Media Analysis

Netanyahu defends Israeli military after soldier caught on tape executing Palestinian: ‘Any challenge to the morality of the IDF is outrageous’

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Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Hundreds mourn Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 26 Mar — Hundreds of Palestinians attended a funeral held on Saturday in the southern West Bank city of Hebron for Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, who was shot dead Thursday after allegedly stabbing and moderately wounding an Israeli soldier. The funeral procession started from al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron before heading to al-Qasrawi’s house in the neighborhood of Wadi al-Hariya. Mourners then carried the body and marched to al-Murabitoun mosque where hundreds performed the funeral prayer. Many waved Palestinian and factional flags as angry mourners shouted patriotic slogans denouncing the ongoing Israeli occupation and its “oppressive policies” against the Palestinian people. Al-Qasrawi was shot alongside Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif after the two allegedly stabbed an Israeli soldier in the shoulder at a military checkpoint in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron. A rights worker and resident of the area began filming directly after the two were shot. Al-Qasrawi was killed immediately and al-Sharif was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier minutes later from point-blank range, despite lying incapacitated on the pavement.

Israel still holding body of Palestinian slain in filmed Hebron shooting
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 26 Mar — The body of a Palestinian whose brutal killing was caught on film, sparking international outcry, is still being held by Israeli authorities, with his family demanding that a Palestinian coroner partake in the autopsy. A spokesman for the family of Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif told Ma‘an, “we reject the Israeli offer that a Palestinian doctor just be present at the autopsy; we demand that he takes part in the autopsy as well.” “The family will decide on the legal and medical procedures following the autopsy,” he added . . . A Palestinian coroner responsible for performing autopsies on the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces condemned in December the practice by Israeli authorities to demand Palestinian bodies be buried immediately. Head of Al-Quds University’s Institute for Forensic Medicine, Sabir al-Aloul, said Israel’s conditional handover of bodies prevents autopsies from being carried out. A number of Palestinian families signed a letter in December demanding that families should be allotted time to request an official autopsy report on their dead relatives. Autopsy reports are used in official paperwork necessary to file cases against Israeli authorities at the International Criminal Court. According to autopsies al-Aloul has performed on Palestinians killed since Oct. 1, the coroner said that a number of those killed were “shot in the head and the chest many times from a very close distance,” similar to incident caught on film Thursday.

Israeli forces raid home of Palestinian killed by Israeli soldier, detain 2
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 27 Mar — Israeli forces targeted the family of Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif and detained two Palestinians during predawn raids Sunday in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron, locals said. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the village of Jabal Abu Rumman and stormed the home of Khalid Yusri al-Sharif, 25, the brother of Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif, who was killed by an Israeli soldier earlier this week in what has been widely condemned as a brutal execution. Khalid was detained by the Israeli military during the raid. The forces also detained Adeeb Shafiq al-Qawasmi, 20, after raiding his house in Hebron, locals said, adding that forces raided a meeting hall for the al-Tamimi family. Local sources said military checkpoints were set up at the entrance to al-Fawwar refugee camp and al-Harayiq — a southern entrance to Hebron — where Israeli forces searched cars and inspected ID cards . . . The increased security operations by Israeli forces in Hebron come in the aftermath of the alleged stab attack by Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif and Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron’s Old City Thursday.

Netanyahu defends Israeli army after soldier shot wounded Palestinian
JERUSALEM (AFP) 27 Mar by Mike Smith — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the Israeli army Sunday as controversy gripped the country over a soldier caught on video shooting a Palestinian assailant in the head as he lay on the ground. Thursday’s shooting incident led to the soldier’s arrest and strong condemnation from military officials, but some rightwing politicians and their supporters have reacted angrily to the response. Netanyahu on Thursday joined condemnations of the soldier’s behaviour but appeared to backpedal slightly Sunday in remarks at the start of the cabinet meeting. “Any challenge to the morality of the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) is outrageous and unacceptable,” he said. “The soldiers of the IDF, our children, maintain high ethical values while courageously fighting against bloodthirsty murderers under difficult operational conditions. “I am certain that in all cases, as in the current one, the inquiry takes into account all conditions. We must all support the IDF chief of staff, the IDF and our soldiers, who safeguard our security.” Netanyahu leads one of the most rightwing governments in Israeli history but holds only a one-seat majority in parliament.

Poster demanding IDF chief be fired pop up after soldier’s arrest
JPost 26 Mar — Posters mocking IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot demanding his resignation have appeared in numerous areas across central Tel Aviv, provoking cries of incitement by a number of political figures Saturday evening. The posters showing Eizenkot dressed as biblical king Ahasuerus, state that: “Jewish blood will not be spilled in vain. The next time a [terrorist] comes to kill, kill him first.”  Ahasuerus is a central figure underlining the Jewish holiday of Purim, which was celebrated this past weekend.  The posters are believed to stem out of a controversial event in which an IDF soldier apparently shot and killed a “neutralized” Palestinian. The images also state in large red print: “Fire Eizenkot and take Bibi and Bogie with you.” “Bibi” refers to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nickname, while the later refers to Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon.

