Broad support in Knesset for bill to deport terrorists’ families to Gaza
JPost 9 Mar by Lahav Harkov — MKs from all coalition parties and some in the opposition signed a bill that would deport terrorists’ family members to Gaza, which Knesset House Committee David Bitan (Likud) submitted Wednesday. The idea for the bill came from Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said last week that expelling Palestinian terrorists’ families from the West Bank to Gaza violates Israeli and international law and could play into the hands of those seeking to have Israel tried for war crimes in the International Criminal Court. Katz said the bill is “a first rate act of deterrence,” and called on the Attorney-General’s Office to cooperate and allow it to pass into law quickly . . . Bitan pointed out that two former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chiefs – MK Avi Dichter (Likud) and MK Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid) – support the bill, indicating its great potential, and said it could be the factor that ends the ongoing wave of terrorism. The bill states that family members of a terrorist who helped commit the act of terrorism or who knew about it in advance could lose their permanent residence status if they are residents of sovereign Israel, including east Jerusalem, or be deported from the West Bank.
Send them to Gaza, Israel’s penal colony / Gideon Levy
MEE 8 Mar — An hour’s drive from Tel Aviv: a ghetto. Possibly the largest ghetto in the world, with about two million people. The latest figures from Gisha, Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement (an Israeli NGO): Gaza unemployment is at 43 percent; 70 percent of Gazans need humanitarian assistance; 57 percent live in the shadow of food insecurity . . .GNP per capita: $1,273, which is lower than 25 years ago, and possibly the only GNP figure worldwide that just keeps on falling . . . Three hours of electricity a day. Sometimes six. In the rain and the cold, or the heat: winter and summer. Then 12 hours or more without electricity, until the next three hours, or six. Every day. Almost two million people. A million of them are refugees and the children of refugees, due directly or indirectly to Israel’s actions. Almost a million are children. Few people can imagine this. Few Israelis feel any guilt about it. Few Israelis seem to care at all about it. Hamas – you know. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a novel idea now: to this accursed place, he wants to banish the families of the knife-wielding or car-ramming assailants from the last several months. From now on, not only will any girl or boy with a knife or a pair of scissors be executed on the spot, as has happened increasingly of late whether it was necessary or not; from now on, their families will be punished too . . . Incidentally, there is something else in all this that merits our attention: Israel would officially be admitting, for the first time, that Gaza is a prison, the largest one in the world, of course. Sending the families of these perpetrators to Gaza is framed as punishment, and the choice of Gaza as a penal colony of Israel, its very own Devil’s Island, is also a confession that Gaza is viewed as a prison camp, a huge open-air cage. Israel, while claiming that the occupation of Gaza ended, is proving that the prison remains a prison, while its wardens have simply preferred to go outside and guard it from there.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian woman killed after alleged stab attempt in Jerusalem’s Old City
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) — Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian woman on Tuesday after she allegedly attempted to stab Israeli officers stationed in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem. A witness identified the woman as 50-year-old Fadwa Ahmad Abu Teir, a mother of three from the East Jerusalem Um Tuba neighborhood. The witness told Ma‘an that Israeli officers shot her several times from in al-Wad street, where “she was left bleeding” as the officers prevented locals and paramedics from accessing her. Another witness said they saw Israeli forces shoot her from point blank range. Police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said an “Arab Jerusalemite woman” pulled out a knife and approached border officers who opened fire after perceiving a “tangible threat.” Officers opened fire and “immediately neutralized” the woman, al-Samri said, later confirming her death. No Israeli injuries were reported. Amin Abu Ghazala, a doctor at the Palestinian Red Crescent clinic in the Old City, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces “wasted critical time during which the woman could have been rescued.” Abu Ghazala believed the ten minutes during which Red Crescent paramedics were prevented by Israeli forces from accessing Abu Teir could have been enough time to save her life. Abu Ghazala said the woman received a gunshot to the eye and two shots to the abdomen. Large numbers of Israeli soldiers and police officers deployed in the Old City following the incident, and all gates leading to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound were closed, witnesses added.
3 Palestinians shot dead after multiple attacks kill tourist, wound 12
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — Three Palestinians were shot dead after they allegedly carried out separate attacks in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, killing one American tourist and wounding at least 12 Israelis, on Tuesday afternoon and evening. In the first deadly encounter, shortly before 5 p.m., Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said a Palestinian man was shot dead after he allegedly stabbed and wounded an Israeli man near Petah Tikva, around seven miles east of Tel Aviv. There remained some confusion over the incident, which was initially reported not as an “attack” but as a brawl. However, al-Samri said that an “Arab terrorist” stabbed a Jewish Israeli in his mid-30s “in the upper part of his body,” leaving him with light to moderate injuries. Israeli police forces arrived on the scene and shot dead the Palestinian, she said, adding that Israeli forces closed the area for investigation. The Palestinian was identified as Abd al-Rahman Radad, 17, from al-Zawiya village in the occupied West Bank district of Salfit.
Minutes later, another Palestinian was shot dead after allegedly firing gunshots at Israeli police forces near Salah al-Din Street in occupied East Jerusalem, injuring two Israeli officers. Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said two Israeli policemen were wounded when a Palestinian shot them with an automatic weapon. A spokesperson for Hadassah hospital later said both Israeli officers had been hit in the head. One of them, aged 47, was in critical condition, fighting for his life, while the other, 31, was in moderate condition. The Palestinian was later identified as 21-year-old Fouad Abu Rajab al-Tamimi.
