Israel destroys Bedouin village in Negev for 97th time
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Israeli forces on Tuesday destroyed the unrecognized Bedouin community of al-Araqib in the Negev for the 97th time in a row, amid a record-high wave of demolitions to be carried out by Israel this year. Al-Araqib resident Salim Abu Mdeighem told Ma‘an that riot police from Israel’s Yasam unit raided the community before securing the entrance of two bulldozers that carried out the demolitions. An estimated 110 Bedouins live in the community, frequently targeted by longstanding Israeli policy to forcibly remove indigenous Bedouin from the Negev in Israel’s south. Aziz al-Tawri, an al-Araqib local, told Ma‘an following Tuesday’s demolitions that the Israeli authorities have continually demanded the community leave the area, charging the village 50,000 NIS ($13,256) for each day they remain on their own land. Al-Araqib residents are among around 160,000 Bedouins who reside in communities that Israel has refused to recognized since its establishment in 1948, and attempted to forcibly relocate to government-planned urban developments that disregard the communities’ lifestyle. Despite being Israeli citizens, the Israeli government denies unrecognized communities basic services including infrastructure, electricity, or running water, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel….
Why Israel wants these Bedouins to pay for their village’s demolition
RAMALLAH 17 Apr by Ahmad Melhern — After demolishing the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev region for the 96th time since 2010, Israel is now seeking for villagers to pay damages in compensation for the recurrent demolition work in a bid to force them out and implement the Prawer Plan — …Before the demolition campaign started in 2010, Araqib had a population of 400. The number is now down to 22 families (80 people) after some inhabitants were forced to leave the villag … In an interview with Al-Monitor, Aziz Touri, a member of the Araqib defense committee, said, “The village is experiencing harsh living conditions amid the absence of the [minimum] standards of living, as Israeli authorities have demolished the residents’ houses and destroyed their crops and livestock. However, the people have survived and are continuing their peaceful fight to claim their rights, gain official recognition for their status and acquire the ownership of the land they live in.” In parallel with the ongoing demolition campaign, Israeli authorities have instituted legal proceedings against the residents of Araqib before Israeli courts, demanding that they bear the cost of demolition, in a bid to force them to leave the village. Touri said, “There are now two financial lawsuits filed before the Israeli courts against the residents of Araqib. Israel is requesting the residents pay 2 million shekels [around $529,000] in compensation for the costs paid by Israel to police officers and workers manning the bulldozers in the first eight demolitions of the village. The court is expected to issue its ruling in the upcoming months.” “The second lawsuit is even more barbaric; it requires the residents to pay a penalty of 50,000 shekels [around $13,000] for each day they spent in the village starting in 2014 until today. This means that the Israeli government is asking for an amount of 40 million shekels [around $10.5 million], allegedly for disrespecting Israeli courts and not abiding by its decision to evacuate the village. The residents are basically accused of illicitly taking over the state’s land and building houses without a permit,” Touri added.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
Israeli soldiers injure a child in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Apr — Israeli soldiers shot and injured, on Monday evening, a Palestinian child in the al-Ram town northeast of Jerusalem, and also kidnapped a young man from his home in the town. The soldiers fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, concussion grenades and gas bombs. Many Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. The Red Crescent said the soldiers shot a child, 15 years of age, and prevented its medics from approaching him. He has been identified as Fuad al-Ja‘bari. The soldiers then assaulted the wounded child, and took him to an unknown destination. The extent of the child’s injuries remains unknown, as the Palestinian medics were not even allowed to get close to him. Initial reports indicate he was shot in his thigh. The soldiers also assaulted a young man, while standing at the door of his home, and kidnapped him.
Israeli soldiers kidnap twelve Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 19 Apr — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Tuesday at dawn, at least twelve Palestinians, including four young women, in different parts of the occupied West Bank. The PPS said the soldiers searched many homes in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and kidnapped three young women identified as Nour al-Islam Darweesh, Hala al-Beetar and Salaam Abu Sharar. All are students of the Al-Quds University. The soldiers also invaded the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, and kidnapped a young woman, identified as Majd Yousef ‘Atwan Sbeih 22. The PPS added that the soldiers kidnapped Morad Mohammad Taqatqa, 31, and Waleed Issa Taqatqa, 30, from their homes in Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethlehem. In Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, the soldiers kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Mo’taz al-Mohtasib, while Abdul-Rahim Mahmoud Awad was kidnapped from his home in Beit ‘Awwa town, south of the city. The army also invaded Kufur Qaddoum town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, searched and ransacked many homes, and kidnapped two Palestinians, identified as Ahmad Nidal Aqel, 20, and Ayman Farouq Barham, 35. The soldiers also summoned three former political prisoners for interrogation; they have been identified as Osama Obeid, Majed Jom’a, and his son. In addition, the soldiers invaded the al-Lubban ash-Sharqiyya village, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and occupied a Palestinian home belonging to Ehsan Daraghma, before using it as a military post and a monitoring tower. The soldiers installed a tent on the rooftop of the invaded home and deployed dozens of soldiers around it, inside the property and on its rooftop.
Two other Palestinians, identified as Mahmoud Osha’ Mona and Ahmad Talal Mona, were kidnapped in the Sa‘diyya neighborhood, in occupied Jerusalem. Also on Monday evening, the soldiers kidnapped three Palestinian children in Shu‘fat neighborhood, in Jerusalem, allegedly for throwing stones at the Light Rail.
Israeli police detain 31 during intense campaign against ‘Issawiya
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Israeli forces on Wednesday began an intense campaign against Palestinian residents of the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya, detaining at least 31, the majority children, and summoning another 18 for questioning. Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of a local popular committee, told Ma‘an that dozens of homes were stormed in the police raid, as officers ransacked their interiors and verbally abused their residents. He said checkpoints were set up at the entrances to the neighborhood overnight, preventing residents from entering and leaving, and a helicopter and surveillance aircraft were seen during the raids. ‘Issawiya’s local mukhtar, or village head, was summoned for questioning, while Israeli police forces also stormed commercial stores for inspection and seized two vehicles without notifying their owners. Israeli police were also reported to have removed nationalistic slogans spray-painted on the neighborhood’s walls, and Abu al-Hummus said that Arabic leaflets were distributed warning ‘Issawiya’s residents against “disturbing the peace.” The leaflet claimed the Hamas movement had “recently led an incitement campaign to confuse your children and get them to carry out terrorist attacks and activities disturbing the peace.” … Israeli police confirmed a campaign had been initiated against the East Jerusalem neighborhood, with police spokesperson Luba al-Samri saying 31 “suspects” were detained and 18 summoned for questioning …
The police campaign comes two days after an explosive device went off in a Jerusalem bus injuring 21 Israelis [see below]. Al-Samri did not mention the explosion in her statement, but the incident is under a gag order until May 19….
