Settlers break camera of Palestinian who documented notorious killing in Hebron

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Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Video: Settlers assault a Palestinian videographer in Hebron, wounding him in the head, while soldiers look on
B’Tselem press release 5 May — Yesterday, 4 May 2016, at around 5:00 PM, Raed Abu a-Rmeileh, 42, Saher Jaber, 23 and Abd a-Razeq a-Salaymeh, 48, were making their way home after having closed their stalls in the Hebron market. According to the testimony Saher Jaber gave to B’Tselem, after the three men had crossed the al-Mahkameh checkpoint and were on their way to the ‘Abed checkpoint, near al-Haram al-Ibrahimi (the Tomb of the Patriarchs), they came across three settlers who had a dog with them, and used it to scare two Palestinian girls who were walking on the street. Raed Abu a-Rmeileh, a former volunteer with B’Tselem’s camera project, lifted his camera to document the settlers’ actions. In response, the settlers attacked him and his friend even before he began filming. One of the settlers hit Abu a-Rmeileh hard on the head with an unopened drink can. He fell to the ground….

Video: Extremist settlers attack Palestinian human rights activists in Hebron

HEBRON (Ma‘an) 8 May – A group of extremist Israeli settlers on Saturday attacked two Palestinian human rights activists in the Tel Rumeida area in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, video footage showed. Human Rights Defenders spokesperson Badee Dweik told Ma‘an that settlers attacked Emad Abu Shamsiya and Yasser Abu Markhiya, who work with the group’s Hebron office. The two were taking footage of extremist settlers carrying rods near Palestinian homes in Tel Rumeida in Hebron’s Old City. Abu Shamsiya, who serves as coordinator of the group in Hebron, said the settlers “were preparing to attack and intimidate Palestinian residents, especially children,” and that he rushed toward the scene with Abu Markhiya after they heard children screaming. Their video shows a group of three settlers, two boys and one adult, begin to pass by. The adult settler can be heard saying in Hebrew, “if you take footage of me I’m going to kill you.” The children approach Abu Shamsiya and Abu Markhiya and order them to put down the camera before the adult strikes Abu Shamsiya. “They punched me and broke my camera,” Abu Shamsiya told Ma‘an, highlighted that Israeli soldiers were watching when the settlers attacked him and his colleague without intervening. Dweik told Ma’an that attacks by Israeli settlers and Israeli soldiers against activists attempting to document settler attacks on Palestinian residents have increased recently, especially after footage captured by Abu Shamsiya in March of an Israeli soldier shooting and killing Abd al-Fatah al-Sharif while he was lying motionless on the ground stoked widespread international criticism.

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian worker trying to cross separation wall
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 May — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian in the Wadi al-Hummus neighborhood east of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank as he tried to reach Jerusalem through Israel’s separation wall. Witnesses told Ma‘an that the man [IMEMC: Nabil Shehada Sabarna, 27, from Beit Ummar] was shot in the leg on Sunday while he was trying to pass the separation wall from outskirts of the village of Dar Salah to work in Jerusalem. He was evacuated to the al-Hussein public hospital in Beit Jala. Locals said the man was from the Bethlehem area … Dar Salah local council member Othman Salah said that nine Palestinian workers had been shot and injured in the village over the past few days while trying to pass through the separation wall to Jerusalem. He added that Israeli soldiers fire gunshots and tear gas canisters every morning at the village’s houses near the separation wall as they chase workers attempting to enter Jerusalem. Debilitating poverty and lack of employment drives many workers in the occupied West Bank to enter Israel unlawfully by slipping through gaps in Israel’s separation wall. The section of the separation wall near the villages of Dar Salah, al-Khass, and al-Nuaman is secured only by chain fences, which makes it easier for workers to cross stealthily.

Israeli soldiers, vandals attack peaceful Palestinian gathering
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 8 May — Israeli occupation soldiers and settlers on Saturday attacked a peaceful Palestinian event to reclaim land in eastern Bethlehem province. Coordinator for the Bethlehem popular resistance committee, Hassan Brijiyeh, said farmers of Jub al-Theib village, to the east of Bethlehem, managed to reach their lands from which they had been forced out for over 15 years and tried to reclaim the tracts in cooperation with the popular resistance committees, human rights institutions, and international activists. The settlers cracked down on the Palestinian farmers and campaigners shortly before the occupation army intervened and forced the farmers out of their own lands. The Palestinian natives of the Jub al-Theib village have increasingly been subjected to the attacks launched by Israeli extremist settlers residing in nearby illegal settlement outposts. The Israeli occupation authorities have also been depriving the village from a water and power network along with educational facilities.

Bodies of Palestinian siblings killed after alleged stabbing attempt at Qalandiyah to undergo autopsy
Haaretz 9 May by Jack Khoury — Forensics experts will autopsy the bodies of siblings Maram Ismail, 26, and Ibrahim Taha, 16, shot to death at Qalandiyah checkpoint last month by private security guards after one of them allegedly threw a knife at Israeli forces. The autopsy is scheduled to take place on Tuesday. Naila Attiya, the family’s lawyer, said the family has no objections to the autopsy as long as the bodies are handed over for burial immediately afterwards. The family is also demanding to see security camera footage of the events. Israel has refused both requests. The Taha family, citing witnesses, has contested Israel’s version of events of the April 27 shootings … Israeli police said at the time that at least one of the two had pulled out a knife or thrown one, and that they both refused orders to come to a halt at the checkpoint. Police later said that private security guards rather than police had shot the two and that they were looking into the possibility the shooting was carried out in violation of regulations. On Thursday a judge imposed a gag order on the details of the investigation. Guards hired from private security firms by the Public Security Ministry are routinely assigned to checkpoints leading from the West Bank into Israel, working alongside police, border police and army troops. Most of the private guards don’t come in contact with the Palestinian population at the checkpoints. They are generally stationed behind concrete positions and are there to protect the police and army personnel.

Israel restricts funeral attendance to 30 after 6-month delay in returning body
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 May – Israeli forces after midnight Monday returned the body of 37-year-old Muhammad Abed Nimr from the ‘Issawiya neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem who was shot dead in November after he allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli border policeman in Jerusalem’s Old City. Only 30 family members were allowed to partake in Nimr’s funeral at al-Mujahidin cemetery in the Old City, said lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud of prisoners’ rights group Addameer, who attended the funeral. Mahmoud said a large number of Israeli forces were deployed around Salah Addin Street and Bab al-Sahira (Herod’s gate) as Nimr’s body was delivered to the family. The Israeli Supreme Court ordered Israeli intelligence last week to return all bodies of Palestinians still being held before the holy month of Ramadan that begins in June, Mahmoud told Ma‘an, following an appeal submitted by Addameer in March to release the bodies. “Only doctors and anatomy experts can determine whether there have been any organ thefts,” Mahmoud added. Despite his deep grief, Nimr’s father said the family felt some relief after months of suffering and waiting. “I wish that all martyrs detained by Israel will be returned and buried in the coming few days,” he added. Eleven bodies of Jerusalemite Palestinians are still held by the Israeli intelligence, five of whom have been detained since October 2015.

