Gazans feel borders closing in as exit options diminish
GAZA (Reuters) 19 May by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Abu Abdallah, the owner of a women’s fashion store in Gaza, travelled to Jordan seven times last year so he could fly on to Turkey and Egypt looking for new stock. This year, he has not been allowed out of the fenced-in strip once. For a decade, Israel has maintained tight restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza, largely in an effort to put the squeeze on Hamas, the Islamist movement that seized control of the territory in 2007. Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt has applied even stricter measures since 2013, barely ever opening its border with Gaza at Rafah and flooding a network of tunnels along the frontier to stop smuggling. A remaining lifeline for Gaza’s 1.95 million residents was a transit permit from Jordan, allowing the bearer to travel through Israel and the West Bank to Jordan. But Jordan has now cut back those permits, residents and rights groups say, leaving Gazans in despair and livelihoods at risk. “I have been going around like crazy, trying to find a reason or someone who can help. If this continues I may lose my work,” said Abu Abdallah, 43, who had to delay the opening of a second store because he could not travel to buy stock. “With Egypt’s crossing almost always closed, I am trapped like a rabbit in a cage,” he told Reuters at his shop, decorated with mannequins dressed in clothes from Turkey. Jordan says it has not changed policy, but rights groups say many fewer permits have been approved since last August. A Palestinian official with knowledge of transit to Jordan said the number of travellers from Gaza had dropped to around 10 a day, from dozens each day in 2015.
For those in Gaza, often described by residents as an open-air prison, the sense of confinement grows more acute. Since 2006, when Israel’s tighter restrictions began, following Hamas’s victory in elections and a short conflict between Israel and Hamas, the population of Gaza has increased by 500,000 – more than 30 percent. Palestinian human rights groups estimate that only around 5 percent of the total are granted permits by Israel – usually for emergency medical treatment or for business … The clampdown on the Jordan option has widened alarm. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah, based in the West Bank, said he was doing all he could to improve the situation.
Two Palestinians injured by Israeli army fire in Gaza
IMEMC 21 May — Israeli soldiers stationed across the border fence opened fire on Friday targeting Palestinian protesters, east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza, and east of Gaza city, wounding two with live bullets. The soldiers assaulted dozens of Palestinians holding the weekly protest close to the border fence east of al-Boreij by firing many live rounds and gas bombs on them, wounding one with a live bullet, while many suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.
Another Palestinian, 25 years of age, was also shot with a live bullet, after the soldiers stationed near the Nahal Oz military base across the border fence, opened fire on protesters, east of Gaza city. Many Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.
Leftover Israeli ordnance explodes, injures farmer in Gaza
DEIR AL-BALAH (WAFA) 19 May – A Palestinian farmer [Quds Press: 62-year-old Ibrahim Abu Maghseeb] Thursday was injured as a leftover Israeli ordnance exploded to the east of Deir al-Balah city in the central Gaza Strip, said WAFA correspondent … The farmer was rushed into Shuhada Al-Aqsa Hospital, where medics described his injuries as moderate.
Almost 21 months since the Israeli onslaught on Gaza ended, there are still more than 7,000 explosive remnants of war (ERW) across the Gaza Strip. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) states in the 2016 Humanitarian Needs Overview “the entire ]Palestinian[ population, including at least 900,000 children, is exposed to the dangers of unexploded Ordnances (UXOs) following the recent escalation of conflict. Children are especially vulnerable when they play in conflict affected areas.” As part of explaining the need for ongoing support for Palestinians in the blockaded strip, It states that injuries as a result of UXOs are ongoing and over 484,000 children need to be continually sensitized on mine awareness. On April 4, UNRWA organized an event to mark the annual International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. The event was intended to raise the awareness of students, parents and the larger community about the danger and impact of explosive remnants of War (ERW). UNRWA’s Gaza Situation Report 138, covering the period from March 29 to April 5, reports Head of UNRWA Gaza Community Mental Health Program Dave Huttonas saying that “in Gaza, since 2014, 115 civilians have been victims of ERW-related accidents, which is 115 too many.” UNRWA defines ERW as comprising unexploded ordnance (UXOs) – bombs, mortars, grenades, missiles, cluster munitions or other devices – that fail to detonate on impact but remain volatile and can kill if touched or moved – or abandoned explosive ordnance….
Israeli army attacks Gaza farmers and fishers
IMEMC 19 May — Israeli soldiers opened fire, on Thursday morning, targeting several Palestinian farmers east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, while navy ships also opened fire on fishers in Palestinian territorial waters, near Gaza city. The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that the soldiers, stationed on military towers near the border fence, east of Khuza‘a town, east of Khan Younis, fired many live rounds at the farmers forcing them out of their lands. WAFA added that Israeli navy ships also fired many live rounds on Palestinian fishing boats, less than six nautical miles from the Gaza coast. The attack led to property damage; no injuries or arrests were reported.
Israeli forces open fire at farmers, fisherman in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 21 May — Israeli forces Saturday morning opened fire on Palestinian farmers, shepherds and fishermen in two areas in the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses said. Israeli forces deployed east of the town of al-Qarara in the southern district of Khan Yunis opened fire at farmers and shepherds in the area, witnesses told Ma‘an. According to locals, the Israeli forces also opened fire at fishermen in their boats off the coast of Gaza City. No injuries were reported.
On a near daily basis, the Israeli army fires “warning shots” at Palestinian fisherman, farmers, and shepherds entering the Israeli-enforced “buffer zone,” implemented after Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip a decade ago. Due to the high frequency of the attacks, live fire often goes unreported.
