“A great loss” — Arab Americans mourn Clovis Maksoud
The Arab American News 15 May — Maksoud was an advocate of Arab nationalism, Palestinian sovereignty, the policy of non-alignment and democratic socialism. Throughout his career, he always warned against extremism and sectarianism. Despite the bleak state of the Arab World, Maksoud encouraged hope. “We as Arabs are experiencing a resignation from hope and we are almost submitting ourselves to despair,” Maksoud said during a visit to Dearborn in 2014. “We will not resign despite all the negatives we are facing.” The Arab American community paid homage to Maksoud. ACCESS said it was deeply saddened by Maksoud’s passing, noting that he served on the national advisory board of the Arab American National Museum. “His contributions to Arab unity, and to the world as a whole, are unsurpassed,” the social services organization said in a statement. “He leaves behind a powerful legacy, and will be sorely missed.”
Arab-American scholar Clovis Maksoud dies at 90
Al Jazeera 16 May — Veteran diplomat, writer and scholar Maksoud was a strong advocate of the Palestinian cause and Arab unity — …Maksoud was born in Oklahoma in 1926 to Lebanese parents who immigrated to the United States, but grew up in Lebanon. He studied political science at the American University of Beirut and graduated in 1948, before moving back to the US to study law at George Washington University where he received his law degree. Maksoud held several diplomatic positions with the League of Arab States, which is now known as the Arab League. He was the Chief Representative of the League of Arab States in India from 1961 to 1966 and the League’s Special Envoy to the United States in 1974. In 1979, he became the League of Arab States’ Chief Representative to the United Nations but resigned from his post in 1990 in the aftermath of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Former Lebanese ambassador to the US, Masoud Maalouf, told Al Jazeera that the passing of Maksoud is an occasion of deep sadness for him personally and to the Arab community as a whole. “Maksoud was one of the last warriors who truly believed in Arab nationalism and believed in the fight to defend Palestine as the cause for all Arabs.” Maloof, who accompanied Maksoud at his last public appearance at Al-Hewar Center for Arab culture and dialogue in Virginia, said that Maksoud spoke about the importance of the Palestinian cause to all Arabs and how important it is to keep it as the compass that unites Arabs….
PCBS: ‘Israel controls more than 85% of the land of historical Palestine’
IMEMC 15 May by Saed Bannoura — This is a special statistical bulletin by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) on the 68th Anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba of 1948 … The Demographic Reality: Palestinian population has increased 9-fold since the Nakba The Palestinian world population totaled 12.4 million by the end of 2015. This indicates that the number of Palestinians worldwide has multiplied about nine-fold in the 68 years since the Nakba. According to statistics, the total number of Palestinians living in historic Palestine (between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean) by the end of 2015 was 6.2 million and this number is expected to rise to 7.1 million by the end of 2020 based on current growth rates. Statistical data also show that refugees constitute 42.8% of the total Palestinian population in Palestine. UNRWA records showed that there were 5.59 million Palestinian refugees registered at the beginning of 2015. Around 28.7% of Palestinian registered refugees live in 58 refugee camps, of which 10 are in Jordan, 9 in Syria, 12 in Lebanon, 19 in the West Bank, and 8 in the Gaza Strip. These estimates represent the minimum number of Palestinian refugees, given the presence of non- registered refugees. These estimates also do not include Palestinians who were displaced between 1949 and the 1967 war, according to the UNRWA definition, and do not include the non-refugees who left or were forced to leave as a result of the 1967 war. The number of Palestinians who remained in their homeland in the 1948 territory after the Nakba was estimated at 154 thousand persons, but estimates for 2015 show that it has grown to 1.5 million on the 68th anniversary of the Nakba. In the 1948 territories, the sex ratio is 102.2 males per 100 females, while 34.8% of the population is below 15 years of age and 4.2% is aged 65 years and over, based on available statistics relating to Palestinians living in Israel in 2014. This illustrates that the composition of the Palestinian population in the 1948 territory is young, as it is in Palestinian society as a whole. The number of Palestinians in Palestine was estimated at 4.8 million at the end of 2015: 2.9 million in the West Bank and 1.9 million in Gaza Strip. The number of Palestinians in Jerusalem Governorate at the end of 2015 was around 423 thousand, of whom 62.1% live in the areas of Jerusalem forcibly annexed by Israel in 1967 (J1)….
I lost my Palestinian flag on the March of Return
+972 mag 14 May by Samah Salaime — “I will not come with you to the march!” my adolescent son exclaimed. “I’ll sit at home and watch it. Wasn’t our home taken away from us during the Nakba? So here. You go, and take your little boy who doesn’t understand anything, and leave me alone.” “Don’t you support the right of return?” I ran after him to his room. “I want to know the truth. Answer me!” The Jewish mother in me got the better of me. By the time I got to his room, he was tucked in his bed. “I support it, of course I do. I just don’t think that spending the whole day traveling just to stand in the sun waving a broomstick and a plastic flag will give you back your village, that’s all. And enough with all the emotional blackmail, please.” My parental authority died that minute, and left me speechless and mournful. I dragged myself out of his room, completely resigned, as if I had just been expelled from my village. He may have a point, that adolescent brat. Another march and another protest – for 68 years, and what for? Why is it important? And in the current climate in Israel, is there hope at all? … In solidarity with the Palestinians of the Negev, the Association for the Protection of the Rights of Refugees organized this year’s march in the south, to link the protest of both past and present house demolition and land expropriation. The organizers were genuinely concerned that the northerners will let down the despaired Bedouin and not turn up … The turnout was surprisingly good: Some say more than 10,000 people came. A wave of Palestinian flags washed the desert. It was hot, dusty, without a single tree to hide under, but there were trimmed wheat fields a few yards away. They probably belonged to Kibbutz Shoval … As we headed home, my Facebook feed was flooded with inexplicable pictures of happiness and Palestinian pride.
‘Return Train’ tours Bethlehem for Nakba anniversary
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 May — A “Return Train” traveled through part of the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Sunday morning, as a symbolic demonstration of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and villages they were forcibly displaced from 68 years ago during the creation of Israel. The train embarked from al-Duheisha refugee camp at 11 a.m., heading towards Bethlehem, where it drove past the separation wall. Organizers of the demonstration chanted the names of villages whose inhabitants were forcibly expelled or massacred in 1948. Several hundred Palestinians, many of them children, marched alongside the train waving Palestinian flags. Near the separation wall, Israeli forces fired two rounds of tear gas at demonstrators. Munthir Amira, a member of an international rights network dedicated to refugees and displaced peoples, told Ma‘an the concept behind the train was “to mimic our 68-year dream of returning.” The train was formed by four carriages, each representing names of displaced villages and the refugee camps where most of these villages’ descendants now reside. Amira added that the train was built with 1.5 tons of iron, wood, and a generator, and took a week to complete. Al-Duheisha is one of 19 official refugee camps in the occupied West Bank serviced by UNRWA — the UN agency for Palestinian refugees — within which live about a quarter of the 774,167 registered refugees in the territory. More than 750,000 Palestinians — estimated today to number more than five million with their descendants — were pushed into exile or driven out of their homes in the conflict surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948. The anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe, is commemorated annually on May 15.
PHOTOS: Palestinian ‘Return Train’ is stopped at Israel’s wall
Activestills 15 May Photos and text by Oren Ziv — On Nakba Day, activists build a symbolic train to bring Palestinian refugees back to their homes in what is today Israel.