Video shows Israeli soldier greeting right-winger after shooting Palestinian
MEE/Agencies 27 Mar — An Israeli soldier who was seen in a video shooting and killing a wounded Palestinian attacker in the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday was minutes later seen shaking hands with well-known ultra-nationalist Baruch Marzel, according to Israeli news agency Haaretz. On Sunday night, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem released a second video that it says shows the same soldier at the scene shaking hands with Marzel after the shooting. The new video, published by the Israeli news website Haaretz, shows the soldier speaking with a rescue worker. Marzel approaches them and shakes hands with the soldier who killed Abd al-Fatah al-Sharif, and the soldier in turn pats him on the arm . . . Marzel was born in Boston in the United States, was a disciple of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, and succeeded him as leader of the Kach movement. The group was outlawed by Israel in 1994 after Kach supporter Baruch Goldstein shot and killed 29 Muslim worshippers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

Autopsy of Palestinian could determine fate of IDF shooter in Hebron
JPost 28 Mar by Yonah Jeremy Bob — The lawyer for the Kfir Brigade soldier suspected of murdering a terrorist in Hebron on Thursday after the Palestinian [Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif] was immobilized said Sunday night that the autopsy could be a boon for his client’s defense. The Palestinian and an accomplice had attacked another soldier with knives, and then was wounded. He is seen on a video, which immediately went viral, lying on the ground motionless for an extended period until the accused soldier, who arrived after the attack, suddenly, and seemingly without cause, shoots the Palestinian dead, causing blood to pour out of his head. Defense lawyer Ilan Katz argued that the autopsy of the terrorist could save the soldier from both murder and manslaughter charges if it shows that he was already fatally wounded and would have died from his earlier wounds. In that case, he might only face charges for negligent homicide or for violating the rules of engagement. Conversely, if the autopsy shows that the Palestinian was not already fatally wounded, Katz will argue that he was not as badly hurt as the video seems to imply, and that the additional shooting was necessary to neutralize him as a threat. The prosecution is expected to oppose these arguments, arguing that the Palestinian was alive when shot and that the soldier had murderous intent regardless of the extent of his prior wounds.

Opinion: Hebron murder was no exception, but the inevitable result
Haaretz 27 Mar by Gideon Levy — It was murder. It was murder of the most abominable kind, the murder of a helpless human being. It was murder committed by a cowardly soldier, who shot a wounded man. The murderer’s accomplices were those colleagues of his who said “it’s no big deal” and the officers who spoke on their cellphones or occupied themselves in a thousand different ways while the wounded man lay helpless. The soldier shot him in the head and his body was left bleeding on the road. If the soldier had shot a stray dog, it would have raised more interest among the soldiers and settlers milling round. They looked so bored – after all, what happened? A soldier shot a Palestinian. We’ve had loads of those. Israeli racism reached its sickeningly lowest point in Hebron on Thursday. Such indifference to the murder of a person, in front of a crowd of people, has not been seen here before. A wounded person thrown in the road – and it occurs to nobody to help him. A soldier shoots him in the head, and the soldiers and settlers around him are all busy directing the ambulance. Heaven forbid, its bumper might get scratched. To all those who think this is an exception and all those who are for putting off a peace agreement in favor or “managing the conflict” and those convinced that maybe one day we’ll have to end the occupation, but not now: This murder is the inevitable result. It’s the present and the future. It’s impossible to maintain the occupation without such murders, their number will only mount. It will be impossible to continue ruling Hebron without daily executions; it will only be possible to hold the West Bank by committing more war crimes.
The momentary storm that erupted in Israel is a self-righteous one. This is exactly what the extrajudicial killings over the past months have looked like – the only difference was the B’Tselem camera. There were plenty of testimonies and evidence about these killings, but Israelis chose to close their eyes.

When medical personnel stand by and watch a murder
+972 Blog 25 Mar by Dr. Tslil Regev — Before he was executed on camera by an Israeli soldier, the wounded Palestinian man in Hebron appears to have been refused treatment by two medical teams. One doctor examines the ethical outrage displayed in the video —  The video clip released Thursday of an Israeli soldier shooting in the head an incapacitated Palestinian man, who had stabbed and wounded a separate soldier, doesn’t leave much room for speculation. Maybe it’s because I’m a doctor, but when I watched the video I couldn’t take my eyes off the Magen David Adom (MDA) medical team at the scene — treating the wounded soldier, completely ignoring the man lying wounded on the street, evacuating the soldier in an ambulance, and then boom. A murder. I am familiar with both the military and civilian codes of ethics for treating the wounded in the field — I am a civilian doctor who has undergone training by the IDF’s Medical Corps. On the one hand, the rules say that medical personnel are required to treat any wounded person. The decision of who to treat first is made based on the seriousness of the wounds and the ability to treat them in the field, and it is made by the ranking medical personnel at the scene. That means that a doctor, paramedic, or even an EMT outranks a senior military officer when it comes to deciding who to treat first. And it is forbidden to consider the identity of the wounded person when making that decision. The only permitted consideration is the medical team’s ability to save as many lives as possible at any given scene. (Continued)

