Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
VIDEO: Israeli settlers threaten, fire toward Palestinians on their private land
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 July — Israeli settlers verbally attacked Palestinian residents of the town of al-Khader in the southern occupied West Bank on Saturday, threatening them with a gun while the Palestinians were working on their land, which is situated in the Bethlehem district between the illegal Israeli settlements of Neve Daniel and El-Azar. The owner of the private land, Samir Jabir, told Ma‘an that he was surveying the land to begin recultivating it after it had been left dormant for some years. He said his family has ownership papers for the land that dated back to the Ottoman era. All of a sudden, he said, a group of Israeli settlers from an illegal outpost known as “Fathers’ Road” arrived and tried to intimidate Jabir in order to make him leave the land. “They started to chase me, with one of them wielding a gun,” Jabir said. Even after Jabir moved to another tract of land where his cousins were working, the settlers chased after him. According to Jabir and his cousins, the settler who was holding a gun continued to threaten the men, and shouted anti-Muslim slurs at them. When they refused the settlers’ demands to leave, one of the settlers pointed his pistol at Jabir and his two cousins, to which Jabir’s cousin responded saying, “you can shoot me but we will not move out.” Footage recorded by Jabir that he later uploaded to YouTube then shows the settler shooting live bullets into the air above where Jabir’s cousins were standing. According to Jabir, when he called the Israeli police to ask for assistance, the police officer initially responded by asking if there were any “Jewish individuals among the group being attacked.” After insisting that he still required assistance and protection, an Israeli army vehicle arrived within 15 minutes, and later an Israeli police vehicle arrived to the scene. Jabir informed the Israeli police about the incident, showed them the videos he captured on his phone, and he and his relatives were escorted by the officers to an Israeli police station in Hebron, where they filed a formal complaint. He said police officers found bullet casings on the scene that backed his claims.
Army injures one Palestinian, summons three others, in Silwad
IMEMC 24 July — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday at dawn, the town of Silwad, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, shot and seriously wounded one Palestinian, and summoned three others for interrogation. The invading soldiers clashed with local youths, who hurled stones at the military vehicles, while the army fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs. Medical sources said the wounded resident was moved to the Palestine Medical Complex before he was admitted to surgery; his was shot with a live round in the head and remains in a critical condition. The soldiers also fired gas bombs and concussion grenades during the invasion, causing several Palestinians to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. In addition, the soldiers summoned three Palestinians for interrogation after storming their homes and violently searching them. The three have been identified as Tareq Taleb Hamed (a university student), Yahya Ahmad Hamed and Mohammad Bassem Hamed. The soldiers also surrounded the family home of ‘Aabed Hamed, who was killed by Israeli army fire on February 20th, 2016, but did not invade the property.
Israeli forces storm East Jerusalem neighborhood, beat and detain Palestinians
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 July — Israeli forces reportedly violently raided a neighborhood of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem late on Sunday afternoon, injuring a number of Palestinians after an altercation broke out between Israeli settlers and locals, witnesses told Ma‘an. Resident of the Aqbat al-Khalidiya neighborhood, Ashraf Abu Daas, told Ma‘an that more than 20 Israeli settlers entered the neighborhood “unfamiliarly,” claiming that one of them was “looking for his eyeglasses.” The settlers then pushed a young Palestinian man walking past them, Abu Daas added, prompting an argument which devolved into a fistfight. “Minutes later Israeli troops, police officers and special forces stormed the neighborhood, violently beating Palestinians who were on the scene without exceptions,” Abu Daas. Abu Daas said that Israeli forces beat Palestinian residents with rods and rifle butts, and used pepper spray, injuring at least seven Palestinian youth — mostly hitting their faces and heads — before “haphazardly” detaining a number of them. At least four of the detained were reportedly wounded when Israeli forces took them away. Israeli forces then began raiding houses in the neighborhoods, reportedly breaking into homes belonging to the al-Salayma, al-Rishiq and al-Daya families. Hajj Rashid al-Rishiq told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers broke into his house “in a provocative manner,” detaining his son Ahmad and another family member identified as Rashid al-Rishiq.
Israeli police detain Bedouins in raid on Negev village of Al-Araqib
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 24 July — Israeli police detained several Bedouin residents of the village of al-Araqib in the Negev on Sunday, after locals tried to prevent bulldozers from leveling lands in the village, a local activist told Ma‘an. Aziz Sayyah al-Turi said that Israeli police escorted bulldozers which raided the village in the morning “to take control of about 1,300 dunum (325 acres) of the village’s land, which they failed to take in 2011 after angry Arab crowds rushed to defend al-Araqib.” Al-Turi added that Israeli police [detained] his wife and son, as well as at least two other al-Araqib residents he identified at Talal Abu Mudeghem and Ashraf Salim Abu Mudeghem. Al-Turi added that he himself, along with his father Sheikh Sayyah al-Turi, were also temporarily detained. Al-Turi said that three young women were also injured during the raid when they were “brutally” attacked by police forces. Al-Turi and his father had also been detained on Thursday during one of a number of raids Israeli police have carried out in the village in past weeks. Al-Araqib has been demolished at least 100 times by Israeli forces, as the village was designated as an “unrecognized” village by Israeli authorities, alongside 34 other Bedouin villages scattered across the Negev desert….
