B’Tselem cameramen: I didn’t edit Hebron video
Ynet 8 June by Yoav Zitun — The trial of Elor Azaria, the soldier who fired at an already-neutralized terrorist in Hebron last March resumed Wednesday morning at Jaffa Military Court. The court heard the testimonies of the Palestinian cameramen who documented the incident for left-wing NGO B’Tselem. Among those giving testimony was Imad Abu Shamsiyah, who claimed that he did not edit the controversial video. Azaria’s defense team has cast doubts in recent months regarding the credibility of the controversial videos and wondered if they were “cooked up during editing”. The opinion of an expert from the DIFS (Division of Identification and Forensic Science) consisting of dozens of pages will be revealed Wednesday in the military court, and the conclusion is that B’Tselem’s videos are authentic since they were forwarded to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) Military Police the morning of the incident, with the original memory card of the camera that documented the incident….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
Funeral held near Nablus for Palestinian youth killed in clashes
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 8 June — Thousands of Palestinians took part in the funeral of Jamal Dweikat, 20, in the Balata refugee camp in the occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Wednesday afternoon. Dweikat, whose body was returned by Israeli authorities at dawn on Wednesday, was hit by several bullets in the head during clashes with Israeli forces on Friday near Joseph’s Tomb after several buses transported Jewish worshipers to the site. Dweikat was initially taken to the Rafidia hospital in Nablus, and then to the Tel HaShomer Hospital when he reached critical condition. The funeral procession set off from the Rafidia hospital towards Dweikat’s house, before heading off to the cemetery for burial. Dozens of armed Fatah-affiliated men took part in the funeral opening fire in the air. The Palestinian flag was raised, in addition to flags of the Fatah and Hamas movements. Dweikat’s father told Ma‘an that “Jamal was welcomed as a hero two times, once when he was released from Israeli prison and today as a martyr,” adding that he last saw Jamal an hour before he was killed. The secretary-general of the Fatah movement in Balata, Imad Dweikat, demanded that the Palestinian Authority reconsider and negotiate the future of Joseph’s Tomb, that Palestinian should not be paying the price for Israeli settlers’ visits … Israeli settlers frequently visit Joseph’s Tomb under the protection of Israeli forces. During the visits, Israeli forces regularly raid Palestinian villages in the area and fire tear gas canisters into the nearby Balata refugee camp.
Palestinian attackers not to be buried in their villages
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 June – Israeli Police decided on Wednesday not to permit funerals and burials for Palestinians from East Jerusalem accused of terrorism in their neighborhoods or villages, but rather only in Muslim cemeteries that the police will choose, according to Israeli news agency Ynet news. The decision came following the controversial funerals of Alaa Abu Jamal, 22, and Jama Hassan Manasra, 15, which took place on May 24 after their bodies were held for over 7 months following two separate attacks they carried out in October that left three Israelis dead. Prior to the funerals, Israeli authorities stipulated that no more than 40 people be allowed to attend, and that the families of Manasra and Abu Jamal pay deposits of 20,000 shekels ($5,176.65) and 40,000 shekels ($10,353.30) respectively to ensure compliance with Israeli conditions. However, a crowd gathered outside of Abu Jamal’s funeral, chanting “God is great,” a phrase used regularly during Muslim funerals, as well as “with our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you, martyr,” a variation on a popular Arabic political slogan. Following reports on the funeral, Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan ordered a freeze on returning the bodies of terrorists to their families until the incident could be investigated and new conditions could be imposed to ensure funerals that would not contain what he regarded as “incitement” against Israel. According to the new decision, which according to Ynet News has received Minister Erdan’s support and authorization, the police will decide the location of the funeral, in order to ensure full Israeli control over the attendees and the processions. In an interview with Ynet, Erdan stated that “we mustn’t allow shows of incitement and support of terrorism in the streets of Jerusalem, and a family that doesn’t meet the requirements of the police doesn’t need to receive the body to bury.” As a result of the police’s decision, attorney Mohammed Mahmoud has filed a petition with the High Court of Justice on behalf of two Palestinian attackers’ families from East Jerusalem whose bodies have yet to be returned.
4 Israelis dead, multiple injured in Tel Aviv market shooting
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Update 9 June — At least four Israelis were killed and 10 injured in a shooting at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv around 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday night, according to Israeli emergency Services Magen David Adom (MDA). Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that the shooters, whose names have yet to be confirmed, were two Palestinians from the same family from the town of Yatta, south of the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank. Multiple gunshots were heard at the open-air shopping center in the heart of Tel Aviv, adjacent to Israeli army and Ministry of Defense headquarters on Wednesday evening. According to al-Samri, shots were fired both inside and outside of the Sarona Market. According to Haaretz, two armed men “disguised as Orthodox Jews” opened fire at passersby near the Benedict restaurant and then at the nearby Haarbaa Street. Haaretz also reported that at least six of the wounded had been evacuated to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital and that another was taken to Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. At least three were in moderate condition after they underwent surgery and two in light condition. The injured at Sheba was reportedly in moderate condition.
Palestinian factions react to Tel Aviv attack as Israeli army closes off suspects’ hometown
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 June — Palestinian political factions reacted on Wednesday night to a shooting attack in Tel Aviv which killed four Israelis and wounded six, as Israeli forces raided the hometown of the suspected assailants in the southern occupied West Bank and declared it a closed military zone. Two Palestinians disguised as Orthodox Jews reportedly shot at Israeli civilians in the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv, an area adjacent to the Israeli army and Ministry of Defense headquarters. The suspected attackers, who were detained on the scene and later treated for critical and moderate wounds, were identified by Israeli police as cousins Muhammad Ahmad Moussa Makhamreh and Khalid Muhammad Moussa Makhamreh from the town of Yatta in the West Bank district of Hebron. The Hamas movement said the Tel Aviv shooting was the first “good omen” for Palestinians and the first “surprise” for the “enemy” during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on Tuesday. Hamas spokesman Hussam Badran applauded the shooters, adding that the fact that they were able to enter Israel from the occupied West Bank showed the failure of Israeli efforts aiming to kill the Palestinian resistance and eradicate the Intifada. The Fatah movement, which is the leading party in the Palestinian Authority, said in a statement that the Tel Aviv shooting was an “individual and natural response” to Israeli state violence … Following the attack, Israeli forces raided the Makhamrehs’ hometown of Yatta in the early hours on Thursday, detaining an unspecified number of people. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an that a number of detentions had been carried out in the Hebron area overnight, adding that she could not confirm how many due to their being part of an “ongoing investigation.” Locals told Ma‘an that dozens of soldiers raided the homes of the two suspects, adding that a Palestinian man and his son were detained in the area. Israeli forces closed all entrances of Yatta, preventing Palestinians from coming in or out of the town. Israeli forces were escorted by a bulldozer and a drone during the raid.
B’Tselem cameramen: I didn’t edit Hebron video
Ynet 8 June by Yoav Zitun — The trial of Elor Azaria, the soldier who fired at an already-neutralized terrorist in Hebron last March resumed Wednesday morning at Jaffa Military Court. The court heard the testimonies of the Palestinian cameramen who documented the incident for left-wing NGO B’Tselem. Among those giving testimony was Imad Abu Shamsiyah, who claimed that he did not edit the controversial video. Among those giving testimony was Imad Abu Shamsiyah, who claimed that he did not edit the controversial video. Azaria’s defense team has cast doubts in recent months regarding the credibility of the controversial videos and wondered if they were “cooked up during editing”. The opinion of an expert from the DIFS (Division of Identification and Forensic Science) consisting of dozens of pages will be revealed Wednesday in the military court, and the conclusion is that B’Tselem’s videos are authentic since they were forwarded to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) Military Police the morning of the incident, with the original memory card of the camera that documented the incident….