Breaking: IDF soldier who executed unarmed Palestinian, and commanding officer – Exposed
[see diagram on photo to know who is who] Tikun Olam 25 Mar by Richard Silverstein — Yesterday two Palestinian youths attempted to stab an IDF soldier (this account is in Hebrew with some English added) in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron. The soldier was lightly wounded and treated at the scene. The two Palestinians were each wounded, one mortally.  They both lay on the ground, without moving. Both were unarmed. The Palestinian who’d been wounded, Abd al-Fatah a-Sharif, lay on the ground near a group of settlers and soldiers.  One of the settlers said to the soldiers: “This asshole here is still breathing.” It goes without saying that a security gag order prohibits Israeli media from reporting this story or the identities of the killer and his commander, which I will do below.  I could not have reported this story or learned much of this information without the invaluable aid of many Israelis, who may not be named in order to protect them from the ravages of the national security state. An IDF soldier who was a medic in the unit and who had treated the wounded soldier asked permission from his commanding officer to “finish off” the wounded Palestinian. Apparently the commander approved. The soldier walked to within six feet of the wounded Palestinian cocked his rifle and shot him. This practice is often called ‘confirming the kill’ in the IDF.  Palestinian girls as young as 12 years old have been executed in this fashion before. Last week, Bassam Massalha, after being wounded, was executed as video filmed his murder . . . [The killer] is El-Or Azarya, a resident of the poor Israeli town of Ramleh, near Tel Aviv  . . . Other activists in Israel have helped in further identifying him, finding Facebook accounts and photographs which document him before the execution. He is a devoted follower of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club.  The most hardcore racist Beitar fans have formed a gangland-style fan club called La Famigilia.  He’s also written “Kahane was right!” on his Facebook page. Among the pages he’s Liked on Facebook are the far-right Kahanist, Baruch Marzel; the racist rapper, The Shadow, who advocated burning Palestinians alive on his Facebook page; the La Famiglia page; Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked; and Avigdor Lieberman. (Continued).

Two Palestinians shot and injured by Israeli forces in Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 27 Mar — Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets — one seriously injured — late Saturday in the al-Naqqar area of Qalqiliya in the northern occupied West Bank. Palestinian Red Crescent head Munther Nazzal told Ma‘an that Palestinian Red Crescent paramedics rushed Islam Shoaib, 22, to a hospital after he was shot in the chest. Mohammed Majid Haj Hassan,19, was detained by Israeli forces for at least 15 minutes after being shot in the knee and thigh and suffered from severe bleeding without being given medical treatment. He was then released to paramedics who transferred him to the Qalqiliya hospital, where he has been in serious condition. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that Israeli forces fired warning shots at the two Palestinians as they were “attempting to damage” the Israeli separation wall in Qalqiliya, and fired shots at the “lower extremities,” confirming at least one hit.

2 Palestinians injured, 2 detained in predawn Duheisha camp raid
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Mar – Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinian youths and detained two others when clashes broke out during a predawn raid Sunday in al-Duheisha refugee camp in southern Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian youths when clashes broke out, and the youths responded by throwing stones and empty bottles. The two injured were not identified. Israeli forces raided and ransacked several houses in the camp and detained Muhammad Khalid Shafout and Hamza Abu Ajamiyeh. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an three Palestinians were detained for “illegal activities” in the Bethlehem area in predawn raids Sunday. The third Palestinian could not be identified. Violent clashes in al-Duheisha are common and break out nearly every time Israeli forces enter the camp, which is located in Area A and should be under full Palestinian control, according to the Oslo agreements. Al-Duheisha refugee camp was established in 1949, with most of the families originating from more than 46 villages in Jerusalem. Over 13,000 refugees now live in the 0.352-square-kilometer camp, where around one-third of residents are unemployed. At least two camp residents have been shot dead by Israeli forces during detention raids and clashes since unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory in October.

Israeli forces return to dehumanizing number system in wake of Hebron killings
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine 26 Mar by ISM, al-Khalil Team — After completely closing Shuhada checkpoint to Palestinians in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) on Thursday, 24th March 2016, Israeli forces have now returned to the practice of ‘numbering’ Palestinian residents in order to restrict access to the adjacent neighborhoods. Soldiers are now barring all Palestinians without numbers, and sometimes even those already registered as residents, from entry into the closed military zone . . . Israeli forces completely closed the checkpoint on March 24th, barring any Palestinian from entering, after soldiers gunned down and killed Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif and Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, both 21 years old, summarily executing al-Sharif with a shot to the head after he was already lying incapacitated . . . Throughout the day, Palestinians trying to go back to their homes were denied passage through the checkpoint and Israeli forces at times forced people to wait for more than twenty minutes only to tell them that they would not be allowed in – even though they were officially registered, numbered residents. An elderly woman was repeatedly told by Israeli forces to ‘wait’ when trying to walk to her home through the checkpoint; only after waiting for more than twenty minutes was she finally told that no-one would be allowed to pass that day. She had to turn around and leave after standing outside the checkpoint for close to half an hour. Watch this video taken by the local activist group Youth Against Settlements of the old lady denied access.
As of Saturday, 25th March, Israeli forces entirely returned to the practice of ‘numbering’ Palestinians, checking the numbers of anyone attempting to cross the checkpoint against a list of numbers of residents that have previously been registered. Many Palestinians were forced to wait for hours outside the checkpoint, only to be denied to go to their homes – even though they had registered and thus did appear as a number on the soldiers’ lists. The soldiers were extremely aggressive, yelling at Palestinians in the closed-off ‘room’ inside the checkpoint loudly enough to be clearly audible to anyone waiting outside. When Palestinians tried to seek shelter from the pouring rain in the vicinity of the checkpoint, soldiers exited the checkpoint, yelling and screaming at them to move back. All of the soldiers had removed the orange pin that acts as a safety on their Israeli-government-issued assault rifles – a practice that seems to have become common policy throughout occupied al-Khalil.
When a woman and her four children tried to pass Shuhada checkpoint, the three smallest children were initially allowed through. When Israeli soldiers delayed the mother and older daughter inside the checkpoint, continuously yelling at them, the young girl on the other side of the checkpoint started crying as she was waiting in the rain for her mother to be allowed to go home with them. After an ordeal of more than ten minutes, soldiers arbitrarily decided that the mother would not be allowed to pass – even though she is registered and numbered – and yelled at her till she finally left. Her children that had been allowed to pass earlier came back to be with their mother, the girl still crying. With many extremist settlers gathering and walking freely on Shuhada Street, the children were too terrified to go home without their mother. (Continued)

