Israeli soldier who shot wounded Palestinian assailant to be charged Monday
Haaretz 18 Apr by Gili Cohen — Sgt. E. reportedly said Abdel Fattah al-Sharif ‘deserves to die’ before shooting the prone Palestinian in Hebron, indicating to prosecution that motive was revenge, not self-defense — Sgt. E., who shot a wounded, prone Palestinian assailant to death in Hebron on March 24, will be charged Monday with manslaughter. A rally in support of the soldier will take place at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square tomorrow, and be headlined with musical performances by superstar Eyal Golan, right-wing rapper Subliminal and singer David D’Or.“I’m coming to support the soldier and his family,” said Golan. “The soldier is like the son of the entire nation of Israel.” The rally is the brainchild of media personality and former Yisrael Beiteinu MK Sharon Gal …
From the probe into the incident it emerged that Sgt. E. shot Sharif in the head around 10 minutes after the attack, in which Sharif and another Palestinian attacker were shot several times after they stabbed a soldier at a guard post in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of the Hebron settlement. The shooting by Sgt. E. was filmed by a volunteer with the human rights group B’Tselem, and the film made wide rounds on social and mainstream media. The pathology report later confirmed that it was Sgt. E.’s shot caused Sharif’s death …
This will be the first time in over 10 years that an IDF soldier has been charged with manslaughter for a killing that took place during field operations. The last such case known to the Yesh Din organization, which keeps track of law enforcement against IDF soldiers, was that of Sgt. Taysir al-Heib [a Bedouin], who shot British peace activist Tom Hurndall, in April 2003. Hurndall died nine months later. Heib was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. Three years ago a combat soldier in the Home Front Command was convicted of causing death by negligence to Oudi Darwish, a Palestinian laborer from Dura who tried to enter Israel through one of the breaches in the separation barrier. At first the military prosecution wanted to charge him with manslaughter, but in a plea agreement the charge was reduced to causing death by negligence. He was sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment.
Israeli pop icons cancel performance at rally for soldier who shot wounded Palestinian assailant
Haaretz 18 Apr by Gili Cohen et al. — Eyal Golan expresses support for the soldier but says he doesn’t want to go against the military; David D’Or cancels show because he’s not a ‘political person.’ — A rally in support of the Israeli soldier who shot and killed a subdued Palestinian assailant in Hebron will take place at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Tuesday, but will not be headlined with musical performances from Israeli icons Eyal Golan and David D’Or as was initially planned. Singer Subliminal was still slated to perform as of Monday afternoon.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
Hebron mourns Palestinian killed by Israeli forces
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 16 Apr — Palestinian residents of al-‘Arroub refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron attended a funeral Saturday for Ibrahim Baradiya, 54, who was killed by Israeli forces on Thursday after he allegedly attempted to carry out an ax attack near the camp entrance. Baradiya’s body was transported to the refugee camp via a back road rather than the main road, out of fear that the Israeli authorities might try to take back the body after it was announced it had been delivered to the family ‘by mistake’. Palestinian military liaisons received the body on Friday, and it was then taken to al-Ahli hospital in Hebron. During the funeral march, mourners called upon the international community to end Israeli violations against Palestinian rights. Clashes broke out between Palestinian youths and Israeli military forces following the funeral. Baradiya was among more than 200 Palestinians to be killed since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory in October. His killing marked the first after two consecutive weeks without deaths in the context of attacks or clashes — the longest period without deaths since the escalation of violence.
Relative of murdered Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir beaten up in Jerusalem
Haaretz 17 Apr by Nir Hasson — A 63-year-old Palestinian was attacked Thursday night in Jerusalem by unknown assailants. As of Saturday evening, the police have yet to launch an investigation. The man, Zoheir Abu Khdeir, a resident of East Jerusalem’s Shoafat neighborhood who works at an Egged bus parking lot, was beaten severely by at least two men. According to relatives, Abu Khdeir described the attackers as Jewish. Abu Khdeir is a cousin of Hussein Abu Khdeir, the father of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the teen who was abducted and murdered by three Jewish assailants in revenge for the murder of three Jewish teens in 2014. Zoheir Abu Khdeir [photo] was diagnosed with a broken nose, a severe cut to the face and bruises to his eyes and head. He had to receive 12 stitches and was hospitalized overnight. According to his family, he is in a dazed state and has trouble describing what happened. His eyes are almost shut by the bruises, the family said. About an hour after the assault, a family member called the police but was told Abu Khdeir would have to come to the station and file a complaint. His relatives said they told the police emergency line that they had photos of the car Abu Khdeir’s friends said was connected to the assailants. But the police did not launch an investigation. On Friday, Abu Khdeir’s son went to the police station in Neveh Ya’akov in north Jerusalem, not far from Shoafat. Still, the police refused to take his complaint and said Abu Khdeir would have to come to the police station himself. According to the family, the doctors who treated Abu Khdeir filed a police report. In the summer of 2014, two days before Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s murder, Shoafat residents complained to the police that Jewish men had tried to abduct a 9-year-old boy in the neighborhood. The residents said the police did not take their complaint seriously enough, later enabling Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s abduction and murder. It later emerged that the three suspects in Abu Khdeir’s murder had tried to kidnap the 9-year-old boy two days earlier. “We don’t want it to be like it was with Mohammed, that the police did nothing,” Majed Abu Khdeir, the victim’s brother, said on Thursday night. (Continued)
Israeli forces fire tear gas into Hebron school, injuring 11
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 Apr – Eleven Palestinian schoolgirls suffered tear gas inhalation after Israeli forces showered their school with gas canisters in the Tariq Ibn Ziad neighborhood in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. Locals told Ma‘an that faculty and students from al-Zahraa school for girls were caught off guard by the attack. Some of the injured were evacuated to nearby medical centers for treatment where they are said to be in stable condition, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said in a statement. A spokesperson for the Israeli army did not immediately have information on the incident. Tear gas is one of the Israeli army’s primary “riot dispersal” methods. However, the gas can have a serious effect when inhaled in large quantities, especially for the young and the elderly. The raid comes after at least four Palestinians were detained and military checkpoints were set up across the district of Hebron in predawn raids Monday.
