Palestinians mark 68th anniversary of Deir Yassin massacre
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — Palestinians on Saturday marked the 68th anniversary of the massacre of more than 100 Palestinian civilians carried out by Zionist paramilitary groups in the village of Deir Yassin in 1948 prior to the establishment of Israel. Deir Yassin has long been a symbol of Israeli violence for Palestinians because of the particularly gruesome nature of the slaughter, which targeted men, women, children, and the elderly in the small village west of Jerusalem. The number of victims is generally believed to be around 107, though figures given at the time reached up to 254, out of a village that numbered around 600 at the time. The Deir Yassin massacre was led by the Irgun group, whose head was future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, with support from other paramilitary groups Haganah and Lehi whose primary aim was to push Palestinians out through force. Records of the massacre describe Palestinian homes blown up with residents inside, and families shot down as they attempted to flee. The massacre came in spite of Deir Yassin residents’ efforts to maintain positive relations with new Jewish neighbors, including the signing of a pact that was approved by Haganah, a main Zionist paramilitary organization during the British Mandate of Palestine.
An Israeli psychiatric hospital now lies on the ruins of Deir Yassin, the remainder of which was reportedly bulldozed in the 1980s to make way for Jewish housing and incorporated as a neighborhood of Jerusalem. Streets of the neighborhood hold names of Irgun militiamen who carried out the massacre. The massacre was one of the first in what would become a long line of attacks on countless Palestinian villages, part of a broader strategy called Plan Dalet by Zionist groups to strike fear into local Palestinians in hopes that the ensuing terror would lead to an Arab exodus, to ensure only Jews were left in the “Jewish state.” Thus the attack on Deir Yassin took place a month before the UN Partition Plan was expected to be carried out, and was part of reasons later given by neighboring Arab states for their intervention in Palestine. The combination of forced expulsion and flight that the massacres — what would later become known among Palestinians as the Nakba, or catastrophe — precipitated left around 750,000 Palestinians as refugees abroad. Today their descendants number more than five million, and their right to return to Palestine is a central political demand.
VIDEO: Deir Yassin Remembered
Posted 8 Apr 2011 Palestine Diary 33:17 minutes — [this video covers a great deal – from video of the remains of the village cemetery now on the grounds of a mental health center, to interviews with survivors… It includes many things which are not widely known, such as the fact that in the days after the massacre, orphaned children from Deir Yassin were gathered up and left to fend for themselves at the Jaffa Gate. They were taken into the care of one woman, Hind Husseini, who eventually took in 55 children.]
Deir Yassin Remembered: http://www.deiryassin.org/
Palestine Remembered: http://www.palestineremembered.com/in…
1948 LEST WE FORGET: http://www.1948.org.uk/
[and other videos easily found on Youtube]
VIDEOS: Palestine marks 68th anniversary of Deir Yassin massacre
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Apr — Palestinians, this Saturday, mark the 68th anniversary of the massacre of Deir Yassin, a small village to the west of Jerusalem, which was carried out by extremist Zionist militias. The Deir Yassin massacre was a pivotal moment of the Nakba and in the lead-up to the 1948 War. It was led by the Irgun (Etzel) group, whose head was future prime minister Menachem Begin, with support from the Stern Gang (Lehi). On April 9, 1948, the village was attacked by those two Jewish paramilitary groups, composed of 120 men. Some 100-200 Palestinians, including women, children and elderly, were killed by extremist Zionist militias. However, according to the PNN, the precise number of deaths remains unclear until today: some believe it to be around 107, though figures given at the time reached up to 254. Some villagers were shot in battle, many others executed. Others were killed when grenades were thrown into their houses. As stated by Zochrot, “the remaining villagers were driven out or trucked east towards Jerusalem. Their houses were looted and were subsequently resettled by Jewish European immigrants a few months later. Deir Yassin was wiped off the map.” In 1953, on the other side of the valley, within full view of Deir Yassin, the building of the Holocaust museum began. Called “Named Yad Vashem”, it has grown into a vast, sprawling complex of tree-studded walkways leading to exhibits, archives, monuments, sculptures, and memorials, all dedicated to Jews who died in World War II.”
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
All indications are that the intifada is waning
Haaretz 10 Apr by Amos Harel — Statistically at least, the third intifada – the violent outburst that began last October — is showing signs of subsiding. A gradual reduction of the violence in the occupied territories was registered in January and February and became more pronounced in March and April (the last fatality was the American tourist who was stabbed to death in Jaffa more than a month ago.) Over the past week, a number of knife-carrying Palestinians were arrested at roadblocks in the West Bank and in the Old City of Jerusalem. But the last attack with casualties was carried out a week ago by an Arab Israeli woman from Kafr Qasem, who stabbed and lightly wounded a civilian in the nearby industrial area. When we speak of a decline in violence we must do so cautiously. Since the current intifada is conducted from the grass-roots and is not directed by a central leadership, it is difficult to analyze and predict in what direction it will go. Notwithstanding, the large West Bank demonstrations which attracted at most a few thousand participants, have not only stopped almost entirely, but the rate of “lone wolf” attacks has decreased considerably . . . Lately, with the dwindling of successful attacks, the copycat effect also seems to have been halted, to some extent. Caution should also be applied in analyzing the religious component, which played a central role in the October outburst due to the tension around the Temple Mount . . . However, the approaching Passover holiday may bring with it renewed conflagration. More Jews will visit the site, putting a strain on the situation, which is already tense due to the Palestinians’ objection to Israel’s agreement with Jordan about placing security cameras on the Temple Mount. The defense establishment gives three reasons for the relative decline in violence both in the West Bank and in Israel. The first is the improvement in the ability of Military Intelligence and the Shin Bet to locate and arrest Palestinian youngsters planning “lone wolf” attacks. Sometimes these youngsters write about their intentions on social networks. At the same time, the Palestinian security forces are also arresting people, while holding talks in schools to persuade students not to carry out attacks that would probably get them killed. The third reason is the improved security coordination with the Palestinian Authority and its relative restriction of incitement on its official media outlets. (Continued)
Opinion: Nothing justifies Palestinian stabbings, nothing justifies Israeli executions / Rita Khoury
Haaretz 8 Apr — As a Palestinian Israeli, I know that neither Palestinian nor Israeli mothers urge their children to die. But with no political horizon, many Palestinians are losing hope — . . . Don’t let the propaganda persuade you that Palestinian mothers want their sons to go out to die. They worry over and love their children like parents all over the world. We’re not a people of terrorism: we just want the simple right to live with dignity, a right we don’t have now. We’re also asking for the right to be buried in dignity. The withholding of Palestinian bodies from their families by the Israeli authorities is an open wound for many Palestinians, one that fuels more violence and death. Israel is currently holding 15 corpses, defying the state’s basic laws and humanitarian principles. Parents of the dead have approached Israel’s Supreme Court: a hearing is scheduled for two weeks’ time. This is what it’s like, in the words of a Palestinian whose relative’s corpse hasn’t been returned for burial. “We’ve been waiting for five months [for the return of the corpse]. We feel we’re in a continuous bereavement, as if our son died just now, not even an hour or two ago. We who haven’t seen our sons’ bodies – we think of them as still alive. Every day we visit the open graves that we hope to bury our sons in, that the warmth of the soil will melt their frozen bodies. “The families live in waiting for a call from the security services that could come anytime, day or night. Sometimes the number of mourners are limited to 11 , not enough even for close relatives. “When the corpse is finally delivered to the family, it’s been held in a morgue at a temperature of 70 degrees below zero. It’s frozen: no part of the body can be moved, it can’t be bathed or shrouded [as Muslim tradition dictates]. When we carry them to the grave and put them in, we must be careful no parts snap off. “Who knew a dead body can be broken.” . . . The Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish wrote that Palestinians are sick of being hopeful. Many of us have lost hope. But he also wrote that we “love life with all our senses.” Life and not death.
