Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Israel
Israeli forces raid Yatta, take measurements of suspected attacker’s house
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 June — Israeli forces early Friday raided the town of Yatta in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, which has been sealed by the Israeli army since last week’s attack in Tel Aviv. Locals told Ma‘an Israeli forces raided the town and took measurements of Muhammad Moussa Makhamreh’s home, the father of suspected attacker Khalid Makhamreh, in preparations for a punitive home demolition expected to be carried out on Monday. Muhammad was officially informed on Wednesday that his home would be destroyed early next week, in line with an Israeli policy of punitive house demolitions which has been denounced by human rights groups as constituting “court-sanctioned revenge.” According to locals, clashes erupted after Palestinian youths threw rocks at the Israeli soldiers who then responded by shooting rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas bombs at the community. Several Palestinians reported suffering tear gas inhalation during the clashes.
Israeli authorities have scheduled an upcoming court session for June 22 for Khalid Makhamreh. He was reportedly transferred from the Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv to the al-Ramla prison clinic on Wednesday for treatment for injuries he sustained during the shooting.
Meanwhile, the town of Yatta has been under an Israeli-imposed closure for more than a week following news that the two suspected shooters in an attack in Tel Aviv that left four Israelis killed and at least a dozen more injured were from the town. Israeli forces have carried out nightly search and detention raids on the entire community, leading to several Palestinians being detained by Israeli authorities. The family of Muhammad Makhamreh — Khalid’s cousin and the other suspected gunman — was reportedly informed last week by Israeli authorities their house could be destroyed at any moment, and have since began moving their belongings. Separately, Israeli forces raided Tarqumiya in southern Hebron and detained a former prisoner; Samer al-Masri, after raiding and searching his house, locals said.
4 Palestinians detained, Jerusalem area closed to traffic following suspected attack
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 June — Israeli authorities detained four Palestinians and closed streets in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir with large cement blocks Friday morning, in response to a suspected attack on an Israeli settler’s house. Locals told Ma‘an Israeli police forces closed the street connecting the neighborhood to the Sur Baher neighborhood, a main road leading to Jabal al-Mukabbir. Cement blocks were also set at the southern road leading to the neighborhood. Israeli forces were stationed at the entrance of the area checking the identification cards of Palestinian passersby, witnesses told Ma‘an. Witnesses added that Israeli police forces were deployed throughout the streets leading to the neighborhood.
Israeli police were deployed around the neighborhood after four firebombs were reportedly thrown at an Israeli settler’s house coming from the direction of Jabal al-Mukabbir. Police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that four firebombs were thrown at a house in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem, with one hitting a window and another hitting a yard. During search efforts by Israeli police to locate the suspects, in addition to closing the area to traffic, four Palestinians were detained for entering Jerusalem illegally, though not necessarily in connection to the incident. The four, according to al-Samri, were from the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. Israeli police confirmed on Thursday the deployment of thousands of Israeli police forces throughout east Jerusalem in anticipation of Friday prayers for Palestinians observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Police also announced several road closures in and around the old city for every coming Friday until the end of Ramadan.
Israeli forces launch tear gas at protesters in Kafr Qaddum
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 17 June — Dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces on Friday dispersed the weekly protest in village of Kafr Qaddum in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya. Popular resistance coordinator in Kafr Qaddum, Murad Shtewei, said Israeli forces raided the village and deployed snipers on people’s homes and fired tear gas at participants in the protest demonstrations and houses, causing several to suffer from tear gas inhalation, who were treated on the scene. Hundreds took part in the weekly protest, including foreign and Israeli activists, Shtewei added.
Israeli settlers raid Nablus-area village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 16 June — Hundreds of Israeli settlers raided the Birnat area of ‘Asira al-Shamaliya north of Nablus city in the northern occupied West Bank on Thursday, where they performed prayers in the area’s historical site, according to local sources. The settlers were escorted by Israeli forces, as Palestinian shepherds and farmers were expelled from the area. The mayor of the town of Asira al-Shamaliya said that the site belongs to Palestinians who hold documents to prove ownership. He added that “Israeli settlers claim that a Jewish altar is in the area,” something that he said is not true. Residents of Nablus and its surrounding villages are accustomed to groups of ultra-religious Israeli settlers and citizens visiting “religious sites” under the protection of armed Israeli soldiers.
Clashes erupt between PA security forces and Islamic Jihad demonstrators in Jenin
JENIN (Ma‘an) 17 June — Clashes erupted early Friday for a short duration between Palestinian security forces and several armed members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin, Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an. Palestinian security forces reportedly intervened to stop live firing as Islamic Jihad-affiliated demonstrators celebrated the release of Yahiya Bassam al-Saadi from Israeli prison, according to security sources. Sources added that the clashes erupted for a few minutes. No injuries with live fire were reported. However, four security officers were reportedly hit and injured with rocks. The response of Palestinian security forces to the demonstration comes amidst accusations by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad that the Palestinian Authority (PA) carries out “politically motivated” arrest campaigns against its operatives in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad released a press statement later on Friday condemning Palestinian security forces for “assaulting and shooting” the members of their organization. Leader of the movement Khalid al-Batsh said in the statement that “we reject these reprehensible acts, which provoke our national and moral values.” Al-Batsh questioned the interests of Palestinian security agencies in targeting and “insulting” an event attended by Palestinian families, while Palestinian leadership took part in Israel’s Herzliya Conference.
