Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli settlers attack mother and child in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 May — A group of Israeli settlers attacked a woman and child late Friday night during an incursion into a home in the area of in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. Emad Abu Shamsiya, a coordinator for Human Rights Defenders, told Ma‘an settlers attacked the house of Riyad Abu Hazza and beat his wife as settlers sprayed his daughter with pepper spray and caused her to faint. Upon hearing the commotion, a group of volunteers rushed to the house to help fend off the settlers and provide first aid to Abu Hazza’s wife and child, Abu Shamsiya said. Jawad Abu Aisheh, a coordinator for the Hebron-based group Youth Against Settlements, said the assault occurred after a weekly settler march took place in the city — usually held on Fridays or Saturdays — where Israeli settlers chant anti-Arab slogans, such as “Death to Arabs,” or “Gas the Arabs,” as they harass Palestinians and damage their properties … Israeli forces declared the area of Tel Rumeida a “closed military zone” in late October, and have since renewed the military order every month, only allowing Palestinian residents of the area with Israeli-issued identification numbers to enter. However, according to Abu Aisheh tomorrow is expected to be the last day of the closed military zone as families in the area have not yet received another military decree. Mistreatment of Palestinians in the Hebron area has been common since the city was divided in the 1990s after a US-born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians inside the Ibrahimi Mosque.
Six Palestinians injured, peace activist detained in Friday protests
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 May — Israeli forces injured six Palestinians and detained a Palestinian peace activist on Friday during weekly protests across the occupied West Bank and Gaza, just days before Palestinians around the world prepare for the 68th commemoration of the 1948 Nakba. Israeli forces injured two Palestinians during a protest in Kafr Qaddum in the northern West Bank district of Qalqilya, and dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation. Coordinator for the Popular Resistance Committee, Murad Shtewi, told Ma‘an Israeli forces “heavily” sprayed sponge and live bullets at the demonstrators, injuring a 26-year-old after a sponge bullet struck his head and shooting an 18-year-old in the foot with a live bullet. Both were taken to the Rafidia hospital in Nablus for treatment. Israeli forces also showered the demonstrators with hundreds of tear gas canisters as Israeli military jeeps fired long-range canisters indiscriminately at the crowd, with many smashing through windows of nearby houses. The canisters reportedly struck the homes of Abdullah Juma and Abdullah Ali and caused their families to suffer tear gas inhalation.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces lightly wounded a Palestinian as dozens of others suffered tear gas inhalation during a weekly march in the village of Bil‘in in the central West Bank. A well-known Palestinian peace activist, Abdullah Abu Rahma, was detained after Israeli forces reportedly beat him. An Israeli peace activist was also detained as Israeli forces attempted to disperse the march. Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets, long-range tear gas, and stun grenades at the demonstrators as they neared Israel’s separation wall, locals told Ma‘an. Bil‘in’s municipal council member, Basim Yasim, was also reportedly struck with a tear gas canister on his hand. Witnesses added that the indiscriminate usage of tear gas led to a fire erupting in the village’s olive groves near the western part of the village … Residents of Kafr Qaddum and Bil‘in are among many in Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank that carry out weekly Friday demonstrations in opposition to the decades-long Israeli military occupation.
Pictures: The occupation forces attack the funeral of the late Jamilah al-A‘war with sound grenades
SILWAN (Silwanic) 11 May — Occupation forces attacked on Wednesday night the funeral of 89-year old Jamilah Ibrahim Asi Al-A‘war as soon as it reached Al-Rahmeh Gate Cemetery adjacent to the eastern wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque, where the deceased would be buried after praying for her soul in Ein Al-Lozeh Mosque in Silwan. Wadi Hilweh Information Center explained that the soldiers surrounded the cemetery upon the arrival of the funeral [procession]. When the deceased was to be buried, one soldier verbally insulted the participants and then assaulted them with the help of other soldiers with sound grenades and batons. The soldiers evacuated the participants from the cemetery by force and claimed that the land is confiscated and burial is prohibited. The center added that the soldiers closed the gate of the cemetery when the body of the deceased along with some family members were still inside while dozens of people participating in the funeral were in the street.
Nearly half an hour after the assault, the occupation authorities allowed them to bury the deceased after the officer in charge made sure the area is not confiscated and burial is allowed. The center pointed out that soldiers attacked the participants in the funeral of Jamal Mohammad Abbasi two weeks ago in the cemetery of Al-Rahmeh Gate and injured dozens with bruises and suffocation. Jamilah Al-A‘war is the wife of later Daoud Qaraeen who was a resident of the neighborhood of Ein Al-Lozeh in Silwan.
Shot looking for work: Palestinians face Israeli bullets at illegal crossings
DAR SALAH, Occupied West Bank (MEE) 12 May by Sheren Khalel & Abed al Qaisi — Hundreds of Palestinians in search of work enter Israel illegally from West Bank every day; recent tensions have led to spike in shootings — Khalid Rashaida was crossing into Israel on an illegal path from his village when he was shot in the leg, one of nine people reportedly hit by Israeli gunfire at the same crossing this month. “I didn’t see any soldiers around when I went to cross through the opening in the chain-link fence,” Rashaida told Middle East Eye. “But once I was on the other side I felt something hit my leg and looked down and I was bleeding.”
