Rights group: Gaza power crisis has claimed 29 Palestinian lives
GAZA (PIC) 9 May — The power crisis in Gaza has led to the death of 29 Palestinians, mostly children, since 2010, a human rights group said. According to a report released on Sunday by al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, all those victims either burned alive or suffocated to death by thick smoke after they used unsafe alternative means to light their homes as a result of prolonged power outages. The report pointed to the tragic death of three children from the al-Hindi family a few days ago in a fire caused by a candle lit in their bedroom. The center expressed its deep regret for the continual loss of life due to the aggravating electricity problem, which it said “is directly caused by the absence of Palestinian consensus.”
Violence / Detention — West Bank / Jerusalem
Two Palestinians injured, one seriously, by army fire near Jerusalem
IMEMC 11 May — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday morning, the village of Kafr Aqab, north of occupied East Jerusalem, shot and injured two Palestinians, one seriously, in clashes that took place with local youths. Medical sources said one Palestinian suffered a life-threatening wound, after the soldiers shot him with a live round in the chest. Palestinian medics moved him to a hospital in Jerusalem. They added that the soldiers also shot another Palestinian, with a live round in his leg, before medics moved him to a hospital in Ramallah, suffering a moderate injury. The clashes erupted after dozens of soldiers invaded Kafr Aqab and Qalandia refugee camp, and initiated extensive searches of homes, while interrogating many residents. The soldiers also broke into, and searched many stores.
Israeli soldier wounded in explosion at West Bank checkpoint
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 May — An explosive device was planted and detonated at the Hizma checkpoint in the occupied West Bank north of Jerusalem near the illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev on Tuesday evening, wounding an Israeli soldier, the Israeli army said. The soldier was reportedly seriously wounded in the blast, which occurred after he inspected a suspicious object near the checkpoint, and was evacuated to Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem for emergency medical treatment. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that Israeli forces were still unaware of the identity of the suspect responsible for planting the explosive device. The incident at the checkpoint occurred after Israeli authorities announced they would impose a closure on all checkpoints in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip while Israel celebrates its independence day.
Two elderly Israeli women injured in alleged stabbing attempt in E. Jerusalem settlement
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 May — Two elderly Israeli women were reportedly stabbed in an Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday morning, Israeli police said. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that five elderly Israelis were hiking in a park in the settlement of East Talpiyot on Tuesday morning when they were attacked by two masked individuals who fled the scene. A spokeswoman for the Shaare Zedek Medical Center said that two women in their 80s were being treated in the trauma unit, with one suffering from wounds in the upper back. She added that both were in moderate but stable condition. Two suspects were detained in the nearby Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir in connection to the attacks, but subsequently released in the early evening, al-Samri said, adding that investigations by Israeli police were ongoing.
Students, health workers suffer effects of tear gas inhalation in Hebron
IMEMC 10 May — Israeli soldiers fired, Monday, several gas bombs at students and health workers of the “Health Work Committees,” in Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, causing many to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. The nursing students and health workers are with the Emergency Center of the Health Work Committees, in the southern part of Hebron. They were trying to cross the Abu ar-Reesh Israeli military roadblock, when the soldiers started firing gas bombs at them, causing many to suffer severe effects of tear gas inhalation. Some of the Israeli gas bombs were fired directly into the health center. The Emergency Unit of the Health Work Committees has been subject to numerous Israeli violations and invasions, as the soldiers repeatedly fired gas bombs into the building and sprayed it with waste-water mixed with chemicals, in addition to repeated assaults targeting its workers and their freedom of movement. The center provides medical services to more than 60.000 Palestinians in the area, and is also subject to attacks by fanatic Israeli colonists, and frequent army invasions.
Israeli forces raid supermarket near Bethlehem, confiscate surveillance camera footage
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 May — Israeli forces raided a supermarket in the town of al-Khader near Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank on Wednesday, confiscating the hard drives of surveillance cameras placed outside. The owner of the Al-Naji supermarket, Muhammad Mousa Ghneim, told Ma‘an he received a call from a neighbor around 2:30 a.m. informing him that Israeli soldiers were planning to raid the supermarket. According to the neighbor, Israeli soldiers knocked on his door and said they wanted someone to open the doors of Ghneim’s supermarket. Ghneim then rushed to the supermarket and opened the doors for the Israeli soldiers before they could break in. Ghneim said Israeli forces took the hard drives of two outdoor surveillance cameras from the supermarket, as well as the hard drives of surveillance cameras from a nearby private office, before leaving the area. The purpose of the raid and the confiscation of the hard drives remains unclear.
Young men block road near Bethlehem after PA force carry out arrests
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 May — Young Palestinian men closed down a main road in the village of Dar Salah east of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday night, after Palestinian police detained a number of suspects from the village. Palestinian police spokesman Luay Irzeiqat told Ma‘an that police forces entered the village and arrested a number of people wanted for unspecified offenses. In protest, Irzeiqat added, a group of young men closed the main road with rocks and tires and threw stones at police officers. Backup security forces later arrived to the scene, dispersed the crowd and reopened the road, the police spokesman added. The Palestinian Authority has been faced with growing discontent in the occupied Palestinian territory, with the Hamas movement in April accusing it of adopting a “revolving door policy” that funnels Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons as part of “escalating security collaboration” with Israeli authorities.
Israeli soldiers kidnap 14 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 10 May — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, overnight and on Tuesday at dawn, at least fourteen Palestinians, including several children, in different parts of the occupied West Bank. The PPS said the soldiers invaded several communities in the Ramallah and al-Biereh District, in the central West Bank, searched many homes and kidnapped four Palestinians, identified as Cristiano Sam Zahran, 16, Saif Rasem Hussein, 17, Hasan Ahmad Antoush, 16, from Deir Abu Mashal town, and Hazem al-Qawasma, 28. The soldiers also invaded homes in Qotna and al-‘Ezariyya towns, near occupied Jerusalem, and kidnapped Wisam Mohammad Houshiyya, Hasan Mustafa Houshiyya, Mohammad Yousef Shamasna, and Mohammad Omar Roumi, 17. In addition, the soldiers kidnapped Ahmad Mazen Abu Khdeir, 14, in Shu‘fat neighborhood, Jerusalem. Furthermore, the soldiers kidnapped Bara’ Nawwaf al-‘Amer, 21, from the northern West Bank district of Nablus, and Hamza Fathi Qar’awi, 30, from Ein Shams refugee camp, in the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem. The PPS also said that the soldiers kidnapped Mohammad Taher ‘Asayra, 49, from ‘Azzoun town, in the northern West Bank district of Qalqilia, Emad Yousef Sheikh, 16, from Marah Rabah village, in Bethlehem, and Shaher Yahya Abu Jheishe, in the southern West Bank district of Hebron.
Israeli soldiers kidnap two Palestinians in Jerusalem and Nablus
IMEMC 11 May — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Wednesday at dawn, two Palestinians in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, and in Jerusalem, after invading their homes and searching them. The Nablus office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that the soldiers invaded Tal village, southwest of Nablus, and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Fayez Abdul-Rahman Ramadan, 45. In addition, the soldiers kidnapped a dentist from his home in Abu Dis town, southeast of occupied East Jerusalem, after breaking into his home and searching it. The PPS said the kidnapped dentist has been identified as Samer Ayyad, and that the soldiers also invaded his clinic in the town, and violently searched it.
Israeli soldiers kidnap a child near Salfit
IMEMC 12 May — Israeli soldiers invaded, late on Wednesday at night, Kafr ed-Deek town, west of the central West Bank city of Salfit, and kidnapped a child from his home. Eyewitnesses said several army vehicles invaded the town, before the soldiers violently searched a few homes, and kidnapped the child, identified as Amro Ibrahim Qassoul, 15. It is worth mentioning that, a month ago, the soldiers invaded the same property, and kidnapped Amro’s brother, Zahi, who is still under interrogation.
IOF detains Jerusalemite lady for possessing a knife
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 9 May — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained a Jerusalemite young woman on Monday afternoon for having a knife in her possession. The 0404 Hebrew website said that IOF soldiers at Zaituna roadblock to the east of occupied Jerusalem suspected the lady was planning something after they told her to go away from the road barrier but she returned anew. The site said that the soldiers searched the young woman and found a knife in her possession, adding that she was taken for investigation.
