Palestinian on the run from Israeli soldiers for a week — is 12 years old

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Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem

Palestinian 12-year-old on run from Israeli forces
BETHLEHEM (MEE) 31 Mar by Sheren Khalel & Abed al-Qaisi — The father of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy on the run for a week from Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank has told Middle East Eye that he fears his son will be killed if caught. Ramzi Abu Ajamia has been in hiding for the past seven nights, the boy’s father, Nasir Abu Ajamia said from their family home in Bethlehem’s Dheisha refugee camp. Israeli forces first showed up at the family’s home on 24 March, raiding the house and detaining Ramzi’s older brother. Ramzi said he had no idea why Israel was seeking to detain him. He says he attended protests against Israeli occupation, where rocks were thrown. “I don’t go to the clashes outside of the camp, but when soldiers come to us inside the camp, yeah I go out with the other boys – but that’s it – only when they come to us,” he said, speaking to MEE during a furtive visit to the family home. “I can’t explain why they want me, other than it’s my turn. Tomorrow it will be another kid’s [turn].” Nasir said: “The soldiers have been to the house three times now, the first time they took my 16-year-old.” At the time, 12-year-old Ramzi was not at home. “They beat his brother bad and afterward Ramzi saw the blood on the street and heard about how bad his brother had been hit, so he’s too frightened to let himself be arrested.” (Continued)

Israeli forces threaten protesters in Jerusalem’s Silwan sit-in
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 2 Apr — Israeli forces on Friday attempted to stop Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood from staging a sit-in protesting Israeli efforts to push them out of the area, locals said. Locals told Ma‘an that the forces took photos of protesters participating in the sit-in, a move they said is used often by soldiers to threaten Palestinians from carrying out activities that could lead to their detention. Silwan residents said the sit-in took place in the Batn al-Hawa area of the neighborhood, where far-right settlement organization Ateret Cohanim is attempting to take over an area that houses some 80 Palestinian families in over 30 apartments that the group says previously belonged to Jewish Yemenite families. Two families in February received eviction notices following efforts by the group to take over their land and are facing the potential displacement of 28 family members, including 12 children. Demonstrators raised signs calling for an end to discriminatory demolition and confiscation policies carried out by the Israeli authorities on Palestinians in Silwan and the rest of the occupied city, and declared that they would remain on their land despite all attempts for their expulsion.

Army injures an elderly Palestinian woman in occupied Jerusalem
IMEMC 1 Apr — Palestinian medical sources in Jerusalem have reported, on Thursday evening, that Israeli soldiers shot and injured an elderly Palestinian woman, while [she was] sitting in front of her home in Ein al-Louza neighborhood in Silwan town, in occupied Jerusalem. The sources said that the woman, 63 years of age, was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in her back, while sitting in front of her home. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers invaded the neighborhood, and clashed with dozens of youngsters, who hurled stones on them; the soldiers fired many gas bombs, concussion grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets and several flares. In addition, the soldiers invaded a school in Ras al-‘Amoud in Silwan, and searched several homes.
In related news, the soldiers forced Ahmad Nasser Rokin, 19, from Jerusalem, out of the city for four months under the “emergency law” and gave him two hours to leave the occupied city.

Video: Palestinian protesters injured in Nabi Saleh, Israel colonizers and soldiers attack reporter
IMEMC 2 Apr by Saed Bannoura  — Palestinian medical sources reported, Friday, that Israeli soldiers and fanatic colonizers, attacked Palestinian protesters, and journalists, during a peaceful protest in Nabi Saleh village, northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The soldiers used excessive force against the protesters, and assaulted journalists of the Roya News Agency. The army detained the journalists and attempted to confiscate their equipment, while fanatic Israeli colonizers assaulted the journalists, and one of them started disrupting the live broadcast of a female reporter for the news agency. One of the fanatic colonizers stole the camera from the Roya team, but the reporters and staff managed to retrieve it, despite the Israeli army’s protection of the assailants and its inaction towards their assault and theft. One fanatic colonizer also chanted Zionist slogans, and disrupted the broadcasts of the reporters, but the anchorwoman continued her coverage. The attacks took place as Palestinians and international peace activists marched marking the fortieth Palestinian Land Day (March 30), and challenged the ongoing Israeli violations and escalation against Palestinian people, their lands and property, in different parts of occupied Palestine . . . Despite the extensive Israeli military restrictions, the nonviolent protesters managed to reach a water spring that Israel is trying to illegally confiscate from the Palestinians.

Video: Dozens injured as army attacks weekly protest in Kafr Qaddoum
IMEMC 1 Apr — Israeli soldiers invaded, Friday, Kafr Qaddoum town, in the northern West Bank district of Qalqilia, and assaulted dozens of Palestinians, holding the weekly protest against the Annexation Wall and colonies. Morad Eshteiwy, the coordinator of the Popular Committee in Kafr Qaddoum, said the protesters marched this week marking the fortieth anniversary of the Palestinian Land Day, and chanted for the liberation of Palestine and the release of all political prisoners. Eshteiwy added that the soldiers, and army bulldozers, invaded the village from various directions, and fired dozens of gas bombs and concussion grenades, causing scores of residents to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. Local youngsters responded by hurling stones and empty bottles on the soldiers. Earlier on Friday, dozens of soldiers were deployed around the village, especially in areas overlooking the main street where the Palestinians march, in an attempt to stop them and prevent them from reaching the iron gate that blocks the village’s main entrance. Also on Friday, the soldiers attacked the weekly protest in Bilʻin village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, causing many injures, while gas bombs and concussion grenades led to fires in a number of orchards.