Israel jails man who protested attack on his home
Shushahla 30 Mar by Bryan MacCormack — Muhannad Saad Salah is being detained by Israel after daring to protest against attacks on his home. On 10 March, Salah’s home in Shushahla, a small village south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, was set on fire by suspected Israeli settlers. Salah and his family were not at home at the time. Salah had brought his wife and daughter to stay with relatives in the nearby town of al-Khader after settlers had thrown rocks at their house earlier in the day. A few days later, Salah and other community activists in al-Khader held a protest against the arson attack. The demonstration was broken up by Israeli forces using tear gas, rubber coated bullets and live ammunition. A 16-year-old boy was shot by the soldiers, with a bullet narrowly missing his heart. Salah tried to file a formal complaint about the attack on his home. But when he arrived at the Gush Etzion police station, his mother said, he was arrested by Israeli forces for organizing the demonstration. Initially held at the station, he was eventually taken to Ofer, an Israeli military prison in the West Bank, where he remains in detention. Salah’s home has been repeatedly attacked by residents of Neve Daniel, a nearby Israeli settlement, his family say. Settlers have often “come into the village and stolen our water and disturbed the people,” said Maysar Salah, Muhannad’s mother. “They want to push the whole people to leave.”
4 Palestinian teenagers turn themselves in to Israeli authorities
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — Four Palestinian teenagers turned themselves in to Israeli authorities on Sunday after spending time under house arrest. Muhammad Tayih, 17, Yazan Ayub, 16, Murad Aalqam, 15, and Zayid Tawil, 17, turned themselves in to the al-Ramla Prison in order to serve their sentences, ranging from one to three years in prison. The four are among 10 youths from the neighborhood of Beit Hanina north of occupied East Jerusalem who were first detained at the end of June last year. They were released on bail two weeks after their initial detention and put under house arrest. However, a recent court ruling sentenced them to actual prison sentences. The remaining six Beit Hanina teenagers are expected to turn themselves in in the coming days. Aalqam was sentenced to 36 months in prison, al-Tawil and Tayih were sentenced to 28 months, and Ayub received a 14-month prison sentence. The teenagers expressed worry at what would await them in prison, but said actual imprisonment would be easier that living under house arrest. They added that the time they spent under house arrest had not been counted as serving part of their sentences. The head of the Jerusalem Detainees and Prisoners’ Families organization, Amjad Abu Asab, told Ma‘an that some 129 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons are minors from East Jerusalem. He said this number included five young girls and six under the age of 14 held in juvenile detention centers.
4 Palestinians detained by Israeli forces in predawn raids.
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) — Israeli forces launched multiple predawn raids across the occupied Palestinian territory Saturday, detaining at least four Palestinians and delivering summons to others, locals and Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an. In the northernmost West Bank district of Jenin, Israeli forces ransacked a house in the village of Rummana and detained Nidal Sbeihat, according to Palestinian security sources. Israeli forces also stormed Qalandiya refugee camp in the central West Bank district of Ramallah and detained Husam al-Ashhab. In the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli forces detained a woman identified by local sources as Zeinat Uweida. The sources added that Uweida was among a group of volunteers known in Arabic as the Murabitat (Murabiteen for men) who often stay inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound with the aim of preventing groups of right-wing Jews from entering. Another predawn detention raid was reported in the village of Qatanna northwest of Jerusalem. A young man was reportedly detained. In Bethlehem district in the southern occupied West Bank, Israeli forces raided ‘Ayda refugee camp and the town of al-Khader and delivered summonses to Muhammad Mustafa Kanaan, Muhammad Riziq Salah, Hamza Issa Ghneim, and Nabil Suleiman Mousa. Raids were also reported in Hebron district in the southern West Bank where Israeli forces delivered summons in Hebron city as well as the towns of Dura and Deir Samit.
Israeli soldiers kidnap eleven Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 10 Apr — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, late at night and on Sunday at dawn, at least eleven Palestinians, including children and a journalist, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, and summoned many for interrogation in a number of military centers . . . Several military vehicles invaded Silwad town, east of the central West bank city of Ramallah, searched many homes and kidnapped three Palestinians, identified as Saif Khalil Hammad, 19, Bilal Sobhi Hamed, 17, and Mo’men Bassem Hamed, 17. The soldiers also invaded the home of Taleb Hamed, looking for his son, Tareq, 19, but he was not at home; he is a student of Birzeit University. A university student, identified as Bahaeddin Sheja’eyya, 19, was kidnapped after the soldiers invaded his home in Deir Jarir town, east of Ramallah. The soldiers also invaded Zawiya town, in the central West Bank district of Salfit, and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Monir Shaqqoura. In the southern West Bank district of Hebron, the soldiers kidnapped Tamer Waleed Ghazi, 17, from the al-‘Arroub refugee camp, Monir Nasser Shadeed, 20, from Doura town, and Husam al-Misk, a student of the Al-Quds – Abu Dis University. The soldiers also summoned for interrogation the head of Palestine Detainees’ Center Osama Shahin, and Jaber Rajoub, from Doura, in addition to a former political prisoner, identified as Zeid Abu Fannar, in Yatta town. In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers kidnapped a child, identified as Mohammad Ishaq Taha, 15, from his home in Qotna town. Another Palestinian, who remained unidentified until the time of this report, was kidnapped from his home in Rafat town, north of Jerusalem. The soldiers also kidnapped a Palestinian journalist, identified as Samah Dweik, 25, after invading her home in Ras al-‘Amoud neighborhood in Silwan town, in Jerusalem, and confiscated her computer and other equipment. It is worth mentioning that Samah, a reporter with Quds News Network, is “blacklisted” by Israel, and has been denied access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque
Israeli forces storm ‘Aida, ‘Azza refuge camps’, detain 18 in West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Apr – Clashes broke out overnight Sunday in the ‘Aida and ‘Azza refugee camps in Bethlehem between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces, during widespread raids across the occupied West Bank, detaining at least 18 Palestinians, including a Palestinian security officer. Local sources said Israeli forces stormed ‘Aida refugee camp in the southern occupied district of Bethlehem, firing gunshots and tear gas canisters, while Palestinians shouted “Allah Akbar” (God is great) and whistled at Israeli forces. Witnesses told Ma‘an masked Palestinian gunmen exchanged fire with Israeli soldiers near Abu Bakr mosque in ‘Aida camp. No casualties were reported. Israeli troops also raided the nearby ‘Azza refugee camp firing tear gas canisters, according to eyewitnesses. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an four Palestinians were detained in the district of Bethlehem. Locals added another was issued a summons. Israeli forces also detained Palestinian security officer Muhannad Farah Salih Barghouthi from the village of Beit Rima west of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank. His brother told Ma‘an that Barghouthi — an officer in the Palestinian Authority’s national security service — was driving his private car from Jericho back to Ramallah when Israeli soldiers stopped him and took him into custody. He added that Barghouthi was released from Israeli custody two years ago after serving an eight-year sentence. Israeli forces also detained six other Palestinians in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, two Palestinians in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, three in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, and two in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, according to the Israeli army spokesperson.