Shortly after 6 p.m., Israeli police reported a third attack near the port in the Israeli city of Jaffa, with a Palestinian shot dead after he stabbed to death an American tourist and wounded at least nine Israelis. Israeli emergency services Magen David Adom (MDA) said five people were seriously injured and four moderately. A spokesperson said the Palestinian attacker had stabbed the Israelis while running along a path near the port. Israeli police later identified the Palestinian as Bashar Masalha, 22, from the village of al-Hajja south of Qalqiliya in the occupied West Bank.
2 Palestinians shot dead during firefight, bystander wounded
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Mar — Israeli police shot dead two Palestinians outside Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday morning after they opened fire in the area — continuing a string of deadly encounters that shook Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories a day earlier. Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said the two Palestinians initially opened fire on an Israeli bus in the illegal settlement of Ramot in occupied East Jerusalem, before fleeing the scene without causing any injuries. The shooting sparked a massive manhunt across Jerusalem, with Israeli police later spotting the car outside the Old City’s New Gate. Rosenfeld said that a gun battle erupted between Israeli police and the two Palestinians, with both gunmen shot dead. They were later identified as Abdul-Malak Saleh Abu Kharoub,19, and Muhammad Jamal al-Kalouti, 21. A Palestinian bystander was also shot in the head in the crossfire. The man, identified as Imad Abu Ali, 57, a resident of Jerusalem’s Old City, was rushed to Hadassah hospital in critical condition. Rosenfeld said Israeli police were investigating the possibility that Israeli police had shot the bystander.
16-year-old shot dead after attempting stabbing outside blockaded village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Mar — Israeli forces shot dead a 16-year-old Palestinian boy after he attempted to carry out a stabbing attack at a military checkpoint outside the blockaded village of al-Zawiya in Salfit district on Wednesday morning. Al-Zawiya in the northern West Bank was placed under military blockade late on Tuesday after it is believed one of its residents carried out a stabbing attack near Tel Aviv. On Wednesday morning, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that an “assailant armed with a knife” approached a military checkpoint on the outskirts of al-Zawiya intending to stab soldiers there. She said that Israeli forces “thwarted” the attack, shooting the Palestinian dead. No Israelis were injured during the incident. Locals said that Israeli soldiers shot and wounded a second Palestinian during the deadly encounter, although the army spokesperson had no information about a second Palestinian being shot during the incident. Local official Naim Shqeir told Ma‘an that both Palestinians were “left bleeding” when Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances were prevented from accessing them. Shqeir said that Israeli soldiers also assaulted a vendor selling vegetables in a pickup truck who was traveling in the area. The boy was identified as 16-year-old Ahmad Yousef Amer from the neighboring village of Masha. It later emerged he had written a will before his death, saying goodbye to his parents and asking them for forgiveness. He also told them of a debt of 60 shekels he owed his school friends.
Justice Ministry probing use of deadly force against Jaffa terrorist
JPost 10 Mar by Ben Hartman — No police, volunteers, or civilians have faced criminal charges for use of force in the current wave of terror attacks over the past several months — The Justice Ministry is examining the use of deadly force against a terrorist on the Jaffa beachfront on Tuesday night, in order to determine whether or not he was killed after he no longer posed a threat. A spokesperson for the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigative Department said that at the moment they are only carrying out an initial probe, but if they find evidence of a criminal offense then they will open a criminal investigation. The attacker, 22-year-old Bashar Masalha of Kalkiya [Qalqiliya], stabbed and killed American tourist Taylor Force on the Jaffa promenade and then ran north against gridlocked traffic towards Tel Aviv, when he was shot and subdued. In video of the incident, several shots can be heard from a distance, and then in a separate clip, Masalha can be seen lying on the ground as a voice can be heard saying “I neutralized him”. A voice can be heard saying “give him one to the head, give him another one to the head”, and then what sounds like an additional shot is heard. Then another voice says “he’s lying on the ground and neutralized, why are you shooting for no reason?” The shooter was Israel Police volunteer Yossi Avigdori, who in comments to Channel 10 after the shooting said “we came here, eliminated him and continued on. I hope that all volunteers or police can be in an event like this, there is no greater joy than to subdue a terrorist.”
Israeli forces detain 60 Palestinians without permits inside Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Mar — Israeli police on Wednesday detained at least 60 Palestinian workers inside Israel without work permits, Hebrew media reported. According to Hebrew media, Israeli forces detained 25 Palestinians from northern Israel, 15 from the Tel Aviv area and 20 from the Negev. The detention campaign follows a deadly attack in the Israeli coastal city of Jaffa on Tuesday, where a Palestinian who had reportedly been living and working in Israel illegal stabbed and killed an American tourist and injured more than a dozen others. The Palestinian, identified as Bashar Masalha, 22, was shot dead at the scene.
In addition to cracking down on workers inside Israel illegally, Israeli forces on Wednesday announced that work permits would be revoked from Palestinians residing in Masalha’s hometown of Hajja village in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin. The move was the second time this year that Israeli authorities have revoked work permits from entire areas following attacks carried out by individual actors.
Israeli forces blockade 2 West Bank villages after string of attacks
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — Israeli forces blockaded the villages of al-Hajja and al-Zawiya following several Palestinian attacks on Tuesday evening, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an. The spokesperson said the two villages were closed “in accordance with a situation assessment” for an undetermined amount of time. The villages are closed to all traffic, “with the exception of humanitarian cases,” the spokesperson said.
