Israeli forces demolish Bedouin village of al-Araqib for the 101st time
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 27 July — Israeli forces demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev region of southern Israel for the 101st time on Wednesday morning, locals told Ma‘an. The demolition followed several weeks of Israeli bulldozers entering the community to level lands, which escalated to Israeli police conducting raids on the community and detaining several Bedouins after locals attempted to stop the bulldozers. Local activist Aziz Sayyah al-Turi said on Sunday that Israeli police escorted bulldozers which raided the village in the morning “to take control of about 1,300 dunams (325 acres) of the village’s land, which they failed to take in 2011 after angry Arab crowds rushed to defend al-Araqib.” The first demolition of al-Araqib took place a little over six years ago on June 27, 2010, and it has been demolished 100 more times as of Wednesday. The last demolition of the village occurred in June, which destroyed the village for the second time during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, leaving the residents homeless with no choice but to rebuild once again. Al-Araqib is one of 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli state. According to ACRI, more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
Palestinian accused of Hebron shooting killed after Israeli forces bombard house
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 27 July — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man and injured five others in the village of Surif north of Hebron overnight Tuesday, after Israeli soldiers bombarded and destroyed a house he was fortified in, with the Israeli army saying the man was responsible for a deadly drive-by shooting on July 1. Spokesperson for the Israeli army Avichay Adraee said in a statement in Arabic that Israeli troops exchanged fire with Muhammad Faqih after surrounding the house. The Israeli soldiers, he said, fired several anti-tank missiles at the house after the “terrorist” started to return fire. A bulldozer from the Israeli army’s engineering corps then demolished the house before Faqih was killed. It remained unclear by what means Israeli forces ultimately killed Faqih. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an they saw the body of Faqih in the bucket of an Israeli army bulldozer that pulled him out of the rubble. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that five Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated bullets during clashes in Surif.
Adraee confirmed that a Palestinian woman sustained minor wounds during the military attack and was taken to a hospital for treatment, adding that a Kalashnikov machine gun and a grenade were found in the house. Locals said Israeli forces detained four Palestinians from Surif during the raid, identified as Ahmad Ibrahim al-Hur, Diyaa Khalid Ghneimat, and Muhammad Ali al-Heeh — the owner of the demolished house in which Faqih was hiding. Al-Heeh’s mother was also detained. Adraee confirmed three Palestinians were detained for their alleged involvement in the July 1 attack. Faqih himself was from the village of Dura in southern Hebron. Later Wednesday morning, a general strike was announced in Dura and its surrounding villages in southern Hebron in mourning for Faqih, with all shops and organizations closing. Adraee’s statement alleged that Faqih was the gunman who carried out a shooting attack on Route 60 between the illegal Israeli settlements of Beit Hagai and Otniel south of Hebron, which killed Otniel resident Michael Marc, critically injured his wife Chava, with two of their children, Pdaya, 15, and Tehila, 14, sustaining moderate and light wounds, respectively. Since the deadly shooting attack on July 1, which came hours after Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian woman in Hebron’s Old City for an alleged stab attempt at Israeli soldiers, and a day after a stab attack in the Hebron-area settlement of Kiryat Arba that left a 13-year-old Israeli girl dead, Israeli forces launched a widespread manhunt for the gunman. Israeli newspaper Haaretz initially reported the gunman was suspected to be from the village of Bani Na‘im, the same village that both the slain Palestinian woman and the slain killer of the teenage girl originated from. A gunman for a separate shooting attack in Hebron on July 9 remained at large, with the suspect reportedly having fled into the village of Sa‘ir….[Very long article about recent violence and closures]
Palestinian woman shot at checkpoint
[with photo and short videos] EI 26 July by Maureen Clare Murphy — Israeli forces shot and wounded a female Palestinian at the Qalandiya military checkpoint between the occupied West Bank cities of Ramallah and Jerusalem on Tuesday. Video of the scene shows the injured young woman lying on the ground, apparently crying out in pain, as armed and uniformed Israelis run around her: Israeli police told media that the wounded Palestinian is an 18-year-old from occupied East Jerusalem. Police said that the teenager was shot in the leg when she walked towards a group of civilian security guards and Border Police officers in the area of the checkpoint where vehicles are inspected and failed to respond to calls to stop. The police claim that a knife was found in her bag. A police spokesperson told the Ma’an News Agency that the shooters were security guards, suggesting it may have been civilian contractors who wounded the young woman. The Palestinian news outlet Quds identified her as Raghad Nasrallah Shuani. Another Palestinian outlet stated that she is from the nearby Qalandiya refugee camp. [IMEMC: she is a student at Birzeit university]
–Files closed– A pregnant woman and her 16-year-old brother were shot and killed at the same checkpoint in late April. Israeli police claimed that the siblings, Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail and Ibrahim Salih Hassan Taha, were carrying knives and attempting to attack soldiers. No Israelis were injured during the incident. Witnesses contradicted Israel’s version of events, telling the Ma’an News Agency that the pair did not understand the Hebrew orders shouted at them. The Palestine Red Crescent Society told the news agency that Israeli forces denied medics access to the woman and child. Israel’s justice ministry announced that it would not open an investigation after an initial probe found that the siblings were shot by civilian security guards and not by police. On Tuesday, the ministry’s police investigation unit said that it would not charge Border Police who were shown on video repeatedly shooting at 20-year-old Muhammad Abu Khalaf outside Jerusalem’s Old City after he had fallen to the ground, killing him. An Israeli police spokesperson said that Border Police combatants opened fire on the young man after he drew a knife on them. Two officers were lightly wounded after being stabbed in the upper body during the February incident. An attorney with the human rights group Adalah had called on the justice ministry to open an investigation into the incident, stating that there was no justification for lethal force against Abu Khalaf.
Israeli police shoot, kill Palestinian citizen of Israel during anti-drug organization
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 July — Israeli police shot and killed an 18-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night during a reported drug-busting operation, Israeli police said. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement on Thursday morning that a police unit carrying out an anti-drug operation stopped and searched four “suspicious” people at the Tel Aviv central station late on Wednesday, when one of the young men took out a reportedly stolen gun and pointed it at the police officers, who opened fire on him. The critically injured youth was taken to the Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv and later pronounced dead. A spokesperson for Ichilov told Ma‘an that they could not comment on the extent of the youth’s wounds which resulted in his death. Al-Samri said the slain Palestinian was a resident of the al-Jawarish neighborhood of the town of Ramla in central Israel. No Israelis were injured in the case, she added, noting that the police was considering the situation to be a criminal incident. The three other youths fled the scene following the shooting, although The Times of Israel later reported that they had been detained.
Israeli forces detain 65 Palestinians in mass raids in West Bank, East Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 July — Israeli forces overnight Wednesday detained at least 65 Palestinians, including 11 minors, during mass search and detention raids carried out across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. In occupied East Jerusalem, 52 Palestinians were detained, including 11 minors, in a mass search and detention campaign carried out on communities just south of the Old City. The widespread raids came a day after some 30 Palestinian families were left homeless after Israeli authorities demolished several homes in the area.
