Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
1 Palestinian, 1 Israeli killed, another wounded in Hebron-area settlement after attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 June — A Palestinian was killed on Thursday morning in an Israeli settlement in the southern occupied West Bank after reportedly carrying out an attack against a young settler girl [Hallel Yaffa Ariel,13], who later succumbed to her wounds, as one other Israeli was wounded in the case. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a “terrorist infiltrated” the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba on the outskirts of the city of Hebron, where he attacked an Israeli teenage girl in her bedroom. The spokesperson said that the Palestinian was then shot and killed, and that “two civilians” had been wounded and evacuated to the hospital. She added that the Israeli army was looking into the case. The Palestinian Ministry of Health later identified the killed Palestinian as 17-year-old Muhammad Nasser Tarayra, from the village of Bani Naim. Shaare Zedek hospital spokeswoman Shoham Ruvio told Ma‘an that an Israeli teenage girl died in the hospital after being admitted in a “very severe and dangerous condition” and resuscitation efforts failed. She added that that the 15- or 16-year-old girl had suffered from serious stab wounds. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem told Ma‘an that a 31-year-old Israeli man was brought to the trauma unit following the attack. She said the man was conscious and stable, and she described his condition as moderate to severe after sustaining gunshot wounds. It remained unclear on Thursday morning whether the Israeli man — who Israeli media said was a security guard — was wounded by shots fired by the alleged Palestinian attacker or Israeli forces. The Israeli army said in a statement that a “member of security personnel” was stabbed, without mentioning shooting wounds.
Army injures several Palestinians in Hebron, kidnap one in Bethlehem
IMEMC 28 June — Israeli soldiers invaded, earlier on Tuesday, two towns in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, and injured many Palestinians during ensuing clashes. The soldiers also invaded Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethlehem, and kidnapped one Palestinian. Medical sources in Hebron said the soldiers invaded Shiokh and Sa‘ir towns, north of Hebron, and clashed with many local youths, who hurled stones and empty bottles at the invading army vehicles. The soldiers fired several live rounds, in addition to rubber-coated steel bullets, and gas bombs, during the clashes that took place near the local clinic in Shiokh town, and Ras al-‘Aaroud area in Sa‘ir. One Palestinian was shot with a live round in his leg, and dozens suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. The soldiers also invaded Ras al-Joura, Ein Sarah, al-Kassara, ar-Rama, Jabal Johar, and the central Market, in Hebron city, and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards. In addition, the soldiers invaded Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethlehem, searched homes and kidnapped Rami Mohammad Abdul-Rahman Thawabta, 20, in addition to confiscating his car.
Israeli settlers raid lands in Bethlehem, spray ‘Death to Arabs’ on Palestinian property
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 June — Israeli settlers from the illegal Beitar Illit settlement raided Palestinian lands in the village of Wadi Fukin in the central occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Tuesday, according to local witnesses. Ahmad Sukkar, head of the Wadi Fukin village council, told Ma‘an that a group of Israeli settlers raided agricultural lands in the al-Fuwwar area of the village, destroying two greenhouses and tearing up plants belonging to Maher Sukkar, Jamil Assaf, and Muhammad Manasra. Sukkar also said the Israeli settlers uprooted the plants of Muhammad Saleh Manasra and Naim Daoud Attiyeh, before spray-painting “Death to Arabs” on their property. Israeli settlers from the illegal Beitar Illit settlement, which has been built on private Palestinian lands belonging to the villages of Husan, Nahalin, and Wadi Fukin, commonly raid the communities and destroy Palestinian property. Beitar Illit is one of several settlements that comprise what Israel refers to as the “Gush Etzion” settlement bloc, which Israel plans to illegally annex into its territory, according to the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ).
Israeli sponge bullets leave painful legacy for Palestinians
AFP 29 June — Ahmed Abu al-Homs’s life changed forever as the 13-year-old was on his way to see his sister and became caught up in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police. He was hit by an Israeli anti-riot bullet during the January clash in east Jerusalem, leaving the young Palestinian in a coma for 45 days. When he came out of it, a piece of his skull was gone. “Before, Ahmed was an intelligent boy, lively and dynamic,” his uncle Mehdi al-Homs said of the teenager, whose head still bears scars and stitches. “Now all he can do is walk, and not for very long. He has difficulty expressing himself and remembering things.” Homs is among the Palestinians wounded by a new type of anti-riot bullet Israeli police began using around two years ago, rights groups say. While not designed to be lethal, the bullet’s ability to inflict heavy damage has raised concern. Israeli police regularly use such sponge-tipped bullets during clashes in mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem. In January 2015, police were given the authorisation to use what is known as bullet model 4557 in east Jerusalem, said Nesrine Aliane, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Capsule-like in shape, the bullets have a hard plastic base and a rounded tip covered in hard black foam. Some six centimetres long and three centimetres wide, they are heavier than the previous model used, ACRI says. While official authorisation did not come until January 2015, police had in fact been using them since July 2014 as violence escalated and eventually led to that year’s conflict in the Gaza Strip, said Aliane. More than 30 Palestinians in east Jerusalem have been wounded since police began using them, most with head injuries, she said. Aliane said 14 have lost an eye. As for Homs, he can no longer read or write and spends most of his time in his family’s home in the ‘Issawiya neighbourhood of east Jerusalem.In September 2014, 16-year-old Mohammed Sonoqrot died from his wounds after being hit by one of the bullets on August 31. “He is dead because he was hit with a bullet in the head fired from very close range,” Aliane said. ACRI says Israeli police closed the case in May without charging anyone, citing a lack of evidence….
Israel revokes ‘Hannibal Directive’ that allows soldiers to use massive firepower to prevent colleagues being captured alive
AFP/Ted Thornhill for Mail Online 28 June — Israel’s army chief has revoked a decades-old directive that allowed troops to use massive firepower to prevent soldiers being captured alive, the army said on Tuesday. The so-called Hannibal Directive allowed soldiers to fire at enemy forces attempting to abduct their colleagues, even if that risked killing the Israeli soldier. ‘The chief of staff has ordered to cancel the procedure,’ an army spokeswoman told AFP. Amnesty International last year accused Israel of activating the directive, with ‘strong evidence’ of war crimes, after the capture of a soldier in Rafah during its 2014 war in the Gaza Strip – charges Israel denies. Amnesty said heavy Israeli bombing in ‘retaliation’ for the capture of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin had killed at least 135 Palestinian civilians, including 75 children. Goldin was later declared dead. The case of Gilad Shalit, who was captured in Gaza by militant group Hamas in 2006 and released in 2011 in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, triggered intense public debate about the policy. Asa Kasher, an Israeli expert on military ethics, welcomed the ‘long due’ decision to re-write the directive, formulated during Israel’s 1980s war with Hezbollah in south Lebanon. He said soldiers and commanders had for decades misunderstood the directive as ordering the execution of a soldier to prevent his abduction….
Halabiya: Shin Bet lied about arresting Hizma bombing suspects
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 27 June — A Palestinian citizen from Jerusalem belied the Shin Bet’s recent claim about arresting him and his two sons along with others for their involvement in a bomb attack in Hizma village and said he and one of his sons were released by the police. Mahmoud Halabiya, whose photo and name came in recent news reports as one of the detained suspects in the attack, said he was released over one month ago on bail after spending two months in detention on a charge of misleading the justice. Halabiya added in press remarks that his son Dawoud, whom the Shin Bet also claimed to have arrested, was also released on Sunday night, which belied the Israeli claim about arresting five suspects in the Hizma bombing. He affirmed that the Israeli police would not have released him and his son, Dawoud, if they had been real suspects of carrying out the attack that led to the injury of soldiers. For his part, Abdullah Abu Hilal, a relative of Mahmoud Halabiya, said that all the five detainees were accused of misleading the justice, and not carrying out or being involved in the attack. He pointed out that four of the detainees, who were claimed to be the Hizma bombing suspects, were released, except for Samer Halabiya, who was labeled as a main suspect in the attack. The Shin Bet had claimed on Sunday that it had arrested Mahmoud Halabiya and his sons, Dawoud and Samer (dentists), as well as two others for being suspects in the bomb attack that seriously injured an army officer last May in Hizma village, east of Jerusalem.
