Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
Teenage girl shot dead after alleged stabbing attempt near Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 May — A Palestinian teenage girl was shot and killed after she allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli border policewoman near the Ras Biddu checkpoint north of Jerusalem on Monday. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that a “female terrorist” allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack, adding that the Palestinian pulled out a knife and attempted to stab a female border guard stationed at the checkpoint. Another officer immediately fired gunshots at the Palestinian teen and “neutralized” her. Israeli authorities routinely used the term “neutralize” in initial reports to indicate that a suspected attacker is no longer at large, sometimes indicating that the suspect has merely been apprehended or injured, though it is often revealed later to have meant the suspect was killed on the scene. Al-Samri later confirmed that the Palestinian was killed on the scene. No injuries were reported among the Israeli soldiers. The Palestinian Ministry of Health later identified the dead Palestinian teen as 17-year-old Sawsan Ali Dawud Mansur. [She was also reported to be 19.] The deadly incident came hours after the bodies of two Palestinians siblings were released to their families — the last Palestinians to be shot dead by Israeli forces before Monday as part of a wave of unrest which began in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October.
Israel returns body of Jerusalemite Palestinian killed in March
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 May — Israeli authorities on Monday returned the body of a young Palestinian man who was shot and killed during an armed altercation with Israeli soldiers in occupied East Jerusalem two months prior. Fouad Abu Rajab al-Tamimi, a 21 year-old resident of East Jerusalem, was killed in the city’s Salah al-Din Street on March 8 after firing gunshots at Israeli police forces, wounding two officers. Muhammad Mahmoud, a lawyer for prisoners’ rights group Addameer, told Ma‘an on Monday that Tamimi’s body would be returned to his family at 5 p.m. at the Beitunia checkpoint west of Ramallah. Mahmoud added that Tamimi’s body would be buried in al-Judeira, a village northwest of Jerusalem separated from the holy city by the Israeli separation wall, to comply with Israeli stipulations.
Israel returns bodies of two Palestinians after withholding them for 7 months
[with videos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 May — Israeli authorities returned on Monday night and Tuesday morning the bodies of two Jerusalemite Palestinians killed by Israeli forces after attacks, after withholding them for more than seven months. Hassan Manasra, 15, was shot dead on October 12 after allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack in the illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev in occupied East Jerusalem, injuring two Israelis aged 13 and 21. Alaa Abu Jamal, 22, was killed by Israeli police on October 13, after he rammed his car into a bus stop in West Jerusalem, killing one Israeli and injuring four others. Manasra’s body was handed over to his family at the Lion’s Gate cemetery outside of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City at midnight, amid heavy deployment of Israeli security forces around the cemetery. Participants in the funeral told Ma‘an that Israeli troops inspected them thoroughly and seized their mobile phones before they were allowed into the cemetery. In the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir, Israeli forces returned Abu Jamal’s body to his family around dawn on Tuesday amid similarly heavy military presence. Israeli authorities stipulated that no more than 40 people be allowed to attend the funerals. The families of Manasra and Abu Jamal paid deposits of 20,000 shekels ($5,176.65) and 40,000 shekels ($10,353.30) respectively to ensure compliance with Israeli conditions. Israeli forces held Abu Jamal’s body at the Oz police station for two hours due to the large number of people around the cemetery, a Ma‘an reporter said, before being handed over to the family once the crowd had dispersed. Footage taken by Ma‘an at the scene showed large numbers of Israeli troops in a tense situation with Palestinian bystanders:
Israeli minister orders suspension of return of Palestinian bodies
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 May — Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan announced on Tuesday that he had ordered Israeli police to suspend the return of bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, after seeing footage of a crowd gathering outside the funeral of one such slain Palestinian earlier during the day. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri reported on Tuesday that Erdan had watched footage of the funeral of “terrorist” Alaa Abu Jamal in occupied East Jerusalem, which prompted “anger, disapproval and condemnation.” Abu Jamal, 22, was killed by Israeli police on October 13, after he rammed his car into a bus stop in West Jerusalem, killing one Israeli and injuring four others. More than seven months later, Israeli authorities released his body for burial on Tuesday morning, on the condition that his family pay a 40,000 shekel ($10,353.30) deposit and that only 40 people attend the funeral. However, Israeli forces held Abu Jamal’s body at the Oz police station for two hours due to the large number of people around the cemetery, amid heavy deployment of Israeli security forces. The Palestinian bystanders chanted “God is great,” a phrase used regularly during Muslim funerals, as well as “with our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you, martyr,” a variation on a popular Arabic political slogan. Erdan accused the crowd of “incitement,” calling the scene “inadmissible by all standards and measurements everywhere, the more so in the capital Jerusalem.” A spokesperson for Erdan did not immediately respond to Ma‘an’s request for comment. Israel currently holds the bodies of at least a dozen Palestinians, including six Jerusalemites, killed by Israeli forces since October while they were allegedly committing or attempting to commit attacks. Earlier this month, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the release of the bodies of nine Palestinian from Jerusalem being withheld by Israel. Three have already been released, although it remained unclear on Tuesday whether Erdan’s order would supersede the court ruling.
NGO appeals Israeli minister’s decision to halt return of withheld Palestinian bodies
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 May — A Palestinian prisoners’ rights group has appealed the recently ordered freeze on the return of Palestinian bodies withheld by Israel, the group announced on Thursday. Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan announced on Tuesday that he had ordered Israeli police to suspend the return of bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, after seeing footage of a crowd gathering outside the funeral of one such slain Palestinian. Addameer lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud said he had appealed to Israeli public prosecution to overturn Erdan’s decision, calling for Israeli authorities to act in accordance with a ruling from the Israeli Supreme Court which ordered the release of the bodies of nine Palestinians from Jerusalem. Erdan had ordered the freeze of returning bodies due to perceived “incitement” at the funeral of Alaa Abu Jamal, whose body was returned to his family in the early hours on Tuesday in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir … Mahmoud said that the Abu Jamal family had abided by all the conditions imposed by the Israeli police, but that they had no control over the gathering of youths outside of the cemetery and mosque. The bodies of six Palestinians from Jerusalem who were killed by Israeli forces are still held by the Israeli authorities. Israel currently holds the bodies of at least a dozen Palestinians, including six Jerusalemites, killed by Israeli forces since October while they were allegedly committing or attempting to commit attacks.
SEE! Occupation captured
AIC 24 May by Christian Peacemaker Teams — Photos of Palestinian life and the Israeli occupation in the southern West Bank city of Hebron — Pictured here: An Israeli border Police man shines the laser from his gun into the windows of Palestinian homes – even when it is clear there are children by the window – during a late night version of ‘the settler tour.’ This settler tour constitutes an obnoxious show of force, power and control as dozens of settlers ‘tour’ the streets of the Old City of Hebron, flanked by dozens of Israeli soldiers and Border Police. (14 May) Pictured here: An Israeli Border Policeman, training another in how to fire teargas, helps load a teargas gun. After this, the trainee fired six potent canisters at children en route to school, after a handful of boys threw stones. The hundreds of children in the area affected by the gas were heading to their end of year exams. This image was taken as CPTers were standing with a Palestinian girl who began to cry out of fear, and due to her anxiety about being late for her exams. (15 May) ….