IOA expels wife of Jerusalemite prisoner from holy city
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 6 May — The Israeli occupation police on Friday banished the wife of a Jerusalemite prisoner from the holy city at the pretext of illegal residency. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center stated that the Israeli police deported 36-year-old Rania al-Abbasi from Jerusalem on allegations that she had a Palestinian ID and not one issued by the Israeli authorities. The center added that Abbasi was kidnapped on Thursday evening from her husband’s home in Ras al-Amud neighborhood and held for several hours at the Israeli police center in Salahuddin street before she was expelled out of the city through al-Zeituna checkpoint. Her husband, Alaa al-Abbasi, has been in jail since 2002 serving a 66-year prison term.
In a separate incident, Israeli policemen arrested on the same day 24-year-old Ahmed Qambaz during his presence inside the Aqsa Mosque and took him to a nearby police center. Earlier, a 17-year-old girl was kidnapped from her home in Attur neighborhood, east of Jerusalem, on a charge of inciting to violence on her Facebook page.

Soldiers kidnap two Palestinians in Jenin
IMEMC 7 May — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, Friday, two young Palestinian men from Ya‘bad town, southwest of the northern West Bank city of Jenin …  Media source in Jenin said several Israeli army vehicles invaded Ya‘bad town, and drove around in various streets and neighborhoods, while conducting provocative acts. The sources added that the soldiers also invaded and ransacked several homes, and kidnapped two Palestinians, identified as Ahmad Soury Herzallah, 20, and Naseem Mustafa Bilal, 19. In related news, the soldiers detained four Palestinians from Sielet al-Harethiyya, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, while picnicking in Marj Ben Amer Meadow area, west of Jenin. Resident Yahya Abdul-Halim Khalil, 19, told the WAFA Palestinian News Agency said the soldiers detained him, and three of his friends, while picnicking in the area, and threatened to kill them should they return.

Soldiers kidnap seven Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 8 May — Updated: Israeli soldiers kidnapped, late on Saturday at night and early on Sunday at dawn, at least seven Palestinians from the West Bank districts of Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and Tulkarem. The soldiers stationed at military roadblock #300, at the northern entrance of Bethlehem, stopped a Palestinian car and kidnapped Morad Mustafa Hammad, 24, who was heading back home from Jerusalem. Hammad, 23, is from the ‘Aida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem; he was cuffed and blindfolded before the soldiers took him to a detention center for interrogation. The soldiers also invaded Teqoua‘ [or Tuqu‘] town, east of Bethlehem, and summoned Omar Taleb al-Badan, 28, for interrogation in the Gush Etzion military base, south of  Bethlehem. The soldiers also searched his property, causing damage. In related news, the soldiers broke into a number of homes in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and kidnapped Mo’tasem and his brother Saqer Mustafa al-Qawasmi. In the central West Bank district of Ramallah, the soldiers invaded and searched several homes, interrogated many Palestinians, and kidnapped three, identified as Omar Abdul-Qader Hijaz, 21, his brother Hisham Abdul-Qader Hijaz, 24, and Khaled Tawfiq Ibrahim, 32. In the northern West bank district of Tulkarem, several army jeeps invaded ‘Atteel town, north of Tulkarem city, and kidnapped Mahmoud Rateb Abu Salem, 37, after violently searching his home. [Ma‘an adds: Murad Mustafa Hammad was detained at the entrance of Jericho in the central West Bank for allegedly having a knife earlier Saturday, PPS said.]

Army kidnaps seven Palestinians in Bethlehem, one in Jenin
IMEMC 9 May — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday at dawn, the towns of al-Khader and Beit Fajjar, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, searched and ransacked many homes, and kidnapped seven Palestinians … The soldiers surrounded the al-Khader town before invading it, stormed and searched many homes, and interrogated several Palestinians. The soldiers then kidnapped six teenagers, identified as Zeineddin Sayel Issa, 18, Qassem Yassin Issa, 18, Hussein Issa, 18, Ahmad Issa, 18, Rabea’ Issa, 18, and Ali Issa, 18. In addition, the soldiers kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Eyad Ahmad Taqatqa, 20, from his home in Beit Fajjar. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers invaded the town through its eastern and western parts, and were extensively deployed around the Red Mosque, before storming and searching several homes.
In related news, the soldiers stormed and searched many homes in Shiokh al-‘Arroub town, northeast of Hebron, and installed many roadblocks on main roads leading to Sa‘ir and Halhoul towns, in addition to Hebron’s northern entrance. The soldiers stopped many cars and searched them, and investigated the ID cards of dozens of Palestinians, while questioning many of them. Furthermore, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said that the soldiers kidnapped a Palestinian identified as Raed Mahmoud Mer’ey, 22, from Sielet al-Harethiyya town, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, after stopping him at a roadblock, southwest of the village. The soldiers also stopped and searched dozens of cars, and interrogated many Palestinians while examining ID cards.

Israeli forces target 2 female students, detain 14 other Palestinians in West Bank raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 May — Israeli forces stormed the central West Bank town of Birzeit north of Ramallah overnight Sunday targeting two female students and detained at least 14 other Palestinians during raids across the occupied Palestinian territory. Locals told Ma’an Israeli forces detained a young Palestinian woman, identified as Alaa Assaf who studies engineering at Birzeit University. Israeli forces stormed the Assaf family’s house, damaging the interior, before taking Alaa to an unknown location. Meanwhile, the Israeli authorities delivered a military order to another female student from Birzeit University, identified by locals as Asmaa Qadah, and banned her from entering the city of Ramallah and the town of Birzeit for five months. Israeli forces recently released Qadah after she served several months in custody….

5,677 Palestinians arrested since last October
GAZA (PIC) 8 May — The Studies and Documentation unit at detainees and ex-detainees committee in Gaza Strip revealed that the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested 5,677 Palestinians since October, 01, 2015 until the end of April this year. Abdunnaser Farwana, head of the unit, said that the Israeli arrests included males and females of different ages including 3,508 cases in the West Bank, 1,872 in Occupied Jerusalem, 169 in 1948 Occupied Palestine and 128 in Gaza Strip. Farwana called on the international community to provide international protection for the Palestinian captives and to put an end to the Israeli daily arrests and aggressive practices against detainees, which run contrary to the international law.