Israeli forces detain 18 Palestinians in Jerusalem, West Bank
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 28 June – Israeli police and army forces on Tuesday detained at least 18 Palestinians during separate incidents in Jerusalem and the West Bank, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS). In Jerusalem, Israeli police detained at least 11 Palestinians while they were getting out of al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the city. This came following three days of sporadic clashes fueled by provocative visits by Israeli settlers to the Islamic holy site. Four of the detainees were identified as Ayham Zaanin, Ameer Balbisi, Yousef Hazina, and Wesam Hezaji. Earlier last night, Israeli troops stormed the village of Beit Duqqu, near Jerusalem, and detained a local Palestinian, identified as Sharaf Rayyan, 22. In Bethlehem district, in southern West Bank, Israeli army detained three Palestinians, namely Rami Thawabteh, Rabee Issa, 20, and Mohammad Ali Lahham, 20. Israeli forces also detained Ammar Alawi and Rayyan Amarah from Ramallah district; and Mohammad Subhi Shennara in Tulkarm area.
Israel detains eight Palestinians in West Bank, Jerusalem
RAMALLAH, June 29, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli forces on Wednesday detained at least eight Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS). In Jerusalem, Israeli police stormed the town of al-‘Issawiya and detained three Palestinian minors, including two brothers, after raiding their homes. They were identified as Nizam Ghannam, Yazan Tarwa, and Ahmad Tarwa, all 16 years old. Israeli police also detained a South African national in Jerusalem’s Old City area. He was identified as Adel Asmal. Meanwhile in Hebron district, Israeli army detained two Palestinians, identified as Anas Abu Fara and Ramadan Qadi. In Nablus district, in northern West Bank, at least two Palestinians were reportedly detained by Israeli forces. The two were identified as Kamal Eshtayeh and Salah Dwekat. Israeli troops also detained Ghadi Yousef, 19, a Palestinian from Tulkarm city in the West Bank.
Prisoners / Court actions
PFLP prisoners suspend hunger strike for 10 days, await Israeli decision on Bilal Kayid
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 June — Palestinian prisoners affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) announced a ten-day suspension of their mass hunger strike Wednesday, according to a statement released by the Prisoners and Former Prisoner’s Affairs Ministry in the Gaza Strip. Dozens of PFLP-affiliated prisoners held in Israeli prisons launched a mass hunger strike last week in solidarity with Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayid, who had started his hunger strike a few days earlier when Israeli authorities sentenced him to six months of administrative detention without charge or trial upon completion of his 14-year prison sentence. According to the ministry, the hunger-striking prisoners have suspended their strike as they await a decision by Israeli authorities regarding Kayid’s detention. The ministry added that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) had returned 12 hunger-striking prisoners back to Israel’s Megiddo prison after transferring them to other prisons in Israel on Friday — a common tactic used by Israeli authorities to pressure Palestinian prisoners to end their hunger strikes. IPS has transferred dozens of PFLP hunger-striking prisoners to various prisons across Israel since the start of the mass strike in an attempt separate them and disrupt organizing activities, and have placed others in solitary confinement. IPS also placed PFLP leaders Wael Jaghoub and Salah Ali in isolation on Friday “in an attempt to repress their growing protest steps and to neutralize the role of leaders and isolate them from the rest of the prisoners,” a statement by the PFLP said.As Kayid entered the 15th day of his hunger strike on Tuesday, IPS transferred him from solitary confinement at Ramon prison to solitary confinement at Ela prison in attempt to pressure him to end his strike….
An Israeli court sentences a Palestinian child to 100 days in prison
IMEMC 29 June — An Israeli court sentenced, Wednesday, a 14-year-old Palestinian child from Jerusalem to 100 days in prison, and a 2400 Israeli shekels fine, after he was held under house arrest for nine months. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the child has been identified as Fadi Shalloudi, 14, from the al-Bustan neighborhood in Silwan town, in Jerusalem. The child has been repeatedly detained by the army, in addition to his brothers, Samer, 17, and Bassel, 15, and their mother Shifa. In related news, the district court in Jerusalem ordered the release of a child identified as Jihad Mohammad Shalabi, and forced him under house arrest for five days. Israeli soldiers kidnapped the child, on Tuesday morning, from the courtyards on the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Issa Qaraqe‘, the head of the Palestinian Detainees’ Committee, denounced the escalating Israeli violations against Palestinian children, and said that at least 65 children from Jerusalem have been detained, then forced under house arrest, since the beginning of this year. Qaraqe‘ added that Israel is holding captive twelve Palestinian children under arbitrary Administrative Detention orders, without charges.
Youngest administrative detainee Hamza Hammad ordered to four more months in prison without charge
Samidoun 28 June — The Israeli administrative detention order against Palestinian boy, Hamza Hammad, was renewed on Monday, 27 June for an additional four months. Hammad, 16, from Silwad near Ramallah, has been imprisoned without charge or trial on the basis of secret evidence since 28 February 2016. Hamza, an 11th-grade student, was arrested in an armed raid by occupation forces on his home at 2:00 am; his family was awakened by the explosion of their front door by occupation forces. He is the youngest Palestinian held under administrative detention and one of several children, held in Ofer prison. His father is imprisoned and serving several life sentences; Hamza has been denied permission to visit his father since his arrest in 2003. He was previously arrested for 22 days in August 2015 and repeatedly interrogated at the Moskobiyeh interrogation center, subject to torture and ill-treatment before his release.
Israel releases father of slain Palestinian advocating for return of withheld bodies
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 June — Israeli police released from detention on Wednesday morning a Palestinian father who had been leading protests calling for the release of bodies of slain Palestinians withheld for months by Israel, a Palestinian prisoners rights group said. Addameer lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud told Ma‘an that Israeli police released Muhammad Elayyan from custody, albeit sentencing him to five days under house arrest and banning him from accessing the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem for 15 days. Elayyan is the father of Bahaa Elayyan, who was killed alongside another Palestinian after they attacked an Israeli bus on Oct. 13, killing three Israelis with knives and a gun. His body, along with the bodies of at least seven other Palestinians killed while allegedly committing or attempting to commit attacks on Israeli targets, are still being held by Israel. Elayyan, a lawyer from the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of East Jerusalem, has spearheaded a movement by the families of slain Palestinians demanding that Israeli authorities return the bodies, staging protests, most recently held on Sunday in Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank.
Jewish terrorist gets 2 life term sentences over murder of Palestinians, after court axes appeal
JPost 28 June by Yonah Jeremy Bob — The Supreme Court upheld on Tuesday the two life sentences of terrorist and serial killer Yaakov “Jack” Teitel. Teitel was sentenced by the Jerusalem District Court in November 2015 to two life sentences and an additional 30 years in prison for the murder of two Palestinians, and an assortment of other hate crimes targeting homosexuals, left-wingers and Messianic Jews. Just before his sentence was handed down, Teitel said that he had no regrets and was proud of what he had done … While still living in the United States, he decided to murder Palestinians, and came to Israel as a tourist for that purpose, smuggling a gun into the country by hiding it in a VCR. After spending his first weeks in the country with friends in Jerusalem, Teitel acquired bullets for his smuggled gun, and sought out a suitable victim. In 1997, he murdered Palestinian taxi driver Samir Balbisi, who was found shot dead in his cab … In August 1997, Teitel murdered Beduin shepherd Issa Musa al-Mahamada near the West Bank settlement of Carmel, south of Hebron. Teitel then returned to the United States. In 2000, he made aliya and settled in Shvut Rachel near Jerusalem, where he married and had four children. That same year he was arrested by police on suspicion of carrying out the 1997 murders but was released due to lack of evidence … In March 2008, according to the indictment, Teitel attempted to murder Amiel Ortiz, a 15-year-old Messianic Jews from Ariel. Teitel sent a bomb in a Purim gift basket to Ortiz’s home, which exploded when the teenager opened it. Other charges include planting homemade explosives in September 2008 at the home of Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell, a left-wing scholar from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem….
