Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian shot, killed by Israeli forces after attempted attack near Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — A Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli forces at the entrance of the al-Arroub refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank on Thursday afternoon, after reportedly attempting to attack a soldier. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an a Palestinian attacked an Israeli soldier with an ax near the camp, which is located in the northern Hebron governorate and is neighbored by the illegal settlement of Etzion. “Israeli forces fired towards the assailant, resulting in his death,” she said, adding that a soldier was wounded in the altercation, but did not need to be evacuated. Palestinian medics identified the slain Palestinian as 50-year-old Ibrahim Baradiya. Prior to Baradiya’s killing, there had been no Palestinian or Israeli fatalities recorded in the context of attacks or clashes for two consecutive weeks — the longest period without deaths since the escalation of violence in October 2015, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Israel accidentally returns body of ax-wielding assailant to family
Times of Israel 15 Apr — Israel on Friday returned the body of a Palestinian man to his family, a day after he was shot dead when he attacked an IDF soldier with an ax. The return of the assailant’s body took place despite reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the practice stopped. The IDF said the body’s return was a mistake caused by a misunderstanding, and would be investigated internally. The assailant was shot by soldiers at the scene of the incident, near the al-‘Arroub refugee camp north of Hebron. He was later identified as Ibrahim Brad’aih, 54, a Hamas operative who had previously been held in Israeli prison. In the ax attack, he ax apparently hit the soldier in the helmet and the soldier was unharmed, according to unconfirmed accounts of the incident.
Israeli police detain 2 children suspected of planning attack in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Israeli police detained two Palestinian boys for allegedly planning a stab attack in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday afternoon. A statement from Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said that Israeli police and border guards suspected two boys who were later identified as 12-year-old Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. Al-Samri added that police stopped and searched them and found three knives, one hidden in an inside pocket, in addition to a farewell letter written by one of the teens to his family. After initial interrogation, police determined the teens were planning a “terrorist” attack, al-Samri said . . . The young boys’ detention comes after Israeli authorities decided to uphold the one-year detention of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy who has been held since November for allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack with his cousin. According to prisoners’ rights organization Addameer, 406 of the 7,000 Palestinians currently held in Israeli prisons are minors. An estimated 108 of these youths are under the age of 16.
Meet the West Bank cobbler who took video of Israeli soldier shooting Palestinian in head
[with videos] Forward 13 Apr by Naomi Zeveloff — Imad and Fayzeh Abu Shamsiyeh heard the gunshots reverberate at close range as they were sitting on the porch of their Hebron home, drinking coffee. Quickly, Imad Abu Shamsiyeh went to check on the construction workers who were renovating a section of their home. None of them were hurt. Then, rather than duck inside until the trouble passed over, Abu Shamsiyeh did the opposite: He grabbed his Panasonic flip camera and, with his wife, walked up a nearby hill in the direction of the shots. It was March 24, and though he didn’t know it at the moment, Abu Shamsiyeh, a volunteer with the Israeli rights group B’Tselem, had walked into the tense aftermath of an attack. Two Palestinian men, Abd al-Fatah al-Sharif, 21, and Ramzi al-Qasrawi, 20, had stabbed an Israeli soldier. They were lying immobilized on the ground, surrounded by Israeli soldiers and medical personnel. Abu Shamsiyeh began filming, while his wife tried to approach one of the Palestinian men to offer medical help. Soldiers told them to leave the area, so Abu Shamsiyeh retreated to the roof of a neighbor’s home and kept filming. He watched as ambulances arrived and gave medical aid to a soldier, leaving the two Palestinian men on the ground. Then, he said, “I heard a soldier preparing to shoot.” He was terrified that the soldier was going to shoot him for filming, but he kept his camera calmly trained on the scene so that “it was all well-documented.” Instead, the soldier pointed his gun at al-Sharif and shot him dead. “At that moment I was panic stricken,” Abu Shamsiyeh said. “As a human being, I could not take it.” He went back to his home and, crying, downloaded the film onto his computer to make a copy. Watching the footage, it was clear to him that al-Sharif had been shot in the head. “That is when I realized I had taken a picture of a drastic, huge situation, which the whole world must see.” . . . In 2010, the couple’s 13-year-old daughter, Madelen, was pursued by five Jewish men on her way to school, Abu Shamsiyeh said. They threw a stone at her face, drawing blood and knocking her unconscious. A Palestinian field worker from B’Tselem came to the hospital to gather testimony from the family. “That is when they asked me would you like to document what is going on here in a voluntary way,” Abu Shamsieyh said. He was given a camera and a plastic card that identified him as a B’Tselem volunteer. (Continued)
Israeli forces detain Palestinian teen, injure taxi driver
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — A Palestinian teen was arrested and a taxi driver was injured by Israeli forces Thursday evening near the village of Beit Ummar north of Hebron city in the southern occupied West Bank. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained Diya’ Khalil Odeh Al-Alami,16, and took him to the illegal Israeli settlement of Kermei Tzur south of Beit Ummar. In a separate incident near Beit Ummar, taxi driver Raed Ahmad Miflih Adi, 40, was reportedly injured in the head when Israeli forces extracted him from his car and took him to a military tower at the entrance of al-‘Arroub refugee camp. Israeli forces later handed him over to the Palestinian Red Crescent who took him to Hebron Governmental Hospital where he was treated for moderate wounds, Awad said. A spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent did not have further details on the two incidents in Hebron. Awad added that Israeli forces also closed shops at the entrance of Beit Ummar and prevented vehicles from entering the area.
Israeli forces detain 14-year-old girl at Bethlehem checkpoint
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Apr – Israeli forces on Wednesday detained a 14-year-old Palestinian girl after having a “heated” argument with her at the main checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem in the southern occupied West Bank. Bethlehem resident Muhammad Balboul told Ma‘an Israeli forces had taken his sister, Nuran Balboul, 14, into custody while she and her aunt, Basima Balboul, were trying to cross Israel’s 300 checkpoint into Jerusalem. He said Nuran was detained following a “heated” argument with a female Israeli soldier inside the checkpoint. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed an arrest at the checkpoint, alleging that a “woman” was apprehended after she was found in possession of a knife. However, her aunt, Basima, said it was untrue her niece had a knife when she was detained. Relatives described Nuran as bright with a strong personality and a tendency to be “sharp-tongued” with the Israeli authorities. Her father, Ahmad Balboul, a prominent leader in Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was shot dead along with three other Palestinian gunmen by undercover Israeli forces in March 2008. The four were ambushed in the afternoon by undercover agents while driving in a small car only a few minutes’ walk from the Bethlehem security services headquarters.
