Violence / Detention — West Bank, Jerusalem
‘Jewish extremist cell’ arrested in West Bank
The Guardian 20 Apr by Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem — Israeli security officials have announced the arrest of an alleged Jewish extremist cell said to be operating in the occupied West Bank, which had tried unsuccessfully on at least one occasion to burn a Palestinian house with the family inside. The six-strong cell – according to the Israeli domestic security agency the Shin Bet – included a 19-year-old Israel Defence Forces soldier as well as two teenagers. During interrogation several members confessed they had been “inspired” by the arson murders of three members of the Dawabshe family – including an 18-month-old toddler – in the village of Duma in July 2015 allegedly by Jewish extremists. According to a statement issued by the Shin Bet, the new group was active in the northern West Bank before and after the Duma murders and was behind a number of attacks including an arson attack on an inhabited Palestinian home. “Re-enactments and the confessions of the suspects revealed a violent and extremist network which systematically attacked Palestinians and their property even while they were fully aware of the possibility of killing someone after the arson in Duma, and were even inspired by it,” the Shin Bet said. “The intelligence we gathered around these attacks pointed to the existence of a Jewish terror organisation in [the Israeli settlement of] Nahliel. “During the latter half of 2015, there were a number of terror attacks and violent incidents against Palestinians. Two notable attacks were against buildings that had Palestinians inside.” The statement added that members of the new cell had links with the so-called “Revolt” – a loosely affiliated Messianic movement of settler teenagers in conflict with both Palestinians and the state of Israel. The discovery of the latest alleged active group of Jewish extremists follows renewed efforts to target the resurgent phenomenon of Jewish extremist violence in the West Bank following Duma. The Shin Bet added that those arrested had “confessed to carrying out widespread terror activities, which included attempts to harm inhabited Palestinian homes, attacking minorities, arson, and vandalising Palestinian vehicles”, and that the suspects had allegedly also hurled rocks from a passing vehicle at Palestinian cars. The six – Pinchas Sandorfi, 22, Itamar Ben Aharon, 20, Michael Kaplan, 20, and two unnamed teenagers and an unnamed soldier – all live in the settlements of Nahliel and Kiryat Arba on the West Bank. According to reports in the Israeli media, at the centre of the alleged cell were three brothers from the Sandorfi family, sons of the rabbi of Nahliel, who identifies with the extreme right wing….
Palestinian youth intentionally run over in Hebron
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine 22 Apr by ISM, al-Khalil Team — On the afternoon of 21st April 2016, an Israeli settler ran down a Palestinian youth with his car, causing critical injuries, near the Ibrahimi mosque in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron). Two settlers were driving down the road connecting Shuhada Street and Kiryat Arba in occupied al-Khalil around 2 pm, and, seeing a group of Palestinian children playing on a parking lot bordering the street, turned around and deliberately hit Ala’a Ghaleb al-Rajabi with their car. The children that have been playing with Ala’a before the incident said that they were attacked by these two settlers several times before, and the last time were pepper-sprayed by the settlers that threatened them. According to eyewitnesses, the soldiers at a nearby checkpoint were merely watching and even allowed the two young settlers to attempt to drive off, before a group of Palestinians went up to the checkpoint to ‘inform’ the soldiers of what happened. The injured 17-year old boy, having been hit whilst on his bicycle, was lying on the ground bleeding from his legs and head for about 15 minutes, before any medical help was given to him. A Palestinian ambulance was allowed to evacuate the youth, now in a critical condition, to a hospital. Big groups of settlers gathered, while more and more soldiers as well as civil police arrived. According to several eyewitnesses, a settler youth wearing an orange T-shirt was driving the car, whilst another settler youth wearing a blue T-shirt was in the passenger seat. After the police arrived and a discussion with the two settlers was had, however, it was claimed that it had been the settler with the blue T-shirt that was driving the car. Observers believe the reason for this to be that the settler driving the car did not in fact have a driving licence, whereas the passenger did. Regardless, the settler said by the police to have been driving, was seen walking free from the police station at Ibrahimi mosque, only an hour after the initial incident…. [See excerpt from 2015 report by Abulhadi Hantash: Running over citizens: 18 cases of Hebron settlers ramming, hitting, and running over Palestinians with their vehicles. Many of these were children. These unspeakable crimes are on an upsurge from the 10 cases in 2014.]
Teenager injured as Israeli forces suppress weekly protests
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Apr — A Palestinian teenager was wounded by a rubber-coated steel bullet and dozens others suffered excessive tear gas inhalation when Israeli forces dispersed weekly protests across the occupied West Bank on Friday. Popular resistance coordinator Murad Shtewei told Ma‘an Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets at demonstrators taking part in the weekly protest in the northern West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum. A 15-year-old teenager was treated on the scene after he was hit by a rubber-coated bullet in the arm. Shtewei said hundreds took part in the protest, chanting nationalistic Palestinian songs and calling for an end to the Israeli occupation. Residents of Kafr Qaddum stage regular protests against land confiscations as well as the closure of the village’s southern road by Israeli forces. The road, which has been closed 13 years, is the main route to the nearby city of Nablus, the nearest economic hub. Meanwhile, dozens of activists suffered excessive tear gas inhalation when Israeli forces suppressed the weekly protest in the village of Bil‘in. Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at protesters as they approached the Israeli separation wall. Locals said that a swath of farmland planted with olive and almond trees, belonging to local residents Haytham al-Khatib and Hashim Burnat, caught fire when Israeli forces chased activists in the fields.
Palestinian bus attacked by Israeli settlers near Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 23 Apr — A Palestinian bus was attacked by Israeli settlers throwing stones on Friday evening while driving near the illegal Immanuel settlement east of Qalqiliya in the northern occupied West Bank. The driver of the bus, Nasir Abu Taha, told Ma‘an a group of settlers standing on a hill threw rocks at the bus as it passed by, shattering the bus’s window [windshield], and causing panic among children who were riding the bus. Israeli settlers living illegally in the occupied Palestinian territory frequently carry out attacks on Palestinians and their property, with the UN documenting over 200 such attacks last year.
Israeli settler threatens Palestinian family with gun near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 21 Apr — An Israeli settler threatened to shoot a Palestinian family near the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba in the southern occupied West Bank on Wednesday evening. Yahya Basal told Ma‘an that his three children Mustafa, 19, Muntaser, 17, and Shaima, six, as well as Mustafa’s two-year-old daughter Layan, were driving home to the Wadi al-Juz neighborhood in eastern Hebron when an Israeli vehicle stopped in front of them on Route 60 at around 8 p.m. An Israeli settler stepped out of the car holding a gun and pointed it at the Palestinian family. Basal added that his son Mustafa quickly drove back onto Route 35 to save his siblings’ and daughter’s lives, but that the settler vehicle chased them until they entered into the Farsh al-Hawa area, which Israelis are prohibited from entering. The Basal family then informed a Palestinian security patrol that was deployed in the area of what had just happened, before returning home safely at 10 p.m. Israeli settlers in the Hebron area are notoriously aggressive towards Palestinians.