Israel allows cement into Gaza after 2-month ban
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 May — Israel allowed the entry of cement into the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening, following a two-month ban imposed on the besieged enclave, according to the Palestinian Authority’s department of civil affairs. The department’s media director, Muhammad al-Maqadma, said in a press statement that Hussein al-Sheikh, the minister of civil affairs, had worked on returning the entry of cement after a two-month suspension. Al-Maqadna added that beneficiaries and sellers could reapply for access to cement imports on Sunday, as cement trucks are expected to enter the Gaza Strip on Monday morning via the Kerem Shalom crossing between the besieged enclave and Israel. Israel’s suspension of cement imports in the Gaza Strip was applied to the private sector, while international organizations were allowed access to cement shipments for reconstruction efforts … The Israeli authorities implemented the ban on April 3, following the discovery of a tunnel passing from the Gaza Strip into Israel — the first of two to be found since Israel’s devastating military offensive on the coastal enclave in 2014 — and accused Hamas of diverting construction materials from its intended legitimate beneficiaries … Israel’s cement ban was widely criticized for exacerbating an already crippling near-decade blockade on the small Palestinian enclave, as it prevented hundreds of Gazans who were made homeless during the devastating 2014 war from rebuilding their homes, including suspending the jobs of some 40,000 workers employed in the construction sector.
Gaza laborers suffer few rights, little pay
EI 19 May by Isra Saleh el-Namey — Hani Abu Talal is a man on a mission. The 34-year-old laborer spends his days pounding the streets of the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip for any new construction projects to which he might lend his body and time. His is the lot of a day laborer. His luck lies in the hands of the rare on-site foreman with something to offer. His mission is near impossible. This is Gaza: it has the world’s highest unemployment rate. “Landing a job happens only once in a blue moon,” Abu Talal said. “I just look for any chance to get some work and make some money.” The odd day’s work also does not guarantee respite from grinding poverty. A father of five, Abu Talal says he is lucky if a full day’s hard physical labor earns him more than 30 shekels (just under $8). “Construction is hard work,” Abu Talal told The Electronic Intifada. “But instead of being fairly paid, we are blackmailed; we are told that wages cannot be higher because of the lack of stability in the local economy.” … What few shekels Abu Talal makes at the end of a day are barely sufficient to pay the owner of his local grocery store from where his family get their essentials. As for the future? There are no savings. There is only constant, nagging fear, he said, that one of his children should one day need urgent medical care. Awad Baker is a contractor and one of those from whom Abu Talal would seek work. Most of his construction projects are in the central Gaza Strip, the same area where Abu Talal ekes out his living. He lays the blame for low wages and the lack of job opportunities squarely on the economic blockade that Israel has imposed on Gaza since 2007….
Hundreds pray in Gaza in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 May — Hundreds of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip performed Friday prayers in front of the Red Crescent headquarters after the Islamic Jihad movement called for a show of solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners, according to Yasser Mizher, the head of the Muhjat al-Quds Foundation for Prisoners. “As we supported previous hunger-strikers like Sheikh Khader Adnan and Muhammad al-Qiq who was released yesterday, we stand in solidarity with Fouad Assi, Adib Mafarjeh, Sami Janazreh and Mansour Mawqadeh until they are released,” Mizher said. Mizher called upon Palestinians and the International Committee of the Red Cross to intervene in order to save the lives of the prisoners inside Israeli prisons, all of whom continue to demonstrate against Israel’s internationally condemned policy of administrative detention. The hunger strikers are among the 750 Palestinians who are currently being held in administrative detention….
Gaza of Gold: Opulent 3,600-year-old trading hub found in Palestinian enclave
Haaretz 20 May by Philippe Bohstrom — Gold, jewelry and Aegean imports found in Tel el-Ajjul, the town that may have sheltered the Hyksos fleeing Egypt, show the inhabitants were wealthy — The remains of a vast Bronze Age town dating to 3600 years ago has been discovered in Gaza, and has now been shown to be a rich trading hub. The prosperity of its Canaanite inhabitants is evident in discoveries of elaborate gold jewelry, vast amounts of imported pottery and an unprecedented number of scarabs. Taken together, the findings indicate more 500 years of undisrupted trade between the seaside Canaanite town and other Mediterranean peoples, notably the ancient Cypriots. Among the clay sherds discovered were over 200 of white slip I type of pottery, a type of ware rarely found outside of Cyprus. Tell el-Ajjul, which lies right on the Gazan coast, was first explored by Sir William M. Flanders Petrie from 1930-1934, who mistakenly thought it to be ancient Gaza. His excavations yielded vast amount of imported pottery, jewelry and gold objects, some of which are displayed at British Museum … Situated on one of the world’s oldest trading routes, connecting North Africa with the Levant, the Via Maris or King’s Highway has been the object of contention throughout history, and has been the stage of constant battles. A nonexhaustive list includes Gaza’s conquest conquered by the rulers of Egypt, assimilation into Philistia, crossing by the armies of Alexander the Great, a millennium years later by the horses of the Crusaders and long centuries after that, by the brigadiers of Napoleon Bonaparte….
Gaza Strip iOS game isn’t a game, says Apple
Wired 19 May by Matt Kamen — Apple has rejected a game influenced by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from the App Store, saying its political themes mean it is not a game. Liyla and The Shadows of War is a minimalist, story-driven platformer that sees players avoiding drones, bombs, and other hazards while trying to guide a family to safety through a highly stylized Gaza Strip. Success requires solving puzzles and reacting to a quick-changing environment. However, its gameplay mechanics weren’t enough to convince Apple that Liyla is, in fact, a game. “Unfortunately Apple rejected the game as a game, they say its not game [as] it has a political statement,” developer Rasheed Abueideh posted on Twitter. Apple hasn’t asked for the complete removal of Liyla, but suggested Abueidah instead re-categorises the game as ‘News’ or ‘Reference’. This is particularly problematic as, per Eurogamer, a game reflecting the ‘other side’ of the Gaza Strip dispute, Israeli Heroes, remains available on iOS devices.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Israel
Video: Israeli soldiers invade Bil‘in, storm home of elderly couple
IMEMC 20 May by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday evening, the village of Bil‘in, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and stormed the home of an elderly couple, before summoning one of them for interrogation. Cameraman Haitham Khatib, who filmed the invasion, said on his Facebook page that the elderly couple are 65 and 70 years old, and that their home is close to the Annexation Wall, built on Palestinian lands. Khatib added that the soldiers, and border police officers, summoned only the elderly woman for interrogation at the Ofer Prison. He also stated that this latest attack is very troubling, as the Israeli army now seems to be trying to intimidate and imprison elderly Palestinians in the village, in an attempt to stop the ongoing weekly popular nonviolent protests, against the Annexation Wall and colonies, in participation with dozens of Israeli and international peace activists. Bil‘in has been a leading village in the ongoing, popular, nonviolent struggle against the Annexation Wall, and has been a frequent target of invasions and assaults by the Israeli army, while dozens of its nonviolent activists have been kidnapped and imprisoned. Several Palestinian activists have also been killed by the army.