The 42-year-old passed out and woke up in a nearby hospital before having to undergo surgery to remove the bullet. “There was no warning before they shot,” Rashaida said. “They didn’t need to shoot me because I would not have run. I am an old man. I swear if they would have yelled at me to stop I would have stopped right away.” The Israeli army told the Palestinian news agency Ma‘an that it had no report of the incident … According to Israeli workers rights’ group Kav Laoved, about 30,000 Palestinians in the West Bank are granted Israeli work permits each year, but that is a fraction of those who apply, resulting in thousands of others working illegally. The group found that illegal workers not only take huge risks in crossing, but are also “more vulnerable to exploitation by their employers”. Still, there is little to no work to be found at home. Othman Salah, a member of Dar Salah village’s local council, told MEE that Rashaida was the ninth person to be shot and wounded this month while trying to cross. About 200 Palestinians use the crossing each day to head into Israel….
Israeli soldiers kidnap two Palestinians in Jerusalem
IMEMC 13 May — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Thursday evening, two young Palestinian men, during a provocative procession by colonialist Israeli settlers in the Bab al-‘Amoud area, in the center of occupied East Jerusalem. The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) said the soldiers attacked the two Palestinians, and took them to an interrogation center in the city. It added that dozens of fanatic Israeli settlers marched in the Bab al-‘Amoud (Damascus Gate) area, while chanting racist slogans, including “death to Arabs,” an issue that led to clashes with many young Palestinians.
Army kidnaps two Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 12 May — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, on Thursday at dawn, two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. The PPS said many army vehicles invaded Kharbatha al-Misbah village, near Ramallah in central west Bank, before the soldiers searched homes and kidnapped a young man, identified as Arafat Ali Musleh. It added that the soldiers also kidnapped a young man identified as Saifeddin Abu Ta‘a from Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli police arrest 10 Israelis for assaulting Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Old City
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 May — Israeli border police arrested 10 right-wing Israelis Thursday evening after they assaulted Palestinian residents of Jerusalem at the Damascus Gate entrance to occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. Witnesses told Ma‘an that a group of Israeli extremists physically assaulted Palestinian youths and hurled verbal abuse at them, while repeating slogans calling for the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Spokesperson for the Israeli police Luba al-Samri said in a statement that police arrested 10 right-wing Israeli activists after they physically assaulted local Palestinians and formed a human chain preventing them from passing through Damascus Gate. She added that three of the ten arrested were women carrying their infant children.
Abu Khdeir family demands home demolition of their son’s killers
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 12 May — The Palestinian family of minor Mohammad Abu Khdeir, who was burned alive by Israeli settlers, demanded the Israeli Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri to withdraw the Israeli nationality from the killers of their son. They also demanded the Security Minister Moshe Ya’alon to immediately work on razing their homes. The family’s demands came in official letters submitted by the family’s lawyer Muhand Jebarah to both ministers after the Israeli Supreme Court last week sentenced the murderer of their son, Joseph Haim Ben-David. Lawyer Jebara said that the child Abu Khdeir was killed just for being an Arab based on ideological backgrounds. It is considered a terrorist action based on the Israeli law which gives both ministers authorities to take back the nationality of the killers and to raze their homes, he pointed out. If ministers did not answer the family’s demands, they would head to the Israeli Supreme Court in order to gain executive orders that oblige them to implement those demands, he added.
How Israel forces more Palestinians out of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 13 May by Ylenia Gostoli — Three young men in occupied East Jerusalem have become “test cases” for Israel’s residency revocation policy — Tucked away on a steep, potholed street in Sur Baher, a suburb in the southeastern hills of Jerusalem, Sarah Ali Dwayat’s apartment sits empty. On the front porch, a large banner bears the photographs of five teenagers from the neighbourhood currently imprisoned by Israel. One of them is her 19-year-old son, Abed. The group stands accused of throwing stones at Israeli vehicles on a highway, allegedly causing the death of a driver, after clashes between police and Palestinian youths last September, on the eve of the Jewish New Year. The trial is still going on, but already some of their family members have been forced from their homes – the victims of new measures ostensibly aimed at deterring alleged Palestinian attackers. “When we got the confiscation notice, we took all the furniture out, and now it’s scattered with friends and neighbours,” Sarah said, pushing back a metal sheet covering one window to sneak a look inside. Doorknobs to the home have been broken off, and entrances sealed with melted metal plates. Sarah, a widow for 15 years, and her 24-year-old daughter have moved to a smaller apartment in the same area, provided by a neighbour as a goodwill gesture. Sooner or later, they will have to start paying rent again, Sarah acknowledged – and with property prices sky-high in Jerusalem, they will not be able to afford it. “We had just started renovation work. Abed had found a job and had started to help. We are still paying the debts,” Sarah, 59, told Al Jazeera. “When they came to seal the house [last month], a soldier told me, in Arabic, that it was to send a message to others, so they wouldn’t carry out more acts of terror.” …
Munir Nusseibeh, a human rights lawyer and director of the Community Action Centre at al-Quds University, believed that Sarah’s son and two of his co-accused, Muhammad Abu Kaf, 17, and Mustafa Atrash, 18, were “test cases”. Israel’s interior minister issued a decision to strip all three of their Jerusalem residency in January, a move that is now being appealed in court. “They are the first at risk of residency revocation for throwing stones, and the first whose families have been displaced from their homes for throwing stones,” Nusseibeh told Al Jazeera … When Israel occupied and unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, Palestinians were designated as “permanent residents” rather than citizens of the state, a status akin to that of migrants in a foreign country. Since then, over 14,000 have had their residency revoked ….
