Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Two siblings injured in Kufur Qaddoum; army sprays homes with wastewater
IMEMC 4 June by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded, Friday, Kufur Qaddoum town, in the northern West Bank district of Qalqilia, and assaulted the weekly protesters, wounding two siblings with live rounds. The army also sprayed many homes with wastewater mixed with chemicals. Morad Eshteiwy, media coordinator of the Popular Committee in Kufur Qaddoum, said the soldiers invaded the town while firing live rounds, gas bombs and concussion grenades against the protesters, and homes. Eshteiwy added that the soldiers shot a young man, Hikmat, 19, and his brother, Omran, 20, with live rounds in their thighs, before local medics moved them to Rafidia governmental hospital. Eshteiwy added that clashes took place between the soldiers and local youths after many army vehicles, including a large armored bulldozer, invaded the town and sprayed several homes with wastewater mixed with chemicals, a substance frequently used against the residents and their homes as an act of collective punishment. This week, the protesters marked the 49th anniversary of the NAKSA, when Israel occupied the rest of Palestine in 1967. Hundreds marched carrying Palestinian flags, and posters calling for liberation and independence, and the release of all political prisoners. The residents of Kufur Qaddoum hold weekly protesters also demanding army to reopen the town’s main road that was completely closed more than 13 years ago, to grant the colonizers easy access to their illegal Kedumim Israeli colony, built on privately-owned Palestinian lands. Also on Friday, the Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in Bil‘in village, west of Ramallah, has reported that Israeli soldiers used excessive force against the weekly nonviolent protest, causing dozens of injures, and leading to burning farmlands.
Two Palestinians injured, one seriously, in Nablus
IMEMC 3 June — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday at dawn, the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and clashed with many local youths, wounding two Palestinians with live fire, while one of them suffered a life-threatening head injury. One Palestinian was kidnapped In Qalqilia. Media sources in Nablus said dozens of soldiers, and settlers invaded the city, and headed towards ‘Joseph’s Tomb,’ east of Nablus, The invasion led to clashes between the soldiers, who fired many live rounds and rubber-coated steel bullets, and local youngsters, who hurled stones and empty bottles on the invading vehicles. Medical sources said Jamal Mohammad Dweikat, 20, from Balata, was shot with a live round in the head, leading to a very serious injury, while another young man suffered a moderate injury after the soldiers shot him in the leg. Both Palestinians were rushed to a hospital in Nablus, while the soldiers also invaded several neighborhoods.
Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, the site was to remain under Israeli control. However, the Israeli army evacuated the premises in October 2000 shortly after the start of the Second Intifada. Following security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli army allows Jewish worshipers to make monthly nocturnal pilgrimages to the site; the Palestinians are not allowed access. Palestinians believe that Joseph’s Tomb is the funerary monument to Sheikh Yousef Dweikat, a local religious figure. Others believe that the tomb belongs to the Biblical patriarch Joseph.
Two Palestinian youths injured during clashes in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 June — Israeli forces early Friday injured two Palestinian youths with live fire in the village of Kafr Malik in the eastern part of the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. The two young Palestinians were hit in the legs with live bullets during clashes with Israeli forces, Palestinian medics told Ma‘an. The severity of the injuries were reported as “medium” after they were taken to the hospital for treatment. Israeli forces attempted to carry out detention raids in the village and were met by Palestinian youths throwing rocks. The Israeli soldiers were forced to withdraw from the village before carrying out the detentions. Israeli forces shot fired tear gas bombs at Palestinians during the raid, locals said … There has been a weekly average of 92 detention raids carried out by Israeli forces on Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank since the start of this year, according to UN documentation.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian for allegedly planning attack inside Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 June — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian man Friday afternoon in the northern occupied West Bank village of Kafr Qasim, for allegedly planning to commit a “terrorist” attack inside Israel, Israeli police said. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Israeli police officers noticed a Palestinian “youth” crossing the street with a bag in his hand, which lead the officers to suspect him. The Palestinian told Israeli police that he was carrying t-shirts in his bag, but after searching him, al-Samri said, they found two knives in the bag. After further questioning the suspect, who was then identified as a 38-year-old man from the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, he told the Israeli officers he had intentions to carry out a “terrorist” attack inside Israel in the Sharon region, according to al-Samri. The incident came a day after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian woman at an Israeli army checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem, after she allegedly attempted to stab a soldier.
Video: Soldiers gather children in Hebron neighborhood, photograph them and release them
B’Tselem 2 June — On Tuesday, 24 May 2016, at around 7:30 P.M., several dozen soldiers came to the Jaber neighborhood in Hebron. The neighborhood lies along the road settlers call “Worshipers’ Route” as they use it to reach the Tomb of the Patriarchs from the settlement of Kiryat Arba. This area has known many confrontations between settlers and army forces, on the one hand, and Palestinian residents, on the other. Testimonies given to B’Tselem and footage filmed by B’Tselem volunteer Suzan Zraqo, who lives in the neighborhood, indicate that the soldiers passed through the neighborhood, gathering, seemingly at random, some twenty children and teens from the streets. The soldiers had them stand against a wall and began questioning them about an incident that occurred in the area earlier that day, in which stones were thrown at an Israeli bus. They then took a photo of every child and teen using a mobile phone and released them. B’Tselem obtained the details of fourteen of these minors, seven of whom are under the age of twelve – the cutoff age for criminal liability.
