Israel bulldozes Araqeeb village for 99th time
NEGEV (PIC) 9 June — Israeli bulldozers on Thursday demolished, for the 99th time, the Palestinian Bedouin village of al-Araqeeb in the Negev desert at the pretext of unlicensed construction. A local resident told Quds Press that several Bedouin families became homeless again after Israeli bulldozers escorted by police forces stormed the village and razed all their crude homes. As always, the residents will manage to rebuild their village anew and challenge Israel’s repeated attempts to uproot them from their native land. The Israeli authorities consider al-Araqeeb and dozens of other Negev villages illegal and refuse to recognize them as Palestinian communities, arguing that their residents cannot prove their ownership of the lands they are living on.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
Israeli forces deploy heavily in Ramallah area after suspected car ramming attack
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 June — A Palestinian allegedly attempted to carry out a car ramming attack Saturday evening outside of the village of Deir Abu Mash‘al northwest of Ramallah and fled the scene, locals and Israeli security sources said. Israeli forces have responded by sealing the entrances to villages in the Ramallah area in the central occupied West Bank in search of the suspect. Locals told Ma‘an that a Palestinian-plated car attempted to run over Israeli soldiers on a main road north of Ramallah on Saturday evening, but did not succeed. Israeli soldiers opened fire on the vehicle, and the driver fled the scene. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the incident, adding that no Israelis were injured. She could not confirm any further information regarding the alleged attacker or attackers, or if they were injured in the incident. Israeli forces deployed heavily in the area in the predawn hours Sunday in search of the vehicle, sealing villages north and northwest of Ramallah. According to locals, Israeli forces erected checkpoints at the entrances to several Ramallah-area villages, including Deir Abu Mash‘al, ‘Abud, Nabi Salih, Umm Safa, Deir Nidham, ‘Atara, Ein Siniya, and al-Jalazun refugee camp. Israeli forces were stopping vehicles, searching them thoroughly, and inspecting the IDs of all passengers, locals added.
Naif buried in Bulgaria
RAMALLAH (PIC) 10 June — Hundreds of Palestinians and Arabs in the Bulgarian capital Sofia marched Friday in the funeral of Omar al-Naif who was assassinated by Israeli Mossad in the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria last February. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) had earlier called on the Arab and Palestinian community and supporters of Palestinian cause to participate in the funeral. Naif’s body was buried in Sofia cemetery before a farewell ceremony was held by his family and close friends. The Palestinian ex-prisoner was assassinated in February in the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria where he had taken refuge two months earlier after Israel requested his extradition. The PFLP also called on the Palestinian people in West Bank and occupied Jerusalem to participate in the symbolic funeral scheduled to be held in Jenin for Naif. A similar symbolic funeral is planned to be held in Gaza. Naif’s family had refused to bury his body in his hometown for fear that it would be confiscated by the Israeli authorities. The Israeli authorities had arrested Naif in April 1986 for allegedly participating in the killing of an Israeli settler. After being sentenced to life in prison and serving four years, Naif went on hunger strike for 40 days, after which he was transferred to a hospital in Bethlehem. On 20 May 1990, he escaped and disappeared. He lived in a number of Arab countries after escaping imprisonment until 1994, when he traveled to Bulgaria and settled there. He was married and had three children, and his wife and children all have Bulgarian citizenship. He was granted permanent residency in the country.
Extremist Israelis reportedly vandalize Palestinian-owned vehicles in Silwan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 June — Extremist Israelis reportedly vandalized vehicles owned by Palestinians in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem overnight Saturday, Hebrew news sites said on Sunday. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri confirmed in a statement that 20 vehicles owned by Palestinian residents were vandalized and sustained damages in Silwan overnight. The vehicles were parked on Falafil street in Silwan, she said. Al-Samri described the attacks as “dangerous” but did not mention that the attackers might be right-wing Jewish Israelis, as was reported by Israeli media. She added that Israeli police “employed every possible means” in order to catch the attackers and bring them to justice. The attacks, allegedly motivated by Israeli nationalism, came amid the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which began on Saturday and ends Monday. More than a hundred extremist Israelis toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday to commemorate the holiday, where three were evacuated from the site after they violated regulations regarding non-Muslim prayer there.
Unidentified suspects throw stones at Israeli bus in East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 June — Unidentified suspects hurled stones at an Israeli bus overnight Sunday in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Jouz, Israeli police said. Three passengers sustained minor injuries and were taken to Hadassah’s Mount Scopus hospital for treatment, Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement, adding that the body of the bus sustained damage and some windows were smashed. Israeli police were still investigating the incident as of Monday morning and searching for the perpetrators, who reportedly fled the scene. Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a law in July making penalties for stone-throwing more severe, making cases of stone-throwing punishable by 10 years behind bars without having to prove intent to harm or cause damage and 20 years where intent could be proven. The amendment has been lambasted by Palestinian Knesset members and rights groups as disproportionately targeting Palestinian youth as measures are rarely brought against Jewish Israelis who carry out similar acts.