Police arrest 9 during march in unrecognized Bedouin village
Activestills 24 July Text and photos by Oren Ziv — Israeli authorities arrested nine Bedouin and Jewish activists in the unrecognized village of Al-Araqib Sunday morning as they attempted to block bulldozers from working to turn village land into a Jewish National Fund (JNF) forest. Like every other morning over the past week, JNF tractors began working the land, which has been destroyed by Israeli authorities 100 times over the past six years, in order to plant a forest in its place. The women of Al-Araqib, joined by a number of teenagers and local activists, marched toward the tractors, which were guarded by approximately 30 police officers. After marching, the women took a break for lunch before marching once again toward the tractors, this time attempting to block them with their bodies. The police violently arrested two of the women, one of whom fainted. Three Jewish activists who attempted to assist her were detained and taken to a local police station.
Israeli settlers desecrate Islamic sites in Hebron’s Kifl Haris
SALFIT (WAFA) 24 July – Israeli settlers Sunday broke into Kifl Haris town to the north of the West Bank district of Salfit and proceeded to desecrate the Islamic shrines there. Witnesses said a large number of settlers broke into the town in the predawn hours, and proceeded to ‘intentionally provoke’ the town’s locals by performing religious rituals on the Islamic sites. Israeli military soldiers reportedly provided the settlers with protection and secured their entrance and exit out of the town, causing a state of tension among the town’s locals. Head of Kafl Hares municipality, Abdel-Rahim Bothyeh, said the religious sites there are constantly subjected to destruction and desecration by settlers; settlers have previously set fire to the sites. According to POICA, “Religious sites of Kifl Haris town, north Salfit governorate are considered the living example of area’s long history. The town accommodates three religious shrines namely (Thu Al-Kifl, Thu Al-Noon, and shrine of Joshua). This is how the area acquired religious importance throughout the eras.” The village of Kifl Haris witnessed on May 05, 2016 an attack carried out by colonists, who broke into the area in buses and sabotaged the shrine of Thu Al-Kifl. At time of the attack, colonists print sprayed hateful slogans that call to “kill all Arabs” and “revenge”. Kifl Haris is surrounded by the villages of Deir Istiya, Zeita, Jamma‘in and Haris. With a total area of 9,254 dunums, of which 786 dunums is the village’s. Kifl Haris is inhabited by 3,248 people. The Israeli occupation devoured 278 dunums of Kifl Haris lands for the construction of Ariel colony. Part of Samaria Road was built on Kifl Haris with an area of 2, 7770 km.
UPDATE: Israel detains 6 Palestinians, 10 in one day
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 24 July – Israeli forces Sunday detained six Palestinians, including a minor, from the West Bank and Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s society (PPS). PPS said four Palestinians were detained in Ramallah/al-Bireh district. They were identified as Ali Jaradat, Tawfiq Abu ‘Issa, Baha’ Qashou’, and Yehya ‘Omar, 15. Meanwhile, locals Mohammed Adam and Mahmoud Abu Khudair were detained in Jerusalem’s Shu‘faat Refugee Camp. This brings the total number of Palestinians detained since early Sunday to 10. PPS noted that at least six Palestinians have detained by Israeli forces during the past two days.
3 Palestinian youths detained in ‘Issawiya amid crackdown on suspected stone throwers
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 July — Israeli forces on Sunday morning raided the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya, detaining three Palestinian youths amid a widespread crackdown on Palestinian minors accused of throwing stones at Israelis in the area. Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, member of the village’s monitoring committee, identified two of the detained as Wael Obeid and Muhammad Ahmad Darwish. An Israeli police spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment to confirm why the three were detained. Abu al-Hummus accused “different institutions of the (Israeli) occupation of targeting both commercial and residential structures in ‘Issawiya” as part of an Israeli policy of “collective punishment” against residents. This collective punishment, he added, included daily armed incursions into ‘Issawiya, “provocative” inspections by the Jerusalem municipality, and the delivery of various types of fines. Jerusalem police have conducted widespread detention raids in recent weeks in Palestinian communities of occupied east Jerusalem, in connection to alleged stone-throwing incidents targeting Israeli border police and settlers in the area. Stone throwings were also reported at the Old City’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound throughout the Muslim month of Ramadan, as tensions ran high while right-wing Israelis toured the site….
Photo Story: Friday prayer at Ibrahimi Mosque — running the gauntlet
AL-KHALIL, Occupied Palestine 22 July — ISM, al-Khalil Team — Every Friday, many Palestinian Muslims come to Ibrahimi Mosque for prayers. To get to their place of worship, and home afterwards, they must run a gauntlet of Israeli military checkpoints. The Israeli Border Police invest their time and effort into making this a difficult and challenging experience for people whose only purpose in coming is to worship God — Palestinian Muslim worshipers coming from the Souq are forced to wait in a cage. How long this will take – or whether they will get in – depends on the soldier who controls the gate. They are then forced to stand in a metal detector, as they are searched for weapons. Some are patted down and frisked. Some people are lucky and are ignored or waved through. Others are forced to show their documents and open their bags before being allowed in. Others are humiliated and made to wait and stand against the wall as the Border Police hold their IDs. From a very young age, children experience this humiliation as well. This elderly man tried to go to his home, but permission was denied. He had to take the long way around. While Palestinians in Hebron are forced to run a series of checkpoints and humiliations, the settlers have no such worries. They can go wherever they want. Stopping, harassing and humiliating people can be a tedious job. The Israeli Border Police manning the checkpoint relax with smokes and drinks.