Israeli soldiers assault, interrogate Palestinian near Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 Apr — Israeli soldiers physically assaulted and interrogated a Palestinian in the neighborhood of Sur Bahir in occupied East Jerusalem on Saturday, head of a Jerusalem committee for prisoners’ families said. Committee head Amjad Abu Asab told Ma‘an that soldiers assaulted fellow committee member Alaa al-Haddad, causing him to pass out. Al-Haddad was then taken to a police station for interrogation before being taken to a hospital on the condition that he attend interrogation at a later time, Abu Asab said.
Highway robbery at the Hizme checkpoint
+972 blog 13 Apr by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — It all began with a normal car ride in early January 2016. Zahada Fahdi Awani Tawfiq and his friend, Janem Naal Gamal Harbi Tayb, were driving from East Jerusalem to a-Ram, where Tawfiq withdrew money from his bank account. On their way back, they were stopped at the Israeli army’s Hizma checkpoint. Present were some IDF Military Police officers, Border Police officers, and private security contractors. A military policeman checked Tawfiq’s ID before allowing him to continue driving. Seconds later, the soldier shouted at him to stop. Tawfiq stopped the car and the soldier walked over to him, demanding to know, “why did you look at the girl?” in reference to one of the female soldiers present. Tawfiq denied looking at her, but the soldier ordered him to pull his car over to the side. Freeze the frame. An Israeli soldier detains a Palestinian merchant at a checkpoint because, in his opinion, the latter insulted a female soldier – not by deed, not by word, but by a glance. Even were we to accept the ridiculous claim that a glance is enough to permit detention, the one who complained was not the female soldier, but rather a male soldier who apparently felt himself victimized by the alleged insult to her modesty. A short while after Tawfiq and Tayb were detained, a Border Police officer arrived, took their ID cards and left. He returned several minutes later, ordered Tawfiq to leave the car, and tore a paper document attached to Tayb’s ID’s card. Tawfiq demanded he identify himself but the policeman refused. Tawfiq asked the policeman what was he doing, and was answered: “you’ll find out soon.” The policeman announced he had to “tear apart the vehicle,” and began throwing its content on the ground – including two Korans, some paperwork, and a booster seat. At this point Tayb tried to call the police, but the Border Police officer snatched the phone out of his hand. (Continued)
Israeli army kidnaps 13 Palestinians in West Bank [and Jerusalem]
IMEMC 17 Apr — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Sunday at dawn, at least nine Palestinians, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, including five in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, while four Palestinians were kidnapped, in occupied Jerusalem, on Saturday at night. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said many Israeli army vehicles invaded Dahiat Ertah area, south of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, searched a few homes and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Ezzeddin Bilal Abu Rabea‘, 20. The PPS added that the soldiers also invaded Mrah Rabah village, south of Bethlehem, searched several homes and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Ahmad Qassem Sheikh, 53, in addition to summoning Yasser Ali Sheikh for interrogation in the Etzion military base, south of the city. The army also invaded Silwad town, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Abdul-Hameed Hamed, after forcing him in one room, and interrogating him. His mother said one of the soldiers assaulted her, and pushed her around, as she tried to see her son, and that the soldiers also threatened to kidnap her other child should she continue to defend her son and attempt to prevent the soldiers from taking him away. Hamed is the brother of Mojahed, a Palestinian political prisoner who was sentenced by an Israeli military court to nine years’ imprisonment. In addition, the soldiers kidnapped five Palestinians from the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and Beit Ummar town, north of the city, after invading and searching many homes, causing property damage … In addition, the soldiers kidnapped Dergham Mohammad Bisharat from Tammoun town, south of Tubas, after stopping him at the Jaba‘ roadblock, southeast of Ramallah.
It is worth mentioning that, on Saturday evening, the soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians, identified as Jihad Sa’diyya, Fahd Shalabi and Areen Za’anin, from Wadi al-Jouz neighborhood, in occupied Jerusalem. The soldiers also assaulted a young man, identified as Ala’ Haddad, in Sur Baher village near Jerusalem, and detained him in an interrogation center before he lost consciousness, and was moved to a hospital.
Israeli forces detain 7 Palestinians in West Bank raids
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Israeli forces detained at least seven Palestinians in predawn raids Monday across the occupied West Bank, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided Hebron city in the southern occupied West Bank after midnight and detained three Palestinians. After searching and ransacking several homes, Israeli forces detained Mazin Jamal al-Natsha, 44, Izzat Abd al-Aziz al-Natsha, 37, and Munthir Muhammad al-Juaba, 34. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the three detentions and informed Ma‘an of another detention in the district north of Hebron City. Israeli forces also set up several military checkpoints across Hebron district, local sources added. The Israeli army spokesperson said Israeli forces also detained one Palestinian in Qabalan south of Nablus and another in Husan west of Bethlehem. A handgun and ammunition were reportedly found in the apartment of a young Palestinian, who they detained, in the village of Haris in Salfit. Since the beginning of 2016, Israeli forces have carried out a weekly average of 95 search and detention operations in the occupied Palestinian territory, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Group: 43 journalists jailed by Israel since October
GAZA (Ma‘an) — The Committee to Support Palestinian Journalists said on Saturday that Israel had detained 43 journalists in the occupied Palestinian territory since October 2015, including two foreign reporters. The New York-based committee said in a report that during detention and imprisonment, journalists have reported torture, medical negligence, and unreasonable and illegal rulings by the Israeli authorities. The committee condemned the increasing number of detentions of journalists, and called for their immediate release. At least four of the 43 journalists were released in February and March, while 20 others — including a female journalist and a media student — remain in Israeli prison, and others have been transferred to house arrest. The report also said that three journalists were suffering from medical conditions. Bassam al-Sayih was suffering from an advanced stage of cancer and administrative detainee Ali al-Ewawi was suffering from ulcerative colitis. The committee added that Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq was still recovering from his grueling 94-day hunger strike that brought him close to death, and was currently being treated in Israel’s HaEmek Medical Center in Afula … The Israeli crackdown on media organizations and journalists in particular has been part of a systematic policy that often designates outlets affiliated with Palestinian political parties as terrorist organizations, according to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer.“The practical implication of these broadly-defined offenses is the criminalization of many aspects of Palestinian civic life,” Addameer stated.