Why Israel can’t kick its addiction to collective punishment
+972 mag 11 June by Amjad Iraqi — Israel’s revocation of permits and closure of Yatta this week reflect its need to keep the Palestinian issue at bay by controlling and threatening their people for every action of a few — A Palestinian family from Nablus was supposed to visit their relatives in an Arab town in Israel for Ramadan later this month. They were especially excited that they would get to see the beach in Jaffa for the first time, which despite being only an hour’s drive away was normally inaccessible to them as residents of the West Bank. But on Thursday morning they were informed that they couldn’t go anymore: their permits to enter Israel had been revoked because of a shooting in Tel Aviv by two Palestinian gunmen on Wednesday evening. The family had nothing to do with the attack in Tel Aviv. But the Israeli government seemed to think otherwise when, just a few hours after the incident, it suspended the permits of 83,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza who had hoped to see distant family members, vacation in cities in Israel, and pray in Jerusalem during Ramadan. On the same day, the Israeli army sealed off the shooters’ hometown of Yatta near Hebron, trapping its 64,000 residents while soldiers raided homes in search of the attackers’ accomplice. For many Israelis, these heavy responses are logical security measures: they can increase the chances of achieving operational goals, and deter others from committing similar attacks by demonstrating the severe consequences for such actions. This approach, however, is abhorrently illegal and immoral – and simply doesn’t work. Collective punishment has been Israel’s main response to Palestinian altercations of any kind for decades, from demolishing the homes of Palestinian attackers’ families to imposing a blockade on 1.7 million people in the Gaza Strip. Yet all these policies have failed to dissuade Palestinians from resenting the occupation or from resisting it violently or nonviolently. If anything, they only refuel Palestinians’ antagonism, feed the cycle of violence, and make future attacks all the more likely … Many Israelis refuse to question these methods not only because they believe that the state knows what is best for their security, but because it fits with their view of Palestinians as a hostile population that deliberately breeds anti-Israeli hatred and violence. For them the issue is not with the occupation or a few belligerents, but with Palestinian society, politics, and culture as a whole, making collective punishment the most rational approach to tackling the “real” cause of the problem. Under this view, the family from Nablus isn’t angry because their rights and hopes were taken away from them; they’re angry because that is how they were raised to be….
Israel reopens Palestinian crossings after Tel Aviv attack
MEE/Agencies 13 June — Israel has reopened Palestinian crossing points from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip following a three-day closure put in place after last week’s deadly Tel Aviv shooting, the army said on Monday. Crossings were reopened overnight as planned, an army spokeswoman said, though “security checks are ongoing” in Yatta, the West Bank village where the two Tel Aviv attackers were from. The village had been put on lockdown in the hours after Wednesday night’s attack that killed four Israelis and wounded five others. Crossing points were shut on Friday morning, preventing Palestinians from entering Israel and annexed east Jerusalem. An exception was made however for the first Friday prayers of Ramadan, with thousands of Palestinians allowed to visit Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam. Israel announced a range of measures following the Tel Aviv attack, which saw two Palestinian cousins open fire at a busy cafe. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also announced the cancellation of tens of thousands of permits for Palestinians to enter Israel and east Jerusalem during Ramadan. The moves drew international concern, with France strongly condemning the attack but also warning against further exacerbating tensions.
Army kidnaps five Palestinians after attacking them in Jerusalem
IMEMC 11 June — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Saturday at dawn, five young Palestinian men, after attacking them near one of the gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied Jerusalem, and injured several others in a nearby area. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) has reported that the soldiers kidnapped Ashraf Sharabati, Shadi Natsha, Ahmad al-Basti, Mohammad al-Basti and Mohammad al-Basheeti. Silwanic added that the soldiers assaulted the kidnapped Palestinians with clubs and batons, in addition to spraying their faces with pepper-spray. They were standing near one of the gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, before dawn prayers, when the soldiers assaulted them. The army also assaulted several young Palestinian men, near Bab Hatta of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and fired gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets, causing many persons to suffer cuts and bruises. Some of the wounded Palestinians have been identified as Hatem al-Mhalwes, ‘Aahed al-Rishiq, Ramadan Seder, Arafat Seder and Tha’er Seder; they were moved to the al-Makassed hospital for treatment.
Israeli army kidnaps a Palestinian legislator in Hebron
IMEMC 13 June — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Sunday at dawn, a Palestinian legislator from his home in Surif town, northeast of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the soldiers invaded the home of legislator Samir al-Qadi, 59, and abducted him after violently searching his property, causing damage. The soldiers also kidnapped Shaher Daoud, 40, from his home in Yatta town, south of Hebron, and Ahmad Abdul-Fattah Haddoush, from his home in Surif. In addition, many residents suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation in Yatta, after the soldiers attacked Palestinians protesting the closure of their town, especially after the soldiers placed sand hills blocking various roads. The abduction of al-Qadi raises the number of imprisoned elected legislators to nine. Al-Qadi has previously been repeatedly kidnapped and imprisoned for many years, including being held under Administrative Detention orders, without charges or trial. It is worth mentioning that the Israeli army has kidnapped, over the last two days, at least 36 Palestinians, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem.
