Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli forces detain 2 in Bil‘in protest, Black Lives Matter activists among protesters
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 July — Israeli forces on Friday arrested two activists as they dispersed the weekly protest in the village of Bil‘in in the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank. Israeli forces detained two protesters, identified as Hamzah Ghazi al-Khatib,17, and Palestinian-solidarity-activist Inad Leaf — whose nationality remained unidentified — and took them to an unknown destination … Bil‘in has long been one of the most active villages in peaceful organized opposition against Israeli policies, as residents have protested every Friday for 11 consecutive years, and are often met with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and stun grenades from Israeli forces …Residents of the village were joined in solidarity by international and Israeli activists, including several activists from the Black Lives Matter movement, a social and racial justice and equality movement that began in the United States in response to numerous “extrajudicial killings” of black Americans by police officers and civilians, and aims to work “for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.” Many within the movement have found a common struggle with Palestinian resistance to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory and their human rights abuses against the Palestinians, particularly as Israel has been the target of widespread international condemnation for what has been labeled by critics as a “shoot-to-kill” policy against Palestinians since a wave of unrest began last October, during which more than 200 Palestinians have been slain by Israeli forces, many of them in apparent “extrajudicial executions” when they posed no threat. In a statement on the official Black Lives Matter Facebook page, the group posted a picture of activists holding up Palestinian flags and signs of solidarity at the protest.
15-year-old Palestinian abused, medically neglected during detention by Israeli police
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 July — A 15-year-old Palestinian boy sustained a broken hand and heavy bruising after being assaulted and detained by undercover Israeli police officers in the ‘Issawiya neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. Fadi Rafat al-‘Issawi was detained last Sunday when two Israeli undercover police officers in civilian clothing stopped to ask him and his friend Mustafa Abu al-Hummus for directions, before the officers assaulted the two minors and detained them for allegedly throwing rocks, according to a member of the village’s monitoring committee Muhammad Abu al-Hummus … Fadi was sent away to Beit Hanina, a neighborhood north of his home in ‘Issawiya, where he was placed under house arrest. It remained unclear with whom al-Issawi was staying. Fadi’s mother told Ma‘an he suffered from medical negligence while in Israeli police custody, and was only taken to hospital at 11 p.m. despite being arrested in the afternoon, and despite suffering from apparent fractures, bruising, and pain. His mother added that the family was prevented from visiting Fadi when they were called to the hospital an hour later. After Fadi finished his treatment at 2 a.m., he was placed in a police car where he remained until 6 a.m. Israeli police did not provide him with painkillers or antibiotics as doctors had recommended, according to Fadi’s mother, and they ignored his treatment during the three days he spent at Jerusalem’s Russian Compound police station and detention center. She added that Fadi’s family took him to a hospital after he was released, where his cast had to be redone, and doctors said his hand might need to undergo surgery. Doctors also revealed that Fadi sustained a minor hairline fracture in his nose and an infection in his mouth after being hit in the face. [IMEMC: Fadi is the nephew of Shireen, Samer and Medhat Issawi, all currently imprisoned in Israeli jails.]
Young man suffers a broken arm; many suffer effects of tear gas inhalation in Ni‘lin
IMEMC 29 July — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall and colonies in Ni‘lin village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, causing one Palestinian to suffer a fracture in his arm, and many others suffered the effects of teargas inhalation. The coordinator of the Popular Committee in Ni‘lin Mohammad ‘Amira said the soldiers violently assaulted the nonviolent protesters and fired rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs, and concussion grenades. He added that a young man was shot with a gas bomb in his arm, causing a fracture, while many protesters suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation. Amira added that today’s protest marks the third anniversary of the death of a child, identified as Ahmad Husam Mousa, 10, who was shot dead by the Israeli army, and the first anniversary of the death of the Dawabsha family, who were burnt to death after Israeli terrorists firebombed their home, in Douma village, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus … The soldiers also assaulted Palestinian journalists and tried to force them away, leading to an argument with Palestine TV an anchor, Journalist Ali Dar Ali.
Armed Israeli settlers raid Nablus-area villages
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 29 July — Armed Israeli settlers, escorted by Israeli forces, raided the village of al-Badhan in the northeastern part of the occupied West Bank district of Nablus Friday morning, locals told Ma‘an. Witnesses said that more than 15 Israeli settler vehicles raided the village where some 3,000 Palestinians reside as Israeli forces were reportedly deployed on the main road leading to the al-Tawahin area. Locals told Ma‘an that armed Israeli settlers have raided the area every Friday in order to carry out religious rituals in the area … Locals added that since the village of al-Badhan is considered a tourist attraction for Israelis, and connects Nablus with the West Bank districts of Tubas, Jericho, and Jenin, locals have feared the area could become a target for Israeli land confiscations to expand surrounding Israeli settlements.
Arrest raids target Palestinians in Jerusalem, Nablus, refugee camps throughout West Bank
Samidoun 29 July — A series of ongoing pre-dawn arrest raids have targeted scores of Palestinians over the past week, especially in Jerusalem and its suburbs and in refugee camps throughout the West Bank. On Thursday morning, 28 July, in the pre-dawn hours, Israeli occupation forces arrested and detained at least 18 Palestinians. These arrests included an invasion of Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, where Palestinian youth took to the streets to defend their camp against the invading soldiers; they were fired on with live ammunition, stun grenades, and tear gas … In Shuafat refugee camp, Bassam Alhueini and his brother, Anas Alhueini, were both detained by occupation forces. In Al-Khalil, four Palestinian young people were seized from the city, while two Palestinians in Qalandiya refugee camp were arrested; one Palestinian was arrested in al-Walaja village. These detentions followed the mass arrest of 52 Palestinians, including 11 minors, in Jerusalem towns and communities. The mass arrests targeted Jerusalem families one day after 30 Israeli home demolitions destroyed Palestinian homes under the pretext of lack of permission to build. Ma’an News reported that the arrest campaign was labeled “the 700 campaign” because it involved 700 Israeli occupation police officers. 33 of the detainees were taken from the neighborhood of Silwan.