Israeli forces detain 11 Palestinians across West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — Israeli forces detained 11 Palestinians in predawn raids across the occupied West Bank early Friday, locals and Israel’s army said. Locals told Ma‘an that Ahmad al-Zayyah, 28, and Amer al-Zayyah, 23, were detained from the town of al-Khader in Bethlehem district. Forces also raided Tulkarem city and detained Ahmad Marzouq Abu al-HAwa, 20, and Muhammad Saber Shihada Salah, 25. Jihad Idris al-Qit and Mahmoud Abdullah al-Qit were detained by Israeli forces from the Madama area in Nablus. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed one detention in Tulkarem, and told Ma‘an that four alleged “Hamas operatives” were detained from Nablus. Six others were detained from Bethlehem for suspected illegal activity, she said.

Palestinians demand national unity at Aqsa sit-in
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — Palestinians following Friday prayers staged a sit-in on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. Demonstrators demanded promises from Palestinian leadership that recent reconciliation meetings held in Qatar would mark the beginning of the end of factional division. Participants, including Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein and influential businessman Munib al-Masri, held signs reading “national unity” and waved Palestinian flags. Hamas and Fatah officials met in Doha last weekend to discuss the implementation of a reconciliation process between the two major Palestinian factions, whose division has devastated efforts towards creating an independent Palestinian state. The flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is a deeply-rooted symbol for the still unrealized Palestinian state, for which Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital.

Abbas: We are searching school children’s bags for knives
MEMO 1 Apr — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority’s security agencies are entering schools and searching students’ bags for knives, adding, “I’d be crazy if I told my son that stabbing someone was a good act.” In a television interview, Abbas said: “Our security forces are entering schools and checking if students are carrying knives. In one school, we found 70 students with knives, and we told them that this was wrong. I told them I do not want you to kill someone and die; I want you to live and for others to live too.” “When a child goes to school carrying a knife, they do not consult anyone in this regard, not even their parents. You will not find a sane person who encourages their child to carry a knife and kill someone. The parents do not want this.” Abbas addressed Israel’s accusations that he incited violence by stressing that he continues to extend his hand to peace. “I have been ruling for 10 years, and I have always been against murder and violence. Now they are saying I am inciting violence.” “I admit that we have incitement, but you also have incitement,” he said of Israel’s accusations of the Palestinian media inciting violence.


Jordan prepares to install surveillance cameras at Al-Aqsa
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Apr — Jordan has begun preparations to install 55 cameras at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, after months of contentious arguments over their installation appeared to be resolved. Jordanian Minister of Endowment Hayil Daoud told the Jordanian al-Ghad newspaper Saturday that the ministry had reviewed all technical procedures before preparing the infrastructure for the installation. The cameras are expected to be mounted on walls around the compound in order to document violations and raids carried out by the Israeli authorities, Daoud said. The minister said the cameras would help Jordan politically, diplomatically and legally by providing material documentation of Israeli violations that could potentially be presented in court. The cameras — which will roll 24 hours a day seven days a week — are expected to be fully controlled and monitored by the ministry, Dauod said, adding that the project was being implemented with the cooperation of Palestinian leadership . . . Surveillance cameras in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound have been the subject of tense discussions between Israel and Jordan, the official custodian of Muslim holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem, for months. In October, Israel and Jordan, under mediation by the United States, agreed to install surveillance cameras across the mosque compound in a bid to ease tensions that began across the occupied Palestinian territories around that time.

Palestinians demand national unity at Aqsa sit-in
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — Palestinians following Friday prayers staged a sit-in on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. Demonstrators demanded promises from Palestinian leadership that recent reconciliation meetings held in Qatar would mark the beginning of the end of factional division. Participants, including Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein and influential businessman Munib al-Masri, held signs reading “national unity” and waved Palestinian flags. Hamas and Fatah officials met in Doha last weekend to discuss the implementation of a reconciliation process between the two major Palestinian factions, whose division has devastated efforts towards creating an independent Palestinian state. The flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is a deeply-rooted symbol for the still unrealized Palestinian state, for which Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital.

The murder of Abed al Fatah a-Sharif

Soldier in West Bank shooting to face charges of manslaughter, not murder
JERUSALEM (JTA) 31 Mar — The soldier caught on video shooting a supine Palestinian terrorist in the head will face charges of manslaughter, not murder, a military court decided. The military tribunal met on Thursday and made the determination, according to reports. The decision comes two days after the prosecutor told the tribunal it was working to determine the exact charges, and asked that the soldier continue to be held in military prison. The soldier has still only been identified by his initials, as his identity remains under a gag order. He was held on murder charges on March 25 for shooting a Palestinian wounded after stabbing an Israeli soldier in Hebron one day earlier. Knesset members from the Arab Joint List MKs condemned the downgrading of charges against the soldier, saying the decision “proves once again that such incidents must be investigated by an international war crimes tribunal.” “This is a soldier who committed a criminal act of murder, as is clearly seen in the video, and the decision was influenced by the comments of the prime minister, who asked that the family of the soldier be considered,” Ahmad Tibi and Osama Saadi wrote in a joint statement, adding that the Israel Defense Forces should “investigate and punish the soldiers and officers and medical staff who stood by and did not lift a finger either before or after the murder.”

Israeli soldier behind Hebron ‘execution’ released to open detention
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — An Israeli soldier to be tried on charges of manslaughter for shooting dead a wounded Palestinian in Hebron last week will be released to open detention on a military base, an Israeli army spokesperson said. The military court on Friday upheld their decision to release the soldier to a five-day open detention, Israeli media reported, denying the prosecution’s appeal to extend the soldier’s remand for another week. The soldier is reportedly allowed to have visits by his immediate family.
Defense attorneys are to continue reviewing evidence during further deliberations at the military appeals court to take place this coming Tuesday, the spokesperson added. Israeli news outlet Ynet reported that the military prosecutor disputed the decision to release the Israeli soldier, and that the soldier is not cooperating with the investigation. “The soldier gives evasive answers whenever confronted with the questions that arise from his version of events. The soldier’s changing version raises serious doubts about the credibility of the defense’s claims, to put it mildly,” Ynet quoted Chief military prosecutor Col. Sharon Zagagi-Pinhas as saying.
Zagagi-Pinhas said that the soldier now refuses to conduct a reconstruction of events and be confronted by witnesses who testified against him, which the soldier had initially agreed to do. The Israeli soldier’s release follows Thursday’s announcement that he would be tried on charges of manslaughter rather than murder as had been widely expected, for the incident the UN has branded as an “extrajudicial execution.”