Israeli court rejects appeal against house demolitions for Tel Aviv shooters’ families
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 July — Israel’s supreme court rejected an appeal on Sunday against the home demolition orders presented to the families of two Palestinians accused of carrying out a deadly attack in Tel Aviv last month. Muhammad Ahmad Moussa Makhamreh and Khalid Muhammad Moussa Makhamreh, two cousins from the town of Yatta in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, are accused of carrying out a shooting attack which killed four Israelis in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv on June 8. The two Palestinians have since been detained and are set to face trial. Israeli authorities proceeded to issue the demolition order just days after the attack, saying the demolitions could take place “at any moment,” though the homes have yet to be destroyed. The father of Khalid Makhamreh told Ma’an on Sunday that the Israeli Supreme Court “rejected our appeal against a decision to demolish my house and my brother’s house.” He added that the court approved the Israeli army’s decision to demolish the second floor of his home, which houses ten family members, and the third floor of his brother’s house. However, Makhamreh said he feared that Israeli forces might “completely” demolish both homes, as he predicted that the buildings may sustain serious damages during the demolition of the upper floors. The court told the families they had ten days to evacuate the homes slated for demolition. The families’ previous appeal against the demolitions was rejected by an Israeli military court on June 30. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fast-tracked punitive home demolitions in effort to “deter” attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals in the wake of a wave of violence that has swept across the West Bank since October. While families who receive demolition orders are given the opportunity to appeal the measures, Israel’s High Court of Justice typically rejects such appeals, according to Israeli watchdog Hamoked. Israeli rights group B’Tselem has meanwhile condemned the practice as “court-sanctioned revenge” carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment and illegal under international law.
Prisoners / Trial
Hamdallah visits sit-in in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 July — Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Sunday joined a sit-in in front of Bethlehem’s Nativity Church in the southern occupied West Bank, organized by activists showing solidarity for the dozens of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli custody. Bethlehem Governor Jibrin al-Bakri accompanied Hamdallah during the visit. Hamdallah told families of prisoners and solidarity activists that his government and the Palestinian president “have always treated the prisoners issue as a top priority,” Muhammad Hamida, who heads a Bethlehem-based prisoners’ rights group, told Ma‘an. Hamida added that he told Hamdallah and his delegation that both governmental and popular work was needed in order to help hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli custody. Several local and foreign delegations have visited the sit-in tent in the past few days to show solidarity, including a delegation of 200 people from different European countries, and an official delegation from Saudi Arabia. The tent was installed on Thursday to call attention to the dozens of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners protesting the Israeli policy of administrative detention — internment without charge or trial under undisclosed evidence. Member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Bilal Kayid entered his 40th day without food on Saturday, in one of the most high-profile hunger strikes against administrative detention since Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq came near death during a 94-day hunger strike before he was finally released in May.
Israeli soldier testifies in Hebron execution trial: ‘I saved lives’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 July — In the ongoing trial of Israeli soldier Elor Azarya, who has been charged with manslaughter for the point-blank execution of a prone Palestinian in Hebron, Azarya himself testified on Sunday, maintaining that he acted out of self-defense in what the prosecution has termed a “cold-blooded murder.” During the court hearing at the Jaffa Military Court, the accused soldier also called for a probe of an Israeli army major who Azarya said slapped him in the face after he shot and killed the Palestinian, and also criticized the conduct of the commanders at the scene for mismanaging the situation, Israeli media sites reported. Azarya described to the court his version of the events on March 24, when Abd al-Fatah al-Sharif and Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi were repeatedly shot, al-Qasrawi fatally, after the two allegedly stabbed and moderately wounded an Israeli soldier. Video footage released that day showed Azarya step forward and shoot al-Sharif in the head after the Palestinian had been left severely wounded on the ground and untreated for several minutes, sparking international outrage and condemnation. According to Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post, “all of the lawyers on both sides of the case agree that what Azarya did was wrong in a moral sense, following orders sense, and even in a being negligent sense.” While his lawyers have attempted to argue that Azarya believed he was acting out of self defense, the Israeli army prosecution has insisted that he shot al-Sharif out of revenge for stabbing his fellow soldier. The prosecution’s argument has been corroborated by multiple witnesses who have previously testified they heard Azarya say: “This terrorist was alive, and he needs to die.” When asked about the claim that he carried out the shooting out of revenge, Azarya said on Sunday: “I’m quite certain that I didn’t say that sentence. If I did say it, it seems to me an incomplete sentence that is being interpreted not as I meant it,” Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted him as saying. During his testimony, which followed the testimonies of various witnesses and two commanders who both said the killing was unjustified, Azarya explained that after hearing one of his friends had been stabbed, he arrived to scene sleep-deprived ten minutes after the initial shooting, The Jerusalem Post reported….