Israeli forces detain 25 Palestinians in night and day raids across West Bank, East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 May — Israeli forces detained at least 25 Palestinians in overnight and daytime raids in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on Monday, Israeli and Palestinian sources said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement on Monday that 15 Palestinians had been detained in predawn raids on Monday. PPS said five Palestinians, identified as Ahmad Abu al-Hummus, Adam Mahmoud, Majd Mustafa, Qays Dirbas, and Qusay Ulayyan, were detained in the village of al-‘Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem. In the West Bank, the group said that three Palestinians were detained across the northern district of Tulkarem, identifying them as Murad Fathi Mousa, Imad Mirei Shehadah, and Uday Muhammad Salih. In Nablus, Israeli forces detained Izz al-Din Tayseer Abd al-Haq after he was summoned by Israeli intelligence for questioning. In the northernmost West Bank district of Jenin, Bahaa Fayiz Hamdan, 24, and Qusay Hasan Khaliliya, 22, were detained, PPS said, adding that Jenin native Mahdi al-Irouq was also detained at the Allenby crossing as he was traveling back to the West Bank from Jordan. In the central West Bank district of Ramallah-al-Bireh, PPS said Israeli forces detained Ibrahim Salameh al-Arouri and Ahmad Hani al-Khodur during overnight raids. In the southern West Bank, 22-year-old Malik Salih al-Qadi was detained in Bethlehem, PPS reported…
Meanwhile, local sources reported that three Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces in East Jerusalem and the southern West Bank during the day on Monday.The director of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, Majdi al-Abbasi, told Ma‘an that Israeli police officers stormed the Ein al-Luzah area in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Monday afternoon and set up several checkpoints in the area. They then broke into home of Arafat Abu al-Hamam and assaulted his sons Muhammad, 17, and Shadi, 19, al-Abbasi said. The two brothers, he added, were violently beaten with rifle butts before being taken into custody. Local committee spokesman Muhammad Ayyad Awad said Israeli soldiers and police officers stopped a vehicle at the main entrance of the Hebron-area town of Beit Ummar on Monday, and forced the driver, who was not identified to step out before detaining him and confiscating his vehicle.
Israel arrests 27 Palestinians overnight
AIC 25 May by Ahmad Jaradat — The Israeli army invaded the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday night from two sides: through al-Dahiya to arrest two Palestinians and then through al-Jabal al-Shamali to arrest a third. During the raid Israeli soldiers closed many streets in Nablus, stifling movement of the city’s residents. According to the Oslo Accords, both Nablus neighborhoods are in Area A, ostensibly under the full civil and security control of the Palestinian Authority. The same night, Israeli soldiers arrested two Palestinians from Qalqilia. One is 17 years old. Nine youths were also arrested last night in the central West Bank village of Kafer ad-Dik. Israeli soldiers besieged the village, raided locals’ homes and occupied the village until Wednesday morning. Just north of Jerusalem, two Palestinians were arrested in Qalandia refugee camp. According to the Palestinian News and Info Agency, four Palestinians were arrested in occupied Jerusalem – two in ‘Issawiya and another two in Abu Dis. Harmalah, Jannatah, and Beit Fajjar villages – all near Bethlehem– were subject to Israeli incursions last night as well. Three Palestinian youth were arrested in Bait Fajjar, two of whom are 14 years old. Israeli forces occupied al-Taqu‘ village last night just after midnight, southeast of Bethlehem. Israeli forces arrested one Palestinian from the village and ransacked homes in the neighborhood of al-Badan. The Palestinian News and Info Agency reported that Israeli soldiers also invaded the village’s stores and destroyed security cameras. Israeli soldiers targeted Hebron last night as well and invaded multiple neighborhoods there. Three Palestinians were arrested, while others were summoned to meet with Israeli security forces. Southeast of Hebron, the Israeli army invaded the city of Yatta. Israeli soldiers invaded Palestinian homes and searched their belongings. As of May 1st 7,000 Palestinians are in Israeli prisons; 567 Palestinians were incarcerated in April.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israel extends detention of 12-year-old Palestinian for 1 year
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 25 May — The Israeli magistrate court extended the detention of 12-year-old Muhammad Ismail Hushiyeh for a year on Wednesday, according to the head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners. Amjad Abu Asab told Ma‘an that Hushiyeh would be detained in a juvenile facility in the town of Ablin in northern Israel. Hushiyeh is the youngest Palestinian prisoner from Jerusalem held by Israeli authorities, Abu Asab said. The 12-year-old was detained in late January for alleged involvement in a stab attack against an Israeli settler after Israeli forces reported he was in possession of a knife. There are currently ten Palestinian children from Jerusalem under the age of 14 being held in Israeli juvenile facilities, according to Abu Asab.
According to the prisoners’ rights group Addameer, there are currently 438 Palestinian children held in Israeli prisons.
Israeli court rules to release Palestinian hunger-striking prisoner
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 23 May — An Israeli court ruled to end the administrative detention of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Sami Janazreh, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Monday. PPS senior lawyer Jawad Boulos said in a statement that a court hearing was held on Monday at the Ofer detention center for Janazreh, who has been on hunger strike almost continuously since early March to protest his administrative detention — a widely-condemned Israeli policy that allows for internment without charge or trial for three- or six-month intervals which can be renewed indefinitely. The Israeli military prosecution accused the 43-year-old resident of al-Fawwar refugee camp of “incitement” against Israel on his Facebook page, Boulos said. However, the court rejected the charges and ruled that Janazreh would be released next Monday. Israeli Prison Services did not respond to Ma‘an’s request for comment on Monday evening. Earlier this month, Janazreh suspended his hunger strike for a week after 70 days of refusing food. In recent months, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by “incitement.”
Senior nonviolent activist Abu Rahma released
RAMALLAH (IMEMC) 24 May by Saed Bannoura — The Ofer Israeli military ordered, on Monday at night, the release of internationally recognized human rights defender, and the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Bil‘in village, Abdullah Abu Rahma, after he was held for eleven days. He was released on Monday at night, and will have to go back to court in June. Abu Rahma was sent to court several times since his abduction, while the Israeli military prosecutors demanded his continued detention, using various methods, including attempting to abuse his previous suspended sentence, as he was repeatedly abducted and detained in recent years. The army also tried to claim that Abu Rahma entered a “closed military zone,” “obstructing the conducts of the soldiers,” and even an allegation of “beating a soldier.” But his abduction, on May 13, 2016, was documented by many reporters, as he and dozens of Palestinians and international peace activists participated in the “al-Awda” (The Return) cycling competition. The videos proved that Abu Rahma did not assault any soldiers, and also showed many soldiers using excessive force against him. The court released Abu Rahma, at night Monday, and ordered him to appear in court on June 1st, and to pay a 15.000 Shekels bail….
Military court denies IDF demand to imprison a freed Palestinian for third time
Haaretz 26 May by Chaim Levinson — The Military Court at Ofer recently denied the IDF’s request to reimprison Mohammad Zdaka, who was freed as a gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2008. The court ruled that the army’s conduct was unjust and unjustifiable, and that the request to return Zdaka to prison was prompted by his filing for compensation for the four years he served in prison from 2010 to 2014. Zdaka, a Fatah member, was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was freed in 2008 together with 190 prisoners on a decision of the Olmert government. Like the other released prisoners, he signed a commitment not to carry out other offenses, on pain of being returned to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence. Should he commit further offenses, the commitment said, he may be reimprisoned by an administrative procedure based on secret evidence. In October 2010 Zdaka was arrested and charged with planning to buy a gun and bullets in a deal that didn’t go through. Zdaka was convicted, but acquitted on appeal. The appeals court ruled that the witness who had incriminated him wasn’t reliable. After Zdaka’s acquittal he was arrested and the military prosecution said they would ask to return to him to prison in an administrative procedure….