Fourteen-year-old neighborhood resident M.G. gave his account of the events to B’Tselem field researcher Manal Ja’bri on 29 May 2016: It was after dark. I was playing cards outside with two friends, who are seven and ten years old, and my brother, who is eleven. Suddenly, we were surrounded by Israeli jeeps and lots of soldiers got out of them. Ten of them came over and detained us, and the others spread out along the roads that lead off towards Kiryat Arba. The soldiers told us to stand against the wall. We were frightened by the number of soldiers and because they’d detained us. After about ten minutes, the soldiers who had gone off along the other roads came back. Every group of soldiers was leading several children. I also saw soldiers grab N., who is seven years old, by the neck and lead him toward us. He was crying….
Israeli forces detain 13 Palestinians in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 June — Israeli forces detained at least 13 Palestinians in overnight raids in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on Wednesday night, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. Local sources told Ma‘an that two Palestinians were detained in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, identified as Faysal al-Hajj Hussein Kamil, who was detained in the village of Qabatiya, and Bashir al-Omari from the village of Faqqua. In the neighboring district of Tulkarem, Israeli forces reportedly detained Samih Bilal Ajaj, Muhammad Hamzeh Ajaj, and Shadi Fares Ashqar from the village of Seida. In the Tulkarem area town of Farun, Israeli forces reportedly raided the area and delivered notices warning residents of “collective punishment” if locals threw rocks at the vehicles of Israeli settlers living in nearby illegal settlements … In the central West Bank, locals said that Sari Abu Alia was detained from the village of al-Mughayyir in the Ramallah district … In the southern West Bank, Israeli forces reportedly detained Tahsin al-Juba and Hatem Hamed al-Juneidi from the city of Hebron. Meanwhile, in occupied East Jerusalem, two unidentified youths were detained — one in the al-Salam neighborhood of the town of ‘Anata, and another at Jerusalem’s central bus station for allegedly being in possession of a knife.
10-year-old Palestinian journalist covers violence in the West Bank
NY Times Women in the World 1 June — Janna Jihad Ayyad, a 10-year-old Palestinian girl, has been producing news coverage of protests, checkpoint showdowns, and violence against Palestinian children — all using video shot with her mother’s iPhone. Born into a family of activists in the village of Nabi Saleh along the occupied West Bank, Janna began participating in demonstrations against the Israeli occupation from a young age. When she was seven, she started making videos so she could share what she was seeing. “I talk about what is happening,” explains Janna, who narrates her videos in both Arabic and English. “I see an occupation, soldiers, cannons and police. They do a lot of things to make us go from our land.” After Janna’s cousin Mustafa Tamimi and her uncle Rushdie Tamimi were killed — by a gas canister and a fatal shot to the kidney, respectively — Janna expanded her scope, traveling to shoot videos in Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus, and Jordan. “My camera is my gun,” Janna says. “The camera is stronger than the gun … I can send my message to small people, and they can send it to others.” Janna’s mother, Nawal, says she is proud of her daughter but afraid about repercussions from the Israeli military. In the future, Janna wants to work for CNN or FOX News because, she says, “They do not talk about Palestine, and I want to make reports on Palestine.” Janna’s page on Facebook includes several of her videos. To date, her page has attracted more than 100,000 followers. Read the full story at Independent Online.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli authorities release Palestinian parliament member Khalida Jarrar
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 June — Israeli authorities released imprisoned Palestinian parliament member Khalida Jarrar on Friday, after being held for 14 months in Israeli prison. The Israeli authorities released Jarrar at the Jbara checkpoint near the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem. Speaking at a press conference in front of her home in Ramallah on Friday evening, Jarrar called attention to the difficult conditions she faced in custody that female Palestinian prisoners still being held in Israeli prisons and jails continue to endure. She highlighted the filthy prison cells in which Palestinian women are held, and the decrease in family visitation permitted to prisoners. Jarrar said that the main request of female prisoners is to “turn words into actions” in regards to their issue.
A reception for Jarrar is expected to be organized on Saturday and Sunday in front of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) building, according to Jarrar’s family. Jarrar, an executive committee member of the PLO and leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was detained on April 2 from her home in Ramallah and initially sentenced to six months of administrative detention — internment without trial or charge. However, international pressure later forced Israeli authorities to bring charges against her, all 12 of which focused on her political activism….
Israel renews detention of two PFLP leaders, held for one year without charge
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 June — Israeli authorities decided to renew the administrative detention of two PFLP leaders for six additional months, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies said on Saturday, a day after leading member of the PFLP Khalida Jarrar was released from Israeli custody. The center said in a statement that Jamal Barham, 56, and Shahir Ali al-Rai, 47, have been in Israel’s Ktziot prison in the Negev since their detention on June 3, 2015. The center said that the two are being held for their activity in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is designated by Israel as an “illegal terrorist organization.” … The Israeli military prosecution said Barham and al-Rai held high ranks in the PFLP and took part in “incitement” against Israel, according to the center. Both of the PFLP leaders had previously spent time in Israeli custody for their political activism. Al-Rai, from the northern occupied West Bank city of Qalqilya, has spent a total of 12 years in Israeli jails, mostly under administrative detention — the controversial Israeli policy of internment without trial or charge based on undisclosed evidence. Prior to his detention last year, Barham was arrested only once before, in December 1984, and released in August 1987. Following his release, he and his family were the target of repeated house raids, while Barham was also wanted throughout the 1990s until the beginning of the second Intifada, according to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer. During his detention in June 2015, Israeli forces ransacked his house, destroyed his computer, and confiscated flash drives belonging to his children. Barham, from the village of Ramin in the northern district of Qalqiliya, was the head of the Arab Studies Department in PLO.