Army kidnaps four Palestinians in Hebron and Nablus, guard at Al-Aqsa Mosque
IMEMC 29 July — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Friday morning, four Palestinians after stopping them at military roadblocks, in the West Bank districts of Hebron and Nablus. On Thursday evening, the soldiers kidnapped a guard of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers, stationed at the Container roadblock, northeast of Bethlehem, stopped and searched a Palestinian car, and kidnapped two young men from Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank. In addition, the soldiers invaded Ein Beit al-Maa’ refugee camp, west of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and kidnapped a young man, identified as Ibrahim Abu ar-Reesh, 30, after storming his home and searching it. Furthermore, soldiers stationed at the Za‘tara roadblock, near Nablus, stopped and searched several Palestinian cars, and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Mahmoud Yousef al-Wadi, 43, from Nablus.
On Thursday at night, the soldiers invaded a home in occupied Jerusalem, and kidnapped a guard of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, before taking him to an interrogation center in the city. The soldiers also released another guard, identified as Arafat Najeeb, after issuing an order preventing him from entering the mosque for six months. An official of the Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Waqf and Holy Sites Affairs, received an order preventing him from entering Al-Aqsa for four months. The Ministry of Waqf and the head of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, denounced the ongoing Israeli violations against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and various holy sites in occupied Palestine.
Israeli forces detain 5, injure 1 in raids
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 30 July — Israeli forces detained at least five Palestinians and injured another between Friday evening and early Saturday morning across the occupied West Bank, including a teenager and a Palestinian Presidential Guard member. In the village of Beit Ummar in northern Hebron on Friday evening, Israeli forces detained a Palestinian teenager, according to local activist Muhmmad Ayyad Awad, who identified the teen as 16-year-old Muhammad Samir Sadiq Abu Maria. During a predawn raid of the Hebron-area village of Beit ‘Anun on Saturday, Israeli forces detained Palestinian Presidential Guard member Fahmi Nidal al-Froukh after ransacking his home and several others, according to locals and confirmed by an Israeli army spokesperson. To the north in the occupied West Bank district of Jenin, Israeli forces raided the eastern part of Jenin city, detaining three Palestinians and injuring another when clashes broke out being Israeli soldiers and locals. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Fawzi Abu Daqqah, 21, was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet and was taken to Jenin Governmental Hospital for treatment in a light-to-moderate condition, while others suffered from tear gas inhalation. Sources said Israeli forces detained three youths during the raids….
A year after Duma firebombing, Dawabsha family vows to persevere
JPost 29 July by Adam Rasgon — “Catch him, catch him, catch him,” yells six-year-old Ahmad Dawabsha, running after a bee with his cousins in his hometown Duma, a Palestinian village southeast of Nablus. He and his cousins slowly approach the bee resting on the ledge of his uncle’s and aunt’s porch and smack it with a rag. “Yes, now we have caught eight bees,” he says. Ahmad is all smiles and full of energy. He finally returned to his village last week. Exactly a year ago this Sunday, suspected Jewish terrorists firebombed the Dawabsha family’s modest one-story home in the middle of the night, setting Ahmad, his parents, Saad and Riham, and his brother, 18-month-old Ali, ablaze. Ali died within minutes. Saad, who suffered from 90 percent burns to his body, succumbed to his wounds a week later. And Riham, who suffered from 80 percent burns, died a month after Saad. Ahmad fought for his life in the hospital, spending 25 days in intensive care and undergoing multiple surgeries, skin grafts, and other treatments. His condition gradually improved and the team of doctors responsible for his care discharged him last week. Nasr Dawabsha, Ahmad’s paternal uncle, told The Jerusalem Post in his living room that his nephew has overcome many obstacles, but still has a long road ahead of him. “Ahmad will be returning to the hospital every Monday for laser treatment. He then will undergo a number of beautification surgeries. All in all, the doctors say that Ahmad has another eight years until he will complete his treatment,” he said. Nasr also said that Ahmad still does not fully realize what happened to his parents and brother. “He knows they died and went to heaven, but he does not understand what that means. He thinks that he can travel to Ramallah or Nablus to see his parents and brother sometime soon,” he said. “He asks about them every day and their absence is taking a heavy toll on him.” … Moreover, the Dawabsha family is still in the process of a legal battle in Israel. The family overwhelmingly believes that the court will not ultimately deliver justice and hold the perpetrators accountable. Speaking of the ongoing trial, Hussein said, “The perpetrators need to be held accountable. But I don’t think that will happen in this country,” he said. Despite not expecting justice, he said that his family will continue to attend hearings to prove that the Dawabsha family is still standing….
Israel uses Caterpillar equipment in apparent extrajudicial killing
EI 28 July by Ali Abunimah — Israeli occupation forces used a Caterpillar excavator in the apparent extrajudicial execution of a Palestinian man, using the so-called pressure cooker procedure in which construction equipment is employed as a weapon, analysis by The Electronic Intifada shows. Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Illinois, has long been the focus of boycott and divestment campaigns for selling equipment Israel uses in human rights abuses and war crimes, including the demolitions of homes and construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Late on Tuesday night, Israeli forces massed in the town of Surif, near the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, and launched an assault on a house in which they besieged Muhammad al-Faqih. The Israelis eventually demolished most of the house with al-Faqih still inside … In August 2014, Israeli forces used a militarized Caterpillar D9 bulldozer in a similar assault on a building in the village of Qabalan near the West Bank city of Nablus. Zakaria al-Aqra, the 24-year-old target of the attack, was killed, six of his relatives were wounded and the house was badly damaged during the eight-hour operation … –Armored excavator– Analysis of video and photos of the Israeli assault on Surif allows the large machine used to demolish the house where al-Faqih was besieged to be identified as the Bagger E-349 armored excavator. As the Israeli army’s ground command website shows, this is a weaponized version of Caterpillar’s model 349E Hydraulic Excavator. These images show the machine used in the Surif assault:….
B’Tselem: Israel’s use of administrative detention on Palestinian minors steadily increasing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 July — Israeli human rights group B’Tselem released a report Thursday evening revealing that Israeli authorities have steadily increased their use of administrative detention — Israel’s policy of internment without charge or trial — on Palestinian minors since October. The group stated in the report that the controversial policy that allows for the detention of Palestinians without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence had not been used by Israeli authorities on Palestinian minors since December 2011. However, the group found that Israeli authorities had begun to use the policy again on Palestinian minors as of October, when a wave of violence first erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel. According to figures sent to the group by Israel Prison Service (IPS), the number of Palestinian minors held without charge or trial in Israeli prisons rose steadily from October, with four minors held in administrative detention in October 2015, while 13 minors were reportedly held at the end of April this year….