Israeli forces assault 2 Palestinian prisoners in Megiddo prison raid
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 May — Israel Prison Services’ takeover unit, known as the Masada, stormed the Megiddo prison overnight Sunday and assaulted two Palestinian prisoners, a lawyer who works with the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs said. Ibtisam al-Anati was quoted in a statement on Monday as saying that Masada officers ransacked Sections 1 and 5 of the prison and damaged prisoners’ belongings. She added that Rabee Abu Leil, identified as a representative of prisoners in Megiddo, and another prisoner Mahmoud Marshood sustained injuries during the raid. Abu Leil suffered from bruises in the back, while Marshood was left with head injuries. According to al-Anati, the Israel Prison Services justified the raid saying it was a “routine inspection procedure.”
Two hunger-striking detainees face complications after 51 days of strike
IMEMC 24 May — The Palestinian Detainees Committee has reported that the health conditions of detainees Fuad ‘Aassi and Adeeb Mafarja, in Barzelai hospital, continues to deteriorate following 51 consecutive days of hunger strike protesting their illegal Administrative Detention. In a press release Tuesday, the Committee said that the Prison Authority was placing obstacles obstructing their lawyers from visiting with them. It demanded the International Red Cross to increase its visits to the detainees, who started their strike on April 3rd. It said that the two detainees suffered a dangerous weight loss, and have constant pain in various parts of their bodies, in addition to being unable to move. They are also refusing to take any vitamins. Despite their bad health conditions, the detainees are shackled and cuffed to their hospital beds, and are under constant guard.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
A window into the West Bank’s ‘wildest, most violent’ areas
YISHUV HADAAT, West Bank (NY Times) 23 May by James Glanz — With shoulder-length hair tumbling from beneath his knit skullcap, Hanamel Dorfman, a radical young Israeli settler, explains matter-of-factly on camera how hilltop settlement outposts like his own will continue to proliferate across the West Bank. From there, he says bluntly, Israelis will cross the Jordan River and start building on the other side. Reminded that beyond the river there is another sovereign nation, Jordan, Mr. Dorfman says with an unwavering gaze, “Everything is temporary.” The stunning statement comes in one of the final scenes of “The Settlers,” a documentary by an Israeli-American filmmaker, Shimon Dotan, that opens a rare window into the reclusive and politically explosive “hilltop youth” movement. The film, which had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January and was shown for the first time in Israel on Monday evening, suggests that the fringe group of religious hippies is underestimated in its ability to influence Israeli politics and thwart any possibility of peace with the Palestinians….
Israel to demolish 4 water wells, 3 structures, road in southern Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 24 May — Israeli forces delivered demolition notices on Tuesday for water wells, agricultural structures, and a three-kilometer agricultural road in the village of Qusra in southern Nablus, locals said. Abd al-Athim al-Wadi, the mayor of Qusra, told Ma‘an that the Israeli Civil Administration delivered demolition notices to locals in the eastern area of the town for four water wells that were built by the Dutch government, in addition to three structures and an agricultural road that was opened by a “European humanitarian institution.” The name of the institution could not immediately be confirmed. Al-Wadi added that the demolition warning said the wells and structures would be destroyed in 45 days because they were built in Area C and lacked the permits required by the Israeli Civil Administration.
Israel demands 2 Palestinian families dismantle their homes
MEMO 25 May — The Israeli Civil Administration accompanied by the Israeli army yesterday stormed the Jabal Al-Baba village in occupied East Jerusalem demanding two Palestinian families dismantle their mobile homes. A representative of the Jabal Al-Baba Bedouin community, Atallah Mazraa, said the Israeli occupation forces and the Civil Administration surrounded the houses of Fatima Mazaraa, 54, and her son Hassan Mazaraa demanding they dismantle their mobile homes within a day without prior warning or a demolition order. They said the units were erected without the necessary permits. Mazraa said the two mobile homes house eight people. Israeli forces dismantled and confiscated 12 mobile homes belonging to the Mazaraa and Jahalin families on 16 May. Some 300 Palestinian people live in Jabal Al-Baba.
Israeli court says state owns Jaffa house built in 1947
Haaretz 26 May by Or Kashti — Tells builder’s grandchildren to buy state out – for about $500,000, which they don’t have – or prepare to leave — About two weeks ago, after a nine-year legal wrangle, a Tel Aviv court ruled that an Arab family that has lived in its Jaffa home for 90 years will not have to pay the state nearly half a million shekels ($130,000) in rent. But the court also ruled that the family would have to buy the state’s stake – 40 percent – of its house to regain ownership. “We still have to pay a large sum for the right to live in our own home, the house our grandfather built,” a member of the family says. The large house on the hill on Tziona Tajer Street in Jaffa was built in the 1920s by Salim Khoury Shaya, the spiritual leader of the Christian Arab (Greek Orthodox) community. His seven children were born and raised in the house. Shortly before the 1948 War of Independence, three of the siblings went to visit relatives in Lebanon, where they got stuck when the war broke out, and they weren’t able to return. The other four siblings – George, Evelyn , Awda and Claire Shaya – remained in their house. In 1950 the siblings who went to Lebanon were declared absentees and Israel’s Custodian of Absentee Property took over the house, although the four siblings were still living in it. Only nine years later, in 1959, did the state recognize the rights of the four siblings in the house. Despite this, the state retained its hold over 40 percent of the property….
Retracing Jaffa’s erased Palestinian history
[with photos] EI 24 May by Silvia Boarini — Photo: his building at N.2 Magen Avraham was previously a small hotel built by Tawfiq Abu-Ghazaleh and owned by the Abu-Ghazaleh family, which is today scattered in Egypt and Jordan. The previous name of the street was al-Malik Ghazi — In mid-May, when Israeli Jews celebrate Independence Day, Palestinians commemorate the Nakba — the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of people from cities and villages across Palestine that began in December 1947 and intensified throughout 1948, both before and after the declaration of the State of Israel. This process of removing Palestinians from their land continues in various forms to this very day. Palestinian refugees as a whole have never been allowed to exercise their right to return to their homeland. The Israeli group Zochrot aims “to promote the Jewish Israeli public’s responsibility for the ongoing Nakba and to exercise the Palestinian refugees’ right of return as its necessary historical redress.” Zochrot uses the May anniversary to show the connection between the “independence” of one group of people and the dispossession of another. “Government authorities are stepping up the erasure process that has been happening since the Nakba,” Zochrot’s Niva Grunzweig told The Electronic Intifada. “They can see that people are asking questions and they are afraid of what might happen if the truth comes out.” Zochrot’s Houses Beyond the Hyphen initiative takes up Jaffa, the historical Palestinian city currently obscured by the Tel Aviv-Yafo hyphen, as the site of a series of video installations in private homes and walking tours that uncover what has been happening there since 1948. The coastal city, known as the Bride of the Sea, was once home to Palestine’s urban elite, and a cosmopolitan center of Arab culture. But after the fall of Jaffa in May 1948 following months of siege and bombardment, its character was drastically changed and its history systematically erased….
