestinians from the village of Duma. “There was no improper behavior by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked,” a Knesset ethics committee said on Sunday, striking down a motion by Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg. The leftist lawmaker filed the motion, arguing that Shaked’s meeting signaled encouragement to far-right wing operatives in the West Bank to continue attacks against Palestinians. Zandberg was compelled to submit an official complaint against Shaked in light of the punitive measures taken against lawmakers from the Arab nationalist Balad party following their controversial meeting with the families of Palestinian terrorists. The Knesset ethics committee ruled that the Arab lawmakers violated parliamentary norms and that their actions warranted a suspension from plenum discussions.
Palestinian woman detained during protest over Al-Aqsa ‘blacklist’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian woman on Sunday in the old city of occupied East Jerusalem after Israeli soldiers and police officers dispersed a rally protesting against an Israeli ‘blacklist’ of Palestinians banned from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque. A participant in the rally, Um Eyhab al-Jallad, told Ma‘an that a group of blacklisted men and women marched outside of the al-Majlis gate of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to protest not being allowed to enter the compound. The protesters then rallied towards Damascus Gate at the entrance of the Old City, raising posters with slogans like “I have the right to pray in al-Aqsa,” and “Al-Aqsa belongs to us and it’s not their temple.” Israeli police officers and soldiers surrounded the protesters as they were walking towards Herod’s Gate, and dispersed them using tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. Israeli forces then detained protester Hanadi al-Halawani.
Two 14-year-old boys detained for throwing rocks in Negev
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — Israeli police on Sunday detained two teenagers in the Negev region for throwing rocks at Israeli vehicles traveling on Route 31, an Israeli police spokesperson said. The spokesperson identified the detainees as two 14-year-old boys from the al-Atrash Bedouin community in the area. The two teenagers are accused of causing property damage. No injuries were reported as a result of the alleged stone throwing. The spokesperson said an investigation into the incident was ongoing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September declared a “war on stone throwing,” establishing a minimum prison sentence for adults who throw stones, as well as allowing Israeli forces to use sniper fire against stone throwers in circumstances that pose mortal danger. Netanyahu said at the time said that there would be “significant fines” for minors who commit such offenses, as well as for their parents.
Israeli forces detain 6 Palestinians, including 2 boys, near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least six Palestinians in and near the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday, including two young boys who were released after several hours. Israeli forces detained two children — identified as Bakr Mahmoud Ali Najajreh, 13, and Abeer Youssef Makhamreh, 10 — around noon on Saturday while they were herding sheep in the Janba area near Yatta. The two boys were released on Saturday evening after the Palestinian military liaison interceded on their behalf. Meanwhile, locals told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers detained Rami Izzat Qindahi, 19, from Ramallah at a military checkpoint near the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron, after Israeli forces claimed he was in possession of a knife. Qindahi was then transferred to the Israeli intelligence services for interrogation. Local sources also told Ma‘an that three other Palestinians were detained in the al-Jabari neighborhood of Hebron for allegedly being in possession of a gun. They were reportedly taken to Kiryat Arba police station for interrogation.
Israeli forces detain nine, including [another] football player, in West Bank
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least nine Palestinians — including a football player — in raids in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. At least five Palestinians were detained in and around the southern West Bank city of Hebron, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement. The organization identified the detainees as Yasin al-Rajabi and his son Shadi, Layth Noor al-Alami, Shadi Ibrahim Bahar, and Sami al-Daour. Al-Daour is a football player from the Gaza Strip currently playing for Shabab al-Samu club, which is ranked in the first division of the West Bank league, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said. Israeli troops also stormed the southern West Bank town of Beit Ummar at dawn and detained three teenagers, including twin brothers, a local committee spokesman told Ma‘an. Muhammad Ayyad Awad identified the detainees as brothers Mamoon and Jamal Mahmoud al-Qam, 17, and Muataz Nayhal Bahar, 17. Awad added that Israeli forces also delivered summons to a number of young men in the town. Awad himself was detained for more than an hour, along with fellow Beit Ummar resident Khalid Hasan Abu Hashim, after he attempted to take photos of Israeli soldiers during the detention raid. He said the Israeli soldiers confiscated his camera. East of Bethlehem, Mahmoud Nasri Salah, 24, was detained at the Container checkpoint, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said. Meanwhile, a young Palestinian man was injured by a rubber-coated steel bullet when clashes broke out during an Israeli army raid in the town of al-Khader south of Bethlehem.