Israeli forces raid Jerusalem-based Palestinian news outlet
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Israeli police searched the main offices of Jerusalem-based Palestinian news outlet al-Quds [the most widely read Palestinian daily] late Monday, holding employees at gunpoint and harassing reporters during the search, local sources said. Sources told Ma‘an that Israeli police raided the newspaper’s main building and print shop in the Atarot industrial area in northern Jerusalem before checking surveillance cameras, in a search for West Bank ID-holders who had allegedly entered Israel illegally. Al-Quds newspaper employees denied that anyone was present in the building who had entered the area illegally, sources said. Witnesses said that two Israeli officers pulled guns on al-Quds employees during the raid, shouting obscenities at journalists in the office.
Ringleader in 2014 burning alive of Palestinian teen ruled sane
AFP 19 Apr — An Israeli court ruled Tuesday that a Jewish man found to be the ringleader of the beating and burning alive of a Palestinian teenager in 2014 was sane and responsible for his actions. Israeli settler Yosef Haim Ben-David, 31, was found in November to have led the assault, but his lawyers had submitted last-minute documents saying he suffered from mental illness. Tuesday’s ruling clears the way for him to be sentenced, with his conviction having been put on hold while the court decided on his sanity plea in the closely watched case. The family of the teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, welcomed the decision but said they hoped judges followed through with a life sentence for Ben-David, who appeared in court Tuesday with a thick beard and wearing a yarmulke. Abu Khdeir’s mother wore a heart-shaped pendant with an image of her son wearing a baseball cap inside at the hearing, and his father said the decision “should have been made a long time ago”. “We knew that he wasn’t mad,” Hussein Abu Khdeir told AFP. “It was all a big lie to get off from the crime which he carried out. Even if they sentence him for life, this will never bring Mohammed back again. Our hearts are wounded from what happened.” The court ruling found that Ben-David “was not psychotic, fully understood the facts, was responsible for his actions, had no difficulty in understanding reality and had the capacity to prevent the crime”. In February, a court sentenced his two young Israeli accomplices to life and 21 years in prison for the killing, which was part of a spiral of violence in the run-up to the 2014 Gaza war. The two were minors at the time of the chilling attack in which they snatched Abu Khdeir, 16, from an east Jerusalem street and then killed him.
Palestinian teens held for stabbing Israeli soldiers last month
Haaretz 19 Apr by Gili Cohen — Israeli security forces have arrested four Palestinians, three of them minors, on suspicion of planning and perpetrating attacks at the Har Bracha settlement near Nablus. Two of the suspects, aged 15, are suspected of stabbing soldiers at the military position near the settlement a month ago. Both are from the village of Arak Burin [‘Iraq Burin], and were arrested by the Shin Bet and police last month. The Shin Bet says both teens admitted under questioning that they stabbed the troops with the aim of dying “as martyrs.” They revealed the involvement of another minor, aged 14, who also is said to have admitted to having a role in the attack. None of the suspects has as yet been indicted. The attack occurred at the start of last month. Two soldiers were lightly to moderately wounded. Two commanding officers were dismissed afterwards and a third was suspended from duties for a year after it turned out that the soldiers who were attacked had left their weapons behind at the outpost, after having disarmed despite being on guard duty….
3 Palestinian minors detained after allegedly attacking Jewish minor
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Three Palestinian minors were detained Monday afternoon after they allegedly attacked a Jewish minor in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that the mother of a Jewish minor called the police on Monday afternoon to report that her son was attacked and beaten by three Palestinian minors in the Old City of Jerusalem. She added that police and border guard officers rushed to the area and apprehended the alleged attackers after viewing footage from security cameras installed in the area. Two suspects were detained after footage reportedly showed them running towards a nearby school, and the third was detained after he was seen running to a local house. The three were taken to a police station in the Old City for questioning, and the following interrogation identified the detained boys as 13-year-old Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem.
Thousands of Israelis rally for soldier who shot wounded Palestinian
AFP 19 Apr — Thousands of Israelis held a rally Tuesday in support of Elor Azria, a soldier recently charged with manslaughter after shooting a prone and wounded Palestinian assailant in the head. The rally, attended by an estimated 5,000 people, was a source of controversy in Israel where the top brass have condemned Azria’s actions while far-right supporters and politicians urged his release. Organisers and Azria’s family said the rally was only aimed at supporting the soldier but two top Israeli singers who had been expected to perform at the event pulled out on Monday. The demonstrators held Israeli flags and chanted in support of Azria, with second-tier singers performing between speeches. A reporter for the Jerusalem Post said organiser Sharon Gal told the crowd that the event was focused on “messages of love and positivity”. He noted however that some demonstrators chanted “death to Arabs” and “release the kid or we’ll turn the country over.” Nava Boker, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party who attended the rally, said that Azria “has turned into a scapegoat”. “At the end of the day, the message to soldiers should be clear — a soldier who neutralises a terrorist, even if he was mistaken, shouldn’t be imprisoned,” she said in a statement. Azria, who also holds French citizenship, was charged Monday with manslaughter and unbecoming conduct over the March 24 killing that took place in the southern West Bank city Hebron.