Closures / Separation
Video: Walls of shame: West Bank separation wall
Al Jazeera 23 July — A look at one of the most controversial walls in the world today — It matters little what they are called – walls, barriers or fences – the intention is the same: to redefine human relations into “us” and “them”. The Walls of Shame series is about division, and about the barriers that men erect, in calculation or desperation, to separate themselves from others, or others from them. When diplomacy and conciliation fail, this is the alternative, and not since medieval times have walls been so in demand around the world. Tens of new walls, barriers and fences are currently being built, while old ones are being renovated. And there are many types: barriers between countries, walls around cities and fences that zigzag through neighbourhoods. This series looks at four examples of walls around the world. It examines the lives of those who are living next to them and how their lives are affected. It also reveals the intention of the walls’ designers and builders, and explores the novel and artistic ways walls are used to chronicle the past and imagine the future … –West Bank: The Reality of the Separation Wall– In this episode of Walls of Shame, we look at the plight of Palestinian farmers whose land has become inaccessible because of Israel’s 700km security wall. Most ancient cities had so-called “protective” walls – and while we see some around Jerusalem dating back to the 16th century, the separation barrier erected by Israel not only looks different – it serves a completely different purpose. Israel claims the wall is vital for its security, but according to the International Court of Justice it is in clear violation of international law. This episode also looks at the real intention of those who first drew its outlines and their highest priority was not the security of Israel. Update: Since this film first aired in 2007, Israel has continued to expand the wall more than 200km, despite condemnation from the UN and most recently the EU. It’s a measure that has continued to cause outrage, even from some of Israel’s own citizens. Among these protesters are Israelis. We spoke with Jonathan Pollack, an Israeli activist who is part of the movement against the wall.
Israeli forces open entrance to al-Samu‘, free 4 Palestinians detained from Bil‘in
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 July — Israeli forces on Saturday opened the main entrance to al-Samu‘ in the Hebron district, after the village had been sealed for three weeks, according to the Palestinian Authority’s liaison office in Ramallah. Al-Samu‘ was one of the many villages which was fully or partially closed in the district earlier this month following a series of deadly attacks carried out by Palestinian residents of Hebron, closures that have amounted to the most extensive lockdown on the occupied West Bank since 2014. Israeli forces have also carried out widespread detention raids across Hebron, with several detentions being reported from al-Samu‘ over recent weeks.The Palestinian Authority’s liaison office in Ramallah said in a statement that Israeli authorities removed earth mounds and opened the road as a result of “intensive pressures by the Palestinian liaison office.” According to the statement, the mayor of al-Samu‘, Yousuf al-Salamin, confirmed that the road was opened. The statement also reported that the liaison office secured the release of the head of the local council in the village of Bil‘in, Basil al-Khatib, along with journalists Khalid Sabarnah, filmmaker Emad Burnat, and Haitham al-Khatib, who were detained by Israeli forces on Friday. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an they were looking into reports of the lifted checkpoint. She confirmed that the general closure across the district of Hebron remained in force, saying that the “very dynamic changes” made to the various checkpoints and closures of villages were implemented “according to situation assessments.”
West Bank city petitions High Court to lift six-week closure
Haaretz 24 July by Jack Khoury — The mayor of Yatta and a human rights group have petitioned the High Court of Justice in order to have the army lift the closure of the West Bank city. The closure was imposed on June 9 after it was found that the perpetrators of the terror attack on the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv had come from Yatta. With a population of 70,000, Yatta is the second-largest town in the Hebron area and the third largest in the West Bank. The army initially completely blocked off all 12 entrances and exits from the town. A few days later, most of the roadblocks were lifted, but on July 2 the closure was reinstated. All entry and exit from the town, by vehicle or on foot, is prohibited according to the petition. The petition by Mayor Musa Muhamara and Hamoked – Center for the Rights of the Individual states that even humanitarian cases encounter problems. The petitioners say they have received a number of reports of ambulances transporting patients from Yatta’s hospital to the state hospital in Hebron being detained for hours before being allowed to proceed. The petition, submitted by attorney Yadin Elam, states that the closure has gravely damaged the fabric both of the residents’ lives and 30,000 more people living in the vicinity of Yatta. “The closure and severe restrictions of movement have destructive implications for the population of Yatta and its environs … and in many cases do not permit them to go to work outside the city. The same is true for people living outside Yatta whose livelihood is in Yatta,” the petition stated. The petition noted that agricultural-produce merchants are most severely affected. Butchers cannot deliver their meat, and agricultural produce not allowed into Yatta must be destroyed. Customers cannot reach stores and farmers cannot reach their fields, with crops being severely damaged, the petition stated. Moreover, shepherds from Yatta cannot reach their flocks outside the city to feed them or seek veterinary treatment, which harms both the animals as well as the shepherds’ livelihoods….