Dozens injured in Bil‘in’s weekly nonviolent protest
IMEMC 20 May by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall and colonies, in Bil‘in village, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, causing dozens to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. The Popular Committee against the Wall has reported that the Palestinians, Israeli and international activists, marched from the center of the village towards Palestinian orchards and the Annexation Wall that separates them from their lands, before the soldiers assaulted them/ The army fired many rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades as the protesters reached the old site of the wall, causing many to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. The soldiers also used drones to take pictures of the protesters, the Popular Committee added … It is worth mentioning that an American delegation visited Bil‘in and toured the lands that the Palestinians managed to regain through ongoing struggle, and listened to a detailed presentation about the village and its struggle, presented by the media coordinator of the Committee, Dr. Rateb Abu Rahma…
Israeli forces injure two Palestinians in Kafr Qaddum clashes
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 20 May — Two Palestinians were injured on Friday when Israeli forces dispersed the weekly protest in the occupied West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum near Qalqiliya. Popular resistance coordinator in Kafr Qaddum Murad Shtewei said Israeli forces fired tear gas at youths, injuring two who were hit directly by tear gas canisters. One Palestinian was hit in the neck and taken to Rafidia Hospital in moderate condition, while the other was hit by a tear gas canister in the foot and was treated on the scene. Shtewei added that dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation, including women and children, due to the high volume of tear gas fired by Israeli forces.
Lest we forget:
Oyoun Qarra massacre, 20 May 1990
Voice from Palestine 20 May 2010 — In the early hours of Sunday, May 20th, 1990, a group of 100 Palestinian labourers from the Gaza Strip were waiting at the Oyoun Qarra (Rishon Lezion) bus stop to be transported to their working place. An Israeli occupation soldier, Ami Popper, from nearby Rishon Lezion Zionist colony approached the workers and asked them for their IDs. After making sure all the workers were Palestinians, Popper lined them up, asked them to kneel down in 3 lines and using his M16 sub-machine gun he opened fire killing 7 on the spot and injuring others. When the Israeli police finally arrived to the scene of the massacre, they started beating the Palestinians workers who had survived the death machine. On that day, later known as “Black Sunday”, at least another 6 Palestinians were killed by Israeli occupation forces in subsequent demonstrations while protesting the massacre. As with all massacres committed by Zionists, the Israeli government rushed to declare Popper deranged. But when it was proven that he wasn’t, he was tried and charged with murder in 7 cases. However, while in detention, the terrorist Popper receives “special treatment”; he was allowed to get married, had 3 children with his wife and is allowed 48-hour furloughs. In 1997, the Israeli government reduced the prison sentences of 4 Zionist terrorists convicted of murdering Palestinians and ordered the release of a fifth Zionist terrorist. Popper’s sentence of 7 life terms was reduced to 40 years. [Ma‘an adds: After seven days of clashes, a total of 19 Palestinians across the occupied territory were killed, while hundreds more were injured. The Oyoun Qara tragedy is one among several massacres carried out by Israeli forces and settlers that resulted in a violent Israeli offensive on Palestinian communities.]
Palestinians capture Israeli extremists who attacked farmers
IMEMC 20 May — Palestinian members of the local neighborhood watch committee in Talfit village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, managed to capture two armed fanatic Israeli colonists who invaded the village and attacked farmers. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official in charge of Israeli settlements file in the northern parts of the West Bank, said that the committee members managed to subdue the armed settlers, and handed them to the Palestinian Authority. Daghlas added that the Palestinian Security Forces will later hand the infiltrating fanatics to the Israeli army. He also stated that the two colonists were moved to the Palestinian police station in Qabalan village, and that the police confiscated their guns. The Israeli army declared a state of high alert, and installed many roadblocks in the area.
Israeli forces detain six Palestinians from West Bank
TULKAREM (WAFA) 19 May – Israeli forces early Thursday detained six Palestinians, mostly during predawn raids across the West Bank, said the Palestine Prisoner’s Society. Forces detained two Palestinians from the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem. They were identified as Basman Makhul, 17, and Khaled Abu Khazna, 22. They also re-detained Munadel Sharqawi from the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Meanwhile, two Palestinians were detained from the southern West Bank district of Hebron. They were identified as Marwan al-Rajabi, 33, and Hamza al-Alami.
According to Palestinian dailies, forces carried out Wednesday a large-scale detention campaign across the West Bank, detaining an estimated 25 Palestinians, including an ex-minister.
Israeli police detain 16-year-old Palestinian over allegations of planning stab attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 May — Israeli police reportedly detained a 16-year-old Palestinian Thursday evening in occupied East Jerusalem for allegedly planning to carry out a stabbing attack against police forces, according to Israeli police. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri stated that Israeli police forces and border guards apprehended a young Palestinian after he “raised suspicions” while moving through a public bus crossing from the Shu‘fat neighborhood into Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem.
According to Israeli police, after searching the minor and finding a knife, the 16-year-old was taken to a police station where he reportedly confessed his intentions of carrying out a stabbing attack on Israeli police forces. The young suspect is from the Shu‘fat neighborhood in East Jerusalem. However, no other details have been released. Police have been deployed throughout East Jerusalem following the attack, al-Samri said in the statement.