Israeli army operation in downtown Ramallah causes sweeping fire
Mondoweiss 15 Apr by Allison Deger — A fire started by Israeli forces during a botched operation to detonate explosives in a West Bank commercial zone quickly spread and burned a Palestinian government office, at least nine stores and an open-air market, in the early morning hours Thursday. In total, half of a downtown block in Ramallah was damaged beyond repair. The flames spread after soldiers used an incendiary device to pry open an oversized safe inside of a money exchange shop, which stored funds for a Palestinian militant group, according to a spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) speaking to the Times of Israel. When the owner of the store “refused to open the safe, the forces who were there carried out the detonation in a controlled way,” the spokesperson said . . . Local firemen had arrived on the scene to control the blaze, but were prevented from reaching the site by Israeli forces for 40 minutes, said Jamal Dajani, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority. The delay, he said, caused the fire to engulf several more business. Three Palestinian civil affairs employees were injured while responding. All of the contents of the money-exchange store were reduced to ash, with one hulking exception; the safe Israeli soldiers attempted to open remained intact, and appeared closed . . . I lost 20,000 kilos of vegetables,” said Mousa Abu Awad, 20, the owner of a stall in the bazaar. Business continued as usual for stands that were spared by the fire, but Abu Awad spent Thursday barreling his lost product and sweeping out water and soot left caked onto the market floor. Abu Awad witnessed the Israeli incursion. He saw nearly 30 army Jeeps posted outside of the market, with soldiers operating inside of the money changer. “They had white plastic shopping bags full of money,” he said . . . Israeli forays into Palestinian cities are nightly, typically to arrest wanted Palestinians. While damage is not unheard of, such extensive ruin is quite uncommon as is the destruction of properties belonging to the Palestinian government. One of the workplaces set alight was a municipal service office for the city of al-Bireh where resident pay bills. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are conducting separate investigations into the fire
Dozens injured after Israeli soldiers attack Bil‘in’s weekly nonviolent protest
IMEMC 15 Apr by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall and colonies, in Bil‘in village in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, causing dozens of protesters to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. This week’s protest comes in commemoration of the seventh anniversary of the death of Bassem Abu Rahma, a nonviolent activist who was killed, in April of 2009, after a soldier shot him in the chest with a high-velocity gas bomb. Dozens of soldiers surrounded the village and attacked the protesters by firing dozens of gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets, causing scores of residents to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. Medical sources said that the children of resident Ashraf al-Khatib suffered severe effects of tear gas inhalation after the soldiers fired gas bombs at their home.
Israeli forces detain 35 Palestinians, many elderly, in overnight raids
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Israeli forces detained at least 35 Palestinians in overnight raids across the occupied Palestinian territory between Wednesday and Thursday, including at least a dozen elderly Palestinians across occupied East Jerusalem. Local Palestinian sources told Ma‘an at least 18 people had been detained overnight in East Jerusalem, the majority of them over the age of 60. Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the general director of the Jerusalem endowment overseeing the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, said that Israeli police detained for interrogation Sheikh Yasser Abu Ghazaleh and Amireh, both employees of the Islamic Endowment department. Sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained Abu Ghazaleh after raiding his home in the Wadi al-Juz neighborhood, while Amireh was detained in his home in raiding his home in the neighborhood of Sur Bahir. The head of a Jerusalem committee for prisoners said Israeli forces also detained Moussa al-Tamimi in Wadi al-Juz, Muhammad Amid Yassin, 68, in the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood, and Muhammad Abu Srour in the neighborhood of Silwan. Other detainees in East Jerusalem were identified as Hajj Mithqal al-Qaq, 70, Said Samrin, 70, Nabil al-Sharif, 70, Omar Samrin, 59, Taher Alah Arafeh, 63, Tawfiq Ghaith, 60, Abu Muhammad al-Joulani, 60, Ribhi Ghousheh, 63, Attiyeh Naim al-Syuri, 60, Abu Wissam al-Rajabi, 62, Sufyan Jadallah, 50, Mustafa Muhammad al-Salfiti, 67, and Akram al-Shurafa, 45.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank, Palestinian sources told Ma‘an that six people had been detained in the Nablus district . . . An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an 14 overnight detentions in the West Bank, listing one in Nablus, one north of Nablus, one in Tubas, two in Balata, and three in Dura. She also cited two detentions in Qalqiliya, three in the town of Azzun southeast of Qalqiliya, and one southwest of Hebron.
Israeli army detains 11 Palestinians in predawn raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — Israeli forces detained 11 Palestinians from across the West Bank during predawn raids carried out early Friday. The Israeli army told Ma‘an that six Palestinians were detained from the Jenin area, four from Nablus, and one from Hebron, for suspected involvement with the Hamas movement or “illegal activity.” Locals identified the detainees from Nablus as Akram Ahmad Hasan Dawabsha, Mahmoud Abed al-Fattah, Muhammad Salawdeh, and Tareq al-Kawni. Locals in Beit Qad village in Jenin told Ma‘an that military forces during the predawn raid confiscated electric appliances from a home belonging to Hussein Ali Mallah.
2 Palestinian teenagers turn themselves in to Israeli authorities
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — Two Palestinian teenagers turned themselves in on Friday to Israel’s al-Ramla prison after spending nine months under house arrest, said the head of the Jerusalem Detainees and Prisoners’ Families organization. Noor al-Din Marwan Abu Hadwan, 17, and Saif Ayed al-Tawil, 16, turned themselves in to al-Ramla prison accompanied by their parents, following a decision Thursday by the Israeli central court judge in preparation for their court session to be held in the coming days, he added. Noor and Saif were first detained alongside 10 other youths from the neighborhood of Beit Hanina north of occupied East Jerusalem at the end of June last year for throwing rocks. They were released on bail two weeks after their initial detention, put under house arrest, and banned from attending school. A recent court ruling sentenced the teens to actual prison sentences. Four of the detained — including Saif’s brother Zayid, 17 — turned themselves in Sunday after being sentenced to periods between 12 to 39 months in prison. The organization told Ma‘an Sunday that some 129 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons are minors from occupied East Jerusalem. He said this number included five young girls and six under the age of 14 held in juvenile detention centers.
Israel violated agreement at Al-Aqsa Mosque, says international crisis group
MEMO 11 Apr — A new report by International Crisis Group (ICG) on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound confirms that the primary trigger for unrest in the city in September 2015 was the Israeli authorities’ violations of an agreement reached with Jordan the previous year. According to ICG, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised King Abdullah in November 2014, following an earlier outbreak of unrest, that he would keep all Knesset members out of the compound, as well as “refrain from categorical age or gender limitations on Muslim access”, and “keep provocative activists from the site and limit religious Jewish groups permitted to enter.” In September 2015, however, “three days before the Jewish New Year”, Israeli authorities “reinstate[d] the age and gender limitations on access [for Muslim worshippers]” that “Netanyahu had pledged to stop” – despite the Israeli police’s “assessment that it could prompt major clashes.” (Continued)
Israel to deploy extra troops around Temple Mount ahead of Passover
Ynet 15 Apr by Noam (Dabul) Dvir & Elior Levy — The defense establishment has been taking steps to lower tensions and reduce incitement; PM Benjamin Netanyahu has called on Jewish and Arab leaders to calm their respective communities — . . . Tensions have been on the rise among Palestinians over the Temple Mount and the al-Aqsa mosque. These tensions are a result of the upcoming week-long Jewish holiday of Passover, starting April 22, which is expected to significantly increase the number of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount area . . . Palestinians and Israeli Arabs have been accusing Israeli authorities of wanting to take control of the Temple Mount and are questioning the status quo in the holy site. “There are, at present, attempts to rekindle unrest and the violence, especially over Passover and the Temple Mount, as we previously experienced during the holidays last autumn,” Netanyahu said. “I tell you for certain: There is no change in our policy regarding the status quo on the Temple Mount,” he stressed. “Do not believe the lies, which I regret are also being spread by several MKs. We are committed to maintaining peace and security and will do whatever it takes to ensure the security of the citizens of Israel.”The prime minister said that Israel sent messages to this effect to the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and the Arab world. Netanyahu also called on both Jewish and Arab leaders “to work with your publics in order to calm the mood. Do not allow an extremist minority to change the order of things.”
Second Jewish marriage ceremony in 1000 years purportedly held on Temple Mount
JPost 13 Apr by Daniel K. Eisenbud — A young, unidentified Jewish couple purportedly made history on the Temple Mount earlier this week by having a wedding ceremony at Judaism’s holiest site. According to a statement on Tuesday from the right-wing Temple Institute, based in Jerusalem, they were only the second couple in 2,000 years to have gotten married at the site . . . Noting that open Jewish prayer at the compound is strictly prohibited, all members of the party were instructed by Richman that the vows had to be exchanged “without drawing the attention of the Israel Police or the Muslim Wakf guards who would be accompanying the group of Jewish worshipers.” Indeed, had authorities noticed the exchange, the group would have been removed from the site and potentially arrested for “causing a public disturbance.”