Israeli court rejects Palestinian role in Hebron ‘execution’ autopsy
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Israel’s top court on Thursday refused an appeal to allow a Palestinian doctor to participate in the autopsy of Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif, a Palestinian who was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier while he lay wounded on the ground in Hebron last week. Israeli authorities initially agreed to allow a Palestinian doctor inside the room while the autopsy was conducted to take notes, but al-Sharif’s family rejected the offer, demanding that a Palestinian take part in the autopsy itself. Ahmad Safiya, a lawyer for the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said the Israeli Supreme Court refused the appeal, and ordered that Safiya be notified of the date of autopsy so he would be able to issue a permit for a Palestinian doctor to attend as previously agreed. The Israeli prosecution informed him that it would take place next Sunday . . . A number of Palestinian families signed a letter late last year demanding that families should be allotted time to request an official autopsy report on their dead relatives. Autopsy reports are used in official paperwork necessary to file cases against Israeli authorities at the International Criminal Court. Palestinians have historically distrusted Israeli military investigations and the ability of Israeli authorities to conduct unbiased autopsies of Palestinians slain by Israeli forces

B’Tselem asks Israel to protect Palestinian who filmed Hebron killing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has called on Israel’s police and army to protect one of its volunteers who received death threats last week after capturing footage of a soldier’s gruesome killing of a wounded Palestinian in Hebron. B’Tselem said in a statement Thursday that its director, Hagai El-Ad, had written to Israeli army chief Roni Numa and police head Roni Alsheich to inform them of death threats made against Imad Abu Shamsiyeh. El-Ad requested their assurance that they were “aware of the danger to which Abu Shamsiyeh and his family are exposed,” stressing that it was their duty to do all in their power “to protect the family from further violence,” the statement said. He highlighted that “this is far from a hypothetical matter: Abu Shamsiyeh is well known in his neighborhood, Tel Rumeida, and in recent years has suffered several attacks by settlers living there . . . On Thursday last week, Abu Shamsiyeh captured on camera the moment an Israeli soldier stepped forward and shot through the head a Palestinian who lay severely wounded on the ground, having been gunned down several minutes before for allegedly stabbing an Israeli soldier . . . Since then, the B’Tselem volunteer and his family have been subjected to death threats and hateful Facebook posts, and have also had stones thrown at their home.

The only way to ensure Palestinian lives matter
+972 mag 31 Mar by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — The Israeli army’s Military Advocate General on Thursday announced that it will not seek murder charges against a soldier who was videotaped executing Abed Fatah al-Sharif, an incapacitated, wounded Palestinian man suspected of stabbing a soldier in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron last week. (The soldier’s identity is widely known but cannot be published here due to a court-imposed gag order.) The decision surprised some, although it is not quite clear why. To the best of my knowledge no Israeli soldier has ever been charged with murder for killing a Palestinian. According to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, in the period between 2003 and 2013 (excluding 2010, for which the IDF refused to provide data, possibly because that data would cover the Mavi Marmara incident), military police opened criminal investigations into the killing of 179 Palestinians. Of those investigations, only 16 led to indictments. None of the indictments carried murder charges. When Israeli soldiers are charged with illegally killing a Palestinian or a foreign national, the charges range from nominal lesser crimes like illegal, reckless or negligent use of a weapon, to more slightly-more-serious ones like negligent manslaughter or manslaughter . . . One case from 2010, which is breathtakingly similar to the execution of Abed Fatah al-Sharif, resulted in no charges at all. Border Police officer Maxim Vinogradov fatally shot Ziad Jilani, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, directly in the head at close range while the latter lay wounded in the middle of the street. No charges at all . . . There is only one way to ensure that Palestinian lives matter, and that is to end the occupation.

Punitive demolitions

Court stops demolition of suspected terror accomplice’s home in East Jerusalem
Haaretz 1 Apr by Sharon Pulwer & Gili Cohen — The High Court of Justice has granted the petition of a family of a suspected accomplice in a terrorist attack to prevent the demolition of their East Jerusalem home. The IDF had previously served a demolition notice on the family of Abed al-Aziz Meri, who faces two charges of premeditated murder after allegedly being involved in the murders of a rabbi and soldier in the Old City last October. But on Thursday a three-justice tribunal handed down a 2-1 decision in favor of the family. Supreme Court justices Menachem Mazuz and Anat Baron ruled to cancel the demolition order, while Supreme Court President Miriam Naor dissented. Baron now joins five other Supreme Court justices – more than a third of Israel’s top court – who have argued, in a series of recent rulings, that the court should reconsider the legality of demolishing terrorists’ homes. Last November, Naor rejected a request to allow an expanded panel of justices to reconsider that question. Meri, 21, from Abu Dis in East Jerusalem, allegedly convinced Muhannad Halabi to die as a martyr and obtaining the knife that was used to murder IDF soldier Aharon Bennett, 21, and Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, 41. Bennett’s wife and infant son were both wounded in the attack. Halabi’s home was demolished in January. Mazuz said Meri had lived in student housing for the past three years and not in his parents’ home. In his opinion, he said, Meri did not live in the family home, adding that the court had no authority to act against the petitioner’s home. This is now the fourth case in which Mazuz has opposed in principle using regulations that allow for the demolition of terrorists’ homes. Baron noted the government had not claimed that the family was involved in the murders, or even knew about Meri’s involvement prior to the attack.