Prisoners / Court actions

Israeli Islamic cleric starts nine-month prison term
AFP 8 May — Israeli Arab Muslim leader Raed Salah started a nine-month prison sentence on Sunday for fomenting riots at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque. Salah was accompanied by about 100 well-wishers, including Israeli Arab lawmakers, as he arrived at the prison in the city of Beersheba in southern Israel’s Negev desert, an AFP journalist said. At a farewell rally earlier in his home town of Umm al-Faham, in the north of the country, he exchanged hugs with supporters, local news agency Q-Press, considered close to the Islamic Movement, reported. “It is an honour for me to enter prison to defend and protect Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem,” it quoted him as saying. “I enter prison by the will of God, not the will of Netanyahu.” Salah leads the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered banned last year after accusing it of encouraging violent protest that contributed to the October outbreak of a wave of unrest that has so far killed 203 Palestinians and 28 Israelis …  Salah has previously spent time in Israeli prisons for offences ranging from incitement to spitting on a policeman to funding Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas. His latest jail spell comes after the Israeli Supreme Court last month denied him leave to appeal against convictions for incitement to violence and racism. The convictions stem from a 2007 rally against Israeli construction work near the Al-Aqsa compound, in which he urged “all Muslims and Arabs (to) start an intifada (uprising) to support holy Jerusalem and the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque.”In clashes with Israeli police which followed, a number of officers were injured. The protests reflected fears among Muslims that Israel was planning to change rules governing the site, the third holiest in Islam….

Trial starts for Israeli soldier in killing of Palestinian
JAFFA, Israel (AP) 9 May — An Israeli soldier went on trial before a military court on Monday, charged with manslaughter after he was caught on video fatally shooting a wounded Palestinian attacker in the West Bank two months ago. The rare case of an active serviceman being charged has polarized Israel, with defense officials criticizing the soldier’s conduct and large segments of the Israeli public rallying behind him. The hearings opened Monday before the military court in the coastal city of Jaffa where Sgt. Elor Azaria sat in the defendant’s bench as his mother wrapped her arms around him to comfort him. At the time of the March incident, the military said two Palestinians had been shot and killed while carrying out a stabbing attack that wounded an Israeli soldier. But a video released later by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem showed one of the attackers still alive after the initial shooting and Azaria firing at his head. An autopsy determined the shot to the head was the cause of death … Palestinians have accused Israel of using excessive force against attackers who have already been halted or wounded, and in some cases, of killing innocent civilians. Activists have released a handful of amateur videos supporting the Palestinian claims, but the Hebron shooting is perhaps the strongest evidence of Israeli wrongdoing so far….


Toddlers burn to death in Gaza blaze blamed on power cuts
[with photos] AL-SHATI REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza (MEE) 7 May by Mohammed Omer — The toddlers’ bed stands in the middle of the ash-scorched and smoke-stained room. Next to it lie the bodies of Yousra, aged three, Rahaf, aged two, and Naser al-Hindi, six months old, who all burnt to death here. The three bodies are distorted and unrecognisable. A few scorched toys are scattered around them while their heartbroken father, Mohammed al-Hindi, looks on in shock, hardly able to accept they are really his children. Walking through the once colourful small apartment in al-Shati, one of the poorest refugee camps in Gaza, it is almost impossible to tell which room was once the kitchen, the bedroom and the toilet because everything has melted into one. When the building caught fire late on Friday night, no one living nearby was able to break in, with neighbours eventually smashing a hole through the wall in a failed attempt to rescue the children. The deaths of the children has enraged local residents who believe that the fire is a cruel consequence of the impact of the decade-long blockade by Israel and Egypt and a local power struggle between Hamas and Fatah which has made living conditions increasingly intolerable. The incident has also reminded Gazans of the case of a family in the eastern city of Shejayeh who were burnt to death in a fire caused by a candle three years ago. Mahmood Dhier, 32, his wife Samar, and their four children, Mahmoud, six, Nabil, five, Farah, four, and Qamar, four months, all died in the blaze. According to the mother of the children, Nida’a al-Hindi, the fire started when a candle fell onto a mattress and set the room alight as the three toddlers slept. Al-Hindi has two older children who survived the fire. The family had spent Friday afternoon at the beach at Gaza’s fishing harbour before returning home hungry and exhausted, al-Hindi said. She lit the candle in the children’s room before going off to find some food for them to eat. By the time she had returned with macaroni and milk and prepared the food the three younger children were asleep while her oldest son Muhannad was also inside. Al-Hindi then went to sit outside with her other son, Ali. “My son asked me to sit outside with him for a bit, as he is frightened of the rats running inside the bedroom,” she told Middle East Eye, wailing and sobbing as sat beside the bodies of her children on the floor of a makeshift morgue at Gaza’s Shifa hospital. Moments later, she heard Muhannad screaming “Mum, Mum!” and ran back inside, not knowing what was going on. “I found him burning and my three other children burning, too,” she said. “Nasser was burning in front of my eyes, but I could do nothing to save him.” The only one she could save as the fire took hold was Muhannad. “I dragged him to his feet, otherwise, he would be dead now,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief. At the hospital, al-Hindi had begged to be allowed to see her children. “I know they are burned, let me kiss them for the last time, before you bury them!” she screamed, her pain beyond words. She was taken to see them but only after the bodies had been wrapped in Palestinian flags and prepared for burial, their names written on the flags in red ink….

Hamas: Israel and its ‘accomplices’ responsible for death of three siblings in Gaza fire
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 May — A senior Hamas official blamed Israel and its “accomplices” — an implicit jab at the Palestinian Authority — for the house fire that killed three siblings and left three others seriously burned on Friday night in al-Shati refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. On Saturday during the funeral for the three children, Ismail Haniyeh said: “The enemy’s warplanes have been burning lands and houses, while Israel’s crippling siege imposed on Gaza and its accomplices are now burning our children.” The house fire was caused by candles that the family used during a power cut, Gaza’s civil defense services told Ma‘an Friday. Local medical sources identified the victims as three-year-old Yusra Muhammad Abu Hindi, two-year-old Rahaf Muhammad Abu Hindi, and two-month-old Nasser Muhammad Abu Hindi. “Should Gaza — whose people live under a crippling blockade — be blamed?” he asked, likely implying that Hamas, the Gaza Strip’s de facto ruling party, could not be held responsible for the besieged coastal enclave’s energy crisis. “Who has been taking $70 million dollars a month in taxes from Gaza? Who has been collecting fuel taxes? Who refused to enlarge the power supply from Egypt to the Gaza Strip and refused to build a pipeline to provide Gaza’s power station with gas to increase its capacity?” Haniyeh continued, listing a set of policy decisions imposed by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Spokesperson for the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip Ashraf al-Qidra also said Friday that “those responsible for the Gaza siege” were tacitly responsibly for the fire. He warned of possible similar atrocities as Gaza residents continue to use candles and other alternatives in light of the continuous power cuts. Later on Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas telephoned the bereaved family to offer condolences. Governor of Gaza City Abdullah al-Ifranji told the official Palestinian news agency Wafa that Abbas also ordered the relevant officials to provide financial support to help rebuild the family’s house which was completely destroyed by the fire.