Meanwhile, in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli forces detained Diyaa Ghneimat, Ahmad Ibrahim al-Hur, Muhammad Ali al-Heeh, and his mother Samiha Ibrahim al-Heeh, all from the village of Surif in the north, during a raid in which one Palestinian, allegedly behind an attack on Israeli settlers earlier this month, was killed after Israeli forces bombarded the house he was barricaded in. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) added that Rami Mahmoud Abu Rmeila and Muhammad Ziad Hmeidat were also detained in the Hebron district. In the north, two Palestinians were detained from the West Bank district of Tulkarem, one being identified by PPS as Usayd Othman Suleiman. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that another Palestinian was detained from the village of Bala for being an alleged member of the Hamas-affiliated Islamic student bloc….
16 Palestinians kidnapped in dawn raids in W. Bank and J’lem
RAMALLAH (PIC) 28 July — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Thursday kidnapped 16 Palestinian citizens during campaigns in the West Bank and Jerusalem. According to a statement released by the Israeli army, its forces arrested seven university students from the Islamic Bloc of Hamas in Nablus. Nine other Palestinians were taken prisoners during arrest campaigns in al-Deheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, Beit ‘Awwa town in al-Khalil, and Shu‘afat and Qalandiya in Jerusalem.
Two Palestinian youths detained for stone throwing near Nablus
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 July — Two young Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces on suspicion of throwing stones at an Israeli bus on Route 55 near Nablus City on Wednesday, Israeli media reported. According to Israel news site Ynet, no Israelis were injured by the stone throwing, although it reported some unspecified property damage. One of the young Palestinians, whose age wasn’t revealed, reportedly admitted to throwing stones after interrogation. The two youths have reportedly been turned over to Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet. A spokesperson for the Israeli army could not be reached for comment on the case. Newly approved changes to Israeli legislation increased the penalty for stone throwing in 2014 and 2015, a move which rights groups have said specifically targets young Palestinians for crimes that Israeli Jews are rarely held accountable for.
Israeli police detain undocumented Palestinian workers, demolish camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 July — Israeli police forces detained 10 Palestinians working in Israel without permits and demolished a camp in which the workers were residing, Israeli police said on Thursday. According to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri, Israeli authorities found an encampment in an area near the northern Israeli city of Tamra, in which a number of undocumented workers were staying. The camp, consisting of eight structures including bathrooms and kitchens, was demolished, and its connection to water pipes was also severed. Al-Samri added that 10 Palestinians were detained for residing and working in Israel without permits, adding that Israeli authorities would pursue legal procedures against the workers and their employers. Tens of thousands of Palestinian workers are forced to seek a living by working in Israel due to crippling unemployment in the West Bank, as the growth of an independent Palestinian economy has been stifled under the ongoing Israeli military occupation, according rights groups.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Secret 1970 document confirms first West Bank settlements built on a lie
Haaretz 28 July by Yotam Berger — It has long been an open secret that the settlement enterprise was launched under false pretenses, involving the expropriation of Palestinian land for ostensibly military purposes when the true intent was to build civilian settlements, which is a violation of international law. Now a secret document from 1970 has surfaced confirming this long-held assumption. The document, a copy of which has been obtained by Haaretz, details a meeting in the office of then-defense minister Moshe Dayan at which government and military leaders spoke explicitly about how to carry out this deception in the building of Kiryat Arba, next to Hebron. The document is titled “The method for establishing Kiryat Arba.” It contains minutes of a meeting held in July 1970 in Dayan’s office, and describes how the land on which the settlement was to be built would be confiscated by military order, ostensibly for security purposes, and that the first buildings on it would be falsely presented as being strictly for military use. Aside from Dayan, the participants include the director general of the Housing Ministry, the Israel Defense Forces’ commander in the West Bank and the coordinator of government activities in the territories … A “few days” after Base 14 had “completed its activities,” the document continued, “the commander of the Hebron district will summon the mayor of Hebron, and in the course of raising other issues, will inform him that we’ve started to build houses on the military base in preparation for winter.” In other words, the participants agreed to mislead the mayor into thinking the construction was indeed for military purposes, when in fact, they planned to let settlers move in – the same settlers who on Passover 1968 [moved] into Hebron’s Park Hotel, which was the embryo of the settler enterprise….
EU, US slam new Israeli settlement plans as provocative and counterproductive
EurActiv/Agencies 27 July — Brussels and Washington on Wednesday (27 July) slammed as “provocative” Israeli plans to build hundreds of new settlement homes in annexed east Jerusalem, saying they seriously undermined the prospect of peace with the Palestinians. “We are deeply concerned by reports today that the government of Israel has published tenders for 323 units in east Jerusalem settlements,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. “This follows Monday’s announcement of plans for 770 units in the settlement of Gilo.” The homes would expand the Gilo settlement on the southern perimeter of east Jerusalem. They are part of a larger plan for around 1,200 units approved some three years ago, said Ir Amim, an NGO that monitors Israeli settlement activity. The land where they are to be built requires technical approval known as “reparcelisation” by Jerusalem’s local planning and building committee in order for the process to advance, according to Ir Amim. “Israel’s recent decision […] undermines the viability of a two-state solution,” said EU spokesperson David Kriss in a statement sent to media on Wednesday. The announcement comes just weeks after the report of the Middle East Quartet called on Israel to abandon its settlement policy.
Democratic congressman apologizes for comparing Israeli settlers to termites
Haaretz 26 July by Allison Kaplan Sommer — A Democratic congressman who was harshly criticized for a metaphor that implicitly compared West Bank settlers to termites has apologized for his remarks. In remarks made during an event for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Georgia congressman Hank Johnson was quoted Monday by the Washington Free Beacon as using an infestation metaphor to describe the progress of building in the West Bank, saying: “There has been a steady [stream], almost like termites can get into a residence and eat before you know that you’ve been eaten up and you fall in on yourself, there has been settlement activity that has marched forward with impunity and at an ever increasing rate to the point where it has become alarming,” Johnson said, according to the Beacon. “It has come to the point that occupation, with highways that cut through Palestinian land, with walls that go up, with the inability or the restriction, with the illegality of Palestinians being able to travel on those roads and those roads cutting off Palestinian neighborhoods from each other. And then with the building of walls and the building of checkpoints that restrict movement of Palestinians. We’ve gotten to the point where the thought of a Palestinian homeland gets further and further removed from reality.”
Opinion: Why are Israeli soldiers fraternizing with Hebron’s most racist, terrorist-inciting settlers? / Larry Derfner
Haaretz 26 July — Boston-born Hebron settler Baruch Marzel glorifies Arab-killers. We shouldn’t be surprised that one of his regular Shabbat lunchtime guests, Sgt. Elor Azaria, is on trial for shooting dead an incapacitated Palestinian — In Hebron, the evil of the occupation is most plainly visible. Shuhada Street, once a busy commercial row, has been off limits to Palestinians for over 20 years, the homes and shops welded shut, the turquoise awnings marked by Stars of David and anti-Arab graffiti. Above the nearby souk hangs a chain-link and cloth netting that catches at least some of the rocks, dirty diapers, bleach and urine poured down frequently on shoppers and vendors by residents of the Avraham Avinu and Beit Hadassah buildings, in clear view of two IDF lookout posts. The 1,000 or so settlers, protected by the army, go around like masters over their Palestinian subjects. There is no more radical, racist, violent Jewish community in the West Bank. The most infamous of Hebron’s settlers is Baruch Marzel, who for the last quarter-century has been the leader of Kach, which is outlawed in this country for racism and incitement to terrorism and in America for just plain terrorism. On Sunday it was revealed that many soldiers stationed in Hebron spend their Shabbat lunch as guests at Marzel’s home in the settlement’s Tel Rumeida enclave … It’s always bothered me that 19-year-old Israeli boys and girls are sent to guard a community where there may be some debate over the rights and wrongs of Yigal Amir, who murdered PM Yitzhak Rabin, a Jew, but there’s doubtless none over Kach alumnus Baruch Goldstein, who murdered  Muslims. Now it turns out the soldiers are not only guarding the settlers, they’re being adopted by the worst of them.