Israel’s covert war against Palestinian media
+972 Blog 22 Apr by Noam Rotem — Palestinian journalists are increasingly threatened, arrested and interrogated just for doing their jobs. And for the most part, Israeli journalists remain silent — On a Tuesday night in the beginning of April, Israeli armed forces raided a house in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem. They woke up sleeping family and gave al-Hayat journalist Diala Jwehan a summons to appear for interrogation. Jwehan has been covering the uprising of recent months, primarily in East Jerusalem, and is one in a long list of Palestinian journalists who have been called in for questioning because of their media work – what the Palestinian Journalists Association calls an “Israeli offensive on Palestinian media.” … According to a report recently published by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, in 2015 there were 407 attacks by Israeli forces against journalists, some of which were physical assaults (42 percent) and the rest range from preventing access to some places and prevention of coverage, arrests, damaging equipment, using journalists as human shields, and more. These are not sporadic, but part of the daily reality for Palestinian journalists … The severe damage to freedom of Palestinian press is caused not only by Israel but also by the Palestinian Authority, whose security forces arrest, assault and injure journalists who criticize it or sometimes even Israel. The near total absence of solidarity by Israeli journalists is also disturbing, and considering the sheer volume of violations against freedom of press, it is astonishing that such opinionated journalists remain silent….
Jerusalem bus bombing claimed by Hamas in West Bank
MEE/Agencies 21 Apr — Group says 19-year-old from Bethlehem caused Monday blast, which killed him and wounded 19 others, but Gaza leaders remain silent — The West Bank branch of Hamas has reportedly claimed it carried out a bus bombing in Jerusalem on Monday that left 20 wounded. The claim from the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Wednesday came after health officials in Gaza said that a Palestinian man died of wounds suffered in the bombing. The West Bank branch of Hamas named the dead man as 19-year-old Abdel Hamid Abu Srour, who lived in the ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. A Hamas poster was released praising Abu Srour’s death. However, neither Hamas in Gaza nor its leaders abroad published an official acknowledgment of the claim, leading to questions of whether Hamas sponsored the attack or was claiming Abu Srour as an operative after the event … The Palestinian news agency Ma‘an quoted a spokesman at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem as saying Abu Srour lost both legs in the explosion and died of his wounds on Wednesday. If confirmed, the bus bombing would be the first of its type in years, but such attacks were a feature of the Second Intifada, which lasted from 2000 to 2005.
Israeli soldier who killed injured Palestinian sent home for Passover
[with photo] AFP 22 Apr — Elor Azria, charged with manslaughter, is greeted by friends and family after being released from custody for Jewish holiday — An Israeli soldier charged with manslaughter after shooting a prone and wounded Palestinian assailant in the head was released from custody on Friday for Passover, the army said. “Elor Azria was released home for the Passover holiday,” an army statement said. The 19-year-old must report back to a military base where he is being held on Sunday morning after spending time with his family to mark the start of the week-long holiday, the army said. Azria was greeted by friends and relatives at his home in the central Israeli city of Ramle, where supporters broke out in applause as he arrived.
Ministry of Information, Ma‘an honor activist who filmed Hebron killing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Apr — The Palestinian Ministry of Information and Ma’an News Agency honored activist Emad Abu Shamsiya Tuesday in appreciation of his role in exposing Israeli crimes by documenting the high-profile killing of a Palestinian by an Israeli soldier.Abu Shamsiya captured video footage of an Israeli soldier shooting and killing the gravely-injured Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron after he allegedly stabbed another Israeli soldier. The footage was released by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and called international attention to the incident, which was labeled by the UN as an “extrajudicial execution.”He is also one of the founders of the Palestinian group Human Rights Defenders, who document human rights violations by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory. Abu Shamsiya was the target of harassment and verbal abuse by Israeli settlers who threatened him at his home following the release of the footage he captured.
Israel rabbi to medics: ‘Leave Palestinians to die’
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 20 Apr by Jonathan Cook — There is mounting evidence that Israeli ambulance crews are withholding treatment from Palestinians injured during a wave of attacks over the past six months, according to rights groups. Physicians for Human Rights in Israel, a medical watchdog group, found that wounded Palestinians had been left untreated for as long as two hours. In some cases, medical teams are suspected of failing to tend to the injuries of suspected attackers as revenge, in the expectation that they will die from their wounds. In parallel, says the group, Israeli soldiers regularly deny Palestinian crews in the occupied territories access to injured Palestinians in violation of international agreements. Palestinian ambulances have been regularly fired on and paramedics attacked as they tried to reach the scene. Physicians for Human Rights accused Israel’s leading medical bodies – the Israeli Medical Association, which lays down ethical codes, and Magen David Adom, which supervises ambulance services – of ignoring the evidence it has collected of such abuses … Concern that some ambulance crews are adopting a policy of denying Palestinians treatment has been heightened by the increasing role of medical teams located in illegal Jewish settlements. These paramedics appear to be openly flouting internationally established principles of neutrality that all medical staff are supposed to observe. In December the leaders of United Hatzalah, a settler ambulance service implicated in several cases in which Palestinians have been refused treatment, visited a leading ultra-Orthodox rabbi, Chaim Kanievsky, to receive instructions on what to do with Palestinians injured during attacks. According to a report on the settlers’ website Israel National News, Kanievsky told them that if the injured Palestinian “was in a life-threatening condition, they should leave him or her to die”. Other rabbis have made similar calls….
Palestinians live on edge with West Bank violence
HEBRON (Wash Times) 21 Apr by Asma Jawabreh — Abu Saleh owns a supermarket near an Israeli military camp in this city divided between his fellow Palestinians and ever-rising numbers of Israeli settlers. He has been caught between the two sides a lot lately. “When I start hearing bullets and smelling tear gas, the first thing I think about are my six kids,” he said. “I start calling them one by one. I want to know that they are in a safe place. I close my supermarket. I cannot bear the tear gas and go home to stay with my kids.” But in his living room, as Palestinians clash with Israel Defense Forces outside, the 50-year-old grocer faces another challenge. “While I am home, I try to be very close to my kids,” Mr. Saleh said. “I teach them that there are different ways of resistance.” For many Palestinians, the mood during these in-house lessons is increasingly strained. For more than a year, Palestinian youths have stabbed, thrown firecrackers and stones, and firebombed Israeli settlers and soldiers in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israeli forces, in turn, have killed and arrested many of their young antagonists. Sometimes called the Third Intifada, the current violence has not been as spectacular as Palestinian uprisings in the late 1980s and mid-2000s. But the heavy participation of young people over the objections of older Palestinians, including Palestinian Authority leaders who are ostensibly trying to reach a long-sought peace deal with Israeli leaders, is a dynamic that illustrates how deep-seated rage and frustration have taken hold of a rising generation of Palestinians — to the concern of their parents. “It is a popular anger mostly from youths who have no choice in this country, no life,” said Abu Youssef, 41, a Hebron University art professor and a father of three….