Prisoners / Court actions
Hundreds rally in Gaza, Ramallah marking Palestinian Prisoners’ Day
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Hundreds of Palestinians rallied on Sunday in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip commemorating Palestinian Prisoner’s Day. The rally in Gaza City, which was organized by a prisoners’ committee representing various Palestinian factions, marched from the Unknown Soldier’s Square in the center of Gaza City to the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Officials from different Palestinian factions delivered speeches during the rally, expressing support for Palestinian prisoners and detainees jailed in Israel’s prisons … Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson for the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades — the military wing of the Hamas movement — said that the “al-Qassam Brigades have enough tools to accomplish an honorable prisoner swap deal with Israel,” likely referring to the four Israelis currently held captive in the Gaza Strip.
In the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, a number of official and non-governmental organizations organized a rally marking Palestinian Prisoner’s Day. Among the organizers were the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, the Center for Defending Freedoms, and the Ramallah governor’s office. Hundreds rallied in the streets waving Palestinian flags and posters showing solidarity with Palestinians detained and imprisoned by Israel … Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Chairman Issa Qaraqe maintained that Israel should be put on a “list of shame” because of its violations of prisoners’ rights and crimes against humanity.
According to prisoner’s rights group Addameer, there are 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. Among them are 68 women, 438 minors, including 98 children under the age of 16. The organization estimates that 40 percent of the Palestinian male population has been detained at some point. Israel currently holds 700 Palestinians under its policy of administrative detention — internment without trial or charge. Six administrative detainees are children. There are some 1,000 sick Palestinian prisoners, including 24 suffering from cancer, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies. Rights groups have widely condemned Israel for its medical negligence of Palestinians in its prisons.
PM: Israel has turned our homeland into a ‘large prison’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah marked Palestinian Prisoner’s Day Sunday, highlighting the record number of children being held in Israeli jails. “The Israeli occupation has transformed our homeland into a large prison,” he said. In a press release published Sunday, he urged the international community to “protect the human rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, especially the children who are subject to psychological and physical harm.” Among the 7,000 total Palestinian prisoners, 68 are women, 438 are minors, and 98 are children under the age of 16, according to prisoner’s rights group Addameer. Six of the 700 Palestinians in administrative detention are children, being held for indefinite periods without charge or trial. Israel also remains the only known country in the world with a juvenile military court in operation, where Palestinian children are systematically tried and subjected to torture and inhuman treatment and punishment, according to UNICEF. A report released last week by Human Rights Watch documented — again — cases of Palestinian children detained in the occupied Palestinian territory being abused by Israeli forces and “routinely” interrogated without the presence of their parents, in violation of international law. “Palestinian children are treated in ways that would terrify and traumatize an adult,” said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine country director for HRW. Interrogations of Palestinian children can last up to 90 days according to Addameer, during which they are beaten, threatened, sexually assaulted, and placed in solitary confinement to elicit confessions, the prime minister’s office added, noting that the confession documents they are forced to sign are in Hebrew — a language most Palestinian children do not speak. According to Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP), three out of four Palestinian children experience physical violence during arrest, transfer, or interrogation by Israeli forces. (Continued)
Why Palestinians mark Prisoners’ Day
+972 Blog 17 Apr by Noam Rotem — More than 7,000 Palestinians, including hundreds of minors, are currently in Israeli prisons. Honoring prisoners and ‘freedom fighters’ isn’t just a Palestinian tradition, however. Israelis do it, too — Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza marked “Prisoners Day” Sunday, commemorating and highlighting the plight of thousands of Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons, and the hundreds of thousands of former prisoners. For many Israelis Palestinian prisoners are “terrorists,” whose imprisonment is the natural order of things. But for Palestinians they are freedom fighters who sacrificed their liberty for the good of the Palestinian struggle for liberation from Israeli military occupation … Since the year 2000 over 90,000 Israeli arrests of Palestinians — including 11,000 minors and 1,300 women — were been recorded by the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, a prisoner support NGO. The Israeli army, which under the law of occupation is the sovereign in the West Bank, has not hesitated to arrest the elderly and children, laborers and businessmen, students and teachers, journalists, government officials, and even elected parliamentarians, 65 of whom Israel has arrested since the year 2000 — six of them remain in Israeli prisons …
It is worth mentioning, of course that honoring prisoners and freedom fighters is not something only Palestinians do. Jewish “underground fighters” from the British Mandate period still receive payments from Israeli authorities to this day, seven decades after their release (Hebrew). “Prisoners of Zion” also receive payments from the state (Hebrew). Prisoners are celebrated by the state and their sacrifice is taught to Israeli children in schools (Hebrew). Thousands of people each year visit the “Museum of Underground Prisoners.” The Israeli government invests significant resources in treating and rehabilitating former prisoners (Hebrew). The list goes on.