Israeli forces close road in Beit Jala amid wider Bethlehem area closures
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 July — Israeli forces closed a road in the town of Beit Jala in the Bethlehem district of the occupied West Bank with cement blocks Saturday evening. The al-Sidir road serves as one of the main western entrances of Beit Jala. Israeli forces had closed several entrances and roads around Bethlehem on Friday following a shooting on an Israeli car near the town of Beit Sahour on Thursday night. A group of armed Palestinians reportedly opened fire from their car at an Israeli settler’s vehicle that was passing near the illegal Har Homa settlement, which sits on top of Palestine’s Abu Ghnaim Mountain. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that the vehicle sustained damage, but no injuries were reported.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
West Bank Palestinian villagers in limbo
[with photos] AFP 23 July — A tiny Palestinian village in the Hebron hills could soon cease to exist after a nine-year legal battle with Israeli authorities who say its 167 residents live on an archaeological site. Israel’s supreme court is expected to make a final decision on the fate of Khirbet Zanuta soon. The village in the south of the occupied West Bank, around 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the Israeli city of Beersheba, includes makeshift homes made of stones, metal, clay and even tyres. Caves in the area have also been used as homes in the past, and its residents farm the hundreds of hectares of surrounding land, raising sheep and goats. “I was born here before 1967,” said village head Rashad al-Tal, 65, referring to the year when Israel’s occupation of the West Bank began. “We lived in a cave and we walked seven kilometres to go to school in Dahriya,” the closest city, he added as his daughter stirred milk behind him to make curd. He said villagers began to build houses in the 1970s without having permits from the Israeli authorities and were fined for doing so. Such permits are extremely difficult to obtain for Palestinians living in most of the West Bank. “We showed them all the ownership papers for our land and asked for construction permits,” said Tal. While Israeli authorities say structures in the village are illegal and are built on an archaeological site, the villagers themselves suspect other motives. They allege that Israel wants to clear more space for settlers, since a settlement industrial zone called Meitarim is located less than a kilometre away. Villagers say explosives were used to develop the industrial zone and question why this would have been done if the nearby area was archaeologically important … Rights activists who support the villagers and their legal battle say claims about the area’s importance as an archaeological site are exaggerated. “We have consulted Israeli archaeological experts who say that the presence of the residents does not interfere with that of the historical remains,” said Sharona Eliahu-Chai of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Yoni Mizrachi of the Emek Shaveh NGO said that “every West Bank village contains remains”, adding that those in Khirbet Zanuta are “neither very important nor very extensive”. “This is a political issue,” he said. “When they want to expel residents, they say that it is an archaeological site.” Mizrachi said the village does indeed contain remains dating to the Iron Age and spanning the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods. But he also alleged that there have been no excavations there since it was declared an archaeological site in 1968, while arguing that in any case the remains “do not belong to Israel, but to Palestine”. Others have pointed out that Jewish construction is allowed on much more important archaeological sites.
Locals: Israeli settlers preparing new illegal outpost in Hebron area
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 25 July — A group of Israelis have reportedly begun setting up an illegal settlement outpost in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, locals told Ma‘an on Sunday. Hebron-area local Abd al-Karim al-Zaatari told Ma‘an that settlers brought caravans and tents in the area near the villages of Khallat al-Dabi and al-Buera, close to the settlement of Kharsina, earlier this month, not long after a Palestinian teenager stabbed and killed a 13-year-old Israeli girl in the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba before being killed himself by a security guard. Al-Zaatari added that the Israeli settlers installed a sign reading “we returned to our home” outside the outpost. The new outpost may be in the same location as a previously illegal outpost which was evacuated by Israeli forces in 2012….
Israeli municipality presents plan to build 770 settlement housing units near East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 July — Israel’s Jerusalem municipality local planning and construction committee presented the construction plans for 770 settlement housing units, according to Israeli news website Walla. The new units will be considered by Israel as part of the Jerusalem district, and will be built between the illegal Gilo settlement and the Palestinian town of Beit Jala, across from the Cremisan monastery in the Bethlehem district of the occupied West Bank. Israeli had previously approved 1,200 housing units to be built in the area, and the plans for 770 of them were reportedly presented late last week. According to Walla, excavations and preparation works for the new housing units have already begun. The head of the municipality’s local planning and construction committee, Meir Turgeman, reportedly disregarded international condemnations of Israel’s illegal settlement activity, saying that despite what happens politically, settlement construction would continue in occupied East Jerusalem and across the West Bank. Palestinian Authority Spokesman Yusif al-Mahmud condemned the announcement, and denounced what he called Israeli “arrogance,” reflected by the insistence on establishing illegal settlements on Palestinian lands in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank … Israeli leaders have claimed the expansion of Israeli settlements further into Palestinian territory serves to deter attacks, constituting one of a number of punitive measures imposed on the whole of the Palestinian population in the wake of attacks on Israeli settlers and military personnel. However, Palestinian leaders and rights groups have reiterated that such measures only serve to exacerbate tensions for Palestinians who have lived under a military occupation for nearly 50 years, while being systematically displaced as Israeli settlements continue to encroach further onto their lands.
Israeli army targets Palestinian farmers along Gaza borders with gunfire
GAZA (WAFA) 24 July – Israeli soldiers Sunday opened its heavy machine gunfire toward farmers along the borderline area to the east of the town of Qarara, north of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, according to WAFA correspondent. Soldiers stationed at military watchtowers along the borders with Israel reportedly used heavy machine gunfire against farmers attempting to tend to their borderline agricultural land. No injuries were reported.