New stun grenades used at Ofer military prison demonstration
OFER, Occupied Palestine 26 Mar by ISM, al-Khalil Team — On [Friday] 25th March 2016, Israeli forces at Ofer military prison injured 8 Palestinians with various kinds of weapons, and later on attacked the nearby village of Beitunia, injuring even more. A demonstration against the Israeli military occupation and for the freedom of the prisoners held in Ofer military prison – often in so called ‘administrative detention’ where the accused cannot even expect to be charged or have a trial – was violently attacked by Israeli forces. They shot endless rounds of tear gas at protesters, as well as rubber-coated metal bullets which injured 8 Palestinians. Additionally, Israeli forces used a new kind of stun grenade and fired live ammunition, including 0.22 caliber bullets, directly at protesters. 5 Palestinian protesters were arrested by the army and taken to an unknown destination. Later the same day, Israeli forces attacked the nearby village of Beitunia, where the army again used an excessive amount of stun grenades, rubber-coated metal bullets, live ammunition and showered the village in tear gas. During this assault, 5 more people sustained injuries from rubber-coated metal bullets. In total 13 Palestinians were injured, including one in the head and one in the chest with rubber-coated metal bullets.

Wild car chase leaves five wounded as Palestinian man evades police
JPost 26 Mar by Ben Hartman — A wild police car chase in central Israel left five people hospitalized as a Palestinian man who ran a police checkpoint drove the wrong way up a highway exit ramp to escape officers. Tel Aviv police said the chase began Saturday morning in Givat Shmuel, where officers had set up a roadblock to check motorists. The driver refused to stop at the checkpoint, police said, and officers began to pursue him as he fled Givat Shmuel outside Tel Aviv. Police who ran the car’s license plates saw that it belonged to a woman from East Jerusalem, leading them to suspect that they could potentially be facing a security incident or a possible terror attack in the making. With the cops trailing him, the driver began speeding the wrong way up an exit ramp on highway 4 in Petach Tikvah, where a pursuing officer hit a car head on. The police officer was moderately injured in the collision, as were four civilians. Despite the collision on the highway, the driver managed to get away, though a few hours later he turned himself in to police. The driver was described by police as a 52-year-old resident of Bethlehem. The owner of the vehicle, a woman from East Jerusalem, was also taken for questioning by police, who have opened an investigation into why the man ran the checkpoint to begin with.

Israeli forces detain 5 in raids, extend detention of 5 East Jerusalem minors
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least five Palestinians, three of them minors, in overnight detention raids across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on Sunday, and took measurements of three houses in preparation for demolition. Palestinian security sources said Israeli forces detained Ahmad Mahmoud Marrar,18, and Qusay Hayes,17, in Beit Duqqu northwest of Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers also raided the village of Beit Fajjar south of Bethlehem, ransacking a number of houses before detaining Salti Ahmad Thawabta,17. Israeli troops detained Abdullah Munther Qadous,14, from the village of Burin south of Nablus and raided the house of Palestinian prisoner Saad Husam al-Faqih. The security sources added that Israeli troops raided the village of Qabatiya near Jenin and measured three houses, which received demolition notifications. Israeli forces also raided the villages of Beituniya, Deir Abu Mashal, Shuqba and Beitin villages in the Ramallah and al-Bireh district.I n the village of Bani Naim east of Hebron, Israeli troops raided the house of Dawood Mousa al-Tarayra and detained his son Mousa Dawood al-Tarayra, 25, after allegedly finding a gun in the home. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an they were looking into the reports. Meanwhile, an Israeli court decided on Sunday to extend the detention of five minors from occupied East Jerusalem. Lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud said that the court also extended the detention of five Palestinian teenagers from the al-Tur neighborhood to next Thursday over charges of throwing stones at the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit Orot . . . .According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were detained by Israel as of February, 406 of them minors.


Israeli police raid Negev slaughterhouse, round up Palestinian workers
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 28 Mar — Israeli police raided a chicken slaughterhouse in the Bedouin town of Shaqib al-Salam in the southern Israel region of Negev at dawn on Monday and rounded up scores of Palestinians from the West Bank who worked there without permits. One of the workers told Ma‘an that around 100 Israeli police officers raided the Oof Ooz slaughterhouse and rounded up more than 100 workers. The workers were then taken in buses to an Israeli police station before being sent back to the occupied West Bank. “Police officers had very precise information about the place and they inspected every corner where workers could be,” the worker said, implying that the raid was made based on information received by sources within the slaughterhouse.