Palestinian couple barred from visiting wounded mentally ill son shot by Israeli soldiers
Haaretz 17 June by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — A schizophrenic man who was shot by soldiers after waving a knife at a checkpoint is hospitalized in Israel. His parents were given a permit to visit him, but the soldiers guarding him refused to let them into his room even for a minute — They are outside room No. 8 in the surgical ward. The door is shut. They continue to stand in the corridor, crying softly. Nothing can help them. The mechanism of the occupation will not relent. No one’s heart will melt at the sight of the intolerable abuse these people are undergoing. The soldier from the Military Police will not allow them to enter. The Civil Administration of Israel’s military government in the occupied territories will undoubtedly find some sort of revolting bureaucratic excuses for this insensitivity. The soldier opens the door just a crack for an instant, careful not to open it too wide lest the couple should catch a glimpse, however fleeting, of the person in the room. It can be assumed that he is bound with iron cuffs to the bed, like all wounded Palestinian detainees. This couple – she in a traditional embroidered dress, he in a shirt and unfashionable pants – left their village of Awarta, near Nablus, early one morning this week. They had an Israel Defense Forces entry permit to Israel, stating that their express purpose was to visit a wounded person. But now the soldier won’t let them enter the room in which the wounded person is hospitalized. The young man behind the door is their son. He was shot and wounded last Friday by Israeli soldiers. H. [Hassan] is 22 years old. His parents say he is mentally ill and has been diagnosed as schizophrenic. He takes psychiatric drugs. According to the parents, some of the soldiers posted in the area were already familiar with him and his odd behavior. Local residents also know about his condition. The IDF claims that he was holding a knife and threatened to attack the soldiers last Friday afternoon at the Awarta checkpoint. His mother, who was with him at home before he went out on his bicycle, as usual, says he was not carrying a knife when he set out. But shortly afterward soldiers shot him two or three times, claiming they felt they were in mortal danger … Evening would soon fall, their deceptive and deceiving permit would soon expire. Rima and Khaled al-Qadi gave up. In the absence of any alternative, they decided to surrender to the hard-heartedness. They set out on their way back to Awarta, leaving their sick, wounded son to his fate, without learning any more about what happened to him, about his physical and mental condition, or about what still lies in store for him.
Israeli army commander testifies soldier had no justification for shooting al-Sharif
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 June — An Israeli army commander testified in court Thursday that Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier who shot dead Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif while he was lying wounded on the ground after an alleged attempted stabbing in Hebron, saying there was no “operational justification” for Azaria’s actions, according to Israeli media. The company commander of Azaria, Maj. Tom Neeman, recounted to the court the chilling moments after the execution-style killing that took place in Hebron’s Old City on March 24, for which Azaria is now on trial for manslaughter. “I approached him and asked, ‘Why did you do it?’,” Neeman said during his testimony. “He answered me, ‘This terrorist was alive, and he needs to die.'” “I was angry at him for doing this. Essentially a shooting had been conducted at the scene that I was in charge of, without my permission,” Neeman added. Neeman also added that prior to Azaria’s killing of al-Sharif, no one seemed concerned with al-Sharif as he was lying immobilized on the ground, nor had any one suggested al-Sharif could be booby-trapped with explosives. Azaria has said he feared that al-Sharif may have been carrying an explosive device, though Neeman testified on Thursday that he did not notice anything suspicious about al-Sharif’s clothing that would indicate a bomb or booby trap of any kind….
Video: New footage emerges of Israeli soldier kicking knife after Hebron shooting
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Human Rights Defenders (HRD) have released a video showing an Israeli soldier kicking a knife toward the body of Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif — who was shot point-blank in the head by an Israeli soldier in March — an action the group said represents a clear violation of international law. The video shows an Israeli soldier casually kicking a knife — allegedly used by al-Sharif during an attempted stabbing attack — to the other side of the road in the town of Tel Rumeida in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, as al-Sharif’s body lay a few meters away. The footage was taken before al-Sharif was shot execution-style in the head by an Israeli soldier, a graphic video of which was released in March, leading to widespread condemnation by rights groups and the UN demanding an investigation into the apparent “extrajudicial execution.”
Badi Dweik, an activist from HRD, said in a statement that the group decided to make the video public in order to challenge current narratives unfolding at the ongoing military trial of Elor Azaria — the Israeli soldier charged with manslaughter after killing al-Sharif. Azaria has claimed that he shot the immobilized Palestinian because he saw al-Sharif reaching for the knife, or feared he had explosives strapped to his chest.