PA forces prevent Nakba Day protesters in Ramallah from reaching Israeli checkpoint
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 May — Palestinian security officers on Sunday prevented dozens of Palestinian demonstrators commemorating Nakba Day from reaching an Israeli military checkpoint near the illegal settlement of Beit El north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. Dozens of young men marched in the main street of the town of al-Bireh near Ramallah to mark the 68th anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe, when more than 750,000 Palestinians were pushed into exile or driven out of their homes in the conflict surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948. The protesters, who were reportedly burning tires in the street, were stopped by Palestinian security officers as they came close to the Israeli military checkpoint, and were forced to step back. Palestinian security forces have tried to tamp down on Palestinian demonstrations near Israeli military positions in the past several weeks, amid renewed anger in Palestinian society regarding the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination with Israel since the Oslo Accords.
What cost, Israel…
MEMO 15 May by Jamal Kanj — On May 15, 1948, Zionist Jews danced and firecrackers burst over the streets of New York celebrating the founding of Israel. About the same time, and on the other side of the world, Zionist terrorists’ mortar exploded in the middle of Jebal Al Luz (mountains of almonds) burning homes and forcing civilians to flee their village. In the middle of the night, Abu Musa carried his physically disabled blind mother on his shoulders. His wife, Um Musa picked up their infant baby Musa and joined a throng of refugees escaping for their lives. Abu Musa’s family hid in a ditch on the outskirts of their village. The morning sun exposed the scattered refugees hiding in nearby bushes and under trees. Sorties after sorties, Zionist planes strafed the area pushing the villagers further north towards Lebanon. Under heavy gun fire, panicking civilians ran in all directions. Abu Musa picked up his newborn son and ran for his life. Um Musa followed in his footsteps. Panting for air an hour later, Abu Musa realised he had left his blind mother behind. Zionist forces continued to bomb from air and ground. Abu Musa attempted to go back, but all was in vain. The next day and during a lull in the Zionist terrorist bombardment, Abu Musa went looking for his mother. But she was nowhere to be found. He came across local villagers who returned to check on their properties. They told him they had just buried the remains of what had appeared to be an elderly woman. Her body ripped apart by animals. “Was my mother eaten alive by wild animals? Or had she been murdered by Zionists?” Those questions haunted Abu Musa all his life. The loss of his country and mother were just the start of his lugubrious life until his death in the mid-1990s. Abu Musa ended up settling in the same camp as my parents. In addition to baby Musa, he had three more children in the camp, two boys and a girl. Musa, who had left Palestine as an infant, joined the revolution in the early 1970s and returned to Palestine. He was murdered by the Israeli army and was buried in an unmarked grave. Abu Musa, who did not see his mother’s corpse, was unable to see or bury his eldest son either….
Audio: Land of sad lemons: A song for the Nakba
Mondoweiss 15 May by Haidar Eid — I tried to explain to my late mother that she had to be expelled from Zarnouqa in 1948, leave her memories and house behind because a crazy bigot had committed a pogrom against Jews in Europe, but she neither wanted to understand (“what does that have to do with us?”) nor accept (why didn’t the Europeans give them a homeland?” until she passed away in a refugee camp, 90 km south of her village. This song is dedicated to all Palestinian mothers who had to endure the unendurable in 1948. Land of Sad Lemons lyrics: AbdulRahim Mansour…. [A comment includes a link to a video of Fairouz singing the famous ‘Zahrat Al Madaan’ (‘Flower of Cities’), about Jerusalem — with unforgettable images of the loss of Palestine and the hope for regaining it]
First onslaught on Beit Daras village — an eyewitness account
14 May by Ahmad Alhaaj – Gaza — This extract is part of a book titled Palestine 1948/1949: Willful Savage Displacement: A Personal Experience By Ahmad Khaleel Al-Haaj. Two days later, during the evening, a foreign Jewish Settler force from Bir tibia attacked, without any provocation, the village of Beit Daras, presumably to commit a savage massacre which would imitate that carried out in Deir Yasin. Contrary to the people of the Deir Yasin village the inhabitants of this village and neighboring villages anticipated such an attack. They defended themselves ardently. They even used knives and hayforks in the process. Armed men from the various adjacent villages came to assist them in repelling the Settlers and encircled the attacking FJS force. Northern as-Sawafeer was the closest to village to the south. Next were ours and western as-Sawafeer. My father was one of those who rushed to help them repel the aggressive attack. By dawn the attacking force was beaten and forced back, leaving behind 79 corpses in and around the village. However, many of the village houses were ablaze due to mortar and incendiary bombs; 54 of the village men, women and infants were killed; and more than this number were injured or badly burnt….
Video: Remembering the Nakba from Burj Barajneh refugee camp
Mondoweiss 15 May by Sonia Grieco — In the Active Aging House of Burj Barajneh, a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, the Nakba is still a vivid memory. Some of the center-goers were in their childhood when, in 1948, the ‘catastrophe’ befell the Palestinians and more than 750,000 were ousted from their homelands. Around 110,000 took refuge in Lebanon that, due to the proximity, became one of the main hosts for the refugees. At that time the Palestinians thought they would make their way back home soon, but for 68 years they have been living as refugees and the keys they brought with them have opened no doors. Marian, 68 years old, still remembers those keys. Her parents were holding them in their hands while telling about al Safsaf, the village in the Galilee they used to live in before the Nakba. She was a few months old when the Zionist forces captured the village from the Arab Liberation Army and dozens of villagers were killed. Many others fled leaving everything behind. “We left under air raids and came to Lebanon’s borders”, Marian tells me … Khadija, another woman who goes daily to the Active Aging House, run by the Social Support Society, can remember the Nakba even more vividly since she was ten years old when she left Tiberias, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, along with her family….
Slate 14 May 2015 by Saleem Haddad — Sixty-seven years ago, Israel created a Jewish state, and my grandmother was made homeless — Every year, on May 15, I ask my grandmother to tell me the story of how she was made homeless. It happened 67 years ago. She was 14, the youngest of 11 siblings from a middle-class Christian family. They had moved to Haifa from Nazareth when my grandmother was a little girl and lived on Garden Street in the German Colony, which used to be a colony for German Templars, later becoming a cosmopolitan center of Arab culture during the British Mandate. When I ask her to recall what life in Haifa was like back then, her eyes fix on the middle distance. “It was the most beautiful city I have ever seen. The greenery … the mountains overlooking the Mediterranean Sea,” she says, as her voice trails off. My grandmother remembers clearly the night her family left. They were woken up in the middle of the night by loud banging on the front door. My grandmother’s cousins, who lived in an Arab neighborhood of Haifa, had arrived to tell them that Haifa was falling. The British had announced they were withdrawing, and there were rumors that the country was being handed to the Zionists. At the time, the German Colony had been relatively insulated from the incidents of violence in the rest of the country, which included raids and massacres of Palestinian villages by Zionist paramilitary groups. Yet the Haganah, a paramilitary organization that later formed the core of the Israel Defense Forces, saw the British withdrawal from Haifa as an opportunity and carried out a series of attacks on key Arab neighborhoods where my grandmother’s aunts and cousins were living. “That night our Jewish neighbors told us not to leave,” my grandmother remembers. “And my father wanted to stay, to wait it out. But my mother … well she had 11 children, and of course she wanted us to be safe. And her sisters were leaving because of the attacks in their neighborhoods.” ….