Israeli forces arrest Gazan patient at Erez crossing
GAZA (Ma‘an) 26 Mar — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian Thursday at the Erez crossing as he was attempting to leave the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel, it was revealed Saturday.A human rights lawyer told Ma’an that Sharab is the fifth case of a Palestinian patient being detained at the crossing since the start of the year. Palestinians detained at Erez are often interrogated for several hours, sometimes for days, before they are either allowed into Israel or sent back to Gaza. Erez is the only land crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, and travel is heavily restricted by Israeli authorities

Gaza Christians hold family reunions at Easter 27 Mar by Stephanie Freid — Israel has issued an unprecedented number of travel permits to Gaza-based Christians this Easter.  This is enabling them to spend the holiday with family members in the Israeli- occupied West Bank. For some, the reunion comes after years of separation. The Abu Daoud household is buzzing. Eleven family members received permits to leave Gaza and spend Easter in the family matriarch’s West Bank home. They haven’t seen her for eight years. “I’ve just met my great-grandson for the first time.” Israeli authorities control the flow of people entering and leaving Gaza. They issued a record eight hundred and fifty permits this season. Compared with ten years ago, the number of permits for travel in and out of Gaza has dropped by sixty-six percent. Nowadays, those who are getting permission are mostly aid workers, humanitarian cases and merchants. The high number of permits is being credited to stringent efforts on the part of the church. But for the church, it’s a paradoxical situation. “I am afraid that if really they give all the Christian community permits to go out from Gaza, many of them will not return to Gaza,”said Father Raed Abu Sahliya, Latin patriarch, Bethlehem. Father Raed is probably right. With an unemployment rate of forty percent and eighty percent of the population in need of aid, Gazans are powerless against Israel’s seige and Hamas oppression. “It’s like being in a different world here. There’s nothing like this in Gaza. The freedom, the nature. It’s beautiful. And seeing my grandmother again after eight years. It’s wonderful,” said Michel Abu Daoud, Gaza resident. For his grandmother too, who hopes it won’t take another eight years for all the family to be together. “It’s very hard at holidays when all I have is memories.”

Gaza government to temporarily reduce customs tax on motorcycles
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Mar — The Ministry of Transportation of the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip announced on Sunday that the customs tax on motorcycles and three-wheeled vehicles — also called tuk-tuks or rickshaws — would be reduced by 50 percent for the coming three months. The ministry spokesperson Khalil al-Zayyan said in a news conference in Gaza City that the decision was made in consultation with the Ministry of Finance in an effort to ease the burdens facing inhabitants of the besieged coastal enclave, and encourage residents who are deterred by expensive customs fees to register their motor vehicles. A study conducted leading up to the decision revealed that a large number of motorcycles and three-wheeled vehicles were being used across the Gaza Strip without official registration or insurance as a result of the dire economic situations facing Gazans, al-Zayyan said. The three-month tax cut will be a trial period to see how effective the policy is. Only 1,000 out of the 15,000 motorcycles and three-wheeled vehicles operation in Gaza have official registration, he added.

A look inside Gaza
Ynet 26 Mar by Elior Levy — Despite the catastrophic economic situation in Gaza, which includes high unemployment and immense poverty, residents have persevered, creating something out of nothing — Gaza has beautiful sunny beaches, and almost all of its residents live in an urban environment, but the catastrophic economic situation –  including immense poverty and high unemployment – has led many of its residents to nickname the coastal enclave the “biggest prison in the world.” Nonetheless, many Gazans persevere to make the best of their situation with their few resources. Here are some important figures and stories of Gazans, who attempt to overcome Gaza’s woes:  * Gaza is a total of 365 square kilometers. 2 million people live in the small territory.  * 62% of Gazan residents are under the age of 24. * The unemployment rate stands at 43%, but employed persons earn relatively low incomes . . . * An example of the depressing situation: An average household in Gaza receives between six to eight hours of electricity a day, and residents don’t know which part of the day their home will receive it. The lack of electricity has compelled some residents to improvise, employing small machines to power single devices such as the television. Larger backup generators also exist, but will sometimes fail as well.  * The complex relationship between Hamas, the PA, Egypt, and Israel largely explain why gas is so scarce in Gaza, but the average Gazan is not interested. Some Gazans have developed creative solutions. For example, Munthir Al-Qassas, a taxi driver, invented the first electric car in Gaza. Al-Qassas travels around Gaza in his invention, but it runs quite slowly.  * Few gyms exist in Gaza, leading many Gazans to exercise outdoors. Instead of using dumbbells and weights, Gazans employ benches, walls, and columns, much of which exists in areas destroyed in Operation Protective Edge.,7340,L-4783211,00.html

Song & Video Release: Haumea (We Are the Ones) – sung by the NCCR Gaza Children’s Choir
Project Peace On Earth (PPoE) is releasing the song Haumea (We Are The Ones) on Easter Day to commemorate this Holy day and celebrate the organization’s envisioned resurrection of a lasting peace in Palestine and the Middle East. Haumea was written by Richard Gannaway, the award-winning musician and founder of the world music project AOMUSIC, and also features Fox Lima and SEAY.  Haumea is an original piece, for the 2 Unite All Middle East peace benefit album to support surgical teams & supplies and PTSD therapies into Gaza, Palestine and the Middle East region.  YouTube link:  [Filmed in Gaza, esp. along the seafront]