Israel targets Jerusalem home of imprisoned Palestinians with demolition order
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 May — Israeli courts issued a demolition order on Thursday against a house in occupied East Jerusalem’s ‘Issawiya neighborhood, the family home of three Palestinians currently imprisoned by Israel, according to the official Palestinian government news agency Wafa. Um Tareq al-‘Issawi, the mother of three Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons, told Wafa she received a demolition notice for their house under the pretext of lacking an Israeli-issued building permit. Al-Issawi said she considered the decision to be a political measure of revenge on the family and an attempt to break the spirits of her imprisoned children. Her three children are all held in Israeli prisons: Samer, a former hunger-striker who went on one of the longest strikes in history for 266 days, was imprisoned numerous times and most recently released in 2013 before being rearrested in 2014; Shireen, a prominent Palestinian lawyer, and her brother Madhat were sentenced last year to four and five years in prison respectively, after both were accused of being in contact with Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons and providing them with funds, which Israel considers “terrorism.”
Daniel Sidelman, director of the Israeli nonprofit Jerusalem Terrestrial, told Ma‘an the al-‘Issawi family were “not being paranoid” for believing their home was targeted by Israel as a form of revenge adding that the reasons behind the Israeli government deciding to issue or carry out a demolition remain a mystery. Since Israeli forces occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967, less than 4,500 Palestinian-owned structures in East Jerusalem have been approved for construction permits, according to Sidelman, while between 2010 and 2014 only 1.5 percent of Palestinian applicants in Area C of the West Bank — areas of the West Bank under full Israeli army jurisdiction — were issued permits, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Israel’s discriminatory permit regime has left the majority of Palestinians with no choice but to build illegally …There are hundreds of thousands of outstanding demolition orders against Palestinian homes and buildings as Israeli authorities consider the overwhelming majority of Palestinian structures to be illegal, Sidelman highlighted.
‘Every few minutes, one of them hit us with a rifle butt’
+972 blog 13 May by Yael Marom — Three Palestinian teens speak about the abuse they say they endured in Israeli military custody after being arrested during a demonstration along the Gaza border — Israeli military police are investigating the suspicion that over the course of three days, IDF soldiers abused three Palestinian teenagers who illegally crossed into Israel from the Gaza Strip during a protest late last year, according to a Haaretz report earlier this month. On October 10, 2015, the three Gazan teenagers were participating in a protest along the border, during which protesters attempted to damage the fence, and threw stones toward soldiers positioned on the other side. The soldiers responded with gunfire, tear gas grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets. At some point a number of protesters pulled up part of a gate in the fence. Military forces gave pursuit with the use of flares and K9 units. Six of the protesters, those who fled into Israeli territory, were arrested. Several months after their release, three of the arrestees, minors aged 15, 16, and 17, told a researcher working for Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem what happened during the 72 hours following their arrest. For three days, the teenagers say, soldiers kept them tied up in the open, repeatedly beat them, denied them food and drink, subjected them to various degradations, and kept them awake. One of the teens says that soldier extinguished cigarettes on his arms and legs….
Israel postpones indictment of Palestinian journalist over alleged online ‘incitement’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 May — A Palestinian woman journalist is currently awaiting an indictment after being detained for more than a month in an Israeli prison over statements on social media, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) told Ma‘an on Thursday. Samah Dweik, a 25-year-old journalist working for Shabakat al-Quds (The Jerusalem Network), was detained on April 10 in her home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud over alleged “incitement” on Facebook. Amjad Abu Asab, the head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners, told Ma‘an that Dweik had been detained after writing a status and sharing an image in support of Palestinians recently killed by Israeli forces. PPS said that Dweik was currently being held in the Israeli HaSharon prison. Palestinian media reported that an indictment hearing for Dweik had recently been postponed to May 16. “We don’t know how long of a prison sentence they could give her,” Abu Asab told Ma‘an. “It could be a month, it could be a year.” 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.” Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon….
Israel deprives captive Abu Sisi of visitation rights for the fifth year
RAMALLAH (PIC) 12 May — Israeli authorities have been depriving the Palestinian captive Dirar Abu Sisi, 46, of family visitation rights since he was abducted from Ukraine and arrested five years ago. Palestinian Prisoner Society pointed out on Wednesday that the Israeli prison service held captive Abu Sisi in solitary confinement for four years and ended his isolation just last year after protest measures taken by prisoners. Detainee Abu Sisi is sentenced to 21 years and held in Rimon jail. He is married and has six children, the society pointed out.