One Palestinian injured in Gaza, many suffer effects of teargas inhalation
IMEMC 4 June by Saed Bannoura — Medical sources have reported, Friday, that Israeli soldiers shot and injured a Palestinian teen with a live round, while dozens of residents suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, east of Gaza city. The sources said that soldiers, stationed in the Nahal Oz military base, across the border fence, east of the Sheja‘eyya neighborhood in Gaza, fired many live rounds targeting Palestinian protestors, wounding a young man in his leg. The wounded young man was moved to the Shifa Hospital, west of Gaza city, suffering a moderate injury. Medics also provided the needed treatment to many Palestinians who suffered the effects of teargas inhalation. It is worth mentioning that Palestinians in border areas in the besieged coastal region are subject to repeated Israeli assaults, and ongoing invasions into their agricultural lands, in addition to frequent attacks against the fishers in Gaza territorial waters.
Israeli forces open fire on farmers, shepherds in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 4 June — Israeli forces on Saturday morning opened fire at farmers and shepherds east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza Strip. Witnesses told Ma‘an Israeli forces deployed near a school in the village of Khuza‘a opened fire at a group of Palestinians, with no injuries reported.
Egyptian authorities close Rafah crossing Friday, to reopen ahead of Ramadan
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 3 June — Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing on Friday after it was opened for two consecutive days to let people travel to and from the blockaded Gaza Strip, to be reopened on Saturday and Sunday ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, which is to start on Monday. According to the Palestinian borders and crossing committee, a total of 1,635 Palestinian travelers had passed through the crossing on Wednesday and Thursday; 499 crossed on Wednesday with 397 exiting the Gaza Strip and 102 entering it, while 1,136 traveled on Thursday — 938 of them exiting the Gaza Strip and 198 entering it. Egyptian Authorities also allowed 51 aid trucks to enter Gaza Strip carrying materials including cement, wood, and paint.
Egyptian power lines to the Gaza Strip out of order, causing electricity blackouts
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 June — Egyptian power lines to the besieged Gaza Strip were out of order early Friday, causing electricity blackouts in the districts of Rafah and parts of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. A sudden complication at the al-Arish power station caused the power connection to cut, an official at Gaza’s electricity company told Ma’an. The besieged enclave has continued to experience a severe electricity shortage, exacerbating already dire living conditions in the small Palestinian territory. From the start of May, the Gaza Strip was only provided power for six hour intervals followed by 12 hours without power for two weeks, due to a problem with the Egyptian power lines. Gaza’s electricity company announced mid-May that the besieged enclave would gradually return to the usual electricity schedule of eight-hour intervals followed by eight hours without power. Even at full capacity, Egyptian and Israeli electricity grids, together with Gaza’s sole power plant, fail to cover the Gaza Strip’s energy needs….
Gaza: A family’s ordeal to visit a prisoner in Israel
GAZA STRIP (Al Jazeera) 3 June by Isra Namey — Eight-year-old Yousef al-Najjar sits quietly on the bus, his hands folded, eager to see his father for the first time. It is 4am, and Yousef’s mother has taken him to visit his father, who is serving a 23-year term in Rimon, a notorious Israeli military prison in Israel’s southern Negev Desert. “I am yearning for a glimpse of my dad,” said the boy. Yousef’s father was detained in the occupied West Bank and convicted of having links with the Palestinian resistance groups. Yousef hopes that the visit will be worth the weeks of restless nights he spent waiting for this day to arrive. “I want to have a long time, as I wish to let him know about all the important family moments when we missed him.” Compared with his 14-year-old sister Arwa, Yousef is fortunate: The Israel authorities prohibited children aged 14 or older from visiting their imprisoned fathers. Families who manage to get the permits are allowed to visit once every three months. Permits are granted only to parents, spouses and young children; other relatives such as siblings and cousins cannot visit … Visitors are escorted to the prison by a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the sole organisation permitted to coordinate family visits with the Israeli authorities. To obtain permission to visit, families must undergo long procedures that usually take two months. Many prisoners’ families are denied permission, often without explanation from Israeli authorities. The decisions to grant permits often appear arbitrary. For example, Jamal al-Dagma, 67, and his wife both applied for permits to visit their imprisoned son. He was granted the permit, but his wife was not. The ICRC informed the couple that the wife was rejected based on security grounds – which Jamal dismissed as a baseless excuse.”They … go as far as they can in their malicious systematic process in tormenting us, along with our sons,” he said. “I left my poor wife in tears at home.” The most difficult part of the family members’ journey to the prison is the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, where they often complain of inhumane and degrading treatment. Yousef’s mother, Suhair, has become accustomed to such procedure, but she had to warn her son about it before his first visit. “We are subjected to a lengthy body search by the Israeli female officers, who treat us contemptuously,” Suhair explained. Personal possessions are often confiscated during the meticulous inspection, and items intended to be given to the prisoner, such as a pair of glasses or a nebuliser, might be taken or broken before they reach their destination. Suhair said that she twice tried to bring her husband warm clothes and blankets, but was not permitted to do so. Even books are often not allowed to be given to detainees….