Dozens gather in Gaza City to protest electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 May – Dozens of residents of the Gaza Strip rallied in Gaza City on Sunday to protest the ongoing electricity crisis and dire living conditions in the besieged coastal enclave. The protesters gathered at the Unknown Soldier Square in the center of the city holding posters denouncing the ongoing tax dispute between Gaza’s de facto ruling party Hamas and the Fatah-lead Palestinian Authority (PA), urging the rivals to take serious steps towards restoring national unity. The protest was organized to show solidarity with the Abu Hindi family, after their three small children died in a house fire Friday caused by candles the family used to light their apartment during a regular power cut. Speaking at a news conference during the protest, a senior official of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine blamed the Palestinian national consensus government, the Palestinian Energy Authority, and Gaza’s electricity company for the tragedy that befell the Abu Hindi family. He added that Gaza’s electrical grids should be temporarily connected to Israeli line 161 until a pipeline is built to provide gas for Gaza’s power plant instead of diesel.

Cautious calm prevails in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 6 May — The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) withdrew from Gaza’s eastern border areas on Friday afternoon after carrying out several limited incursions over the past three days. The PIC reporter said that Israeli military vehicles, which had moved 100 meters into Gaza’s border lands, withdrew completely from the Strip, while Israeli drones continued to fly over the area.

Hamas military base damaged in latest Israeli air strikes
MEE/Agencies 7 May — Israeli aircraft hit two Hamas targets in Gaza early Saturday in response to rocket fire, the army said, as the worst flare-up of violence since a 2014 war entered a fourth day. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket launch and most such fire since 2014 has been carried out by fringe militant groups, but Israel holds Hamas responsible for all such attacks.”Earlier today [Saturday … a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel,” the army said in a statement. “In response … aircraft targeted two Hamas terror infrastructures in the southern Gaza Strip.” Hamas security sources said the retaliatory raid hit two brickworks in the southern city of Khan Younis, causing damage but no casualties. But witnesses said two missiles hit a base of Hamas’s military wing east of the city, causing significant damage.

Defense sources assess: Calm is returning to Gaza border
JPost 7 May by Yaakov Lappin — The Israel Air Force struck two Hamas targets in southern Gaza early Saturday in response to a rocket attack hours earlier on the Eshkol region. The rocket, which triggered warning sirens in the area, exploded in an uninhabited area and caused no injuries. The IDF said it held Hamas responsible for the attack. Still, defense sources on Saturday evening said the latest escalation appears to be coming to an end. Over the weekend, Hamas halted its cross-border mortar attacks on IDF units that are searching for attack tunnels … Haniyeh said mediators from Egypt, Qatar, Turkey and the United Nations had been working to restore calm along Gaza’s border. Meanwhile, MK Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid), a former director of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), said Saturday that in addition to counter-tunnel measures, Israel should seek to ease the economic situation for ordinary Gazans. He called on the government to “open [new] horizons that will indicate to Gazan residents that an easier and more comfortable future awaits.”….

Media promote Israeli distortions as civilians dodge airstrikes in Gaza
EIectronic Intifada 7 May by Rania Khalek — In recent days, has Israel launched a series of aggressive military actions in the besieged Gaza Strip, killing a Palestinian woman and injuring several other people, including three children. And like clockwork, mainstream Western media swooped in to throw the narrative in Israel’s favor, brushing aside Israel’s relentless violations of the Gaza ceasefire and its killings of dozens of civilians in the besieged territory. But first, the facts. –Israel started it– As is almost always the case, the Israeli military initiated the latest round of violence with ground incursions into Gaza as part of a supposed mission to destroy cross-border tunnels. This is the same pretext Israel used to justify its ferocious military assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014, which killed 2,251 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians, 551 of them children. The independent inquiry commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council into the 2014 assault found that Hamas “tunnels were only used to conduct attacks directed at IDF [Israeli army] positions in Israel in the vicinity of the Green Line [the Israel-Gaza boundary], which are legitimate military targets.” Despite this, Israel continued to whip up fears – often aided by pliant outlets such as The New York Times – about Palestinian “terror tunnels” leading into kindergartens, as a way to justify Israel’s cruelty towards Gaza. The Israeli army claims to have located such a tunnel in recent days based on information it says it extracted from a captured member of Hamas. It is also possible that Israel is using this as an opportunity to test out anti-tunnel technology it has been developing with a $120 million grant from the US administration of President Barack Obama. Hamas insists the tunnel Israel discovered is old and predates the 2014 war. The Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz cited senior Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk, explaining that Israeli forces had been attempting to “set new facts on the ground 150 meters inside Gaza which he said ‘compelled resistance forces to intervene.’” The Israeli army said that Hamas fired “more than five mortar rounds at forces during operational activities adjacent to the security fence with the Gaza Strip.” According to the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, since 3 May, Israeli forces had made incursions into two separate areas near the Gaza boundary to a distance of up to 300 meters into the territory. It called the incursions – which Israel’s military spokesperson acknowledged – a “clear violation of the ceasefire agreement in 2014 and a new aggression on the Gaza Strip.” Palestinians have every reason to be concerned about Israel trying to expand its self-declared “buffer zone” inside the boundary with Gaza. This is an area extending hundreds of meters into Gaza where Israel has killed and injured dozens of Palestinians in recent years who were simply trying to grow essential food supplies on their farmland….

Israeli forces open fire on shepherds in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 May — Israeli forces opened fire on a group of Palestinian shepherds on Saturday on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City. Witnesses told Ma‘an that gunshots were heard coming from Israeli military watchtowers near the Nahal Oz military base. No casualties were reported … The recent incident comes amid four consecutive days of airstrikes and shellings on the besieged enclave that have so far killed a Palestinian woman and injured several others.