Israeli court rejects the appeal of captive Mafarjeh
RAMALLAH (PIC)12 May — The Israeli military court of Ofer rejected the appeal of the Palestinian hunger striker detainee Adib Mafarjeh, from Beit Leqiya town in Ramallah, and decided to hold him captive under the illegal administrative detention for 6 months. Head of the legal unit at Detainees and Ex-Detainees Committee, Iyad Misk, revealed that the committee will appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court for the release of Mafarjeh due to the seriousness of his health condition and the illegality of his detention. He pointed out that prisoner Mafarjeh suffers from change in temperature and chest pain in addition to imbalance. Lawyer Misk underlined that Mafarjeh vomits blood because of his continuous hunger strike lasting for over 37 days so far and affirmed that he stopped taking water. The committee disclosed that captive Mafarjeh has recently been subjected to a series of violations and harassment in order to force him to end his strike. He was transferred several times between Israeli jails, isolation sections, and hospitals. Israeli occupation authorities renewed last February the administrative detention against detainee Mafarjeh for six months for the third time in a row after he had completed a sentence of three months. He was arrested in December 2014. He is a student in Birzeit University who had previously served eight years in Israeli jails.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli right-wing settler group builds on Palestinian land despite ongoing legal battle
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 May — An Israeli right-wing pro-settlement group has continued construction on privately held Palestinian land in the area of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem, despite the family’s ongoing appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court.
After years of legal battles, the Israeli Amana settlement group took over three dunums of land privately held by the Abu Taah and Siam families. Muhammad Issa Abu Taah, a member of one of the families, told Ma‘an that the family was battling the extremist settler organization for 18 years. “My mother filed several lawsuits to regain the land and I continued the battle in Israeli courts. The Israeli government claims that the land was acquired by the military, but about five years ago a defense lawyer proved that the land was never confiscated for military purposes,” Abu Taah said. Abu Taah added that the family has documents that prove ownership of the confiscated land since 1942, but Israeli authorities prevented them from building on it for years. Abu Taah described the ordeal as “illegal and purely political,” and told Ma‘an that while the family submitted the case to the Israeli Supreme Court following a series of appeal rejections in the Israeli central court, Amana-employed workers entered the land during the night, fenced it off, and started construction two months ago. The right-wing settler group claims that it bought the land from the Israel Land Authority (ILA). Hagit Ofran, an official for Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, told Ma’an that the settler group is planning to construct their new headquarters on the land, which consists of a four-story building with some 70 offices….
How Israel helps settler groups grab Palestinian land
EI 12 May by Charlotte Silver — Last November, Muhammad Abu Ta‘ah arrived at his property in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem only to find it had been fenced off by contractors. On the three-dunum plot of land, construction had begun on a four-story, 70-office building that would make up the new headquarters for the private settler group Amana. The property had once been part of an expansive 4,000 dunums (nearly 1,000 acres) of land which Israel expropriated in 1968, one year after its military occupied East Jerusalem. On that land, the state built the French Hill and Ramat Eshkol settlements, in addition to a government compound. Much of this land had been owned by the Abu Ta‘ah family. Until now, they had retained this last slice of property, located between a Palestinian hospital and a main thoroughfare, rented part of it to a car business and turned the rest into a large parking lot. But now it belongs to Amana, the development arm of the Gush Emunim settlement movement, which has been integral to Israeli colonization of many parts of the occupied West Bank. Amana also owns Al-Watan, a company based in the West Bank that buys Palestinian land for Jewish settlement and which has been involved in forging Palestinian signatures in dubious land purchases.
A new investigation by the settlement watchdog group Peace Now reveals how several Israeli ministries, led by the Israel Land Administration (ILA), went to extraordinary lengths to steal the Abu Ta‘ah family’s last piece of land in order to give it to Amana. The investigation shows that at every step of the way, the ILA helped Amana circumvent bureaucratic roadblocks to ensure the land became theirs. “First they exempted Amana from the duty to hold a tender,” Hagit Ofran of Peace Now told the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz. “Then they approved its building plan without it having any real rights to the land. Later the finance minister signed an expropriation in order to retrospectively whitewash the transfer of the land to Amana, and finally, today too, the state continues to fiercely guard this illegal behavior in court, instead of righting the wrongs and returning the land to its owners.” The series of measures taken to expropriate the land are considered illegitimate by even some of the occupation’s biggest defenders.
Israeli army injures three Palestinians during protest in central Gaza
IMEMC 13 May by Saed Bannoura — Medical sources reported Friday that Israeli soldiers shot and injured three Palestinians with live fire, during a protest march east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza … The three were moved to the Al-Aqsa Hospital, suffering moderate wounds. The soldiers also fired dozens of gas bombs, causing scores of residents to suffer from severe effects of tear gas inhalation. The Palestinians were holding a protest march in their land, located near the border fence, east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, when the soldiers started firing at them, leading to clashes. The march was meant to commemorate the Naqba, in 1948, ihen 750.000 Palestinians were displaced for the creation of the state of Israel on their land. Many of those displaced became refugees in Gaza, where they and their descendants remain today. After the soldiers began firing at the marchers, local youth hurled stones at the soldiers, across the border fence, while the army fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades.