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court maintains detention of 12-year-old Palestinian boy
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 Apr — Israeli authorities decided to uphold the one-year detention of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy who has been held since November for allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack with his cousin, a relative told Ma‘an on Wednesday. Ali Alqam was first detained on Nov. 10 at a light rail station in the illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev after he and his cousin Muawiya, 14, stabbed a security guard, wounding him moderately. Ali, who turned 12 in detention, was shot at least three times on the scene and had to undergo surgery to remove a bullet from his stomach. In November, Muawiya was indicted on charges of attempted murder and possession of a knife. Sheikh Abdullah Alqam, Ali’s uncle, told Ma‘an that a court session for Ali was recently held at the Israeli magistrate court, in which the judge ruled to keep the young Palestinian detained for a negotiable year. The judge added that Ali would be moved from Acre to Ein Naqquba west of Jerusalem. Alqam added that Ali’s lawyer had presented several requests to the court to reconsider the boy’s detention. The uncle added that the judge had decided to extend Ali’s detention on the grounds that he still needs psychotherapy, despite the fact that the boy’s parents are reportedly able to provide him treatment.
Prisoner suspends hunger strike over health issues
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Palestinian prisoner Shukri al-Khawaja suspended his hunger strike after four days due to his health condition, as other prisoners maintained their strike to denounce al-Khawaja’s extended solitary confinement. The head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society’s legal unit said that 15 prisoners at the Ofer prison were continuing their open hunger strike in solidarity with al-Khawaja, who has been held in solitary confinement since 2014.
Israeli court confirms manslaughter charge for soldier behind Hebron ‘execution’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — An Israeli military court confirmed on Thursday that it would charge an Israeli soldier with manslaughter over the high-profile killing of a Palestinian in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron in March. The killing of Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, 21, on March 24, sparked widespread outrage after footage by Israeli rights group B’Tselem showed an Israeli soldier shooting al-Sharif in the head while the young Palestinian was lying wounded on the ground after allegedly stabbing an Israeli soldier. The Israeli army did not immediately respond to Ma‘an’s request for comment. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the prosecution officially announced on Thursday in front of the Jaffa military court that it would seek manslaughter charges against the soldier, identified by media outlets not bound by Israel’s gag orders as French-Israeli citizen Elor Azarya. The prosecution requested an extension of the soldier’s remand to give themselves time to present an indictment on Monday, Haaretz reported. According to Israeli news outlet Ynet, a small group of Azarya’s supporters demonstrated outside the courtroom, chanting “whoever kills terrorists is an Israeli hero.” The manslaughter charge is a significant but expected downgrade after it was initially believed that the court would pursue murder charges. An autopsy earlier this month confirmed that al-Sharif was still alive before a bullet fired at his head at point-blank range by Azarya killed him. Al-Sharif’s family has announced that they would file legal procedures against the Israeli army in front of an Israeli court, not long after Azarya was moved into open detention on a military base.
East Jerusalem man convicted of car ramming murder of Jewish man
JPost 13 Apr by Yonah Jeremy Bob — The Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday convicted Khaled Kotina of the murder of Shalom Yohai Cherki, whom he ran over at a French Hill bus stop on April 15, 2015. The Anata man, 38, was also convicted of the attempted murder of Shira Klein, who survived the vehicular attack but was hospitalized for two weeks at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem. The three-judge panel rejected Kotina’s defense that he did not intend to murder anyone. The northeast Jerusalem man alternatively claimed that the incident was the result of a mechanical malfunction, or that he intentionally drove into the bus stop because of an emotional breakdown. The verdict confirmed the initial findings that the incident was carried out for nationalistic reasons.
Palestinian who ran over Israeli to be charged with manslaughter, not murder
Ynet 13 Apr by Elisha Ben Kimon — The Military Advocate General has decided to charge the Palestinian who ran over Avraham Asher Hasno with manslaughter instead of murder, the victim’s family was informed on Tuesday. The family received the news with anger, calling the decision outrageous. “It can’t be that the terrorist who ran over and murdered my father will only be charged with manslaughter and not murder,” said Maydad Hasno, Avraham’s son. Last October, Avraham Hasno was on his way to Kiryat Arba when several Palestinians pelted his car with stones near Fawwar, southwest of Hebron. He stopped and exited the vehicle, and was run over by a truck driven by a Palestinian from Dhahiriya. The driver fled the scene, and later turned himself in to Palestinian authorities, claiming it was an accident. At first, the incident was treated as a hit-and-run, but two weeks later Avraham was recognized by the Defense Ministry as a victim of an act of terrorism. In March, after Palestinian authorities released him, the Palestinian was detained by Israeli forces and taken for questioning.
IDF punishes soldiers involved in torching Palestinian flag at West Bank checkpoint
JPost 13 Apr — The IDF suspended the commander of a group of Israeli soldiers suspected of torching a Palestinian flag on Wednesday morning at the West Bank checkpoint where they were stationed near Nablus. The IDF spokesperson’s unit confirmed the details of the incident at the Awarta checkpoint. During the incident, the soldiers apparently took the flag from a nearby parked car and threw it on the ground in front of hundreds of Palestinians who were in the area. Afterward, one of the soldiers ignited the flag with a lighter. An IDF spokesperson said that the soldier’s commanders were familiar with the incident and that an investigation has been opened into the events. An official Palestinian complaint has been filed to the Foreign Ministry regarding the issue. “Initial investigations reveal that the incident was an unusual one in which the forces acted against what was expected of them, against the orders of their commanders and it will be dealt with with disciplinary action,” the spokesman added. After the initial investigation the soldiers’ commander was suspended from his role and sent to military jail for 20 days. An additional soldier involved was ordered confined to his base for 28 days.
Exclusive: Court hold first hearing against IDF soldiers for killing Palestinian minor
JPost 14 Apr by Yonah Jeremy Bob — In 40 years, no similar indictment has been filed, not even in IDF courts, defense attorney for suspects in 2013 incident argues — The Ramle Magistrate’s Court held its first hearing Thursday in a case where two former IDF soldiers have been indicted for negligent homicide for shooting and killing an unarmed 16-year-old Palestinian boy near the West Bank security barrier in January 2013. Supporters of the slain boy, Samir Awad, said the indictment should have been at least for the more serious charge of manslaughter and that the IDF and the state want to sweep the case under the rug. The defense lawyers argued that the two soldiers are being arbitrarily singled out when no other IDF soldiers have been indicted for firing and killing Palestinians in similar operational circumstances in 40 years. The defense lawyers, Shlomo Rachvi and Idan Pesach, also say they will argue that the IDF and the state were applying the wrong rules of engagement to a complex incident that occurred over a mere 32 seconds. In addition, the case could turn into a public battle over classified IDF rules of engagement. According to the indictment, both suspects clearly violated the rules of engagement, firing on Awad as he was running away into Palestinian territory with his back to them, having done nothing other than try to cross illegally into Israel and presenting no danger. (Continued)
Israel sentenced a 13-year-old Palestinian girl to prison
Haaretz 14 Apr by Gideon Levy — This week, just as a 12-year-old’s term was reduced, a 13-year-old girl was sentenced and told to pay an unimaginable fine – and if not, her mother will be sent to jail for up to seven months — They’re not even sure of the exact date of her arrest. They only remember that it was on a Wednesday nearly a month ago. (It was March 23.) They also had a hard time finding a photograph of S. Her mother rummaged around for a long time until she found a faded and wrinkled studio picture of the family, taken a few years ago. S. is in the front, sitting on a rocking horse, her hair pulled back in a ponytail. There’s another shot of S. as a baby. That’s all. Where’s her room? It’s here, the room we’re sitting in: a living room with moldy walls that contains nothing apart from a few mattresses on the floor and two light-brown plastic chairs. At night, it’s her room. But now S. is not home. She is in Sharon Prison. A 13-year-old girl, in the seventh grade, she is an inmate in an Israeli jail. Last Thursday, S. was sentenced to four-and-a-half months in prison and a fine of 7,000 shekels ($1,860). If the fine is not paid – and for this family it’s an absolutely unimaginable amount – S.’s mother, Amna Takatka, will be sent to jail for up to seven months: one month for every 1,000 unpaid shekels, for what her daughter did. That was the sentence handed down by military judge Lt. Col. Ami Navon.