And on the Sabbath, the police rested
Yesh Din 15 June by Yossi Gurvitz — An Israeli civilian admits to destroying a Palestinian’s fence, erected in order to prevent settlers from stealing wood for burning on the Jewish holiday of Lag Ba’Omer. The police close the case anyway — On October 18th, 2014, dozens of Israeli civilians coming from the direction of Hebron trespassed on land belonging to Muhammad Sadeq Muhammad Rashid Qanibi and began demolishing a fence he had built there. As in many other cases of assaults by Israeli civilians in the West Bank, the 18th was a Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath and day of rest. This day, as we have seen before, possesses near-mystical powers, as it often deters Israel’s security forces from arresting people. Or at least Jews, at any rate. The forces who arrived on the scene decided not to carry out any arrests, but to summon the suspects for interrogation on the following day. The police had a suspect, H.B., who actually confessed to the act: he told the policeman who arrived on the scene that he was responsible for the damage to Qanibi’s fence. According to H.B., Qanibi’s fence was blocking the Israelis’ route from Hebron to the local springs in the area. The police began their investigation. They queried the Civil Administration over whether Qanibi was in fact authorized to build a fence on his land. A Civil Administration official responded in the affirmative … Despite H.B.’s confession, the police closed the case. Why? It didn’t bother to tell us, even though it is obligated to provide this information to the representatives of a victim of a felony. We are trying to find out, and in the meantime Adv. Moria Shlomot of Yesh Din’s legal team appealed the closing of the case, citing the existence of a suspect who admitted to the crime. Keep this in mind the next time the Israeli government tries to speak about the “rule of law” in the territories. This is what it looks like: a gang of hooligans raiding private property to steal lumber for a bonfire, an army that does not detain them because it’s Saturday, and a police force that closes the case — just because. Two years after the incident, the fence around Qanibi’s land is still broken. He did not rebuild it, and why would he, considering goons can simply tear it down again — and even be caught red-handed — and get away scot-free. And there you have the essence of Israeli control of the West Bank.
Soldiers kidnap one Palestinian, injure seven including five family members, in Qalqilia
IMEMC 16 June — Several Israeli army vehicles invaded, on Thursday at dawn, the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, kidnapped a young Palestinian man, and injured seven, including five family members. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the soldiers searched homes and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Mo’in Mohammad ad-Dalo, 23. The soldiers also fired many gas bombs, some targeting homes, causing seven Palestinians to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. Medical sources said five of the seven wounded Palestinians are siblings, including three children less than three years of age, and an adult who suffered cuts and bruises after the soldiers assaulted him.
Army kidnaps four Palestinians in Bethlehem and Salfit
IMEMC 17 June — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Friday at dawn, four Palestinians from the West Bank districts of Bethlehem and Salfit. Five Palestinian cars sustained damage after being attacked by Israeli colonizers, near Ramallah. The Bethlehem office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that the soldiers kidnapped Jamil Suheil Hamamra, 22, in the al-Walaja village, northwest of Bethlehem. The PPS added that Hamamra is from Husan village, west of Bethlehem, and was staying overnight in al-Walaja. In addition, the soldiers kidnapped Marwan Salim Mousa, from the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, allegedly for entering Jerusalem without a permit.
In related news, at least five Palestinian cars sustained damage after a number of extremist Israeli colonizers hurled stones at their cars, driving on the main road near Ofra illegal colony, built on Palestinian land northeast of Ramallah.
200,000 Palestinians from across occupied territory attend prayers at Aqsa
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 June — Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from Jerusalem, Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Gaza Strip attended prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque on the second Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, despite widespread measures taken by Israel against Palestinian freedom of movement across the occupied territory. Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Jerusalem Waqf (Islamic Endowment) that runs Al-Aqsa, told Ma‘an that over 200,000 worshipers prayed in Al-Aqsa, who began their journeys at dawn to the holy site in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinian men above the age of 45 and women of all ages were permitted to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, while Palestinian men under 45 were only allowed entrance if they held Israeli-issued permits to attend prayers. According to Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), 67,511 of the total worshipers entered from the occupied West Bank. Witnesses entering Jerusalem from the West Bank saw Israeli forces refuse entry to hundreds of Palestinian youth at checkpoints for lacking the necessary permits.
Israel refuses to raze homes of Abu Khudair’s murderers
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Israeli army refused a demand filed by the family of minor martyr Abu Khudair from Occupied Jerusalem asking for demolishing the homes of the settlers who burned alive and murdered their son two years ago. Maariv Hebrew newspaper revealed, Thursday morning, that Israeli war ministry justified the refusal decision by the claim that the Palestinians’ attacks are so many compared to the Israelis’. The newspaper pointed out that the family of Abu Khudair is about to file an appeal before the Israeli Supreme Court. Israeli forces knock down the homes of Palestinians who carry out anti-occupation attacks and refrain from taking similar measures against settlers who commit crimes and murders against Palestinians regardless of how ugly they are, such as burning alive the child Abu Khudair and the Dawabsheh family.
Israel being sued by parents of Eritrean man killed after being mistaken for terrorist
JERUSALEM (JTA) 17 June — The parents of an Eritrean man shot and killed at the scene of a terror attack in Beersheba after being mistaken for the terrorist are suing the state. The parents of Haftom Zarhum are asking for $3 million shekels, about $780,000, in damages for the October 2015 killing. The lawsuit includes the Israel Police, the bus station’s security company and the four indicted assailants. The attacker at the Beersheba bus station, a Bedouin-Israeli, stabbed a soldier and grabbed his M-16 rifle, then opened fire. Security guards shot Zarhum, who was then beaten by a mob as he was prone on the ground. Video images of the attack show Zarhum incapacitated and lying in a pool of his own blood being kicked by bystanders who thought he was an assailant. An autopsy found that Zarhum had eight gunshot wounds, two of which were fatal. The family is also calling on the National Insurance Agency to recognize Zarhum as a victim of terror, which would offer additional compensation to the family. The agency has said it would not recognize Zarhum because he had entered the country illegally. An Israeli soldier, a prison guard officer and two civilians were arrested and indicted for the murder of Zarhum. His killing led to some national soul searching.