Israeli forces raid East Jerusalem villages overnight, injure 16
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 Apr — Israeli forces carried out raids in the villages of al-Eizariya and Abu Dis in occupied East Jerusalem early on Thursday, injuring 16 Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas and detaining a youth. Israeli forces raided two metal workshops, a carpentry workshop, several stores and homes, before detaining a young Palestinian at one of the workshops. Witnesses told Ma‘an that raids began at around midnight and lasted until 5 a.m. Israeli forces raided and searched the house and carpentry shop of Abu Dis resident Ibrahim Ayyad, blowing off the shop’s main door in the process, Amjad Bader told Ma‘an. Bader added that Israeli forces fired heavy amounts of tear gas near Ayyad’s house before and during the raid. Clashes erupted in the village between Israeli forces and Palestinians during the raid, with Israeli soldiers firing rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters at residents of Abu Dis. Palestinian Red Crescent medics said that 16 Palestinians were injured during the clashes, including four who were hit by rubber-coated steel bullets and 12 who suffered from tear gas suffocation. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Israeli police and border police forces found ammunition and raw material during its raids in al-Eizariya and Abu Dis.
20 Palestinians detained in Jerusalem amidst tightened Passover security
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 22 Apr — Israeli forces continued their detention campaign across occupied East Jerusalem in predawn raids Friday, detaining at least 20 Palestinians, as the Israeli authorities announced tightened security measures for the Jewish holiday of Passover. Local sources identified those detained in East Jerusalem early Friday as Mahmoud Dweik — whose wedding was scheduled to take place Friday, Omar al-Zaanin, Thaer Zghayyar, Ahmad al-Hashlamun, Muhammad Najib, Ahmad Rajabi, Mumen Hashim, Ahmad Badriyyeh, Mamun Ghaith, Muhammad al-Shalabi, Ahmad al-Bayyumi, Muhammad Ziyad, Muhammad Jaber, Ahmad al-Shawish, Mahmoud al-Shawish, Ibrahim al-Natsheh, Munir al-Ajliouni, Amjad Abu Snineh, Muhammad Bayyumi, and Ahmad Abu Ghazaleh.The raids come after Israeli forces injured 16 Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas during predawn raids in occupied East Jerusalem Thursday….
Temple Mount activists ‘practice’ sacrifice in East Jerusalem
Activestills 21 Apr — Text by Tali Janner-Klausner Photos by Tali Mayer — The practice run, ahead of what some groups believe will be the construction of a Third Temple, was co-ordinated by dozens of groups from the Temple Mount Movement — including those who call for the destruction of Muslim holy sites. Warning: This article contains a graphic image of animal slaughter.
Israeli police ban 29 Palestinians from tense Aqsa, detain 7 Israelis
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Apr — Israeli police on Friday banned 29 Palestinian worshipers from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and detained seven right-wing Jewish Israelis amid heightened tensions over the Jewish holiday of Passover. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Israeli police had arrested three right-wing Jewish Israelis on Friday morning for bringing two goats toward the compound’s gates as a sacrifice for the Jewish holiday. Later on Friday afternoon, police arrested four more Jewish Israelis at the holy site’s Moroccan Gate who were also on their way to make a sacrifice. All the goats were confiscated, al-Samri said … Ahead of Passover, right-wing Jewish organizations had urged Jews to flock to Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to offer sacrifices, Israeli media reported.
Meanwhile, a number of Palestinian worshipers were banned from the holy site following an extensive detention campaign by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem the night before the Jewish holiday. While one of the Palestinian detainees was transferred into administrative detention, another 55 others were released on the condition that they be banned from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The head of the Jerusalem Detainees Committee, Amjad Abu Asab, said the al-Qishla police center had released 19 Palestinian who were detained early Friday after banning them from entering al-Aqsa for 15 days. Meanwhile, Muhammad Mahmoud, a lawyer with Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, told Ma‘an that an Israeli court released five previously detained youths on the condition that they be banned from the holy site until May 10, in addition to eight days of house arrest. Mahmoud said five other youths were banned from the mosque for periods ranging from eight to 15 days, bringing the total banned from the mosque to 29.
Closures / Checkpoints
Israel blocks off Gaza and West Bank for Passover
JERUSALEM (AFP) 22 Apr — Israel has announced the closure of all points of entry between the occupied West Bank, the Gaza strip, and Israeli territory on Friday and Saturday for the Jewish holiday of Passover. Tensions are high in Israel following a wave of violence that has killed 201 Palestinians and 28 Israelis since October. The blockade was decided after “an evaluation of the security situation”, a military spokesperson told AFP without giving specifics. The Israeli government regularly closes off access to Israel for Palestinians during major Jewish religious festivals, though exceptions will be made for humanitarian and medical cases, the spokesperson added. Thousands of Jewish pilgrims flock to Jerusalem and other holy sites during the eight-day holiday of Passover, which commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt in Biblical times. “As Passover approaches, all sorts of extremists will spread lies about our policy concerning the Temple Mount,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week, referring to a historical site in Jerusalem considered sacred by Jews, Muslims and Christians. “We will act against these provocateurs by deploying security reinforcements in areas of friction,” he said.
Israel plans to improve conditions at ‘shameful’ West Bank crossings
Times of Israel 22 Apr by Dov Lieber — As part of a wider effort to boost Israeli-Palestinian economic ties, the Finance Ministry is planning to improve the much-criticized conditions at crossings where tens of thousands of Palestinians enter Israel daily from the West Bank to work, a ministry spokesperson told The Times of Israel on Thursday. The plan to increase bilateral economic ties initially calls for new work permits to be granted for 7,800 additional Palestinian laborers, some of whom will be employed in skilled fields such as high-tech, medicine and construction planning. To facilitate the expected increase of workers crossing into Israel, the plan immediately allocates NIS 10 million (some $2.6 million) to improve crossings, and calls for “upgrading and expanding” the crossings to a level “suitable for regular workers.” The Finance Ministry’s plan also allocates up to NIS 100 million ($26 million) in 2016 for implementing the entire economic-improvements plan, which also includes boosting public transportation in the West Bank and a professional training program for Palestinian laborers employed in the construction field in Israel. Some of the funds from the total NIS 100 million will also be used to improve the crossings, according to the spokesperson … The difficult conditions at the checkpoints has long been an issue criticized in mainstream Israeli media, but far-right Agricultural Minister Uri Ariel gave the issue new life on April 15 when he criticized Palestinian suffering at the crossings as “shameful and a disgrace to the State of Israel and to the security establishment.” A few days after Ariel’s statement, Channel 2 aired a feature story about Palestinian hardship at the Qalandiya checkpoint, which sees more traffic than any other crossing due to its location between Ramallah and Jerusalem. The Channel 2 report (Hebrew video story), titled “Like animals,” showed hundreds of men, young and old, as they arrive at the crossing at 4 a.m. to ensure they can get to their workplaces in Israel on time. The reporters followed the men as they passed through a small, narrow, metal passageway to reach Israel. A journey that should take half an hour can sometimes stretch to three or four hours due to procedures at the crossing, the report said….