Israeli soldiers kidnap eight Palestinians in the West Bank, cause fire in farmlands
IMEMC 13 June — Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, late on Sunday at night and on Monday at dawn, eight Palestinians in various districts in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem. The army also fired many flares, causing fires in 50 dunams of Palestinian land near Hebron. The soldiers invaded a carwash facility and a garage owned by Naseef family in the southern neighborhood of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, and violently searched them before kidnapping two Palestinians. Local sources said the kidnapped Palestinians have been identified as Raed Fathallah Naseef and Nihad al-Edreesi. In addition, the soldiers kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Waleed Zayyat, near ‘Azzoun ‘Atma village south of Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank. Another Palestinian, identified as Wajdi a-Qutub, from the Tal area in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, was kidnapped was kidnapped after the army invaded the al-Ma’ajeen neighborhood in the city. In addition, the soldiers invaded Yatta town, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and kidnapped Shaher Mousa Abu Rabea‘a 40, after searching his home. The soldiers also invaded homes in Hebron city, and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Khabbab Hamad. The soldiers also invaded Jabal al-Mokabber town, in occupied Jerusalem, and kidnapped two young men, after storming their homes and searching them. Also in Jerusalem, clashes took place in the al-‘Ezariyya town, after several army vehicles invaded it. In the central West bank district of Ramallah, the soldiers invaded Deir Abu Mash‘al and Shuqba villages, stormed stores and confiscated surveillance tapes and equipment.
In related news, dozens of olive trees and large areas of agricultural lands were burnt after Israeli soldiers fired flares into Palestinian lands, in Qalqilia. Palestinian firefighters and civil defense teams rushed to the scene, and eventually managed to control the fires that already consumed more than 100 dunams of farmlands and fifty olive trees. One of the challenging factors in controlling the fires was that the lands are isolated behind the Annexation Wall.
Israeli police detain 27 in Tel Aviv amid crackdown on Palestinian movement
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 June — Israeli police detained at least 27 undocumented Palestinians in Tel Aviv over the weekend amid an ongoing crackdown on Palestinian movement in the wake of a deadly gun attack in Tel Aviv last week. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that 27 Palestinians from the occupied West Bank districts of Hebron and Ramallah were detained near the Azrieli Center and Shaul HaMelech Avenue in central Tel Aviv for not having the legal permits to enter Israel. Over the course of the weekend, one Israeli was also arrested for employing an undocumented Palestinian worker in his shop, and two additional Israeli suspects were arrested for transporting Palestinians who lacked necessary permits to be in Israel, she added. Meanwhile on Friday, Israeli police detained 12 undocumented Palestinian workers on two construction sites in Petah Tikva in central Israel. The owners of the construction sites were also detained for interrogation and ordered to pay a security deposit of 50,000 shekels (approximately $12,939) to “ensure” they would not hire undocumented workers in the future. The detentions come in the wake of a shooting attack in Tel Aviv last week that left four Israelis dead, after which Israel has imposed severe punitive measures across the occupied Palestinian territory in what the UN said could amount to collective punishment.
4 Palestinians detained, 2 Israelis evacuated from Aqsa on Jewish holiday
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 June — Four Palestinians were detained and two extremist Israelis were evacuated from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday morning as dozens of Israelis toured the site to perform rituals in celebration of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Firas al-Dibs, spokesperson for the Waqf (Islamic Endowment) that controls the compound, said subsequent groups of more than a hundred extremist Israelis entered the site through the Moroccan gate, accompanied by Israeli police and special forces. Al-Dibs said dozens of right-wing Israelis performed rituals at Al-Aqsa’s gates, while witnesses said Israelis were also attempting to perform rituals inside Al-Aqsa Mosque itself, in violation of rules regarding non-Muslim prayer at the holy site. Israeli forces detained Waqf employee Muhammad Ruwaidi and another Palestinian youth from the compound, and took them to a nearby police station. According to a statement from Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri, two additional Palestinians were taken in for questioning. According to al-Samri, two “Jewish visitors” were evacuated from the compound after violating regulations. A total of 1,034 visitors entered the compound on Sunday, including 900 tourists and 134 Jewish Israelis, she added….
Israel’s chief rabbi urges building Jewish temple on Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif
+972 mag 11 June by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — The turnaround by Israel’s rabbinical leadership, which in the past has acted as a sane counterweight to messianic Third Temple activists, is a worrying sign. Netanyahu has regularly dismissed suggestions that Israel wants to alter the status quo on the Temple Mount as ‘incitement’. — One of the biggest drivers of violence in Jerusalem in recent years has been Palestinian and Muslim fears that Israel is altering, or at least that it intends to, the status quo on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif — the holy esplanade which once housed the Jewish temple and today is the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the years has taken to describing the articulation of such fears as incitement. Indeed, rumors and fears surrounding Al-Aqsa Mosque have been behind numerous outbreaks of violence, including the 1929 Hebron Massacre, but that doesn’t mean those fears are baseless. At the very least, they are constantly stoked by Israeli officials and organizations with close ties to the government expressing messianic views. (I published an extensive list of such provocations here late last year. They range from the acting foreign minister advocating raising an Israeli flag on the Temple Mount to government ministers publicly advocating for the construction of a Third Temple.) This week saw yet another provocative statement from an unexpected source: Israel’s chief rabbi. Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau told the Knesset Channel (Israel’s equivalent to CSPAN) earlier this week that he would like to see a Third Temple built … Rabbi Lau’s argument that there’s room for all three monotheistic religions on the Temple Mount will hardly assuage the fear that messianic Jews plan to destroy one of Islam’s holiest sites. For those who fear such a disaster, any minor change that Israel makes in the Western Wall Plaza below is enough to stoke paranoia, and the extensive archeological tunneling Israeli groups are performing in the area add another layer of fear regarding a monopolistic view of history and religious attachment. A poll from March 2016 found that over half of Palestinians believe Israel intends to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and replace them with a Jewish temple. The same poll found that one in five Palestinians believe Israel plans to divide the esplanade, a situation similar to what Rabbi Lau laid out … Chief rabbis have always argued that it is forbidden for Jews to enter the Temple Mount complex for religious reasons, specifically in order to inadvertently walk over areas that laypeople were forbidden from entering. What his statement does indicate, however, is that the views of groups like the Temple Mount Movement and Temple Mount Faithful are becoming more and more mainstream in Israeli society.