Israel accuses Ma‘an News of incitement, bans TV channel from prisons
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 July — The Ma‘an TV channel was banned from playing inside Israeli prisons on Friday, as the Israel Prison Services (IPS) claimed the channel was inciting Palestinian prisoners against Israel. The alleged ban was first reported by the head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, Issa Qaraqe, who told Ma‘an that the news of the ban came from Palestinians inside Israeli prisons who said IPS officials decided to ban the channel after accusing the Palestinian news channel of “inciting and harming the security of Israel.” Qaraqe added that the Palestinian prisoners said they were dependent on the Ma‘an TV channel for their main source of news on Palestine and deeply resented the IPS officials’ decision. “Ma‘an is a national TV channel that has focused on the prisoners’ cause and their communication with their families, while broadcasting solidarity sit-ins and activities,” Qaraqe said, adding that the decision by Israeli authorities was arbitrary and a larger part of Israel’s war against Palestinians. Editor-in-Chief of Ma‘an News Agency Dr. Nasser Lahham said that Ma‘an TV, one of the most popular media channels in Palestine, “never considered pleasing Israel or any other side.” “We have always been this way and we will continue to be this way,” Lahham added. The spokesperson for Fatah-affiliated prisoners and former prisoners Nashat al-Wahidi said that the decision revealed the “ugly terrorist face” of the Israeli government, and warned that the move signals an increase in “racist Israeli policies targeting the lives of Palestinian prisoners.” Al-Wahidi pointed out that other Palestinian and Arab TV channels have also been banned in Israel’s prisons, including Palestine TV and al-Arabiya.
Nablus-area checkpoint reopens following 3-week closure
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 29 July — The Israeli army reopened a checkpoint in the Huwwara town in the eastern part of the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Thursday, according to a statement released by the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), following a nearly three-week closure since the road was blockaded by Israeli forces on July 9. Yoav Poly Mordechai said in the statement that as a result of the recent quiet in the Huwwara area in Nablus, the a checkpoint connecting Huwwara with the village of ‘Awarta to its northeast would reopen to allow traffic in both directions. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that the crossing was closed following repeated incidents of “rock attacks” in the village of Huwwara, as Israeli forces were deployed at the checkpoint to “protect civilians traveling the route” before the crossing was closed. The army spokesperson confirmed that the closure was lifted following two weeks without a rock-throwing incident. However, she added that since the reopening of the crossing, there have been several incidents of “rock hurling”… The main Huwwara checkpoint, which acts as one of the main entrances to the city of Nablus, is one of several Israeli military checkpoints in the area, where an increasing number of Israeli settlers has been matched by an increasing presence of Israeli forces, who make routine incursions into Palestinian communities. The Nablus governorate, comprising the city of Nablus, three refugee camps, and fifteen villages, is home to over 200,000 Palestinians whose movement has been severely restricted for the past six years, with Israeli human rights group B’Tselem describing military restrictions on locals as a “siege.” Entry and exit is possible only via one of four Israeli checkpoints in the surrounding area. While the Israeli army has argued that such encirclement enables effective control of those entering and leaving the area, making it easier for security forces to thwart “terrorist attacks,” local residents believe the presence aims to protect expanding settlements.
Israeli forces injure two Palestinians in Gaza during clashes near Israeli border
GAZA (Ma‘an) 29 July — Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinians with live fire during clashes east of Gaza City on Friday in the besieged Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Ministry of Health Spokesman in Gaza, Ashraf al-Qidra, told Ma‘an that two Palestinians in their twenties were shot with live fire in their feet, and were taken to the hospital in what al-Qidra reported as “moderate condition.” … Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have crowded near the borders with Israel nearly every Friday to show solidarity with what Palestinians in Gaza have termed the “Jerusalem Intifada” taking place in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip since the unrest spread in October, the majority shot dead during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border.
Gaza’s sick pay price of blockade
EI 27 July by Isra Saleh el-Namey — Gaza has had chronic shortages of medicines as a result of political division between the West Bank and Gaza, as well as Israel’s siege — Huda Jalal is still mourning the death of her baby in late May. The 32-year-old went into premature labor and gave birth before her baby’s lungs had developed sufficiently. The hospital put the baby, Sami, in an incubator at which point he should have received a Betamethasone injection. Betamethasone is used to stimulate growth of the lungs in premature babies. But the drug, which is not expensive according to Mahmoud Deeb Daher, head of the World Health Organization’s Gaza sub-office, was not available. Sami passed away after only one day in the incubator. “I know that it is not easy to give birth in the eighth month, but there are drugs and advanced medical care that can help save lives,” Jalal, whose two other children suffered no complications at birth, told The Electronic Intifada. Hamsa Abu Ajeen, a doctor at al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip where Jalal lost her baby, said there is a shortage of medicine as a result of the Israeli blockade on Gaza, now nearly a decade old. Increasingly, the Ministry of Health in Gaza is struggling with a lack of funds for drugs and vital equipment. The funding shortfall is a direct consequence of the siege harming the economy. Israel, furthermore, prohibits a whole host of goods and construction materials from entering Gaza, citing “security reasons” and the possibility of “dual use,” military and civilian. But the list is in some cases vague and general, including things like “communications equipment,” and while medicines and vital health care products are not meant to be included, X-ray machines and other visual imaging equipment have proven difficult to import and are often held up in Israel … But it is not just the Israeli blockade that is causing shortages. The political division between Hamas, which administers internal affairs in the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, which heads the US and EU-backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank plays a role. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the health ministry spokesperson in Gaza, said his ministry does not receive its agreed allocation of medicines from the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health in the occupied West Bank. He said Gaza gets only 16 percent of what it ought to receive of drugs and other medical requirements….