Palestinians are dying but only Israelis are ‘vulnerable’ in the NY Times
Times Warp 19 Apr — Isabel Kershner in The New York Times reports that Israelis are suffering from “a sense of vulnerability” after a bus bombing in Jerusalem this week. The event, she reports, sowed fear and anxiety in a population “already on edge” after a series of attacks over the past several months. Although there were no reported deaths from the bombing, she writes that Israelis were reminded of the second Palestinian uprising “when suicide bombers blew up buses in Jerusalem and other Israeli cities, killing scores.” Missing from her account is any mention of Palestinian fear or vulnerability in spite of data showing that Palestinian deaths outnumber Israeli fatalities by a factor of five or more, depending on the time frame. The second intifada, for instance, which Kershner takes as her reference point, left 5,904 Palestinians dead compared with 1,163 Israelis. She notes that “about 30” Israelis have died in the past six months in contrast to “more than 200” Palestinians, a rate of more than six to one. But this fact has not inspired her to look into Palestinian anxieties. Instead she once again attempts to place the blame on Palestinians, writing that they reportedly died in “attacks or attempted attacks or in clashes with Israeli security forces.” Nothing is said of the frequent charges that Israeli troops have carried out “street executions” of Palestinians who pose no threat to them or others. (See TimesWarp 3-25-16.) Likewise, nothing is said about the crippling effects of the brutal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the crucial background for this conflict. Kershner entirely omits the context here while focusing on every possible source of Israeli angst: the bus bombing, the recent discovery of a tunnel leading from Gaza to Israel, a belligerent statement by Hamas and the lone-wolf knife and vehicular attacks by Palestinians. Discerning readers may ask why Palestinians are using kitchen knives and automobiles as their weapons of choice, but the Times is not about to address the question. (Continued)
Jerusalem bus bomb wounds 16, Netanyahu hints at Palestinian link
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 18 Apr — A bomb blew up a bus and set fire to another in Jerusalem on Monday, wounding 16 people in an attack that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu linked to a six-month-old wave of Palestinian street violence. There was no immediate claim of responsibility from any Palestinian factions for the blast. Israeli officials declined to assign direct blame. They said two of the casualties had not yet been identified and may have been bombers … Police initially said they were looking at the possibility that a technical malfunction caused the fire that consumed two buses on Derech Hebron road, in an area of southwest Jerusalem close to the boundary with the Israeli-occupied West Bank. But based on the wounds and other findings, authorities concluded that a small and possibly rudimentary explosive device was set off at the back of one of the buses.
Jerusalem bus terror attack probe under gag order
Haaretz 20 Apr by Nir Hasson — The Jerusalem District Court has imposed a gag order on details of the investigation into the attack on a Jerusalem bus on Monday, which injured 21 people. One of the injured remains in very serious condition in the intensive care ward of Jerusalem’s Sha’arei Zedek Hospital and three people are still hospitalized with moderate to severe injuries in intensive care at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem. Three of the injured from the attack were released from Sha’arei Zedek on Tuesday. The identity of the injured man whom police suspect of setting off the explosion is still unknown. He is suffering from severe injuries to his lower extremities. Police investigators believe that the explosion was caused by a small bomb placed at the back of the bus. The bomb caused a huge fire that burned the entire bus and spread to an empty bus nearby, as well as a passing car. The passengers were able to flee the burning bus, but most of them suffered burns.
Participants in paschal lamb ceremony voice hope to one day raze Temple Mount
JPost 20 Apr by Jeremy Sharon — At a “Passover sacrifice” ceremony held Monday at the Beit Orot Yeshiva on the Mount of Olives attended by some 400 people, several public figures expressed the hope that the Dome of the Rock shrine and al-Aksa Mosque would soon be removed from the Temple Mount. Far-right Jerusalem city council member Arieh King said he hopes that the Temple Mount would soon be free of what he termed “the abomination” currently at the site, while Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, head of the Temple Institute and a former Knesset candidate for the banned Kach Party, said the event was preparation for when the Temple Mount would be “flattened and cleaned,” and the Temple rebuilt. The ceremony reenacted ancient Temple rites prescribed by the Torah, when kohanim – members of the priestly caste – ritually slaughtered a paschal lamb. Following the ritual slaughter, the kohanim sprinkled its blood and burned its fat on a model altar, then recited the Hallel prayer service. They blew shofarot and ceremonial silver trumpets belonging to Jerusalem’s Temple Institute, which designs implements fit for use in a future Temple … MK Miki Zohar (Likud) told the crowd that there had been pressure on him not to attend. “But I wanted to come to perpetuate the inheritance of the Jewish people,” he said. “My goal in the Knesset is to protect and strengthen the Jewish idea in the State of Israel. Strengthening this principle is an integral aspect of my work, because this is the only way to justify our rights to this land.”
Opinion: Don’t teach children to rebuild Jerusalem by airbrushing out the Dome of the Rock / Rabbi Leon A. Morris
Haaretz 20 Apr — I understand why this triumphalist, intolerant freebie Haggadah was an attractive handout for preschool teachers around the country. But this Passover, let’s dream of a different sort of rebuilt Jerusalem — When our 5-year-old daughter, Yael, came home from her Jerusalem school with a children’s Haggadah, telling the Passover story, she was excited to show it to me. I sat at our dining room table with her, delighted in her ability to sing Ha Lachma Anya [“this is the bread of affliction”], the Four Questions, and Dayeinu. Reveling in her skills, her confidence and how much she had learned at school, I experienced the pride of an immigrant father that his children were already reaping the educational and cultural benefits of our aliyah from America less than two years ago. When Yael and I reached the last page of her Haggadah, my sense of pride and gratitude changed. Beneath the words, “Next Year in the Rebuilt Jerusalem” was a disturbing photo: a deliberately distorted image of the Western Wall with the Dome of the Rock removed from the background. Blessed is the miracle of Photoshop that can, with a click of a mouse, eliminate a place that is holy to 1.6 billion people and almost 20% of Israel’s citizens … This was not an image of the Third Temple, a religious aspiration that’s expressed throughout the Haggadah text. No, this was a current-day political and fanatical fantasy surreptitiously inserted into a children’s Haggadah by a publisher of children’s educational materials. This image was not about building, but rather about destroying … Beyond the inexcusable political agenda forced upon unsuspecting children and teachers, there is in this propaganda Haggadah a failure of the religious imagination. I don’t want our children to think that the rebuilt Jerusalem has room only for us and for our holy places. I want Yael and her classmates to dream about a Jerusalem rebuilt on the foundations of tolerance and respect for others….