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization
Israeli forces demolish Bedouin village in Negev for 100th time in six years
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 June — Israeli authorities demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib on Wednesday for the second time during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and 100th time total, locals told Ma‘an. “The Israeli authorities have left us homeless after they demolished the village for 100th time,” local activist Aziz Sayyah al-Tuhri said. “Imagine that you eat sahour at 4 a.m in your house,” he continued, referring to the meal Muslims who fast during Ramadan eat before dawn, “and shortly after that the house is demolished?” “The authorities do not care about Ramadan or other times as they practice this police of displacement and uprooting, as the only language they understand is that of power and criminality,” al-Tuhri said. “They want us to reach desperation and leave our land willingly.” Fellow activist Salim al-Arakib described the demolition as “tyrannical,” saying that the “criminal policy seeks to uproot us and displace us, but this policy will only make us more determined and more adamant to stay firm in the land of our fathers and grandfathers.”Al-Araqib is one of 35 villages in the Negev desert in southern Israel that the Israeli government has deemed as “unrecognized.” According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages.The term, which applies to many Bedouin villages throughout Israel, means that Israel is allowed to refuse residents access to the national water and electricity grids, health and educational services, and basic infrastructure.The first demolition of al-Araqib took place almost exactly six years ago on June 27, 2010, and has been demolished 99 more times as of Wednesday. Though Bedouins are considered citizens of Israel, the government has done nothing to ensure equal rights for residents of these villages, who have faced relentless efforts by the Israeli Land Authority to expel them from their lands in order to make room for Jewish Israeli homes. As a result, most of al-Araqib’s residents have left over the years to neighboring towns. The tactics used by the Israeli government against Bedouin citizens are virtually identical to the policies used in Area C — areas under full Israeli civilian and security control according to the Oslo Accords — of the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians lack basic services and are subject to repeated house demolitions for lacking proper permits, which Israel rarely grants. As in 2015, the vast majority of demolitions in the West Bank took place in small Bedouin communities in Area C.According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, more than 48,480 Palestinian homes and structures were demolished by Israel since 1967.
Israeli land theft: 440% increase in 2016
IMEMC/Agencies 29 June — Israeli land confiscation policy has notably escalated in occupied Jerusalem and West Bank by 439% since the beginning of 2016, in comparison to last year, a Palestinian report revealed on Tuesday. Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ) revealed that Israeli authorities confiscated, since the beginning of the year, 7,773 acres of Palestinian-owned lands, recording an increase by 439% in comparison with last year, where 1,442 acres were seized. Israeli occupation authorities have recently escalated a policy of Judaization in the occupied West Bank, notably by expanding its settlement projects, the report pointed out. During the reporting period, Israeli occupation forces demolished 276 Palestinian homes in the West Bank, including annexed East Jerusalem, while 108 homes were destroyed during 2015. 343 agricultural facilities were also destroyed during the first half of 2016 while 59 Palestinian facilities were demolished during the same period, last year. ARIJ revealed that occupation authorities started building 139 housing units last May, in the illegal settlement of Shiloh, as part of a project to expand 10 new settlements….
Turning entire Palestinian villages invisible
Haokets 29 June by Umar al-Ghubari — Israeli signs in the West Bank not only ignore destroyed Palestinian villages, they also erase those in plain sight — The destruction and emptying of the Latrun villages took place 49 years ago this month. The Israeli army had occupied Imwas, Yalo and Beit Nuba on June 5, 1967, expelled the residents of all three villages to the Ramallah district and prevented them from returning after the war, which lasted only six days. Bulldozers and soldiers began demolishing the homes, and razed the three villages. The State of Israel erased the names of the villages from its maps, and of course from traffic signs, as was its practice since 1948. Years later, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) created “Canada Park” on top of the Latrun villages. There are many signs up inside the park, but none them mentions the names of those villages — except for one, which Israeli organization Zochrot compelled the JNF to erect to avoid legal proceedings. About a year ago the JNF put up new signs throughout the park, which erase Palestinian-Arab history altogether. It goes without saying that the entire park is located in an area occupied in 1967, that is, in the West Bank, but not one sign mentions this. Erasing any textual remnant of the Palestinians is a familiar means of also eradicating them from the Israeli collective consciousness … To those wishing to better understand what it is to be “transparent,” I recommend visiting a specific hill in Canada Park, inside the occupied, destroyed and ethnically cleansed village of Yalo, to understand the way in which the transparent is made (in)visible, and to witness first-hand the brainwashing and efficiency of this powerful stance. As mentioned in the heading of the sign there, the JNF decided to name the hill the “Ayalon Valley Lookout.” After a thorough explanation about the topography and geography comes the explanation of the demography: one and a half lines, including the mention of three Jewish settlements: the city of Modi’in, Kibbutz Shaalabim, and Mevo Horon, a communal religious settlement. Incidentally, this comes without mention of the fact that Mevo Horon is located in the West Bank, just like the signpost itself. Naturally, it is unsurprising that an Israeli sign should fail to mention the Palestinian villages erased in 1948 and replaced with Modi’in, such as al-Burj, Barfiliya, Kharuba, ‘Innaba and Kunayyisa, or the village of Salbit beneath Kibbutz Shaalabim. But failing to mention the Palestinian villages still visible across “the stunning surrounding landscape” is an upgraded form of racist erasure, laced with arrogance and contempt for people’s intelligence. Standing on the “Ayalon Valley Lookout,” the villages of Beit Sira, Beit Liqya, Kharbatha, Beit Ur al-Fuka, Beit Ur al-Tahta and Safa are in front of your eyes on the opposite mountain range….
Israel’s systematic denial of Palestinians’ right to water
MEE 27 June by Clara Skupien — The lack of water in the occupied Palestinian territories is not a technical problem, but rather a ‘politically generated drought’ — Over the last few weeks, Palestinians have been facing severe water shortages because Mekorot, the Israeli water company, is denying or restricting their access to the resource. The evidence suggests that the annual rainfall in Ramallah is higher than in London (619 mm/year compared to 596 mm/year). However, the Palestinian daily water consumption per capita (about 70 l/day) is strongly below the World Health Organisation’s recommendations (about 100 l/day). Meanwhile, Israelis consume on average about 250 l/day. How is such a drastic difference possible? What are the mechanisms that allow Israel to maintain this imbalance? Fundamentally, this is not a typical water conflict. Contrary to other situations across the globe, and to what we often hear or might think, there is enough water for everyone in the region. This means that the problem is not hydrogeological or geographical, nor technical, but mainly political. And not only is it political, but it is consciously used by Israel “as a tool of warfare”, of which repercussions are manifold. Therefore, the problem doesn’t lie in the lack of water resources in Palestine, but rather in the impossibility for the Palestinians to access them, because Israel considers itself to have priority over them, as a direct manifestation of its military occupation of the Palestinian lands and natural resources. Since water from the basins of the occupied West Bank naturally flows down to lands lying at a lower altitude, it is enough for the latter to prevent the Palestinians from extracting the water to get full control. This is done either administratively – by denying authorisation to drill wells, often without justification – or physically – by destroying existing infrastructure or not taking care of it. The Israelis help themselves generously, and then sell back to “their neighbours” what is left of the “stolen” resource, choosing its price and amount….