Families of Gaza war victims protest lack of aid
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 25 July by Isra Namey — Palestinian government has failed the families who need its assistance the most, demonstrators say — Despite the sweltering July heat, Fatima Arief has been camping out in Gaza City for two weeks in an effort to press the Palestinian government for financial compensation after the death of her husband and son during the 2014 Gaza war. Israeli fighter jets shelled the family’s home in Shujayea, in eastern Gaza, two years ago, killing Arief’s husband and one of their sons. Since then, she has struggled to put food on the table for her five grandchildren. “Their loss has placed my family in deeper financial peril,” Arief, 61, told Al Jazeera. “How dare [PA officials] say that the martyrs and injured are the most honourable, while they abandon their vulnerable families?” She is just one among hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza who have taken to the streets this month – some even setting up tents to sleep in the protest camp overnight – to demand payment from the Palestinian Authority (PA). Amid a dire economic crisis in the Gaza Strip, thousands of residents have not received their monthly allowances from the PA, making it increasingly difficult for them to survive. Protesters say they will remain on the streets until their demands to receive aid are met – although the long days in the grueling heat have already taken a toll. “We are treated as if we are beggars, though we are demanding our genuine rights,” Arief’s daughter-in-law, Salwa, told Al Jazeera. Many of the protesters expressed anger at the perceived disconnect between the PA’s statements of support for the families of those who lost relatives in the Gaza war, and its failure to provide for these families….
Second stage of distributing Turkish humanitarian aid in Gaza begins
GAZA CITY (Anadolu Agency) 28 July — The Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs on Thursday began the second stage of distributing Turkish humanitarian aid to poor families in the blockaded Gaza Strip. “The aid will be transferred to several Gaza-based NGOs, which will in turn distribute them to more than 30,000 Palestinian families,” ministry undersecretary Youssef Ibrahim told Anadolu Agency. The first stage of aid distribution benefited some 11,000 poor families in Gaza, he said, adding that a third stage would be organized in upcoming weeks.
WATCH: Hundreds wed in Hamas-sponsored Gaza event
Times of Israel 28 July — Hundreds of couples tied the knot in northern Gaza this week in a Hamas-sponsored mass wedding. Three hundred and thirty brides and grooms celebrated with music, dancing, fireworks and entertainers in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip in an event attended by many senior members of the ruling Hamas group. The grooms arrived on horses and had only words of thanks for Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules Gaza. In addition to covering the costs of the wedding, Hamas also gave each couple a cash gift of $700, donated by a Saudi Arabian charity fund. “These happy (occasions) are (steps) on the way to the greatest happiness of all, the happiness of liberty, independence and returning to all the lands of Palestine. The happiness of prayer at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s top leader in the Strip, said at the event. In keeping with local custom, the grooms danced outside with their younger sisters who wore white, while the brides danced indoors due to modesty concerns … Mass weddings happen every few months in the Gaza strip. A year ago, 2,000 couples wed in a ceremony sponsored by Turkey. Other such ceremonies have been sponsored by United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
West Bank Palestinians exiled to Gaza dream of home
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 29 July by Isra Namey — Residents expelled by Israel to the besieged Gaza Strip 14 years ago say they have been estranged from their origins — Fahmi Kanan’s only desire these days is to be with his elderly father, whose health has rapidly deteriorated in recent months. “I want to see my father before any bad news strikes me,” Kanan, 47, told Al Jazeera from his home in Tel al-Hawa, Gaza. But an impassable distance separates father and son: While Kanan’s father remains in their hometown of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, Kanan was expelled 14 years ago to the besieged Gaza Strip. He was among several dozen West Bank residents exiled by Israel to Gaza or Europe as part of a deal with the Palestinian Authority (PA) to end Israel’s 2002 siege on the Church of the Nativity during the second Intifada. The siege was part of Israel’s effort to apprehend a number of wanted Palestinians holed up inside the church. “More than 200 people barricaded ourselves inside the church, but Israel had identified 39 as “terrorists” who had to be deported to lift the siege,” Kanan recalled, noting that he had sought refuge in the church as violence raged in the area. He acknowledged that he was among the wanted men, having fought to resist the Israeli occupation. Although the deal was supposed to involve only a temporary exile, Kanan said, Israel has not allowed any of the expelled Palestinians back home to the occupied West Bank. They have been kept apart from their families and relatives, as Israel has refused to grant them permits to travel from Gaza into Israel through the Erez crossing … Some of the other Palestinians who were expelled to Gaza under the 2002 deal have had parents and other family members in the West Bank die, without being able to bid farewell or even attend their funerals….
Film — Ambulance: The story of the 2014 war on Gaza
Al Jazeera 28 July — During the 2014 war on Gaza, a Palestinian filmmaker joins an ambulance crew as they try to save lives — Mohamed Jabaly, 24, aspires to make films in Gaza City, despite the lack of water and electricity, and closed borders that are part of every “normal” day under the seven-year Israeli blockade of Gaza. While many young people dream of leaving Gaza, Mohamed wants to help. When he hears the news of a new Israeli offensive on Gaza in July 2014 he decides he cannot merely “wait for death” but must do something. He joins an ambulance crew to document the war. Mohamed comes of age among broken bodies, terrified families, and the constant risk of sudden death. He had never witnessed the effects of violence up close. Within the first few days of war, he finds himself helping victims of a massacre. “It felt like being in the middle of a theatre play. I saw blood. I tasted the pain in the eyes of women, fear in the faces of children. To whom could I show these images that are not merely images?” he says. The ambulance team is led by captain Abu Marzouq, who saved lives in many of Gaza’s wars. At first, the captain is intense and a little intimidating, and each day Abu Marzouq and the crew are in the eye of the storm. When four nine-year old boys are hit by a missile on a Gaza beach, they are one of the first ambulance crews to arrive. Mohamed cannot tell his family what he’s going through. He begins to feel close to his crewmates, who joke and encourage one another despite the fear. Abu Marzouq takes Mohamed into his confidence, and Mohamed discovers a man full of life and love for his co-workers….