Israel says still wants Aqsa cameras after Jordan reneges
AFP 19 Apr — Israel remains in favour of installing security cameras at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, even after Jordan reneged on the project due to Palestinian reservations, a senior official said Tuesday. “Israel’s support for placing cameras on the Temple Mount remains unchanged. That’s because we believe in transparency,” the Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity, using the Jewish term for the site. “It is regrettable that the Palestinian Authority objects to this idea. It’s clear that they don’t want repeated Palestinian provocations caught on tape,” the official said. Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur had on Monday announced his state would not be proceeding with its plan to install 55 cameras at the site, Islam’s third holiest, citing Palestinian “doubts about the aims of the project”. “Because we respect the point of view of the Palestinians… we believe the project is no longer consensual, but a potential source of conflict, and have decided to end it,” he said. On March 20, Jordan had said it would set up the security cameras around the flashpoint compound to monitor any Israeli “violations”. The site, which is revered by Jews as their holiest, is administered by a Jordanian trust or “Waqf”….
Clashes erupt as Israeli forces raid Qalandia to demolish home
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Several Palestinians were wounded in fierce clashes that broke out in Qalandiya refugee camp early Wednesday when Israeli forces stormed the camp to demolish the family home of a slain Palestinian attacker. Local sources said Israeli forces entered the camp to tear down the interior walls of the home of 17-year-old Hussein Abu Ghosh, who was shot dead on Jan. 25 when he and another young Palestinian stabbed and wounded two Israelis in the illegal West Bank settlement of Beit Horon. As the demolition was carried out, fierce clashes broke out, and a local information center said on Facebook that several young residents of the refugee camp were shot and wounded. Local sources inside the camp said Israeli forces also detained resident Hasan Sajadiya after he was shot and injured, and were also reported to have ransacked the home of resident Nasser Shaham. Israeli media reported that two Israeli soldiers sustained minor wounds during the raid.
Palestinian fisherman shot, 3 detained off Gaza coast
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Israeli naval forces shot and injured a Palestinian fisherman and detained three others off the coast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip early Tuesday, sources said. Head of the fishermen’s union Nizar Ayyash told Ma‘an the forces opened fire on the fishermen while they were working at sea within the nine-mile fishing zone designated by the Israeli authorities. The injured fisherman was released by the naval forces and taken to the hospital for medical treatment while three others were detained, Ayyash said … Israel early this month loosened severe seaside restrictions on Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave, extending the military-enforced designated fishing zone by three nautical miles off the southern coast of the Gaza Strip.
Gaza fishermen take to the waters — in pictures
The Guardian 18 Apr by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images — In early April, Israel expanded the fishing zone open to Palestinians to nine nautical miles off the Gaza coast. Israel had limited the area for security reasons during its conflict with Hamas [captions to the right of the photos]
Palestinian woman injured in explosion east of Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 19 Apr — A 32-year-old Palestinian woman was moderately injured Monday morning in an explosion of ordnance in al-Shuja‘iya area in the east of the Gaza Strip. The spokesman of the Palestinian police in Gaza, Ayman al-Batniji, described the woman’s condition as moderate, saying that she was transferred to al-Shifa hospital. Israeli army remnants have caused death to many Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since the last Israeli aggression on the besieged enclave in August, 2014.
Gaza patient detained en route to West Bank for treatment
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Israeli forces on Tuesday detained a Palestinian teen en route from the Gaza Strip to the occupied West Bank to receive medical treatment, legal sources said. Legal sources told Ma‘an that 19-year-old Muhammad Abu al-Foul was detained while attempting to travel out of the besieged enclave through the Erez crossing, reportedly after Israeli authorities notified those stationed at the crossing that he be summoned for interrogation. Abu al-Foul was injured several months ago and had previously traveled to Nablus for treatment, sources said, adding that his detention marked the seventh Palestinian patient to be detained at Erez since the start of the year.
Committee: Israel banning entry of bulletproof vests for journalists in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Israel has been banning the import of flak jackets into the Gaza Strip, a local committee for Palestinian journalists in Gaza said on Tuesday. “Arab and international groups have repeatedly tried to bring bulletproof vests and helmets into the Gaza Strip to help provide safe and professional environment for journalists, but Israeli authorities always impede the process,” the committee said in a statement. It called for Israel to be held fully accountable for any harm that might befall the hundreds of journalists who report from the Gaza Strip, “without bulletproof vests to protect them from gunshots and missiles fired by the Israeli forces during clashes with Palestinians.” The statement added that several journalists had been injured on the job because they weren’t wearing bulletproof vests. The committee called on the International Federation of Journalists, UNESCO, Reporters without Borders and other organizations to pressure Israel to abide to international conventions instead of “turning a blind eye to international laws and humanitarian values.” Responding to a request for comment from Ma‘an, a spokesperson for the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said that “bulletproof vests are dual-use devices whose entry requires examinations of the security establishment.” “When we get a request to (allow entrance to) vests, we shall examine it with the security protocols,” she added.
Egypt floods Hamas tunnel, seven Palestinians trapped
JPost 18 Apr by Maayan Groisman— Palestinian media reported Monday morning that the Egyptian army flooded a Hamas tunnel in the southern part of Gaza Strip, trapping seven Palestinian workers who were inside it. The tunnel flooded was a commercial tunnel, used by Hamas to smuggle commodities into Gaza Strip, and not a military tunnel.