Israeli troops detain 19, including 6 minors, in overnight raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least 19 Palestinians, including six minors, in overnight [Sunday-Monday] raids across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) in a statement said Israeli troops detained four Palestinian minors from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir. The youth were identified as Shahin Abbasi, 14, Akram Zahayka, 13, Obada Zahayka, 14, Anas Zahayka, 15. Israeli troops also detained Muath Abed Rabbio, 23, and Sameer Abed Rabbo, 38, from the village of Sur Bahir southeast of Jerusalem, the society said. PPS added that Israeli forces detained Fadi Taher al-Shouani, Mahmoud Akram, 21, Mahmoud Naim Mamdouh, 20, and Tareq Ziyad al-Araj from the Qalandiya refugee camp in the central West Bank district of Ramallah. Shadi Khalid al-Rimawi was detained from the town Beit Rima northwest of Ramallah. Israeli forces also detained Jamal Muhammad al-Sayyed, 23, Muhammad Abdul-Latif Shebani, 43, and Muhammad Abdul-Fattah, 22 in the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Meanwhile, Muhammad Barham, 19, and Muhammad Aqel, 24, were detained from the city of Qalqiliya. In the southern West Bank, Israeli troops detained Hamza Amjad al-Titi, 15, Mahmoud Yousef al-Mazyan, 15, and Wissam Ibrahim Abu Asaad from the city of Hebron.
2016: 23 journalists assaulted by Israeli army
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Mar — Since the beginning of January 2016, a total of 23 Palestinian journalists on duty were targeted by Israeli armed forces and police, with 12 of the attacks occurring during the month of February alone. WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency prepared a monthly report in which violations against journalists were documented, and indicated that the Israeli army continues to target Palestinian journalists, putting their lives at risk and hindering their work. The report explained that journalists were being targeted with live metal rounds, teargas canisters, physical assault and arrests. Their ability to work freely and freedom of speech were also compromised. In January alone, 11 journalists were targeted, while another 12 registered being attacked by Israeli forces during the month of February. Eight journalists sustained injuries due to being hit with rubber-coated steel bullets, while four others were either arrested, detained, had their press passes confiscated, or shot at without being hit. (Continued)
Hamas fighter buried after new Gaza tunnel collapse
GAZA CITY (AFP) 5 Mar — The military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas yesterday buried one of its men killed in the collapse of a Gaza tunnel, the latest in a string of such incidents. Ezzedine al-Qassam said its fighter Mohammed al-Astal “was martyred while working in one of the tunnels of the resistance”, referring to an underground network built for fighting Israel. At the funeral in his southern Gaza hometown of Khan Yunis, Astal’s body was escorted to the grave by a crowd of mourners, many of them armed. His death brought to 12 the number of Gazans killed in five separate tunnel collapses since January 26, as growing Israeli concerns grow over the reconstruction of “attack tunnels”. Ten of the dead have been members of Ezzedine al-Qassam. Some Palestinians blame the cave-ins on winter flooding, while others point the finger at neighbouring Egypt which has launched an offensive against tunnels into its territory. Israel’s military chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot, has said that militant tunnels in Gaza are now the army’s main priority.
Hamas fighters are reportedly afraid of entering ‘tunnels of death’ after seven recent collapses
The Blaze 6 Mar by Sharona Schwartz — Some Hamas fighters have said they are afraid to enter tunnels the militant group has dug for fear of being buried alive as happened to their comrades-in-arms on at least seven recent occasions, according to Israeli media reports. The newspaper Israel Hayom, quoting unnamed sources in Gaza, reported Friday that some Hamas members have refused orders to enter the tunnels, which serve to smuggle weapons and goods into Gaza for cross-border attacks in Israel. Echoing that report, Hamas sources told the Jerusalem Post that fighters in Gaza have said they are now afraid of entering the tunnels over concerns they might collapse . . . A relative of a member of Hamas’ military wing, the Izzedin Al-Qassam Brigades, told Israel Hayom that rumors are spreading around Gaza about fighters refusing to enter the tunnels. “To be buried alive is a terrible way to die,” the family member, who spoke anonymously, said. “Everyone has heard the stories of Qassam Brigade members who preferred harsh punishments over digging the tunnels. The Zionist occupation is finding the tunnels and collapsing them on anyone inside. That’s not being a shahid [martyr]. That’s gambling with your life,” the relative said.