Dawabsheh living with emotional scars following arson attack
MEMO 1 June by Jehan Alfarra — Ahmed Dawabsheh, the sole survivor of the infamous Duma arson attack, is healing. Accompanied by his grandfather, Hussein, and his uncle, Nassr, Ahmed attended the second Palestine Media Forum in Istanbul, Turkey last month. His scars are apparent. The five-year-old was the sole survivor of an arson attack on his family’s home in Duma last summer when extremist settlers firebombed the property killing Ahmed’s parents and his 18-month-old brother Ali. Ahmed suffered 60 per cent burns in the attack. While Ali died immediately, Ahmed’s parents Saad and Riham fought for their lives in hospital but succumbed to their wounds weeks later. As Ahmed lay in the Intensive Care Unit in Tel HaShomer Hospital he was unaware of the fate of his family. Five months later, and after being transferred to the children’s ward and undergoing a total of 10 surgeries, including skin grafts, his grandfather informed him of what had happened. “As family and friends visited him in the hospital, Ahmed would start asking why his parents have not come to visit yet,” Hussein told MEMO. “We told him they were also hurt and were receiving treatment just like he was.” His uncle, Nassr, said that Ahmed still does not entirely comprehend that his brother and parents have passed away, but he does know that “they are in heaven”. Ahmed’s right hand and the right side of his face still bear scars from the burns he sustained during the attack, but it is the emotional effects which have left the worst scars. His fear of fire and burning, Hussein says, is so severe that he cried and felt pain during a laser-treatment session for his right hand. “The doctor said that it doesn’t hurt, and I tried it and it didn’t,” he added. “I asked Ahmed why it hurt, he said it was making fire and that it was going to burn him.”
In Jerusalem, eve of Ramadan marked by extremist Israelis’ racist taunts
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 June by Jaclynn Ashly, Yumna Patel — In the Muslim quarter of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem, where Israeli army checkpoints, barriers, raids, and the presence of extremist Jewish groups are an almost daily occurrence, the holy month of Ramadan is anticipated as a time of relative calm and respite. As the month-long Muslim holiday begins, Palestinian residents and Muslim worshipers transform the typically dark, narrow alleyways of the Old City into glittering walkways, adorned with hanging lights, lanterns decorated with Arabic scripture, and filled with the sounds of Ramadan songs as worshipers prepare for the first day of fasting. However this year, on the eve of Ramadan, the usual sights and sounds of the Old City were put on hold and drowned out by several thousand ultranationalist and religiously conservative Israelis marching through the city shouting anti-Palestinian chants, harassing Palestinian shop owners, and waving Israeli flags, as they flooded the narrow streets of the Muslim Quarter on Sunday. The “flag march,” as it is known, is a central part of Jerusalem Day, celebrated by the ultra-right religious Zionist community to commemorate the 1967 Israeli annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, the same day Palestinians remember the “Naksa,” meaning “setback,” referring to the mass displacement that accompanied the Israeli takeover of the Palestinian territory. Young Israeli men, elderly, children, and parents fumbling to push their baby strollers on the narrow cobbled alleyways, all took part in the march, as Israeli soldiers barricaded streets leading to the Muslim Quarter, leaving many Palestinians coming home from shopping for the start of Ramadan stranded behind Israeli blockades. Israeli youth taunted and verbally harassed Palestinians stationed outside their closed shops, with several marchers throwing trash and water bottles at Palestinian pedestrians. Popular chants heard during the march were centered on the destruction of Palestine. Locals told Ma’an one of the chants heard numerous times alluded to a Hebrew insult, calling on Palestinians to be “erased from the earth and from all of history.”Other chants heard included “Mohammed is dead,” and “the Temple will be built, the [Al-Aqsa] Mosque will be burned,” — referring to right-wing Israelis’ calls to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and replace it with a third Jewish temple. Intermittently, Israeli soldiers stopped the march to allow Palestinians stranded behind barricades to cross to their homes, who were met with Israelis shouting insults and waving Israeli flags at them while they rushed past the screaming marchers with their families….
Israeli counter-protesters confronted by extremist paraders on Jerusalem Day
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 June by Yumna Patel, Jaclynn Ashly — Israeli counter-protesters handing out “flowers for peace” outside Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday were met with harsh reactions by ultra-nationalist Israelis and religious conservative participants of Jerusalem Day’s “flag march”. Members of Noam Olami, a Conservative Jewish Zionist youth group in Israel, told Ma’an they were giving out roses in counter-protest “in order to show a message of peace and friendship.”As they stood outside Damascus Gate, where thousands of Israelis were entering the Old City, the teenagers were confronted by angry paraders condemning their actions, saying “this is our country, we don’t want to share.” “The reaction most of the time is very strong and very bad,” said one of the teens from Noam. “A lot of Israelis are angry at us for what we do, they don’t support us, but we keep doing it.” Just steps from the members of Noam were members of the leftist group Tag Meir, meaning “Light tag,” whose name plays on the Hebrew phrase “tag mecheir” (price tag), which is commonly used by right-wing Israeli extremists calling for revenge for “terrorist attacks.” Mina, a Jewish resident of Jerusalem and member of Tag Meir, stood at the entrance of the Muslim quarter, passing out flowers to Palestinians “to wish them Ramadan Kareem.” “We just want to show them, we don’t all hate them,” she said, emphasizing that the “racist march” wasn’t just about Jerusalem, but it also “marks 49 years of Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories.” “We also give the flowers to the Jews in the march to show them there is another way,” she continued. “The occupation is unacceptable, and we are making all kinds of efforts to make it stop.”
Two Palestinians were executed on Hebron street in March, not just one — B’Tselem
Mondoweiss 7 June by Philip Weiss — Here’s an explosive story that came out yesterday afternoon: B’Tselem, the human rights organization that rocked Israeli politics and world opinion with the highly disturbing video of an Israeli medic executing a Palestinian lying on the ground on March 24 in Hebron, has released eyewitness accounts saying that the second Palestinian man who died in that incident was also executed while incapacitated. The famous victim in the case was ‘Abd al-Fatah a-Sharif, 21. Accused of attacking an Israeli soldier in the Tel Rumeida section of occupied Hebron, he had been shot in the stomach and lay in the street when he was then shot in the head by an Israeli medic, Elor Azaria, who is now on trial for the killing. It has always been known that a second alleged assailant was also killed at the same intersection: Ramzi al-Qasrawi, 21. Now B’Tselem says he was executed too. The new B’Tselem report charges based on eyewitness accounts, supported by two videos it also released, that al-Qasrawi had also been wounded and was lying incapacitated on the street when he was shot in the head. Here’s the crux of that B’Tselem report (in full below): … The new report has been picked up by Newsweek and the Intercept and several Israeli outlets, but not by the New York Time or NPR or the Washington Post. B’Tselem is calling on the military to reduce surveillance videotape it likely has of incident. The two videos, below, are not conclusive support for the two witnesses’ claims. But they confirm the fact that al-Qasrawi was dead of an apparent head wound while a-Sharif was still alive. Here is the first piece of footage. Warning, disturbing content:….
Israeli forces take over 11 houses in Nablus-area village as temporary bases
Nablus (Ma‘an) 6 June — Israeli forces took over 11 Palestinian homes in Huwwara village in the northern West Bank district of Nablus on Monday to use as temporary military sites. Fatah spokesman in Huwwara Awwad Najim told Ma‘an that Israeli forces put barbed wire around the houses on Sunday night and Monday morning, installed cameras and set out military outposts in the area. The army’s move came after an empty settler bus was reportedly attacked with “steel balls” [army said later “ball bearings”] near Huwwara south of Nablus city on Sunday evening. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “following an attack yesterday with steel bullets,” Israeli forces set up “temporary viewpoints in the area to overlook the road for security measures.” She confirmed to Ma‘an that the structures seized were Palestinian homes, although she said she did not have information regarding whether Palestinians were residing in the homes when they were taken over. Najim said that Israeli forces threatened to impose more punishment on Huwwara residents, including closing shops, if similar attacks occurred again.