Israeli police install security cameras near Ghawanmeh gate
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 10 May — Israeli police installed security cameras at the Ghawanmeh gate’s minaret in the northwest corner of the Aqsa Mosque within a campaign of fixing dozens of mobile digital cameras at various locations. The Islamic Awqaf Department along with the Awqaf council and the higher Islamic committee in Occupied Jerusalem condemned the Israeli measure. They considered the move as violating the status quo and understandings applicable in Jerusalem since its eastern part was occupied by Israel in 1967. Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Awqaf Department, denounced the measure and said it is a blatant violation of Muslims’ rights of worship as well as the international norms and laws. Khatib underlined that the Ministry of Awqaf, the government and the Jordanian Royal Diwan were acquainted with these Israeli violations which also included installing cameras at al-Magharebah gate and above the windows of al-Tankaziya School which overlooks the Aqsa Mosque from the eastern side.
Restrictions on movement / Closures
Israel boycott campaigner ‘prevented from travel’
AFP 10 May — Israeli authorities have refused to renew the travel documents of a leader of a campaign to boycott the Jewish state, officials said Tuesday. Omar Barghouti is one of the most prominent campaigners in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which campaigns for a global boycott of Israel until, amongst other demands, the country withdraws from all occupied Palestinian territories. Israel sees it as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism — a claim BDS denies. Barghouti was informed last month that the interior ministry would not renew his travel documents, which are usually granted to permanent residents of Israel who do not have full citizenship. An interior ministry spokeswoman told AFP that Barghouti could not yet receive his travel documents since Interior Minister Aryeh Deri was considering revoking his permanent residency. “The minister wants to consider his status. He lives in Ramallah most of the time and part of what determines one’s permanent residency is where the centre of life is,” she said. “His (BDS) activities are also part of this.” Barghouti, whose family are Palestinian but who was born in the Gulf state of Qatar, married an Israeli citizen of Arab descent, entitling him to claim permanent residency. Barghouti denied that he had ever been permanently based in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “I reside with my family in our home in Acre (in Israel),” he told AFP. “I’ve had Israeli permanent residency for almost 23 years, in accordance with the law and without any violations.” He said that he had been due to attend two major events in California in recent weeks but had been prevented from doing so, though he did speak to them via Skype. “Effectively I cannot travel at all,” he told AFP. Israel is imposing this travel ban on me, demonising me and threatening me to intimidate me into silence,” he added, vowing to continue his work.
Should Palestinian father of 12-year-old girl with knife be barred from working in Israel?
HALHOUL, West Bank (The Forward) 10 May by Naomi Zeveloff — Released from Israeli prison, the 12-year-old girl went home to a festive scene in Halhoul, a town outside Hebron in the occupied West Bank. Bouquets of roses and sunflowers greeted Dima al-Wawi, who served two and a half months in an Israeli prison after she was arrested with a knife outside an Israeli settlement, intending to stab a security guard. Hamas, the Halhoul municipality and a Palestinian prisoner’s group feted the preteen, thought to be the youngest female Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail ever, with banners that hung outside the family home. But inside the two-story house, al-Wawi’s father, 54-year-old Ismail al-Wawi, was not celebrating. His young daughter’s act cost him his work permit into Israel, where he was a construction worker on a train line between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. As visitors and journalists streamed into the living room, he wondered how he would provide for his family of 11 when all the attention and celebrations died down … Sylvia Piterman, a volunteer with Machsom (Checkpoint) Watch, says she has seen an “extreme” increase in the number of family members of attackers who have lost their work permits. That includes people with family members serving long jail terms that began before the most recent spate of attacks. And it’s not just limited to the direct family. She he has seen several cases in which the “whole hamula ,” or extended family, has lost work permits into Israel when one of their relatives has attacked Israelis. The revocation of work permits for families of assailants is part of a broader Israeli crackdown on Palestinian violence, although attacks by Palestinians with work permits are rare….
Israel imposes ‘general closure’ on Palestinian territory for Israeli Independence Day
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 May — Israeli authorities declared a “general closure” on Gaza and the occupied West Bank since midnight on Tuesday and continuing until midnight on Thursday as Israel celebrates its Memorial and Independence day. The general closure was implemented on the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip yesterday, marking Israeli Memorial day, and will continue until the finish of Israel’s Independence day on Thursday. Crossings into Israel from the West Bank and Gaza are only being permitted in humanitarian cases. However, a representative of the Palestinian Authority (PA) has requested approval for Palestinians in need of serious medical assistance, a spokesperson for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told Ma‘an. An Israeli army spokesperson said the closure was implemented following an army “security assessment” and added that the closure restrictions included the passage of products and the movement of people into Israel and its illegal settlements.
Palestinian dies of wounds suffered in 2003
IMEMC 11 May — A Palestinian resistance fighter died on Wednesday morning of serious wounds he suffered in 2003, after Israeli soldiers fired missiles into Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region. Palestinian medical sources said Shadi Abu Shaqra, in his thirties, from Khan Younis, died in Barzelai Israeli hospital following very serious complications. Abu Shaqra was a member of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fateh movement; he suffered a serious injury after the Israeli army fired missiles, before invading Khan Younis. Since then, he has been in and out of various hospitals, constantly suffering very serious complications, and was recently moved Barzelai hospital, where he died from his wounds. The Palestinian also received treatment in Germany, where the doctors told him he needed to return within ten years so that they could remove remaining fragments lodged in his chest, lung and back. His initial transfer to Germany came under direct orders from late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. In a previous interview with Shams Palestinian news agency, Abu Shaqra said the siege on Gaza prevented him from traveling again out of the coastal region, and he started suffering various complications, including paralysis, and the doctors even had to remove parts of his liver, stomach and his spleen.
Egypt reopens Rafah crossing for second day
[with photos] GAZA CITY (Ma’an) 12 May — Egyptian authorities reopened the Rafah crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip for the second day in a row on Thursday, after an 85-day closure. The Gaza crossings committee said that 443 Palestinians were able to enter Egypt on Wednesday, while an untold number of Palestinians stuck abroad were able to re-enter the Gaza Strip. Seven buses and several ambulances were also admitted through the crossing during the day, according to the committee. Priority was given to Egyptian passport holders, humanitarian cases, students and Palestinians with foreign residency. Egyptian authorities also allowed cement trucks to enter the Palestinian side via the crossing. The Gaza Ministry of Interior said on Wednesday that the two-day opening was too short a time to process the more than 30,000 passengers registered to cross and waiting for their turn, including humanitarian cases, students who attend schools abroad, patients in need of treatment outside of Gaza, and visa holders who live and work abroad.
Gaza crossing briefly opened by Egypt, but even cancer patients remain caged
RAFAH CROSSING, Gaza (MEE) 11 May by Mohammed Omer — With her papers held loosely in her hands, Wafa Abunukira sits quietly at the crossing point with her husband. For the past 85 days, the 50-year-old mother has been waiting for a miracle, or for the gates to open. “I have applied to leave via Israel, but was never granted a permission,” Abunukira, a cancer patient whose life depends on medical treatment unavailable in the poorly equipped hospitals of the blockaded Palestinian enclave, told Middle East Eye. Now her only option is to leave Gaza via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. When Egyptian authorities announced the crossing would be opened on Wednesday and Thursday, Abunukira was among those waiting patiently at dawn behind the closed gates. But she is not the only one who wishes to leave, and only limited numbers – usually a few hundred people – are permitted to cross into Egypt daily, even during the rare periods when the border is open. As a cancer patient, one would think she would be a priority, but that is not the case. Abunukira is one of more than 30,000 Palestinians who are registered with the interior ministry for travel, most of whom have medical conditions, are students or holders of residence permits in other countries, according to Iyad al-Buzum, Gaza’s de-facto interior ministry spokesman. “I have got a hospital appointment in Israel three times and each time I waited for the exit permit, but then nothing happened,” she said, holding a document showing an appointment for cancer radiotherapy treatment at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem….
Israeli forces open fire at farmers, fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 May — Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian farmers in lands near the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip early on Thursday morning. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces deployed in military towers at the border fence in Khuza‘a, east of Khan Yunis, opened fire at farmers who were harvesting their wheat.
Meanwhile, Israeli navy forces opened fire at fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip, Gaza City and the southern Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported.
How does harvesting wheat threaten Israel?
