Gaza sewage spill floods farmland
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 4 May — Gaza rescue crews tried to salvage livestock and produce on Wednesday after a sewage reservoir collapsed, flooding about 25 acres (10 hectares) of farmland in a new sign of the worsening water and sewage crisis in the Hamas-run territory. Residents said about 40,000 cubic meters (10.5 million gallons) of raw sewage poured out of the reservoir on Tuesday and flooded the Sheikh Ejleen neighborhood in southern Gaza City in just 15 minutes. “We heard a terrifying sound,” said Jamal al-Jedi, a farmer. “Suddenly, the water broke into the greenhouse and farm and destroyed everything.” “I lost everything,” he said, wringing his hands as he looked at cucumbers soaked in wastewater. In a nearby chicken farm, people pulled eggs out of mud and sewage. Mohammed Qandeel, a beekeeper, said the sewage reached the room in which he kept the honey he had just harvested. “I will get rid of it after I wake up from the shock,” he said. He managed to rescue several hives, placing them on tires away from the wastewater. But swarms of flies hovered around the damaged white hives.Gaza’s limited sewage treatment facilities have been overwhelmed by a rapidly expanding population, damage to infrastructure during wars with Israel and a chronic shortage of electricity.
Gaza sewage crisis, festering in conflict, poisons coast
[with photos] SHATI REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip (AP) 3 May — Each day, millions of gallons of raw sewage pour into the Gaza Strip’s Mediterranean beachfront, spewing out of a metal pipe and turning miles of once-scenic coastline into a stagnant dead zone. The sewage has damaged Gaza’s limited fresh water supplies, decimated fishing zones, and after years of neglect, is now floating northward and affecting Israel as well, where a nearby desalination plant was forced to shut down, apparently due to pollution. “It’s certain that Gaza Strip’s beaches are completely polluted and unsuitable for swimming and entertainment, especially in the summer,” said Ahmed Yaqoubi of the Palestinian Water Authority. Environmentalists and international aid organizations say that if the problem isn’t quickly addressed, it could spell even more trouble on both sides of the border. But while Israel has a clear interest in Gazans repairing their water infrastructure, that would likely require it to ease restrictions on the import of building materials — which it fears the territory’s Hamas rulers could divert for military purposes — and increase the amount of electricity it sells to Gaza … The delays in sewage treatment are exacerbating a water crisis. Years of overdrawing Gaza’s underground aquifer have allowed seawater to infiltrate into its only source of drinking water. Sewage flows into the aquifer as well. “We can say that 100 percent of the water is not potable,” said the Water Authority’s Yaqoubi. More than 150 private water purification businesses have proliferated across Gaza to offer clean drinking water, he said….
Violence / Detention — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian shot dead. 3 Israeli soldiers injured in suspected car ramming attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 May — A Palestinian was shot and killed and three Israeli soldiers were injured after a suspected car ramming attack occurred at a junction near the illegal Israeli settlement of Dolev northwest of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank. According to an Israeli army spokesperson, the driver rammed a car into three Israeli soldiers at the junction, and the driver was later shot. Witnesses told Ma‘an a Palestinian was quickly driving a mid-sized truck on a road between the villages of Beitunia and Ein Arik and hit three Israeli soldiers with his vehicle while they were crossing the street. The witnesses said it appeared the driver hit the soldiers by accident. The driver fled the scene “fearing for his life,” witnesses said. Israeli forces chased him and a separate unit erected a barrier further down the road. Israel soldiers at the checkpoint fired several rounds at the driver, then they pulled him out of the truck and fired at him again, witnesses said.
Witnesses added that Israeli forces prevented Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances from accessing the scene to treat the driver, and he was left bleeding from several bullet wounds until he died. His body was later transferred to an unknown location.
The driver was identified as Ahmed Riyad Abd al-Aziz Shehada, 36, from the Qalandiya refugee camp in the Ramallah district. According to Israel’s emergency medical services, one of the Israeli soldiers was injured severely, and two moderately. After the incident, they were quickly evacuated to Dolev before a helicopter took them to Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Hospital for treatment, Israeli media reported. Israeli forces have since closed the main road in Ramallah and erected roadblocks in the area, preventing movement in and out of the town, locals said.
Thousands attend funeral of Palestinian killed after alleged car-ramming attack
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) 4 May — Thousands of Palestinians on Wednesday congregated at the funeral of 36-year-old Riyad Shehada, who was killed by Israeli soldiers on Tuesday following an alleged car-ramming attack. Shehada, a resident of the Qalandiya refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, was shot and killed at the entrance of Beitunia village in the Ramallah district after Israeli authorities claimed he purposefully ran over and injured three Israeli soldiers. The funeral procession took off from the Ramallah governmental hospital to Shehada’s family’s house in Beitunia. Following final farewells, his body was taken to a mosque in Qalandiya refugee camp for funeral prayers. Residents of the camp, carrying his body on their shoulders, transported him to the al-Shuhada (Martyrs) Cemetery to put him to rest. Shehada’s brother Abu Malek denounced Israeli soldiers’ “execution” of his brother, saying that the soldiers could have detained him instead of killing him. Malek added that his brother worked in aluminum manufacturing and was on his way home after helping his aunt with repairs in her home in a village west of Ramallah when he was shot dead by Israeli soldiers. Shehada is survived by a wife and five children.
Return of terrorist’s body to family for burial reveals government divisions
JPost 4 May by By Herb Keinon & Lahav Harkov — The return of the body [of Riyad Shehada] on Tuesday contradicted a policy Netanyahu instituted in late March, when he directed Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to stop returning the bodies of terrorists after attacks — The quick transfer to the Palestinians of the body of the terrorist who rammed into three soldiers near Dolev on Tuesday sparked yet more coalition tension, with Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) calling the move a mistake on Wednesday. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) has also come out against the move. “This is a grave error that encourages the next attack,” Bennett said, before the weekly cabinet meeting, which was moved to Wednesday because Mimouna fell on Sunday. The body was returned some four hours after Tuesday’s attack that left one soldier in serious condition. “We need to prevent the worship of the graves of terrorists, and there is no reason to give a present to the families of murderers,” Bennett said, adding that this has consistently been his position on the matter, and that he will continue to fight for it … Policy differences on this issue between Ya’alon and Erdan have led to a situation in the past where the bodies of terrorists from inside the Green Line and east Jerusalem have not been handed over to their families until they guarantee that the burial ceremony will take place late at night, and with only a limited number of participants, while the bodies of terrorists from the West Bank have been returned.
Israeli police detain one Palestinian suspected in Jerusalem stab attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 May — Israeli police detained on Monday night a young Palestinian suspected of being involved in a stabbing attack against an Israeli man in occupied East Jerusalem earlier that evening. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said that an 18-year-old Palestinian [Malik Hijazi? See under ‘court actions’]believed to be an accomplice in the attack was detained in Jerusalem’s Old City, and would be held for at least four days as part of the ongoing investigation. A 60-year-old Israeli man sustained minor to moderate injuries after being stabbed on al-Wad street in the Old City late on Monday evening. Israeli police shut down all entrances to the Old City in their searched for the suspected attacker after reportedly finding a knife on the scene. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces closed all entrances to the Old City following the attack, and were preventing residents from entering and exiting the area.