Restrictions on movement
Ex-detainee forced to divorce wife for treatment
IMEMC/Agencies 16 June — Ahmad Nattat is a former Palestinian detainee from Gaza, who spent years in Israeli custody. Nattat was married to Sameera Al-Shawmra, from the occupied West Bank of Hebron, 13 years ago, and lives with her in Gaza. Two years after their marriage, Al Ray reports, Sameera wanted to visit her family in the West Bank, but Israeli authorities denied her permission under the pretext that her husband was a former prisoner from the Gaza Strip. Several attempts later, Sameera has managed to visit her family via Erez crossing, but could not return back to Gaza due to the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa intifada. All of Nattat’s attempts to return back, with his wife, to Gaza had failed, until he was detained by the Israeli occupation forces, who argued that he had carried out attacks against Israel. With the end of his sentence, Nattat has again failed to return to Gaza with Sameera, as she was denied the permit, whereupon he could not visit her in the occupied West Bank, as a result of the Israeli restrictions, since 2005. Nattat’s wife, Sameera, was recently diagnosed with cancer. Her plight was exacerbated along the Israeli checkpoints en route to hospital for treatment, where soldiers stopped her for hours and barred her from crossing, at times, as her husband was a detainee from Gaza. As the problem intensified, Sameera’s parents finally asked Ahmad to divorce their daughter, that she may receive the necessary treatment. Under their insistence, Ahmad agreed to divorce her, so that his name will be removed from Sameera’s ID, in order to facilitate her movement and sustain her treatment.
Israel to build underground wall around Gaza Strip
Ynet 16 June by Nahum Barnea — Yedioth Ahronoth reveals Israel’s plan to build a concrete wall tens of meters deep underground and aboveground to counter the threat of Hamas attack tunnels — Israel’s defense establishment’s plan to build a concrete wall tens of meters underground as well as aboveground along the Gaza Strip border was revealed by Yedioth Ahronoth Thursday morning. It has previously been estimated that such a project would cost tens of billions of shekels. However, under the new plan the construction costs are estimated to reach NIS 2.2 billion. The wall will stretch along the 60 miles of the southern border around the Gaza Strip, and will in fact be the third defense system of its kind Israel has built along the border. The first 60-kilometer barrier was constructed in 1994 following the Oslo accords while the second system was built following the decision to disengage from Gaza in 2005. Neither of the efforts, however, provided comprehensive solutions to the threat of attack tunnels. A senior Defense Ministry official on Thursday announced at a press briefing that the next confrontation with Hamas would be the last one. The question of how this announcement is consistent with a plan to build a wall, which is essentially a defensive program, is open to interpretation … In a parallel effort, the IDF is currently erecting a wall around sections of the border with Lebanon, adjacent to which a number of Israeli towns are located.
Israeli forces open fire at fishermen, farmers in Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma‘an) 18 June — Israeli forces Saturday opened fire at fishermen and farmers in the southern Gaza Strip, according to witnesses. Witnesses told Ma‘an Israeli forces stationed at a military watchtower on the border between the besieged enclave and Israel opened fire at farmers near the towns of al-Qarar and Khuzaa east of Khan Yunis.
Meanwhile, in a separate incident, Israeli navy boats opened fire at fishermen in Rafah and Khan Yunis. No injuries were reported.
300 Gazans allowed to pray at Al-Aqsa after ban on visitations lifted
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 June — Three hundred Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip were permitted on Friday to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, according to Palestinian officials, following a recent decision to lift a ban implemented last week in response to a deadly shooting in Tel Aviv. The worshipers, all of whom were above the age of 50, travelled to Jerusalem via the Erez crossing to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to a Palestinian liaison official … Visitations by elderly Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Al-Aqsa were implemented as part of a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s 2014 offensive on the besieged enclave. However, due to Israeli security concerns and Jewish holidays, visitations have been frequently interrupted since their introduction.
No Umrah for Gazans for the second year in a row
PIC – 16 Jun 2016 – The society of Hajj and Umrah travel agencies in Gaza said the Umrah season during the holy month of Ramadan would fail as a result of Egypt’s closure of the Rafah border crossing. Head of the society Awad Abu Madkour told Quds Press that that officials from the Palestinian ministry of Awqaf and religious affairs held a meeting with owners of the Hajj and Umrah agencies on Tuesday night and informed them that the Egyptian authorities did not respond to an official request to specify days for the travel of Umrah pilgrims through the Rafah crossing in Ramadan … Ramadan 15 (June 20) is the deadline for Umrah applications at the Saudi embassy in Cairo
Palestinians begin sea border talks with Egypt
AFP 17 June — The Palestinians have begun talks with Egypt on setting out the maritime borders of their hoped-for future state and the resources they can extract from the sea, their UN ambassador to the United Nations said Friday. The goal is to establish an exclusive economic zone off the coast of the Gaza Strip under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, said ambassador Ryad Mansour. The Palestinians became party to this and other UN treaties and agencies when they gained observer status at the United Nations in November 2012. The talks with Egypt are at the preliminary stage, having begun recently with Egypt at the foreign minister level and then continued at the expert level, the ambassador said. The Palestinian Authority has consulted “top lawyers in the field” to prepare its case and train its officials in the workings of maritime law, he added. The Palestinian strategy is to reach agreements with two of its neighbors in the Mediterranean — first Egypt and then Cyprus — to define exclusive economic zones with respect to them, and then consult with lawyers as to what its potential borders with Israel could be. Experts will then take an inventory of the natural resources claimed by the Palestinians and, and they will file their EEZ with the UN convention on the law of the sea. It is a way to save time for future generations, said Mansour. The Palestinians want to move as quickly as possible but these proceedings could take years, he added..