Book Review — ‘The Drone Eats with Me’ chronicles life under bombardment in Gaza
CSM 28 July by Steve Donaghue — The nerve-wracking genre of the war diary has one slim consolation: the reader knows what the diarist does not – how the war will end. Whether we’re reading Mary Chesnut’s entries on the daily tensions of a battered and failing Confederacy or Victor Klemperer’s account of the slow strangulation of life under the Nazis, the reader can remember what the diarist didn’t know while scribbling entries late at night: the complete shape of the thing. Appomattox Courthouse. VE Day. There’s none of that consolation in The Drone Eats with Me, Atef Abu Saif’s new book from Beacon Press detailing the ordeal he and his family went through in Gaza in 2014. Saif, a novelist born in Gaza’s Jabalia refugee camp in 1973, was living in the Saftawi district with his wife Hannah and their children when Israel launched “Operation Protective Edge” on July 8 of 2014 with aerial bombardments and followed it up a week later with a ground invasion. The Israeli government cited as its instigation the kidnapping and murder of three teenagers by Hamas in June of that year, and the reprisals were fierce: Hundreds of rockets fell on Gaza, many on residential neighborhoods. In the 51-day conflict that ensued, 66 Israeli soldiers were killed and 87 civilians wounded. In contrast, over 2,300 Gazans were killed, and well over 10,000 wounded, the vast majority civilians. Saif’s short, indelibly memorable book chronicles his family’s day-to-day experience of living through Operation Protective Edge, which for all adult Gazans was just the latest in a nearly-unbroken string of such hostilities. Wars, Saif recounts with the kind of gently barbed melancholy that runs throughout his book, are the benchmarks of Gazan life. “There’s one planted firmly in your childhood, one or two more in your adolescence, and so on … they toll the passing of time as you grow older like rings in a tree trunk.”
Decomposed body found under the rubble of damaged homes in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 28 July — Palestinian police in Gaza Wednesday afternoon found a decomposed body in al-Shujaiya neighborhood to the east of Gaza City. It probably belongs to one of the martyrs who were killed in the Israeli aggression on Gaza in summer 2014, policemen opined. The police spokesman Ayman al-Batniji told Quds Press that the corpse is just a skeleton and thus the ID was not identified. It was transferred to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza in order to be checked by a medical examiner so that it can be recognized. Gaza Strip was exposed to an Israeli aggression that started on July 07, 2014 and lasted for 51 days. 2,323 Palestinians were killed and thousands were wounded whereas a score of others were recorded as missing. Thousands of Palestinians’ homes were damaged as well.
China-made game toys amuse Gaza children under tight blockade
GAZA (Xinhua) 29 July — At an amusement park in Gaza city, 12-year-old girl Allaa’ Izedin and her friends were so delighted to grab their seats in a little train that was made in China and imported to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Laughter of Izedin and her friends was heard as the train drove on a small railway into a big hall. The recently built amusement park in Gaza city brings fun to children in the Gaza Strip that has been under a tight Israeli blockade since Hamas violent takeover of the coastal enclave in the summer of 2007. “I’m on summer vacation … and the most amazing time I usually spend is here at this amusement park. I enjoy riding the train and playing with my friends on other games and toys,” said Izedin. 12-year-old Khalil al-Halabi was playing on the magnetic electric cars, which were also imported from China. He came with his family, and voiced very happy to see all the games in the park, adding that he hopes to see bigger and larger amusement parks like Disneyland Park. More businessmen went to the authorities in the Gaza Strip to apply for the import of amusement games and toys from China for more amusement parks to attract families and their children. The projects are considered a good investment for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which may help boost the weak economy in the coastal enclave and also entertains the children. An amusement park called Star Center was opened at the beginning of summer this year on a 4,000 square meters area in western Gaza city….
The future of Gaza: from city under siege to world tourism hub?
GAZA (The Guardian) 28 July by Donald Macintyre — Elements of stylish, civilised Gaza have survived its darkest decade. Palestinian businessman Basil Eleiwa believes his city could become a world tourist hub – but are Gaza and its people holding out for a future that will never arrive? — As you chat with Basil Eleiwa over a chilled strawberry-and-fresh-lemonade cocktail in his 11th-floor restaurant Level Up, it’s surprisingly easy to believe him when he predicts that his native city could yet become one of the great tourist hubs of the Middle East. With breathtaking views from its terrace, of the sea to the west and over the city to the north and east, you can understand why it’s become a favourite haunt of the middle class here – whether it’s the young women (many with head coverings, some more daringly without) and men sipping tea and sucking water pipes filled with sweet-flavoured tobacco delivered by a narghila man in a fez, or the families out for an evening treat enjoying caesar salads or pepper steaks brought to their tables by impeccably black-tunic’d waiters. It could be a popular hangout in Dubai or Sharm El Sheikh – only classier. But hang on. This is Gaza. At night, especially when the city is plunged into darkness by the daily power cuts of eight hours or more, you can see the beams of boats fishing off the coast to one side, and the twinkling of lights in Israel on the other – so near and yet so unreachable for the imprisoned vast majority of the city’s 700,000 inhabitants … Today, the all too regular TV images of plumes of black smoke soaring from burning, bombed-out buildings obscure its stubborn endurance as not only the biggest but the most metropolitan of Palestinian cities. There are two major universities, internationally exhibited artists, a music school that is part of the Edward Said network of conservatories, some of the region’s best rappers, a few hotels and restaurants as good as any in the Holy Land, and a well-designed museum of treasures from Gaza’s rich past built by Jawdat al Khodari, a fellow Gazan entrepreneur with a passion for archaeology….
WIDER IMAGE — Getting pumped and pampered in hard-times Gaza
GAZA (Reuters) 28 July by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Sparkling Mediterranean beaches, expensive restaurants and state-of-the-art health clubs do not readily spring to mind when it comes to the Gaza Strip. But with their borders tightly restricted by Israel and Egypt, Palestinians in an enclave known for economic hardship and war have no choice but to find some respite close to home. Some leisure spots may be out of the financial reach of many of Gaza’s 1.9 million inhabitants, especially with unemployment at 42 percent. But the sea is free and thousands pack sandy beaches daily to escape the withering summer heat, erecting tents and preparing barbecues. “We are fed up and this is the only place to entertain ourselves. Other places require money,” Ibrahim Shweideh, 26, who is unemployed. [ For a Reuters photo essay, click: http://reut.rs/2az5m3Z ] In the evening, cafes are filled with men, many of them jobless, playing cards and drinking coffee and tea. Those who can afford monthly membership fees ranging between 100 and 150 shekels ($25 to $40) can join a growing number of gyms and health clubs. Body-building coach Hussam Hammada, who works at the Super Gym center, has noticed an uptick in customers since the 2014 war between Israel and Palestinian militants led by Hamas, Gaza’s ruling Islamist group. “Reasons varied. Some people suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure and others – and they are the bigger number – wanted to shape up, keep fit or relieve their stress,” he said. Hammada said four new health clubs opened this year alone. Gazans can also travel back in time for some leisure – to a Hammam, or bathhouse, believed to be more than 1,000 years old….