The same incident, adding information about surveillance
18-year-old Palestinian arrested for allegedly stabbing 60-year-old Israeli in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 3 May — Israeli authorities say that they used a city-wide system of surveillance cameras to track down and arrest an 18-year old suspect for allegedly stabbing an Israeli man near Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. Neither the alleged perpetrator or victim were identified by the Israeli police at the time of this report. The alleged victim said that he was stabbed by a Palestinian in the chest, after which he called the police. Police say they then activated the Mabat 2000 surveillance camera network, which feeds live video into a central station. According to the Jerusalem Post, “The cameras can be maneuvered 360 degrees to follow and track movements – and range from the aerial view of a parking lot to the searing detail of a single license plate.” Police say they tracked the young man using the surveillance network, and captured him near the Western Wall.
Man arrested for assisting promenade terrorist
Ynet 2 May by Roi Yanovsky — Mohammad Ouida, a 30-year-old resident of East Jerusalem suspected of having assisted the terrorist Bashar Masalha, has been arrested today. Masalha, a 22-year-old from [al-Hajja village in] Qalqilya, carried out the terrorist attack on the Jaffa promenade two months ago [7 March], killing the American tourist Taylor Force. The Jerusalem District police arrested Ouida on suspicion of manslaughter, conspiracy to commit a crime, and transporting illegal residents after having aided Masalha travel to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court extended his detention on Sunday to eight days. Ouida’s name initially cropped up during the investigation of the terrorist attack, but the police waited until they attained stronger evidence of his actions recently to arrest him. Ouida has a criminal past which includes a suspended prison sentence for transporting illegal residents.
Security forces arrest West Bank Hamas man involved in shooting attack
JPost 4 May by Yaakov Lappin — Security forces on Wednesday arrested 43-year-old Salah Salahi, a Hamas member from the West Bank village of Silwad, on suspicion of being involved in a 2010 shooting attack that injured two Israeli civilians. Salahi, a member of Hamas’s military wing, was arrested by Palestinian Authority forces after the shooting, but was recently released. The Shin Bet said that after learning of his release, Salahi was taken into Israeli custody.
Israeli ringleader sentenced to 45 years in prison for murder of Abu Khdeir
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 3 May — The leading suspect in the brutal death of 16-year-old Palestinian Muhammad Abu Khdeir was sentenced to life in prison and an additional 20 years on Tuesday, 15 years short of what the prosecution had demanded.
An Israeli court sentenced Yosef Ben-David — the ringleader responsible for kidnapping and burning the teen alive in July 2014 — to a total of 45 years in prison, and also ordered him to pay 150,000 shekels ($39,756) to Abu Khdeir’s family. Muhannad Jubara, the lawyer of the Abu Khdeir family, told Ma‘an that the Jerusalem district prosecution had demanded the court sentence Ben-David to a total of 60 years in prison. The sentence sought by the prosecution included a 25-year sentence for the murder of Abu Khdeir, 20 years for kidnapping him, 12 years for attempting to kidnap the another Palestinian child the day before Abu Khdeir’s murder — Moussa Abu Zalloum from the Beit Hanina neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem — and three additional years for his previous record of torching Palestinian vehicles. Jubara added the prosecution had also demanded Ben-David pay 228,000 shekels ($60,429) to Abu Khdeir’s family. Ben David was convicted of murder on April 19, after the court rejected insanity pleas presented his lawyers.
Following the conviction, which came after nearly two years of delay, Abu Khdeir’s parents demanded Israeli authorities give their son’s killer a life sentence and demolish his home, in line with an official Israeli policy carried out against Palestinians who kill Israelis. Two Israeli minors who assisted in killing Muhammad were convicted of murder in February, one receiving a life sentence and the other 21 years in prison. While Ben-David admitted to carrying out the crime, he repeatedly escaped conviction after seeking a last-minute psychiatric evaluation.
Right-wing Israelis storm central West Bank town to visit controversial shrines
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 4 May — More than 2,000 right-wing Israelis, escorted by a large group of Israeli soldiers, stormed the Palestinian town of Kifl Haris in the central occupied West Bank to pray at a shrine late on Tuesday night. Witnesses told Ma‘an the settlers first arrived in groups at midnight and performed prayers while dancing and shouting, disrupting the community throughout the night. They left the town at 7 am. The settlers also affixed posters with religious slogans in Hebrew on walls in several parts of the tow … A number of tombs exist in Kifl Haris which Palestinians in the area believe to be the graves of the prophet Dhul-Kifl, the Sufi saint Dhul-Nun, and another shrine built by 12-century sultan Saladin. However, some Jews believe the tombs belong to the biblical figures Joshua, Caleb and Nun. Like many other Palestinian towns across the West Bank with religiously significant sites, Kifl Haris, situated on the main road connecting the illegal Ariel settlement to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, commonly experiences incursions by Israeli settlers accompanied by armed escorts. Settlers who visit the tombs to pray often actively disrupt Palestinian residents and damage property. Meanwhile, Palestinians are restricted from visiting holy sites in Israel without hard-to-obtain permits from Israeli authorities.
and now for the other side’s point of view:
PHOTOS: Thousands hike at midnight to visit Joshua Ben Nun grave
KIF AL HARAT, West Bank (Vos Iz Neias?) 4 May — Maayan Yaacov changed his flight back to the United States so that he could join the thousands of people who hiked late Tuesday night into the Palestinian village of Kifl Haris to visit the tomb of the biblical leader Joshua. A small stone and stucco building with a round roof marks his grave in the center of the village, on the edge of a plaza with apartments and stores. His father Nun is buried nearby, as is Calev Ben Yefuneh. Joshua and Calev were the only two out of 12 spies who trusted that God would bring the Jews safely into the land of Israel. Israelis cannot typically visit the graves, except for on special occasions in the middle of the night when the IDF shuts down a section of the village to allow for their safe passage … “It is amazing to see the crowds of Israelis who have come here late at night to visit Joshua’s grave, who was secondly only in greatness to Moses. He was our first general and he led the way into the land of Israel,” Hazan said. There is a direct link, Hazan said, between Joshua’s actions as the first military leader to capture the land on behalf of the Jewish people and the modern Jewish people who have returned to their biblical homeland in the heart of the Samaria region of the West Bank. “We have to continue with this mission to redeem the land, so that we can finally be a free people in our land,” Hazan said.
Israeli forces detain 31, including blind man, in West Bank, East Jerusalem raids
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 3 May — Israeli forces detained at least 31 Palestinians, including a blind and deaf man, in overnight raids in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israeli and Palestinian security sources said on Tuesday … The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that a total of four Palestinians were detained in Jerusalem’s Old City, identifying three of them as Khalid al-Shaweesh, Sami Abu Rmeila, 15, and Adham Abu Nijmah … Six others were detained in the al-Jadira and Bir Nabala villages of East Jerusalem, PPS added. The organization identified them as Diyaa Muhammad Shehadah, 20, Rashad Abd al-Fattah Barjas, 19, Muhammad Saed Barjas, 19, Tariq Abd al-Karim Barjas, 17, Muhammad Nizar Zayyan, 24, and Khalid Aziz Zeidan, 50.