Israel forces open fire on Palestinian farmers in southern Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 8 May — Israeli forces on Sunday morning opened fire on Palestinian farmers in the southern Gaza Strip, local sources said. Locals told Ma‘an Israeli forces deployed east of Khan Yunis opened fire on farmers, preventing them from reaching their lands. No injuries were reported.

Israeli soldiers open fire on Palestinian farmers in southern Gaza
IMEMC 9 May by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers, stationed across the border fence, opened fired earlier on Monday on a number of Palestinian farmers in their own agricultural lands east of Khuza‘a town, east of Khan Younis city, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Media sources said the soldiers, stationed on military towers across the border fence, east of Khuza‘a, fired dozens of live rounds towards the farmers, forcing them to leave their lands; no injuries were reported.

Islamic Jihad denies reports of ‘understanding’ with Israeli army in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 8 May — Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad denied on Sunday reports that it had an “understanding” with Israel allowing Israeli forces to operate hundreds of meters inside the besieged Gaza Strip. Islamic Jihad leader Khalid al-Batsh said in a statement that recent reports by Israeli media were “completely untrue,” adding that “the Palestinian team has unequivocally rejected this request” to allow Israeli military incursions into the blockaded Palestinian enclave during talks in Cairo after the devastating 2014 war. Al-Batsh added that the Palestinian refusal was a reason behind continued Israeli aggression in Gaza …  “We reiterate our total rejection of this proposal, and we do not accept the concept of a buffer zone in the eastern [Gaza] Strip,” al-Batsh said, calling on all Palestinian fighters to fight off any Israeli attempts at crossing the borderline.

Letter from Gaza: ‘War was never over’
GAZA (Al Jazeera) 8 May — Palestinian doctor and journalist Belal Aldabbour reflects on the implications of increased tensions in Gaza  — The piercing voice of Umm Kulthum reverberated over the noise of the engine. I asked the taxi driver, a bespectacled man in his late 20s, to change to a news station, as Israel had been  pounding  Gaza over the past few days. “Why bother?” he snapped. “Enjoy the music. When the war breaks out, booms will tell.” One thing is certain: Palestinians in Gaza live in a constant state of uncertainty, fear and helplessness, brought about by Israel’s impunity in the previous three wars and international silence towards a decade-long siege and occupation that seems it will never end. To the majority of Palestinians in Gaza, the question is no longer if, but rather when the next Israeli onslaught will materialise. Israeli threats against Gaza have been unabated and, almost two years after the 2014 assault, Palestinians still die and are occupied, besieged and divided . Over the last year, Israel killed almost 30 Palestinians in Gaza, wounded over 800 and arrested dozens. Its tanks rolled into Gaza about 50 times. Meanwhile, the siege is still intact and even worse than before: Medical patients die waiting for an Israeli permit, Rafah rarely opens, and the Gaza rebuilding process is proceeding at a snail’s pace … Palestinian farmers have received one of the most devastating blows, as an arbitrary third of Gaza’s agricultural land has been swallowed by the Israeli-imposed buffer zone. Farmers are exposed to constant machine fire from automatic towers that – within changeable, undisclosed ranges – target any moving object. Yet, scores of metres beyond the armistice line, Israeli farmers are allowed to plough, plant and prosper. Recently, Israel has been attempting a de facto no-grow zone. Those Palestinian farmers wallow in doubt because they do not know when Israeli planes will spray their farms with toxins, set their crops ablaze or invade and bulldoze….

Rising from ruins: Gaza’s engineers use ashes to make bricks
(Al Jazeera) 8 May — Two Palestinian female engineers made what could be a breakthrough discovery. Majd Almashharawi and Rawan Abdullatif developed a new bricks-mixture, adding coal ashes to it. According to a report by Aljazeera Arabic, the two engineers have been testing their new discovery for the last year and a half. The drive behind their project was the weakness of bricks used in Gaza to build facilities. The two engineers named their discovery “Green Cake”, an environmentally-friendly project, which recycles ashes, a material Gaza lacks. The weight of the new brick is half of the current one commonly used in Gaza and its cost is 30% less, which gives the project a great potential for success. The bricks have been tested, according to the two engineers, and shown encouraging results. “We can’t put our happiness into words. After a year and a half of tests, we have harvested the labor of our efforts,” they said. They hope to start a production line which allows their business to boom. Local experts have expressed satisfaction with the project and expected it to achieve a great success if needed resources are made available for the two engineers. A year and a half after the summer offensive of 2014, much of Gaza’s destroyed housing is still waiting to be built….

Why one Gazan turned his destroyed house into a zoo
SHAJAIYA, Gaza City 2 May by Asmaa al-Ghoul — More than one and a half years have passed since the 51-day war on Gaza, which started on July 8, 2014. Since then, about 18,000 homes were destroyed partially or completely and have yet to be rebuilt because of the suspension of the reconstruction process in the Gaza Strip. Saeed al-Haddad is one of the people who has yet to receive compensation for his destroyed property. The four-story building is dilapidated, uninhabitable and doomed to collapse. However, Haddad wishes to turn it into a zoo, as he has been fond of raising animals since childhood. Haddad, his wife and eight children, including his eldest son and his family, are now living in two back rooms annexed to the house in very dire conditions. His son Baraa, 16, told Al-Monitor, “We are living in a tragic situation. Everything is on hold. We are waiting for either receiving compensation for our house or having it reconstructed. But nothing has happened yet. We have only these animals.” Peacocks, guinea fowls, ducks and monkeys gather together in the rubble of the house, creating a surreal sight that is not familiar in Gaza. Haddad looked concerned for a little while as he was examining the smallest of its animals, a baby falcon….

Pigeon lovers flock to Gaza expo
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 6 May by Moath al-Amoudi — The second and largest exhibition for pigeon enthusiasts and breeders in the Palestinian territories took place in Gaza April 7-9. Turnout was high, including the participation of 170 breeders and 250 pairs of rare and fancy pigeons. Gaza’s first gathering of this kind was held in April 2015. The exhibition was held in Gaza City’s Saad Sayel arena and was organized by a popular Facebook group called Pigeons in Palestine, followed by over 13,000 pigeon enthusiasts and breeders from Palestine. Coordinator Mohammed al-Ghoul old Al-Monitor, “We have been preparing for this since 2007, and Facebook played a major role in gathering this huge number of pigeon enthusiasts, most of them young. We sent out many invitations to many people, including some in Jordan, Egypt, Arabian Gulf [countries] and Oman, but they could not attend because of the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and the closure of crossings.” … Regarding the Ministry of Agriculture’s support for pigeon breeders, Essi told Al-Monitor, “The Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza does not provide us with plastic anklets for the pigeon’s legs. Also, it fails to provide us with the necessary medicines and proper health care, and it does not monitor the pigeon-importation process to see whether the pigeons are infected. Moreover, the food used, such as wheat, ends up harming the health of the birds.” ….