Mutiny over set-text: ‘Romeo and Juliet’ divides young Palestinians
GAZA (The Independent) 25 Mar by Donald Macintyre — Romeo and Juliet ends with the deaths of the star-crossed lovers bringing peace between two hostile houses, both alike in dignity. But, for Palestinian school students, Shakespeare’s tragedy has done the opposite by reinforcing the split between Gaza and the West Bank. Protests by Gaza teachers against the English secondary-school curriculum drawn up for this school year by the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah have ensured that 17- and 18-year-old students of English in the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave will be studying King Lear, while their West Bank counterparts are taught Romeo and Juliet. Teachers in the enclosed – and more conservative – Gaza argued that the story of young love across the factional divide between the Capulets and the Montagues was unsuitable. Among the reasons cited for the opposition were fears that the plot glamorises suicide – regarded as a serious sin by many Muslims – and might encourage teenagers to disobey their parents. Teachers were also worried that students might download one of several film versions containing “immoral” love scenes. The play can also be read as opposing arranged marriages of the sort still practised in sections of Palestinian society.  (Continued)

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Israeli agency OKs right-wing NGO’s plans to build large visitors’ center in East Jerusalem
Haaretz 26 Mar by Yair Ettinger — The National Planning and Building Council ruled this week that a right-wing organization can build a 16,000-square-meter center in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, overturning the decision by the council’s appeals subcommittee limiting the size to 10,000 square meters. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked had pushed for the reversal of the size restrictions on the center planned by the Elad group. The facility will cover 16,000 square meters and tower seven stories over the Givati parking lot, adjacent to the walls of the Old City. The national zoning panel reopened debate on the issue after Justice Ministry Director General Emi Palmor took the unusual step of attending a council meeting in January that voted on the proposal. In its two-page statement reversing the ruling of the appeals body, the national council said the Jerusalem Walls National Park, where the center is to be built, “is a unique tourist destination of the highest order in Israel that deserves encouraging tourism within it.” The council members added that “goals like promoting a tourist experience, education by assimilating cultural, historical and archaeological heritage are a significant part of the designation of the national park.” The council rejected all four appeals that had been partially accepted in June, which were signed off by the Emek Shaveh organization of archaeologists, the Ir Amim organization, Silwan residents, and a group of intellectuals and architects. They asserted that the facility Elad seeks to build would damage antiquities, change the wall’s skyline, undercut the needs of the Palestinian population and would constitute a dangerous precedent for private, politicized building in the city’s most sensitive area.  (Continued)

Palestinians protest Israeli plan to build city on Jadeidi-Makr lands
NAZARETH (PIC) 27 Mar — Hundreds of Palestinians rallied in the 1948 occupied lands on Saturday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Palestine’s Land Day and to express their rejection of an Israeli plan to build a city for Arabs in Jadeidi-Makr town in the Galilee. Addressing the participants in the rally, head of the follow-up committee for Arab citizens Mohamed Barakeh condemned Israeli plans aimed at tightening the noose around the Palestinians in the 1948 occupied lands and called for standing united against all conspiracies. For his part, Arab Knesset member Ayman Odeh criticized, in his speech, Israel’s intention to build a city on lands belonging to Palestinians from Jadeidi-Makr town. “We need such a city, but the establishment of a city requires partnership and vast lands, and not establishing a misshapen one at the expense of people’s lands,” Odeh stated, warning that such an Israeli plan would prevent the development of Jadeidi-Makr.” The Israeli government has recently approved a plan to build a city for Arabs, for the first time since 1948, on lands belonging to Palestinian citizens from Jadeidi-Makr town.

Israeli authorities issue demolition notice to company near Hebron

HEBRON (Ma‘an) 28 Mar — Israeli forces issued a notification on Monday calling for a Palestinian company to stop building a structure in the village of Idhna near Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank. The structure belongs to Khalid Muhammad al-Batran, who began building the structure a year ago and said he has not received any demolition notices until now.  Al-Batran told Ma’an that he was surprised on Monday when he received the demolition notice.

Israeli plan to build 900 new housing units in O. J’lem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 25 Mar — The weekly Hebrew newspaper Iroshalim revealed in its latest edition an Israeli plan to build 900 new housing units in Pisgat Ze’ev settlement east of occupied Jerusalem. The Israeli Municipality declared that the Building and Housing Ministry supports the establishment of 900 new housing units in Pisgat Ze’ev settlement, according to the newspaper. Numerous meetings were held with representatives of nearby Israeli settlements to discuss the plan, the paper reported, saying that there is a tentative agreement on it. Along the same line, the newspaper said that Israeli Antiquities Authority will soon start excavations near the Old City’s walls in occupied Jerusalem as a prelude to establishing a public park in the area. Iroshalim claimed that the excavations started after obtaining a green light from the Greek Orthodox Church which owns the land. The new park is scheduled to be established on an area of five dunums near the Old City’s walls.