Israeli high-tech company extends hand to Gaza’s programmers
TEL AVIV/GAZA (Reuters) 16 June — Mellanox Technologies is looking to take advantage of a resource largely untapped by Israel’s high-tech companies: Palestinians. Nasdaq-listed Mellanox already employs a large number of Arab programmers in Israel and dozens in Ramallah and Nablus, in the occupied West Bank. Now its chief executive is extending the outreach to Gaza, the Palestinian enclave that has been almost entirely cut off from Israel for a decade. Working with ASAL Technologies, a Palestinian software firm, the maker of products that connect databases, servers and computers has hired four programmers in Gaza. It hopes to add at least six more in the next six months. “From our experience in Ramallah, we think we have the potential to collaborate and make our neighbours successful,” Chief Executive Eyal Waldman told Reuters in an interview. Hiring Palestinians would seem to solve two problems. Arabs struggle to break into Israel’s high-tech sector. And Israeli companies need help … Among Palestinians, there were 11,000 registered engineers from all sectors in Gaza at the end of 2015 and 16,000 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Gaza’s Engineering Association. A senior programmer in Gaza estimated that about 5,000 people from the territory work in software. But a study among 1,061 new engineering graduates in Gaza showed an unemployment rate of 36 percent. Meanwhile, Israeli companies have begun to outsource work to other countries, such as India. But Palestinians have the same skills, Waldman said, and they are in the same time zone. The main obstacle, of course, is the ongoing hostility between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel does not allow its citizens to travel into Gaza. Even if it did, they wouldn’t be allowed in by Hamas, the party that has ruled Gaza since 2007. The hostility is likely to extend to Palestinian employees of Israeli companies … Mellanox’s Waldman thinks the obstacles can be overcome. The travel ban can be circumvented through audio and video conferencing, for example.
A Letter from Gaza: ‘I am Three Wars and Two Intifadas Old’
Palestine Chronicle 13 June by Yara Eid- Gaza. It all started when he asked my how old I am. I know it is a normal question and anybody could tell his or her age easily but it was the hardest for me. I froze for a while and kept thinking about that question. I asked myself, “Really how old am I?” How many years have I been on this planet and how many days have I lived? I could not answer that haunting question. It took me a while, and made me feel numb. I told that strange man “I am three wars and two Intifadas old, sir.” I knew he did not understand me. My words would not make him feel what I was truly feeling. “Yes, sir, three wars and two Intifadas. I was born in the year 2000 that saw the outbreak of the Second Palestinian Intifada. There were many martyrs. So many people died. We are not numbers. If you ask me sir, I would tell you their names and when and they died, because again we are not numbers.” Suddenly, my tears were running down my cheeks, I remembered everything. I remembered when I was a child in 2008, doing my final exam at my school feeling happy that I would start my holiday soon. Yet, my paper and my pencil fell on the ground following an explosion. Everything was lost and I could not see anything expect rubble and dust. When I got to my home, my mother told me that I had to sleep. She did not want me to see this sad world; she just wanted me to keep dreaming. Then I woke up recalling what happened….
French pro-Israel group threatens to ‘scalp’ thousands of BDS activists
+972 blog 17 June — The ‘Brigade Juive’ claims to have sent the threatening email to 8,000 activists worldwide, lamenting that since French law doesn’t do enough against boycott supporters it must take matters into its own hands — A right-wing group calling itself the “Brigade Juive” (Jewish Brigade) says it sent thousands of threatening emails and messages to boycott Israel activists around the world overnight Thursday, promising to “put an end to BDS.” The messages were apparently sent primarily to activists in France, Australia and Israel. The senders, who addressed recipients as “dear boycotters” (in French), warned (in English): “We have are a very particular set of skills, skills We have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make us a nightmare for people like you.” It concluded in French: “boycotters should understand, we will be scalping you one by one, group by group, organization by organization.” A message on its Facebook page clarified that it referred to scalping figuratively — and had “nothing to do with the Indian custom, of course.” The email, sent to 8,000 email addresses according to the group’s Facebook page, included a link to a longer Facebook post in which the group claimed that BDS activists are fans of Hitler, Holocaust deniers and inciters of hate….
Senior Israeli minister: Make BDS activists in Israel ‘pay a price’
+972 mag 16 June by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — Israeli Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan says that BDS advocates inside Israel must be made to pay a price and that he is working to create legislation that would do just that. “The message has to be that it’s not worth being a BDS activist,” the minister said at a panel on BDS at the Herzliya Conference on Thursday. “Anybody who works to delegitimize Israel, to bring an end to the Zionist enterprise, they should know that there will be a price.” Pointing to legislation that targets and punishes boycott and divestment actions and activists overseas, particularly in Europe and the United States, Erdan lamented “there’s no real price for somebody here, [an individual] or an organization who is working against his country in order to isolate it in the world.” Erdan also revealed that he has put together a legal team that is working with the Israeli Justice Ministry to ensure that there is a price for boycott and presumably anti-occupation activism.