GAZA STRIP (EI) 10 May by Rami Almeghari — Zaina Attia al-Amour, known as Um Hani, was harvesting wheat when Israel attacked. “I heard a loud explosion,” said her brother Tayseer, who was nearby. “I rushed to the farm after I saw smoke in the sky. When I found Um Hami she was covered in blood.” Tayseer could tell almost immediately how his 54-year-old sister was killed. The Israeli military had fired shells towards the farm. Overcome by grief, Tayseer began screaming and kicking sand in the direction of the troops on the boundary between Gaza and present-day Israel. Um Hani lived in the neighborhood of al-Foukhari in southern Gaza. Its people have suffered enormously from Israeli aggression. Al-Foukhari was one of the areas most severely affected by Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza. Some of the victims of that attack were trapped under the rubble of their homes for days before they could be dug out by rescue teams…
–Unimaginable– “We didn’t imagine that the Israeli troops would fire at the farm,” said [her sister] Fatima. “They know who we are. We are local villagers, who farm our land.” Um Hani had looked after the farm since her husband died more than a decade ago. She lived a simple life. When not working, she often watched news on a small TV set in her bedroom. She liked to be informed about current affairs. Her bedroom had little more than a mattress and a few cushions. Earlier on the day she was killed, Um Hani had spent time playing with her grandson. She also joked with her son Ghazi about who exactly owned a new animal on the farm. “She said to me, ‘Ghazi, the new sheep is mine, not yours,’” Ghazi recalled. “She was teasing us; she wanted to have fun. I didn’t know it was the last time I would see her smile.”
Israel’s blockade keeps Gaza in the dark
AL Jazeera 11 May by Ylenia Gostoli — Israel’s siege on Gaza has caused a massive electricity crisis, affecting all aspects of daily life — The electricity crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip affects every facet of daily life, from making bread, to obtaining medical treatment, to earning a living. It also endangers lives: Last week, three siblings were burned alive after the candles they were using during a power cut set their house on fire. Gaza is currently on a schedule of eight hours off and eight hours on, but even this is unreliable and subject to frequent change. Distribution is unequal, and cuts of up to two hours are common during each eight-hour span. The bombing of Gaza’s power plant in 2006, coupled with sanctions and restrictions imposed as part of Israel’s blockade on the coastal enclave, have exacerbated the crisis, while the electricity network suffered further damage in the 2014 war. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah and the Hamas authorities in Gaza have been at a stalemate on how to solve it. At the funeral of the three siblings last week, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh blamed the crisis on PA policies, such as imposing fuel taxes and refusing to build a gas pipeline to increase the power station’s capacity … Here, Al Jazeera profiles a cross-section of Gaza residents who have been affected by the power crisis in different ways … The al-Arair family still lives in makeshift caravans built on the site of their destroyed home in Shujayea … “When it rains, our caravan is at risk of electrocution,” Muataz’s mother, Asmahan, told Al Jazeera. “The children are afraid of touching the doors. They keep crying until someone comes and opens the door for them. We go to bed worrying about flooding and fires.” … At Khan Younis’ Nasser hospital, nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit, specialising in the care of premature babies, work on a permanent state of alert. “The babies need the incubator to live on. The most important thing is the ventilator. When the electricity cuts off, it’s dangerous. It needs to be continuous,” nurse Amany Sadeq, 28, told Al Jazeera. “When the ventilator is down, we have to give manual oxygen to the babies until the electricity comes back,” she added. “Two months ago, we had to continue pumping oxygen to the babies for two hours, as the hospital was completely out and they were trying to stretch an electricity line from the municipality. The temperature of the incubator is also important and needs to be stable.”….
Gaza: Palestinians made homeless by Israeli bombs watch as foreign money goes to rebuilding mosques instead of homes
GAZA CITY (The Telegraph) 11 May by Raf Sanchez — Soad Qassem’s family home and the Imam Shafi’i mosque were destroyed by Israeli bombs within a few weeks of each other during the 2014 Gaza War. Today there are detailed architectural plans for rebuilding the mosque and a £2 million grant from a Malaysian group to pay for its four new minarets, its lakeside garden and its golden dome. For Mrs Qassem, and the nine family members living with her in a caravan on what was once the site of their home, there is no plan and no foreign money to help them rebuild. “Donor countries have millions to spend on mosques but they have nothing for us,” the 72-year-old said. “They should build homes and feed the people first before they build expensive mosques.” Similar scenes are playing out across Gaza as Palestinians made homeless two years ago watch in frustration as governments and wealthy individuals throughout the Islamic world spend money rebuilding mosques instead of houses … Turkey’s government is the single largest force in the mosque-building programme and is working on nine mosques simultaneously, according to Hamas’s religious ministry. Wealthy groups and individuals from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia are also financing their own projects. Building mosques is a relatively inexpensive and high-profile way to be seen supporting the Palestinian people … But for many of the 75,000 Gazans still displaced after the war, the mosque projects feel like grandstanding while they wait desperately for help … “We can’t argue that mosques are bad but first they should look after families who lost homes and look to the normal people who have destroyed houses,” said I’tidal Abu Ouda as she stood in the shell of her house in Beit Hanoun. The large three-story building was once home to 52 people, including Mrs Abu Ouda’s seven adult sons and daughters and their many children. Most of the family has scattered now but its matriarch and her unmarried son Soad are still sleeping there to keep out squatters. They huddle under blankets in rooms with blown out walls that are open to the night sky. “This place is simple, we don’t care about fancy mosques. We’re not Saudi,” said Mrs Abu Ouda … Mr El-Nawajha and other religious men in Gaza argue that the mosque is more than a house of worship: it is also a place for education, community meetings and health programmes. “The mosque is an incubator for our society,” he said. “Nothing is more important than the mosque, not even a school or a house.”
Water pollution reaches catastrophic levels in Gaza
KHAN YOUNIS (EI) 10 May by Isra Saleh al-Namey — The 34-year-old had started to do the laundry but the supply of water at her home ran out. And though he had spent a long day at school, her son Ahmad, 11, went back and forth nearly half a kilometer a dozen times to fetch buckets of water from a truck near the municipality building in Khan Younis, where the family lives. The laundry had to be done. Mother and child have gotten used to this routine. “The norm is not to have water during the day,” Abeer told The Electronic Intifada. “It is very tiring for my child to fill a bucket and carry it at least 400 meters like this.” Frequent power cuts in Gaza have made it impossible to provide homes with running water all day. With summer approaching, moreover, Gaza is threatened with a water scarcity crisis that has been compounded by successive Israeli military assaults and a nearly 10-year-old blockade. Muhammad Abu Shamala, an official at the Khan Younis water plant, describes the situation as “catastrophic.” “Pollution of our water resources has reached alarming proportions and the salinity of the underground aquifer continues to increase,” Abu Shamala said. The United Nations stated that Palestinians in Gaza use on average less than half of the minimum 100 liters of water per person per day recommended by the World Health Organization. By way of contrast, Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank use 369 liters per person per day. The Khan Younis municipality has no capacity to address mounting concerns: there is a lack of functioning infrastructure and no ability to undertake repairs. The necessary building materials are either difficult or impossible to import because of the Israeli-imposed siege … The official said approximately 100 million cubic meters of water are lost annually because of poor infrastructure. Winter downpours could have replenished reservoirs had they been properly functioning but al-Shanti estimates that, instead, 60 percent of rainwater simply seeps into the sea … To mitigate the crisis, Gaza’s municipality now buys an extra 5 million cubic meters of water every year from Israel, doubling the previous amount. But the al-Muntar reservoir that had been built to receive extra water was destroyed by Israel in 2014 and, al-Shanti said, Gaza does not get to use the full amount of water. “Our facilities cannot save the whole amount of water we buy, at a high price,” he said….
Young man detained by Gaza police for protesting high unemployment
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 May — Three days on, Palestinian police in the Gaza Strip were still detaining a young man arrested while protesting the crippling unemployment levels in the besieged Palestinian territory, a rights group said on Tuesday. The Gaza-based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights reported that a group of 15 unemployed university alumni gathered on Monday evening in the Shaborah neighborhood of the southern city of Rafah to stage a sit-in strike and begin a hunger strike in response to the high unemployment and dire living conditions in the Gaza Strip. According to al-Mezan, two police vehicles arrived at the scene and arrested Ikrima Mitwalli, 24, before forcibly dispersing the protesters. Al-Mezan said in a statement that Mitwalli was still in the custody of security forces from the Hamas-run government in Gaza. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), 193,000 people were unemployed in Gaza in 2015, representing a staggering 41 percent of the population of working age, while trade unions in the blockaded Palestinian territory have estimated that the unemployment rate was closer to 60 percent.
QRCS opens social support center in Gaza
DOHA (The Peninsula) 9 May — Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) has opened a new centre of social and psychological support in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza, in partnership with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS). The opening ceremony was attended by Dr. Akram Nassar, Head of QRCS office in Gaza, Dr Younis Al Khatib, President, PRCS, top officials of Italian Red Cross and Danish Red Cross and PRCS personnel and volunteers. QRCS is sponsoring the psychological support program for victims of the 2014 war on Gaza, at a cost of $135,000. Dr Nassar commended the strong relations between QRCS and PRCS, which is playing a significant role in improving the psychological conditions of Palestinians, especially at times of war, said a statement. “The opening of this centre is part of QRCS’s continuous efforts to develop the psychological service facilities in Gaza, under its program to relieve the victims of the 2014 war on Gaza. So far, this program has covered more than 6,000 families”….
