Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
In rare twist, Palestinian man rescues wounded Israelis
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 5 July — Just a few years ago, Islam al-Bayed spent seven months in an Israeli prison for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli troops. Now, the 26-year-old Palestinian man has become an unlikely symbol of tolerance after rescuing an Israeli family whose car crashed following a deadly roadside shooting by Palestinian militants in the West Bank. Last week’s shooting, along with the fatal stabbing of an Israeli girl as she slept in her bed, have ratcheted up tensions in the southern West Bank. Israel has responded by imposing a closure around the city of Hebron and beefed up its troop presence in the volatile area. But al-Bayed, a private security guard who lives in the al-Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron, says his actions last Friday transcended politics. “This was a very human moment. I didn’t think of the occupation or the conflict. I thought only of human beings, children who needed my help,” he said in an interview. With over 300,000 Jewish settlers now living in the West Bank, contact between Israelis and the area’s 2.5 million Palestinians is inevitable. But it usually takes place at Israeli military checkpoints or in Israeli-owned factories that employ Palestinian menial laborers. One of the few areas of cooperation is in the medical profession — usually with Israeli hospitals treating Palestinians wounded in conflict. Al-Bayed said he was driving with his wife last Friday when they spotted an overturned Israeli car. He said the engine was still running and fuel was spilled all over the road. He had no idea there had been a shooting, and he was afraid the car was going to catch fire. “I heard kids’ voices inside the car, screaming for help in Hebrew. It was heartbreaking,” he said. He said he forced open the door while trying to calm the children in Hebrew he learned working in Israel. He said he pulled out a young girl first, and then a boy. His wife, a former nurse, gave them first aid to stop their bleeding. He said he then called the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service. Within minutes, he said Israeli and Palestinian rescue teams were on the scene treating the victims … After the shooting, [victim Rabbi Miki] Mark’s son Pedaya [Mark] gave a similar version of events. “Arabs succeeded in opening the door and getting us out of the car so that nothing would happen to us,” he told Israel’s Channel 2 TV….
Israeli forces injure 15 Palestinians in Dura with live fire, rubber bullets
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 6 July — Five Palestinians were injured with live fire and ten others with rubber-coated steel bullets, while several more suffered from tear gas inhalation on Wednesday, as Israeli forces raided the city of Dura after midnight in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. Sources at the Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an that ambulances carried dozens of Palestinians to hospitals in the Hebron area who suffered from light to medium injuries, with one sustaining critical injuries. According to locals, Palestinian youths threw rocks at Israeli forces as they raided Dura, which is located southwest of Hebron City, and Israeli soldiers responded by opening fire on Palestinians and launching tear gas canisters at youth and at civilian homes. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “hundreds” of Palestinians attacked Israeli forces by throwing rocks, while also throwing firebombs and rolling burning tires at soldiers. No Israelis were injured. She added that Israeli forces used riot dispersal means “in light of the ongoing assault” by firing 0.22 caliber bullets as well as rubber-coated steel bullets into the crowds. She confirmed that “several hits” were made.
Palestinian wounded in alleged car ramming attack, lightly injuring 3 Israeli soldiers
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 July — A Palestinian civilian was evacuated for critical injuries after his car hit an Israeli military vehicle, lightly injuring at least three Israeli soldiers at the entrance to the illegal Israeli settlement of Neve Daniel in the southern occupied West Bank southwest of Jerusalem. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a Palestinian driving in an Israeli-plated vehicle crashed into an Israeli military vehicle, causing the latter to flip over, and that the army was initially investigating the incident as a possible deliberate attack. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that investigations were ongoing to confirm whether the incident was a “terrorist attack.” The lightly wounded Israelis did not require medical treatment, while the Palestinian sustained critical injuries and was evacuated for treatment, al-Samri added. Some Israeli media outlets reported that a fourth Israeli soldier was also injured in the incident.
Teenage Palestinian girl wounded after attempted stabbing near Israeli settlement in Salfit
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 July — A Palestinian teenage girl was shot and seriously injured in the stomach outside the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel on Tuesday afternoon, after she allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a Palestinian woman attempted to stab a soldier at a junction west of Ariel on Tuesday afternoon, when she was shot and detained by Israeli forces. No Israelis were injured in the incident, the spokesperson added. The girl was later identified by locals as Jamileh Daoud Hasan Jaber, 17, from the town of al-Zawiya in the western part of Salfit. Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) spokesperson Errab Foqoha told Ma‘an that Israeli forces prevented an ambulance from reaching the scene and providing medical assistance, but that an Israeli ambulance was later seen taking Jaber away. Foqoha added that she appeared to be alive when she was taken away. A spokesperson for the Rabin Medical Center told Ma‘an initially that Jaber was taken to the hospital where she was in critical condition. However, a few hours later, the spokesperson said that Jaber’s condition was no longer critical, but that she would remain at the hospital for treatment. Israeli news outlet Ynet initially reported that the Palestinian teen was shot in the chest and critically wounded. Israeli newspaper Times of Israel published overnight Tuesday dashboard camera footage from a car that approached a bus stop in time to clearly capture the moment a woman wearing a headscarf approached two Israeli soldiers while holding a knife over her head. She then clutched her stomach and fell to the ground after apparently being shot. Shortly after, the car pulled away from the scene and continued driving. An Israeli army spokesperson could not immediately verify the footage or identify the driver who captured it, and told Ma‘an they were looking into the case.