Meanwhile, Palestinian security sources said two Palestinians were detained at an Israeli military checkpoint south of Nablus on Tuesday morning, while another had his identity documents seized. They identified the detainees as Munir, Sami Abbad, 21, and Salih Farah Abbad, 19, while Israeli soldiers reportedly took the identity card of Abd al-Rahim Ali Abbad, 21. PPS said Waddah Salih Ulayyan was also detained in the Nablus area. The organization added that Muntasir Bilal Nimir Ajaj, 25, was detained in the northern West Bank area of Tulkarem, while three 20-year-old Palestinians, identified as Jamil Mustafa Tayyim, Mahmoud Mithqal Salih, and Muhammad al-Amin Kanaan, were detained in the village of Turmusayya north of Ramallah.In the southern West Bank, Israeli forces detained Imad Ahmad al-Faqih, a 23-year-old blind and deaf man, and Udayy Hani Taqatqa from the village of Marah Rabah south of Bethlehem, PPS said. It added that Muhsin Ahmad al-Juaba, 22, was detained in Hebron, while 40-year-old Nidal Bassam Tharifa was detained at the Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan.
Army kidnaps 12 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 4 May — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, late at night and on Wednesday at dawn, at least twelve Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank; the army said it located a weapon and bullets in Hebron. Israeli army sources said the soldiers uncovered an M-16 automatic rifle, and two magazines, in Hebron city, in the southern part of the West Bank. The army also kidnapped one Palestinian from Deir Abu Da‘if village, east of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and another Palestinian in Faqqou‘a village, northwest of Jenin. The soldiers also kidnapped two Palestinians in Kafr Malek village, east of Ramallah, four in the al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and one in Ethna town, west of Hebron. Earlier on Wednesday, the soldiers invaded the al-Walaja town, west of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and handed demolition orders targeting eight homes, and ordered a halt of the construction of one home. In addition, the army kidnapped six Palestinians from the northern West Bank district of Nablus.
Palestinian activist feared for life before being gunned down in east J’lem refugee camp
JPost 4 May by Daniel K. Eisenbud — A Palestinian activist from east Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp, who was shot dead in a hail of bullets on Monday night, feared for his life for working with Israeli officials to improve living conditions in the beleaguered community, the former east Jerusalem portfolio head said on Wednesday. Baha Nabata, 31, a well-regarded civil rights and youth-group leader, was shot seven times in the camp at approximately 11:30 PM by an assailant who fired 10 bullets at him before fleeing the scene on a motor bike, according to witnesses. An investigation has been opened to find the killer, police said. Former Meretz councilman Dr. Meir Margalit, who held the east Jerusalem portfolio and worked closely with Nabata to improve his community’s infrastructure, said that during their last conversation several weeks ago, the married father of two daughters said he feared for his life. “More than once he told me that people in the refugee camp accused him of being a collaborator with Israel,” said Margalit by phone on Wednesday. “That was because in order to solve the problems in the camp, he had to be in contact with the Jerusalem Municipality, the police, Interior Ministry, and other different Israeli institutions.” “There was no other way to address the problems in this camp without being in touch with the Israeli government,” continued Margalit, who was shaken by the news of Nabata’s violent death … Nabata’s numerous accomplishments included paving the camp’s roads, setting up emergency medical services for residents, and training firefighters with help from the Jerusalem Fire Department.
Closures / Restrictions on movement
Israeli forces to reopen Jerusalem-area gate after 7 years
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 May — Israeli authorities have decided to open a gate along the separation wall north of Jerusalem for the first time in seven years, an Israeli official said on Monday. The Israeli Civil Administration deputy in Jerusalem, Rami Barakat, said in a statement that the Dahiyat al-Barid gate north of the village of al-Ram would be opened daily between 3 and 5 p.m. for people to cross from al-Ram into Jerusalem. Barakat added that some 100,000 Palestinian holders of Israeli-issued Jerusalem IDs would be able to cross into al-Ram and the Kafr Aqab area through the gate, which would decrease the traffic at the notorious Qalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah, where a 23-year-old pregnant Palestinian woman and her 16-year-old brother were killed on Wednesday. Barakat said that the opening hours for the gate could be extended if the security situation remained calm.
Five Palestinians injured in Israeli shelling on Gaza
GAZA (PNN) 5 May — The Israeli air force on Wednesday have targeted different sites in the Gaza strip, causing injuries to five Palestinians including one elderly man and three children. Hassan Hasanein, 62, was injured by shrapnel from the shelling in his hand and shoulder during the shelling on Al-Zaytoun neighbourhood east of Gaza. The shelling began on Wednesday morning after Israel claimed that there had been explosions along its borders with the Gaza strip, and still continued until Thursday morning. Reports from Gaza said that Israeli tanks have carried a limited invasion east of Gaza city. On Wednesday noon, Israeli tanks targeted Gaza with three missiles, on a site that they claim is affilliated for the Al-Qassam Brigades, without any injuries reported.
Israeli, Palestinian violence flares along Gaza border
GAZA (Reuters) 4 May by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Violence erupted along the Israel-Gaza border on Wednesday as Israeli forces and Palestinian militants exchanged fire and Israeli war jets bombed targets in the enclave, ruled by the Islamist Hamas group. There were no immediate reports of casualties in the rare flare-up along the frontier, which has been largely quiet since a 2014 war. The outbreak of violence coincided with work by the Israeli military to uncover tunnels being built by Gaza militants that Israel fears could be used to infiltrate its territory. The Palestinians fired mortar bombs at Israeli forces operating near the border fence, prompting fire from Israeli tanks and warplanes that bombed open areas in the northern and southern sectors of the Gaza Strip. “Our efforts to destroy the Hamas terror tunnel network, a grave violation of Israel’s sovereignty, will not cease or be deterred,” military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said. The Hamas armed wing, Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam Brigades, said the raid was a violation of the 2014 ceasefire and demanded that Israel pull out its forces “immediately”. “The enemy must not make pretexts and must leave Gaza immediately, they should deal with their fears and concerns outside the separation line,” the group said in a statement. A senior Hamas official in exile, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said calm along the Gaza-Israel border was being restored following intervention with the two sides on the part of Egypt, which brokered the truce that stopped the 2014 war. “Contacts were made with Egyptian brothers, who sponsored the last ceasefire agreement. Their response was quick, serious, which helped restore things to where they were before,” Abu Marzouk in a post on his official Facebook page. On Tuesday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inspected a large tunnel discovered in April on the Israeli side of the border. Israel said it had been dug by Hamas. Israeli security sources say half a dozen classified anti-tunnel technologies have long been under development, though held up by funding problems that were partly alleviated by a U.S. research grant of $40 million this year. Hamas leaders, while stressing they do not seek an imminent war, see tunnels as a strategic weapon in any armed confrontation with Israel and have vowed not to stop building them.
Israeli airstrikes target Rafah area after mortars, shells fired across Gaza border
GAZA (Ma‘an) 4 May — Israeli forces launched several airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening, hours after Palestinian and Israeli shelling across the border of the besieged enclave. Witnesses told Ma‘an that at least five airstrikes targeted an open area near the long-closed Rafah airport, causing material damage. No casualties were initially reported. Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, issued a statement following the airstrikes, condemning the military incursion inside the Gaza Strip. “The enemy should not invoke any reason whatsoever for its actions and leave the Gaza Strip immediately,” the statement read, adding that the airstrikes marked a breach of the ceasefire after the devastating Israeli offensive on the besieged Palestinian territory in 2014. The Israeli army released a statement on Wednesday evening, stating that the airstrikes were in retaliation for five mortar rounds fired at Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip since Tuesday. However, it did not indicate that the airstrikes were part of a broader escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, quoting Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner as saying: “Both Israeli and Palestinian civilians benefit from and deserve to live without the constant concern of escalation. We will work in order to maintain and restore the quiet that the people deserve.” The statement further added that the airstrikes were targeting “five Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the southern Gaza Strip,” without specifying the exact nature of the targets. However, statements by Lerner on social media seemed to indicate that the airstrikes were supposedly targeting tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt.