‘Israeli police help Palestinian girls commit suicide’
Haaretz 3 June by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — An 18-year-old Palestinian who may have wanted to put an end to her life approached a checkpoint with a knife. The Border Police fulfilled her wish quickly, although it’s clear she could have been stopped by other means. Her family is shattered — The two appalled parents stood on either side of the checkpoint, a body lying between them on the road, without being able to see or know for certain that the body was in fact that of their daughter. Sawsan Mansour bled to death. In a harrowing coincidence, her father, Ali, had arrived at the Israeli side of the checkpoint on his way home from work as a gardener in a Jerusalem suburb, just minutes after Sawsan was shot. Her mother, Najah, hurried to the Palestinian side of the checkpoint after hearing that there had been a lethal incident there and that the victim might be Sawsan. No playwright could conceive of a grimmer, more dramatic scene: parents on the two sides of a barrier, their child’s body strewn between them. The parents were not allowed to approach. The corpse was placed in a black body bag and removed from the scene. Only a bloodstain remained on the road when the father was finally allowed to enter the area. A member of the Israeli security forces showed him a photograph of the dead girl’s face on his cellphone. Now all doubt was dispelled: It was Sawsan. Ali lost consciousness, he recalls later. Najah was then allowed in, too. The incident occurred shortly after 2:30 P.M. on May 23, at the Beit Iksa checkpoint, which controls access to an enclave of 12 villages trapped behind the separation barrier near Ramallah. Use of this checkpoint is restricted to residents of Beit Iksa and Palestinians over 50, so the traffic here is very sparse. The Border Policemen there spend most of their time behind bullet-proof glass or a wire fence, as we saw this week during a visit to site. The checkpoint barrier is raised and lowered for each vehicle, after it is checked. At the time of the incident involving Sawsan, the Israeli forces were about 10 meters from her, based on the bloodstain her father saw. The only witnesses were the Border Policemen.
It is possible that Sawsan wanted to commit suicide. In the midst of her high school matriculation exams, she was in a state of great tension. Maybe there had also been a quarrel at home, maybe some other problem. According to her uncle, Mohammed Badwan, who came from the United States for her funeral together with his mother, Sawsan’s grandmother, Sawsan had planned to move to Syracuse, New York, where he and his mother have lived for years, to continue her schooling. The paperwork was almost complete. Sawsan wanted to study law. The truth is that no one knows for certain why a smiling 18-year-old, a gifted student, the daughter of a law-abiding family that has nothing to do with politics or terrorism, with a father who is a retired teacher, who has been working in Mevasseret Zion for 15 years and has many Israeli friends – why this young woman approached a checkpoint with a knife … “When someone goes to a rooftop and threatens to kill himself, security people everywhere do all they can to save him,” says Iyad Hadad, the local field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. “But here the Border Policemen are doing the opposite: They are assisting these girls to commit suicide instead of saving them.” Indeed, the killing of Sawsan Mansour has all the trappings of an execution….
As usual, this list of detentions from one particular day is only a sample of something that goes on all the time.
Israeli forces detain 16 Palestinians from West Bank
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 June – Israeli forces Wednesday detained 16 Palestinians, including at least one minor, mostly during overnight raids into a number of West Bank districts, said the Palestine Prisoner’s Society and security sources … Forces detained five Palestinians from the central West Bank districts of Ramallah and al-Bireh. The detainees were identified as Mahdi Rayyan, Muhammad al-Liftawi, Eyad Fawaqa, Mahmoud Srour and Abdul-Karim Rimawi. In Jenin, forces handcuffed and detained Mahmoud Abul-Kamel, 25, as he was stopped at a military checkpoint at the entrance of Ta‘nak village, west of Jenin city. They also detained Mahdi Dheyab, 22, and his cousin, Muhammad, 23, from the vicinity of the separation wall in the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem. Also in the northern West Bank, forces handcuffed five Palestinians from the Qalqilia village of Hajja, detaining one identified as Nabil Bataha, 20, and releasing the others. Meanwhile, police detained Nour Othman and Omar Bassa from Jerusalem district. To the south of Jerusalem, in Bethlehem district, forces detained Muhammad Thwabteh, 17, after storming and ransacking his family house in Beit Fajjar town. Another Palestinian from the town was detained after he turned himself in to Israeli intelligence in the Gush Etzion detention and interrogation center. He was identified as Muhammad Taqatqa, 19. To the south of Bethlehem, forces raided Hebron’s Old City, where they handcuffed and detained Alayyan al-Rajabi, 20. Two more Palestinians were detained from Hebron. They were identified as Omar Shawer, 20, and Sharaf Zaheda.
PHOTOS: Ramadan Mubarak! Despite siege, Gazas welcome holy month
TeleSUR 5 June — Palestinians in Gaza stocked up on food on Sunday (June 5), the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. They joined many of the world’s Muslim community — some 1.5 billion people in more than 50 countries — who are preparing to observe the sacred month, due to start in many Islamic countries on Monday (June 6). However, residents of the embattled Gaza coastal strip are once again marking Ramadan under the shadow of a harsh Israeli blockade. Despite the pain of martyred and injured loved ones resulting from successive Israeli offensive operations against the long-suffering Palestinians, the Muslim fasting month is an occasion for joy, celebration, and family gatherings in Gaza.
Gaza lanterns light up for Ramadan
World Bulletin 7 June — Ramadan in Gaza is something else, with fairy lights and the tradition “fanoos” , the lantern, giving a glimmer of hope for many.
Gaza Strip: Continued power cuts over Ramadan
IMEMC/Agencies 8 June — With the arrival of Ramadan, the most densely populated area on the planet – the Gaza Strip – is now facing the added pressure of increasing power cuts amid the hot summer weather. The cuts have affected the live of Gazans at all levels, with resulting damages to electrical devices adding further dismay to the plight of the besieged coastal dwellers. During the holy month, Gaza’s electric plant set a new distribution schedule which differs from one area to the next, and would begin as early as seven o’clock in the morning, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency … “The month of Ramadan comes every [year], bringing a lot of surprises. Most Gazans are unemployed and living [under] miserable conditions with the ongoing siege. The continued power cut for long hours worsens the situation”, Rami Mohsen, a citizen from Gaza said. Mohsen did not hide his fear of the Ramadan power outages, which may have a significant impact on food preservation devices, not to mention the fatigue experienced during fasting, and in the face of extreme heat.
Ministry of Defense says restricting trucks to Gaza will harm reconstruction
i24news 8 June — Concerns are that decreasing the delivery of goods will increase the prospect of another round of fighting– Israel’s Ministry of Defense has taken a side over the recent debate regarding truck traffic on the main road near Israel’s border with Gaza, which has seen residents complain about congestion and security risks caused by the stream of deliveries and returns of goods to and from the Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing, Haaretz reports. Coming out against Transport Minister Yisrael Katz’s decision to restrict the flow of trucks, the defense ministry said that the move will hurt reconstruction in Gaza and exacerbate the already grim humanitarian situation. Goods deliveries would be reduced by over 40 percent, according to a ministry statistic cited in Haaretz. The concerns over the spiraling conditions in the Gaza Strip have become increasingly heightened in recent months as politicians and analysts cite the despair as heightening the chance of a fresh war breaking out. The departing director-general of the defense ministry, Dan Harel, has been voicing his concerns about the decision since February…. [Haaretz: The Transportation Ministry’s director general, Uzi Yitzhaki, said Katz’s decision was made “from the systematic viewpoint that the safety and wellbeing of Israeli citizens surpasses any other consideration.”]
Why can’t Gazans drink their tea in peace?