Hamas slams detention of 3 Palestinians by PA as ‘collaboration’ with Israel
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — Palestinian security forces found and detained three Palestinians on Saturday who had been reported missing, in a move slammed by the Hamas movement as collaboration between PA and Israeli authorities to thwart a planned attack inside Israel. The Hamas movement responded to the incident, accusing the Palestinian security services of “cooperation with the Israeli occupation” in the detention of three “resistance fighters.” Sources from the Palestinian general intelligence said an intelligence officer noticed three Palestinians walking Saturday in a mountainous area known locally as Ein al-Leimoon in the village of Mazari al-Nubani near Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank .The officer reportedly thought the Palestinians were Israeli settlers, according to the sources, and notified his office who sent a joint force of Palestinian intelligence officers and police officers from the Arura police station. The Palestinians identified themselves to the forces as 33-year-old Basil Mahmoud al-Aaraj from al-Walaja village near Bethlehem, 23-year-old Muhammad Abdullah Harb from Jenin, and 19-year-old Haytham al-Sayyaj from Hebron. The three, according to the intelligence sources, were carrying bags. They were taken to a Palestinian general intelligence office and their families — who had reported them missing on Friday April 1 — were notified. Hebrew-language news outlet 0404 reported on Saturday evening that the three Palestinians had been detained for planning a “terrorist” attack inside Israel, following a days-long manhunt that ensued once Israeli security had been alerted to the threat. According to the Israeli media report, the three were detained thanks to “cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.” 0404 added that in addition to the bags Palestinian security sources said were found on their persons, weapons, hand grenades, and camping equipment were also reportedly found. The report also said a “fourth suspect” — described as an “assistant who delivered the weapons to the group” — was detained by Israeli forces Saturday in the village of Qatanna near Ramallah. Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement that “detaining the three was very dangerous and reflects a rise in the security cooperation between these security services and (the Israeli) occupation in an attempt to foil the Palestinian Intifada.”
Hamas: PA detains Palestinians on Israel’s behalf in revolving door policy
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — The Hamas movement on Saturday charged the Palestinian Authority with adopting a “revolving door policy” that funnels Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons as part of “escalating security collaboration” with the Israeli authorities. A statement released by the Gaza-based movement said Hamas spokesman Husam Badran had slammed the PA the day before, alleging that Israel has detained dozens of Palestinians just after their release from PA jails since a wave of unrest increased in October 2015. Badran accused the PA of “adopting a revolving door policy, where pro-intifada activists illegally detained by the PA would be released and then arrested by the Israeli occupation shortly after.” Badran noted in particular two university students from the Islamic Bloc who were reportedly detained by Israel just after being released by the PA. Badran said that “by such incidents, the PA is betraying the Jerusalem intifada,” using the designation placed by Hamas on the wave of small-scale attacks carried out largely by Palestinian youth on Israeli targets over the past six months. The spokesperson called on all Palestinian factions to unite against PA security coordination with Israel, in order to “protect resistance in the West Bank.” An investigation by Israeli rights groups released February documented a number of Palestinians who said they were detained by Israeli forces shortly after being released by the PA, with some testimonies reporting the use of PA interrogation records by Israeli interrogators. PA security spokesman Adnan Dmeiri told Ma‘an at the time that he was not aware of any cases wherein information gathered by Palestinian interrogators had been transferred to Israeli intelligence, emphasizing that the two sides did not cooperate in this way. The Fatah-dominated PA and Israeli forces have worked in coordination since the Oslo Accords in 1993, which planned for a gradual power transfer of the occupied West Bank from Israeli forces to the PA over the course of five years. More 20 years on, however, any transfer of power has yet to take place. Saturday’s condemnation is the most recent criticism by Hamas and other groups who repeatedly accuse the PA of aligning with Israel’s goals in the occupied West Bank, and recently of preventing a sustained uprising against Israel. (Continued)
Israel drops investigation into army colonel’s killing of Palestinian teen
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — The legal division of the Israeli army closed on Sunday an investigation into the killing of a Palestinian teenager last summer by a senior Israeli commander, in a decision Israeli rights group B’Tselem has termed “an integral part” of the Israeli army’s “whitewash mechanism” of its own crimes. Colonel Yisrael Shomer shot and killed Muhammad Hani al-Kasbah, 17, with bullets in the head and chest on July 3, after the teenager allegedly threw stones at an Israeli military vehicle close to the Qalandiya checkpoint, south of Ramallah. “The Military Advocate General concluded that the shooting of the perpetrator was not criminal and the event does not justify taking legal action against the officer,” the Israeli army said in a statement on Sunday. “Col. Shomer exited his vehicle and fired into the air and towards the lower extremities of the assailant. However, due to the reality of the operational situation, the shots resulted in the death of the assailant.” Although the Israeli army initially claimed Shomer had acted in self-defense, a video released shortly after al-Kasbah’s death by B’Tselem showed al-Kasbah initially running towards the military jeep to throw a stone at it before fleeing from the Israeli forces. A field investigation by Palestinian rights group Al-Haq at the time revealed that Israeli soldiers had “arbitrarily shot and killed Muhammad, who posed no threat to the Israeli soldiers’ lives at the time of the shooting.” Al-Haq rejected not only that al-Kasbah had posed a threat to the soldiers’ lives but also that the Israeli soldiers had adequately warned the teenager, adding that al-Kasbah’s upper-body wounds “demonstrated an intent to kill.” Al-Kasbah’s two brothers Yasser and Samer had been killed by Israeli forces in the Qalandiya refugee camp in May 2002. Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli politician and Yisrael Beitenu party leader Avigdor Lieberman hailed the investigation’s closure.“The time has come that everyone should know that the blood of Israeli soldiers is not free,” the Israeli newspaper quoted him as saying.
Family of slain Palestinian teen calls for support in Israeli court
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — The family of a 17-year-old Palestinian shot dead by an Israeli border police officer outside of Ofer prison in 2014 is attempting to garner support in preparation for the first court hearing on their son’s death. The family of Nadim Nuwara on Saturday told Ma‘an they called for lawyers, journalists, and supporters to appear at the court session in effort to pressure the Israeli authorities to hold accountable the officer believed to be responsible for Nuwara’s death. “We want to give the Israeli occupation a message that the case is still alive and that our people do not forget the blood of their martyrs,” the family said, requesting the attendance of those concerned about the case to stage a sit-in in front of the court house. The hearing is expected to take place on Monday [postponed until Wednesday] at the Israeli Central Court on occupied East Jerusalem’s Salah al-Din street. Nadim Nuwara was shot and killed along with Muhammad Abu al-Thahir, 15, in 2014 during a rally marking the 66th anniversary of the Nakba outside of Ofer detention center near Ramallah. Video footage of the incident sparked international criticism as no clashes appeared to be taking place at the moment the teenagers were gunned down. Israeli security sources initially denied responsibility for the teens’ deaths on the grounds that live fire wasn’t used during the demonstration, despite eyewitnesses and video evidence of the incident. An autopsy of Nuwara’s body later showed the youth had been hit by Israeli forces, and a border police officer was charged in connection to the fatal shootings months after they took place. The indictment against the officer said he had switched rubber-coated bullets with regular bullets on an M-16 while he was present at the protest, and shot Nuwara in the chest after he allegedly threw a stone, according Haaretz.