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian man near Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli troops shot and moderately injured a Palestinian man near the Gaza Strip border on Monday, locals and medical sources told Ma‘an. The sources said the man was shot east of al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said the victim was left bleeding on site for half an hour before a Palestinian ambulance could reach him. The man was then evacuated to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah. Medical sources said the man suffered from a gunshot wound to the leg. Israeli sources said a military patrol came under fire during a “normal activity at the border.” No injuries were reported among Israeli soldiers.
Palestinian education ministry condemns Israel’s ‘targeting’ of Gaza school
MEMO 4 Mar — The Palestinian ministry of education and higher education has condemned an attack on Beit Dajan Elementary School in the east of Gaza City by Israeli forces. The ministry said in a statement released Thursday that at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, while students were still in their classrooms, the school came under fire by Israeli tanks stationed east of Gaza City. The ministry said one of the eighth grade classrooms was hit by a bullet. The classroom had 40 students in it at the time, causing widespread panic. It said the attack had obstructed the education of the school’s 500 students. The ministry accused Israel of deliberately targeting the school, noting that this is considered a serious violation of all international charters and norms and called on international bodies and human rights organizations to condemn the attack and punish those responsible.
Israelis living along Gaza border write to UN’s Ban urging lifting of blockade
i24news 5 Mar — A group of Israelis living in communities along the border with the Gaza Strip wrote to the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, urging him to promote the lifting of Israel’s blockade on the coastal enclave to ensure their Palestinian neighbors could lead their lives in “human conditions,” local media reported. According to a report on Mako, the internet portal of Israel’s Channel Two News, the letter by the ‘Other Voice’ group stated they “have, over the years, addressed countless letters and petitions to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as other government officials,” to no avail. “We stressed that the siege is a ticking bomb for everyone involved, on both sides.” The petition said that the ongoing humanitarian crisis is likely to fuel further violence if not addressed.
Hamas blasts Fatah comments about ‘retaking’ Gaza
MEMO 6 Mar — Palestinian resistance group Hamas on Saturday blasted statements made by the Fatah movement’s revolutionary council in which it said it was mulling its “options” to retake the Hamas-run Gaza Strip in the event that upcoming reconciliation talks between the two groups fail. “Fatah’s threats to ‘retake’ Gaza betray the truth of its intentions,” Hamas said in a statement. Hamas went on to urge Fatah, which leads the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), to “leave custodianship [of the Gaza Strip] up to the Palestinian people, respect election results, and adopt the principle of partnership”.
Hamas denies involvement in Egyptian official’s death, calls claims ‘baseless’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — The Hamas movement on Sunday denied any involvement in the June 2015 killing of Egypt’s chief prosecutor, following accusations levied against the group by Egyptian authorities earlier that day. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the accusations “baseless” and damaging to “the efforts being made to develop the relationship between Hamas and Cairo.” Earlier on Sunday, Egypt’s chief prosecutor ordered the detention of six people — who the prosecutor claimed were Muslim Brotherhood affiliates trained by the Hamas movement — suspected of planning the car bomb that killed former Egyptian prosecutor Hisham Barakat. On Sunday evening, one of Hamas’ leading figure, Ahmad Yousif, reiterated that the Hamas movement and Muslim Brotherhood had no “organizational connection.” Yousif said the Muslim Brotherhood “made sacrifices in defense of the Palestinian cause,” and “mobilized the Arab nation for the goal of liberating the Palestinian land and holy places,” but insisted the two movements were just allies and did not train or operate as one movement. Yousif added that Egypt’s accusations against Hamas as being involved in Barakat’s death come “at a time when we were looking forward to improving the relationship with Egypt.” “These claims come as a surprise at this specific timing,” Yousif said.