Clashes last night with soldiers in southern Jenin towns
JENIN (PIC) 10 Mar — Violent clashes broke out Wednesday night with invading Israeli troops in the towns of ‘Arraba and Kafr Ra‘i, south of Jenin city. According to Palestinian security sources, several citizens suffered from inhaling tear gas during the events. The soldiers patrolled, aboard military vehicles, different alleys and streets in the towns as they were provocatively firing some shots to stir up confrontations with local young men. During their campaign in Kafr Ra‘i, the soldiers stormed and ransacked the house of a citizen identified as Jamal Jawabreh and interrogated his family, without making arrests.
Tension runs high at al-Aqsa due to searching women
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 10 Mar — Tension ran high at the Damascus gate of al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied Jerusalem Wednesday morning after Israeli police forced a Palestinian woman to take off her clothes for search. A female eyewitness told Quds Press that an Israeli female soldier ordered a Palestinian girl to take off her clothes in front of the public and the girl refused to obey the Israeli officer. This led to high tension among Israeli soldiers and Palestinians who rushed to the scene. The eyewitness affirmed that the Palestinian girl asked an Israeli male soldier to go away while she takes off her clothes, but he refused to do so leading to clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli policemen who replied by spraying Palestinians with pepper gas.
Palestinian factions applaud wave of attacks
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Mar — A number of Palestinian factions on Wednesday applauded a series of attacks that began the day before, killing one American tourist and wounding more than a dozen Israelis, with some factions calling for more to follow. Gaza’s de facto leader Hamas said in a statement that the attacks were “evidence that the al-Quds Intifada will continue until its goals are achieved, and that all conspiracies to thwart the intifada have failed.” The al-Quds Intifada, or Jerusalem uprising, is a popular term given to a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory at the beginning of October last year. It refers to Israeli actions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem that served as a major trigger. The military wing of Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) described the attacks as a “natural reaction to the ongoing crimes Israeli forces commit against the Palestinian people in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian territory Israel occupied in 1948.” The group said it was time “the military wings of Palestinian factions create a joint operation room for the al-Quds Intifada, leading to a united front to respond to the Israeli occupation’s aggression against the Palestinian people.”
Israeli forces detain 7 Palestinians from ‘Issawiya in reprisal raid
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Mar — Israeli forces detained seven Palestinians during a raid into the village of al-‘Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem overnight Wednesday, hours after one of the village’s residents shot and wounded two Israeli police officers in central Jerusalem. Muhammad Mahmoud, a lawyer with prisoners’ rights group Addameer, identified the detainees as Shadi Hamdam, Momen Basil Mahmoud, Yazan Muhammad Abu Asab, Mutasim Muhammad Abu Asab, Nadeem Abdo and Hamza Abu Rmeila. Mahmoud said Israeli forces also ransacked homes and assaulted family members, as clashes broke out during the raid. The raid appeared to have been carried out in reprisal for the shooting late on Tuesday afternoon, when village resident Fouad Abu Rajab was shot dead after he shot and wounded two Israeli police officers, one of them critically.
IOF arrests Palestinian after alleged hit-and-run in al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 10 Mar — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested Wednesday night a Palestinian youth, Sahban al-Titi, from al-Thaheriya village in al-Khalil, after charging him with an alleged hit-and-run attack against an Israeli settler at the entrance of al-Fawwar refugee camp in the city on October 20, 2015. Israeli army radio revealed that al-Titi was held captive at the Palestinian Authority (PA) police and that he was released a few days ago. Titi had turned himself in to the PA apparatuses in Thaheriya village and affirmed, at the time, that he ran over the settler accidentally. However, he was arrested for three months in PA’s jails.
IOF arrests woman after threatening Israeli officer on Facebook
RAMALLAH (PIC) 8 Mar — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested on Tuesday a Palestinian woman, Manal al-Tamimi, 42, from Nabi Saleh town near Ramallah, after allegedly threatening an Israeli officer on Facebook. Israeli police claimed, in a statement, that the captive Tamimi posted threats against an Israeli border guard officer on Facebook, claiming that she had attacked one of Israeli soldiers during clashes in the town last year. The suspected woman was held for interrogation and the police would ask the Israeli military court of Ofer to extend her remand to continue investigation, the Israeli police said.
Update: ‘Army kidnaps 22 Palestinians in the West Bank’
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Mar — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that the Israeli army has kidnapped, on Wednesday, 22 Palestinians, including children and a journalist, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem. [details follow]
Aspiring Palestinian journalist killed months before graduation
QALANDIYA REFUGEE CAMP (EI) 7 Mar by Budour Youssef Hassan — Iyad Sajadiyya had worked hard to make his way through college. To pay his tuition fees, he had a job in a clothing store serving Qalandiya refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. He was working there on Monday, 29 February, when two Israeli soldiers drove into the camp, reportedly by mistake. “We immediately shut down the store to see what was happening,” said a coworker, who asked not to be named. “Later, we saw a massive number of troops storm the camp so we began marching through the camp’s market while chanting.” Israel invoked the so-called Hannibal Directive after the soldiers were separated from their vehicle and it was attacked by some of the camp’s residents. Under that directive, the Israeli military is authorized to use huge firepower with the objective of preventing a soldier being captured alive. Local youths were singing “Paradise, paradise, our homeland is paradise” when the clashes with the Israeli army began. Inspired by slogans used during protests in Syria five years ago, this song has become an anthem of the latest Palestinian uprising . . . Iyad and his friends climbed onto some nearby rooftops. They were hurling rocks at the Israeli military when Iyad was shot in the eye. . . Iyad was due to graduate from Al-Quds University in May. He would have turned 22 that month. . . .