Israeli settler reportedly injured in rock-throwing incident
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 July — An Israeli settler was reportedly injured by rocks thrown at him near the illegal Beit El settlement in the central occupied West Bank on Wednesday. The settler was taken in an ambulance for treatment, while Israeli forces rushed to the area in search of rock throwers. According to a Ma‘an reporter, Israeli forces closed the nearby al-Mahkama checkpoint. An Israeli army spokesperson said she was looking into the reports. Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli media reported that shots were fired at an Israeli settler’s vehicle near the Zaatara checkpoint in the northern West Bank district of Nablus. Sources said that no injuries were reported in the incident, while Israeli forces were searching the area and setting up flying checkpoints.
Army invades Huwwara, imposes curfew
IMEMC 6 July — Several Israeli military vehicles invaded, on Tuesday evening, the town of Huwwara, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and imposed curfew, forcing the entire town under house arrest until further notice. The head of Huwwara Local Council, Nasser al-Huwwari, said the soldiers claimed some Palestinian youngsters hurled stones of settlers’ cars and army vehicles, driving near the town. The soldiers also invaded and searched several homes and shops, and were extensively deployed on the town’s main road, before declaring curfew. In addition, the soldiers opened fire on a number of Palestinian homes, east of the al-Qarara town, northeast of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
B’Tselem: Eyewitness report casts doubts on army’s narrative in Palestinian woman’s killing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 July — Eyewitness testimony and video footage have cast doubts on the Israeli narrative surrounding the death of a Palestinian woman on Friday in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported on Tuesday. On July 1, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian woman, identified as 27-year-old Sarah Tarayra, after she allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack against border police officers near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron’s Old City. According to B’Tselem, Israeli police stated that Tarayra was taken to a small room at a Hebron checkpoint because she “appeared suspect,” only to unsuccessfully attempt to stab a policewoman, at which point the police said another officer “responded quickly and carried out a precise and targeted shooting towards the terrorist until she was neutralized.” However, B’Tselem said in a statement that an account by a Palestinian bystander present on the scene that day who filmed part of the encounter contradicted official police reports that Tarayra — who was identified by the NGO as Sarah Hajuj — represented an imminent threat when she was killed by Israeli border police officers … According to the witness, a scuffle was heard coming from the room in which Tarayra was being held, after which two Israeli officers were seen exiting while coughing and covering their faces with their hands. The witness added that the second police officer to exit the room was holding pepper spray in her hand, as B’Tselem said that photographs of Tarayra’s body showed “remnants of pepper spray” on her face. A video [below] shot by the eyewitness from that moment on showed at least six Israeli officers standing outside of the open room when they started running away from the door for a reason left unclear in the footage, and fired at least four shots. “At that stage, police officers had already sprayed her face with pepper spray, a substance that usually has a highly debilitating effect on people, Therefore, the argument that shooting to kill was necessary and the only way of stopping Hajuj under those circumstances is untenable,” B’Tselem wrote….
Police extend gag order on deadly Qalandiya shooting
+972 blog 5 July by John Brown* — Despite the fact that eye witnesses have provided versions of events that contradict the police narrative, the latter has refused to release CCTV footage of the shooting that killed two Palestinian siblings — Nearly 70 days after Israeli security contractors shot two Palestinian siblings to death at the Qalandiya military checkpoint outside Jerusalem, a Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge has extended a sweeping gag order on the case, raising more and more questions about the case. The gag order covers all details about the investigation and any information that might be used to identify the suspects — the security contractors. According to the police version of events, the two siblings were attempting to carry out a stabbing attack at the checkpoint that day. Eyewitness accounts collected by human rights groups and journalists tell a different story — namely, that the pair did not pose an immediate threat when they were gunned down. The two different stories could easily be reconciled with the publication of CCTV footage of the event. Israel Police, however, has thus far refused to publish it citing the ongoing investigation. Here’s what we do know: on April 27, 2016, the two siblings, 23-year-old mother of two Maram Abu Isma‘il and 16-year-old Ibrahim Taha were shot to death at the Qalandiya Checkpoint separating Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah. Eight days later, at the request of police, Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Joya Skappa-Shapiro imposed a sweeping gag order on the details of the investigation, “to preserve the propriety of the investigation and to prevent harm to public safety.”….
Israeli commander testifies: Soldier unjustified in point-blank Hebron execution
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — An Israeli army commander testified on Wednesday in the ongoing trial of Elor Azarya, an Israeli soldier accused of shooting and killing a prone Palestinian in Hebron in March, saying that there was no justification for the shooting, which has been labeled by the UN as an “extrajudicial execution.” Col. Yariv Ben Ezra, the highest ranking commander in the case, reportedly told the military tribunal that Abd al-Fatah al-Sharif did not pose any danger to life when Azarya killed him. Ezra testified that he had never seen a soldier “depart so extremely from the [Israeli army’s] rules of engagement” as Azarya did in the Hebron shooting, according to Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post. Al-Sharif was shot and wounded alongside Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi on March 24 after the two allegedly stabbed and moderately wounded an Israeli soldier near a military checkpoint in the Tel Rumeida area in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. Al-Qasrawi was also killed on the scene in contested circumstances which Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has claimed may also constitute an execution.