Southern Gaza Strip left in blackout after Egypt disconnects last power line
GAZA (Ma‘an) 14 May — The last power line from Egypt to the besieged Gaza Strip was disconnected on Saturday after reported damage, exacerbating an already severe electricity shortage in the southern Gaza Strip, and leaving the areas of Rafah and Khan Yunis in a full electric blackout. The two lines which feed electricity to the southern Gaza Strip from Egypt, at a capacity of 20-24 megawatts, have been completely disconnected, Gaza’s electricity company announced. One of the connecting lines was disabled two weeks ago, leading Gaza’s electricity company to announce an electricity rationing of six hour intervals followed by 12 hours without power for all districts in Gaza, as the company could only operate one of their four generators. The recent damage and subsequent disconnection cut the last of the two connecting lines providing electricity to the southern part of the besieged enclave….
Egypt rejects Ki-Moon’s call to open Rafah crossing
NEW YORK,(PIC) 12 May — The Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shokri strongly refused UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for permanently opening Rafah crossing. In a press conference held in New York, Shokri said that Israel is the main party responsible for the entry of humanitarian aid and commercial goods for the people of Gaza. Egypt will reopen Rafah crossing when acute humanitarian relief is required, he said. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had earlier urged both Israel and Egypt to ensure the free flow of goods and people in and out of Gaza, saying that he would like to see the complete opening of all Gaza crossings and an improvement of the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Artist Ai Weiwei says Gaza key part of refugee crisis
AFP 12 May — Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei said Thursday he felt compelled to visit Gaza to understand its part in the global refugee crisis for a documentary he is filming. While Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans have formed the bulk of the thousands of people fleeing to Europe, hundreds of Palestinians have also made the treacherous journey. And Ai said he could not ignore the decades-old reality of Palestinian refugees due to their “long history” … While the global film world has been focused on the Cannes Film Festival this week, the dissident documentary maker, who was jailed for 81 days over his support for democracy and human rights in China, entered Gaza. He traveled to a number of parts of the coastal strip, including Jabalia camp in northern Gaza where he met refugees and displaced people whose homes were destroyed during the 2014 war between Israel and Palestinian militants … Ai also visited the Rafah border crossing with neighbouring Egypt which Egyptian authorities opened temporarily for two days from Wednesday morning, where he interviewed a number of refugees crossing from Gaza …Ai’s film, which he said is expected to be shown next year, discusses refugee issues across the globe. He said he had faced a number of obstacles on his global tour, in which he conducted hundreds of interviews with refugees in Greece, Lebanon, Jordan, Macedonia and elsewhere. “To shoot (video) in refugee situations is not easy,” he said. “All the refugees are oppressed by political powers.”….
Gaza Salafists look to IS for inspiration
AFP 12 May — Militants inspired by the Islamic State group’s ideology are seeking to benefit from the desperation of young Palestinians to strengthen their foothold in the Gaza Strip. But the Salafists in the enclave tread a fine line to avoid conflict with Hamas, the Islamist movement which has ruled the strip for a decade but does not share IS’s world view. Leaders of the Salafists, who are adherents of a strict Sunni interpretation of Islam, claim to have 3,000 fighters in Gaza. While the figure is impossible to verify, experts see an increasing use of IS-style rhetoric to attract support. “Some groups use the Islamic State label and claim to have adopted jihadist ideology to attract teenagers who have lost all hope,” said Assaad Abu Charakh, a professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza … – Qassam Brigades defectors – But some members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, argued elections were un-Islamic and defected to form Salafist groups. Abu al-Ansari al-Ina, a leader of the “Young Salafist Fighters,” one of the major jihadist groups in Gaza, is one such defector. The priority, he argues, is the “fight against the Jews in Palestine, even if the strategic goal is the introduction of Islamic law in the world.” … Hamas security services reached an agreement last year with the jihadists after arresting about 100 of them: in exchange for their release, the groups committed to respect the truce with Israel and not to attack Palestinian or foreign institutions in Gaza. Though limited, Salafi attacks endanger the ceasefire which Hamas is tactically keen to uphold … Salafi jihadists threatened Hamas in online videos, with some claiming the shelling of Qassam bases. “We met our commitments but Hamas did not, they again arrested some of our fighters,” says Abu al-Ina.
Israeli forces open fire at Palestinians in southern Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 May — Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian farmers on Thursday while deployed along the border east of the town of al-Qarara in the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses told Ma‘an. Witnesses also said Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians along the border east of Abasan near the al-Farrahin neighborhood in southern Gaza. No injuries were reported in both cases.
Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian farmers in southern Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma‘an) 14 May — Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian farmers on Saturday morning northeast of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. Witnesses told Ma‘an Israeli forces stationed in military watchtowers around Kisofim, near the border area between the besieged enclave and Israel, opened fire on Palestinians tending farmland in the area. No injuries were reported … Israeli military forces routinely open fire on Palestinian farmers in the Gaza Strip near the “buffer zone,” which lies on the border between the besieged enclave and Israel, despite a ceasefire agreement that ended the 2014 war. Due to the high frequency of the attacks, live fire often goes unreported.
300 Gazans travel to Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa mosque
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 May — Israeli authorities allowed hundreds of Palestinian worshipers from the Gaza Strip to enter occupied East Jerusalem to perform Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Sources at the Palestinian liaison office told Ma‘an that 300 Gazans above the age of 50 headed to Jerusalem via the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip early Friday. Israeli authorities generally restrict Erez crossing on Fridays to humanitarian and emergency cases, while the crossing is closed on Saturday for the weekend. While a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip allotted weekly visitation by elderly Palestinians from Gaza to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa, the visits have since been frequently interrupted for alleged security reasons and Jewish holidays….