Israeli attempts to stop attacks
After terror attacks, Israel to complete separation barrier construction around Jerusalem, southern West Bank
Haaretz 9 Mar by Barak Ravid — Israel will complete construction of the separation barrier in the Jerusalem area and the southern West Bank following Tuesday’s terror attacks, the Prime Minister’s Office announced. During security consultations held by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s Office said it was immediately decided to close gaps in the separation barrier in the Jerusalem area, and to complete construction of the barrier in the Tarkumiya area in the South Hebron Hills. Gaps in the separation barrier are used by Palestinians to enter Israel illegally without the proper permits. The assailant behind the Jaffa attack entered Israel illegally, from a West Bank village near Qalqilya. In recent months, opposition chair MK Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) called on Netanyahu to close the gaps and complete construction of the barrier. According to the Prime Minister’s burearu, Netanyahu, along with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Israel Police chief Roni Alsheich and several Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service officials decided to promote expedited legislation aimed at punishing those who transport and house illegals. It was also decided to close Palestinian media outlets accuses of incitement. Professionals in the defense establishment will decide which Palestinian media will be closed. Further, it was decided to deny work permits for family members of terrorists.
An Israeli leader wants to put Jerusalem Arabs behind new wall
Jerusalem (WashPost) 8 Mar by William Booth — Saying he wants to save Jewish lives, the leader of the Israeli opposition is proposing to divide Jerusalem with more high walls and checkpoints, effectively banishing 200,000 Palestinian residents from the city. The proposal by Isaac Herzog, formally adopted last month by the Labor Party, imagines building miles of new concrete barriers and smart fences to separate 28 Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem from Jewish neighborhoods and Jewish settlements in the city. Even a discussion of carving up Jerusalem can stir apocalyptic warnings — illustrating the explosive potential of floating plans to change a status quo in an ancient city where three of the world’s major religions lay claim. Yet Herzog, who describes his plan as “we’re here and they’re there,” says the walls must be built inside the city to stop Palestinians from killing Israeli Jews in knife, gun, and car attacks. The plan would transform vast stretches of Jerusalem from a demographically divided but physically contiguous metropolis into an archipelago of sectarian cantons served by roads and tunnels designed for either Israelis or Palestinians. If the Herzog plan were to be implemented, Israel would reduce the Muslim population of Jerusalem from more than a third of the city today to about 10 percent. “They will put us behind a wall and say that 200,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem need a special permit to visit Al Aqsa mosque? That is a religious war,” said Aziz Oubid, co-owner of an auto parts store in the Palestinian neighborhood of Issawiya just a few miles from the Old City. “They can’t be that crazy,” he said. (Continued)
Op-ed: An intifada of the mind / Ron Ben-Yishai
Ynet 9 Mar — In the face of spontaneous terrorism, Israel has no intelligence, deterrence, or military targets; the government has no diplomatic or military means to end this intifada — The spontaneous “intifada of the young” that we are in the middle of is different from all the conflicts Israel has experienced since its founding and even before that. There is no single motivation for the young people who go out to stab, run over, and shoot sporadically. The success of one or two terrorists is disseminated and empowered within minutes on social media networks and mass media outlets, becoming a model for imitation. There terrorists also have many modi operandi. They work alone and in pairs, using knives, scissors, IEDs, and improvised weapons. Anything goes. This chaotic model is very difficult to thwart, and stopping an attack is random, because someone encountering a terrorist is not always an armed security guard . . . In the current intifada, there is no intelligence, no deterrence, and no targets or objectives for offensive military action. There is no deterrence because the methods we have already used and the “iron fist” offered by Lieberman have been exhausted. They are no longer effective. The young Palestinians simply do not care in many cases about what might happen to their families, and they’re not “prepared to die”. They want to die. Against this, Israel has no means or diplomatic or military method that can put an end to this intifada within a few weeks or month. At most, Jerusalemites are praying for a miracle to “dampen” it. We must admit that in the face of this intifada, we Israelis are helpless at the moment. There may not be hundreds of dead and thousands of wounded like in the second intifada, but it’s not possible to continue a daily routine and live without reasonable personal security over time.
Locals: Israel to demolish home of Palestinian responsible for Jaffa attack
QALQILYA (Ma‘an) 9 Mar — Israeli forces before dawn on Wednesday made preparations for the punitive demolition of the home of a Palestinian who carried out a deadly attack in Jaffa the night before, locals said. Locals told Ma‘an that the Israeli military raided the family house of 22-year-old Bashar Masalha in the occupied West Bank village of Hajja before taking measurements of the home. The forces searched Masalha’s home hours after he stabbed and killed an American tourist and injured nine other Israelis. Masalha was shot dead on scene.
Hajja was sealed by military forces following the attack late Tuesday, as was the village of al-Zawiya after 17-year-old resident Abd Al-Rahman Radad stabbed and injured an Israeli in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikvah. The Israeli army confirmed to Ma‘an that Hajja and al-Zawiya were still closed Wednesday evening following “security assessments” of the area. All entrance and exit to the villages was still being prevented with the exception of humanitarian cases, according to the army spokesperson.