Days lost but not forgotten: My family’s account of Nakba Day
WorldPost 13 May by Zack Sabella — Nakba day is a significant day for the Palestinian people. Almost every family has a story to tell about that day in 1948 when many Palestinians were forced to leave their homes to seek refuge in less troubled lands. For the Sabella family, Nakba day is a day of reflection. Today, I visited my aunt Hilda and uncle Maurice in the Old City of Jerusalem along with a friend and asked them to share more about their memories of Nakba day. My aunt takes a sip of her sweetened Arabic coffee and looks at me with somber eyes: “I still have the paper and the key, you know,” she says. Aunt Hilda was talking about the piece of paper that proved my grandfather’s ownership of his home in Katamon in West Jerusalem in the year 1936. I ask her to tell me more about that house. “Your grandfather purchased the estate from the Latin Patriarchate in 1936 and our family lived in it until 1948 when the war broke out,” she says. “It was a beautiful home with many empty fields around it,” my aunt recalls. “I still remember the view from our front door.” I asked her about what happened in 1948. She shakes her head, takes a puff from her cigarette and takes me back. “Your grandfather used to love this home, but when the Hagana bombed Katamon’s Semiramis Hotel killing 26 people in the process, he decided it was time to leave.” The Hagana was the Jewish underground militia which was active at the time and later formed the core of the Israeli military. My grandfather was worried that the neighborhood, which was the only Arab neighborhood between two Jewish ones, would continue to be targeted by the notorious Jewish militia. He chose safety first, as did many others who were forced to flee in search of safer grounds. My grandfather Zacharia, my grandmother Margaret, my father Bernard, my uncles Abdallah and Maurice, and my aunts Hilda and Bernadette packed their bags and made their way towards Lebanon where they sought refuge in the small town of Ghazir. They stayed there for nine months until they decided to return to Jerusalem and settle in the Old City, which was under Jordanian rule at that time. This is the very home where we were sitting drinking our Arabic coffee and talking today. It is the very home where my family meets for holidays like Easter and Christmas and where we honor and keep alive the many traditions that were celebrated by my grandparents. Back in 1948, this house in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem was a one room flat. There was no kitchen, no toilet, and no running water. The seven members of the Sabella family lived there in these dire conditions for seventeen years. “But we managed,” says my aunt Hilda
Nakba Day: A ‘clear challenge’ to Israeli establishment
Al Jazeera 15 May by Ben White — Last week, as Israelis celebrated their Independence Day, Palestinians in the country’s south held the annual March of Return, walking to the site of one of hundreds of Palestinian villages destroyed between 1947 and 1949. This mass displacement and dispossession, known as the Nakba (catastrophe), is commemorated internationally each May. But in recent years, Israeli authorities have attempted to clamp down on events to mark the Nakba – most notably through a 2011 change to legislation pertaining to budget allocations. What became known as the Nakba Law introduced a new condition to the criteria for eligibility for state funding, stipulating that funding could be denied if the body in question – such as a Palestinian municipality – marked Israel’s Independence Day as a day of mourning. In 2012, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition against the Nakba Law, saying that it was too early to assess the impact of the legislation. “The law is very vague, and does not set clear definitions, including for what constitutes ‘mourning’,” said Sawsan Zaher, a lawyer at Adalah, the legal centre for Arab minority rights, who litigated the unsuccessful petition. The ambiguity of the criteria “creates a huge chilling effect”, with local councils choosing not to sponsor Nakba events so as to avoid the risk of sanctions, Zaher told Al Jazeera … In Kafr Birim, a village ethnically cleansed during the Nakba, former residents have set up camp, renovating the local church and holding various community events. In al-Ghabisiyya, as in other villages, young Palestinians have been returning, holding summer camps and discussing what it would look to rebuild their community. Thus, while the Nakba Law remains a threat to publicly funded institutions, there are signs of optimism at the grassroots level. “The quantity of activities that are held annually, and participated in by thousands, reflects a more general growth in Palestinian patriotism and consciousness,” said Maria Zahran, a political activist and online fundraising techmaker at Adalah. “It is a clear challenge to an Israeli establishment that seeks to restrict our political rights and freedom of speech.”
Palestinian refugees protest in front of British embassy in Beirut to mark Nakba
MEMO 13 May — Dozens of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon protested today in front of the British Embassy in Beirut to mark the 68th anniversary of the Nakba. They demanded the UK make up for what they described as the “sin” it committed against the Palestinians by supporting the Zionist movement. Refugees from various Palestinian camps in Lebanon, including men, women and children, participated in the protest. They carried Palestinian flags and posters calling for the restoration of their rights. They stressed that the “British occupation of Palestine which began in 1917, is what divided the people in Palestine and encouraged the immigration of Jews from across the world.” The protestors also gave the British embassy a letter addressed to the ambassador, Hugo Shorter, which read: “We confirm in our letter the responsibility of your country’s responsibility for the catastrophe the Palestinian people have suffered and continue to suffer from its pain and bitterness since 1948.” “Due to the conspiracy plotted by your government at the time, and its provision of financial, legal and political support to the Zionist movement in order to attract Jews from all over the world and settle them in Palestine, as well as arming them with the most advanced British weapons, enabling them to establish an entity by force, the Palestinian people are living the way they are today.”
Opinion: As Palestinians mourn their Nakba, the UK must acknowledge its responsibility / Ahmad Samih Khalidi
The Guardian 15 May — Next year is the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. It behooves the UK to face up to its role in the dispossession of the Palestinians — … Seven decades after the Nakba and Israel’s creation out of the debris of the Palestinian homeland, there is a valid question as to why and whether Israel is a “special case”. True, many other countries were born of a less-than-immaculate conception, but they do not receive the kind of hostility as Israel. But we are not talking history here. The struggle for the land of Israel/Palestine is an active and continuing one. Unlike the natives of North and South America, Australia and elsewhere, the Palestinians have yet to be defeated and subdued. Furthermore, Israel was born in the full light of the 20th century. Its actions are to be measured by contemporary mores, not by those of the 15th-19th centuries, particularly in light of Zionism’s claims to be a moral force with benign intent; if so, its actions and their consequences are liable to be measured accordingly, its emphatic claim to be moral otherwise invites the charge of hypocrisy. Another more immediate reason for why Israel is a special case is because it is a living example of an ongoing occupying and colonising state. No other self-proclaimed western-style democracy currently claims the territory of another people as its own, or is implementing a large-scale colonial enterprise by illegally implanting its people on another’s lands. This is a unique occurrence in the 21st century. No other self-proclaimed western-style democracy grounds its laws and political practices in ethnic/religious distinctions; no other such state sets ethnic quotas such as maintaining a 70%-30% Jews/Arabs ratio for Jerusalem or “Judaising” Galilee, or rejects the notion that it is a “state for all its citizens”. No other leader of a western-style democracy would survive the gumption of evoking the indigenous population’s participation in the democratic process as a threat, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did last year … The UK bears a special responsibility due to the insidious and critical role it played in the dispossession of the Palestinians via the iniquitous Balfour Declaration and the terms of the British mandate that enforced it, and the shabby retreat from Palestine in 1948. By accepting the mandate’s terms in favour of a Jewish homeland, the UK took on the responsibility for the Palestinians’ fate. Without the active sponsorship and facilitation of the mandate, the Palestinians would not have lost their homeland….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
UNICEF says 25 Palestinian children killed in three months
AFP 14 May — Twenty-five Palestinian children were killed in the last three months of 2015 during a wave of anti-Israeli attacks and the number detained was the highest in seven years, the UN children’s agency said on Saturday. “Serious concerns arose regarding excessive use of force, particularly in relation to incidents where Palestinian children were shot dead by Israeli security forces after carrying out or being suspected of carrying out stabbing attacks,” UNICEF said in a report. It said more than 1,300 Palestinian children were injured during the spike in attacks, almost all in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while three Israeli children were hurt in the West Bank and West Jerusalem. UNICEF cited the example on 25 October in Hebron in the West Bank of a 17-year-old girl who was “taken by IDF [Israel Defence Forces] soldiers for a search, shot with at least five bullets and killed”. “Israeli authorities said that she had attempted to stab a policeman, however, an eyewitness stated that she was not presenting any threat at the time she was shot, and was shouting that she did not have a knife,” it said. Compared with the high toll for the October-December period, UNICEF recorded four Palestinian children killed and 165 injured between July and September last year. UNICEF also voiced alarm over the number of Palestinian children aged between 12 and 17 held by the Israeli army, noting the tally stood at 422 at the end of December, according to the Israeli prison service, the highest recorded since March 2009.