Analysis: Hamas signals Israel to lay off tunnels / Amos Harel
Haaretz 5 May — Hamas is wavering between the future threat of losing its tunnels and the immediate risk of taking action — The shooting incidents on the Gazan border – five in the last 24 hours – reflect the worst escalation since the end of the last war between Israel and Hamas in August 2014. Also, for the first time since the war, Hamas’ military wing appears to be directly or indirectly behind firing the mortar shells and light ammunition at IDF troops. The incidents appear to be a Hamas attempt to warn Israel to go no further with its search for tunnels that the organization has dug under the border into Israeli territory. For more than a year and a half after the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, Israeli officials have been saying repeatedly that the IDF dealt Hamas a worse blow than ever before and managed to inhibit the organization. Not only isn’t Hamas firing into Israeli territory itself, the officials said, but the number of incidents on the Gaza border is the lowest in more than a decade. Also, when a smaller Palestinian organization opens fire at Israel, Hamas hastens to stop it, they noted. This opinion was last expressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday after visiting a tunnel whose discovery was reported last week. Nobody has taken responsibility for the latest shooting incidents. But their relative intensity and their targeting of IDF troops near the fence near Kibbutz Holit, where the last tunnel had been found, apparently indicates that Hamas is responsible for the shooting. Even if Hamas blames some Salafi group this time, it’s hard to believe that five incidents could take place in 24 hours without the approval of the Strip’s sole ruler. The events seem to be a game of signals between Israel and Hamas, with each side resetting the balance of terror drafted after the 2014 conflict. As reported here on Wednesday, Hamas knows Israel has discovered one of its tunnels and sees the other activity being carried out in part on the Gazan side of the border fence. Hamas also hears declarations that within two years, Israel may be in possession of technology to trace and destroy the tunnels. In these circumstances, Hamas is wavering between the future threat of losing the tunnels, and the immediate risk of taking action. The latter will almost certainly lead to a new armed conflict that would cause Hamas heavy losses and another humanitarian disaster for the Gaza Strip’s population. At this point Hamas still appears to be undecided. The shooting from the Strip is a warning signal, not a declaration of war….
Israel to reopen second crossing for trucks into Gaza
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 2 May by Dan Williams — Israel plans to reopen a second border point for commercial traffic into the Gaza Strip, an official said on Monday, a step in gradually easing the blockade imposed on the Palestinian enclave since 2007. The decision to allow trucks through the Erez terminal, on Gaza’s northeastern tip, was taken in recognition that a truce that ended the 2014 war against Hamas is holding, the official said. Israel says its blockade prevents the movement of militants and stops construction materials that could be used by Hamas to make bunkers and tunnels. Palestinians there say they are under siege and are unable to rebuild homes destroyed by Israeli bombing. Israel halted commercial traffic through Erez in 2000, after a Palestinian revolt erupted, and only passengers transit has been allowed since. The official said details of its reopening were still being worked out, and gave no implementation date: “It won’t be today or tomorrow.” Changing Gaza policy is politically sensitive in Israel, as Hamas, while holding fire, remains openly hostile toward it, so the announcement was kept low-key … The official said the decision was mainly aimed at reducing pressure on the sole crossing point currently handling commercial traffic, Kerem Shalom in southeastern Gaza, as well as reducing truck traffic on Israeli roads leading to it….
‘Give Palestinians a terminal at Ashdod port for goods to enter Gaza’
JPost 3 May by Yasser Okbi/Maariv Hashavua — A former army commander is promoting an ambitious new plan that would boost the number of goods entering the Gaza Strip. Yom Tov Samia, who served as the IDF’s Southern Command chief from 2001 to 2003, told Radio 101.5 FM on Tuesday that the Israeli authorities should permit the Palestinian Authority to operate a terminal at Ashdod port that would serve as the docking point where ships could unload goods bound for the Gaza Strip … Samia broached the topic in response to the announcement by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Monday that half of all the trucks transporting goods to the Gaza Strip will be rerouted from the Kerem Shalom Crossing to the Erez Crossing … Samia says that while the move is a step in the right direction, the government should think bigger. “I’d go much farther than just the Erez Crossing,” the former general told 101.5FM. “I would give the Palestinian Authority a terminal at Ashdod port. They would operate it fully from A to Z. They would handle all the logistics, the customs, the finances, the taxation, the revenue, the loading and unloading of cargo, and expenses.” “Israel would handle full responsibility for security checks for a period of a number of years,” Samia said. “This would be part of an overall plan, a comprehensive Israeli initiative.” “We need to do something,” he said. “We can’t just sit there and do nothing.”
Gaza’s only orphanage struggles against odds
GAZA CITY (EI) 3 May by Isra Saleh el-Namey — In spite of all he has been through, nothing hurts Yousif al-Shimbari more than getting used to mornings without hearing his mother’s voice. During Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2014, the 14-year-old and his family sought refuge from their Beit Hanoun neighborhood in the northern Gaza Strip to a UN-run school in the area, thinking themselves protected by its blue flags and logos. They were not. On 24 July, two weeks into the onslaught, Israeli shells slammed into the school, killing at least 15 and wounding scores. Among the fatalities were Yousif’s mother. Among the wounded, he and his sister. Manar, 15, underwent surgery. She had both legs amputated. Yousif and Manar now live in Al-Amal Institute for Orphans in Gaza City, formed in 1949, the only institution devoted to the care of orphaned children in the coastal enclave …Yousif and Manar are just two of 40 children at Al-Amal who lost one or both of their parents during the 2014 Israeli onslaught. They joined another 90 children housed there before the attack and the institute’s budget is strained to bursting point. In all, 52 children at Al-Amal have lost both parents and all have lost their fathers, the principal breadwinners. In Arabic, an “orphan” includes those who have lost one or both parents … According to Itimad al-Tarshawi, an official at Gaza’s Social Affairs Ministry, of Gaza’s 15,223 orphans, 3,366 lost parents to Israeli aggression. “Two thousand children lost their fathers or mothers or both in the 2014 summer aggression alone,” she noted….
Israel says it foiled shipment of ammonium chloride into Gaza
Times of Israel 3 May — Israeli security and customs officials foiled an attempt to smuggle several tons of ammonium chloride into the Gaza Strip in recent weeks, Israel’s Tax Authority said Tuesday. Ammonium chloride’s primary use is in fertilizers, but it can also be used to manufacture explosives. Some four tons of the chemical — enough to make hundreds of rockets, according to Israeli security officials — were found buried in salt shipments to the Gaza Strip that were making their way through the Nitzana crossing between Israel and Egypt in early April. Sacks of the compound were found buried in some 36 tons of salt. According to the Tax Authority, officials grew suspicious when an importer linked to the Hamas terror group that rules Gaza placed an order for the unusually large amount of salt….