Israeli Knesset gives preliminary approval to bill giving tax breaks to settlements
Haaretz 28 July by Zvi Zrahiya — West Bank settlements will be eligible for tax breaks based on the security threats they face, if a bill approved by the Knesset in preliminary reading on Wednesday becomes law. The Knesset vote took place after the Ministerial Committee for Legislation held a special session on Wednesday morning to approve the bill, which was sponsored by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi). The ministerial committee also decided that by August 11, when the cabinet is due to start discussing the state budget for 2017-18, the finance and defense ministries should draft uniform criteria for granting tax breaks to residents of towns facing security threats. Today, security threats to the settlements are ranked on a different scale to the one used for towns near the Gaza and Lebanon borders. Once the new criteria are in place and the settlements have been ranked in accordance with them, it will be possible to determine which are eligible for tax breaks. Security will not be the only criterion, however; it will simply be one more factor added to the existing criteria….
Israeli forces demolish 12 homes in Qalandiya village, assault homeowners
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 July — Under the escort of Israeli forces, bulldozers entered the village of Qalandiya on the outskirts of the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem late Monday evening, where they demolished 12 homes, according to locals. Israeli authorities destroyed the homes, which had previously been issued demolition notices, claiming they were too close to Israel’s separation wall and that they lacked the proper Israeli-issued licenses. Clashes erupted between Israeli forces and residents of the village who attempted to form a blockade around the 12 homes. Israeli soldiers reportedly fired rubber-coated steel bullets, sponge bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at locals, and assaulted residents of the homes before the demolitions.
Among those assaulted during clashes was the head of the Qalandiya village council, Youssef Awadallah, who was taken to a hospital for treatment afterwards. Israeli soldiers reportedly targeted journalists reporting on the demolitions, firing tear gas and stun grenades at them, resulting in the injury of one journalist. Palestinian medical sources told Ma‘an that a total of seven Palestinians sustained injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets, tear-gas inhalation, and physical assault….
Israeli forces demolish 4 structures in East Jerusalem’s ‘Issawiya
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 July — Israeli special forces, police, municipality crews, and bulldozers raided the village of ‘Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem around 4 a.m. Tuesday, and demolished four structures, according to locals. Claiming that they lacked the proper Israeli-issued construction licenses, Israeli forces demolished a house under construction, a car repair garage and two walls in the village. A member of a follow-up committee in the village, Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, said that the house under construction belonged to Salah Abd al-Nabi Mahmoud, the car repair shop to Haitham Mustafa, and the two walls belonged to the Mustafa and Bujeh families. Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territory said in a statement later on Tuesday that initial reports emerged of another demolition in the Ras al-‘Amud neighborhood of East Jerusalem, without providing further details….
Israeli authorities seize water in occupied Golan (Video)
IMEMC via the Alternative Information Center (AIC), Beit Sahour. 25 July — Al-Marsad Arab Human Rights Centre, in the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights, has re-published their report, “Water is Life: A Consideration of the Legality and Consequences of Israeli Exploitation of the Water Resources of the Occupied Syrian Golan.” The report details the discriminatory policies and exploitation of water resources in the occupied Syrian Golan. Water exploitation in the Golan began in 1968, when the Israeli military started to oversee and manage water resources in the newly occupied territories. Since then, Israel has systematically discriminated against the indigenous Arab population in the region by denying them the right to manage and utilize their own water resources. Currently, Israeli settlers in the region have unchecked access to water resources, while locals experience significant restrictions. Al-Marsad estimates this disparity in water consumption to be at 4:1. The indigenous peoples are also forced to pay more for water that they do receive. Private corporations directly benefit from Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan and its exploitation of water resources. Al-Marsad’s report highlights Eden Springs, a corporation which distributes 368 millions of liters of water a year and both extracts and bottles its water in illegal settlements in the Golan….
Closures / Checkpoints
Army kidnaps two Palestinians in Hebron, searches homes and closes roads
IMEMC 25 July — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday at dawn, several Palestinian homes in different parts of the southern West Bank district of Hebron, searched many homes, kidnapped two Palestinians, and closed many roads with sand hills and concrete blocks. The soldiers invaded Beit ‘Awwa town, southwest of Hebron, and kidnapped Ziad Abu Kreisa Sweity, after searching his home, and several nearby homes. The Hebron office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that the soldiers also invaded the al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, and kidnapped Ali Mohammad Ahmad Sarahna, after confiscating his car. The PPS added that the soldiers also invaded Doura and Bani Na‘im towns, in addition to Kharsa village, near Hebron, and violently searched many homes, causing excessive damage. The soldiers also continued the closure of Sa‘ir, Shiokh, Bani Na‘im, Yatta, Sammoa’ [or Samu‘] and Doura towns, in addition to invading several neighborhoods in Hebron city. The army installed two roadblocks on the main roads leading to Farsh al-Hawa area, west of Hebron, and al-Fahs area, south of the city, before searching dozens of cars while inspecting the ID cards of many passengers, and interrogated many of them. It is worth mentioning that Hebron’s northern entrance, Jouret Bahlas, remained closed with concrete blocks, sand hills and an iron gate. Rateb al-Jabour, the coordinator of the Popular and National Committee against the Wall and Colonies in southern Hebron, said the soldiers also held dozens of Palestinians at the main entrance of the at-Tiwani village and interrogated many of them.
Statement on Hebron closures
UNRWA 25 July — UNRWA is deeply concerned about the humanitarian impact of the closure applied by the Israeli authorities in the Hebron district, affecting in particular Fawwar refugee camp. The closure was implemented following a series of violent incidents that took place before the end of Ramadan in which two Israelis were killed: a stabbing attack in Kiryat Arba settlement on the outskirts of Hebron killing a 13-year old Israeli girl in her home (30 June), a drive-by shooting attack on Road 60, south of Hebron (1 July), and two separate stabbing attacks in Hebron (30 June and 1 July). The United Nations, including the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, has repeatedly condemned in the strongest terms, all such attacks. The UN condemns all violence impacting Israeli and Palestinian civilians. Since the beginning of the closure, the main entrance of Fawwar camp has been closed for 25 consecutive days affecting approximately 9,500 refugees in Fawwar camp. These closures create serious challenges for UNRWA’s humanitarian access, including the delivery of medical supplies, the removal of refuse from the camps, and the daily movement of Agency staff working inside the camp. The closure has impacted the population both socially, economically, and places an increased health risk for camp residents … UNRWA West Bank Field Director, Scott Anderson, visited the area on 19 July and was granted exceptional access through Fawwar main entrance only after coordination with the Israeli authorities. Following his visit, he stated “I condemn the closure as it collectively punishes the Fawwar camp residents. This is all the more disturbing when Fawwar camp residents – a refugee couple – were the first to respond to the Israeli family following the drive-by shooting incident, providing them with first aid before the arrival of the ambulances….