Restriction of movement

In Photos: Right to Movement Palestine marathon
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — Runners from across the world flocked to the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday for the fourth annual Palestine marathon, forced to circle the same route due to Israel’s crippling restrictions on movement that made it impossible for marathon planners to find a contiguous 42-kilometer stretch for the race.

PHOTOS: Thousands take part in Palestine Marathon for free movement
Activestills 1 Apr Photos by Ahmad al-Bazz/  Text by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — Thousands of Palestinian and international runners from 64 countries participated in the fourth annual Palestine Marathon in the West Bank city of Bethlehem Friday morning. The run was held under the banner of the right to freedom of movement, a theme that was accented by Israel’s concrete separation wall along which much of the route was forced to follow. Mervin Steenkamp of South Africa won the race with a 2:35:26 finish. The marathon, which started at the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square and passed through two refugee camps, Aida and Dheisheh, included two full loops. The wall, along with the Israeli military checkpoints that surround Bethlehem and nearby villages and towns, made finding a full marathon route difficult if not impossible. The Israeli army had 96 permanent checkpoints in the West Bank as of April 2015, according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. Only 39 of those checkpoints separate the West Bank from Israel; the rest restrict Palestinian movement within the occupied territory. In addition to manned checkpoints, Israeli troops deploy hundreds of physical obstructions (roadblocks, mounds of dirt, etc.) hampering free Palestinian movement inside the West Bank

Thousands join Palestine marathon to affirm right to movement
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — Thousands of Palestinians and foreigners took to the streets on Friday to take part in the fourth annual marathon to be hosted by the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, aimed at highlighting the severe movement restrictions Palestinians face under Israel’s military occupation. First conceived in 2013 under the theme “Right to Movement,” the marathon was applauded by the UN and other humanitarian bodies as a reminder of the “many barriers to freedom of movement faced by Palestinians every day,” although Israel condemned it as a “cynical” use of sport. Setting out from the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus Christ, runners made their way past Israel’s imposing separation wall, which cuts around much of the city, before passing Duheisha refugee camp and the town of al-Khader, near Gilo military checkpoint. “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement, but not everyone has the option,” the marathon’s organizers had written on their website. “Restriction on movement is one of the major challenges for the Palestinian people living under occupation. Palestinians cannot move freely on roads, or from one city to another.” Because the Palestinian Authority does not control a contiguous 42 kilometers in Bethlehem district — the distance of a full Olympic marathon — the run was instead forced to loop around an 11 kilometer stretch. Nearly 4,400 runners took part in this year’s marathon — up from 3,100 last year — with a record 46 percent participation of women, far surpassing the 39 percent that joined 2015’s run.

Israel prevents Gaza runners from joining West Bank marathon
GAZA (Xinhua) 1 Apr — Israel prohibited on Friday 103 Palestinian runners from the Gaza Strip to join Palestine Free to Movement Marathon that kicked off in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Around 4,300 runners from Palestine and all over the world joined on Friday the Free to Movement Marathon in Palestine that is held for the fourth year in a row. Nader Halawa, chairman of the Federation in Gaza, told reporters that the Israeli authorities refused to allow the 103 runners, including 19 females, to travel from Gaza to Bethlehem, in the southern part of the West Bank to join the Marathon . . . Halawa added that all of the attempts made by the Palestine Football Association and human rights organizations to convince Israeli authorities to allow the participants to join the marathon were unsuccessful. He described the decision as “unfair.” Halawa called for the intervention of international sports organizations in order to stop “Israel’s violations against Palestinian sports.”  According to Haaretz, Israel accused the Palestinians of submitting applications too late, saying “it cannot process exit permits in time for the runners to leave Gaza for Friday’s race.”


Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian in Gaza clashes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Apr — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian with live fire when clashes broke out east of al-Buriej refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip Friday, medics said. Medical sources told Ma‘an that a Palestinian youth was shot and taken to Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah for treatment, without specifying the youth’s condition . . . Palestinians in the Gaza Strip crowd near the borders with Israel every Friday to show solidarity with what Palestinians in besieged coastal enclave have termed the “Jerusalem Intifada” taking place in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israeli navy sinks a Palestinian fishing boat in southern Gaza [and two men shot with live fire in buffer zone]
IMEMC/Agencies 2 Apr — Israeli navy boats fired, on Saturday at dawn, several shells and live rounds on a number of Palestinian fishing boats near the Rafah shore in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, causing one boat to sink. Two Palestinians injured on Friday at night. Eyewitnesses said the navy ships fired several shells at the fishing boats, close to the shore in Rafah, directly hitting one boat, causing it to catch on fire and sink. There have been no reports of casualties in the attack as of this report . . .
On Friday at night, the soldiers shot and injured two young Palestinian men, ages 26 and 24, in Palestinian agricultural lands, near the border fence, east of Rafah. The two were shot with live rounds in their legs, and were moved to Abu Yousef Najjar Hospital suffering mild injuries.

Ayyash: No certain news on expanding the fishing zone
GAZA (PIC) 31 Mar — The head of the Palestinian fishermen syndicate in Gaza, Nizar Ayyash, said that they have been informed of reported news about expanding the fishing zone from six to nine nautical miles. The fishing zone will be expanded in the area from Wadi Gaza in central Gaza Strip tol Rafah in the south. Quds Press quoted Ayyash as saying on Thursday that “the coming days will disclose whether Israeli authorities have expanded the fishing zone or not”. He pointed out that the expansion will be effective starting April 03. Israel signed an Egyptian brokered truce agreement with the Palestinian resistance on August 26, 2014 allowing the Gazan fishermen to sail for fishing purposes into 6 nautical miles under the condition that it would be increased gradually until reaching 12 nautical miles.