Court indicts 2 Jerusalem Palestinians for involvement in attacks
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Israeli public prosecution filed indictments Friday against two Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem for alleged involvement in attacks carried out on Israelis. Khamis Tamim al-Salaymeh, 57, was indicted for picking up three Palestinian youths who carried out a stabbing and shooting attack that killed an Israeli police officer and injured another at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City in February. The three youths were shot dead at the scene. According to the indictment, al-Salaymeh transported the three youths the day of the attack from the village of al-Ram in the occupied West Bank northeast of Jerusalem to al-Issawiya in East Jerusalem. Al-Salaymeh said he drove the youths as part of his job driving Palestinian workers, and had no knowledge the youths were planning an attack. Israeli media reported at the time that two of the three were barred from entrance into Israel and that all three had crossed Israel’s separation wall illegally …
The court also indicted Khalid Qutteineh, 38, for carrying out a vehicular attack in the French Hill settlement in occupied East Jerusalem on April 15, 2015, which killed an Israeli and critically injured another. Judges said they believed Qutteineh deliberately carried out the attack after he was stopped alongside his family at a military checkpoint in the Shufat neighborhood
Radical right-winger acquitted of assault on radical left-winger
Ynet 10 Apr by Yael Friedson & Elisha Ben Kimon — Despite being documented on video attacking Ezra Nawi, judge clears Benzi Gopstein of charges, accepting his claim that he thought Nawi and other left-wing activists, who were climbing the fence into a Jewish neighborhood in Hebron, were Arabs seeking to harm Jews. Benzi Gopstein, the head of the anti-assimilation organization Lehava, was acquitted of assault on Sunday [10 Apr], over seven years after he was documented attacking radical left-wing activist Ezra Nawi in Hebron. In August of 2008, several left-wing activists arrived in Hebron and tried to enter the Givat HaAvot neighborhood in Kiryat Arba. Gopstein, a radical right-wing activist, is seen in a video of the incident attacking several of the left-wing activists, including Nawi. The video came to light only years later following an investigative report on Channel 2’s “Uvda” program.
IDF discovers Hamas tunnel extending from Gaza into Israel
[with video] Haaretz 18 Apr by Gili Cohen — The Israeli military has uncovered a Hamas tunnel that crosses from Gaza into Israeli territory. This is the first such tunnel to be discovered since the 2014 Gaza war. According to information released for publication on Monday, the tunnel was found 10 days ago during an Israel Defense Forces operation. Since its discovery, the military has destroyed the tunnel’s openings on both sides of the border fence. According to a senior defense official, tunnel openings were found in Israeli territory between the border fence and military bases and towns. The tunnel was found hundreds of meters from Kibbutz Holit, which is located in the Eshkol Regional Council. The IDF has yet to track the exact course of the tunnel, which began in Gaza’s southern neighborhoods. In the border area, the tunnel was found to be 30 meters deep. The Palestinian site Zamn Press reported that the tunnel was built over the course of two years, included power infrastructure and was geared toward long stays. According to the report, Israel suspects the tunnel had several branches and was meant to be used by Hamas for abduction purposes. The IDF said that Hamas has identified military efforts to locate tunnels in the area, but decided to go through with its activity anyway. “Hamas is digging tunnels for purposes of offense and defense,” a senior Southern Command officer said, noting that efforts to dig underground paths into Israel began before the 2014 Gaza hostilities, and continued afterward. “The working assumption is that other invading tunnels exist. We are active anywhere there is such concern.” The officer defined the discovery as a “harbinger” of the military’s technology-based efforts to locate tunnels. It is as yet unclear whether the tunnel whether the tunnel was constructed before or after 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. According to IDF figures, during the operation the army destroyed 32 tunnels, among them 14 tunnels that crossed the border and were in fact in Israeli territory. (Continued)
Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian farmers, level lands in southern Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 16 Apr — Israeli forces on Saturday opened fire on Palestinian farmers and leveled lands in the southern Gaza Strip, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an Israeli forces opened fire on agricultural lands near the the village of Khuzaa east of Khan Yunis. In the eastern side of the Rafah district of the southern Gaza Strip, seven Israeli bulldozers leveled lands in the border area, continuing excavation works that have been reported by locals in the area almost daily for the past two weeks. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an Israeli forces fired warning shots into the air after “two suspects breached the buffer zone” and the suspects returned.
2 Palestinians injured in accidental explosion in Gaza City
GAZA (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Two Palestinians were injured in an explosion at a Hamas training site in eastern Gaza City, local sources said. Witnesses told Ma‘an two people were injured and taken to a hospital after a hand grenade exploded at the site. One reportedly had his hand severed. Another Palestinian in his twenties was reportedly killed on Friday after being hit by a stray bullet near another training site in Gaza City. A spokesperson from the Palestinian Red Crescent had no further information on the incidents.
Photos: Palestinians remember killed Italian activist in Gaza
GAZA STRIP (Al Jazeera) 17 Apr — Hundreds of Palestinians gathered on Saturday to commemorate the death of Vittorio Arrigoni, the iconic Italian activist who was killed five years ago in the besieged Gaza Strip. Adel Abdelrahman, a musician in the Egyptian-Palestinian band Dawaween, said more than 500 people attended the event to show appreciation for Arrigoni’s Palestine solidarity work. They commemorated Arrigoni’s life with a documentary film on his life, sang songs in his memory, staged dance performances and art activities. “We are Muslims, but we are against terrorism and violence,” Abdelrahman told Al Jazeera. “We love peace and we are against killing innocent people.” Arrigoni first came to Gaza on an activist-organised flotilla in 2008. He was a member of the International Solidarity Movement and participated in protests to support Palestinian farmers and fishermen who had been confronted frequently by Israeli forces. Arrigoni was killed on April 15, 2011, after a small group of Palestinian gunmen [Salafists] kidnapped him a day earlier and demanded that the Hamas government in Gaza release one of their members. In a video released after the kidnapping, they accused him of “spreading corruption” among Muslims and gave the Hamas government 30 hours to meet their demands. Before their deadline was reached, however, the men killed Arrigoni in an empty apartment in northern Gaza.