Palestinian charged for attempt to smuggle phone to detained husband
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Mar — After a year in Israeli prison, a Palestinian detained after attempting to smuggle a cell phone to her jailed husband received sentencing from an Israeli court. Head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners told Ma‘an that an Israeli court in Beersheba sentenced Palestinian prisoner Samia Moussa Mashahra, 32, to 11 months in prison and a fine of 6,000 NIS ($1,541). Mashahra was detained on Nov. 9, 2015, while visiting her husband Fahmi in Israel’s Eshel prison who is currently serving 20 life sentences. Smuggling attempts in and out of Israeli jails are relatively common, with Palestinian detainees and their relatives managing to sneak SIM cards, literature, sperm, and other items through Israeli security checks. The attempts hold high risk for family members who could potentially face prison time or the loss of visiting rights if caught.
Hamas bids last farewell to Qassam member
GAZA (PIC) 9 Mar — A 22-year-old Palestinian died on Wednesday morning during his participation in a training camp in the blockaded Gaza Strip. Suleiman Muhammad al-Aydi, from the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, died in drills in the Bureij refugee camp, in central Gaza Strip. Hamas confirmed the piece of news as it mourned the deceased youth via local mosque loudspeakers. Al-Aydi’s funeral procession is set to kick off at noontime Wednesday from the Shuhadaa al-Aqsa Hospital, in Deir al-Balah. Mourners are set to carry his body to his family home, where his parents, friends, and relatives will bid him last farewell.
Egypt floods Gaza tunnel, 7 workers rescued, 1 missing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Mar — Seven Palestinians were rescued during a search operation in the Gaza Strip’s Rafah city on Thursday after Egyptian authorities allegedly flooded a tunnel where workers were present, Palestinian security sources said. While seven workers were rescued from the tunnel, Gazan authorities are still looking for one more worker thought to be stuck inside the tunnel. Palestinian security sources said the tunnel was flooded when Egyptian authorities pumped seawater into the structure. Last month, Egyptian authorities destroyed another tunnel on the border of the Gaza Strip, with no injuries reported. Palestinians in Gaza have relied on underground smuggling tunnels across the Egyptian border since 2007 when Israel imposed a military blockade on the coastal enclave after Hamas took control there.
Gaza farmers forced to leave land after Israeli shooting attack
GAZA (PIC) 9 Mar — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) opened fire towards Palestinian agricultural lands east of Deir al-Balah in Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, forcing local farmers to leave their agricultural lands. Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that farmers and shepherds were forced to leave their fields after Israeli forces stationed at the borderline opened heavy fire at them. Late Tuesday, IOF soldiers opened random and heavy fire towards Palestinian border areas east of Maghazi refugee camp. Palestinian farmers whose land lies within or close to an Israeli-enforced buffer zone along the border with Gaza face near-daily fire or threat of fire from Israeli forces, often preventing them from cultivating their crops, according to documentation by rights groups.
Israel to let Gazans leave via West Bank – as long as they don’t return for at least 12 months
Haaretz 10 Mar by Amira Hass — Israel will permit residents of the Gaza Strip to go abroad via the Allenby border crossing with Jordan, on condition that they do not return the same way for at least a year. This is in addition to the weekly quota of up to 100 exit permits via Allenby that are given to people who fall under the categories of needing special medical treatment, attending special conferences and students pursuing advanced degrees abroad, according to a public document from the office of the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories. This appears to mark a change in a policy of almost 20 years: Since 1997, Israel has not permitted Gazans to travel abroad and return via the Allenby border crossing, i.e., through Israeli territory and the West Bank, with very few exceptions. Thus, the Rafah border crossing became the only departure gate for Gazans to go abroad. Theoretically, Israel is now increasing the number of Gazans who will be able to travel abroad. On the other hand, the condition that one must remain outside the country for at least a year is a strong deterrent, since there is hardly any possibility of returning via Egypt. The change appears in the “status of authorizations for entry of Palestinians into Israel” that appeared on the COGAT website in late February. (Continued)
Videos: International Women’s Day 2016 — Working women in Gaza
B’Tselem — The demand for work in the Gaza Strip is enormous, with an unemployment rate of some 40%. The major reason is the siege Israel has imposed on Gaza for over a decade. To mark International Women’s Day, we spoke with three women – a carpenter, a blacksmith, and a vegetable market laborer – who are all trying to sustain families in this near-impossible economic reality. Gazan women face a particularly trying challenge, as they must deal not only with the dearth of work to match their skills, but also, like women around the world, with a society in which women are considered inferior and work harder for lower pay.
Israeli officer killed in ‘friendly fire’ during invasion of Gaza
IMEMC 9 Mar by Celine Hagbard — An Israeli intelligence officer with the Shin Bet covert intelligence service of the Israeli armed forces was killed on Tuesday by other Israeli troops while carrying out an operation in the Gaza Strip. The man was apparently ‘undercover’ and pretending to be a Palestinian when his fellow soldiers saw him near the border fence and opened fire on him. Israeli authorities report that the incident is under investigation, but have not released any details, including the name of the officer who was killed. Israeli forces stationed on the Gaza border are instructed by their superior officers to fire live ammunition at any person they see near the border fence. Israel has established a ‘kill zone’ of hundreds of meters along the fence, effectively seizing that land from the Palestinians who owned it and ‘shooting to kill’ anyone who enters the zone. It is not yet known what Israeli Shin Bet agents were doing in Gaza, and what kind of ‘operation’ they were attempting to carry out.
