78% of Israelis support unilateral annexation of Ma’ale Adumim, poll finds
JPost 31 May by Lahav Harkov — Right-wing MKs draft bill to apply sovereignty in West Bank city the day after PM expresses support for Saudi peace plan; Gush Etzion calls to be included in annexation effort. The Knesset Land of Israel caucus called on Tuesday to annex Ma’aleh Adumim, citing a poll showing nearly 78 percent of Israelis agree to it, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he is ready to negotiate based on the Arab Peace Initiative. The controversial Arab Peace Initiative – long rejected by Jerusalem and also known as the Saudi Initiative – calls for normalizing relations between Arab countries and Israel, in exchange for a complete withdrawal by Israel to pre-1967 lines, which Ma’aleh Adumim is beyond. Most calls for a two-state solution on pre-1967 lines with land swaps put Ma’aleh Adumim on the Israeli side of the proposed border .. .A poll Kisch and Smotrich ordered from prominent research institute Midgam found that 77.9% of Jewish Israelis think Israel should apply sovereignty to Ma’aleh Adumim even if there is no agreement with the Palestinians, as it did with the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem in 1980, while 70.4% said such a move would be worthwhile even if there is a significantly negative reaction from the international community….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli forces kill Palestinian woman after alleged stab attempt in northern West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 June — A Palestinian woman was shot and killed at an Israeli army checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank on Thursday afternoon, after allegedly attempting to stab a soldier. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that an “attempted stabbing” took place at a checkpoint in the eastern Tulkarem governorate near the Palestinian village of ‘Anabta. She added that the soldiers “responded to the threat” by shooting at the woman, killing her. The spokesperson added that no Israelis were injured. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said that they had been informed by the Israeli military liaison office that Israeli forces had opened fire at a Palestinian woman at the Innab checkpoint eastern Tulkarem and killed her. Palestinian Red Crescent spokeswoman Errab Foqoha told Ma‘an that Israeli forces prevented an ambulance from the health organization from accessing the scene. Foqoha added that Red Crescent staff saw the woman lying on the ground before being taken inside an Israeli ambulance, which stayed on the scene.
VIDEO: Crime scene manipulated after Hebron killing, possibly disproving claims by Israeli soldier
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 June — New video footage has surfaced of an Israeli ambulance driver kicking a knife near to the body of Abdul Fattah al-Sharif, a young Palestinian whose execution-style murder by an Israeli soldier in March was caught on video, sparking international outrage. The video footage, obtained by Israel’s Channel Two, is expected to be shown to an Israeli military court to disprove claims by the Israeli soldier who killed al-Sharif that he shot the young Palestinian point-blank in the head after al-Sharif moved to grab a knife, according to the Israeli media outlet Ynet. The footage shows that the knife allegedly used in the attack was far from al-Sharif when he was shot, including showing an ambulance driving over the knife before it was kicked closer to al-Sharif’s body. The Israeli military prosecutor reportedly said that an Israeli ambulance driver, Ofer Ohanna, who was near the scene kicked the knife towards al-Sharif’s body following his murder, according to the Maarev news agency, a Hebrew language news outlet. Maarev reported that Ohanna refused to speak to the media, and said he gave the military prosecution all the information he had on the incident during interrogations. Israeli human rights group B’Tselem released similar footage in March, showing the placement of the knife far from al-Sharif’s body. However, the new video that has emerged shows what transgressed immediately after the ambulance drove by the scene, with an Israeli ambulance driver directly manipulating the crime scene shortly after the shooting by moving the knife closer to al-Sharif….
Palestinian minor detained, Israeli soldier lightly injured in suspected stab attack in Tel Aviv
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 May — A Palestinian minor was detained after allegedly carrying out a stab attack with a screwdriver in Tel Aviv on Monday, which left a 19-year-old Israeli soldier lightly injured, according to Israeli police. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that a young Israeli man was lightly injured after being stabbed by a Palestinian suspect. The Palestinian allegedly attempted to flee the scene, but was chased and apprehended by witnesses who then handed him over to Israeli police, who took him in for interrogation. The Israeli, who was later revealed to be an Israeli soldier, was evacuated to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center for treatment, from which he was expected to be released shortly. Israeli police imposed heightened security in the area of the incident. Al-Samri added later the suspected attacker was a 17-year-old Palestinian from the northern occupied West Bank town of Salfit and had “apparently nationalistic” motives. Investigations were ongoing in cooperation with the Israel’s security service Shin Bet, she added. Locals in the occupied West Bank identified the suspect on Tuesday as Omar al-Abbushi. Israeli media reported the Palestinian minor was employed at a supermarket near the location of the incident.
The suspected attack came hours after it was announced that Israeli forces had detained three Palestinian minors suspected of being involved in an alleged stabbing of two elderly Israeli women in the illegal Israeli settlement of East Talpiyot on May 10.
The two women were moderately injured when two youths stabbed them. Israeli police said that the third Palestinian who had been detained had left the area prior to the attack, fearing the consequences which could befall his family, including the demolition of their home, should he carry out an attack.
Funeral set to be held this month for Palestinian ‘assassinated’ in Bulgaria
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — A funeral is set to be held this month for Omar al-Nayif, an escaped Palestinian prisoner who many believe was assassinated by Israel in the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria in February, Nayif’s family said in a statement on Wednesday. Nayif, a 52-year-old man from the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin, had been living in Bulgaria for years, but sought refuge in the Palestinian embassy late last year after Israel demanded his extradition so he could see out a life sentence over the killing of an Israeli in Jerusalem’s Old City in 1986. Palestinian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Taysir Jaradat told Ma‘an at the time of Nayif’s death that the embassy staff had found him lying in the embassy’s garden covered in blood. He was rushed to the hospital but died en route. His family and Palestinian officials deemed his death an Israeli assassination and demanded that an international investigation be carried out. Nayif’s family said the funeral was set to be held in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia on June 10, adding that they would not stop pursuing those involved in the “assassination.” … The family has officially requested blood samples from the scene, records of phone conversations at the embassy on the day of the incident, and a list of suspects in order to take the evidence to European and international courts for investigation, according to the statement….
Settler violence aims to dispossess, and it works
+972blog 31 May by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — When A saw Israeli civilians approach, he did the sensible thing and fled. This is what quiet terrorism looks like. — A. is a resident of the village Faratha in the West Bank. He declined to have his name published, as he has become a regular target for attacks by Israeli civilians. He owns two plots of land; the illegal settlement outpost of Havat Gilad is built next to one of them. The establishment of the outpost led to the familiar pattern of dispossession in the West Bank: in order to protect the safety of the Israeli civilians who illegally took over land and settled, the army only allows A. to work his land during the olive harvest season, and only after coordination in advance with Israeli security forces. But the military commander refuses to allow him to work his land, arguing that the plot contains no olive trees and that coordination is reserved for olive growers alone. And so, seven dunams of land were taken from A.’s possession and practically turned over to Israeli squatters as a reward. Once settlers seize land, it is almost impossible to liberate it. A., who is 80 years old, was left with another plot of land, closer to Faratha itself. But the proximity to the village was not enough to protect it: for years he grew wheat there, and year after year his crops were set ablaze. Out of desperation, A. decided that this year he would grow sesame. After all, it’s less flammable. Several weeks ago, A. went to his plot of land with a donkey and began plowing and preparing it for planting. Suddenly, he noticed three young men coming from the direction of Havat Gilad….