Mark children call for creation of new settlement at spot of father’s murder
JPost 6 July by Tovah Lazaroff — The children of terrorist victim Rabbi Michael “Miki” Mark urged Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to build a settlement near the spot on Route 60 in the Southern Hebron Hills where their father was killed on Friday. “The response [to the attack] can’t be more security or just a number of new homes. The response must be the creation of additional settlements, as a message to the terrorists that this is our home,” Miriam Mark said. “We will not move from here,” she added. She spoke while Liberman paid a condolence call to their homes in the South Hebron Hills settlement of Otniel….
Parents of East Jerusalem teen ask court to demolish Jewish killers’ homes
Haaretz 7 July by Nir Hasson — Mohammed Abu Khdeir was abducted and burned to death by three Israelis. Defense Ministry told the family Jewish terror doesn’t require such extreme deterrent — The parents of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the teenage boy burned to death by three Israeli Jews two years ago, have petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding that it order Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to demolish the three killers’ homes. The Defense Ministry had earlier told the parents that there is no need for home demolitions in this case because the Jewish population doesn’t require such acts of deterrence. Two months ago, a few days before the sentencing of Yosef Haim Ben David, the last defendant in the case, the attorney representing the victim’s parents contacted then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and asked him to either demolish or seal the homes of the three killers, as is frequently done with the homes of Palestinian terrorists. Defense Ministry legal adviser Ahaz Ben Ari replied, “Considering the extent of the phenomenon of serious hostile crimes in the Jewish sector, the need to use this authority does not arise.” Ben Ari also quoted a ruling by Supreme Court Judge Noam Sohlberg, who wrote, “There is no place for symmetry. … There’s no denying that there are indeed attacks by Jews on Arabs, and there certainly is a need for criminal prosecution and appropriate action. But the difference is unimaginable, the gap is immense – in the quality of the attacks, in their quantity, and in particular with regard to the environment – the firm and decisive wall-to-wall condemnation on the Jewish side, which is not the case on the opposite side.”….
Israeli siege brings life to a halt in the southern West Bank
Mondoweiss 5 July by Allison Deger — Days away from the Eid holiday Shafooq Baloot, 25, does not know how or when she will do her annual clothes shopping. “We can’t go everywhere whenever we would like,” the English teacher told me. She lives in the town of Bani Na‘im which is one of many towns across the West Bank that has been under Israeli closure for nearly a week. The Israeli army shut the main entrance to her town with cement blocks and an earth mound after a teen from her town killed a 13-year old Israeli in a nearby settlement last Thursday. “Sure the stores have stuff here, but in Hebron it’s cheaper,” said Baloot. She hoped to buy a new wardrobe during the seasonal sales that accompany the Muslim religious month of Ramadan. Over the weekend Israeli forces barricaded at least 20 more villages in the Hebron area, along with the southern entrance to the city of Hebron itself — a rare move generally reserved for manhunts. Life under siege is boring for Baloot. In the afternoon she walked to a curtain shop next door to her house … More Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement are expected in the coming weeks. On Sunday Netanyahu told his security cabinet further “measures that we have not used in the past” were under review for the West Bank. “This includes cordoning off the entire Hebron district, 700,000 people; revoking work permits from Bani Naim, the village six terrorists have come from; a massive reinforcement of our units, two brigades with emphasis on securing the roads; automatically investigating all family members of murderers and terrorists and their arrest as per their involvement,” Netanyahu said.
Israeli forces detain 9 in overnight West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 July — Israeli forces detained at least nine Palestinians in overnight raids across the occupied West Bank on Monday, Israeli and Palestinian sources reported. Locals told Ma‘an that three Palestinians were detained in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, identifying them as Sharhabil Ahmad Awwad, Islam al-Zubeidi, and Zuhdi Qawariq, a student at the al-Najjah University. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an that three Palestinians had been detained in the Nablus area. Two youths from the ‘Aida refugee camp near the city of Bethlehem were also detained during clashes which erupted when Israeli soldiers raided the camp. The youths were identified by locals as Khader Zreineh, 20, and Muhammad al-Kurdi, 19. The Israeli army only confirmed one detention in the Bethlehem area. Palestinian sources also reported the detention of Ubada Daraghmeh in the city of Tubas during a night raid. The Israeli spokesperson didn’t have information regarding the detention in Tubas, but added that two Palestinians were detained in the Ramallah area, as well as one in the Jericho district.According to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of May.
Israeli forces detain 7 Palestinians in overnight raids on eve of Eid al-Fitr
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 6 July — Israeli forces detained at least seven Palestinians during overnight raids across the occupied West Bank on Tuesday night, as Palestinian Muslims celebrated Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Locals told Ma‘an that three Palestinians were detained in their homes in the southern West Bank city of Hebron City on Tuesday evening. The three were identified as Alaa Raed al-Zghayyar, 23, Ramzi Dandis, and Anas Qafisha. Qafisha is the son of Hatem Qafisha, a Hamas-affiliated Palestinian lawmaker who was just released from Israeli prison on Sunday after spending six months in administrative detention — internment without charges or trial. The MP reportedly became unwell after the raid and detention of his son, and had to be treated by the Palestinian Red Crescent.
An Israeli army spokesperson did not give Ma‘an information on detention in the Hebron area, which has been under an ongoing Israeli military siege for nearly a week restricting passage out of the occupied West Bank’s most populous city to humanitarian and military cases only. However, she told Ma‘an that three Palestinians had been detained southeast of Ramallah, as well as one south of Ramallah.