On the day of her arrest, S. went to school as usual. She then came home, ate lunch and helped her mother with housework and with preparations for a special supper with the family of her aunt. S. then served tea to the guests, at her mother’s request. She placed the glasses of tea on the table and disappeared. She was distraught, her mother recalls now: She’d been in a highly emotional state for the whole week, since two residents of her town, Ali al-Kar and Ali Takatka, were killed in the course of a stabbing attack that they perpetrated near the West Bank settlement of Ariel, on March 17. S. watched the reports of their killing on television. The former was the brother of a classmate, the latter a member of her own extended family. Their killing shocked S. deeply. Her classmates related that S. said she hates Israel for killing the two and wanted to avenge their death. Her grandfather saw her leave the house and run toward the road that leads out of town, but wasn’t able to stop her. It was early evening. He said afterward that her face was flushed and that she seemed to be holding back tears. He did not see a knife in her hand. An improvised Israel Defense Forces checkpoint had been set up on the main street . . . According to eyewitnesses, S. was a few dozen meters from the soldiers. It would later be alleged that she was holding a knife (“a particularly long one”). She apparently also threw stones. A few locals tried to calm her down and put her into a car, to take her away. But the soldiers ran after her and arrested her before the vehicle could pull away. (Continued)
Israel extends administrative detention of Hamas lawmaker
GAZA (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — Israeli authorities have extended the administrative detention of legislative council member and Hamas leader Hassan Yousif for an additional six months, a Hamas-affiliated parliamentary bloc told Ma‘an Friday. Yousif, also known as Hassan Salamah, 60, was detained after Israeli forces raided his house in Beituniya on October 20, three months after being released from a previous year-long detention for incitement against the Israeli occupation. This is the fourth time that Salamah has been in administrative detention — internment without trial or charge. According to prisoners’ rights organization Addameer, at least 670 Palestinians are currently held under administrative detention by Israel, a policy international community has repeatedly said is in contravention of international law.
Eleven Palestinians injured by Israeli army fire in Gaza
IMEMC 15 Apr — Palestinian medical sources have reported, Friday, that Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinians protesting in different parts of the Gaza Strip, wounding 11, while many others felt the effects of tear gas inhalation. The sources said that the 11 wounded Palestinians suffered mild-to-moderate injuries. Ten of them were shot by Israeli soldiers,stationed across the border fence, east of Gaza City, and one was shot in the northern part of the coastal region. In addition, many Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, after the soldiers attacked protesters east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza.
Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by drones, level land in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Several Israeli bulldozers entered into the southern Gaza Strip early Thursday and leveled land near the borderline, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that four Israeli military bulldozers entered dozens of meters into the eastern Rafah district and leveled lands near the border fence. They added that Israeli drones were flying above the area at the time. No shooting was reported.= . . . Locals have reported incursions into the Rafah district by Israeli bulldozers and drones on a near-daily basis in the past ten days. While the army typically cites “routine activity” in the Israeli-enforced “buffer zone” along the border with Israel and off of Gaza’s coast, forces often open fire on Palestinian farmers and fishermen working near the zone. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported at least 30 incidents of Israeli military forces opening fire in the “buffer zone” in the first week of April alone, in two cases injuring Palestinians who were as far as 350 meters away from the border.
Israel allows taxis into Gaza for the first time in nine years
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Israeli authorities allowed taxis to be imported into the Gaza Strip for the first time in nine years via the Kerem Shalom crossing on Wednesday, Fouad Homeid, head of the vehicles, spare parts, and heavy machinery committee of Gaza said in a statement Thursday. Homeid said that six 2002 model Skoda brand [Czech?] taxis have entered the Gaza Strip, with 36 more approved for entry and waiting to cross. The entry was coordinated with the Israeli authorities, the Palestinian Ministry of Transportation in Ramallah, and the staff of the ministry in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas beefs up Egypt border force in bid to ease tensions
AFP 14 Apr — Hamas began deploying additional forces on the Gaza border with Egypt on Thursday, the interior ministry said, in an apparent effort to ease Cairo’s concerns about security. “National security forces started today to increase the number of its troops and double the security bases along all the southern border with Egypt to be able to control the border better,” spokesman Iyad al-Bazm told AFP. He said they had established three new bases immediately. “This is a message that we are concerned with border security and stability,” Bazm said, adding nobody would be allowed “to touch the security of Egypt.” Security forces were seen setting up about 10 temporary buildings along the border. Bulldozers flattened the land near the frontier in apparent preparation for more temporary structures. A Palestinian security officer called the measures “important new security arrangements to reassure the brothers in Egypt the border is secure”. A delegation headed by Hamas political bureau member Mousa Abu Marzook held talks in Egypt last month aimed at normalising relations that have been strained since the overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
PM: Foreign donors must ‘make good’ on Gaza aid pledges
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Apr — Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Wednesday urged foreign donors to “make good on their pledges” for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, nearly two years after a devastating Israeli offensive left tens of thousands of Palestinians homeless. “Almost two years have passed since the end of the Israeli war on Gaza, and a large number of Palestinian families still suffer the consequences,” Hamdallah said, according to a statement issued by his office. He made the comments at a donors’ meeting in Ramallah held to discuss the challenges the Palestinian Authority faces in reconstruction, which the statement attributed to “Israeli obstacles and lack of sufficient funding.” Hamdallah pointed to pledges made by foreign donors at the Cairo Conference in 2014, shortly after the conclusion of Israel’s 50-day offensive, which left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead, the vast majority civilians. Foreign states then pledged $1.4 billion, although according to the World Bank only 40 percent of that has been disbursed. The prime minister was joined by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, who also appealed to the international community to close the financial gap.
PA applies to Israel to extend gas line to Gaza
MEMO 15 Apr — The Palestinian Authority has made an official request to Israel to extend a gas pipeline to the power station in the Gaza Strip. Omar Katana, the head of the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority, told the Anadolu Agency that the authority submitted the project to Israel following a meeting held on Wednesday in the city of Jerusalem and attended by technical advisers and representatives of the Palestinian reconciliation government as well as Israelis. If Israel approves the project and funding is available, it will be implemented immediately. “The gas pipeline would increase the production capabilities of the Gaza power station to reach 340 megawatts,” he said. The power station currently produces about 60 megawatts. Katana explained that the Israeli authorities informed them that they would respond regarding the project within a month. The head of the Qatar National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, Ambassador Mohammed Al Emadi, said during his visit to Gaza on 6 January that his country will finance the project in the if Israeli approval is attained.