Bethlehem: Army kidnaps a Palestinian in Teqoua‘, closes Al-Khader’s southern entrance
IMEMC 21 Apr by Saed Bannoura — The Palestinian Prisoners Society has reported that Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Thursday at dawn, one Palestinian in Teqoua‘ [or Tuqu‘] town, near Bethlehem, and invaded Beit Fajjar, in addition to closing roads leading to al-Khader. The PPS said the soldiers invaded and searched the home of Ibrahim Suleiman, in Teqoua’ town east of Bethlehem, before kidnapping his son, Ahmad, 18. The soldiers also invaded the home of Tareq Yousef Taqatqa, in Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem, in an attempt to kidnap his son, Ali, but he was not at home. It is worth mentioning that Tareq’s son, Khaled, 21 years of age, was killed by Israeli army fire, during a military invasion into the town, two months ago.
In addition, the soldiers closed the southern main road leading to the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, after installing a military roadblock in the al-Jisr area, near the Schools Street, and blocked all Palestinian traffic on both directions. The roadblock prevented the Palestinians from entering or leaving all communities in the western suburbs of Bethlehem; this includes Batteer, Husan, Nahhalin and Wadi Fukin.
Israeli forces injure 5 Palestinians in weekly Gaza protests
GAZA (Ma‘an) 23 Apr — Five Palestinians were injured when clashes broke out across the Gaza Strip on Friday night after Israeli forces attempted to suppress weekly protests, Gaza’s Ministry of Health said. One Palestinian was injured with live fire, and two suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation near the Nahal Oz crossing in the northeastern Gaza Strip. Near the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip, two Palestinians suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation when Israeli forces attempted to suppress a protest there. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they did not have information on clashes in the Gaza Strip Friday evening.
Israeli navy opens fire at Palestinian fishermen off Gaza shores
GAZA (PIC) 11 Apr — Israeli naval forces opened fire on Friday at Palestinian fishermen while sailing off Beit Lahiya shores, [in the] north of the Gaza Strip. Local sources affirmed that no injuries were reported during the attack. The attack is the second of its kind within 48 hours, as Palestinian fishing boats were targeted Wednesday by Israeli forces also off Beit Lahiya shores. The Israeli naval forces regularly open fire at fishermen, force them to take off their clothes, and swim in cold seawater before arresting them. In addition, their boats and equipment are either destroyed or confiscated and taken to Ashdod seaport.
Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian farmers in southern Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 23 Apr — Israeli forces opened fire on farmers on Saturday morning in the southern Gaza Strip, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stationed near the border along Khan Yunis opened fire on agricultural lands with no injuries were reported … Israeli military forces routinely enter the Gaza Strip near the “buffer zone,” which lies on the border between the besieged enclave and Israel. Israeli military activities, which have become almost daily occurrences, often interfere with Palestinian farmers whose land lies in the area. Approximately 35 percent of Palestinian agricultural land in Gaza is inaccessible without high personal risk, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
Hamas deploys forces on Egypt-Gaza border over IS concerns
GAZA CITY (AP) 21 Apr by Fares Akram — The militant Hamas group deployed forces on Thursday along the Egypt-Gaza border to counter Cairo’s concerns that it is aiding Islamic State extremists in Egypt’s lawless Sinai Peninsula. Egypt accuses Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, of providing a safe haven for the IS affiliate in Sinai through a network of smuggling tunnels. Hamas denies the charge. Hamas and a high-ranking Egyptian security official said the deployment is part of an agreement reached with Egyptian officials last month. “This emphasizes the Palestinian stand to tighten security on the border and nothing that harms Egypt will come out of Gaza,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. The Egyptian security official said the deployment is part of the new deal with Egypt that sees Hamas halt tunnel construction in return for opening the Rafah border crossing, Gaza’s main gateway to the outside world. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media. On Thursday, armed Hamas men took up positions along the 13-kilometer (8-mile) border, with fighters in pick-up trucks patrolling back and forth.
Gaza still clearing rubble from 2014 war
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 20 Apr by Ahmad Abu Amer — June 2016 is the deadline set by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with the Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, to complete the removal of the rubble from buildings destroyed in 2014 during the Israeli war on Gaza. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) estimates that 141,000 homes were completely or partially damaged, in addition to dozens of institutions, industrial installations and government buildings. Mufeed al-Hasayneh, minister of public works and housing, told Al-Monitor that 97% of the rubble from the homes destroyed has been removed. The remaining rubble is from large buildings, such as the so-called Italian tower in the center of Gaza City, the Awda food factory in central Gaza and the Zu’rob Tower in Rafah. Hasayneh said that the project would cost some $14 million. Of that amount, the United States has provided $10 million, and other donors, including Sweden, contributed $3.2 million. Omran al-Kharroubi, manager of the UNDP’s Rubble and Debris Removal project, told Al-Monitor that an estimated 1.1 million tons of rubble have been removed to allocated areas east of Rafah, in southern Gaza, and to Johr al-Deek, east of Gaza City. The rubble collected will be recycled and reused for infrastructure projects. “The crews that worked on the ground to remove the rubble have faced numerous obstacles during their work, including the presence of suspicious objects in buildings,” Kharroubi said. “International explosive specialists removed 3,000 suspicious objects, including unexploded ordnance.” Kharroubi added, “Other obstacles we faced involved the removal equipment required. Israel has allowed the entry of only three pieces of equipment out of a large list, following a request submitted a year ago. This forced the workers to use old and dilapidated equipment, thus delaying the project’s completion.” A project to recycle and reuse the rubble, also funded by the UNDP, has begun, Kharroubi said, with 150,000 tons of rubble thus far having been crushed….
Displaced Palestinians in Gaza protest Israeli ban on cement imports
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Palestinians left homeless by Israel’s devastating offensive on the Gaza Strip two years ago rallied in Gaza City on Wednesday to protest a recent Israeli decision to ban shipments of cement into the blockaded coastal enclave. The protesters burned tires in front of the Gaza’s sub-office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, saying plans for Gaza’s reconstruction were being conducted according to “Israel’s interests.” Moen Abu Okel, an official with a Hamas-affiliated popular committee, said displaced families in Gaza were not satisfied with the “futile” reconstruction plan, which he said was “designed to exhaust residents and tighten the siege of Gaza.” He said cement must be allowed back into the coastal enclave, so that all the houses destroyed during the 2014 conflict with Israel might be rebuilt, “regardless of any plans.” Israeli authorities on April 5 suspended the delivery of cement to Gaza “until further notice,” claiming construction materials were being diverted by Hamas, allegations the movement denied. The UN said it was working with Palestinian and Israeli authorities to find a resolution to the issue, emphasizing the need for construction materials in the besieged Palestinian territory, where a succession of wars has left tens of thousands homeless.