RAF gives 252 scholarships to poor Gaza students
DOHA (The Peninsula) 11 May — Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services (RAF) has granted 252 scholarships to limited income Palestine students in Gaza at a cost of about QR2m for a year. The scholarships were given within an educational support programme run by RAF for Palestine students. The list of the beneficiary candidates was provided by the Islamic University in Gaza. The beneficiaries of the scholarships worth QR1.88m are university students in Gaza including 167 orphans and children of martyrs, 82 meritorious students and three from families of prisoners. “The scholarship will cover the educational fees of beneficiaries for two semesters,” said Dr Nazmi Al Masri, Vice President of the Islamic University.
Why the US is promoting crops grown in Gaza
NPR 11 May by Emily Harris — Crispy fried sardines. Spicy labneh dip for sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumbers. Chilled arugula lemonade. The top U.S. diplomat in Jerusalem, Counsel General Donald Blome, served Gaza-style cuisine at a garden party Monday night. Sound like the old-fashioned society pages? Nope. This is U.S. policy at work. The event was designed to promote the potential of agribusiness in Gaza and tout new U.S. government investment in that crowded, narrow strip of Palestinian territory on the Mediterranean Sea. One investment target is agriculture. Although Gaza is small and crowded, arable land lies between cities and around the edges of the strip. In some crowded urban refugee camps, small citrus and olive groves are tucked between concrete buildings. Recently, development organizations have promoted rooftop gardens. The U.S. interest in getting Gaza agriculture and the larger economy going is, in part, security. The goal, Blome said in an interview, is “to provide an economic vision of the future, at a time when you see alternative visions being promoted throughout the region that are violent and extremist in nature.” He says it’s especially important that young Gazans will have “some kind of economic opportunities, that they will have a way forward.” … after the militant Islamist group Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, Israel, citing security, created a buffer zone around the border, taking over crop and grazing land, and blocked Gaza products. Truckloads of all exiting goods — Gaza also used to produce furniture and textiles — dropped from over 9,000 in 2005 to 33 in 2008. … Harden says the high level of need in Gaza after the destruction of the 2014 conflict led to, among other things, a tactical change in the U.S. approach: For the first time since 2003, the aid agency is now allowed to hire American contractors to do work directly for the U.S. government in Gaza, rather than only provide grants to support NGO work.
US announces $50 million aid program for the Gaza Strip
JERUSALEM (AP) 9 May — The United States has announced a $50 million aid program for the Gaza Strip. U.S. officials said Monday that the money will be used over five years to provide basic humanitarian assistance and create jobs. The money will be distributed by the U.S Agency for International Development in partnership with Catholic Relief Services. The U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, Donald A. Blome, said the effort is meant to address “the dire needs that are obvious in Gaza.”
Gaza’s first food truck brings out the hungry and curious
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 11 May by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Mahmoud al-Hasnat, 28, had hoped to find himself standing in front of a camera while holding a microphone after graduating as a journalist from the Faculty of Information at the Palestine Polytechnic University. Instead, these days, he is standing with his brother Moath, 24, behind the window of a truck they designed and turned into a mobile food caravan they named Karmoshty, which in Arabic means “bite.” There are several fast food-related professions in Gaza, but the food truck the Hasnat brothers inaugurated March 28 is the first of its kind in Gaza. It was an emergency response to the high rate of unemployment in Gaza but inspired by practices in Europe. The brothers, proud of their business, no longer despair over opportunities lost … Moath told Al-Monitor, “I studied software and databases at the University College of Applied Sciences, but I did not find the right job. Many employers gave me empty promises, but no one helps youths find work. This is why we came up with this project as a family, and we are watching as it gradually succeeds.” According to a 2015 report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of unemployed people 15 to 29 years old stood at 30.2%. According to gender in that age group, 25% of men and 60.4% of women were found to be unemployed.
Prisoners / Deportees / Court actions
Israel court convicts Palestinian boy of murder attempt
Al Jazeera 11 May by Zena Tahhan — Israel’s Jerusalem District court has convicted a 14-year-old Palestinian boy on two charges of attempted murder after he allegedly carried out a stabbing attack on two Israelis. Ahmed Manasra was with his cousin, 15-year-old Hassan Manasra, who was shot dead by Israeli police after the incident on October 12 at the illegal Pisgat Zeev settlement in occupied East Jerusalem. “There was no kind of justice in the court’s handling of the case – this was an unjust decision. We did not expect it,” Ahmed’s father Saleh Manasra told Al Jazeera. Shortly after the alleged attack, Manasra was hit by an Israeli driver who rammed him with his car. A video showing Ahmed bleeding on the ground and gasping for help was shared widely, garnering media attention. Voices of Israeli bystanders shouting and swearing at the boy, telling him to “die”, were heard in the video, causing outrage. “He did not have the intention to kill anyone – he and his cousin were merely trying to scare Israelis with the knife. There is no evidence that he tried to stab anyone,” Tariq Barghouti, Ahmed’s lawyer, told Al Jazeera. “This is a racist court and a court of the occupation. It had a preconceived notion about the incident due to the media uproar and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s statements about it…
Israeli Arab gets one year in prison for driving terrorist to scene of November stabbings
Haaretz 5 May by Almog Ben Zikri — Prosecutors say they agreed to a lighter punishment under a plea deal because Zuheir Huzayil had had no idea he was driving an assailant — Be’er Sheva’s Magistrates Court sentenced Zuheir Huzayil, 37, of Rahat, to a year in prison for driving a terrorist to the site of a stabbing attack in Kiryat Gat in November. The verdict was part of a plea deal.
An indictment charged Huzayil with picking up five Palestinians in Israel illegally near Shomriya, which borders on the West Bank. Each passenger paid him 100 shekels. One of the passengers was a Hebron man who stabbed and wounded four Israelis on November 21, includng two women, a girl of 13 and a man. Huzayil has a previous criminal record including previous jail terms for crimes involving drugs and domestic violence. His sentence also includes a 12 month suspension of his driver’s license and a 10,000 shekel fine. Prosecutors justified the plea deal saying there was “substantial evidentiary difficulties” and that Huzayil had had no idea he was driving a terrorist.
Driver who helped Jaffa terrorist charged with negligent homicide
Ynet 10 May by Yael Friedson — Mohamed Awida, 30, who drove terrorist Bashar Masalha to Jaffa where the latter went on a stabbing spree that ended with the death of American Tyler Force, was charged on Tuesday with negligent homicide and with managing a network transporting illegal workers into Israel. According to the indictment, the Palestinian resident of Jerusalem has been driving illegal workers into Israel once a week for close to a year. For each passenger, Awida received NIS 150-200. Masalha, a resident of Qalqilya, used to ride with Awida once a week. On the day of the attack, Awida transported the terrorist and five other illegal workers into Israel. He dropped the others in the Triangle Area while Masalha was dropped off near the mosque in Jaffa, from where the terrorist began his stabbing spree, stabbing Force to death and wounding 11 others. According to the indictment, Awida was negligent and caused death by “driving hundreds of illegal workers into crowded population centers inside the borders of the State of Israel without having checked or known what tools they were carrying,” noting that “he should have expected that a terrorist could be among the hundreds of residents of the territories that he drove into Israel who will commit an attack and cause the death and injury of people.” Charging an illegal workers’ driver with negligent homicide is unusual, but the State Attorney’s Office sought to send a deterring message to drivers of illegal workers that they are responsible for the people they smuggle into Israel.
Israeli court hands prison sentence to Palestinian astrophysicist over Facebook posts
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 May — An Israeli court at the Ofer detention center in the central occupied West Bank on Tuesday sentenced a well-known Palestinian astrophysicist to two months in prison over statements made on social media, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said. In a statement, PPS head lawyer Jawad Boulos confirmed that Imad Barghouti, a physics and astronomy professor at Al-Quds University in the occupied East Jerusalem town of Abu Dis, was sentenced over Facebook posts allegedly “inciting against Israeli occupation.” Boulos said that the court reduced its initial verdict of three months in prison to two months in administrative detention. The contested practice of administrative detention is generally used by Israeli authorities as a means of internment without charges or trial, making the 54-year-old professor’s sentence highly unusual. The lawyer added that Barghouthi’s defense would appeal the court’s decision. Academics across the world have signed a petition, which was submitted during Tuesday’s court hearing, protesting Barghouthi’s detention. Barghouthi, who comes from the village of Beit Rima in the Ramallah district, was detained by Israeli forces in late April at the Nabi Saleh checkpoint in the occupied West Bank. The scientist had previously been detained in late 2014 as he was trying to cross into Jordan on his way to attend a conference in the United Arab Emirates. His lawyer said at the time that Barghouthi’s detention was due to his stance on the devastating Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip earlier that year, which killed more than 2,000 Palestinians. In recent months, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by “incitement.”