Israeli soldiers shoot, injure worker near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 16 May – A Palestinian worker was on Sunday afternoon moderately injured when Israeli soldiers opened live fire at him near Bethlehem, in southern West Bank, according to security sources. Israeli troops opened fire towards Ahmad Abu Amar, a Palestinian worker, while he was attempting to reach his workplace in Jerusalem through Abul-Hummus Valley road.
He was injured with a live shot in his head, and was transferred to nearby Beit Jala public hospital for medical treatment, where his case was described as moderate.
Israeli soldiers storm Fawwar camp, set alight cultivated fields
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 14 May — Vast tracts of cultivated land went on fire and burned near al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of al-Khalil city, after Israeli troops at dawn Saturday fired flares during a campaign in the camp. The invading troops also clashed with local young men in the neighborhoods of the camp and intensively fired tear gas and stun grenades at them. Another group of soldiers also stormed at dawn different neighborhoods of Bethlehem. In a separate incident, several military patrols at an early morning hour raided ‘Iraq Burin town, south of Nablus, and stayed there for several hours before withdrawing, without making arrests.
Palestinian detained for alleged stab attack in Jerusalem; Israeli slightly injured
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — A Palestinian youth was detained Monday morning for allegedly stabbing and lightly injuring an ultra-Orthodox Israeli on Haneviim Street (Street of Prophets) in central Jerusalem outside of Damascus Gate. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Israeli border police already deployed around Damascus Gate due to heightened security in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City heard a man shouting for help. When they approached Haneviim Street they saw a Palestinian stab a religious Israeli man. The suspect allegedly threw the knife away and attempted to flee the scene. Israeli police chased and apprehended the youth without shooting him, al-Samri added. Al-Samri identified the suspect as a 20-year-old Palestinian from the village of Abu Dis in the occupied West Bank near Jerusalem. The youth was taken in by Israeli police for interrogation. Paramedics treated the Israeli for light injuries on the scene before transferring him to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. He was identified by Israeli media as a 30-year-old ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva student.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian police officer; family denies he was planning attack
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 May — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian police officer on Saturday afternoon near the illegal Israeli settlement of Mishor Adumim in the central occupied West Bank outside of Jerusalem, on suspicion of “planning a terrorist attack.” Shortly after news of his detention, the man’s family identified him as Muhammad Mustafa al-Najjar, 30, a police officer from al-Azza refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. His family told Ma‘an that al-Najjar was returning from his job as a police officer in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, and that they were “shocked” when they heard the news about his detention. They added that al-Najjar had started his job just one week ago. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Israeli forces set up a checkpoint near Mishor Adumim after they “received information saying that the suspect left his house planning a terrorist attack.” When he arrived at the checkpoint in a taxi, Israeli police detained him, al-Samri said, adding that the suspect was carrying an Israeli police uniform. He was later transferred for interrogation. “The (Israeli) police are inspecting the suspect’s intentions of using the police uniform as it is suspected that he planned to use it in the terrorist attack he planned,” al-Samri added. However, according to Ashraf al-Najjar, Muhammad’s brother, Muhammad was carrying a Palestinian police uniform and not an Israeli police uniform. Ashraf told Ma‘an that he “doubts” the Israeli police’s story regarding his brother’s detention. He added that his brother has been preparing for his wedding that is planned to take place next month, and does not take part in any organized activity beside his job as a Palestinian police officer. Al-Najjar is a former prisoner and was released from Israeli custody about a year ago after completing a 10-year sentence, his family added.
Some 40 percent of the male Palestinian population has spent time in Israeli custody, according to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer.
Two Palestinians arrested for bombing as victim’s condition improves
Haaretz 16 May by Nir Hasson & Gili Cohen — The Israel Defense Forces officer who was seriously wounded by a bomb near an East Jerusalem checkpoint last week is now in much better condition, his hospital reported Sunday, just as the army announced it had arrested two people for their role in the attack. The officer, 2nd Lt. Shahar Roditi, is now fully conscious and his condition has been upgraded from serious to moderate, the hospital said. Also on Sunday, a gag order was lifted on the fact that two Palestinians suspected of involvement in the bombing were arrested last week. The Shin Bet security service said significant progress has been made in their interrogation. Roditi was wounded last Tuesday when a bomb went off at the entrance to Hizme, a Palestinian village just outside one of the main checkpoints between the West Bank and East Jerusalem. [See also Israel continues blockade of Jerusalem town (Hizme) for fifth day]
Israeli authorities delay handover of martyr Abdul-Rahman Raddad
SALFIT (PIC) 14 May — The Israeli security authorities on Friday postponed the handover of martyr Abdul-Rahman Raddad, who was killed by an Israeli soldier last March, to his family. The uncle of the martyr, Mohamed Raddad, said that the Palestinian liaison office told the family that the Israeli side decided to postpone the delivery of its son’s body until Sunday or Monday, without providing reasons. Earlier, the Israeli security authorities had informed the Palestinian side of their intention to hand over the body of Abdul-Rahman at a checkpoint in Qalqiliya city on Friday evening. Raddad was killed after he carried out a stabbing attack in Petah Tikva settlement in Tel Aviv on March 8.
For its part, the family of martyr Abdul-Fattah al-Sharif, from al-Khalil city, rejected the Israeli preconditions for the release of his body. The Israeli security authorities demanded the family of Abdul-Fattah to bury his body at night in the presence of 30 people from his family at most and not to use cellphones or any other means to capture video pictures of the funeral.