“It is a very important day for all of us, particularly Italians and Palestinians,” Meri Calvelli, director of the Gaza-based Italian Centre for Cultural Exchange, told Al Jazeera. “There are a lot of people who still remember what happened to Vittorio. Italy is very proud of [him].” Khalil Shaheen of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said organisers want to keep Arrigoni’s memory alive out of respect for his solidarity. “Our message since the day the activist Vittorio Arrigoni was killed is clear: We are against the terrorist group who killed him and they don’t represent Palestinians or our society,” he told Al Jazeera. “He was part of our struggle for justice and peace.”
Family of Arab Israeli ‘held by Hamas’ seeks answers
AFP 15 Apr — A year of uncertainty for Hisham Al-Sayed’s family finally came to an end this month when a grainy black and white photo appeared on a Hamas-affiliated television channel. Their 27-year-old son had disappeared a year earlier from his home in the Negev desert in Israel. But the image of Sayed’s face was the first time the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip had said they were detaining him. “When I saw him on the video, I felt relieved of course because I knew he was there. Before that I didn’t know that he was still alive,” his father Sha‘aban said from the living room of their modest home at the end of a dirt road. Sayed is a Bedouin Muslim Arab with Israeli citizenship, without any apparent connection to the Israeli authorities, making his case particularly unusual. How he got from his home into Gaza, which is blockaded by Israel, is unclear. The Israeli army declined to comment on the matter, but his family say he could have somehow scaled or cut the heavily guarded fence surrounding the Palestinian territory. The family say Sayed has schizophrenia and has disappeared to Jordan and Egypt multiple times, eventually being returned by the authorities. In fact, they say, he twice before broke into Gaza in 2010 and 2013, with the authorities eventually returning him after realising he was unwell. “But this time, I don’t why, in April 2015, they (Hamas) kept him and detained him, but didn’t say they had him,” his father said. (Continued)
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israel to demolish many Palestinian homes in Silwan
IMEMC 17 Apr — Dozens of Israeli soldiers and police officers invaded, on Friday and Saturday, several neighborhoods in Silwan town, in occupied Jerusalem, and handed demolition orders against many Palestinian homes. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) in Jerusalem said the soldiers invaded the home of Yassin Rajabi, and handed him a demolition order targeting the home he built twenty years ago, and is living in it with his eight family members. The property consists of four bedrooms, a living room, toilet and shower rooms, Silwanic added. The soldiers also ordered Rajabi to remove a poster of his son, who was recently released from an Israeli detention facility, and threatened to kidnap him again. Silwanic also said that the soldiers handed a similar order to Mohammad Talal Haleesy; the property is 110 square/meters, and is composed of three rooms, bathrooms and toilet rooms, and was built in November of 2014.
On Friday, the soldiers handed demolition notices against eighteen Palestinians homes, built many years ago, in the al-Bustan neighborhood in Silwan, Fakhri Abu Diab of the Jerusalem Land Defense Committee said. Abu Diab added that the threatened homes are owned by the Jerusalem families of Gheith, Qara‘in, Abu Rajab, Odah, Abu Diab, Hammad and ‘Awwad. The families have been paying high fines to the Jerusalem City Council in an attempt to prevent the demolition of their homes, including legal costs and permit applications. While Israel largely denies Palestinian families construction permits in the occupied city, it is ongoing with its plans, and actual construction and expansion of illegal colonies, built on Palestinian lands, in and around occupied Jerusalem. Expanding Palestinian families in Jerusalem face constant obstacles, and high costs, just to apply for construction permits, and are also largely unable to add rooms to their existing homes and properties.
Demolition orders in Silwan
Silwanic 15 Apr — Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that municipality crews raided Silwan and took pictures of several neighborhoods and their entrances. Afterwards, they randomly hung demolition orders on several establishments. Witnesses explained that the municipality crews hung an administrative demolition order on a residential house that has been established for several years in Al-Bustan neighborhood. The residents said: “The administrative demolition order was under an unknown lady’s name and was hung on the door which reveals the fact of random distribution of demolition orders distributed in the area which aim at terrifying the residents.” Another administrative demolition order was also hung on a residential building in Silwan. Abdelkarim Shyoukhi also received an administrative demolition order for a commercial establishment (carwash – a piece of land and a room build from bricks). Shyoukhi said: “The municipality crews raided the carwash and hung an administrative demolition order. They took pictures of all the people and vehicles at the carwash and also checked the IDs of young men.” Shyoukhi pointed out that three families live off this commercial establishment.
Settlers prevent Palestinian farmer from accessing his land
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 16 Apr – Israeli settlers Saturday denied a Palestinian farmer access into his farmland near al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, said security sources. A group of settlers from Neve Daniyyel, an illegal Israeli settlement to the southwest of Bethlehem, denied Ibrahim Salah access to his land and farmed it. Al-Khader is an agricultural town known for its grape vines. Israel has seized thousands of acres of the town’s land and uprooted olive trees for settlement, bypass road and wall construction.
