Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Army kidnaps a child in Jerusalem, injures a disabled young man in Hebron
IMEMC (International Middle East Media Center) 5 May — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Wednesday at night, a Palestinian child from Jerusalem’s Old City. The soldiers also shot and injured a disabled Palestinian man near Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. Eyewitnesses in occupied Jerusalem said the soldiers kidnapped a child, only 14 years of age, in the Old City, after attacking and beating her. They added that the soldiers took the child to an interrogation center in the city, allegedly after “locating a knife in her purse.”
On Wednesday evening, the soldiers shot and injured a disabled young man at the main entrance of Sa‘ir town, east of Hebron city. Palestinian security sources in Hebron said the soldiers shot Arif Sharif Abdul-Ghaffar Jaradat, 21, with a live round in his back. Jaradat was moved to a hospital in Hebron city, suffering a moderate injury.
It is worth mentioning that, on Wednesday at dawn, the soldiers invaded and searched a home in the at-Tour village, east of occupied Jerusalem, and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Ehab Abu al-Hawa, 21. The soldiers also kidnapped at least twelve Palestinians, in various invasions and searches of homes, targeting different parts of the occupied West Bank.
Including two medics, army injures 33 Palestinians in Abu Dis
IMEMC 7 May by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded, Friday, the town of Abu Dis, southeast of occupied East Jerusalem, and clashed with dozens of youngsters, wounding at least thirty-three, including two medics. The soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets, wounding nine Palestinians, who received the needed treatment by local Red Crescent medics. The Red Crescent said the soldiers also targeted its medics, by firing gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets at them and their ambulances, wounding two with rubber-coated steel bullets, as they were trying to provide the needed medical attention to injured Palestinians.
Israeli settlers attack Palestinian activist in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 May — A Palestinian social media activist was hospitalized on Wednesday after being attacked by a group of Israeli settlers in the city of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank. A witness told Ma‘an that he and a group of other Palestinians managed to rescue the activist, Raed Abu Mayyala, after he fainted while being “violently attacked” by a group of Jewish settlers near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Old City. According to Issa Amro, the director of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements (YAS) group, Mayyala was admitted to the Ali Hospital following the attack. Amro told Ma‘an that Mayyala, who has collaborated with YAS in the past, resides near the Israeli police station and the Ibrahimi Mosque — a central site of tension between Israeli settlers and Palestinians — and began documenting Israeli settler violence with a camera obtained from the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee … According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there has been a total of 30 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem since the start of 2016, and a total of 221 attacks in 2015.
Israeli forces injure dozens of Palestinians in Friday protests
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 May — Israeli forces injured dozens of Palestinians during weekly Friday protests in the occupied West Bank villages of Kafr Qaddum and Bilin, as well as in the Gaza Strip. Three Palestinians, including two journalists, were injured on Friday as Israeli forces dispersed the weekly protest in Kafr Qaddum in the northern West Bank district of Qalqiliya. Coordinator for popular resistance in the village Murad Shtewi said dozens of Israeli soldiers raided the village firing rubber-coated steel bullets, sponge rounds, tear gas canisters, and stun grenades. Akif Jumaa, 55, was injured by a sponge round fired at his wrist. He was taken to Rafidia hospital for treatment. Reporter for the Palestinian news station Palestine TV Ahmad Shawir was injured with rubber-coated steel bullets fired by Israeli forces at his hand and foot, while the photojournalist Muthanna al-Deek was injured with a rubber bullet fired at his the foot. They were treated on the scene.
In the central West Bank village of Bil‘in, dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces dispersed the weekly protest there. Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at protesters at the western entrance to the village, causing a fire to erupt on land belonging to Awad Yasin in the Khallat al-Ful area. Participants in the protest raised Palestinian flags and roamed the village chanting songs for national unity and resistance. They called for the release of all prisoners including journalist Omar Nazzal and hunger striking prisoners.
Violent night raid in Ni‘lin leaves 7-day-old baby suffering from tear gas inhalation
[with video] NI‘LIN, occupied Palestine 3 May by ISM, al-Khalil Team — During nighttime on the 1st of May, Israeli Forces raided the village of Ni‘lin in the West Bank in occupied Palestine without any reason. First, with the arrival of one military jeep, villagers were already anxiously awaiting why the Israeli army is invading the village, fearing arrests. Later on, several armored military jeeps invaded the village and immediately started shooting tear gas towards the houses in an act of collective punishment, targeting civilians that were mainly still asleep. Additionally, the Israeli forces fired rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition towards the house … This night, a 17-year old young man was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet, but luckily did not sustain any major injuries. Additionally, a newborn, only 7-day-old baby had to be taken to hospital for tear gas inhalation. This is a result of the Israeli forces tactic of deliberately targeting civilians and all the villagers in acts of collective punishment. In the recent weeks, several children and elderly have had to be treated for excessive tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces targeted a public park with a playground, showering it in tear gas; and shooting the potentially deadly long-range tear gas canisters straight into the village. As this long-range tear gas canister cannot be heard and has an extremely hard metal tip, it is not only potentially deadly – an international solidarity activist, Tristan Anderson, was critically injured with this kind of tear gas canister in the head in 2009 in Ni‘lin and now requires 24-hour care – but it also easily breaks through windows and even walls. This is just another proof of how dangerous it is. Thus, tear gas can easily, and has already, trapped civilians inside their own homes, causing excessive tear gas inhalation … See the video from the invasion here.
Israel investigating suspected violations in shooting of Palestinian siblings at Qalandiyah checkpoint
Haaretz 5 May by Chaim Levinson — Suspicions are being investigated that a shooting at the Qalandiyah West Bank checkpoint north of Jerusalem in which a 23-year-old Palestinian woman, Maram Abu Ismail, and her 16-year-old brother, Ibrahim Taha, were killed last week was carried out in violation of regulations. On Thursday evening, Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Joya Skappa-Shapiro imposed a gag order on the details of the investigation, including the names of the suspects in the shooting “to preserve the propriety of the investigation and to prevent harm to public safety,” as the judge described it. On Sunday, the Justice Ministry department in charge of investigating police conduct reported that a preliminary investigation indicated that the fatal shots that hit the sister and brother were fired by private security guards hired by the Public Security Ministry and were not killed by police. It was also found that a policeman who was standing nearby at the checkpoint followed standard arrest procedure in these circumstances by firing into the air. The police have refused to release video footage of the incident, claiming that it is investigative material … 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 to UN: ‘We’re not opposed to the return of terrorist bodies’
JPost 5 May by Tovah Lazaroff — Israel is not opposed to the return of bodies of Palestinian attackers to their families, Justice Ministry attorney Avinoam Segal Elad told the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva on Wednesday. His statement was part of a two-day periodic hearing on Israel’s compliance with the Convention Against Torture that began on Tuesday. Among the dozens of issues raised by the 10-member committee in Geneva was Israel’s occasional practice of withholding bodies of Palestinians terrorists who were killed by security personnel during the wave of terrorism that began in September 2015. Some, particularly within the police, say that the mass funerals held for such assailants, whom the Palestinians revere as martyrs, fuel incitement against Israel, leading to more attacks. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon disagrees, and holds that the bodies should be handed over to the families. After a Palestinian detonated a bomb in Jerusalem on April 18 that wounded 21 people, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze the return of terrorists’ bodies. However, on Sunday, following a number of security consultations, he decided to leave the decision with regard to the bodies in the hands of the Defense Ministry….