Minus the hair: Gaza’s modern-day Samson performs extraordinary physical feats
[with photos] GAZA (Reuters) 7 Mar by Nidal Al-Mughrabi — A modern-day Samson is performing feats of physical strength in Gaza. “Go Samson go!” yelled a crowd in the Palestinian enclave cheering on Mohammad Baraka as the 20-year-old with the Biblical nickname used a rope around his chest to pull a 15-ton petrol tanker. Baraka, who prefers to be known as “The Incredible”, perhaps because he lacks the original Samson’s long hair, has been putting on displays in his hometown of Deir al-Balah for the past two years, earning a reputation as the strongest man in the Gaza Strip.
Israel destroys home of Palestinian killed after suspected car-ramming
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — Israeli forces early Tuesday demolished the interior walls of a home belonging to a Palestinian killed after reportedly running his car into Israeli border police, one of whom later died from their wounds. Locals told Ma‘an that dozens of Israeli soldiers stormed Nimra neighborhood of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron and surrounded a two-story house belonging to the Skafi family. The soldiers then manually demolished the interior walls of an apartment on the second floor of the house where Ibrahim Skafi, 22, had lived. Israeli forces shot Skafi dead on Nov. 4 after he reportedly ran his vehicle into Israeli border police stationed at al-Hawawir junction near Halhul in the Hebron district, injuring two. One of the officers, identified as 19-year-old Benjamin Yaakovovich, died days later from his wounds. The destruction of Skafi’s home was the most recent to be carried out through Israel’s policy of punitive demolition.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israel sentences prominent Palestinian lawyer, brother to prison
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — An Israeli court in Jerusalem sentenced on Monday prominent Palestinian lawyer Shireen Tareq al-Issawi and her brother to four and eight years in prison for being in contact with, and providing funds to, Palestinian prisoners. The Israeli court sentenced Shireen al-Issawi, 38, to four years in prison, and her brother Medhat al-Issawi, 42, to eight years in prison. Amjad Abu Assab, the head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners said that Shireen and Medhat, who come from the Jerusalem-area village of al-‘Issawiya, were accused of being in contact with Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons and providing them with funds, which Israel considers “terrorism.” Abu Assab added that Israel had detained Shireen in March 2014, in a campaign carried out against Palestinian lawyers in Jerusalem. Medhat was detained at the same time, and both have been held in administrative detention for two years.Shireen was held in Israeli detention multiple times over the years, and spent several months under house arrest. Meanwhile, Medhat has spent more than 20 years in Israeli prisons, and has also been under house arrest. He is married and has a daughter. Shireen and Medhat are the siblings of well-known Palestinian prisoner Samer al-Issawi, who held a 266-day hunger strike in 2012 and 2013
46 prisoners at Etzion detention center end hunger strike
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Mar – Some 46 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel’s Etzion detention center ended a hunger strike Monday after the Israeli authorities agreed to let the prisoners receive supplies they had been demanding. The Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs said the prisoners, who went on hunger strike on Thursday last week, called off the protest after the committee was able to donate clothes, cleaning materials, blankets and other supplies to them. The director of the committee’s Bethlehem office, Munqith Abu Atwan, told Ma‘an that his staff, along with civil society organizations in Bethlehem, had collected the supplies via donations and had sent them to the hunger-strikers via one of their lawyers. Abu Atwan described Etzion detention center and its interrogation rooms as “hell, unfit for human life.” The prisoners went on hunger strike on Thursday in protest against the quality and quantity of food served to them, in addition to filthy living spaces, inadequate medical treatment, and lack of regular access to showers.
Islamic Jihad-affiliated prisoners planning protests over solitary confinement
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — Islamic Jihad-affiliated detainees held in Israeli prisons are preparing a series of protests in reaction to “a campaign waged by Israeli prison services against prisoners in solitary confinement,” the group announced on Sunday. In a statement received by Ma‘an, leaders of the Islamic Jihad-affiliated prisoners said protests would start in April. The statement noted that at least 16 prisoners are currently held in solitary confinement including Islamic Jihad-affiliated prisoner Nahar al-Saadi, who has been in Israeli custody since 2003. Al-Saadi is was handed four life sentences and an additional 20-year sentence by an Israeli court, after being accused of driving a Palestinian woman who blew herself up in the city of Affula in 2003, killing four Israelis and injuring dozens. Al-Saadi has been held in solitary confinement since May 21, 2013. He launched a hunger strike in November 2014 after he was deprived of family visits. He ended the strike after 28 days after Israeli prison services pledged to allow his mother to visit him in April 2015. However, instead of a visit, al-Saadi was only allowed to talk to his mother on the phone.