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 6 June by Mohammed Othman — Security services in Gaza are implementing heavy and exaggerated measures in cafes and public spaces, dealing with clients as suspicious persons, so have they crossed the line? — Sometime last year, Hanan Omar, a journalist from Gaza City, sat at a popular outdoor cafe preparing to interview an activist about prisoner affairs. She had no idea that sitting in public would land her in police custody. “As I was getting ready to start the interview, detectives arrived at the café,” Omar (a pseudonym) told Al-Monitor. “Of course, there were dozens of young men and women [there]. The security officers escorted me out, along with the person they wanted, who happened to be the person I was about to interview. They interrogated me about the nature of my relationship with that person, and I explained that I was a journalist, but nobody listened.” She explained that although she was simply doing her job, to the security officers her sitting with the activist, a man, constituted “suspicious” activity. Omar said, “The officer actually said to me, if [a man] wanted to approach me and saw me sitting with another man, what would his reaction be?” She was taken by the security officers to one of the city’s police departments on charges of sitting with a man with whom she had no legal ties. Khalid Mustafa (a pseudonym), a photographer and journalist from Gaza City, commented on how detectives are frequent visitors at the cafe he visits daily to wrap up his work. He said they drop by under various pretexts, such as preventing girls from smoking hookahs. “We sit in an outdoor, popular cafe,” Mustafa explained. “It is quite modest, and we sit in front of all the clients who come from inside and outside Gaza. Although the cafe’s management has set up surveillance cameras all around, the tourism detectives, affiliated with Hamas’ security services, often come and prevent girls from smoking hookahs and impose restrictions on the cafe’s owners.” Mustafa sees these visits as attempts by the security services in Gaza to intimidate people through surveillance and harassment, while refraining from imposing direct prohibitions….
Who will light the road to Rafah?
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 6 June by Iyad Qatrawi — Despite Salah al-Din Road in the Gaza Strip having already claimed the lives of many, no agency has stepped forward to foot the high electricity bill to make the road safer — Salah al-Din Road connects the Gaza Strip’s municipalities, extending over roughly 46 kilometers, from the far north of the Gaza Strip, in Beit Hanoun, to Rafah city in the far south. In 2013, four phases were set for the development of the road with the support and financing of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza. While three of the phases have now been completed, the road still lacks lighting, and citizens and drivers fear Salah al-Din Road has become lethal. What hinders the illumination of the road is the electricity crisis plaguing Gaza and the failure of the various government bodies and municipalities to pay the electricity bills. Lighting poles have been installed along the road, but they remain unlit. Hamid Alwan, from the city of Khan Yunis, drives a Skoda. He told Al-Monitor, “Drivers do not know how to drive on this road, as a new geometric design has been created that they have not seen before; there is a slow lane for those driving to side cities and a fast lane for those driving straight through Gaza. This requires a great deal of concentration. The situation gets more dangerous as the night falls given the lack of lighting. All we have is car lights, but these provide poor vision, which is why accidents happen frequently.” Ahmed Othmani told Al-Monitor that he drives his Mercedes from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to avoid driving in the dark when many accidents on the new road happen … Statistics of the traffic and rescue police in the Gaza Strip report that “1,500 traffic accidents have taken place since the beginning of 2016. These have led to 33 deaths and 693 moderate and serious injuries, most of which occurred on the new Salah al-Din Road, specifically on the municipalities’ intersections and entrances.”….
Israel releases 3 Palestinian fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 June — Israeli authorities released three Palestinian fishermen who were detained earlier Wednesday off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip. A Ma‘an reporter said that the Israeli authorities released Khalil Muhsen Abu Riyaleh, 25, Shaher Muhsen Abu Riyaleh, 20, and Muhammad Hasan Abu Riyaleh, 18, at the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. An Israeli Army spokeswoman told Ma‘an that she was looking into reports. Israeli navy forces detained three Palestinian fishermen on Wednesday morning after reportedly attacking and sinking their fishing boat off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip, the speaker of the union of Gaza fishermen told Ma‘an. In a separate incident on Wednesday, locals in the northwestern Gaza City neighborhood of al-Sudaniya reported Israeli shelling and machinegun fire towards several Palestinian fishing boats. No casualties were reported.
Adalah calls on Israel to return boats confiscated from Gaza Palestinian fishermen
Adalah 6 June — On 1 June, 2016, Adalah sent complaints to Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Chief Military Advocate General Danny Efroni, and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit demanding that they order the return of boats and equipment recently confiscated by the Israeli navy from Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip. Adalah filed the complaints on behalf of five Gaza residents whose fishing boats and equipment – valued at up to tens of thousands of shekels – were confiscated and are now being held by the Israeli military. In each incident, Israeli navy vessels opened fire on or near the fishing boats, ordered the fishermen to remove their clothes, and then detained the men for a day or two for interrogation. In most of the incidents, Israeli soldiers also ordered the fishermen to jump into the sea and swim towards the Israeli navy vessels. The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights collected the facts of each of these incidents from the fishermen. In his letter, Adalah Attorney Nadeem Shehadeh argued that there was no reason to detain the fishermen or to confiscate their property as they had never strayed beyond the boundaries of the permitted fishing zone designated by the Israeli military. Attorney Shehadeh also emphasized that the fishermen never received any documentation of the confiscation of their boats and equipment or the reasons for the confiscations from the Israeli authorities….
Three Palestinians injured as house ceiling collapses in Gaza
[with photos] GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 June — Three Palestinians were injured when part of the ceiling of their house collapsed in the Khan Yunis district of the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Palestinian sources said that the house belonged to Muhammad Lahham. Lahham and two of his sons were injured with light to moderate wounds during the incident, and were taken to the Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, the sources added. The Gaza Strip has seen three wars with Israel since 2008, with Israel’s 2014 offensive destroying 12,600 homes, and leaving another 6,500 severely damaged and 150,000 housing units uninhabitable.
Israeli bulldozers continue to raid eastern Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 6 June — Israeli occupation bulldozers reportedly penetrated into the Gaza Strip, east of the border fence, today. Eyewitness stated that five Israeli bulldozers, of the D9 style, penetrated some 50 meters into Palestinian lands, passing through the Attaqa gate, east of Attufah, Eastern Gaza. Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency notes that Israeli vehicles frequently raid and raze farming lands east of the Gaza Strip. Israeli bulldozers repeatedly sweep the lands, which is considered a violation of the Cairo agreements of 2014 which came as a result of the summer long Israeli offensive on the region.
Following Israeli restrictions, Gaza farmers access land for first time in 15 years
Mondoweiss 6 June by Isra Saleh El-Namy — Kamal Kafarna could not be happier. He is harvesting his wheat with his own hands from his land that he was prevented from accessing for fifteen years because it is located just a hundred meters away from the boundary line between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The 50-year-old Palestinian farmer was prohibited from approaching his land for over a decade because it lies to the east of Beit Hanoun, close to the Israeli military base on the border. “I am very delighted that I have been given one day to harvest my yields. This piece of land is mine, but I was not able to tend it for long years because it is feared that I might be shot by the Israeli soldiers who monitor the boundary areas with Gaza,” he explained. The International Committee of the Red Cross has worked to extort an approval from the Israeli authorities to allow Gaza farmers to access land within up to three hundred meters of the border. Early this year, representatives from the ICRC escorted the farmers to their land so they could plough and plant their seeds in the soil. Farmers like Kafarna were not able to take care of their land for the last couple of months. He was waiting impatiently to harvest at the end of May….
Hamas urges Egypt to permanently open Rafah crossing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 June — Hamas, the leading party in the besieged Gaza Strip’s de facto government, urged Egyptian authorities to permanently open the Rafah crossing along their shared border. According to a press release published Tuesday, Deputy Chief of Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh said that Hamas had made every effort to improve security along its border with Egypt’s Northern Sinai region, the site of a mounting insurgency by the Islamic State-affiliated group Wilayat Sinai (Sinai Province). He insisted that Hamas has no military activity in the Sinai Peninsula or elsewhere. “Our position remains unchanged; we do not intervene in internal Egyptian affairs,” Haniyeh said. “We welcome any Egyptian effort to resume national dialogue and fulfill past agreements,” he added. Haniyeh’s comments came after Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing for four days last week ahead of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan … Egypt has upheld an Israeli military blockade on the Gaza Strip for the majority of the past three years, since the ouster of President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 and the rise to power of Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi….