Hearing aids raised for Gaza blocked at border
Derry Journal [N. Ireland] 15 Apr — A Derry man who was part of a group which collected dozens of hearing aids to be donated to a centre in Gaza, has revealed that the collection has been blocked at the border. Charlie McMenamin, who has just returned after taking part in the Palestine Marathon, told the ‘Journal’ that they have just received word that the hearing aids were blocked from being transported to Gaza. “We are frustrated that all the work which we have done may be no longer be of value to the children and the poor families,” he said. The group Friends of Palestine are now appealing for help from the World Health Organisation to help remedy the situation. Charlie revealed that in 2012 a group from Derry had visited Gaza and the Al-Basma Centre for Audiology & Speech therapy. “They told us they needed hearing aids, which are very hard to come by,” he claimed. Thanks to the help of local people, last week Charlie and those who travelled with him took the hearing aids with them in the understanding that the hearing aids will make a huge difference to the lives of families who cannot afford them.
Israel resumes weekly Gaza visits to Aqsa after 1 month freeze
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — After a one-month freeze by the Israeli authorities on visitation to Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Gaza Strip, Palestinians were permitted this week to resume trips for weekly Friday worship. Some 200 Palestinians above the age of 60 crossed out of the besieged coastal enclave via the Erez crossing Friday morning, and are expected to return immediately after performing prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, sources at the Palestinian liaison office told Ma‘an. Spokesman for the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee Muhammad al-Maqadmeh said the Israeli authorities agreed earlier this week to reverse a decision to bar the weekly visit. A spokesperson for Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told Ma‘an that worshipers from Gaza would be able to enter the Aqsa compound as part of Israel’s “extensive civil policy towards the Gaza Strip,” as long as Palestinians “meet their commitments.” . . . Israel froze the agreement on March 16 due to allegations that Palestinians traveling for worship were not returning to the Gaza Strip on the same day of the visit, as the agreement stipulated, posing a “threat to security.”
The EU Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah condemn death sentence issued in Gaza
European Union 13 Apr — The EU Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah condemn the death sentence issued by a Civil Court in Gaza on 12 April. This is the fifth death sentence to be issued this year in Gaza. As in their most recent statement on 15 January, the EU Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah recall the EU’s firm opposition under all circumstances to the use of capital punishment . . . The authorities in Gaza must refrain from carrying out any executions of prisoners and comply with the moratorium on executions put in place by the Palestinian Authority, pending abolition of the death penalty in line with the global trend.
Gaza’s flower industry wilts under Israeli blockade
GAZA STRIP 13 Apr by Isra Saleh el-Namey — Ayman Awkal’s flower farm is shrinking every year. The 56-year-old farmer used to cultivate 60 dunums (60,000 square meters) of every imaginable kind of flower including roses, chrysanthemums, anemones and carnations before the Israeli blockade came into effect in 2007. “Flowers have been the only source of livelihood for my family for many years,” he said. Now, however, that livelihood has vanished. It is pointless, said Awkal, to continue growing flowers under Israel’s devastating blockade of the Gaza Strip. Flower exports used to go overseas. Now, that is impossible. “I had to give up farming flowers and turn to vegetables even though they fail to make much profit. It is better than nothing,” Awkal said. It is a significant problem for a farmer who used to turn a good profit selling to European markets, from where they were sold on worldwide. One flower could fetch one euro in Europe, and the demand was high because flowers grow all year round in Gaza’s mild coastal weather. For a while, Gaza’s flower industry enjoyed a moment of prosperity. Now, Awkal cultivates flowers on only three dunums of his land and only for the local markets at local prices. Quality has suffered and demand is low.
France to reopen cultural center in Gaza
AFP 11 Apr — France is to reopen its cultural center in the Gaza Strip, which closed down 18 months ago over security concerns, the French foreign ministry said Wednesday. “Activities will resume gradually,” ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said, noting that it was the only foreign cultural institution in Gaza. The center, which is based in Gaza City, closed down following a fire and a bomb attack in late 2014. In October of that year, a fire swept through its offices in what Palestinian police at the time suggested may have been a criminal act. Two months later, its southern wall was damaged by two blasts which were claimed by a small Salafist extremist group. No-one was injured in either incident. A month later, some 200 radical Islamists tried to storm the building, threatening the lives of staff over cartoons that had been published by the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo in response to a deadly attack on its Paris headquarters a week earlier. The French Cultural Center is the most visible foreign presence in the tiny Palestinian enclave, which is home to 1.8 million people. Around 40 people with French or dual French-Palestinian nationality live in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Islamist Hamas movement and has been subjected to a years-long Israeli military blockade.
Gaza Sky Geeks take flight in London
MEMO 13 Apr by Jehan Alfarra — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES & VIDEO — Did you think setting up a startup was difficult? Try doing it in a place where electricity cuts out for up to 16 hours a day. Anyone familiar with the Gaza Strip knows that it has been under an Israeli enforced siege since 2007, which has restricted the movement of its residents and their trade activity causing a collapse in the economy and a sharp increase in unemployment levels. Yet, Gaza’s youth have defied the odds by looking towards a borderless space to find work – the internet. Gaza has a high literacy rate, with Palestine having one of the lowest illiteracy rates in the world, and similarly there are high rates of internet activity exceeding those of other conflict zones. Gaza’s driven, well-educated and tech-savvy youth striving to thrive under the difficult circumstances make it the perfect place for a startup accelerator that can hone the skills of these young men and woman and help them to realise their ambitions and start up their own businesses. Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG) was founded in 2011 by Mercy Corps and funded by a number of international organisations, such as Google and US-based Rogue Venture Partners. It is Gaza’s one and only startup accelerator . . . This week, Gaza Sky Geeks had its first European meet-up in London to celebrate their achievements, share what it has been like to launch startups in Gaza and describe what challenges remain. “[Gaza] has one of the populations in the world that is most eager, hungry to lead change in a positive way and hungry to engage with the rest of the world,” Iliana Montauk, GSG director, told the Middle East Monitor. (Continued)
Amid soaring tension, Israel drills for Hamas attack on Gaza border kibbutz
Times of Israel 15 Apr — Amid fast-rising tensions along the Gaza Strip border, Israel on Thursday carried out its largest civilian drill near the Palestinian enclave since 2014’s war between Israel and Hamas, Channel 2 reported Friday. Soldiers and emergency response teams simulated a Hamas incursion into Israeli territory, including an attack on an Israeli kibbutz near the border and the taking of hostages by terrorists. The exercise, which was held at Kibbutz Erez, included troops overpowering the terrorists in the community’s dining hall. Participants in the drill included the army, the police, Magen David Adom medics, the fire department, civilian response teams and others. The report also said that although Israel believes Hamas does not want a new war now, the IDF has in recent days completed preparations for any outbreak of conflict.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel to ‘approve’ more than 200 new settler homes
AFP 14 Apr — Israel has approved plans for more than 200 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, adding to a sharp increase in settlement projects so far this year, Israeli campaigners said Thursday. Israel’s government disputed the claim, saying nearly all approvals involved “upgrading existing structures” and not new construction, without providing a more detailed breakdowns. Hagit Ofran, a spokeswoman for settlement watchdog Peace Now, said the government had given the green light for at least 229 new homes, which are at various stages in the planning process. The new units were also reported by Israeli newspapers. The projects must pass through five administrative stages before winning final approval from Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon. An Israeli government statement said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yaalon had “not approved new construction”. “Almost all of the permits are for upgrading existing structures,” it said. “The small proportion of them pertaining to new construction are for the community of Ganei Modiin, which abuts the fence and which will be part of Israel in any future agreement.”
