Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli forces seriously injure Palestinian boy in East Jerusalem clashes
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — A 12- year-old Palestinian boy was seriously injured on Monday evening after an Israeli soldier shot him with a rubber-coated steel bullet to the head in the al-‘Issawiya neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, local sources said. Local popular committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus identified the boy as Yazan Khalid Naaji, 12. He said the boy was hit in the head by the bullet after Israeli forces stormed the neighborhood and deployed heavily in the streets. Abu al-Hummus said the boy was in a serious condition and was suffering from internal bleeding. He was evacuated to a hospital in East Jerusalem for treatment. Clashes broke out in the neighborhood between Israeli troops and local youths, and at least one teenager was detained. Israeli forces “raid al-‘Issawiya every day in a provocative manner,” Abu al-Hummus said. “They deploy in the streets and on rooftops, firing rubber-coated bullets and tear gas canisters haphazardly at resident’s homes and vehicles.”
Clashes erupt as Israeli settlers attempt raid on Duma, 1 injured
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — A Palestinian was shot and injured when clashes erupted overnight Tuesday after Israeli settlers attempted to raid the occupied West Bank village of Duma, site of a fatal arson attack that killed all but one member of a Palestinian family last summer. Locals told Ma‘an that dozens of Israeli settlers arrived in vehicles at the entrance of the village, prompting over 100 Palestinian residents to crowd the area and prevent the group from entering. Israeli military forces arrived in the area shortly after. Ghassan Daghlas, a PA official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that Palestinian resident Muhammad Hassan, 22, was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet and transferred to Rafidiya hospital in moderate condition. Dozens of others suffered from tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces and settlers clashed with Duma residents, Daghlas added . . . Locals said the settlers had attempted to enter Duma in retaliation for the arrest of Israeli extremists suspected and charged with the murder of the Dawabsha family, killed in July 2015 after their home was set ablaze.
10-year-old girl hit by car in Hebron
IMEMC 6 Apr by Chris Carlson — An unidentified driver, on Wednesday, ran over a Palestinian girl in Jabal Jales area south of Hebron, southern West Bank. Locals said that the driver was an Israeli settler, still unidentified, and that he ran over a 10-year-old girl in Jaber neighborhood in Hebron, causing her moderate injuries. Locals told Ma‘an that the girl, Duaa Diab Jaber, was taken to hospital with several fractures across her body after she was hit by the car, which fled the scene afterward. Local reports that the driver was an Israeli settler could not immediately be confirmed.
Israeli police uproot, burn olive tree saplings in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — Israeli forces on Wednesday morning uprooted and burned 47 olive tree saplings that were planted in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan last month to mark the 40th anniversary of Land Day. Majdi al-Abbassi, a spokesperson for the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, said Israeli police and intelligence officials stormed a tract of land in Silwan’s Ras al-Amud area, uprooting the olive saplings and removing posters and graffiti depicting Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in recent months. The 47 olive tree saplings were planted by local members of Fatah on March 30 to honor the 47 Palestinian “martyrs” shot dead by Israeli forces in Jerusalem since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October. A mural was created at the same time bearing the names of 12 of the dead whose bodies were still being withheld by the Israeli authorities . . . Jerusalem has been one of the key focal points of violence over the past six months, with nearly a quarter of all Palestinian deaths taking place in the divided city. The majority of these were killed after Israel says they launched attacks on Israelis, although Palestinians and rights groups have disputed the circumstances of some of these deaths. Several others were killed during clashes.
University rooms destroyed in early morning raid by Israeli forces
[with photos] East Jerusalem, occupied Palestine 5 Apr by ISM, Ramallah Team — In the early hours of Tuesday, 5th April, around 3am, an armed group of Israeli soldiers stormed the campus of Al Quds university in the area of Abu Dis, part of East Jerusalem. The soldiers terrorized security guards on duty and forcefully entered four rooms belonging to student political parties and confiscated equipment while completely destroying the rest of the rooms . . . The soldiers proceeded to forcefully enter four rooms belonging to various political parties run by students of the university, cutting the locks and smashing their way in, completely destroying the doors. This is the fourth time in 2016 alone that soldiers have entered the campus, destroying and confiscating material while giving no reason for their actions. The rooms entered belong to varying student bodies whose students work within the university and the local community. Among the varied groups they advocate for student rights, . . . volunteer within the community, offer services for students, hold workshops and meetings about young prisoners and host an array of solidarity activities for the Palestinian community. During the raid the army took personal computers, laptops and cameras belonging to the Islamic party . . . Whatever was not taken was destroyed during the raid by the occupying forces. The activities room for the ladies’ Islamic movement which works mainly with disadvantaged youths and students had the majority of their belongings destroyed, posters ripped from walls and electronic equipment confiscated.
The area of Abu Dis where the university is located was around thirty thousand hectares prior to 2002 and is now around four thousand hectares with 75% of the area now falling under area C and 25% under area B. This malicious land grab by the Israeli government has left students facing huge difficulties with their education. Many students within the faculty of medicine can’t reach Jerusalem where the main hospital for training is located and have been forced to go elsewhere for their practical while the media faculty faces new difficulties also.
Israeli intelligence summons female Palestinian journalist
MEMO 6 Apr — Israeli intelligence service Shabak has submitted an investigation notice to a female Palestinian journalist residing in East Jerusalem, Quds Press reported on Tuesday. Palestinian journalist Diala Jwihan said that members of the Israeli intelligence service and Israeli special forces stormed her house in Al-Thawri suburb in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan. She said that the Israeli intelligence gave her an interrogation notice, demanding that she go to Al-Maskopiyeh Interrogation Centre in East Jerusalem at 10 am next Sunday. Jwihan is a correspondent with the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah and has been interrogated by the Israeli authorities repeatedly since the recent upsurge of violence that began in October 2015.
Israeli forces detain brother of Duma attack victim, 12 others
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — Israeli forces on Monday detained the brother of Riham Dawabsha — victim of a deadly arson attack in the village of Duma last year — along with at least 12 other Palestinians in pre-dawn raids across the occupied West Bank. Palestinian security sources said Israeli troops stormed Duma, to the south of Nablus, and detained Wisam Hussan Dawabsha, the brother of Riham Dawabsha who was killed along with her husband and 18-month-old son in a high-profile attack carried out by settlers last summer. The Israeli army confirmed at least one arrest in Duma, but a spokesperson was unable to provide any further details on the reason. Meanwhile, Palestinian sources said that in Nablus city Israeli forces detained Hamas member Adnan Asfour — who works as a lecturer in al-Najah University — along with his son, Muntaster. Israeli forces also stormed the home of Muhammad Hassan Miltiq from the village of al-Asira al-Shamaliya, seizing a computer and cell phone and summoning him to meet with Israeli intelligence. In the town of Silwad in Ramallah district, Israeli forces detained Abd al-Rahim Bassam Hammad, and in ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem district, Muhammad Rafat Abu Srour. Israeli forces also detained Louay Habis al-Imour, 17, and Maled Jameel Abu Mfareh from the southern Bethlehem village of Tuqu‘. [from IMEMC: The PPS also said the soldiers invaded the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and kidnapped Hasan Talal Taha, 34. It added that the army also kidnapped Ahmad al-Joulani, 19, from occupied Jerusalem.