US Congressmen: Gaza pollution threatens Israel
Globes 28 July by Nadav Shetreet — Congressmen from both houses of Congress have sent a letter to Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman and Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz demanding a long-term solution for the supply of electricity to the water purification facility in the Gaza Strip. They assert that the absence of an immediate solution will have severe health and environmental consequences on both sides of the border. The World Bank spent $80 million on construction of a water purification plant in the Gaza Strip, but the plant is barely operating, due to a shortage of electricity. Sewage in the Gaza Strip is flowing into the Mediterranean Sea and rivers, and is polluting them. Water currents bring the sewage northeast to Israel, and damage the aquifers on both sides of the border. The resulting health hazards were described in a report published by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and EcoPeace Friends of The Earth Middle East, who argue that “a critical, existential strategic problem of the first order for the State of Israel” is involved … Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources director general Shaul Meridor said that maximum efforts for cooperation were being made with the quartet ,while options for the direct supply of electricity to the wastewater purification plant were also being considered and it is hoped that a decision will be taken in the coming weeks.
Netanyahu in Sderot: 2014 Gaza war brought us two quietest years in past decade
Haaretz 28 July by Almog Ben Zikri — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Operation Protective Edge gave Israel the quietest two years in the last decade, adding that attacking Israel “will lead to destruction and the ruin of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” He was speaking at a ceremony marking the end of a drive to reinforce homes in Sderot. Netanyahu added that “we can’t shape the strategic environment we live in but we can achieve deterrence and if necessary significantly damage terrorist infrastructure. Our policy is to respond forcefully to every violation, even the smallest one… You can see this – we want to clarify to our adversaries that the rules of the game have changed.” Netanyahu also said that “quiet here will mean quiet in Gaza, while attacking us will bring ruin on Hamas and the Jihad and anyone else who tries to harm us from across the fence. We’ll respond in force to any attempt to harm our communities and citizens.” Netanyahu said that “home protection is vital for saving lives, but it’s not an alternative to powerful assault capabilities, which we’re also developing. I constantly hear what Hamas is doing but I also know what we’re doing and planning. I know how we’re preparing, but I don’t intend to tell you.” ….
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
‘They destroyed the houses, they destroyed our dreams’
QALANDIYA 27 July by ISM, Ramallah Team — Late Monday evening, Israeli forces entered the village of Qalandia with 15 bulldozers and around 150 soldiers. In the village, the Israeli military destroyed 11 newly built houses, attacking the residents of the village with stun grenades, tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets and sponge bullets. 7 people had to seek medical care for their injuries, following assaults by the military. In 7 of the demolished houses, families had already moved in, according to Yosef Awdalla, mayor of Qalandia. The demolition notices, claiming the houses had no permits, were left outside the houses on the ground only 24 hours before the army entered the village. One of the homeowners, Fadi Awadallah, describes how his friend was walking around the house the day before the demolitions, and found a piece of paper written in Hebrew on the ground. One hour after they had figured out what the document said and talked to their lawyer, the army was already entering the village to demolish their home. Fadi, who had applied and paid for an Israeli issued licence to build in area C, did not expect the demolition order since the Israeli authorities had accepted the money and the application. When he tried to explain this to the soldiers they answered him that “they were not there to talk, they were there to demolish the houses.” The soldiers then pointed their guns to his head and told him that, if he didn’t move away from the house, they would shoot him. “They didn’t deal with us as humans, they pushed us back with violence and force,” says Fadi, whose family had planned to move into their dream house the following week. “Three years ago, we started to build the houses. Why didn’t they come three years ago, before we spent all our money on these houses? They destroyed the houses, they destroyed our dreams,” says Fadi, explaining that most of the families not only spent all their savings on the buildings but, now, are also left with loans that will take them years to pay. “We came up with the idea about building a house here because we are not allowed to use our house on the other side of the wall,” says Fadi, whose father lives in a house on the other side of the apartheid wall surrounding the village. Without obtaining a permit every month, from the Israeli occupation authorities, the family is not allowed to cross the wall that separates the West Bank from Jerusalem….
West Bank home demolitions hit 10-year high
+972 mag 27 July by Natasha Roth — Israeli authorities have demolished more Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank thus far in 2016 than in any other calendar year in the last decade, according to data provided by Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem Wednesday and statistics from the UN humanitarian agency, OCHA. B’Tselem’s statistics show that the Civil Administration, the Israeli military’s governing arm in the West Bank, destroyed 168 Palestinian homes between January 1 and June 30, 2016, displacing 740 people, including 348 children. A further 12 West Bank Palestinian dwellings were destroyed between July 1 and July 18, displacing a further 62 people, according to figures provided to +972 Magazine by OCHA. This brings the total for the year so far to at least 180 homes demolished — surpassing the previous high of the 175 dwellings destroyed in 2013. Since 2006, B’Tselem reports, Israel has destroyed at least 1,113 Palestinian homes in the West Bank, not including punitive home demolitions. As a result, at least 5,199 Palestinians have been displaced, around half of whom are minors … There are currently around 11,000 outstanding demolition orders in Area C, affecting roughly 17,000 Palestinian structures — homes and others. Israel has issued 14,000 of these orders since 1988; as of the end of 2015, around 3,000 of these had been executed. Nearly 60 percent of the demolition orders Israel has issued are hanging over structures belonging to communities in Area C that straddle the boundaries of areas A or B, a spatial distribution that is entirely deliberate. Almost all Israeli settlements are in Area C, and most Palestinian cities and larger towns are in areas A and B. The result is that major Palestinian population centers such as Nablus, Ramallah and Qalqiliyah have most, if not all, of their borders set by the reach of Area C territory, creating invisible walls around them. By issuing disproportionate numbers of demolition orders in Area C communities that straddle Areas A/B, the Civil Administration is ensuring those walls remain intact … It is often argued by apologists for the occupation that Israel’s demolitions in Area C are a minor problem, because they “only” have the potential to affect around 300,000 Palestinians, out of some 2.8 million living in the entire West Bank. But this is the inverse way of looking at the issue, because the flip-side is that over 2.7 million Palestinians are crammed into 40 percent of the West Bank, with nowhere to go — unless they leave.…
Israeli Arab actress tells of humiliating security check at Ben-Gurion Airport
Haaretz 29 July by Nirit Anderman — Samar Qupty thanks airport security on Facebook for ‘making sure to remind me every time anew how unwanted I am here.’ — An Israeli Arab actress has written on Facebook about being delayed for two hours by security inspectors at Ben-Gurion Airport and forced to board her flight without her carry-on baggage. Samar Qupty, star of the Israeli film “Junction 48,” arrived at the airport for a flight to Colombia, where the film was being screened at a local film festival. In a Facebook post last night, she said the security inspectors refused to let her bring her carry-ons aboard. “I don’t know how I dared to think I had a right to fly to Colombia,” she wrote. “After all, it’s not clear what an Arab woman is going to do there by herself.” … The Israel Airports Authority said, “Security checks are performed on every passenger, and when there’s an alert, items are checked using technological methods to detect explosives. The security check procedure and its nature aren’t related at all to the passenger’s [ethnic] origins, but to a large number of parameters.”