Israel interrogates 2 Palestinian children for over six hours over allegations of stone-throwing
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 May — Israeli authorities Friday released two Palestinian children after detaining them for six and a half hours for allegedly throwing stones at settlers in the village of al-Tur in occupied East Jerusalem, according to the Wadi Hilweh Information Center. Israeli forces detained Muhammad Samih Ulayan, 10, and Mustafa Abu al-Hawa, 12, as they were walking in al-Tur, before transporting them to a nearby illegal Israeli settlement and then to the al-Tur police station. After transferring the children to the Salah al-Din police station, they were interrogated for six and a half hours, the information center reported. The center added that the Israeli police interrogated the children without anyone present. Abu al-Hawa was put under house arrest for five days and fined 500 shekels following his release, the center said.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israel releases hunger-striker Muhammad al-Qiq from administrative detention
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 19 May — Israeli authorities released on Thursday Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, who came near death in recent months during a 94-day hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention. The release of the hunger striker marks the end of his six-month administrative detention — an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on “secret” evidence that even a detainee’s lawyer is barred from viewing. In a rare move, Israeli authorities released al-Qiq near the illegal Israeli Beit Hagai settlement which sits on the southern Hebron hills in the southern occupied West Bank, according to Ibrahim Najajra, director of the Ministry of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs in the Hebron district. The family of al-Qiq, including his two children, excitedly waited for him at the Mitar crossing to welcome him back to his home in Palestine following his grueling six month ordeal. The 33-year old journalist from the northern occupied West Bank district of Ramallah was originally detained in November and initially embarked on his hunger strike to protest the torture and ill-treatment he faced in Israeli custody, but soon developed into a demonstration against Israel’s internationally condemned policy of administrative detention.
Al-Qiq ended his 94-day hunger strike after his lawyer struck a deal with Israeli authorities toward the end of February. Although his immediate release was not granted, Israeli authorities agreed not to renew his administrative detention order and release the imprisoned journalist in May. Al-Qiq’s imprisonment — widely condemned by the United Nations, Amnesty International, and other rights groups — and his subsequent hunger strike, which brought him to the brink of death, directed a spotlight on Israel’s use of administrative detention, its arbitrary imprisonment of Palestinians, and the concerted targeting of Palestinian journalists. “They [Palestinian journalists] are now experiencing forceful and abusive detention because they have been the voice of human conscience, exposing crimes and oppressive practices of Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people,” al-Qiq said in a statement in late January….
Palestinian detainee resumes hunger strike against detention without trial
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 18 May – Palestinian detainee in Israeli jails Sami Janazrah has resumed his hunger strike in protest of being detained without a charge or trial, one week after he decided to suspend his 70-day hunger strike. Jawad Boulus, head of the legal unit at the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS), said the Israeli general prosecutor had asked the Supreme Court to give it seven more days to investigate Janazrah. Boulus said he objected to the general prosecutor’s request and asked the Supreme Court to cancel his illegal administrative detention without a charge or trial. Along with Janazrah, two other Palestinian administrative detainees in Israeli jails, Adeeb Mafarjeh and Foaad Assi, have been hunger striking for over two months in protest of their administrative detention. There are more than 500 Palestinian prisoners being held under administrative detention, a controversial Israeli practice that allows detention of Palestinians without charge or trial for up to sex-month intervals that can be renewed indefinitely….
Soldiers’ testimonies against nonviolent activist contradict each other
IMEMC 21 May — The Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Bil’in, near Ramallah, said that testimonies by Israeli soldiers against nonviolent activist Abdullah Abu Rahma are contradicting each other, while the prosecutor keeps pushing for his continued detention. Abu Rahma was kidnapped several days ago during a nonviolent protest marking the Palestinian Nakba, in Bil‘in village, west of Ramallah, and was sent to court on May 17, when the judge said the he should be released instantly despite the prosecutor’s demands. The judge stated that the two soldiers, who provided false testimonies, should be the ones behind bars, and recommended investigating them, although he did not issue a warrant for their arrest. But, the prosecutor had a different opinion, and called four additional soldiers to testify against Abu Rahma, in an attempt to increase the pressure and ensure his continued detention. Abu Rahma family said the Israeli prosecution demanded holding him under interrogation for eight additional days, but the judge granted them one day. The third court session was held on Thursday, May 19, and the prosecutor presented a case that lacked any real indictments, yet supported by soldiers’ ‘eyewitness’ testimonies, that made no real sense. The judge then ordered Abu Rahma’s release and set a 15000 Israeli Shekels bail, but the prosecutor appealed and asked for additional 72 hours. Dr. Rateb Abu Rahma, media coordinator of the Popular Committee and Abdullah’s brother, said the prosecution described Abdullah as a person who “constantly violates law and order,” through his continued activities, and described him as a central figure in them. He added that when the soldiers kidnapped Abdullah, it was during a sports activity in the village, and not even during one of the legitimate nonviolent protests, and that the soldiers assaulted and beat him continuously….