Israel closes al-Aqsa to non-Muslims during Ramadan
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 28 June — Israeli authorities have closed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem to Jews and other non-Muslim visitors until the end of Ramadan, after two days of clashes between worshipers and Israeli police. The decision will apply until next week, when the Muslim holy month ends, a police spokeswoman told the AFP news agency on Tuesday. Clashes between Muslims and Israeli police have been taking place every morning since Sunday during protests against Jewish visits to the site during Ramadan. The Palestinian Red Crescent said on Sunday that its medical team took seven Palestinians to an East Jerusalem hospital for treatment of injuries from sponge-tipped bullets, tear gas and beatings. Palestinian officials said the trouble began when Israel allowed Jewish visitors into the al-Aqsa compound, the third holiest site in Islam, in breach of a tradition that allows only Muslim worshipers to enter during the last 10 days of Ramadan. The period, which began on Sunday, is the most solemn for Muslims and it attracts the highest number of worshipers to the site. Israeli police said officers at the Old City site revered by Muslims and also by Jews – who call it the Temple Mount – arrested four “masked youths who were disrupting visits on the Temple Mount” by non-Muslims….
PA warns of Israeli plan to justify partitioning Al-Aqsa
MEMO 29 June — Palestinian Authority (PA) Supreme Religious Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash yesterday warned of an Israeli plan to justify partitioning and Judaising Al-Aqsa Mosque, he said in a statement. Al-Habbash said that the ongoing Israeli clashes with Muslim worshipers inside Al-Aqsa Mosque has a “dangerous intention” and the Israeli occupation plans to “create a new de facto partitioning including the daily entrance of settlers to the mosque.” He said the procedures being taken in Al-Aqsa Mosque were taken at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron before it was partitioned. “The Israeli occupation state is seeking to escalate the situation more and more as well as to shed Palestinian blood,” Al-Habbash said, noting that Israel does not care if it causes deaths or injuries. Al-Habbash called for the Arab and Muslim nations to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque and stop the Israeli violations against it.
Israel criminalizes chanting “Allah the Greatest” [Allahu Akbar] at al-Aqsa
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 27 June — The Israeli Magistrate’s Court in Occupied Jerusalem indicted a Muslim young man for chanting “Allah is the Greatest” at the holy al-Aqsa Mosque. Lawyer Ramzi Kteilat who pleaded for 37-year-old Saher Ghazawi, from Nazareth, said the Israeli court criminalized the Muslim chant “Allah is the Greatest” as an act of incitement. The lawyer slammed the verdict which criminalized Muslim chants in the presence of Israeli settlers. Other court hearings are expected to be held over the rule issued against Ghazawi. The Israeli court accused the young man of obstructing police work as they provided a security shield for Israeli fanatics at al-Aqsa in 2011. “The verdict sparks incitement more than Ghazawi does,” Kteilat further stated, raising concerns over the serious repercussions of the verdict. He dubbed the court rule a politicized decision and one that has no legal basis. Commenting on the verdict, Ghazawi said it rather fuels tension at al-Aqsa and triggers rioting. “Saying ‘Allah is the Greatest’ is a ritual that brings us closer to Allah. Nobody has the right to infringe our freedom of worship, particularly in Muslims’ the al-Aqsa Mosque,” said Ghazawi. Ghazawi’s case dates back to September 21, 2011, when Israeli settlers broke into al-Aqsa Mosque while Muslim worshipers kept chanting Allah is the Greatest in protest at the move.
Group: Israel detains Palestinian returning to Gaza after escorting infant son to hospital
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 June — Israeli troops detained a Palestinian man at a crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip as he was heading back to the besieged Palestinian territory after escorting his infant son to an Israeli hospital last week, an NGO said in a statement on Tuesday. According to Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Tariq Kamal al-Hajj, a 41-year-old resident from Gaza City, was detained at the Erez crossing on June 22 as he was returning back home from escorting his 8-month-old son Yasin to the Tel Hashomer hospital in the Israeli city of Ramat Gan, where the infant underwent hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Al-Mezan added that family members were summoned to the Erez crossing to bring home Yousif — al-Hajj’s two-year-old son who was traveling to and from Israel with his father to provide the cells necessary for his younger brother’s potentially life-saving surgery — hours after al-Hajj was detained. Al-Hajj’s wife and infant son remain in the Israeli hospital … The reasons behind al-Hajj’s detention remain unknown. It also remained unclear whether al-Hajj was still being detained one week later. “The Al-Mezan Center condemns once again detaining patients and their escorts, and preventing patients from the Gaza Strip from reaching hospitals by refusing to issue permits, procrastinating issuing permits, or detaining them or their escorts,” the NGO said in its statement.
Israel’s killer bureaucracy
EI 28 June by Refaat Alareer — There are scores of ways by which Israel kills Palestinians; shedding their blood with sophisticated weapons is only one. This is the story of my cousin Awad Alareer, who died because Israel imposes severe restrictions on Palestinian patients seeking medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip, especially in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem. Awad, an 18-year-old from Gaza, died less than a year after he was diagnosed with bone cancer. He needed permits to get treatment outside Gaza. Israel delayed issuing those permits on several occasions … Last year, Awad complained of severe pain in his thigh. Painkillers did not help. He was X-rayed at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Then he was transferred to a hospital in the Khan Younis area for an MRI scan, followed by a biopsy. The results showed cancer. “Cancer in Gaza is a death sentence. We do not have the proper equipment here,” Awad’s father, Amin Alareer, 47, told me. Egypt rarely opens Rafah — the border crossing between it and Gaza, the sole outlet for the vast majority of Gaza’s approximately 1.9 million residents. “And Israel takes ages doing its so-called security vetting procedures,” Amin added. Following a short delay due to the long list of patients desperately seeking medical treatment outside Gaza, Awad’s case was approved by An-Najah University Hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, inaccessible to Palestinians in Gaza without Israeli permission. All he needed was an Israeli permit. “Awad’s file was sent to the Israeli side,” said Amin. “I was supposed to accompany him. After about three weeks of waiting, both Awad and I were rejected. We had to reapply through the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.” “Awad was finally accepted,” Amin added. “But I was rejected. And he had to be accompanied by someone. So we sent an application for his mother. All this while Awad’s health was deteriorating.” However, when Awad was ready to travel, he had already missed his appointment at An-Najah University Hospital….
Israeli army opens fire on farmers in central and southern Gaza
IMEMC 30 June — Israeli soldiers stationed across the border fence fired several live rounds, on Thursday morning, on Palestinian farmers and their lands, in central Gaza and in the southern part of the coastal region. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency has reported that the soldiers, stationed on military towers southeast of Deir al-Balah city, in central Gaza, fired dozens of live rounds into Palestinian farmlands, as the residents were trying to enter them, forcing them to leave in fear of further escalation. WAFA added that the soldiers, stationed on military towers across the border fence east of the al-Qarara town, northeast of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal regions, also fired dozens of live rounds into Palestinian lands. In addition, Palestinian areas across the border fence in Gaza witnessed an increase in Israeli military activities, including extensive deployment across the border fence, and the firing of smoke bombs while army drones flew overhead.
Rafah crossing opens for the first of five days in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 June– Egypt opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning in order to allow Gazans in urgent need to enter and exit the besieged Palestinian enclave. The terminal is set to remain open for five days in the coming week, not including Friday. The short break in heavy border restrictions comes as Israel’s military blockade of the Gaza Strip approaches nearly a decade. Gaza’s 1.8 million residents continue to struggle to meet their basic needs due to severe constraints on goods coming in and out….