Israel reopens Palestinian camp entrance after nearly a month
AFP 26 July — Israel reopened the main entrance to a Palestinian camp in the occupied West Bank Tuesday after keeping it closed for nearly a month in response to a series of attacks. The United Nations had accused the Israeli army of collectively punishing the 9,500 residents. The Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron had been closed off for at least 26 days as part of measures taken by the army after an attacker shot at an Israeli car on a nearby road on July 1, causing a crash that killed the driver. The shooter, who is believed to be still at large, was not from Fawwar but reportedly from the nearby town of Dura … On Tuesday morning an AFP journalist saw that Israeli soldiers had reopened the main checkpoint to the camp, with residents able to drive in and out for the first time in weeks. Previously residents wanting to travel to Hebron, usually just a few minutes’ drive away, said they had to take an hour-long back route. Khalid Younes, head of the Fawwar Youth Centre, said he had undergone emergency surgery on his appendix during the closure. The ambulance had been forced to take a much longer route than normal to the hospital in Hebron, he said. “Had I been half an hour later my appendix would have burst and I could have died,” he told AFP … Younes said the closure had hurt the camp economically. “A lot of our young people, who don’t have government work or aren’t teachers, who work in companies, had to miss work as a result of the checkpoints,” he said. Dura, the town where the attacker came from, was not under the same level of restrictions as Fawwar, several residents pointed out….
Palestinian Civil Affairs: Several entrances reopened in Hebron district
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 27 July — The Palestinian General Authority for Civil Affairs announced that the northern and southern entrances of the city of Hebron would be reopened on Wednesday afternoon, including entrances to the villages of Bani Na‘im and Beit ‘Awwa, following a month-long closure of the occupied West Bank district of Hebron. The head of the Civil Affairs’ public relations department said that the entrances would be reopened as a result of efforts undertaken by the General Authority … Hebron was put under a complete Israeli military closure at the start of this month following a series of attacks on Israeli settlers and military personnel, including completely sealing off the villages of Sa‘ir, Bani Na‘im, and Yatta from the rest of the district. The closures that were imposed across Hebron have amounted to the most extensive lockdown on the occupied West Bank since 2014, disrupting the access of hundreds of thousands of residents to services and livelihoods, according to the UN.
Liberman vows to improve conditions at West Bank crossings
Times of Israel 25 July by Marissa Newman — Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday vowed to allocate additional funds to improve the conditions at West Bank crossings, which he said cause “humanitarian harm” to Palestinians who seek to cross into Israel each day to work … In response to one MK’s question, Liberman promised to work to ease conditions at West Bank crossings. “What is happening at the crossings is unreasonable,” he said. “It inflicts security harm and humanitarian harm. Even at the crossings that are not under the Defense Ministry’s control, like Qalandiya, everyone suffers — Jews and Arabs.” Liberman said he was seeking additional funding to improve the crossings, “and I hope we receive support for this in the Knesset. The new defense minister also said he was piecing together a “carrot and stick” plan for the Palestinian population to “encourage the moderates and coexistence in order to prevent attacks.” But he added that he was against returning the bodies of Palestinian terrorists to their families for burial and was in favor of new counter-terror measures that have not been tried yet, without elaborating.
Prisoners / Court actions
Tensions rise in Israel’s prisons as 100 Palestinian prisoners join mass hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 July — Tensions have continued to mount inside Israel’s prisons as at least 100 Palestinian prisoners have joined a mass hunger strike in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners Bilal Kayid and brothers Muhammad and Mahmud al-Balboul, according to statement released by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs on Wednesday. A lawyer from the committee said that Israeli Prison Service (IPS) raided the cells of the hunger-striking prisoners and transferred prisoners to other Israeli jails in an attempt to separate the prisoners and force them to end their strikes. According to the statement, IPS officials have also imposed punishments on Palestinians participating in the strike, including placing them in solitary confinement, confiscating their personal belongings and electrical devices, enforcing a financial penalty of 600 shekels ($156), and depriving the prisoners of family visitations for two months. The committee also stated that Palestinian hunger-striking prisoner Bilal Kayid’s condition was “life-threatening” as a result of his 44-day strike….
Rights group: Some kids detained in conflict areas tortured, die
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 27 July — Children caught in six conflict-affected areas are often held for months or even years as national security threats, and untold numbers have been tortured or died in custody, according to a Human Rights Watch report. The 36-page report released Thursday documents the arrest and detention of children for alleged association with opposition and rebel groups or for alleged involvement in conflict-related offenses in Afghanistan, Congo, Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Nigeria and Syria. Human Rights Watch said governments, often empowered by new counter-terrorism legislation, apprehend children under the age of 18 who allegedly pose security threats, frequently in violation of international legal standards. “Many children are detained on the basis of groundless suspicion, flimsy evidence, or broad security sweeps,” the rights group said. “Some are detained because of alleged terrorist activities by family members. … Human Rights Watch said Israel prosecutes between 500 and 700 Palestinian children in military courts every year, charging the vast majority with throwing stones at soldiers or troops in the West Bank. In several cases it investigated, the rights group said children reported being hit and kicked in custody by police and being forced to spend hours in the cold, handcuffed to chairs in police compounds.
Israeli Knesset bars reporting names of soldiers accused of killing Palestinians
Tikun Olam 26 July by Richard Silverstein — The Israeli Knesset has passed a new law which will punish anyone who reveals the identity of any police or Border Police officer or IDF soldier accused of committing crimes against Palestinians. Named Azarya’s Law and championed by a Labor Party MK, it condones the crimes of an IDF soldier who murdered a wounded Palestinian in cold blood and currently faces a criminal trial … There is only one purpose for this law: to make the prosecution of Israelis who murder under color of uniform more difficult. The less the public knows about crimes committed in its name the less it will clamor for accountability. It is already almost impossible to bring such Israeli authorities to justice. With the new law, it will become virtually impossible. Just by way of comparison, imagine a U.S. law that prohibited publishing the names of police officers who kill Black citizens. Any American who values civil liberties and virtually all minority Americans, would rightly decry this attempt to shield police from the glare of bad publicity. That is why such a law wouldn’t stand a chance of passage, even in the most conservative state. In Israel, alas, it’s considered a patriotic duty to protect law enforcement at all costs, no matter how heinous their acts.