Video: Hebron settlers steal wooden furniture from Palestinian home for Lag BaOmer bonfire
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 May — A group of right-wing Israeli settlers broke into an uninhabited Palestinian house in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday and stole wooden furniture, presumably to be burned during bonfire celebrations for the Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer. A spokesperson for Hebron-based activist group Youth Against Settlement, Issa Amro, told Ma‘an that the houses belonged to the Al-Sayyid Ahmad and Tahboub families, who have been banned from accessing their homes in Hebron’s Old City since Israeli forces sealed the area around al-Shuhada Street in 1994. The holiday of Lag BaOmer, which will take place on Wednesday evening, commemorates the death of second-century Jewish mystic Simeon bar Yochai, and is traditionally celebrated with bonfires. It is not uncommon for young Israelis celebrating Lag BaOmer to steal wood from construction sites and other locations ahead of the holiday. Local Palestinian house and shop owners in Hebron’s Old City have been banned from accessing their homes and shops after a US-born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians inside the Ibrahimi Mosque that year. In the aftermath of the massacre, Hebron was divided into area H1, under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and area H2 which includes the Old City and surrounding areas under full Israeli military control.
Israeli airstrikes target two Hamas military sites in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 May — Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes in the central and southern Gaza Strip early on Thursday, targeting two sites used by the Hamas movement’s military wing, after a Palestinian militant group fired rockets towards Israel. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli planes fired rockets at a site used by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades in southwestern Rafah, while another strike hit a site known as Shuhada al-Qassam west of the al-Nuseirat refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Medical sources said that no injuries had been reported. The Israeli army said in a statement that the airstrikes were launched after a rocket launched from the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday hit “an open area in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council in southern Israel.” Israeli media reported that a total of four rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, three of which fell at the Gaza borderline. No injuries were reported. The Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group claimed responsibility for the rockets. However, the Israeli army reiterated that it held the Hamas movement “accountable for all attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip.” The statement claimed that nine rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israeli territory since the beginning of 2016. Earlier this month, Israel carried out a four-day airstrike and shelling campaign across the Gaza Strip which killed a Palestinian woman and injured at least five more people, after an exchange of shelling across the border.
Israeli army and navy open machine gun fire on Palestinians in Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 25 May – Israeli army and naval forces Wednesday opened their heavy machine guns on Palestinian farmers and shepherds along the eastern part of Gaza borders, as well as on fishermen sailing offshore the north-western part of Gaza City, according to witnesses. Israeli forces stationed at Sufa, a border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, opened fire on farmers and shepherds present near the northeastern part of Rafah city, in the northern Gaza Strip. To the north of Sufa, Israeli forces manning military watchtowers to the east of al-Sanati area to the north-east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, targeted farmers and with gunfire. Additionally, forces stationed near al-‘Abara area to the east of the town of Qarara, in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire on farmers and shepherds in the area. Meanwhile, forces manning watchtowers along the borderline to the east of Deir al-Balah city, in central Gaza, opened fire on shepherds in the area. Furthermore, forces stationed along the borderline to the east of al-Maghazi, in central Gaza, also opened fire on shepherds in the area. No injuries were reported in the above-mentioned attacks.
In the meantime, Israeli naval forces attacked Palestinian fishermen’s boats sailing offshore al-Sudaniya to the northwest of Gaza city, causing financial damages to at least one boat. The fishermen were forced to return back to shore for fear of being detained, injured, or killed.
Gaza security forces detain 2 hunger strikers protesting unemployment
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 May — Security forces from the Hamas-led government arrested two hunger strikers protesting the crippling levels of unemployment in the besieged Palestinian enclave, family members said on Wednesday. Raed Nasr and Said Lolo, who have been on hunger strike for around a month, were arrested on Sunday night in Gaza City, Nasr’s father Ayman Nasr told Ma‘an. “On Sunday they were at al-Awdah hospital for treatment after 30 days of hunger strike and they suddenly disappeared,” he said. The father added that his wife received a phone call from their son Raed on Tuesday morning telling her that he was detained at the al-Abbas police station and would be referred to the general prosecution for legal procedures. “They are not thieves or drug dealers, but young men only looking for jobs,” Ayman Nasr said. “They have the right according to the law to stage a sit-in strike that does not disturb the peace.” Earlier this month, Lolo had told Ma‘an that “Gaza security services threatened the young men who staged a sit-in strike at the Unknown Soldier Square (in Gaza City), and made them sign pledges to stop their protests.”Gaza security forces have detained a number of hunger strikers and demonstrators protesting unemployment in the past month….
Norway celebrates National Day in Gaza
[with unusual photos] MEMO 24 May by Mohammad Asad — Norway has celebrated its National Day in the Gaza Strip for the fourth year, the country’s ambassador to Palestine said. “This is the fourth time we celebrate the 17th of May in Gaza… the last four years in Gaza have been very difficult. We witnessed an unsuccessful attempt at negotiations, a devastating war, and continuous besiegement. We asked ourselves, is it logical for Norway to celebrate its independence, freedom and democracy on its Constitution Day in Palestine, at a time so close to the Palestinian Nakba? Every year we would come to the same answer: yes,” Hans Jacob Frydenlund explained. Frydenlund said the links between Palestine and Norway are stronger than ever, especially given the fact that hundreds of Norwegian citizens are living in Gaza. “We must come together and show support for the Palestinians” expressing his hope that Palestinians will achieve independence as Norway did … He noted that it took Norway nearly a century to gain independence, “during this century, we managed to build our institutions and the state of Norway and even managed to separate from Sweden and reach a two-state solution.” “Our independence can be a glimmer of hope for the Palestinians, but there is one major difference: we had what we could call an amicable union with Sweden, but the occupation continues its expansion and siege.” ….
What it is like to live in a refugee camp in Gaza
Palestine Chronicle 23 May by Yousef M. Aljamal — There is no privacy in refugee camps. The Gaza Strip is home to eight refugee camps, which host hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were displaced in 1948 from their towns and villages following the creation of Israel. Jabalia refugee camp is home for nearly 90,000 Palestinians who live in only one square kilometer. The density of the population makes it difficult to adapt for those who have never lived in a highly populated area like Gaza. Many refugees in Gaza live a few miles away from what used to be theirs – spacious lands and farms which Zionist militia occupied. Looking to the north of Alshatie refugee camp, the Chimney of Almajdal, today named Ashkol in Israel, appears, bringing back memories of this town back to the refugees here. The refugee camp has always served as a reminder to the Palestinians of what happened to them in 1948. The east and north of Jabalia also reveal some of the towns and lands that belonged to these Palestinians. The refugee camp is narrow. It is a concrete jungle. Rarely would one see parks or green areas. What was a camp of tents provided by the United Nations in 1948 became blocks of concrete, which makes it suffocating to live here. Kids play in the streets because there are no parks and playgrounds for recreation. They play games which reflect their reality – hide and seek where one team seeks to arrest the other, just like what Israel does to Palestinians….
Hamas planning public executions in Gaza Strip
MEE/Agencies 23 May — Authorities in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip are planning to carry out a series of public executions, the attorney general in the Palestinian enclave said on Sunday. Palestinian movement Hamas has carried out previous executions in Gaza, although rarely in public and mainly of people accused of collaborating with Israel. Sunday’s announcement involved those convicted of criminal offenses. “Capital punishments will be implemented soon in Gaza,” attorney general Ismail Jaber told journalists. “I ask that they take place before a large crowd.” Thirteen men, most convicted of murder connected to robberies, are currently awaiting execution, Hamas official Khalil al-Haya said on Friday at the main weekly Muslim prayers. “The victims’ families have the right to demand that the punishments be implemented,” he said. The families obtained rare permission on Sunday to stage a demonstration outside parliament, with dozens demanding that the executions be carried out. The last public executions in Gaza were in 2014 during the last war with Israel when a firing squad from Hamas’s armed wing shot dead six men before Gaza City’s main mosque following prayers. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), nine death sentences were handed down in the Gaza Strip in 2015, and two in the occupied West Bank which is run by the Palestinian Authority.