Report: ‘Relative calm’ over Israeli-Jordanian Al-Aqsa talks ‘deceiving’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — A new report by the International Crisis Group says “today’s surprising calm” over the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound — a result of direct and indirect talks held between Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah in 2014 — was “deceiving.” Talks held in the Jordanian capital of Amman on November 2014 were sparked by violent clashes following the death of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a Jerusalem teenager burned to death by Israeli extremists. Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place, known to Jews as Temple Mount, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. Disputes surrounding visitation to the site have historically flared tensions in the occupied Palestinian territory. The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound lies under Israeli military occupation, while control of the mosque officially falls under Jordanian guardianship. Netanyahu pledged to Abdullah that gender and age limitations on Muslim access would be removed, Knesset members and far-right Jewish extremists would be barred from the site, and special visits by Jewish groups would be limited, according to the report. Meanwhile, Jordan agreed to stop young Palestinian activists from entering the compound at night to prepare for violent confrontations with Israeli forces the following day. For months following the meeting, both sides held up their end of the bargain, but tensions reemerged in mid-2015 amid religious holidays, as far-right Jewish extremists successfully argued for their return to the site under armed guard, causing clashes to erupt with young Palestinian stone throwers. In August, the agreements further unraveled as Israeli authorities began to impose extra regulations on Palestinians trying to enter the site, all the while creating a daily schedule for right-wing Jews to access the compound. (Continued)
Israeli police refer Jerusalemite elderly woman to Shin Bet
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 10 Apr — The Israeli occupation police in Occupied Jerusalem on Saturday evening referred the file of 63-year-old Zinat Owaida to the Shin Bet and canceled the court hearing that was supposed to be held for her on the same day. According to Quds Press, the police informed Owaida, a pro-Aqsa activist, that her court hearing was canceled and ordered her to go on Sunday morning to their center in al-Qishleh area in the Old City of Jerusalem for further interrogation by the Shin Bet. The police have accused the elderly woman of being a member of a banned group. Police forces kidnapped Owaida at dawn Saturday from her home in al-‘Issawiya district east of Jerusalem and took her to an interrogation center in the city before releasing her on condition that she would have to stand trial at the magistrate court in the evening. Several pro-Aqsa activists will face trial on Sunday after being detained and released last week, while others are still in detention.
Israel holding 10 Palestinian children in administrative detention
+972 mag 10 Apr by Noam Rotem — Statistics sent Sunday by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reveal the number of Palestinians currently imprisoned by Israel. According to the data, at the end of February 437 Palestinian minors from East Jerusalem and the West Bank were in Israeli jails. Five of those were under 14 years old, and 10 of them were being held in administrative detention without trial. Administrative detention is an extreme measure meant to be adopted rarely and with moderation, in which detainees are held indefinitely without charge or trial — without any way to defend themselves. According to Military Order No. 132, regarding “sentencing young criminals” — which applies to Palestinians in the West Bank, all of whom live under a military regime — the official term for a prisoner under 14 is “teenager.” According to Israeli civil law, criminals under the age of 14 are considered “children,” and are rarely imprisoned. One hundred and three “near adults,” who are over the age of 14 and under 16, are also being held in Israeli prisons, along with 329 minors between 16-18. The status assigned to most of these prisoners (who make up 83 percent of Palestinian prisoners under 18) is one of “detained” — which means they have yet to be put on trial. The IPS data also notes that Israel is holding a total of 686 people under administrative detention without trial, a rise of 20 percent since January
Report: Three Palestinians killed in Gaza tunnel collapse
JPost 10 Apr — At least three Palestinian were killed Sunday night as the result of the collapse of an underground tunnel in Gaza’s southern Rafah area, Channel 2 reported. According to the report, Hamas has imposed a complete media blackout on the details of the incident. [Ynet has also reported the collapse of tunnels, with the information coming from Palestinian sources.]
The view of Gaza, on 24/7 video
NPR 9 Apr by Emily Harris — On a small Israeli military base at Nahal Oz, next to the Gaza border, there’s a windowless room where soldiers peer 24 hours a day at video screens. They’re watching live footage from cameras monitoring the Gaza Strip, controlled by the militant group Hamas. Soldiers see a lot – a damaged home getting slowly repaired after the 2014 war, donkeys guided by farmers, suspected Hamas militants on motorcycles. But they can’t see underground, where tunnels beneath the border may pose the biggest threat to Israel here. In the observation room, the soldiers monitoring the screens are all female. “Girls do it the best,” says 20-year-old Orr Israeli, a commander. “They have this commitment. They feel obligated to the job, the mission, without tak[ing] their eyes off the screen.” Each watches three screens. Each screen has five views. They flip between black-and-white, color or heat-triggered pictures. They zoom in and out. As the commander explains the mission, a siren goes off in the room. When a Gazan gets too close to the border fence, a soldier marks the spot with a red diamond on the screen. That makes the siren blast. The data goes up the command chain or out to soldiers in the field. “These sirens, you jump,” says Israeli, the commander. “This is so everyone can see this in one spot, on one map, so everyone can know where it is.” The limits Israel imposes on Gazans approaching the fence cut off access to valuable farmland. Palestinians say this and all the military observation contributes to collective punishment of almost 2 million people. But Israel says the limits are needed to stop militants from firing rockets. (Continued)
IDF fires on Gaza fishermen despite expanded fishing zone
+972 mag 9 Apr by Haggai Matar & Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — The Israeli navy opened fire on unarmed Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip Saturday morning. No injuries were reported. On Friday Israeli naval forces arrested four Palestinian fishermen off the southern Gaza coast. Israel released three of the four men Saturday morning. The fourth, who was reportedly wounded by naval gunfire, was expected to be released later in the day. According to witnesses cited by both the Ma‘an and Wafa news agencies, both incidents took place within the designated fishing zone. Earlier this week the Israeli army expanded the area in which it permits Palestinians to fish from six to nine nautical miles off the coast. Palestinians are still not allowed to venture more than six nautical miles off the coast in the northern half of the Strip . . .The size of the permitted fishing zone changes at the whim of Israeli military commanders and politicians, who have in the past openly discussed how they use it as collective punishment against civilians in response to rocket fire from armed groups. Sometimes Israeli naval forces simply announce via loudspeakers that they are reducing the size of the zone on a given day. Palestinian fishermen regularly report that Israeli naval forces harass them, shoot at them, and seize their boats well within the authorized zone. Even when the army admits shooting Palestinian fishermen inside the zone, nobody is held accountable. There were at least 139 incidents in which Israeli military forces fired on Palestinian fishermen in 2015, wounding at least 24 fishermen and damaging at least 16 fishing boats, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR). An additional six incidents involved artillery shells. The IDF arrested at least 71 fishermen and seized 22 boats in the same period.