The longest wait: my journey out of Gaza
CAIRO, Egypt (Al Monitor) 28 June by Asmaa al-Ghoul — In July 2015, I applied for permission to travel at the Abu Khadra government complex — the official application center for all those who want to travel from the Gaza Strip through Rafah — in Gaza City, and found myself as number 10,962 in line. Every time Egyptian authorities announced the reopening of the Rafah crossing, I knew that my turn was unlikely to come up due to the painfully slow movement through the crossing. But on June 1, the Egyptian authorities announced that the crossing would be opened and published the numbers of travelers permitted to pass. My turn was to come on the fourth and last day of the crossing’s opening: Sunday, June 5. Exiting Gaza now is dependent on luck and the convergence of many factors. Not all the buses scheduled on the first and second days of the crossing’s opening were permitted to leave due to obstacles set by Egyptian authorities, which pushed back my slated departure time, and only luck would determine whether I would be able to leave on the fourth day. June 5 arrived. At 5:30 in the morning, I started my journey south … Despair filled our hearts as the hour neared 1 p.m. Finally, an Egyptian officer in civilian clothing approached, stood in front of the tank and motioned the bus forward amid screams of joy from the passengers. We lurched forward and entered the Egyptian border terminal. The Palestinian mobile network signal was lost and everyone breathed a sigh at leaving Gaza — but our relief was short-lived. Inside the Egyptian terminal, there was no semblance of organization or cleanliness. Piles of dirt lay everywhere and garbage containers overflowed. Hundreds of passports, including mine, had been surrendered the previous day and were stacked in empty chairs as we waited for our names to be called. Surrounded by her three daughters, Umm Yara told me, “We slept here last night because they lost our passports, which they now promised to look for. Until then, we wait.”….
Gaza tunnels seen as vital tool of resistance
GAZA STRIP (EI) 27 June by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh — It was a warm night in Jabaliya, northeast of Gaza City. Abu Zein and his wife were fast asleep when what the couple first thought was an earthquake shook their bed so hard, its legs buckled. They immediately jumped up and ran out of the home they had only recently moved into after getting married. But outside was quiet. No one was stirring, no damage was visible, the ground stayed still. The only movement came from the shadows where a couple of fighters with the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, emerged to ask the couple what had happened. When Abu Zein — who did not want to give his real name for this article out of concern for his safety — told them, the fighters promised to repair any damage in the couple’s house. The next day, a man turned up with tools to repair the damage to the floor and money as compensation for the damaged furniture. Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza have long used underground tunnels as an integral part of their military tactics. In this, they have taken a lesson from history. The Vietnamese dug an extensive network of tunnels in their battle against US troops, a network with which the American military never got to grips. For Palestinian groups — especially the Qassam Brigades — the tunnels serve a multitude of purposes, from smuggling to infiltration to shelter. They are the only protection from Israel’s air power and prying eyes in the sky. They have also been used offensively, most notably in a 2004 attack on an Israeli military observation point in Rafah that saw five Israeli soldiers killed and in the 2006 capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Abu Zein’s story is one of many suggesting that Gaza is now made up of layers. Most people live and work above ground. But below — as illustrated in a 2015 Al Jazeera documentary in which correspondent Wael al-Dahdouh gained access to tunnels in the western part of the coastal enclave — others, these in military fatigues, go about their business….
Review: In Gaza, the drones never sleep
In These Times 28 June by Nancy Kricorian — Atef Abu Saif’s wartime diaries offer a chilling voice of witness from Israel’s 50-day bombardment of Palestine during Operation Protective Edge — …Until relatively recently, mainstream U.S. media narratives have relegated Palestinian lives to the category of the ungrievable. Their deaths, while perhaps unfortunate, have been explained as the consequence of an intractable conflict in which Palestinians are rarely, if ever, considered to be “innocent” victims, except perhaps for Palestinian children. But even here, when the New York Times counted civilian casualties from Operation Protective Edge, Palestinian boys between the ages of 15 and 17 were not tallied as minors, but instead were included within the category of what the Times’ Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren called “a mix of male civilians and combatants.” The antidote to this kind of dehumanization is a voice of witness. Social media now provides real-time updates from war zones, belying official government propaganda. Voices from Gaza emerged during the 2014 war through Twitter feeds and Facebook posts. One teenage girl, Farah Baker, became a media sensation because of her poignant Twitter updates during the bombings. And increasingly Palestinian voices are being heard on the editorial pages of mainstream news outlets. Atef Abu Saif, a Palestinian novelist and political scientist from Gaza, kept a daily wartime journal, selections of which appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, Slate and elsewhere as the war raged. The newly published collection of those journal entries, The Drone Eats With Me: A Gaza Diary, is an eloquent, intimate, and searing account of family life during wartime. Through Abu Saif’s journal, the reader comes to know his wife, Hanna, his four young sons, Talal, Mostafa, Naeem and Yasser, and his daughter, Jaffa, who was only 19 months old that summer and to whom the book is dedicated. Relatives, neighbors and friends are introduced, but characters of almost equal importance are the faceless drones that hover above our narrator’s head and the nameless drone operators who sit at a safe distance deciding whom to target for death….
Senior Hamas officials blast Israel-Turkey normalization deal
JPost 28 June by Maayan Groisman — Shortly after Turkey and Israel forged a reconciliation deal, six years after the Mavi Marmara incident, senior Hamas officials revealed on Monday their opposition to the deal, claiming that the Palestinian terror organization was not a party to its consolidation. Hamas’s foreign relations Chief Osama Hamdan brushed off a remark written by a prominent Turkish reporter on Twitter, according to which Hamas gave its blessing for the Israeli-Turkish deal. The accord ends a diplomatic rift between Ankara and Jerusalem that began six years ago after a number of activists were killed in an Israeli raid of the Turkish Mavi Marmara flotilla attempting to breach Gaza’s naval blockade. The Turkish journalist, Hamze Tekin, wrote that Hamas authorized the deal after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan relayed the details of the agreement to Hamas’s chief Khaled Meshaal … Officially, the Palestinian terror organization appears to support the normalization deal, lauding Turkey for the efforts it had invested in solidarity with people in Gaza. In a press statement issued on Monday, the movement extended its gratitude to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his support of the Palestinian people. “Those stands are accordant with a long history of Turkish support and solidarity with Palestinians,” Hamas said, hailing the “martyred” and wounded activists on board the Mavi Marmara as heroes who sacrificed their lives and blood for Palestine. “The Movement looks forward to a Turkish role that ends the Gaza siege and stops Israeli incursions,” the statement underlined.
Turkey-Israel deal leaves Gaza siege intact
EI 27 June by Ali Abunimah — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip expressed anger and dismay on Monday about the deal normalizing relations between Israel and Turkey that leaves them under a suffocating siege. An Israeli human rights group that monitors the decade-old Israeli blockade of Gaza has also confirmed that the deal does not end Israel’s tight control over the territory that has greatly exacerbated the devastation to Gaza’s economy and society from three major Israeli military assaults since 2008.
Turkey put its once close military and political relations with Israel in the deep freeze six years ago, after Israel attacked the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara as it sailed in international waters as part of a flotilla to Gaza in May 2010, killing nine people and fatally injuring a tenth. Turkey imposed unprecedented military sanctions on Israel in 2011 over the incident. Efforts at reconciliation had been stalemated by the conditions demanded by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: an Israeli apology and compensation over the Mavi Marmara attack and an end to the siege of Gaza. The breakthrough apparently came when Turkey dropped the third and biggest of these demands and accepted that Israel would maintain its blockade.
In a face-saving measure, Israel will allow Turkey to increase its “humanitarian” role and infrastructure projects in the besieged territory. The Turkish government has tried to spin the deal positively. A senior official told The Electronic Intifada that under the deal Turkey “will deliver humanitarian aid and other non-military products to Gaza and make infrastructure investments in the area.” This would include new residential buildings and a 200-bed hospital. The official added that “concrete steps will be taken to address the energy and water crisis in Gaza. The amount of electricity and drinking water to Gaza residents will increase and new power plants will be constructed.” At a press conference in Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim asserted that the siege on Gaza had been “largely lifted” as a result of the agreement. Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that monitors Israel’s blockade of Gaza, said the deal did nothing to challenge Israel’s “shameful” control over the lives of 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza. “What Netanyahu has given Erdogan is not a change in policy, but rather a circumscribed gesture, like allowing him to put down plastic buildings in a game of Monopoly,” Gisha’s director Tania Hary wrote in a scathing op-ed in the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz. Palestinian commentators from Gaza agreed….
