Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel
Video: Israeli police documented savagely beating Arab in central Tel Aviv
Haaretz 22 May by Yaniv Kubovich — Off-duty Border Police officers in civilian clothes savagely assaulted an Arab supermarket worker in central Tel Aviv on Sunday after he refused to identify himself because he didn’t know who they were, according to eyewitnesses. The incident occurred on Sunday afternoon at the Super Yuda supermarket on Ibn Gabirol Street, opposite the Tel Aviv municipality. The worker, an Israeli Arab, had gone outside to dispose of garbage when one of the policemen, who was dressed in shorts, demanded that he identify himself. When the worker asked by what authority he was being asked to identify himself, the policeman began hitting him, witnesses said. “The blows were murderous, from the guy and from one of his friends. I’ve never seen anything like it. Teeth were flying through the air. The Arab was torn apart,” Erez Krispin, an eyewitness, wrote in a Facebook post that has since turned viral. An old lady asked the assailants why they were beating the Arab, Krispin continued, “and they shouted at her, ‘Fuck off from here before we finish you off as well.’ That, too, was in front of witnesses.” “Then police arrived and joined the two hooligans in beating him… I really don’t know if the Arab is still living. They pushed him into a police van, not an ambulance, and disappeared. It later turned that the two were Border Policemen (who didn’t identify themselves, of course.)” “He was beaten only because he’s a Muslim,” Super Yuda owner Kobi Cohen told Walla News. “His only crime was that he’s not Jewish.” Cohen said that the original assailants were joined by plainclothes policemen and that there were as many as 10 people beating the worker. The incident occurred in a crowded area in front of supermarket customers and many onlookers. After the beating, the worker was taken to Tel Aviv division police headquarters. “All the neighborhood knows him and knows that he’s a good guy who isn’t looking for trouble,” the assaulted youth’s father told Haaretz….
more on the same incident
Border Police assault Arab supermarket employee in central Tel Aviv
+972 mag 22 May by Mairav Zonszein — An Arab employee of a supermarket located on the main thoroughfare of Ibn Gvirol Street, opposite Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, was reportedly beaten by plainclothes Border Police officers on Sunday afternoon. According to several eyewitnesses, the motive behind the beating was the employee’s ethnicity … Israel Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told +972: “Due to the wave of terror, and in general as part of internal security activities, Israeli police are working tirelessly to find and expel Palestinians who don’t have work permits, for the security of the public. Based on an initial investigation, it seems that Border Police officer recognized a young man who aroused their suspicion, and they asked him to identify himself. The suspect refused to identify himself and attacked the police officers, even biting one of them. In order to arrest him, the policemen had to use force while the suspect continued attacking them.” “As a result of the intensity of the violence against them, the two police officers sought medical assistance at Ichilov Hospital, after suffering bruises and bite marks. In coordination with police protocol, and as is acceptable in situations in which police must use force in order to do their job, all relevant materials will be sent to the Department of Internal Investigations. Israeli police will continue to act decisively against anyone who threatens Israeli lives.”
The police response does not confirm or deny the fact that the man is, according to his employer, an Israeli citizen, a Bedouin from a Negev town. This would counter the claim that he was a Palestinian without a work permit. Given the number of people seen in the video beating this one man, it is not surprising that some of the policemen were bruised in the fracas. According to a local Palestinian media outlet, his name is Maysam Abu-Alqi’an. He was reportedly treated at Ichilov hospital, Sunday evening. Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh responded to the incident, saying that ”Instead of serving and protecting Arab citizens, the police presents a genuine danger to their safety.”….
Israel returns body of young Palestinian attacker; funeral held in Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 21 May — A funeral was held Friday night in the village of Hajja east of the occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya for a young Palestinian man killed by Israeli forces following a stabbing attack in March, after Israeli authorities returned his body that had been held for over 70 days. The body of Bashar Masalha, 22, was laid to rest in his village after Israeli forces returned his body almost three months following his death under the condition that the funeral be held at night. Before he was buried, his body was taken to the Darwish Nazzal hospital, where a forensic doctor inspected the body. Israeli forces shot dead Masalha after he carried out a stabbing attack in March near the port of the Israeli city of Jaffa, killing a US tourist and wounding at least nine Israelis. Following the attack, Masalha’s village of Hajja was completely sealed by military forces, as Israeli forces punitively demolished his family’s home.
Israel to return bodies of brother and sister killed at Qalandiya
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 May — Israeli authorities are to release the bodies of a Palestinian brother and sister who were shot and killed by Israeli forces at the Qalandiya military checkpoint near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on April 27. According to local sources, the bodies of 23-year-old Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail and her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim from the West Bank town of Qatuna will be released on Sunday evening. Maram, a pregnant mother of two, and her teenage brother Ibrahim were shot and killed at the notorious Qalandiya checkpoint last month, after they allegedly threw a knife in the direction of Israeli forces. However, witnesses at the scene said the two siblings posed no threat at the time the Israeli officer killed them, as they mistakenly entered the wrong part of the checkpoint and did not understand Israeli soldiers speaking to them in Hebrew. The Israeli Justice Ministry’s police investigation into the killings was dropped after it was revealed a privately contracted security guard had killed Maram and Ibrahim, rather than a police officer as had previously been thought.