How many Palestinians are imprisoned by Israel?
Al Jazeera 11 June by Megan O’Toole & Konstantinos Antonopoulos — The Israelis are holding around 7,000 prisoners, including more than 600 administrative detainees, more than 400 child prisoners. Those numbers have steadily climbed over the past five years … The oldest prisoner currently in an Israeli jail is 76 years old, 10 years a prisoner: Fouad al-Shobaki, 76, of Gaza, who was arrested by Israeli forces in 2006 for allegedly sponsoring a ship carrying weapons to Gaza….
Jailers transfer father of martyr Kawazbeh to hospital
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 10 June — The Israeli prison authority has transferred 55-year-old prisoner Younis Kawazbeh to hospital after a sharp decline in his health condition. Ansar, the daughter of Kawazbeh, told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that her father suffers from several health problems, including blood pressure and diabetes, and needs to take daily medication regularly. She also noted that her father had undergone several heart surgeries. Kawazbeh was kidnapped a few days ago from his home in Sa‘ir town, east of al-Khalil city, with no reason. He is the father of martyr Ahmed Kawazbeh, who carried out a stabbing attack at Etzion intersection on January 1, 2016. His son Islam is also detained in an Israeli jail.
Palestinian prisoners speak out on ICRC family visit cuts, pledge to boycott ICRC
Samidoun 12 June — The International Committee of the Red Cross has announced that it plans to implement a 50% cut in family visits for Palestinian men prisoners beginning in July 2016. Over the objections of Palestinian prisoners’ associations and international advocates, the ICRC has used budget limitations in order to justify the cutbacks in family visits. Palestinian prisoners are now announcing a boycott of ICRC representative visits to the prison, demanding an end to the cutbacks and the preservation of twice-monthly family visits. Also, see below for two accounts by Palestinian prisoners, Wael Jaghoub and Thaer Hanani, about the ICRC’s role in the lives of Palestinian prisoners and neglect of their concerns. The ICRC’s involvement is necessary in order for most Palestinian families to visit their imprisoned family members. Palestinians in the West Bank need special permits to visit their imprisoned family members inside Israel, where most prisoners are held in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These permits are often delayed or denied and take months to process; if and when they are approved, Palestinians must visit on special ICRC buses arranged twice monthly. The entire visit process begins early in the morning and ends late at night for a 45-minute visit; it is very difficult for young children and elderly parents….
Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody close to death, in need of heart surgery
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 June — Palestinian prisoner Bassam Amin al-Sayeh, 43, from the city of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank was reported to be in critical need of a pacemaker implantation surgery to save his life. Mona Abu Bakr al-Sayeh told Palestinian radio station Sawt al-Asra (Voice of Prisoners) that her husband suffers from both bone marrow and blood cell cancer, in addition to serious lung inflammation, osteoporosis, and muscle atrophy in his heart. She said that her husband is fighting death under the Israeli policy of deliberate medical negligence. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in December that al-Sayeh “may die at any moment,” after his health deteriorated. Bassam al-Sayeh was detained on Oct. 8 and sentenced to 20 years in Israeli prison. He was among 17 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel’s al-Ramla prison that the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society on Dec. 1 warned were being treated for serious medical complications. According to Sawt al-Asra, Bassam, a former prisoner who has spent several years in Israeli jails, was most recently detained during a trial for his wife. Mona was detained in April and served seven months in administrative detention. Al-Sayeh’s brother Amjad has also been held in Israeli custody since 2002 and is serving a 20-year sentence. There are some 1,000 sick Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, including 24 suffering from cancer, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies. Rights groups have widely condemned Israel for its medical negligence of Palestinians in its prisons.
Suspected Tel Aviv attacker’s house to be destroyed by Israel at ‘any moment’
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 June — The family of Muhammad Makhamera, one of the two Palestinians suspected of carrying out a gun attack in Tel Aviv last week, were informed Saturday night by Israeli authorities their house could be destroyed at any moment, and have since began moving their belongings. Abd al-Aziz Abu Fanar, the media coordinator for the municipality in Yatta, told Ma‘an that the Makhamera family had started emptying the house after Israeli authorities told them the punitive demolition would be carried out at 4 a.m Sunday, but it has yet to occur. An Israeli army spokesperson denied that the demolition was to take place imminently and said that investigations were still ongoing. Israeli authorities reportedly raided the Makhamera home on Thursday to take measurements to prepare for the demolition.