Israeli court orders release of 9 withheld Palestinian bodies before Ramadan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 5 May — The Israeli Supreme Court ordered on Thursday the release of the bodies of nine Palestinians from Jerusalem currently being withheld by Israel, after family members appealed to the court. Mohammed Mahmoud, a lawyer with Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, told Ma‘an that although the Supreme Court did not set a precise date for the bodies to be returned to their families, they were expected to be released before Ramadan, in June. Israel currently holds the bodies of at least 19 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since October while they were allegedly committing or attempting to commit attacks. Israel dramatically increased its policy of withholding bodies since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory since October, although it has scaled back on the policy in recent months. Mahmoud and fellow Addameer lawyer Suhad Beshara, acting as legal representatives for the families of the deceased Palestinians held by the Israeli government, had previously submitted an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court demanding a date for the release of the bodies. Mahmoud said he received a reply from the Israeli public prosecution on Tuesday stating that the Israeli Public Security Ministry had accepted Israeli police recommendations to release the bodies. The bodies of Muhammad Abd Nimr, 37, Abd al-Muhsen Hassouneh, 21, and Hassan Manasra, 15, were set to be released first, Mahmoud said, since their families had previously signed agreements with Israeli intelligence to release the bodies. The rest are expected to follow.
An Addameer spokesperson told Ma‘an that the Israeli Supreme Court ruling only applied to slain Palestinians with Jerusalem residency, not the bodies of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank. It remained unclear on Thursday whether other bodies would be released in the near future. The Supreme Court additionally ordered that the bodies of deceased Palestinians be taken out of refrigeration 48 hours prior to their transfer, and that their families be informed in advance in order to carry out a proper burial. The Israeli Supreme Court vice president requested that Knesset Member Osama Saadi, from the Arab Joint List, be informed of the process to guarantee that the bodies will be released before the start of Ramadan….
Young Palestinian detained in Hebron after allegedly planning stab attack
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 6 May — A young Palestinian man was detained on Friday in the city of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank for allegedly planning a stabbing attack on a group of Israeli soldiers. The 26-year-old Hebron resident reportedly approached a checkpoint near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron’s Old City and was told to stop by Israeli soldiers. After failing to stop, the soldiers detained and searched him, allegedly finding a knife in his possession. According to a statement by Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri, the detained man confessed his intention to carry out an attack on Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint. The man’s identity has not been released.
Israeli forces detain 15 Palestinians in West Bank, East Jerusalem raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 May –Israeli forces carried out overnight raids on Wednesday, detaining at least 15 Palestinians across the occupied Palestinian territory, including two 15-year-old boys and a 17-year-old girl, Israeli and Palestinian sources said. Israeli forces detained three Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said, identifying them as 17-year-old girl Aya Mohammad Hendi, Tareq al-Samman, and Omar Minna, 15, who had reportedly just been released from Israeli custody a day earlier. In Hebron, Israeli forces detained Tayseser al-Tete, 15, who was reportedly being beaten by an Israeli soldier with a helmet during the raid, as well as Talal Abu Sneina, and Mohammad Mahmoud Nayrokh, 22. Nayrokh, who is currently being held in Etzion prison, told PPS lawyer Jacqueline Fararjeh that Israeli forces beat and blindfolded him before dragging him to an Israeli military vehicle after raiding his home at 2 a.m. Nayrokh had previously spent 10 months in Israeli prison and was released just three months ago. Meanwhile, locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided a house in the village of Beit Ummar north of Hebron and detained two young men identified as Hatim Sabarna, 21, and his brother Ali Sabarna, 20, both of whom had previously been imprisoned by Israel. Israeli forces raided also the town of Beit Fajjar north of Hebron, detaining four Palestinians identified by PPS as Ahmad Saleh Thawabteh, 21, Fayez Mohammad Taqatqa, 19, Omar Ayed Taqatqa, 20, and Mohammad Jihad Taqatqa, 19. Further north, Israeli forces detained Atef al-Salehi, 43, from the village of Silwad northeast of Ramallah City, and detained Shadi Nasser Salah, 25, during a raid on the village of Kafr Dan, northwest of Jenin. According to an Israeli army spokesperson, Israeli forces also detained one Palestinian during a raid in the northeast of Qalqiliya. Palestinian sources did not provide details on the case. Israeli forces, meanwhile, carried out raids in the villages surrounding the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Brakha to the south of the city of Nablus after allegedly hearing gunfire. No detentions were reported.
Alleged perpetrator of 2010 West Bank ambush arrested
Haaretz 4 May — The Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service on Wednesday arrested a Hamas activist suspected of involvement in a 2010 shooting in the West Bank in which two people were wounded. Ataf al-Khalef was arrested by the Palestinian security services shortly after the shooting and recently released from custody. He is currently under interrogation in Israel. The attack occurred in September 2010 at the Rimonim Junction, near the Israeli settlement of Kochav Hashachar and east of the West Bank city of Ramallah. Two Israelis were wounded, one of them seriously, when Palestinian gunmen ambushed their car. The victims were a man aged around 30 in moderate to serious condition suffering from a gunshot wound to the knee, and a woman aged around 30 who was injured in the accident that ensued when the driver lost control of the car. (Is this the same case as this one reported by the JPost but with the name wrong? Or a different example of someone released by the PA and immediately picked up by the Israelis?]
My wife, Nariman Tamimi, was prevented by Israeli authorities from traveling to Jordan today
Bassem Tamimi Facebook page 3 May — She was on her way to get medical treatment there. Soon after she arrived at the Allenby Bridge, she was detained and questioned about her political activity. Eventually, after being threatened with incarceration, she was declared a so called “security threat”, and informed that she is prohibited from travelling abroad. [The Tamimi family is targeted because of their activism, as can be seen in this 30 Aug article from Middle East Eye.]
VIDEO: My son the bomber, my daughter the victim
BBC 5 May — In April, a bombing of an Israeli bus in Jerusalem injured 20 people. The bomber, a Palestinian, died from his injuries a few days later. One of the victims was a 15-year-old girl who was left in a coma with 45% burns. The mothers of both spoke to the BBC about the attack, and the emotions they were left with.
Prisoners / Court actions
Prisoners transported in police van denied water, lavatory for 11 hours
Haaretz 5 May by Yaniv Kubovich — Thirty-four prisoners transported Monday from the center of the country to prisons in the north were kept in a police van for nearly 11 hours, during which they were denied water and permission to use the bathroom. The prisoners, who were being temporarily held in Ayalon Prison in Ramle, were taken from there in the early morning and kept in the vehicle until they arrived at their destinations in the late afternoon. No one was allowed to get out, even after many of the prisoners urinated in the vehicle. Israel Prison Service Commander Ofra Klinger has ordered the establishment of an internal committee to investigate the incident. The 34 prisoners – four Jews who had been convicted of white-collar crimes and 30 Palestinian security prisoners – boarded the police van at 6:15 A.M. The Jewish prisoners were separated from the Palestinian prisoners and kept in two internal, almost totally sealed compartments of less than a square meter each … “What’s described is harsh and worrisome, but not new,” says attorney Shani Illouz, who represents many prisoners. “Prisoners report horrible conditions and have even forgone court hearings on their cases so as not to suffer what’s involved in riding in the police van.
Israeli court adjourns trial of two minors to next month
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM,(PIC) 4 May — The Israeli Central Court of Jerusalem Tuesday adjourned the trial of two juvenile Palestinian cousins: Ali Alqam, 12, and Muawiya Alqam, 13, to June 5th. The minor Muawiya affirmed to the judge that he was subjected to severe beating during his transfer to the court while beating marks were obviously clear on his hands and face. In coincidence with the trial procedures, the popular committee for the release of juvenile captives organized a protest sit-in before the court’s building. The committee’s coordinator Abdullah Alqam condemned the adjournment decision of the trial and opined that it was taken deliberately. He also condemned the Israeli ministerial decision to endorse the children law proposal which allows convicting minors below 14 years old. Alqam underlined that the bill is contrary to the principles of the juveniles law and the international charter for child rights. Both boys were arrested on November, 8, 2015 after an Israeli security guard at a train station opened his gunfire at them. Ali was injured by three bullets in the abdomen and right hand. Both were arrested and charged with attempting to stab a security guard near Pisgat Ze’ev settlement.