Israel must apologize to its citizens for lying about Gaza flotilla
+972 blog 27 June by Yael Marom — Now that Israel has signed a reconciliation agreement with Turkey over the Gaza flotilla incident, it must apologize to its own citizens for its lies and distortions. Five takeaways — 1. A Shayetet 13 combat soldier who was among those to raid the Mavi Marmara in May 2010 gave an interview to Ma’ariv Online on Sunday, in the run-up to the reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey, in which he said the following: “We were sent to stop the terror flotilla, that was the mission. How can we pay compensation to terrorists who tried to murder us?” “What kind of message does this send the other combat soldiers?” he asked. “Those who were wounded and thrown off deck by the terrorists who are now getting reparations? Will Shayetet soldiers also be compensated for the trauma they suffered?” Yes, the soldiers who were sent by the state to take part in a violent action with no justification, who were exploited by cynical politicians — they need to demand compensation from the state for the senseless trauma they endured. For the lies and the fraud. Before all that, however, they must demand the state never send them on idiotic missions that have nothing to do with state security. Perhaps now is the time for Israel to admit the truth: the Mavi Marmara was not a “terror flotilla,” and the reasons for stopping it had nothing to do with security — they were entirely political. The people on the flotilla did not sail for Gaza in order to attack Israel, but rather to break the siege on the Strip….
Erdogan slams group behind 2010 Gaza flotilla: ‘Did you even ask me before you set sail?’
Haaretz 30 June by Barak Ravid — Two days after Turkey announced its reconciliation agreement with Israel, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan went on the offensive against the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, the organization behind the May 2010 flotilla to Gaza Strip that sparked the crisis between Jerusalem and Ankara. “Did you ask me before you set sail? Did you ask my permission,” Erdogan said at Wednesday’s iftar meal. In recent days the NGO has voiced serious criticism of Erdogan for reconciling ties with Israel. “When you set sail you need to ask me. Did you ask the prime minister before you embarked on a humanitarian mission from Turkey to Gaza?” Erdogan asked. “[After the agreement] we have guarantees from Israel that it will authorize the entrance of humanitarian aid we send to Gaza.” Earlier Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama called Erdogan and praised him and the Turkish delegation for reaching an accord with Israel….
UN chief criticizes Gaza blockade after Israel-Turkey deal
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 28 June — The U.N. chief on Tuesday criticized Israel’s blockade of Gaza, a day after Israel and Turkey reached a broad reconciliation pact that looked to ease, but not eliminate, the isolation of the coastal strip. In a visit to the region, which included a stop at a Gaza school, Ban Ki-moon said “the closure of Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts.” “It’s a collective punishment for which there must be accountability,” he added. Israel and Turkey meanwhile formalized their agreement to restore full diplomatic relations after six years of animosity between the once-close allies. In Ankara, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu signed the deal, paving the way for its approval in parliament. The largely procedural signing was closed to the media. In a similar, parallel ceremony, Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold signed the pact in Jerusalem. The agreement with Israel will include an exchange of ambassadors and Israeli compensation for the deaths of 10 Turkish citizens from a 2010 Israeli naval raid on an activist flotilla that aimed to breach the Gaza blockade. Turkey will also be allowed to bring relief supplies into Gaza and carry out new development projects here, but the deal did not fully lift the blockade imposed on the Hamas-ruled territory to prevent the Palestinian militant group from importing arms. A Turkish aid ship bearing 10,000 tons of aid for Gaza is scheduled to depart Friday for the Israeli port of Ashdod, according to a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Gaza’s Hamas rulers thanked Erdogan for his support in alleviating the strip’s hardship but stopped short of endorsing the pact … Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, said the Israeli-Turkey deal amounts to Turkish recognition of the Gaza blockade. “From the moment you signed it, you are making this blockade legal,” Kilicdaroglu said, addressing the authorities. “You are accepting Israel’s control over Gaza.”
Paris suburb votes to boycott all goods from Israeli settlements
JTA 27 June — Though recent rulings blocked pro-Palestine motions by French municipalities, Bondy district claims ‘it is a legitimate civil right to be able to accept or refuse to buy merchandise according to its origin’ — A municipality near the French capital passed a motion declaring a boycott of Israeli settlement goods and vowing further research and labeling on other products from the Jewish state. The council of Bondy, located north of Paris, whose mayor, Sylvine Thomassin, belongs to French President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party, passed the resolution with only five objections last week on June 23, the news website Rezo Citoyen reported on Saturday. “The Municipal Council of Bondy decided to no longer buy products from Israeli settlements,” read the motion, which had only five objections. It also called for the application of European Commission regulations introduced in November, that require separate labeling for all settlement goods entering the European Union. The regulations so far are only enforced in Belgium, Britain and Denmark….
London High Court rules in favor of BDS groups
IMEMC/Agencies 28 June — A pro-Israel group has lost its legal action against three local authorities who passed resolutions in support of the Palestinians. Today’s High Court, in London, ruling in favor of three councils which have boycotted Israeli settlement goods has been hailed as a “victory for the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign and for democracy”, according to the PNN. The landmark ruling is also a rejection of the government’s attempts, in February, to stop councils from adopting ethical procurement and investment policies by implying that legal action could be brought successfully against them. Sara Apps, interim Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), said: “Today’s High Court ruling is an important victory for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and for democracy itself. Councils have been told categorically by the High Court that there is nothing unlawful in ethically boycotting Israeli settlement goods, and PSC welcomes this ruling. “The UK government’s attempts to intimidate local councils into dropping ethical procurement and investment policies clearly have no legal basis. Councils can legally adopt policies which avoid or end links with Israel’s illegal settlements. “We applaud Leicester, Swansea and Gwynedd councils for standing up for their democratic right to free speech, and we look forward to working alongside them and other councils who choose to adopt policies in support of Palestinian human rights.” The case against Leicester, Swansea and Gwynedd city councils was brought by Jewish Human Rights Watch, which has been ordered to pay the legal costs of all three councils.
Two Palestinian women confirmed dead, seven Palestinians injured in Istanbul terrorist bombing
IMEMC 30 June — The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has reported, Thursday, that two Palestinian women have been killed, and seven other Palestinians have been wounded, in the terrorist attack that targeted Ataturk Airport in Istanbul Turkey, leading to the death of 42 persons. The ministry said that Sondos Abdul-Halim Basha, from the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, died of her wounds, and that another woman, identified as Nisreen Hashem Hammad, 28, from ‘Arraba near Jenin, died in the attack.Hammad was a teacher and a married mother of one daughter, 4 years of age, and was living with her family in Jidda, Saudi Arabia. Her husband, Marwan, and their daughter, Rafeef, were injured. Palestinian Ambassador in Turkey Faed Mustafa said that the remains of the two slain Palestinian women will be transferred to Palestine after concluding all needed preparations, and added that seven Palestinians are currently receiving treatment in a number of Turkish hospitals, after suffering mild-to-moderate injuries. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said his ministry is closely following the developments, and the outcome of this terrorist bombing, adding that President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the formation of a crises committee in the Palestinian Embassy and in the Foreign Ministry, in order to provide the needed aid.
Hamas awaiting answers regarding municipal elections in West Bank
MEMO 27 June — Hamas yesterday expressed its unhappiness regarding the setting of a date for municipal elections in occupied West Bank before a national agreement is reached, the Safa news agency reported. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said his movement is “sad” about this unilateral measure, which ignores the Palestinian national movement. In addition, he said that his movement had been waiting for the head of the Elections Committee, Hanna Naser, to answer questions given to him during his last meeting with Hamas officials regarding the municipal elections. “We are still waiting for the answers to these questions in order to announce our final position regarding these elections,” Abu-Zuhri said. On 8 October, the PA Ministerial Council decided to carry out municipal elections and authorised the Elections Central Committee to start preparing for the elections and to take all the measures needed to carry them out on time.