Israeli forces detain 47 Palestinians in major East Jerusalem, West Bank raids
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 June — Israeli forces detained at least 47 Palestinians in overnight raids in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Palestinian and Israeli sources told Ma‘an. Israeli police carried out a major detention campaign in the al-Tur and al-Suwwana neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, detaining at least 29 Palestinian men and teenagers, locals told Ma‘an. Locals said 24 were detained from al-Tur … Locals in al-Suwwana said five Palestinians were detained in the neighborhood … The sources said groups of infantry troops along with intelligence officers stormed several homes carrying maps and arrest warrants.
Meanwhile, at least 14 Palestinians were detained across the occupied West Bank. Palestinian security sources said Israeli forces detained five people in the southern city of Hebron after ransacking several homes … An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that eight Palestinians had been detained in the Hebron area … In the northern West Bank, Israeli forces detained three young men in Tubas, identified by locals as Mustafa Abu Reihan, Hamza Omar Daraghma and his brother Muamin. Locals also reported the detention of two young men from the Dweikat family in Qalqiliya in the northwestern West Bank.They added that clashes broke out between Israeli troops and local youth during the raid, resulting in two young men reportedly being injured by rubber-coated bullets.
Palestinian arrested on his return from honeymoon
JENIN (PIC) 30 May — The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested Monday a Palestinian man from Jenin city to the north of occupied West Bank at Karama crossing on his return from honeymoon in Turkey. Local sources affirmed to the PIC reporter that Rida Jarrar, 35, was arrested at Karama crossing, which links between Jordan and West Bank, while on his way back from Turkey where he was on a tourist trip with his wife. Jarrar, the elder son of Jenin’s former mayor Hatem Jarrar, was immediately taken to Ofer prison for investigation for unknown reasons.
Report: ‘Israeli army kidnapped 471 Palestinians in May; 5,805 since October 1st’
IMEMC 2 June – Several Palestinian prisoners support groups have reported that the Israeli army kidnapped 471 Palestinians in May, and that the number of Palestinians who have been kidnapped since the begging of the current uprising, on October 1st 2015, is 5,805. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), the Ad-Dameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, and the Palestinian Detainees’ Committee issued a joint report, Thursday, documenting the arbitrary and random Israeli abductions of Palestinians, and the serious violations against them. The report indicated that the soldiers kidnapped 84 Palestinians, including 20 women (five underage), and one legislator, identified as Abdul-Jaber Foqaha. It added that the highest abduction rate was in occupied Jerusalem, as the soldiers kidnapped 111 Palestinians, followed by Hebron 80, 61 from Ramallah and al-Biereh District, 48 from Bethlehem, 45 from Nablus, 34 from Jenin, 14 from Qalqilia, 10 from Salfit, 5 from Tubas, 5 from Jericho, in addition to 34 from the Gaza Strip. The report also stated that the current number of Palestinians, held by Israel, is at least 7,000, including 71 women (among them 15 children), seven legislators, in addition to 750 Palestinians, held under arbitrary Administrative Detention, without charges or trial….
Court actions / Prisoners
Young Palestinian charged with attack in October sentenced to 25 years in prison
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 June — An Israeli court Wednesday sentenced Alaa Zayud, a young Palestinian charged with an attack carried out in October, to 25 years in prison, according to an Israeli news outlet. Zayud, 22, from Umm al-Fahm in the Israeli district of Haifa, allegedly confessed his involvement in an attack that left two Israeli soldiers wounded after Zayud reportedly rammed his car into them, before proceeding to stab two more Israelis near the city of Hadera. However, during his hearing, Zayud denied involvement in the attack and claimed he had lost control of his car, stating “I did nothing. They want to turn me into a terrorist. I don’t know what they want from me. I am not a terrorist,” according to Israeli media outlet Ynet. Zayud was subsequently charged with four counts of attempted murder and a possession of a knife with the intent of carrying out a “racist” act, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Zayud was handed his sentence, with the judge ordering him to pay compensation of 40,000 to 150,000 shekels ($10,380 to $38,928) to the victims, and added that the decision was made in order to deter any Palestinians planning to carry out attacks. Zayud, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, is also facing the unusual punitive measure of having his Israeli citizenship revoked, a move Sawsan Zaher, an attorney for the human rights group Adalah, recently called a “racist” and “arbitrary” act.
Israeli court hands Palestinian one-year prison sentence over Facebook posts
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 June — An Israeli military court convicted a young Palestinian man of incitement against Israel on Facebook on Wednesday, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement. PPS lawyer Muhammad Shahin was quoted as saying that Qusay Issa, a 22-year-old resident of the Bethlehem area in the southern occupied West Bank, was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 2,000 shekels ($519) over Facebook posts. In recent months, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by Palestinian “incitement.” Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon Shahin said that Israeli courts have handed down varying sentences regarding online “incitement” based on to the number of posts, their content, and the number of comments on the posts. The longest prison sentence handed down so far has been one year, he said.
Family: Israeli forces to release PFLP MP Khalida Jarrar on Friday
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 June — Israeli authorities are set to release imprisoned Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar on Friday, her family told Ma‘an on Wednesday. Jarrar, an executive committee member of the PLO and leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was detained on April 2 from her home in Ramallah and initially sentenced to six months of administrative detention — internment without trial or charge. However, international pressure later forced Israeli authorities to bring charges against her, all 12 of which focused on her political activism. Jarrar was charged with security-related offenses related to her membership and activities with the PFLP — a Palestinian political party Israel considers a “terrorist” organization, along with the majority of other Palestinian political factions — and accused of inciting violence … Family members of the imprisoned parliament member told Ma‘an that Jarrar would be released at the Jubara military checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem on June 3. A reception for Jarrar is expected to be organized on Saturday and Sunday in front the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) building, according to the family. Jarrar also heads the PLC’s prisoners’ committee and acts as the Palestinian representative in the Council of Europe, an international organization promoting human rights and democracy around the world….
Palestinian prisoner suspends 59-day hunger strike after release date set
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 May — Palestinian prisoner Adib Muhammad Jamal Mafarjeh had suspended his 59-day hunger strike after an Israeli court set a release date for the end of this year, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday. Mafarjeh, 28, a resident of the central occupied West Bank village of Beit Liqya, suspended his hunger strike after an Israeli court ruled that he would be released on December 20. Mafarjeh had begun his hunger strike almost two months ago to protest his administrative detention — internment without trial or charges — since December 2014. Mafarjeh’s detention was extended three times without charges being pressed against him. He is currently held at the Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, and has lost 30 kilograms since the beginning of his hunger strike.