Israeli raids and search campaigns reported in Al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL/HEBRON (PIC) 22 May — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) at dawn Sunday waged a large-scale search and storming campaign in Sa‘eer town near al-Khalil that covered all of the town’s districts. The IOF declared the area a closed military zone after claiming that shooting at settlers had taken place on a road leading to the town. Clashes had earlier broken out between IOF soldiers and Palestinian youths in the southern area of al-Khalil city. The PIC reporter revealed that Israeli soldiers who were stationed at a barrier in the city unleashed tear gas and sound grenades at school students. Clashes extended to the vicinity of Tariq Bin Ziyad School, he pointed out. Israeli forces erected a makeshift barrier Sunday morning at the northern gate of Halhoul city and another one at the gate of al-‘Aroub refugee camp in northern al-Khalil. The IOF soldiers stopped Palestinians’ vehicles, searched the passengers, and checked their IDs, which led to a traffic jam.
Rights group: Police collecting intel by ‘visiting’ E. J’lem homes at 3 a.m.
Haaretz 23 May by Nir Hasson — Police in Jerusalem have found a new way to gather information about East Jerusalem residents: Wake them up in the middle of the night to “interview” them. According to testimonies collected by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, over the past month police forces, including masked policemen, have been entering residential neighborhoods between 2 A.M. and 4 A.M., and going door to door, waking up residents to ask them questions about family members and neighbors, their property, where their children go to school, and more. ACRI says police have conducted dozens of such interviews, primarily in the Issawiya and A-Tur neighborhoods. In none of the known instances did the police show a warrant, nor were the residents accused of anything. On the contrary, the police often told the residents straight out that they were simply collecting information for intelligence purposes. In a letter sent Thursday by ACRI attorney Anne Sucio to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, Sucio cited a report by A., a resident of the Sawana neighborhood of A-Tur. About a month ago, at 3 A.M., he said, he and his wife were woken by three Border Policemen, one of whom was masked, who sat him down for 45 minutes and asked him questions about all the other tenants in his building. He was asked to present his families’ identity cards and was questioned about vehicles in his possession. When A. asked for an explanation, he was told, according to Sucio, “We are going from house to house, starting at midnight. If we would come during the day you would throw stones.” When he asked why they were collecting these details, Sucio said, “He was told it didn’t pay to mess with the police….
Israeli forces detain 5 Palestinians overnight in Hebron, Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 May — Israeli forces detained at least five Palestinians from the occupied West Bank districts of Ramallah and Hebron on Sunday during predawn raids, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement on Sunday that three Palestinians were detained in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah-Al-Bireh. The organization identified them as Rami Fawwaz Hamayel, 28, and Muhammad Hamid Abu Murra, 24, both from the village of Khirbet Abu Falah, and Ihsan Jamal Abu Rabi, 24, from al-Mazraa al-Qibliya. In the southern district of Hebron, Israeli forces detained Ahmad Sharif Hassan, 24, and Rafiq Tawfiq Abu Afifa, 39. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that two suspected Hamas operatives were detained overnight — one in Ramallah and one in Hebron. Israeli forces carry out overnight detention raids on a near-daily basis in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. A weekly average of over 90 search and detention operations have been carried out in the occupied Palestinian territory since the start of 2016, according to UN documentation.
Haaretz editorial: A death penalty only for Palestinians
22 May — There are so many reasons to oppose capital punishment. But Avigdor Lieberman’s attempt to adopt it is particularly odious — The question of the death penalty is once again on the public agenda, because this was one of MK Avigdor Lieberman’s demands in his negotiations to bring his Yisrael Beiteinu party into the coalition. But Lieberman will apparently give up on a bill sponsored by Sharon Gal, a former Knesset member from his party, that would have allowed Israel’s civilian courts to impose the death penalty for terrorist murders. Instead, he is focusing on an attempt to actualize an existing but hitherto dormant legal provision allowing military courts in the territories to impose the death penalty. This would be done by scrapping the rule that capital punishment can be imposed only if it is unanimously approved by the military judges hearing the case. Lieberman’s proposal would allow capital punishment even if only a majority of the judicial bench supports it. It should be noted that as long as the military prosecution’s policy of not even seeking the death penalty remains unaltered, the possibility of capital punishment is unlikely to arise. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the new legislation is also an attempt to sway the military prosecution and instruct it on how to behave … This is an attempt to apply the death penalty to only one population group only: the Palestinians. After all, an Israeli citizen who perpetrates a terrorist murder (like the murder of a Palestinian family in the West Bank village of Duma, according to the indictment) will be brought to trial in a civilian court, not a military one.