Restrictions on movement
Israel to upgrade West Bank checkpoints, shortening wait time
Haaretz 19 May by Gili Cohen — The government is to upgrade the checkpoints between the West Bank and Israel, so that more Palestinians will be able to enter Israel for work. The Defense Ministry said the move, which will cost some 300 million shekels ($78 million), will also shorten the amount of time Palestinians must spend waiting in line to get through the checkpoints. Thousands of West Bank Palestinians pass through each checkpoint every day, in order to reach their workplace in Israel. Altogether, some 60,000 Palestinians have permits to work in Israel. However, to ensure that they make it through the checkpoint in time to reach work, they must get up in the wee hours – since they usually wait at the crossings for hours, in very crowded conditions, until it’s their turn for a security check. Palestinians frequently complain about the long delays, overcrowding, heat and other unpleasant conditions, and these problems have also been reported in the media. Consequently, Israel’s finance and defense ministries set up a task force to try and solve these problems … The Defense Ministry said the upgrade was the joint initiative of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, in cooperation with Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. But it has support from virtually the entire coalition, up to and including one of the most right-wing cabinet members: Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi). Just last month, Ariel said in a radio interview that the way Palestinians were forced to stand and wait for hours “without shade or water” was “a disgrace and shame on Israel and the defense establishment….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
UN coordinator calls on Israel to stop destruction of humanitarian aid, respect international law
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 18 May — The UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Robert Piper, Wednesday condemned the demolition and confiscation of donor-funded humanitarian assistance by the Israeli authorities in the Palestinian community of Jabal al Baba. On 16 May, the authorities demolished seven homes and confiscated materials for three other ones. Nine Palestine refugee families comprising 49 members were left without shelter as a result, 22 of them children. The materials were part of a humanitarian aid package for vulnerable Palestinian Bedouin families, provided by the UN’s Humanitarian Pooled Fund earlier this year. “Despite the obligation on Israel under international law to facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of relief to those who need it, humanitarian relief to vulnerable communities like Jabal al Baba is increasingly under attack,” said Mr. Piper. Jabal al Baba, located to the east of Jerusalem in an area planned for the expansion of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement (the E1 plan), is one of 46 communities in the central West Bank considered at high risk of forcible transfer. The destruction of homes and of livelihoods creates pressures on households to move, exacerbating the risk of forcible transfer which would be considered a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Over 600 structures have been demolished or confiscated across the West Bank already in 2016, far exceeding the total for all of 2015. In their wake, over 900 people have been displaced from their homes and a further 2,500 have seen their livelihoods affected. “Once again, we call on Israel to respect the rights of these vulnerable communities and to leave these households in peace,” said Piper.
Israel razes Araqeeb village in Negev for 98th time
NEGEV (PIC) 19 May — Israeli municipal bulldozers on Wednesday demolished al-Araqeeb village in the Negev and displaced its residents for the 98th time. Chief of the village Abu Sayyah Attouri said that bulldozers and municipal employees escorted by police forces stormed the village and embarked on removing all homes and structures at the pretext of unlicensed construction. The Israeli authorities started to demolish the village, which is one of 45 Palestinian villages in the Negev unrecognized by Israel, in July 2010. Attouri told Quds Press that over the past years, the village had been destroyed 97 times, but “after every demolition, the residents rebuilt their homes to confirm their insistence on not leaving their land.” The Israeli authorities keep demolishing the village to force its residents to leave their land and live in a residential area which was established for the Negev Bedouins displaced from their homes.
Sowing steadfastness, harvesting hope
[with many photos] BETHLEHEM (EI) 19 May by Claire Thomas — The view from Daher Nassar’s farm southwest of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank is very different from what it was when he was a child. Pointing to the five Israeli settlements that surround the farm, he asked, “People come from outside and they can build houses and here I’m not allowed to build one house.” Daher’s family has farmed and lived on their 100 acres of land ever since his grandfather purchased it a hundred years ago this month. The Nassars marked the centennial with a week of celebrations. “When my grandfather bought the land in 1916 he registered it, so we got papers from the Ottomans and we kept re-registering the land with the British, then the Jordanians, and finally the Israelis,” explained Daher’s brother, Daoud. Despite the documentation of ownership, the Nassar family has been fighting a long legal battle to keep hold of their farm, ever since it was classified as “Israeli state land” in 1991. Meanwhile, the family faces harassment and attacks by settlers, which peaked between 1991 and 2002, Daoud said. “They came to the farm, they cut our trees, they damaged our water tank, they threatened us with guns and they tried three times to build a road on our property,” he explained. “They came with the bulldozers and they started digging a road, but we managed to stop all road construction by going to court.” Settlers destroyed 250 olive trees on the farm in 2002. “For Palestinians, an olive tree is like a member of the family; it’s like a holy tree,” Daoud explained. Three weeks later, the Nassar family planted new trees with the support of the UK solidarity group Jews for Justice for Palestine. “This was a small sign of hope,” Daoud said. In May 2014, two weeks before the apricot harvest, Israeli bulldozers razed 1,500 fruit trees on the farm, claiming they were planted on state land. “We stood up again,” Daoud said. “We managed to repair the terraces … and last year we managed to plant 4,000 fruit trees.” ….
The three minute warning…
Jerusalem (ISM) 20 May — On Wednesday we sat with Abu Sadam in the rubble of all that remains of his family’s house, in Hisbet Wadi Joz, East Jerusalem. Early Tuesday morning at about 2am occupying forces arrived with a digger to demolish the house. The Israeli authorities have planned a national park and his home is in the way. Although the house was on Waqf land (The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf is a trust best known for controlling and managing buildings and land on and around Haram Al-Sharif), because it was built after the occupation in 1967 it is not protected. The family were given three minutes notice to vacate the house and were not allowed to remove their furniture and belongings . Although some of the larger pieces were removed (thrown) from the house by the Israeli military, much has been broken or lost under the rubble. There are sixteen people in the family, most of them children. They are now homeless and all they have to protect them from the elements is a tarpaulin sheet .The demolition was aggressive and the occupying forces used physical violence against Abu Sadam, one of the children and internationals who were present at the time. The children are now frightened and traumatised. Today, Abu Sadam’s older sons have been searching East Jerusalem for a house that they can afford to rent. However they have so far been unable to find a landlord willing to take on such a large family at a price they can afford. It is also possible that they will be evicted from the land. As if having your house demolished were not enough, the family also have to pay for the privilege. Based on the bills received for other demolitions, Abu Sadam estimates that his bill will be around 100,000 shekels, (about $26,000), an enormous sum and impossible for the family to find … If you want to help please contact: [email protected].