Israel jails Palestinian beautician over Facebook post
BETHLEHEM, occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 11 May by Allison Deger — Family “shocked and furious” after Facebook post leads to 45-day imprisonment for Majd Atwan— As uniformed men burst through her front gate last month, Nidal Atwan first thought they had come to her Bethlehem-area home to arrest her 16-year-old son, Mohammed. “It was two o’clock in the morning. If you saw the number of military jeeps, you’d think Osama bin Laden was in the neighbourhood,” recalled Nidal’s husband, Yousef. To their surprise, soldiers pulled Nidal aside and asked after the whereabouts of her 22-year-old daughter, Majd, a makeup artist with a passion for bold hair colours and crystal-enhanced manicures. In disbelief, Nidal asked the commander to show her the warrant, which stated that Majd was wanted on incitement charges over posts made on social media. “I was shocked and furious,” Nidal told Al Jazeera. “It struck me immediately, once they said they wanted Majd, that it was probably over Facebook,” Yousef added….
IOF deprives female ex-detainee of going to university
NABLUS (PIC) 10 May — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) handed a letter to 21-year-old Palestinian ex-detainee girl Asma al-Qadah banning her from going to university for five months which threatens her completion of university studies. Islam al-Qadah told Quds Press that Israeli intelligence forces summoned his sister to be interviewed in Ariel settlement and handed her the ban order one month after her release after three months of administrative detention with no charge or trial. Asma al-Qadah is a Bachelor student in the English Department. She serves as the cultural committee secretary at the student union council. She is affiliated with the Islamic bloc, the student wing of Hamas Movement, in Beirzit University.
Israel issues 13 administrative detention orders against Palestinians
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 May — Israeli authorities issued 13 administrative detention orders against Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society reported. A lawyer for the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), Mahmoud al-Halabi, added that nine of the orders were issued against Palestinian prisoners who had already spent months or years in administrative detention … Israel’s policy of administrative detention allows the Israeli army to hold prisoners indefinitely without charging them or allowing them to stand trial, as Israeli authorities can renew a prisoner’s detention every three to six months without reason. The widely condemned policy is almost exclusively used against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, with numerous rights groups claiming it represents a grave violation of human rights and contravenes international law. Administrative detention orders were issued against (the following persons):
Detainee Janazra suspends his hunger strike
IMEMC 11 May by Saed Bannoura — The Palestinian Detainees’ Committee (PPS) reported, on Wednesday morning, that hunger-striking detainee Sami Janazra has suspended his hunger strike that lasted for 69 days protesting his administrative detention. The PPS said the detainee decided to suspend his strike for seven days, awaiting the decision of the Israeli prosecution to either indict him or renew his administrative detention. His decision was made after the Israeli Supreme Court decided, Tuesday, to delay the deliberations on his defense attorney’s appeal against the administrative detention order, in order to continue his interrogation, and examine the possibility for filing charges against him. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the latest developments are positive, as the Israeli prosecutor has been refusing to indict him in order to keep him under administrative detention, under the pretext of a “secret file” that neither the lawyer or the detainee can know its contents. The PPS added that Janazra intends to resume his strike should Israel decide to keep him under administrative detention, without charges. Janazra’s lawyer said the Israeli Prosecutor’s Office said, on Tuesday, that it had received new information on the case which requires resuming his interrogation, before deciding to hold him under administrative detention or take an alternative route. The detainee will be receiving liquids, including soups, in the coming seven days, and will like take supplements and vitamins. Janazra is from the al-Fawwar refugee camp, in Hebron.
After 14 years in Gaza, Nativity Church deportees ask to return to Bethlehem
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 May — A group of Palestinians deported to the Gaza Strip following the 2002 siege on the Nativity Church in Bethlehem rallied outside UN offices on Tuesday, commemorating their 14th year in exile as they urged the international organization to help them return to their homes in Bethlehem. “For how long will this suffering continue?” Muayyad al-Janazreh, one of the 26 “Nativity Church deportees,” said to reporters during the rally. Citing the “indifference” of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to their plight, Janazreh reprimanded the PA for their failure to appoint an official body to manage their cases in order for them to reunite with their families in the occupied West Bank. Janazreh also urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to work on ending the suffering of all Palestinians who were deported to the Gaza Strip and to European countries following the 40-day siege on the church. The deportees, many of whom have been estranged from their families since the deportation, urged the PA’s Civil Affairs Minister, Hussein al-Sheikh, to help their relatives obtain permits to visit them in Gaza. The deportees then handed a letter to UN officials, requesting that it be delivered to UN’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Around 220 locals, including several dozen resistance fighters and 40 priests and nuns, sought sanctuary inside the church on April 2, 2002 when Israeli tanks surrounded Bethlehem. The siege on the site believed to be Jesus’ birthplace sparked outrage in the Vatican, as monks sheltering inside pleaded for international assistance. The Israeli military shocked the world by responding with attacks on the ancient holy place that left eight Palestinians dead and 27 injured. The siege came to an end on May 10, when the Israelis struck a deal with Palestinian leaders that ultimately saw 39 Palestinians who had sought sanctuary in the church exiled to Gaza and Europe.
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Mohammad Al-Khatib nominated for ‘Front Line Defenders Award’
IMEMC 12 May by Saed Bannoura — Mohammad Khatib, a senior human rights defender from the village of Bil‘in in the central West Bank district of Ramallah is one of six human rights defenders around the world nominated for the Front Line Defender Award for 2016. The nominees are from Palestine, Azerbaijan, Burma/Myanmar, Colombia, Honduras and Tanzania. The award is given annually to human rights defenders who, through their nonviolent work and courage, make an outstanding promotion, and protection of the human rights of their communities, often at great personal risk. Mohammad Khatib is a member of the Popular Committee against the Wall in Bil‘in village, and is the first Palestinian to be nominated for this award, and reaches the final stage for the Middle East region this year. Talking to FM24 Radio in Ramallah, Khatib said that this nomination is a great personal honor, and an honor to every person who participated in the popular, nonviolent resistance against Israel’s illegal colonies and its Annexation Wall in the West Bank….
Palestinian student leaders facing jail for opposing occupation
RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank (MEE) 9 May by Rori Donaghy & Lubna Masarwa — Students at Palestine’s leading university will choose their new president on 16 May, after recent elections in which a Hamas-linked bloc won a majority of seats, but a prominent student activist says their new leader will almost certainly be imprisoned by Israeli authorities. The three men and two women who make up Birzeit University’s student council have faced no problems in finding candidates to become the new president, despite incumbent Saif Islam Ghaghlas being held without charge in an Israeli prison since December last year. Ghaghlas is one of 90 students, one university employee, and two instructors from Birzeit who are all currently in Israeli prisons, according to a university statement, which said the detentions were an attack on the “right to education”. The Hamas bloc’s recent victory at Birzeit may be one reason why Israeli authorities have arrested scores of the university’s students … Birzeit has a richly diverse student body, with young Palestinians coming from all over the occupied West Bank to study there, which is why when it holds its annual student elections many look to it as a measure of Palestinian public opinion….
In photos: Israel’s war against nonviolent resistance in Hebron
HEBRON 9 May by Claire Thomas — Issa Amro is committed to peaceful resistance to the Israeli occupation in his native West Bank city of Hebron, despite frequent arrests, attacks by settlers and other unrelenting efforts to sabotage his work … Amro, 36, founded the direct action group Youth Against Settlements. “We go to universities, we go to schools and we organize activities within our community to teach the youth how to resist the occupation using nonviolence,” he said. Every year, Youth Against Settlements organizes a week of activities as part of the Open Shuhada Street campaign, calling for the reopening of one of Hebron’s former main commercial thoroughfares, which the Israeli army has shuttered and closed to Palestinians since 1994 … While Amro was detained, one of the settlers approached him. “He told me that each dog has his own day to be killed, meant to intimidate me and to describe me as a dog,” Amro recalled. As people gathered, waiting for Amro and the other Palestinians to be released, the infamously violent settler Anat Cohen drove her car directly into the crowd. Several military units were called to the scene but none made any attempt to restrain Cohen. Yet in recent months soldiers have shot dead numerous Palestinians who Israel said used their cars as weapons against Israelis….