Israel sentences Hamas leader to 6 months in jail
JENIN (PIC) 5 May — The Israeli Salem military court on Wednesday sentenced the Hamas leader Nazih Abu Oun to six months in jail on charges of incitement. Sources close to Abu Oun’s family said the Israeli occupation authorities accused the activist of inciting against Israel through mass media. Abu Oun had been incarcerated for 16 years in the Israeli occupation jails. He was arrested by the Israeli occupation soldiers from his own family home in Jenin on April 5.
Palestinian woman killed in Israeli air strike on Gaza
Al Jazeera 6 May — A 53-year-old woman was killed and several others wounded in air strikes on the Gaza Strip as Israel and Palestinian armed groups engaged in one of the worst exchanges of fire since the 2014 Gaza war. Gaza Strip Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra said that the woman, identified as Zeina Al Omor, had been killed and several others injured by shrapnel in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis. Israel launched the first strikes in southern Gaza late on Wednesday in response to mortar attacks on Israeli troops along the border. Early on Thursday, it launched strikes on four targets in northern Gaza and another four in the south later in the day. On Thursday, the Islamic Jihad group claimed responsibility for firing five mortar shells at the Israeli ground troops operating near the Gaza-Israel border fence. It said it was the first time since the 2014 Gaza war that it had done so.
‘Clearing border area’ — The Israeli military said that during ongoing searches along the Gaza-Israel border, it had found a tunnel running underneath the southern Gaza border at a depth of 27-29 metres. It was not yet clear how long it was, but the military said it probably reached far into Israel. Since the 2014 war, Hamas, the movement in de facto control of the Gaza Strip, had “tolerated” Israeli troops entering 100 metres into the Gaza Strip while clearing the border area, an Israeli military spokesman said. But this time, Israeli troops digging there came under mortar fire, Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said. It was the second tunnel uncovered by Israel in one month. One target struck by Israel early on Thursday was a goldsmith workshop in southern Gaza City, residents said. Israel says it has intelligence indicating that workshops are used to produce weapons. Israel and Hamas accused each other of raising tensions over the volatile territory. Sources close to Hamas, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Egypt had intervened between Hamas and Israel to defuse the growing tension
3rd day of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza after Hamas accused of firing mortar rounds
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 May — Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip continued Friday morning for the third consecutive day, with the Israeli army accusing Hamas of launching mortar rounds near the border area. Witnesses told Ma‘an Israeli warplanes targeted open areas east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, with no injuries reported. At dawn, Israeli forces also fired three shells at eastern Rafah, with no injuries reported, witnesses said. In a statement released Friday morning, the Israeli army said the Israeli air force targeted “Hamas terror infrastructure” earlier at around 6 am Friday. The statement accused Hamas of launching mortar rounds since Tuesday “against forces during operational defensive activities adjacent to the security fence with the Gaza Strip,” adding that Friday morning’s offensive was the 12th such incident over the last three days. Israeli army spokesperson Peter Lerner said in response to the incident: ”The repeated attacks against the IDF (Israeli army) activities to locate and destroy cross border tunnels will not be tolerated. Hamas’ diabolical plan to infiltrate into Israeli communities must be stopped.” Later Friday afternoon, Israeli media outlet The Jerusalem Post reported a mortar fell adjacent to Israeli forces in southern Israel near the Gaza border, with no damage or injuries reported. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an they could not confirm the reports.
The Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine warned on Friday that Israel’s targeting of civilians and escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip would “push the resistance to reciprocate.”
The latest round of airstrikes on the besieged coastal enclave comes after Israeli shelling killed a Palestinian woman on Thursday, injuring at least one other Palestinian woman. The Israeli campaign began Wednesday evening launching several airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip, hours after Palestinian and Israeli shelling was exchanged across the border of the besieged enclave … Thursday’s airstrikes came only hours after Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouq announced that Egypt was mediating peace efforts to restore the 2014 truce negotiated between Israel and the Gaza Strip following a devastating Israeli offensive on the Palestinian territory.
For Gazans, Israeli shelling harks back to 2014 war
AL-FOUKHARI, Gaza (MEE) 6 May by Mohammed Omer — In the al-Foukhari neighbourhood, several residents feared a new Israeli offensive in Gaza as they came together to bury Zaina Attia al-Amour, a 54-year-old woman who was killed by an Israeli strike. At al-Reda mosque, relatives and friends gathered for a ceremony before the burial. Her son Mohammed al-Amour, who was released two months ago after a several-year stint in Israeli prisons, stood next to his mum’s body and kissed her forehead. “My mum was killed while sitting peacefully in our farm,” he said as his sister cried and two of Amour’s small grandchildren tried to wake up their grandmother. Several Israeli artillery shells hit the area where Amour lived along Gaza’s border with Israel. Residents are concerned that such tensions could be the start of a new war. “We are used to this practice of wars every two years,” said 41-year-old Abu Kareem, who attended the funeral. “But where else do we go? Nowhere is safe.” Al-Foukhari was one of the worst-hit areas during the 2014 Israeli offensive on Gaza, with many people killed and some trapped underneath the rubble of their homes until rescue teams were able to dig them out days later. Abu Kareem says that during the 2014 offensive, he had to leave his house and farm. After 51 days he came back to find his home partially destroyed, and every animal of his had died due to artillery shelling and a lack of water. Israeli warplanes bombed at least five positions around Gaza’s defunct international airport near the southern city of Rafah and in the nearby farming areas on Wednesday. As a result, several of the Bedouin families fled the area to stay with relatives in central Rafah. “How do I explain this displacement to my children? They wet their beds at night, they can’t leave me or their mom – but I am an adult and I don’t feel safe either. How can we as parents tell them they are safe?” Abu Kareem said. His youngest son screams each time he hears a door slam, he added … Human rights groups continued to express concern about the crisis. According to Rami Abdu, chairman of Euor-Mid Monitor for Human Rights, over the past 48 hours 29 artillery shells and 11 air strikes have hit the strip. Gaza’s health ministry said that in addition to Amour’s death, five civilians had been injured, including three children.
Projectile fired from Gaza lands in Israel, says IDF
JPost 7 May by Staff/Yaakov Lappin — A projectile fired from Gaza fell in an uninhabited area of the Eshkol region, the IDF said. No injuries or damage were initially reported….
Ismail Haniyeh says Hamas does not want renewed war but won’t accept buffer zone inside Gaza
Ynet 6 May by Elior Levy — Deputy Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh gave his first comments on the current escalation of violence between the IDF and Hamas on the Gaza border. “We are not calling for a new war but we will also not agree to intrusions and imposing facts in the Gaza Strip territory by the Israeli side. We are saying to a buffer zone inside the borders of Gaza and Israel has to understand this.” he said.