Gaza police reveal ‘largest ever’ drug ring
MEMO 3 May — Palestinian police in Gaza yesterday revealed the largest drugs deal in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, MEMO has discovered. Director of Anti-Drug Police Sameh Al-Sultan said in a press conference held in Gaza that the police revealed two shipments of drugs over three days. “They are the largest ever since the establishment of the anti-drugs police in Gaza,” he added. He said police revealed an eight-member drug ring who smuggled around 200,000 tramadol tablets in 2,000 boxes. He noted that these drugs were brought into Gaza through its border with Egypt. The shipments were hidden in farmland in Rafah. A further 4,000 tramadol tablets were found in the second shipment, in addition to arms and money which were stored in one of the drug dealers’ houses. “Despite the shortage of our human resources and equipment,” Al-Sultan said, “we could achieve a lot of successes in our work. We detected and intercepted a large number of Gaza-bound smuggling attempts.”
PA governor of Rafah says Hamas-run gov’t blocking him from performing duties
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 May — Security forces of the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip informed the Palestinian Authority-appointed governor of the southern district of Rafah on Tuesday that he would be prevented from accessing his office, the governor said. Governor Ahmad Nasr told Ma‘an that Gaza’s internal security summoned him on Tuesday “to discuss several political issues.” He was then notified the he would be prevented from practicing his role as governor, nor would he be allowed to leave the Gaza Strip via the Erez crossing. The security officers, the governor added, told him that the “appointment of governors in Gaza by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was an illegal procedure.”
Hamas accuses Fatah of organising military cell in Gaza
AFP 4 May — The militant Palestinian Hamas movement accused its rival Fatah on Wednesday of organising a military cell to “breach security and stability” in the Gaza Strip. In the latest sign of tensions between the Palestinian factions, Iyad al-Bozum, the interior ministry spokesman in the Hamas-run strip, accused senior Fatah leaders of “being behind the cell and communicating with it,” without naming those allegedly involved … Bozum told AFP the cell was made up of “fewer than 10 people who were arrested around a month ago.” He said they aimed to “affect the internal situation in the Gaza Strip and internal relations,” including through “incitement,” but would not provide further details. Fayez Abu Aita, spokesman for Fatah in Gaza, denied the accusations and said the charges would “complicate the internal situation and hinder reconciliation efforts.” Officials from Hamas and Fatah have been meeting in the Qatari capital Doha in recent months as they seek a reconciliation agreement. Abu Aita said talks were ongoing but that “complicating matters like these affect the dialogue.”
Abbas and Dahlan supporters clash in Gaza
MEMO 2 May — Hand-to-hand fighting erupted in Gaza on Sunday between supporters of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the disgraced Fatah strongman Mohamed Dahlan, Safa has reported. Eyewitnesses told the news agency that the supporters from the Fatah factions clashed during a Workers’ Day celebration. Police responded immediately and reported that a number of light injuries were sustained. None of the witnesses or, indeed, the police appear to know the real reason behind the clashes, which started with verbal abuse and developed into fist-fights. One local journalist pointed out that such clashes between the two factions of the ruling Fatah movement are common. Accusations are traded that each side is cheating the country and its people. Several clashes have taken place at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City, which is a stronghold of the Fatah student bloc. The differences between Abbas and Dahlan started during the lifetime of Yasser Arafat. Each has made covert accusations that the other was responsible for the late president’s death. Dahlan was expelled from Fatah over charges of corruption. His position in the Palestinian parliament was also revoked. He has since found a wealthy and influential backer in the government of the UAE.
Palestinian rapper’s emotional music video: ‘From Gaza to Aleppo: The Same Wound’
albawaba 4 May — One Palestinian rapper has produced an emotional music video to call attention to suffering in Aleppo and in his native Gaza. The video, titled “From Gaza To Aleppo: The Same Wound,” features rapper Ibrahim Adnan Ghunaim, better known by the moniker “McGaza.” “Aleppo. The same wound, red. I want the entire universe red,” the song begins, showing footage of destroyed buildings in the Al Shijaeya neighborhood near Gaza City. “Today there’s no joy. Today red will take over,” Ghunaim croons in Arabic. “A human inside of me is calling. Who’s with me, sympathizing?” Watch the video here: Aleppo has seen a sharp rise in violence recently. About 250 people have been killed in the city in the past ten days alone, BBC reported. Five days ago, a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo was hit by an airstrike, killing at least 16 people and destroying the crucial facility, which was supported by the international community. The Syrian government is likely responsible for the strike. Meanwhile, aid shortages in Aleppo have worsened the already dire situation. The UN said recently that one Syrian is being killed about every 25 minutes. When asked what inspired him to make the video, Ghunaim told Al Bawaba: “Because I saw the same situation [in Aleppo as in Gaza]: Arabs silent.”
Prisoners / Court actions
Soldiers attack hunger-striking detainee after refusing to be shackled to hospital bed
IMEMC 4 May by Saed Bannoura — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported, Tuesday, that one of its lawyers managed to visit hunger striking detainee Sami Janazra, who started his hunger strike 62 days ago, and said the detainee was beaten by the soldiers after refusing to be cuffed and shackled to his bed in Soroka Israeli hospital. Janazra, 41, told the lawyer that several soldiers attacked him, last Sunday, when he refused to have his hands cuffed and his legs shackled to his hospital bed, and that on Tuesday the detainee refused to drink any water to protest his abuse. The PPS lawyer said Janazra has lost 25 kilograms of his weight, as it dropped from 72 kilos before his strike, down to 47. Janazra also complained to the lawyer about the bad treatment he faces by the doctors and nurses at the hospital. It is worth mentioning that, several days ago, a number of Israeli security officers met with Janazra to listen to his demands, but never made any promises or proposals.
Israeli court extends remand of Palestinian detained over Jerusalem stab attack
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli magistrate court in Jerusalem extended the remand of a young Palestinian man for one week on Wednesday, after he was detained on suspicions of assisting the man who stabbed an Israeli in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem two days prior. According to his legal representative Muhammad Mahmoud, a lawyer for prisoners’ rights group Addameer, Israeli police accused 19-year-old Malik Hijazi of having knowledge of the stabber’s plans and of assisting him in carrying out the attack, which moderately wounded a 60-year-old Israeli man. Hijazi told the judge that he was approached by a young man who inquired about directions while he was walking in the Old City, but did not know him and had no knowledge of any attacks being planned, Mahmoud said.
Israeli court bans 6 Jerusalemites from accessing Al-Aqsa for 2 months
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 May — An Israeli magistrate court in Jerusalem released six young Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem, including a teenager, from detention on Wednesday, on the condition that they not go to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for two months, prisoners’ rights Addameer said. Addameer lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud told Ma‘an that the young men, identified as Ahmad Rajabi, Qusay Khalil, Yousif Alami, Ibrahim Hreibat, Ammar Abu Jibn, and teenager Ismail Muheisin, were detained last week after performing Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He added that they were forbidden from accessing the Al-Aqsa mosque for 60 days.
Israel renews Palestinian lawmaker’s administrative detention
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 2 May — Israeli authorities have renewed the administrative detention of Palestinian lawmaker Hatim Rabah Rashid Qafisha for three more months, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies (PPCS) said on Monday. PPCS spokeswoman Amina Tawil said Qafisha was scheduled to be released in three days, but the Israeli high court rejected an appeal and decided to extend his administrative detention for another three months. Qafisha, 56, a Hamas-affiliated member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was detained by Israeli forces on Jan. 24 in Hebron. Qafisha has spent a total of 13 years in Israeli prisons, of which more than 12 years were spent in administrative detention — internment without trial or charges. According to prisoners’ rights organization Addameer, six Palestinian lawmakers are currently detained by Israel, and 700 Palestinians are being held in administrative custody
Palestinian teen convicted in killing of Dafna Meir
Times of Israel 3 May — An IDF court on Tuesday convicted 16-year-old Palestinian Morad Bader Abdullah Adais of the January killing of Israeli mother of six Dafna Meir. Adais was convicted of murder and illegal possession of a knife. He was arrested in the West Bank village of Beit Amra on January 19, two days after he killed Meir in the nearby Jewish settlement of Otniel. He confessed to the killing.