Germany donates 9.3 million dollars for Gaza reconstruction
GENEVA (PIC) 11 May — United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) announced receiving financial donation of a sum estimated at 9.3 million dollars for renovation and reconstruction of Palestinian homes damaged in the Israeli aggression on Gaza in summer 2014. In a statement on Tuesday, UNRWA revealed that the donation will allow 8,000 families to renovate or rebuild their homes. The families will also get financial payments for the provision of decent and appropriate housing.
Palestinian refugees – Syria
A fifth of Syria’s Palestinians have fled the country: UNRWA
AFP 12 May — More than 20 percent of Syria’s Palestinian refugees have fled the country and its five-year war, the head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency said on Thursday. “Before the war, there were 560,000 Palestine refugees. We estimate that currently about 110,000 to 120,000 have left the country,” UNRWA chief Pierre Krähenbühl said on a visit to Damascus. “There are about 45,000 who went to Lebanon, 15,000 to Jordan,” he said. “The others — therefore almost half of those who have left — have traveled, we presume, through Turkey and then to a variety of other countries. “Some of them will be in Europe. We know of Palestine refugees who have reached parts of Asia. We know of some who have reached Latin America.” … Syria has hosted hundreds of thousands of Palestinians since their ancestors fled their homes when the state of Israel was created in 1948, and in successive conflicts since.
UNRWA commissioner-general visits Palestinian refugees in Syria
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 May — The commissioner-general for UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for providing assistance to Palestinian refugees — visited Damascus Wednesday and Thursday to meet with Palestine refugees, as well as UNRWA staff and government officials. Pierre Krähenbühl met with Palestinian refugees in Yalda from the nearby Yarmouk camp that used to be home to nearly 200,000 people, but after two years of a Syrian regime siege, followed by the incursion of the Islamic State into the camp, the vast majority were forced to flee the camp. “UNRWA remains determined to resume direct distributions inside Yarmouk when the conditions permit. In the meantime, it is important that we are able to continue providing the life-saving support to Palestine refugees from Yarmouk in surrounding neighborhoods,” a press release published by UNRWA Friday quoted Krähenbühl as saying. .Armed fighting has made humanitarian aid delivery to the camp nearly impossible over the past three years. The estimated 5,000 to 8,000 residents remaining in Yarmouk must travel to adjacent areas such as Yalda to receive distribution of food and hygiene materials.
PCHR Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (4-11 May 2016)
PCHR-Gaza 12 May — Israeli forces continued to open fire at the Gaza Strip border area. A Palestinian woman was killed and 2 others, including a child, were wounded. Israeli warplanes carried out 10 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. A civilian and 2 members of Palestinian armed groups were wounded. Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt 6 Palestinian civilians, including 2 journalists, were wounded in the West Bank. Israeli forces conducted 74 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the Gaza Strip. 68 civilians, including 13 children and 2 women, were arrested. 20 of them, including 5 children and a woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. 2 Palestinian fishermen were arrested and their fishing boat was confiscated. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. Settlement organizations seized a plot of land in Shaikh Jarrah and a property in Jerusalem’s Old City….
Large key statues erected in Nablus refugee camps for Nakba Day
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 14 May — Four large key-shaped statues were erected at the entrances of refugee camps across the district of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank on Saturday to symbolize the 1948 Nakba, which will officially be commemorated on Sunday by millions of Palestinians and rights activists around the world. The statues were erected at the entrances of four refugee camps: Askar al-Jadid, Askar al-Qadm, Balata and Ein Beit al-Mai. The Nakba commemoration act was organized by the national high committee for the return of refugees and the national committee for commemorating Nakba in Nablus. A coordinator for the national high committee for the return of refugees, Imad al-Din Ishteiwi, said the erection of the keys was one of several national activities in Nablus organized by all factions, institutions and organizations to commemorate the Nakba and confirm the symbolism of the key which remains a powerful emblem for the right of Palestinian refugees and those internally displaced to return to their homes and villages in Israel….
Annual ‘March of Return’ draws thousands of Palestinians to the Negev
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 12 May — Thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel participated in the annual “March of Return” on Thursday afternoon near Bedouin towns in the Negev (Naqab) in southern Israel, commemorating the 1948 Nakba, amid the conclusion of Israeli independence day celebrations. Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and held banners emblazoned with support for the right to return for Palestinian refugees abroad and Palestinians internally displaced from their villages in Israel, as they made their way across the Negev in the dry afternoon heat. The March of Return is usually held on Israel’s independence day to commemorate the Nakba — or the ‘catastrophe’ — referring to the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and villages during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that wrought the state of Israel. The official commemoration of the Nakba is held on May 15 and is observed by millions of Palestinians and rights activists around the world.