In Israel’s poorest town, Palestinian fishermen forced to give up livelihoods
JISR AL-ZARQA, Israel (MEE) 20 May by Graham Liddell — Fishing has been in 44-year-old Musa Jurban’s family for at least three generations. “My father was a fisherman and my grandfather was also a fisherman,” Jurban told Middle East Eye. “It was passed down from grandfather to father to son. “But if my children said they wanted to be fishermen, I wouldn’t want that,” he said. Because of the state’s restrictions on small-scale fishing in his village, Jisr al-Zarqa, Jurban won’t be teaching his children to fish. “You can’t depend on fishing to make a living. Me, as a 44-year-old, I can’t give it up. I’m going to be going out into the sea for the rest of my life,” he said. “But I want my children to learn something else.” Fishing has historically been a pillar of Jisr al-Zarqa’s economy. While it is regularly referred to as a “fishing village” in Israeli media, only about 20 local families remain that depend on fishing for a livelihood, down from 200 or so in the 1990s. Jisr is the only coastal Palestinian village that remained in Israeli territory after most Palestinians were displaced amid the violence of the state’s creation in 1948. The town is also Israel’s poorest village, with its residents earning the lowest wages in the country, according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics. Some 80 percent of its people live below the poverty line, including many fishermen … Facing a fish scarcity, rising permit costs, increased taxes, limitations on the number of miles small boats can legally venture into the sea, as well as a recent state mandate shortening the fishing season, many of the village’s fishermen have abandoned the trade of their forefathers to work as unskilled labourors in nearby Jewish cities. According to the village council, the scarcity is caused by large Israeli commercial fishing vessels from outside the village that fish all year round without being bothered by the state, even during the spawning season….
An attempt to crack down on boycotting Israel in Canada has failed
Vice News 19 May by Tamara Khandaker — A bill that would have barred supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement from doing business with the provincial government and municipalities put civil liberties groups on edge but failed on Thursday afternoon. “The bill, if passed, would seriously undermine freedom of expression,” Cara Zwibel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association told VICE News. “It is deeply problematic for the provincial legislature to attempt to tell municipalities, universities, and colleges that they may not support or participate in certain causes or movements.” The motion failed, with 18 members voting in favour and 39 voting against. A large chunk of the Ontario parliament, however, were absent for the vote. The Standing Up Against Anti-Semitism in Ontario Act, introduced by Progressive Conservative MPP and former leader of the party Tim Hudak would’ve meant that no public body would be allowed to enter into contracts with people and entities that support or participate in the movement. If it’s determined that an existing contractor already does, the law would require that contract be terminated immediately. BDS supporters are calling on consumers to boycott Israeli products and divest from corporations that profit from the violation of Palestinian human rights, and for governments to impose sanctions on Israel….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (12-18 May)
PCHR-Gaza 19 May — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt 7 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. About 30 olive trees were burnt at the eastern entrance to Kufor Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqilya. Israeli forces continued to open fire at the Gaza Strip border area. A farmer was wounded in the east of al-Shuja‘iya neighbourhood, east of Gaza City. Israeli forces conducted 57 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. 36 civilians, including 5 children, were arrested. 8 of them, including a child, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Among the arrested was a PLC member and the former Minister of Prisoners. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. Israeli forces arrested 12 fishermen, including 3 children, and confiscated 2 fishing boats and drowned a third. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. 3 houses were demolished in al-Sowana neighbourhood and Shu‘fat village, leaving 30 civilians homeless. Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 9th [year]. Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians. 13 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children and a woman, were arrested at military checkpoints in the West Bank. [Details follow]
Israel’s defense minister resigns, says ‘extremist elements’ have taken over government
Vice News 20 May by Harriet Salem (Reuters contributed to this report) — Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon resigned on Friday, saying that “extremist and dangerous elements” had hijacked the nation after the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved to replace him with the leader of the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party. In a televised speech outside the defense ministry a grim-faced Yaalon, who spent four years in the post, said he was stepping down following “difficult disputes over matters of principle and professionalism” with Netanyahu and several members of the cabinet. “I fought with all my might against manifestations of extremism, violence, and racism in Israeli society, which are threatening its sturdiness and also trickling into the IDF [Israel Defense Forces],” he continued. “Sadly, leading politicians in this country chose the path of inciting and dividing between parts of Israeli society, instead of uniting and joining [them].” Netanyahu is believed to have offered the newly vacant post to hardliner Avigdor Lieberman, who is also a bitter rival of the prime minister. The appointment would be a substantial about-turn by the prime minister, who last year refused to give Lieberman the defense portfolio after the general election, resulting in his secularist right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party opting to remain outside of the government. If the appointment is confirmed, the addition of Yisrael Beitenu to the current six-party governing coalition would serve to bolster Netanyahu’s razor-thin majority — controlling 61 of parliament’s 120 seats — by six seats. It would also mean that Israel’s government, will become the “most right-wing and most extremist government since the founding of the state,” said conservative newspaper Maariv…
Netanyahu pulls off coalition surprise to upend Israeli politics
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 19 May -by Jeffrey Heller — “He’s a magician, he’s a magician,” the partisan crowd chanted as a beaming Benjamin Netanyahu strode into his party headquarters a little over a year ago to declare a come-from-behind victory in Israel’s election. Now, with the expected entry into his right-wing government of ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman as defence minister, it looks like Netanyahu, in his fourth term as premier, has pulled off another piece of political sleight of hand worthy of a “House of Cards” script. In a matter of hours on Wednesday, Netanyahu crushed the opposition, shored up his support in his narrow, rightist coalition and put himself more firmly on course to become Israel’s longest-serving leader. But Netanyahu’s surprise pact with Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party, widely expected to be finalised by the weekend, and dashing talks with the centre left was already raising Palestinian and international concern. Lieberman, a settler in the occupied West Bank, has stirred controversy by questioning Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s commitment to peace and the loyalty of Israel’s Arab minority, while pushing for stronger military action against Gaza’s Hamas rulers. “It’s already an extremist government and now it will get even more extreme. This government will block any horizon for peace,” said Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization. An Egyptian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters: “We’re shocked, we’re really shocked.” He noted that the Lieberman appointment came just a day after a speech by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promised Cairo’s help to try to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. -Defence Chief- At home, questions were raised about whether Lieberman, a former foreign minister who once proposed bombing Egypt’s Aswan dam, had the temperament or qualifications to replace ex-general Moshe Yaalon as defence chief of a country that has largely lived by the sword since its creation in 1948….