Gaza calls for death penalty
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 24 May by Iyad Qatrawi — Citizens in the Gaza Strip are pressuring Hamas to implement the death penalties in cases of murders, robberies and physical attacks, without awaiting the endorsement of President Mahmoud Abbas — Over the last three years, murders in cases of theft, robbery and physical attack in the Gaza Strip have become common. Money changer Ameen Sharab from Khan Yunis was stabbed to death in a robbery attack on May 30, 2013. Mohammed Mahdi and his nephew Anas Tammous from Deir al-Balah refugee camp were killed against the backdrop of a family dispute on June 24, 2013. Aliyan al-Talbani from Deir al-Balah city was killed in an armed robbery on July 31, 2013. Money changer Fadel al-Astal from Khan Yunis was killed in a fight over bank checks in May 2014. Hammad Dughmosh from Gaza City was killed against the backdrop of a dispute with Abed Rabbo Abu Madin on April 25, 2016; and most recently, on May 13, Thouraya al-Badri from Gaza City was killed in an armed robbery. There has been a significant increase in the crime rate in Gaza over the past few years. According to statistics of the public prosecutor’s office, approximately 40 people were murdered in 2013, 168 in 2014 and 28 in 2015. Most murders were committed for purely criminal reasons or due to disputes resulting from bad economic conditions and the spread of poverty and unemployment. Following search and investigation operations carried out by the investigations unit of the police in Gaza, in general criminals were caught just a few hours after the crime. The perpetrators of these crimes have been given the death penalty … Bassam al-Badri, whose mother Thouraya was murdered on May 13, told Al-Monitor, “The only punishment that would satisfy me is to see the killer of my mother hanged publicly in the presence of his parents, so that this deters anyone who dares to think about killing people and offending the sanctity of private homes.”….
Meet the 12-year-old Gaza IT geek
GAZA STRIP (EI) 24 May by Nesma Seyam — Twelve-year-olds across the world like their computers. But few take it to the level of Mohammad Alhaulimy. From a young age, Mohammad has shown a passion for computers, coding and technology, a passion that has been indulged by his family, and which has seen him receive support from other countries and invitations to conferences around the region. Mohammad built his first mobile application, World Savers, at the age of 9. He sought to raise awareness about global issues such as wars and pollution in a game format. It didn’t go far, and has now been forgotten, but it was a first challenge for the budding coder. “I wanted to create something of my own, a game or a video … Something that I would appreciate,” Mohammad said as he stared at his Mac. He attended an International Computer Driving License, ICDL, course when he was 7, to secure the global computer skills certification. But he soon found it was not challenging enough. “The courses I attended never satisfied me. I turned to the Internet and YouTube searching for what I’ve missed in courses,” he said, as a Facebook notification popped onto his screen. Mohammad’s family was supportive from the beginning … Mohammad’s potential was soon recognized elsewhere. In 2014, he took part in the Microsoft Imagine Cup student technology competition, where he, along with another Palestinian from the West Bank, beat off competition from 500 others to make it through to the final round….
Racism in Israel
Foreign Press Association slams Israel strip-search demand
24 May by AFP, Itamar Eichner, Becky Azran — EPA photographer asked to pull down his pants by security before entering the Prime Minister’s Office; he refused and left, resulting in foreign media refusing to cover Netanyahu’s meeting with French PM; ‘I felt humiliated,’ Atef Safadi tells Ynet — Israel’s foreign media union condemned a demand for a photographer to submit to a strip-search before entering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Monday … Atef Safadi, a Druze journalist with the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA), was attending as the FPA representative to take photos of a meeting between Netanyahu and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls that would later have been shared between media. Before entering he was asked to remove his clothes as part of a security check, a request he refused. He left, resulting in no photos for foreign media of the event. Furthermore, foreign news agency refused to even use photos distributed by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO). “The FPA again calls on security agencies to respect the right of journalists at such events, who already hold Israeli government press accreditation,” the statement added. “This isn’t my first time at the Prime Minister’s Office, I’m there at least once a month,” Safadi told Ynet on Monday. “They know me, I’ve been a photographer for news agencies for 18 years, but the difference is that today I was representing all of the agencies.”….
Opinion: A serious disaster was prevented in Israel / Zvi Bar’el
Haaretz 25 May — So an Arab lost a few teeth, he even received devoted care in a hospital, and we have to hope that they didn’t put him next to an injured Jew — At the scene of the attack by Border Police officers against an Arab, there was one elderly woman who dared to approach the center of the crowd. She almost reached the terrorist, when fortunately the policeman removed her quickly and politely: “Get away from here, or else we’ll smash your face.” That’s what an eyewitness named Itamar told the Walla website. The policeman saved the life of the woman near Rabin Square in Tel Aviv twice. Once when he prevented her from getting her face smashed, and a second time when he distanced her from the Arab who could have been carrying an explosive device. Because how can you know? In Hebron too it was impossible to know whether Abdel Fattah al-Sharif was carrying an explosive device. There they didn’t take any chances as they did in Tel Aviv; Sgt. Elor Azaria was there to neutralize the potential danger. The exaggerated humanity of the Border Policemen this time will cost us dearly. Because there’s a procedure: First you neutralize, then you beat someone up, and not vice versa. That’s what they knew how to do in the Central Bus Station in Be’er Sheva, where they didn’t wait to find out if Haftom Zarhum was the terrorist or not before shooting the unarmed, innocent Eritrean asylum-seeker to death. It’s also better not to take seriously the testimony of Kobi Cohen, the CEO of the supermarket chain Super Yuda, regarding the battering suffered by Maysam Abu Alqian from the Negev town of Hura at the hands of the policemen. Anyone who employs an Arab at a time when the country is under threat cannot be a reliable witness. Clearly those bleeding hearts who immediately brought cardboard signs decrying racism should thank the policemen who miraculously managed to prevent a terror attack. After all, what happened? Did someone die? So an Arab lost a few teeth, he even received devoted care in a hospital, and we have to hope that they didn’t put him next to an injured Jew. The claims that the policemen’s behavior was motivated by racism are also groundless. The police beat up Ethiopians, Arabs, and foreign workers too, and they did so even before it became fashionable to accuse them and the government of racism….
Somewhat encouraging article of the week
Israelis’ heartwarming response to shocking police brutality
+972 blog 25 May by Michal Rotem — The brutal police beating of a young Bedouin man outside his Tel Aviv workplace, where he was working to save money for university tuition, leads hundreds of Israelis to pitch in and pay his tuition. (Update: the crowdfunding campaign has reached 200 percent of its original goal.) — Mayasem Abu Alqian, a 19-year-old Bedouin citizen from the southern town of Hura, was attacked on Sunday by a group of Israeli Border Police officers near Rabin Square in the middle of Tel Aviv. Two plainclothes policemen approached Abu Alqian on the street outside his work, demanding that he produce an ID. Abu Alqian, not willing to identify himself to just anyone, demanded a uniformed police officer. Within a matter of seconds, more policemen arrived at the scene and, according to eyewitnesses, started brutally attacking him. Abu Alqian was arrested and taken to the police station. Only hours later he was brought to a hospital for medical treatment (he is seriously bruised on his head and neck and suffered damage to his cornea) [not to mention his teeth]. Following an appeal to the district court, he was released to house arrest in the middle of the night. Abu Alqian moved to Tel Aviv a couple of months ago from the southern Bedouin town of Hura in order to save some money before starting to study psychology later this year. He was working two jobs, at Burger King and in a supermarket, approximately 20 hours a day, he says. The attack by the police officers threw a wrench in that plan — he says he no longer wants to return to Tel Aviv — and that is exactly where a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign stepped in … While the struggle against police violence in Israel is only in its infancy , this tiny project served as proof for many Arabs and Jews that there is hope out there. It gave Israelis a way to directly support a victim of police brutality, in a very constructive way. [BUT] While the Israeli public seems to still be shocked by Sunday’s events, according to some reports by Israeli media, the Department of Internal Police Investigations had already finished its inquiry and is about to close the case against the alleged attackers. While Mayasem was still on house arrest until Thursday and banned from Tel Aviv for another week, all the involved policemen are free.