Gaza needs new housing, but where will it build?
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 20 Apr by Hana Salah — It seems that the growing need for housing units has prompted Gaza’s government to build in high-risk buffer zones near the eastern border — Faced with rapid population growth and a dwindling area for housing in the Gaza Strip’s urban centers, the Hamas government has been subsidizing housing investments and building housing projects in al-muharrarat, the former Israeli settlements evacuated during the unilateral Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005. The first project began in 2010 with government support. Later, individual and private investments started to emerge with government support for civilian housing associations. Naji Sarhan, the undersecretary of Gaza’s Housing Ministry, told Al-Monitor, “The Ministry of Housing and Planning has established a large number of residential projects in al-muharrarat, as they are the only government land available for such huge projects.” … Sarhan said, “The size of the government’s available land is dwindling. So is the land available for residential projects in urban centers, where the land is mostly owned by the private sector. Land there is expensive because it is scarce compared to land in al-muharrarat. Thus, the investment in urban centers is more profitable.” He added, “Israel’s repeated wars, which have destroyed hundreds of homes, the need for new houses and the growing number of worn-out housing units — especially in refugee camps, which are scattered throughout the Gaza strip — led to an increase in the need for new housing units in Gaza. Some 13,000 housing units are needed per year to meet the demographic growth in the Gaza Strip. According to the ministry’s statistics, the total shortage is about 70,000 housing units.” ….
Unexpected details ram home scale of Gaza crisis
Scidev.net 21 Apr by Imogen Mathers — Often it’s the smallest details that have the greatest power to shock. Disaster statistics can bewilder, dehumanise and widen gaps between victim and non-victim, but a human detail can give meaning to numbers, create empathy and so, the logic goes, effect change. The 2015 photograph of the body of three-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi lying on a Turkish shore is a well-known example — but attempts to humanise disaster have been a feature of catastrophe throughout history. Rarer, though, are instances where a small scientific detail can bring the enormity of a human crisis into sharp focus. At a meeting on the humanitarian and public health crisis in Gaza, held at the United Kingdom’s Royal Society of Medicine on 15 April, there were many such details. But one in particular stood out in its capacity to shock and reveal how much damage in one aspect of Gazan life exacerbates and destabilises another. One speaker, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon who regularly works in Gaza for a medical charity, was describing limb reconstruction in the Gaza Strip. Post-traumatic limb reconstruction is complex and time-consuming at the best of times, demanding surgery, anaesthesia, physiotherapy and psychotherapy over months, sometimes years, she said. But in a volatile, conflict-prone region — where an eight-year trade and travel blockade means clinics lack budgets and equipment as well as reliable electricity — it is deeply challenging. Not only this, but even when clinics receive new surgical instruments, these are swiftly destroyed by factors far outside the control of Gazan surgeons. This is because the water supply in Gaza is so contaminated that many clinics rely on sea water to clean surgical instruments — and “this just corrodes it all”, the surgeon said. To me, this small detail about the impact of Gaza’s chronic water problem underlined the enormity of the crisis, and the grotesqueness of the global community’s failure to do anything about it. It is well-known that Gaza has a chronic water problem, but the corrosion of equipment is the kind of detail that most outside the public health space would never think about….
Gaza’s schoolyard exorcisms
GAZA CITY 19 Apr by Mohammed Othman — A video that went viral April 5 showed what looked like collective repentance for mistakes committed by boys as young as 15 years old. These acts of repentance were organized at the Nile preparatory public school in the west of Gaza City by a preaching group affiliated with the Hamas-run Ministry of Awqaf (Endowments) and Religious Affairs. he highly emotional scene was led by a group of bearded men preaching to young boys, who kept bowing down and wailing. Later, the men embraced the boys, who then bowed down to thank God. During the episode, one of the preachers, none of whom were named in the video posted on YouTube, explicitly said that they have organized more than 60 such events in Gaza schools. He was heard saying, “We did not come here to put on a theatrical performance. We came to cast out the devil from our hearts, our minds and our thinking.” He was also heard describing the students’ sobbing and prostrating as “a wholehearted and sincere return to God.” On April 11, Islamic preacher Abdul Aziz Aoudah criticized these and other such activities by Hamas, writing on Facebook, “Repentance in Islam is an evolution of the man’s spirit, raising it higher and opening the horizons of hope and the future. But what we have seen in the video, of boys repenting before preachers, achieves none of these goals.” He said that the video is offensive to Islam because it gives the impression that Islam endorses human mediation between God and his creation, leading some viewers to question how these preachers will repent….
Indignity, grief and mourning on the Gaza border
+972 Blog 22 Apr by Nomi Heger — A woman from Gaza is told during a visit to Israel that she must terminate her advanced pregnancy. The Israeli army and courts effectively refuse to allow her to mourn with her husband by her side — Over the last two weeks, while everyone in Israel was talking about the segregation between Palestinian and Jewish women in post-natal care, we here at Gisha (an organization that promotes the freedom of movement of Gaza residents) provided legal assistance to one pregnant woman, who just happens to be Palestinian and could not care less who was lying next to her, where that woman was from or what sort of partying her hospital room mates would be doing. These privileges were the last thing on her mind. She wanted one thing and one thing only – which to us seems self-evident – she wanted to hold her spouse’s hand while the doctors induced her fetus’ demise. The woman in question entered Israel from Gaza, with a permit, to visit family. She was in week 28 of her pregnancy. Because health care services in Israel are more advanced than in Gaza, she went to get a second opinion about her pregnancy while in the country – something any of us wold do when it comes to a major medical decision. The doctors recommended an abortion immediately due to fetal defects….
Gaza artist beats Israel blockade with colours
World Bulletin 22 Apr — The tough life in the blockaded Gaza Strip has not blocked a Palestinian artist from staying creative by any means necessary. Ahmed al-Sahhar, 27, has found a way to produce colors using local materials. The idea came to him as he was looking for alternatives to imported colors, prices of which have skyrocketed in recent years because of the Israeli blockade on Gaza. “My first experience in the colors industry was in 2011,” he told Anadolu Agency. “I produced a small amount that I used in one of my portraits. I then asked a number of artists to use them.” The young artist, who is studying Arts Education at al-Aqsa University in Gaza, depended largely on information he found online to learn how to make colors. “It was not a totally successful experience, but in 2014, I improved the quality of the product and started marketing it, despite the lack of basic materials,” he added. Al-Sahhar produces 13 main colors and over 30 sub-color tones, including gouache, watercolors and others that can be used to paint on glass. He sells around 500 boxes a month and expects to increase his production to at least 1,000 after receiving financial support from an entrepreneurs support program, sponsored by the Islamic University of Gaza….