For the Israeli government, the tragedy of the Bedouin Jahalin is a success
Haaretz 11 Apr by Amira Hass — The High Court of Justice will hear a petition from the Bedouin against their forced transfer to a nearby village; four families have asked the EU to intervene — A lawyer from the State Prosecutor’s Office is due to tell the justices of the High Court of Justice on Monday that the village of al-Jabal, also known as Arab al-Jahalin, on the outskirts of the East Jerusalem town al-Azaria, is a success story. The village, which the Israeli Civil Administration (a hybrid institution of the ministry of Defense and the army) has hooked up to public infrastructure, is officially occupied by some 1,500 Bedouin, most of whom were removed from their previous encampments, starting in the 1990s, to make way for the expansion of the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim … But the Bedouin of Abu Nawar – four large extended families from the Jahalin tribe, comprising some 600 people in 108 nuclear families – know al-Jabal from other angles. This week they sent an open letter to Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs, in which they asked the EU to intervene against their removal, rather than making do with condemnations. This is how they describe al-Jabal: “Between 1997 and 2000, Israel forcefully moved some 150 Bedouin families to a crowded urban area built on a waste disposal site. Many of them are now unemployed, because they have no land to graze their sheep and they lost their Bedouin culture and tradition. It is clear to us that we can expect a similar fate.” (Continued)
Netanyahu says Israel will never withdraw from Golan Heights
JERUSALEM (AP) 17 Apr — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday his country will never withdraw from the Golan Heights and the strategic plateau bordering Syria will forever stay in Israeli hands. In a ceremonial Cabinet meeting in the Golan marking the one-year anniversary of his current government’s formation, Netanyahu said he doubts Syria will ever return to what it was before the devastating civil war that has gripped it for more than five years. He said he would not oppose diplomatic efforts to stabilize Syria as long as they didn’t come at the expense of Israel’s security. Netanyahu added that, regardless, the border would not change and it was time for the world to finally recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan. “I chose to have this festive Cabinet meeting on the Golan Heights to send a clear message: The Golan Heights will forever remain in Israeli hands,” he said. “It’s time, after 50 years, that the international community finally recognizes that the Golan will forever remain under Israeli sovereignty.” The remarks drew quick condemnation from Syria, which lays claim to the territory under international law . . .Israel captured the Golan [1,200 square kilometres or 460 square miles] from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it in 1981.
Syrians reject Israel’s vow to control Golan ‘forever’
Al Jazeera 17 Apr by Patrick Strickland — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has for the first time held his weekly cabinet meeting in the occupied Golan Heights, amid criticism from local Syrian activists. Speaking in the Jewish-only settlement of Maaleh Gamla on Sunday, Netanyahu declared that the 70 percent of the Golan which Israeli forces occupied during the 1967 Middle East war will “always remain” under Israeli control … The move came on the 70th anniversary of Syria’s independence, marking the withdrawal of French colonial forces from the country in 1946. Mais Ibrahim, a Syrian human rights activist from the Golan’s Majdal Shams, criticised the decision to hold the meeting there – but added that this did not come as a surprise. “On the contrary, I’d be more surprised if Netanyahu did not mention the Golan on Syrian Independence Day,” she told Al Jazeera. “We are Syrians and we were raised as Syrians. We grew up as Syrians. We will remain [Syrian] regardless of what Israel says or who controls Syria … regardless of whether the war continues another 100 years or if we’re liberated tomorrow.” …
–Illegal annexation– More than 131,000 Syrians – Christians, Muslims and Druze – were driven from the Golan when Israel occupied it 49 years ago, according to the Golan-based Al-Marsad Arab Human Rights Centre. About 20,000 indigenous Syrian Arabs – mostly from the Druze religious community – live in six villages still standing in the occupied territory. Meanwhile, upwards of 21,000 Israeli settlers live in 33 Jewish-only settlements subsidised and protected by the Israeli government. While local Syrians are split over the ongoing civil war, the vast majority oppose Israel’s occupation. They hold Israeli-issued travel documents, but most have rejected offers of Israeli citizenship and remain legally “stateless”. Israel claimed to have annexed the territory in 1981, but the move was rejected by the international community, including the United Nations. Syrian researcher and Golan-based analyst Salman Fakheraldeen accused Israel of attempting to “take advantage of the fact that Syria is a collapsing state”, referring to the ongoing civil war.
Is anti-BDS group Sawtona impersonating Palestinians?
EI 15 Apr by Charlotte Silver — Claiming to be a group of Palestinians opposed to the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in the US, an organization calling itself Sawtona – “our voice” in Arabic – has emerged over the last two months. But the organization does not appear to be what it says it is. The group first emerged at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) last month when faculty and students were meeting to discuss BDS and support for Palestinians. It then popped up at City University of New York (CUNY), just ahead of today’s scheduled graduate student council vote on a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The group claims to be a voice “from the ground” in Palestine that is dedicated to ending Israel’s occupation. But so far the only objective Sawtona has in fact pursued is to stop BDS, claiming it does more harm than good for Palestinians. And some evidence – including fraudulent postings on Facebook – cast significant doubt on the group’s central claim that it is run by Palestinians. Rather, the group would appear to be based in present-day Israel – not Palestinian cities in the occupied West Bank where people representing Sawtona claim to live. Sawtona has emerged at a moment when Israel has greatly stepped up its efforts to sabotage and attack the BDS movement, including efforts to undermine it by Israeli intelligence agencies.
Did Illinois bungle first-in-nation anti-BDS blacklist?