Dear Mr. Smith, I’m wearing your uniform in prison
Haaretz 11 May by Tair Kaminer — Tair Kaminer, 19, from Tel Aviv, was sentenced on May 3 to 30 more days in military prison for refusing to enlist in the Israeli army, after serving 95 days — Dear Mr. Smith, You don’t know me, but I feel that we are very close. For the past 20 days I’ve been wearing your shirt. At least it was yours when you served in the American army. See, I’m in Israel’s military prison, and our uniforms — the uniforms of the prisoners in military jail — were donated by your country to my country. Yes, that’s really what we wear, the desert camouflage uniforms of the U.S. Army; some of the jackets still have U.S. ARMY sewn on the left pocket flap and the last name of the soldier on the right flap, in capital letters. This time, I got the jacket with your name sewn on the right side. I want to tell you why I’m in jail. I’m in prison because I refused to enlist in the Israeli army. I object to continuing the occupation in the territories. I asked to do alternative civilian service, but they won’t let me. This time, when this uniform was given a name, I thought about you. I wondered what you think, how do you feel about my wearing your uniform? ….
Israel Prize winner donates cash award to Israeli group that helps Palestinians
Haaretz 11 May by Nir Hasson — Israel Prize laureate Prof. David Shulman announced on Wednesday that he would donate his 75,000 shekel ($20,000) cash prize to Ta‘ayush, an Israeli group that assists Palestinian residents of the South Hebron Hills. Shulman, who is an active member of Ta‘ayush, will receive his prize on Thursday, in the context of the Independence Day celebrations. The Hebrew University academic was awarded the Israel Prize in the field of religious research for his work on Indian languages and culture. He is regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on Sanskrit and southern India. In addition to his academic work, Shulman is a prominent left-wing activist. In a video posted online on Wednesday, Shulman explained his decision to donate the prize money to Ta‘ayush and his deliberations over whether to accept the prize at all, due to the “general deterioration of the situation and the witch hunt against Ta‘ayush, peace and human rights activists by a right-wing establishment determined to perpetuate the occupation.” ….
New Jersey senate passes anti-BDS bill
JTA 11 May — The New Jersey Senate unanimously approved a bill that would require the state’s public worker pension fund to divest from companies that boycott Israel. The Senate passed the legislation Monday. A similar bill in the state Assembly is in committee. The bill bars the state Division of Investments from investing the public workers’ $68.6 billion pension fund in any company “that boycotts the goods, products, or businesses of Israel, boycotts those doing business with Israel, or boycotts companies operating in Israel or Israeli-controlled territory.” It also requires the fund to divest from any companies participating in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel within 18 months of the passage of the legislation … Several states have passed anti-BDS legislation, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and South Carolina. In total, 21 states have taken up anti-BDS legislation.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israeli authorities demolish Palestinian home in al-Walaja
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 May — Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian home on Tuesday morning in the southern occupied West Bank village of al-Walaja, amid nine standing demolition orders that have been issued by Israeli authorities in the village this week, and a mass escalation in demolitions across the occupied Palestinian territory this year. Israeli forces stormed the village early Tuesday to demolish the structure, al-Walaja village council head Abd al-Rahman Abu al-Teen said during a press briefing later that morning, standing on the site of another Palestinian home that had been demolished in the village three weeks prior. The still-under construction structure had reportedly been issued a stop construction notice days before for not having applied for proper Israeli permits. The press briefing was organized by the PLO ahead of the 68th anniversary of the Nakba — or “catastrophe” — that forcibly displaced some 800,000 Palestinians during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. “This village has experienced the suffering of several nakbas,” Abu al-Teen said, adding that many Palestinian families in al-Walaja were currently fighting impending demolition orders in Israeli courts and a total of at least 50 homes had already been destroyed in the village, several more than once….
IOF bans Palestinians from opening water channel east of Tubas
TUBAS (PIC) 9 May — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Sunday banned Palestinians from continuing work on a European-financed project opening a water channel for inhabitants of a hamlet east of Tubas in the northern Jordan Valley. Local sources told the PIC reporter that the project aimed at providing the hamlet with water, since it has no water sources, by opening a 4.5-kilometer long channel. The hamlet’s inhabitants, 256 individuals of 38 families, have been suffering from tough living conditions under which they have to use water tanks.
IOF razes Palestinian structures in 1948 Occupied Palestine
NAZARETH (PIC) 10 May — Israeli bulldozers razed on Monday al-Shati’ park in Jisr al-Zarqa town in addition to a wedding hall in Kabul village in northern 1948 Occupied Palestine for lacking construction permits. Local sources revealed that Israeli authorities knocked down the hall regardless of the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision of freezing demolition since the issuance of the structure’s construction permit was under process. For his part, head of the popular committee and member of Jisr al-Zarqa town’s council Sami al-Ali called for supporting Palestinian families affected by the demolition. Al-Ali told Quds Press that the Arab towns in the 1948 Occupied Palestine suffer from a land crisis for development construction and lack public halls and parks due to Israeli discrimination, demolition, confiscation, siege and harassment policies.
Israeli colonialist group occupied a building in Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter
IMEMC 10 May — Israeli extremists of the Ateret Cohanim colonialist organization occupied, Monday, a Palestinian apartment building in the Muslim Quarter in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, allegedly after buying it. Israeli daily Haaretz said that the six-apartment buildings have been apparently sold by their Palestinian owners to the Israeli organization. Resident ‘Ala al-Haddad, a Jerusalemite activist from the Old City, quoted the family stating that more than 40 Israeli settlers invaded the building, during early morning hours, and occupied it. He added that the three-story building was one of many apartment buildings in the Sa’diyya neighborhood, and is surrounded by several Israeli colonialist outposts. Haaretz said that Ateret Cohanim, an NGO that is active in encouraging Jews to live in Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied Jerusalem, has significantly stepped-up its activities in the Sa’diyya neighborhood, and the Muslim Quarter, in Jerusalem. Israeli Channel 7 TV said that Chief Rabbi of Safad, Shmuel Eliahu, went into the building and held prayers with the Israelis who occupied it. He is known for his extreme anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian stances and statements. Last week, a Palestinian family from the Muslim Quarter lost an appeal filed with the Jerusalem District Court, after they received an eviction order from the same organization. On May 9, a Palestinian house in East Jerusalem was also occupied by Ateret Cohanim….
Haaretz editorial: Why are Israeli taxpayers forced to pay for lawbreaking settlers’ housing?
9 May — The Amona outpost has exemplified settlers’ criminality since its establishment on privately owned Palestinian land in 1997; now the government wants to build them new homes in place of the ones due to be demolished — If the government has its way, Israeli taxpayers will be forced to make a huge financial contribution to settlers who broke the law, and build them new homes in place of the ones due to be demolished at the Amona outpost in the West Bank. There is no other way to interpret the government’s decision to compensate these lawbreakers by building them an alternative settlement. This time, it is not a ‘broadening’ or an ‘expansion’, but an entire settlement that will comprise 139 housing units for the 40 families living in the illegal Amona outpost. The government has already pledged several times to dismantle the outpost, with the most recent demolition order set to be carried out by the end of the year. As the numbers indicate, not all of the apartments are actually meant for the Amona lawbreakers. The Amana settlement movement will be able to sell 90 of the units privately. So even the excuse that the construction is ‘merely’ compensation for the evacuation cannot be taken seriously….
Israel Memorial and Independence Days
How do mixed Jewish-Arab schools mark memorial and independence days?
The Forward 11 May by Naomi Zeveloff — At most Israeli schools, Memorial Day is one of the most emotional days of the year as students recall the soldiers who died for their nation in patriotic ceremonies that mark the birth of the Israeli state. But at Israel’s alternative Jewish-Arab schools, Memorial Day is difficult for another reason: while half of the students are celebrating the founding of their nation, the other half are mourning the loss of their own. “This week is the most complicated week of the whole year at Hand in Hand,” said Mohamad Marzouk, one of the founders of the bilingual Hand in Hand school in Wadi Ara near Haifa, and also a parent at the school. “It touches the core issue of the conflict,” he said. “It is the creation of the state in circumstances of war. Arabs and Jews are on two sides of this issue.” There are six public Hand in Hand schools across Israel, educating 1,320 Jewish and Arab students in Hebrew and Arabic. The schools are a rarity in Israel, where most Jews and Arabs learn in separate education systems with classes in their native languages. At Hand in Hand, teachers, administrators and parents devised a special dual curriculum for Memorial Day that makes sure that no students are left out. It is one of the only times of year when the students are separated as Jews and Arabs. Like in mainstream Israeli schools, the Jewish students and their parents have a short ceremony to remember the soldiers who died in battle and to talk about Israel’s founding. In the Arab ceremony, students talk about the Nakba, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes by Israeli forces in 1948. Both groups are encouraged to wear white, an Israeli school tradition for Memorial Day. After the separation, which typically lasts no more than 30 minutes, the students come back together for a final event to “transition from the pain to the hope,” said Shuli Dichter, the director of the Hand in Hand schools. At some of the schools, the students release balloons into the air as a symbol of hope for a shared future. “The main thing is that after that we meet again,” said Orly Noy, a parent to an 8th grader at the Jerusalem Hand in Hand school. “We don’t go home before we stand together and become one community again.”