Israeli council head who called Arabs dirty apologizes: ‘I was misunderstood’
Haaretz 29 July by Noa Shpigel — A council head from northern Israel who said he doesn’t want Arabs in his towns’ pools apologized on Friday, saying his remarks were misunderstood. Lower Galilee Regional Council head Motti Dotan had told a radio station on Thursday that public swimming pools should be segregated because Arabs have different hygiene habits from Jews. He offered an apology in a Facebook post on Friday. “My dear Jewish and Arab friends,” he said. “Yesterday during a radio broadcast I was asked about the homogeneous population that patronizes the pools in the council’s towns. In my response, I addressed the cultural differences between the populations and their conduct at the pool. Unfortunately, it’s possible that I was misunderstood, and may have had a slip of the tongue. In any case, I apologize to anyone who felt offended.” … Dotan claimed that his comments had nothing to do with racism. “It’s cultural differences, it’s not racism… In non-Jewish, Arab culture, you go into the pool wearing clothes, trying to dictate all types of clothing, and that’s why it doesn’t suit us. “…. [Comment in Haaretz: If you were sincere about your apology you would have also stated clearly that you wish to exclude Haredim who also dress in full body armors, fully clothed, in public pools when they go on excursions?]
SodaStream regains its fizz
Globes Main News 27 July by Yuval Azulai — With sales rising fast, the Israeli home carbonated drinks company has hired 300 new employees at its Negev plant — SodaStream International Ltd. (Nasdaq: SODA) (TASE: SODA) is expanding its production in the Idan Hanegev industrial park near Lehavim in southern Israel, and has hired 300 new employees in the past three months. The company plans to hire 70 more in the coming weeks. The company, which has 1,400 employees in the industrial park, a third of them Bedouin living in Rahat and elsewhere in the Negev, is one of the largest employers in the Negev. SodaStream produces water carbonation machines and various flavor concentrates for preparing home carbonated beverages. The company markets its products in 47 countries around the world. Most of SodaStream’s manufacturing in Israel is in the Idan Hanegev industrial park, to which the company moved its plants from Mishor Adumim 18 months ago. The company also has production lines in the Alon Tavor industrial zone, China, and Europe … According to StoreNext data, the soda market in Israel grew 10% in 2015, with soda sales reaching NIS 120 million. SodaStream’s share of this market is estimated at 35%. “We have adapted ourselves to the local workforce (Bedouin men and women, Y.A.), and have opened a “mothers’ line” that enables mothers with children to work until 3 PM, when they return home with special transportation lines we provide for them. This approach helps many of them work outside the home,” Melamud says. Abed Abu Gerara, 45, married and father of seven from Rahat, who works as a shift manager in the company’s carbonation devices manufacturing plant, says with satisfaction, “My wife also works here, because we need to make a living. Today, if a wife doesn’t work, it’s very hard to get ahead … Before moving to Idan Hanegev, SodaStream did most of its manufacturing in Mishor Adumim, where it employed 600 Palestinian workers. In recent years, the company was a target for attacks by the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement. After the plant in Mishor Adumim was closed down, a group of 70 Palestinian workers who had worked for SoldaStream for many years moved to the new plant in the Idan Hanegev industrial park. The Israeli authorities, however, refused to give them work permits, and company management was forced to lay off the Palestinian workers in March. “The last day they worked here was a heartbreaking spectacle,” Melamud says.”
PSHR Weekly Report: One Palestinian killed, 10 wounded by Israeli forces this week (21-27 July)
IMEMC 19 July — In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 21– 27 July 2016, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that Israeli forces continued systematic crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. A Palestinian was killed in Hebron. 10 Palestinian civilians were wounded, including a child and a young woman, in the West Bank. Israeli forces conducted 64 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 6 limited ones in the southern Gaza Strip. 94 civilians were abducted, including 22 children and 4 women. 50 of them, including 16 children and 3 women, were abducted in occupied Jerusalem…. Full Report
Palestinian ‘long shot’ legal fight over 1917 British declaration
AFP 29 July — A Palestinian plan to sue Britain over a 1917 declaration backing a Jewish homeland in Palestine could help rally supporters, but has little chance of success, legal analysts say. The Palestinian government on Monday announced it was seeking legal action against Britain for the nearly century-old Balfour Declaration, drawing scorn from Israel. The 1917 declaration by British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour said the British government “view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. It was a major step towards the eventual establishment of the state of Israel. The British had seized much of the land at the time as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, and Palestinians say the declaration gave away their homeland and provided the impetus for mass Jewish migration. They argue that the document led to the Nakba — or catastrophe in Arabic — in which more than 760,000 Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes in the war surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948. Foreign minister Riyad al-Malki, in a recent speech on behalf of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, said as a result of a promise “hundreds of thousands of Jews from Europe and elsewhere came to settle in Palestine at the expense of our people.” Israel’s foreign ministry said the legal campaign amounts to a refusal “to recognise the legitimate and indigenous connection of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland.” – ‘Moral argument’ – Asked by AFP to clarify what the claim would be and to which court it would be submitted, a spokesman for the Palestinian foreign ministry said that would soon be decided. If seeking reparations, such a court case would be rare. Eric Posner, law professor at the University of Chicago and author of a paper on reparations in international law, said he could not think of an example of international courts being used in this manner. In most cases, he said, reparations are given by governments that wish to atone for previous acts. In West Germany, for example, the government set a policy that Holocaust victims could claim damages, as did the US Congress for Japanese Americans interned during the Second World War. But Britain has never apologised for the Balfour Declaration….