Israel rejects UN panel’s concerns of prisoner abuse
AFP 4 May — Broadly, UN committee chair Jens Modvig noted that while Israel had robust prisoners rights legislation in place, key rights could easily be cast aside in the name of national security — Israel on Wednesday rejected the concerns of a UN panel over alleged violations in its prisons, including a purported surge in solitary confinements, insisting such tactics were used only in “extremely restricted” cases. The United Nations Committee against Torture, reviewing Israel for the first time since 2009, on Tuesday asked a government delegation about reports of multiple serious abuses in prisons, particularly against detained Palestinians. Committee chair Jens Modvig cited figures indicating that solitary confinements in Israel had nearly doubled from 2012 to 2014, jumping from 390 to 755 over the period. The deputy director of the human rights department at Israel’s foreign ministry, Michal Sarig-Kaduri, told the UN panel that solitary confinements were “extremely restricted and used for short and limited periods of time, for a maximum of 14 days only.” She explained that while some detainees were placed in solitary confinement as a punitive measure, others were held in “separation” when they posed a threat to themselves or other inmates.
“As of today, 190 prisoners, which constitutes only one percent of all prisoners, are held in separation in Israeli prisons,” Sarig-Kaduri said.
Israeli forces demolish Nablus apartment belonging to suspected attacker’s family
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 3 May — Israeli forces carried out a punitive demolition overnight on Monday in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, destroying a home belonging to the family of a young Palestinian man accused of killing two Israeli settlers in October. Zeid Amir was accused of involvement in a drive-by shooting attack in early October, which resulted in the deaths of two Israeli settlers near the illegal Israeli settlement of Itamar in the northern West Bank. The attack resulted in widespread rioting by Israeli settlers and numerous attacks on Palestinian communities and their properties. Witnesses told Ma‘an that dozens of Israeli military vehicles raided the area surrounding the city of Nablus at around 2 am before breaking into an apartment building belonging to Amir’s family located near al-Rawda college on the eastern outskirts of Nablus. Israeli soldiers proceeded to demolish the internal and external walls of the apartment using electric jackhammers. Amir’s father told Ma‘an that the demolition wasn’t a surprise considering an Israeli military court rejected the family’s appeal against the demolition order two weeks ago.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Justice minister Ayelet Shaked pushes plan to apply Israeli law in West Bank settlements
Haaretz 2 May by Jonathan Lis & Chaim Levinson — Despite Shaked’s intentions, right-wing leader Naftali Bennett says the effort does not reflect ‘creeping annexation’ of the settlements — Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Monday she is crafting a plan with the attorney general to apply Israeli law in the West Bank. A committee on the plan would be established to review all Knesset laws and decide if Israeli law could immediately be implemented in the settlements through a military order. Shaked said the initiative would replace failed efforts by her Habayit Hayehudi party in recent years to promote the so-called Norms Law, under which any law passed by the Knesset would apply to the settlements via orders by the region’s military commander. Most such efforts – known by critics as “creeping annexation” of the settlements – have failed in recent years. Currently several similar bills are at the Knesset. “We have to distinguish between enacting the Norms Law and the work I am talking about,” Shaked told Army Radio … On Sunday, Shaked made similar remarks at a meeting of the Legal Forum for Israel. “There should be an equalizing of conditions. Basic Laws do not apply in Judea and Samaria, and my goal is that within a year there will be equal conditions either through military order or legislation,” she said, referring to the West Bank.
Israeli forces demolish Bedouin homes in Negev, city of Lod
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 4 May — Israeli authorities demolished several homes belonging to Bedouin Palestinians in the Negev and the city of Lod in central Israel on Wednesday. Lod residents told Ma‘an that bulldozers demolished two Bedouin houses in the area, belonging to the al-Naqeeb and al-Farajat families. According to Atiyeh al-Assam, the mayor of the regional council of unrecognized Bedouin villages, Israeli forces demolished two additional houses in the Negev: one in the village of Wadi Ghwein, and another on the outskirts of the village of Kseifa belonging to resident Khalid al-Daghayma. Bedouin member of the Israeli Knesset, Talab Abu Arar, slammed the demolitions, describing them as “ethnic cleansing,” and called the forcible evictions of the Bedouins a “crime against humanity.”
Israel posts demolition orders in East Jerusalem neighborhood
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 2 May — Israeli forces stormed the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya on Monday and posted demolition orders on the walls of residential and commercial structures in the area, a local committee member told Ma‘an.
Muhammad Abu al-Hummus told Ma‘an that Jerusalem municipality inspectors under heavy military protection posted warrants for demolition orders, stop-work orders, and orders to “stop using illegal structures,” and took photos of structures and streets in the area. He added some of the buildings in question were built several years ago, and others were still under construction. The structures are located near the main entrance to ‘Issawiya on Ubeid Alley, a street named after “Martyr Zaki Ubeid,” who was killed by Israeli forces [in 1999 during a protest]. A medical center and a gas station are among the buildings under threat of being demolished. “Over the past months, Israeli forces have been waging a campaign against ‘Issawiya, targeting humans and stones,” Abu al-Hummus told Ma‘an.“The neighborhood rarely enjoys a single day without an Israeli incursion, be it from Israeli forces, tax inspectors, or municipality inspectors — not to mention the permanent Israeli checkpoints at neighborhood entrances where passengers are inspected and drivers are fined arbitrarily.” ‘Issawiya is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem which are seeing an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of home demolitions and the eviction of Palestinian families….
Israeli municipality compels Jerusalem family to demolish 3 stores
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 3 May – The Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem on Tuesday compelled a local Palestinian family from Silwan, a neighborhood of Jerusalem, to demolish three commercial stores of its own, local sources told WAFA. WAFA correspondent said the municipality ordered the family to demolish the said stores, under the pretext of construction without a permit. The stores have a total area of about 75 square meters.
Israel to demolish 9 homes in Bethlehem village
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 4 May – Israeli forces on Wednesday notified Palestinians in the village of al-Walajeh, to the west of Bethlehem, about their intention to demolish eight homes and to stop the construction of a ninth one, according to local sources. Majdi Abuttin, from al-Walajeh village council, told WAFA that an Israeli military force broke into the village and handed notifications to eight local Palestinians informing them that their homes will be demolished, under the pretext of construction without an Israeli permit.
Israel approves rehabilitation of Jerusalem road for the 1st time since 1967
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 3 May — Israeli authorities agreed on Tuesday to allow the Palestinian Authority to rehabilitate the main road of the village of Nabi Samuel in northwestern Jerusalem for the first time since 1967, according to a statement by the Palestinian Civil Affairs committee. The committee stated that the Israeli approval included maintenance work on the water network and reservoir in the village. Nabi Samuel is a small Palestinian West Bank village within the Jerusalem governorate. The community is now comprised of around 250 Palestinians after most of the population fled following the illegal 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Israel. The village area was designated as Area C — areas of the occupied territory that are under full Israeli control — following the Oslo Accords which were signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1995. Areas designated as Area C are often annexed by the Israeli state for the purpose of expanding settlements, while Palestinian development is severely restricted by Israel’s discriminatory permit regime. Residents of Nabi Samuel are now surrounded on several sides by illegal Israeli settlements. The village has also been severely impacted by Israel’s separation wall, located in the “Seam Zone,” leaving them on the “Israeli side” of the wall and isolating them from the Palestinian communities on the other side. The United Nations estimates that in total 50,000 Palestinians are stuck in the zone, confined to small enclaves with limited access to their farm lands and neighboring villages. Because the residents of Nabi Samuel have West Bank identity cards, but are located in the Jerusalem governorate, they are forbidden by Israeli military authorities from leaving the village in any direction without authorization.