Film about Palestinian hunger striker al-Qiq to be screened at Cannes festival
Haaretz 8 Mar — A film about Mohammed al-Qiq, the Palestinian hunger striker who has been held in Israeli detention without trial on suspicion of being involved in Hamas terrorist activity, will be among the short films featured at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The 11-minute film, called “Al-Qeeq,” is a dramatic depiction of al-Qiq’s experience on hunger strike in Israeli detention. The film is and directed by Palestinian Nawras Abu Saleh and produced by his Amman-based Nawras Media company. In the film, Abu Saleh plays al-Qiq and actor Ahmad al-Omary plays an Israeli investigator, according to an Iranian-based website, anba24, which said the film depicts the relationship between the prisoner and the Israeli.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli court rules to displace Um al-Hiran Bedouins
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — An Israeli court on Sunday ruled that the Bedouin community of Um al-Hiran in the Negev in southern Israel is illegal, on the grounds that the community settled on state lands, Israeli media reported. “The state is the owner of the lands in dispute,” Israeli daily Haaretz quoted Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein as writing. “The residents have acquired no rights to the land but have settled them [without any authorization], which the state cancelled legally.” Israeli planning authorities intend to build a “new town for Jewish residents in its place,” Haaretz reported. On Monday, Israeli authorities reportedly entered farm lands used by Um al-Hiran residents with the intentions of destroying crops, but residents were able to prevent forces from beginning the demolition . . . Bedouin member of the Israeli Knesset Talab Abu Arar accused Israeli Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel of creating “a secret government committee” aimed at destroying the crops of Arab villages. According to Abu Arar, the “secret committee” recommended that Arab villages in the Negev be emptied, and residents removed. “This is a special Israeli form of ethnic cleansing,” Abu Arar continued. Abu Arar highlighted that Israeli authorities destroyed crops in the villages of Attir, Hurah and Saawah during the past several days.
Israeli bulldozers uproot dozens of olive trees west of Salfit
SALFIT (PIC) 5 Mar — Israeli bulldozers uprooted at dawn Saturday dozens of olive trees in Beir Ballout town west of Salfit. Eyewitnesses said that a group of settlers stormed the area with bulldozers and uprooted dozens of olive trees as a prelude to confiscating the agricultural lands for expanding Leshem settlement. Leshem settlement was inaugurated in Aug. 2013 and considered one of the first major new settlements in the last twenty years. Three major archaeological sites in the area were damaged by its construction.
Settlers open settlement road east of Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 6 Mar — Israeli settlers on Saturday opened a 1.5-kilometer road on Palestinian land in Kisan village to the east of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank. The PIC reporter said that opening of the road, which was conducted under the protection of Israeli forces, aims at confiscating more Palestinian lands in order to connect two Jewish settlements. Hussein Ghazal, head of Kisan’s village council, told the PIC reporter that the Jewish settler called Yusuf who opened the road had previously confiscated about 1000 dunums in 2014 under gun threat and the protection of Israeli soldiers. He built three houses and a farm over that confiscated area, Ghazal added.
The West Bank village of Wadi Foquin: trying to survive
Huff Post 4 Mar by Zeina Azzam — The bucolic Palestinian village of Wadi Foquin, nestled in a lush valley on the West Bank, is known for its fruits and vegetables, honey, olive trees, and natural springs. Situated near the green line with Israel, it lies five miles southwest of Bethlehem. Wadi Foquin is also a village fighting for its very existence. Like many other Palestinian population centers, Wadi Foquin faces an unrelenting and harsh reality: expropriation of land by the Israeli government in order to build and expand nearby settlements and settlement roads. Indeed, the settlement of Betar Illit, east of Wadi Foquin, is encroaching on the villagers’ lives in every way. In addition to confiscating hundreds of acres from Wadi Foquin since 1987, settlement growth and activity have obliterated vast swaths of grazing land, trees, and park land, contaminated the natural springs, destroyed irrigation networks, and resulted in an increase of the villagers’ unemployment and poverty rates. And like other Palestinian villages and towns, Wadi Foquin suffers from the lack of freedom of movement, with frequent road closures and two Israeli military checkpoints that impede travel significantly. These were some of the facts presented at a recent briefing on Capitol Hill to an audience of congressional staffers and community members. Three Palestinian leaders discussed the dire situation in the West Bank and in their village: Ahmad Sokar (mayor of Wadi Foquin), Kifah Manasra (professor at Al-Estiklal University in Jericho, originally from Wadi Foquin), and Shukri Radaydeh (director of the Bethlehem Local Governorate). The general secretary of the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, also made remarks about her church’s association with Wadi Foquin. The General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church also supports the Wadi Foquin Community Development Project, which includes youth and women’s programs, a community center, and educational trips to Palestine.