Peace Now however later hit back, saying its “aerial photos illustrate that this is not the case, and much of the planning is for new housing units.” The NGO said this week that the number of West Bank settlements Israel plans to build more than tripled in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the same period last year. Between January and March, projects for 674 housing units passed at least one of the steps in the planning approval process, up from 194 in the first quarter of 2015, it said. The new plans would bring the total to at least 903. “This policy is killing the two-state solution,” Ofran told AFP.
Jerusalem demolishes Palestinian homes beyond the wall for first time
+972 blog 14 Apr by Aviv Tatarsky — Israeli authorities destroy three homes in al-Walaje, a village that was partially annexed to Jerusalem, yet has been totally neglected by the municipality — Israeli authorities demolished three homes in the Palestinian village of al-Walaja on Tuesday. Bulldozers accompanied by Israeli soldiers raided the village at approximately 4 a.m. and began demolishing a home with two units that have yet to be occupied, a family home of five, and a home of Mahmoud, a young man who just got engaged . . . The demolitions in al-Walaja may have far-reaching consequences, beyond the three homes that were destroyed. Ever since the beginning of the construction of the separation wall, which has disconnected the village from Jerusalem — and despite the fact that nearly a third of the village was annexed to and is considered part of Jerusalem’s municipal jurisdiction — Israel has refrained from the demolition of homes there. In North Jerusalem, too, there are eight Palestinian villages — where over 100,000 East Jerusalemites live — that were disconnected from the city by the separation wall. The municipality stopped demolishing houses in every single village left behind the wall — a cold comfort when considering the total neglect of these neighborhoods. The sight of a demolished home is a horrible thing. It is difficult to see a family that, just moments ago, lost their house . . . Mahmoud, who is in his early 20s, is an energetic and optimistic person. He has initiative and is happy with his job as a chef in Bethlehem, and is planning on opening his own restaurant. When considering how futile life feels in Walaje, and the number of restrictions his family members have faced, Mahmoud’s spirit is not to be taken for granted. So here, Israel showed him just how futile it is for a Palestinian to imagine a life of normalcy. (Continued)
Rainwater harvesting well demolished near Hebron camp
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Apr — Israeli forces, on Thursday, demolished a rainwater harvesting well near al-‘Arrub refugee camp, north of Hebron city, in the southern West Bank, said a local activist. Local activist Muhammad Awad said that a bulldozer, escorted by Israeli forces and “Civil Administration” officers, stormed Abu Suda locality, opposite to Biet al-Braka church compound, north of the camp, and demolished a Palestinian-owned rainwater harvesting well. The well-owner was identified as Saleh Nimer, from the refugee camp. This came about three months after forces demolished the retaining wall that used to surround Saleh’s plot of land and uprooted him olive trees and grape vines.
Closures / Checkpoints
Hard-right minister: Conditions at West Bank checkpoints ‘disgraceful’
Times of Israel 15 Apr — The conditions suffered by Palestinians at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank are “shameful and a disgrace to the State of Israel and to the security establishment,” Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said Friday. Ariel, best known for his fiery right-wing rhetoric and his insistence on Jewish rights to the Temple Mount, told Tel Aviv Radio on Friday morning that Israel must take steps to improve the economic well-being of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including the long-disputed construction of a Gaza port. He said Palestinians should not be forced to pass checkpoints inside the West Bank and that conditions at checkpoints to Israel must be improved. “Go and see how they stand and wait to enter Israel at the checkpoints. It’s shameful and a disgrace to the State of Israel and to the security establishment. People stand there in terrible conditions: in the summer heat, in the winter rains.” He added that workers often arrived before dawn and waited for hours without shade or water. “Why can’t we fix this?” he said. Ariel said Gazans deserved a port for the import and export of goods and said this could be achieved with “one hundred percent security.” He called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop “considering” it and simply carry it out. “We’ve been considering for 47 years. They have no international ports. Why shouldn’t they have a port?” He added that Israel should provide water and cooking gas to Palestinian towns, saying “We are responsible for the region.” Ariel is a former settler leader who represents the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party.
In West Bank, Israel imposes pop-up checkpoints and road closings
AWARTA, West Bank (NYTimes) 13 Apr by Diaa Hadid — The freshly spray-painted signs in this hamlet outside Nablus are a symbol of the new normal in the West Bank, seven months into a scattershot wave of Palestinian attacks on Israelis. With the Israeli military having shut down the main road, local teenagers put up signs to coax Palestinian drivers along circuitous routes to Ramallah, the seat of Palestinian government, and Huwara, a neighboring village. Such pop-up checkpoints and closings lasting several days have disrupted the routines of Palestinian residents, whose ability to move through the occupied territory was already precarious. But the pinpointed strategy targeting mainly individual villages sporadically is a stark departure from the widespread closings and curfews Israel imposed on West Bank cities during the second intifada, making its effect harder for the world — and even people next door — to see and feel. Palestinian officials and their backers denounce the road closings as collective punishment. They have not, however, gained much traction for protest among their own people, because residents of one village sometimes have no inkling what is happening a few miles away, and Ramallah, the center of West Bank political and civic life, has remained largely immune . . . After a Palestinian who shot and injured two soldiers March 11 was suspected to have fled to the village of Beit Urr al-Tahta, Israeli forces shut down a main road nearby. That effectively cut off seven villages, upturning the lives of their 35,000 residents. The usual 15-minute commute to Ramallah was suddenly a convoluted hourlong wiggle through narrow lanes and farm roads. “The students are late for school, the teachers are late for school, the employees are late for work,” said Ali Al-Shamy, a 60-year-old factory owner. Mr. Shamy and other residents found the closing especially baffling because the road in question is generally used only by Palestinians, leaving little risk that would-be attackers would use it to hunt Israelis. “I swear to God, they are just messing with us,” grumbled Omar Mousa, a 50-year-old bus driver, who steered his vehicle onto the main road the morning after Israeli forces suddenly lifted their closing of the area.
Israeli forces may reopen Tulkarem-area checkpoint one day a week
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Israeli authorities are considering reopening a checkpoint at the entrance of a village in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem one day a week, the Israeli army told Ma‘an on Thursday. “Following situation assessments, starting April 16, the Shufa checkpoint will be opened every Saturday,” an Israeli army spokesperson said. However, the army later clarified that while the issue was “under consideration,” it had “still not been finalized.” Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an on Tuesday that “the military and civil liaison pressured the Israeli side to open the checkpoint to allow all Palestinians to cross, not only residents of the village.” They added that Palestinians would be allowed to enter and exit the village and nearby areas. Israeli forces reported closed the entrance to Shufa in early December, allowing only residents to enter and exit the village after gunshots were allegedly fired at Israeli settlers traveling in a vehicle on a road to the nearby illegal settlement of Avnei Hefetz. Israeli forces had most recently closed the Shufa checkpoint for eight months, from August 2014 to March 2015.
Video: New app tackles traffic at checkpoints in the West Bank
Mondoweiss 12 Apr by Megan Hanna — In an age where hyper-connectivity and technological advancements mean that fast transportation and instant gratification are expected, traffic jams are the plague of modern development. There is nowhere where the cumbersome experience of sitting in a long tailback is more pronounced however, than the West Bank. Hundreds of military checkpoints scattered around the occupied Palestinian territory are prone to arbitrarily closure without prior warning, restricting the freedom of movement for Palestinians whose daily lives are already defined by a sense of chaos, temporariness and unpredictability. However, a new smartphone app Azmeh – which translates to mean ‘traffic jam’ in Arabic – has been designed to tackle this very problem. 20-year-old Basel Sader, a Palestinian student from East Jerusalem who developed Azmeh, explained to Mondoweiss how the smartphone application allows users to post travel updates, receive traffic warning and message other users via an integrated interface. Using a simple color coded system, drivers can now predict and accordingly alter their commutes based on traffic updates at most of the permanent checkpoints.