When home becomes prison: Gaza’s 15-year regression / Hani Almadhoun
World Post 2 June — In the summer of 2000, I left my home in Gaza, Palestine for the U.S. to pursue my education. Watching over Gaza from afar, while keeping in touch with family members, I have seen a lot of things change in the place where I have many childhood memories. Some of these changes are natural due to progression of time. But there are some changes that are unique to Gaza’s circumstances. This is not meant to be a conclusive list by any means, but some casual observations from someone who cares about the well-being of Palestinians. Due to unprecedented levels of unemployment and poverty in Gaza, crime is rampant in the Gaza strip. … The use of recreational drugs has been skyrocketing. … Another troubling development is the rise of suicides in Gaza. … The social fabric is not what it once used to be. Families are breaking apart because of their financial burdens. … Ponzi schemes are widespread in Gaza. … Prior to the start of the blockade in 2007, few people needed food assistance and help from local non-profits. Pride prevented most who could use a little help from seeking assistance. But now it seems the great majority of people in Gaza need and actively seek out humanitarian relief. Frequent wars and a strangled economy have made it normal for them to seek assistance. This is a drastic change in culture and norms.
Not every development in post-siege Gaza is bleak. There are good things that are happening too. Due to the closure by Israel, Gazans are every day discovering new wellsprings of resourcefulness and finding local solutions for local problems … I am still hopeful that one day my family can be made whole again and I can see my parents and siblings without having to be humiliated or risking being stuck in Gaza away from my work and my home here in the U.S. No one thought this unjust siege on Gaza would be permanent, but it seems all the stakeholders want to make a point at the expense of the people of Gaza.
Liberman’s first task: End Gaza’s suffering / Noam Rabinovich
+972 blog 2 June — If Liberman truly wants to keep Israelis safe, he will to do whatever he can to ensure that Gaza’s residents can lead normal lives — What will Avigdor Liberman’s first week as defense minister look like? One might imagine he would begin by introducing himself to the staff, getting acquainted with the office, making some coffee (or tea, to each their own) and going over some emails. Then, one might assume and hope, he will get down to the business of security and managing the occupation. After all, the defense minister’s job description includes ensuring the well-being of the Palestinian population in the occupied territories. No issue is more urgent than Gaza, which – as the United Nations’ Mideast peace envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, noted last week – remains “desperate and highly volatile.” Liberman certainly has a few ideas of his own. This past April he threatened to assassinate Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, an act that would undoubtedly have brought about another round of hostilities … It is sometimes said that there are no bad ideas when brainstorming, but let’s dispense with that fiction here and now – these are bad ideas. Another option – dare I say it, the better option – would be to defer to the expertise of the senior professional ranks of the military and security services … There is an almost complete consensus among Israeli officials that can be summed up in one sentence: the continued chokehold on Gaza’s economy is dangerous for Israel. In other words, not only is there no dichotomy between human rights and Israel’s security interests (Hebrew), in fact, upholding the rights of Gaza residents is essential for security.
Web documentary aims to tell stories of Gaza’s ‘obliterated families’
MEMO 3 June — A new, crowdfunded web documentary aims to tell the stories of Palestinian families devastated by Israeli attacks during the 2014 summer offensive. ‘Obliterated Families’ is the work of French photographer Anne Paq, member of the Activestills collective, and Palestinian-Polish journalist Ala Qandil. The pair are seeking funds to be able to complete the project, which is based on the stories of 10 families from different parts of the Gaza Strip. During ‘Operation Protective Edge’, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members during Israeli attacks. Paq and Qandil were both present during the offensive, and have been working on the ‘Obliterated Families’ project for more than a year. Each of the ten families that form the focus of the web documentary constitutes one ‘chapter’, with their stories told through visuals – photos, videos, design and in-depth reportages. There will be also a photo exhibition available to download, intended to be a tool for activists and educators. Paq and Qandil have secured a partnership with a French human rights organization ACAT (l’Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture), who will help promote the documentary. The release will take place in stages, over the summer of 2016, with the initial release set to coincide with the second anniversary of the beginning of the offensive on July 7. According to the crowdfunding site, “the project started during the summer 2014 when we realized that every day entire families were bombed – in their homes or while fleeing – and we could not keep count. A whole family disappears, is wiped out, and so is their story.” Earlier work by the pair on Palestinian families devastated by Israel’s 2014 offensive has received coverage on various websites. The new, interactive web documentary looks set to take the stories of these families to a whole new audience.