Analysis: As defense minister, Lieberman also becomes ‘czar’ of West Bank
JPost 20 May by Tovah Lazaroff — Avigdor Liberman’s new job as defense minister places him in charge of the West Bank. The West Bank is under Israeli military rule, which effectively means it is under Liberman’s rule. For those who are concerned about the appointment, this is one of the aspects of his new job that should concern them … Those who worried about what this appointment means for the right-wing character of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, or even Israel’s diplomatic image, can relax. This is not Liberman’s first high-level ministerial role … It is Liberman in the specific role of defense minister, however, that has the possibility to inflame the already tense situation with the Palestinians. His actions against Palestinians in the West Bank could trigger more violence, and any support he gives to increased settlement building would have an impact on the diplomatic sphere … Liberman, who has called for the ouster of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, will now be in charge of the only military body in the West Bank – one that has the authority to enter any Palestinian city. Similarly, he would have broad powers when it comes to cracking down on Palestinian terrorism and violence in the West Bank, including possibly the ability to institute a death penalty there. He also would have the power to send the IDF into Palestinian cities. He would also have some ability to impact the issue of settlement building, which the international community believes is the stumbling block to the peace process … [Settlers] have high hopes for Liberman, not just because he himself lives in the Gush Etzion settlement of Nokdim, but because he has persistently promised them to support such building. The settler leaders and many on the Right have therefore welcomed Liberman’s appointment and wasted no time in reminding him of his promises for more building. To the Palestinians, it looks like putting the wolf in charge of the sheep.
Erekat: IDF in West Bank an invalid legal system
JPost 19 May by Yonah Jeremy Bob — PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat late on Tuesday rejected a compromise for resolving disputes over the IDF’s West Bank courts and over alleged dual unequal legal systems for Jews and Palestinians living there by adding foreign observers to IDF West Bank courts. When asked by The Jerusalem Post about the compromise suggestion at a conference held by the Palestine-Israel Journal in Jerusalem, he called it “playing around with” an inherently invalid legal system, instead of trying to take apart that system as should be done. The idea was suggested to the Post in discussions with a top defense lawyer for Palestinians about what changes might be viewed as improving the objectivity of the courts short of abolishing them – as is traditionally demanded by the Palestinian side. Mostly, the Palestinian side sticks to the claim that Israeli military courts trying them inherently violates their sovereign rights. They say this is especially true, since Jews living in the West Bank are brought to trial in Israeli civilian courts. But the lawyer had framed the idea as a possible improvement, since the courts would likely continue to be a reality for the foreseeable future. Erekat responded to the compromise idea, saying, “It’s not about… the Geneva Conventions or international law. There was a law invented [by Israel], the law of getting away with it. Everyone hears and sees what Israel is doing to the Palestinians over 50 years,” he continued, repeating that “the real law” is getting away with violating Palestinian rights. The PLO secretary-general also recounted his personal experience with the West Bank Courts when he was arrested and brought before an IDF court in Nablus in 1987. He said that his lawyers were fined NIS 1,500 for asking the court a question about his case, and said the courts are the “tools of apartheid.”….
Palestinian jailed for Facebook post casts light on PA attacks on free speech
Mondoweiss 20 May by Allison Deger — When the plain-clothed men came for him, Kifah Quzmar, 27, did not need to be told why they were dragging him out of a popular Ramallah cafe on a sunny afternoon last week. “Call my brother,” he told bystanders before being tossed into the back of a tinted SUV with a yellow Israeli license plate parked outside. Despite the tags on their vehicle, the officers making the arrest were not Israeli police. They were the Palestinian secret service, and had come to take Kifah for insulting them. “The muhaberat are rotten,” Quzmar wrote on Facebook two weeks before he was detained, using the Arabic colloquial term for undercover Palestinian intelligence agents. In the West Bank, such words are a punishable offensive under a 1960 Jordanian law still on the books making illegal “insulting a public official.” The crime carries a maximum of a six-month prison sentence. Indeed the undercover agents were insulted. Quzmar was driven to an holding cell. During the ride he told Mondoweiss the officers beat him. “I said ‘hit me, but don’t break the sunglasses because they are not mine,’” he recounted with a smile. The police obliged. The shades were set aside. During his week in jail, Quzmar missed two exams for his university courses in business. He spoke to Mondoweiss within an hour of his release on Thursday after his brother posted a bond of $7000, paid in Jordanian Dinar as customary with Palestinian court fees reflecting the myriad of Ottoman, Jordanian and Palestinian laws governing West Bank residents….
Ryuichi Hirokawa: A Japanese photojournalist who documented the Palestinian suffering
ISTANBUL (PIC) 19 May — Ryuichi Hirokawa, a Japanese citizen who loves and supports Palestine, has been documenting the suffering of the Palestinians and the Zionist crimes against them and their homeland by his camera lens for over 50 years. The turning point of Hirokawa’s life is that moment when he arrived in the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories in 1966. He was an admirer of the idea of Zionism, but his fascination of it faded quickly and turned into love and adoration of Palestine. Hirokawa, 72, told the Palestinian Information Center his story, saying: “I came to Palestine for the first time in 1966, an admirer of the idea of Kibbutz, but while wandering around I was shocked to see the ruined and destroyed homes, so I was certain that these Jews are occupiers, and this land is owned by indigenous owners, who are the Palestinians.” He continued: “I began to search in the history of the Palestinian cause, and visited the Palestinian villages and met with displaced people, until I was informed of the truth, so I decided to serve Palestine and spread the truth in my country, Japan.” Hirokawa wrote more than 60 books, 12 of them were about Palestine. He says: “The Palestinians taught me self-esteem, and the meanings of sacrifice and courage, I feel ashamed of myself when I document the Palestinians’ sacrifices.” The Japanese journalist, Hirokawa, founded the Children of Palestine Foundation in Japan, and was the first journalist to document the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon; he also organized more than 400 photo exhibitions in support of the Palestinian cause in Japan. Tayef for TV production has produced a documentary about the life of photographer, Hirokawa, titled: (photos without shadow), which will be broadcast later on Al-Jazeera.