PHOTOS: Circus performers stage vigil for imprisoned Palestinian clown in Tel Aviv
Activestills 5 July — Circus performers from the West Bank city of Nablus and jugglers from Israel staged a protest performance in central Tel Aviv Tuesday calling on Israeli authorities to release Mohammed Abu Sakha, a Palestinian clown who has been imprisoned by Israel for seven months, much of it in administrative detention — a draconian tool Israel uses to hold Palestinians without charge or trial. The performance, which Amnesty International helped organize, was held at Tel Aviv’s weekly artists market on Nahalat Binyamin Street. The central component of the performance was a small cage containing a clown. Around him, the jugglers juggled and circus performers put on acrobatic maneuvers. Israeli forces arrested Abu Sakha last December at the Za‘atara checkpoint while on his way to visit his parents in the West Bank city of Jenin. Shortly thereafter, he was placed in administrative detention. In June, his administrative detention order was renewed for another six months. Like all Palestinian administrative detainees, of whom there are over 700 at the moment, Abu Sakha does not know of what he is accused and has no opportunity to defend himself against the accusations. Until his arrest, Abu Sakha operated the Palestinian Circus School in the West Bank, teaching circus performance to Palestinian children. Abu Sakha started learning the art of circus nine years ago, when he was 14 years old, and since then, it has become his entire life….
Video: Turkish aid arrives in Gaza
Reuters 5 July — The first shipment of aid from Turkey arrives in the Gaza Strip through Israel. It’s expected to be followed by about 500 more under a deal between Turkey and Israel to restore relations after a six-year rift. The deal’s being welcomed by Turkey’s Red Crescent Society….
Egypt extends opening of Rafah crossing for 4 days
CAIRO (PIC) 6 July — The Egyptian authorities decided Tuesday to extend the opening of Rafah crossing for more four days in both directions. The Middle East News Agency quoted official sources in the Rafah crossing as affirming that the crossing has been re-opened for four days in both directions “to alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza during Eid al-Fitr.” Egypt had closed at dawn Tuesday the Rafah border crossing after a 5-day opening. The Border and Crossing Authority in Gaza revealed that 3,750 passengers were allowed to leave the Strip for humanitarian purposes or were allowed admission as a result of holding Egyptian passports. Meanwhile,1620 stranded passengers were allowed to enter Gaza during the five-day opening while 159 passengers were prevented from entering Egypt for unknown reasons, according to the sources. Spokesman for the Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza pointed out that 28,000 people are still in dire need for travel.
Israeli soldiers open fire on Palestinian homes in Khan Younis
IMEMC 6 July — Israeli soldiers stationed across the border fence fired several rounds of live ammunition at Palestinian homes in the al-Qarara area, northeast of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers, stationed on towers in a military base across the border fence, east of the town, fired many live rounds at the homes, causing damage. The soldiers also fired live rounds into Palestinian agricultural lands, near the border fence. The attacks led to property damage; no injuries were reported.
Gaza’s schools remain in ruins two years after war
GAZA STRIP (Al Jazeera) 5 July by Isra Namey — Farah Qanoua’s first day at school after the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza was a day she will not forget. On July 23, 2014, 11-year-old Farah saw on the news that Shujayea‘s primary school, where she attended classes, had been hit by Israeli missiles. Still, what she observed on that first day back was beyond her expectations. “The hateful bombs had showered debris everywhere I moved my eyes that day,” Farah told Al Jazeera, noting that the extent of the damage shook her long-established belief that the school was a safe place. Her best friend, Qamar Hararh, had been eager for the school year to start again: “I was waiting for my school because it still can give me that sense that everything is going well and will be all right,” Qamar told Al Jazeera. While the two friends were happy to see each other again after surviving the war, they have since had to adjust to their badly damaged learning environment. Many of the school’s walls collapsed during the war, and windows were smashed. Their classroom ceiling has gaping holes in it, the result of Israeli air strikes. “It serves as a constant reminder of what we experienced, of the deadly escalation in hostilities during the last war,” school principal Zakia Abu Hamda told Al Jazeera. She says she fears the students could be seriously harmed if chunks of concrete, hanging precariously from the ceilings of many classrooms, were to fall on them…..
A win for Assaf: Arab Idol winner finally returns to Gaza
albawaba 5 July by Arwad Khalifeh — After iconically winning Arab Idol in 2013, Palestinian superstar and Gaza native Mohammed Assaf left his hometown to settle down in Dubai. But living the superstar lifestyle didn’t prevent him from making numerous return trips to Palestine, where he engaged in charitable projects with UNRWA and performed for thousands of people. However, one place the singer wasn’t allowed to set foot in was Gaza, thanks to Israeli authorities, who prevented him from entering the occupied city. But over the weekend, a Ramadan miracle happened, after Israeli officials granted Assaf the permission to return to his beloved hometown. Some might see this as a kind gesture from Israel, while others see it as Assaf’s given right and a victory for him and his people.Having spent Ramadan in Ramallah (West Bank), Assaf will now get to spend Eid El-Fitr with his family and friends in Gaza. The delighted superstar took to Facebook to celebrate the news and wrote, “Good day to you from the Port of Gaza. Today my heart beats in the Majestic city of Gaza, with its beautiful people, sea, soil and breeze.” Not one to waste time, Assaf made the most out of his presence in Gaza and paid a visit to the SOS Children’s Village, where he greeted children in need and performed for them.