Israel uncovers Hamas tunnel from Gaza, says new war unlikely
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 18 Apr by Dan Williams — Israel said on Monday it had used a “breakthrough” technique to unearth a 40-metre-(132-foot)-deep cross-border tunnel dug by Hamas militants from Gaza, the first such discovery since the 2014 war, but played down any prospects of renewed conflict. Since being blindsided by Hamas tunnel raiders during the war, Israel has, with U.S. help, stepped up work on technologies for spotting the secret passages. Some Israelis who live on the Gaza frontier believe militants are digging fresh tunnels and worry the counter-measures will come too late. The tunnel made public on Monday was discovered days earlier but kept under wraps by Israel as it probed what it said were hundreds of metres (yards) of shafts on the Israeli side of the border along the southeast of the Gaza Strip. The network was then razed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu credited “a world-first breakthrough in tunnel-locating capabilities” for the find but indicated more work was need to complete the counter-measure. “The government has invested a huge fortune in thwarting the tunnel threat. This is an ongoing effort. It does not end overnight,” he said in a TV statement. Commentary on Israel’s Army Radio said the effectiveness of the system announced by Netanyahu should be gauged only once several more tunnels are discovered. An Israeli military spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, said the tunnel was mostly built after the Gaza war, during which 12 soldiers were killed by Hamas gunmen who burrowed across the border on four occasions. Hamas’s armed wing, which has largely held fire since the war, implicitly claimed the tunnel as its own and said it was “only a drop in the sea of what the resistance has prepared”. Israel has signaled the mere existence of a tunnel – as opposed to its use for an attack – may not be a casus belli.
Hamas tunnel uncovered by Israeli army – video
The Guardian 18 Apr Source: IDF. Footage posted online by Israel’s army shows troops uncovering a Hamas tunnel that extends under southern Israel. The tunnel – 30 to 40 metres deep – is the first to be detected since the end of the last Gaza war in 2014. Officials say the tunnel reached several hundred metres under Israel and was large enough for a man to stand in
PA: Kuwait aid to fund 300 Gaza homes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — The Palestinian Authority said Monday it had received funding from Kuwait to build another 300 homes in the Gaza Strip, where tens of thousands remain homeless nearly two years after a devastating Israeli offensive. Minister of Public Works and Housing Mufid al-Hasayna told reporters in Gaza that the ministry would be signing contracts with 300 families whose homes were totally destroyed during the conflict after receiving the grant from Kuwait. He said another 12,000 Gazans whose homes were partially damaged in the war would receive compensation in cash from the same grant. Al-Hasayna thanked Kuwait and applauded the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development for its support to the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip has seen three wars with Israel since 2008, with the most recent of these in 2014 completely destroying 12,600 homes and leaving another 6,500 severely damaged and 150,000 housing units uninhabitable. The offensive also left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead and thousands more injured. A major survey by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs earlier this month found that 75,000 Palestinians remain homeless nearly two years after the 50-day conflict.
Gaza court sentences to death 5 alleged collaborators with Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — A military court in the Gaza Strip on Monday sentenced five Palestinians to death after they were found guilty of collaborating with Israel. A source in the blockaded territory’s Hamas-run judiciary system told Ma‘an that three of those convicted were from Gaza City, aged 31, 38, and 41, without providing their names. All three were sentenced to death by firing squad. The source said that a 52-year-old resident of the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip and a 31-year-old from Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, meanwhile, were sentenced to death by hanging. A sixth individual was sentenced to 10 years in prison after he was also found guilty of collaborating with Israel . . . Under Palestinian law, willful, premeditated murder and treason, as well as collaboration with the enemy, usually Israel, are punishable by death with the approval of the Palestinian president. However, Hamas broke from the Palestinian Authority in 2007, rejecting the legitimacy of President Mahmoud Abbas, and the movement has not sought his consent on cases of capital punishment.
IDF estimates Gaza barrier to be completed within 2 years
JPost 19 Apr by Yasser Okbi/Ma’ariv Hashavu’a — The IDF has estimated that the security barrier between the Israeli border communities and Gaza will be completed within two years. The heads of the regional councils bordering Gaza said that the barrier, which will prevent tunnel-digging into Israel, has been estimated to cost more than NIS 3 billion. The IDF emphasized that the current plans for the barrier will provide a wide variety of defensive solutions against threats, both above and below the ground. The barrier will include both technological and engineering components in addition to infrastructural aspects as well. The military relayed that, as of now, the barrier is in the developmental stage. In the last week, the communities bordering Gaza demanded the installation of the barrier, after a Hamas tunnel that stretched from the southern Gaza Strip into Israel was uncovered.
Majd Oweida: The jailed robot designer from Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 18 Apr by Belal Aldabbour — Israel has accused the 23-year-old talent scout of cyber-crime, in a case his family calls incomprehensible — Majd Oweida arrived at the Erez crossing on February 23, en route to the occupied West Bank, in the hope of fulfilling a lifelong dream to organise a programme that introduces talented Palestinians to the world. This was to be the first time that Majd, a 23-year-old electrical engineer, would set foot in a part of Palestine outside the electrified fence surrounding the besieged Gaza Strip. Excited, he posted a selfie to Facebook, in which he held up his Israeli-issued entry permit. But as soon as he entered the Israeli zone of the Erez crossing terminal, Majd’s trip took an unexpected turn. His colleagues, including his brother Amjad, lost contact with him for hours. Suspecting he was being subjected to a routine interrogation, they continued to wait after they reached the Israeli side of the crossing. As night descended, they headed towards Ramallah, expecting that he would soon join. Later that night, Amjad received a call from the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s liaison office, informing him that Majd had been arrested by Israeli forces. The family was not informed about Majd’s condition or whereabouts. More than two weeks after his arrest, Majd’s lawyer was permitted to visit him in hospital, provided that he did not publicly disclose any details of that visit. The reason for Majd’s hospital visit remains unclear.
Then, on March 23, Majd appeared in court, charged with working with the armed wing of Islamic Jihad and leading a cyber-team that allegedly intercepted Israeli military drone feeds, hacked signals from Israeli police street cameras, and coded a programme that collected flight information from Israel’s Ben Gurion airport. Some of this information was allegedly used to detect which areas were hit by Palestinian rockets, in order to improve the aim. In court, Majd, who pleaded not guilty, told his lawyer that he had been locked in a small cell at the Ashkelon prison, where he was subjected to daily interrogation sessions that lasted for hours. “He was put in complete isolation and denied his right to talk to his attorney, which gravely breaches the basics of fair trial,” Samir al-Manama, Majd’s lawyer from the al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights, told Al Jazeera. Majd’s family and many Palestinians say the charges are incomprehensible. “They charged Majd with counts that even a professor in computer science cannot do,” said Jawad Oweida, Majd’s father. “My son never knew as much as how to hack an email, let alone breaking into sophisticated military communications.” Majd’s case was investigated by the Shin Bet and the Israeli police counterterrorism unit, and none of the alleged evidence against him has been publicly disclosed….