PPCS protests Red Cross decision to reduce prison visits
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 30 May — The Palestinian Prisoner Center for Studies (PPCS) on Monday staged a sit-in outside the Red Cross headquarters in al-Khalil city in protest at the latter’s decision to reduce the number of prison visits for Palestinian families. Director of the center Osama Shahin described in remarks during the sit-in the Red Cross’s decision as consistent with Israel’s repressive policies against the Palestinian prisoners in its jails. Shahin affirmed that the prisoners had fought a long battle of hunger strikes and negotiations with their jailers to obtain two family visits every month, and such a step by the Red Cross would deal a blow to their achievement. He told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that this decision was condemned by many human rights groups, warning the Red Cross that there would be other protests against its step. The Red Cross has announced that it would organize every month one prison visit only for the relatives of prisoners instead of two visits as usual. The Red Cross is the international body that obtain visitation permits for the families of prisoners.
Israel releases Jewish extremist Meir Ettinger from administrative detention
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 June — A Jewish extremist arrested in the wake of a deadly arson attack that killed three members of the Palestinian Dawabsha family in the occupied West Bank last summer was released from administrative detention on Wednesday Earlier this month, Israeli state prosecutors decided not to extend the administrative detention of Meir Ettinger — Israeli security agency Shin Bet’s leading suspect for the case. Two Israeli suspects were indicted for murder for the incident in January, five months after suspects belonging to a Jewish terror organization set the home of the Dawabsha family ablaze, killing 18-month-old Ali Saad immediately. The infant’s parents, Riham and Saad, later died from severe burns, leaving 4-year-old Ahmad Dawabsha the only surviving member of the family. Ettinger, 23, was detained in August among several suspected Israeli extremists in raids following mounting outrage and calls for a crackdown on Jewish extremism in the wake of the arson attack. Because Israel’s administrative detainees — the vast majority of them Palestinians — are held under secret information and evidence that cannot be accessed by the detainees or their lawyers, any connection between Ettinger and the Duma case has remained purely speculative. However, Shin Bet said at the time of Ettinger’s arrest that he was detained “because of his activities in a Jewish extremist organization,” and suspected of “nationalist crimes,” without accusing him of direct involvement in the attack in which the toddler died….
Israel reduces fishing zone off Gaza coast to 6 miles
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 May — Israeli authorities have decided to reduce the allowed fishing zone off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip only two months after they extended it, the spokesperson for the Gaza fishermen’s union told Ma‘an on Monday. Nizar Ayyash told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities notified the Palestinian liaison office that the fishing zone off the southern coast of the Gaza Strip, which had been extended to nine nautical miles in early April, would return to its previous size of six nautical miles along the entire coast of the blockaded Palestinian enclave. In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told Ma‘an that the extension had only intended to be implemented for the duration of the fishing season, despite the fact that reports in April did not reflect the decision was meant to be temporary … Ayyash asserted that the reduction would have a negative impact on the already floundering fishing industry in the Palestinian territory….
Israeli forces open fire on fishermen, farmers and level lands in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 May — A Palestinian was injured after Israeli naval forces on Tuesday opened fire on fishermen, detaining four and confiscating their boats, as Israeli forces also opened fire on farmers and leveled lands elsewhere in the Gaza Strip. The detained fishermen were identified as Hasan Miqdad and Bashir Abu Riyala, and his brothers Khalid and Rajab, according to Nizar Ayyash, speaker of the union of fisherman in the Gaza Strip. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that two boats diverted from the designated fishing zone off the coast of Gaza City, as the army ordered them to turn back. However, the fishermen continued to sail and Israeli soldiers fired warning shots into the air before detaining the fishermen for questioning. The spokesperson added that one Palestinian was injured during the incident and evacuated to a hospital. Since the beginning of 2016, Israeli forces have detained at least 67 fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip, with the majority being later released from Israeli custody, according to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights…
Meanwhile, in the southern Gaza Strip, Israeli forces also opened fire at Palestinians east of the village of al-Qarara in the Khan Yunis district near the agricultural lands around the border. No injuries were reported. Israeli military vehicles also crossed the border fence between the besieged enclave and Israel on Tuesday morning and leveled lands near the northern village of Beit Lahiya, witnesses said. Four bulldozers, escorted by military vehicles, entered the Palestinian side of the “buffer zone” through a gate in the border fence near the Zekim military base north of the Palestinian city of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.
Israeli army invades Palestinian agricultural lands in central and southern Gaza
IMEMC 1 June — Several armored Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers invaded, on Wednesday morning, Palestinian agricultural lands, close to the border fence, in the southern and central parts of the Gaza Strip. Several tanks and bulldozers, stationed in the Kissufim military base, east of Khan Younis, invaded Palestinian lands, northeast of al-Qarara town, northeast of Khan Younis, while three tanks were positioned behind sand hills, across the border fence. In addition, six armored Israeli military vehicles, including four tanks, advanced more than 150 meters into agricultural lands, east of Deir al-Balah in Central Gaza, and bulldozed Palestinian them, while surveillance drones hovered overhead. The vehicles fired several live rounds at random, media sources in Khan Younis had reported. They also came from the Kissufim military base.
Egypt reopens Gaza crossing for first time in 3 weeks
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 June — Egyptian authorities on Wednesday morning opened the Rafah border crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip for the first of four consecutive days, the Palestinian borders and crossings committee told Ma‘an.The committee said that seven busloads of passengers were transported to the Abu Yousif al-Najjar sports center in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis before they were sent to the Rafah crossing. They added that priority was given to passengers who didn’t make it through the crossing when it was last opened three weeks earlier. Egypt has only opened the Rafah crossing on a sporadic basis in recent years. In early May, it reopened the crossing for two days, with only several hundred of the more than 30,000 passengers registered to cross making it through. The director for the Palestinian side of Rafah crossing, Hisham Udwan, expressed his appreciation of the Egyptian decision to reopen the crossing. “We view the opening of Rafah crossing for a second time in three weeks as a very positive move, hoping that it will be open permanently to ease the crisis the Gaza population is suffering from,” he said.
58 Gazans travel to Jordan via Allenby Bridge crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 May – A group of 58 Gazan Palestinians were permitted on Monday to travel through Jordan’s Karam crossing (Allenby Bridge) from the occupied West Bank after first leaving the Gaza Strip via the Erez crossing into Israel. Sources in the Israeli liaison department in charge of the Gaza Strip said the crossing was organized upon coordination between the Palestinian and Israeli liaison departments. Eighty-three Palestinians were scheduled to leave Erez to Allenby Bridge, but only 58 arrived. After Israeli authorities allowed them to leave the blockaded coastal enclave, the Palestinians were taken to the Allenby Bridge crossing in special buses to then pass through to Jordan, the sources added. The Israeli liaison department reported “the number of Palestinian passengers from the Gaza Strip traveling to Jordan and on to European countries and other Western countries via Israeli crossings has been increasing.” In the past few months, the Israeli sources said, 1,500 Gazan passengers left to Jordan via Israeli crossings.