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

‘Israeli annexation bombshell imminent’
PressTV 8 May — The Israeli regime will present a bill to the Knesset in the coming weeks, calling for the annexation of 60% of the occupied West Bank, the Maariv newspaper has revealed.  According to the paper, preliminary talks have been held to annex Area C of the West Bank where more than 350,000 illegal Israeli settlers are based. The area is currently ruled by the military but an annexation would require Israeli law to be imposed and Palestinians living in the area to identify as Arab Israelis. Many members of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet are fervently in favor of the annexation. Last week, minister of judiciary affairs Ayelet Shaked said she was working on a plan to apply Israeli law to Area C. Naftali Bennett, the leader of the extreme right-wing Jewish Home Party, which is part of the ruling coalition, also said, “It is better for Israel to begin annexing Area C.” … Area C comprises over 60% of the territory and is totally run by the Israeli military even though it is home to 300,000 Palestinians, according to the United Nations. Israeli officials claim there are only 50,000 Palestinians living there and therefore Israel could easily annex the territory. Virtually all of the Israeli settler population of the West Bank of more than 350,000 is based in Area C….

Israeli settlers occupy building in East Jerusalem’s Old City
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 May – Israeli settlers on Monday morning occupied a “huge” building in the al-Saadiyya neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, a local activist told Ma‘an. Alaa al-Haddad said some 40 right-wing settlers arrived and entered the building, then performed Jewish prayers in the courtyard. The three-floor building, he said, has a vast courtyard and a view over Al-Aqsa Mosque. The property belongs to the al-Yozbeshi family. The owners were not in the building when the settlers arrived. It is not clear why the settlers occupied the building. Last week, a Palestinian family regained access to their house in East Jerusalem, ending a lengthy legal battle which began when an organization of Israeli settlers took over their home and the homes of 22 other families a year and a half earlier … Palestinians charge that the forceful eviction of Palestinian families is part of a larger strategy to “Judaize” Jerusalem and deny Palestinians the right to live in the holy city.

The Amana House: A new settlement in Sheikh Jarrah
[with maps] Settlement Watch 8 May — Construction of a huge structure referred to as the “Amana House”, has recently started in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. The structure is intended to serve as an office building for the Amana Association – a private entity operating toward establishing and expanding settlements and responsible for many of the illegal outposts in the Territories. The structure is being built within the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and is adjacent to St. Joseph Hospital, which serves the Palestinian population of Jerusalem and the West Bank … The new settlement does not only harm the delicate relations between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem, but it is also intended to harm the possibility of a two-state solution as it is being built within a Palestinian neighborhood which will be part of the Palestinian capital in any future agreement.

Israel took Palestinian East Jerusalem family’s land behind its back, gave it to settler NGO
Haaretz 9 May by Nir Hasson — Israel expropriated land from an East Jerusalem Palestinian family without a tender and against the rules, then handed it over to Amana, an organization that works to establish settlements and outposts, Haaretz has learned. Some months ago Amana began building a large office building on the land for its headquarters. Documents submitted for an administrative petition against the land transfer reveals that the state used strenuous bureaucratic acrobatics to deliver land that didn’t belong to it. The plan was prepared and approved without the family knowing of the expropriation. The property map was redrawn to legitimize the expropriations, and related documents were hidden from the owners. The Jerusalem District Court rejected the Palestinian family’s petition, which is being appealed to the Supreme Court. Amana, founded by the Gush Emunim religious settlement movement in 1979, is the most important private body for establishing and expanding West Bank settlements.
The company made headlines last month after two of its executives, secretary general Zeev Hever and treasurer Moshe Yogev, were investigated over alleged corruption. The company owns Al-Watan, which has been repeatedly involved in deals buying land from Palestinian owners that turned out to be forged. The affair dates back to 1968, when the state expropriated 4,000 dunams (1,000 acres) north of Jerusalem’s the Old City in Sheikh Jarrah “for public needs.” This land became French Hill, Ramat Eshkol and a government compound. Palestinian landowners vainly challenged expropriation moves for years. The expropriations were carried out according to a state plan. These areas included much land belonging to the Abu Ta’ah family, a Palestinian family from Lifta that now resides throughout East Jerusalem….

New West Bank settlement slated for soon-to-be-evicted outpost residents: report
i24NEWS 7 May — The hilltop outpost of Amona is scheduled for evacuation by December 25, 2016 — The Israeli Defense Ministry and settler organization Amana are planning to build a new settlement in the West Bank, in order to house residents of an illegal hilltop outpost that is due to be evacuated by the end of the year, Haaretz reports. The new settlement, which will be close to Shilo, is intended to accommodate around 40 families from the Amona outpost, and is being planned as a way of cooling opposition to the outpost’s evacuation and demolition. It will consist of 139 housing units, of which Amana will be able to sell 90 on the open market, according to Haaretz. Last month, Amana head Zeev “Zambish” Hever was questioned under caution on suspicion of fraud in his West Bank land transactions. Architectural plans for the new settlement have already been drawn up, and have been seen by Haaretz. It is to be established on state-owned land near to the Geulat Zion outpost, Haaretz reports, which was one of the focal points of settler violence against Palestinians. Amiram Ben Ulliel, the main suspect in the Dawabshe murders, used to live in Geulat Zion … According to Haaretz, the plans for the new settlement are intended by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon as a message to Amona’s residents, proposing that if they evacuate quietly they will get a new locale, otherwise they will be evicted with no follow-up solution for them.

WATCH: A chat with the settler on the street
Israeli Social TV 8 May — What do the residents of Kedumim, a West Bank settlement, think about their Palestinian neighbors? And about the chances of peace? And about the future of their community? Social TV inquires. [Excerpt: those who came here and ‘taught’ the Arabs worsened relations and caused the situation we are in today is the Israeli Left. They came here and started demonstrating against the settlement and put the idea into the Arabs’ heads]

Here’s what happened when some famous writers went to visit some hardcore Jewish settlers
HEBRON (Washington Post) 7 May by William Booth — Arriving aboard a tour bus, accompanied by a former Israeli machine-gunner turned human rights activist, an international delegation of pretty famous writers came to the heart of this old city to see for themselves how 850 hardcore Jewish settlers, protected by 650 young Israeli soldiers, live among 200,000 angry Palestinians. The writers didn’t like what they saw. The settlers didn’t like the writers much either, especially their hosts. The Israeli military occupation is “the most grievous injustice I have seen in my life,” Michael Chabon, the American author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” told the Forward, a Jewish newspaper, a day after seeing Hebron. “Liars!” the settlers shouted at the writers. Through the summer, 25 novelists will journey to Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to gather material for a book of essays to be published by HarperCollins in June next year (and simultaneously released in a half-dozen other languages). The book is designed to mark the 50-year anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories —  and to make a political splash. The organizers hope their words will kindle reflection, outrage, change….