The aim of the march was to highlight the internationally recognized right of Palestinians who remain refugees or internally displaced to return to their homes and villages in Israel, a right which has been enshrined in international law following the adoption of United Nations Resolution 194. Local Palestinians, activists, rights leaders, Knesset members, and leaders of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee participated in the 19th year of the annual march, launched each year from a site of a Palestinian village destroyed by Israeli forces in 1948. A moment of silence was held in order to memorialize the Palestinians killed and displaced in 1948, and was followed by the crowd pledging to preserve the Bedouin lands of the Negev and renewing their commitment to the Right to Return. The march was launched this year from the destroyed village of Wadi Zubala and continued near the Bedouin town of Rahat in order to underscore Israel’s ongoing destruction of Palestinian Bedouin villages throughout the Negev, as Israeli forces continue with a wave of demolitions against the approximately 160,000 Bedouins residing in villages not recognized by the state of Israel. Member of Knesset and head of the Arab Joint List, Ayman Odeh, told the crowd that this march was particularly important because residents who were displaced from the village of Wadi Zubala in 1948 fled to the unrecognized Bedouin towns of Atir and Umm al-Hiran, both of which have been slated for demolition in order to make room for the construction of a residential complex for Jewish Israelis. Odeh referred to the pending demolitions as “the continuing Nakba,” and added that “the issue of Nakba is not an issue of the past, but an issue especially important for the future.” “Recognizing the Nakba, and working on correcting this injustice is the only way to ensure a just peace and achieve real reconciliation between the two peoples.” …
Some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their lands in 1948 and were scattered across refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Today, there are over five million Palestinian refugees who remain displaced from their original homes and villages following the mass expulsion that occurred almost 70 years ago.
Palestinian barber keeps alive memories of his father’s flight from Jaffa
RAMALLAH 13 May by Peter Beaumont — In a cabinet at the back of Iskander Hinn’s barbershop in the West Bank city of Ramallah are a row of bone-handled cut-throat razors and, on the shelf below, a set of steel-sprung hand-operated clippers. The tools speak of a previous era and of one moment in particular: the day in 1948 when Hinn’s father, a barber, fled the coastal city of Jaffa with the tools of his trade in the midst of the event Palestinians mark as the Nakba – “catastrophe” – that accompanied the creation of the state of Israel. The flight or expulsion of more than 700,000 Arabs during Israel’s war of independence in 1947-49 is marked by Palestinians on Israeli Independence Day – which fell on Thursday – as well as officially each year on 15 May. In Hinn’s barbershop, evidence of the Nakba is still unusually present – even if his father did not like to talk to his children about his flight from Jaffa. A valve radio that sits on top of his glass cabinet dates from 1936. Hinn bought it himself but it is exactly the same model as one his father had. A wealthy barber who also rented out four Morris Eights from his shop on Jaffa’s King George Street, Habib Hinn took one of his cars, 3,000 Palestinian pounds in cash, and the tools of his trade and drove to Ramallah, believing he would return, perhaps within a week, when the violence had died down. But the barber – pictures of whom hang in the shop in Ramallah – returned to Jaffa only once, to see where his shop had once been situated. That was 40 years later, in the same month that he died … Others in the family fled to Jordan, Lebanon and further afield but, wanting to go to a place where he knew people, Habib Hinn settled on Ramallah. A customer, friend and neighbour had been Aziz Shehadeh, a lawyer from Ramallah, whose son is Raja Shehadeh, the feted Palestinian writer whose hair Hinn now cuts and who wrote about the family in his book The Sealed Room….
Celebrating Israeli Independence Day from the other side of apartheid fence
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine 13 May by Verena, ISM Al-Khalil Team — Leaving the meeting I was searching for a safe way to go through the old City of Hebron alone, where there was a celebration of ”Israeli Independence day” going on. I wanted to reach my ISM team members who were already patrolling there … Loud, happy music had been playing for days and at the main square, there was a stage surrounded by Jewish families cheerfully dancing, clapping hands, watching the event going on. Reaching the entrance of the event, even soldiers at the checkpoint were dancing happily. Only one old Palestinian man with a cane was observing the scene melancholically. I felt his grief. Once that had been a Palestinian place, with Palestinians celebrating on it. But those days were gone. I found my friends and we started to walk through the old city, to check on the situation. The streets were empty, houses locked up, and you could see Palestinian children behind lattice windows, trying to catch up on some of the events going on outside. Their parents had them made stay at home, being scared of clashes and attacks by settler groups, as they had been in past celebrations of independence day … Soldiers and jeeps on the other side of the fence protected the square. We stood with Palestinians for quite some time. Young men behind a fence, children and women behind the lattice windows, excluded from happiness in their own country, watching THEM celebrating the day when 68 years ago they violently took over the country….
Israel Independence Day evokes Nazi-era slogan / Richard Silverstein
Tikun Olam 12 May — Today is Israel Independence Day. It is also Nakba Day for Palestinians. Let’s not forget. But in the Israeli celebration of the day, a live TV broadcast featured a flag-bearing color guard which formed the configuration of Hebrew words reading: “One people. One state.” In the Israeli context, this is Palestine denialism. It says there is only one people in Israel, the Jewish people. For those who may choose to interpret the phrase in the context of world Jewry, it makes no sense. Saying the Jews are “one people” or “the single people” appears to deny the existence of other peoples. The second portion of the slogan, “one state,” is exactly what it sounds like — a rejection of the two-state solution. There is only one state, Israel. There will never be a Palestine.