Young Gaza artist Malak Mattar shows in Jerusalem
The Art Newspaper 8 June by Lauren Gelfond Feldinger — Self-taught painter aged 16 gets rare travel permit — The US consulate in Jerusalem arranged Israeli permission for 13 Gaza artists and artisans to exhibit at a Palestinian cultural fair in East Jerusalem. Publicity for the event did not use the word “Palestinian.” Malak Mattar, 16, was probably the youngest visual artist from Gaza ever to get a coveted Israeli travel permit. She taught herself to paint in 2014 during Israel’s 50-day Gaza invasion. Painting became on outlet for her grief. Her 14-year-old best friend died in the conflict … Her portraits of females exude pain and independence, mixing a raw personal style with motifs from traditional Palestinian art. She sold her work to Palestinians, Israelis and foreigners at the Nablus Road Open Days fair held at the Albright Institute. In her first visit to Jerusalem she also toured Jewish and Arab neighborhoods, meeting the residents. The only Jewish people she had ever seen previously were Israeli soldiers….
Restriction of movement
To Israel, being ‘from Gaza’ is a crime
EI 6 June by Ahmed Masoud — I was invited to take part in this year’s PalFest literary festival as a Palestinian writer talking about my novel Vanished and my theater work. I traveled to Palestine as a British citizen with my red passport. Everyone in my group was waved through at the Israeli-controlled Allenby crossing between Jordan and the occupied West Bank. Except me. Far worse than not being allowed to enter Palestine was the fact that Israel denied me entry because I am from Gaza. Not only did Israeli soldiers deny me entry but they were shocked to see someone like me trying to visit the rest of Palestine. Imagine that you are from Manchester or somewhere else up north and tried to fly into London and were told that you were “a northerner, you can’t come here.” They were surprised that I even thought about it. “You are from Gaza,” they kept saying. When I was sent back and the Jordanian authorities realized that I had been denied entry, the guards at the border were furious, and said, “You are from Gaza, what were you thinking?” As if trying to go back home is a crime, as if the idea itself is a crime, as if I had to accept my oppressed status and not even dare to think that I could be a normal human being traveling to my own country.
Israel blocks Freedom Theatre staff from traveling
EI 8 June by Ryan Rodrick Beiler — Israeli occupation forces have blocked a senior staff member of Jenin’s Freedom Theatre from crossing into Jordan from the West Bank. Mustafa Sheta was attempting to reach a visa interview at the US embassy in Amman late last month when he was turned away by Israeli agents at the Allenby crossing. Sheta had to wait an hour after handing over his passport. An Israeli soldier then informed him that he was not permitted to travel because of an order by Israeli intelligence, Sheta told The Electronic Intifada … The Freedom Theatre, based in Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. One of its signature modes of performance is known as playback theater, in which a small group of actors listens to the stories of a community it visits and then improvises a live performance of that local history. The group has employed this method of community-based theater through its annual Freedom Bus tour which has traveled throughout the West Bank every year since 2012. Members of the Freedom Theatre had planned such interactive performances in cooperation with the Jerusalem-based Ashtar theater group during a tour of Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan.
Only a few days before Sheta was blocked from traveling, the Freedom Theatre’s Osama Al Azzeh was turned away at the same crossing by Israeli authorities as he attempted to participate in that tour. Al Azzeh’s denial of entry to Jordan kept him from participating in performances of the play Return to Palestine, which is based on stories from Jenin and other refugee camps in the West Bank. According to the Freedom Theatre, the aim of the project is to confront Israel’s deliberate fragmentation of Palestinian communities. In the past few years, several other members of the Freedom Theatre have been unable to travel due to Israeli restrictions..
Controversial religious activist enters Israel’s parliament
JERUSALEM (AP) 8 June — For years, Yehuda Glick has pushed for greater Jewish access to Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site — promoting an ideology that has unnerved Palestinians and made him the target of an assassination attempt. Now, as a new member of Israel’s parliament, Glick is vowing to use his office to press his cause, bringing his explosive campaign to the nation’s corridors of power. Glick, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, is the man most associated with Jewish activism at the hilltop compound revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount. While he portrays his call for expanded Jewish prayer as a matter of human rights, critics say his true aim is to usher in a messianic age that would see a Jewish shrine rebuilt where a mosque now stands. “Twenty years ago, Temple Mount activists were considered totally delusional, extreme, marginal. Today, half of the Knesset’s members agree with the basis of what I express,” Glick, 51, told The Associated Press in an interview. Jews revere the Temple Mount as the site of the two biblical Temples. The Noble Sanctuary is the third-holiest site in Islam, housing the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock, from where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven. Palestinians view the site as a potent national symbol. For decades, Israel has enforced a status quo at the site that allows non-Muslims to visit but not pray there. That directive has the support of most rabbis, who say the site is too holy for Jewish prayer, though a growing number of rabbis have relaxed such bans….
Palestinian security guard hit by Israeli police vehicle inside Al-Aqsa compound
IMEMC/Agencies 8 June — A Palestinian security guard was reportedly hit and injured by an Israeli police vehicle inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in annexed East Jerusalem, Wednesday morning, witnesses said. Eyewitnesses explained to Ma’an News Agency that the guard, identified as Luay Abu al-Saad, was standing between the compound’s Chain Gate and the Cotton Merchants Gate when a small Israeli police vehicle touring the compound hit him. Abu al-Saad was taken to a clinic inside the compound, for first aid treatment, before an ambulance from the Palestinian Red Crescent evacuated him to a hospital. Medics said that his leg had been hurt.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Massive Israeli settlement plan to be implemented
IMEMC/Agencies 7 June — Israel is reportedly planning to build over 15,000 new settlement units on the site of an unused airport between the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem). According to Press TV/Al Ray, the units are scheduled to be constructed on the site of Atarot airport, located in northern al-Quds. The plan currently awaits approval by a local planning and building committee, Israel’s Hebrew-language Walla website reported. A member of the Israeli Knesset, Nachman Shai, warned on Sunday that the expansion would draw a fresh wave of international condemnation. Israel’s planning committee chair Meir Turgeman, however, said he didn’t “see a problem, from a political standpoint.” The Ir Amim organization, which describes itself as a non-profit focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, also denounced the plan as “a shame.” “Instead of genuine plans to boost equality and reduce tensions in the city, they [Israel] are trying to sell the public controversial construction plans whose implementation is in doubt,” it said. Israel has accelerated expansion of illegal settlements across the West Bank in defiance of international calls for a halt. Back in April, the rights group Peace Now said that the number of settlements Israel planned to build in the occupied West Bank more than tripled, in the first quarter of 2016, in comparison to the same period, last year. More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Permits approved for 82 settler homes in east Jerusalem: NGO
AFP 7 June — Building permits have been approved for 82 settler homes in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem under a plan that previously drew strong criticism from the United States, an NGO said Tuesday. The 82 units in two buildings are part of plans announced in 2010 to build 1,600 settler homes in Ramat Shlomo, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in east Jerusalem. The 2010 announcement came as US Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel, provoking fierce American opposition and souring relations with Washington for months. Israeli NGO Ir Amim, which opposes settlement construction, announced on Tuesday that permits had been approved for part of the plans. “On Monday, June 6, the Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee approved two building permits for 82 housing units in Ramat Shlomo,” it said in a statement. Jerusalem city officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Nablus-area homes slated for demolition by Israel
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 June — Israeli authorities on Tuesday notified the owners of two buildings in the northern occupied West Bank village of Duma in the Nablus district that their properties were slated for demolition. Deputy head of Duma’s village council Adeeb Dawabsha told Ma‘an resident Iyad Fahmi Dawabsha had been notified that his two-level home was slated for demolition. A carpenter workshop on the first floor was also slated for demolition. Dawabsha added that Israeli forces also delivered a demolition warning to Majdi Said Dawabsha for his two-level home. The deputy head highlighted that both buildings were located in Area C — the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control. He added that the same families had received demolition warrants in 2013 … The notices were the latest in a series of demolition orders targeting homes and other structures in the Nablus area.