And another one
The secret Israel will not tell / Bradley Burston
Haaretz 24 May — I watched something miraculous happen Saturday night. This is what cannot be defeated in us — Two Israeli soccer teams, one from a mostly Jewish city, the other from an Arab city, Arabs and Jews on both teams, played a game under great pressure. My beloved Hapoel Be’er Sheva was in a do-or-die situation — and came through, winning its first national championship in 40 years. Even before the game was over, the coach of Bnei Sakhnin took the (sobbing) coach of Be’er Sheva into his arms, and congratulated him. The players on both sides embraced each other. Both teams, and both cities, belong to a better world, a better land, than we’ve come, sadly, to expect. Kol Hakavod. All respect. To all of them. “This championship was something that went far beyond soccer,” Be’er Sheva Mayor Rubik Danilovich wrote when the game ended. It burst the bounds of sports, he continued, exemplifying “important values, values well worth incorporating into Israeli society.” Sounds suspect, right? A bit overblown? Not at all. You could feel it in the reactions, the tears and the respectful and loving — yes — behavior of the thousands of fans who crowded the stadium and the thousands more who watched the game on screens near city hall, or in Soroka Hospital, or in outlying villages and towns across the dry-land ocean called the Negev, fully two-thirds of the area of the state of Israel. For years, professional soccer has embodied many of the worst currents in Israeli society — virulent acts of racism and violence against innocents. Maybe it’s time we considered, just this once at least, a question we’ve all grown unused to asking: What went right here? Before all else, for nine years, one woman, coupling steely determination, a quiet genius for leadership, and an enormous reservoir of love, managed to work a profound revolution in a culture previously reserved for men. Nine years ago, when Alona Barkat took the helm of Hapoel Be’er Sheva, she was the first woman to own a pro soccer team in Israel….
What it’s really like being Arab in the ‘liberal’ city of Tel Aviv
Haaretz 24 May by Amer Dacca — The savage beating of a 19-year-old Bedouin man by police officers on Sunday made me recall my own ordeal at the hands of the police, over 20 years ago — The following are phenomena that every Arab person living in Tel Aviv will encounter on a regular basis: new acquaintances surprised by his fashionable wardrobe; the neighbor startled by the exotic-sounding name; the clerk who can’t manage to write his name on the delivery order; and the lady with the all-time classics: “You don’t look like an Arab” and, of course, “You don’t have an accent.” But lately, beyond all the unpleasantness and everyday embarrassments, the evil spirit of violence has filled the air. Even the skies of “liberal and enlightened” Tel Aviv – the city whose streets young Jaffans like your correspondent once dreamed of walking in search of innovation, freedom, security and the opportunity to connect with the modern, civilized world – are becoming increasingly dark … The case of Abu Alqian is a clear sign of the increased racism toward the disadvantaged in the city – whether that’s Ethiopians, Arabs, the LGBT community or simply “brown-skinned people,” those who don’t meet the standards of the white and golden Tel Avivian look … You can’t avoid the fact: Abu Alqian was attacked because he’s Arab – in other words, an obvious suspect. Try to imagine what he was feeling: the lost dignity; the physical pain; and the sense that there’s no chance against the hollow accusations of the officers (“He attacked first; he bit; he threatened; he didn’t identify himself”). These feelings are intensifying our daily struggle – that of my friends and acquaintances, and my family and me: the difficulty of renting an apartment, the fear of speaking Arabic publicly in case they’ll think I’m a terrorist roaming freely around Tel Aviv and, at the same time, concern that the next knife assailant will stab you because you look Israeli; the fear of not making it past the bouncers at the entrance to a nightclub; the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach just before entering Ben-Gurion International Airport, on the way to an invasive security check prior to the vacation of your dreams; and the knowledge that because you’re Arab, you earn about 30 percent less than the average in Israel….
Israel’s parliament decrees: Arabic signs in all bus stations
JPost 24 May by Ariel Ben Solomon — During the Knesset’s special debate marking Arabic Language Day on Tuesday, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said that Arabic is an official language that should not be ignored in Israeli society. Throughout the day Knesset committees and subcommittees discussed various issues related to the Arab sector, including public transportation the teaching of Arabic in schools, providing court services in Arabic, providing online government services in Arabic, and Arabic signage in mixed cities. “Despite the fact that the mother tongue of most of our citizens is Hebrew, we cannot and should not ignore the Arabic language or push it away from the public sphere or from the landscape of our lives in general,” Edelstein said. He noted that the Knesset website is accessible in Arabic. “Language is a very important bridge between cultures and nations, and I am convinced that mutual familiarity with the neighbor’s language, particularly when it comes to places with mixed populations, can significantly lower the wall of alienation,” he added. One of the changes to be made is by the Transport Ministry, which will provide signs in Arabic. Joint List MK Dov Henin (Hadash), the chairman of the subcommittee for public transportation said, “In the coming year there will appear a significant change in public transportation in Arab communities in general and accessibility of information to passengers in Arabic in particular.” In the Science and Technology Committee, a report looked at 31 government websites and concluded that around one third have no Arabic content….
Religious zealots waging a quiet revolution in Israel / Jonathan Cook
The National 22 May — In a surprise move, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week forced out his long-serving defence minister, Moshe Yaalon. As he stepped down, Mr Yaalon warned: “Extremist and dangerous elements have taken over Israel.” He was referring partly to his expected successor: Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, whose trademark outbursts have included demands to bomb Egypt and behead disloyal Palestinian citizens. But Mr Yaalon was also condemning extremism closer to home, in Mr Netanyahu’s Likud Party. Mr Yaalon is to take a break from politics. With fitting irony, his slot is to be filled on Likud’s backbenches by Yehuda Glick, a settler whose goal to destroy Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque and replace it with a Jewish temple has the potential to set the Middle East on fire. Israeli commentators pointed out that, with Mr Lieberman’s inclusion, the government will be the most extreme in Israel’s history – again … Less noticed has been the gradual and parallel takeover of Israel’s security institutions by those espousing the ideology of the settlers – known in Israel as the national-religious camp. None of this is accidental. For two decades the settlers have been targeting Israel’s key institutions. Under Mr Netanyahu’s seven-year watch as prime minister, the process has accelerated. Naftali Bennett, leader of the settler party Jewish Home and education minister, recently boasted that the national-religious camp, though only a tenth of the population, held “leadership positions in all realms in Israel”. One such success for Mr Bennett is Roni Alsheikh, who was appointed police chief late last year. He was a long-time resident of Kiryat Arba, one of the most violent settlements in the occupied territories … The other security agencies are being transformed too. Religious nationalists now hold many of the top posts in the Shin Bet intelligence service and the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency. In the army, too, the settlers are today heavily over-represented in the officers corps and combat units. For more than a decade their rabbis have dominated the army’s education corps. But, despite this rising tides, Israel’s traditional secular elite – mostly of European extraction – have desperately clung on to the top rungs of the army command.Mr Netanyahu bitterly resents their continuing control….