Gaza runners denied Derry Marathon visa sparks anger
Palestine Chron. — Two Gaza runners, Nader Al Massri and Sami Nateel, have been denied a visa by the British Immigration authorities to attend a Derry Marathon, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign has revealed. The Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (I.P.S.C.) has branded the decision “inexplicable”. “We are hugely disappointed and angered at this decision. There was a large group of Palestinians who came to the Derry marathon last year and it was a massive success so we find it inexplicable that the immigration service would deny them the right to travel this year,” said Derry I.P.S.C. spokesperson, Catherine Hutton. Sinn Fein MLA, Raymond McCartney, stated that the deputy First Minister is calling on the immigration service to overturn the decision. “Martin McGuinness’s office has been in contact with British Government officials today to protest at this decision,” he commented. “We all remember the color and joy which the Palestinians brought to the Derry marathon last year. They received a fantastic welcome which they hugely appreciated and the organizers deserve great credit for that and for inviting Nader and Sami to come over this year so it seems ludicrous to now say that their compatriots can’t make the same trip,” said McGuinness.
3 Palestinians executed after Gaza court convicts them of murder
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 May — Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip executed three Palestinians convicted for murder after dawn prayers on Tuesday, following a wave of outcry from members of the international community urging Hamas to cancel the decision. The Hamas-run general prosecution said that the concerned authorities responsible for implementing the decision had found the three guilty of “terrifying” crimes. The death penalty, the statement added, was carried out after all necessary legal procedures had been completed, despite having not been ratified by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as required by Palestinian law.
The executions took place at the police headquarters in Gaza City, and were attended by family members of those who had reportedly been killed by the three convicts, instead of being held in public as had been widely expected in the days leading up the executions. The families, according to general prosecution, rejected an eleventh hour offer to pardon the three convicted murderers.
Two of those convicted were executed as civilians by hanging and the third was executed as a “militant” by firing squad, according to law in the besieged Gaza Strip. The political affiliation of the supposed militant was not immediately clear … Under Palestinian law, all death sentences must be ratified by the Palestinian president before they can be carried out. However, since 2010 the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza has carried out executions periodically without receiving approval from Abbas. Hamas officials maintain that due to the indefinite postponement of presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territory, and the failure of the Palestinian Authority to assume most of its functions in the besieged coastal enclave, authority for ratifying death sentences lies with the PLC in Gaza.
Gaza marks six years since Mavi Marmara tragedy
World Bulletin 1 June — Dozens of Palestinians marked Tuesday the sixth anniversary of a deadly raid by Israeli commandos on a Turkish aid flotilla that had sought to break Israel’s years-long siege of the Gaza Strip. “Today we remember our brothers who died for the Palestinian cause and who tried to break the blockade on Gaza,” Mehmet Kaya, a representative of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, which organized Tuesday’s commemoration in Gaza, said. On May 31, 2010, nine Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara — the flotilla’s lead ship — were killed, and 30 others injured, when the Israeli navy attacked the vessel in international waters. A tenth activist died nearly four years later, succumbing to injuries sustained during the raid. The incident served to raise tensions between Israel and Turkey, the latter of which responded by recalling its ambassador from Tel Aviv. “The Mavi Marmara has become a symbol uniting Muslims all over the world,” Kaya said. He went on to urge the Palestinians to unite with a view to eventually attaining independence and statehood. Ghazi Hamad, Gaza’s deputy foreign minister, for his part, said the Mavi Marmara incident “was the epitome of sacrifice for the Palestinian cause”. Turkey, he stressed, would continue to support the Palestinian people both politically and diplomatically.
Netanyahu tells US congressmen: Reconciliation agreement with Turkey is very close
Haaretz 30 May by Barak Ravid — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a delegation of visiting U.S. congressmen on Monday that an agreement on reconciliation with Turkey is very close, said sources involved in the meeting. However, officials in Jerusalem are still waiting to set the decisive meeting between the two negotiating teams during which the remaining disagreements are meant to be closed. The remaining differences between Israel and Turkey only involve the wording of the compromise concerning the Hamas military headquarters operating in Istanbul, which Israel is demanding to close down, said a senior Israeli official.
First aid station opens in Gaza town with Turkish help
World Bulletin 29 May — A first aid station was opened in Gaza’s Karara town on Sunday with help from the Turkish Red Crescent, Palestinian officials said. During the opening ceremony, Karara Mayor Abdurrahim al-Ibadile thanked the Turkish Red Crescent for financing the project, which cost around $10,000. Karara was heavily bombarded by Israel during the 2014 Gaza assault.The town, which is near the border with Israel, saw Israeli tanks enter its borders at the time.
Ancient Gaza monastery gets second life as children’s library
DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 1 June by Entsar Abu Jahal — El-Khodr Shrine, which is also known as the Khodr Monastery and St. Hilarius Monastery, is situated just 200 meters (0.1 mile) south of the Deir al-Balah city center. The director general of antiquities and cultural heritage at the Ministry of Tourism, Jamal Abu Rayda, told Al-Monitor that archaeological studies confirmed that at the bottom of this site is situated the monastery of St. Hilarius, which dates back to the third century and is considered one of the oldest that still exists in Palestine. The monastery is now being restored by the Iwan Center for Architecture Heritage of the Islamic University and the Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation and turned into a library for the children of the neighborhood. Since the Islamic conquest and after the Christians abandoned the monastery, it has served as a mosque for Muslims. The house of Yusuf Ismail overlooks the shrine directly. He told Al-Monitor, “People used to come to the site from all regions of Palestine and offer sacrifices and oblations on its doors in search of livelihood or healing because the shrine is considered sacred. To Muslims, Khodr is the righteous servant of God who accompanied the Prophet Moses in his journey as stated in the Quran.” … The historical narrative which Al-Monitor learned from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities relates that the name of the site is attributed to St. George, or Khodr in Arabic, and not to Wali al-Salih al-Khodr mentioned in the Quran, as popularized among the population….
Hamas: Gaza women learning to drive must have a chaperone
NPR 1 June by Emily Harris — Driving instructor Mohammad al-Hattab, 33, remembers very well when police pulled him over last fall. “It was a Sunday, about 1:30 p.m.,” said Hattab in the office of the al-Jarajwa driving school in Gaza City. “I remember two guys on two motorcycles. They were in civilian clothes. One stopped in front of my car. He started shouting, ‘Stop, stop, we are police.'” Hattab had just one student driving with him: a young woman. The cops, from Gaza’s internal intelligence, he said, told him the two of them could not be alone in a car. They took his ID, saying he could claim it at the station. Hattab went the next day. But before he could get his documents back, police made him sign a declaration that he’d never again teach a female student alone. This was the first time in more than a decade as a driving instructor Hattab had heard of such a thing. “I’m like, ‘Why?'” Hattab recalls. “‘Have you caught me in some bad situation?’ They said, ‘We have already arrested a number of instructors with moral failures.’ For me, with all due respect, how many, two or three?” Hattab has heard that a couple of driving instructors were caught fooling around with female friends — not students — in cars belonging to the schools where they work. But punishing him and others, he says, is unfair. “You can’t punish hundreds of instructors for the mistakes of a few,” Hattab declares. It seems Hamas, the militant Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, can. Gaza is nowhere near as strict on “morality” laws as Saudi Arabia or Iran. But Hamas police have in the past hauled young men in for questioning or worse because they sport certain hairstyles or wear low-rider jeans….