Egypt revokes citizenship from Palestinian family
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — The Egyptian cabinet revoked Egyptian citizenship from a Palestinian family living in Egypt, claiming that they had provided forged nationality documents for their mother when they first applied for citizenship, according to the Egyptian daily Youm7. The eleven members of the al-Rais family were identified as Baher, Yumna, Yaseen, Basam, Yasmeen, Rama, Basma, Ibrahim, Bader, Omar, and Basim — all of whom lost their Egyptian nationality due to the cabinet’s order. The family is reportedly from the Gaza Strip. The revocation of their citizenship was reportedly approved by the Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail. The Egyptian Ministry of Interior approved to grant citizenship to Palestinians born to Egyptian mothers in 2011, a population category which had been denied citizenship under a previous 2004 law “to protect their identity and prevent their fragmentation,” the publication Egypt Independent reported in 2011. Prior to 2004, children of Egyptian women married to foreigners of any nationality were not allowed to obtain Egyptian citizenship. The law was amended in 2004 after legal battles and protests to allow children of foreign fathers to obtain the Egyptian nationality. However, Palestinians in Egypt were left out of the changes … Israeli media reported some 50,000 Palestinians, mostly from the Gaza Strip, were granted citizenship under the new 2011 law.
The hidden treasures of Gaza
Beach Refugee Camp, Gaza (EI) 19 Apr by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh — A small room on a rooftop in the occupied Gaza Strip’s crowded Beach refugee camp resembles a miniature archaeological museum. It is the workshop of Nafez Abed, 55, who studies archaeological artifacts in order to replicate them in exquisite detail. Abed copies antiquities photographed in history books and ones he’s seen during visits to archaeological sites across Gaza, which many a civilization has passed through, as well as in other Arab countries and Europe. “I started collecting and copying artifacts one year after my release from Israeli prison in 1987,” Abed said. According to Abed, Israel accused him of being active with the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine … The artifacts he copies range from the Greek to Islamic eras, and include mosaics, coins, buttons and pottery. “I seek to found a museum to display our heritage and bridge the gap between lovers of heritage and the eras that can never be returned to,” Abed said. Abed also hopes to impart his skills on the younger generation. Art opens youths’ minds to various corners and spreads hope,” he said….
From cars to bags, artist brightens up Gaza streets with calligraphy
GAZA (Reuters) 19 Apr By Nidal al-Mughrabi – With a thick black marker pen in hand, Palestinian graffiti artist Belal Khaled carefully draws an intricate Arabic calligraphic design on a silver Skoda. The art work decorates the sides of the car, running along the windows and down its doors, the latest in the 24-year-old’s mission to turn everyday objects into things of beauty. From cars, handbags, street walls as well as human bodies, Khaled is leaving his prints almost everywhere in the Gaza Strip, which is run by the Islamist Hamas movement and under blockade by neighbouring Egypt and Israel. “Some of the works you don’t necessarily need to understand (what they mean), such as a specific sentence,” he told Reuters. “But it carries and adds a certain beauty to the letters.”In his eclectic choice of objects and backgrounds, his calligraphic graffiti is brightening up the densely populated, impoverished Palestinian enclave of 1.95 million people. He also takes photos of both daily life and vestiges of the long conflict with Israel, with which Hamas fought a war in 2014 that shattered much of coastal Gaza. But he says his work is not meant to convey any political message, or to make money. “It is not commercial for me, it is art. I want to spread art everywhere I can get to. Soon I will introduce it to the work of fashion and design of dresses,” Khaled told Reuters….
Palestinian circus lights up Gaza gloom
GAZA (Reuters) 18 Apr — The circus doesn’t come to town anymore in the Gaza Strip, so Palestinians have created one of their own to try to bring some joy to the conflict zone. It is not the greatest show on earth – there’s no Big Top, flying trapeze or animals. But about a dozen adults and 30 children training to be clowns, jugglers and stilt-walkers are winning smiles in public performances. The Gaza Circus School is the brainchild of Majed Kalluob, a 24-year-old journalist with a penchant for theatre and some tutelage from Belgian circus artists who visited Gaza in 2011. We perform in kindergartens, in schools, at areas near the border, in streets and everywhere people call us to,” he said. Wearing colourful track suits, the group trains in a garage. Jugglers practice with balls, clubs and rings, while others climb ropes or rode tiny bicycles. Some children do gymnastics, jumping over each other’s shoulders. “We offer training for free because we want to teach the younger generation something new, we want to teach them how to act and be happy,” Kalluob said.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court upholds Islamic cleric incitement conviction
AFP 18 Apr — Israel’s Supreme Court denied on Monday a request by firebrand Islamic cleric Raed Salah to appeal his conviction for inciting violence, but cut his prison sentence by two months to nine. Salah leads the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, which authorities outlawed last year after accusing it of instigating violence at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque that sparked months of Palestinian unrest in October. In March 2014 Jerusalem’s Magistrates’ Court found him guilty of inciting unrest at Al-Aqsa in 2007, sentencing him to eight months in prison. The state as well as Salah appealed the decision, and in 2014 the Jerusalem District Court convicted him of incitement to racism as well, increasing his sentence to 11 months, a decision appealed once more by both sides. In October 2015 the District Court upheld the decision, with Salah requesting permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. On Monday the Supreme Court denied the request to appeal, but in a rare move reduced Salah’s prison time to nine months from 11. The ruling said this was “due to the fact that in the nine years that passed since the event, (Salah) has not committed similar felonies”. Salah will begin his prison term on May 8.
Israeli court sentences Hamas leader to four years in prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — An Israeli military court sentenced a Hamas leader to four years in prison on Monday, also ordering him to pay a 20,000-shekel ($5,298) fine. Jamal al-Tawil, 52, the former mayor of the city of al-Bireh in the occupied West Bank, was charged with belonging to an illegal party and carrying out activities with said party, as well as inciting against Israel during Friday prayers. Al-Tawil is currently held in the Meggido prison. Israeli prison services have reportedly denied his request to be moved to a prison closer to his family, which has been banned from visiting him. Al-Tawil has previously spent 14 years in Israeli prisons for various charges. He was one of hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad members who were deported to Marj al-Zuhur in southern Lebanon in 1992.