Army kidnaps two Palestinians in Hebron and Jerusalem, many injured
IMEMC 14 May — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, Saturday, two Palestinians in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied Jerusalem. Many Palestinians were injured in the Schools Street, in Jerusalem. Media sources in Hebron said the soldiers have kidnapped a young man, identified as Islam Ayman Tamimi, 21, near the Ibrahim Mosque, in Hebron’s Old City. Tamimi’s family said the soldiers detained many young men near the mosque, before kidnapping Islam, and took him to an unknown destination. In addition, the soldiers invaded the Schools Street, in Jabal al-Mokabber neighborhood, southeast of Jerusalem, and closed it, causing a huge traffic jam. The soldiers then fired many concussion grenades and gas bombs at students, trying to reach their schools, causing dozens of them to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. Many youngsters also hurled stones at army vehicles. In addition, the soldiers kidnapped a young Palestinian man from the Al-Aqsa Sharia School, inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied Jerusalem. A mosque guard said the soldiers cuffed and blindfolded the kidnapped young man, and took him to an interrogation center in the city. His name remained unknown until the time of this report.
Army kidnaps an elderly Palestinian man in Jerusalem
IMEMC 15 May — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday at dawn, Abu Dis town, southeast of occupied Jerusalem, searched a home and a clinic, before kidnapping an elderly Palestinian man whose son was taken prisoner a few days ago. The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) said the soldiers kidnapped Mahmoud Daoud Ayyad, after invading his home, and violently searching it. The soldiers also searched the dental clinic of Samer Ayyad, the son of Mahmoud, who was kidnapped by the army several days ago. Eyewitnesses said the invasion led to clashes between the soldiers, and local youths, who hurled stones and empty bottles on the invading forces, while the army fired several gas bombs and concussion grenades.
‘The Nakba continues’: Israeli forces conduct multiple raids across the occupied West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 May — Israeli forces raided multiple neighborhoods across the occupied West Bank overnight Saturday, detaining at least three Palestinians, launching tear gas canisters and stun grenades, and setting fire to olive trees, as Palestinians around the world commemorated the 68th anniversary of the Nakba. In the northern district of Qalqiliya, dozens of Palestinians suffered from tear gas inhalation, and several trees caught fire when clashes erupted between local youths and Israeli forces in the village of Kafr Qaddum. Coordinator for a popular resistance committee in the village Murad Shtewi said the Israeli army “turned Kafr Qaddum’s sky into a cloud of poisonous gas” after firing tear gas heavily and randomly. Dozens of olive trees in the area caught fire from Israeli forces-fired tear gas and stun grenades. Shtewi added that civil defense vehicles were prevented from reaching the fire because Israeli forces had closed the roads with dirt berms, forcing firefighters to walk up a hill to control the fire.
To the south in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli forces raided the downtown, al-Khila, and al-Thahir areas of the village of Beit Ummar, detaining one Palestinian. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad said Israeli forces raided the house of Ibrahim Abd al-Hamid Abu Maria, and detained his son Abd al-Nasir, 19.
In the southern district of Bethlehem, abnormally excessive use of force by Israeli forces was reported during an overnight raid in al-Azza refugee camp. Locals reported a night of chaos marked by at least three explosions and two sets of exchange of fire while Israeli forces showered the camp with tear gas…
Saturday night’s raids come as Palestinians around the world commemorated on Sunday the 68th anniversary of the beginning of the Nakba, or catastrophe, when 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced during the creation of the state of Israel. Many perceive the 1948 atrocities — marked by the destruction of 531 Palestinian towns and villages as well as 33 massacres by Israel — as just the beginning of a Nakba that has continued unabated to this day. “Since 1948, Israel has employed deliberate and systematic acts of violence, colonialism, and destruction at the expense of the Palestinian people, their rights, lands, and resources,” Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said in a press release published Saturday titled, “The Nakba continues.”
Israel’s systematic dispossession and forced displacement of the Palestinian people entered a new era in 1967, when Israel illegally occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, creating another 430,000 Palestinian refugees, according to the PLO.
The decades-long occupation of the Palestinian territory is marked by near-nightly raids by Israeli forces into Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, with more than 90 search and arrest operations conducted per week since the start of the year, according to UN documentation.
Israeli forces detain nine Palestinians from West Bank
NABLUS (WAFA) 16 May – Israeli forces detained Monday nine Palestinians mostly during overnight raids into a number of West Bank districts, said security sources and the Palestine Prisoner’s Society … Forces detained two Palestinians after breaking into and ransacking their family houses in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. They were identified as Hamza al-Amudi and Salahiddin Dweikat. Forces also detained Mustafa Jamal after storming and ransacking his family house in Deir al-Hatab village, east of Nablus. Two more Palestinians from the northern West Bank city were detained at a major Bethlehem military checkpoint. Soldiers ordered Amin Jaber, 36, and Salah Hijazi, 23, to step out of a vehicle and detained them at al-Container checkpoint, northeast of Bethlehem. To the west of Nablus, in Qalqilya city, forces detained Nael El-Hajj Hasan during a predawn raid into the city. Meanwhile, forces detained Mahdi Ahmad, 18, during a predawn raid into Saida town, north of Tulkarem city. Still in the northern West Bank, forces detained Abdullah Malalha, 20, an undergraduate student in the Arab American University, during a raid into Qabatiya town, south of Jenin, triggering clashes. Forces fired live ammunition and tear gas canisters during clashes, causing several Palestinian locals to suffocate. In the meantime, a Palestinian was detained while traveling along an bypass road near Betar Illit settlement, west of Bethlehem. The detainee was identified as Muhammad Hamamra, 23, from Husan village, west of Bethlehem. This came as forces stormed several houses during a raid into al-Asakreh village, east of Bethlehem. Four owners were identified as Adel Asakreh, Karim Asakreh, Nasri Asakreh and Naser Asakreh. No detention was reported.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israel dismantles EU-funded homes in Jerusalem-area Bedouin neighborhood
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — Some 90 Palestinian Bedouins, the majority of them children, were left homeless Monday when Israeli forces disassembled EU-donated mobile homes without prior notice in the Jabal al-Baba neighborhood in the outskirts of the village of al-Eizariya east of Jerusalem. Atallah Mazaraa, a representative of Jabal al-Baba, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces began dismantling eight mobile homes after Israeli forces and Israeli Civil Administration officers stormed the area at 5 a.m., evacuating the families living inside them. The majority of family members living in the caravans were children, Mazaraa said. The mobile homes belonged to Abdullah Mazaraa, Khadijah Mazaraa, Muhammad Hasan Mazaraa, Hasan Muhammad Mazaraa, Ahmad Muhammad Jahalin, Mahmoud Muhammad Jahalin, Hussein Mazaraa, and Adnan Khamis Mazaraa. Mazaraa added that in addition to the eight already dismantled structures, Israeli forces continued to disassemble other caravans. Each structure measured 80 square meters. Dawood Jahalin, who chairs a local committee representing the Abu Nuwwar community in Jabal al-Baba, also confirmed to Ma‘an that mobile homes belonging to his community were being disassembled. Israeli forces first raided the area on Sunday and took photos of the structures, according to Mazaraa. He highlighted that the school children in the community were preparing for final exams and “were in very bad state of mind,” as they knew they would have to study for the coming exams while homeless….
Israeli navy kidnaps 10 Palestinian fishers in Gaza territorial waters
IMEMC 16 May by Saed Bannoura — Several Israeli navy boats attacked, on Sunday evening, Palestinians fishing boats, in Gaza territorial waters in the northern part of the coastal region, and kidnapped ten fishers. The navy carried out 47 attacks against the fishers this year, wounding 24 and abducting 35 others. Zakariyya Bakr, Coordinator of the Fishers Committee of the Union of Agricultural Work Committee, said the Israeli navy ships opened fire on the Palestinian fishing boats near the al-Waha area in northern Gaza, and kidnapped ten fishers, in addition to confiscating two boats….