Israel finds Hamas tunnel under border with Gaza
The Guardian 5 May by Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem — The Israeli military has uncovered a new Hamas infiltration tunnel penetrating Israel from southern Gaza, on the same day it was revealed that an arrested Hamas member – who had entered Israel – had divulged details of the group’s wider tunnel network. The tunnel discovered on Thursday was the second found in a month. A few hours later Israel said it had arrested a Hamas member from Gaza who had disclosed large amounts of information about the tunnel network, although it did not link the latest tunnel discovery directly to that arrest. According to a statement released by the Israeli security agency, the Shin Bet, the Hamas member, Mohammad Atuna, 29, was arrested in early April after crossing the border fence into Israel, where he was planning to attack soldiers or civilians using knives found on him. Details of the arrest and interrogation emerged in an Israeli court. According to the released details, Atuna also disclosed the existence of a warren of Hamas tunnels within Gaza itself to be used to ferry fighters and equipment around the Gaza Strip, including rooms for relaxation equipped with showers and mess halls in order to improve the lives of the fighters. The arrested man reportedly spoke to his Israeli interrogators not only about tunnel locations but also techniques used in digging the tunnels, digging sites and shafts meant to be used by Hamas’s special forces trained for fighting within Israeli territory. The latest tunnel was found during an Israeli military operation 100 metres into the Gaza side of the border in the Palestinian coastal enclave’s south. The announcement of its discovery follows 36 hours in which Israeli forces came under fire from Hamas on half a dozen occasions – the most serious escalation since the end of the 2014 Gaza war. An Israeli military spokesman, Lt Col Peter Lerner, said it was too early to say whether the tunnel – found at a depth of 29m – was an old one or one that had been partially destroyed during the last war and reconstructed … Speculating on the sudden escalation in the past 24 hours, which has seen Israeli forces targeted by mortar fire, Lerner added: “We suspect mortar rounds fired at forces in several locations – including at the location where we found the tunnel – is a result of Hamas identifying that the Israel Defence Forces were closing in on those assets.” ….
Hamas defector, Sami Atawna, exposes location of second Hamas tunnel; Israel lies about its discovery
Tikun Olam 6 May by Richard Silverstein — The IDF announced today that it had discovered a second major tunnel leading from Gaza towards Israeli territory. The exposure of this tunnel, like that of the first one reported recently came, according to my Israeli security source, as the result of the defection of a senior Hamas commander, Sami Atawna, age 29. This has not stopped IDF Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, the prime minister and defense minister from lying to the public, claiming sophisticated new tunnel detection techniques and systems have uncovered these excavation projects … This is all utter nonsense. They didn’t find the tunnels due to technology or equipment. They did it through one of the oldest tricks known to intelligence services: defection. Interestingly, Yossi Melman reported (Hebrew) in recent days that the IDF has spent $250-million on its tunnel eradication projects since the 2014 war. It would seem to have little to show for it. You’d think that the Shabak would reward such a figure for the service he provided to the State of Israel. Usually, intelligence services are willing to offer serious blandishments to defectors who give such valuable information. But not Israel, apparently. Today, the State prosecutor announced it was charging Atawna (Hebrew) with a plot that is so wild and implausible that it can be discounted out of hand. He is accused of grabbing two knives and crossing the Israeli border to wage an attack on Israeli forces … So if the story has been concocted, why has it been and what is the true story? That’s harder to pin down. An alternate story circulating says that Atawna was kidnapped by Israel, rather than defected. The cover story might be devised to protect Israel from any charge that it had invaded Gaza territory to commit this kidnapping. But the most likely story is that it was invented in order to protect Atawna’s family from retribution at the hands of Hamas.
Israeli army vehicles invade Palestinian lands in southern Gaza
IMEMC 5 May — A number of armored Israeli military vehicles invaded, on Thursday morning, Palestinian agricultural lands east of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, while army drones and war jets flew overhead. Media sources in Gaza said the invasion was carried out by four Israeli tanks and three bulldozers; they came from the Sofa military base, across the border fence, northeast of Rafah, and advanced more than 150 meters into Palestinian lands. Army bulldozers and diggers then started digging and bulldozing the farmlands, close to the border fence. The invasion was carried out just a day after a number of army vehicles and bulldozers invaded the same area and bulldozed lands
Israeli army official: ‘No agreement regarding limiting army operations on Gaza border’
IMEMC 5 May by Saed Bannoura — Israeli Army Coordinator of Government Activities in the Occupied Territories, Major Maj. -Gen. Yoav ‘Poli’ Mordechai, said the Israeli army will continue its activities in border areas in the Gaza Strip, and denied any knowledge of an agreement on the issue. Mordechai stated the army intends to continue its operations “against Hamas,” adding that the Hamas movement is “digging tunnels in areas that are under full Israeli control.” He also said that the military will act against the tunnels in the “Buffer Zone,” across the border fence, and that “such tunnels and activities by Hamas target Israel’s sovereignty, and pose a threat to its security.” Meanwhile, member of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook, thanked the Qatari ambassador in Gaza in what he described as “his role in repelling the latest Israeli escalation against Rafah and Sheja‘eyya.” “The people of Gaza appreciate the role of Qatar, the Qatari ambassador, and his relentless efforts in preventing Israel from destroying what Qatar built in the Gaza Strip,” according to Abu Marzook
A night at sea with the fishermen of Gaza
[with many dramatic photos] Huff Post 5 May by Charlotte Alfred — When Israel’s navy last month expanded the area where Palestinians are allowed to sail off the coast of the Gaza Strip, fishermen hoped for the catch of the decade. Photographer Jehad Seftawi accompanied some of them on April 3 as they ventured more than six nautical miles off the coast for the first time since 2006. “The fishermen were feeling excited and curious,” said Seftawi, who works for a Palestinian media nonprofit called the Institute for Middle East Understanding. The sailors held great hopes of becoming active in Gaza’s fish markets again, he said. Expanding the fishing zone to nine nautical miles should add 400,000 shekels (about $106,000) to the annual revenue of Gaza’s fishing industry, the Israeli military estimates. Gaza’s 4,000 fishermen, many of whom come from generations of mariners, hope that will bear out. More than half of them currently live below the poverty line. “We fishermen can’t work in anything but our fishing profession,” Mohamed Nowaije, 28, told Seftawi, according to a transcript of a video the photographer took on the trip. “All our families are fishermen. From fishing, we learn the job of our fathers, and to be with our father and brothers.” After 18 hours at sea, they returned disappointed. The waters within the nine-nautical mile limit did not prove as fruitful as they had hoped. The new fishing zone extends south of Gaza City, and fishermen say a lot of it too sandy for much fish life. The area quickly became crowded as Gaza’s fishermen, many of whom use large trawlers, vied for space. “I found nothing on this trip — three, six and nine miles are all the same,” 32-year-old Raed Abu Owda, who was been working at sea since he was 11, told Seftawi as they sailed back to port. “This space is not enough for thousands of fishermen in Gaza with their boats.” ….
Israeli forces shoot at family harvesting crops on their land
GAZA, Occupied Palestine 2 May by ISM, Gaza Team — After more than six months risking their lives while ploughing, planting seeds and weeding their land, and after investing a large amount of money on seeds and on renting a tractor, the Qudaih family from the village of Khuzaa were finally ready to start harvesting their barley and the wheat two days ago. We arrived at the fields, located around 100 metres from the fence, at 7am. Around 9am one jeep from the Israeli occupation forces stopped in front of the farmers and a group of soldiers emerged. After a few minutes they fired several shots in the air, then returned to the jeep and left. 45 minutes later another jeep arrived. This time the soldiers fired shots on the ground next to the farmers and the ISM activists that were with them. The shots were near misses, just a few centimetres from their feet. As if this was not terrifying enough, next they fired shots close to the farmers’ and activists’ heads. At that moment most of the farmers started to run away from their fields, terrified by the whistling sounds of the bullets flying around them. One Bedouin man that was picking herbs for his animals lay down on the ground hiding behind his donkey, while the soldiers fired shots more than five times just a few centimetres from him. The shooting didn’t even stop when everyone started to run away, preventing the farmers to secure their horse cart holding what little harvest they had collected until they were attacked. These families now have to choose between losing all the money invested as well as their main sustenance for the year, or continue trying to harvest the crops on their land – despite the risk of someone getting killed or disabled.