Family’s appeal accepted, Palestinian driver charged with murder
Ynet 19 Apr by Yoav Zitun & Elisha Ben Kimon — The Military Advocate General has decided to accept an appeal from the family of Avraham Hasano, who was run over outside Hebron in October, and indict the Palestinian driver who killed him with murder, after initially indicting him with manslaughter. In certain cases, families of victims have the right to appeal this kind of decision and request a secondary examination of the evidence material. Avraham Hasano was run over at al-Fawar junction in the southern Mt. Hebron area. Hasano was on his way to Kiryat Arba when several Palestinians began to throw stones at his car. He stopped the car and got out, and was hit by a truck. The Palestinian driver, Sahban Titi, drove off, but later turned himself in to the Palestinian security forces, and was subsequently released. He was then detained by Israel and taken for further investigation. Titi initially claimed he hit Hasano by accident, but the Hasano family was later recognized by the Defense Ministry as “terror victims.”
Hunger-striker’s wife awarded Best Palestinian Woman prize
RAMALLAH (PIC) 19 Apr — Fayha Shalash, the wife of Palestinian imprisoned journalist Mohammed al-Qeiq, won national recognition on Tuesday after the Palestinian Ministry of Women’s Affairs nominated her as the best Palestinian woman. Shalash said in a Facebook statement she was kindly invited to head to the ministry on Wednesday to receive the prize. Shalash is said to be awarded for her iron will and determination all the way through her husband’s three-month hunger strike. She expressed her heartfelt gratitude for the prize, saying she dedicates it to the mothers and wives of slain and imprisoned youths.
Longest-serving female Palestinian prisoner enters 15th year in custody
GAZA (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Lina Ahmad Saleh al-Jarboni entered her 15th year in Israeli custody on Monday — the longest prison sentence ever served by a Palestinian woman. Al-Jarbouni, 41, is currently being held in Israel’s Hasharon prison, the Gaza-based prisoner rights group Muhjat Al-Quds Foundation said in a statement. Al-Jarboni was detained April 18, 2002 and sentenced to 17 years in prison. She was charged with being affiliated to the Islamic Jihad movement and with assisting and housing resistance fighters of the Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the al-Quds Brigades. Al-Jarboni was born in the village of ‘Arraba near the city of Acre in northern Israel. She has never been considered for release as part of any of the prisoner exchange or release deals made between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Al-Jarboni has been a victim of the Israeli Prison Service’s (IPS) policy of deliberate medical neglect of prisoners, and suffered from an acute inflammation of her gallbladder and had to undergo a cholecystectomy operation.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
The silent occupation: Bringing pre-1967 Golan Heights back to life
+072 mag 19 Apr by Natasha Roth — With war raging over Israel’s border with Syria, it’s easy to forget that the Golan Heights — a buffer between the two countries — is occupied territory. But occupied it is, and the landscape bears witness to a history of violence and expulsion — I’m standing at the top of a crumbling minaret, looking into Syria. The tower belongs to a mosque in the destroyed Circassian village of Sur’aman, whose ruins are gradually being consumed by the woods around them. In the distance lies a white UN observer post that sits on the 1974 ceasefire line between the occupied Golan Heights and Syria proper … From where I’m standing, Syria is blue, the color of a physical and logistical atmospheric distance. The Golan, too, is blue, for the 130,000 Syrians — Bedouin, Turkmen and Circassian — who were expelled following Israel’s capture of the area during the Six-Day War in 1967, and who cannot return to their homes. Many were pushed further into Syria, although not all of the refugees stayed there. One of those Syrian-Circassian refugees is the reason I am standing at the top of the minaret. Farouk Merza, the father of a friend, Eléonore, was born in the village of Mansura in the northern Golan, and eventually settled in France after being expelled from his home in 1967. We are in Mansura to visit the site where Farouk’s house once stood, as well as other village landmarks that now exist only in memory … The Druze who stayed behind, along with their descendants, live in a few towns across the northern Golan. These localities preserve a sense of normality among the area’s heavy atmosphere, and when you go into places such as Majdal Shams and Masade the shadows of the past recede, somewhat. But then you hit the road and the ghosts draw back in again, and the air becomes dislocated once more….
EU stresses Golan position after Netanyahu comments
AFP 19 Apr — EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini stressed that the European Union does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the annexed territory would “forever” remain in his country’s hands. “The EU recognises Israel within its pre-1967 borders, whatever the government’s claims on other areas, until a final settlement is concluded,” Mogherini said. “And this is a common consolidated position of the European Union and its member states,” she added ahead of a meeting in Brussels for international donors supporting the Palestinian economy.
Palestinians mull freezing UN resolution on settlements in wake of French pressure
Haaretz 19 Apr by Barak Ravid & Jack Khoury — The Palestinian Authority is leaning toward freezing its effort to secure a United Nations Security Council draft resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, following pressure from France and other countries, a senior Palestinian figure told Haaretz. The French government was pressing the authority to suspend the effort on the grounds that it will undermine French attempts to convene an international peace conference this summer, according to senior Israeli and Palestinian officials. “The opportunity to go to the Security Council will always be there and we want to give a chance to the French initiative because, in the end, this is an initiative that serves us and not one that hurts us,” the Palestinian figure said. A senior official in Jerusalem, who asked to remain anonymous due to diplomatic sensitivity, said that information reaching Israel had indicated that France’s ambassador to the United Nations, Francois Delattre, informed his Palestinian counterpart, Riyad Mansour, of the problems involved in promoting a Security Council resolution against the settlements at this time. The issue also came up in a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Friday between French President Francois Hollande and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The latter wholly supports the French initiative and wants to take advantage of the United States’ distancing itself from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to increase the involvement of other countries and convene an international peace conference….