The road to Gaza: 80 kilometers of strife
Haaretz 1 Apr by Almog Ben Zikri — The main road for the transportation of goods to Gaza is at the center of a fierce dispute between truck drivers and residents of the border communities, who say the vehicles are making the highway unsafe. Route 232 serves as a crucial link to the Kerem Shalom crossing and the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of large trucks use the road daily to bring goods to Gaza. The road connects to Route 4 and the center of the country, and is for the most part a two-lane highway. Local residents say these trucks cause huge traffic jams, lead to accelerated deterioration of the road and are responsible for numerous traffic accidents. As a result, the police have set up a roadside stop near the Gaza crossing to check that the trucks are following regulations. In response, the truck drivers have gone on strike three times, disrupting the transfer of goods into Gaza. Last week, following a series of traffic accidents, the Gaza border communities blocked traffic on Route 232 for the third time in the past few weeks. They led a slow convoy of vehicles down the road, which caused traffic problems in the morning and disrupted truck traffic on the road. Residents want to find a solution to keep the trucks off all 80 kilometers (50 miles) of road, which ends at the Kerem Shalom crossing near the border with Egypt. They want the Karni crossing farther north to be reopened for the passage of goods to Gaza, as well as increased police enforcement against truck drivers along the road . . . On a normal workday, 600 to 800 trucks use the Kerem Shalom crossing, transporting over 20,000 tons of medical supplies, food and construction materials into Gaza. The truck drivers’ protests against increased police enforcement have seriously affected the delivery of goods to Gaza. On March 16, the first day of disruptions, only 333 trucks delivered goods. And the next day, only 132 trucks delivered a mere 5,200 tons of supplies. (Continued)

Red Cross brings solar panels to Gaza clinics
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 31 Mar — A project sponsored by the international Red Cross on Thursday installed solar panels at 32 health-care clinics in the Gaza Strip to ensure that vaccines remain refrigerated in the power-starved territory. Each clinic received a unit of six panels. The units will produce about 1,500 megawatts of power – enough to keep vaccine refrigerators on. On a good day, the 1.8 million residents of Gaza, ruled by the militant Hamas group, get electricity for eight hours. Disagreements between Hamas and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority have left Gaza’s only power plant functioning at reduced capacity. Electricity from neighboring Israel and Egypt help alleviate the shortages. Dr. Majdi Duhair, a Health Ministry official, said that even with the new panels, many services, including labs, drug storage facilities and operating rooms, continue to suffer. “This project will preserve the temperature of the refrigerators and therefore maintain the cooling of the vaccines,” he said. “But the problem related to the rest of the services that involve electricity in providing health services in general will remain existent.”During the most recent war between Israel and Hamas in 2014, lengthy power cuts ruined 30,000 vaccines, Duhair said. The clinics receiving the new solar units vaccinated 54,250 newborns last year.

Egypt destroys a long smuggling tunnel in the Sinai
Ynet 31 Mar by Roi Kais — The Egyptian border guard destroyed a three kilometer long tunnel between Rafah, Egypt and the Gaza Strip, one of the longest tunnels discovered at the border between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, according to Egyptian security sources Thursday. The tunnel’s opening point, located in the house of an Egyptian smuggler from the Al Barazeel neighborhood in Rafah, Egypt is made out of concrete and steel. In addition to high quality engineering equipment, lighting, generators and communications devices were found. The Ma‘an Palestinian news agency reported that armaments such as mortars were found inside the tunnel. Egyptian security sources did not rule out the possibility that this tunnel was intended for military purposes. Egyptian media accused Hamas and its military wing, the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, of having something to do with the tunnel. This tunnel was found as an additional round of talks between a Hamas delegation to Cairo and the Egyptian general intelligence were being held. The Hamas delegation returned on Wednesday from the talks in Cairo. The talks focus on the border situation between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, as well as the smuggling tunnels that the Egyptians are combating.,7340,L-4785602,00.html

Hamas denies negotiations on return of captive Israelis
Haaretz 1 Apr by Jack Khoury — Militant group says it hold two Israeli civilians and two soldiers, who Israel had declared killed in action during Gaza war — Hamas denied on Friday that negotiations were taking place with Israel over the return of Israelis held in Gaza. A spokesman for Iz al-Din al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, said in a televised address that the group was holding Avera Mengistu and a Bedouin-Israeli whose name was not released for publication, as well as two Israeli soldiers, Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul. Israel had previously declared that Goldin and Shaul were killed during the war in Gaza in 2014. “Netanyahu is lying to his people and casts sand in the eyes of the soldiers’ families,” the spokesman said. “We clearly state that there are no negotiations [with Israel] over the four prisoners and there are no contacts.” “Israel must pay to receive information before and after the negotiations,” he added. The televised footage showed pictures of the four Israelis.

Palestinian rights group submits Israeli war crimes report to ICC
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — In ongoing efforts to hold Israel accountable for gross violations of international law, Palestinian legal rights group Badil has published key findings on alleged war crimes during the 2014 Gaza war that the group submitted to the International Criminal Court earlier this month. The report documents in detail the accounts of Palestinian victims of Israel’s large-scale military offensive on the besieged enclave and charges high-level Israeli officials with war crimes and crimes against humanity. In the report, No Safe Place, Badil focused in particular on Israel’s mass forced displacement of some half-a-million Palestinians at the height of hostilities, around 28 percent of Gaza’s population. Badil documents extensively Israel’s failure to establish protected humanitarian areas within the Gaza Strip where those displaced by Israel’s massive military onslaught could seek refuge. “Given the limited physical dimensions of the Gaza Strip and sheer scale of its square footage targeted by Israeli fire, there existed no safe place to which to flee,” Badil said. “More than this, Israel actively targeted Palestinians during and after the process of flight, and the very buildings designated by humanitarian organizations as shelters for the displaced — home to some 300,000 displaced Palestinians at the peak of hostilities — were subject to Israeli attack . . .  Badil — joining other international right bodies — called for the desperate need for intervention by the ICC on the grounds that Israel’s internal investigative processes are structurally inept at delivering genuine accountability or justice. (Continued)