NY state senator wants to cut off university funds to SJP
Mondoweiss 16 June by Alex Kane — A New York state senator is seeking to cut off university funds to student groups that support boycotting Israel, an escalation of the legislative assault on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Last week, State Senator Jack Martins, a Republican from Long Island, New York, introduced a measure that would prohibit student organizations, like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), from receiving public funds. The bill would impact students who organize for Palestine at State University of New York and City University of New York schools. SJPs and other pro-BDS groups receive university funding to operate their organizations. While the legislative session in Albany closes today, the bill could be taken up in a later session. Martins has been leading the attack in New York against the BDS movement, which he characterizes as engaging in “hate speech.”
Protesters argue BDS order infringes on freedom of speech
timesunion 15 June by Michaela Kilgallen — A petition with 12,000 signatures protesting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order directing state agencies to divest in entities that are participating in the BDS movement against Israel made its way to his desk today – well, his secretary’s desk at least. The group of some 200 protestors gathered at the Capitol with signs and banners advocating for their right to participate and support those engaged in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aimed at Israel. “I got on a bus at 7 a.m. calling with all of you on Gov. Cuomo to rescind this McCarthyite attack intended to suppress boycotts and divestment campaigns in support of Palestinian freedom and human rights,” said Alana Krivo-Kaufman, staff member at Jewish Voices for Peace, “And are we going to let him?” The crowd responded with a decisive “No!” BDS aims to put economic pressure on Israel to end the country’s occupation of what supporters say is Palestinian land. “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is a non violent tactic that supports Palestinian human rights,” said CODEPINK staff member Ariel Gold. “It is based on the practice that helped end Apartheid in South Africa, and it is in tradition of the U.S. civil rights movement including the Montgomery bus boycott.” Activists claimed Cuomo’s order is an attack on their right to participate in social movements. “CODEPINK and my family and everyone here today is appalled by Gov. Cuomo’s attack on our first amendment right to boycott,” Gold said. The order, which Cuomo signed 10 days ago, also calls for compilation of a list of all organizations and companies participating in the BDS movement. Despite the fear of landing on what protestors called the “blacklist,” they remained supportive of the Palestinians.
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (9 – 15 June)
pchrgaza 1 June — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt 6 civilians were wounded in the West Bank; 5 of them in Jerusalem. A Palestinian civilian sustained severe wounds after a military jeep deliberately ran over him. Israeli forces continued to open fire at the border area along the Gaza Strip borders, but no casualties were reported. Israeli warplanes raided vacant land east of Johr al-Deek village, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces conducted 89 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the Gaza Strip. 80 civilians, including 5 children and a woman, [were arrested] in the West Bank. 16 of them, including a child, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces demolished houses on grounds of collective punishment A house was demolished in Beit ‘Omrah village, east of Yatta, south of Hebron. Israeli forces imposed a tightened closure on Yatta and its villages. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. Israeli forces arrested 10 fishermen and confiscated 4 fishing boats off al-Sheikh ‘Ejlin Shore (continued).
Hamas delegation to head to Cairo for reconciliation talks next week
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 18 June — A delegation of Hamas officials from the besieged Gaza Strip are expected to head to Cairo next week to discuss political reconciliations between Hamas and Fatah, an Egyptian official told Ma‘an on Saturday. The meeting was expected to be held last week, but was postponed to next week due to increasing concerns over the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula. The reconciliation initiative is part of a larger plan by Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi to renew peace talks between Palestinian political factions and Israel through direct talks between parties. Both factions have expressed support for Egypt’s initiative, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visiting al-Sisi in May and applauding the renewal of peace talks. A delegation of Islamic Jihad officials also attended talks in Cairo in May to discuss the faction’s involvement in the political reconciliation initiative. Meanwhile, reconciliation talks were held on Wednesday in the Qatari capital of Doha between Fatah and Hamas to discuss strategies of implementing a reconciliation agreement.
PM: Israel’s suspension of West Bank water supplies ‘inhumane and outrageous’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 June — The Palestinian Prime Minister’s office on Thursday slammed Israel’s decision to cut off water supplies for tens of thousands of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank this week as “inhumane and outrageous.” Rami Hamdallah issued a statement in response to the move by Israel’s national water company Mekorot, which saw water supplies suspended in the municipality of Jenin, several villages in Nablus, as well as the city of Salfit and its surrounding villages. “Israel wants to prevent Palestinians from leading a dignified life and uses its control over our water resources to this end; while illegal Israeli settlements enjoy uninterrupted water service,” Hamdallah said. “Palestinians are forced to spend great sums of money to buy water that is theirs in the first place.” Israelis, including settlers, have access to 300 liters of water per day, according to EWASH, while the West Bank average is around 70 liters, below the World Health Organization’s recommended minimum of 100 liters per day for basic sanitation, hygiene and drinking. Director of Communications at the Prime Minister’s Office Jamal Dajani called Mekorot’s decision “inhumane and outrageous.” The move to deprive the villages of access to safe drinking water was seen as especially outrageous as Palestinian Muslims celebrated the holy month of Ramadan, which entered its second week on Tuesday. Some areas reportedly had not received water for more than 40 days, according Al Jazeera.