Newly appointed far-right Knesset member tours Al-Aqsa mosque
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 May — Israeli right-winger Yehuda Glick was escorted under armed protection into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday morning, days after it was announced that he would be sworn in as the newest member to Israel’s Knesset. Firas al-Dibs, a spokesperson for the Islamic Endowment that controls the compound, told Ma‘an that a group of right-wing Israelis including the “far-right extremist Yehuda Glick” entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound through the Moroccan gate escorted by Israeli forces, toured the compound, and left through the Chain gate. After Moshe Yaalon announced his resignation as defense minister on Friday following Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to offer the position to the ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman, it was revealed that Glick would fill Yaalon’s seat as MK, as he was next in line on the Likud party’s list of candidates to replace a sitting Knesset member. Under current agreements, Glick’s visit to Al-Aqsa on Monday would be his last legal opportunity to do so, as Netanyahu issued a ban in October on all Israeli Knesset members and governmental ministers — including Palestinians and Muslims — from entering the compound, in an attempt to ease tensions at the site … The right-wing, American-born rabbi rose to prominence for leading groups of rightist Israelis into the mosque for worship, in contravention of an agreement between Israel and the Islamic endowment since 1967 that prohibits non-Muslim prayer in the compound … He has been heavily involved with the Temple Institute, an organization dedicated to building the Third Jewish Temple in the place of the Dome of the Rock. He is also a resident of the illegal settlement of Otniel in the southern occupied West Bank….
Israeli intelligence arrests sit-inner at the Aqsa
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 22 May — Israeli forces on Sunday arrested the old man Ali Abu Esbaitan, one of the Jerusalemite sit-inners at the Aqsa Mosque, after storming his home east of Occupied Jerusalem. Jerusalemite media sources revealed that Israeli intelligence forces broke into and searched Abu Esbaitan’s home in al-Tour district east of Occupied Jerusalem and arrested him to be questioned despite his being in his sixties. Israeli forces have been conducting campaigns against the Jerusalemite sit-inners at the Aqsa Mosque since the beginning of 2016. Some of them were charged with belonging to an outlawed organization while others were ordered to remain away of the Aqsa Mosque for various periods.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli settlers level lands in northern West Bank
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 22 May — Israeli settler bulldozers on Sunday continued to level agricultural lands in the northern occupied West Bank districts of Nablus and Salfit, locals said. Witnesses from the village of Jalud in southern Nablus told Ma‘an that bulldozers leveled land to expand the illegal Shvut Rachel settlement, where several units were being built. Israeli authorities delivered notices to residents of Jalud in April, telling residents that 5,000 dunams (1,250 acres) of private land were slated for confiscation in what appeared to be the retroactive legalization of illegal outposts in the area. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had approved the retroactive “laundering” of construction of 94 illegal housing units in Shvut Rachel in October, according to rights group B’Tselem. Witnesses added that Israeli settlers Sunday were also leveling land near an illegal outpost inhabited by members of the Ga’olat Etzion movements, which believes all of historical Palestine should be part of a Jewish state of Israel.
Meanwhile, in western Salfit, locals reported that settlers continued leveling lands to prepare for infrastructure to build hundreds of settlement units in the newly recognized neighborhood of Leshem as a settlement unto itself, within the illegal Ariel bloc.
[IMEMC: Media sources in Deir Ballout town, near Salfit in central West Bank, said the illegal work is being conducted daily, east of the town, under army protection. Palestinian researcher Khaled Ma’ali said the Israeli colonialist activities are simultaneously taking place in dozens of areas in the occupied West Bank, and that the Salfit district alone is witnessing ongoing work for the expansion of 24 colonies.]
Settlers set up tent on hill east of Nablus
NABLUS (PIC) 22 May — A horde of Jewish settlers on Saturday evening pitched a large tent on a mountainous hill overlooking Beit Furik village, east of Nablus. Eyewitnesses told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that the settlers stayed in the area until Sunday morning. Local sources have voiced their concern over settlers’ attempt to establish a new settlement outpost on this hill, especially since they already carried out activities and performed rituals on it.
Israeli land grabs benefit Palestinians, state tells High Court
Haaretz 22 May by Chaim Levinson — Palestinians benefit from settlements expropriating their lands because they find employment in industrial zones set up by the Israeli settlers, the state said in its response to a High Court of Justice petition filed by a Palestinian village against the expropriation of its territory by a nearby settlement. This coming Thursday, the High Court of Justice will decide in the case of the petition of landowners from ‘Anata that was submitted by Yesh Din-Volunteers for Human Rights attorney Shlomi Zacharia a year ago. The petition requests the cancellation of a 1975 order to expropriate territories from Palestinians, in order to build the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. The expropriation includes about 30,000 dunams, on part of which the settlement was in fact built, but parts of which remained undeveloped. Some of the land was appended to the settlement of Kfar Adumim, some was transferred to the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division, which allocated it for Jewish agriculture. In spite of that, it is still being held by military authorities in the territories … In the state’s reply, which was submitted by attorney Netta Oron of the State Prosecution Office High Court division, it was claimed that the expropriation has “fulfilled its objectives” and therefore the land should not be returned to its owners. One of Oron’s argument is that both populations benefit from the expropriation.