Israel bulldozes parts of three Palestinian homes in Jaffa
JAFFA (PIC) 5 June — Israeli bulldozers on Sunday morning demolished different parts of three houses in al-Basra street in Jaffa city on allegations that they were built on lands belonging to the Israel land authority. According to Yaffa48 website, the bulldozers demolished a wall in one house, three rooms in a nearby house and two rooms in another. Israeli policemen escorted employees from the land authority during the demolitions. Several Palestinian homes have been demolished recently in Jaffa city, including ones belonging to the families of Annajjar and Dakka.
Bethlehem: Settlers raze lands in al-Khader
IMEMC/Agencies 8 June — Israeli settlers, Wednesday, razed Palestinian-owned lands in the village of al-Khader, to the south of occupied Bethlehem, according to local sources. Hasan Burajeya, of the Anti-Settlement Committee in Bethlehem, told WAFA that a group of illegal Israeli settlers, accompanied by a military escort, proceeded to raze about 15 dunams of land near al-Khader. The razed land belongs to local Palestinians from the village. Burajeya asserted that the razing of said lands comes as part of Israeli plan to construct a yeshiva (Jewish school) at the site.
Nearly 1,000 Bedouin structures demolished in past year
+972 mag 7 June by Natasha Roth — Israel demolished 1,041 Bedouin structures in the Negev between 2013 and 2015, with a further 1,711 structures being destroyed by their owners after receiving demolition orders, according to a new report by the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF). In 2015 alone, nearly 1,000 structures were demolished in the Negev — 365 by the Israeli authorities, and 617 by the homeowners themselves. The waves of demolitions have displaced thousands of Bedouin over the past three years, according to Michal Rotem, the author of the report. Those who demolished their own homes were pushed into doing so by police officers and state inspectors, who frequently turned up at their door to put pressure on them. The same tactics were used to coerce around 210 home owners into demolishing their own homes even though they hadn’t received demolition orders, under the threat that one would be issued if their home stayed standing. Most of the limited attention the situation of the Negev’s Bedouin receives tends to revolve around the area’s unrecognized villages … But according to statistics from the Southern Directorate, which oversees the demolition policy in the Negev, around half of these demolitions are carried out in recognized villages. In 2014, Rotem reveals, 46 percent of demolitions took place in unrecognized villages, while the remaining 54 percent were carried out in recognized villages….
An interesting twist
Crowdfunding raises $340,000 to modify home of disabled soldier in West Bank settlement
Haaretz 6 June by Oded Yaron — But Yehuda Yitzchak HaYisraeli’s family lives on private Palestinian land and Israel will not permit the construction — A crowdfunding project launched on June 2 on the Israeli website Headstart has already raised nearly 1.5 million shekels (some $340,000) – two-and-a-half times the goal for the full 30 days of the project. What moved hundreds of thousands of Israelis to pledge the money was the call to help the family of Yehuda Yitzchak HaYisraeli, a Givati Brigade soldier who was severely injured during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, to expand his parents’ home in the West Bank to accommodate HaYisraeli and his family. The Defense Ministry refuses to pay for the expansion of the house in Ofra, a settlement built mainly on private Palestinian land … Haaretz asked Yoni HaYisraeli, an uncle of the wounded soldier, whether the problem was the absence of Defense Ministry funding or a construction ban, and in the event of the latter, how the crowdfunding would solve the problem. “Ofra is a community that was established by the state,” Yoni HaYisraeli replied. “The Housing Ministry planned and funded the construction in Ofra decades ago. As a result of past errors, part of the land there is defined as ‘private,’ and not state land. At some point the state will have to solve this problem. Until then it won’t be possible to obtain building permits.” Ofra was indeed built with the consent of the government, but most of the land that Yoni HaYisraeli claims was mistakenly defined as private is in fact owned by Palestinians.
Prisoners / Court actions
Month of May: Israel imposes $20,000 in fines on 48 Palestinian child detainees
IMEMC/Agencies 6 June — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), on Sunday, said that Israeli courts have imposed fines on imprisoned Palestinian children in the realm of 88,000 Shekels ($22,000), during the month of May alone. Lawyer for PPS, Abdul-Fattah Doula, said that 48 Palestinian children have been detained during May, and that their sentences ranged between 3 and 30 months. At the moment, there are about 500 Palestinian children in Israeli jails, according to the Palestinian News Network (PNN). 183 of them are reportedly being held in Ofer prison, 81 in Megiddo, 50 are on house arrest, in addition to confinement in Israeli detention centers.
Female doctor spends her 2nd Ramadan in Israeli isolated cell
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 7 June — Alarms have been sounded over the 27-year-old Palestinian doctor Sabreen Waleed Abu Sharar, who is spending the holy month of Ramadan in an isolated cell in Israeli jails for the second year. The Israeli occupation courts have extended her remand for the 10th time running pending her trial on July 15. Sabreen has reportedly spent the two first days of Ramadan in an isolated cell in the Israeli Ashkelon jail, where she has been subjected to harsh psycho-physical torture. Isolated in time and space, Sabreen cannot hear the call for prayers to break her fast … According to the Prisoners’ Media Center, Sabreen was subjected to exhaustive interrogation at her home in Dura the day of the arrest. “Echoes of the soldiers’ voices while threatening Sabreen with arrest and torture were heard overnight before she was transferred to an unknown destination without prior notification,” the center added. “Since her arrest, Sabreen attended trial hearings. The occupation authorities have renewed her detention with every hearing on claims of incomplete judicial procedures,” said her father. Sabreen returned to the occupied Palestinian territories after she had spent six years in Egypt, where she pursued her studies in medicine. She joined the Alya public hospital in al-Khalil as an intern. She was arrested five months later.
Palestinian refugees – Syria, Jordan
Damascus camp residents run deadly gauntlet to fetch aid
BEIRUT (Reuters) 8 June by John Davison — Palestinians living in Yarmouk refugee camp on the southern outskirts of Damascus depend on food aid to survive the Syrian civil war. But collecting it can be lethal. With Islamic State and al Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front fighting each other for control of the camp, the United Nations has been unable to deliver food for more than a year and has to distribute it in neighbouring areas instead. On the journey to the collection point, tarpaulins hung between buildings offer the only protection in some areas keeping residents out of the sights of snipers, who often fail to distinguish between fighters and non-combatants. Once the camp residents have run this gauntlet, they still have to get through an Islamic State checkpoint. This controls the way out to the nearby town of Yalda, where the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA and other groups hand out aid when they can. One 22-year-old resident who called himself Mahmoud – although he said this was an alias due to the risk of reprisals by the militants – described via internet messages how he makes the trip three times a week. “I leave my house, and about a kilometre away there’s the checkpoint,” he told Reuters. “Most streets in the camp are in the sights of snipers, from both sides – I have to watch out for them. Some streets I run down, some I can just walk.” While tens of thousands have fled the camp since the war began, hundreds of residents still brave the same journey. The camp has existed for decades, one of many set up in the region after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war for Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes. Today they largely accommodate descendants of the original refugees, although some Syrians displaced by the war have inhabited Yarmouk. Yarmouk has been bombarded, besieged and isolated from the outside world since early in the multi-sided conflict, which is now in its sixth year. Government forces, rebels and jihadists have all fought for control of the camp that lies just a few kilometres (miles) from the heart of Damascus….
Where is the photographer of Yarmouk?