Gaza soccer players barred from entering Israel en route to Palestine Cup final
Haaretz 28 July by Jack Khoury — When the coach of Shabab Khan Yunis was preparing his soccer team’s roster for the finals of the Palestine Cup, he didn’t realize that Israel’s defense establishment would have the final say. But when the team arrived at the Erez Checkpoint on Wednesday to enter Israel en route from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, they were delayed for 12 hours and, in the end, only some of the players were allowed through. Six players, including the goalies, along with one coach and the team’s spokesman, were barred from entering Israel. Only 10 players were allowed to continue on their way to Hebron, where the championship finals are due to be played on Saturday. But the Palestinian Football Association said the game will be canceled unless all the players are allowed to participate. It said it does not intend to let Israel determine the composition of the teams. Senior association officials said they have been talking with Israeli officials for the past two days in an effort to secure the players’ passage, but to no avail. They said they had informed Israel of the trip in advance and hadn’t been told of any security problems with any of the players. Association chairman Jibril Rajoub told Haaretz there was no justification for the decision to prevent some of the players from passing through Israel … Jibril stressed that the championship game was crucial, as it would determine which team represents the Palestinians in pan-Arab competitions and in the Asian Games. “I don’t know if there’s any place else in the world where they treat soccer teams like this,” he added. He said that in the first game of the finals, which Hebron’s Al-Ahly club won, some of the Hebron players weren’t allowed to enter Gaza….
Push for FIFA to eliminate settler teams from Israeli soccer leagues
JPost 28 July by Tovah Lazaroff — An international petition with almost 150,000 signature is demanding that FIFA force the Israel Football Association (IFA) to eliminate the six Israeli clubs based in West Bank settlements from competing in its national leagues. It’s the latest move in a continued campaign by left-wing activists in Israel and abroad, as well as the Palestinian Authority, to force the global soccer body to ban Israel from the organization. A petition on the website avaaz.org, an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization, calls on FIFA to “either remove the settlement football clubs from its membership or relocates them outside the illegal settlements.” “If the Israeli Football Association doesn’t comply it must lose its membership with FIFA, as has been the case with other federations that have refused to accept FIFA’s fair play rules. “There should be zero tolerance for the six teams that flagrantly ignore international law and operate in occupied territory. Settlement football teams legitimize the illegal occupation and condone the suffering the Palestinians face as a result,” the petition stated. It argued that according to FIFA by-laws, since both Israeli and Palestinian leagues belong to the organization, one league can’t make use of land that belongs to the country of the other’s league.
Artists cast light on Palestinian poet jailed in Saudi Arabia
EI 29 July by Charlotte Silver — Artists and writers around the world released poems, drawings and other work on social media on Thursday, to draw attention to Ashraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet who was sentenced to eight years in prison and 800 lashes for alleged apostasy in Saudi Arabia. Using the hashtag #FreeAshraf, artists including the Egyptian graphic novelist Ganzeer, the visual artist Joy Garnett and poet Rachel Rose shared their tributes to Fayadh on Twitter and Instagram. Fayadh, a prominent artist and curator in Saudi Arabia, was first arrested in 2013 from a cafe in the southern city of Abha, where he resides. He was released the next day but then rearrested in January 2014 and presented with list of blasphemy-related charges, including distributing a book of his poems that was alleged to promote atheism. Fayadh is a second generation Palestinian refugee, a central theme in his poetry. Fayadh, 35, was first sentenced to death in November 2015. But following global outcry, a panel of judges commuted his sentence in February. Fayadh has maintained that his arrest is the result of a personal dispute with Shaheen bin Ali Abu Mismar, the man who first accused him of apostasy. In March, The Guardian published a note Fayadh wrote to his friend from prison, in which he said he was in “good health and staying positive but I am alone.” He told his friend, “I am scared to be forgotten.” ….
South Dakota eye bank denies fault in Palestinians’ injuries
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) 28 July — A South Dakota-based eye and tissue bank says it isn’t responsible for injuries caused by infected corneas that were shipped to the Palestinian territories. Two Palestinians are suing the South Dakota Lions Eye and Tissue Bank, alleging the corneas provided for their transplants caused eye problems, the Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/2azmmXU ) reported. The lawsuit says the 19-year-old woman became blind in her right eye and that the 17-year-old male’s vision is threatened in both eyes. The plaintiffs argue that the corneas shouldn’t have been used because they were recovered from a Minnesota man who had severe health problems and suffered an unattended death in his hot apartment in July 2015. They allege that the eye bank was aware that test results showed the corneas were infected several days before they were used in the transplants. The eye and tissue bank, now known as Dakota Lions Sight & Health, said in its response to the federal lawsuit that problems with the transplants were beyond its control, and that Palestinians have no right to sue in the United States. It’s up to the surgeon who is doing the transplant to approve whether or not to use the corneas, according to Dr. John Berdahl, the volunteer medical director of the eye bank. Berdahl said he doesn’t know if their doctors have “the same process we do, but the process we go through is a pretty rigorous one.” He said any incidents are reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Eye Bank Association of America, which accredits eye banks. An FDA spokeswoman said that the agency inspected the eye bank in March and April … The lawsuit also targets Minnesota-based American Donor Services, which has declined to comment on the case.
36 senators, including Tim Kaine, press to add $320M for Israeli missile defense
JTA 28 July – The proposed increase in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act would go toward three US-Israeli missile defense programs and more purchases of Iron Dome systems — A bipartisan group of US senators that includes Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, is calling on Congress to add $320 million for Israeli missile defense to the Senate version of a defense appropriations bill. Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., are leading the effort, which would bring the Senate version in line with one from the House of Representatives. Kaine, D-Va., is among the 36 senators who have signed on, The Hill reported Tuesday. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto legislation with that level of funding….