WATCH: Islamic Jihad ‘cubs’ demonstrate killing of IDF soldiers at Gaza kindergarten
JPost 2 June by Maayan Groisman — A video published this week documenting the graduation ceremony of Islamic Jihad’s “cubs” program for children provides a look into the violent, anti-Israel teaching that prevails in many Gazan kindergartens, which are administered by Palestinian terror organizations. On Sunday, the ‘Islamic Way Kindergarten’ in Gaza’s Zeitoun district held a graduation ceremony for dozens of children. A seven-minute video of the event has documented the kindergarten pupils turning from innocent children to well-trained “cubs” demonstrating how to kill Israeli soldiers. The filmed program begins with a military parade, in which a group of children march on stage, holding weapons, to the sound of jihadi anthems. After the parade, the children purportedly carry out a demonstration of a complex attack against IDF soldiers. The children are seen dividing into groups that use different modes of operation to target Israeli civilians and soldiers. The first group acts out planting explosive devices beneath what appears to be an IDF tank, while the second groups mock fires rockets into Israel. Afterwards, all the cubs on the stage enacts the storming of IDF positions, pretending to kill one soldier and kidnap another. The show ends with a the group of children ostensibly claiming responsibility for the demonstrated terror attack, while one of them pertains to be the military spokesman of Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the Quds Brigades. Following the show, Khader Habib, a senior Islamic Jihad leader who attended the ceremony, delivered a short speech. “This show sends a message of love. Our children dream to live like the rest of the world’s children,” Habib stated. “This is a message to the world, which maintains silence amid the killing of our children, our women and our elderly.” “We are telling the Zionist enemy: We do not want to kill anyone, we are not terrorists nor murderers. Leave our lands and return it to its owners, do not oblige us to kill you,” he added.
Israel ‘engaging’ with ICC over Gaza war crimes inquiry — prosecutor
GENEVA (Reuters) 3 June by Tom Miles — Israel is holding discussions with the International Criminal Court over its inquiry into possible war crimes in the 2014 Gaza conflict, the ICC’s prosecutor said. The disclosure, in an interview with Reuters, would indicate a step-up in Israeli engagement with the Hague-based tribunal and a shift from a policy of non-cooperation with ICC probes of alleged war crimes in Palestinian territories. An Israeli government source said there was contact with the ICC on procedural issues, but declined to go into detail. “Israel has agreed to engage with my office and we are exchanging information,” ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said during a visit to the U.N. in Geneva late on Thursday. She said the ICC was in touch with both sides in the Gaza conflict. The ICC’s preliminary examination under way could lead to the opening of a criminal investigation and war crimes charges against individuals on both sides of the 50-day war between Islamist Hamas militants in Gaza and Israel. Health officials said more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, died in the conflict. Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.
Restrictions on movement
Israel to lift some restrictions on Palestinians for Ramadan
AFP 3 June — Israel announced Friday it was relaxing restrictions on the movement of Palestinians to and from the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The measures, similar to those of previous years, were announced by COGAT, the unit which manages civilian affairs in the West Bank under the auspices of newly-appointed Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a hardliner. Up to 500 people from the Gaza Strip will be allowed to attend Friday prayers at the Israeli-controlled Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem over the holy month, set to begin on Sunday or Monday In addition, 200 Gaza residents will be allowed to visit relatives in the West Bank during Ramadan, and 500 Palestinians from the West Bank will be authorised to visit family in Gaza, COGAT said. Israel will also allow 300 Palestinians living abroad to visit relatives in Gaza, and 500 West Bank Palestinians would be permitted to travel out of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport. There will be additional allowances for the Muslim holidays which follow the end of Ramadan.
Village in Jenin declared a closed military zone
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 June — Israeli forces Thursday declared the village of al-Taybeh west of northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin a closed military zone, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA. Israeli soldiers stormed the village and declared it a closed military zone, local sources told WAFA, before carrying out a large-scale raid in the community. Local sources told Ma’an the closed military zone was implemented for several hours as soldiers prevented anyone from leaving or entering the village.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel’s settlement drive is becoming irreversible, diplomats fear
Reuters 1 June —Hundreds of thousands of settlers now live across the ‘green line’, UN officials say, ‘settlements are the vehicle for taking control of the land’ and express concerns about their effects on the feasibility of a future accord, but add that ‘some of it has to be reversible — In the hills east of Jerusalem overlooking the city of Jericho and the Jordan Valley stands a religious Jewish settlement whose red-tile roofs, neat gardens and brightly colored playgrounds give the sense of permanence. Mitzpe Yericho has stood on this escarpment close to the Dead Sea – the lowest point on earth – since 1978. It is one of more than 230 settlements Israelis have built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the past 50 years. Diplomats and international monitors are increasingly concerned that the drive may be reaching the point of irreversibility. If a peace deal were magically struck tomorrow, the Palestinians would expect the Israelis living in Mitzpe Yericho to leave. But its 3,000 residents, nearly all whom are religious nationalists, have no such intention. To them, the settlement enterprise is God-given and irreversible.”If there’s peace with the Palestinians we’re staying and if there’s no peace we’re staying,” said Yoel Mishael, 65, who has lived in Mitzpe Yericho since its founding. “It’s part of Israel, according to the Bible. It’s something from God.” Foreign ministers will meet on Friday with the aim of paving the way for a summit later in the year that they hope the Israeli and Palestinian leaders will attend.