WASHINGTON (The Forward) 15 Apr by Nathan Guttman — When Nordea Bank, a large, Stockholm-based financial services firm, got word that it had been blacklisted by the state of Illinois for boycotting Israel, top officials at the company were genuinely perplexed. “It’s strange, very strange,” Sasja Beslik, head of responsible investments at Nordea Asset Management, told the Forward. “I don’t know how they reached their conclusion. They must be misinformed.” According to Beslik, the bank had, in fact, undertaken a review of its investment policies toward Israel in 2014 and in the end explicitly concluded that there was no reason to boycott the Jewish state, or even exclusively Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. And it declared this publicly. But that is just one of numerous anomalies to emerge from the list compiled by the Illinois agency tasked with implementing the nation’s first state law against the movement to boycott, sanction and divest from Israel for its policies toward the Palestinians. (Continued)
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (7-13 April)
PCHR-Gaza 14 Apr — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt A Palestinian boy was wounded during an Israeli incursion. Israeli forces continued to target the border areas along the Gaza Strip. A child grazing sheep, east of Johr al-Deek village, in the central Gaza Strip, was wounded. Israeli forces conducted 85 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 2 limited ones in the Gaza Strip. 79 Palestinian civilians, including 12 children and 12 women, were arrested. 28 of them, including 3 children and 11 women, including a photojournalist, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. A child was arrested after attempting to cross the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel to look for work. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. 2 fishermen were wounded and arrested, 2 fishing boats were confiscated and 4 other fishermen were arrested as well. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. A house in Sour Baher village was closed with iron plates on grounds of collective punishments. A house was self-demolished, a tent was confiscated and more demolition notices were issued. Settlement activities continued in the West Bank. 16 residential tents, 5 caves used as shelters and 15 livestock barns in Kherbet Tana were demolished. A poultry slaughterhouse and a car workshop in Ni‘lin village, west of Ramallah, in addition to a kids’ park in Za‘tarah village, south of Nablus, were demolished. Israeli forces demolished 3 under-construction houses in al-Walaja village, west of Bethlehem. Settlers leveled a plot of land, west of Deir Ghassana village, northwest of Ramallah, in an attempt to seize it. [Full, detailed report follows]
World Bank: Raw deal with Israel costs Palestinians millions in annual revenue
Haaretz 18 Apr by Jack Khoury — High handling fees charged by Israel and misallocated taxes augment Palestinian deficit, bank says, putting cost at $285 million a year — The Palestinian Authority loses revenues of some $285 million a year due to its current economic arrangements with Israel, according to a new World Bank report published Sunday. These revenues could significantly ease the PA’s fiscal pressure, the report added. Steen Lau Jorgensen, the World Bank’s country director for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, said that reducing this revenue loss could cut the PA’s budget deficit for 2016 to below $1 billion and more than halve its expected financing shortfall. Under the 1994 Paris Protocol, which established a customs union between Israel and the PA, Israel is supposed to collect value-added tax, import duties and other taxes on the PA’s behalf and hand them over on a monthly basis. Though the agreement was never fully implemented, these revenues account for more than two-thirds of the PA’s total tax revenue. The missing revenue, according to the World Bank, stems mainly from misallocated taxes on bilateral trade between Israel and the PA and underestimation of Palestinian imports from third countries. The new report will be presented to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee of donor states to the PA at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday … In particular, it argued, the high handling fee Israel charges the PA – which currently finances almost one third of the Israeli Finance Ministry’s customs and VAT department – should be reexamined…
Another issue raised in the report is that Israel continues to withhold payment of $669 million in accumulated Palestinian tax revenue. This sum includes pension payments by Palestinians working in Israel and their employers, as well as deductions meant to cover the workers’ health insurance and other benefits. The pension money is supposed to be deposited in a dedicated pension fund, but the PA hasn’t yet set up this fund. The combination of the PA’s failure to set up the fund and Israel’s delays in transferring some of the other money has resulted in tens of thousands of Palestinian workers not getting the benefits they are supposed to get, the report said.
Palestinian government considering Cabinet meeting in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — The Palestinian Authority government is considering holding a Cabinet meeting in Gaza City “as soon as possible,” an official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Ma‘an on Monday. The official said Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah “is seriously considering having a Cabinet meeting in Gaza” as he wants his ministers to see firsthand the dire conditions faced by Palestinians in the blockaded coastal enclave. The official added that all Cabinet ministers would be expected to attend the meeting. The report comes less than two weeks after senior delegations from rival factions Fatah and Hamas met in Gaza City in the most high-ranking gathering to convene since a new round of reconciliation talks began in Qatar earlier this year. The Fatah delegation, comprising members of the movement’s central committee, met with Hamas deputy head Ismail Haniyeh and other senior ranking officials to discuss the enactment of past reconciliation agreements. Hamdallah has led a so-called unity government consisting of nominally politically independent technocrats since June 2014, when Fatah and Hamas last came together in reconciliation. However, disputes between the two factions continued to plague the Ramallah-based government, and it found itself unable to function in Gaza, where Hamas ministries held onto their power. (Continued)
Shin Bet opposes plan to limit Israeli army’s operations in Palestinian cities
Haaretz 18 Apr by Barak Ravid & Chaim Levinson — The Shin Bet security service recently submitted a classified document to the prime minister, the defense minister and other senior security officials expressing opposition to the recent Israeli-Palestinian talks about reducing Israeli military activity in Area A of the West Bank, senior Jerusalem officials told Haaretz. In the opinion document, the Shin Bet objected to the process, arguing that coming to understandings with the Palestinians on this could lead to diplomatic restrictions that would limit the Israel Defense Forces’ freedom of movement in the Palestinian cities in the West Bank and make it more difficult to foil terror attacks. Both the IDF and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon believe the opposite, that the move would not impact on Israel’s ability to combat terror and that the Palestinian security forces could do much of what the IDF is doing today … The Palestinians made it clear they wanted to reach understandings regarding IDF activity in Area A before the donor countries’ conference convenes in Brussels on Tuesday, though it isn’t clear that this will occur. (Continued)
Fatah commemorates leader assassinated by Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Apr — The Fatah party on Saturday commemorated the death of Khalil al-Wazir, a top leader of the movement who was assassinated by Israel in his home just under two decades ago. Fatah supporters marched in honor of al-Wazir, known by his party as Abu Jihad, through the center of Ramallah city in the occupied West Bank, waving party flags and hoisting photos of al-Wazir. Forcefully expelled from his home in Ramle during the establishment of Israel in 1948, al-Wazir played a major role in Fatah’s military activities for decades and was close to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The leader was exiled from Lebanon along with the rest of Fatah following Israel’s 1982 invasion and exiled from Jordan two years later, before finally landing in Tunis where he was assassinated in 1988. Al-Wazir played an integral role in remotely organizing youths inside the occupied Palestinian territory in preparation for the First Intifada, and is one of a number of Palestinian leaders believed to have been assassinated by Israeli forces.