Prisoners / Court actions

Jerusalem court indicts 2 Israelis who threatened Palestinian MK’s life
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — The Israeli magistrate court of Jerusalem on Thursday indicted two Israelis who issued death threats against Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset Ahmad Tibi. The indictment list issued on Thursday said that the two threatened Tibi, a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, via Facebook posts in 2012 that read “you better run before you are killed” and “your end is near.” The lawyer of one of the Israelis said his client would prove in court that her statement did not constitute a criminal offense and that she had the right to express her opinion. Ahmad Mhanna, a lawyer and Tibi’s parliamentary assistant, said “the mentioned threats, in addition to dozens of threats by extremists Jews against MK Tibi whether by mail or social media, reflect hostility and hatred against Arabs and Tibi, who is defending his people everywhere.” “We take these threats seriously, but that does not scare Dr. Tibi and he does not change his principles,” he added.

Shalit-deal prisoner continues hunger strike against detention
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — A Palestinian prisoner continued his hunger strike for the eighth consecutive day in protest of his administrative detention by Israel, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said Thursday. The family of 34-year-old Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Dawood from al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem told PPS that their son was initially released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal but detained again without charge on Nov. 8, 2015. PPS said in a statement that Dawood, who is currently being administratively detained in Israel’s Ofer prison, had served five years out of his 10-and-a-half-year prison sentence before he was released in the 2011 Shalit exchange. Several Palestinians released during the Shalit deal have since been rearrested or exiled to the Gaza Strip. Over 1,000 Palestinian detainees were released in the Egypt-brokered 2011 agreement between Hamas and Israel in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held captive by Hamas for five years. At least 50 Shalit-deal prisoners were rearrested in the summer of 2014 during a detention campaign referred to as “Operation Brother’s Keeper,” in which Israeli forces detained at least 800 Palestinians without charge or trial and killed nine civilians. At the time of their re-arrest, Shalit-deal prisoners released a statement contesting Israel’s violation of the deal, saying they had demonstrated commitment to its terms.

Land theft / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

IOF fences Palestinian agricultural land in Tulkarem
TULKAREM (PIC) 31 Mar — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Thursday fenced Palestinian agricultural lands in Shoufeh village in southern Tulkarem with barbed wire. The forces separated the lands from each other and barred their owners from accessing them claiming that it is a measure to prevent stone throwing at Israeli vehicles. Saqer Othman, an inhabitant of the village, told Quds Press that the lands fenced by Israeli forces contain planted greenhouses. Israeli forces prevented Othman from accessing his greenhouses. Othman pointed out that the IOF soldiers fenced over 300 meters of the land which will negatively affect the inhabitants of the village.

Municipality endorses construction of 18 settlement units in Mount Scopus
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC)- 31 Mar — The Local Planning and Construction committee at Jerusalem municipality endorsed on Wednesday the construction of 18 settlement units for Jewish families in Mount Scopus in Occupied Jerusalem. The website of Voice of Israel reported that the settlement project plan will be submitted to the district committee of planning and construction in Occupied Jerusalem. The website quoted municipality of Jerusalem officials as saying that the construction plan, which includes new additional housing units, was presented by the Israeli right-wing Elad society.

Activism / Solidarity

Transgender conscientious objector is sent to Israeli military prison
+972 mag 30 Mar by Haggai Matar — Transgender conscientious objector Aiden Katri was sentenced to military prison on Tuesday, in what activists say is the first time a transgender draft refuser has been imprisoned in Israel. Katri reported to the IDF’s Tel Hashomer induction base near Tel Aviv Tuesday morning flanked by dozens of supporters. A few hours later, at the conclusion of an army disciplinary trial, she was sentenced to a week in prison for refusing to be conscripted into the army. Military service is mandatory in Israel for Jews. Before being sentenced, Katri explained that her actions are driven by a sense of solidarity with Palestinian women living under Israeli military occupation, and the feminist struggle against the discriminatory treatment between men and women in the army itself. Later that evening, Katri was transferred to the IDF’s Prison 6, a facility for male inmates. IDF officials who spoke on condition of anonymity told +972 and its Hebrew-language site Local Call that the army does not really know what to do with a transgender inmate . . .
Another young woman, Tair Kaminer, is also currently being imprisoned for refusing to be conscripted into the Israeli army for reasons of conscientious objection. Kaminer, 20, was sentenced to prison for the fourth time this week, after already serving 75 days in prison. Conscientious objectors are generally imprisoned for periods of up to one month, after which they are sent home for a weekend or so, and then back to an induction base where the entire process repeats itself. The cycle can go on for many months before the army releases a soldier from mandatory service.

Opinion: No one would serve in the Israeli army if they knew / Tair Kaminer
Haaretz 29 Mar — The absence of a critical approach prevents Israeli teens from examining the army and the state before they enlist in the IDF. With one, they could turn their theoretical red lines into actions — I report to the Tel Hashomer induction center, where I’m recognized immediately. “You again? They didn’t discharge you yet?” It will be my third time in prison, after I already served 45 days for refusing to enlist in an occupying army and thereby maintain the cycle of violence. This time I was sentenced to 20 days for refusing to enlist and an additional 10 days for being absent without leave. In the evening I reported to Military Prison No. 6 once again. It’s significantly easier the third time. Somehow there’s even a positive atmosphere. The commanders already know me, they seem to be smiling at me. They’re even beginning to trust me not to bring in prohibited items, so the search of my bag is less exacting. This time they didn’t unroll my socks. I don’t have to listen again to the rules and explanations, which I surely have memorized by now — every step in prison is explained three times a day, at least, and it’s not exactly rocket science. When I meet up with the girls, the ones I left a week ago who are still here, some are surprised to see me again; the others I told ahead of time. But they all have the same reactions: “Why did you return? Why don’t you go to the mental health officer and be done with it? Or say that you’re religious.” Why, indeed? (Continued)