EI June by Budour Youssef Hassan — “My morale is higher than the MiG [warplane] that hit our home,” Niraz Saied wrote to me in January 2015. A few moments earlier a Syrian government air strike had targeted Yarmouk, the Palestinian refugee camp where he lived … When he returned to the camp in January 2013, Niraz was on a mission. Most war photographers tend to focus too much on death. He wanted to show that the camp still had room for life and love. Through photography, which he has always regarded an art form, he sought to give visibility to the camp’s forgotten stories and to amplify the voices of those living and growing up under siege. It was not until April 2015, when Islamic State fighters stormed Yarmouk, that Niraz finally fled … Niraz was safe from the bombs but not from arrest. He was apprehended by Syrian security forces on 2 September 2015. News of his arrest was only made public a month later. It was kept secret at the request of his family … Nine months since his arrest, Niraz’s whereabouts are unknown. He is one of more than 1,000 Palestinian refugees languishing in Syrian prisons, according to the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria. Like Niraz, the fate of many of those is unknown, their families desperately wanting to know whether they are dead or alive. Among them is the Palestinian-Syrian software developer Bassel Khartabil, imprisoned by the Syrian government since 2012 and forcibly disappeared since October 2015. Palestinian student Oday Tayem, who turned 23 last month, has been forcibly disappeared since August 2013. Palestinian activist Samih al-Bahra, a medical student at Damascus University, has been forcibly disappeared since 28 April 2013, when he was arrested from his home….And the list goes on and on. Thousands of families in Syria are pleading with their loved ones to hang on, to come out of the dark cells….
Suspect arrested over Jordan ‘terror attack’: government
AFP 6 June — A suspect has been arrested for allegedly carrying out a gun attack Monday that killed five Jordanian intelligence agents at their office at a Palestinian refugee camp, an official said. Government spokesman Mohammed Momani announced the arrest without identifying the accused, adding: “Investigations are under way but early indications are that this was an isolated act.”
The gunman struck at Baqa‘a camp north of the capital early Monday, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in what Momani called a “terrorist attack.” A security source told AFP the suspect was arrested at a mosque in the Salt region north of Amman. The suspect was armed and resisted arrest, the source said, adding that a police officer had been injured in the swoop. Jordan is a leading member of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in neighbouring Iraq and Syria, and has been the target of jihadist attacks. The Baqa‘a camp is 20 kilometres (12 miles) from central Amman and is the largest of the kingdom’s 10 official Palestinian refugee camps. Baqa‘a houses about 220,000 people, including more than 100,000 of the two million Palestinian refugees who live in Jordan.
Photos: Ramadan 2016
Wall St. Journal 6 June — A Palestinian boy riding a bike during sunset at Al Khalde mosque, Gaza Strip, on the eve of Ramadan, which starts June 6, 2016. [Photos from various parts of the world, several from Palestine – Gaza, Nablus, Hebron]
Hundreds of Arab party members summoned by Israeli police
IMEMC/Agencies 7 June — The Balad Israeli-Arab political party has denounced the Israeli occupation police campaign against the members of the party, explaining that the aim of the campaign is to undermine the political role of the party in the field. The National Democratic Assembly of Balad stated in a press release, on Tuesday, that Israeli police waged a summons campaign against hundreds of the party’s members. Israeli police subsequently interrogated them about the fundraising campaigns. The statement noted that although it is not the first time that Israeli police attacked the party for its activities, the number of summoned members and the way of interrogation followed by Israeli police, was unprecedented. The statement explained, according to Al Ray, that the party’s fundraising campaign is carried out according to the Party Financing Law, and it was never fined for violating that law. The party also noted that it has submitted its financial report regularly to the Israeli monitor.
‘Palestinians, not Israel, need security guarantees’
Al Jazeera 6 June by Ali Younes — Hamas’ foreign policy chief, Osama Hamdan, speaks to Al Jazeera on the French peace drive and reconciliation with Fatah — Last Friday, France hosted a foreign ministers’ meeting to put Israel-Palestinian peace talks back on the international agenda and to bring the two sides back to direct talks by the end of the year. However, according to analysts, nothing emerged from the meeting as the French initiative appeared to have been emptied of all substance owing to US indifference and Israeli hostility. Osama Hamdan, the Lebanon-based foreign policy chief of Hamas, speaks to Al Jazeera about the current French drive to revive the peace talks with Israel, Hamas’ position on engaging in direct peace talks with Israel, and reconciliation efforts with Fatah, as well as the possibility of a prisoner swap deal with Israel….
Archbishop Desmond Tutu nominates Marwan Barghouti for Nobel Peace Prize
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 June — South African archbishop and prominent human rights activist Desmond Tutu nominated Marwan Barghouti for the Nobel Peace Prize on Monday, marking the sixth nomination for the imprisoned Palestinian parliamentarian. “The nomination of Marwan Barghouti, a symbol of the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom, constitutes a clear signal of support for the realization of the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights, including to self-determination,” Tutu wrote in a letter shared by the Palestinian Liberation Organization on Tuesday. “I call on the members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee to seize this occasion to bring attention back to the question of Palestine and to the calls for a just and lasting peace, a prospect Marwan Barghouti continues advocating and acting for, despite years of imprisonment and isolation.” Tutu, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work to bring down the apartheid regime in South Africa, has long spoken out against the Israeli occupation, notably describing Zionism in 1988 as having “many parallels with racism.” He has also been an early supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. In his letter, Tutu called the detention of elected Palestinian representatives such as Barghouti “a blatant attack against the Palestinian nation, democracy and rights,” further denouncing Israel’s policy of mass incarceration of Palestinians “an attempt to break the will of an entire people striving for freedom and independence.” … The campaign to buttress Barghouti as a potential nominee for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize was launched in April and included the participation of various Palestinian rights groups, parliament members and party officials, who aimed to draw attention to the 7,000 Palestinians, including seven Palestinian Legislative Council members, currently held in Israeli prisons….
Will Palestinian place where Jesus was baptized become World Heritage Site?
JERICHO, West Bank 7 June by Aziza Nofal — Palestinians are seeking to register the western side of the Baptism Site on the Jordan River as a World Heritage Site — Marah Khalil, a Christian woman from the northern West Bank town of Nablus, has always dreamed of baptizing her child where Jesus Christ was said to be baptized in the Jordan River. However, when she had her first and second son, the site was closed to foreign and local Christian pilgrims for security reasons and she could not do so. By the time her third son Issa was born, she vowed to baptize him in al-Maghtas, or the Baptism Site in Jordan. Al-Maghtas is a sacred Christian site situated along the Jordan River near the Palestinian city of Jericho, where Jesus Christ was baptized by St. John the Baptist, according to the various gospels … All Christians in Palestine and the world value this place spiritually. Archbishop Atallah Hanna of Sebastia said that this is the holy water that existed when Jesus Christ was baptized and where Christianity spread to the entire world. “All Christian pilgrims seek to visit this place and receive the blessings of its holy water. We can almost assert that all people who visit Palestine visit this place,” he told Al-Monitor. Hanna said that the area where the site is located was completely closed by Israel for visits after it occupied the area in 1967, and monks were expelled under the pretext that it was classified as a military area. The monastery remained empty from 1967 until 1985, when monks were allowed to enter once a year on Epiphany. In 2011, it was opened to tourists and pilgrims. In addition to its religious significance, the site holds great historical importance. For that reason, and despite international agreements, Israel refuses to hand it over to the Palestinians….
PHOTOS: New Catholic custodian of Holy Land properties takes office
JERUSALEM (AP) 6 June — The new custodian of the Catholic Church’s properties in the Holy Land has taken office in Jerusalem. Italian Franciscan priest Rev. Francesco Patton replaced Pierbattista Pizzaballa in a ceremony on Monday. Several hundred people attended the festivities. A procession of priests, nuns and other clergy welcomed Patton, 52, at Jaffa Gate, a main entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City, home to key holy sites sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims. From there they walked together with a troupe of Palestinian Catholic boy scouts through the narrow winding cobblestone streets of the ancient city, across the Christian quarter to the Saint Savior monastery. Another ceremony will be held on Tuesday at the Church of Holy Sepulchre, the site where tradition holds that Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. [Photo: Traditional Muslim consular guards, also known as Kawas march in a procession in Jerusalem’s Old City, Monday, June 6, 2016.]