Israeli bulldozers level lands east of Gaza City
GAZA (Ma‘an) 10 Apr – Six Israeli bulldozers escorted by Israeli military vehicles made an incursion Sunday into the Shujaiya suburb in eastern Gaza City to level lands, locals sources said. The bulldozers entered the border area, crossing several meters into Palestinian lands in the northern Gaza Strip after setting out from the Nahal Oz Israeli military station. The bulldozers razed a large tract of land, eyewitnesses told Ma‘an. No exchange of gunfire was reported during the incursion, the sources added . Sources added that Israeli forces have made daily incursions into the al-Nahda area of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip over the last five days, leveling lands.
Army attacks shepherds near Gaza border
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Apr — Israeli soldiers on the border between the southern Gaza Strip and Israel, Saturday, opened machine gun fire on Palestinian shepherds. WAFA correspondence reported that soldiers, stationed at watchtowers along the borderline area, opened fire on shepherds to the east of Rafah, in the southern Strip. Following disengagement from the Gaza Strip, in September of 2005, Israel unilaterally and illegally established a so-called “buffer zone”, an area prohibited to Palestinians along the land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) stated, “The precise area designated by Israel as a “buffer zone” is not clear and this Israeli policy is typically enforced with live fire,”
Video: Palestinian factions denounce Hamas ‘Children Repentance Video’; Hamas defends it
IMEMC 9 Apr — Various Palestinian factions in occupied Palestine issued statements strongly denouncing a recent video that surfaced on social media outlets, showing Hamas members in a schoolyard lining up students to “get them to repent their sins,” or wrongdoings. Hamas officials defended the move as a “legitimate act to preserve values.” The leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) expressed its deep shock of the horrific scenes in the released video, showing children in a schoolyard crying in what Hamas calls “repentance.” The people conducting the so-called “repentance” acts, in the Nile School in the Gaza Strip, are from a group run by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Waqf and Religious Affairs in the coastal region. The PFLP said the video shows shocking scenes, inhumane psychological pressures, violating every right of those children, by subjecting them to humiliating conditions and social pressures. It also called on the Ministry of Education to initiate a serious investigation into the issue, and said that the children, the students, should not be subjected to any programs that would just “fill their heads with takfirist and extreme ideologies.” “Gaza does not need such idiotic and malignant programs that shut down any prospects of hops and future for the children,” the PFLP said in its statement, “Gaza needs enlightened, national and positive programs to strengthen the Palestinian identity through beneficial and noble programs that invest in the children’s creativity.” The leftist Palestinian People Party (PPP) also denounced the Hamas conducts in Gaza schools, and the “outrageous violation and humiliation of the children, and their rights,” in different schools in the coastal region. It said that those members of the alleged “repentance committee” went to many schools for boys in the Gaza Strip, and held more than forty sessions in these educational facilities for what Hamas officials called “removing the devil from the hearts of the children, and correct their behaviors.” (Continued)
Hamas cancels PFLP conference in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Apr – A conference organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to launch a campaign aimed to restore national unity was canceled by Hamas on Saturday an hour before it was scheduled to take place in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City. Senior PFLP official Jamil Majdalawi said a preparatory committee went to the hall at the Palestinian Red Crescent Society where the conference was set to take place, to find Hamas-affiliated security notifying those who arrived — including reporters — that the conference had been either canceled or postponed. Campaign organizers confirmed they had previously obtained written approval from Hamas security services to hold the conference. “A conference to be held in a hall behind closed doors wouldn’t need approval, but despite that we obtained approval to avoid any possible pretexts to prevent the conference from being held,” they said. The organizers highlighted that the founding assembly of the conference included participants from across the Palestinian political spectrum including Hamas. The campaign was initiated by a group of Palestinian scholars, writers, journalists, and politicians in an attempt to end the rivalry between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah. The left-wing PFLP held series of rallies in February across the Gaza Strip calling for national reconciliation, with speakers saying that disunity had led to the coastal enclave’s “disastrous situation.”
Couples in Gaza say I do — to debt
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 9 Apr — Abdul Hakim Zoghbor and his wife Falestine Tanani resorted to unusual methods to finance their Gaza Strip wedding, including crowd-funding on the Internet. In the Palestinian enclave, where youth unemployment is over 60 per cent and 80 per cent of the 1.8 million residents depend on humanitarian aid, marriage is a luxury. Couples like the 27-year-old newlyweds, who live in a small apartment, are becoming man and wife later in life and taking on debt, which can take several years to pay off. So-called marriage facilitators are even flooding the airwaves of local radio stations with commercials for interest-free financing for young couples. Family pressure weighs heavily on the shoulders of young couples. “Nobody marries without going into debt, which takes two or three years to pay off, sometimes by selling the gold jewellery given as a gift to the bride,” said Ms Falestine . . . Mrs Um Mohammed al-Mamluk was desperate to see her 23-year-old son married. With her husband sick and unable to work, she turned to an industry flourishing in Gaza, that of the “marriage facilitators”. Mr Mohammed al-Bahtimi runs one such company, Al-Saada, which offers a US$2,500 wedding package to help couples marry before they turn 30. “We ask (them) for a contribution of US$700 and a monthly repayment. In return, we provide the banqueting hall, studio photography, music, wedding outfits, meals and transport for the guests and bedroom furniture,” he said. Mrs Um Mohammed was able to marry her son off on the condition she repaid about US$100 a month for 18 months. She said: “Now I ask myself how to get his little brother Mahmud, who is 21, married and also his cousin, who is already 26 and not yet settled.”
Gaza women revive henna tattoo tradition
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 10 Apr by Rasha Abou Jalal — The tradition of henna body painting has resurfaced among Palestinian women who paint their bodies and feet for ornamental purposes. This tradition vanished in the past decades, but it is gaining popularity again and has become a source of living for many women who help to make ends meet amid the deteriorating living conditions in the Gaza Strip. Henna is a powder made out of henna tree leaves. It is sold in local perfume stores and can be prepared at home by crushing henna leaves and mixing them with water, then adding dyes to give them color. Women paint beautiful shapes on their hands and feet with henna, and the designs last for a couple of months before disappearing. According to historian Naser al-Yafawi, henna painting is part of Palestinian heritage, and it was first used by the Phoenicians in the Levant in 1500 B.C., especially in Lebanon and Palestine. They colored the henna magenta to give it a nice color. The tradition then spread among Egyptians and other civilizations . . . Yafawi said that henna tattooing has always been part of traditional rituals for Palestinian weddings. The bride’s hands and feet are painted with henna to resemble a mural on the night before her wedding in what is called “henna night.” (Continued)
New radar gives Gaza-area residents 15 second to take shelter from shells
Times of Israel 11 Apr by Tamar Pileggi — The Home Front Command has reportedly finished work on a new radar that will improve the warning system for residents of southern communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip of incoming mortar shells. The system will shorten the time between the launch of a shell and when warning sirens are triggered, giving residents of communities adjacent to the Palestinian enclave a full 15-second warning of incoming shells, Army Radio reported Monday. Though Israel’s current alert, based on the Iron Dome radar, warns of incoming rockets and gives communities about 15 seconds to reach shelters, it has proved less effective against short-range shells, often leaving residents little to no warning of attacks. Alon Schuster, the head of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, welcomed the new warning system, saying the improvements could save lives . . . The project, which cost an estimated at NIS 500 million ($132 million) according to Haaretz, was due to be completed in 2015, but was delayed due to budget constraints.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel’s ‘Bible Trail’: Demolishing Palestinian homes to make national parks
[with map] JERUSALEM (MEE) 9 Apr by Jonathan Cook — Planners and human-rights group accuse the Israeli authorities of increasingly using such parks as a tool to grab control of Palestinian land and demolish homes, under the guise of archaeological preservation and tourism development. Enass Masri, a field researcher for Bimkom, a group of planning experts helping Palestinians negotiate Israel’s labyrinthine planning system, said the goal of national parks in Israel was to protect green spaces and heritage sites but that this policy had gone awry. “Uniquely in East Jerusalem, the national parks include residential areas,” she told Middle East Eye. “They are a monster making these families’ lives a misery.” -Nowhere to go- A court order written in Hebrew – a language Totanji does not understand – demands that the family vacate their four-room house by 10 April. He lost an appeal last month. “It’s not just a house that is being destroyed but my whole life,” he told MEE. “When the soldiers came recently to warn me to move my belongings out before they begin work on the demolition, I asked them: “Where am I supposed to move them to? We have nowhere else to go.”