Palestinian Authority restricts money transfer to Gaza
RAMALLAH (PIC) 7 July — The Palestinian monetary authority in Ramallah has imposed restrictions recently on transferring any amount of money to individuals in the Gaza Strip, according to banking sources. The sources said that the monetary authority issued a circular ordering banks not to accept the transfer of any money to individuals and their bank accounts in Gaza except through persons having bank accounts in the West Bank. The circular also demanded the banks to put the money first in the account of the sender before transferring it to the recipient’s account in Gaza. The sources said this measure is contrary to the procedure followed routinely in internal financial transactions between bank branches, describing it as part of security restrictions on all sums of money sent to Gaza.
Israeli ban cripples furniture industry in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 5 July by Belal Aldabbour — Israel’s prohibition on certain kinds of wooden planks has axed local output and caused many to lose their jobs — A year ago, Mohammed Ajour said he earned about 2,500 Israeli shekels ($650) a month from his work as a furniture maker. Nowadays, Ajour – who lives in Gaza – calls it a lucky month when his income hits just 1,000 shekels ($250). Last month he took home just 800 shekels. After losing his job as a tailor owing to a work-related injury, Ajour became a furniture-maker through a newly established vocational training programme called Irada (“will” in Arabic). Funded by Turkey, Irada trains disabled Palestinians in Gaza to enable them to earn their own livelihoods. In March 2015, however, Israel forbade the import of wood planks as “items of dual use“, a term it uses for materials prohibited from entering Gaza over what it describes as security concerns. Currently, the list of such items includes more than 110 products … “Israel banned imports of wood planks of a thickness of more than one centimetre. Shortly after, they banned paint hardeners,” Ajour recalled. Israel says these can be used in weapons manufacturing. Months later, Israel permitted the import of planks up to two centimetres wide….
Palestinian refugees – Syria
Airstrikes targeting Palestinian refugee camp in Syria leave 3 dead, 5 injured
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 July — Three Palestinian refugees were killed and another five injured Monday in airstrikes targeting the besieged Khan al-Shih, a Palestinian refugee camp in war-torn Syria. According to the Jafra Foundation, a relief organization operating in Palestinian refugee camps across Syria, the midnight airstrikes caused heavy damage to civilian houses and destroyed a building housing the foundation’s Child Friendly Space, a center devoted to providing psychological support, recreation, and risk and hygiene awareness to children. Palestinian refugees residing inside the Damascus-area camp have been caught in the center of escalating violence between Syria regime forces and rebels, marked by devastating airstrikes from pro-government warplanes. Last week, six residents of Khan al-Shih, including a seven-year-old child, were reportedly killed in airstrikes from Russian jets targeting civilian homes. Al Jazeera at the time quoted a spokesperson from UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, as saying that the violence had killed at least nine Palestinian refugees over the past few weeks. Khan al-Shih, once home to more than 30,000 civilians, has seen some 50 percent of its population displaced. Due to a partial regime-imposed siege and its location between fighting parties, its residents — including over 3,000 children and 1,000 elderly people — suffer from dire humanitarian conditions and lack of medical services, according to the Jafra Foundation….
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
Israeli right-wing outraged over construction plans in Jerusalem-area Palestinian town
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 July — Right-wing Israeli politicians denounced on Monday a decision by the Israeli government to approve construction plans in the Palestinian town of Beit Safafa in occupied East Jerusalem, claiming that the move, despite a spike in illegal settlement construction plans, represented a focus on the Palestinian community to the detriment of Jewish Israelis. Israel approved the construction of 600 housing units in Beit Safafa on Sunday, Israeli media reported, more than a month after a court rejected a freeze on the plan, which had initially been approved three years earlier but stalled based on a reportedly secret decision by senior Israeli officials. The rare Israeli approval for construction in a Palestinian-majority area has come after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman approved the construction of 800 housing units in settlements in and near occupied East Jerusalem, and 42 new housing units in the settlement of Kiryat Arba in the southern occupied West Bank. However, a number of far-right Israeli politicians expressed their severe discontent at the prospect of allowing construction in Beit Safafa, which they seemingly interpreted as coming at the expense of construction in Jewish-only settlements in East Jerusalem. “Anyone who cares about a Jewish majority in the capital of Israel can’t promote construction for the Arab population alone,” Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted Israeli Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Zeev Elkin as saying. “I call on the prime minister to not allow Palestinian construction alone,” Bennett added. According to the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), more than a third of Beit Safafa land has been confiscated by Israel since 1967 to the benefit of the nearby settlements of Gilo, Har Homat, and Givat Hamatos. The settlements, along with the Israeli separation wall, have effectively cut off Beit Safafa from the West Bank….
Extremist Israeli colonists destroy grapevines, sheds, and uproot plants
IMEMC 5 July — A number of extremist Israeli colonists destroyed, Monday, several grapevines, a shed and uprooted plants, belonging to a Palestinian farmer in the Zeitouna area, isolated, between the illegal Israeli colonies of Daniel and Eliezer, built on Palestinian lands, in al-Khader town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Ahmad Salah, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in al-Khader, said the assailant broke the main gate leading to the Palestinian land, uprooted grapevine shrubs and cut their arbors. “This was not the first attack of its kind; the area has been subject to constant similar assaults,” he said, “They want the Palestinians to abandon their lands in order to expand the illegal colonies that surround them.”