UN summer camps give respite to traumatised young Gazans
AFP 23 July — The UN is offering tens of thousands of children in the Gaza strip, traumatised by three wars with Israel since 2008, a summer break at play camps throughout the territory. Over three weeks, 165,000 children will attend camps offering play activities and access to psychologists, said Bo Schack of UNRWA, the United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees. Some 2,000 young Palestinian refugees will run the activities at 120 sites, he said. The latest round of fighting in Gaza, in 2014, took the lives of 2,251 Palestinians, including more than 500 children. Seventy-three people were killed on the Israeli side, including 67 soldiers. The violence, which included widespread Israeli air strikes and shelling, “still affects many children in Gaza”, Schack said at a ceremony launching the camps. “We must work harder still to change the lives of these children for the better, to turn their nightmares into hopes and dreams of a better future,” he said … About 75 percent of the coastal strip’s residents are refugees. For the past three years, cash-strapped UNRWA has cancelled its previously annual seaside summer camps for lack of funding. It now holds activities in its own schools. It says the total cost of this year’s three-week programme is $2.3 million (2.1 million euros).
My Gaza hospital was destroyed. Why has the world stayed silent?
The National 23 July by Basman Alashi — Two years ago, my hospital was destroyed. It was the only dedicated rehabilitation hospital in Gaza, a modern centre of care with 80 beds, a therapeutic garden and state-of-the-art equipment. Our patients are among Gaza’s most vulnerable residents; many are paralysed, some need round-the-clock care … In the attack, we not only lost a critical lifeline for our patients, but also an investment of 30 years. About $15 million (Dh55.1m) worth of equipment, gone in seconds. Since then, we have set up a temporary care centre in a site we share with a geriatric hospital. Though our capacity is reduced, we continue to do everything we can to care for our patients. One of our patients, Mohammed, 11, was injured during the war. He was paralysed completely when a bomb hit a family gathering, killing nine of his close relatives and severing his mother’s legs. Mohammed needs 24-hour observation, and so must stay in the hospital, but nevertheless continues to thrive. We registered him in school, and he has passed his fourth grade exams and is now moving to the fifth grade. Teachers come to El Wafa to give him lessons in maths, science, Arabic, English and religion. Mohammed’s recovery from the trauma of the attacks will be slow. A lack of international support, and Israel’s restrictions on the entry of building materials, mean that Gaza’s recovery has also been slow. In total, 17 hospitals and 56 health centres were damaged or destroyed … With our hospital still in ruins, what hope is there for the future? Though we hope to rebuild, we cannot do so in the same place for fear of being attacked again. This is the third time that they targeted the hospital; we do not want to risk a fourth time. Human life is too precious. Our only hope is to rebuild on a new site, but even this cannot guarantee our safety in Gaza. The prospect of new attacks hangs over us. When a hospital is destroyed and nobody is held accountable, there is no deterrent to it happening again….
Other news, opinion
Voter registration centers open for 5 days across West Bank, Gaza Strip
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 July – The Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEO) announced Saturday that voter registration centers would be open from Saturday until Wednesday in all local and municipal councils across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in preparations for the upcoming local elections in October. CEO Secretary-General Lamis al-Alami made the announcement during a news conference in the city of al-Bireh in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, adding that 1,032 voter registration centers had opened in 416 councils in the Palestinian territory, expected to remain open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for five days. Al-Alami encouraged Palestinian citizens to travel to the centers to update their information and confirm their registration on CEO’s website. According to CEO, registered voters in the West Bank and Gaza reached more than 1,900,000 as of March 31, with the overall registration rate in the occupied West Bank at 75 percent and 84 percent in the besieged Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority announced last month that local elections would be held in the Palestinian territory on Oct. 8, with Hamas announcing their participation last week, paving the way for elections to be held in the Gaza Strip for the first time in a decade.
Mishaal: Hamas is not afraid of any election
GAZA (PIC) 23 July — Head of Hamas’s political bureau Khaled Mishaal has affirmed that his Movement is not afraid of participating in any election and will respect its results. Mishaal made his remarks in a recorded speech delivered during a graduation ceremony held to honor young participants in a resistance training program in Gaza on Friday. “We are on the threshold of a municipal election, and we have announced that we will engage in it, although some people may want to test us. We respect the result of the election and we are not afraid of it,” Mishaal said. He emphasized his Movement’s respect for the Palestinian people’s free voice and strong will, and its keenness on having a real political partnership with other factions.
Hamas: PA, Israeli arrests are ‘systematic repression policy’
RAMALLAH (PIC) 23 July — The leader in Hamas Movement Shaker Amara said in a press statement on Friday that the PA and Israeli raid and arrest campaigns are a systematic repression policy targeting Islamic bloc students. PA and Israeli systematic targeting of Islamic bloc activists did not stop as Israel considers the Islamic bloc a banned group, he said. “These Israeli and PA arrest and summons campaigns and repression policy will not terrorize our people”, he stressed. Amara underlined that this systematic repression policy will only strengthen the Islamic bloc activists.