The Jerusalem municipality, said Bimkom, had been seeking to transfer control over a growing number of Palestinian neighbourhoods to an ostensibly environmental agency called the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The consequences for Palestinians living in these parks was devastating, said Masri, because this process makes demolitions easier to secure. Such a loss of areas of open land in East Jerusalem to national parks is stripping Palestinians of any hope in future housing for the next generation. Jeff Halper, of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, told MEE: “The national parks are a great way for Israel to conceal its real agenda. They are seen as a good thing – ecological and benign. “It’s much less easy to understand that they constrict Palestinian development, fragment Palestinian living space, and justify house demolitions.”
-Clearing a path for the ‘Bible Trail’- Some 13 other families live alongside Totanji in the Sawaneh district, next to the Palestinian neighbourhood of Wadi al-Joz. They discovered only two years ago that they were living in the Jerusalem City Walls Park, even though it was officially established four decades ago. It was the first park to be declared after Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in violation of international law, in 1967. But only in the past year have the residents noticed Israeli officials taking any interest in their neighbourhood. Regular surveys have been carried out and inspectors have issued clean-up orders. Totanji’s neighbours, Nureddin and Sharif Amro – two brothers who are blind – had parts of their homes demolished last year, including a kitchen, sitting area, garden wall, and chicken coop. Electricity cables and sewage pipes were also damaged. All the families have been warned that they are in the way of a planned “Bible Trail”, running along the eastern edge of the Jerusalem City Walls Park. (Continued)
Press release: Last day of demolition order leave Palestinian family in Wadi al-Joz in fear of losing their home
JERUSALEM, occupied Palestine 10 Apr by ISM, al-Khalil Team — The 10th of April is the last day of the demolition order on the home of the Totanji family. The family lives in the Sawaneh district in Wadi al-Joz, a village in East Jerusalem near the Old City, which Israel has declared as a ‘National Park’ area. This despite it having always been a residential area. The family received the demolition order over a year and a half years ago, but lost the appeal against the order last month. Today is the last day of the demolition order, which leaves the family fearing that their house maybe demolished tonight. The house is single-story with 4 bedrooms. However, it is currently the home of 16 people including a 7-month-old baby, the granddaughter of the owner of the house. The family does not, as is the case with other Palestinian families in fear of house demolition, have anywhere else to go, and will leave their whole life behind if their house is demolished. Just seven months ago, one of the Totanji sons had his house demolished in the same area . . . The family is seeking an international presence to defer the demolition and deter the Israeli authorities. Internationals will be in the house from this evening and for the foreseeable future to prevent the demolition. There is a press conference planned tomorrow morning, 11am on 11th April 2016, to announce the opening of a protest tent outside the Totanji family house. The families and the community of Wadi al-Joz invites everyone to attend the protest and to lend coverage to this important event.
Ariel settlement sewage destroying environment in Salfit, West Bank
SALFIT (PNN) 10 Apr — The Palestinian farmers in Salfit district, northern West Bank, have been reporting serious water pollution and damage in plants due to the sewage coming from Ariel illegal settlement, West of the city. This issue has been going on for over two years now, as the settlement keeps dumping sewage water onto the Al-Matwi valley, causing severe damage to its environment. According to PIC, farmers complained in particular about the smell of sewage, large numbers of pigs and insects which pollute water springs and agricultural lands and cause lots of diseases to plants of the season. PIC added that researcher Khaled Maali warned of the dangerous flow of sewage water into the groundwater and springs which constitutes an environmental problem. Maali called on the environmental institutions to pressure the Israeli occupation authorities in order to halt polluting Palestinian resources and environment.
New Israeli settlement plan in occupied Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 9 Apr — Israeli occupation authorities have recently published four new tenders for the establishment of hotels, commercial offices, and a park in Ma’aleh Adumim settlement illegally built in occupied east Jerusalem, Kol Ha’ir Hebrew newspaper revealed. According to the weekly newspaper, a hotel will be established on an area of 2.2 acres near the municipality headquarters. The 6-story hotel will be the first of its kind to be built in Ma’aleh Adumim illegal settlement. Commercial shops and offices will be also established in the industrial zone in Mishor Adumim. Israeli municipality said that the tenders include leasing lands for the establishment of commercial shops and offices for 49 years with the possibility of expanding the leasing period for another 49 years. The tenders also include two other pieces of land estimated at 45 dunums near Rami Levy area. A park is scheduled to be built on an area of 100 acres east of the industrial zone.
Tree planting and protest in Neit al-Baraka
HEBRON, occupied Palestine 10 Apr by ISM, al-Khalil Team — Trees were planted and a demonstration took place today at Beit al-Baraka today to protest the extension of the illegal Gush Etzion settlement bloc. An international presence had been requested by the organisers so two ISM volunteers headed to Beit Ummar to meet with them, and along with three Israeli activists headed to Beit al-Baraka, a 38-dunam (9.3 acre) compound located near the al-Arrub refugee camp. This is an area which used to be owned by Palestinians, but which has now been fenced off, either by settlers or by the American millionaire, Irving Moskowitz, who is rumoured to have purchased the site through a front company in 2012 in order to create an illegal Israeli settlement there. What is very clear is that this area is earmarked for illegal settlement and will form a strategic extension to the illegal Gush Etzion settlement bloc that overlooks the area. What local Palestinians fear is that the entire Gush Etzion junction will be closed to Palestinians, permanently closing the road between Hebron and Behlehem for them. This fenced area is now a closed military zone forbidden to Palestinians.