PCHR weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (25 Feb – 2 Mar)
PCHR-Gaza 3 Mar — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt 4 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, were killed in the West Bank. 18 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli forces continued to target the border areas along the Gaza Strip, due to which 2 civilians were wounded in the east of Khan Yunis. Israeli forces conducted 67 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. 77 Palestinian civilians, including 13 children, were arrested. 10 of them, including 9 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. 3 Palestinian civilians were arrested in the southern Gaza Strip while attempting to sneak into Israel to look for work [scroll down for full report].
Thousands of teachers protest stalemate, accuse union of ‘thwarting’ talks
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — More than 3,000 Palestinian public school teachers rallied outside the Palestinian Prime Minister’s office on Monday, demanding new representation in negotiations between teachers and the Palestinian Authority, as teachers entered their fourth week of strike. An emergency meeting called on Sunday evening ended in a stalemate, as teachers rejected terms laid out by a number of members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the Palestinian Authority’s legislative body. On Monday, teachers complained that members of the PLO-affiliated teachers’ union who had previously resigned on popular demand should not have been present at the meeting. Teacher at the protest told Ma‘an that they accused the union of “thwarting” agreements with the Palestinian government. During the strike, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah released a statement “reaffirm(ing) his commitment to Palestinian teachers, students and their parents to work on finding an equitable solution to end the teachers’ strike, in order for students to return to their classrooms.” “The Palestinian teacher deserves our respect and admiration; however, everyone should put the interest of our children and their education ahead of everything,” Hamdallah said. In regards to the protest, Hamdallah added that “people have the right to express their opinion, this is part of the democratic process,” but teachers said checkpoints had been set up by the PA in an attempt to stop teachers from reaching the protest. Participants who were able to attend the rally raised posters with slogans asserting that teachers would continue with their strike until their demands were met. Palestinian teachers, who have been on strike since mid-February, are seeking higher salaries as pledged to them by the PA in the 2013 agreement that was never implemented . . . A number of teachers have now been detained by PA security forces, who have also sought to prevent the teachers from convening at demonstrations by installing checkpoints across the West Bank and threatening public transportation drivers carrying teachers to protests. The strike marks one of the largest demonstrations against the PA in recent years, with 20,000 teachers marching in Ramallah last month, and it has exposed a divide in Palestinian society, with several small attacks taking place in recent days.
PA denies donor countries requested employees’ salary statements
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — The Palestinian government denied that donor countries requested salary statements of Palestinian Authority employees, a spokesperson for the government said Saturday. Youssef al-Mahmoud said salary statements are reviewed every month by European Union auditors, adding that the EU does a yearly audit for employees’ salaries. The spokesperson said that 92 percent of PA employee salaries are covered by PA resources. Al-Mahmoud pointed out that salary statements are accessible and officially issued in a manner that guarantees transparency in financial issues. The spokesperson’s remarks came shortly after Washington-based Palestinian activist and scholar, Fadi al-Salamin, posted on his Facebook page Friday that donor countries asked the PA for details about civil servants’ salaries.