Palestinian refugees – Jordan, Syria
Jordanian police shut Muslim Brotherhood headquarters – senior Brotherhood figure
AMMAN (Reuters) 13 Apr by Suleiman Al-Khalidi — Police in Jordan sealed the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Amman on Wednesday, a senior figure in the Islamist movement said, as the authorities clamp down further on the kingdom’s most vocal opposition group.The Brotherhood, which is close in ideology to its Egyptian namesake and has strong ties with the Palestinian movement Hamas, wants sweeping political reforms but stops short of calling for the overthrow of the monarchy. Jordan’s authorities suppressed Arab Spring pro-democracy protests in which the mainstream Islamists played a prominent role, and human rights groups say that since then the kingdom has strongly curbed dissent. Police acting on orders of the Amman governor evacuated staff and closed off the building, giving no reason for their actions, said senior Brotherhood member Jamil Abu Bakr.
Brotherhood spokesperson Badi Rafai later said the police closed another of its offices in the northern city of Jerash. The movement, which has operated legally in Jordan for decades and has widespread grass-roots support in major urban centres, has scores of offices across the country. Its political arm, the Islamic Action Front, is the kingdom’s largest opposition party and represents many disenfranchised Jordanians of Palestinian origin, who are in the majority in the population of seven million. Grossly underrepresented in parliament and government posts that are dominated by native Jordanians, many of the Brotherhood’s poor Palestinian supporters in the major cities see them as defending their interests. “We are not a group that is rebellious or operating outside the law. This is not an appropriate means to deal with us … deploying heavy-handed security measures against us rather than reaching understandings,” Abu Bakr told Reuters.
Yarmouk’s Palestinians in crossfire as ISIS, al-Nusra vie for control
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — Fighting between the Islamic State group (IS) and al-Nusra Front in Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Damascus has left thousands of Palestinians trapped in their homes, in the latest crisis to strike what was once Syria’s largest Palestinian refugee camp. The Jafra Foundation, a Yarmouk-based humanitarian organization, said Wednesday that deadly clashes erupted on April 7 and continued through the week, accompanied by heavy shelling from Syrian regime forces as well as armed Palestinian groups. At least four civilians have been killed — including two who were beheaded by IS fighters — and another five civilians, including children, were wounded by sniper fire, the organization said. Some 20 buildings were also burned Tuesday, including a hospital. IS forces have taken over the majority of Yarmouk, besieging the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front in certain areas in a struggle that has carved up the camp. Some 2,500 Palestinian families have been trapped inside their homes due to the fighting, without food or water.
Al-Maliki: ‘We are ongoing with preparations to head to the Security Council’
IMEMC 15 Apr — Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, stated Thursday that the Palestinian leadership is conducting all needed preparations to send Israel’s settlements file to the United Nations Security Council. His statements came after Israeli media agencies claimed that the Palestinian leadership intends to retract its decision to submit a proposal to the Security Council in response to Israel’s ongoing and escalating colonialist activities in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem. “Our efforts and preparations are ongoing; we did not, and will not, back down,” he said, “We are also holding talks with Arab countries, through Egypt, and with representatives of various regional, and international countries.”
DFLP calls on Abbas to cancel decision to cut their funds
MEMO 15 Apr — Saleh Zeidan, a member of DFLP’s political bureau, said Abbas ordered the funds allocated for the DFLP from the Palestinian National Fund to be stopped “without stating the reasons”. Zeidan told Quds Press on Thursday that DFLP rejects the “arbitrary decision”, adding that the decision would disturb national relations. The DFLP office expressed regret at the decision, which it said comes at a time when “we are in dire need to strengthen and develop our relations in the face of the Israeli government’s policies and crimes practiced on a daily basis against the Palestinian people”.
US keeps options open on Israeli settlements resolution
AFP 14 Apr — The United States refused to say Thursday whether or not it would support a Palestinian proposal for a United Nations resolution to condemn Israeli settlement building — but ruled nothing out. While Washington often criticizes Israeli building work in occupied areas as an obstacle to peace, it has also traditionally resisted Palestinian efforts to pressure Israel through the United Nations. And, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the United States wields a veto that it has often used in the past to shoot down motions it deems unfairly critical of the Jewish state.
Lawmakers urge veto of UN initiatives biased against Israel
WASHINGTON (AP) 14 Apr — House Republicans and Democrats are urging President Barack Obama to reject any actions by the United Nations to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that are biased against Israel. In a letter sent to Obama on Thursday, 388 House members say one-sided initiatives may come up at the U.N. in the coming months. They say these proposals should be vetoed because they can block the two sides from resuming the direct negotiations that are the key to resolving their complicated differences. The lawmakers say they remain committed to a two-state solution. They say they share Obama’s frustration with the lack of progress toward peace. The 388 members account for nearly 90 percent of the House. The letter was led by Democrat Nita Lowey of New York and Republican Kay Granger of Texas
US accuses Israel of ‘excessive use of force’ in human rights report
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — The US has accused Israel of an “excessive use of force” against Palestinians, amounting to a violation of human rights, in its annual report of global human rights abuses. The US Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015, published Thursday ,highlighted numerous allegations of Israeli rights abuses, including the arbitrary arrest and torture of Palestinians, as well as restrictions on their freedom of movement and speech. But most significant was the report’s focus on Israel’s excessive use of force, which follows months of similar allegations by local and international NGOs, as well as senior UN officials and foreign leaders, including, earlier this year, a group of prominent US congressmen. The US report said that through the final months of 2015, after a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory in October, Israeli forces killed 127 Palestinians, of whom 77 were allegedly attacking Israelis. “In a number of these incidents, there were reports of human rights abuses related to actions by Israeli authorities,” the report said. “NGOs published multiple reports alleging that Israeli security forces committed unlawful killings.” It pointed in particular to a report by Amnesty International (AI) late in October that documented at least four incidents of Palestinians who were shot dead when they posed no imminent threat to life.
Israel’s US missile defense grant could rise to $600m
Globes 14 Apr by Ran Dagoni — Despite the widening rift between Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress, there are still some subjects on which there is a strong bipartisan consensus. At the top of this list of issues military aid to Israel can be found. Senior legislators in the Senate and the House of Representatives from both parties are currently calling for the Obama administration to quadruple the amount allocated in the 2017 financial year for developing Israel’s missile defense systems. This is a financing package separate from overall military aid to Israel, which will be $3.1 billion in the 2017 financial year. The US legislators have yet to set an exact sum that they want added to the Obama administration’s original allocation. However Missile Defense Agency director Vice Admiral James Syring yesterday told a Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing that while the president’s administration is asking to allocate just under $150 million for funding Israel’s missile defense program, Capitol Hill legislators want to raise this amount to “almost $600 million.”
EU, Austria, Ireland and Portugal pledge over €12m in support to Palestine
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Apr — The European Union is making its first contribution in 2016 to the Palestinian Authority’s quarterly payment of social allowances. According to a press statement released on Friday morning, around 119,000 poor Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza will receive financial payments through the PA’s cash transfer program. This contribution amounts to around €12.2 million and is funded by the European Union (€10 million) and the Governments of Austria (€1.5 million), Ireland (€0.7 million) and Portugal (€0.025 million). Eligible beneficiaries are poor Palestinian households registered in the cash transfer program of the Ministry of Social Affairs. Furthermore, according to the PNN, the program is designed to provide a basic safety net for the poorest and most vulnerable Palestinians in the occupied West bank and in the Gaza Strip, through cash and in-kind assistance. Almost 119,000 Palestinian households are currently enrolled in the program. Almost two-thirds of the beneficiaries live in Gaza.