Sephardic Chief Rabbi argues ethnic cleansing justified by Jewish law/
Tikun Olam 27 Mar by Richard Silverstein — Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi Yitzhak Yosef delivered a sermon (video above with English translation by Ronnie Barkan) to the faithful two weeks ago in which he argued that Jewish law (halacha) directs the State to expel all non-Jews [ie. Palestinians] from Israel.  Of course, he adds some qualifiers: if they accept the Noahide Laws, they may remain (because they will be useful as servants to Jews).  But otherwise, they may be driven from the land. He suggested that Saudi Arabia would be a perfect place to send them.  This notion is a long-time Kahanist proposal, though another chief rabbi did suggest sending Palestinians to the Sinai where they would “make the desert bloom like Arizona.” (Continued)

Tufakji warns of Israeli separation plans in J’lem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC)- 27 Mar — Head of the maps department at the Arab Studies Society Khalil Tufakji has warned that Ramon’s separation plan, which the head of Israel’s Labor Party Isaac Herzog recently declared his support for, is part of schemes aimed at getting rid of the Palestinian population in Jerusalem. “[Israel’s] obsession with the Palestinian population growth has often been the main driving force behind such plans, including the plan of Yakir Segev, the so-called Jerusalem portfolio official, who considered the neighborhoods located east of the wall part of Jerusalem and said that the wall was built for demographic and political goals and not only for security reasons,” Tufakji said in a statement to the Palestinian Information Center (PIC). He also pointed to the proposal of withdrawing the IDs of Jerusalemites and discarding some Palestinian neighborhoods in the holy city, which was made by Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu on November 25, 2015. “The idea of getting rid of Palestinian neighborhoods such as Shuafat refugee camp, Kafr Aqab and Sawahreh means that more than 200,000 Jerusalemites will lose their IDs and their areas will become part of Areas B and C,” he warned. Tufakji recalled what former Israeli president Chaim Herzog had once said that Israel might lose Jerusalem if it did not get separated from Palestinian neighborhoods.


5 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike to protest solitary confinement
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 26 Mar — Five Palestinians are currently on a hunger strike in Israeli prisons to protest solitary confinement and Israel’s policy of administrative detention — internment without charge or trial. Amjad al-Najjar, the director of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society’s office in Hebron, said in a press statement on Saturday that prisoner Sami Janazrah has been on hunger strike since March 3, Imad al-Batran started his strike since March 15, and Abd-al-Rahim since March 24, all in protest of administrative detention. They were joined in their strike Saturday by Zayid al-Basisi who is sentenced to life plus 55 years, and Nahar al-Sadi, who was sentenced to four life sentences plus 20 years. They are both protesting solitary confinement. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society called for a sit-in in front of the International Red Cross building in Hebron this coming Monday in support of the hunger strikers. A report released this month by Physicians for Human Rights – Israel revealed that placements in solitary confinement in Israel’s prisons doubled from 2012 to 2014.

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

PHOTOS: Israelis hold Purim rally for jailed conscientious objectors
Activestills 27 Mar — Israeli demonstrators gather in central Tel Aviv to support Tair Kaminer and Ayden Katri, two Israeli conscientious objectors who refuse to serve in the army because of its actions in the occupied territories — Dozens of Israelis demonstrated last Thursday in central Tel Aviv in support of two Israeli conscientious objectors, one of whom is currently serving time in military prison. The demonstration, which coincided with the Jewish holiday of Purim — when Jews typically celebrate by dressing in costume — was organized in support of Tair Kaminer, who has sat in prison for a total of 75 days and is expected to be sentenced to another term next week, as well as Ayden Katri, a 19-year-old transgender conscientious objector from the city of Holon, who is expected to be officially enlisted on Tuesday. Both Kaminer and Katri have stated their opposition to the occupation, and their hopes to build bridges of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) was present at the demonstration, telling the crowd that “conscientious objection does not threaten our society; the biggest threat to our society is unconscionable obedience.”

Op-ed: BDS is an existential threat / Tal Keinan
Ynet 26 Mar — The Israeli economy is under threat from the BDS movement, with severe implications if it succeeds. In order to address this threat, Israel must understand and answer several questions to create a solid front against this movement — Let’s be clear on the numbers: The BDS movement is strongest in Europe. In 2014 – the last year there are full numbers for – 35 percent of Israel’s exports went to Europe. Thirty-two percent of the Israeli GDP is comprised of exports. That means that exports to Europe account for 12 percent of Israeli GDP. Assume that European governments remain supportive of trade with Israel, but that European consumers do not. Governments cannot force consumers to buy Israeli products. Let’s say that the BDS movement succeeds in getting 25 percent of European consumers to boycott Israeli products. That would represent a 2.8 percent drop in Israeli GDP. As Israel’s current GDP growth rate is 2.5 percent, this would push Israel into recession. Not the cyclical sort of recession that can be moderated by monetary and fiscal policy until economic imbalances correct themselves, but a secular recession, against which internal tools are ineffective. (Continued),7340,L-4782703,00.html

Other news / Opinion

WATCH: Christians hold procession in Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa to mark Good Friday
Reuters 25 Mar –– The annual ritual, in the Old City of Jerusalem, attracts thousands of pilgrims from around the world —  Carrying wooden crosses and singing hymns, Christians walked in procession along the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem, marking Easter’s Good Friday by retracing what they believe was the route that Jesus Christ took to his crucifixion. The Via Dolorosa starts from the Ecce Homo Convent and leads to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christians believe Jesus was buried before rising from the dead three days later. Along the route there are the 14 “Stations of the Cross” and marchers stop at each and every one of them for a few-minutes long prayer during their route. The first station is where Jesus was believed to have been condemned to death, the last is the tomb where Christians believe he is buried . . . At the same time, outside the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Christian worshippers embarked on a protest march to mark Good Friday. They walked from the Jewish settlement of Har Gilo to the Jewish settlement of Gilo in protest against Israel’s settlements policy.