Apartheid and racist restrictions around Ibrahimi Mosque
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine 5 July by ISM, al-Khalil Team — During the last days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Israeli froces have implemented further restrictions in the area of the Ibrahimi Mosque in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron.) These restrictions deliberately and exclusively target Palestinians in attempts to further cleanse this area of any Palestinian presence. After 27-year old Sarah Tarayra was gunned down and killed with her unborn baby by Israeli forces at the checkpoint at Ibrahimi Mosque on Friday, 1 July 2016, the checkpoint leading to Ibrahimi Mosque was blocked by Israeli forces for more than two hours. Due to this closure, large numbers of Palestinians on their way to the noon prayer of the last Friday of Ramadan, were stuck at the checkpoint, forced to wait till Israeli forces decided to open and allow the Palestinians to reach the mosque for prayer. In the days following, Israeli forces at the three checkpoints leading to the area immediately around Ibrahimi Mosque implemented age restrictions, barring access for any Palestinian between 15 and 30 years old. As these restrictive measures on Palestinians was enforced at all three checkpoints leading to the mosque, it effectively prohibited from anyone in this age group from reaching Ibrahimi Mosque, thus denying them their freedom of religion. In the last few days, a 10-year old Palestinian girl was arrested on settler childrens’ accusations and a Palestinian man beaten up by Israeli forces. The restrictions though, were implemented not consequently at all times – leaving Palestinians without any possibility to know whether they’d be allowed to pass the checkpoint. Thus, any Palestinian in this age-group is at the mercy of the Israeli forces and the only way to find out whether they’d be allowed to reach the mosque for prayers would be to go to the checkpoint and try to pass. Palestinians have reported, that often certain soldiers at the checkpoints would strictly enforce the restrictions, while others would allow some people in this age group to pass.
Palestinian mayor: West Bank water crisis worsened by decaying infrastructure
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 July — An ongoing water crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory has been exacerbated by neglected infrastructure, the mayor of a town in the southern occupied West Bank said on Sunday. Beit Fajjar Mayor Akram Taqatqa said that his town’s water network had not had any maintenance work done in at least 15 years and was in very poor condition, further worsening the water crisis in the Bethlehem district town, as Israel’s national water company Mekorot suspended or limited water supplies to several parts of the West Bank since mid-June. Taqatqa added that Beit Fajjar, which relies on Mekorot for its access to water, was only receiving “very small” amounts of water which did not cover residents’ daily needs. Beit Fajjar also has hundreds of quarries which consume large quantities of water. Infrastructure in Palestinian cities and towns are usually built and maintained by municipalities and local councils. However, most municipalities and local government institutions suffer from serious budget deficits. A number of West Bank towns and cities which receive water supply from the Palestinian water authority have also complained about major water crises, especially during the summer. Several areas of Bethlehem have suffered from longer-than-average water shortages in recent weeks, and the crisis has sparked clashes between Israeli forces and local youths. A Palestinian youth was injured in the al-Duheisha refugee camp in late June after Israeli forces suppressed a demonstration there with live fire. Meanwhile, weeks-long water shortages have been reported from across the occupied West Bank, particularly in the northern districts of Nablus, Jenin, and Salfit, after Israel’s national water company Mekorot shut off supply….
Diplomatic ties help Israel defang international criticism
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 5 July by Luke Baker — Ahead of the release last week of a report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the Quartet of Middle East mediators, the word from diplomats was that it would be hard-hitting, especially on Israel and its settlement building. The United States, the European Union and the United Nations were fed up with Israel’s consistent violation of international law, which views all settlements on occupied land as illegal, diplomats said. While Russia, the fourth Quartet member, might be more restrained, Israel was set for a serious ticking off. Those concerns reached Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. Officials briefed that he was determined to talk the Quartet down. He flew to Moscow to see President Vladimir Putin, and met U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, in Rome. In the end, after weeks of delay, the report was mild in the extreme. Israeli settlement-building was criticised but not called illegal. The prime focus was on Palestinian incitement. One regional analyst described the overall impact as “banal”. Palestinians were outraged. Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Quartet had attempted to “equalize the responsibilities between a people under occupation and a foreign military occupier”. The international community had given in, he said. Among a number of American, European and U.N. diplomats, there is a fair degree of sympathy with that view. “There’s just no appetite to go toe-to-toe with Israel and deliver a really harsh indictment,” said one European ambassador. “No one sees the upside to it.” Privately, diplomats raise a host of concerns about Israel’s actions: its restrictions on Palestinian movement, security clampdowns they say amount to collective punishment, the demolition of attackers’ homes, the blockade on Gaza, and settlements. But in public, there is far more restraint….
Abbas urges UN Security Council to reject Quartet report
AFP 6 July — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called on the UN Security Council on Wednesday to reject a key report by the diplomatic Quartet that condemned both Israeli settlement building and Palestinian incitement to violence. The report published last Friday by the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States was criticised by both Israel and the Palestinians as being unfair. The report is due to be presented for discussion at the UN Security Council in the coming weeks, though a date has not yet been set. Abbas said in a statement on Wednesday the report “does not further the cause for peace.” “We hope that the Security Council does not support this report,” he added. Palestine Liberation Organisation secretary general Saeb Erekat has condemned what he called an “attempt to equalise the responsibilities between people under occupation and the foreign military occupier.” The report’s findings and recommendations are supposed to serve as the basis for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that has been comatose since a US initiative collapsed in April 2014. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also rejected the report, calling it a “myth” that settlement building in the occupied West Bank is an obstacle to peace. There was no formal response from the Quartet but a source involved with the report said Wednesday there were positives to be drawn from the responses. “If both president Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu find the report disturbing, then the report must contain some truths that both are uncomfortable with,” he said. A Palestinian official said they would no longer deal with the Quartet as a body, but would continue to work with its four members individually. “It’s not only about the report, it’s more than that — but the report confirms how useless (the Quartet) is,” the official said….