Senior Fatah official dies during heart surgery in India
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Senior Fatah official and Palestinian poet Othman Abu Gharbiyeh passed away on Monday while undergoing open-heart surgery in India, the Fatah movement reported. He was 70 years old. Abu Gharbieh, a member of Fatah’s central committee and the commissioner-general for Jerusalem affairs, was born in Jerusalem in 1946, and first became a member of Fatah in 1963. According to the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, he studied law in Syria, then attended military academies in China and the USSR. Abu Gharbieh participated in military missions in Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen and Syria in the 1970s and 1980s. He survived two assassination attempts, in Istanbul and in occupied East Jerusalem. He also served as an assistant to Yasser Arafat in Fatah’s Political and National Guidance department, and was a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s higher military committee.
Thousands rally against PA approval of controversial social security law
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Thousands of Palestinians on Tuesday demonstrated outside of a government building in the occupied West Bank hub of Ramallah against the Palestinian Authority’s approval of a law many believe fails to provide adequate protection for workers. Social Security Act No. 6 was ratified by PA Cabinet members in February and approved by President Mahmoud Abbas the following month. The law has since brought a downpour of criticism from critics who say it disadvantages those with disabilities, retirees, and private sector workers. The organizers of Tuesday’s rally demanded that the new law be suspended until discussions were held on a national level, in order to address concerns that the law acts as a detriment to employee savings without guaranteeing security from the state. Organizers said that under the new social security system, “expected retirement income won’t be enough to enable retired employees and workers to live in dignity.” While the PA was expected to begin implementation at the beginning of this month, a number of political parties in parliament, civic organizations, and trade unions reportedly opposed the law … Tuesday’s rally marked the most recent amid an apparent increase in public demonstrations against the PA in recent months….
Israeli-Palestinian shouting match at UN Security Council
AFP 18 Apr — A UN Security Council debate turned into a shouting match on Monday between the Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors, who exchanged cries of “Shame on you!” over ongoing violence. Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon broke away from his address to the council and demanded that the Palestinian representative condemn acts of terrorism — the term he used to describe Palestinian attacks on Israelis. “Shame on you for glorifying terrorism!” Danon said.”Shame on you for killing Palestinian children!” Riyad Mansour shot back. After being called to order by the council president, Danon once again turned to Mansour and hammered: “You cannot say it here. Palestinian children are looking at you right now.” “‘I condemn all acts of terrorism’: one sentence you cannot say. Shame on you for that,” he pressed on. “Let my people be free! Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you! You are an occupier,” Mansour hit back. The council debate took place as the Palestinians pushed for a UN resolution demanding that Israel halt the construction of settlements in the Palestinian territories. The draft resolution is being negotiated with Arab countries and has yet to be formally circulated to the council, but the United States — which vetoed a similar resolution in 2011 — has said it “will consider all options” over the Israeli-Palestinian effort.
‘Israel is moving in the wrong direction’: Joe Biden says expansion of settlements and land seizures are pushing country toward a ‘dangerous one-state reality’
AP/Mail Online 19 Apr by Charlie Moore — Joe Biden voiced his ‘overwhelming frustration’ with Israel’s government which he said is leading the country in the wrong direction, in an unusually sharp rebuke of America’s closest ally in the Middle East. The Vice President, in a speech yesterday to the pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy group J Street, offered a grim outlook for peace efforts between Israel and Palestine, reflecting dim hopes for progress during the remainder of the Obama administration. Although he said Israelis and Palestinians shared blame for undermining trust and shirking responsibility, he criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, suggesting his approach raised ‘profound questions’ about how Israel could remain both Jewish and democratic….
Congress unblocks $108 million in Palestinian aid
Al-Monitor 19 Apr by Julian Pecquet — Congress has released $108 million in blocked aid to the Palestinians, Al-Monitor has learned, allowing payments to the Palestinian Authority’s creditors to continue. Key lawmakers had placed holds on $159 million in aid since last fall, Al-Monitor reported April 18, to protest the Palestinians’ UN statehood bid and payments to the families of people who conduct attacks against Israelis. Most of those holds were lifted late last week following growing pressure from the State Department, however, leaving only $51 million in blocked aid. “We continue to believe that US assistance to the Palestinian Authority has played a valuable role in promoting stability and prosperity not just for the Palestinians, but for Israel as well,” a State Department official told Al-Monitor. “This assistance has supported security coordination between Israel and the Palestinians, which has been instrumental in preserving security in the West Bank and Israel, and reducing threats to Israelis and Palestinians alike.”….
Human rights activists call on IRS to investigate Jewish National Fund charitable status
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Apr — On Tuesday, Tax Day, activists delivered a petition with more than 5,000 signatures to IRS offices across the United States demanding the tax-exempt status of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) be revoked due to its role in displacing Palestinians and supporting illegal Israeli settlements. The petition was delivered to offices in Oakland, San Francisco, Chicago, and Minneapolis. A delegation in Washington, DC attempted to make a delivery to the IRS Building but was turned away. Founded in 1901, the JNF is a quasi-governmental Israeli agency that has played a major role in the dispossession of the Palestinian people, planting forests to help cover the reality of the more than 400 Palestinian towns and villages destroyed when Israel was created in 1948. Today the JNF continues to play an important role in the dispossession of Palestinians in both Israel and the occupied territories. “We wanted to use the occasion of Tax Day to highlight how U.S. taxpayers are contributing to Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians through the JNF being a tax-exempt organization. It is completely unacceptable that an organization engaging in war crimes is considered to be a charity in the United States,” said Ramah Kudaimi of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation….
Palestinian sister-city proposal stirs rancor in Colorado
BOULDER, Colorado (AP) 19 Apr — This peaceful university town is 7,000 miles from the violence of the Middle East, but a proposal to become sister cities with a Palestinian community has stirred such rancor that the City Council is trying to negotiate a truce among its own residents. The council decided Tuesday to hire a moderator and convene a citizen panel in hopes of settling differences between two sides arguing about whether Boulder should have a formal sister-city relationship with Nablus in the West Bank. Sister-city ties would help combat misunderstandings about Palestinians, said Essrea Cherin, president of the Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project, which is promoting the relationship. She said the entire Palestinian population is unfairly portrayed in the U.S. media as violent because of the actions of a few. But opponents told the council Tuesday night that Nablus was too closely linked with anti-Israel sentiment. Others have said formal ties would make it appear that Boulder was taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. An official sister-city relationship would require City Council approval. The council rejected a similar proposal in 2013….