Palestinians, activists prevented from reclaiming lands in Bethlehem locality
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 21 May – Israeli forces Saturday prevented Palestinians and international solidarity activists from reclaiming Palestinian lands in Khirbet Jub al-Dhib, east of Bethlehem, said a local activist. Representative of the Local Anti-Wall and Settlement Committee Hassan Breijiya said that forces a group of Palestinians and international solidarity activists started to reclaim Palestinian lands in Jub al-Dhib locality of al-Aqban. Israeli forces, he added, broke into the area and forced the group members to stop land reclamation under the pretext that the area is classified as a closed military zone. Locals and activists were prevented from reclaiming lands in this spot for the second consecutive week.
Israeli legal plan for settlements raises red flag in West Bank
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 19 May by Rasha Abu Jalal — Numerous Palestinian groups are condemning Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked‘s plan to to apply Israeli laws to Jews living in West Bank settlements, which the groups said would further divide Palestinians and Israelis and give Israel the chance to annex the settlements. During the May 1 conference held by the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, Shaked announced her intention “to equalize conditions [for all Jews] within one year.” At present, West Bank settlements are managed through administrative and legal decrees issued by the Israeli military commander of the southern region in the West Bank, Eyal Zamir, but Shaked wants all laws issued by the Israeli Knesset to be applied to Jews in the Israeli settlements. The decision was immediately blasted from several directions. “This step is considered a serious and unprecedented encroachment” that amounts to Israel annexing the land, Amin Maqboul, secretary-general of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, told Al-Monitor. “This will destroy what’s left of the peace process.”….
Israeli navy kidnaps 10 fishermen north of Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 22 May — The Israeli occupation navy on Sunday morning kidnapped 10 Palestinian fishermen off the coast of al-Sudaniya area, northwest of the Gaza Strip. A local committee documenting Israel’s violations against Gaza fishermen told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that Israeli naval troops attacked fishing boats in the morning and kidnapped 10 fishermen, including eight from the families of Zayed and al-Sultan. According to the committee, all the detainees were taken aboard Israeli gunboats to Ashdod port near northern Gaza. Five fishing boats were also towed to the same port. Later, Israeli gunboats opened machinegun fire at other fishing boats to the west of al-Waha area in northern Gaza, with no reported casualties.
Al-Mezan Center: ‘Israeli navy kidnapped 65 fishers since the beginning of 2016’
IMEMC 23 May — The Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights has reported, Sunday, that the Israeli navy has carried out at least 17 attacks against Gaza fishers, since the beginning of this year, and kidnapped 65 fishers. Al-Mezan said that the navy has escalated its violations against the fishers in the coastal region, despite Israel’s claims of allowing them to fish within 9 nautical miles in the central and southern areas of the Gaza Strip, starting on April 3rd. The attacks range between the use of live fire, the abduction of fishers, and the confiscation of boats and fishing tools. Israel is also still banning the entry of fiberglass and other materials that are essential for building and maintaining boats, due to its illegal siege on Gaza since 2007 … The Center also said that the way Israel deals with the fishers is nothing short of attempting to terrorize them, especially by subjecting them to degrading and harsh treatment after abducting them, and confiscating their boats, and the threats against them. In addition, al-Mezan said that, in most cases, the fishers are released just hours after their arrest, as the Navy has no legal course to abduct them, therefore, cannot send them to court, even though the courts themselves are part of this illegal occupation.
PA announces creation of 4,000 short-term employment opportunities in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 May — The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Labor said on Sunday that the government had opened applications for 4,000 three-month jobs as the first phase of a project to employ 10,000 youths in the besieged Gaza Strip. Labor Minister Mamun Abu Shahla said in a press conference in Gaza that the program aimed “to empower youths and graduates of both genders to give them the needed knowledge, skills, and expertise to immerse themselves in the Palestinian market.” Abu Shahla said that the temporary jobs would target the sectors of health, education, municipal administration, and construction, adding that candidates would be chosen based on their qualifications, age, marital status, and the percentage of unemployment in their district of residence. The minister attributed the staggering unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip — estimated by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) to represent a staggering 41 percent of the working age population in 2015 — to suffering caused by the crippling Israeli siege on the small Palestinian territory, the closures of crossings, and repeated conflicts, noting that unemployment was likely to increase if the siege continues….