Land damage has Gazans pointing finger at ‘Egypt pipeline’
[with photos] AFP 5 May — When huge sinkholes and deep cracks began appearing across the ploughed fields and asphalt roads of the southern Gaza Strip, residents and farmers knew better than to blame natural causes. Although no one has ever seen it, locals around Rafah city — on Gaza’s border with Egypt — claim the culprit of this landscape destruction is a one-metre wide underground pipeline set up by Cairo to pump seawater deep into the frontier earth. Cairo has never confirmed the pipe’s existence, but Palestinians are adamant it is being used to deliberately flood smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. Egypt says the cross-border tunnel network has allowed militant groups to smuggle personnel and weapons between the enclave and the vast Sinai desert, where security forces are battling a jihadist insurgency. But the sea water is also allegedly devastating the quality of the earth, leading crops to fail, while destroying some of the trade tunnels that have formed a lifeline for Palestinians living under Israeli blockade. Plumes of smoke rise on the horizon in the southern border area caused by the Egyptian army bombing jihadists who carry out near-daily attacks on security forces in the Sinai. A few metres from the border, under a plastic shelter between deep craters, a group of Palestinians are struggling to scoop puddles of water out of a tunnel which plunges into the sand. Coated to the knees in mud, they scrabble to solidify the cracking walls. “There is mud, mud everywhere,” laments one of the men who, like others, refused to disclose his identity. “One hundred people used to work here every day. It’s all over now.” … Cairo makes no distinction between tunnels for commercial or military purposes … Palestinians believe the flooding of the area has played a major role in a spate of separate tunnel collapses so far this year, in which at least 15 Palestinians — including 11 Hamas fighters — have died….
Report: Hamas claims to foil plot by Abbas rival Dahlan to stage coup in Gaza Strip
JPost 5 May by Maayan Groisman — Hamas security forces have arrested a cell formed by a crony of the exiled former Fatah stalwart, Mohammad Dahlan, aimed at staging a coup in the Gaza Strip, the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Arabi al-Jadeed reported Wednesday. The cell, forged by the former head of the Palestinian Authority General Intelligence Services Tawfik Tirawi, was allegedly preparing to carry out a series of assassinations against Fatah leaders in Gaza, and paint them as part of an “ISIS scheme to destabilize the Gaza Strip.” According to Yahya Musa, a member of the Hamas Legislature in Gaza, the cell was headed by a Fatah activist named Marwa al-Masri, an ardent supporter of Dahlan, who maintained contact with Tirawi. Masri was arrested by Hamas security forces on April 20, as she tried to leave Gaza for the West Bank. Musa said that Hamas conveyed the information related to the cell to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in order to urge him to take measures against Tirawi. The latter, as claimed by Musa, was planning to sow insecurity in Gaza, in order to paint it as a beacon of terror and instability, thereby enabling Dahlan to present himself as “Gaza’s savior” and seize power. A report disseminated on Twitter by a user named Tameh Gazawi, claimed that Dahlan has appointed Masri to establish armed forces that would carry out terror attacks against people affiliated with Hamas and the Iran-linked al-Sabireen movement. According to the report, the responsibility for these attacks was to be claimed by Fatah members who pretended to be fighters in “Gaza Province,” ISIS’s branch in the coastal city. The report specified that those Fatah members were documented as ISIS fighters in special videos in which they wore military uniforms and threatened to attack Hamas and kill Shi’ites in Gaza. Masri herself thoroughly denied Hamas’s allegations about her and said that by spreading such reports, Hamas aims at igniting a war inside Fatah. She added that there is no coup plot against the movement’s leaders and that these are only “disagreements.”
Photo essay: Gaza teenager runs for Palestine
MAGHAZI, Gaza (Al Jazeera) 6 May by Lena Odgaard — Tying the shoelaces of her bright green trainers, Inas Nofal prepares for her daily morning run. As Gaza’s first and only competitive female runner, the 15-year-old makes heads turn when she races down the streets. “Running is my life,” Nofal told Al Jazeera. “Before I go to sleep, I think about which routes I’ll run the next day.” Nofal started running last year with the support of a local coach, Sami Nateel al-Balad. Nofal’s father, Mahmoud, tirelessly follows the two in his car, ready to intervene if his daughter faces harassment from authorities or the community. “Some people object to girls running and say bad things. It upsets me, but I try to hide it from Inas, because I don’t want it to discourage her from her dream,” Mahmoud said, noting he hopes she will help to change how society views girls and women. Nofal hopes to win medals for Palestine at international competitions, but facilities for professional athletes are limited in Gaza. Three wars with Israel in less than a decade have caused major destruction in the small coastal enclave, leaving limited resources for sports and recreational activities. Last month, Nofal suffered a further setback when she and dozens of other runners from Gaza were denied permits by Israel to travel to Bethlehem for the Palestine Marathon, which aims to shed light on Israeli-imposed restrictions on movement for Palestinians….
In Gaza, hand surgery gets remote assistance from Beirut
Reuters 4 May — At a hospital in northern Gaza, a young patient is being prepared for hand surgery as one of the doctors leading the operation watches on — from nearly 200 miles away in Beirut. In the Lebanese capital Doctor Ghassan Abu Sitta is guiding colleagues at Gaza’s Al-Awda hospital via an online interactive platform known as Proximie, which allows the medical teams to communicate and work together via tablet computers. Doctors in Lebanon attempted remote surgery in the region for the first time at the weekend with the tool. Its makers hope it will help doctors such as Hafez Abu Khousa in Gaza, whose patient needed specialist plastic surgery his team could not provide unaided. “It is like the consultant is with you in the same room, giving you an opinion so that the surgery can be perfect,” Abu Khousa said after the operation. He was guided via live video and by his Lebanese counterpart drawing markers over an image of the patient’s hand….