Islamic Jihad takes drug enforcement into its own hands in Gaza
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 30 May by Asmaa al-Ghoul — On May 2, the Islamic Jihad’s military wing, Al-Quds Brigades, released a video claiming to show that it had raided a number of drug stashes and seized large quantities of the narcotic Tramadol in Rafah, in southern Gaza. Tramadol is an opioid painkiller that has become popular in Gaza over the past nine years and has been smuggled through tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. The video shows a group of men in civilian clothes, their faces blurred, digging up packets of Tramadol. Al-Quds Brigades claim on their website, Military Media, that they seized 175,000 tablets of the drug. An unnamed official from the brigades’ security division in southern Gaza told Military Media on May 3 that the Tramadol raid was “within the framework of the fight against a deviant class of drug dealers, with dead consciences, trying to push our youth into the unknown.” The official also said, “We felt responsible toward our people, and this is why we started conducting several raids targeting these dealers’ dens. We were able to seize this huge amount of drugs after a long and complicated operation executed by the control, investigation and seizure units affiliated with al-Quds Brigades’ security apparatus.” He stressed that the brigade’s role ended with the seized drugs being handed over to the Palestinian police….
UN ‘buries’ resolution on Gaza’s environmental health crisis under US, Israeli pressure
MEE 1 June by Nafeez Ahmed — The blocking of a UN vote on the Gaza resolution was orchestrated by the US and Israel on the basis of a technicality, which was selectively applied — A draft United Nations resolution calling for a team of UN experts to assess the environmental impact of Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip in November 2012 and July-August 2014 was effectively “buried” by the United States, Canada and Israel on Saturday. The final round of government meetings at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in the last week of May resulted in the passing of 25 resolutions, including a landmark resolution calling for states to implement all international law on protecting the environment during war in national legislation. However, the draft resolution on Gaza calling for a UN field assessment of environmental damage caused by war 2012 and 2014 was aborted amidst a storm of controversy … In heated negotiations and a string of informal consultations… it became apparent that Israel’s objections could not be overcome and that the US would rather it be quietly buried,” said Weir. –Sleight-of-hand– Israel eventually demanded a vote on the Gaza resolution late on the final day of the UN talks, surprising many – but the sudden demand appears to have been tactically designed to to permanently block a vote on the resolution.
PA Ministry of Education delegation denied entry into Gaza school by Hamas police
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 May — A West Bank delegation from the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Education was denied entry into a Gaza City school on Monday, a member of the delegation told Ma‘an. The delegation, who were attempting to enter the Bashir al-Rayyis Girls’ School to observe the progress of ongoing high school exams, was reportedly stopped by Hamas-affiliated police officers outside the school and prevented from going inside. Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education Anwar Zakariyya, a member of the delegation, told Ma‘an that Gaza police were aware of the impending visit, which was meant to pave the way for more cooperation and new horizons. Zakariyya said he viewed the behavior as a “very negative step reflecting bad intentions.” The Ministry’s Undersecretary in Gaza Ziad Thabit described the “Ramallah delegation’s visit to Gaza as protocol visit only.” The visiting delegation, he added, had yet to address the many problems facing Gaza’s education system.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Palestinian family in Jerusalem Old City faces eviction to make room for Jewish housing
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 May — An Israeli district court in Jerusalem rejected on Tuesday a Palestinian family’s appeal after Israeli authorities ordered them to evacuate their house in the Saadiyya neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, in order to make room for Jewish housing managed by the right-wing settler organization Ateret Cohanim. The lawyer for the Qirrish family, Muhannad Jubara, told Ma‘an that Palestinian owners rented the house to the Qirrish family. However in 1986, the Palestinian owners surreptitiously sold the property to Ateret Cohanim. According to Jubara, the family falls under “protected status,” which refers to certain Palestinians in East Jerusalem who held rental agreements with the Jordanian government before 1967, when Israel occupied the Palestinian territory. The leaseholder is considered a protected tenant for three generations. However, when the last family member of the third generation dies, the family loses the status, Jubara said. The Palestinian owners of the property attempted to evict the Qirrish family in 1988 following the transfer of the property to Jewish ownership, but lost the case due to the family’s protected status. However, ten years later, Ateret Cohanim filed a case against the family. In 2009, the last living member of the Qirrish family’s third generation died, stripping them of their protected status, Jubara added. Mazin Qirrish told Ma‘an that in July 2010 Israeli settlers seized parts of the house. Following the settler takeover, an Israeli court ruled that the family had to evacuate the property completely. The eviction order was reportedly approved by both the Jerusalem district court and Israel’s Supreme Court. Ateret Cohanim is an Israeli pro-settlement nonprofit organization — receiving tax-deductible donations from the United States through their financial intermediary American Friends of Ateret Cohanim — which focuses on “Judaizing” East Jerusalem through a Jewish reclamation project working to expand illegal settlements and facilitate Jewish takeover of Palestinian properties across the “Green Line” into Palestinian territory.
Peace Now: Construction of settler building in Silwan expected to be approved
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 May — Construction of a large building for Israeli settlers in the occupied East Jerusalem area of Silwan is expected to be approved on Wednesday, Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said. In a statement published on Tuesday, the group said the Jerusalem Local Planning Committee was expected to approve construction for a three-story building in the heart of the Batan al-Hawa neighborhood “in one of the most densely populated areas in East Jerusalem,” where hundreds of Palestinians reside. The proposed building is to be located near Beit Yonatan, the first illegal outpost established by Israeli settlers in Batan al-Hawa, in 2005. “The land in the area was sold to the settlers by the Israeli General Custodian without any tender, together with three additional parcels in the neighborhood (Parcels 73, 75, 84, 97),” the statement read. “The pretext for selling the land to the settlers was the fact that they already own two other parcels in Batan Al-Hawa (parcels 95-96) that were released to them by the General Custodian in September 2002,” it added. The settlers who obtained the land — amounting to some five dunams (1.2 acres) — in 2002 were affiliated with Ateret Cohanim….
4 Palestinian villages town apart by illegal Israeli settlement
SALFIT (PIC) 30 May — Israeli military bulldozers in Salfit leveled four ancient Palestinian historical villages in favor of an illegal settlement, locals said Monday. Palestinian inhabitants of the Deir Ballout town said Israeli bulldozers leveled the Deir Kalaa and Deir Samaan archeological villages in western Salfit. Eyewitnesses from the Brukin town also warned of the Israeli occupation authority’s intents to isolate the Mughr al-Sahms village surrounded by the Ariel settlement factories. Farmers from Salfit province said the Khirbet al-Shajaa village was completely dismembered from its neighboring towns due to the Israeli apartheid wall. The Palestinian natives of the area could no longer access the water wells and fertile lands which their forefathers have been cultivating for thousands of years. Researcher in settlement affairs Khaled Maali said Israeli illegal settlement activity reduced several historical sites carved in stones and olive groves to rubble.