Kerry meets Sisi as Egypt seeks MidEast peace role
AFP 28 May — US Secretary of State John Kerry met in Cairo on Wednesday with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, after Egypt called for a renewal of the Middle East peace process. Even before Sisi raised the issue, Kerry had planned a visit to discuss the Libya and Syria crises and to raise concerns about Egypt’s harsh crackdown on dissent, issues the top US diplomat’s office said were discussed in the meeting. But Kerry was also keen to hear more from the Egyptian leader about how he intends to help broker peace between his Israeli and Palestinian neighbours. “He’s interested in hearing a bit more directly from the president about what role he has in mind,” a senior US official told reporters before the talks, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The Secretary expressed his appreciation for the president’s recent statement of strong support for advancing Arab-Israeli peace,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said afterwards, without providing details. On Tuesday, in a televised speech, Sisi urged Israelis and Palestinians to seize what he said was a “real opportunity” and hailed his own country’s peace deal with Israel. Sisi urged Israeli parties and leaders to “please, reach an agreement so a solution can be found” and called for “a real reconciliation, and quickly” between Palestinian factions, offering Cairo’s full support. Arab League deputy secretary general Ahmed Ben Helli on Wednesday welcomed Sisi’s offer to mediate between Palestinian factions for a speedy reconciliation to pave the way to revive the peace process … Washington believes the only way to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is a negotiated settlement resulting in two states side-by-side within recognised borders. But the US does not believe the time is yet ripe to resume direct dialogue, preferring instead to lobby both to make confidence-building measures to reduce violence and calm tensions. Some in the international community are becoming frustrated with that approach, and France — and now Egypt — are pushing for a quicker resumption of efforts to seek a final deal.
Opinion: The Palestinians are passive. Have they given up? / Larry Derfner
Haaretz 20 May — “The Palestinians will never resign themselves to Israeli rule.” This is an axiom of the anti-occupation camp, the so-called pragmatic argument against the status quo – that it’ll blow up in our faces sooner or later, like it always has. But maybe this prediction isn’t accurate. Maybe the Palestinians, after fighting Israel for 100 years, have finally given up. They wouldn’t admit it, of course, probably not even to themselves, but on the ground that’s the way it looks, and has looked for several years. I’m not declaring this situation as permanent; that would obviously be premature. But I am saying that there’s no sign of change, and that the possibility of ongoing, long-term Palestinian acquiescence to the occupation ought to be recognized, if only for the sake of honesty. The wave of terror that began last September has died down … as a supporter of freedom, I don’t like seeing the Palestinians going on being subjugated, especially when the one holding them down is my country. But what’s taking place is a cave-in. That’s what’s been taking place for a long time. The Palestinians as a nation are not mobilized for the cause of freedom, neither violently nor non-violently. And while this may change, there is no sign of it. Israel has overpowered them – and now the indelicate Avigdor Lieberman is on his way to becoming defense minister. Tragically, there are examples in history of weaker nations being crushed permanently by stronger ones. In his last days, humiliated and under house arrest in the Muqata, Arafat said defiantly that the Palestinians “are not red Indians,” meaning American Indians. I really hope he was right, but I wonder.
Analysis: Administrative detention is not the same for Jewish and Palestinian terrorists
JPost 19 May by Yonah Jeremy Bob — How one answers the “why” of the disparate application of administrative detention for Jews and Palestinians depends on one’s political outlook — Administrative detention is a drastic measure whereby the state arrests and detains individuals using special court proceedings instead of a standard criminal trial. Israel, as well as a short list of other countries, resort to administrative detention as a means to combat terrorism. In Israel, the administrative detention of Jews and Palestinians is different by any measure, including length of detention, and number of detainees. At the recent high, there were three Jewish detainees: Meir Ettinger, Evyatar Slonim and Mordechai Meir. With Ettinger’s pending release at the end of his 10-month term in two weeks, there will be zero. By contrast, there are currently some 700 Palestinian detainees. The difference in numbers was most extreme during the 1988-1990 years of the first intifada, when as many as 10,000 Palestinians were detained. Before the recent detention of the three Jewish detainees, the last detention – in 2010 – reportedly was Efraim Chanatzis. Supporters of the far-right activists have arguments about why those detentions should never have happened and were too long.
The most disturbing issue they raise is that a few weeks ago Ettinger was considered too dangerous to be granted a temporary leave from prison to attend his son’s circumcision ceremony. In contrast, on Tuesday it was announced that, almost magically, the danger he presents has evaporated and that he can now be released on June 1…
Israel to use new sea-borne missile defence to guard gas fields
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 18 May Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch — Israel’s military said on Wednesday it had developed a version of its Iron Dome missile interceptor system that can be fired from the deck of a cruising navy ship to protect its offshore gas platforms. The augmented defense system passed a live test two weeks ago when it shot down several short-range ballistic missiles from a moving boat, said Colonel Ariel Shir, the navy’s head of operational systems. Israel has boosted its naval defences over the past decade after the discovery of sizeable natural gas deposits off its Mediterranean coast. While the biggest fields are far from shore, the gas flows to platforms in shallower waters that can be seen from the southern Israeli coast, putting them in range of the kinds of rockets fired by militants in the Gaza Strip. Iron Dome batteries have proven capable of shooting down around 90 percent of Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza, according to Israel and the United States, which has helped bankroll the system. Until now Iron Dome had been a static system that was only fired from land. It has needed a series of software and algorithm adjustments to help it meet the navy’s requirements.