Palestinian woman dies of wounds suffered 15 years ago
IMEMC 2 July — The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has reported, Wednesday, that a Palestinian woman who was shot by the Israeli army 15 years ago died after succumbing to her wounds. The woman, Hadia Abu Shammala, was shot in the head in 2001, and remained in a coma, dependent on life support machines, and feeding tubes. Her family said her suffering has ended today after she succumbed to her wounds, following fifteen long years of agony. Abu Shammala was from Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. She suffered a head injury after Israeli soldiers opened fire targeting a number of homes. [PCHR weekly report for 28 Nov 2001: “Friday, November 23, 2001 – In the evening, Israeli occupation forces fired at a Palestinian taxi in Rafah, killing the driver and wounding two passengers. According to PCHR’s investigation, at approximately 21:00, the taxi was transporting a family from Rafah to Khan Yunis after they visited relatives in Rafah. The driver mistakenly drove towards Rafah Border Crossing. When he realized his mistake and turned the car around towards Khan Yunis, Israeli occupation forces in a military location near the crossing opened fire on the car without warning. The driver died of his injuries and two passengers sustained serious injuries: … Hadia Salameh Abu Shammala, 53, critically wounded by a live bullet in the head … The Israeli forces denied ambulance access to the area for around 45 minutes.]
Israeli forces open fire on Gazan fishermen, detain 2
GAZA (Ma‘an) 27 July — Israeli forces Wednesday morning opened fire on Palestinian fisherman off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip and detained two Palestinians, according to Gaza-based rights groups. The two detained were identified by the groups as Muhammad Yasin Zayed and Tariq Abd al-Bari al-Sultan. The groups added that their fishing boats were confiscated by Israeli forces and transported to an unknown location. The two were reportedly detained after Israeli forces opened fire on them. No injuries were reported.
5 Palestinian fishermen detained off northern Gaza coast
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 July — Israeli navy forces detained several Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip overnight. The head of the fishermen’s union, Nizar Ayyash, told Ma‘an that Israeli navy boats confiscated a Palestinian fishing boat late Wednesday while five fishermen were on board. The five detainees were identified as Muhammad Rafat Bakr, Khamis Awad Bakr, Muhammad Maher Bakr, Salim Abu Sadeq, and Muhammad Mahmoud Al-Luh. Ayyash condemned these detentions. … Meanwhile, Israeli forces reportedly opened fired from towers of the Kissufim military site at Palestinian lands in eastern Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported.
Israel allows cement shipments for Gaza brick factories
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 July — Israel has reportedly agreed to allow cement imports to supply brick factories in the besieged Gaza Strip, a union official told Ma‘an on Tuesday, following a more than three-month ban on cement imports for the private sector in the small Palestinian territory. Ali al-Hayik, who chairs Gaza’s union of workers in the construction industry, told Ma‘an that cement would be shipped into the besieged coastal enclave on Wednesdays, highlighting that brick factories in the Gaza Strip have been unable to produce bricks for the last three months. Al-Hayik explained that certain quantities of cement have been allowed to enter the small Palestinian territory since September 2014, when UN’s Middle East envoy announced a UN mechanism, referred to as the “Serry Plan”, to assist with reconstruction efforts after Israel’s 2014 offensive on Gaza that left thousands of Palestinians homeless. However, the entrance of cement to the private sector was banned on April 3, following the discovery of a tunnel passing from the Gaza Strip into Israel — the first to be found since Israel’s military offensive on the coastal enclave in 2014 — and accused Hamas of diverting construction materials from its intended legitimate beneficiaries….
PNA cuts off aid to 1,287 needy families in Gaza
RAMALLAH (GulfNews) 28 July — The Ministry of Social Affairs based in Ramallah has suspended monthly financial aid to thousands of families in Gaza in a move that has been widely criticised. The ministry says the suspension was not political, but the decision was taken after the conditions of the families were “carefully reviewed”. It added that the ministry applied strict and fair standards when reviewing the criteria of needy families. “This recent decision by the Ramallah ministry is surprising and illegal as it was conducted without cooperation or consultation with the Gaza branch of the ministry,” said Dr. Yousuf Ebrahim, the Undersecretary of the Gaza Ministry of Social Affairs said. “The money was going to support families with disabled or special needs members,” he added. Approximately 1,297 needy families in Gaza will no longer be receiving the financial aid support. Sami Abu Zahri, a spokesman for Hamas, the political party ruling Gaza, said that the Palestinian National Authority continues to discriminate against Gazan families.
Film — Farah: Scarred by Gaza’s war
Al Jazeera 27 July Filmmaker: Farheen Omar — A unique look into the special relationship between an injured Palestinian girl and her Lebanese guardian — Farah is a young girl from Beit Lahia, a city located in the Gaza Strip, close to the Israeli border and in the midst of much of the turmoil that occurs in the area. Farah’s mother, grandfather, aunt and three uncles were all killed in the same attack that injured Farah, causing her severe third-degree burns on parts of her body. The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund was able to help Farah, securing her safe passage from Gaza and sponsoring her travel and treatment in San Diego, California. With her grandmother accompanying her, Farah is hosted by different Arab-American families in the city as part of the arrangement. While staying with her first host family, Farah is being examined by a plastic surgeon – a difficult process for a child surrounded by unfamiliar faces. A month later she is taken in by a new family – the Jubrans. Former nurse Amal Jubran is a Lebanese Christian, born in Haifa. Throughout her nine-month ordeal, the whole Jubran family becomes very attached to Farah as she makes great strides in both her recovery and development as a child. When she returns to her family in Gaza, Amal finds it hard to move on; but almost three years later, she seizes the opportunity to visit Farah – only to have her worst fears realised. Farah has readjusted to life in Gaza with her new stepmother and extended family and doesn’t appear to remember Amal or her time in California at all. Amal is also not satisfied with the follow-up care or general lifestyle Farah is being afforded back in her hometown. Are Amal’s expectations too high? And is contentment a subjective emotion?
Netanyahu is not against seaport in Gaza
MEMO 27 July — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not against building a seaport in the Gaza Strip on condition that Israel monitors all shipments entering and exiting the coastal enclave, he told reporters on Monday evening. “There will be a special cabinet meeting to discuss this issue,” Haaretz quoted him saying, noting that the main issue is monitoring the port. He said that it is possible to have a seaport if the Israeli army monitored it. Arabs48.com said this is the first time Netanyahu does not oppose the proposal of the sea port in the Gaza Strip. For years, the current Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz has been lobbying for his proposal which includes building a floating seaport in Gaza to decrease chances of a future war. He recently said he would send his proposal to the cabinet very soon.
Fatah leaders in Gaza say leadership commission supports Mohammed Dahlan
MEMO 25 July — Senior Fatah leaders in Gaza have accused the new Fatah leadership commission of taking decisions in favour of the dismissed leader Mohammed Dahlan that reinforces his grip on the movement against Mahmoud Abbas, Al-Resalah newspaper reported on Sunday. In a letter sent to Abbas, a copy of which reached Al-Resalah, the senior Fatah leaders said that the leadership commission in Gaza takes decisions different than those taken by Abbas and the Executive Committee. They considered this, according to the letter, as a kind of insurgency in the movement, expecting this to cause a rift between the movement in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They noted that the leadership commission “speaks about this clearly behind the closed doors”. In addition, the letter included an urgent note warning of the “full collapse” of the organisational frame of Fatah that started when the current leadership commission took office. The Fatah leaders who wrote the letter accused the current commission of connection with outside powers and serving external agendas, noting that it “fights the regions which adheres to Fatah and its legitimacy”.