BDS movement in Morocco gets dozens of shop owners to boycott Israeli dates
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 June — The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement in Morocco (BDS Maroc) announced that its campaign promoting the boycott of Israeli “Medjoul” dates had successfully led dozens of shops to begin refusing to sell dates from Israel. BDS Maroc started the boycott campaign last year, adopting several strategies to pressure retailers in the Darb Mila date markets to discontinue their relationship with Israeli date companies, while promoting the campaign among Morocco’s consumer base. The BDS movement issued certificates to shop owners who stopped selling Israeli dates. The certificates expressed appreciation for the shop owners’ support of BDS and Palestinian rights against the decades-long Israeli occupation. Majid Zaji, an activist with the group, said in a statement released by BDS Maroc: “These dates support the illegal Israeli settlement project that has been ongoing since the 1948 Nakba, as they plant dates on stolen Palestinian lands. How could we accept such a product on our tables? Especially during the holy month of Ramadan, knowing that the money we spend on these dates is supporting Israeli oppression of the beloved Palestinians.” ….
The month in pictures: May 2016
The Electronic Intifada 3 June
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (26 May – 1 June)
PCHR-Gaza 2 June — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt A Palestinian civilian was wounded in al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah. Israeli forces continued to open fire at the border area along the Gaza Strip borders, but no casualties were reported. Israeli warplanes raided a training site in the central Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces conducted 57 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 4 limited ones in the Gaza Strip. 99 civilians, including 19 children and a woman [were arrested]. 51 of them, including 11 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces arrested a child who attempted to sneak into Israel, north of the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. Israeli forces arrested 5 fishermen, 2 of whom were wounded, and confiscated 2 fishing boats offshore in the central Gaza Strip. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. A Palestinian civilian was obliged to self-demolish parts of his house in Silwan village. Israeli forces continued settlement activities in the West Bank. 160 dunums from lands in Deir Ballout village, west of Salfit, were demolished….
Palestinian factions slam French initiative as dangerous violation of rights
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 June — Palestinian factions from across the political spectrum came together on Friday to announce their rejection of the French-led Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative, calling it a dangerous violation of national rights. In conjunction with the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, Hamas published a statement signed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, saying “the ideas suggested by France as an initiative impose a dangerous violation against agreed-upon national rights, especially the right of return.” In the statement, the factions confirmed refusal of the initiative and of all actions that aim to return back to what they see as fruitless negotiations that have been a reason for “increasing settlement building and providing a cover for the Judaization of Jerusalem.” The factions called upon the countries of the world to take serious actions to stop Israeli crimes and to end the near decade-long Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. An international conference began in Paris on Friday to set the framework for the upcoming peace negotiations. Representatives of nearly 30 countries, including representatives from the United Nations, European Union, and the Arab League attended the meeting to plan for the international summit expected to be held by the end of the year … Prior to their joint statement, Hamas and the PFLP had expressed similar sentiments regarding the French initiative as an individual move on the part of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that did not represent the opinion of the Palestinian people. Later on Friday, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat issued a statement praising the meeting in Paris as “a very significant step” to end Israel’s “colonization and Apartheid policies in occupied Palestine.” He warned of a future of “extremism and bloodshed rather than for coexistence and peace,” if negotiations proved to be unsuccessful.”We negotiated bilaterally with Israel, the occupying power, for over two decades, but they continue to violate all the agreements that we had signed,” he added, defending the French initiative’s multilateral approach against Israel’s rejection of the talks as a form of colonialism for involving international parties and excluding Palestinian and Israeli representatives.
Trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
AFP 3 June — A Paris meeting Friday on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the latest attempt to tackle one of the world’s most stubborn diplomatic issues. Here is a rundown of past efforts. Oslo to Camp David:- OSLO ACCORDS: September 13, 1993: After six months of secret talks in Oslo, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation sign in Washington a mutual recognition agreement that allows for five years of Palestinian autonomy aimed at striking a final deal no later than May 1999. Under the deal, Israel is to withdraw from 70 percent of territory it occupies in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and in July 1994, PLO leader Yasser Arafat returns from 27 years in exile. – OSLO II: September 28, 1995: A new interim accord is negotiated in Taba, Egypt and signed in Washington. It foresees a gradual Israeli West Bank withdrawal. But before that happens, Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated on November 4 by a Jewish extremist. – WYE PLANTATION: October 23, 1998: A deal signed at Wye Plantation in the US calls for a gradual Israeli withdrawal from 13 percent of the land it still occupies in the West Bank, which would leave the Palestinians controlling 40 percent. Two months later, Israel freezes the deal after pulling back from two percent of occupied territory. An accord signed on September 5, 1999 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, gives the initiative fresh momentum, and targets September 13, 2000 for a final agreement. CAMP DAVID:….
UN adopts resolution to support Palestinian women
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 June — In a massive effort to tackle issues surrounding the advancement of women, social development, and non-communicable diseases, the UN Economic and Social Council adopted seven resolutions today, one of which is entitled “situation of and assistance to Palestinian women”. The “situation of assistance to Palestinian women” was first adopted on March 24 by the UN Commission on the Status of Women by an overwhelming majority. Among the 27 countries that voted in favor of the resolution were India, China, and Brazil. The only two countries that voted against the resolution were Australia and the United States. In the draft resolution, the Commission on the Status of Women expressed “deep concern about the grave situation of Palestinian women in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, resulting from the severe impact of the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation and all of its manifestations.” In addition to high rates of poverty and unemployment, the document cited Israel’s illegal practices of “home demolitions, evictions of Palestinians, the revocation of residency rights, and arbitrary detention and imprisonment” as parts of “the systematic violation of their [Palestinians’] human rights.”