Israel owes $8bn to Palestinian workers
MEMO 28 June — The Israeli treasury has withheld NIS 31bn ($8bn) since 1970 from Palestinian workers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authority (PA) Working Minister Mamoun abu-Shahla revealed on Tuesday. The Israeli treasury owes this money to around three million Palestinian workers working in Israel over the past 46 years, the minister said, according to QudsNet news website. Although Israeli law equates Palestinian workers with Israeli workers, the Israeli authorities ignore the rights of the Palestinians, he said. Like the Israeli workers, the Palestinians are subject to seven deductions imposed by the Israeli treasury, but unlike the Israelis, the Palestinians are not entitled to benefit from these deductions by receiving pensions and child allowances, for example. Abu-Shahla said that the PA is working forcefully to regain this amount of money through its cooperation with the International Work Agency and other international bodies.
Journalist forced into exile by Palestinian Authority ‘death threats’
BETHLEHEM, Occupied West Bank (MEE) 27 June by Rori Donaghy – A young Palestinian journalist and contributor to Middle East Eye says that he has been forced into exile because of death threats from the Palestinian Authority after he exposed police brutality in the occupied West Bank. Abed al-Qaisi, 24, is from the Beit Jibrin refugee camp in Bethlehem and his work has regularly appeared in Middle East Eye, as well as in Al Jazeera English, Vice, and elsewhere. On 15 May, he left the West Bank to travel to Europe for a three-week leadership programme. But as he tried to enter Jordan at the Allenby Bridge crossing, Israeli authorities held him for seven hours, during which time they repeatedly interrogated him about his planned trip. After finally being given permission to travel, Qaisi was told that he should return for further interrogation in Bethlehem two days later. Instead, he decided to travel to Europe where he completed his leadership programme and has since remained because he fears that he will be imprisoned or worse if he returns home. Qaisi’s interrogation by Israeli authorities was the culmination of what he claimed has been months of intimidation and threats that have mostly come from his own government – the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA). Qaisi said that he has been targeted because of a video he published with MEE last September which showed PA security forces beating Palestinians in Bethlehem during a protest against Israeli settler attacks on the Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. The video showed at least 10 security forces surrounding two teenage protesters who lay on the ground as officers kicked and beat them with batons.
Israel’s security figures take aim at hard-line Netanyahu
JERUSALEM (AP) 28 June — Long-serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a potentially formidable challenge to his hard-line rule — not from Israel’s civilian politicians but instead from its revered security establishment. An extraordinary array of former top commanders are criticizing Netanyahu in increasingly urgent terms, accusing him of mishandling the Palestinian issue and allying with extremists bent on dismantling Israel’s democracy. On Tuesday, a group representing more than 200 retired leaders in Israel’s military, police, Mossad spy service and Shin Bet security agency presented a plan to help end the half-century occupation of the Palestinians through unilateral steps, including disavowing claims to over 90 percent of the West Bank and freezing Jewish settlement construction in such areas. The movement, called Commanders for Israel’s Security, reflects an increasingly widespread assessment that Israel is drifting catastrophically toward permanent entanglement with the Palestinians and conflict with the world community. “Things are getting worse and worse,” said retired Maj. Gen. Amnon Reshef, the group’s founder and a former commander of Israel’s armored corps. “What kind of future do we have here? What are we going to leave for our kids and young children?” Although a peace deal may not be possible at present, “still something can and should be done right now,” he said….
Israel’s stop-and-frisk law ‘blatant racism’
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 27 June by Zena Tahhan — Walking towards Jerusalem’s Old City, it has become an ordinary sight to witness Israeli soldiers patting down several Palestinian teenagers simultaneously; hands pressed up against the wall, heads facing forward, and legs spread. Thanks to recent legislation, passed by the Israeli government in February, the ‘ stop-and-frisk law ‘ allows Israeli soldiers to body search any passer-by “regardless of behaviour, in a location that is thought to be a target for hostile destructive actions”. “It is blatant racism. Anyone that merely looks Arab – and apparently Israelis know what Arabs look like – is taken to the side,” Jamil Freij, Palestinian resident of Jerusalem told Al Jazeera. Freij, 26, who works in the Old City, says the “unbelievable” number of Israeli forces deployed has made him extremely unsettled. “They’re crazy. They would shoot me – just like that. All they need is a glimpse of doubt.” … According to the law, soldiers can inspect any individual, in specific locations, without having to answer for their actions. This has resulted in what rights groups describe as “openly racist” treatment towards Palestinians who are being body searched, sometimes aggressively, based solely on their appearance. “Any Palestinian who is passing by is subject to being searched. Israeli soldiers would make them stand from between 15 minutes to an hour. It is not just that they search them – but the way they are being searched is humiliating,” said Nisreen Allayan, the lawyer for the East Jerusalem project at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. “They always make them lift their arms and open their legs. Sometimes they make them unbutton their pants and lift up their shirts in the middle of the street. They also make them stand on the side for a while even after they’re done searching them,” said Allayan, describing the way young Palestinian men are being inspected….
Netanyahu vows to work to oust Israeli Arab MK who called soldiers murderers
Haaretz/Jonathan Lis 29 June — Ethics Committee expected to severely punish Zoabi in the next few days and sources in coalition say her comments could help bill allowing MKs to be removed to turn into law — Following a stormy Knesset session that resulted in MK Haneen Zoabi’s removal from the plenum on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he is working to advance her expulsion from the legislature. A clash broke out at the Knesset plenum on Wednesday when Zoabi (Joint List) called Israeli soldiers who participated in the takeover of the 2010 Gaza flotilla “murderers.” Her comments took place during a session on the reconciliation agreement with Turkey, formally announced a day earlier. “I spoke again this evening with the attorney general to consider advancing the process of expelling Haneen Zoabi from the Knesset. In her actions and her lies, she’s crossed every line and she has no place in the Knesset,” Netanyahu said. Coalition members assessed Wednesday evening that the clash with Zoabi in the Knesset would give strong tailwind to move forward with the so-called suspension bill, giving it a substantial push before the end of the summer session. In an unusual occurrance, the bill, which would allow the Knesset to remove a sitting Knesset member, is being led by the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee of the Knesset. The committee is expected to renew discussions on the subject next week….
African nations at UNHRC call on Israel to ‘end the occupation’ now
JPost 27 June by Tovah Lazaroff — The Palestinian people have a right “to self-determination and to a State on the basis of the borders of June 4, 1967, with east Jerusalem as its capital,” says African Group — Israel must immediately end its occupation of the West Bank and its blockade on Gaza, the regional African Group told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday. “The African Group calls for putting an immediate end to Israel’s occupation, settlements, blockade on two million people in the Gaza Strip, the detention and imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians, and all other forms of collective punishment targeting the oppressed Palestinian people,” the 54-member African Group said in a statement that was delivered by South Africa on their behalf. It made its statement during the infamous Agenda Item 7, which mandates that the UNHRC debate Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinians during each session. No other nation has such a standing Agenda Item.…
Police: 130 undocumented cars seized and destroyed in Ramallah area
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 June — Palestinian police have seized and destroyed 130 undocumented vehicles in the Ramallah district in the central occupied West Bank since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, according to a statement released by the police public information office on Wednesday. In the statement, the office said that young men have been disrupting other citizens after midnight during Ramadan by drifting in the middle of the streets and playing loud music. Most of those, added the statement, drove undocumented vehicles. As a result, police carried out overnight crackdowns, confiscating more than a hundred undocumented cars. Driving undocumented vehicles has become a popular phenomenon in the occupied Palestinian territory. Many of these cars were either stolen or bought from Israel without registration. In Israel, cars display yellow number plates, while the number plates are green for cars in the Palestinian territory. Palestinians who hold PA identity cards are not allowed to drive yellow-plated cars both in Israel and in the Palestinian areas. Before the PA received authority to govern parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Palestinians were allowed to buy used cars from Israel and change their registration plates to green ones. However, the PA banned the registration of cars purchased from Israel…. [also in the Ramallah area:– Bil‘in photojournalist Haitham Khatib has had his car taken by the IDF this month in a night raid, as have others in the village; it’s not just undocumented cars. See his Facebook page.]