In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told Ma‘an that due to increased rates of water consumption in the summer, water flow “is regulated.” Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq estimated in a 2013 report that up to 50 percent of Palestinian water supplies are diverted by Mekorot over the summer months to meet the consumption needs of Israel’s illegal settlements. COGAT added that a Civil Administration team repaired a burst pipe line on Thursday, which had disrupted the water supply to the villages of Marda and Biddya in Salfit, Salfit city, the Tapuach area in Salfit, as well as the village of Jammain in Nablus. “The water flow has been regulated and is currently up and running,” they added.COGAT also claimed that water supply had in fact been increased in the evenings to meet the needs of those observing Ramadan, who fast throughout the day … Just half of Palestinian proposals for wells and improvement projects to the water network were approved by Israel between 1995 and 2008, compared to a 100 percent approval rate for Israeli projects, a study cited in the report found. According to Amnesty international, nearly 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank do not have access to running water.
Israel will chair United Nations legal committee after decisive vote
Palestine Monitor 15 June by Lili Martinez — After a decisive vote on Monday, Israel has won the right to chair the United Nations legal committee, one of six permanent committees in the world body. The vote marks the first time Israel has been elected to lead a permanent committee since it joined the UN in 1949. The second-place winner, Sweden, garnered only 10 votes. Israel’s role will be mainly procedural, but its margin of victory — 109 out of 175 valid votes cast — and its nomination by several countries to the position shows growing international support for “engaging” with Israel. In addition, the victory will allow it to cultivate a higher profile within the UN. Danny Danon, Israeli ambassador to the UN, will take the chairmanship. “I am proud to be the first Israeli elected to this position,” Danon said in a statement.
Israeli peaceniks release racist video to ‘save Jerusalem’
+972 mag 15 June by Mairav Zonszein — A new video portrays a ‘nightmare scenario’ in which Jerusalem residents elect a Palestinian mayor — One would think a group that calls itself “Save Jewish Jerusalem” would hail from the right side of the political spectrum. But when it comes to maintaining Israel’s demographic dominance, it seems there isn’t much of a difference between the Right and Left. The initiative, which seeks to maintain control over Jerusalem through further disenfranchising its Palestinian residents, released a racist video on Wednesday, portraying a scenario set in 2020 in which an Arab is elected mayor of the city, after its Palestinian residents (nearly 40 percent of the population) decide to vote in municipal elections … (The video assumes that by 2020, Palestinians will constitute over 50 percent of Jerusalem’s population). The video then shows a Palestinian man armed with explosives and guns walking to a polling station. When he arrives he puts down all of his weapons down and instead wields his new weapon — a blue ID card. The video then flashes to two months later, when the leader of the group has become Jerusalem’s new mayor. The leader is congratulated over the phone with an “Allahu Akbar” and “the Temple Mount is in our hands,” a direct reference to a similar quote by Lt. Gen. Mordechai “Motta” Gur, whose IDF division captured the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1967 War … The video is offensive and blatantly racist, portraying all Palestinians from East Jerusalem as violent and solely interested in wiping out Jewish Israelis. It is as if the systematic discrimination against Palestinians in access to water, housing, classrooms, infrastructure does not exist. “Save Jewish Jerusalem” advocates that Israel “disengage” from the 28 Arab villages it annexed in 1967 (which today comprise East Jerusalem), relinquishing the residency rights of around 200,000 Palestinians in order to “repair the damage of the 1967 historic mistake” and ensure Jerusalem can maintain a large Jewish demographic majority … Thus the group proposes that East Jerusalem — which is already occupied as far as the world is concerned — be put under direct military occupation. The only difference is that it wants Israel to strip all the Palestinians who live there of their remaining rights, thereby making East Jerusalem just like the West Bank, expanding and entrenching occupation further … The group, Save Jewish Jerusalem, is mostly made up of former generals and other ex-military careerists and politicians (mostly male, mostly of Ashkenazi origin) who identify as part of the Israeli peace camp…..
Barakat: Majdalani’s participation in the Herzliya Conference is a stab in the back of the Palestinian people
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine 16 June — The participation of Ahmad Majdalani, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in the 16th Zionist Herzliya Conference requires accountability, said Comrade Khaled Barakat, Palestinian leftist writer. In a press statement, Barakat noted that the monopolistic leadership of the PLO not only has approved of the participation of Majdalani and others in the conference but also markets this approach of negotiations and normalization projects that have brought the national cause to a point of retreat and despair. Majdalani accomplished nothing from this participation except to add his name to a list of shame of those who participate in the Herzliya Conference, on “Israeli strategy” for hegemony and control over Palestine and the region, since 2000 until today…
French court delays decision on Arafat death investigation
PARIS (AP) 17 June — A French court has put off its decision on whether to reopen the investigation into the death of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat amid suspicions that he was poisoned. Arafat died in a military hospital in Paris suburb Clamart in 2004 after his health suddenly deteriorated. The cause of death has never been clarified. The prosecutor’s office in Versailles said Friday an appeals court there postponed its ruling until June 24 or July 8. The court can uphold or quash a decision by investigating judges who dismissed the case last year, saying there is no evidence that Arafat was murdered. The ex-leader’s widow, Suha Arafat, filed a complaint in 2012 after traces of polonium, a highly toxic radioactive substance, were found on her husband’s belongings.