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Stepping up campaign against Airbnb, Palestinians urge, ‘We can’t live there, so don’t go there’
JPost 23 May by Coral Braun — Left-wing organization Jewish Voice for Peace released a YouTube video Saturday to up a joint-campaign against Airbnb’s listing of West Bank settlement homes on its vacation home rental platform. Urging travelers to steer clear of West Bank rentals, the video featured unnamed activists and Palestinians speaking out against Airbnb’s failure to “follow international law,” which, by United Nations standards, deems “Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal.” “If you go there, you’re basically collaborating with settlers who steal Palestinian land,” said one activist. “I implore you not to go to Airbnb in the settlements,” he said. The video was released as promotion for the organization’s joint campaign with several pro-Palestinian groups, titled “Stolen Homes,” which has garnered 146,104 signatories to date in an online petition. The coalition of organizations, which includes the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, claims that Airbnb, by enabling the listing of West Bank homes, promotes “structural discrimination, theft of Palestinians’ land, and direct violations of international law,” and profits off of Israel’s “continuing occupation and dispossession of Palestinians,” through its fee-based revenue model.
Hundreds of academics call to boycott genocide conference in Israel
+972 mag 23 May by Rami Younis — Nearly 270 academics from 19 countries are calling to boycott the fifth Global Conference on Genocide, set to take place on June 26-29 at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In a letter sent to the International Network of Genocide Scholars (INoGS) on May 3, the academics pointed to the hypocrisy of having the conference in Israel at a time when Israel’s actions are “increasingly being viewed through lenses of ethnic cleansing and genocide linked to settler colonialism.” According to the signatories, there are serious allegations that Israel “committed crimes against humanity” during the 2014 Gaza war. One of the signatories, John Docker, who has written extensively in the fields of genocide and massacre studies claims that such a conference cannot take place in Israel at a time when genocide studies is “actively seeking opportunities to be complicit in Israel’s flouting of international law.” INoGS has yet to respond to the letter, and the conference is set to proceed as planned….
New York county passes BDS law
NEW YORK (JPost) 25 May by Danielle Ziri — Nassau County, located on Long Island, unanimously passed a law Monday prohibiting the county from doing business with companies engaged in economic warfare against Israel. County legislator Howard Kopel, who spearheaded the effort, said he was proud to have done so and believed the law would place the county on “the right side of history.” “It is imperative that as a county, we demonstrate to other governments the importance of fighting against all practices of hatred and discrimination,” Kopel said. Avi Posnick, managing director of the New York chapter of StandWithUs, said he was “prouder than ever to live in Nassau County.” State legislators introduced a similar bill last fall. That bill would prohibit New York State from doing business with companies engaged in BDS. It has not yet been signed into law.
Israeli foreign ministry failing in fight against BDS, report says
JTA 24 May — Israel’s Foreign Ministry is badly mismanaging the fight against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, according to a state comptroller’s report. In a report released Tuesday, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira criticized the ministry for its lack of strategy and funds, according to the Times of Israel. In particular, the report blasted the ministry for mishandling communications during the 2014 Gaza war, an operation in which more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed and which spurred an outpouring of anti-Israel activity around the world. “A lack of cooperation between the Foreign Ministry and the army spokesman, and a lack of speed in getting information to the media, brought about an advocacy failure” during the war, the report said. The report also noted that Foreign Ministry efforts to improve Israel’s image in numerous communities worldwide “are lacking in their planning, management and implementation, and are failing to achieve their designated goals.” ….
Reports: Israeli delegation visits Cairo to arrange Sisi, Abbas, Netanyahu meeting
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 24 May — An Israeli delegation arrived in Cairo on Tuesday to meet with their Egyptian counterparts to arrange a meeting between the Palestinian president, Egyptian president, and Israeli prime minister, according to Israeli media, though reports were quickly denied by Palestinian sources. The delegation, which arrived in Cairo from Tel Aviv, reportedly represented the Israeli ministries of Foreign Affairs and Public Security, who met with their Egyptian counterparts to arrange a meeting between Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The delegation reportedly presented Israeli proposals to be discussed under the Egyptian president’s initiative to support the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, Israeli media said, adding that the visit also aimed to discuss security coordination in the Sinai Peninsula. However, a Palestinian source close to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations later denied the reports. The source told Ma‘an that while the Palestinian side appreciated Egypt’s role in the peace process, the Palestinian government still rejects Israel’s offers for bilateral talks, in favor of the ongoing French initiative for multilateral negotiations. Another official Palestinian source also denied that there were arrangements regarding a meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu….
Israel seeks international law rewrite
ConsortiumNews 23 May by Lawrence Davidson — Israel and its supporters are leading a charge to rewrite how international law defines crimes against humanity to create more leeway for military attacks that kill large numbers of civilians, a bitterly ironic development — The promulgation of International law addressing crimes against humanity was one of the major legal achievements resulting from World War II. As Robert Jackson, the lead American prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials put it, the crimes bred by that conflict were “so malignant, and so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.” Crimes against humanity include government-initiated or -assisted policies or practices resulting in massacre, dehumanization, unjust imprisonment, extrajudicial punishments, torture, racial/ethnic persecution, and other such acts. In reference to the last-cited crime, in 1976 the United Nations General Assembly declared the systematic persecution of one racial group by another (for instance, the practice of apartheid) to be a crime against humanity. Given the origins of this body of law, it comes as a shock that there are now a number of countries that would like to weaken, and perhaps even do away with, this category of law. These states claim that terrorism, and the so-called war against it, have changed the international environment so greatly that laws designed to protect us all from crimes against humanity are now tying the hands of those who regard terrorism as the present greatest threat to civilization. While this argument may have some headway with certain governments and populations, it is a distortion of facts and a mangling of history. The vast majority of crimes against humanity require a level of organization and force only found with the state … The fact that Israel is among those states, perhaps the main state, attempting to do away with the laws protecting us all from crimes against humanity should come as yet another shock. How can a state that loudly proclaims that its reason for being is the protection of all Jews, seek to undermine laws that were, in good part, promulgated in response to the brutal persecution of Jews? Part of the answer to this question may have to do with the fact that Israel does not represent all Jews, but only those who adhere to the Zionist ideology – the ideology of the Israeli state – and it is with the well-being of these Jews that the state appears most concerned….
‘We became subcontractors to the occupation’: B’Tselem ends work with Israeli army
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 May — After 25 years of accountability work in the occupied West Bank, Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem announced on Wednesday its decision to discontinue their strategy of holding Israeli forces accountable for their crimes against Palestinians through internal military mechanisms. Representatives of the organization, which focuses on collecting information and documenting Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, called their complicity in Israel’s military mechanisms “morally unacceptable,” in a press briefing on Tuesday. According to a new report released by the organization, the inefficiency of Israeli military mechanisms to provide justice for Palestinian victims led the organization to label their accountability activities as a “whitewash machine” for the continuation of the nearly 50-year Israeli military occupation of the West Bank. “B’Tselem has gradually come to the realization that the way in which the military law enforcement system functions precludes it from the very outset from achieving justice for the victims. Nonetheless, the very fact that the system exists serves to convey a semblance of law enforcement and justice,” the report stated. The report argued that the veneer of legal legitimacy “makes it easier to reject criticism about the injustices of the occupation, thanks to the military’s outward pretense that even it considers some acts unacceptable, and backs up this claim by saying that it is already investigating these actions.” Since the start of the second intifada in late 2000, of the 739 complaints filed by B’Tselem of Palestinians being killed, injured, used as human shields, or having their property damaged by Israeli forces, roughly 70 percent resulted in an investigation where no action was taken, or in an investigation never being opened. Only three percent of cases resulted in charges being brought against the soldiers, according to the report….