Photos: A fresh harvest for farmers in Gaza
Al Jazeera 21 May by Wissam Nasser — The International Committee of the Red Cross has re-levelled around 250 hectares of agricultural land in the Gaza Strip and assisted farmers with ploughing and sowing wheat in the northern border area. After years of restricted access, hundreds of Palestinian farmers in Gaza were able to tend to their lands up to 100 metres from the border fence. “My land where I am working now was too dangerous because when I was seen by the Israeli forces cultivating it, they always began to shoot at me,” farmer Abuatef Wahdan told Al Jazeera. “Now, I am happy to rebuild my livelihood.” He said this programme gave him access to lands he had not worked in 15 years.
Camels mean money, more to Gaza Bedouin
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 22 May by Rasha Abou Jalan — Despite the difficulties that hinder camel breeding in the Gaza Strip, such as the scarcity of green pastures and ongoing urban sprawl, Bedouin families continue to breed camels as part of their heritage. To them, camels are a source of income and livelihood, while camel yogurt is used medicinally. Bedouin tribes at one time did not exist in Gaza, but as a result of tribal conflicts, the Bedouin tribe of Bani Amer moved at the beginning of the 18th century from the Negev desert, bringing with them many camels. The tribe settled in the eastern outskirts of the Gaza Strip, historian Naser Ismail al-Yafawi, a board member of Pal-Think for Strategic Studies, an independent Palestinian think tank, told Al-Monitor. Every morning, Khaled al-Mousadder, who lives in the village of Masdar in the center of Gaza, rides his camel in search of green pastures. To him, this camel is his most important possession, as it represents a heritage that is difficult to give up. As he fed his camel, Mousadder told Al-Monitor, “Camels have always been part of my life. Apart from the fact that I use them for transportation, they are also my source of livelihood, and camel yogurt has always been part of the Bedouins’ diet.” As pastures are limited and Gaza’s area of 365 square kilometers (141 square miles) is small, Mousadder crosses about 4 kilometers (2½ miles) a day in search of grass and cacti to feed his camel. He also collects grass and loads it on his camel to take home for his female camel, which is nine months pregnant and still has around three months before she delivers. Mousadder said that his family is impatiently waiting for his camel to deliver so they can sell the baby and make a profit. Six-month-old camels cost about $1,000, and the rich usually buy them to prepare banquets….
Gaza: The right to play football snatched by Israel
GAZA (Palestine Chronicle) 21 May by Ahmad Ghazal — Due to the current situation in the Gaza Strip, and with the numerous difficulties Gazans face, they try hard to escape from their reality by entertaining themselves, for example, by playing and watching football. During the 10-year siege imposed on Gaza since 2007 and the three offensives launched within six years, Israel has committed violations which threatened the existence of Palestinians. Israel placed obstacles within the social, economic, political, and cultural spheres of life. Not only did Israel oppress Palestinians in Gaza, it also violated their rights to play sports, as it destroyed much of their clubs, and playgrounds, arrested players, and confiscated sports equipment. Sports, mainly football, seem to provide a refuge for Gazans to relieve their suffering. Playing and watching football matches paint a vivid picture about how Gazans run away from their tragic life. No matter where Gazans go or who they meet, they try to avoid speaking about the political situation and financial crisis they face. They talk about and discuss sports, including local, Arab, and international championships. However, power outages in the Gaza Strip prevent them from enjoying or even watching matches….
Incredible pictures show Palestine’s so-called ‘spider boy’ who is famous for his bizarre contortions on ‘Arabs Got Talent’ as he bids for Guinness World Record glory
Mail Online 22 May by Corey Charlton — These incredible pictures show a young Palestinian boy nicknamed ‘Spiderman’ as he shows off his bizarre ability to contort his body into the most unbelievable positions imaginable. Mohammed al-Sheikh, 12, says he dreams of earning a Guinness World Record for a series of stunning backflips and his unique twists and turns. Standing 4ft, 6in tall and weighing just 64lbs, he can bend his body in seemingly impossible ways, throwing his feet over his shoulders with reckless abandon or jumping into a spider-like pose …He found fame just after a devastating war in Gaza with Israel that left over 2,000 Palestinians dead in 2014. Despite the 50-day conflict interrupting his training, he appeared on the TV show ‘Arabs Got Talent’ in Lebanon, where his body-bending act won 14 million votes. Though he didn’t win, he now hopes to writhe his way into the Guinness Book of Records from his home in the Tel al-Hawa area of southern Gaza … But for Mohammed, even more than records he dreams of wriggling out of Gaza. [More on Mohammed from AFP]
Report: 45 percent of UNRWA schools affected by violence in past 5 years
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 May — Almost half of schools run by UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, have been “directly” affected by violence and conflict in the past five years, the organization said in a report released on Sunday. According to the report, 302 of UNRWA’s 692 schools across the Middle East — representing 44 percent of its educational establishments — have been rendered inoperative at some point since 2011. UNRWA reportedly provides free basic education to around 500,000 Palestinian refugee children in the occupied Palestinian territory, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. In Syria, UNRWA said that at least 70 percent of its schools were either damaged or used as shelters for displaced civilians affected by the devastating five-year war. Only 44 of UNRWA’s 118 schools in the country are still in use. In the Gaza Strip, 83 UNRWA schools were damaged and 90 were used as emergency shelters during a deadly Israeli offensive in 2014 which destroyed much of the besieged Palestinian territory’s infrastructure. According to the report, six schools were struck by shells and munitions during the conflict, causing 44 deaths and 227 injuries despite the UN having communicated their coordinates to Israeli authorities. In the occupied West Bank, UNRWA deplored the effect of the Israeli military occupation on Palestinian children’s education, noting that school closures, checkpoints and frequent use of tear gas near schools marked “increasing challenges” in an already difficult context. Meanwhile, UNRWA said that sporadic clashes in Lebanon had led 36 of its schools to temporarily suspend classes on several instances in the past five years.