‘Romeo and Juliet’ takes on local twist in Gaza performance
GAZA CITY (AP) 5 May by Fares Akram — Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” has opened to audiences in the Gaza Strip, albeit with a distinctly Palestinian twist. Instead of the forbidden love story of Renaissance-era European aristocracy, the star-crossed young couple in Gaza’s version of the play is divided by politics stemming from the deep internal Palestinian split between two rival movements. Yousef, a son of a member of Gaza’s ruling Islamic militant group Hamas, falls in love with Suha, the daughter of a fanatical member of the rival Fatah party, rather than Shakespeare’s feuding Montagues and Capulets. Dubbed “Romeo and Juliet in Gaza,” the performance has brought a rare taste of foreign culture to this conservative and isolated territory. But it is even more noteworthy for its critical look at the political rift that has crippled life in Gaza for nearly a decade.”It’s a call for love; to give a space for love and for youths to dream of a beautiful future away from the current state in Gaza, especially the youths and their suffering,” said director Ali Abu Yassin … The play was performed eight times last month — just as the Hamas-controlled police prevented academics and national figures from holding a conference calling for unity with Fatah. On a recent evening at Al-Mis’hal Cultural Center in Gaza City, the audience laughed and clapped — and on occasion, even got up on its feet in appreciation of the 70-minute performance on the theater’s modest stage … However, in the Gaza take on Shakespeare’s famous story, the ending is different. Yousef, like hundreds of young Gaza men, flees to board an illegal migrant boat promising a better life in Europe, as Suha screams for him to return. His fate is never revealed, a reminder of dozens of Gazans who disappeared when a migrant boat sank in 2014. The European families in the original tragedy reconciled after the death of the star-crossed lovers, but in the Gaza version, they remain enemies. Mohammed Zoghbor, a doctor who watched the play, says the ending reflects the lack of hope in the bitterly divided Palestinian society….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers / Judaization
‘Israel only officially recognizes Jewish holy sites’
+972 mag 6 May by Orly Noy — The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the most sacred places in the world for Christianity. Yet Israel does not officially recognize it as a holy site. Why? Because the State of Israel does not recognize any holy site that is not Jewish in the territories under its control, as is demonstrated in a new report called Selectively Sacred: Holy Sites in Jerusalem and its Environs, published by the Emek Shaveh organization, written by Attorney Eitay Mack … In 1981, as “Basic Law: Jerusalem Capital of Israel was being legislated, Israel presented a list of 16 holy sites as part of its Regulations for the Preservation of Holy Places for Jews. All of them were strictly for Jews, including, among other things, the Shimon Hatzadik Cave (in East Jerusalem’s contested Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood), Yad Avshalom, and of course, the Western Wall and any over ground or underground passage whose entrance goes through the plaza. “The fact that according to law, anything that leads to the Western Wall – and not the Wall itself – is holy, is outrageous,” says Yonatan Mizrachi, an archaeologist with Emek Shaveh. “It means all the tunnels leading to the Western wall are holy too. There are digs being done all the time under the Palestinian village of Silwan, so one day, they will declare these tunnels a holy site to Jews as well? What will happen to those Palestinian houses?” …
All the attempts to promote a bill in the Knesset to formally recognize holy sites for Muslims have failed … So how absurd does this system get? Here it is summed up in a nutshell, from the report: “The Sanctification of Jeremiah’s Grotto (located near the bus stop on Sultan Suleiman Street in Jerusalem) for Jews, without its being recognized in parallel as holy to the Christians, has now enabled an infringement upon the Garden Tomb, one of the key Christian sites in Jerusalem. The area of Zedekiah’s Cave takes up 15 percent of the area of the Muslim Quarter. Thus, in the absence of formal recognition in the laws or regulation of the cave as holy to Jews, 15 percent of the underground area of the Muslim Quarter has become “holy” in Judaism through the workings of the Ministry of Religious Services and the National Center for the Development of Holy Places.’ ….
IOF bans Palestinian from building house south of al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 6 May — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) handed a stop of construction notice to the Palestinian Ayed al-Shawahin, ordering him to stop the construction process of his home in Yatta town to the south of al-Khalil after storming the structure and confiscating some of the construction materials. Coordinator of the popular committee against settlement in Yatta, Ratib al-Jabour, told Quds Press that the IOF claims lack of construction permits. The house owner, however, applied for a permit years ago in vain, Jabour pointed out.
Palestinian family regains access to Jerusalem home after settler takeover
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 5 May — A Palestinian family has regained access to its house in occupied East Jerusalem, ending a lengthy legal battle which began when an organization of Israeli settlers took over the home a year and a half earlier, a local information center said on Thursday. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that the family of Safiq al-Khayyat had regained access to their house after a 20-month legal battle against Israeli settler organization Ir David, also known as Elad, which evicted the al-Khayyats and 22 other families from their homes in the neighborhood of Silwan in September 2014. The al-Khayyat family’s lawyer, Midhat Daybah, said the court had decided to evacuate settlers from the first floor of the family’s property, after the Israeli central court in Jerusalem rejected an appeal by Elad and the Kandil real estate company in December. A prior ruling in November 2014 had allowed the organization and private Israeli guards to remain in the building.
BDS / Activism / Solidarity
New UN database of companies complicit in Israel’s occupation
BDS Movement 5 May by Ingrid Jaradat — Last month, in a landmark decision, the United Nations Human Rights Council decided to establish a database of all companies implicated in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, including the city of East Jerusalem. Finally, after years of toothless UN condemnations of settlements – which are a flagrant violation of international law and a major obstacle to justice and peace in the region – there will be an official UN list that names and exposes businesses that have for decades enabled and profited from Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and other human rights abuses … Legally speaking, all UN-listed companies are to immediately stop their dealings with Israeli settlements and member states are to ensure that they do so. Additionally, investors and contractors, whether governments, local authorities or private entities, have repeatedly been urged by UN experts to avoid engagement with such companies until they end their illegal business dealings in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Companies that will be listed in this UN database are not only those based or operating inside Israeli settlements, but basically all companies doing business with the state of Israel or private Israeli actors operating in occupied Palestinian land, including East Jerusalem….
Conscientious objector deserves a place in Israel’s history books
Haaretz 5 May by Uri Misgav — While the public has taken an Israeli soldier accused of manslaughter to its heart, it’s highly significant that the plight of 19-year-old Tair Kaminer has passed without recognition — Sometimes an individual becomes a national story. This happens when the person’s story acts as a symbol – of the Zeitgeist; of a political process; a social trend. For example, modern American history reserves a place of honor for Rosa Parks, the black woman who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama, one day in 1955. In Israel, we’ve recently had the case of Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier indicted for manslaughter after the fatal shooting of a wounded and subdued Palestinian assailant in the West Bank settlement of Tel Rumeida, Hebron. Azaria was dubbed “everyone’s child,” and there was tremendous public support for him. On the other end of the spectrum is Tair Kaminer. At 19, Kaminer is the same age as Azaria and is also being dealt with by the military justice system. On Tuesday, she was given her fifth prison sentence – this time 30 days – for her conscientious objection to enlisting in what she sees as an occupying army. She has already served nearly 100 days behind bars in Military Prison 6. If she serves the latest sentence in full, she will set an Israeli record in this area. But Kaminer has not become a symbol, and her abuse is of interest to only a limited public … I don’t think one has to agree with Kaminer’s ideology to be shocked by the way she’s been treated. At this point, I first ask myself how long the judicial officers will keep sending her to military prison. Perhaps till the end of her life, a sort of life sentence with breaks to go home to do laundry? Do they want to smash her spirit or her soul? … Kaminer is a young, ethical person who is politically and socially aware. She spent a year as a volunteer after high school, working with traumatized children in Sderot. When the time came for her to be drafted, she had various options to avoid military service … But Kaminer refused to lie and insisted on telling her truth: that she can’t, in good conscience, serve in the army so long as Israel is a state that uses the army to maintain the occupation and settlement enterprise. Confronted by this truth, the security establishment – through its recruiting officers and military justice system – is not prepared to turn a blind eye.…
Bethlehem: At least 250 activists join the Freedom March
BETHLEHEM 7 May by Ghassan Bannoura — As is the case every first Friday of every month, the Combatants for Peace Movement, in collaboration with a number of Palestinian and Israeli NGOs, organized on Friday in the monthly peaceful demonstration against the occupation and the violence it creates. Protesters gathered at Batteer village roundabout adjacent to road 60 marched heading to the tunnel checkpoint. Around 300 Palestinian and Israeli activists joined the freedom march. During the protest people chanted against the occupation and settlements. Before the checkpoint a Palestinian rap group from Jerusalem performed. “Our joined work against the occupation and settlements aims to create a better future of the coming generations.” Soliman Al Khateeb – Palestinian Manager of CFP The Combatants for Peace Movement calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with its capital Jerusalem. CFP uses nonviolent means and calls on both nations to join us to achieve peace and reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis. CFP is a group of Palestinians and Israelis who have taken an active part in the cycle of violence in the region: Israeli soldiers serving in the army and Palestinians as combatants fighting to free their country, Palestine, from the Israeli occupation.