Abu Fanar added that Israeli forces continue to impose a tight siege on Yatta that was implemented following the attack, preventing some 120,000 Palestinians from moving freely. While Yatta is home to some 65,000 Palestinians, thousands more are affected by the blockade as several surrounding villages depend on the municipality for its hospitals, schools, and markets. Meanwhile, an unspecified number of Palestinians have been detained in daily predawn raids in Yatta, with the Israeli army previously saying they could not confirm how many due to them being part of an “ongoing investigation.”
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization
Dividing Jerusalem, solidifying the occupation
+972 blog 11 June by Daniel Seidermann — As Israel approaches the 50th anniversary of its decisive victory in the Six Day War, it is evident that subsequent policies have retroactively transformed a war of self-defense into a platform for messianic expansionism that over time is undermining Israel’s very existence — Last weekend was the 49th anniversary of Jerusalem’s “reunification.” This anniversary comes in the context of a popular uprising in the city unlike any since 1967. Although “Jerusalem-the-eternal-undivided-capital-of-Israel” was never more than a hollow myth, 49 years post-“unification” the city is physically divided by walls of mutual fear and hatred, buttressed by violence and mistrust, as never before. For protracted periods since 1967, the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem was a disease in remission. That occupation is now metastasizing and increasingly indistinguishable from that of the West Bank. Not citizens of Israel, Jerusalem’s Palestinians form a society in limbo — permanently disenfranchised and politically disempowered, part of neither Israel nor the Occupied Palestinian territories. Once a barely tolerated minority, the Palestinian collective in East Jerusalem is today often viewed by official Israel as “the enemy.” Collective punishment, which was once episodic, has become increasingly systemic. Always limited, today governmental and municipal services have all but collapsed for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live within the city limits but beyond the separation barrier. These developments are so blatant that even those who have in the past subscribed to the mantra of “eternal-united-Jerusalem” now realize that the status quo is unsustainable. This realization finds expression in a slew of recent proposals calling for dividing the city … Central to all of the proposals is the argument that the way to improve security and “save” Jewish Jerusalem is not to end occupation but to expand it. The central idea is to excise some 200,000 Palestinian men, women, and children from Jerusalem, cutting them off from families, hospitals, places of work, study, and worship. The remaining 120,000 Palestinians — those living in areas Israel prizes too highly to let go — would be isolated within Israel’s new borders, subject to policies more openly hostile to their presence than at any time since 1967.
Israel removes key sites from Jerusalem’s Old City map
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 12 June by Nigel Wilson — Israeli ministry’s map of Jerusalem’s Old City marks historically unimportant sites and omits key non-Jewish holy sites — In groups of twos, threes and families, visitors shuffled towards the ticket booth at the City of David archaeological park. Sunscreen was reapplied, mineral water sipped, and shekels exchanged for paper tickets. It is a typical touristic scene that plays out thousands of times daily across Jerusalem. But the City of David park, located in the heart of a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, is not a regular attraction. It is a touristic settlement managed by Elad, a private political organisation that facilitates the purchase and takeover of Palestinian homes in the Old City and occupied East Jerusalem in an effort to increase Jewish settlement. The City of David site features prominently, in large, bold red letters, on the Israeli tourism ministry’s official Old City map, which is distributed free of charge at official tourist information centres in Jerusalem. But the nearby al-Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, a 14-hectare compound that comprises Islam’s third holiest site, al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as the Dome of the Rock, is only referred to by its Jewish name: the Temple Mount. Although these major tourist attractions have always been promoted in most touristic literature about Jerusalem, al-Aqsa Mosque is illustrated on the official Old City map – albeit anonymous – while the Dome of the Rock is mentioned. Meanwhile, dozens of sites of questionable historical importance, many of them Jewish settlements in the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City, are highlighted by the mapmakers in an “Old City Legend” numbered guide … “There are a bunch of sites that are not only historically unimportant, but that are run by settlers,” said Betty Herschman, director of international relations and advocacy at Ir Amim, an Israeli human rights NGO that gives tours of East Jerusalem to diplomats and other parties. “That is to the detriment of historically relevant Christian and Muslim sites, which you would think would be far more prioritised on a map of the Old City, the hub of the three major monotheistic religions.” One licensed Jerusalem tourist guide, who did not want to disclose his name, noted that the map favoured Jewish sites regardless of their touristic value and appeared religiously skewed. “When I saw it, I thought it was a map for only Jewish tour groups,” he told Al Jazeera, surprised to learn that it was being distributed at the main tourist information centre by Jaffa gate. “The narrative it shows is quite exclusive to one religious group.”….
Israel starts construction of 2nd largest West Bank synagogue
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 10 June — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) have leveled Palestinian lands in southern Bethlehem city as part of an underway project to construct the second-largest Jewish synagogue in the West Bank. Member of the national anti-settlement committee Ahmad Salah said the IOA leveled Palestinian lands covering an area of 80 dunums, which were confiscated last year in al-Khader town as part of a plan to build the so-called Yeshiva Second Jewish synagogue and school. The activist added that the project includes the establishment of a kindergarten for settlers’ children, along with parks and gardens. He said Israeli bulldozers and army vehicles ruined Palestinians’ cultivated lands and uprooted several fruitful trees in the process.