Palestinian NGO AL-Haq says staff has received ‘death threats’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq has been the target of a smear campaign in the past six months culminating in death threats, the group said in a statement released this week. Al-Haq is an independent rights organization based in Ramallah which has documented violations of individual and collective human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories since 1979. Although the organization said it “has faced various forms of attack and smear campaigns by the Israeli authorities” since its inception, it reported in a statement on Wednesday that it has faced a growing number of anonymous threats and attempts to tarnish its reputation since September. A number of anonymous messages were sent to Al-Haq donors and staff casting accusations of corruption and fraud. The accusations were discredited in November, after Al-Haq requested audits of its own accounting to dispel suspicions of wrongdoing. The intimidation tactics reportedly escalated in late February, when Al-Haq said two of its staff members, including its director Shawan Jabarin, received anonymous calls which “directly connect[ed] the risk to the life of the staff member with Al-Haq’s work regarding the International Criminal Court.” Al-Haq said the threats coincided with its involvement with “the progress achieved at the level of the International Criminal Court and decisions at the EU level regarding the labeling of settlement products.” The NGO said it had notified the “appropriate authorities” and that an investigation had been opened, adding that it was “convinced” that Israeli authorities were behind the smear campaign . . . Israeli authorities have imposed a travel ban on Jabarin, Al-Haq’s director, since 2006, lifting it temporarily on two occasions, citing undisclosed evidence that Jabarin represented a security threat.
PCHR: Threats against Al-Haq target Palestinian rights movement as a whole
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Mar — The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), on Sunday, expressed its solidarity with and support of the Al-Haq human rights organization, in confrontation of the campaign which aims to defame the Al-Haq organization, and its staff members, by unknown sources. PCHR stressed that this campaign is targeting the whole Palestinian human rights’ movement that is going through a legal struggle, on the international level, in order to expose the Israeli occupation’s crimes against the Palestinian people, and prosecute the Israeli war criminals and bring them to justice . . . Al-Haq is considered the home base for the Palestinian human rights organizations. It should be noted that Al-Haq was founded in 1979 and is one of the strategic partners of PCHR in defending human rights, confronting the environment of impunity and prosecuting the Israeli war criminals on the international level.
Ukrainian eggs with salmonella found in West Bank markets
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — The Palestinian Authority Ministry of the National Economy warned Monday that eggs tainted with salmonella that were imported from Ukraine have been found in markets in the occupied West Bank. Ibrahim al-Qadi, the director of the ministry’s consumer protection department, said the eggs came through Israel, where the authorities banned their sale after inspections found the eggs contained salmonella bacteria earlier this year. “Instead of dumping the tainted eggs, the Israelis smuggled it to Palestine by the help of Palestinian merchants,” al-Qadi told Ma‘an. He added that his ministry, together with the Palestinian health and agriculture ministries, were working to seize all the eggs. Israel initially halted egg imports from Ukraine in January after they were found to be tainted with salmonella, dangerous bacteria that can cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and fever.
Palestinians sue pro-Israel tycoons for $34.5bn
NEW YORK (Al Jazeera) 7 Mar by James Reini — Damages sought from Sheldon Adelson and others for financing construction of settlements on Palestinian soil — A group of Palestinians has launched an ambitious $34.5bn lawsuit against US-based tycoons, charities and firms for supporting Israeli land grabs, settlement-building and other violations of Palestinians’ rights these past four decades. They seek damages from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson; Irving Moskowitz, a philanthropist with property interests in East Jerusalem; and megachurch pastor John Hagee for financing the construction of settlements on Palestinian soil. Lawyers also name such charities as Christian Friends of Israeli Communities and private firms, including Dead Sea-based cosmetics maker Ahava, UK-based security firm G4S and the industrial powerhouse Israel Chemicals Limited. “We’re not in this for the money, but we’ll probably pick the pockets of some very wealthy corporations,” Martin McMahon, a lawyer for the complainants from the firm Martin McMahon and Associates, told Al Jazeera on Monday. “It’s about time that the world woke up to the fact that Palestinians are being murdered every day with US taxpayer dollars.” The case is brought by Bassem al-Tamimi, an activist, and about 35 other Palestinians and Palestinian Americans who say they have seen their loved ones killed by Israeli forces and lost their land to settlers and business and construction schemes. They allege five counts of conspiracy, war crimes, aggravated trespass, pillage and racketeering via various legal mechanisms, including laws against organised crime and US entities linked with overseas human rights abuses.(Continued)