Hezbollah support rally held in the West Bank
Ynet 17 Apr by Elior Levy — Dozens of Palestinians and Druze from the Golan Heights held a pro-Hezbollah rally in the West Bank town of Kafr Ni‘mah west of Ramallah on Saturday. The rally, which was organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was an unusual public display of support for the fighters of the terror organization. It featured Hezbollah and Palestinian flags alongside placards of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. “We stand behind and support the strategic decisions of the resistance (Hezbollah – ed.), and we don’t believe that the resistance is a terror group,” said Omar Shahadah, a PFLP member who participated in the rally. (Continued)
Abbas welcomes French push for peace in Paris visit
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 Apr — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on a visit to Paris on Friday said he fully supported recent French efforts to end the Israeli military occupation, reiterating that settlement expansion was the main obstacle for peace. In a televised conference with his French counterpart Francois Hollande, Abbas praised France’s push earlier this year for a new peace initiative, the failure of which could eventually result in France’s recognition of Palestine … Paris was the first stop of many Abbas will make during an international tour over the next few weeks. The leader is expected to fly to Moscow for his next stop, before traveling to Germany and the US.
Abbas arrives in Moscow for 2-day diplomatic visit
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas landed in Moscow on Sunday afternoon for a two-day diplomatic visit, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa reported. Abbas is scheduled to meet with the Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to address Arab League efforts to obtain a UN Security Council resolution against ongoing Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory. Abbas and Putin are also set to discuss the possible organization of an international peace conference to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeina, PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, and presidential advisor on diplomatic affairs Majdi al-Khalidi are also part of the trip to Moscow. The Palestinian ambassador to Russia Abd al-Hafith Nofal will also join the delegation.
Palestine to send medics, aid to Ecuador after deadly earthquake
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — A Palestinian medical team will leave the occupied West Bank on Monday to help victims of a deadly earthquake in Ecuador, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said. A powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.8 hit the South American country on Sunday, killing at least 77 people and injuring hundreds. Health Minister Jawad Awwad said in a statement that he had received instructions from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to send medics and medical equipment to Ecuador . . . Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said a team of 15 Palestinian emergency and disaster medics would leave for Ecuador on Monday. Al-Maliki added that Palestine and Ecuador have always shared a strong bond and been supportive of one another. Despite its limited resources and capabilities, Palestine would always try to help other countries hit by calamities, he added.
Hamas: Twitter ‘sides with the occupation’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Hamas’ military wing responded to the recent closure of their spokesperson’s Twitter account on Saturday by saying it proved the effectiveness of the brigades in delivering their message. In a statement on the Hamas movement’s website Saturday, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades’ spokesperson Abu Ubaida said that “Twitter’s persistence in shutting down our accounts shows that our true voices have exposed the Zionist enemy and its proxies.” After Abu Ubaida’s account — followed by 196,000 — was shut down Friday, he promptly opened a new one the following day. Twitter previously closed all the official accounts of the brigades in Arabic, Hebrew, and English in March, which collectively had over 200,000 followers.
The move was part of the social media company’s campaign to combat the spread of Islamic extremism on the site, which has seen some 125,000 accounts linked to “terrorists” deleted since mid-2015, predominately targeting the Islamic State group … During Israel’s 50-day assault on the Gaza Strip in 2014, Twitter also deleted all accounts associated with Hamas … Abu Ubaida said that shutting down accounts amounted to censorship in favor of Israel by Twitter, a company that has long defined itself as a platform for free speech and open discussion.
EU criticizes Israel’s renewed construction of wall in Cremisan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — The EU mission in the occupied West Bank on Friday said they were “deeply concerned” at Israel’s renewed construction of the separation wall in Bethlehem’s Cremisan Valley. The mission said that once finished, the wall would severely restrict nearly 60 Palestinian families’ access to their agricultural land, likely devastating their livelihoods. EU representatives have on several occasions visited the site of Israel’s planned wall in the Palestinian valley and on Friday reminded Israel of its concern over the construction of the wall, which is considered illegal under international law. The mission reiterated the EU’s “strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy,” slamming Israel’s construction of the wall beyond the 1967 line, demolitions and confiscations, evictions, forced transfers, illegal outposts, settler violence, and restrictions of movement and access. Israel’s High Court of Justice in January denied a petition filed against the wall’s construction by the municipality of Beit Jala village, Beit Jala’s landowners, and the Silesian women’s monastery in Cremisan, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem. The ruling came after the Israeli Ministry of Defense renewed construction work on the separation wall last August, effectively separating the villagers from their privately owned farmland in the Cremisan Valley. This segment of the wall is intended to allow for Israel’s illegal annexation of Har Gilo settlement south of Jerusalem in order to make way for its connection to Gilo settlement … Local Christian landowners in Beit Jala told an EU delegation last year that construction of the wall could ultimately force them to emigrate and “cleanse” the area of its Christian residents.
Knesset committee debates racial discrimination in Israel maternity wards
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — A Knesset committee meeting held on Wednesday debated the issue of segregation between Palestinian and Jewish women in Israeli maternity wards, following media reports and allegations of racial discrimination in Israel’s hospitals, according to a Knesset press release. A recent report by Israel Radio exposed various Israeli hospitals that segregate Palestinian and Jewish women in their maternity wards — a policy the hospitals denied, though some acknowledged they accommodate requests by women for separate rooms. Though not an official policy in Israeli hospitals, testimonies documented by Haaretz describe women being directed to separate rooms either automatically or at their request as “an attractive bonus for those who choose to give birth in a hospital.” Chairwoman MK Aida Touma-Suleiman of the Joint List said at the committee meeting “the discussion surrounding the phenomenon has exposed a difficult reality — not only the segregation in hospitals, but the entire issue of segregation based on nationality and race which exists in other places. The health system can and should be an island of sanity.” (Continued)