Southern Gaza Strip electricity grids disconnected for maintenance
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — Egyptian authorities on Tuesday disconnected all power grids providing electricity to the southern Gaza Strip district of Rafah for maintenance. Muhammad Thabit, a public information officer for Gaza’s electricity company, told Ma‘an that the grids were disconnected at 7:00 a.m. Egyptian authorities did not notify their Gazan counterparts regarding when electricity would be restored, according to Thabit. Thabit said an electricity line supplying power from Israel to the Khan Yunis district was also disconnected at 8:00 a.m. However, the Israelis notified the Gaza company that the grid would be reconnected by 3:00 p.m., Thabit added. Power to the Gaza Strip has been disconnected a number of times over the last month due to what Egyptian authorities have told Gaza was for maintenance or technical issues. The besieged enclave’s over 1.8 million Palestinian residents struggle with constant power shortages.
Freedom Flotilla Coalition: Women’s Boat to Gaza to sail in September
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Mar — The Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) has chosen March 8th, which marks International Women’s Day (IWD), to announce the launch of their Women’s Boat to Gaza (WBG) project. The Women’s Boat to Gaza will set sail mid-September of this year, and plans to dock at a number of Mediterranean ports along its route, and arrive Gaza on October the 1st. According to the PNN, the FFC’s fourth mission (FF4) will be sailed by an all-women crew and will carry aboard notable women from all over the world, in order to highlight the undeniable contributions which have been made by Palestinian women to the resistance movement. Palestinian women have been central to the struggle in Gaza, the West Bank, inside the Green Line and throughout the diaspora. “One of our goals is to highlight this struggle and the devastating effects it has had on women, often left alone, sifting through rubble to take care of their families when their husbands are imprisoned or murdered” said Wendy Goldsmith, of the Canadian Boat to Gaza campaign. “On International Women’s Day, and on every day, we stand with these brave and resilient women, and will send the Women’s Boat to Gaza to let them know they are not alone and to end the illegal blockade of Gaza.”
Disgruntled PA employees storm PLO office in Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Mar — Around 50 Palestinian Authority government employees stormed the PLO’s Office of Refugee Affairs in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday to protest their missing salaries, the head of the office told Ma‘an. Zakariya al-Agha said after the incident the office was closed temporarily until further notice. Al-Agha said the 50 employees smashed doors in the office, destroyed furniture and appliances and injured one of his own employees. The PA has failed to pay its employees’ salaries at regular intervals for some time now across all government sectors in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in Gaza.
3000 saplings planted in Gaza over the past two months
GAZA (PIC) 9 Mar — Gaza municipality planted 3000 saplings in January and February this year in the parks, streets, and governmental institutions in the city of Gaza. Muntaser Shehada, head of gardening unit at the municipality, said that the planting works included cutting of trees in public parks and main streets which may affect the vision of drivers. Cleaning of parks and repairing irrigation nets were also implemented in the project, he added. Shehada pointed out that the municipality, by implementing this project, aims at maintaining healthy and clean environment and providing green landscapes in the city.
Keeping traditional music alive in Gaza
GAZA STRIP (EI) 8 Mar by Rami Almeghari — They come from different backgrounds and have vastly different musical experience. But the 13 members of Dawaween, a newly formed band set for only its fourth concert in Gaza on 10 March, are united around one aim: the preservation and popularization of traditional Palestinian music. “Our music is pretty lively,” said Abdelraouf al-Bilbeisi, the band’s 30-year-old oud player, who spent the previous nine years performing with a wedding band around the Gaza Strip. “It deserves to be played on stage.” The oud, the fretless Middle Eastern cousin of the European lute, is one inseparable component of this effort, and al-Bilbeisi is rediscovering his love for the instrument after so long on the wedding circuit. “I stopped enjoying playing,” he said, while practicing the traditional tune “Ya Mahairati” — My Beloved Horse — on stage at the Mishal Cultural Centre in Gaza City. “Then I joined Dawaween. Those traditional tunes bring out some beautiful sounds from my oud.” -Woman on stage-Al-Bilbeisi is also one of the band’s three main singers. Another is Riwan Okasha, 24, a financial management graduate and daughter of locally renowned musician, Atef Okasha. Okasha has sung since the age of three — she had little choice, she said, in a musical family — but never contemplated performing in public. “I was reluctant to join [Dawaween] at first. Gaza is a conservative society, and it is not common for women to perform on stage,” she said. (Continued)
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israeli authorities raze ‘Araqib village for the 95th time
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 9 Mar — Israeli interior ministry inspectors, escorted by large numbers of policemen, on Wednesday razed the Palestinian Bedouin village al-‘Araqib in the Negev. Local sources pointed out that the act was the 95th time their village was razed by the Israeli authorities on the pretext of being not-recognized as a village in the Negev. They charged the Israeli authorities with targeting Palestinian Bedouin villages in order to pave the way for building Jewish-only settlements in their places.
Israeli authorities level farmland in Negev Bedouin village
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — Israeli authorities on Tuesday leveled farmland in the Negev Bedouin village of Wadi al-Niam, a member of the Higher Guidance Committee of Arab Residents of the Negev said. Sayid al-Khroumi said Israeli forces brought tractors to the area to “ravage crops and destroy farmland,” which he called an “act of cowardice” to “punish simple citizens.” After Israeli forces left the area, al-Khroumi said residents of the village remained resilient, telling Ma‘an that “our people in Wadi al-Niam are more determined to stay firm in their land in spite of their oppressors.”