Moroccan committee calls for restoring Maghareba neighborhood
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 10 June — The Moroccan Committee to Support the Nation’s Causes renewed condemnation of Israel’s confiscation and capture of the Maghareba neighborhood [Mughrabi/Moroccan Quarter], in Occupied Jerusalem, and called for restoring the quarter. Speaking in a statement issued on the occasion of the commemoration of Israel’s demolition of the Maghareba neighborhood, the Moroccan Committee slammed Israeli crimes and aggression on the Palestinian people and holy sites. “The Maghareba neighborhood was usurped by Israel,” said the committee. The statement called for restoring Palestinian and Islamic property which was seized by the Israeli occupation. On June 10, 1967 Israeli occupation bulldozers destroyed 135 Palestinian homes in the Maghareba neighborhood, a home to over 650 Palestinians. Soon as the sun of June 11, 1967 rose, the entire quarter was reduced to mounds of rubble, with several Palestinians killed and dozens of others banned from the area. The Moroccan Committee decided to commemorate the occasion on account of the strong historical bonds connecting Moroccans to Occupied Jerusalem and the occupied Palestinian territories. [Wiki: The 770-year-old quarter was razed to broaden the narrow alley leading to the Western Wall and prepare it for public access by Jews seeking to pray there.]
Israel army, navy open fire on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma‘an) 12 June — Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian lands and houses in the central Gaza Strip during the predawn hours on Sunday, as Israeli naval forces opened fire on fishing boats off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip.Witnesses said Israeli forces deployed in watchtowers along the border fence east of Gaza City opened fire at Palestinian houses.Meanwhile, Israeli naval forces opened fire at fishing boats off the coast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, locals said.No Injuries were reported in either incident.
Testimony of one of the latest attacks against Gaza’s fishermen
GAZA STRIP 12 June by ISM, Gaza Team — Last Wednesday Rajab Khaled Abu Riela, 30 years old, his brother and two cousins left Gaza’s port at 12 pm. They stayed out fishing until 1:30 am. “When we started our way back to the port one Israeli warship approached, the soldiers started insulting us through the microphone and immediately after started shooting against our two small boats with live ammunition.” “Then their warship crashed against us. In that moment I decided to try to escape, but I was immediately shot in the leg with live ammunition.” They took Rajab and his brother to Ashdod port, where they wouldn’t give him any medicine or treatment for the injury he sustained by the Israeli forces. “I was left bleeding until 9:30am”. Finally they were sent back to Gaza, where an ambulance took him directly from Erez border to the hospital, where he had to undergo surgery. When he finally reached Shifa Hospital, doctors managed to remove the biggest pieces of the bullet – but many small pieces still remain in his leg. “Our future [for the fishermen] is uncertain; we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Israel assaults us every day, takes our boats, shoots at us… Since 2005 I have pain in my chest due to an attack of the occupation, and as well my brother was injured while fishing in 2008. I’m responsible for providing for my family, we are 21 members… Now no one is providing for us, as I’m injured and they took our boat and motor. How I can work now without a boat?”
Fleeing heat and electricity blackouts, Gazans break their fasts on the beach due to power crisis
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 June – As an electricity crisis continues to afflict the Gaza Strip, Muslim residents of the besieged coastal enclave are breaking their fasts on the beach, as the holy month of Ramadan enters its second week. “Without any previous plans and preparations, my wife suggested that we take our homemade food and go to the beach because of power cut during Iftar time,” said Muhammad Salim from al-Shati refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. Like several other families, Salim and his five family members set out for the beach in Sheikh Ijlein south of Gaza City, in an effort to escape the extreme heat and poor lighting indoors. Similarly, Islam Salim from Gaza City told Ma‘an that “without electricity at home, it’s very difficult during Ramadan,” where residents in Gaza are abstaining from food and drink for up to 16 hours. If it weren’t for transportation difficulties, Salim expressed that his family would break their fasts at the beach every day. He added that the reason families like his prefer to eat “Iftar”, the sunset meal during Ramadan, by the beach, is the intolerable heat in their houses due to power cuts. “Sometimes we have serious difficulties sleeping, so we stay at the beach until late into the night,” said Salim … The Gaza Electricity Company’s Public Information Officer Tariq Labad announced recently that power distribution would be improved slightly during Ramadan, after the power supply in Gaza was reduced to 6 hours for every 18 hours earlier in May.During the month of Ramadan, Labad said residents would have electricity for 8-hour intervals followed by 8 hours without electricity. Some areas, he said, will have power from 7 a.m to 3 p.m, others will have it from 3 p.m to 11 p.m and a third group will have electricity from 11 p.m to 7 a.m….