Unknown assailants open fire at house of Nablus mayoral candidate
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 24 July — Unknown assailants opened fire on the house of Mohammad Dweikat, who is running for mayor of the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus, on Sunday before dawn. Local security sources said initial investigations indicated that masked men driving a car approached Dweikat’s house in Askar al-Balad east of Nablus, before one of them stepped out and shot at the house with a machine gun and a pistol, hitting Dweikat’s house and the houses of his neighboring brothers. Police arrived at the scene and gathered evidence. Dweikat, who is a lecturer at the engineering faculty at Al-Najah National University in Nablus, had announced a few days ago that he plans to run as an independent candidate for the position of mayor of Nablus, in the elections which will be held on Oct. 8. Following the shooting, Dweikat said he would continue his campaign and would not be deterred by this “suspicious incident,” that he alleged was somehow supported by the Israeli occupation and its backers. He said he suspected that the shooting was carried out as a challenge to the Palestinian president, prime minister, and to their ongoing efforts to contain the security situation in the occupied West Bank, adding that he was confident that Palestinian security forces would catch the perpetrators….
Interview — Haneen Zoabi: Israel aims for ‘political assassination’
JERUSALEM 24 July by Nigel Wilson — Al Jazeera spoke with the Palestinian MK targeted by Israel’s controversial new expulsion law — Palestinian politician Haneen Zoabi is the foremost target of a controversial new law passed by the Israeli Knesset, which allows the parliament to expel elected politicians for alleged misbehaviour. The so-called expulsion law would allow a three-quarters majority of Knesset members to expel a politician if that person’s views are believed to have incited racism or supported an armed struggle. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog denounced the legislation as a “dark mark” on Israel, while human rights groups have criticised it as anti-democratic and a clear attack on Arab politicians such as Zoabi, who has repeatedly clashed with Jewish MKs. The legislation was initiated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February after Zoabi and two Balad MKs visited the families of Palestinians killed in attacks against Israelis. Zoabi was suspended from the Knesset for four months, while the government advanced the expulsion law through parliament. Al Jazeera spoke with Zoabi about the new law and its anticipated effects. Al Jazeera: What is the new expulsion law trying to achieve and what are the biggest potential dangers? Haneen Zoabi: This law is a political cleansing law. The aim of this law is to reformulate the borders of the political activity and even the political discourse and speech of the Palestinians inside Israel. By this law, Netanyahu, the right-wing with popular support, is trying not just to silence the Palestinians, but to go back to the political scene of 20 years ago … He believes that he can just delete the political achievement and empowerment which the Palestinians inside Israel have achieved in a difficult way, paying a price of persecution. The danger of this law does not just lie if and when Israel activates the law. Even having this law without being active is a danger in itself. It can redefine the laws of the game even by being a silent law….
Israeli expulsion law ‘violates all rules of democracy’
NAZARETH (Al Jazeera) 24 July by Jonathan Cook — Critics fear the new legislation is designed to empty the Knesset of its Palestinian parties — Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, awarded itself a draconian new power last week: A three-quarters majority of its members can now expel an elected politician if they do not like his or her views. According to Adalah, a law centre representing the fifth of Israel’s population who are Palestinian citizens, the so-called expulsion law has no parallel in any democratic state in the world. The group noted that it was the latest in a series of laws designed to strictly circumscribe the rights of Israel’s Palestinian minority and curb dissent. Others fear that the measure is designed to empty the Knesset of its Palestinian parties. “This law violates all rules of democracy and the principle that minorities should be represented,” Mohammed Zeidan, director of the Human Rights Association in Nazareth, told Al Jazeera. “It sends a message to the public that it is possible, even desirable, to have a Jewish-only Knesset.” The four Palestinian parties in the parliament, in a coalition called the Joint List, issued an open letter on Friday warning that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government “want a Knesset without Arabs”. Zeidan noted how quickly that could happen: “It would only require one Palestinian legislator to be expelled and there would be enormous pressure on the others to resign their seats in protest.” Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian Knesset member (MK) for the Joint List, said the law created “MKs on probation”, intimidating them into silence or “good behaviour”. Its effect, he added, would be to strip tens of thousands of voters of the right to representation. Those advancing the law, including Netanyahu, have done little to conceal their intention to use the measure against only Palestinian MKs. The Joint List has 13 seats and is currently the third-largest faction in the 120-seat Knesset….
High Court of Justice okays transfer of ancient library to western Jerusalem
JPost 24 July by Daniel K. Eisenbud — The High Court of Justice rejected a petition from a left-wing NGO to block the transfer of an ancient library from the Rockefeller Museum in east Jerusalem to the new, sprawling Israel Antiquities Authority headquarters being built in the western portion of the capital, it was announced Sunday. Emek Shaveh, a consortium of European-funded archeologists and activists, petitioned the court on May 4 to prevent the pending transfer, shortly after the authority announced its intention to relocate the relics to its state-of-the art facility, which will open to the public in the coming months. In its petition, the NGO claimed that the move “violates the international law against the transfer of archeological finds from an occupied territory.” “The Rockefeller Museum was founded by the British as an international antiquities museum, and served as a meeting place for Israeli, Palestinian, and international scholars and visitors,” Emek Shaveh said in an accompanying statement. “Its location in east Jerusalem is symbolic and practical – enabling research and cultural dialogue, and representing the notion that the land’s antiquities belong to everyone. The transfer of archeological finds and the Rockefeller library to west Jerusalem is part of the Israeli trend of establishing facts on the ground regarding politically controversial issues.” However, according to the authority, the move has nothing to do with politics, but rather protecting and preserving the ancient books in a new hi-tech facility being built by the authority near the Israel Museum….