Israeli forces confiscate tractor from Palestinian farmer near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — Israeli forces on Tuesday confiscated a tractor belonging to a Palestinian farmer in the southern Nablus village of ‘Aqraba in the occupied West Bank, security sources said. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Mahir Faris Abd al-Rahman Bani Fadil was plowing his land between ‘Aqraba and al-Majdal when Israeli soldiers stormed the area and confiscated his tractor. A spokesperson for Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told Ma‘an: “By its legal authorities, the Civil Administration seized the device since illegal works for cultivating State Lands were carried out next to ‘Aqraba.” ‘Aqraba is surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements to the north, east, and south, where much of the village’s residents’ farmland lies in Area C under full Israeli military control. The illegal settlement of Migdalim lies to the south of Aqraba, where Fadil was reportedly tending his farmland before his tractor was confiscated. Israeli authorities typically confiscate equipment from Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on the grounds the equipment was used to carry out illegal work in Area C, despite the fact that such approval is nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain.
Poll: Half of Israeli Jews want Palestinians expelled
Al Jazeera 10 Mar by Dalia Hatuqa — Roughly half of Israeli Jews want Palestinian citizens expelled or transferred from the country, according to a new poll. The Washington-based Pew Research centre, a non-partisan think-tank which carried out face-to-face interviews with 5,601 adults from October 2014 through May 2015 [note: before the attacks which began in October], asked whether “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel”. Half of the Jewish respondents strongly agreed or agreed with that statement, with approximately the same numbers opposing the notion . . . “We are not talking about Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza here,” Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, told Al Jazeera. “We are talking about citizens who constitute 20 percent of the population. This is astonishing. This not only has ramifications on the nature of the state of Israel and future of its Palestinian citizens, but it even tells you about the notion of Jewishness versus democracy.” The first in-depth study of religion in Israel, which was released on Tuesday, also found that overwhelming majorities among both West Bank settlers (85 percent) and other Israeli Jews (79 percent) agreed or strongly agreed that Jews deserve preferential treatment in Israel. “That’s remarkable when you are thinking in terms of democracy,” Telhami, who is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said. (Continued)
Israeli extremists write ‘Death to Arabs’ graffiti in Al-Khader town
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Mar — A number of extremist Israeli settlers infiltrated, on Thursday at dawn, into the al-Khader town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and wrote “Death To Arabs” graffiti on the walls of a Palestinian home and nearby walls. Hassan Brejiyya, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in al-Khader, said the illegal settlers wrote the graffiti on the exterior walls of a home belonging to resident Mohannad Sa’ad Salah. The assailants also hurled stones at the home, while Mohammad Salah, his wife and their daughters, were in their residence. He added that the graffiti included “Death To Arabs,” and “Leave,” among other threatening statements. Brejiyya also stated that the settlers cut through the barbed-wire fence separating al-Khader from Daniel illegal colony built on Palestinian lands, and wrote the graffiti. The home has been subject to frequent attacks over the past seventeen years, especially since the settlers are trying to push the family into leaving their property, so that they can expand their illegal colony.
Video: Meet Ahmad Dawabshe, the five-year-old survivor of the Duma firebombing
Mondoweiss 9 Mar by Dan Cohen — Eight months after the firebombing that killed five-year-old Ahmad Dawabshe’s baby brother and parents in the occupied West Bank village of Duma, he is still undergoing treatment in the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan. Ahmad is energetic and enthralled with car-racing video games, like any child his age. “People see that he’s coming and going and playing and laughing. But his health situation now – he has serious injuries and will need a long time to heal,” his maternal grandfather and caretaker Hussein Dawabshe told me in the hospital lobby. Having suffered second-degree burns, Ahmad wears a special hooded layer 23 hours per day to treat scarring, only removing it to bathe. The Palestinian Authority is paying for Ahmad’s medical expenses, after Israel refused to recognize him as a victim of terror. Ahmad and his grandfather rarely leave the hospital. In front of a Ramat Gan supermarket last month, Hussein Dawabshe told me, Israeli children he estimated to be twelve years old recognized Ahmad and threw metal cans at them before he chased them away. “There are good Israelis, but there are also bad ones. Sometimes it’s not easy to tell which is which,” he said. He has devoted his life to taking care of Ahmad, leaving his other children. (Continued)
PHOTOS: A year of women’s struggles in Palestine and Israel
Activestills 8 Mar — They confronted Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, opposed the occupation, violence against women, and fought against racism and police brutality. A year of women’s struggles. Photos: Anne Paq, Ahmad Al-Bazz, Faiz Abu-Rmeleh, Mohannad Darabee, Mohannad Saleem, Oren Ziv, Yotam Ronen, Keren Manor. Photo Editing: Keren Manor
EUobserver: Palestinians joining exodus to EU, according to Erekat
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Mar — Palestinians are joining the Middle East exodus to Europe in greater numbers because of the Syrian war and ongoing Israeli occupation, a senior Palestinian official has said. Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), told EUobserver [an independent newspaper based in Brussels], from Ramallah, that “thousands” had already left for Europe. “What other options have they? We have people dying of starvation in al-Yarmouk refugee camp [in Syria], and thousands of Palestinians leaving Syria and Lebanon trying to reach Europe,” he said, according to the PNN. “The UN has said that Gaza will be unfit for human habitation by 2020, but Israel’s siege of Gaza continues.” The Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza are home to some 4.5 million Palestinians. Two million more live in refugee camps in Jordan in a legacy of wars in 1948 and 1967. Another 500,000 live in camps in Lebanon and a further 500,000 in Syria.