Israel to invest millions in improving settlements’ cellular reception despite IDF opposition
Haaretz 3 May by Amitai Ziv — The Communications Ministry is advancing a 40-million-shekel ($10.6 million) plan to improve cellular reception in the West Bank, but the army opposes it, saying it does not need civilian networks to improve its reception in the territories. The state plans to build some 40 towers and connect them to the cellular network. The cabinet decided on the project late last year, after the October 1 attack in which a couple were murdered between the settlements of Elon Moreh and Itamar in the northern West Bank. At the time there was no cellular reception in the area, so emergency teams were late to the scene, and it was harder for them to communicate once they arrived. The same problems occurred at an intersection near Hebron the following January. Once the towers are up, the state will let the cellular companies pay a reduced leasing fee to install their antennae. Industry experts estimate the cost at about 1 million shekels per tower.
HeidelbergCement searching for new site for West Bank quarry
HEIDELBERG, Germany (Reuters) 4 May — Germany’s HeidelbergCement is looking for a new site in the Israeli occupied West Bank following long-standing criticism from investors about its operations in parts of the territory that are fully under Israel’s control. HeidelbergCement excavates sand and gravel in the West Bank’s resource-rich Area C, which is administered by Israel and is home to the vast majority of Jewish settlements. The Palestinians want all of the West Bank, including Area C, which accounts for 60 percent of the territory, for their own state. An umbrella organisation of critical shareholders has long called for HeidelbergCement to give up its operations in the territory, which it acquired when it bought British company Hanson in 2007, saying the quarry violates international law. The organisation said that four pension funds in Norway and Denmark have placed HeidelbergCement on a blacklist in recent months and said they could not invest in the construction materials group for ethical reasons. Chief Executive Bernd Scheifele told the firm’s annual meeting in Heidelberg on Wednesday that he rejected claims the quarry violated international law but said the company would address investor concerns all the same….
Councils in court over boycott of Israeli goods
Press Association 4 May — [UK] Local councils are facing legal action at the High Court today over their decisions to impose boycotts on Israeli goods produced in “illegal” Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW) is seeking judicial review against three authorities – Leicester City Council, Swansea City Council and Gwynedd Council. The campaign group is expected to ask Lord Justice Simon and Mr Justice Flaux, sitting in London, to rule the “anti-Semitic” boycotts unlawful because they breach the Local Government Act 1988 and the Equality Act 2010. The organisaton has likened the “divisive” town hall action to the boycott of Jewish shops in 1930s Nazi Germany. But the charity War on Want has condemned the JHRW legal challenge as “shameful”. Senior campaigner Ryvka Barnard said: “It’s shameful that local councils are being attacked for ensuring their policies are in line with international and UK law. The illegal settlements are a part of the systematic abuses of international law and human rights committed by Israel against the Palestinians.” The Government is issuing new guidance to public authorities warning such bans are “inappropriate” unless formal legal sanctions or embargoes have been put in place by the Government itself.
Israeli forces attack Palestinian journalists at World Press Freedom demo
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 May — Three Palestinian journalists sustained minor injuries on Tuesday after Israeli forces attempted to suppress a sit-in with stun grenades and tear gas outside Israel’s Ofer detention center on World Press Freedom Day. A group of Palestinian journalists used the occasion to direct attention to the plight of Palestinian journalists currently being held in Israeli custody as a result of Israel’s widely condemned crackdown on Palestinian journalists since a wave of unrest erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory in October. At least 43 Palestinian journalists have been detained by Israeli forces since October, and they have reported cases of torture, medical negligence, and unreasonable and illegal rulings by Israeli authorities, according to a recent report by the Committee to Support Palestinian Journalists. Staging a sit-in outside the Ofer detention center, demonstrators raised posters of imprisoned Palestinian journalists and demanded the release of 20 who are currently being held in Israeli prisons. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and stun grenades at the journalists, despite reports that the protest was peaceful, wounding Zahir Abu Hussein, Muhammad Shawasha, and Ali Ubeidat.
Challenges facing Palestinian journalists
Jordan Times 4 May by Daoud Kuttab — For most journalists, the challenge of doing their job usually comes from one source. However, restrictions and challenges facing Palestinian journalists are multi-levelled and much more complicated. While most human and media rights organisations usually list governments as restricting journalists, Palestinians living in the occupied territories are restricted by both Israel and Palestine. The major problem Palestinian journalists face with Israel is lack of recognition. Despite its claim to be the “only democracy in the Middle East”, Israel has not once recognised a single Palestinian journalist working for the Palestinian media. Israeli military authorities do not issue authorised press cards to Palestinians and the only press cards available come from the Israeli government press office. The coveted Israeli government press cards have been issued to Palestinians, but only when they work for recognised international media. One can be the best Palestinian journalist working for the Ramallah-based Al Ayyam daily, or Bethlehem Radio or Palestine TV, but Israel will not recognise him/her, while a junior journalist working for Dutch TV or a Brazilian newspaper will be recognised by Israel, which will grant a press card that allows trouble-free travel. The travel restrictions make it impossible for Palestinian journalists to travel to or from Gaza or even to or from Jerusalem … Travel in and out of Palestine is also restricted to Palestinian journalists, as Omar Nazzal realised on April 23, when he attempted to go to Bosnia to participate in an international press conference … The Israelis claim that his arrest has nothing to do with his profession (which they do not recognise), but with his alleged political activities….
More than 40 Israeli violations against journalists in April
MEMO 2 May — A Palestinian committee has documented 42 Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists and media groups during April, Felesteen newspaper reported on Sunday. A report from the Committee for the Protection of Journalists has called for human rights groups and international bodies to intervene in order to stop Israel’s attacks on media freedom. The committee accused Israel of exposing Palestinian journalists to danger by banning the import of bulletproof vests and other safety equipment under a false pretext. Israel ignores international law, values and conventions, it insisted. Israel’s violations last month alone included eight detentions and calls for interrogations. The report documented eight extensions of prison terms against journalists. One journalist had his administration detention order renewed and two others were given different prison terms. Journalists were also exposed to tear gas attacks during their coverage of peaceful protests in Ramallah. Another four were harassed by Israeli settlers. Meanwhile, said the committee, Israeli occupation forces stormed into the homes of four journalists and the offices of two media groups causing a lot of damage in the process. As part of its crackdown on media freedom, Israel blocked journalists from covering a number of events and prevented two journalists from traveling.
The month in pictures: April 2016
Electronic Intifada 2 May — A monthly roundup of photographs documenting Palestine, Palestinian life, politics and culture, and international solidarity with Palestine.