Agreement in Nafha follows second attack by Israeli forces on Palestinian prisoners
Samidoun 21 Apr — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society and Prisoners Voice Radio are reporting that Palestinian prisoners in Nafha are suspending their protest steps following an agreement on their demands after prisoners were attacked with tear gas and pepper spray by Israeli forces inside the prison. The prisoners’ demands that have been agreed to and will be implemented include the removal of police/guard escorts to recreation; weekly or more frequent meetings of prisoners’ representatives; the lifting of sanctions following recent events, especially in sections 13 and 14; admission of some small appliances from prisoners’ families, including kitchen utensils, an ice maker, a small refrigerator, and insect repellents; restoring satellite channels that had been blocked; and other quality of life issues. This agreement came following a sharp increase in protest and tension following a new attack on Palestinian prisoners in Nafha prison’s section 4 by Israeli forces invading the prison on Wednesday morning, 20 April….
Palestinian hunger striker suffers head injuries after fainting
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Apr — The Palestinian Authority’s Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said on Thursday that hunger striking prisoner Sami Janazreh suffered from a head wound after fainting while being transferred from Israel’s Ktziot prison Wednesday to solitary confinement in Beersheba prison.The committee said Janazreh’s health has deteriorated severely during his 50-day hunger strike in protest of administrative detention — internment without trial or charge. He now weighs 52 kilograms, suffers from arrhythmia, and low blood pressure. Janazreh, 43, has suffered from several seizures and fainting spells over the past few days, which caused a deep cut in his head, according to the committee.
IOA ends isolation of prisoner Khawaja after ending his strike
RAMALLAH (PIC) 22 Apr — Prisoners Media Office revealed that a deal has been reached with the Israeli prison management stipulating ending the hunger strike of captive Shukri al-Khawaja, 47, along with his prison mates in return for ending his isolation. The office elaborated on Thursday evening in a press statement that the deal stipulated halting the isolation of Khawaja within a period of 3-5 months and allowing his family to visit him regularly as well as allowing him to choose the prison where he prefers to spend the rest of his isolation time. Captive Khawaja started an open hunger strike last Sunday in protest at his continuous isolation with no justification in Raymond desert jail.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization
Jerusalem at the center of Palestinian-Israeli naming dispute
Al-Monitor 22 Apr by Daoud Kuttab — Within the scope of its Judaization policy, Israel has changed the names of several cities and places, including the Arabic name it uses to refer to Jerusalem — Shortly after Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 it faced a problem in how to refer to Jerusalem in Arabic. Not wanting to use the Arabic name al-Quds, the Israelis came up with a compromise by inserting the biblical Jewish name Urashalim. Listeners to Israel’s radio broadcasts in Arabic, for instance, were informed before and after every news bulletin that the station was reporting from Urashalim al-Quds. Combining the Jewish and the Arabic term reflected what then was the prevalent Israeli attitude of treating the holy city as a crucible of religions. Israel’s mayor of Jerusalem at the time, Teddy Kollek, regularly referred to the mosaic of the city in reference to its diversity and pluralistic nature, residents and religions. But over the years, Israelis lessened their pluralistic effort as they embarked on a strategic policy to make the city more Jewish. Arabic names were slowly changed to Hebrew ones. Nablus Road, one of East Jerusalem’s major roads, became Derech Shechem, a reference to the Hebrew term for Nablus. This policy often causes confusion that is reflected, for instance, by the questions posed on the travel advisory website TripAdvisor. The Hebrew-Arabic double naming of Jerusalem also has fallen victim to the continuous Judaizing effort in East Jerusalem … Terminology is not limited to streets and cities. Ever since the 1967 war, Israel has referred to the West Bank using the biblical term Judea and Samaria. The status of the Palestinian areas is also a major source of controversy. While the United Nations and the international community call these areas “occupied territories,” Israel refers to it in English as the “administered territories” or “disputed territories.”… But while the fight over streets, cities and the territories has raged for decades, perhaps the biggest fight has been over the naming of the area in the Old City of Jerusalem that is holy to both Muslims and Jews….
Israel seizes 115 dunams as ‘state land’ in northern West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Apr — The Israeli authorities have seized 115 dunams (28 acres) as “state land” in the northern occupied West Bank, Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said Thursday. The watchdog confirmed earlier media reports that in its latest publication of amendments to past land seizures, Israel has confiscated 115 dunams in the village of al-Zawiya in the Salfit district — in addition to 1,264 dunams (312 acres) already declared “state land” in the area. The amendments, carried out by Israel’s Blue Line Team, also said that 213 dunams (53 acres) were no longer considered “state land,” although 30 dunams (7 acres) of this land has already been expropriated by Israel for the construction of a highway. According to Peace Now, the latest land seizure takes place where a large new industrial zone — Shaar HaShomron — is being built inside occupied Palestinian territory….
Future of Palestinian town bleak after Israel shuts quarries
[with photos] BEIT FAJJAR, West Bank (AP) 21 Apr — The future of the Palestinian town of Beit Fajjar looks bleak after Israel’s military forced the shutdown of some three dozen quarries in the area, endangering 3,500 jobs and paralyzing the dominant local industry. Palestinian quarry owners and their lawyer say March 21 raids of the quarries by hundreds of Israeli soldiers and the confiscation of millions of dollars in equipment amount to collective punishment. The raids came four days after two Beit Fajjar residents stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier. The fate of the quarries also highlights Israel’s policy of favoring Jewish settlement businesses in the occupied West Bank over those of local Palestinians, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch said Thursday. Israel has not issued new licenses for Palestinian-run quarries in the West Bank since 1994, while giving operating permits to 11 Israeli-run quarries in the area, the group said.The Israeli-administered quarries produce 25 percent of the quarrying materials for the Israeli and settlement economies, amounting to Israeli exploitation of natural resources in occupied territories in violation of Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, HRW said … Human Rights Watch quoted three Palestinian quarry owners as saying they have repeatedly tried to prove ownership of the land, but been rejected. Quarry owners also said they repeatedly asked for licenses, but were ignored or turned down. “This is our land, it’s in our village, not in Israel,” quarry owner Abdel Moin al-Taweel said this week, after seeing two bulldozers and other heavy equipment confiscated. Quarries and stone factories are the economic bedrock of Beit Fajar, employing some 3,500 people and producing an estimated $25 million a year.