Israeli soldiers kidnap eleven Palestinians in Jerusalem
IMEMC 5 Apr by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, various Palestinian areas in occupied Jerusalem, broke into and searched several homes, and kidnapped eleven Palestinians. The soldiers invaded the al-‘Eesawiyya town, in the center of Jerusalem, searched homes and kidnapped Abdul-Qader Dari, Mohammad Abu Ryala, and a child identified as Mohammad Abu ‘Assab, before taking them to an interrogation center in Jerusalem. The soldiers also invaded Hizma town, northeast of occupied Jerusalem, searched many homes and kidnapped six Palestinians identified as Adel Khader Jom’a, Abedrabbo Ziad Kanaan, Abed Fares Kanaan, Sufian Kanaan, Odeh Abdullah Odeh and Abdul-Zayyad Awad. In addition, several army vehicles invaded Jabal al-Mokabber area, southeast of Jerusalem, also searched homes, and kidnapped two Palestinians, identified as Eyad Ata Oweisat and Ahmad Aziz Oweisat. Another Palestinian, identified as Ahmad Jamil Dandan, was kidnapped in Abu Dis town, southeast of occupied Jerusalem, after the soldiers invaded and searched his home.
Family of al-Sharif to sue Israeli army over point-blank range killing
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — The family of Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif said they would file legal procedures against the Israeli army in front of an Israeli court, after an autopsy of the 21-year-old Palestinian’s body confirmed that he was still alive when an Israeli soldier fired a bullet at his head at point-blank range, killing him. A graphic video released by B’Tselem captured the moment the soldier stepped forward and shot al-Sharif in the head on March 24 in Hebron, after he had been gunned down and left lying on the ground severely wounded for several minutes after allegedly stabbing an Israeli soldier. In a press conference at Hebron governor’s office, al-Sharif’s uncle Fathi al-Sharif also urged the Palestinian Authority to file legal procedures against Israel at the International Criminal Court. He also urged the PA and human rights organizations to push for the release his nephew’s body, which is still being withheld by Israel. Hebron Governor Kamil Hmeid said at the news conference that the PA would “document the crime and refer it to international courts in order to expose the crimes Israel has been committing since the beginning of the popular rising in October 2015.”
Israel’s top court to discuss release of Palestinian bodies
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — The Israeli Supreme Court has set April 18 for a hearing to consider an appeal launched by Palestinian families seeking the return of their relatives’ withheld bodies. Muhammad Mahmoud, a lawyer with Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, said he would use the hearing to press Israel’s public prosecution to give a specific date for the bodies’ release. Last October, the Israel government began a policy of withholding the bodies of alleged attackers, in what rights groups decried as collective punishment of their families. The policy was largely reversed in December, following concerns from Israel’s security establishment that it was only further stoking tensions, although a number of bodies from the Jerusalem area continue to be held .Last month, senior PLO official Saeb Erekat urged the international community to pressure Israel to release the bodies, saying: “Israel’s collective punishments are now being carried out against the living and the dead.” A joint statement released earlier this month by Addameer and the Israeli minority rights group Adalah condemned Israel’s practice of withholding bodies as “a severe violation of international humanitarian law as well as international human rights law, including violations of the right to dignity, freedom of religion, and the right to practice culture.”
Right-wing Israelis caught trying to enter Al-Aqsa disguised as Muslims
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — Israeli police arrested two right-wing Jewish Israelis on Tuesday after they attempted to sneak into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound disguised as Muslims, locals and Israeli police said. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that midday Tuesday Israeli police officers suspected two young men approaching the King Faisal gate of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The officers approached the two for inspection, who said they were Muslims heading to the Al-Aqsa mosque. The officers checked their identification documents to reveal that they were 21-year-old Jewish Israelis. They were arrested and taken to al-Qishla police station in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City for questioning, al-Samri added.
Glick and entourage storm Al-Asqa compound
IMEMC/Agencies 4 Apr — A group of extremist Israeli settlers, led by American-Israeli rabbi Yehuda Glick, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound from Al-Magharibah gate, early Monday, according to Al Ray. A statement by the Jerusalem Waqf Department said that the rabbi and the settlers broke into the compound under tight protection of Israeli occupation forces. Israeli police, stationed at the mosque’s main gates, imposed tight measures on Palestinian women and youth and seized their IDs before entering Al-Aqsa . . . In 2003, the Israeli government unilaterally decided — despite the objections of the Islamic Endowments Department — to allow non-Muslim visitors into the complex. Since then, under increasingly right-wing Israeli governments, extremist Jewish settlers have been allowed into the site in ever greater numbers — usually protected by Israeli security forces — while Palestinian access to the site has become increasingly restricted.
Prisoners / Court actions
11-year-old light rail stabber sent to supervised residence
Ynet 5 Apr by Roi Yanovsky — The Magistrate’s Court ruled that the 11-year-old terrorist from the Shuafat refugee camp who carried out a stabbing attack on the light rail train in Jerusalem’s Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood will be sent to a Ministry of Welfare supervised residence for approximately one year. The court censored the majority of the ruling’s details because the subject has not reached the legal age of criminal responsibility, 12. He perpetrated the attack in November, along with a family relative who is 14 years old. According to the law, Israeli authorities cannot arrest or interrogate the 11-year-old terrorist under caution. Additionally, legal authorities have avoided putting him on trial or imprisoning him. This is the first time legal authorities have come across such a young terrorist, thus they find themselves in a legal dilemma.
Parents of 12-year-old Palestinian girl imprisoned in Israel seek her release
Haaretz 6 Apr by Jack Khoury — The parents of the youngest Palestinian prisoner in Israel, a 12-year-old girl, filed urgent requests for her immediate pardon or parole on Tuesday. The pardon request was submitted to Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Central Command, and the parole request to the head of the Israel Prison Service, Ofra Klinger. The requests are part of a campaign by human rights activists and lawyers to bring about the girl’s immediate release, on the grounds that detaining someone so young violates both Israeli and international law. The campaigners also argue that no Israeli child that age would be jailed, so her imprisonment constitutes discrimination against Palestinians. D. was convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter and illegal possession of a knife by a military court on February 18. According to the indictment, she set out to stab a Jew on February 9. At the entrance to the settlement of Karmei Tzur, she aroused the suspicion of a security guard, who ordered her to kneel. She did so. She also pulled out the knife she had hidden under her shirt, at the guard’s request. At no time did she show any sign of resisting. She was ultimately convicted under a plea bargain and sentenced to four-and-a-half months in jail, beginning with her arrest on February 9. In addition, her parents were sentenced to an 8,000 shekel fine ($2,100) or eight months in jail.