British MPs motion to release Barghouthi
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Apr — Leading British MPs, from all parties, have [on 13 Apr] signed a parliamentary motion calling on the Israeli parliament to release the Palestinian MP Marwan Barghouthi who has been in jail continuously for the last 14 years. They call for his release so that he can “play a part in the process of reconciliation, unification and negotiation that will be needed before Palestine achieves its independence”. According to the PNN, these leading British MPs have cited the precedent of South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was released from prison so he could take part in negotiations for majority rule, and India, where Gandhi and Nehru were released by the British so they could take part in negotiations for independence. The MPs point out that Barghouthi, now 56, “is still the candidate in the strongest position to win a presidential election to succeed Mahmoud Abbas, according to a recent poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research”. The British parliamentary motion was tabled by Tommy Sheppard of the Scottish National Party and its signatories include the Conservative chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Crispin Blunt, and the current [Labour] Father of the House of Commons Sir Gerald Kaufman. Marwan Barghouthi is seen as one of the few political leaders who could unite the country, winning support from both Fateh and Hamas, and who would have the moral authority to negotiate on behalf of all Palestinians and to preside over a process of “truth and reconciliation” in a newly independent state.
Amid violence, Israel promotes Arab police officer
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) 13 Apr — Israel promoted an Arab police officer to deputy commissioner on Wednesday, making him the highest-ranking Muslim ever to serve in the force at a time when authorities are battling a wave of attacks by Palestinians that has frayed relations between Jews and Arabs. In his new position, the 59-year-old Gamal Hakroosh faces an uphill battle overseeing policing in Arab communities, where residents are deeply suspicious of Israeli police. Many Israeli Arabs feel their community is discriminated against and stigmatized, and often view Israeli police with hostility and fear. Israel’s Arab minority, which makes up a fifth of the country’s population of 8 million, has long had a fraught relationship with the Jewish majority. They hold full citizenship rights, but some Israelis, including top politicians, question their loyalty because they often side with their Palestinian brethren. The Israeli Arabs are generally poorer and less educated than Jews and suffer from discrimination and sub-standard public services. In turn, a lack of effective policing in Arab communities — where crime is rampant and often left unchecked by police — has fueled tensions further. Arabs often accuse the police of being indifferent to Arab crime so long as the Jewish population is not affected. With Hakroosh’s promotion, and the approval this week by Israel’s Cabinet of a plan to step up law enforcement in Arab areas, Israel is hoping to change that perception. To this day, we did not grant the Arab sector equal law enforcement services. In everything related to the police, we did not act with due equality,” Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said at the Tel Aviv ceremony for Hakroosh on Wednesday. (Continued)
Israel Police to recruit more Muslim officers
Ynet 15 Apr by Roee Yanovski & Hassan Shaalan — Following Gamal Hakroosh’s appointment as Israel’s first Muslim deputy commissioner and in light of the abysmal number of Muslims currently serving as police officers, the Israel Police is seeking to recruit more Muslims to the force. According to police data from 2015, there were only 431 Muslim police officers out of a total of 28,633, constituting 1.5% of the national force.This is because a large part of the Arab sector views the police with hostility and refuses to cooperate with them. Indeed, there were no Arab members of Knesset at Hakroosh’s swearing-in ceremony, and Arab council heads took the opportunity to call for members of the sector to not enlist into the police forces or do national service . . . A commission of inquiry that was established in the wake of an incident in October of 2000 when 13 Arab rioters were killed by Israel Police noted that the Arab sector does not consider the police as a legitimate force with which to cooperate . . . .The head of the Musawa Center for the Rights of Arabs in Israel, Jafar Farah, said, “The Shin Bet isn’t serious and doesn’t intend to deal with crime in the Arab sector. He pointed out “the game whereby the Shin Bet recruits collaborators to shake down Arab citizens. We all saw the results of what happened to Nashat Melhem.” (Continued)
Mysterious army death agitates Hebrew Israelite community in Dimona
Haaretz 16 Apr by Or Kashti — The IDF says Toveet Racliffe’s death last year was suicide. The community, which began moving to Israel from the U.S. over four decades ago, has its doubts — Small posters have appeared on the streets of Dimona in recent weeks with a picture of a smiling, curly-haired young woman and a thick, black frame. “We want to know the truth! What really happened to this soldier?” the poster reads. “Help us to learn the truth about what happened to Toveet Racliffe.” . . . The poster and related initiatives are the work of the Hebrew Israelites in Dimona, a community of African-Americans who began making their home in the southern town over four decades ago. The community is determined to find out exactly how one of its own died in the Palmachim military base last year, a quandary that was not resolved by the submission of the army’s official report on the death to the Racliffe family about six weeks ago. Toveet Racliffe enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces in October 2013. She was found lifeless on the night of October 21, 2015, shortly after she ended guard duty at a battery of Patriot missiles. (Continued)
Reverse censorship of Palestine maps, scholars tell McGraw-Hill
EI 13 Apr by Charlotte Silver — A group of American and international scholars is urging publishing giant McGraw-Hill Education to reverse its recent decision to withdraw and destroy its US college textbook containing a sequence of maps depicting the progressive loss of Palestinian land to Zionist and Israeli colonialism between 1946 and 2000. In a letter signed by more than 35 prominent academics, including Judith Butler, Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim and Noam Chomsky, the scholars state, “This blatant act of censorship, in response to complaints from those who seek to suppress a free exchange of knowledge and ideas about Israel and Palestine, is shocking and unacceptable.” The letter was drafted by the Jewish Voice for Peace academic advisory council. Though the political science textbook, titled Global Politics: Engaging a Complex World, was published in 2012, the backlash against it was only instigated last month, when anti-Palestinian blogger Elder of Ziyon directed readers to contact McGraw-Hill with complaints against the maps.
Study Arabic in the West Bank – Palestine 2016
Excellence Center 12 Apr — The Excellence Center would like to invite you to participate in the Study Arabic Intensive Program in Hebron. The Intensive Arabic Program combines studying Arabic with an immersion into the Palestinian culture and history. During the last four years, the Excellence Center has hosted many people from every corner of the world. Please click here to watch a short video about the Study Arabic in Palestine program. International participants study the Arabic courses with Palestinian teachers in interactive ways. Language studies include learning the Palestinian dialect and Modern Standard Arabic. We offer Arabic courses for all levels from starters to advanced learners. The Study Arabic in Palestine Program is a singular opportunity for students searching to make a unique difference in their lives. While studying Arabic in Hebron, they are also involved in community development activities that are organized by the Excellence Center.
For West Bank rabbi, a rare and risky trip to Cairo’s ivory tower of Islam
Times of Israel 15 Apr by Dov Lieber — With Islamic skullcap and large beard helping to obscure his Jewish identity, though twice confronted by Egyptian police, US-born Israeli visits Al-Azhar University to meet world’s top Sunni scholars — Rabbi Yakov Nagen, a native New Yorker who arrived in Israel in 1984, says his interfaith work is driven on a personal level by something “almost messianic.” “Religion is now part of the problem. It has to be part of the solution,” he insists. Zionism as prescribed by the Bible is not solely about Jews relocating from around the world to the Middle East. Zionism, he holds, has a second essential component. “Part of Zionism is the return of Jews to the land of Israel. But the same prophecies also talk about our connection and peace with our neighbors,” he said. Nagen’s spiritual mentor was the late Rabbi Menachem Froman, a giant in the Israeli-Palestinian interfaith community who had personal connections with many Palestinian leaders . . . Furthermore, says Nagen, the fact that belief in the God of Abraham is shared by the major monotheistic faiths means that coexistence should naturally follow. (Continued)