Palestinians pay for own road, despite paying taxes to Israel
MEMO 21 Apr — Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem have paid out of their own pockets for a local road to be resurfaced despite paying taxes to the local Israeli-led municipality. The residents of Ras Khamis, next to Shoafat Refugee Camp, gave up hope of the local council doing anything for them so raised the money themselves. Although it is within Jerusalem, Ras Khamis is on the “wrong” side of the Apartheid (“Separation”) Wall constructed by the Israelis ostensibly for security reasons but, in reality, in order to confiscate yet more Palestinian land. The Jerusalem Municipality has basically ignored the neighbourhood for the past ten years, since this section of the wall was built. According to a report in Haaretz, “The infrastructure in the neighbourhood has severely deteriorated, and the residents suffer from a lack of roads and sewage pipes, only partial water supply, partial garbage collection and other ills.” In response, youths in the area have formed a local council to act on behalf of residents. “In recent months it has begun the project of paving a new road between Ras Khamis and the nearby Anata neighbourhood.” The cost of the road project — two million shekels ($531,000) — was raised in Ras Khamis and paid to a local firm of contractors. “The broad new road stretches two kilometres with drainage and sewage infrastructure, also paid for at their own expense, laid beneath,” confirmed Haaretz.
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon, Syria
Regional conflicts spill into Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 21 Apr by Ahmad Melhem — In light of an inability to control mounting tensions at Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, the situation warns of an impending explosion — Things are heating up in Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps, as many observers fear al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) influences are working to create chaos and violence there. The situation is particularly worrisome right now at the Ain al-Hilweh camp, where Fatah security official Gen. Fathi Zeidan was assassinated April 12. Another member of the secular Fatah movement was killed March 28 by a person officials described as an Islamic militant. There were clashes between Fatah and al-Qaeda-linked Jund al-Sham faction April 1-2, during which guns and rocket-propelled grenades were used. The tension is bubbling like a volcano ready to explode, and Ain al-Hilweh is perched on its crater. “Extremist groups are trying to drag the camp into a battle with the Palestinian factions, which are seeking to control the situation on the ground,” a factional source in the camp told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity….
PLO: ISIS ‘beheading, raping’ Palestinian residents of Yarmouk
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Palestinian residents of Syria’s beleaguered Yarmouk refugee camp have undergone executions, beheadings, and rape as deadly clashes continue between the Islamic State group and al-Nusra Front, the PLO envoy to Syria has said. Anwar Abed al-Hadi told Ma‘an on Tuesday night that IS militants were in control of about 70 percent of Yarmouk, once the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria and a once thriving neighborhood of southern Damascus. He said refugees had suffered extreme conditions in recent days, with most families trapped in their homes to avoid the fierce armed clashes raging on the camp’s narrow streets. Abed al-Hadi said the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front helped IS into the camp last year, but the two extremist groups had since turned on one another, and IS now held the majority of the camp. He said IS was practicing the same brutal methods they had across the rest of Syria, including executions on the street, beheadings, and rape. He said at least 20 people in the camp had been beheaded and buried before anyone was able to identify them. Some 3,000 IS militants have been deployed in Yarmouk and the adjacent Hajar al-Aswad area, the PLO envoy said….
Other news, opinion
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (14-20 April 2016)
PCHR-Gaza 21 Apr — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt A Palestinian civilian was killed at the entrance to al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron. Eleven Palestinian civilians were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A woman was wounded in al-Shuja’iyah neighbourhood due to the explosion of a suspicious object of the Israeli military remnants. Israeli forces conducted 61 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 13 others in occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs. 79 103 civilians, including 24 children and 3 young women, were arrested. 59 of them, including 24 children and a young woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Al-‘Ajouli Company for Exchange was raided and burnt in addition to other shops in the centre of Ramallah and al-Bireh. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. A fisherman was wounded, five others were arrested, a fishing boat was confiscated and another was sunk. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem [Continued, with details]
PA’s UN draft resolution condemning settlements left in question
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Apr — The Palestinian Authority on Thursday sent contradictory signals as to whether it was still planning to submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council condemning Israel’s settlements. Media reports on Thursday suggested PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki, who is currently at the UN Headquarters in New York with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was planning to shelf the draft resolution in order to focus instead on a French peace initiative. “We have agreed that our move at the Security Council should not jeopardize in any way the French initiative,” al-Maliki was quoted as telling reporters in New York. “We should really sail smoothly in a way that the French initiative will continue.” He reportedly made the comments after Abbas met for talks with Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi, who is chairing the Security Council this month … Reporters understood al-Maliki to be putting the UN draft resolution on hold on Thursday, although the foreign minister’s office quickly issued a statement denying it had postponed its efforts to seek a UN Security Council draft resolution. The statement said there was a “need for the Security Council to issue a resolution calling for an end to settlement construction,” and that it was still holding consultations with “Arab and ‘friendly’ countries” about the proposal. The foreign ministry added that it was “totally convinced that heading to the Security Council is an important step,” although it did not specify a timeframe.
Abbas signs global climate change convention in New York
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Apr — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in the United Nations headquarters in New York on Friday. The agreement, approved by the 196 states party to the UN Framework Convention of the Climate Change during the COP21 conference in France in December, has countries pledge to work to limit the global temperature rise to no more than two degrees Celsius. An estimated 171 countries were expected to sign the document on Friday, coinciding with Earth Day. During a speech he made after signing the document, Abbas seized the occasion to bring up the French-led efforts to organize a peace conference regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in coming months.
Palestinian lawmaker Rabiha Diab dies at age 62
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Apr — The Fatah movement on Friday mourned the death of one of its representatives at the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Rabiha Diab, who passed away aged 62. Diab had been detained by Israeli forces seven times, spent a total of nearly seven years in Israeli jails, was sentenced to house arrest twice, and was prevented from traveling abroad by the Israeli authorities for 19 years of her life. Over the course of her career, Diab was minister of Women’s Affairs from 2009 to 2013, a PLC member from 2006 until 2016, and deputy assistant minister at the Youth and Sport Ministry in 2005. The Fatah movement said it had lost an “iron woman” in Diab, who had dedicated her life to serving her cause and home country.
Iran: US Supreme Court ruling on Beirut blast a ‘theft’
Al Jazeera 22 Apr –– Iran rejects ruling in which $2bn in frozen Iranian funds will be given to families of victims of 1983 Beirut blast — Iran has rejected a ruling by the US Supreme Court that clears the way for families of victims of the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut and other attacks to collect nearly $2bn in frozen Iranian funds. The state IRNA news agency quoted the spokesman of Iran’s foreign ministry, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, as saying on Thursday that “such a verdict is a theft of the assets and properties of the Islamic Republic of Iran”. From the United Nations, Ansari spoke to IRNA and said Wednesday’s ruling is “tantamount to a ridicule of justice and law”. The ruling directly affects relatives of victims, including families of the 241 US service members who died in the Beirut bombing. The lawsuit was brought by more than 1,000 Americans who have waged a long legal battle seeking compensation for attacks they say Iran orchestrated. The plaintiffs accused Iran of providing material support to Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Shia political and military group responsible for the truck bomb attack at the Marine compound in Beirut. Iran denies any links to the attack.