PLO ends meetings with Israel
MEMO 4 May — Secretary of the PLO Executive Committee Saeb Erekat announced yesterday the end of meetings with the Israeli occupation after Tel Aviv refused to commit to mutual agreements, insisting on continuing settlement expansions, invasions and its rejection of the French initiative. Speaking to Palestine Voice, Erekat said: “The Central Committee had important recommendations in response to the Israeli position and they will be announced should they be approved in tomorrow’s meeting.” The international efforts led by Paris aim to hold an international peace conference, he explained. He noted that invitations for a preparatory meeting slated at the end of this month were sent. He stressed there would be “outcomes that force Israel to commit to international laws and end the occupation.”
Palestinian Education Ministry employees go on strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 May — Administrative employees of the Palestinian Ministry of Education went on a half-day strike across the occupied West Bank on Monday to protest the stalemate regarding their working conditions.The strike, which started at 11 a.m., was organized by the Palestinian teachers’ union as it denounced the Palestinian Authority’s perceived reluctance to comply with terms discussed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in March, when he declared the end of a four-week teachers’ strike earlier this year….
Palestinian security services make 40 percent of arrests of suspected terrorists, IDF says
Haaretz 4 May by Gili Cohen — The Palestinian Authority’s security services are responsible for about 40 percent of all arrests of suspected terrorists in the West Bank in recent months, according to data presented recently to government officials by senior officers in the Israel Defense Forces’ Central Command. This represents a dramatic expansion of the PA security services’ counterterrorism effort. Until about three months ago, they were responsible for only some 10 percent of such arrests. The majority of arrests, however, are still carried out by the IDF. In light of this increased activity by the Palestinian security services, the IDF has reduced its own activity in Area A in recent months. Area A is the part of the West Bank that, under the Oslo Accords, is supposed to be under full Palestinian control. From October 2015, when the latest wave of terror began, until March 2016, the IDF entered Area A almost daily and conducted hundreds of operations per month in major Palestinian cities. But since then, the pace has declined to dozens of operations per month, because the PA security services are doing more of the work. About three weeks ago, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the extent of the IDF’s activity in Palestinian cities would depend on how much the PA security services were doing. “This isn’t something diplomatic – it’s about security,” he said. “If they’ll do the work, why not? What they don’t do, we’ll have to do, … Since the beginning of October, the IDF has arrested some 2,500 Palestinians on suspicion of being involved in or planning terrorist activity. About 700 of those arrested were held in administrative detention, without trial. During this same period, the PA security services have arrested hundreds of people.
PA: Israel stealing recently discovered Palestinian oil
MEMO 3 May — Chairman of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) Mohamed Shtayyeh accused Israel of stealing the Palestinian oil which has recently been discovered near the Dead Sea, Arab48.com reported yesterday. Shtayyeh said that Israeli oil extraction is a violation of international resolutions as the newly discovered oil well is located in Area C which should have been moved to Palestinian control 18 years ago. He said that the PA leadership is going to call for compensation over any violations carried out by Israel in this regard. The Palestinian official also noted that the Dead Sea is one of the main natural resources of the Palestinian people, but Israel had been depleting it since 1948. Shtayyeh called for international intervention regarding the issue of Palestinian oil, noting that the expected income from this well is not large, but it would have a positive impact on the Palestinian economy. He also noted that Israel is stealing Palestinian oil from Rantis well near Ramallah and prevents Palestinians from using their gas along the Mediterranean and prevents them from having tourism facilities in the Dead Sea.
Criminal violence flares up in Palestinian towns in Israel amid dearth of policing
GALILEE (Ma‘an) 2 May — A wave of criminal violence spread across Palestinian towns in Israel Sunday night, following unanswered demands by Palestinian leadership in Israel’s Knesset to crack down on illegal weapons in Palestinian communities in Israel. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that unknown assailants opened fire at the house of a 50-year-old Palestinian in the Bedouin village of Tuba-Zangariyye in northern Israel. No casualties were reported. Israeli police opened an investigation shortly after the incident, al-Samri said. In a separate incident, unknown assailants opened fire from a moving car at a restaurant in the Palestinian town of Tayibeh in central Israel, damaging the building. No fatalities were reported … More than ten shooting incidents have reportedly occurred in Tayibeh over recent months, leaving 15 injured and damaging many civilian homes and vehicles. Palestinian citizen of Israel Abd al-Nasser Jebara was killed in a shooting incident inside his house in Tayibeh on April 4. The most recent incidents of gun violence come as Joint List members in Israel’s Knesset have called on authorities to crack down on illegal weapons in Israel’s Palestinian communities, where there is a disproportionate lack of policing compared to Jewish-majority neighborhoods.
UN needs $80 million for schools for Palestinian refugees
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 3 May — The head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees expressed hope Tuesday that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait will come up with $80 million to ensure that 500,000 boys and girls who are refugees can start the next school year on time in August. Last year, a $101 million shortfall in the budget of the agency, known as UNRWA, almost led to a delay in starting school. Pierre Krahenbuhl told a news conference Tuesday that the three Gulf countries came to the rescue last year and he hopes they will “renew the generosity this year.” “If we could have that, then we will be able to avoid another crisis this summer,” he said. UNRWA operates 700 schools for Palestinian refugees with 22,000 education staff in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria … Krahenbuhl stressed the importance of education for Palestinian refugees, many who have spent their lives in camps, as key to giving them hope for the future. Compared to school systems in the United States, Krahenbuhl said the Palestinian refugee school system would be the third largest after New York and Los Angeles.
Pleasant story of the day:
Palestinian photographer captured the colors of children’s eyes in Gaza
BoredPanda 30 Apr by Nouha Saadawi — Fadi Thabet is a Palestinian schoolteacher in one of the schools of Gaza Strip in Palestine. He is also a freelance photographer. “I was not expected to have such a collection of colorful eyes in Gaza. It is a joyful surprise!” What Fadi did was not photo sessions, he went out in walks in the streets of the city. The children reacted spontaneously seeing the camera and the result was that he caught some of the very special moments in the everyday life of those children. In this collection children’s eyes are telling childhood stories, from Gaza under siege.
Thousands of Egyptian Coptic pilgrims visit Palestine for Easter holiday
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 May — Thousands of Coptic Christians from Egypt traveled to the Holy Land this year to take part in celebrations for Orthodox Easter. Anwar Samaan, 75, head of his village near Luxor in the Upper Egypt region along the Nile river, was among the 7,650 Coptic Christians who visited holy sites across the occupied Palestinian territory in the past week.
Palestinian police spokesperson Luay Irzeikat confirmed that more than 6,500 Coptic pilgrims visiting Palestine had come to the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem. Speaking to Ma‘an at Bethlehem’s Nativity Church on Holy Saturday on the eve of Easter, Samaan said it was the first time he and the majority of the Coptic pilgrims had visited the Palestinian territory. “I came to walk in the Holy Land to achieve the title of sacred person in my village,” he said, explaining that a person from his village who performs the pilgrimage to Palestine acquires the special status of being “sacred” upon their return. “This title is invaluable. It is much better that winning a million dollars.” Coptic pilgrims enjoy special homecoming reception from their families and friends in Egypt, and receive visits from many people in the village who wish to “take a blessing” from the Holy Land … Coptic Christians traveling to the holy sites in the Palestinian territory have historically faced accusations of promoting “normalization” with the Israeli occupation, and the Coptic church has banned such visits for decades. However, pilgrimages by Egypt’s Copts have increased significantly over the years, especially since Coptic Pope Tawadros II himself visited Jerusalem in November.