Army evicts dozens of families to conduct training in Jordan Valley
IMEMC 1 June — On Monday, Israeli soldiers started the illegal eviction and removal of 42 Palestinian families out of their homes and villages in the Jordan Valley of the occupied West Bank, in order to conduct live fire training in their communities. The Jordan Valley Solidarity Campaign said dozens of soldiers, driving tanks, armored vehicles and personnel carriers invaded Khirbet al-Maleh, Hamma and Ras al-Ahmar, and ordered the families to leave their homes and dwellings. The families [and their animals] have no alternatives for shelter, and will be left under extremely high temperatures, as high as 40° (104 Fahrenheit). Families Displaced As Israeli Soldiers Conduct Training In Jordan Valley The Israeli military frequently conducts life fire training, including explosives, in the Jordan Valley, after ordering the Palestinians out of their dwellings, an issue that repeatedly led to casualties, including death, when explosives dropped by the army during training, exploded near the residents. Such types of military activities in civilian areas violate International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, especially articles related to the protection of the population.
Israeli authorities halt construction work at Al-Aqsa
World Bulletin 1 June — Construction work meant to accommodate hundreds of thousands of Muslims who are expected to visit Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan has been halted, Israeli authorities announced Tuesday. The Times of Israel reported that Jerusalem’s municipal authorities had ordered construction work stopped after the Israeli Antiquities Authority complained that it was being carried out inside a “historical” building without planning permits. The Jordan-administered Waqf (religious endowments) authority had been building new public toilets to accommodate Palestinian Muslims from the occupied West Bank and Israel — along with foreign Muslims — who are expected to visit the site in large numbers during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which this year will begin on June 5. Building and renovation work inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is revered by both Muslims and Jews, is often the source of disputes between the Waqf and the Israeli authorities.
Revocation of citizenship / Exile / Denial of family reunification
IOA slaps deportation order on groom-to-be
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 30 May — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) ruled for deporting the Palestinian youth Kareem Faysal Abu Khdheir to the U.S. following the end of his prison-term on Monday. Earlier, on Wednesday, the IOA turned down Kareem’s appeals to cancel the deportation order so as to continue preparations for his marriage. Kareem, from the Shu‘fat refugee camp, was arrested by the Israeli occupation forces on September 5, 2015 following clashes with the occupation troops. Right before the detention, Kareem was subjected to heavy beating by the IOF and sustained critical bruises in his chest, face, and teeth. The IOA extended his remand several times despite his deteriorated health status. Deliberations and hearings held by the Israeli Magistrate’s court over the past four months culminated in a verdict that condemned Abu Khdheir, a holder of American citizenship, of involvement in Jerusalem demonstrations and sentenced him to nine months and a fine of 8,000 shekels. Born and raised in the U.S. since October 2, 1983, Kareem Abu Khdheir popped in the occupied Palestinian territories on August 28, 2015 for the first time to get married. He had been held for nine months in the Negev jail on allegations of resisting detention, attacking an Israeli border guard, and joining anti-occupation demos. “The Israeli occupation marred the happiness Kareem and the whole family were longing for,” his mother told a PIC journalist. “We were making the final touches for my son’s wedding day when the IOA slapped the deportation order.” “The IOA reneged on its promises to extend the validity of Kareem’s visa for one week despite the family’s approval to pay 70,000 shekels to that very end,” the mother was quoted as further stating.
Old, but worth reading again:
Israelis excel at camouflaging the expulsion of Palestinians
Haaretz 20 Oct 2014 by Amira Hass — As the descendants of a people which was banished throughout history from its homes and various homelands, we Israelis have developed our own expulsion skills – skills that would not embarrass the kings, nobles and officials of the goyim. Our contribution to the family of banishing nations is great, especially considering our short existence as a sovereign entity. After the big expulsion of between 700,000 and 800,000 Palestinians in 1948, we have made do with smaller expulsions, and excel in camouflaging them under various legal definitions or varying circumstantial theories … Here is an inventory of the methods of expulsion in their various concealments: 1. “Stop being a resident.” Israel’s control of the Palestinian Population Registry allowed it to expel some 250,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip between 1967 and 1994 by revoking their status as residents (because they remained overseas for over seven years). These figures were provided by the Defense Ministry to HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, in 2011 and 2012. We must add about 100,000 Palestinians (at least) to this number, who fled or were expelled from the West Bank and Gaza during the June 1967 war and were not present during the census conducted that summer. They have not been allowed back to their homes. The Israelis who have emigrated to Los Angeles, it should be noted, continue to be Israelis. 2. “Trickery.” The Oslo Accords speak of a mechanism for the gradual return to the West Bank and Gaza of those who “lost” their identity cards in 1967. Later, Israeli representatives in the negotiations claimed that the intention was for those who had physically lost their ID cards, not residency status itself. 3. The continued control of the Palestinian Population Registry in the West Bank and Gaza, 20 years after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, allows Israel to continue and prevent hundreds of thousands from returning to their homes and families. Also, to approve only a few tens of thousands to return through the goodwill gesture of “family reunification.” 4. Defining the Palestinians born in East Jerusalem as “permanent residents” whose status is a sort of favor the country grants – like the favor it grants to a priest from the Philippines, for example, who wants to live in the Holy Land under Israeli rule. However, this is a favor with a condition: Whoever lives abroad for seven years will see this favor revoked. His status as a permanent resident will be revoked. But the Palestinians born in Jerusalem are what they are: Born there. In Palestinian Jerusalem. They did not choose to live under Israeli rule; it is Israel that chose to occupy them. And it is the one which decided that whoever lives and works abroad (even in the West Bank, a kilometer north of their homes) will lose his/her status as a permanent resident. In other, simpler, words to understand: They will not be allowed to return. Since 1967 through the end of 2013, Israel expelled 14,309 Jerusalem-born Palestinians that way (according to information that the Interior Ministry gave to HaMoked)…. [article also archived here]
Israeli ministry moves to revoke Israeli citizenship of Palestinian alleged attacker
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 May — Israel’s Ministry of Interior submitted a motion to the Haifa district court on Sunday to revoke the Israeli citizenship of a Palestinian charged with involvement in an attack in October that left four Israelis wounded, while issuing punitive measures against the young man’s family members. In a statement released on Facebook, Interior Minister Aryeh Dery announced the submission of the motion to the district court, claiming that he had begun the process of revoking the young Palestinian’s Israeli citizenship immediately following the attack, adding that he planned to also reject the renewal of the residency permit of the alleged attacker’s father — who is married to an Israeli citizen, but is not a citizen himself. Alaa Zayud, 22, from Umm al-Fahm in the Israeli district of Haifa, allegedly confessed his involvement in an attack that left two Israeli soldiers wounded after Zayud reportedly rammed his car into them, before proceeding to stab two more Israelis near the city of Hadera. Zayud was subsequently charged with four counts of attempted murder, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Law restricting Palestinian family reunification extended at Shin Bet’s request