France to convene Middle East peace conference on May 30
GENEVA (Reuters) 21 Apr — France will hold an international conference in Paris on May 30 in a bid to relaunch talks between Palestinians and Israelis by the end of the year, its foreign minister said in remarks published on Thursday. With U.S. efforts to broker a two-state accord in tatters since April 2014 and Washington focused on a November presidential election, Paris has lobbied countries to commit to a conference before then that would set out a framework to get Israelis and Palestinians back into negotiations. “There is no other solution to the conflict other than a two-state solution, Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace and security with Jerusalem a shared capital,” Jean-Marc Ayrault said in a joint interview with daily newspapers Liberation, the Wall Street Journal, Al-Quds al-Arabi and Haaretz. “The two sides are more divided than ever. I’m not naive, but am acting in good faith. There is no alternative. The other option is fatalism and I refuse it,” he said.
PM: IDF to keep operating in West Bank areas under full PA control
Times of Israel 21 Apr — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the IDF would continue to operate in Area A of the West Bank, which is officially under full Palestinian Authority security and civilian control. The majority of Palestinians live in Area A, mostly within city centers, which has been under complete PA administration as per the 1993 Oslo Accords. Netanyahu said Wednesday after discussing the issue with the security cabinet that the IDF would maintain the right to operate in Area A according to “operational needs.” “There is no other deal with the Palestinians,” the statement said. Israel and the PA have been negotiating in recent months a change in the status quo for Area A. The IDF began to operate there during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 — a massive Israeli military campaign to quash terrorism during the Second Intifada — and has continued to do so since … While the prime minister has rejected the idea that the IDF would completely cease operations in Area A — an idea that was also opposed by the Shin Bet — it remains possible the Israeli army could limit its operations in mostly Palestinian areas. A unnamed senior official was quoted by Haaretz on Monday as saying that the sides were now discussing a temporary limit on IDF activities in all Palestinian cities with increased responsibility for Palestinian security services. According to the Haaretz report, IDF entry into Area A would require the approval of the head of the army’s Central Command rather than that of a division commander, as at present.
High Court interim order: No cutting off West Bank, e. Jerusalem electricity due to debt
JPost 21 Apr by Yonah Jeremy Bob & Malka Grossman — The High Court of Justice on Wednesday issued an interim order to the Israel Electric Corporation to continue providing power to Palestinian towns and cities in the West Bank and to certain areas in east Jerusalem pending further notice. The decision followed recent reductions in power by IEC to those areas in a battle over debts it is owed by the Palestinian Authority and by the Jerusalem District Electricity Company. The Jerusalem District Electricity Company filed the petition on behalf of the areas where power had been reduced. The IEC said in a statement to The Jerusalem Post that it respects the High Court’s decision while still demanding that Jerusalem District Electricity Company pay off its ever-ballooning NIS 1.4 billion debt to them. The JDEC oversees the provision of power for Jericho, Bethlehem, Ramallah and parts of east Jerusalem … The sides are due to submit additional arguments in writing on May 15 and May 22, followed potentially by another hearing and a final order on the issue by the High Court. The State of Israel owns approximately 99.85% of the IEC.
Netanyahu urges Jews to ‘West Bank’ during Passover
Israel Today 20 Apr — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu encouraged Israeli Jews to visit Judea and Samaria – what the world calls the “West Bank” and insists is Arab land – during the upcoming Passover holiday. In a Passover greeting to Jewish community leaders in Judea and Samaria, Netanyahu said that he “admires your ability to maintain a daily routine despite heightened security in times of tension,” and vowed the State of Israel would continue to protect the right of Jews to live in Israel’s biblical heartland and everywhere throughout the Land of Israel. “We established our sovereignty and returned control of our destiny to ourselves,” said the prime minister, in a veiled swipe at the international community, which just this week again reiterated that it does not recognize what it calls the “Israeli occupation.”
Who is really inciting violence in Israel-Palestine conflict? / Shlomi Eldar
Al-Monitor 21 Apr — Deputy Palestinian Information Minister Mohammed Khalifa tells Al-Monitor that, while Israel blames them for incitement, right-wing Israelis are responsible for the violence — The Palestinian Information Ministry in Ramallah has in recent months been compiling materials it claims are proof that the Israeli media incites hatred against Palestinians in general and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in particular. Many West Bank Palestinians share the feeling that Israel is conducting unbridled incitement, even though some of this is based on reports that were never published in the Israeli media or were misleadingly interpreted. Now many of these allegedly hatred-inciting reports are being bound in a thick file that is being updated daily since the current wave of terrorism began in October 2015. The so-called “incitement file,” prepared by the Palestinian Ministry of Information, currently comprises about 270 pages of newspaper clippings (including ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspapers such as Yated Ne’eman and Hamodia, to which most Israelis are never exposed) and transcripts of news reports aired on major Israeli television channels. “You accuse us of incitement, but you would do well to put your house in order,” Deputy Information Minister Mohammed Khalifa told Al-Monitor….
PCRS inaugurates the ‘Freedom’s Children’ playground in Hableh
AL-BIREH 17 Apr — PRCS inaugurated today the “Freedom’s Children” playground in the town of Hableh (Qalqilia Governorate), which is surrounded by the Annexation Wall. The playground was built with support from the Danish Red Cross. The inauguration ceremony was attended by Qalqilia Governor Rafe’e Rawajbeh, PRCS’ President Dr. Younis Al Khatib, the Head of PRCS/Qalqilia and officials from governmental and non-governmental bodies. In his opening address, Governor Rawajbeh said help and support are needed to ensure the safety and security of inhabitants given the exceptional circumstances prevailing in Qalqilia Governorate as a result of the Wall. Israeli practices impact children’s psychological welfare, which is why governmental and non-governmental institutions in the Governorate endeavour to provide a safe environment and recreational spaces for children, he added….
Samaritans form bridge of peace between Israelis and Palestinians
MOUNT GERIZIM, West Bank (Financial Times) 22 Apr by John Reed — The men and boys, dressed in white and wearing fezes or caps, wrestled their lambs to the slaughter at the centre of the village plaza. Their chanting of scripture — in ancient Hebrew, with an Arabic lilt — rose in intensity as the sun fell. A drone equipped with a camera buzzed and hovered overhead, filming the sacrificial pit. The Holy Land abounds in religious spectacles, but few are as exotic as the feasts celebrated by the Samaritans. Their ancient Abrahamic faith, akin to Judaism, celebrated Passover on Wednesday evening this week, two days before Jews. The gathering took place at their mountaintop eyrie on Mount Gerizim, in the northern West Bank, where they say they arrived with the Jews from exile in Egypt more than 3,600 years ago. At a time when Jewish Israelis and Muslim Palestinians are at each others’ throats over politics and religion — including prayer rights at Jerusalem’s holiest sites — the Samaritans are quietly surviving, too small in number to threaten either group.