Suspended between hope and hardship
[with PHOTOS] EI 13 May by Anne Paq — Photo: “What did we do to deserve to die under the bombings and for the Arab countries to not want us?” asked Basima, a mother of seven children, in Baalbek, a city in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley — The lives of Palestinian refugee families who have fled Syria to Lebanon are suspended and their futures uncertain. Denied their right to return to Palestine, from where they originate and have hoped to return for decades, they were more recently uprooted from their homes and, for many, their relatively comfortable lives in Syria … More than 100,000 of the 560,000 Palestinians in Syria registered with UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, have fled the country — approximately 42,000 of them to Lebanon, according to the agency. For Palestinian refugees from Syria, Lebanon is an unwelcoming place. Like Jordan and Turkey, its government has placed measures to discourage Palestinian refugees from entering. A freeze on visa renewals means that many Palestinian refugees from Syria living in Lebanon are in an especially precarious position, living on the margins without access to basic services … Some families left Syria with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, like their forebears who were forced to leave Palestine by Zionist militias in 1948. “My parents were kicked out from Palestine. I was also kicked out. This is our destiny,” said Samira, 53, who currently lives in a rented home in Baalbek, a city north of Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley. As Palestinians mark the anniversary of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine nearly 70 years ago, there is no end in sight to their repeated dispossession. The following photos feature four refugee families living in Shatila camp, in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, and in Baalbek.
Lebanon receives reassurance over Ban’s call for naturalization of refugees
BEIRUT (Asharq Al-Awsat) 21 May — After large-scale criticism of a report issued by U.N. chief Bank Ki-moon ahead of a conference next September on movements of refugees and migrants, several sides stressed that Lebanon, which hosts around 1.5 million displaced Syrians, should not be concerned. “The Secretary-General has at no time called for the permanent settlement of Syrian refugees in Lebanon,” U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag said on Friday. Ban “knows very well that the Lebanese constitution does not allow naturalization,” she said. Her remarks came after Stephane Dujarric, Ban’s spokesperson, denied at a press conference he held in New York on Thursday the U.N. chief’s call for the naturalization of refugees in Lebanon … Ban’s report said in one of its clauses that the refugees should be allowed to build their lives and plan for their future if their circumstances did not allow them to return home. It also said that the countries hosting the refugees should grant them legal status and study when and how to give them the opportunity to become citizens through naturalization.
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Prominent feminist historian rejects Israeli academic award
Haaretz 22 May — Prominent cultural historian Prof. Catherine Hall of University College London declined to receive the prestigious Dan David Prize, which was due to be awarded on Sunday in a ceremony at Tel Aviv. “This was an independent political choice, undertaken after many discussions with those who are deeply involved with the politics of Israel-Palestine, but with differing views as to how best to act,” Hall said in a statement. The British Committee for the Universities of Palestine described Hall’s move as “a significant endorsement of the campaign to end ties with Israeli institutions.” Awarded annually, the Dan David Prize is one of Israel’s most prestigious academic awards. Prizes amounting to $1 million each are awarded in three fields – Past, Present and Future – though they are usually shared by two or more recipients. Being an historian, Hall was due to receive the prize in the Past field for her “impact on social history, as a pioneer in gender history, race and slavery. While active in the women’s liberation movement, her work focused on women’s history in the 1970s.” The organizers behind the Dan David Prize announced that the $300,000 cash award will instead be given out as scholarships for young history students in Tel Aviv University and worldwide….
Will new agreement lead to increase in Palestinian exports?
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 19 May by Ahmad Melhem — The Palestinian Ministry of Economy announced May 6 that it reached an agreement with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on the export of Palestinian products to Jordan in small 20-foot containers via the King Hussein (Allenby) Bridge. Previously, goods would be loaded onto trucks and taken to the Israeli side of the border. There, trucks would be unloaded and thoroughly inspected, before the merchandise would be loaded onto other trucks and taken to Jordan. The agreement aims to help the Palestinians reduce the financial cost of exports while maintaining the quality of the goods, especially for perishable, agricultural and fragile products. The agreement will increase the volume of trade exchange with Jordan and other countries across the world. The agreement, which was sponsored by international parties such as the Quartet, came as part of the implementation of the Palestinian five-year National Export Strategy, developed under the supervision of the International Trade Center (ITC) and funded by the European Union….