The Holocaust — Remembrance Day
The Holocaust survivor who’s had enough of memorials in Israel
JERUSALEM (MEE) 5 May by Ron Donaghy — Israelis should not use the Holocaust for political gain and must instead learn a moral lesson about not victimising Palestinians, a leading Holocaust survivor told Middle East Eye. Mira Knei-Paz, 71, said the Holocaust has become politicised in Israel and called on Israelis to learn from the mass murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany during World War II. “I’m very much against using the Holocaust to gain compassion,” she told MEE in her apartment, just a stone’s throw from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home in the upscale Jerusalem district of Rehavia. On Thursday at 10am, sirens sounded across Israel to signal a two-minute silence that brought the country to a standstill to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. Paz said Israelis do not think deeply about the commemoration, that instead it has been politicised to legitimise the country acting “cruelly” towards Palestinians. “People commemorate the Holocaust, but they don’t think why they are doing it. It was a big trauma, but it’s over,” she said, adding that she has “had enough of Holocaust Memorial Day”. “Now we, fortunately, have a state, we can defend ourselves and so we should look at the Israeli-Palestinian problem from a completely different angle. “We were persecuted, now we are conquerors. “The moral lesson from the Holocaust is that we as victims should not victimise others…” Paz was born on 14 June 1944, just as the Nazis had begun to carry out the mass exterminations of Jews in her home country, which was then Yugoslavia and is now part of Hungary …Her father, David, was one of the first people to be killed at the concentration camp of Auschwitz, in Poland, where the Nazis murdered an estimated 1.1 million Jews. Paz was born while her mother was working on a farm in Austria, after having escaped from a train that was carrying her towards a fate probably the same as her husband’s. Secretly given birth to in a pig shed, Paz was kept in a hospital for the first 11 months of her life … “The cruelty with which we have acted towards the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is very painful for me,” she said. “And this racism has been imported to Israel, where Israeli Arabs and Ethiopian Jews are subjected to tremendous prejudice. It shouldn’t be this way.” … As a survivor of the Holocaust, it might be expected that Paz’s voice would be respected, but she said the survivors are not only ignored, but also face avoidable hardships themselves. ….
45,000 Holocaust survivors live below poverty line in Israel
Al-Monitor 5 May by Akiva Eldar — Every year, as sirens blare throughout the country marking the national Holocaust Remembrance Day, I reflect on my uncle, my aunt and the cousins I never knew. I think of my father-in-law who survived a forced labor camp in Hungary and of my mother-in-law who lived in hiding. In recent years, a cynical politician has been taking advantage of these hours of solemn reverie to score points with the public. This year too, on the evening of May 4, the national fear monger, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was true to his tradition of trivializing the Holocaust. Once again he sprinkled his speech at the official memorial ceremony with demagogic comparisons between the Nazis and Iran, between the incitement against helpless European Jewry and the incitement against Israel the occupier. Yet again he presented the great Zionist enterprise as a retaliatory operation against the Nazi annihilation enterprise. At last year’s ceremony on April 2015, the prime minister outdid himself when he told participants how a survivor had implored him to prevent another Holocaust. “I responded: ‘That is exactly how I see my responsibility. That is exactly how I see my responsibility.’” Speaking at the annual ceremony at Yad Vashem in 2013, Netanyahu mentioned Iran no fewer than four times so that we would know that “in every generation we must see ourselves as if we have survived the Holocaust.” … Over the past few years, a fairly new tradition has been added to Holocaust Remembrance Day: The media features empty refrigerators of elderly survivors and the politicians promise that survivors will “never again” be poor — even though 45,000 of the estimated 189,000 survivors subsist below the poverty line. On the 2013 memorial day, Netanyahu announced that the government had decided to allocate additional resources for the survivors’ welfare, care and medications, “and we will add as much as needed, with an open heart.” Al-Monitor sought to find out whether the situation of the survivors had improved in recent years, or whether the memorial day has been utilized to spread empty promises in addition to spreading gratuitous fear among the public. We spoke this week with former Labor Party Knesset member Colette Avital, chairwoman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors, an umbrella group for more than 55 organizations dedicated to improving the welfare of the survivors and preserving the memory of the Holocaust….
Opinion: The deeper meaning of IDF general’s Holocaust comparison
+972 mag 5 May by Dahlia Scheindlin — Headlines in Israel are blaring this Holocaust Day over a statement by the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the IDF, General Yair Golan, comparing trends in Israel to those in Germany leading up to the Holocaust. At the official state ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday evening, Golan gave a short speech in which he said, among other things: “If there’s one thing that scares me about Holocaust memory, it’s identifying revolting trends that took place in Europe in general, and Germany in particular, 70, 80, 90 years ago, and finding evidence of them amongst ourselves, today, in 2016. After all, there’s nothing easier and simpler than hating the stranger. There’s nothing easier and simpler than fear-mongering and sowing terror. There’s nothing easier and simpler than to become thuggish, morally bankrupt, and self-righteous.” Of course all nuances were destroyed in the media storm that ensued … The text isn’t really saying that Israel might do or is doing terrible things like the Nazis. It isn’t even just about comparing the very incipient stages of intolerance towards the other-du-jour, which he carefully said happened 70 but also 80 and 90 years ago – before the Final Solution was conceived … I read him as saying that survival actually means not only physical life or even a sovereign state, but it means being better people … He longs for an Israel in which people do “personal soul-searching,” on Yom Kippur, as well as “national soul-searching” on Holocaust Day – indeed he says this is our obligation. To whom? I believe he meant that it is our obligation to ourselves, in order to survive. I cannot see this as Holocaust denial. Golan is warning the country to tear out the roots of destruction before they sprout fruit of any kind.
PA decision to limit security coordination with Israel ‘very serious this time’
GAZA (Ma‘an) 7 May — The secretary of Fatah’s revolutionary council said Saturday that a Palestinian Authority decision to limit relations with Israel is “very serious this time.” Amin Maqboul told Ma‘an that the decision was made to “end all security coordination, and it was referred to security agencies to implement under the supervision of political leadership, to end it either gradually or completely.” The Fatah official said that in light of the “complexity” of security relations between the two sides, ending security coordination might increase tensions with Israel and lead to Israeli incursions into Palestinian areas without coordination, which might lead to armed fighting. The main motivation behind ending the PA’s security relationship with Israel, Maqboul stressed, was for the PA to not remain silent about the near nightly detention raids conducted by Israeli forces inside the West Bank, which legitimizes Israel’s illegal occupation of these areas. He added that the decision did not mean the PA was declaring an intention to begin armed fighting with Israel or indicate a “shift from one stage to another,” but was merely made in response to Israel’s refusal to stop entering Area A — the 18 percent of the occupied West Bank which are officially under full Palestinian civil and security jurisdiction.
International organization calls on the PA to release minor captive
LONDON (PIC) 6 May — Arab Organization for Human Rights in the UK called on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to release the 17-year-old Ahmad Miskawi, from Balata refugee camp, who has been detained at the PA’s preventive apparatus in Nablus for two months. In a statement on Thursday, the organization revealed that the detention order pending the mayor’s decision is an administration detention order which has been widely practiced by the PA’s security forces. According to this order, the decision of detention or release is determined by the mayor away from judicial control, and denies detainees’ rights of being brought to legal trials. The organization expressed its concerns over the continuation of the arrest of juvenile Miskawi, who is in the tenth grade, and pointed out that his family is worried about the possibility of missing the school year. A previous report by the same organization showed that the PA’s security apparatuses arrested about 1,715 citizens including 25 women, 27 minors, 68 journalists, and 422 university students over the last year.