Settlers plan to cut down hundreds of Palestinian olive trees
SALFIT (PIC) 7 May — Israeli settlers labeled hundreds of Palestinian-owned olive trees in Deir Estia/Istiya town west of Salfit as a prelude to cut them down. Local farmers were surprised Saturday morning when they found their olive trees labeled as a prelude to cutting them down to pave the way for expanding nearby settlements. The local activist Khaled Maali said that Deir Estia town has been for long a victim of numerous settlement expansion plans under flimsy pretexts. He pointed out that Israeli occupation authorities plan to confiscate Wadi Qana, which covers an area of more than 12,000 acres, for settlement expansion.

Palestinian villagers demand opening of agricultural roads in Deir Istiya
SALFIT (PIC) 7 May — Palestinian farmers and citizens on Friday afternoon rallied in Deir Istiya town, northeast of Salfit province, in protest at the Israeli army’s persistence in closing agricultural roads leading to their cultivated fields. The protesters demanded the Israeli army to open the roads and remove all barriers obstructing their access to their land. They gathered near one of the closed roads as they were carrying Palestinian flags and chanting national slogans.

Over 5,000 Bedouin children in Israel lack access to legally mandated preschool
i24NEWS 8 May — Unrecognized Bedouin villages not granted building permits or paid transportation for preschoolers — Over 5,000 preschool-aged Bedouin children in Israel are not enrolled in any form of educational framework, according to a report by the country’s Education Ministry. Despite Israel’s Compulsory Education Law encompassing preschoolers ages three to five, the Education Ministry does not provide funding for transportation to and from preschool for children in this age group, Ha’aretz reports. Moreover, the state refuses to grant building permits to unrecognized Bedouin communities. As a result, some 5,200 Bedouin children do not have access to preschool, according to figures presented in March to a session of the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee by the head of education for the Bedouin community, Mohammad Heib. Around 74 percent of Bedouin children without access to preschool live in the jurisdiction of the Neve Midbar and al-Kasom regional councils, Heib told Ha’aretz, which are comprised of many Bedouin communities not recognized by the Israeli government. Yakov Margi, education committee chairman and member of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, called the figures “shocking” and has demanded a resolution to the problem.

Other news

PCHR Weekly Report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (29 Apr – 3 May)
PCHR-Gaza 4 May — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt A Palestinian civilian was killed after he carried out a run-over attack in the west of Ramallah. Nine Palestinian civilians, including 3 children and 3 photojournalists, were wounded in the West Bank while a boy was wounded in the Gaza Strip. House demolitions on grounds of collective punishment. The walls of a house belonging to the family of the Palestinian prisoner Zaid Amer in Nablus were demolished. Israeli forces continued to open fire at the Gaza Strip border area, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces conducted 54 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 2 limited ones in the Gaza Strip. 40 civilians, including 11 children, were arrested. 15 of them, including 8 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. A fishing boat sustained material damage off Khan Yunis shore in the south of the Gaza Strip….

Abbas arrives in Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials on peace process
CAIRO (Ma’an) 8 May — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Cairo on Sunday afternoon for an official visit in which he is scheduled to meet with a number of Egyptian officials to discuss the latest Israeli escalation against the Gaza Strip. Official Palestinian government news agency Wafa reported that Abbas briefed Egyptian Foreign Minister Samih Shukri regarding the latest developments in Palestine, namely ongoing Israeli settlement expansion and the absence of any political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the horizon. Abbas said that an international peace conference had become a necessity in order to create a “suitable mechanism to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state.” Abbas and Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi are scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss means to push the peace process forward, as doubt looms over the likelihood that a French initiative will lead to peace talks sometime this year. Abbas is accompanied on this trip by a delegation of Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) officials, which includes PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeina, presidential diplomatic affairs advisor Majdi al-Khalidi, PA general intelligence agency chief Majid al-Faraj, and Palestinian ambassador to Egypt Jamal al-Shubaki.

Palestinian refugee camp committees to shut down UNRWA offices in West Bank
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 8 May — The popular committees of the Palestinian refugee camps in the occupied West Bank decided on Sunday to take steps to protest UNRWA’s recent decision to halt its food distribution program in the camps and replace it with a cash card system. Spokesperson for the committees Husni Odeh told Ma‘an the committees informed UNRWA that starting Monday and continuing until Friday they will stop all UNRWA cars from moving inside the West Bank, as well as close all UNRWA warehouses, social affairs offices, and camp directors’ offices in the West Bank. Odeh said this decision comes after several warnings by the committees to make UNRWA retract its decision. UNRWA’s decision to give 36,120 aid recipients cash cards would jeopardize the jobs of 300 to 400 employees who work at UNRWA distribution centers, Odeh told Ma‘an in April, when the committees announced their intention to protest the decision. UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness told Ma‘an Sunday in response to reports of the impending protest that “refugees have suffered enough and imposing measures that restrict services will only make them suffer more. We need to make an effort to resolve UNRWA program issues in a manner which allows us to continue serving refugees.” He explained last month that the decision to change the delivery of some of their services was done to provide beneficiary families with “greater dignity as well as greater autonomy.” Instead of the $111 year that had been provided to refugees in the form of a food basket, UNRWA’s new program provides $130 per year via cash card, in four cycles annually….