France calls on Israel to halt new construction of Cremisan Valley separation wall
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — The French Foreign Ministry called on Israel to halt renewed construction of the Israeli separation wall in the southern occupied West Bank’s Cremisan Valley, according to a statement published Friday. “France is concerned by the Israeli authorities’ resumption of construction of the separation wall in the historical Cremisan Valley, which will affect several dozen Palestinian families in Beit Jala,” the statement read, referring to a Palestinian village west of Bethlehem city. “This wall is a new obstacle to economic and social development in the town of Bethlehem,” the ministry said. The French Foreign Ministry’s statement cited the 2004 International Court of Justice ruling that said that the separation wall was illegal and “tantamount to annexation.” “We consequently ask Israel to reverse this decision,” the statement concluded.
Israel’s High Court of Justice in January denied a petition filed against the construction by the Municipality of Beit Jala, Beit Jala landowners and the Silesian women’s monastery in Cremisan, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem. The ruling came after the Israeli Ministry Defense renewed construction work on the separation wall near Beit Jala in August 2015, effectively separating the villagers from their privately owned farmland in the Cremisan Valley. This segment of the wall is designed for the illegal annexation of the illegal Har Gilo settlement south of Jerusalem in order to make way for its connection to the illegal Gilo settlement.
5th annual BDS Conference held in Ramallah
WEST BANK, occupied Palestine 9 Apr by ISM, Ramallah Team — Held on the 68th anniversary of the Deir-Yassin massacre, the fifth annual BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanction) Conference took place in Ramallah. The event featured a keynote address from Ahmed Kathrada – an icon of the South African Anti-Apartheid movement and former political prisoner. The conference was taking place in the tenth year of non-violent resistance by the BDS movement. The day was extremely well attended, in spite of recent statements by Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz that euphemistically encouraged assassination attempts against BDS Activists by calling for: “civil targeted killings.” This aggressive attitude was demonstrated in Israel’s attempts to deny and/or obstruct travel to the conference for Palestinians living inside the 1948 borders of Israel and from the West Bank in general. This resulted in coaches of attendees from Jerusalem being delayed and some being denied access. Mr. Kathrada’s keynote address concerned the mirroring of aspects of the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa and the current struggle by Palestinians against the illegal Israeli occupation: “[The Palestinian experience] is similar to the experience of black South Africans under Apartheid. However, in some ways the violence of Israel’s occupation is even worse than that which South Africans had to contend with.” . . . In addition to the keynote speaker, other speakers at the event were split between between those linking BDS to the “Globalised Nonviolent Struggle for Justice and Rights” and speakers on “Spreading the BDS anti-Normalisation Culture Among Palestinian Communities in the Homeland and Exile”. Notably at the conference, Dr. Wassel Abu-Yousef, speaking on behalf of the PLO Executive Committee, said: “the PLO has taken into consideration the importance of having a relationship with the BDS movement at all levels.” This demonstrates a commitment in the wider Palestinian political community to the policy of non-violent resistance as espoused by the BDS movement. This peaceful commitment stands in contrast, however, to the arguments put forward at the anti-BDS conference in Jerusalem last month, where various pro-Zionist figures put forward their agenda against BDS. That conference included Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan inexplicably linking BDS to jihadism and Islamic terrorism. (Continued)
Israeli lawmaker: Why can’t Palestinians resist like Jews during the British Mandate?
Haaretz 9 Apr by Jonathan Lis — Zionist Union MK Zouheir Bahloul’s statements draw barbs from right and left of the political aisle — MK Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Union) responded for the first time Saturday to the public outcry against his statement that he finds it hard to call the Palestinian shot dead in Hebron “a terrorist.” At a political speaking event moderated by him in Acre, Bahloul said “What will a Palestinian living under the yoke of the occupation for 49 years, who is wasting his life seeking a freedom which he is denied, do? For him, the soldiers are the marker of the occupation.” According to Bahloul, “before 1948, when the British Mandate was here, the Irgun, the Lehi, and the Haganah, all the Jewish organizations went out to the streets and confronted the Mandate soldiers in order to bring about their state, which turned out to be amazing. Why is this being denied the Palestinians?”These statements too have raised a storm of detractors . . . Earlier in the week, Bahalul told Army Radio that the Palestinian that was shot dead by a soldier in Hebron while he lay on the ground injured wasn’t a terrorist, despite the fact that he stabbed a soldier. “He isn’t a terrorist because my problem with ‘terrorist’ is that this word is becoming so inclusive. In my view every Palestinian is being turned into a terrorist.”
As the Palestinian street seethes, Marwan Barghouti makes his bid to replace Mahmoud Abbas
JPost 9 Apr by Yossi Melman — EARLY IN March, Fadwa Barghouti, the energetic wife of Marwan who is jailed in an Israeli prison, asked the Israel Defense Forces to allow her to visit Gaza. She wanted to “test the waters” there in the wake of her husband’s decision to run for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority when PA President Mahmoud Abbas leaves office. The IDF declined. Israel doesn’t wish to assist Barghouti’s campaign. So far, Barghouti is the only senior PLO-Fatah leader who has had the courage to officially announce his candidacy. He was a supporter of the 1994 Oslo Accords and the peace with Israel, and met freely with Israeli officials. But he also became the charismatic leader of the Tanzim militia, founded in 1995 by Yasser Arafat’s Fatah group to counter Hamas and other militant Palestinian-Islamist groups. When the second intifada broke out in 2000, he commanded another Fatah off-shoot ‒ the al-Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades, which spearheaded the armed struggle in the West Bank. He was arrested by Israeli security forces in 2002, and in 2004 was sentenced by the Tel Aviv District Court to five terms of life imprisonment for involvement in the murder of five Israelis. Yet, despite the jail terms, or rather because of them, Barghouti is considered one of the most popular and important leaders of the Palestinian movement . . . Various names in the West Bank and in the Palestinian diaspora have been bandied about as potential candidates to replace Abbas if and when he leaves office. However, Barghouti’s candidacy is gaining momentum and other potential candidates, Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian peace negotiator, and the former security chief of Gaza Muhammad Dahlan have said that if Barghouti runs for the office, they will drop out of the race and support him. Fadwa, who relentlessly campaigns for the release of her husband, talks about him as the “Palestinian Nelson Mandela.” A scenario in which Barghouti is elected as Abbas’s heir while he is sitting behind bars is a cause of concern for Israeli military chiefs and the government. (Continued)
Ma‘an reality TV show gives Palestinians chance to ‘elect’ a president
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — For its second season, Ma‘an channel’s reality TV show “The President” is giving the Palestinian people an opportunity to vote for a young “president,” continuing its one-of-a-kind franchise more than ten years since Palestinians last had an opportunity to vote in real presidential elections. The second season of the show started in October, with the finale set to take place in upcoming weeks. The program, the first of its kind in the world, was initiated by Ma‘an General Manager Raed Othman and is run in partnership with Washington, D.C.-based NGO Search for Common Grounds. One hundred young men and women were shortlisted out of 1,200 applicants to the show, based on their knowledge of politics and history and evaluations by local committees in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The shortlisted competitors were then sorted into four regional subdivisions for the Gaza Strip and the northern, central and southern West Bank. A committee of scholars, politicians, and economists — consisting of Palestinian Knesset member Ahmad Tibi, Education Minister Sabri Saidam, PALTEL CEO Ammar Aker, Fatah central committee member Muhammad Shtayyeh, Palestinian ambassador to Germany Kholoud Deibis, and al-Quds Open University President Younis Amr — then evaluated the candidates . . . Hussein al-Deik, 31, from Ramallah was declared the winner of the first season of “The President” in June 2013 after obtaining the largest share of audience votes. The show has garnered significant amounts of attention worldwide, particularly given the political woes in the occupied Palestinian territory. The last Palestinian presidential election took place in January 2005. Abbas remains in power despite his mandate having officially ended in 2009.