UN chief slams Israel over settlement plans in wake of Quartet report
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) 5 July — U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon sharply criticized a decision by Israel to advance plans to build hundreds of units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem just days after world powers called on Israel to stop its settlement policy, his spokesman said on Tuesday. “This raises legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions, which are compounded by continuing statements of some Israeli ministers calling for the annexation of the West Bank,” Ban’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement. Ban was “deeply disappointed” that Israel’s announcement followed the release of a report on Friday by the “Quartet” sponsoring the stalled Middle East peace process – the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. The long-awaited report said Israel should stop building settlements, denying Palestinian development and designating land for exclusive Israeli use that Palestinians seek for a future state … The Quartet report said at least 570,000 Israelis are living in the settlements. Ban “reiterates that settlements are illegal under international law and urges the Government of Israel to halt and reverse such decisions in the interest of peace and a just final status agreement,” Dujarric said.
The other Palestinian fatalities
Haaretz 5 July by Amira Hass — The talk from Hebron to Ramallah wasn’t about the Israeli “encirclement” (or closure) of Hebron, the lethal attacks that led to it or the military raids on homes. It wasn’t even about the three Palestinians who were killed in last week’s terror attack in Istanbul or the Nablus man who was on his way to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque when he died from inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli police officers. In hushed voices, so as not to compete with Israel Radio in Arabic (on the minibus to Jerusalem) or the Koranic verses blaring from the speakers (on the bus to Ramallah), passengers talked about six other Palestinian fatalities, people who were shot and killed in three incidents linked to family feuds (in Nablus, Ya‘bad and the Sho‘afat refugee camp in East Jerusalem) … The particulars of each case lose their meaning, leaving only the fear of a tomorrow in which Israel intensifies its assaults against the Palestinians without let or hindrance. The general frustration, the geographic divisions and the social schisms are leading, so people fear, to an internal collapse that is expressed in violent feuds between clans….
Israeli hotel warns Jewish guests ‘there will be a lot of Arabs’
+972 mag 6 July by Mairav Zonszein — Hotels in Israel are offering their Jewish clients some vacation segregation — Staff at the Magic Sunrise Hotel in Eilat have been making phone calls of their own volition to Jewish clientele who have reservations this weekend to warn them that there will be a lot of Arabs at the hotel due to the Muslim Eid el-Fitr holiday, and offering them to cancel or push back their reservation free of charge, according to a report on Israel’s Channel 10 Tuesday. In one audio recording of a conversation (Hebrew), the hotel employee can be heard telling a client that it will be crowded due to the end of Ramadan holiday, and that most of the clientele will be from the “migzar,” which means the “sector” in Hebrew, a common euphemism for Israel’s large Arab minority, over 20 percent of the country’s population. The hotel employee goes on to state, “albeit it Israelis, but from the migzar.” The reporters called back to make sure the earlier call had not been from just one rogue employee. Another reservations agent confirmed the practice, saying, the hotel warns guests “that there will be a lot of Arabs this weekend.” Some guests, he continued, thank the agents for “saving the vacation” with their warnings. “I say it to all of the guests, it’s important to say it.” According to the Channel 10 report this is a policy implemented by the Fattal hotel chain — and it is not the first time….
Israel to give Arab teacher trainees in Galilee half the budget of Jewish peers
Haaretz 7 July by Yarden Skop — A new method of budgeting for students at teacher training colleges will provide Arabic speaking students in the north of the country with just over half the budget that Jewish trainee teachers will receive. The new program is being implemented by the Education Ministry as a means of encouraging students to study subjects for which there is a lack of teachers, such as mathematics and science. But in addition to incentivizing students to study subjects for which there is high demand by providing an additional per-student budget, the ministry has decided that the per-student budget for Arabic-speaking trainee teachers in colleges in the north will be only 56 percent of that received by Jewish students. The new system will not be instituted in the south of the country, where there is a shortage of Bedouin teachers, according to the ministry. The explanation given by the ministry is that there is an excess of student teachers in the Arabic sector in the north and the goal of the project is to reduce the number of Arabic-speakers doing teacher training in the region … The main victims of the program will be the Arab teacher training colleges, where all the students are Arabic-speaking, which will receive only 56 percent of the supplementary per-student budget. Even if the college has students who are studying the subjects for which demand is high, such as mathematics and science, the supplementary budget they receive for those students will be only 56 percent of their Jewish counterparts. “In my view it’s real racism,” said a senior official at one of the Arab teacher training colleges. “There’s no other explanation for it.”