Israeli firms profit as Europe boosts defence spending
AFP 17 June — As European defence budgets rise in the wake of increased threats, Israeli companies are seeing a boost in sales, further solidifying the country’s image as an arms industry leader. The increases have come despite, and perhaps partly aided by, Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestinian territory — with Israeli firms themselves highlighting that their products have been tested in conflict. European spending on defence and security had remained roughly static in the past decade, but Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Islamist attacks in France and a wave of refugees from the Middle East have encouraged a spike … In 2016, Israel is projected to overtake Italy to become the world’s seventh-largest defence exporter — by far the smallest country in the top 10, according to arms industry analysts IHS Jane’s. There has been a “substantial increase” in European interest in Israeli technologies, said Ran Kril, vice president of international marketing at Elbit Systems, one of the country’s largest weapons companies, with profits of just under $900 million last year. That has come “after long years in which the defence budgets in Europe were declining,” he said. – Seeing through trees – At a media exhibition of Elbit’s new technologies last week in the Israeli city of Netanya, products on display included a radar system the company said was first specifically designed to locate people through trees. A salesman pitched it as being perfect for European countries seeking to locate migrants hiding in forests….
Israeli food aid winds up in Syria
Ynet 17 June by Roi Kais — Israeli-produced food is showing up on the frontlines in Syria, and has been causing a firestorm in Arabic media and social media. The food has been showing up in Qunietra province which is on the border with the Israeli Golan Heights, specifically in areas controlled by rebel groups. While many of the rebel groups seem to be happy with this aid, there are others who are not too pleased with it, saying “it is a disgrace to be receiving food from the Zionist Entity which has stolen the Golan.” The pictures were also found on rebel social media pages and even some social media pages affiliated with the Syrian regime – pages which use the food aid as “proof” of Israeli cooperation with the rebels. The food pictured is usually Israeli-produced rice, flour, and sugar. However, when the food was brought to Syria, who brought it, and to whom it was given to is unknown.
Israel ex-defence minister says to run for PM
AFP 16 July — Former Israeli defence minister Moshe Yaalon on Thursday declared his intention to run for prime minister, accusing the incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu of using scare tactics to stay in power. Yaalon, forced out in May to allow Netanyahu to expand his coalition by bringing in a hardline nationalist party, has repeatedly criticised the government since leaving office. “The current leadership must stop scaring citizens as if we are on the verge of a second Holocaust,” Yaalon told a security conference in Herzliya, stressing threats were being exaggerated. Israel “deserves a leadership that stops zigzagging and encouraging hate between different groups in Israeli society to remain in power at any price,” he added. In the remarks broadcast online, Yaalon said “my intent is to run for the leadership of Israel in the next elections” which are due to take place in 2019 at the latest. Netanyahu dismissed the remarks of his former defence minister. “These statements have no importance whatsoever,” the prime minister told reporters….
Labour friend of Palestine Jo Cox slain
EI 16 June by Asa Winstanley — Jo Cox, a Labour Party member of the UK Parliament, was slain on Thursday in what police said was likely the work of a lone gunman. She was fatally injured as she left a meeting with her local constituents. Some eyewitnesses are reported as saying the killer lay in wait for her. Shortly after the attack, a suspect was arrested and weapons were recovered, police said at a press conference. – Friend of Palestine – Cox had only been elected in 2015. As an MP, she was involved with Labour Friends of Palestine and wrote part of a 2015 report by the group, urging a lifting of the Israeli blockade on Gaza. She said in February that moves by the Conservative government to use legal threats to curtail the boycott of Israel were “a gross attack on democratic freedoms. It is our right to boycott unethical companies.”
Why is an Israeli pro-settler group campaigning for Brexit?
Haaretz 16 June by Ariel David — A right wing, pro-settlement organization that is partially funded by local governments in Israel is campaigning in support of Brexit, urging Britons to vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union as payback for the EU’s support for the Palestinians. Regavim says it launched its “Support Israel — Leave Europe” campaign to push eligible British citizens living in Israel and Israel supporters in Britain to register to vote and “take a stand against the EU” for what the group says is the European bloc’s support for the Palestinian cause and Palestinian terrorists. Amid surging support for the “Leave” campaign in polls just a week before the June 23 referendum, government officials and experts from around the world have repeatedly warned that a vote in favor of leaving the EU could damage the continent’s fragile economy and throw global financial markets into turmoil. Regavim’s online campaign, which is being publicized through the movement’s social-media channels, features an altered Hamas video showing masked Palestinian militants speaking to the media. The original video is from a Hamas press conference in which the group made threats to attack Israel at the outset of the 2014 conflict in the Gaza Strip, Operation Protective Edge. In a voice-over that Regavim recorded to replace the original video’s sound track, the militants praise the EU for its recent decision to label Israeli products from West Bank settlements as well as for sending financial and material aid to the Palestinians. “If you truly hate ‘Isra-hell’ and the Jews and want to support our struggle, help Britain stay in the EU,” the voice says.
Memory, home and belonging in “A Curious Land”
Electronic Intifada: 13 Jun 2016 – Prize-winning fiction explores 100 years of Palestinian history through the eyes of realistic — and imperfect — people