Frontex, the EU border control agency in Warsaw, said that just six Palestinians were intercepted trying to enter the EU via irregular crossings to Greece in January of last year, but that figure rose to 488 in August. It peaked at 1,747 in October, and stayed high (1,142) in January of this year, despite inclement weather. The real number is likely to be much bigger because most Palestinians travel without ID papers, making them difficult to count. Easo, the EU asylum agency in Malta, said that up to 19,000 Palestinians applied for asylum in the EU last year, compared with 15,680 in 2014 and 9,590 in 2013. It said that most of them were “Palestinian ‘refugees’ or persons of Palestinian origin who were previously long term residents of countries now affected by the Syrian conflict. It additionally stated that these people have a 53 percent to 87 percent chance of success, depending on which EU state handles their claim. The number of Palestinians on the move is likely to go up if the spate of knife and car-ramming attacks on Israelis that has been going on since last year escalates into a full-scale uprising.
Report: White House mulling peace initiatives before Obama’s exit
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — The White House may consider taking steps to back a UN Security Council resolution outlining parameters for a future peace negotiation between Israel and Palestinian leadership before the president leaves office, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The New York-based newspaper said internal discussions had taken place, pushing US backing for the resolution which calls on both sides to compromise on key issues, something the US has previously vetoed. A number of other possible initiatives were discussed, including a presidential speech and a joint statement from the Middle East Quartet. A senior administration official told WSJ that “no final decisions have been made” and that US President Barack Obama was “considering a range of possibilities.” Officials also said that Obama hoped to put the Israeli-Palestinian issue on a “more promising trajectory” before his successor takes office in January, WSJ reported. The moves come despite comments made by Obama’s senior adviser on the Middle East, Rob Malley, in November that a peace treaty or direct talks between Israel and Palestinian leadership would not be carried out during Obama’s time left in office.
France aims to relaunch Israel-Palestinian peace process ‘by summer’
CAIRO (AFP) 10 Mar — French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Wednesday launched efforts to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by this summer, while ruling out “automatic” recognition of Palestinian statehood. Paris will not “automatically” recognise a Palestinian state if a French initiative to host an international conference to revive the peace talks fails, Ayrault said on a visit to Cairo. His predecessor, Laurent Fabius, had stirred Israeli anger in January by proposing such a conference and saying France would “recognise a Palestinian state” if peace talks failed . . . “What we want, and that is our commitment, is to resume the negotiation process,” he told reporters at a joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.
Biden criticizes Palestinians for not condemning attack
JERUSALEM (AP) 10 Mar — Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday criticized Palestinians for a “failure to condemn” a stabbing spree that killed an American student and war veteran the day before, after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ political party posted a statement online praising the stabber . . . Abbas’ Fatah party posted a cartoon on its Twitter account of a hand holding a knife over a map of Israel and the Palestinian territories, and calling the Palestinian stabber from Tuesday’s attack a “hero” and “martyr.” “This is the result so long as Israel does not believe in the two-state solution and ending its occupation,” the Fatah statement on Twitter read, referring to a future Palestinian state alongside Israel. In a joint press conference with Biden, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Fatah’s glorification of the stabber . . . “The United States of America condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts,” Biden said. “The kind of violence we saw yesterday, the failure to condemn it, the rhetoric that incites that violence, the retribution that it generates, has to stop.” The U.S. vice president spoke warmly of his decades-long relationship with Netanyahu, and reemphasized America’s commitment to Israel’s security.
Abbas to Biden: Palestinian state key to beating ISIS
Haaretz 9 Mar by Jack Khoury — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday that a victory over ISIS and terror requires the establishment of a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders. Abbas also reportedly denounced “all forms of terrorism” after Biden criticized the Palestinians, demanding they condemn recent violence. In a statement issued from his office, Abbas said the key to security and stability in the region is a plan that would give the Palestinians hope for a state . . . The Palestinian news agency Ma‘an reported that Abbas extended his condolences to the family of Taylor Force, an American who was killed on Tuesday during a terror attack in Jaffa. Abbas added, however, that over the past five months more than 200 Palestinians were killed. The agency said Biden had conveyed a message to Abbas that the United States was committed to the two-state solution.
How most aid to the Palestinians ends up in Israel’s coffers / Jonathan Cook
Counterpunch 9 Mar — Diplomats may have a reputation for greyness, obfuscation, even hypocrisy, but few have found themselves compared to a serial killer, let alone one who devours human flesh. That honour befell Laars Faaborg-Andersen, the European Union’s ambassador to Israel, last week when Jewish settlers launched a social media campaign casting him as Hannibal Lecter, the terrifying character from the film Silence of the Lambs. An image of the Danish diplomat wearing Lecter’s prison face-mask was supposed to suggest that Europe needs similar muzzling. The settlers’ grievance relates to European aid, which has provided temporary shelter to Palestinian Bedouin families after the Israeli army demolished their homes in the occupied territories near Jerusalem. The emergency housing has helped them remain on land coveted by Israel and the settlers. European officials, outraged by the Lecter comparison, have reminded Tel Aviv that, were it to abide by international law, Israel – not the EU – would be taking responsibility for these families’ welfare. While Europe may think of itself as part of an enlightened West, using aid to defend Palestinians’ rights, the reality is less reassuring. The aid may actually be making things significantly worse. Shir Hever, an Israeli economist who has spent years piecing together the murky economics of the occupation, recently published a report that makes shocking reading. Like others, he believes international aid has allowed Israel to avoid footing the bill for its decades-old occuption. But he goes further. His astonishing conclusion – one that may surprise Israel’s settlers – is that at least 78 per cent of humanitarian aid intended for Palestinians ends up in Israel’s coffers.