The late Palestinian national poet will continue to haunt Israel / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 23 July — Mahmoud Darwish insists on mentioning what Israelis don’t want to acknowledge: A great sin took place here when the State of Israel was founded in 1948 — The specter of Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish will never leave us. Every few years, a witch hunt will erupt over his poetry, stirring emotions and riling Israelis until they compare him to Hitler. It subsides but then revives again. There’s no escaping it. None of the ghosts of the 1948 War of Independence will leave us until we recognize the guilt, acknowledge the sin and take responsibility for it by apologizing, paying compensation and, above all, changing ourselves. Until then, the ghosts will continue to torment us and not give us rest … But the late poet insists on mentioning what Israelis don’t want to know: a great sin took place here. The establishment of Israel – just as it was – was accompanied by the unforgivable crime of ethnic cleansing of wide parts of the country. No Jewish National Fund grove can cover up the moral ruins on which the state was built. Israel added insult to injury by not allowing the Palestinians who were expelled or fled to return. A thousand historical testimonies, which we also avoid like fire, are not equal to one line of Darwish poetry: “Where will you take me, my father?” I will never forget that punch to the stomach, or rather, the dagger to my heart, from the Spring 1996 issue of the Hebrew journal Hadarim, edited by Halit Yeshurun. A dozen pages of Darwish poems from “Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone?” (translated into Hebrew by Anton Shammas): “And who will live in the house after us, my father? / The house, my son, will remain as it was! / Why did you leave the horse alone? / To keep the house company, my son. / When their residents go, the houses will die. / Together we will hold on / until we return. / When, my father? / Tomorrow, my son, and perhaps in another day or two! / That tomorrow trailed behind them, chewing the wind / in the endless winter nights.” I didn’t know at the time, and don’t know today, what we as Israelis do with those lines … In 2016, Israel is handling the Palestinians exactly like it did in 1948. That’s why Darwish isn’t leaving Israel alone, and that’s why he’s so frightening to the country: He confronts Israel with the most primordial truth about itself.
West Bank, Gaza gear up for Palestine’s biggest sporting event
+972 blog 24 July by Yoni Mendel — This year’s Palestine Cup, the biggest sporting event in the Palestinian territories, pits Hebron’s Ahly al-Khalil against Shabab Khan Younis. Could reconciliation on the field pave the way for national reconciliation? — One of Jibril Rajoub’s greatest achievements as the Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association, if not the greatest, took place a year ago. For the first time since the Second Intifada, Rajoub renewed the tradition in which the winner of the Palestine Cup in the West Bank plays against the winner in Gaza. This occurred after Palestinian representatives in FIFA threatened to vote in favor of boycotting Israel and expelling the country from the organization. Eventually, instead of voting to kick Israel out, they decided to reach a compromise according to which a special FIFA committee — comprised of international, Israeli, and Palestinian representatives — will be responsible for ensuring that Israel does not get in the way of issues related to Palestinian soccer. These circumstances allowed for the Palestine Cup between Gaza and the West Bank to take place last year for the first time since 2000. The match is bigger than the sum of its parts. After all, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip represent two parts of Palestine between which there is very little movement. They represent two Palestinian leaderships in conflict. They represent two parts of the Palestinian people, which haven’t had an election in over a decade. They represent two forms of Israeli control over the lives of Palestinians — occupation here, siege there. For these reasons the match has become the most important sports event in the Palestinian calendar. The game is also an opportunity for both PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to prove their leadership. Thus the players of both teams must prepare for a round of speeches and receptions, as both sides try to display their control and the legitimacy of their rule….
Counting down to Rio: Mary Al-Atrash scores invitation to the Olympics despite lack of resources
Palestinian Monitor 23 July by Lili Martinez — With less than a month remaining until the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, six Palestinian athletes are proudly training to represent their team on the international stage. It is the largest delegation Palestine has sent to the Olympics since 1996. Mary Al-Atrash, a 22-year-old swimmer from Beit Sahour near the West Bank town of Bethlehem, is one of these Olympic hopefuls. Born into a family of athletes — her father was a footballer, and two brothers also swim — Atrash has felt comfortable in a pool she was seven. After years of training, she has achieved stellar times and, now, has her eye on the Olympics. Atrash will participate in the 50-meter freestyle, although her best time of 29.91 seconds is over four seconds slower than the Olympic qualifying threshold of 25.28 seconds. She was selected to compete in Rio under an International Olympic Committee programme which allows athletes who have not attained the qualifying time to participate in the games. Raised just ten kilometers from Jerusalem, Atrash has never had access to the 50-meter Olympic sized pools located there, which any athlete training for the Olympics would prefer. Instead, she has had to make do with a 25-meter pool and twice-a-day training, every day, with coach Musa Nawawra.