Government-run program in Gaza pays off prisoners’ debts, 350 set to be released
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 June — More than 350 Palestinians imprisoned in the Gaza Strip over unpaid debts will be released in coming days after the Hamas-run Ministry of Endowment, in coordination with charities and the Gaza police, raised the money to pay off the debts, the ministry’s undersecretary announced Saturday. “Redemption for debtors is aimed at freeing prisoners for unpaid debts so [the prisoners] can spend the holy month of Ramadan with their families,” Hasan al-Seifi said during a news conference in Gaza City. Speakers at the conference said that unpaid debts up to 6,000 shekels ($1,553) would be forgiven, while a large poster behind the podium stated that debts to be paid would not exceed 7,000 shekels ($1,812). The prisoners are expected to be released from Shajaiyya police center in Gaza City, according to the General Commander of Gaza’s police, Tayseer al-Batsh. The police would also “cooperate with any entity that seeks to help the prisoners,” al-Batsh said, adding that it was the hard economic conditions experienced by the Palestinian people that led to the soon-to-be freed prisoners’ dire financial situations. Speakers at the event highlighted that the debt forgiveness was inspired by teachings of the holy Quran. Fundraising was launched by the Kuwaiti charitable organization Sanabil al-Kheir, one of the major donors for the project.
Wars and poverty force Gaza children to work
Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 11 June by Sakher Abou El Oun — Instead of going to school, Walid and Ibrahim spend hours each day rummaging through houses destroyed in Gaza’s wars in search of scrap to raise a few shekels for their families. They were once good students but Walid Maaruf, 11, and Ibrahim Ghaben, 12, had to quit school and earn a living when their fathers lost their jobs … Nearly half the enclave’s 1.9 million inhabitants live under the poverty line, with 80 percent surviving on humanitarian aid. Unemployment has risen dramatically to reach around 45 percent — one of the highest in the world — forcing many children to become bread-winners. On Sunday, the International Labour Organization marks World Day Against Child Labour, an initiative that has seen the number of child labourers drop to 168 million from 246 million in 2000. But in Gaza the trend has been upward. According to Palestinian estimates, child labour has doubled over the past five years, with 9,700 children aged between 10 and 17 now working in the enclave. “My father is unemployed, he used to gather stones and scrap metal… but now I work,” said Ibrahim who earns about 20 shekels ($5) a day — toiling six to 12 hours — to feed his family of nine. The boy, who looks much older than his age, said he and his father used to transport their find on a donkey-drawn cart “but the donkey died”. All day long, often under a searing sun or howling wind, boys like Walid and Ibrahim scour flashpoint Beit Lahiya — near the border fence with Israel in northern Gaza — for scrap to sell to recycling firms. The area is attractive because of potential finds of lead from Israeli munitions, but also carries the risk of drawing gunfire from border guards….
Arab League secretary-general to visit Palestine for first time
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 June — The Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil al-Arabi is scheduled to visit Palestine on Tuesday — his first visit to the occupied territory since he took office in 2011. The office of the Palestinian President said in a statement that al-Arabi would be hosted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the President’s office in Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank. The two-day visit will be dedicated, among other things, to discussing the ongoing French-led peace initiative between Israel and the Palestinians. Abbas and al-Arabi will also discuss the Arab Peace Initiative which first came into existence in 2002 during the Arab Summit Conference in Beirut, Lebanon. Al-Arabi, according to the statement, is scheduled to arrive at the presidential compound in Ramallah at 1:00 p.m on board a Jordanian helicopter. Also on al-Arabi’s itinerary is a visit to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s tomb, and a trip to the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, where he will perform the midday prayer at the Ibrahimi mosque, and subsequently fly back to Jordan. The visit will come one week after al- Arabi stated that the Arab League would reject any any amendments to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (API)….
Palestine’s ’empty’ museum is still a beacon of hope
MEE 12 June by James Fraser — The completion of the museum’s building is remarkable given the logistical difficulties presented by the Israeli occupation — An astonishing new cultural institution for the Middle East has now opened to the public. Situated on a hilltop near Ramallah in the West Bank, the $24m Palestinian Museum was opened officially in a gala inauguration ceremony on 18 May. Over 700 guests mingled on a broad pavilion in the afternoon sun, while musicians played a classical Arab repertoire in the terraced gardens below. As night fell, dancers performed in a small amphitheatre, and a lightshow was projected onto the museum’s white limestone facade. Yet the museum opened without any artefacts in its galleries or artworks on its walls. The empty halls quickly came to define the Palestinian Museum in the international press. “Palestinian Museum Prepares to Open, Minus Exhibitions,” declared a pre-emptory report in the New York Times (16 May). The absence of artefacts has featured in the headlines or opening sentences of every media report since. –Symbolism in stone– For Omar al-Qattan, the museum’s chairman, the building’s timely completion was cause for celebration enough. Qattan’s message of positivity was clear: “We thought, ‘let’s celebrate the building’ because in the current circumstances … it would be wonderful to have an affirmative, celebratory building,” he told the New York Times. “Symbolically, it’s critical.”Yet the museum can’t seem to escape the symbolism of its empty halls … “It supports the impression that the Palestinians simply cannot get their act together, that they have built an empty monument,” stated the Washington Post … While unusual, the opening of a museum without exhibits is not without precedent. The Jewish Museum in Berlin, for example, opened in 1999, but did not receive any artefacts until 2001. In this case, the opening celebrated the completion of an iconic piece of contemporary design by architect Daniel Libeskind. The building alone drew more than 350,000 people, demonstrating that a museum is more than the artefacts it holds. The article in Haaretz has been the only report that I have come across that places the Palestinian Museum in this context. Like Libeskind’s Jewish Museum, the Palestinian Museum is a striking example of contemporary design. Architect Roisin Heneghan, whose Dublin-based firm Heneghan Peng won the project in an international competition in 2011, sought to integrate the building with the stepped hillside on which it stands….