Palestinian teens report beatings in Israeli custody
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — A number of Palestinian teenage prisoners have been violently beaten in Israeli detention in recent days, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society and family members said Tuesday. Louay Habis al-Imour, 18, and Malek Jameel Froukh, 15, both from the village of Tuqu‘, were detained Monday and violently beaten in Israel’s Etzion detention center, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement. Al-Imour told the society’s lawyer Jaclyn Fararjah that he was beaten despite having been shot in the leg by a bullet prior to his detention and being in need of medical treatment. The prisoners’ society reported that Froukh, meanwhile, was tied up, blindfolded, and beaten on the head by Israeli guards at the Etzion detention center, who also put out cigarettes on his body.
Separately, the family of Muhammad Jihad al-Taweel,17, said they found their son covered in bruises and with broken teeth when they visited him at the Megiddo prison on Monday. They said the teenager had been beaten by Israeli guards and soldiers while he was held in solitary confinement. They said he was denied medical treatment. Al-Taweel reportedly told his family that he and fellow prisoners Muhammad Salah Muhammad Abu Kiff, Walid Fares Mustafa al-Atrash, and Abed Mahmoud Abed Rabbo Dawiyat were assaulted and dragged by guards while handcuffed. The four Palestinian teenagers are accused of causing an Israeli driver’s death by throwing stones at his car in early September. Their families have all received notices of closure and confiscation of their homes, with Dawiyat’s family evacuated from their house on Sunday night.
Palestinian hunger-striker’s health worsens as Israel moves another to solitary
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — The health of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Sami al-Janazreh has begun to seriously deteriorate after 36 days without food, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Thursday. Meanwhile, The Palestine Prisoners’ Center for Studies reported on Thursday that Israeli prisons services moved prisoner Adib Muhammad Jamal Mafarjeh into solitary confinement to pressure him to end his open-ended hunger strike. PPS reported that al-Janazreh, 43, from the al-Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron, had lost 16 kilograms and was suffering from very low blood pressure. The organization added that an appeal was held on Thursday at the Ofer prison court over al-Janazreh’s ongoing administrative detention — internment without charge or trial — since Nov. 15, but that no decision had been made yet. The Palestine Prisoners’ Center for Studies said that Mafarjeh, 28, had announced his open hunger strike on April 3 to protest his administrative detention in the Israeli Ktziot prison in the Negev desert. Mafarjeh, a resident of the central occupied West Bank village of Beit Liqya, has demanded that Israeli authorities stop renewing his detention and release him after 16 months of incarceration. Palestine Prisoners’ Center for Studies spokesman Riyad al-Ashqar said Mafarjeh was detained on Dec. 10, 2014, only nine months after having previously been released from prison, where he had been detained for several years.
Israeli court sentences Palestinian girl to jail, detains 2 children
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 5 Apr — The Israeli Ofer military court on Monday sentenced a Palestinian girl to 45 days in jail at the same time as Israeli soldiers detained two Palestinian children. Palestinian citizen Nasr Atatra said the Salem military court ruled for sentencing his 16-year-old daughter Shaymaa to one month and a half in jail and a fine of 1,100 U.S. dollars. The girl, held in the HaSharon jail, was kidnapped by the occupation army on March 15 at the Zaatara checkpoint, in southern Nablus, on allegations that she attempted to carry out an anti-occupation stabbing against an Israeli soldier.
Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation army arrested the two Palestinian children Bahaa and Mus’ab al-Shawaheen, in al-Khalil’s southern town of Yatta, after they had been chased down and aggressively attacked by Israeli extremist settlers. Activist Rateb al-Jabour said the occupation troops who showed up at the scene opened fire at the two minor captives to scare them into stopping and handcuffed them before they detained them for long hours.
Hebron soldier to remain in open detention
Ynet 5 Apr by Yoav Zitun & Itay Blumenthal — The IDF court of appeals in Tel Aviv rejected an appeal by military prosecutors on Tuesday, ruling that the soldier who shot the already-neutralized terrorist in Hebron will remain in open detention, and not return to full arrest status. “Allegedly, this is a forbidden act, which is in contrast to state and international values, (and) which also violates the IDF’s (principle of) weapons purity, which says weapons are to be used only for the purposes of completing the mission, and our humanity must be preserved,” the judge, Brig. Gen. Doron Feyles, wrote. But the judge later added, “the defense’s video shows testimony by people from the area (in which the incident occurred) and most of them worried that the terrorist might be carrying (an explosive device), unlike (what can be inferred from) the prosecution’s video.” The judge also stated that, “The (defendant’s) worry is allegedly an alternative explanation for the evidence collected.” Earlier in the day, the prosecutor in the case stated that the “suspicion is still murder, there is enough evidence for an indictment”, and expressed hope that “next week an indictment will be served following the completion of the investigation.” (Continued at length)
Opinion: How Israel’s High Court implicitly aids the soldier accused of Hebron manslaughter / Amira Hass
Haaretz 4 Apr — Why be shocked at the public’s support for arrested IDF soldier when the country’s justices have already provided him with a line of defense? — To the attorneys of Sergeant E. (the Israeli soldier facing a manslaughter charge after fatally shooting a subdued Palestinian assailant in the head, in Hebron two weeks ago): These lines are written in case you missed High Court of Justice ruling 143/12. Did it discuss making sure that a suspect, lying wounded and bleeding on the ground, is dead by delivering a kill shot? It did. Did it discuss the police fear of an explosive belt (a demagogic claim, since it all happened in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood)? It did that, too. Racist online posts? Did it ever. Justices Miriam Naor, Yoram Danziger and Uri Shoham saw fit in their ruling not to intervene in the State Prosecutor’s Office’s decision to close the investigation into the killing of Ziad Jilani, 38, by Border Policeman Maxim Vinogradov and his commander, Shadi Kheir al-Din . . . The justices quoted previous verdicts (including those handed down by the highest authority, former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak), which had tried to understand the situation facing soldiers and police. For example: “The court has ruled more than once that ‘margin for error’ had to be given to soldiers and police operating under combat conditions, or as part of an operation. The reason for this position lies in the understanding that ‘soldiers must be given reasonable margin for error that might be caused by conditions on the ground and the time available, which are the backdrop of the operational incident at issue, and require a quick decision without legal consultation on what is permissible in that moment.’” And look what they wrote about Vinogradov: “We cannot ignore, in this context, the young age of the respondent … who found himself in a difficult and complex situation in performance of his duty. . . ” (Continued)
Opinion: The medic as executioner, and Israel’s radical reinvention of innocence / Bradley Burston
Haaretz 5 Apr — I swore an oath today. It’s the oath I took years ago, when I became a combat medic in the Israeli army. Swearing the oath before receiving your badge as a medic, you promise to provide care to every wounded person, “im ohev o im oyev” – whether a loved comrade or a bitter enemy. You swear that you will administer treatment with respect, and to consider your “actions with understanding, wisdom, and love of humanity.” It’s the same oath that the soldier responsible for the Hebron shooting once swore when he received his badge as a medic. It’s the oath he violated when, according to the army, he arrived at the scene of a terrorist attack, and – finding a Palestinian assailant wounded and prone and disarmed – handed his helmet to someone at the scene, cocked his rifle with deliberation, and, at the range of a few feet, sent a high velocity bullet hurtling into the writhing man’s brain. The day of the killing, when I learned that the soldier in the execution video was a medic, it hit me like a boot to the gut. And not only me.