Hamas leader speculates on possible peace, blames Israel
Ynet 26 July by Elior Levy — Khaled Mashal, speaking to Indian journalists in English, made moderate statements regarding a peace deal based on ’67 borders with Israel; ‘The problem is on the Israeli side.’ — Chief of Hamas Political Bureau Khaled Mashal has once again made relatively moderate statements about his organization’s involvement in any future peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians in a conversation with Indian journalists on Tuesday. Mashal said, speaking in English, “Hamas believes that we have full rights over the whole land and we don’t recognize occupation. Our fathers and grandfathers lived there. Hamas is also very much keen on a unified Palestine front. That is why we have accepted a joint Arab and Palestine program, based on 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital, with the right of return of Palestinians expelled during years by successive Israeli governments.” Asked about the apparent contradiction in his position, Meshal answered, “We are facing apartheid. Nobody can force us to treat Israel as friendly nation or a legitimate entity. All of this also doesn’t mean that at a certain moment or at a proper moment, we will not negotiate with the enemy. Given the political circumstances, we are positive of achieving our national goal through political means….
French consul to Jerusalem: Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains ‘central issue in Middle East’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 July — In an interview with Ma‘an on Monday, French Consul General in Jerusalem Herve Magro reiterated France’s hopes for its ongoing peace initiative to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which he said remained “the central issue in the Middle East.” “Negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel are not only suspended, but ruptured, and this is dangerous, as this rupture threatens stability in the whole region,” Magro said, adding that the Palestinian question was “still the central issue in the Middle East and should be given attention.” “I am not saying that solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will solve all problems in the world, but the French initiative will create a dynamism which will affect all issues in the region and serve as a key to solving other issues.” Magro went on to describe some of the important features of the French initiative, including a clear timeframe which he said would prevent Palestinians from feeling that they were headed into “endless negotiations.” “I am not saying that France can solve in six months what the United States failed to solve in 20 years,” Magro told Ma‘an, highlighting the importance of international participation as part of efforts to solve the conflict. “We want as much participation of international community as possible, in order to create an international mechanism encompassing many countries, and for that reason we proposed the French initiative,” the consul said.
Palestinian president plans to sue Britain over 1917 Balfour Declaration and support for Israel
Independent 27 July by Lizzie Dearden — The declaration announced the British government’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine — The Palestinian president has announced his intention to sue the British Government over a 1917 declaration that paved the way for the creation of Israel. Mahmoud Abbas’ statement, delivered in his absence by foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki, was given at the opening of this week’s Arab League summit in Mauritania. It called on other states in the alliance to help the Palestinian government launch a lawsuit against the UK over the Balfour Declaration and the subsequent creation of Israel in 1948. Mr Abbas accused Britain of supporting “Israeli crimes” since the end of the Mandate for Palestine, and claimed the country was among the parties responsible for the exodus of Palestinian refugees. “Nearly a century has passed since the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917,” his statement said according to a transcript published by the Wafa news agency. “And based on this ill-omened promise hundreds of thousands of Jews were moved from Europe and elsewhere to Palestine at the expense of our Palestinian people whose parents and grandparents had lived for thousands of years on the soil of their homeland.” Mr al-Maliki told delegates in Nouakchott the lawsuit would be filed in an international court but did not give further details. The speech characterised the Balfour Declaration as a “fateful promise from those who do not own to those who do not deserve”….
Report: 3,275 Palestinian refugees killed in war-torn Syria
LONDON (PIC) 27 July — The Action Group for Palestinians in Syria documented Wednesday the death of 3,275 Palestinian refugees in war-torn Syria. According to a report released by the Action Group for the first half of 2016, 1,088 Palestinian refugees, including 75 women, have been locked up in Syrian regime jails. Over 150,000 Palestinian refugees were forcibly displaced to Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, and Libya, along with a number of European states. 80,000 Palestinian refugees have reached Europe fleeing war-tattered Syria.
Palestinian, Israeli medics caught in turmoil of conflict
AFP 27 July — When a Palestinian doctor stopped to help a family of Israelis targeted in a West Bank shooting, it was hailed as a rare moment of compassion in a bitter conflict. Ten months of violence between Israelis and Palestinians have deepened suspicions between the two sides, with doctors and medics saying they come under greater scrutiny at times of increased tensions. Some Israeli and Palestinian medics say they have been attacked while working, but all insist that politics is far from their minds when they respond to a medical emergency. Ali Shroukh, who lives in the town of Dahriya in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, said he did not think twice when he rushed to assist the Israeli shooting victims, and rejected the label “hero” … He said doctors “make an oath to help an enemy before a friend” … But keeping politics out of the medical profession, like most things in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is near impossible. Medics have been accused of bias and of abandoning wounded people from the other side. One stark example of this is in Jerusalem. The Israeli government does not formally draw a distinction between predominantly Jewish west Jerusalem and Palestinian-dominated east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967 and later annexed. But the Israeli medical service Magen David Adom (MDA) says it will only enter parts of east Jerusalem with a police escort for security reasons — which can lead to delays of more than 30 minutes in people receiving vital treatment, some medics say. In their absence, the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) tries to fill the gap, while MDA first responders who live in east Jerusalem or volunteers from the United Hatzalah group also rush to the scene, often on motorbikes, to provide first aid until ambulances arrive. Palestinian Ramzi Batesh, who works for United Hatzalah, said the rescue group established an east Jerusalem branch of the originally Jewish organisation because the time gap was leading to lives lost….
Arab group demands probe into Israeli hate messages on FB
Times of Israel 25 July by Dov Lieber — An Arab-Israeli human rights organization is demanding a police investigation into incendiary social media posts targeting a 6-year-old Palestinian boy, who lost his family last July in an arson attack allegedly perpetrated by extremist Jews. Ahmed Dawabsha returned home to his West Bank village of Duma on Friday, nearly a year after he was badly burned in the attack, which left his parents and baby brother dead. He was treated for second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body at the Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv. Following news reports of Dawabsha’s release from the hospital, some Israelis wrote threatening Facebook comments aimed at the boy. “It’s a pity he wasn’t burned [to death] too” and “Too bad the terrorist [kid] didn’t die,” were among the reactions by Israelis on social media, according to screenshots posted to Facebook. The Nazareth-based human rights center Meezaan accused the Israeli police and government of “giving a green light” to incitement against Dawabsha and the broader Palestinian and Arab Israeli community through “their silence” in similar cases in the past. The group demanded the police chief and attorney general open investigations into the Facebook “inciters” and take legal measures against them. Israeli police have investigated and arrested dozens of Arabs suspected of incitement over social media, Meezaan pointed out, requesting that Jewish inciters be treated in the same way….
No Bibi, Palestinians succeed despite Israel, not because of it
+972 mag 26 July by Orly Noy — By urging Israel’s Palestinians to take a more active role in civil society, Netanyahu erases an entire history that existed in this land before Zionism — It is not entirely clear what drove Prime Minister Netanyahu to use this moment and release a video directed at Israel’s Arab citizens. It clocks in at just over three minutes, and I must admit that I couldn’t get through the whole thing. Maybe if it were broadcasted on FaceTime. Maybe. But the minute and a half that I did watch were enough to see the depth of the man’s cynicism and deceptiveness, and even that no longer surprises anybody. Netanyahu patronizingly “praises” Israel’s Arab public for their accomplishments: how lovely! You have members of Knesset, judges, doctors, pharmacists, scientists, and renowned authors! In doing so, Netanyahu is actually praising the state for doing going above and beyond to allow Arab citizens to have access to these pleasures. Netanyahu is using jargon usually deployed by “enlightened” leaders when speaking to immigrant communities: look at how wonderfully you have been absorbed into society, you’re nearly one of us. Of course this kind of rhetoric is imbued with condescension, but there is one important point we must not forget: Palestinian citizens of Israel are not immigrants — they are an indigenous population whose existence was destroyed by Zionism. Now the State of Israel can bask in the crumbs it gives them after all the destruction. City centers full of judges, doctors, scientists, authors, and everything else you give the Zionist state credit for — they all existed here, Mr. Prime Minister….
Israeli-Arabs reject Netanyahu’s extended hand and apology as insincere
JPost 26 July by Ariel Ben Solomon — Arab MKs rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outreach on Monday in the release of YouTube videos urging the country’s 1.65 million Arab citizens to engage further in society. Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh – in a biting response on Tuesday – said, “Mr. Prime Minister, you are right about one thing. We really want to be part of society. But maybe I’ll surprise you now saying, we do not want to be second-class citizens in a racist and occupying state.” He also mentioned that “more than 100,000 Arab citizens who live in unrecognized villages in the Negev. They cannot listen to your words, not in Hebrew nor in English… simply [because] their homes do not have electricity.” Odeh also charged that the prime minister “regularly incites” against the Arab public. Joint List MK and Ta’al party head Ahmad Tibi told The Jerusalem Post that “the international community will not buy this sweet exercise in public relations. They just know Bibi.” Following the release of the video, Tibi had ridiculed the prime minister, saying that “addressing the Arab public in English was ridiculous.” “Mr. Netanyahu’s impassioned appeal to the residents of Taiba and Rahat in English raised smiles and questions about the context of this spin,” he said.
Israeli settler-turned-diplomat to take new post in New York
JERUSALEM (AP) 28 July — For years, Dani Dayan was the West Bank settler movement’s face to the outside world. Next week, he’ll become the face of Israel to much of North America. Dayan takes office Aug. 1 as Israel’s new consul general in New York, overseeing his country’s biggest diplomatic mission and serving as its representative to the world’s financial and cultural capital. He will also be in charge of outreach to the largest Jewish community outside Israel at a time of disagreements over Mideast peace and Jewish pluralism. Dayan’s appointment reflects the settler movement’s strong influence in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. It’s also a personal victory for Dayan, whose previous appointment as ambassador to Brazil was scuttled earlier this year, apparently because of Brazil’s opposition to his settler ties. The international community, including Israel’s closest friends, opposes Israeli settlements on lands occupied since the 1967 war, saying they undermine prospects for establishing an independent Palestinian state … Dayan will be responsible for a five-state territory that is home to some 40 percent of the American Jewish population of 6.8 million. New York and New Jersey alone have more than 2.2 million Jews. Dayan will find communities that may have a strong affinity for Israel but also strongly disagree with his government’s policies, particularly the younger generation….
Ben-Gurion favors West Bank withdrawal in footage from 1968
JTA 25 July — Newly rediscovered footage of a 1968 interview with David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, shows him opposing West Bank settlements and instead favoring the return of most of the land Israel captured in the Six-Day War. The six-hour interview with Ben-Gurion — segments of which appear in a new film called “Ben-Gurion Epilogue” — had been forgotten until filmmaker Yariv Mozer found them in the Hebrew University’s Jewish film archive, according to the Times of Israel. At the time of the interview Ben-Gurion, a member of the Labor party, had left politics and was living on Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev. Ben-Gurion’s views on the territories weren’t a secret before the footage reappeared: In a 1973 interview with the Jerusalem Post, the then 86-year-old Ben-Gurion said that after the Six-Day War he favored giving back all of the territories except East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights if the Arabs agreed to make peace with Israel. In the same interview, however, he said he changed his mind. “They don’t want to make peace with us,” he said in the 1973 interview. “Israelis should settle on every [part] of the land” but “not by displacing Arabs.” In the footage aired in the film, Ben-Gurion said that Israel should immediately relinquish most of the territories it had taken a year earlier in the Six-Day War. “If I could choose between peace and all the territories which we conquered last year, I would prefer peace,” he said, adding however that Israel should retain Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Ben-Gurion also criticized efforts to build settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, saying Jews should instead settle unpopulated areas of the Negev.
Israeli bill pushes $78,000 fine for every anti-occupation post
NAZARETH (PIC) 25 July — A new bill proposing fines for social media sites that do not remove anti-occupation content received the Israeli government’s approval on Sunday, the Jerusalem Post reported. The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill authored by MK Revital Swid (Zionist Union) giving social media providers, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, 48 hours to remove anti-Israel content. Social media platforms that neglect to remove incitement will be fined $78,000 per post. If it emerges that the site was aware of the post, for example, if it was quoted in major news outlets, but still did not remove it, the fine will be increased. The legislation classifies terror-inciting posts as those that call to or encourage anti-occupation activism and attacks. The bill enjoys widespread support in the current Knesset, with 21 MKs signed as sponsors from a broad cross-section of extremist parties. It sailed through its preliminary vote by 50 to 4, with one abstention. But, Arab MK Abdul Hakim Hajj Yahya of the Joint (Arab) List objected to the bill, saying it was intended to target Arab social media users. “All of these laws are only implemented against the Arabs,” he said. “Why doesn’t this law have a section about calls to racism, why only terror? This law is another racist law and another law that continues to express the discrimination [against Arabs].”
Israel attacks in Syria after errant fire from Quneitra hits Israeli Golan
Haaretz 25 July by Noa Shpigel & Gili Cohen — Israel hit targets in Syria on Monday after mortars exploded on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, most likely a result of errant fire from the Syrian war raging across the border. No one was injured and no damage was caused. The mortars exploded across from the key border city of Quneitra, which has been scene to ongoing fighting between pro-regime forces and Syrian rebels. In recent weeks, there has been increased fighting in the Syrian border town of Quneitra. According to the Israeli army, the mortars exploded near the border fence and the IAF hit the “point of origin” of the fire, with sources in Syria identifying the targets as two military outposts belonging to the Syrian army in the town of Al Ba’ath near Quneitra. Syrian army told Reuters that the attack was carried out by two Israeli reconnaissance planes and denied claims they targeted military sites, saying they hit a residential building in Baath City in Syrian Golan, causing material damage but hurting no one….
Israeli settler birthrate tops Palestinians’ — a political problem
JERUSALEM (Worldcrunch) 25 July by Giordano Stabile — The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat once famously said that the wombs of Palestinian women were his “biological weapon”, with a high birthrate that would outnumber Israelis and ensure the establishment of the Palestine nation. Today, that “demographic firepower” is in the hands of Israel. A wave of migration from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s, combined with a soaring birthrate among Jewish settlers in the West Bank, have shifted the demographic calculus in the region. The Israeli birthrate is now just over three children per woman — as high as five for the ultra-Orthodox — compared to just under three per woman among Palestinians … While statistics for the West Bank only are unavailable, unofficial estimates point to an average of 2.8 births per woman — lower than Israel’s, and down from the remarkable 8 per woman of the 1970s … Israel’s surface area is roughly 21,000 square kilometers, slightly smaller than New Jersey. But its population density, at 366 people per square kilometer, ranks among the highest in the world. “We need 40,000 to 60,000 new apartments each year,” says Alon Tal, a demographer at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. “This pace of construction puts our biodiversity at risk.” Israel will reach 15 million inhabitants in 2050 if the current birthrate and rate of immigration hold, with a density of 750 people per square kilometer — similar to the largest cities in the U.S….
Palestinians grant first solar power license for West Bank
Bloomberg 25 July by Anna Hirtenstein — The Palestinian Authority’s Energy Ministry granted its first license to build a solar plant in the West Bank, one in a series intended to help the territories generate more of their own power. The project will be jointly developed by Amsterdam-based Gigawatt Global Cooperatief UA and the Palestinian company Rack Tech, according to a statement from the ministry. The $10 million plant will have installed capacity of 5.7 megawatts and is expected to be completed within a year near the city of Hebron.The Palestinian Energy Authority said in May that it plans to auction permits to build 10 solar plants as large as 10 megawatts each in a move to reduce dependency on the Israeli electrical grid, which currently supplies nearly all power in the West Bank and Gaza Strip….
Century-old Palestinian Scout movement makes comeback
RAMALLAH 26 July by Ahmad Melhem — Considered to be one of the oldest in the world, the Palestinian Scout movement has regained international recognition after being accepted into the World Organization of the Scout Movement — The Scout movement in Palestine has made a strong comeback in the Arab and international arenas, with the Palestinian Scout Association (PSA) joining the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM). A Palestinian Scout team of eight members participated in the first Palestinian-Polish Scout Camp in Poland on July 10, which was part of a cooperation and twinning agreement signed by the PSA and the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association. Moreover, another Palestinian Scout delegation took part in the Arab Scouts meeting in Morocco, which kicked off July 13 … Palestine has managed, through the PSA, to earn full membership to the WOSM on Feb. 27. This happened after a three-month online vote in which 162 countries took part, allowing the PSA to be unanimously accepted back into the WOSM after Palestine had been absent for 68 years. The PSA’s return to the international Scout movement was hailed by Palestinian officials … Considered to be one of the oldest Scout movements in the world, the Palestinian Scouting started with the foundation of the Saint George School Scouts in Jerusalem in 1912. The movement earned international recognition in 1928, which allowed it to take part in the Third World Scout Jamboree held in Arrowe Park near the British town of Birkenhead in 1929, and then in Budapest in 1933. After that, members were persecuted by the British mandate during the Palestinian revolution (the Qassam Revolution) in 1936. In 1948, international recognition was withdrawn following the Nakba.
How the Israeli army is deciding Palestine’s soccer championship
+972 blog 26 July — It seemed like everything was ready for the first match of the Palestine Cup to be held Tuesday evening at Gaza’s Al-Yarmouk Stadium between Hebron’s Ahly al-Khalil and Shabab Khan Younis. Almost everything, that is. According to nearly every Palestinian sports website, Israel is preventing seven of Ahly al-Khalil’s players, all of whom are Palestinian citizens or residents of Israel, from traveling to Gaza. Out of the seven, three of them are the team’s top players who also play for the Palestinian national team: Ahmad Harbi (who began his career with Hapoel Umm al-Fahm), Abdullah Jaber (born in Taybe), and Mahmoud Daif Allah (resident of East Jerusalem). The seven were told on Monday to come back to Erez Crossing (on the border between Israel and Gaza), but were denied a permit to enter the Strip. According to Ma’an News Agency, the Palestinian players are waiting at Erez for permission to enter. Meanwhile the game is set to take place as scheduled; Ahly al-Khalil will have only 11 players, as opposed to Shabab Khan Younis, who have at least 16 players.
Photos: West Bank football team beats Gaza team 1-0
MEMO 27 July by Mohammad Asad — Hundreds of spectators and football fans filled Al-Yarmouk Stadium in central Gaza City yesterday to watch the West Bank’s Al-Ahly club play Gaza’s Khan Younis Youth team. Al-Ahly beat Khan Younis Youth 1-0. A number of Al-Ahly’s players were unable to enter Gaza due to Israeli restrictions and players who were allowed in could enter only the day before the game. The second leg is planned to take place in Al-Hassan Stadium in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on 30 July. The winner will represent Palestine in international tournaments. The Khan Younis Youth team should be traveling to the occupied West Bank through the Erez crossing, but it is not clear whether the Israeli occupation will allow them to do so. A number of Palestinian athletes had been imprisoned by the Israeli occupation while passing through the crossing.
Checkmate violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank
ICRC 25 July by Jesus Serrano Redondo — Usaid Taki Al Deen Abed Al Baset is 6 years old and a resident of Hebron in the West Bank. According to Usaid, he has been playing chess for one year. “I love chess because it helps me develop my mind, my abilities in time management, and my patience. I am the champion of the 6-year-old category and I am participating in an International Chess Competition in Dubai next week. I am so happy to represent Palestine in my category,” Usaid said after winning one of the nine rounds of a chess tournament held in Al Jib, a small village in the north west of Jerusalem, on 16 July. The tournament was organized by the Palestinian Chess Federation and the Qattana and Al Jib sports youth clubs. Entitled “Together for Humanity”, it was sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross. 76 players, whose ages ranged from six to over sixty, played nine rounds against each other. 13 champions were eventually crowned, with three of them under 15 years old….
In the West Bank town of Qalqilya skateboarding reigns supreme
[with photos] Huckmagazine 25 July by Max Gayler — Situated on the West Bank of Palestinian territory, Qalqilya is a city surrounded by walls. Within this confinement though, SkateQilya is offering a place for a new generation of skateboarders to explore artistic expression — We love skateboarding, not because we’re skaters, but because we now recognise the power of sports like these as an outlet,” Adam Abel, co-founder of SkateQilya, tells me over the phone. In just eight days until he’ll be heading out to Palestine to meet up with his business partner and friend Mohammed Othman. Abel and Othman met in April of 2011. Abel, a New York based artist and filmmaker, learned of the Palestinian town of Qalqilya‘s underground skate community when visiting the West Bank, which was bubbling to the surface of a city characterised by soldiers, barbed wire and 20-foot concrete walls. Soon their meeting led to Othman and Abel establishing SkateQilya – a skateboarding project in the town … After receiving funding from Tashkeel, an Emirati organisation, and with the help of professional skaters Kenny Reed, Brad Kirr, Brian Patch and Dave Duncan, SkateQilya was established, and they set out building the city’s first skate park, documenting the project every step of the way. “The theme that this film is focused on is that in very few places in the world do you find parkour guys working together with skaters, who’re also working together with beat-boxers and the hip-hop community,” Abel explains to me, riffing about their documentary that’s set to be released in 2017. “I dare anybody to show me a group who’re doing those things together in an organised way. That’s what is unbelievable about what we saw. It’s inherently Palestinian to do things together as a community, as a marginalised group working together towards empowerment.”