Israeli army attacks Palestinian farmers along Gaza borderline with gunfire
GAZA (WAFA) 16 May – Israeli occupation forces deployed and stationed in military watchtowers along the border to the east of Gaza city Monday attacked Palestinian farmers with a barrage of machine gunfire and smoke bombs, according to WAFA correspondent. Forces indiscriminately opened heavy machine gunfire toward farmers who attempted to reach their agricultural land near the borders with Israel, forcing them to leave the area, however, no injuries were reported.
Gaza electricity to return to 8-hour schedule
GAZA (Ma‘an) 15 May — Gaza’s electricity company announced it would return to an electricity rationing schedule of eight-hour intervals followed by eight hours without power for all districts in the Gaza Strip. Spokesperson for the company Tariq Labid told Ma‘an that they were informed by the Palestinian Energy Authority that a second power generator was now operational, which would allow a gradual return to the usual eight-hour schedule. He added that only one of the two Egyptian power lines was currently operational, while the other remained disconnected. The line was disabled ten days ago, and the Gaza Strip has been on a electricity rationing schedule of six-hour intervals followed by 12 hours without power ever since, deepening an already severe electricity crisis….
Israel angry with Egypt for allowing cement into Gaza
MEMO 14 May — Egyptian diplomatic sources have revealed that Israel filed a complaint to the government in Cairo after it allowed cement to enter the Gaza Strip without Israeli consent, Quds Press reported on Friday. The cement entered the besieged territory via the Rafah Crossing. It had been bought by Palestinian-owned companies based in Ramallah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on Egypt to allow it into Gaza. According to an Israeli website close to the intelligence services, there is a lot of anger at the decision. It contradicts the aim of security cooperation with the PA, claim the Israelis, as well as an agreement with the UN, which monitors how the cement is used in Gaza. The Israeli security services decided more than two weeks ago to block all cement for the private sector from entering the coastal enclave. They claim that it is used by the Palestinian resistance groups to construct tunnels under the border with Israel.
Bribery and corruption cause problems during two-day opening of Rafah crossing
MEMO 14 May — The Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah Border Crossing for two days this week, allowing Palestinians to cross into and out of the besieged Gaza Strip. Difficulties arose, however, in distinguishing between those with urgent travel needs and those whose need is not so urgent, PLS48.net reported on Friday. The Egyptians insisted on Thursday that the Palestinian authorities in Gaza should give priority to those who have bribed officials on both sides of the border. With more than 30,000 people needing to travel for medical, educational or employment purposes, the officers in charge on the Palestinian side of the border expressed their concern that Egypt insisted on letting the non-urgent cases go through first. With such a backlog of travelers due to the siege-related closure of the border by Egypt, Palestinians wishing to cross the border need to register with the ministry of the interior in Gaza City to allow officials to prioritise and facilitate the crossing. When the border opened on Wednesday, the Palestinian officials were surprised by the Egyptians’ insistence on giving priority to the people with non-urgent travel needs. Altogether, around 400 people used the Rafah Crossing on that day. On Thursday, after the passage of around 100 travelers, the officials in Gaza said they were again surprised that Egyptians insisted that “enlisted” travelers must pass before the others; that is the euphemism for those who have paid hefty bribes to corrupt officials. The Palestinians refused, so the Egyptians closed the crossing for seven hours until they relented. Only 747 people were able to cross the border, including those who had paid bribes as well as Egyptian passport holders stranded in Gaza. According to the authorities in Gaza, less than two per cent of those who are in urgent need to travel could use the Rafah Crossing over the two days.
Hamas denies ISIS militants entered Gaza for military training
Haaretz 14 May by Jack Khoury — Israel’s accusations of Hamas’ cooperation with ISIS meant to justify future aggression, says Hamas spokesperson — Hamas denied on Saturday that members of the Islamic State group recently entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt to undergo military training in the enclave. On Friday, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, said that ISIS operatives entered Gaza through tunnels from Egypt with the support of a well-connected Hamas affiliate in the city of Rafah – which straddles the Gaza-Egypt border. He said that Hamas was helping the ISIS fighters receive medical care, adding that the group’s top military and political leaders were updated on the issue. In a statement on Saturday, Hamas denied Mordechai’s comments. Hamas spokesman in Gaza Sami Abu Zuhri called Mordechai’s words an incitement against the Gaza Strip, issued in order to justify future aggression and the continued siege of Gaza. By making these accusations, Abu Zuhri claimed, Israel was trying to be seen as a partner in the international struggle against ISIS. Such a transparent move impresses no one, he said. At the same time, the head of Hamas’ political bureau Khaled Meshal said that the struggle against the Israeli occupation is a legitimate right and a national and religious obligation, and that the struggle is the strategic pathway to the liberation of Palestine.…
In Gaza Strip, autism researchers battle dearth of resources
Spectrum News 14 May by Claire Cameron — Trying to do autism research in the Gaza Strip, one of the most politically unstable regions in the world, is an exercise in patience, perseverance — and plenty of courage. As a team of Palestinian researchers discovered, gaining access into the region isn’t even guaranteed. Just 25 miles long and 7.5 miles wide at its widest point, the Gaza Strip has been a hot zone for conflict in the Middle East for decades. Nearly two-thirds of the population are registered United Nations refugees, and a 2012 World Health Organization study found rampant malnutrition among its denizens. As with most conflict zones, the Gaza Strip offers little in the way of health services. Palestinian researcher Mohammed Habash and his colleagues estimate that the refugee camps are home to 178,000 school-age children. Applying the global prevalence rate for autism, about 2,700 children would be expected to have the condition. But only 547 children have a confirmed diagnosis by a clinician — and fewer than half of them receive any services, the team found. Habash presented the results today at the 2016 International Meeting for Autism Research in Baltimore. “The problem really is not doing the study for prevalence, or getting children assessed and diagnosed; it is that nothing happens after that,” says Habash, director of the Palestinian program of A Global Voice for Autism, a nonprofit research organization based in Minneapolis. “There are no resources, no services and nothing for them.” ….
Gaza red carpet event ‘mirrors Cannes Film Festival’
Al Jazeera 13 May — The second annual Human Rights Film Festival is underway in Gaza, bringing a measure of glitz and glamour to a city that continues to be under Israeli siege. While the Hollywood elite are turning on the glamour at the Cannes Film Festival, this modest and very different festival is a break from everyday routine for the people of Gaza. “The idea here is to let residents of Gaza, where there are no functioning cinemas, experience a little cinematic escapism,” Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom, reporting from the festival, said. “Attendees of all ages, so tired of conflicts and embargoes – were clearly happy to get a chance that doesn’t often come their way,” Jamjoom added. Organisers say the event is meant to give the people of Gaza a chance to feel at peace, however momentary it may be. “The slogan, the hashtag of our festival is in Arabic “Badna Nitnafas” – which means in English “we want to breathe, we want to breathe air, we want to breathe freedom,” said Saud Aburamdan, one of the organisers of the festival. ” The event is also intended to send a message to the world that Gaza is not a city of “terrorists” but a city of people who love life,” Aburamdan added. “Gaza has another face, another beautiful face. The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip love life, they are not terrorists – they also can go and watch a movie.” Over the course of four days, 70 films are scheduled to screen, among them narrative features, documentaries and shorts, all free to the public.