Israel’s smartest student is an Arab
Al-Monitor 3 June by Shlomi Eldar — Israeli-Arab Mohammed Zeidan was this year’s only student to achieve the highest possible score on Israel’s college entrance exam — Mohammed Zeidan, from the Arab community of Kafr Manda in northern Israel, is the only Arab in Israel who has been able to get the ultranationalist Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Arab Knesset member Ahmad Tibi from the Joint List to exchange warm greetings. The 19-year-old Zeidan scored an 800 on Israeli’s Psychometric Entrance Test, the highest possible score. Tibi praised his achievement over Twitter, and Bennett was quick to retweet Tibi’s greeting, leading the two political foes to exchange kind words … In an interview with Al-Monitor, Zeidan relates that he plans to study electrical engineering at the Technion (the Israel Institute of Technology) and progress to software engineering at a later stage. He believes that degrees in these fields will make it easy for him to find a job, move up and stand out — even in Israeli society, where it is hard for Arab-Israelis to integrate. Zeidan’s father is a gynecologist and his mother is a teacher. His sister is a medical student at the Technion … Al-Monitor: What does the future in Israel hold for you and for your village peers? Zeidan: From what I’ve heard, I can’t get any job I want. It’s a bit political but it’s a fact. You can have a certain job but some places will make you feel like you don’t belong. I don’t know if that’s true but there are a lot of people who’ve tried, and that’s what they are saying….
First seed library sprouts in Palestine
RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 3 June by Dalia Hatuqa –– A search for rare seeds may seem like something out of a fairytale, but for Vivien Sansour it is a quest to bring back what years of Israeli occupation practices and climate change have pushed to the brink of extinction. The agronomist from Beit Jala, a town near Bethlehem, is collecting seed varieties handed down by Palestinian farmers for generations – an effort that will culminate with a seed library which she hopes will sprout into others across the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Heirloom Seed Library will be unveiled on June 3 in Battir, a West Bank village between Bethlehem and Jerusalem that is known for its ancient agricultural terraces. The library aims to preserve seeds of crops that once grew across historic Palestine, and to safeguard whatever is left of the area’s waning biodiversity. In the future, the library may find a home at the science studio of the AM Qattan Foundation, a Ramallah-based independent institute focusing on cultural and educational development, which is supporting the project. The seed library, the first in Palestine, also endeavours to document horticultural history and to educate Palestinians about traditional agricultural practices in danger of being supplanted by modern techniques….
The bookseller saving Jerusalem’s Palestinian identity
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 30 May by Uryashi Sarkar — On Jerusalem’s busy Salah Eddin Street, where cafes, grocery stores, money exchange centres and jewellery shops proliferate the landscape, a prominent board at number 22 announces itself as the Educational Bookshop. Shortly ahead, across the road, is another bookstore and cafe, also titled the Educational Bookshop. Both belong to the Jerusalem-based Muna family; the first sells Arabic books and stationery while the latter sells English books … Upon entering the English bookstore, a shelf stocked with books by noted Palestinian academic Edward Said catches the eye. The presence of Said at the entrance is significant since it was his family who originally owned the Arabic bookshop … The English Educational Bookshop was the first of its kind in Palestine. “This was the first bookstore that sold books in English by Palestinians and about the Palestinian viewpoint,” he says. Central to the identity of the two bookstores is their location in Jerusalem. “We want to reinforce the notion of Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. We may expand to other areas, but our main area of functioning needs to be Jerusalem,” Muna says, acknowledging that a Jerusalem location renders it inaccessible to many Palestinians who face restrictions on entering Jerusalem. The English bookstore also hosts cultural and literary events, such as readings, screenings, exhibitions and talks. The bookshop, according to Muna, plays a role in the larger spectrum of cultural resistance and it is being viewed as reinforcing Palestinian culture and identity….
Palestinian reality TV show shines light on democracy woes
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 2 June — The winner of this “election” for Palestinian president was a 24-year-old lawyer from east Jerusalem, who defeated a woman and a Christian from Bethlehem. But this was reality television — not real life — and the vote came on a TV show called “The President” that is meant to educate young Palestinians about politics. In reality, Palestinians haven’t had a chance to cast an actual ballot for president in over a decade. The spirited competition among the three young finalists has drawn attention to the shortcomings of the Palestinians’ experiment with democracy, complicated by Israeli military occupation, now in its 50th year, and two decades of failed peace efforts. The last time the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip elected a leader was in January 2005, when current President Mahmoud Abbas won by a large margin. Now polls indicate widespread discontent with Abbas and the long-ruling entrenched leadership around him. “This show was an opportunity for the Palestinian youth to raise their voice and deliver their message,” said Waad Qannam, the winner of Thursday night’s finale, who was awarded a new car and is expected to meet Abbas. “The show proves that we have skillful young leaders who can take over when there is an opportunity,” he said. “This is a message to the politicians to open the gates for the new generation to practice politics and prove themselves.” The show’s format brings in elements from “Arab Idol,” a popular show in which viewers across the Middle East choose their favorite singer by voting with text messages, as well as the “The Apprentice,” the international reality show that helped put another presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, in the spotlight….