Video: The Christian who wakes up Muslims in time to eat for Ramadan
Haaretz 12 June by Jack Khoury — In an age of alarm clocks and smartphones, the preserver of a thousand-year-long tradition is a local hero, even though he’s of a different faith — The Abboud neighborhood in Acre’s Old City was completely silent a little before 2 A.M. last Monday. The only sounds to be clearly heard were the sea waves that crashed again and again against the city’s western wall. Dressed head-to-toe in traditional Syrian clothing – known in Arabic as “Shami” – and carrying a small drum and stick, Michel Ayoub stands at the entrance to the neighborhood. When the clock dials reached 2 A.M., he takes a deep breath, drummed strongly three times and began singing in Arabic: “You who are asleep, wake up, declare your loyalty to God and get up to eat the dawn meal.” At the end of the call he added another three drum beats. Drumming and singing, singing and drumming, Ayoub slowly walked across the alleys of the Abboud neighborhood, carrying out the part of a “masharati” – the person responsible for waking up Muslim believers before dawn during the month of Ramadan so that they eat their pre-fast meal in time. This is a thousand-year-long tradition, and Ayoub has been carrying it out voluntarily for over a decade. “I wait for Michel every year, it’s part of the tradition,” says Mohammed Omar, who heard Ayoub’s voice from afar and came out to the door with his mother and months-old baby. “There are people who are anyway asleep and don’t care. And he decides, without any obligation, to do something nice like this, and that’s why everyone respects him.” With no any legal obligation, surely, but also with no religious affinity. Ayoub is actually a member of a Christian family who lives in Makr, a mixed Muslim-Christian town east of Acre. A 40-year-old single man who makes his living in construction, Ayoub says he took up the role out of love and with no emotional or sectarian barrier. “On the contrary,” he says. “I see it as a step that brings people together and symbolizes fellowship and living together in a community. We are of the same people and ultimately pray to the same God.” …..
Palestinian learns to make recycled art in prison
[with photos] BETHLEHEM, Occupied West Bank 11 June by Sheren Khalel — Ghassan al-Azzeh was detained by Israeli occupation forces and sent to prison when he was just 16 years old. As a young teen in an adult detention facility, al-Azzeh was lost until a group of older artists, also Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, took him in. Al-Azzeh was interested in art before he was arrested, but did not take the craft seriously until it became his only reprieve from the daily life of prison. “They taught me so much about making art in prison. We didn’t have real art materials, so they showed me how to make brown sugar packets into beautiful portraits,” al-Azzeh said from his cramped backyard workshop in Beit Jibrin refugee camp. “This rock,” he said, picking up a stone half the size of his calloused palm, “would have been a treasure in the prison – the guys taught me how to make all of kinds of things from carving a rock like this.” Al-Azzeh was released from prison three years later, but did not forget his craft. Once back in the real world, the young man continued to make art from recycled material. “I like to take recycled things and make them into something new. Art can be a way of resistance – it’s my way of resistance,” he said. In addition to his political artwork, al-Azzeh has also taken to making polished furniture out of pallet wood found throughout the city. His most recent project, a desk for one of his professors at Birzeit University, sat half finished on the back porch of his home. The dark stain and polished wood of the desk had been smoothed down so artfully it was difficult to image the piece was crafted from scrap pallets like those stacked up on the side of his narrow workshop. Al-Azzeh commissions art from word-of-mouth as well as a Facebook group called Made in Camp. His work has been fruitful enough to help him pay the off his tuition for his completed Bachelor’s degree and near-completed Master’s….
Greece to recognize the state of Palestine ‘soon’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 June — Syriza, the ruling party in the Greek parliament, told Palestinian lawmakers Saturday that the government was set to officially recognize the state of Palestine, according to a statement by the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). A Greek delegation from the Syriza party reportedly met with political parties of the PLC and confirmed that the government would recognize the state of Palestine “soon,” according to the statement. However, an exact timetable for the future recognition was not provided by the Greek delegates. The Syriza delegates met with Azzam al-Ahmad of the Fatah movement, Qays Abdul Karim of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Mustafa Barghouti of the Palestinian National Initiative, Bassam al-Salihi of the Palestinian People’s Party, and the Fatah-affiliated lawmakers Najat al-Astal, Muhib Awwad, and Abdullah Abdullah. The Greek parliament voted in favor of a decision to recommend the government recognize the state of Palestine in December. However, the decision has not yet come to fruition. “Due to some special circumstances, the Greek recognition of the Palestinian state has been delayed, but it will come soon,” the Greek delegates stated. If implemented, Greece would become the second European country to officially recognize the Palestinian state, following Sweden’s decision in 2014.