EU to allot €15M for May salaries and pensions
IMEMC/Agencies 6 June — The European Union announced, Sunday, a contribution to the PA of €15.0 million for the payment of May’s salaries and pensions for over 66,000 Palestinian civil servants and pensioners in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This contribution is being channeled through the PEGASE mechanism, the EU said according to WAFA. EU Representative in Palestine, Ralph Tarraf, said on this occasion: “We remain determined to sustain the work of the Palestinian Authority through regular contributions by the EU to the salaries and pensions of Palestinian civil servants and pensioners.” “The EU has been the most reliable and committed partner for the Palestinian Authority providing significant support and predictable financial support while strongly advocating for necessary reforms as part of its overall commitment to the building of a future Palestine,” he added.
Palestinian killed by PA forces west of Jenin
JENIN (PIC) 8 June — A Palestinian youngster was shot and killed Tuesday evening by PA security forces west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Local sources identified the slain Palestinian as Adel Jaradat, 19. The sources told the PIC reporter that Jaradat was shot and killed during a PA raid campaign in Silat Harthiya town although he was not among the “wanted persons”, causing a state of anger among locals. Tension ran high overnight in Silat Harithiya following Jaradat’s killing. Commenting on the incident, PA security forces said that Jaradat was killed by mistake during a raid and search campaign in the town. Speaking to the PIC reporter, Jaradat’s family said that PA forces usually carry out raid and search campaign in the town especially at dawn hours under the pretext of looking for “wanted persons”. PA security forces were deployed in large numbers since morning hours in the town and opened an investigation into the shooting.
UN chief faced funding cutoff, fatwa risk over Saudis — sources
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) 7 June by Louis Charbonneau, Michelle Nichols and Yara Bayoumy — Muslim allies of Saudi Arabia piled pressure on U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon over the blacklisting of a Saudi-led coalition for killing children in Yemen, with Riyadh threatening to cut Palestinian aid and funds to other U.N. programs, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday. The United Nations announced on Monday it had removed the coalition from a child rights blacklist – released last week – pending a joint review by the world body and the coalition of cases of child deaths and injuries during the war in Yemen. That removal prompted angry reactions from human rights groups, which accused Ban of caving in to pressure from powerful countries. They said that Ban, currently in the final year of his second term, risked harming his legacy as U.N. secretary-general. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the sources said Ban’s office was bombarded with calls from Gulf Arab foreign ministers, as well as ministers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), after the blacklisting was announced last week. One U.N. official spoke of a “full-court press” over the blacklisting. “Bullying, threats, pressure,” another diplomatic source told Reuters on condition of anonymity about the reaction to the blacklisting, adding that it was “real blackmail.” The source said there was also a threat of “clerics in Riyadh meeting to issue a fatwa against the U.N., declaring it anti-Muslim, which would mean no contacts of OIC members, no relations, contributions, support, to any U.N. projects, programs.” … Responding to the allegations, Saudi U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said “we don’t use threats or intimidation,” and Riyadh was “very committed to the United Nations.” Mouallimi denied any threat of a possible fatwa. “That’s ridiculous, that’s outrageous,” he said, adding that the meeting of Saudi clerics was to approve and issue a statement condemning the blacklisting of the coalition….
USS Liberty remembered (VIDEO)
IMEMC/Agencies 8 June — Official statement from www.usslibertyveterans.org: ON JUNE 8, 1967, while patrolling in international waters in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, USS Liberty(AGTR-5) was savagely attacked without warning or justification by air and naval forces of the state of Israel. Of a crew of 294 officers and men (including three civilians), the ship suffered thirty four (34) killed in action and one hundred seventy three (173) wounded in action. The ship itself, a Forty Million ($40,000,000) Dollar state of the art signals intelligence (SIGINT) platform, was so badly damaged that it never sailed on an operational mission again and was sold in 1970 for $101,666.66 as scrap. At 1400 hours, while approximately about 17 nautical miles off the northern Sinai coast and about 25 nautical miles northwest of El Arish, USS Liberty’s crew observed three surface radar contacts closing with their position at high speed. A few moments later, the bridge radar crew observed high speed aircraft passing over the surface returns on the same heading. Within a few short moments, and without any warning, Israeli fighter aircraft launched a rocket attack on USS Liberty. The aircraft made repeated firing passes, attacking USS Liberty with rockets and their internal cannons. After the first flight of fighter aircraft had exhausted their ordnance, subsequent flights of Israeli fighter aircraft continued to prosecute the attack with rockets, cannon fire, and napalm. During the air attack, USS Liberty’s crew had difficulty contacting Sixth Fleet to request assistance due to intense communications jamming The initial targets on the ship were the command bridge, communications antennas, and the four .50 caliber machine guns, placed on the ship to repel boarders. After the Israeli fighter aircraft completed their attacks, three Israeli torpedo boats arrived and began a surface attack about 35 minutes after the start of the air attack. The torpedo boats launched a total of five torpedoes, one of which struck the side of USS Liberty, opposite the ship’s research spaces. Twenty-five Americans, in addition to the nine who had been killed in the earlier air attacks, were killed as a result of this explosion. Watch the recent Al Jazeera documentary regarding the incident in full, below.
Gov. Cuomo: NY must divest funds linked to Israel boycotts
NEW YORK (AP) 5 June — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday issued the first executive order in the country that forces state entities to drop investments linked to boycotts of Israel. The Democratic governor expects state agencies to divest all public funds from any company or individual with ties to the movement known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. BDS was founded in 2005 to protest Israel’s actions toward Palestinians by boycotting Israeli products and companies. Cuomo says New York will boycott anyone who is boycotting Israel. “This order sends the message that this state will do everything in its power to end this hateful, intolerant campaign,” the governor said. “New York and Israel share an unbreakable bond and I pray that the Israeli and Palestinian people will find a way to live side by side and find peace, prosperity and security.” Cuomo signed the order at Manhattan’s Harvard Club before marching in the annual Celebrate Israel parade. Based on the governor’s action, state officials must now compile a list of businesses and groups engaged in any “boycott, divestment or sanctions targeting Israel, directly or through a parent or subsidiary.” The list will be assembled using “credible information available to the public,” according to the order, and those who end up on the list may appeal. A leading constitutional rights attorney calls the action “21st century McCarthyism.” Baher Azmy, the legal director of the New York-based nonprofit Center for Constitutional Rights, said that with the executive order, Cuomo bypassed the state legislature and what Azmy called “the possibility of a bona fide debate on the American tradition of boycotting in support of social justice.”In addition, Cuomo’s action violates the First Amendment protection of free speech, Azmy said.
Report: Israeli Air Force attacked Syrian weapons facility over weekend
JPost 7 June — Israeli Air Force jets attacked a missile storage facility in Syria over the weekend, targeting a number of military sites said to be housing advanced weaponry, according to Syrian Internet publication Al Wasil Time on Tuesday. The attack took place near the embattled city of Homs and reportedly caused extensive damage to the facility. The report added that Syrian defense systems identified Israeli aircraft within their airspace but refrained from firing. If the report is verified, it would be the first operation conducted under the newly minted Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman, who toured the northern border earlier Tuesday with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot….
Israel’s Netanyahu frequents Russia as US influence in Mideast recedes
JERUSALEM/MOSCOW (Reuters) 7 June by Dan Williams & Denis Dyomkin — With the Obama administration in its final months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a more frequent and feted visitor to Moscow than Washington, his eye on shifting big-power influence in the Middle East. No one expects Netanyahu, who was hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday for the third time in the last year, to break up Israel’s bedrock alliance with the United States. But he is mindful of Putin’s sway in the Syrian civil war and other Middle East crises as the U.S. footprint in the region wanes. “Netanyahu’s not defecting, but what we see here is a bid to maneuver independently to promote Israel’s interests,” said Zvi Magen, a former Israeli ambassador to Russia now with Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies. With Russian forces fighting alongside Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, Putin is the closest thing to a guarantor that Israel’s three most potent enemies will not attack it from the north. He is also the first port of call for Netanyahu’s argument that Assad’s loss of central control vindicates Israel’s de facto annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981, a move never recognized internationally. Israel took the area in a 1967 war. Netanyahu can offer Putin reciprocal Israeli restraint in Syria, where Russia maintains a strategic Mediterranean base, and a chance to play a greater role in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking that has long been dominated by the United States.