US and Palestinians hold first economic dialogue since 2004
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 22 May – U.S. and Palestinian officials Sunday held a U.S.-Palestinian Economic Dialogue in Ramallah, with the purpose of providing an ongoing mechanism for two sides to address economic challenges and identify opportunities to help advance ‘our’ overarching objective of achieving a negotiated two-state solution, with a viable Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with Israel. A press statement issued by the U.S. Consulate General’s Press Office, noted that this was the first U.S.-Palestinian Economic Dialogue since 2004. “The United States is planning to host the next round of talks in Washington next year.” “The United Sates seeks to work with the Palestinians to strengthen the Palestinian economy and enhance the overall investment climate so as to shift the Palestinian economy to a more sustainable, less donor-dependent growth model,” said the statement. In his remarks, Assistant Secretary Rivkin said, “We understand the close and productive economic engagement with the Palestinian people is key to our joint goals in the region.” ….
Jordan, Turkey compete to woo Jerusalem
Al-Monitor 19 May by Adnan Abu Amer — Jordan and Turkey are vying for power in Jerusalem, and Turkey appears to be gaining the upper hand at this point — In a clear sign of the decline of the Jordanian role in Jerusalem, Jordan recently called off its agreement with Israel to install surveillance cameras in Al-Aqsa Mosque’s courtyards. The cameras were supposed to help control the security situation on the Temple Mount, but the Palestinian Authority wasn’t consulted — and wasn’t happy about it. At the same time, Turkey’s activity in Jerusalem seems to be gaining momentum. On April 25, Istanbul hosted the “Thank you Turkey” festival organized by Arab nongovernmental organizations in appreciation of Turkey’s role in the protection of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. The festival was attended by Khaled Meshaal, head of the Hamas political bureau, and Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the mufti of Jerusalem and preacher of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The festival also aimed to thank Turkey for increasing financial and in-kind aid to residents of Jerusalem and implementing a series of charity and development projects in the city at a cost estimated at tens of millions of dollars … Perhaps a comparison and look back at how Jerusalemites welcomed visiting Jordanian and Turkish officials indicates the changing influence and implicitly reflects the great appreciation the Jerusalemites have for Turkey….
Family of journalist Abu Zaid holds PA intelligence responsible for his life
NABLUS (PIC) 23 May — The family of journalist Tareq Abu Zaid has held the Palestinian Authority intelligence apparatus fully responsible for the life of its son, whom it kidnapped last Tuesday. The father of the journalist told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) on Sunday that the court in Nablus city rejected a request submitted by the lawyer to release his son on bail. The father also condemned the Journalists’ Syndicate in the West Bank for not moving to have his son released, and called on Palestinian journalists and national figures to pressure for his release. Last Tuesday, security forces from the PA intelligence stormed the house of journalist Abu Zaid, searched it along with his car and confiscated electronic devices and documents before kidnapping him.
Nayef’s wife: The PA tries to bury the case of my husband’s death
SOFIA (PIC) 21 May — The wife of martyr Omar Nayef, a Palestinian national figure who was assassinated in the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria a few months ago, has accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) of attempting to bury the case of her husband’s death. “There is an agreement between the Palestinian Authority, Bulgaria and Israel to bury the case of Omar’s assassination and hide its results in order to conceal the crime and avoid any implication in it,” al-Resalah newspaper quoted Rania, the wife of the victim as saying. Rania affirmed that the PA inquiry commission left Bulgaria without presenting any report about Nayef’s death. She also said that the commission told her that the release of that report would take several months, which “confirmed there was a deliberate intent to hide the truth.” She expressed her belief that her husband was murdered following a deal between the PA, Israel and Bulgaria, accusing the PA of receiving money for his death.
Arab town looks to build awareness of deaths on construction sites
Haaretz 23 May by Jack Khoury — Deir Hanna has lost four locals to work accidents in Israel’s construction industry, where five times more employees are injured than in Britain — The residents of Deir Hanna are used to political demonstrations. But the Arab town in Lower Galilee had never witnessed a rally like the one that took place there two weeks ago when hundreds of people – women and men, young and old – attended an event in memory of victims of work accidents throughout Israel. Over the past decade, the town has lost four residents to work accidents. The ceremony began with marchers carrying pictures of the victims. Shadi Hamud, a site foreman and one of the event’s organizers, said the purpose was to raise public awareness – in the Arab community in particular, and among Israelis in general – of the growing number of work accidents, especially on construction sites.