Those who are students of the Nazi era will hear a distinct echo of a Nazi era slogan: ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer. The first two elements of the slogan directly translate into the Hebrew words on the TV screen. The only element lacking was the Führer. There is an Israeli precedent which employed the entire Nazi era phrase in Hebrew. In 2014, during a far-right rally in support of Operation Protective Edge, some leftists employed guerrilla theater tactics, printing placards in Hebrew which read: “One people. One state. One leader.” Again, a direct translation from the original German. In the context of the Israeli far-right this slogan fit right in with the prevailing mood. None of the rally-goers understood the trick that was played on them. The photo of the placard I display here even shows the homicidal Israeli rapper, The Shadow, standing proudly behind it unaware that he’s endorsing Israeli fascism.
For first time in years, Israeli academics pay solidarity visit to Palestinian university
+972 mag 13 May by Haggai Matar — For the first time in many years, a delegation of Israeli academics made an official visit to a Palestinian university. The first, small delegation arrived a month ago, and the second, last Saturday. The visits – meant to express support for Palestine Technical University — Kadoorie following a string of incidents by the IDF that are damaging its academic freedom – come after years in which no Palestinian university agreed to meet with any Israeli academics, out of concerns it would hurt BDS efforts and due to anti-normalization with Israel and the occupation. Kadoorie University appears to be the first in the Palestinian academic world to determine that meeting with Israelis who actively oppose the occupation does not violate the boycott or anti-normalization efforts. The Israeli delegations were initiated and led by (full disclosure) my mother, Anat Matar, along with Hilla Dayan, both within the framework of “Academia for Equality.” Beyond solidarity, the point of the meetings is to start organizing an international conference for academic freedom, which will be held at the university in Tulkarm at the end of the year. The connection with Kadoorie University was formed as a result of Amira Hass’ article last December in Haaretz, when she reported on the military’s harassment on the university and its students. It began in 2002, with the partial expropriation of the institute’s agricultural land – established as an agricultural school by an Iraqi Jew, Ellis Kadoorie, in the 1930s – that the army turned into a shooting range for soldiers. Bullets from the range sometimes hit the library building, which is nearby….
UN panel against torture flags ‘excessive force’ by Israel
GENEVA (AP) 13 May — A U.N. panel against torture on Friday expressed concerns about allegations of “excessive use of force,” including deadly force, by Israeli security forces in Palestinian areas, and warned about authorities barring access to detained suspects, including minors. The Committee Against Torture, which works under the office of the U.N. human rights chief, released its “concluding observations” about Israel and five other countries — France, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Philippines — as part of regular reviews by the panel … In a 12-page segment on Israel, the committee pointed to “allegations of excessive use of force, including lethal force, by security forces” at demonstrations, in response to attacks or alleged attacks against Israelis and took aim at Israel’s controversial policy of administrative detention, under which it can arrest suspects and hold them without charge for months at a time. Israel said it “categorically rejects” the report, with foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon insisting “Israel does not make use of unnecessary force.” ….
Israel lobby pushing to ban Palestinian film at Cannes
EI 13 May by Ali Abunimah — Israel lobby groups in France are applying intense pressure to block the screening of a Palestinian documentary at the Cannes Film Festival, which began this week. The mayor of Cannes has also told French authorities that the screening could threaten “public order.” A short segment of Nasri Hajjaj’s work in progress, Munich: A Palestinian Story, is due to be screened on Monday as part of the Marché du Film, a collaboration between the Cannes festival and the Dubai International Film Festival … On 3 May, Roger Cukierman, president of France’s main Israel lobby group, CRIF, wrote to the head of the Cannes film festival to express his organization’s “concern and profound malaise” about the planned screening of Hajjaj’s work. Cukierman claimed that the film engages in “historical revisionism” about the 1972 raid on the Munich Olympics by the Palestinian group Black September, in which 11 Israeli athletes, a German police officer and five hostage takers died. But Cukierman cannot know this since the unfinished film has never been screened publicly … CRIF effectively uses the recent mass killings by suspected Islamic State militants in France and Belgium as a lever to shut down discussion of Palestinian history and to tar Palestinians with those attacks.
Opinion: The BDS question at US universities / Mark Levine
Al Jazeera 13 Ma — Why won’t US educators condemn Israeli militarism? — The flagship campus of the University of California, Berkeley, is suffering from an unprecedented deficit and is reeling from a sex assault scandal involving dozens of victims. The chancellor at UC Davis was just placed on “investigatory leave” and probably won’t be returning after being accused of nepotism, lying to her superiors and trying to scrub the internet of her past mistakes … And yet, when the president, Janet Napolitano, and the chancellors of the 10 campuses finally came together to speak publicly with one voice it was not to address any of these crises, but rather to write an open letter to the American Anthropological Association urging it to vote down an ongoing BDS – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – resolution put forward by its membership … Despite the overwhelming evidence that UC does not speak with one voice against BDS, the entire system leadership is putting pressure on one of the most respected learned societies in the United States to thwart it, an action which has already drawn condemnation as “intimidation” from senior faculty when the former Berkeley chancellor and executive vice chancellor attempted to interfere in the American Anthropological Association vote late last year. What’s more, rather than engaging in an honest debate, the letter seriously distorts the nature and meaning of the BDS call under discussion by the American Anthropological Association and other professional organisations and, as important, claiming that it prevents collaboration between scholars, when it is explicitly stated that this is precisely not what the Boycott call does….