Why does FIFA still recognise Israeli settlement teams?
Al Jazeera 30 June by Martin Konecny & Hugh Lovatt — This is a case where FIFA’s own laws need to be applied, not negotiated or bent — This week FIFA’s senior representative, Tokyo Sexwale, will throw his hat into the ring as he attempts to resolve disagreements between Israeli and Palestinian football associations. The disputes are over Israeli restrictions placed on the movement of Palestinian players and the participation of at least five Israeli football clubs in Israeli leagues – two issues which Palestinians claim contravene FIFA’s own rules. While progress has been achieved on movement for Palestinian players, the issue of settlement teams remains intractable. Their inclusion within Israeli leagues is the manifestation of a political process that seeks to normalise Israel’s claim to the Palestinian territory it occupied in 1967. In this context, football has become a tool to legitimise the expanding settlements as an integral part of Israel. The trouble for Israel is that everyone else in the world – including its closest allies – agrees that settlements are not part of its territory….
WIDER IMAGE – Palestinian swimmer glides past obstacles to reach Rio Games
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) 28 June — Palestinian swimmer Mary al-Atrash can’t wait to make a splash at the Rio Olympics in August, but participation, rather than a podium finish, is probably the best she can hope for. Atrash competes in the 50 metres freestyle but her best time of 29.91 seconds is more than four seconds slower than the Olympic qualifying threshold of 25.28 seconds, in itself almost two seconds behind the world record. Atrash will be one of six Palestinians competing in Rio and the delegation will be the largest Palestine has sent to the Games since its first participation in the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. Five competitors appeared in London in 2012. “I am so happy, representing Palestine in competitions is a dream for any Palestinian athlete, especially the Olympics,” Atrash told Reuters. The 22-year-old university graduate’s preparations have been hampered because she does not have an Olympic-sized pool to train in. There are none in the Palestinian territories and she has to settle for a 25-metre pool. She also has no training partners and relies only on her coach, Musa Nawawra, with occasional travel to competitions abroad … Use of superior Israeli facilities and training partners in nearby Jerusalem where there are several Olympic-sized pools and many swimmers, has not been possible due to the long-standing conflict with Israel. Atrash is one of two swimmers and two runners invited, a man and woman in each category, to compete under an International Olympic Committee programme for nations whose athletes have not managed to attain the qualifying minimum.Mohammed Abu Khoussa will run in the 100 and 200 metres sprints and Mayada Sayyad in the marathon. Swimmer Ahmed Jibril will compete in the 200 and 400 metres freestyle.
Ramadan festivals become flashpoint of secular, religious strife among Israeli Arabs
Haaretz 30 June by Jack Khoury — The events organized by social activists and the Tira municipality triggered a clash with conservative groups, culminating with threats and thugs’ attempts to sabotage the activities by breaking the stands — A struggle erupted in Tira this year over the appropriate activity after the fast during the Ramadan month. Religious conservative groups have come out against events including music and entertainment organized by secular activists. These events, dubbed Ramadan Nights or Ramadan Market, were organized by social activists and the Tira municipality, who put up stands in the city center. The activities triggered a clash with conservative groups, culminating with threats and thugs’ attempts to sabotage the activities by breaking the stands. The struggle was also reflected in the social networks and in lively discussions among residents. One of the victims of this clash was Samar Samara, a social worker in the Tira municipality and a social activist, and one of the organizers of the cultural activity on Ramadan Nights. Samara’s picture was posted on Facebook, captioned, “Beware of this heretic and harlot.” Other pictures of her posted on Facebook branded her as a Shin Bet agent and accused her of encouraging women to dress in a revealing way … The main argument made by those targeting the Ramadan activities was that the events have nothing to do with Ramadan rites and values. One of these was the Sharia courts administrator, Kadi Abdel Hakim Samara, who posted a status that Ramadan was a month of prayer, atonement, conduct appropriate to religious values and growing closer to God. “Since when is Ramadan dancing in which boys and girls mix, singing, rejoicing and rioting on roads and plazas? Who is inspiring such events in Tira?” he wrote.
A shorter road to peace
Times of Israel 22 June by Susie Lubell — Yesterday I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and drove an hour to a crossing between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. I called a Palestinian man named Nayim and let him know I had arrived there a little early and that I would wait. It was 7 a.m. and the crossing was teeming with men waiting for rides to their places of work in Israel. I stayed on the Israeli side, parked in a dirt lot. Vans and trucks came and went picking up groups of men. While the men waited they chatted and swiped their cell phones. A few were smoking, though not many. It’s Ramadan. After about 15 minutes, a tall man with a broad smile approached my car. I opened the window. “Are you Susie?” he asked in accented Hebrew. “Yes, I’m Susie. Nice to meet you.” I replied. “Come on in.” He walked around to the other side where he and a female companion entered my car. “May I sit in the front?” “Of course! Whatever is comfortable for you.” He introduced himself as Raafat. The woman sitting in back was his mom. She wore traditional clothing. He wore jeans and a tee-shirt. His short sleeves did not quite cover the port taped to his right bicep. His mom smiled and spoke a few pleasantries in Arabic. I smiled back and wished her a Ramadan kareem. Everyone buckled and we started our drive to Hadassah Ein Karem, an Israeli hospital outside of Jerusalem. A one hour drive from Eyal Crossing, near the city of Kalkiliya on the Palestinian side, Kfar Saba on the Israeli side. Raafat and his family live in Kalkiliya [Qalqiliya], a few minutes walk from the border. This was to be his second treatment at Hadassah Hospital. Raafat has lymphoma. Last time it took him and his mom four hours to get to his appointment and 500 shekels ($125) in cab fare. One way. His treatment protocol is two days of treatment every twenty days, but it’s outpatient. He doesn’t stay at the hospital. A week ago a friend of his had mentioned an organization called Road to Recovery that provides rides to Palestinian patients who are being treated in Israeli hospitals. Raafat made a phone call to Nayim, the coordinator on the Palestinian side, and now here he was in my car … Yuval and his team coordinate 600 volunteer Israeli drivers who provide 10,000 rides a year to ill Palestinians. Mostly children…..
In Qalqilya, local zoo is ready for the international spotlight
Palestine Monitor 23 June by Lili Martinez — One might think there’s nothing much to do in Qalqilya, a West Bank city of around 45,000 tucked on a hillside near the border with Israel. Qalqilya is mostly known for being surrounded on all sides by the occupation wall, with only one crowded checkpoint left for residents to enter and exit the city. But Qalqilya has another claim to fame: its live-animal zoo, taxidermy museum and educational center, run by Dr. Sami Khader, known as “Dr. Sami,” a jack-of-all-trades veterinarian who both cares for the animals and bears the unfortunate burden of stuffing them when they pass away. News outlets from Japan to New York have come to visit Dr. Sami’s odd museum of living and dead animals and to chronicle the story of his “apolitical” zoo and family fun park lying on the edge of a struggling and oft-besieged city. They all mention how he got his start in taxidermy during the Second Intifada, which began in 2000. As Israeli soldiers stormed a nearby school, they detoured into the zoo, shooting randomly. Rudy, the zoo’s prize giraffe, struck his head on a metal beam in panic and eventually died of the blow. His partner, Brownie, and her unborn baby giraffe succumbed weeks later to a mixture of grief and potent Israeli tear gas. Dr. Sami couldn’t bear to let the bodies go to waste, so he preserved them and began his self-taught career in taxidermy….