Israel’s military gov’t ordered to publish regulations in Arabic
+972 mag 6 May by Natasha Roth — Israel’s military government is once again rebuked in court over its continued failure to meet the bare minimum of its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act, and moreover must compensate the NGO petitioning to bring it to account — Israel’s military government, which rules over millions of Palestinians, was hit with a nearly unprecedented court ruling and rebuke this week for flouting its obligation to publish regulations in Arabic. The Civil Administration — which is a part of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), itself part of the Defense Ministry — now has six weeks in which to publish all its outstanding policies and procedures in both Arabic and Hebrew, documents that directly affect 2.8 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. There are currently 25 procedures that have not been published at all in either language, and a further four which have not been published in Arabic … The documents in question dictate fundamental, day-to-day processes for Palestinians in the West Bank, such as obtaining travel and work visas, getting entry permits into Israel and dealing with medical requests. Palestinians’ ability to go abroad, attend weddings, visit sick relatives and live in one place or another are all subject to these procedures. Access to this information in Arabic is therefore critical for Palestinians subject to Israel’s military regime, in order for them to know what their rights are and how they can claim them. Without this knowledge an occupied population is at the mercy of the whims of the occupier and a crucial passage of legal recourse is blocked off, as illustrated by a former COGAT policy that randomly barred Palestinians from entering Eilat….
US getting tougher with Israel over settlements
WASHINGTON (AP) 7 May — The United States will endorse a tougher tone with Israel in an upcoming international report that takes the Jewish state to task over settlements, demolitions and property seizures on land the Palestinians claim for a future state, diplomats told The Associated Press. The U.S. and its fellow Mideast mediators also will chastise Palestinian leaders for failing to rein in anti-Israeli violence. But the diplomats involved in drafting the document said its primary focus will be a surge of construction in Jewish housing in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The U.S. approval of the harsh language marks a subtle shift. Washington has traditionally tempered statements by the so-called “Quartet” of mediators with careful diplomatic language, but the diplomats said the U.S. in this case will align itself closer to the positions of the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, who emphasize Israel’s role in the Mideast impasse. The report’s release is sure to infuriate Israel, where officials are already bracing for expected criticism. And on the other side, although the mediators will endorse some long-standing Palestinian complaints, the Palestinians are likely to complain the report does not go far enough. Diplomats acknowledge the report, which could come out in late May or June, will be largely symbolic, requiring no action. It could be unveiled at the U.N. and possibly sent to the Security Council for an endorsement, according to the diplomats, who included three U.S. officials … The diplomats said the report is intended to highlight obstacles to a two-state peace agreement — the stated goal of both Israeli and Palestinian leaders — and offer recommendations for restarting negotiations in a process that is stalled….
Allegations of Israeli human rights violations closely scrutinized, says US State Department
Haaretz 6 May — The Obama administration has assured Democratic members of Congress that it is closely tracking allegations of Israeli human rights violations and will restrict United States military aid to Israel if the claims prove true, the Politico website reported on Thursday. The statement came in a State Department response to a letter sent to Secretary of State John Kerry in February by senior Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy and 10 other Democratic Congressmen. “There have been a disturbing number of reports of possible gross violations of human rights by security forces in Israel and Egypt,” the congressmen wrote. “[These] incidents may have involved recipients, or potential recipients, of U.S. military assistance. We urge you to determine if these reports are credible and to inform us on your findings.” The letter listed several examples of alleged human rights violations in both Egypt and Israel, including potential extrajudicial killings of four people by Israeli security forces. The letter was blasted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said in a statement that “the IDF and security forces are not murderers.” “Where is the concern for the violations of the human rights of many Israelis who have been murdered or wounded by criminal killers?” Netanyahu asked. “This letter should have been addressed to those who incite children to engage in acts of cruel terrorism.” Leahy is the author of the Leahy Law, which conditions U.S. military aid to foreign countries on their human rights records. Dated April 18, the State Department response explains that it has a careful, Leahy-related vetting process for foreign military units that U.S. embassies nominate for American training and assistance. U.S. embassies often choose not to even nominate units for aid if they suspect human rights violations, the response said….
Support for Palestinians triples among US youth, survey finds
EI 5 May by Ali Abunimah — If you look at the headline numbers, Israel should not have too much to worry about: 54 percent of Americans sympathize more with Israel, while 19 percent sympathize more with the Palestinians. About 17 percent say they stand with neither or equally with both. Strong public support is seen by Israel backers as an essential guarantee that the US will remain Israel’s biggest financier and arms supplier long into the future. These numbers come from a new national survey by the Pew Research Center. According to Pew, the number of Americans sympathizing with the Palestinians has gone up by five percentage points since July 2014 – the beginning of Israel’s 51-day assault on Gaza that killed more than 2,200 people, including 551 children. Pew calls that a “modest” increase – though across the country it would represent millions of people changing their views. But dig deeper into the findings and it is apparent that Israel’s support is eroding in key sectors of the US population. Virtually all of the increase in sympathy for Palestinians “has come among Democrats, especially liberal Democrats,” Pew states. The number of liberal Democrats sympathizing more with the Palestinians has nearly doubled over the past two years, from 21 to 40 percent … The findings also confirm that support for the Palestinians is rising fastest among the young – the so-called Millennials born after 1980. “Currently, 43 percent of Millennials report sympathizing more with Israel, while 27 percent are more sympathetic to the Palestinians,” Pew states. “The share sympathizing with the Palestinians has risen significantly in recent years, from nine percent in 2006 to 20 percent in July 2014 to 27 percent today” – in other words it has tripled….
Netanyahu offers history lesson to UN staff over resolution
JERUSALEM (AP) 6 May — Israel’s prime minister offered on Friday to personally host a lecture on Jewish history for local U.N. staff following outrage over a resolution adopted by the U.N. cultural agency that put the Western Wall in Jerusalem — Judaism’s holiest site — in quotation marks and described other Jewish sites as “so-called.” Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “shocked to hear that UNESCO adopted a decision denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, our holiest site.” The Israeli leader expressed disbelief that “anyone, let alone an organization tasked with preserving history, could deny this link which spans thousands of years.” The resolution was sponsored by several Arab countries and adopted by UNESCO’s 58-nation executive board last month. Israelis and many Jews and others around the world were appalled by the language. The resolution was seen as a disavowal by UNESCO of ancient Jewish ties to the holy sites in Jerusalem and elsewhere. It referred to the sites by their Arabic or English names or, in the case of the Western Wall, used quotation marks around the name. Many people viewed it as the latest example of an ingrained anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, where Israel and its allies are far outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters. It was also the latest chapter in Israel’s rocky relations with UNESCO, which it accuses of making decisions out of political considerations.
Israel to open permanent office in NATO headquarters
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 May — NATO gave Israel the green light this week to open a permanent office in the Belgium headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after Turkey lifted its veto. “The North Atlantic Council has agreed to accept the request that an official Israeli mission be established at NATO headquarters,” NATO said in a statement on Tuesday. “The ambassador of Israel to the European Union will therefore be the head of the mission of Israel to NATO.” The Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday that the decision was the result of “prolonged Israeli diplomatic efforts.” “I welcome the NATO announcement,” the statement quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying. “This is an important step in helping Israel’s security.” Netanyahu further added that this was a sign of “the willingness of many organizations to cooperate with us in the field of security.” The decision was seen by some experts as carrying more of a symbolic than strategic weight, website Defense News reported on Thursday. “It’s not as if Israel is becoming a NATO member. It certainly doesn’t commit NATO allies to come to our aid if under attack, which in any case is something we don’t need or want,” the news website quoted DeZaki Shalom, a fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, as saying.