The way Hand in Hand marks Memorial Day is a contrast to the ceremonies at most Jewish schools, where students mourn fallen soldiers and celebrate Israeli independence without reference to the state’s Arab minority. It is also different from Arab schools inside Israel, where Memorial Day is typically not acknowledged, said Marzouk. Israeli schools that make the Nakba part of their curriculum can be fined, according to a 2011 law that allows the state finance minister to pull funding from public bodies that reject Israel as a Jewish and democratic state or mark Israel’s founding as a day of mourning.
‘Israel’s population multiplied by 10 since founding of the state’
JPost 9 May by Lidar Gravé-Lazi — As Israel prepares to celebrate its 68th birthday, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced Monday that the Jewish state has today 8.522 million citizens, 10 times more than at its founding in 1948. According to the report, the Jewish population in the country represents 6.337 million residents – 74.8 percent of the total population – and the Arab population stands at 1.771 million people – 20.8% of the country’s inhabitants. The remaining 4.4%, approximately 374,000 people, represent non-Arab Christians and people of other religions, as well as those with no religious affiliation, the vast majority of them from the former Soviet Union. The report cited that at independence on May 14, 1948, there were 11.5 million Jews in the world, of whom six percent were living in Israel. In contrast, in 2014 there were 14.3 million Jews in the world, 43% of whom were living in Israel. The country is rapidly approaching the tipping point where the majority of the world’s Jews will be living in Zion. The data also revealed that Israel’s population is expected to hit 11.3 million by 2035. Since last year, the country’s population grew by some 182,000 people, marking a 2.2% increase, the report found. In addition, the figures showed that 195,000 babies were born this past year, while 47,000 deaths were recorded. With regard to aliya, 36,000 immigrants arrived in Israel this past year….
Local council elections to be held in West Bank but not in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al Monitor) 11 May by Ahmad Abu Amer — The Palestinian government decided during its session on May 3 to hold local council elections in October in the West Bank, without indicating whether elections will be held in the Gaza Strip. Hamas, which controls Gaza, insists on reaching a consensus on the mechanism and the date before holding any elections, as agreed upon by virtue of the memorandum of understanding signed between the Palestinian parties in Cairo on Sept. 26, 2014 … The legal mandate for local councils in the West Bank ends in October; the last local elections were held in the Palestinian territories in 2012 — in the West Bank only and not in Gaza as a result of the Palestinian internal division. Under Palestinian Law No. 12 of 2005, in the event local council elections could not be conducted in one day, a decision may be issued to hold them in several stages. The law seems to have been amended because of the Israeli obstacles that have disrupted the holding of elections for some time — for example, those in East Jerusalem … For his part, Hisham Kahil, the executive director of the Palestinian Central Election Commission, told Al-Monitor, “The commission is ready to hold any local, legislative or presidential elections if approved by the higher authorities,” pointing out that the civil register was updated in March. Kahil said that more than 2 million voters are registered with the Central Election Commission, stressing that the commission did not encounter any difficulties in updating the voter register rolls, especially in Gaza. However, he expected some obstacles on the part of the Israeli authorities at the checkpoints in the West Bank and Jerusalem during the electoral process, such as the arrest of activists who are part of the candidates’ electoral campaigns and the closure of polling centers, which has previously happened. The Palestinian Central Election Commission announced April 26 that it completed the updating of the electoral register in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, with a total of 2,006,064 male and female voters, which equals 78.5% of those entitled for registration in the Palestinian territories….
US cool on France Mideast peace push, may not attend
AFP 11 May — The United States appears reluctant to support a French plan to relaunch the Israeli-Palestinian peace process with a major conference this month. The State Department was unable to say on Wednesday whether Secretary of State John Kerry will attend a planned May 30 meeting in Paris. And outside experts say Washington is unlikely to want to allow France to take the lead on an issue that it traditionally sees as its own. “We remain concerned about the continued violence on the ground and we welcome all ideas on moving this forward,” US spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said.”On this specific conference, on the May 30 event, no decision’s been made on participation. We still remain in consultation with the French and other international partners on it,” she said. Kerry was in Paris on Monday to see his counterpart Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, and his deputy Antony Blinken was there again on Wednesday. France’s prime minister, Manuel Valls, will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories this month to try to drum up interest in the French initiative. But Israel opposes the plan to bring ministers from 20 countries to Paris, insisting peace will come only through direct talks with the Palestinians. And there is clearly little enthusiasm in Washington….
Why more and more Israeli Druze prefer prison to military service
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Al-Monitor)10 May by Aziza Nofal — When Druze Mostafa Zahr ad-Din Saad turned 18, he received a notice for military service in the Israeli army. He refused to serve just like his brother had done a year and a half before and their father many years ago. On April 17, Saad posted on his Facebook page a picture of the letter that he had received informing him that he was exempted from the military service … The exemption came after Saad had refused to join the military; to avoid a prison term he had claimed that he was mentally unfit for the military service. He continued, “Thanks to the only democratic state in the Middle East, I got a certificate saying that I am crazy [and not fit for military service].” Saad is among the Druze who recently refused to enlist in the Israeli army based on nationalistic and patriotic principles. In the past few years, the number of young Druze refusing to join the army has been increasing. In the past, these cases were not made public, but Saad’s brother Omar publicly announced his refusal to serve in the Israeli army in December 2014 … Omar Saad told Al-Monitor that the main reason for his refusal is his belonging to the Arab Palestinian people and the Palestine Youth Orchestra at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music. “I could never imagine myself wearing a military uniform for an entity that occupies, kills and humiliates the Palestinian people. I could never imagine myself standing at a checkpoint on the entrance of Palestinian villages and towns and participating in the oppression of my brothers and sisters, with whom I live, laugh, eat and play music,” he said. Omar Saad, whose case turned into a public opinion discussion, also spoke about the price he had to pay for taking his decision. He explained how he was sent to jail seven times, a total of 200 days, during which he was moved between the prison and a hospital after being taken ill. “Of course it was not an easy experience, but the support I got from my family and the civil support I received from around the world helped me stay strong and finish what I had started,” he said, speaking about the support he got from a campaign launched to support him….
Israel honors priest who promotes Arab army enlistment
NAZARETH, Israel (AP) — Israel’s decision to honor a controversial Greek Orthodox priest at its official Independence Day ceremony is driving a wedge in the country’s tiny Christian Arab community as the government recognizes him for his efforts to encourage Christians to enlist in the Israeli military. Father Gabriel Naddaf’s recruitment drive has deeply divided Israel’s Christian Arabs, who make up just 2 percent of Israel’s population. His inclusion in a ceremony tinged with sadness for many of the country’s Arabs, along with new allegations accusing him of sexually harassing young people he helped, has only added to the anger and risks overshadowing what is meant to be a national celebration. Naddaf has denied the charges, aired on a TV station this week, and the government said there are no plans to remove him from Wednesday night’s festivities, where he will be one of 14 torch lighters chosen for their outstanding contributions to the country.
Palestine to raise concerns about settlement-based teams at FIFA conference
A-Monitor 10 May by Daoud Kuttab — The president of the Palestinian Football Federation (PFF), Jibril Rajoub, plans to raise at the FIFA congress in Mexico the status of five soccer clubs based in Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. The five teams located in the West Bank are Beitar Givat Ze’ev, Beitar Ironi Ariel, Ironi Yehuda, Beitar Ironi Ma’aleh Adumim and Hapoel Bik’at Hayarden. All five teams play in the Israeli Football Association, a clear violation of the statutes of the world football governing body FIFA. Palestinians want to remind the world that the Crimean sports clubs were banned in 2014 from playing in the Russian League by FIFA’s Europe’s regional association UEFA after the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula. Article 10.1 of the FIFA statutes states, “ Only one association shall be recognized in each country.” FIFA has recognized both the Israeli Football Association and the Palestinian Football Association, and therefore neither is allowed to play in the territory of the other without permission. The case of the five settlement clubs was raised during the contentious May 2015 FIFA congress in Zurich when the PFF requested the ouster of the Israeli association for multiple FIFA violations, including the settlement teams. At the time, a compromise was brokered that allowed the Palestinians to withdraw their request, and in return a FIFA committee headed by South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale was asked to study all the Palestinian complaints….