Haaretz 2 June by Jonathan Lis — A Knesset panel on Wednesday recommended extending the law restricting family reunification for Palestinians by another year, at the Shin Bet security service’s request. The recommendation followed a discussion in which the Shin Bet said over 10 percent of last year’s terror attacks were perpetrated by members of Palestinian families who obtained Israeli citizenship or residence due to family reunification. The service warned that people applying for family reunification present a potential danger and could use their permit to stay in Israel to perpetrate attacks and engage in espionage. However, the Shin Bet’s figures and conclusions were challenged by several opposition MKs. Some 12,500 people in Israel are currently in the process of family reunification, a Shin Ben official said. In 2015 and the beginning of 2016 a significantly larger number of relatives of Palestinians who went through family reunification were involved in terror. In this period 30 such people were involved in terror activity, constituting 73 percent of the active terrorists with Israeli identity cards, he said. During this period 237 attacks and attempted attacks were carried out, the official said. MK Osama Saadia (Joint List) countered by saying that 29 of the 30 people involved in terror had obtained their status as a result of the law to annex Jerusalem, and not through family reunification … Representatives of Hamoked — the Center for the Defense of the Individual said the overwhelming majority of those who gained legal status due to family reunification are children who were born in Israel, mostly in East Jerusalem. MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) said no applicants for family reunification were involved in any activity endangering state security. “Not a single one…”
French court overturns ‘illegal’ ban on BDS event
EI 31 May by Ali Abunimah — A court in France struck a blow for free speech when it overturned a government ban on a meeting to support individuals facing trial for their Palestine solidarity activism. The decision comes as governments and organizations around the world are showing increasing willingness to defend the legitimacy of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in support of Palestinian rights. On 26 May, the mayor’s office in the southern city of Toulouse banned the gathering scheduled for Tuesday evening at a public facility, featuring Mohammed Khatib of the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and writer Eric Hazan. The meeting was sponsored by the Support Committee for the BDS Accused of Toulouse, a coalition of dozens of groups backing four activists facing trial next month for handing out leaflets calling for the boycott of Israeli goods. But on Monday, the Toulouse administrative court overturned the mayor’s ban and ordered the city to provide a space for the meeting to take place. The court stated that the mayor’s ban on the meeting was “a grave and manifestly illegal infringement of the fundamental freedom of assembly,” according to BDS France and Association France Palestine Solidarité. A photo posted on the Facebook page of the Support Committee for the BDS Accused of Toulouse shows that the meeting went ahead as planned on 31 May. Activist groups celebrated what they saw as a significant victory in light of France’s draconian crackdown on speech supporting Palestinian rights and the BDS movement. In March, the Toulouse city council voted by a large majority to condemn BDS and to refuse to provide public facilities to “events that aim to promote the boycott of Israel.” The measure would appear to be part of the wave of legislation aimed at quashing the BDS movement passed or introduced in legislatures in Europe and North America at Israel’s urging….
Israel hosts first-ever anti-BDS conference at UN
UNITED NATIONS (Times of Israel) 1 June by Cathryn J. Prince — Israeli envoy says movement represents ‘modern-day anti-Semitism’; WJC’s Ron Lauder vows to ‘commit all resources’ to fight it — More than 2,000 people attended on Tuesday the first-ever conference at the UN General Assembly aimed at combating the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, the largest gathering to date focused on battling the attempt to pressure Israel over its perceived ill-treatment of the Palestinians. Students, activists, dignitaries legal professionals and representatives of Jewish organizations took part in the “Building Bridges, Not Boycotts” day-long summit, a partnership between Israel’s Mission to the UN and a dozen pro-Israel organizations including the World Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, the Zionist Organization of America, StandWithUs, B’nai B’rith International, Hillel and CAMERA … Speaking to The Times of Israel, Danon said the impetus of the conference came after the UN Human Rights Council in March voted to create a “blacklist” of companies operating in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, a motion that passed with 32 countries voting in favor, and none against. Danon decided it was time to bring the fight against BDS inside the United Nations….
Abbas receives delegation of Israeli mayors
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 May — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received a delegation of Israeli municipality mayors in the presidential headquarters in Ramallah on Tuesday, official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported. “We work towards making peace with Israeli people that you represent; this meeting today comes within this framework,” Abbas said to the Mizrahi Jewish Israeli mayors. “The coexistence experience in villages of Galilee definitely shows that Palestinians and Israelis are able to live in peace in two side-by-side states.” “All we want is for Palestinians to live in their own state on the borders of 1967 side-by-side with the state of Israel,” Abbas added. “So why do some have to deny us this right recognized by international laws?” Abbas brought up the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (API), which called for an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territory in exchange for full normalization of ties with Arab states. “You as Mizrahi Jews have had the experience of living with Arabs, that is why we want you to build bridges for peace,” Abbas added. “We welcome everybody because we want to live with you, we are humans and we have the right for an independent state, so why deny us this right?”
Netanyahu dusts off old peace plan after uproar over new govt
AFP 31 May — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken of reviving a long-dormant Arab peace initiative with the Palestinians, amid questions over whether he is sincere or trying to fend off international critics. Netanyahu made his comments late Monday at the swearing in of his new hardline Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, forming what many analysts call the most right-wing government in Israeli history. Lieberman is detested by the Palestinians, and foreign governments have expressed concern over his appointment to the powerful post .Both Netanyahu and Lieberman have repeatedly sought to address such concerns, saying they are committed to a two-state solution. Netanyahu went a step further on Monday, saying an Arab League-endorsed peace initiative dating to 2002 “includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians”. “We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002, but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples,” Netanyahu said….
High school exams kick off in the West Bank and Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 May — Across the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip on Saturday, approximately 78,000 Palestinian students sat down to begin the first step in a process that will likely determine their futures. Saturday marked the first session of the high school exams where students seek to obtain the General Secondary Certificate, or as it is known in Arabic: ‘Tawjihi’. The Tawjihi certificate is equivalent to a high school completion certificate, and is required for students who wish to pursue undergraduate studies. Not only is the certificate required for university admission, the score on the test determines which field of study (Medicine, Engineering, Finance, etc.) a student will be allowed to pursue. This testing system is implemented in Palestine as well as other Arab countries, and due to the definitive and determinate nature of the exams, they are known to generate high levels of stress among the student populations. Undersecretary of Ministry of Education in the Gaza Strip Ziad Thabit said in a press conference that the “difficult conditions” in which the students live in the besieged coastal enclave and the occupied West Bank is something that the Ministry of Education takes into account. He simultaneously lauded all participating students in the Gaza Strip for sitting for the exam “despite dire conditions caused by Israeli siege and military offensives.”
Palestinian universities and their students in the occupied West Bank are also frequently disrupted and targeted by Israeli military forces, and campuses have come under increased military presence since an increase in violence in October. In 2016 alone, Ma‘an reported at least six university raids between Birzeit University in Ramallah, Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem, Arab American University in Jenin, and Al-Khadoori University in Tulkarem, which was raided twice in 18 hours.