A petition circulated this week by IDF reservists who have served as combat medics, paramedics and doctors, begins: “We stand as if beaten, facing the images coming from Hebron in these insane days.” The creed of the Medical Corps is at the heart of the petition campaign, which urges corps reservists to take the Medic’s Oath anew . . . While asking whether the soldier should have opened fire or not, the text continues, we should be asking, and even more urgently, “Why did he not provide medical treatment to the enemy, as he was obligated to do by the medic’s oath which we have all sworn?” . . . In a matter of a weekend, the incident was turned entirely on its head. The fact that the wounded Palestinian assailant had been subjected to a summary execution without the merest semblance of due process was ignored as a given. Meanwhile, with respect to the soldier, the principle of the presumption of innocence had undergone a radical transformation. No longer was the soldier granted a presumption of innocence as an integral element of due process and the determination of justice. He was no longer simply presumed innocent. He was now, simply, innocent . . . Innocent, by popular demand or by personal opinion. (Continued)
IOA seals off road to Palestinian lands in Nablus
NABLUS (PIC) 5 Apr — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) on Monday sealed off large areas of Palestinian lands in Nablus at the same time as Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian farmers in the city. A PIC journalist quoted member of the Qaryout village council, in southern Nablus, Bashar al-Qaryuti, as stating that Israeli civil administration crews escorted by the occupation army sealed off large tracts of Palestinian lands in the area. Anti-settlement activist Ghassan Dughlas said the Israeli occupation bulldozers destroyed an agricultural road leading to confiscated lands in southern Qaryout. The occupation soldiers pitched sand barriers around the targeted lands, which reportedly cover hundreds of dunums, so as to block Palestinians’ access to the area.
In a related context, Israeli extremist settlers aggressively attacked Palestinian farmers in Ourata town, to the southeast of Nablus, while they were cultivating their lands near the Israeli illegal settlement of Elon Moreh. Locals said at least three farmers were subjected to heavy beating and insults by the Israeli vandals.
Israeli forces temporarily close Ramallah-area checkpoint
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — Israeli forces temporarily closed off a major checkpoint in the occupied West Bank in one direction on Wednesday afternoon. All vehicles leaving the cities of Ramallah and al-Bireh were sent back by Israeli forces at the Beit El checkpoint north of Ramallah. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an the checkpoint had since been reopened, although she did not have any immediate information on the reasons behind the closure. Palestinian communities have seen a sharp rise in Israeli military activity since a recent wave of violence began last October. Roadblocks, temporary checkpoints, and security checks upon entrance and exit into many Palestinian villages and towns are among the increased restrictions Palestinians have faced.
Youths attack Israeli forces with Molotov cocktails near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — Palestinian youths late Tuesday attacked Israeli forces with Molotov cocktails near the illegal settlement of Geva Binyamin in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers responded by firing live ammunition and tear gas at the Palestinian youths. Earlier in the evening the soldiers had erected a checkpoint and stopped passing vehicles, preventing a number from passing to Nablus .Israeli forces regularly restrict the movement of Palestinians living under military occupation, with impromptu “flying checkpoints” set up by forces across the West Bank at times numbering in the hundreds. Road closures and restrictions often lead local Palestinian youth to protest with stone-throwing and at times the use of homemade explosive devices.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization
77,000 Jewish settlers to move to new illegal West Bank settlements
[with map] MEMO 5 Apr — Some 77,000 Jewish settlers are due to be relocated to illegal Israeli settlements around the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, an Israeli rights group revealed yesterday. Quds Press reported Yesh Din saying that the Israeli authorities’ plan aims to turn the illegal settlements of Ma’ale Mikhmas, Rimonim, Psagot and Kochav Ya’ir into residential neighbourhoods. The settlement plan, Yesh Din said, seeks to connect the new settlement neighbourhoods with Street 60 (Alon Street) from the eastern side, as well as to build around 2,500 new settlement units on an area of 790 dunams (0.79 square kilometres). According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, 6,000 Israeli Jewish settlers are currently living in the four illegal settlements and the settlement base of Mizpah Dani. The rights group said that in November 2015, the Israeli High Court turned down a petition filed in the name of the Palestinian villages of Mikhmas and Deir Debwan to demolish a settlement building which was illegally built. Yesh Din said that the court rejected the petition after the Israeli government had started legalising the settlement base of Mizpah Dani in the same area.
Palestinian family demolishes part of own apartment in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — A Palestinian family tore down part of its own apartment in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina on Wednesday to avoid paying the Jerusalem municipality’s demolition costs. Shireen al-Sidawi, the owner of the apartment, told Ma‘an that Israel ordered the demolition of an extension that was built onto the home three years ago, on the grounds it did not have the necessary construction permits. She said Israeli forces arrived on Wednesday morning to carry out the demolition order, but together with neighbors and relatives, she was able to tear down the extension herself, thereby avoiding the municipality’s demolition costs. Sidawi said the extensions consisted of two rooms — one built from wood, the other of aluminum. Palestinian families in occupied East Jerusalem regularly tear down their own homes to avoid paying the Jerusalem municipality’s demolition bills . . . East Jerusalem has seen an aggressive policy of home demolitions for years, as right-wing Israelis seek to tip the demographic balance to make the occupied city more Jewish.
35 Palestinians left homeless by Israeli demolitions south of Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — Israeli forces on Wednesday demolished six structures in Khirbet Umm al-Kheir south of the West Bank city of Hebron, leaving 35 Palestinians homeless, locals said. Umm al-Kheir resident Bilal al-Hathalin told Ma‘an that bulldozers entered the village under heavy military protection and demolished six homes made of tin. “This is the eighth time the occupation demolished homes in Umm al-Kheir,” local Suleiman al-Hathalin said, referring to the demolitions as “ethnic cleansing.” “Thirty-five people have become homeless, while settlers of the illegal Karmel settlement are living a luxurious life only a few steps away from my home,” Suleiman said, adding that Israeli forces had demolished his home in effort to displace him. “I had already become a refugee when I was displaced from my land in Arad [in 1948] and the occupation is now trying to displace me again,” Suleiman continued. “We will never leave,” he added. The homes demolished Wednesday belonged to Adel Suleiman al-Hathalin, Khadra Suleiman al-Hathalin, Suleiman Eid al-Hathalin, Kheiri Suleiman al-Hathalin, Eid Suleiman al-Hathalin and Muatasim Suleiman al-Hathalin. A spokesperson for Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told Ma‘an: “Today, enforcement measures were taken against six illegal tin constructions which were built without the required permits in Umm al-Kheir, after having taken all appropriate orders before carrying out enforcement.” The Umm al-Kheir community has faced ongoing threat of displacement since the Karmel settlement was illegally established in 1981 and expanded onto villagers’ land.
Israel razes Araqeeb village in Negev for 96th time
NEGEV (PIC) 5 Apr — Israeli bulldozers on Tuesday morning demolished the unrecognized Palestinian village of al-Araqeeb [or Araqib] in the Negev for the 96th consecutive time. According to local sources, a police car belonging to the police unit Yoav stormed the village in the morning before bulldozers showed up later to carry out the demolitions. Since 2010, the impoverished village, which is unrecognized by Israel, has been razed dozens of times. Sometimes with the help of activists, the Bedouin villagers were able to rebuild crude homes and structures following each Israeli demolition campaign.
Israeli forces demolish slaughterhouse, balcony, well near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — Israeli forces demolished a poultry slaughterhouse, a balcony, and a water well in the town of Beit Sahour in the southern occupied West Bank on Tuesday morning. Beit Sahour Mayor Hani al-Hayik told Ma‘an that an excavator escorted by Israeli military vehicles demolished the sole poultry slaughterhouse in the town east of Bethlehem. The 200-square-meter property belonged to the Beit Sahour municipality and had been built in 2011, he said. Al-Hayik added that Israeli forces demolished the balcony of a private home, claiming that while the house was located in Area B, the balcony was in Area C, the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control. The Israeli forces also damaged a water well in Beit Sahour. Al-Hayik said Israeli forces also confiscated a shipping container used as a mobile house by its owner, Issa Kheir. The mayor estimated Tuesday’s demolitions to have caused around $130,000 in damages.
PLO slams Israel after 7 Palestinian homes torn down
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on Monday slammed Israel for the latest wave of demolitions that saw seven homes torn down across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in a single night. “This is another act of collective punishment committed by Israel against the Palestinian civilian population in violation of international law and Israel’s obligations as the belligerent occupying power,” Erekat said in a statement issued by his office. In the early hours of Monday morning, Israeli forces tore down three homes belonging to slain Palestinian attackers in the village of Qabatiya south of Jenin, and another four homes that were built without permits — one in Surif, two near Duma, and one in occupied East Jerusalem. The demolitions are part of the most extensive demolition campaign in the occupied West Bank in the last seven years, which the UN says has left more than 650 Palestinians homeless in under three months, more than half of whom were children. Erekat said in the statement that Israel had demolished 157 homes in the occupied Palestinian territory since last September. He warned Israel that every violation of human rights would be “documented, reported, and presented to the relevant international bodies, including the International Criminal Court.” He also warned the international community that “granting impunity for continued and systematic Israeli crimes will not achieve a resumption of negotiations. Rather, it is killing any realistic political horizon to end the Israeli occupation of the State of Palestine.” His comments referred in particular to a recent Human Rights Council resolution to ensure accountability for human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory. The resolution was passed but saw the abstention of countries such as the UK, Germany, and India. “We call upon those countries to review their positions,” Erekat said.
Tourism Ministry defends map of Jerusalem’s Old City omitting Arab landmarks
JPost 5 Apr by Daniel K. Eisenbud — The Tourism Ministry on Tuesday defended its official visitors’ map of Jerusalem’s Old City, which omits numerous historic Arab and Christian landmarks, while featuring dozens of Jewish sites. The map in question, which has the ministry’s logo affixed to it, highlights only one Muslim site, the Dome of the Rock, and five Christian sites, among its 57 locales of primarily synagogues, yeshivas, and numerous other Jewish sites, Haaretz initially reported. While there is an image of the Temple Mount’s al-Aksa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, it is not named. Moreover, the daily accused the ministry of contributing to the “Judaization” of Jerusalem by noting “all the buildings occupied by Jews in the Muslim Quarter.” “Of the 57 sites marked by number on the map, no less than 25 are such buildings, along with synagogues and yeshivas that even experienced tour guides have never heard of,” the report stated. “The bias toward the settler narrative continues outside the Old City walls,” it continued. “On the Mount of Olives the Ma’aleh Zeitim neighborhood of some 100 Jewish families is illustrated and marked, while no mention is made of the thousands of Palestinian families living in the area.” Asked to respond to the allegations of egregious impropriety, the ministry defended the map, which it confirmed was produced with the oversight of several experts from a private organization named the Atir Maps and Publications Company . . . The map reinforces the arguments made by numerous left-wing architectural NGOs, including Emek Shaveh, which has repeatedly contended that the government is complicit in “Judaizing” the capital at the expense of Muslim history.
Campaign funds new home for family of Muhannad al-Halabi
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — The family of slain Palestinian attacker Muhannad al-Halabi signed the contract for a new home on Tuesday after a campaign was able to raise funds to replace their previous one, which was lost to a punitive demolition carried out earlier this year. The 360-square-meter home, which is still under construction, lies in the village of Abu Qash, where their former home was situated, and will cost them a total of 124,000 JD ($175,000) when it is complete. Halabi’s family expressed their deep appreciation and gratitude to everyone who participated in the campaign to fund their new home. Halabi, 19, was shot dead by Israeli forces on Oct. 3 last year after he killed two Israelis and injured two more in Jerusalem’s Old City, in the first stabbing attack to take place in a wave of unrest that afterward swept the occupied Palestinian territory. Israeli forces demolished his family’s home in the village of Surda north of Ramallah on Jan. 9 and confiscated their land. The campaign to fund a new home quickly gained popular support from Palestinians.
Haaretz editorial: Israel’s High Court must stop collective punishment of terrorists’ families
4 Apr — Law, logic and morality all indicate that demolishing the homes of innocent people is not a deterrent, and even the IDF agrees — The High Court of Justice recently began limiting the use of the draconian practice of sealing and demolishing homes belonging to terrorists’ families. This sanction is unacceptable and violates all basic rules of morality. It constitutes collective punishment of innocent people without trial, contravenes the principles of Israeli constitutional justice and international law, and is not consistent with the biblical commandment, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; every man shall be put to death for his own sin.”
The High Court used to regularly approve home demolitions, whose numbers rose recently. The turning point occurred last Thursday, when justices Menachem Mazuz and Anat Baron refused to approve the demolition of the family home of a Palestinian who had allegedly participated in a terror attack, going against the dissenting opinion of Supreme Court President Miriam Naor. The justices stressed that the alleged terrorist hadn’t lived in his family’s home for a long time, and that his relatives didn’t know about his intent to murder Israelis.
Hamas fighter dies in accident during Gaza ‘mission’
GAZA (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — Hamas’ military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, said Monday that one of its members had died in an accident during a “jihadi mission” in the northern Gaza Strip. The brigades said in a statement that 24-year-old Musab Muhammad al-Sheikh, from Jabaliya in northern Gaza, was accidentally shot dead by a bullet from his own gun. Further details on the circumstances of his death and the nature of the “mission” were not provided. Al-Sheikh’s funeral was scheduled for Monday at 12 p.m. in Jabaliya refugee camp. Members of the al-Qassam Brigades are regularly killed during training exercises or in Gaza’s notoriously dangerous tunnel networks in the north and south of the blockaded coastal enclave.