Other news

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (24-30 March)
PCHR-Gaza 31 Mar — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt.  2 Palestinian civilians were wounded and then shot dead in Hebron. 6 Palestinian civilians were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli forces continued to target the border areas along the Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces conducted 83 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the central Gaza Strip. 76 Palestinian civilians, including 27 children and 2 women, were arrested. Fifteen of them, including 9 children and a woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. A Palestinian from Rafah was arrested in mysterious circumstances [full, detailed report]

Palestinian requests to convert to Judaism rejected automatically
JTA 1 Apr — Israel’s authority handling conversions to Judaism rejects Palestinian applicants without review because of their ethnic origin, its head said. Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, director of the Israeli government’s Conversion Authority, spoke about his organization’s handling of requests by Palestinians to convert on Tuesday during a discussion on conversions at the State Control Committee of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, the news site NRG reported. To initiate an officially recognized conversion to Judaism in Israel, foreigners need to apply to the special cases panel of the Conversion Authority.  “The threshold requirements” to be considered by the special cases panel, he said, “are that applicants be sincere and that they are not foreign workers; infiltrators; Palestinian or illegally in the country.” In 2014, he added, the special cases committee received 400 applications. “Half of the applicants were accepted, the rest were rejected as foreign workers, infiltrators, illegal stayers and Palestinians,” he said. Conversions to Judaism by Palestinians are rare in Israel. Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which is the legal basis for the country’s basic laws  – a set often referred to the equivalent of Israel’s constitution – ensures “absolute social and political equality to all its citizens regardless of faith, race and gender.” The Israeli government fears that Palestinian attempts to convert to Judaism would be a covert form of realizing “the right of return,” which is demanded by Arabs who were forced to flee or fled their former homes and lands in pre-state Israel just before the state’s founding.

Israel cuts Jericho’s electricity supply by 50%, citing unpaid debts in West Bank
Haaretz 31 Mar by Jack Khoury — Two-thirds of Jericho without power, says director of a Palestinian electric company as talks continue to reduce debt of more than $451 million — Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) reduced Thursday the amount of electricity it supplies to the West Bank city of Jericho by 50 percent, citing that debt owed by the Palestinian Authority and the Jerusalem District Electric Company (JDEC), covering East Jerusalem, had grown to over 1.7 billion shekels (more than $451 million). Palestinian officials confirmed the reduction in Jericho and said that negotiations were underway in efforts to scale down the debt burden. According to sources at IEC, the decision to reduce the supply of electricity to Jericho specifically was reached on the grounds that the city also receives electricity from Jordan, and that the local electric station could redirect supplies in order to minimize the damage. The same sources said the decision was reached after a number of attempts at negotiating with the PA and the JDEC in failed attempts to scale down the debt and prevent a reoccurring buildup. According to figures provided by IEC, 1.4 billion shekels of the debt is owed by JDEC in East Jerusalem and a number of villages in the area, as well as Jericho, Bethlehem and Ramallah. The remaining 300 million shekels of debt is owed by the PA.

Negev farm closed in crackdown on illegal Palestinian workers
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Israeli police on Thursday shut down a poultry factory in the Bedouin town of Shaqib al-Salam in the southern Israeli region of Negev after the factory was raided Monday for employing Palestinians from the West Bank who were working there without permits. Israeli police had raided the factory on Monday to find 800 workers on the grounds including minors, and detained 41 Palestinian workers without permits, Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said. One of the workers told Ma‘an at the time that around 100 Israeli police officers stormed Oof Ooz slaughterhouse and rounded up more than Palestinian 100 workers and transported them to the West Bank.Police on Thursday then detained five factory managers and transferred them for investigation, al-Samri said. Investigations revealed that some of the Palestinian workers lived in the area, while others resided in the occupied West Bank and had entered Israel illegally. Al-Samri said the closure of the farm was based on the Israeli Law No. 26, sponsored by the Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to combat the supposed phenomenon of illegal Palestinian workers committing attacks inside Israel.

World Bank: Restrictions cost Palestinian telecoms $1B
JERUSALEM (AP) 31 Mar — The World Bank says the Palestinian mobile phone sector lost more than $1 billion in potential earnings over the last three years, largely due to Israeli restrictions. Its report Thursday said over 20 percent of West Bank customers use Israeli providers because they offer high-speed internet capabilities. In 2015, Israel agreed to permit a 3G broadband network in the West Bank, but this is not yet available to customers with Palestinian companies. Israeli restrictions prevent the import of telecom equipment for Palestinian companies, the report says, and prevent a second Palestinian mobile phone company in the West Bank from operating in Gaza, a territory controlled by the militant group Hamas. The report says the Palestinian government has not established a regulatory authority, leading to high pricing and market dominance.

Jordanian lawmaker denied entry into occupied West Bank
AMMAN (Jordan Times) 30 Mar by Omar Obeidat — Israel on Wednesday banned MP Yihya Saud from entering the occupied West Bank, where he was scheduled to attend a reconciliation gathering between two tribes, a Jordanian and a Palestinian, the lawmaker told The Jordan Times. Saud, who chairs the Lower House Palestine Committee, said he was supposed to be in the city of Ramallah as he was invited by the Samhan tribe there to attend the reconciliation gathering with a delegation from the Karak Majali tribe to complete reconciliation procedures over the shooting death of Mohammad Samhan . . . Saud said Israelis refused to allow him into the West Bank because of his pro-Palestinian stances, adding that the Foreign Ministry — through the Jordanian embassy in Tel Aviv — tried to convince Israelis to allow him entry but to no avail. “Jordan and Israel have a signed peace treaty and as an MP I should be allowed to enter the West Bank anytime without hurdles,” he said, asking sarcastically “what kind of peace treaties does the government here keep talking about?” The lawmaker noted that Israel has also denied entry to some members of the Jordanian delegation, which consisted of tribal leaders from across Jordan. “Some were allowed to cross into the West Bank and some others were banned,” he said.