The students who dreamed of creating a Palestinian state: Pictures offer rare glimpse into graduation ceremony at Hebron University
MailOnline 1 June by Corey Charlton — These pictures offer a rare glimpse into the graduation ceremony of Hebron University – a learning center in Palestine established in 1971 in order to help offset the restrictions of occupiers Israel. Photographs show hundreds of male and female students wearing traditional graduation attire celebrating the completion of their studies in fields that include science and technology, agriculture, education, finance, management and political science. The university is named after the city in which it is based, which is in turn located in the West Bank just 20 miles south of Jerusalem. It was founded in 1971 by the city’s mayor and inaugurated with the enrolment of 41 students from across Palestine. However, it has a troubled history. It was attacked by Israeli settlers in the 1980s and three students died. It has also had spells of closure, which were enforced by Israel.
Arab Israeli Salafists take aim at sport and culture
AFP 2 June — When Hanin Radi tried to make her dream come true of staging a marathon in her hometown, the Arab Israeli received death threats from radical Islamists. “I’ve run marathons everywhere, but in the streets of my town I’m afraid to run,” said Radi, who is from the Arab town of Tirah in central Israel. The 36-year-old mother of four is among those who have stirred the wrath of Salafist Islamists increasingly asserting themselves among Israel’s Arab population. Citing their strict interpretation of Sunni Islam, Salafists have taken their campaign to cultural institutions and local governments, opposing anything they view as immoral.
In the case of Radi, who has finished third in the Tel Aviv marathon, her running in public in exercise gear violates the Salafists’ rigid ideas about women and modesty. She trains three times a week with about 50 other women in Tirah, but they can only run after nightfall in a closed stadium, empty of men. “Last year we had everything organised for a marathon. We had announced a date and distributed posters,” Radi, who is herself Muslim, told AFP. “But when I went with the girls to run the course we’d laid out, we encountered the bearded (religious) men, who insulted us. Then the religious began to stir up the people against us.”That same evening, she said, she received death threats and abuse over the phone. In the middle of the night, “shots were fired at my house and my car.” Israeli police questioned a Muslim cleric suspected of inciting violence against the would-be runners, she said. “But the case was closed without anyone being arrested.” … Recently, radicals in several towns banned performances of a play they found inappropriate and a concert featuring Palestinian singer Haitham Khalailah, a runner-up in the finals in Beirut of the “Arab Idol” television singing contest. Both were deemed as “contravening Islam and morality”.
More than 1,500 olive trees burn in Tulkarem district
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 2 June — Palestinian civil defense crews extinguished fires which burned hundreds of olive trees in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem on Wednesday night. The civil defense said in a statement that a fire near the village of Kur reached hundreds of dunums (square kilometers) of land, burning 1,500 olive trees planted in the area before fire extinguishing teams were able to control it. The statement added that civil defense crews also put out a fire near the village of Izbat Shufa, in which 70 trees were partially burned. In addition to being a strong national symbol for Palestinians, olive trees form an important part of the Palestinian agricultural sector.
Refugee camp committees to ‘indefinitely’ shut down UNRWA West Bank offices
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 28 May — The popular committees of the Palestinian refugee camps in the occupied West Bank have decided to escalate protests measures against the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, in response to changes made by UNRWA to the food distribution system in the camps. Spokesman for the committees, Husni Odeh, told Ma‘an that the committees decided during a meeting Friday evening that they would close UNRWA social affairs offices and directors’ offices in the West Bank, and block movement of UNRWA cars in all areas. He added that these decisions would be implemented indefinitely as of Thursday. Odeh said they had informed Palestinian Authority officials and high-ranking UNRWA officials of these steps. In April, the UN agency decided to halt its food distribution program in the camps and replace it with a cash card system, causing concern among UNRWA’s Palestinian employees, who said the move jeopardized the jobs of 300 to 400 people who work at the organization’s distribution centers….
UNRWA suspends services in northern West Bank refugee camps for a day
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 30 May — Palestinian refugee camp committees in the occupied West Bank announced on Sunday evening that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) had suspended its services in the northern West Bank refugee camps amid an ongoing dispute over changes in aid distribution. A spokesperson of refugee camp committees in the West Bank, Husni Odeh, told Ma‘an that UNRWA had officially notified the refugee camp committees of its decision to suspend services until further notice. The decision, he said, affects the education and health services provided by UNRWA in the refugee camps, although Odeh added that waste collection wouldn’t be suspended. UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness later confirmed to Ma‘an that UNRWA had suspended its operations in the northern West Bank, which did in fact include suspension of solid waste collection, for one day only, following what he called “violent threats and intimidation against our staff.” He added some offices were closed in the central West Bank on Monday, but health centers and solid waste collection continued as usual. Meanwhile in the southern West Bank, all operations continued without disruption … In April, the UN agency decided to halt its food distribution program in the camps and replace it with a cash card system, causing concern among UNRWA’s Palestinian employees, who said the move jeopardized the jobs of 300 to 400 people who work at the organization’s distribution centers. “It is disappointing at a time when the refugees themselves are so enthusiastic about the move from food handouts to the e-card, that certain groups are issuing threats and interrupting UNRWA services, particularly when the new system represents a significant increase in the assistance being delivered,” Gunness told Ma‘an on Monday … Close to 775,000 Palestinians are registered as refugees to the UN in the occupied West Bank. UNRWA provides services in 19 camps in the Palestinian territory.
Police: 13 drug dealers arrested in Tulkarem area
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 1 June – Palestinian police in cooperation with other security services on Wednesday arrested 13 suspected drug dealers during a raids in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem, police said. Palestinian police spokesperson Luay Irzeiqat told Ma‘an that the drug raids were carried out in Tulkarem city, Tulkarem refugee camp and the villages of Shweika, Iktaba and Balaa. Irzeiqat confirmed that 13 were arrested for allegedly selling drugs. Drugs and other material used in their manufacturing were seized during the crackdown. The seized material included genetically engineered drugs, cannabis joints, Hydrocodone, phosphoric material and other chemicals, Irzeiqat said.
Gunshots fired at home of former Nablus mayor
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 1 June– Unidentified gunmen fired at the house of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official and former Nablus mayor Ghassan al-Shakaa after midnight Tuesday, Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an. The security sources said that rounds were shot from a hilltop facing the house in the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus. Windows were broken and several shots hit furniture inside the house, but nobody was hurt. The sources confirmed that al-Shakaa was at home when the attack happened. Large numbers of security officers arrived and started manhunt after the attackers. Al-Shakaa was part of an official Palestinian delegation who visited the family of Munir Ammar, the head of the Israeli army’s Civil Administration in the Druze-majority village of Julis in northern Israel in March to offer condolences after Ammar died in plane crash … The official Palestinian visit caused controversy among Palestinians, who have criticized the Palestinian Authority for appearing to work too closely with Israel, effectively enabling its nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory.