Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
Hijazi, another victim of Israel’s ‘security obsession’
IMEMC 16 July — Yahya Hisham Hijazi, 24, from Shu‘fat refugee camp in occupied Jerusalem, who was injured by nine Israeli army bullets [on Thursday 14 July], became the latest victim of Israel’s security obsession and paranoia, under allegations that became known to the Palestinians, claims of “carrying a knife,” that continue to be used as a direct justification of the military’s open fire orders. The military later admitted Hijazi did not attempt to attack its soldiers. The Israeli army first claimed that the Palestinian carried a knife and ran towards the soldiers, before they opened fire and shot him with nine rounds in his one of his legs, also causing fractures in his other leg. However, the army later admitted that an investigation into the incident revealed that the young man was “accidentally shot by its soldiers.” The incident took place in Shu‘fat refugee camp, in occupied Jerusalem. Hashem Hijazi, the father of the wounded young man, said the soldiers interrogated his son in his hospital room for more than three hours, although he underwent two surgeries in his legs at an Israeli hospital. The soldiers shot Hijazi yesterday (Thursday, July 14th) while he was heading to his work in West Jerusalem. Hijazi saw several Palestinians engaging in a scuffle, while one of them, who is a known drug addict, was carrying an axe and a knife. During the scuffle, undercover Israeli army forces invaded the refugee camp, apparently to conduct arrests, and fired many live rounds at Yahya while he was trying to remove the knife from the hand of the drug addict. The soldiers initially claimed that they shot the Palestinian because “he carried a knife and ran towards them.” “My son raised his arms in the air to tell the soldier that he does not have any intention to attack them,” the father said, “But they didn’t care, and opened fire on him.” His mother said the doctors removed nine bullets from one of her son’s legs, and also operated on his other leg because he suffered fractures when the soldiers repeatedly beat and kicked him after shooting him. She added that, after the soldiers moved her son to Shaare Tzedek hospital, they refused to allow his family to see him, and kept him held under strict guard for more than 24 hours, before they made the decision to ‘release him.’ The family said it intends to sue the soldiers who opened fire on their son, and repeatedly assaulted him despite his wounds.
11 Palestinians injured with live fire after clashes erupt near Birzeit University in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 July — At least 11 Palestinian youths were injured Thursday night in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, after Israeli undercover forces and soldiers opened live fire during a raid that detained a former member of the Hamas-affiliated Islamic bloc student group, sparking clashes near Birzeit University, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. Palestinian youths were injured with live bullets during a raid in the village of al-Mazraa al-Gharbiyeh in northern Ramallah city, as Israeli undercover forces detained a Palestinian youth identified by locals as Tareq Rabie, a former coordinator of the Islamic bloc at Birzeit University– a Hamas-affiliated group making up the majority in the university’s student council … The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that its teams transferred 11 injured Palestinians to hospitals in Ramallah, while the Palestinian Ministry of Health told Ma‘an nine live-fire injuries arrived at the Palestine Medical Center, adding that almost all of the injuries were in the extremities, with the exception of one Palestinian who was struck with a live bullet in the stomach. Clashes erupted between youths and Israeli forces as Israeli forces opened heavy live fire on the community before implementing a closure on the village and the area surrounding Birzeit University. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an she would look into reports on whether the closure is still being enforced … Birzeit University has been the focus of an Israeli military crackdown in recent months as a wave of violence spread throughout the Palestinian territory and Israel in October, and compounded by the Islamic bloc’s victories in Birzeit student elections for the past two consecutive years. At the start of 2016, Israeli military forces raided Birzeit, destroying and confiscating university equipment, while detaining more than 80 students since October….
Palestinians injured across West Bank and Gaza during Friday clashes with Israeli forces
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 July — Five Palestinians were reportedly injured with live fire on Friday during clashes with Israeli forces across the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Four Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces in the ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank. Wafa news agency reported that clashes broke out in the al-Muftah area of the camp, in which four were injured by live fire in their extremities. They were taken to Beit Jala Hospital for treatment and are reportedly in stable condition. Witnesses in Gaza told Ma‘an that an unidentified youth was shot in the foot with live fire during clashes east of Al-Bureij, as dozens gathered there to protest Israeli actions. Elsewhere, several youths gathered in the al-Shuja‘iyyah neighborhood east of Gaza city, and set fire to tires near the border fence with Israel.
Israeli extremists assault Palestinian worker in Bethlehem
IMEMC 16 July — A Palestinian worker was injured Friday after two extremist Israeli colonists attacked him in a car repair and a carwash garage, in the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem. Coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in al-Khader Ahmad Salah said two colonists from Efrat nearby illegal colony, came to the workshop for some repairs for their car, and to wash it. Salah added that the colonists assaulted the worker after he finished the work and asked to be paid. The Israeli assailants snuck behind him in a surprise attack, causing various cuts and bruises, especially since they used an electric military-grade baton, and a knife. The attack took place in Um Roka area, south of the town; after the assault, several workers rushed to rescue their colleague, and the Israeli assailants fled the scene. The wounded Palestinian worker, identified as Yahya Mousa, 30, was moved to the al-Yamama nearby hospital for treatment.
Israeli settlers throw rocks at Palestinian vehicles in northern West Bank
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 16 July — Israeli settlers Friday evening reportedly threw rocks at Palestinian cars on the Wadi Qana road which runs between the occupied West Bank districts of Qalqilya and Salfit, according to local witnesses. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli settlers threw rocks at a group of Palestinian cars that were returning from a wedding, causing damage to a bus from the Salfit Bus Company and breaking the windshield of a car belonging to Ali Taha from the village of Bidya in Salfit. While Israeli settlers routinely throw stones and harass Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, they are rarely reprimanded for it. Palestinian stone-throwers, in stark contrast, face harsh penalties by Israeli authorities, including up to 20 years in prison if charged with throwing stones at vehicles and a minimum prison sentence of three years for throwing a stone at an Israeli.
Israeli forces detain 9 Palestinians during predawn raids in West Bank, East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 14 July — Israeli forces Thursday detained at least 9 Palestinians during predawn raids across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that Israeli forces detained two unidentified Palestinians during raids in the Shu‘fat refugee camp — located in East Jerusalem, but physically separated from the city as the result of Israel’s separation wall. In the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem, Muhammad Abu Hirsheh was also detained, PPS stated. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that two Palestinians were detained in Jenin. However, Palestinian sources did not provide more details on the detentions. Israeli forces also carried out detention raids in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, detaining at least four Palestinians after raiding the areas of Hebron city, Bani Naim, Ithna, al-Shyoukh, Sair, and Tarqumiya. Locals told Ma‘an Israeli forces raided the Bir al-Mahjar area in Hebron City, surrounded a residential building and another building under construction near the al-Ahli Hospital, and reportedly blew off the front doors of seven houses before searching the premises. An Israeli army spokesperson added that Israeli forces confiscated machines manufacturing weapons from two blacksmith shops in the Hebron area … Israeli forces conduct search and detention raids on Palestinian communities on a near-nightly basis, with a weekly average of 88 being carried out since the start of 2016, according to UN documentation.
Israeli forces detain at least 15 activists in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 15 July — Israeli forces detained at least 15 activists Friday as they were cleaning an area located in the neighborhood of Tel Rumeida in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron in order to establish a cultural cinema, according to the Hebron-based group Youth Against Settlements. Coordinator of Youth Against Settlements Issa Amro, who was also held for an hour by Israeli forces with the owner of the land during the incident, told Ma‘an that some 100 activists were cleaning inside an abandoned Palestinian factory in preparation for opening a cinema in the area when several Israeli settlers began verbally harassing the activists and throwing stones and tomatoes. Soon after Israeli forces arrived and detained at least 15 activists and reportedly assaulted others. Amro told Ma‘an that eight of the detained were American Jews visiting Palestine, and the other seven were Palestinian activists. According to Amro, Israeli soldiers also issued a military order, declaring the land a closed military zone in order to prevent the group from continuing their cinema project in the area. Amro told Ma‘an that the cultural cinema project was planned to provide much-needed cultural infrastructure to the Palestinian communities in Hebron, while showcasing ways in which nonviolent resistance can work to end the nearly 50-year Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. [For more about the ‘American Jews visiting Palestine’, see the Forward article here]
Army kidnaps five Palestinians in Hebron
IMEMC 16 July — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Saturday at dawn, at least four Palestinians during invasions and searches of homes, in different parts of the southern West Bank district of Hebron. The Hebron office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that the soldiers invaded Kreisa area, in Hebron city, searched several homes, and kidnapped a young man identified as Ali Shehda Rajoub, 22. The soldiers demolished inner walls of Rajoub’s home, and violently searched the property, causing excessive damage, and interrogated several members of his family. They also searched the family car, causing damage. Prior to abducting him, Israeli military helicopters deployed dozens of soldiers in the surrounding mountains. In addition, the soldiers kidnapped another young man, identified as Ezzeddin Talahma, after breaking into his home and searching it, in Doura town, southwest of Hebron. The soldiers also invaded homes in Kharsa village, south of Doura, searched homes and kidnapped Salem Shadeed and his brother Mofeed. Furthermore, the soldiers invaded Sa’ir town, northeast of Hebron, and kidnapped a Palestinian security officer, identified as Heeran Jaradat, after breaking into his home and searching it. Heeran is the brother of Arif Sharif Jaradat, 22, who died on June 19th 2016, from serious wounds he suffered on May 4th, after Israeli soldiers shot him during an invasion of Sa‘ir. The Palestinian suffered from Down’s Syndrome.
One broken camera
IMEU 11 July by Daniel, EAPPI — Shuhada kindergarten may be one of the most vulnerable schools in Hebron. The school sits halfway to the crest of Tel Rumeida, the oldest site in Hebron, Palestine, where pottery shards dating to 3,500 BC have been found. Just fifty meters behind the school lies a community of Israeli settlers who employ harassment and violence to pry from the hands of Palestinian owners as many homes and as much of the land as possible. To protect the settlers, a fortress of more than a dozen Israeli military checkpoints, guard towers and mobile military bases ring the settlement and the school. Razor wire is everywhere. It lines the school’s chain-link fence and is almost invisible in the tangled weeds and brush through which the children, their parents and teachers walk to and from the school. (See photos 1-2) By military order and under military guard, steep stairs offer the only way in and out of the school grounds: 41 steps leading up from Shuhada street and military checkpoint or 28 steps down from Tel Rumeida. These “stairs” are a treacherous, stone and gravel, ankle-breaking obstacle course at a 40 degree incline. Pregnant women and those carrying propane tanks or groceries to their homes can often manage but the elderly and disabled don’t stand a chance. (See photo 3) Next to the school lives 11 year-old Waseem Zawiye and his family. To get to the Zawiye family home, you must walk from the stairs to the entrance gate, through the school playground and then balance-beam your way across the top of a seven-inch-wide concrete wall to reach the roof of their home, which has become a makeshift patio. The Zawiyes’ front door on Shuhada street was one of the hundreds that were welded shut by the military for “security reasons” in the mid 90’s, which forces them to use the school playground as the only access to the home. (See photo 4) Five years ago in the middle of the night, three settler teens took Waseem from his bed and carried him up the steps and into a grove of olive trees where they beat him. After being alerted by Waseem’s brothers and sisters, his parents and relatives found him and called the Palestinian police and medics but the Israeli soldiers at checkpoint 56 wouldn’t let them through. At the home, the soldiers found Waseem wounded and crying and his parents hysterical. (See photo 5) The soldiers’ questions quickly foretold the outcome of the investigation. How many kidnappers were there? What were they wearing? Why couldn’t the parents identify them and what had Waseem done to provoke them? With no security cameras in the home what proof exists that settlers were involved? Perhaps the parents themselves had beaten Waseem. This must have been a few children playing childish games. If the parents wanted to they could file a report at the police station. Waseem’s parents filed a report the next day and fearing another attack, the Zawiyes installed one security camera and aimed it at the entrance gate. Days later, the soldiers returned. Why had the family filed a police report? The IDF then cut the camera’s wires because it posed a threat to the security of the soldiers who work in the community.…
Two broken cameras: Settlers attack Activestills photographer in Hebron
+972 blog 12 July by Yael Marom — Israeli settlers attacked Activestills photographer Oren Ziv and Breaking the Silence activist Yehuda Shaul in Hebron on Tuesday, as they toured the city with famed Irish novelist Colm Tóibín. The incident is the latest in a long and growing list of attacks by settlers and Israeli security forces against journalists in the occupied territories. The attack came after the three arrived in Hebron for a tour that was coordinated in advance with the police, after visiting the West Bank village of Susya. Tóibín’s tour is one of many recently organized by Breaking the Silence, which over the past months has been bringing world-renowned authors such as Mario Vargas Llosa, Michael Chabon, and Ayelet Waldman for tours of Israel and the occupied territories. The tours will culminate in a book slated for release next year marking 50 years since of Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. Ziv told +972’s Hebrew sister-site Local Call that two settlers, one of whom was holding a bottle, began following him, Shaul, and Tóibín near the Cave of the Patriarchs, where they began threatening Shaul with the bottle and yelling “I will fuck you up” at him. When Ziv realized what was happening he immediately began taking photos. One of the settlers then kicked his camera, which fell and broke. Two Border Policemen who were standing at a nearby checkpoint intervened and pushed back the two attackers, at which point one of the settlers kicked and broke another one of Ziv’s cameras. “We asked the officers to detain them or at the very least take down their information, yet they refused,” Ziv says. “Had they been Palestinians attacking Jews in Hebron, it would have ended very differently.”….
Three Israeli minors arrested over anti-Arab attacks
AFP 14 July — Israeli police have arrested three Jewish minors suspected of having torched a car in an Arab village in retaliation for a Palestinian attack last month, officials said Thursday. The Shin Bet internal security agency said the youths were detained after a June 10 attack in the village of Yafia [Yafa an-Naseriyye] near the northern Israeli city of Nazareth. “Three Jewish minors have been arrested for having set on fire a vehicle in the village of Yafia… and for having sprayed graffiti calling for vengeance after the attack on the Sarona in Tel Aviv,” it said in a statement … Shin Bet said the minors “were preparing an attack in response to attacks carried out recently by Palestinians. But after the Tel Aviv attack, they decided to act.” Two of the suspects are residents of northern Israel while the third is from a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, said Shin Bet. They are expected to be indicted in the coming days, it added.
City of fear
EI 14 July by Jalal Abukhater — A few days ago, I was driving through Qalandiya checkpoint for the first time since I came back to Jerusalem. My dad, sitting next to me, had to yell “stop here!” at me as I was queuing behind a car at the checkpoint. “You’re too close,” he said, “stop and wait for them to call you, otherwise they’ll shoot you and not even care.” When I left here to begin my life as a university student four years ago, and despite my sense of general optimism, I never really believed that I would come back to a better and more hopeful Jerusalem … Here I am now, four summers later, having earned my degree, and I believe Jerusalem is worse than it has ever been for its non-Jewish inhabitants, the Palestinians … –Fear everywhere-– Two years ago, I wrote about the pervasive fear we Jerusalemites feel in our own city. Today, sadly, this fear is even more intense and tangible. It is not just fanatics or nationalist mobs that worry me, it is every armed Israeli – citizen, police and military – who could end my or anyone else’s life in a second for no reason and without anyone batting an eye … –Driving while Palestinian– On the day I drove through Qalandiya, I recall my dad reminding me repeatedly how I should be extra careful how I am perceived by Israelis while on the road as anything they deem suspicious could have fatal consequences. It has become standard in recent months for Israelis to judge any driving irregularities or accidents to be deliberate vehicular attacks, prompting Israelis to attack the driver and ask questions later. Last month, an Israeli driver plowed his car into a Tel Aviv restaurant, killing two people, before a mob pulled him from the car and beat him believing him to be a Palestinian attacker. But the man had suffered a heart attack. He died, though it was unclear whether it was due to the beating or the heart attack. Sometimes just driving around puts your life at risk. On Wednesday, three young men in al-Ram came under a hail of bullets from Israeli forces raiding the village north of Jerusalem. One, Anwar al-Salaymeh, 22, was killed. Another was critically injured and the third detained….
Dual American-Palestinian child Mahmoud Shaalan was killed in cold blood, investigation finds
Palestine Monitor 13 July by Lili Martinez — On February 26, 2016, sixteen-year-old Mahmoud Shaalan was walking to his grandmother’s house in Al-Bireh, the sister city of Ramallah, when he was shot and killed at the Bet El DCO checkpoint. The Israeli army said Shaalan attempted to stab a soldier at the checkpoint using a knife he had on his person. However, once again, they have not released video footage of the incident, and eyewitness accounts appear to contradict the Israeli narrative, saying Shaalan was turning to return the way he had come when he was shot. Palestinian non-profit association Accountability for Violence Against Children (AVAC) held a press conference Wednesday in Ramallah to announce the conclusion of its own investigation into Shaalan’s killing, which it launched at the request of his family. AVAC’s investigation found Shaalan was “executed in cold blood,” according to the official statement, and found seven wounds present on his body “caused by objects fired to cause harm or intent to kill.” The investigation further found that the teen could not have been attacking a soldier at the time of his death because he only sustained wounds on his back. “The distance as well as the positioning of the victim proved he was not attempting an attack and did not pose any danger or threat to the lives of soldiers,” the report added. While the Palestinian Military Liaison has formally requested a copy of the security camera footage of the incident, it has of yet received no response from the Israeli army. According to Nader Jayousi, lawyer and spokesperson at AVAC, the Israeli army informed the organization that the cameras do not cover the area in which Shaalan was killed. Mustafa Barghouti, General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, spoke at the conference. He told Palestine Monitor that extrajudicial killings committed by the Israeli army have become a commonplace occurrence. “Since October [of last year], we have noticed an unprecedented increase in the number of extrajudicial killings,” Barghouti told Palestine Monitor. “This is a very serious phenomenon, it’s not individual, it’s a general policy and it has to stop.” While no charges have yet been filed regarding Shaalan’s death, AVAC has prepared extensive evidence disproving the Israeli army’s narrative regarding the killing, in case a criminal trial is launched….
A Palestinian village under siege: No one can leave, not even a child with cerebral palsy
Haaretz 16 July by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — She approaches the checkpoint, on foot, in the heat of the day, carrying Mahmud in her arms with obvious difficulty. She doesn’t have a stroller. Mahmud can’t stand up; he wears leg braces. Three-and-a-half years old, he’s crippled by cerebral palsy, the result of an insufficient oxygen supply to his brain during his birth. Again on this day, as on the previous one, Israel Defense Forces soldiers stop them and refuse to allow them to leave their village, Sa‘ir, northeast of Hebron – despite the sight of the weary mother and her disabled boy with his broken body, who is unable either to talk or to control his movements. But today, Monday of this week, Lt. Yaniv is on duty at the checkpoint and he, at least, speaks softly and politely to the hundreds of Palestinians who are trying to enter or leave the locked-down town – he doesn’t bark at them in the usual checkpoint manner. Some 20,000 people were placed under siege this week, in the wake of the incident last Saturday, in which shots were fired at an Israeli couple with six children who were driving toward the West Bank settlement of Tekoa; the father was moderately wounded. As of midweek, the shooter had not been caught, and the closure was still in place. The suspicion that he had fled to Sa‘ir was enough to imprison tens of thousands. No one is allowed to leave, not even a child with cerebral palsy and his mother, who are on the way to a clinic in a neighboring village. Late afternoon. A broiling-hot sun. On both sides of the makeshift checkpoint that has turned this town into a giant cage are long lines of cars, their angry and frustrated drivers standing next to them, helpless. Occasionally one starts to shout; once in a while someone tries to cajole the soldiers to let them through, but to no avail, of course. This checkpoint is a typical mixture of neglect, piles of dirt and garbage, concrete blocks strewn randomly along the road, strips of spikes, two soldiers, an officer and an army-issue water container. The orders are fluid – the IDF is nothing if not a dynamic army – and today entry into Sa‘ir is permitted, exit is forbidden. Yesterday entry was permitted but only on foot; today vehicles are allowed to enter, too. The closure has been eased. But exit is absolutely forbidden, no exceptions. Lt. Yaniv explains to every driver and pedestrian who arrives at the checkpoint that if they go in they will not be able to leave, no one knows for how long….
Opinion: No incitement necessary for a Palestinian town to hate Israel / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 14 July — Sa‘ir will recover; its people are well-trained and strong. But it’s not hard to imagine what sort of pent-up feelings are being reinforced by the lockdown of this southern West Bank town — Let’s take Shoham, a bedroom community of 20,000 people with a country club. An hour’s drive away there’s a town called Sa‘ir. It also has 20,000 residents (no country club, though). Now imagine that a car had been shot at on Route 444, not far from Shoham. The police don’t catch the gunman, but suspect that he fled to Shoham. So what do they do? They impose a closure on Shoham. They seal it off totally. No one is permitted to leave for a week – not for work, not for school, not to see a doctor or do business. Whether you’re a resident or a guest, you’re stuck. No amount of begging will help. Some 20,000 people would remain under siege. The city would go crazy. Israel would go crazy. A blockade on an entire city because of one person, who probably isn’t even hiding there? A week inside a cage? They would be Skyping Rafi Reshef’s program every day to describe the residents’ suffering – the stories of shortages in the stores, patients who couldn’t get their treatment, kids who couldn’t get to day camp, students who missed final exams, brides and grooms who couldn’t get to their weddings, businesses on the brink of collapse and withered fields. Shoham would remember this siege with pain and anger. Every year it would hold a commemorative ceremony. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews would conduct a fundraising campaign and the local welfare department would treat traumatized children who can’t stop wetting their beds after suffering through the fear of the nightly searches. The police commissioner who issued the order would be forced to resign. Israel would go nuts from such a closure. But Sa‘ir, just an hour’s drive from Shoham, has been sealed off for five days. You haven’t heard much about it and it doesn’t interest anyone. On Saturday a Palestinian gunman shot at an Israeli car; the driver was wounded in the leg but was able to continue driving. Since that shooting, though, Sa‘ir has been under closure. You can enter, but you cannot leave.
Israeli forces implement closure on ‘Issawiya neighborhood in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 July — Israeli forces Thursday implemented a military closure on the neighborhood of ‘Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem, according to locals, as Israeli police forces erected checkpoints at roads leading to the area and searched Palestinian vehicles and passersby. A member of a local follow-up committee, Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stormed all the entrances to the village and set up checkpoints in the morning, adding that Israeli police “deliberately harassed” the residents as they headed to their jobs. Al-Hummus told Ma‘an that Israeli forces informed residents the closure was the result of Palestinian youths from the village throwing explosive devices at them during a raid in the early morning hours, which al-Hummus said have been carried out on a daily basis for the past ten days in the area, with Israeli forces shooting tear gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets into the community, while detaining residents. Calling the closure another policy of Israel’s “collective punishment” against the Palestinians in Jerusalem, al-Hummus demanded that rights groups organize visits to Issawiya to investigate Israeli human rights violations against the community … Israeli authorities routinely place entire Palestinian villages and towns under blockades following attacks or incidents involving Israeli personnel or settlers. The southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron has remained under an Israeli military blockade since the start of this month, with Israeli soldiers sealing off the Hebron villages of Bani Naim, Yatta, and Sa‘ir following a series of attacks, alleged attacks and clashes that left three Palestinians and two Israelis killed in less than 48 hours.
Prisoners / Court actions
Red Cross cuts family visits to Palestinian visitors
Electronic Intifada 11 July by Clare Maxwell — Naimeh Shamlawi missed her youngest son more than ever during Ramadan, which concluded earlier this month. Ali, 19, has spent the last three years in Israeli military detention on attempted murder charges. Israeli prosecutors claim that he and four friends threw rocks at an Israeli settler’s car, causing a crash that resulted in the death of a young Israeli girl. Though they took a plea deal, Ali and his friends, known as the Hares Boys, have maintained their innocence throughout their trial and incarceration. The evidence against them, they say, was based on “confessions” extracted under torture. But that’s small comfort to their mothers who say they felt the loss acutely every time the rest of the family gathered to break the Ramadan fast. Naimeh, who has been permitted see her son only twice a month, is determined to spend every moment she can with him even though it means a six- or seven-hour journey for a 45-minute visit. “The last time I saw my son, he told me not to come during Ramadan, because the journey would be too difficult while I am fasting,” Naimeh recalled. “But how can I leave him, especially now?” Unfortunately for the Shamlawis, as well as thousands of other Palestinian families who have loved ones in Israeli military prisons — according to Addameer, a prisoner advocacy group, as of May 2016 there were a total of 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli detention — the opportunities to visit are about to be drastically reduced. –Halving visiting time– In late May, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced that it was reducing coordinated visits between adult male Palestinian prisoners and their families from the West Bank by 50 percent, starting in July. Families of prisoners from Gaza are exempted….
Brother of Palestinian shot dead after stab attack indicted by Israeli military for ‘incitement’
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 15 July — The Israeli military’s public prosecutor issued an indictment on Thursday against Tamer Tarayra — the brother of 17-year-old Muhammad Nasser Tarayra who was killed by Israeli forces after carrying out a stabbing attack on an illegal Israeli settlement in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, killing a 13-year-old Israeli girl — for alleged “incitement,” according to sources. Tamer, the brother of Muhammad and resident of the village of Bani Naim in Hebron, was issued an indictment for alleged “incitement” and supporting Palestinian attacks against Israelis, joining his sister Lara who is being prosecuted by Israeli military courts for allegedly supporting the attack on the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba last month, as she reportedly said that “the attack added pride to the Tarayra family and the Bani Naim town” during an interrogation with Israeli authorities. The siblings were detained upon the public prosecutor’s request until legal proceedings conclude.
Following two attacks from residents of the village of Bani Naim in Hebron in less than two days, the village was completely sealed off by Israeli forces, while Israeli authorities implemented a closure on the entire district of Hebron. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an on Friday that the closures remained in effect and no changes had been made….
Palestinian sentenced to 18 years in prison over alleged 2014 car attack
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 July — An Israeli military court sentenced a Palestinian on Wednesday to 18 years in prison over an alleged vehicular attack in 2014 in which three Israeli soldiers were wounded. Hummam Jamal Masalmeh, a resident of the Hebron district village of Beit Awwa in the southern occupied West Bank, was convicted by the Ofer military court of carrying out a hit-and-run attack against three Israeli soldiers near a military tower at the entrance of the al-Arrub refugee camp on Nov. 4, 2014. Masalmeh reportedly turned himself over to Israeli authorities following the incident, saying that he had accidentally lost control of his vehicle, panicked and fled. However, Israeli investigations later ruled that Masalmeh had carried out an intentional attack.
Palestinian sentenced to 8 years in prison for throwing stones at Israeli officer
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 July –The Israeli central court on Thursday sentenced 21-year-old Ahmad Yasser Baraghithi to eight years in prison after charging him with throwing stones and critically injuring an Israeli police officer in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem in 2014, according to the head of the Jerusalem Prisoners’ Families Committee. Amjad Abu Asab told Ma‘an that Baraghithi was also ordered to pay a fine to the courts of 120,000 shekels ($31,158). Baraghithi was originally detained in June 2014, and is now being held in Israel’s Eshel prison after being transferred between several other Israeli prisons. Baraghithi’s prison sentence comes amid an Israeli crackdown on Palestinian youths who throw stones at Israeli soldiers during demonstrations and raids on Palestinian communities. In 2015, legislation was passed in the Israeli Knesset allowing sentencing for up to 20 years for a someone convicted of throwing stones at vehicles if intent could be proven. However, the law allows the Israeli state to imprison someone for up to 10 years without proof of intent. Meanwhile, Israelis who throw stones are rarely detained or prosecuted. In November, Israel established legislation sentencing Palestinians to a minimum of three years in prison for the act of throwing a stone at an Israeli. Included in the legislation are provisions allowing Israeli authorities to strip stone throwers of their state benefits and canceling access to national health insurance and social services for the families of the accused….
Pulitzer Prize winners urge release of Palestinian poet
EI 13 July by Nora Barrows-Friedman — Major literary figures are among more than 150 writers urging Israel to release Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour, who has been under house arrest since January for a poem she wrote. They include such renowned international novelists, playwrights and poets as Alice Walker, Edwidge Danticat, Eve Ensler, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Fady Joudah, Tayari Jones, Dale Peck, Russell Banks, Jorie Graham and Dave Eggers. Tatour, who is a citizen of Israel, was arrested in October 2015 from her home near Nazareth and charged with incitement to violence for a poem she wrote and posted to YouTube. She spent several months in three different jails – enduring five separate interrogations – before being confined to house arrest in a rented apartment in a suburb of Tel Aviv. Tatour faces up to five years in prison, according to her lawyer. Her next hearing is scheduled for 18 July. The writers, poets and artists, including nine Pulitzer Prize winners, and 14 recipients of Guggenheim Fellowships, signed a petition demanding that the Israeli government free Tatour … An increasing number of Palestinian writers, journalists, activists and Facebook users have been arrested by Israeli forces and charged with “incitement.” Another high-profile case is that of Palestinian astrophysicist Imad Barghouthi, who is being held by the Israeli military over statements he allegedly made on Facebook. Hundreds of international scientists and academics have called on Israel to release him.
Israeli military to release female refusenik from jail
JERUSALEM (AP) 14 July — The Israeli military says it will release a woman who supporters say has served the longest-ever jail sentence for a female conscientious objector. In a statement Thursday, the army said it had found Tair Kaminer “unfit for service.” In Israel, military service is mandatory for most young Jewish men and women. Kaminer, 19, refused to enlist because she opposes Israel’s nearly 50-year occupation of Palestinian lands. Instead, she has asked to perform civilian national service. Kaminer has been sentenced to a series of jail terms totaling more than 150 days behind bars. She is expected to be released on July 29. In a statement, Kaminer said she was relieved to be heading home, but vowed to continue her struggle against the “oppression of the Palestinian people.”
Army injures six Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC 16 July — Israeli soldiers shot and injured, on Friday evening, six Palestinians with live fire after the army opened fire on protesters, east of the Sheja‘eyya area, east of Gaza city, and east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza. Media sources in Gaza said the soldiers, stationed in Nahal Oz military base across the border fence east of Sheja‘eyya, fired many live rounds on Palestinian protesters who marched towards the security fence. Two Palestinians were shot with live rounds in their legs, before Red Crescent medics moved them to the Shifa Hospital, east of Gaza. Their injuries have been described as moderate; several others suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. In addition, four Palestinians were also shot by live army fire east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, and were moved to the Al-Aqsa Hospital, suffering moderate wounds. The Israeli army repeatedly opens fire on Palestinians who approach the border area, even without getting very close to it, and frequently attacks farmers in their own lands.
Gazans hope for more as crossing opens for car deliveries
AFP 14 July — Palestinians in Gaza were on Thursday eyeing the opening of a key crossing to cars for sale to see if it could signal a wider loosening of the blockade, though Israeli officials have downplayed the idea. The Erez crossing point between Israel and Gaza, run by the Islamist movement Hamas, was opened on Wednesday to allow the transfer of vehicles for sale for the first time in nine years. Located in the northern Gaza Strip, Erez is nearer to major Israeli cities than Kerem Shalom and could make bringing goods from Israeli port cities such as Ashdod easier. The move has been welcomed by car traders, who are hopeful more vehicles will be allowed through. Ismail al-Nakhala, head of Gaza’s Automobile Importers Association, said he was hopeful it was the beginning of “more cars and the entrance of other goods.” Maher Abu al-Ouf, an official with Gaza’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, said 54 trucks and buses entered on Thursday. “We expect in the next phase other goods will be allowed in from Erez, including fruit and freezers, and that is a positive thing,” he said. COGAT, the defence ministry body responsible for implementing government policies in the Palestinian territories, did not reply to a request for comment, but on Wednesday downplayed the significance of the opening. Erez has been restricted to individuals since 2007, with goods going through Kerem Shalom in southern Gaza. Residents of the Israeli towns near Kerem Shalom had for months complained about the hundreds of trucks passing through the area. In May, then defence minister Moshe Yaalon said Erez would be opened in order to enable a better flow of goods into Gaza and ease congestion at Kerem Shalom.
Israel suspends postal services to Gaza after intercepting products for alleged military use
GAZA (Ma‘an) 14 July — Israeli authorities Thursday suspended postal services to the besieged Gaza Strip via the Erez crossing after Israeli forces intercepted shipments of products that they believed could be used for military purposes, according to officials at the Palestinian liaison office. The officials told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities suspended the postal service into the Gaza Strip in response to finding the products in postal shipments entering the small Palestinian enclave. Israeli media reported that Israeli authorities confiscated drones, components of weapons, and scuba diving equipment from mail shipments earlier in the day. Director of Public Relations and Media at the Ministry of Communications in Gaza Samir Hamto confirmed reports of the suspension, while rejecting Israel’s claims of finding equipment for military use. “The occupation makes [these] claims in order to tighten the siege on the Gaza Strip,” he said, adding that the suspension would only harm the people of Gaza.
Israel undermines Gaza’s economic recovery as it clamps down on travel, imports
Haaretz 15 July by Amira Hass — At the initiative of the Shin Bet security services, restrictions have been tightened on Palestinians seeking to depart the Gaza Strip and on imports permitted into the territory. These restrictions cut into the Strip’s already limited economic activity. Those directly harmed by the change are the merchants and importers, including the veterans who employ hundreds of people; senior officials in charge of infrastructure and rehabilitation; doctors and academics who take in-service training courses and exams in the West Bank; the ill; those with families abroad and in the West Bank; and workers for international humanitarian groups and diplomatic missions. The change is a clear reversal of what had been a trend of gradually easing restrictions in the past six years, a policy that had been largely aimed at the Palestinian business sector … In recent months regular exit permits for about 1,400 merchants, about a third of some 3,700 businesspeople who have received long-term exit permits in recent years, have been canceled or not renewed. In a step that has an immediate and very damaging effect on Gaza’s economy and attempts to rehabilitate it, the Shin Bet has also begun to forbid certain businessmen from importing their merchandise into Gaza. They are defined as banned by the Shin Bet for “security reasons” without further explanation….
300 Gazans travel to Jerusalem for Friday prayers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 July — Hundreds of Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip travelled to occupied East Jerusalem via the Erez crossing between the small enclave and Israel to perform Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to sources at the Palestinian liaison officials. Palestinian officials told Ma’an that 300 worshipers attended Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, before immediately returning to the Gaza Strip … Visitations by elderly Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Al-Aqsa were implemented as part of a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s 2014 offensive on the besieged enclave. However, due to Israeli security concerns and Jewish holidays, visitations have been frequently interrupted since their introduction.
Hamas to allow local polls to be held in Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) 15 July by Ola Atallah — Palestinian resistance movement Hamas said Friday that it would allow municipal elections to be held in the Gaza Strip. “We affirm the importance of conducting local elections in the [Israeli-occupied] West Bank and Gaza Strip,” Hamas — which has governed the strip since 2007 — said in a statement. “We will spare no effort to facilitate the holding of these elections, in line with the interests of the Palestinian people,” the group asserted. While Hamas did not explicitly announce its intention to participate in the polls, an informed source close to the group — who spoke to Anadolu Agency anonymously due to restrictions on talking to media — said that Hamas may support certain “tribal or technocrat” electoral lists. The Ramallah-based Palestinian Central Election Commission, for its part, welcomed Hamas’ decision to allow elections in the coastal enclave. “Commission Chairman Hanna Nasser will visit the Gaza Strip on Sunday to meet with Palestinian factions there and inform them of the commission’s plan to hold local elections concurrently in the West Bank and Gaza,” read a commission statement. Palestinian municipal elections will be held on Oct. 8 across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Council of Ministers announced Tuesday … The last Palestinian municipal elections were held in 2012 in 340 constituencies of the West Bank.
Turkey to send second aid ship to Gaza before Feast of Sacrifice
ANKARA (Hurriyet) 14 July — Turkey will send another ship to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza before the Feast of Sacrifice holiday that will occur in September, a senior government official has vowed. “Our prime minister has instructed the deputy prime minister responsible for [the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority] AFAD. We will prepare another ship before the Feast of Sacrifice to deliver food, medicine, diapers and hygienic equipment. Gaza has none of these things,” Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak told reporters on July 14. Turkey shipped more than 10 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza before the Eid al-Fitr holiday, immediately after it signed a deal with Israel that allows the Turkish government to have access to the enclave. The deal ended a six-year old rift between the two sides over the Mavi Marmara incident in which Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish nationals on board of a Gaza-bound vessel. The aid Turkey plans to send will be enough for around three months, Kaynak said, stressing that Gaza particularly needs infrastructure and construction materials. Turkey’s first delivery included 120,000 pieces of children’s clothing, 50,000 shoes, toys, drugs and food, Kaynak said, while praising the speed of the Israeli state in unloading the cargo for delivery to the people of Gaza. Meanwhile, the deputy prime minister also said Turkey plans to fully complete the construction of a hospital and housing project for 320 homes in Gaza by the end of this year. He added that work on building an industrial zone in the Erez region of Gaza has been also kicked off by the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB).
Inside Gaza’s traditional tribal courts
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip 14 July by Rasha Abou Jalal — Considered as a pillar of social stability, tribal and customary courts hold an important position among Palestinian families when it comes to settling conflicts and ending long-standing disputes between them. Plaintiffs and right holders prefer to bring their cases before tribal councils because of their speed, issuing their rulings within a few days or weeks. Official courts usually take longer, sometimes years, to decide on a case. Tribal courts normally consist of several parties, none of whom holds an official status. Arbitrators (muhakkim) are one such party who, because of their extensive knowledge in tribal laws, play the role of a judge. An elder (mukhtar) is the person who represents a family that is party to the conflict at the tribal council, and conciliators (rajul islah) are a group of people who attempt to resolve the dispute peacefully to prevent litigant families from pursuing a vendetta. Each family holds elections on a regular basis to choose an elder from among the family members … [Ahmad] Zaareb [the elder of the Zaareb family in the Gaza Strip] said, “Tribal courts do not imprison the defendant. Instead they impose financial compensations. For example, if a man attacked another, tribal courts order the attacker to pay 1,000 Jordanian dinars for every step he took from his house to the victim’s home, which serves as deterrent punishment for the assailant.” The aggressor has to pay this amount to the victim. If he suffers economic hardship, he might have to sell his property or his wife’s jewelry, or borrow the amount from his relatives. Usually this payout is used by the victim for the treatment of physical or material damages that resulted from the assault. If the victim was not seriously injured, according to the custom, the victim has to return said amount to the aggressor after several years, should the latter prove significant remorse for his action and show respect for the victim … Salamah said the reconciliation department he heads successfully resolved 13,500 disputes through tribal councils in 2015. These disputes varied in nature and included murders, thefts, aggressions and family quarrels….
Photo Gallery: When ‘toys’ explode in Gaza
ICRC — This is Doaa Yasseen. She’s 11 years old and lives in Gaza City. She lost her right hand on 6 May 2015. Walking home from school, she spotted what she thought was a toy and picked it up. It turned out to be an unexploded device from past conflicts. The doctor told her family if she was not transferred to the hospital in Nablus, the amputation would be more severe. There, Doaa had eight surgical operations, and was in hospital for 52 days. Doaa was one of the star students before the explosion. Her performance has suffered since then, although she’s still a good student. “Writing with my left hand has been one of the hardest things for me,” says Doaa, sitting at her desk. “Her injury has had psychological consequences. It affects her self-confidence; she covers her right hand with a white gauze most of the time in the classroom,” says Noha, the school principal … “Doaa sometimes feels vulnerable and overwhelmed,” says Fadwa, Doaa’s mother. “She asks me why it happened to her and she hides in her room when we have visitors. The whole family is supporting her. We don’t have many savings and we don’t earn much. But we bought her a tablet when she left the hospital. Her brothers understand that Doaa needs our attention.”….
Amnesty International releases Gaza platform findings (VIDEO)
IMEMC/Agencies 15 July — Forensic Architecture – The Gaza platform is an innovative new tool being used to investigate human rights abuses. Amnesty International commissioned Goldsmiths University’s Forensic Architecture department to build a unique database using all available satellite imagery, broadcast news and citizen generated footage, stills, tweets, press reports and releases etc generated during the 50 days of the Gaza Conflict 2014 to build a definitive picture of what happened minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day as a way of investigating war crimes. The aim is to identify trends and patterns in the military strategy to counter Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s statement to the United Nations that Israel had done “everything possible to minimise Palestinian civilian casualties”. Amnesty International’s conclusions on Israeli human rights abuses, during the 2014 attack on the Gaza Strip: “Amnesty International investigated a number of cases where large numbers of people from the same family have died. So, in one case for example, the Abu Jame’ family, in Khan Younis. There were 24 members of the family in the home. And, as they were preparing to break their fast during the month of Ramadan, one fighter, who was fleeing an area of fighting, had come and hid underneath a balcony outside of the home. Now, Israel bombed the house and killed 24 people in it. That attack is clearly disproportionate.
Gaza band gains global audience despite siege
GAZA CITY (EI) 14 July by Mousa Tawfiq — It’s taken a long time and demanded patience and perseverance. But slowly, and in spite of all the obstacles, Gaza’s Watar Band is gaining international recognition. The soft rock pop group recently completed a tour of France, organized by the French Institute of Jerusalem, a branch of France’s official international cultural center, marking their second such trip in a four-year period that also saw them win a prestigious arts award and record their first album. “Our friendship and ambition helped us face all difficulties,” said Khamis Abushaban, 26, the band’s bassist. Abushaban is one of four friends who founded the now seven-strong band in 2008. That year also witnessed the devastation of the 2008-2009 Israeli attack that left more than 1,400 people dead in Gaza. The horror left an indelible mark. –Concert in Gaza’s rubble– “In 2009, just after the 2008-2009 aggression, we had our first concert,” said Abushaban. “We performed in the rubble of the Palestine Red Crescent Society building, which was destroyed during the assault. The building had been home to the only music school in Gaza.” The concert was hugely symbolic for the band, and repeated Israeli aggressions have all left their mark on its members. During Israel’s 51 days of bombing in the summer of 2014, the band recorded and released the track “We Teach Life, Sir.”….
Gaza children to visit Limerick
Limerick Leader 15 July by Anne Sheridan — A young football team from Gaza will visit Limerick next week under a project to help relieve children of some of the stress of living in the conflict prone area. The under-14 football team from the Al Helal club in Gaza, Palestine, will visit Limerick and other parts of the country to play a series of matches against local underage clubs. The players and their trainers and mentors will arrive on July 13, and will spend time in Nenagh and Dublin as well as Limerick. Among the many events organised for the children is a Picnic for Palestine in Limerick on the weekend of July 22. The Gaza Kids to Ireland project is a joint initiative of a number of groups including Gaza Action Ireland. Zoe Lawlor, one of the Limerick based organisers, said the project aims to give the kids some relief from the stress of living under blockade and military assault. “It will also be a rewarding and enriching experience for them as they meet and play against Irish teams” said Ms Lawlor. “The situation for Palestinians in Gaza trying to play sports, living as they do under siege, is extremely difficult. The children are hampered by lack of facilities, equipment, places to play and restrictions on their movement, indeed their clubhouse was partially damaged in the bombing in 2014” said Ms Lawlor, who has visited Palestine. “This visit to Ireland will provide a wonderful chance for them to meet other children, experience a new culture and to tell their stories” she added.
Powerful new game ‘Liyla and the Shadows of War’ dramatizes 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza
Mondoweiss 15 July by Wilson Dizard — A Palestinian computer engineer has put together a chilling game for smartphones, which shows the struggle of Gazan civilians to survive Israel’s 2014 onslaught from the sky. The game came out in May. Rasheed Abueideh and a team of several other designers spent the last two years designing Liyla and The Shadows of War. A family of three, a father, a mother and Liyla, run through the burning rubble of Gaza. He wants to provoke an emotional reaction from players. At first, however, Apple thought the game was political commentary and not game. They changed their mind, however, and now it is available on the App store.“What’s the purpose of the game?” “To make people cry,” he replied. “It’s to show the facts in the war and the effect of war on the civilians and on children.” The short game starts out with the player controlling a male character, who must jump deftly and run fast to avoid immediate death by bullet or drone or bomb. (Spoilers ahead) The man’s first goal is to reach his house, where he finds his wife and their daughter, Liyla. The house is destroyed by a missile strike, and the three run off. The mother dies. The father tells Liyla that she is just sleeping. They continue on to the shore, where the game presents moral choices that end in Liyla’s death. Her soul, along with her mother and dozens of others, rise up from the ground as glowing blue figures….
PCHR weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (30 June – 13 July)
PCHR-Gaza 14 July — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt Four civilians, including a child and woman, were killed in the West Bank. 31 civilians, including 3 children, and a Scottish activist were wounded in the West Bank. A civilian succumbed to his wounds and two others were wounded in the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces continued to open fire at the border areas in the Gaza Strip and wounded a bird hunter. Israeli warplanes conducted 6 airstrikes at training sites and other targets in the Gaza Strip. Material damages in a commercial company, but no casualties were reported. Jerusalem – Israeli Forces Demolish Number of Palestinian Houses in al-Mukaber Mount Israeli forces conducted 173 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the southern Gaza Strip. 146 civilians were arrested, including 23 children and 3 women. 54 civilians of them, including 17 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued to impose collective punishment measures against Palestinian civilians. Two houses were bombed in Qalandiya refugee camp, north of occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued to impose a comprehensive cordon on Hebron and a partial one on Tulkarm. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. 3 under-construction houses were leveled in addition to a barrack for sheep and horses in al-Mukaber Mount….
Freedom march: 700 activists march marking the 10th anniversary of Combatants for Peace
[PHOTOS]IMEMC 15 July by Ghassan Bannoura — At least 700 Palestinian and Israeli activists and other peace groups marched on Friday at the freedom march to mark the 10th anniversary of founding Combatants for Peace movement. Joining the protest today Alistair Little and Gerard Foster former combatants from both sides of the Irish conflict. The march started from the entrance of Batier [Battir?] village to the south of Bethlehem city. People marched towards settlers’ road 60 and walked all the way to the tunnel checkpoint separating Bethlehem area from Jerusalem. During the march activists and members of CFP used hand-made puppets to close the settlers road and then used it during the protest as they chanted anti occupation slogans and demanded the end of occupation and the establishment of peace. During his speech at the checkpoint Mr. Ra’ed Haddar, coordinator of the regional groups of CFP, told the gathering” we are here to stay we are not leaving, we do not fear your weapons because we believe in justice and peace.” From the Israeli side CFP activist Neta Hazan said “ As an Eastern woman , the daughter of Moroccan and Egyptian Jews, I feel that it is my duty to stand by my Palestinian sisters and brothers because their struggle is our struggle we, the Easterners, against repression , denial and towards equality and freedom.”….
Helping Palestinians was an uphill battle for USAID chief
JERUSALEM (AP) 15 July — After 11 years of helping oversee the U.S. government’s aid efforts to lay the foundations for a future Palestinian state, the outgoing chief of the U.S. Agency for International Development mission in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is unsure whether that vision has inched any closer to reality. “It’s frustrating. It’s definitely frustrating,” said Dave Harden, who is leaving his post on Friday and returning to Washington to become an assistant administrator of USAID. “Frustrating” is a word Harden said repeatedly in an interview with The Associated Press. During his tenure, he saw three U.S. envoys attempt, and fail, to advance the cause of peace. He worked in one of the world’s most complicated political arenas and headed one of the most scrutinized USAID missions, on account of American lawmakers’ concerns that American money could reach Palestinian militants. Starting as deputy mission director in 2005 and later taking the helm of USAID’s mission in the Palestinian territories, Harden presided over some $3.8 billion in investments to help improve Palestinians’ lives — from paving roads, laying water lines and building schools, to funding the Palestinian version of the children’s television show Sesame Street and helping a Palestinian fair trade olive oil distributor supply oil to the Whole Foods supermarket chain in the U.S. He did so while tiptoeing through a minefield of obstacles. He weathered a temporary congressional freeze on USAID funds in 2011 as punishment for the Palestinians’ appeal to the United Nations for statehood, a move the U.S. saw as sidestepping negotiations with Israel….
Photo Essay: Women in Hebron
HEBRON 12 July by ISM, al-Khalil Team — The current al-Khalil team were privileged to visit the Women in Hebron centre located in Idna [Idhna], just outside of al-Khalil city — Two women making a rug that takes approximately two weeks to complete — Nursery at the centre to facilitate the women bringing their children while they work — Different designs of keffiyehs – embroidery work — The centre was full of laughing and smiles … Make sure you visit Women in Hebron and support them and other local organisations in al-Khalil who suffer greatly from the ongoing occupation which reduces the number of tourists and locals alike who visit the beautiful old city of al-Khalil.
Refugee girl: Meeting Germany’s Merkel was turning point
BERLIN (AP) 14 July — A Palestinian refugee whose encounter with German Chancellor Angela Merkel made waves last year says the incident was a turning point in her life. Reem Sawhil burst into tears during a town hall event with Merkel last July after recounting how she feared that she or her family might be deported. Merkel was criticized at the time for appearing to show little empathy toward the 14-year-old in a wheelchair. Weeks later the chancellor decided to open Germany’s borders to tens of thousands of refugees stuck in Hungary. Sawhil told the German weekly Bild am Sonntag she had gained confidence following the meeting and has learned how to walk unaided. The dpa news agency reported Thursday that Sawhil and her family have permission to remain in Germany until at least October 2017.
Palestinian leaders condemn attack in France, declare support for French people
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 July — Palestinian leaders sent their condolences to French President Francois Hollande and the French people on Friday, following an attack Thursday night that left at least 84 people killed, including children, and at least 100 injured when a man deliberately drove a lorry into crowds during national celebrations in Nice, France. According to the Palestinian national news agency WAFA, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other members of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) declared their support and solidarity with the French people and the families of the victims, while condemning the attack which international media have deemed a “terrorist attack” reportedly carried out by a 31-year-old French-Tunisian. However, no groups have claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement issued on Friday, Hamas also expressed solidarity with families of the dead and injured, saying they reject all forms of extremism and terrorism….
Encouraging story of the day:
Small Arab and Jewish towns team up to solve big problems
Haaretz 15 July by Hagai Amit — Disparate communities are starting to cooperate, leading to solutions that can improve the environment, education and even school dropouts’ options — Nahal Taninim (“River Crocodile”) has no crocodiles – they’ve been gone for decades. It doesn’t usually have water, either. Old-timers wistfully recall when it had both, but newcomers to the region barely even know the riverbed exists nearby. Rivers going dry because of overpumping, or groundwater depletion, are hardly a rarity in Israel. The only surprise about Nahal Taninim is that a revival effort is in effect. For the water, that is, not the reptiles … Rehabilitating Nahal Taninim is a complex project run by a partnership (which launched a steering committee to handle the multiple local and national government bodies involved). The partnership’s goal is to achieve regional sustainability. It consists of no less than 20 towns, including the Arab village of Jisr al-Zarqa, Carmel Beach regional council (with all its kibbutzim and moshavim), Alona regional council (with three community settlements), Binyamina and the city of Zichron Yaakov. These 20 towns – including Arab villagers, farmers and city folk – have a shared interest in preserving the region’s fragile ecology. And it’s just part of a new trend of partnerships between local governments trying to solve shared problems … Although at the national level the split between the tribes constituting Israeli society seems to be greater than ever, at the local level – from south to north – new tunes are being heard … One of the preconditions for creating clusters is multiculturalism – Arab and Jewish towns together….
Israel passes law setting prison terms for dissuading Christian Arabs from IDF service
Haaretz 15 July by Jonathan Lis — The Knesset on Tuesday passed into law a bill setting a prison term for anyone persuading Christian Arabs who serve in the Israel Defense Forces to desert, or anyone who helps them desert. The vote was 39-9 with one abstention. The bill is officially aimed at preventing pressure on any soldier who volunteers to serve in the IDF, but its sponsor, MK Yoav Kish (Likud), clarified that he had initiated the bill to confront the pressures brought to bear on Christian Arabs who serve. MK Aida Touma-Suliman of the Joint Arab List attacked the bill during the debate. “They want to drag the Christian Arab population into volunteering for the army that is occupying their people,” she said, adding, “Don’t deceive yourselves, no one is threatening those who volunteer; we have a political argument and serious criticism and we will continue to convey it. We will try to suggest to our young people a path that is total pride and honor, and not to be part of any machine that oppresses our people.” Her faction colleague, MK Talab Abu Arar, told the plenum, “I, as a Bedouin Arab, call on all Bedouin Arab soldiers to shuck their uniforms and the policy of home demolitions, land confiscations, and the ban on family reunification, and to return to the struggle against racist policies against Arabs in general and against Bedouin in the Negev in particular.” The penal code already sets a prison term of three to 15 years for a person who incites or seeks to persuade a soldier doing compulsory service to desert the army, as well as to anyone giving shelter to such a deserter. What the new law does is equalize the punishment for those aiding the desertion of a volunteer to those helping a conscript go AWOL. The debate on the bill in the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee last week was held without the presence of the Arab MKs; even though there had been an agreement by which controversial bills would not be debated during the Muslim holiday….
Congress demands true number of Palestinian refugees from UNRWA
WASHINGTON (JPost) 15 July by Michael Wilner — Longstanding US support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is facing new questions this week, as both houses of Congress work to modify critical funding bills to determine the legitimacy of the agency’s operations. For the first time, drafts of both foreign operations bills include sections demanding the State Department publicly define the term “refugee” as it pertains to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and using that definition, identify how many Palestinians fit the criteria for receiving UNRWA aid. Premising Congress’ question is the notion that many Palestinians – arguably a majority – are permanently settled in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank or east Jerusalem, and therefore not under the jurisdiction of a refugee agency. Such a finding would fundamentally change the narrative of the decades-old conflict. In 2014, UNRWA declared that five million Palestinian refugees are registered in these territories, as well as in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The US provides hundreds of millions of dollars to UNRWA in support of its education, health and social services programs. Four years ago, the Senate passed similar language in its own foreign operations bill, which requires the State Department to account for the number of Palestinians receiving aid who qualify as 1940s-era conflict refugees – as opposed to those who are descendants. In February of last year, the department completed its report, but had it classified. Now the Senate is directing the secretary of state to produce either an unclassified version of the report or, alternatively, an explanation as to why the government cannot release these figures in an unclassified context….
Israeli and Palestinians jump on Pokémon Go craze
[with photos and videos] Newsweek 14 July by Jack Moore — Both Israelis and Palestinians are joining the hype surrounding the game that is taking the world by storm, Pokémon Go, but rather than bringing both sides together, it is being used as a tool to express political grievances. The augmented reality game for smartphones has broken app records since its release last week, with millions downloading the game in order to roam around, catching Pokémon in real life. It is yet to be released in Israel or in the majority-Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem or the West Bank, but tech-savvy Israelis and Palestinians are finding the right workarounds to get their hands on the game. Israel’s naval force has posted about using the game, writing: “There are some Pokémon that only we can get to.” So too has the country’s President Reuven Rivlin, who posted a picture to Facebook of a Pokémon in his office, writing: “Someone call security.” Palestinians, however, are using the game for different means. Many are posting about the game to highlight their opposition to Israeli policy in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Palestinian commentator Mariam Barghouti wrote on Twitter: “Israel doesn’t need Pokémon Go, it hunts Palestinians for fun. With 99.7% conviction rate of Palestinians by Israel…gotta catch ’em all!” Others, such as Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that calls for an economic boycott of Israel, showed a Pikachu in the rubble of Gaza with its status as “dead.” … Another post shows a Pokémon character peering over the wall that separates Israeli territory and the West Bank … The furore around the game has forced the Israeli military to issue a warning to its soldiers that the game is a source for people to steal sensitive information from their devices, as it necessitates posting the user’s location and using the camera of a smartphone….