ILO: Peace process vital to Palestinian economy crippled by Israeli occupation
Ma‘an 25 May — The continuation of the peace process is a fundamental condition for economic development, work opportunities, and social justice in Palestine, as the decades-long military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the nine-year blockade on the Gaza Strip continues to constrict the Palestinian economy, according to a new report released Wednesday by the International Labor Organization (ILO). The upsurge in violence and punitive measures implemented against Palestinians in 2015 intensified hardships across the occupied territory, as fundamental rights were continually violated and restricted, the report stated, adding that a renewal in the development of multilateral frameworks for a peace process was essential to easing economic stagnation in Palestine … According to the report, the Palestinian labor force reached 1.3 million in 2015, 3.5 percent higher than in 2014, while total employment grew by 5 percent. Unemployment dropped from 27 percent in 2014 to 25.9 percent in 2015. However, the report underscored that these changes were “not indicative of a tangibly healthier labor market.” The report reflected an increase of Palestinians employed on illegal Israeli settlements, with an increase of employment of 5.1 percent with some 115,000 Palestinians from the West Bank employed on a settlement, representing 11.6 percent of total Palestinian employment. The report highlighted that the relief of unemployment rates in 2015 was largely attributed to changes in Israel’s permit system for Palestinians which lowered the minimum age from 24 to 22 and removed the requirement of having children in order to work in Israel or an illegal settlement….
Islamic Jihad: PA arresting operatives in West Banki to ‘rein in the intifada’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 May — The Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant movement accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Tuesday of carrying out “politically motivated” arrest campaigns against its operatives in the occupied West Bank. In a statement received by Ma‘an, Islamic Jihad said that “a number of our brothers have been recently arrested in the Jenin, Ramallah and Bethlehem districts” by PA security forces. The statement added that a number of Islamic Jihad members were also summoned for questioning. Islamic Jihad claimed the wave of detentions was part of the PA’s ongoing security coordination with Israel in an attempt “to rein in the intifada.” In April, Hamas, the leading party in the besieged Gaza Strip’s de facto government, cast similar accusations against the Palestinian Authority, charging it with adopting a “revolving door policy” funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons. The Fatah-dominated PA and Israeli forces have worked in coordination since the Oslo Accords in 1993, which planned for a gradual power transfer of the occupied West Bank from Israeli forces to the PA over the course of five years.
Abbas: Israeli occupation prevents PA from hosting refugees
ISTANBUL (Ma‘an) 24 May — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a speech on Tuesday morning that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would be ready to host thousands of refugees that have been displaced by violence in Syria and across the region, were it not for Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory. In a speech at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Abbas pointed out that Palestinian governmental and nongovernmental organizations have taken part in international humanitarian relief works, sending delegations to countries hit by natural disasters, “despite occupation and scarcity of resources” in the Palestinian territory….
Refugee camp committees shut down Nablus-area UNRWA officdes over aid changes
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 24 May — The popular committees of Palestinian refugee camps in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus shut down at least two UNRWA offices in the area on Monday to protest the UN agency’s decision to replace its food distribution program with a cash card system. In April, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees decided to halt its food distribution program in the camps and replace it with a cash card system, causing concern among UNRWA’s Palestinian employees, who say the move would jeopardize the jobs of 300 to 400 people who work at the organization’s distribution centers. Instead of the $111 per year that had been provided to refugees in the form of a food basket, UNRWA’s new program would provide $130 per year via cash card, in four cycles annually, to some 36,129 people, according to the UN agency. A spokesperson for the committees, Husni Odeh, told Ma‘an that the office would be shut down for one day as a warning step before the committees took “additional steps in the coming few days.” Odeh said that the committees had asked to discuss the transition with UNRWA, but that the agency’s administration had refused to talk with them….
Apple backtracks on Gaza war game controversy
Develop-Online 23 May by James Batchelor — Liyla and the Shadows of War will now be released in the App Store’s Games category — Good news for Rasheed Abueideh: Apple has agreed that his mobile game is actually a game. The Palestinian developer encountered problems last week when the iOS platform holder demanded that he remove his latest release, Liyla and the Shadows of War, from the Games section of the App Store and reclassify as it Reference or News. The adventure title focuses on a young girl in the war-torn region of Gaza, although it’s still unclear if Apple objected to the political nature of the subject matter or genuinely didn’t believe it to be enough of a game to meet the App Store’s standards, according to Eurogamer. However, after the case hit headlines last week and gathered support via social media, Apple has since relented and agreed to include Lilya in the Games category. Abueideh expressed his gratitude via Twitter:
Story of cities #49: The long road to Rawabi, Palestine’s first planned city
The Guardian 24 May — Is this privately financed city project in the heart of occupied West Bank a momentous trailblazer, or a colossal folly? Harriet Sherwood pays a visit — In a hi-vis jacket and jeans, Shadia Jaradat pauses on a tour of Rawabi, a new city rising out of a West Bank hill, to point up at the top floor of an apartment block. “That one is mine,” she says with visible pride, before continuing her exposition of Rawabi’s considerable merits. This privately financed city project in the heart of occupied West Bank symbolises both a possible future for the beleaguered Palestinian people and a microcosm of the obstacles they face. That it has got this far in a place under military rule for almost half a century, and in the teeth of obstruction, controversy and criticism, is a testament to the vision of its founder and driving force, Basher al-Masri. Civil engineer Jaradat is one of a team of young women professionals helping to build Rawabi. She has also made this $1.2bn (£825m) paean to contemporary urban planning her home, countering a long tradition which dictates that Palestinian women stay with their parents until they marry, after which they move in with their in-laws….
Time to end the ‘hasbara’: Palestinian media and the search for a common story / Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle 25 May — Merely being in the company of hundreds of Palestinian journalists and other media professionals from all over the world has been an uplifting experience. For many years, Palestinian media has been on the defensive, unable to articulate a coherent message, torn between factions and desperately trying to fend off the Israeli media campaign, along with its falsifications and unending propaganda or ‘hasbara’. It is still too early to claim any kind of paradigm shift, but the second Tawasol Conference in Istanbul, which took place 18 to 19 May, served as an opportunity to consider the vastly changing media landscape, and to highlight the challenges and the opportunities facing Palestinians in their uphill battle. Not only are Palestinians expected to demolish many years of Israeli disinformation, predicated on a make-believe historical discourse that has been sold to the world as fact, but also to construct their own lucid narrative that is free from the whims of factions and personal gains. It will not be easy, of course. My message in the “Palestine in the Media” conference, organized by the Palestine International Forum for Media and Communication is that, if the Palestinian leadership is failing to achieve political unity, at least Palestinian intellectuals must insist on the unity of their narrative. Even the most compromising of Palestinians can acknowledge the centrality of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the destruction of their towns and villages in 1947-48….