A win for labor rights of Palestinians working in Israeli settlements
[with video by Israeli Social TV] +972 mag 8 Apr by Haggai Matar — The Israeli settlement business that arranged for a Palestinian man’s work permit to be revoked on false security charges because he was trying to unionize other workers will have to give him his old job back, Israel’s National Labor Court affirmed this week. Hatem Abu Ziadeh, a 45-year-old Palestinian from the Nablus area, worked for an auto repair shop, located in a West Bank settlement industrial zone, for 17 years. In 2013 he led the unionization of workers at the shop alongside with the help of Ma’an Workers Advice Center (WAC). In the summer of 2014, during the last war in Gaza, Abu Ziadeh was fired for numerous reasons, the most alarming was that he was a “security threat” — the shop’s owners alleged that he sabotaged a military vehicle that was being fixed in the shop, accusing him of putting soldiers’ lives in danger. Police ultimately found that the claims were baseless, but the Zarfaty garage refused to give Abu Ziadeh his job back. A lower court ruling from two months ago, which the national labor court upheld this week, harshly condemned the shop’s management and ruled that it had falsely accused Abu Ziadeh of committing a security offense. “This issue makes one question the real basis for his dismissal,” wrote Judge Eyal Avrahami . . . The court found that Abu Ziadeh’s dismissal was meant to harm the unionization process while there was a crisis in the collective bargaining process with the workers. WAC also demanded that Abu Ziadeh be compensated for the wages he lost during his time away from work, and that the shop pay punitive damages for sabotaging the unionization process.
Israel uses incitement tactic to silence Palestinians
MEMO 9 Apr by Anees Barghouti — The accusation of incitement to violence is a commonly employed tactic by the Israeli security apparatus to legitimise the abuse of Palestinians. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, naming streets after Palestinian figures and resistance fighters is considered “inciting violence against Israel.” Musicians, actors and events that celebrate Palestinian resistance and cultural achievements are also considered “incitement to violence” by Israel. Since October, more than 200 Palestinians – including journalists – have been arrested under the pretext of incitement, according to the Palestinian Authority detainees committee. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate also said that Israeli authorities shut down five Palestinian media organizations over the past few months under the pretext of incitement. Nasser Abu Baker, chairman of PJS, told Anadolu Agency that Israel is strategically silencing Palestinian media. The Israeli government announced in November that it would shut down any media organization that broadcast material that incites violence. Immediately following the announcement, three Palestinian radio stations in the city of Hebron were closed. “They shut down Dream, Al-Huriyya and Al-Khalil radio stations,” Talb al-Jabari, director general of Radio Dream, told Anadolu Agency. “They are closing the stations under the pretext that they promote violence against Israel.”
Bring back our gear, Israel’s army begs ex-soldiers
AFP 10 Apr –Israel’s army is searching for hundreds of weapons and tens of thousands of munitions — from its own former soldiers. It turns out that many soldiers have ended their service by walking away with memorabilia. The military is now pleading with them to bring back their boots, sleeping bags and cold-resistant suits — not to mention guns, grenades and ammunition. No questions asked A month-long campaign is underway across the country with the motto “clear out your closet — return equipment to the army,” stressing there is no risk of prosecution. One hundred collection points have been opened at bases and police stations . . . An army spokesman said so far the collection has yielded 220 firearms, 20,000 parts of uniforms, 700,000 bullets or grenades, 1,000 explosives and 1,300 pyrotechnic devices — particularly popular at weddings for fireworks.
Meat shortages in Israel as smuggling halted
Globes 10 Apr by Michal Raz-Chaimovich — A lot of the meat smuggled into Israel from the Palestinian Authority was donated by UNRWA — There has been a shortage of red meat (filet and entrecote cuts for steak), a senior restaurant source told “Globes.” The source added that the smuggling of meat from the Palestinian Authority revealed last week had already been known, and was silenced for the convenience of all parties. The source explained that the consumption of red meat this year was 5 tons. “One importer from East Jerusalem would buy the meat from South America, and in many cases, would receive the meat as a donation from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), from where it was sent in a refrigerated state to Ramallah. There was always a question, about which the restaurants preferred not to ask questions, of how the meat was sent back into Israeli territory – in unrefrigerated vehicles. They paid much less for the smuggled meat than for meat raised in Israel; I’m talking about NIS 80 per kilogram, in comparison with NIS 120-140 per kilogram.” The source said, “In recent days, the restaurants and the catering company owners were desperately looking for alternative meat sources, and found none. I estimate that on Independence Day, there will be a shortage that we’ll already start feeling this week.”
Can a man pay $1,000 for his death?
EI 7 Apr by Sarah Irving — On the Bride’s Side directed by Khaled Soliman Al Nassiry, Antonio Augugliaro and Gabriele Del Grande (2014) — . . . This is a deeply political documentary film. Its criticism of world governments for failing to deal with an emergency largely precipitated by ill-informed Western interference in the Middle East is implicit but strong. Yet it is not didactic or dull. It is a profoundly human film, full of love, laughter, poetry and wine. Its beautiful use of color and imagery makes its message all the more heartfelt. It begins in October 2013, when an Italian journalist and two of his friends, both writers, meet for coffee at the train station in Milan. A young man overhears them speaking Arabic, and asks for directions. It transpires that the young man, Abdallah Sallam, narrowly survived one of the many Mediterranean shipwrecks that have killed thousands of refugees in recent years, smuggled in overcrowded boats, desperately fleeing wars and misery at home . . . Abdallah’s new friends commit themselves to helping him reach Sweden. As the state with some of the best (or least worst) conditions for asylum seekers, the Nordic country is the ultimate aim for many. But that means getting across Europe, south to north, a challenge not just for Abdallah but also his European companions. Once the party of refugees reaches five, the Italians helping them technically face being arrested for people trafficking — which carries a 15-year sentence. The answer? To fake a wedding party — and to take along film cameras, under the direction of another friend, film editor and director Antonio Augugliaro. The wedding expedition is intended as an excuse and a diversion, distracting border guards and police with the bride’s vast white dress and the smart suits of the “groom” and “guests.” . . . But most of the film takes place in the claustrophobic spaces of cars driving in convoy across a continent. Within these confines, we hear the stories of the refugees and those offering them solidarity and comradeship. Tasnim, a Palestinian with German citizenship who had left Syria only a few months earlier and whose parents and grandparents were still in the Yarmouk camp and neighboring Damascus, agrees to go along as the “bride.” . . . Along with Abdallah, Alaa and Manar, Ahmad Abed and Mona al-Ghabra, an elderly couple who were political dissidents in Syria, round out the group of refugees.” They also have horrific tales to tell of their journey, not least their anguish at how people smugglers can demand thousands of dollars from those they will abandon to their deaths at sea. “Can a man pay $1,000 for his death?” they ask, recalling a family they met who spent more than $13,000 to pay for the passage of a group of 13 — adults, children and a baby. All of them drowned.