Man sets himself on fire in Gaza hospital
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — A Palestinian man burned himself to death on Monday inside a hospital building in the central Gaza Strip, witnesses told Ma‘an. Bystanders rushed to help Muhammad Abd al-Rahman Ghazal, 45, after he spilled gasoline on his body and set fire to his clothes inside the al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the town of Deir al-Balah. However, the witnesses said, Ghazal died before they could save him. According to a statement the hospital’s administration, the event took place at 8:50 a.m. The statement read that “a patient suffering from psychological disorders took a gallon of gasoline and spilled it on his body on purpose.” The statement added that the man had attempted to end his life several times before, according to his hospital records. The director general of mental health department of the Gaza Health Ministry, Yahya Khader, told Ma‘an that Ghazal was officially registered as a “patient suffering from depression since 2003,” and that he had abstained from receiving treatment since 2014.
VIDEO: Gaza fishermen get more room to cast their nets
Reuters 3 April — Israel expands the fishing zone along parts of the Gaza Strip from six nautical miles to nine, allowing Palestinian boats into deeper waters with more abundant fish. Diane Hodges reports.
Gaza fishermen test waters after blockade eased
WB 4 Apr — Gaza fishermen have begun working further off the coast after Israel relaxed restrictions for the first time in a decade but said Monday that the measure was not nearly enough. Palestinian boats working in the southern part of Gaza Strip started to fish as far as nine nautical miles off the coast on Sunday, the first extension to the zone since 2005. Previously they had been restricted to six nautical miles, the same distance that remains in place off the northern part of the Palestinian enclave which borders Israel. More than 200 fishing boats headed out from Gaza’s port on Sunday night, with most returning early on Monday. Raed Abu Ouda, 35, returned from an overnight trip close to the new nine-mile limit, but said he had been disappointed with his catch. “I hoped with the new permission for a bumper catch,” he said. “But after 17 hours of work we didn’t get what we expected.” The new nine-mile limit is patrolled by Israeli naval vessels and indicated by signs, he said. The extended distance means fishermen can catch more lucrative types of fish such as grouper, Abu Ouda added. Nizar Ayyash, chairman of the Gaza fishermen’s union, said between 200 and 300 ships went out on Sunday night. The Israeli defence ministry body responsible for implementing government policies in the Palestinian territories, COGAT, estimated on its Facebook page the extended zone could add 400,000 shekels ($106,000) a year to the Gazan economy. But Ayyash said most had been disappointed and called the extension “inadequate”. He called on the Israeli authorities to further loosen the restrictions to 20 miles, as laid down under the Oslo peace accords of the 1990s.
Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian farmers, level lands in Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian farmers and leveled lands in the Gaza Strip Tuesday morning, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an they saw three Israeli bulldozers enter the Palestinian side of the Gaza border and level lands near the border fence on the outskirts of al-Nahdha neighborhood east of Rafah. No injuries were reported. Separately, Israeli forces reportedly opened fire on Palestinian farmers tending their land in al-Najjar neighborhood near the village of Khuza‘a in the southern Gaza Strip. No injuries have been reported.
Israel cuts cement supply to Gaza
WB 3 Apr — Israel on Sunday formally halted all cement deliveries into the blockaded Gaza Strip, according to a Palestinian official. Raed Fattouh, head of the Palestinian Commission to Coordinate the Entry of Goods into the Gaza Strip, said the Israeli authorities had “officially and completely” halted all cement consignments to Gaza’s private sector. “The Israeli authorities informed us of their decision to stop all cement deliveries to Gaza as of Sunday, without providing any reason for the move,” Fattouh said. He went on to note, however, that the decision did not apply to limited quantities of cement supplied to projects being carried out in Gaza by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The Israeli authorities, for their part, have yet to officially comment on Fattouh’s assertions. The Israeli media, however, has recently quoted Israeli officials as saying that Hamas — the Palestinian resistance group that has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007 — was routinely appropriating imported cement for its own purposes. Gaza’s Hamas-run Economy Ministry, meanwhile, denounced the decision, warning of the move’s likely repercussions on the reconstruction of the war-battered strip, which is still recovering from a devastating 2014 Israeli military onslaught. The ministry added that the amounts of cement currently entering Gaza via the Kerem Shalom border crossing — which links Egypt, Israel and the Gaza Strip — had failed to meet the minimum requirements of the strip’s roughly 1.9 million inhabitants. The ministry went on to note that it had appealed to the UN and other international institutions to pressure Israel to reverse its decision.
UNDP will clear all rubble in Gaza this month
MEMO 5 Apr — The remains of all the properties destroyed during Israel’s 2014 offensive against the Gaza Strip will be cleared by the end of this month, PalSawa.com reported informed sources saying yesterday. According to the sources, 98 per cent of the rubble has already been cleared and only the remains of the Italian Mall, Al-Awda Factory and the Zo’rob building remain. So far, the UNDP has collected an estimated 1.1 million tonnes of debris at a cost of $16 million. The rubble collected has been crushed and will be used to pave streets, make tiles and build playgrounds. Some 3,000 suspect items were found while the areas were being cleared and they were neutralised. The work is being completed by hand as Gaza lacks the necessary equipment.
In Gaza, a few new, shiny houses rise amid the rubble
[with photos – note: no rubble] NPR All Things Considered 5 Apr by Emily Harris — Hytham Harara is happy to show off his family’s freshly rebuilt home in Gaza City’s Shujaiya neighborhood, one of the areas badly battered in the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, the militant Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip. The outside of the house is painted buttercream yellow, trimmed with red and tan. Inside, there’s an artistic stone inlay on the floor of the living room, a stylized nightingale mural on one wall, and ornate wooden doors. They create a world far removed from much of the rubble that remains just outside. “My father likes a house that is beautiful and relaxing to live in,” says Harara, 21, the second-eldest son and an English literature major at Gaza’s Islamic University. The family returned home a couple months ago, after a year and a half crammed into a rental across town. But rebuilt homes in this area are just dots among bombed out shells and stalled construction starts. Gaza is rebuilding yet again. Even since the Palestinians launched an uprising in 2000, this small, poor coastal territory has gone through a recurring cycle of destruction and rebuilding . . . Here’s a look at the current dynamics in Gaza’s reconstruction — and the chronic problems that emerge every time it attempts to rebuild. (Continued at length)
UNRWA provides $5 million in Gaza reconstruction aid
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Wednesday it has disbursed $5 million for reconstruction and serious repair works in the beleaguered Gaza Strip. UNRWA said the funds would benefit 720 refugee families, which would be able to access the financial assistance through local banks. The agency said emergency shelter remained one of its top priorities, but it required new funding to continue its shelter cash assistance program. UNRWA has faced a severe financial crisis in recent years, particularly due to the 2014 Gaza war, which totally destroyed 12,600 homes and left another 6,500 severely damaged and 150,000 housing units uninhabitable. “The conflict led to a homelessness crisis in Gaza, with almost 500,000 persons displaced at its peak,” the agency said. “Thousands remain displaced to this day.”