More than 5,000 Palestinians to perform Hajj this year
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Over 5,000 Palestinians are expected to embark on this year’s annual Hajj pilgrimage, the Palestinian Minister of Endowment and Religious Affairs said Thursday. Sheikh Youssef Ideis said 3,270 pilgrims would be leaving the occupied West Bank in addition to 2,010 others from the Gaza Strip. Each year, thousands of Palestinians apply to leave the occupied Palestinian territory to perform Hajj, but many are prevented from travel due to Israeli movement restrictions. The Egyptian authorities last year opened the Rafah crossing between the blockaded Gaza Strip and Egypt for three days to allow pilgrims to pass through, an unprecedented move amid a year marked by the crossing’s consistent closure . . . The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it is expected to perform it at least once in their lifetime.

Palestinian pilgrim succumbs to wounds sustained in Jordan bus accident
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 Apr — A Palestinian woman on Friday succumbed to wounds she sustained some two weeks ago when a bus carrying Muslim pilgrims along the Jordan side of the Jordanian-Saudi border flipped over. The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the woman as Kifaya Mahmoud Awad Abahreh, 50, from al-Yamun in western Jenin. The woman succumbed to her wounds at the King Hussein Medical Center in the Jordanian capital of Amman bringing the total of victims of the accident to 19 pilgrims. Sixteen Palestinians were killed immediately and at least 34 injured when the bus driver lost control on March 17.

Abbas: Security coordination with Israel preventing ‘a bloody intifada’
Haaretz 31 Mar by Barak Ravid — The Palestinian Authority is “on the brinks of collapse” if the current situation continues, PA President Mahmoud Abbas warned in an interview, broadcast Thursday night, with Channel 2 journalist Ilana Dayan. Abbas said he was insisting on continuing security cooperation with Israel, but demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu order the Israel Defense Forces to cease operations in West Bank Palestinian cities. “Try me for a week — if I don’t meet my responsibilities, then come back,” he said to Dayan in an interview on the current events show “Uvda.” . . .The Palestinian president said Israel was breaking the Oslo Accords because since the year 2000 the IDF has been operating in Area A, and entering Palestinian cities without restriction, despite security cooperation with the PA. He said an IDF force had recently come to his own house in Ramallah and demanded that his security detail get rid of their weapons. Violence was narrowly averted, he added.

Qassam: Twitter’s closure of our accounts a clear bias to Israel
GAZA (PIC) 1 Apr — The information office of Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, slammed in a brief statement issued Thursday evening Twitter’s closure of the brigades’ accounts in English and Arabic, considering it a clear bias toward Israel. At a time when Twitter opens its platform to Israeli occupation figures and institutions teaming with racism, extremism and terrorism, the company closes, for the third consecutive time in two weeks, the official accounts of the Qassam Brigades in English and Arabic in flagrant violation of our right according to the commitment it made in front of the world, and in a clear bias to Israel. It should demonstrate neutral position toward both sides, the statement said. “Military Information Department of al-Qassam Brigades condemn this action by Twitter, and call on the company to comply with its declared principles, especially (To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers).” “We also call on the company to reconsider the decision and reopen the closed accounts”, according to the statement. Al-Qassam Brigades affirmed that it has a clear message of freedom and anti Israeli racism, and it will continue struggle to deliver its message to the world, which now distinguishes between the victim and the executioner. (listserv) (archive)

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Hunting down and terrorizing a twelve-year- old! And they beat his 16-year-old brother enough to leave blood in the street. How can any parent accept this? Israel is a child abuser. Talk to a twelve-year-old and it’s obvious they aren’t even half-formed. They are children. Israel is sick sick sick. How are Palestinians supposed to raise their children under these conditions? Knowing they can be snatched away and tortured at any time, how do you… Read more »

Aargh! I was “off” yesterday and thought that I would peruse the news for information about Israel’s and the majority of Israelis’ neverending violent and illegal campaign against Palestinians and Palestine. I thought I had done a rather thorough (and sickening) review, and now I read your compilation and realize that it is getting only getting worse, Kate. How can this be??? I read/heard Levy speak with Max on the real news the other day:… Read more »

This is just one of many atrocities committed by the occupier. Children are being killed, attacked, kidnapped late in the night, and hundreds thrown in jail without legal representation. This is a huge crime committed by criminals wearing uniform. It seems there is yet another report submitted to the ICC by a Palestinian rights group, but most probably the US will threaten and twist arms to make this vanish too. Disgusting. Palestinian rights group submits… Read more »

Levy and Levac: “What Went Through Palestinian Parents’ Minds as They Watched Son’s Cold-blooded Execution? … What goes through the mind of a father who sees a video of his son lying wounded on the road, and then being shot to death in cold blood by a soldier, at close range? What goes through the mind of a mother when she sees the superior officers and comrades-in-arms of the soldier who carries out the execution… Read more »

Amira. Today: “How Israel’s High Court Implicitly Aids the Soldier Accused of Hebron Manslaughter… To the attorneys of Sergeant E. [the Israeli soldier facing a manslaughter charge after fatally shooting a subdued Palestinian assailant in the head, in Hebron two weeks ago]: These lines are written in case you missed High Court of Justice ruling 143/12. Did it discuss making sure that a suspect, lying wounded and bleeding on the ground, is dead by delivering… Read more »