Other news, opinion
On Nakba Day, tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Syria remain under siege
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 May — As Palestinians worldwide mark the 68th anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe” that occurred during the establishment of the state of Israel, on Sunday, Palestinian refugees displaced a second time by civil war in Syria remained under siege and under threat by ongoing armed fighting. Some 12,000 people, including 3,000 children, have reportedly been trapped in the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Khan al-Shih near Damascus, amid heavy shelling, barrel bombs, and sniper fire that bombarded the area in recent days, international aid organization Save the Children reported on Friday. After hostilities escalated, the last remaining road into the camp was shut, blocking essential supplies from entering the increasingly vulnerable refugee population. The camp had been under a partial Syrian regime-imposed siege since 2013. According to Save the Children, three youths were reportedly shot dead trying to escape the blockaded camp. The press release quoted the head of Save the Children’s Syria program as saying: “Despite the supposed ceasefire across the country, people are living in terror of siege and bombardment. People in Khan al-Shih tell us that most medicine, fuel, and flour has almost run out, and food prices have doubled in the past few days.”
Video: Decades after war, churches near Jesus’ baptism site to be cleared of mines
WEST BANK (CNN) 16 May by Oren Liebermann — On a sunburnt stretch of desert near the Jordan River, a weather-beaten Romanian Orthodox church waits for its first visitor in 50 years. The gated entrance has long since fallen apart, its marble column leaning toward the morning sun. The path to the church — if it ever was a path — is a thick quilt of shrubs and thistles. Despite being long abandoned, the church retains much of its historic beauty. A colorful mural of a scene from the Bible, half-visible above the entrance to the church, has dulled over time, but is still magnificent. The church door stands open as if ready to welcome the faithful. The land on which the church sits is near one of the holiest Christian sites in the world — the place where Christians believe Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan River. There are several other churches at the site, but no one has come near them in decades because they are surrounded by nearly 5,000 landmines. Barbed-wire fences keep visitors far away, with signs warning “DANGER MINES!” in Arabic, English, and Hebrew. When the Six-Day War ended in an uneasy ceasefire in 1967, the Israeli and Jordanian armies laid mines across the area. The Jordan River at this point is only a few feet wide — an easy crossing point for an army. The two countries signed a peace agreement in 1994, but the mines were never removed. –Making a holy site safe again– From the safety of the dirt road, a row of anti-tank mines is visible, resting on top of the dry, cracked soil. Nearby, anti-personnel mines sit above the ground, scattered across an empty field. Unexploded ordnance could still be anywhere, and the churches could be booby-trapped. All that is about to change. The HALO Trust, the world’s largest humanitarian landmine removal organization, has now received permission from the Israelis, Palestinians, and the seven Christian denominations with churches at the site to begin removal of the mines….
Jaffa mosque defaced with ‘Death to Arabs’ graffiti
IMEMC 15 May by Saed Bannoura — For the second time, the “Hassan Bek” mosque in Jaffa was defaced on Saturday at dawn with racist graffiti written in Hebrew, similar to dozens of previous incidents that targeted mosques and churches, with slogans such as “Death to Arabs”, “Revenge,” and “Kahane was right.” The graffiti defaced the western walls of the mosque; the attack is not the first against this mosque, as it was previously defaced with similar graffiti, in addition to being subject to various attacks, including throwing stones at its windows, and raising the Israeli flag on it, similar to what happened last month, on April 13. “We were not surprised by this attack; Zionist groups have been attacking it, calling for its removal, in the open, and the police never took the issue seriously,” the Imam of the mosque, Sheikh Ahmad ‘Ajwa said. “Such violations escalated in recent weeks, and they all take place usually at dawn – the police don’t even have to work hard to catch the perpetrators if they intended to. But we fear further escalation, such as attacking the worshipers themselves, God forbid….
Norwegian ambassador refutes Israeli remarks about aid cuts to PA
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 May — The head of the Norwegian Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority, Hans Jacob Frydenlund, refuted on Sunday Israeli claims that his country had decided to stop part of its financial support to the Palestinian Authority. Speaking to Ma‘an, Frydenlund confirmed that his country had not introduced any changes to its aid policy to Palestinians. Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that its director general, Dore Gold, had expressed in a conversation with Norwegian ambassador to Israel Jon Hanssen-Bauer “Israel’s appreciation with the decision…regarding Norway’s financial contribution to the Palestinian Authority.” The Israeli ministry added that “Norway had made it clear that under no circumstances would it contribute funds that would be transferred to support convicted terrorists and their families.” “These payments incentivize terrorism and must be stopped,” Gold was quoted as saying. Given Frydenlund’s denial, it remained unclear what recent decision the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs was referring to.
Israel shuns French initiative after UNESCO vote
AFP 15 May — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu poured cold water on Sunday on the Middle East peace initiative advanced by France by questioning its impartiality, a claim swiftly denied by Paris. Speaking to ministers ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu relayed remarks he had made to French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who was visiting the region ahead of a May 30 international ministerial meeting. Ayrault’s visit aimed to prepare for the conference that would try to revive Middle East peace talks, frozen since a US-brokered initiative collapsed in April 2014. Israeli and Palestinian representatives have not been invited to the French meeting to prepare for such a conference, mooted for the autumn.”I told him that the scandalous resolution accepted at UNESCO with France’s support, that does not recognise the bond of thousands of years between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount, casts a shadow over the impartiality of the entire forum France is trying to convene,” Netanyahu told ministers of his talks with Ayrault. He was referring to a resolution adopted last month by the Paris-based UN cultural body on the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, which made no reference to the fact that it is also revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and is Judaism’s most sacred site. Sources close to Ayrault said on Sunday that France “regretted” the resolution, echoing remarks by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls who on Wednesday called it “clumsy” and “unfortunate” and said it should have been avoided. But at the same time, Ayrault rejected Netanyahu’s questioning of French impartiality, insisting that an Israeli-Palestinian peace process was imperative to prevent the spread of deadly Islamist violence…
Israel expels South African human rights activist
MEMO 14 May — A South Africa human rights activist claimed Friday that Israeli authorities humiliated him last week by strip-searching him before deporting him from the country. Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Itani Rasalanavho said he was pulled out of a queue upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv last Friday. “I was interrogated about the purpose of my visit. I told them I was here for church human rights work, but instead I was detained and strip-searched,” he told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview. Rasalanavho said he was travelling to Palestine to join the Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT), an organisation that does global human rights work including in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. “I was detained for three hours at the airport before being taken to a detention facility where I spent a whole day,” he said. The activist says after confiscating his passport, Israeli officials escorted him to the airport the next day where he was flown to Ethiopia and later back to South Africa. “I was seriously humiliated by their actions,” he said. Rasalanavho joins a growing list of South African activists who have been deported or denied entry to Palestine by Israeli authorities….