Palestinian national museum to open after 20 years of planning
BIR ZEIT, West Bank (Financial Times) 6 May by John Reed — On a West Bank hillside workers roll white paint across the walls of a sprawling stone and glass building, which overlooks a landscaped garden and a picturesque landscape of terraced hills. Nearly two decades in the making, the $24m Palestinian Museum is finally ready and will open on May 18. The centrepiece of this national project, which is meant to unify Palestinians in the region with those in the diaspora, is a garden that tells the people’s history in plants such as olive trees and sage bushes. But the museum’s inauguration comes at a time when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sliding down the international policy agenda. Palestinians are struggling with political divisions, a slowing economy and a festering conflict with Israel that has brought a flare-up of violence in the Gaza Strip this week. The bumpy and prolonged journey to opening day mirrors the Palestinians’ perennial struggles with Israel’s occupation and their own internal squabbling. Palestinians do not control the borders of their occupied homeland and the project has contended with cost overruns and disputes with Israel over the import of building materials. Jack Persekian, the museum’s respected former director, resigned last year over differences in the board over the fledgling institution’s focus. Mahmoud Hawari, a curator at the British Museum and a specialist in Islamic art and architecture at Oxford university, was named the new director this week. “This will be a museum that overcomes political and geographical borders and links Palestinians together, at home and in exile, wherever they may live,” says Mr Harwari, although he acknowledges that the project has “significant challenges”. Mr Hawari’s remarks about unity highlight one of the museum’s main challenges — most Palestinians will probably never visit it. As a people they are split between those who live in the Palestinian territories and Israel, who number about 6m, and roughly the same number who live in exile … In addition to its Bir Zeit headquarters the museum will have branches in Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and Chile, which is home to one of the biggest exile communities. The Beirut branch will host the first such satellite exhibition, a political history of embroidery, an important Palestinian craft….

Kuwait to hire hundreds of Palestinian teachers, boost PA’s budget with $200m
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 May — Kuwait is preparing to hire between 200 and 400 Palestinian teachers in its schools for the 2017-2018 school year, and boost the Palestinian Authority’s budget with $200 million in support. Palestinian ambassador to Kuwait Rami Tahbub told Ma‘an that Kuwaiti expert panels will visit the occupied Palestinian territory to interview job candidates, and will accept an initial batch of 200-400 teachers, with the potential to increase in the coming years. He added efforts are underway to develop a program to send Palestinians of other professions to work in Kuwait. He highlighted that in addition to the $200 million Kuwait will contribute to the PA in the future, Kuwait already pays $14 million a month directly towards the PA’s budget, in addition to its support of operational projects in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israeli cop convicted of sexual harassment names police attaché in D.C.
Haaretz 9 May by Yaniv Kubovich — Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich is to promote Commander Ilan Mor, who was found guilty of sexual harasment in a disciplinary plea bargain agreement in 2013, to the post of the Israel Police’s representative in the United States. Mor presently serves as the commander of the traffic division. Usually police officers who are appointed to the post of U.S. representative receive the rank of brigadier general, but Mor was appointed to the post even though his rank is only commander. In 2013, Mor was given a disciplinary trial and found guilty of two charges of sexually harassing two junior female police officers who were his subordinates….

Israel’s Knesset to hold special session on Gaza war report after ‘top secret’ draft leaked
Haaretz 8 May by Barak Ravid & Jonathan Lis — State Comptroller Josef Shapira asked Israel’s Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit on Sunday to order an investigation into the leak to the media of the watchdog’s draft report about Israel’s last war in Gaza – Operation Protective Edge … Shapira wrote Mandelblit that last week the draft was distributed as a top secret document to those who were scrutinized in the report, most of them ministers who served in the security cabinet during the 2014 war. Shapira said that under the law premature publication of a comptroller’s report or a portion of it is a criminal offense punishable by a year in prison … Sources told Haaretz on May 5 about the report, saying it alleges that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon sidelined other cabinet ministers and many details about the war were withheld from them. Associates of Netanyahu and Ya’alon swiftly rejected the findings as “an unserious report that reeks of politicking.” Opposition politicians were quick to criticize both Netanyahu and the outraged responses to the report by people close to the premier … Meretz leader Zehava Galon said that the main conclusion arising from the draft report was that “a bunch of losers is running this country and a crowd of nonentities sent people to their deaths.”

Draft report on Israel’s conduct in Gaza war couldn’t be bad enough, key ex-IDF general says
Haaretz 8 May by Gili Cohen — Reservist Gen. Yom Tov Samia, the deputy head of southern command during the 2014 Gaza War, said he was unsurprised at the preliminary results of a draft report into Israel’s conduct in the conflict, and said that despite the key role he held he did not testify in the comptroller’s investigation. “As bad as (the report) might be, I’m not sure it’s as bad as it should be,” he said amid growing political anger at the report’s content and leak to the media. Samia told Army Radio that he thought the “festival of medals held after Operation Protective Edge, was scandalous,” and how he thought the investigations and medals were “done to cover up something. “Therefore I wouldn’t be surprised by the Comptroller’s report, although I haven’t read it. As bad as it may be I’m not sure it’s as bad as it should be,” Samia said. “It worries me a lot,” that he wasn’t asked to provide any testimony, “because it means that people were afraid to do serious and in depth summaries,” he said….

The Israeli generals who shoot and cry and shoot again / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 8 May — It’s nice that some of Israel’s most senior commanders are sounding the moral alarm, but what are they doing to change anything? — And here they come, those new-old sensitive heroes, soldiers who shoot but cry over it, a 2016 version of the Six-Day War soldiers featured in “The Seventh Day: Soldiers Talk about the Six-Day War.” In the Six-Day War, they were soldiers who shot and cried and were therefore considered moral. After the second intifada that broke out in 2000, there were the old-boy “gatekeepers,” (the former Shin Bet security service directors) who suddenly sobered up and were deemed men of conscience. Now it’s the turn of the most senior commanders in office who are sobering up and sounding the alarm, the threesome of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan. It could have impressed and inspired respect had it not been for one tiny problem. The three aren’t doing a thing to change the situation that they are taking exception to. These nice and principled military figures are beloved on the center-left, which has always dreamed about ethical generals who make eloquent Holocaust Remembrance Day speeches, but they are nothing more than empty salves to the conscience of the purportedly enlightened tribe. Ya’alon, Eisenkot and Golan said some things that are correct and resounding. Ya’alon warned against the army becoming bestial. For his part, Eisenkot doesn’t want soldiers to empty their ammunition cartridges on 13-year-old girls. And last week on Holocaust Day, Golan said he saw concerning signs reminiscent of pre-Holocaust Germany in Israel. It’s hard not to appreciate their courage, but we cannot ignore the fact that these are not three observers from the sidelines. All three bear direct and heavy responsibility for the situation that they are criticizing and have contributed for years to bringing it about. They head the IDF, which is one of the most major agents of damage to Israeli society…. (listserv) (archive)

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Thanks for all the information, Kate. Thanks for linking to that top story and that horrific video @ Maan of the 3 settler children and their violent “leader” and teacher shrouded in white~ it gave me goosebumps yesterday as I looked on in real disgust. I thought of the CSNY song “Teach Your Children”… Thanks for the link to “WATCH: A chat with the settler on the street” That’s a bittersweet story about the zoo,… Read more »