Ancient Palestinian monastery under UNESCO consideration
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Al-Monitor) 9 May by Ahmad Melhem — At the foot of a mountain in Bethlehem’s Kidron Valley lies the Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified, also known as Mar Saba Monastery, the most famous monastery in Palestine. Built 1,500 years ago by Mar Saba and 5,000 other monks, it has recently been nominated for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Mar Saba Monastery is one of 13 Palestinian sites included on UNESCO’s tentative lists. Three Palestinian sites have already been classified among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, following the admission of Palestine to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 2011. These three sites are Battir’s terraced landscape, which joined the list in 2014, and the Church of the Nativity and the pilgrimage route in Bethlehem, included in 2012. Mar Saba Monastery awaits registration, along with several other sites like the ancient cities of Hebron, Nablus, Jericho, Mount Gerizim in Nablus, the Qumran caves and Tell Umm Amer.
3 out of 4 Israeli Jews say there’s no occupation, survey finds
JERUSALEM (JTA) 9 May — Nearly three-quarters of Israeli Jews, 71.5 percent percent, do not view Israel’s control of the West Bank as “occupation,” a monthly survey found. Exactly the same percentage of Arabs consider it an occupation, according to the May Peace Index survey of the Israel Democracy Institute released Monday. Asked “Which of the following two things is more important to you: That a peace agreement be reached with the Palestinians or that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people?,” some 48 percent of the Jews polled said Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people was more important. Some 27 percent said the peace agreement was more important, while 16 percent said the two goals are equally important. Fifty-two percent of respondents answered that it was more important to have a Jewish majority in the State of Israel than sovereignty over all of the historical land of Israel, with 22 percent responding that sovereignty is more important, according to the survey….
Something for everyone to hate // Arabs get short shrift in new Israeli civics text, community representatives say
Haaretz 11 May by Yarden Skop –– Israeli-Arab education experts criticize the high-school study guide for what it does — and doesn’t — say about Arabs and Palestinians — The new high-school civics textbook that was released on Monday has garnered brickbats from representatives of large parts of Israeli society. But the minority that was most clearly hurt by its representation in the book, and which was excluded from the Education Ministry’s revision of “To Be Citizens in Israel: a Jewish and Democratic State,” is Israel’s Arab minority. Even before the new edition was released, the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee said it would write its own civics text. Community representatives point to the downplaying of the ties between Arabs living in Israel and Palestinians in the territories and throughout the Middle East. They say it barely touches on the issue of the Palestinians under Israeli rule in the territories, while at the same time it divides the Arab community inside Israel into numerous subgroups….
Eurovision Song Contest struggles to enforce politics ban
STOCKHOLM (AP) 11 May — You can croon about unrequited love, dance with unbridled passion or dress up in drag. Just keep politics out of it — … In the run-up to this year’s contest, the EBU warned both performers and fans not to use flags as political tools. The general rule is only the national flags of participating nations and other full members of the U.N. are allowed. Two non-national flags are exempt — the star-studded banner of the European Union and the rainbow-colored gay pride flag — as long as they are not displayed in a political way … Eurovision officials were embarrassed when an internal document with examples of banned flags was published online by accident ahead of this year’s event. It included the Basque, Kosovar, Palestinian and other flags as well as the black banner of the Islamic State group. Some fans took offense at their regions and territories being mentioned in the same context as militant extremists, and contest officials quickly apologized, saying they weren’t making any comparisons. “It was merely for guidance,” Goodman said. The backlash didn’t stop, though. Joe Woolford, one half of Britain’s entry Joe and Jake, is Welsh. Norway is represented by Agnete Johnsen, who has indigenous Sami roots. Their fans demanded the right to wave the Welsh and Sami flags to support them. Last week the EBU agreed to relax the flag policy “to allow national, regional and local flags of the participants.” ….
Palestinian government cancels registration of 50 NGOs over law violation
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 May — The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Interior decided on Wednesday to cancel the registration of 50 non-governmental organizations registered in Ramallah district over violations of Article 37 of Palestinian law. The ministry explained in a statement that the organizations in question had received written warrants from asking them to legalize their situations after it appeared that they violated Paragraph 2 of Article 37, which states that non-governmental organizations which fail to begin operating within the first year of registration should be dissolved. Exemptions are possible only if the organization has not been able to operate due to extraordinary circumstances, the statement added. The Ministry added that the department in charge of non-governmental organizations would take more steps in the future to enforce the law. The 50 organizations were identified as:….
‘I wish I’d been arrested by the Jews’, Palestinian nabbed by PA intelligence says
JPost 10 May by Maayan Groisman — Emad Halayqa, an activist in the Hamas-affiliated student union Kutla Islamiya at Birzeit University in Ramallah, described on Facebook his mistreatment by PA intelligence services — Shedding light on the mistreatment of detainees by the Palestinian Intelligence Services, a Hebron student has publicly announced that he would rather be detained in Israel than in the Palestinian Authority. Emad Halayqa, an activist in the Hamas-affiliated student union Kutla Islamiya at Birzeit University in Ramallah, wrote on Monday a post on his Facebook page, describing the way he was treated by the intelligence services. “The last time Fatah intelligence arrested me, one of their investigators told me: ‘I warn you not to tell anyone that we have beaten you,’” Halayqa claimed, adding that PA intelligence threatened to attack him if he said anything. “In the morning I received three phone calls from the intelligence services, and in the evening they came to my house and demanded that I surrender tomorrow,” Halayqa wrote. Halayqa did not specify in his post the reason for his arrest, but he may have been targeted by Palestinian intelligence because he participated in Kutla Islamiyah’s elections campaign at Birzeit University at the end of April. The Hamas-affiliated students union scored a stirring victory in these elections. The democracy you talked about before the elections has been exposed in its ugliest character after the elections,” Halayqa said, referring to the Palestinian authorities.
Report: Israeli fighter jets strike weapons convoy headed toward Hezbollah
JPost 10 May — Israeli Air Force fighter jets struck a weapons convoy headed into the hands of Hezbollah fighters in Syria, Channel 2 citing Arab media sources reported Tuesday. The attack allegedly occurred on the Syrian-Lebanese border earlier in the afternoon and struck a number of vital positions important to the terror organization. Channel 2 added that the Israeli Air Force struck the weapons convoy near a Syrian “rebel safe-haven” where Hezbollah militants were allegedly stationed. If the reports are confirmed, it would not be Israel’s first military excursion into enemy territory to stop the transfer of weapons to its arch nemesis Hezbollah. Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged for the first time that Israel has taken action dozens of times beyond the northern border to prevent Hezbollah from attaining “game-changing” weaponry.”
Shaikh Raed Salah will continue to defend Al-Aqsa, even in prison / Mohamed Ahmed Al-Hajj
MEMO 9 May — Shaikh Raed Salah has managed to accomplish what no other Palestinian has been able to do in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948. In addition to being the protector of Al-Aqsa Mosque, he has also shattered the Israeli dream of “Israelising” the Palestinians in these areas. He did so by creating a bridge to link the Palestinians in Israel to their fellow Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, extending to Palestinian refugees across the world. He is the most radical in his view of the relationship with the Zionists: no normalisation with the occupation government; no participation in Israeli elections for the Knesset; the restoration of the sanctities in the territories occupied in 1948 (in what is now called Israel); rescuing the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa; no raising of the Israeli flag; and a massive “yes” to the reawakening of the Palestinian identity. According to the occupation, therefore, he has destroyed decades of Zionist effort to “Israelise” the “Israeli Arabs” and is rebuilding a psychological barrier that Zionist research centres thought had almost disappeared. The Palestinian identity has re-emerged in the occupied cities in Israel; from the Palestinian flag, to the national anthem and even to solidarity with all of the Palestinian issues. This humble man studied at Hebron University; not only sharia, but also the reality of the occupation. He lived the same life as the people and gained insight into the details of living under occupation. He then returned to his home in Umm Al-Fahm and the territories occupied in 1948 and used it to build a bridge with the West Bank, which grew quickly. The people’s feelings and visions converged; Al-Aqsa Fund, which he established, supports thousands of orphans. One of the accusations he has faced from the Israelis — in 2003 — is using it to launder money for Hamas. The Israelis do not want this bridge to stay on their side of the 1949 Armistice (“Green”) Line.