Builders find remnants from Byzantine period in Gaza
GAZA (Reuters) 4 Apr by Nidal Al-Mughrabi — Construction workers in Gaza have discovered ancient ruins that archaeologists say may be part of a Byzantine church dating from around 1,500 years ago, the Palestinian tourism and antiquities ministry said on Monday. The findings include segments of marble pillars with ornate Corinthian capitals, one nearly three meters (yards) long, and a 90 cm (35 inch) foundation stone bearing a Greek symbol for Christ. Fifteen pieces have been uncovered, with excavations continuing. “Our first thought is that the site is a cathedral or a church from the Byzantine period,” said Jamal Abu Rida, the general director of the antiquities ministry. “During that era, there was a great interest among the Byzantine rulers to build churches in the Gaza Strip.” Gaza was a prosperous seaport during the Roman period, with a diverse population of Greeks, Romans, Jews, Egyptians and Persians. Pagan temples were destroyed in the late 4th and early 5th centuries AD and there was widespread church-building. That continued until the Muslim general Amr ibn al-As conquered Gaza in 637 AD, after which most of the population adopted Islam and Christian places of worship were abandoned . . . Dozens of onlookers watched on Monday as a bulldozer and a digger continued to shift earth in Palestine Square, a busy shopping district in downtown Gaza.
Farmers in war-battered Gaza feeding livestock old fodder
WB/Anadolu Agency 3 Apr — Mohannad Abu Ajwa, a 30-year-old Palestinian living in the blockaded Gaza Strip, feeds his livestock every day with fodder that mainly consists of old corn seed and wheat unfit for human consumption. Due to Gaza’s devastated economy, some livestock owners recycle old corn seed and wheat, which they mix with fresh fodder to reduce expenses. Abu Ajwa gets the fodder mixture from Gaza’s Agriculture Ministry. Abu Ajwa, who owns 110 cows and 50 goats, says fodder from old corn seed makes animals feel full in a shorter time, thus reducing the amount of food required. He says he used to pay around 6,400 Israeli shekels daily (around $1,680) to feed his livestock, but now spends around 4,800 shekels each day (around $1,260). Abu Ajwa has his animals vaccinated every six months to prevent their being poisoned in case the fodder he feeds them turns out to be rotten.
Gaza’s pesky pesticides
Newsweek 6 Apr by Sami Abu Salem — Produce in strip isn’t what it used to be—but residents have no choice but to buy what is available to them — In Jabalia market, north of Gaza City, Mohammed Okasha, 42, moves between the stalls of vegetables wearily inspecting piles of tomatoes, cucumber, potatoes and other vegetables. Okasha suspects that the products are harming his family “because of the unhealthy and illegal use of fertilizers, which some farmers are using,” he tells Newsweek Middle East. Rumors are rampant in Gaza about the quality of locally farmed produce. Many fear that agricultural produce may be carcinogenic, because of the illegal use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the isolated Palestinian strip. Some of these rumors are well grounded in fact; and as a consequence, farmers, the general public and the Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza are trading accusations over who bears the lion’s share of responsibility . . . There is, in fact, some evidence to suggest that pesticides have made their way into Gaza’s food chain. Nariman Atawneh, a researcher on environmental affairs, who has undertaken extensive studies on the subject, is clear that the farmers “use 70 pesticides, half of [which] are internationally forbidden including Thiophanate-methyl.” Such pesticides may cause renal failure, troubles in the thyroid gland and other chronic diseases, according to Atawneh. But whether or not the burden should fall to farmers or the ministry for these infractions is unclear. (Continues at length)
Israeli Bedouins call for Hamas to release hostage
MEE/Agencies 4 Apr — Israeli Bedouins have written an open letter to Hamas calling for the release of a man the group has been holding for more than a year. The letter to the Qassam Brigades, which was shared on social media on Monday, says that a man being held by the group is a mentally disabled Bedouin. Last week Hamas showed the man, who has not been named, on al-Aqsa TV station along with three other Israeli hostages. “By holding a mentally disabled Muslim person, the Qassam Brigades are acting immorally. They infringe on this man’s liberty and hurt his family,” the letter read . . . It is thought the Bedouin man is from Hura, a town in Negev in southern Israel. He had previously been arrested in 2010 when he crossed the border into Gaza, but was brought home by local police because of his mental health issues, the Jerusalem Post reported. He was then taken again in April 2015 when he crossed into Gaza. A black and white image of the man, along with three others, was shown during a televised statement by the Qassam Brigades’ spokesman Abu Obeida. During the address he said there were no talks going on between Hamas and Israel about the prisoners and said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was lying to the families of the captives about negotiations. “Ethiopian Falash Mura, who are Jews, are discriminated by the Israeli establishment. Hence, those who think that this establishment will have any interest in an Arab guy are wrong,” the Bedouins stated.
ICBGS declares the formation of int’l lobby to break Gaza siege
GAZA (PIC) 4 Apr — The International Campaign to Break Gaza Siege (ICBGS) declared Monday the formation of an international and regional lobby to break the Israeli 10-year siege on Gaza. Speaking to the PIC, spokesman for the campaign Adham Abu Salmiya said that the lobby will be publicly declared in 17 Arab and Islamic TV channels at 8 p.m. Jerusalem time today. The campaign organizers will speak for an hour and a half to brief the audience about the shocking impacts of the Israeli unfair siege on the daily life in Gaza Strip. The ICBGS was formed in October 2014 with the aim of forming a lobby to break the siege on Gaza. Palestinian and Arab users of Twitter launched on Friday an international campaign on social media networks calling for ending the Israeli siege imposed on Gaza Strip. The activists of the campaign under the hashtag #enough_siege which got a large-scale support by users of Facebook and Twitter demanded the opening of Rafah border crossing and ending the siege which has been imposed on Gaza by Israeli authorities for ten years.