60% of people arrested by Israeli police are ‘non-Jews’
+972 blog 1 June by Noam Rotem — The data, obtained for the years 2011-2015, paints an even more grim picture of discrimination, especially in the arrests of minors, for crimes like ‘incitement,’ and predictably, for ‘security offenses.’ Ayman Odeh: Data reveals deeply ingrained racism in the police — Non-Jews comprise a mere 25 percent of Israel’s population, yet 60 percent of all people arrested by Israeli police between the years of 2011 and 2015 were non-Jewish, according to data obtained by +972 and its Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. When it comes to the arrest of minors, the picture is even worse. Police provided the data in response to a freedom of information request by the Movement for Freedom of Information and is being published here for the first time. It includes data about the total number of arrests, the number of those arrests which led to indictments, the suspected crime that prompted the arrests, the religion of the arrestees (Jew or non-Jew), and the age of the arrestees (adult or minor). Israel Police arrested a total of 295,654 people over the five-year period, over 60 percent of whom were classified as non-Jewish….
Israel’s ‘transparency’ bill applies almost exclusively to left-wing groups
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 June by Jaclynn Ashly — A list of NGOs that would be targeted in Israel’s controversial “transparency” bill was made public on Thursday, revealing that 23 of the 25 organizations listed were left-wing groups — news which the targeted NGOs told Ma‘an constitutes a “political assault on dissent.” In December, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is also the leader of the ultranationalist Israeli Home Party, pushed for a “transparency” bill that would compel NGOs to reveal their sources of funding if more than 50 percent came from foreign entities, in a move she said would crack down on groups who receive foreign funds in order to criticize Israel. Organizations that fit the bill’s criteria would be obligated to make their foreign funding public in publications and reports, and in any contact with public officials or employees. Representatives of such organizations would also be forced to wear name tags at Knesset meetings displaying the name of their organization. Failure to abide would lead to fines up to 29,200 shekels ($7,561). The list of NGOs, obtained exclusively by Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post, revealed that 23 out of the 25 organizations were left-wing groups, with two groups reportedly being centrist or non-affiliated. No right-wing organizations were listed … Yesh Din spokesman Gilad Grossman told Ma‘an that the left-wing organizations listed on the bill already publish all of their funding sources on their websites. “You don’t need any more proof that this bill has nothing to do with transparency. It’s part of a delegitimization campaign centered on attacking left-wing organizations and civil society,” Grossman said….
LGBT campaigners say Israel ‘pinkwashing’ to distract from Palestinian occupation
AFP 3 June — Tens of thousands of revelers took part in Friday’s Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv, an annual event promoted and funded by the city that draws worldwide attention. But Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender campaigners say Israel is spending lavishly to paint itself pink in an effort to restore a liberal image tarnished by its occupation of the Palestinian territories. In the past it was only pro-Palestinian activists who accused the government of pushing its reputation for sexual tolerance as a smokescreen, a tactic referred to as ‘pinkwashing’. The LGBT community was mobilised a month before the high-profile Gay Pride with the announcement that the tourism ministry was spending 11 million shekels ($2.86 million, 2.2 million euros) on advertising to attract European visitors to the event. The sum was 10 times the amount of annual state funding for LGBT associations. “Spending 1.5 million shekels to paint a rainbow on a plane full of tourists, that’s ridiculous,” said Imri Kalman, co-chair of Aguda, Israel’s largest LGBT NGO. “There was a click and we woke up,” he said. “We finally understood the hypocrisy of this government and this prime minister, who boasts in English abroad about the freedom enjoyed by homosexuals in Israel but never the utters the word in Hebrew when he gets home.”
Yusuf Islam releases new song to support Syrian refugees
MEMO 3 June — British Muslim artist Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, has released a song addressing the Syrian refugee crisis. His new song is about the story of a 12-year-old Syrian refugee boy. He is scheduled to perform the song during a charity concert in London. The concert is being held in support of Syrian refugee children and will be organised later this month, according to Middle East Eye. Islam wrote on the website of the charity organising the concert: “It was difficult to stand by just watching this tragedy without trying to do something, I simply decided to help humanise the narrative and lend my voice to the call for keeping hearts and doors open to every refugee, especially youngsters, who have lost what future they might have once hoped for.” He was inspired to write the song after visiting Syrian refugee camps on the Turkish borders. “The song is a small effort to try to take people’s attention away from the crime of reductionism, where human lives become numbers and statistics, and refocus on the plight of a single young soul who never had a chance to live and play in his own home,” Yusuf said.
ISM: Media activists needed in Palestine
International Solidarity Movement 2 June — ISM is looking for media interns to come and join us in Palestine. This is an excellent opportunity for aspiring journalists or media workers to engage directly with the Palestinian struggle and to utilise and enhance their existing skills to humanize the voice of the struggle by reporting on events ranging from anti-occupation demonstrations to house raising demolitions. The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation in Palestine by using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles. Founded by a small group of primarily Palestinian and Israeli activists in August 2001, ISM aims to support and strengthen the Palestinian popular resistance by providing the Palestinian people with two resources, international solidarity and an international voice. You will be based in the West Bank; experienced and interested activists may be placed in Gaza. Apart from gaining reporting and photography experience, you will also be networking with existing media outlets and develop skills during media meetings on reporting the occupation of Palestine. ISM is seeking a minimum 3 month commitment, and will provide accommodation during your stay. ISM is a non-hierarchical solidarity movement.