“There’s no doubt there’s whitewashing, and there are those who feel themselves immune from the law and thumb their noses at it,” he said. “It’s impossible to talk about a healthy society as long as construction workers are being killed like this.” Israel has one of the highest rates of construction accidents in the Western world – more than twice the European average and more than five times the British average – according to a report published earlier this month. Ten Arab construction workers have been killed in Israel so far this year, including two men from Deir Hanna. In addition, 92 Arabs were injured in such accidents, according to Mateh Hama’avak B’teunot Ha’avoda, an organization that seeks to prevent work accidents. Of the injured, 35 were seriously injured and suffered permanent disabilities.…
Who is desecrating Izz ad-Din al-Qassam’s Haifa grave?
Al-Monitor 20 May by Shlomi Eldar — A building project involving part of a historic Muslim cemetery is making headlines after an apparent attempt to desecrate the grave of Palestinian nationalist Izz ad-Din al-Qassam — The Muslim cemetery in the suburban Haifa town of Nesher, where Arab nationalist Izz ad-Din al-Qassam (1882-1935) is buried, spreads over 43 dunams (10.6 acres). Part of the cemetery was expropriated by the State of Israel and sold 50 years ago to a private company. In 2015, the company decided to make use of the land and build industrial facilities on it. With that in mind, the firm went to court and demanded, among other things, that several graves be relocated in keeping with an agreement that it claimed was signed in the 1970s between the state and Islamic institutions. A Haifa court is deliberating this sensitive legal issue. Meanwhile, the Haifa Waqf (custodian of Muslim endowments) invited Arab Knesset members to visit the site to mobilize public opinion against moving the graves. “We are always hearing about local and national projects being stopped and scrapped by the state when Jewish graves are accidentally discovered, but when it comes to Muslim graves, Arab burial sites, everyone thinks it’s quite normal [to desecrate them],” Arab Knesset member Masud Ghnaim of the predominantly Arab unified Joint List told Al-Monitor. Orwa Switat, an activist opposed to construction on part of the cemetery, told Al-Monitor that in mid-May, following another court hearing, suspicious digging was discovered near Qassam’s grave. His guess is that right-wing activists were responsible. “These excavations were 2 meters [6.5 feet] deep. It’s an ugly violation of the sanctity of this place,” said Switat….
Israel anti-occupation NGO rejects state’s demands to name sources
Petah Tikva (Israel) (AFP) 22 May – An Israeli NGO which tracks alleged army abuses of Palestinians told a court Sunday that it could no longer function if the government forced it to name its anonymous informants. “To demand lifting the confidentiality of testimonies would amount to simply demanding the end of Breaking The Silence,” the group’s lawyer Michael Sfard told the magistrates court on the first day of hearings on the state’s demand that it hand over the names. Proceedings are set to continue on July 18. The NGO provides a platform for military veterans to describe what they say were disturbing aspects of their service in the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip and in operations in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The state attorney’s office says that anonymous witnesses allow potential lies to spread and make it impossible to investigate alleged abuses. “What is at stake is more than the future of Breaking The Silence,” Sfard said in the packed courtroom in Petah Tikvah near Tel Aviv. “Today it is Breaking The Silence which finds itself in court, tomorrow it will be bloggers, tomorrow it will be other members of the press and of course NGOs which defend human rights.” Founded in 2004 by army veterans, the organisation has come under political pressure from the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the most rightwing in Israel’s history. It drew intensified fire last year when it published a book about the 2014 Gaza war, in which 2,251 Palestinians and 73 Israelis died, which included allegations by more than 60 officers and troops of abuse and excessive use of force.
Surfing in Palestine: Pleasure-seekers of the occupied territories
The Guardian 22 May by Thembi Mutch — Jovial bodybuilders, sun-kissed surfers, free-running teenagers … can this really be Palestine? Tanya Habjouqa explains her astonishingly fresh take on occupied life — Palestinians were baffled when Tanya Habjouqa first explained her photographic project to them. “They felt a political obligation to talk about their suffering,” she says. “They were startled when I asked about pleasure. They would slowly ask, ‘Pleasure? We don’t usually discuss pleasure.’ While my pictures may seem light and easy, I had to foster their trust to convince them I was not working to show that things were actually ‘hunky-dory’ under occupation. Occupied Pleasures, judged one of the best photo books of 2015 by Time magazine, takes an astonishingly fresh and vibrant look at the people of the occupied territories: from teenage surfer girl Sabah Abu Ghanim waiting for a wave, to three bodybuilders posing after a workout; from an elderly man sitting amid the paraphernalia of his son’s new wedding business Bliss Life, to the airborne free-runners spinning through a cemetery near their refugee camp. Habjouqa says she started thinking about the book in 2009 when she felt increasingly dissatisfied with mainstream coverage of occupied life, its narratives obsessed with checkpoints, military presence and restricted movement. “Israel and Palestine are almost always presented in a reductionist manner. Palestinians are either victims, or proponents, of violence. There is rarely the nuanced context needed.”….
Video: Sykes-Picot: Lines in the Sand
Al Jazeera World 21 May — The story of the secret century-old deal which aimed to carve up the Middle East in ways that still reverberate today