The US, Palestine and the pursuit of justice
Al Jazeera 28 Feb by Daoud Kuttab — US court ruling against PLO and Palestinian Authority maybe the best thing that has happened to Palestinians in years — In an ironic way, the judgement by a US court against the PLO and the Palestinian Authority maybe the best thing that has happened to Palestinians in years. By opening up the US courts to so-called victims of terrorism, the US administration has, consciously or unconsciously, walked into a trap that could ultimately prove in favour of Palestinians. According to the New York Times, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organisation were found liable on Monday by a jury in Manhattan for their role in knowingly supporting six attacks in Israel between 2002 and 2004 in which Americans were killed and injured. Once the US courts agree to adjudicate cases of violence against Americans in the Middle East, they will have no choice but to take similar cases by Jewish terrorist groups against American Palestinians and ultimately state terrorism acts by the State of Israel. There are plenty of cases of Palestinian Americans injured and killed by Israel, and Israeli citizens. Americans own properties in the occupied West Bank that have been damaged or expropriated by Israel and Israelis. (Continued)
Blind journalist seeks out Palestine’s forgotten voices
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 3 Mar by Matthew Vickery — Despite obstacles, Budour Hassan says her disability has helped her to see the world in a different way — Born blind, Budour Hassan lacked confidence as a child when visiting new places or trying new things. Even stepping outside was a challenge. Now, at the age of 26, she seems worlds away from her childhood in Nazareth. “There have been times at protests, when Israeli police have been beating people. There has been a lot of tear gas, and people have been shouting, ‘She can’t see, she can’t see’ as a way to try and protect me,” Hassan told Al Jazeera, sipping on a double espresso. “You know, I understand why they say this, but if I’m honest, I don’t like this so much.” Covering protests and clashes has become second nature to Hassan, a Palestinian journalist who reports for several media outlets and websites in Arabic and English. She has been beaten by Israeli soldiers and even collapsed at one protest after inhaling tear gas, but she remains undeterred. “People are surprised that someone can be blind and a journalist,” she said with a slight, infectious grin. (Continued)
Palestinians teach blind students English via music
HEBRON (Malay Mail) 3 Mar — Palestinian students at an elementary school for the blind in the West Bank are learning English through song. For the youngsters, it’s a welcome departure from the usual braille textbooks and memorising the rules of grammar. “In specific subjects, I like to motivate them (to learn) so I teach them grammar or vocabulary by creating a song, because they feel better and they keep repeating it,” said Hind Al-Tamimi. “We are dealing with students with special needs, they are blind or visually impaired, so we urge them to depend on their hearing sense more than their sense of touch that they use in braille.” But while students said they were delighted with the new curriculum, some parents in the religiously conservative town of Hebron are concerned the use of music in the classroom is not in harmony with Islamic tradition. Rashid Rashid, English-language studies supervisor at the Palestinian Ministry of Education, said he has been assuring families that music can be a positive learning tool. “The people think that the musical methods and singing may lead to dancing, so they may not accept it,” he said. “Before we adopted this method at all of the schools, we chose 25 schools and made it clear to the headmasters that the musical method is not taboo and not shameful.”
Emails reveal degrading attitude of Jewish lobbyist to Palestinian journalist
Haaretz 3 Mar — A prominent American pro-Israel lobbyist and a Voice of America producer indulged in what The Intercept website called a “sexist” and “degrading” email exchange last year about a Palestinian journalist. The exchange began when Hooman Bakhtiar, a producer with the U.S. government-funded Voice of America, asked The Israel Project head Josh Block whether he could suggest a pro-Israel speaker for an on-air debate with Israeli-born Palestinian journalist and author Rula Jebreal . . . Block promised Bakhtiar to look for someone appropriate, before launching into a tirade against Jebreal. “Rula Jabreel (sic) is a crazy person will not (sic) real legitimacy,” he wrote. “The challenge here is to find someone not strident who wants to fight with a slanderous anti-Semite and doesn’t worry about imparting their credibility to a non-entity like her.” . . . The Intercept disagreed strongly with Block. “Jebreal’s seriousness is striking given her career accomplishments and credentials: Fluent in four languages, she was the first foreign journalist to anchor an evening news program in Italy, writes frequently for political outlets around the world, and has authored three books, including two novels…,” it wrote. “A critic of Israel, she is an articulate, substantive, sophisticated, and highly knowledgeable commentator on Middle Eastern debates.”