WATCH: Christians attend Easter Mass in Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre
Reuters 27 Mar — Easter Sunday Mass in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be Jesus’ place of burial. Pilgrims and local Christians have been flocking to Jerusalem’s Old City to celebrate Easter and Jesus’ resurrection. Local Christians were joined by pilgrims from all over the world in a procession which was led by Roman Catholic Patriarch Fouad Twal.  Twal led the faithful in prayer at the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection, which is considered one of Christianity’s most sacred sites. Easter Sunday marks the culmination of Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday, and commemorates the resurrection of Jesus three days after his death by crucifixion.

Fatah, Hamas delegations hold talks in Doha
GAZA (Ma‘an) 27 Mar — Fatah and Hamas delegations met in Doha on Saturday and Sunday to discuss the implementation of a reconciliation process between the two major Palestinian factions. Palestinian sources told Ma‘an the two parties had agreed not to speak to the media about the proceedings. A Fatah delegation arrived in Doha on Friday for talks on implementing reconciliation. Sharhabil al-Gharib, an author and political analyst close to Hamas, told Ma‘an that these meetings would just amount to a formality unless they yield concrete results. Al-Gharib said Fatah was demanding that Hamas agree to its agenda, but that a “resolution here is finding a joint agenda represented in the National Accord Document,” which was approved by both parties. He added that talks would only include “the issue of government and marginal issues.”T he meeting is the latest in a series of attempts to reconcile the two movements since they violently fell out with one another in 2007.

Opinion: For Israelis, there’s terror, and then there’s terror / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 26 Mar — A thousand speeches by Benjamin Netanyahu at AIPAC won’t confuse decent people: Palestinian terror is the resort of those who have no choice — Between the concealed gloating over Europe’s disaster and the open condescension toward it, Israeli politicians are blurring the fundamental differences between one kind of terror and another. The blurring is not accidental; it is intended to serve the narrative. Israelis who won’t see the difference between Palestinians and Arabs, Arabs and Muslims, terror and Islam, Hamas and Hezbollah and between the last two and ISIS and Al-Qaida, will see the distinction between kinds of terror as heresy. For them, terror is terror.  Terror is indeed terror in that it is brutal and criminal and targets innocent people indiscriminately. But terror also has kinds and hues and we must distinguish among them.  The first kind is ISIS terror. No justification can be found for it, neither for its goals nor the means it uses. It is meant to impose ISIS’s beliefs by force and intimidation. It will never be satiated or agree to a compromise. Israel could try to teach Europe how to quash it by force, but its chance of succeeding is dubious.
The second kind, Palestinian terror, is criminal in its methods but justified in its cause. There is no connection between the man who committed suicide in Brussels’ Metro and the youth who stabs Israelis at Damascus Gate. A thousand speeches by Benjamin Netanyahu at AIPAC won’t confuse decent people. Palestinian terror is the resort of those who have no choice, a tool of the weak to gain their more-than-justified goals. It’s true that this kind of terror also hurts innocent people brutally. Its means are similar too. Palestinians attacked planes when Osama Bin Laden was still a business administration student in King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, and Palestinian suicide terrorists preceded ISIS. But all this cannot cover up the difference: ISIS’s goals are insane, the Palestinians’ goals are justified. What would you say to a Gazan youngster hesitating whether to join the resistance? Is there any point to his life and any chance for his future if he and his colleagues bow their heads submissively before their jailers? Is there anyone, in Israel or the rest of the world, who would remember their existence without the violent resistance that is tagged as terrorism? And their brothers in the West Bank — violence may not have given them any real achievements, but at least it raised their issue and put it on the agenda … Israel has given the Palestinians and the Arab world a fateful lesson — it understands only force. Only force got Israel to return Sinai, only force led it to the Oslo talks, only by force will the Palestinian problem be solved. This force, in the case of people who have no army or air force, is terror. (listserv) (archive)

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“The soldiers of the IDF, our children, maintain high ethical values while courageously fighting against bloodthirsty murderers under difficult operational conditions”

Comedy gold.

Kate, how do you keep your sanity? Imagine being a Palestinian under Israel’s heel on a daily basis. They show there is depth to bravery after all–In Palestine.

When I review the video, it seems obvious an officer, probably after it was determined the guy was still alive, walked to the rear to bring a soldier forward. The officer, facing the soldier from three feet away, instructed, “Kill him.” As the soldier entered a round in his chamber, others near the body turned or moved away and the soldier did as he was instructed.

Some blatant hypocracy from the zionist criminals . “Ya’alon also vowed to “look into whether there is a connection between the vitriol on the Internet and all kinds of statements from politicians regarding the soldier who decided to commit an act that is violated the law and our moral values.” Bennett’s office fired back, saying that the minister has called the soldier’s family more than once and will continue to do so. “Even if their… Read more »