The month in pictures — March 2016
Electronic Intifada 5 April
Israel, Palestinians make progress in talks to limit military activity in West Bank cities
Haaretz 6 Apr by Barak Ravid & Jack Khoury — Progress has been made in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority over a deal that would limit Israeli army activity in Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, according to both Israeli officials and Western diplomats familiar with the talks. The diplomatic-security cabinet will get its first briefing on the negotiations on Wednesday. Three weeks ago, Haaretz reported that Israel and the Palestinians were conducting secret negotiations on a gradual return of full security control over West Bank cities to the PA. Israel proposed that the IDF would end all operational activity in Area A — the part of the West Bank that, according to the Oslo Accords, is supposed to be under full Palestinian control — except in urgent cases, known in Israeli parlance as ticking bombs . . . Israel has proposed that the IDF initially leave Ramallah and Jericho, and if no problems arise, it would then leave other West Bank cities. But the Palestinians rejected this idea, demanding that the IDF stop incursions into all cities in Area A. They said accepting the Israeli proposal would essentially grant a Palestinian seal of approval to IDF activity in other West Bank cities and legitimize a unilateral Israeli violation of the Oslo Accords . . . Both Israeli officials and Western diplomats said that over the past few weeks, the sides have met three times for further negotiations on the idea of reducing IDF activity in Palestinian cities. They said the negotiating teams have resolved some of the disputes and made some progress, but not yet enough to make an agreement possible. Both Israelis and Palestinians are trying to present the talks as strictly security-oriented rather than as diplomatic negotiations . . . The IDF is working intensively to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, primarily due to fear that otherwise, the ongoing tension in the territories will eventually undermine security coordination with the PA, lead to a significant escalation of violence and possibly even result in the PA’s collapse. (Continued)
Israel temporarily halts West Bank power cuts after deal reached
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — Israel said Wednesday it would temporarily stop cutting power to the occupied West Bank after an agreement was reached with the Palestinian Authority to begin negotiations on the payment of electricity bills. Hisham al-Omari, the head of the Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO) — the Palestinian power company — told Ma‘an there would be no power cuts over a two-week period while “marathon negotiations” took place. He said JDECO would also pay 60 million shekels ($15.7 million) to the Israeli Electric Corporation (IEC) by next Tuesday as part of the agreement. The negotiations will attempt to resolve disputes over tariffs and interest rates for both past and future electric bills, al-Omari said, adding that the exact amount of debt owed by the Palestinians to the IEC has long been a point of dispute. Palestinian Knesset member Ayman Odeh was heavily involved in the talks that reached Wednesday’s agreement, his spokeswoman, Reut Mor, told Ma‘an.
The agreement came hours before the IEC said it would cut power to a number of areas in Bethlehem district for a number of hours on Wednesday, before cutting power to Ramallah district villages on Thursday. Over the past week, the IEC has cut the power supply to major West Bank cities, including Jericho, Hebron, and Bethlehem, due to the PA’s mounting debt. Al-Omari told Ma‘an the cuts are intended to place pressure on the PA to pay the debt, but said earlier this week the move amounted to “collective punishment.” “It affects all the people, whether they have paid their bills or not,” he told Ma‘an. “The power cuts won’t bring any solution to what is a political issue.” The Israeli authorities have in the past withheld tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA over unpaid bills owed to Israeli companies.
PA seizes goods imported from banned Israeli company
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — The Palestinian Authority said Tuesday it would take legal action against a Palestinian company that had imported goods manufactured by an Israeli company that was banned in the occupied Palestinian territory last month. The PA Ministry of the Economy did not say which Palestinian company had been found breaking the new rules, but said truckloads of banned products were seized in the village of Hizma north of Jerusalem. It said the goods were manufactured by Israeli company Tnuva — one of five companies that were banned by the PA in March in order to retaliate for an earlier Israeli ban on five Palestinian companies. The Israeli ban was described by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah as “racist” and one of many “attempts to isolate Jerusalem from its surroundings and erase its identity.” As much of half the produce of the five banned Palestinian companies’ production goes to Palestinian consumers in occupied East Jerusalem and Palestinian communities in Israel.
Hamas slams Abbas statements on security coordination with Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apt — The Hamas movement reacted on Tuesday to a recent interview by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, slamming his condemnation of the recent wave small-scale attacks by Palestinians. In an interview broadcast on Thursday by the Israeli Channel 2, Abbas reiterated his commitment to the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination with Israel, arguing that it was a major factor in curbing Palestinian attacks against Israeli targets. “If we give up security coordination there will be chaos here,” he told Channel 2. “There will be rifles, and explosions and armed militants popping up everywhere and rushing at Israel. Without the coordination, a bloody intifada would break out. I want to cooperate with the Israelis. There is an agreement between us and I am not ashamed by it.” Abbas also stated that PA security forces have raided schools in the occupied West Bank and confiscated scores of knifes from young students. “We took the knives. We spoke to them and said this was a mistake,” Abbas said. “That we don’t want them to kill or die and that we want them to live and the other to live as well.” Hamas condemned in a statement Abbas’ repeated remarks “opposing the Palestinian intifada and justifying his security cooperation with the occupation.” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Abbas’ statements were “harming to the Palestinian interests,” and called on the Palestinian president to “abandon positions which offer cover to Israeli crimes and encourage the occupation to carry out further repression against Palestinians.”
Ashrawi meets ILO, Telos group to discuss Israeli violations
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi met with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and an American group pushing for a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on Wednesday to discuss Israeli violations of Palestinian rights. In her meeting with the ILO in Ramallah, Ashrawi denounced Israeli efforts to expand and normalize the status of settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law. “We strongly denounce Israel’s plans to transform the illegal settlements of Maale Mikhmas, Rimmonim, Kokhav Hashahar, and Pesagot, located east of Ramallah, into a residential suburb with a population of 77,000 by 2040; the illegal outpost of Mitzpe Danny is also part of such plans,” Ashrawi said while speaking with the ILO delegation led by Special Advisor to the Director General, Kari Tapiola.
Later during the day, Ashrawi welcomed a delegation from the Telos group, a bipartisan US organization seeking to improve American understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and expand support for a two-state solution. According to a PLO press release, the group discussed the “detrimental” effect of the US Congress on peace prospects, and “emphasized the need for the American public to courageously speak out against the abuse of American funds and weapons.” Ashrawi also called “on the US administration to exhibit the political will necessary to hold Israel accountable and to end the military occupation,” the press release read.
EU contributes funds to Palestinian civil servant salaries
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — The European Union announced on Tuesday that it would contribute more than $17 million to pay the salaries of Palestinian civil servants in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, amid an ongoing Palestinian funding crisis. The Office of the European Union Representative stated in a press release that it was contributing “approximately €15.3 million ($17.4 million) to the payment of March salaries and pensions of over 66,000 Palestinian civil servants and pensioners in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” of which €300,000 ($342,000) was funded directly by the Irish government. The contribution was “part of the 2016 package of direct financial support for the Palestinian Authority announced last month for a total of €170.5 million,” or $194.5 million, the statement added. The PA has failed to pay its employees’ salaries at regular intervals for some time now across all government sectors in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in Gaza.
PA: Sisi did not propose creating a Palestinian state in Gaza and Sinai
MEMO 6 Apr — The Palestinian Authority (PA) denied reports that Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi proposed the establishment of a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and parts of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Safa news agency reported yesterday. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, told the PA’s official news agency Wafa that Abbas and Al-Sisi “spare no efforts to establish the independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders.” He added that Abbas is keen to maintain the unity of the Egyptian lands and has previously rejected a similar proposal made by the Israeli Major General Giora Eiland. He stressed that this “false” news was reported by the Israeli media. He called on the media to be cautious and responsible when they report news from Israeli sources.
Photo gallery: Historic mosque turned into school in West Bank
NABLUS (Anadolu Agency) 3 Apr by Issam Rimawi — Palestinian students are seen in a historic mosque, which is now used as a school, after their school was demolished by Israeli soldiers on the grounds that the school was unlicensed, in the Tana village of Nablus, West Bank on April 3, 2016. After Israeli soldiers demolished the only school in Tana village, some of the Palestinian students left school and others registered the schools in other towns.