Opinion: In our new Sparta, the militant brainwashing starts at 11 / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 15 May — Israel’s testosterone-happy generals are inculcating their legacy of mostly needless operations to fifth-graders. The results? Maybe by 18 they won’t ask any questions — ...Yonatan is a wise and sweet boy of 11, a fifth-grader at a north Tel Aviv elementary school. The young man who is his classroom teacher, who left the high-tech field to go into teaching, passed out the assignment list, every child getting a top-secret operation (or in some cases a war) at the teacher’s individual initiative, in the spirit of the Adopt a Fallen Soldier program started by Education Minister Naftali Bennett … Some of these military operations were real war crimes, involving murders, assassinations and kidnapping, a clear majority of which had been unnecessary. Only a very small number, if any, were essential to Israel’s security and most on final balance were detrimental to the country. They precipitated revenge operations, rage and hatred. The heirs of the assassination and kidnapping targets were generally more radical than their predecessors. After all, what came from the brave assassination hit in 1988 in Tunisia on Fatah leader Abu Jihad, other than a few more moments of praise for “the unit” after the life of Yasser Arafat’s most fitting successor was cut short, another potential peace partner wiped out? And what resulted from Operation Wooden Leg, the bombing of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s command center in Tunisia in 1985? And Poison Sting and “Elem Hamudot,” the two unnecessary abductions of Mustafa Dirani and Abdel Karim Obeid? And Rooster 53, which at the time was considered the most daring of the operations? That’s when an Egyptian radar station was picked up and taken to Israel to humiliate the Egyptians … If they start at 11, by 18, they will find volunteers for the next Operation Spring of Youth. If they start at 11, by 18, no one will ask unnecessary questions. Such is the spring of youth of Yonatan, my beloved nephew, a spring of youth that is messianic and depressing.
Palestinian-Israeli memorial ceremony: from alternative to mainstream?
Times of Israel blog 16 May by Eli Jacobs — As I take my seat in the arena in north Tel Aviv, memories of last year’s Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony flood me. Last year I cried. I cried a lot. I cried at the stories of human beings who lost loved ones, Jews and Arabs. And in addition to the tears and the sadness there was something else. Another emotion that I didn’t understand: I was excited about something and I wasn’t sure what. For a year I struggled to figure out what it was … This year I think that I figured out what that other feeling was last year — what it was that made me excited. Each year the ceremony ends with the song Had Gadya sung in a mix of Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic by a choir of Palestinian and Israeli women. They sing the traditional song with an almost religious fervor. What seems to be a song of despair — the fire burns the stick, the stick beats the dog, the dog bites the cat, everyone dies — ends with the unified cry “how long will the awful cycle continue?” We acknowledge the despair of the never-ending cycle and in doing so declare that “had gadya” is not viable and must be a thing of the past; things must be different, even if we do not know just how that works … There was one part of the evening that grasped my innards and won’t let go. Araab Aramin and Yigal Elchanan, young men — one Palestinian, the other Israeli — spoke one after the other. These young men could easily be on opposite ends of rifles, missiles or roadside bombs. They each spoke, they each told of a sister killed in violent acts. And then they embraced and all the difficult questions were irrelevant. When Araab Aramin and Yigal Elchanan hug each other, when they declare that they want a different way, a fusion takes place that can change the identity of our Israeli-Palestinian nucleus … My hope is that the alternative ceremony grows from 4,000 people to 40,000, from 40,000 to 400,000. I would like to see the alternative memorial ceremony evolve into the mainstream ceremony….
WATCH: Israel Prize winner on why he’s giving prize money to Ta‘ayush
+972 mag 13 May by Mairav Zonszein — Prof. David Shulman won Israel’s most prestigious prize. He’s giving the prize money to one of Israel’s most dedicated — and persecuted — activist groups. Here’s why — …Shulman, who has been active with Ta‘ayush for the last 15 years, explains in this video what exactly the group, which was founded at the start of the Second Intifada and has been the target of right-wing incitement in recent months, does. I think it’s interesting to note that most of the Israeli media outlets who covered the story characterized Ta’ayush as a “left-wing organization,” (Haaretz in Hebrew), “anti-Israel” (Arutz Sheva) and Haaretz English originally called it “pro-Palestinian” but then changed it to “Israeli group that helps Palestinians.” I haven’t seen a single outlet call it what it is: an activist group doing humanitarian work in the West Bank. (Ta‘ayush has just opened a new “front” of activism in the Jordan Valley.) Ta‘ayush, as David notes in the video, is not an organization, but a loose-knit group of people who dedicate their Saturdays to activism that affects the reality on the ground for Palestinians who live in Area C and have no representation or rights. You could call it “left-wing” inasmuch as it champions human rights and dignity and opposes Israel’s military occupation … Shulman’s donation to Ta’ayush will help pay for the group’s two primary expenses: legal fees for the activists who are constantly being arrested, the cases they build against the state, and the gas it requires to drive activists from Jerusalem to the South Hebron Hills every week.
Opinion: A century later, the tide turns on Palestine / Rami G. Khoury
Al Jazeera 15 May –– Israel’s leverage in Western states is isolated among a few institutions that are out of sync with wider society — This week’s dual commemoration of the May 1948 Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe of expulsion, exile, and occupation) and Israel’s independence day sees important signs of change in the balance of political power in this enduring national struggle. Public sentiments and incremental political advances around the world may be creating a global context that is more fair to both sides in the conflict, thus reducing the modern legacy in favour of the Zionist movement and the state of Israel. A century ago, around 1916-1921, the Zionism-Arabism conflict was incubated in the context of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916), the Balfour Declaration (1917), and other post-WWI big power agreements on a new state order in the Middle East that favoured Zionists and disenfranchised Palestinians. Ever since, Zionist and Israeli expansion into Arab lands have continued unchecked, in the form of settlements, land expropriations, and evictions and expulsions of Palestinians. Recent trends this decade, however, indicate some rebalancing in the West. Just this week, for example, a Pew Research Center poll of 2,000 Americans revealed that liberal Democrats sympathise more with Palestinians than with Israel (40 percent versus 33 percent), an almost unprecedented tilt towards Palestinian rights … The Pew analysis said, “There are good reasons, rooted in American partisan politics, to believe this may actually be part of a longer-term trend.”….
Film review: ‘Occupation of the American Mind’ unravels Israel’s propaganda war in US
ShadowProof 13 May by Roqayah Chamseddine — “The Occupation Of The American Mind,” directed by Loretta Alper and Jeremy Earp, is a stunning documentary examining Israel’s public relations war in the United States. It premiered last month. The film, which begins with a heart-stopping shot of an apartment complex in Gaza as it is bombed during the 2014 war, pulls no punches. The sounds and images are riveting. You’re able to see the fire and thick smoke pouring into the air, but there are no voices that break the quiet aftermath. Only the sharp clinking of debris. Roger Waters, Pink Floyd co-founder and BDS advocate, narrates the film, sending viewers back into that bloody summer in 2014 — one which now seems to much of the world as though it was a lifetime ago. While rage was building against Israel during that summertime bloodbath, in the United States the story was far different. The American people, Waters says, held firm in their support for the bombing of Gaza. The much beloved talking point that “Israel has a right to defend itself,” one that became a kind of religious mantra during that war and those before it, is explored from the very start of the film. With help from Peter Hart, of Fair Media Watch, Yousef Munayyer, executive director of The U.S. Campaign to End The Israeli Occupation, and others, the film deconstructs the establishment media’s propaganda efforts. Yousef Munayyer argues that when we examine the formula that mainstream media outlets follow we find Israeli spokespeople are over-represented when compared to Palestinian spokespeople by a margin of 3 to 1. So when Israel is discussed, we are inundated with commentary from officials, who propagate in support of Israel’s use of violence….