Knesset to tour one of poorest Israeli Arab villages to help improve education
JPost 5 July by Ariel Ben Solomon — The Knesset Education, Culture and Sport Committee decided this week to visit the Arab village of Jisr e-Zarka next month in an effort to improve one of the country’s poorest communities. The decision followed a discussion Monday initiated by MK Eitan Broshi (Zionist Union), who toured the community two months ago, and MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List), who demanded that the government take a decision to specially deal with the town just as it has in Taiba and Lod. “This community suffers the most from state neglect, mainly in the areas of education and housing,” Tibi said during the Knesset discussion. Tibi, who has visited the town, the last remaining Arab coastal village in Israel, located south of Haifa and just north of Caesarea, a number of times, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday he has requested that Transportation Minister Israel Katz fix the roads there. Morad Amash, head of the municipality, meanwhile, said during the discussion: “The situation requires the establishment of a committee to examine all matters related to the entire education system in the community.” The 2013-2014 high school graduation rate in Jisr e-Zarka was only about 26 percent. “There is a systemic failure and total neglect,” said Muhammad Lutfi Jourban, head of the parents’ committee in Jisr e-Zarka, noting that 65 percent of residents live below the poverty line and of the 1,400 households in the community, 1,200 receive welfare benefits….
Majority of Jews in Israel favor controlling West Bank, poll reveals
JPost 6 July by Jack Brook — A recent poll found that more than a third of the Jewish public believes Israel should annex the West Bank without giving equal rights to the Palestinians living there. Overall, the majority – 55 percent – believe Israeli control of the West Bank should continue, either by sustaining the status quo or through annexation. By contrast, close to three-quarters of Israeli Arabs favor Israel withdrawing from the West Bank. The June Peace Index survey, conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, sought to explore public perception of the ramifications of the Six Day War, almost 50 years later. The survey also exposed a general ignorance on the part of the Jewish public regarding basic facts about the West Bank. Just 15% of the Jewish public is “sure” the Green Line represents the Israeli border set in the Armistice Agreements signed at the end of the War of Independence between Israel and the Arab armies in 1949. In contrast, 63% of Arabs polled knew what the Green Line is. The Jewish public also significantly underestimates the size of the Palestinian population in the territories; only 10% answered correctly that two million to three million Palestinians live in the West Bank. In addition, most did not know the correct number of Jews living there – between 250,000 and 500,000 people.
US accuses Israel of ‘systematically’ seizing Palestinian land
JPost 6 July by Tovah Lazaroff — The United States on Tuesday issued an unusually harsh statement against settlement activity in which it accused Israel of “systematically seizing Palestinian land” in the West Bank. US State Department spokesman John Kirby further charged that such seizures plus “settlement expansions and legalization of outposts is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution.” He spoke to reporters in Washington from a prepared text in response to a query about Israel’s decision earlier this week to advance plans for 560 new homes in the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. It addition, there were reports that it had authorized 240 new homes in the Jewish east Jerusalem neighborhoods of Har Homa and Ramot. The announcements of settlement activity were made in the wake of two terror attacks that claimed the lives of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, and Rabbi Michael “Miki” Mark, 47. Ariel holds duel Israeli-US citizenship as does Mark’s wife Chava and his two children, all of whom were injured when Palestinian gunmen fired at their vehicle. Israel has traditionally linked settlement building or the advancement of plans with terror attacks, out of a belief that it is the best response to such violence. One reporter asked Kirby if he felt this was an appropriate linkage. “There is no justification for terrorism,” said Kirby. However, he added, “that doesn’t change our opposition to settlement activity.” … But in spite of the limited scope of Israel’s settlement announcement, the US went well beyond its boilerplate response. It also criticized Israel for the Jewish population growth over the pre-1967 lines, both in east Jerusalem and in Area C of the West Bank, known to settlers as Judea and Samaria….
Watch: Congressmen voice concern over Palestinian stipend program for convicts
WASHINGTON (JPost) 6 July by Michael Wilner & Ariel Ben Solomon — Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee agreed on Wednesday to strategize an end to a Palestine Liberation Organization program that offers monthly stipends to convicted murderers and terrorists. At a hearing on the matter, Democratic and Republican members vowed to coordinate on closing a loophole in US foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, which allows parent and subsidiary Palestinian organizations, such as the PLO, to continue the decade-old practice. Roughly a third of the PA’s annual budget is financed through foreign aid, and roughly ten percent of that budget goes to the Palestinian National Fund, the Institute for the Caring of Families of Martyrs, and other agencies which provide education, healthcare and other subsidies to the relatives of those who have been convicted of murder or terror in Israel, according to Yigal Carmon, president and founder of The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) in testimony to the committee. Longstanding US law prohibits the State Department from continuing aid to the PA should it continue such programs or incorporate Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, into its government. But the PA has allegedly circumvented the letter of that law by transferring enforcement of the program to alternative Palestinian leadership….
Odd couple Israel and Egypt enjoying ‘best times ever’
CAIRO (AP) 4 July — Blast walls, sandbags, and guards with machine pistols manning checkpoints ring the Israeli diplomatic compound in the leafy Cairo suburb of Maadi. But inside the Embassy, which doubles as Ambassador Haim Koren’s residence, you’d hardly notice any of the animosity traditionally felt by the Egyptian masses, for all the upbeat assessments of the future. On a recent night at the compound, some two dozen Egyptians came for an iftar dinner, the traditional breaking of the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends Tuesday. But the vast majority of them — including a cook wearing a Star of David T-shirt — were embassy employees. “This is one of the best times we’ve ever had” in terms of cooperation between governments, said Koren, a veteran diplomat and fluent Arabic speaker posted here since 2014. “There’s good cooperation between the armies, we have understandings about the Sinai Peninsula, and basically, we see (eye-to-eye) on development of the region.” After decades of wars followed by years of an uneasy peace, Israel has emerged as a discreet ally to Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, along with powerhouse Saudi Arabia and smaller, wealthy Gulf Arab countries….