Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Europe
3 injured with rubber bullets, dozens suffer tear gas inhalation during Kafr Qaddum, Bil‘in protests
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an)19 Aug — Israeli forces Friday dispersed weekly protests in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqilya and a solidarity protest for Palestinian hunger strikers in the village of Bil‘in in the district of Ramallah — Popular resistance coordinator in Kafr Qaddum Murad Shtewei told Ma‘an that three Palestinians were injured and dozens suffered tear gas inhalation after Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas at the demonstrators. The injured Palestinians were treated on the scene. Shtewei added that Israeli forces had deliberately targeted the main water grid in the village for the seventh consecutive time, causing the water supply to be disconnected for three hours as the local council faced difficulties fixing the issue in the presence of Israeli soldiers.
Residents of Kafr Qaddum began staging weekly protests in 2011 against land confiscations, as well as the closure of the village’s southern road by Israeli forces. The road, which has been closed for 13 years, is the main route to the nearby city of Nablus, the nearest economic center. Shtewei said that more than 330 protests have been held over that period, during which time 84 protesters have been injured by live fire, including 12 children. Some 120 others have been detained at protests and were subsequently held in Israeli custody for periods ranging between four and 24 months, Shtewei said, adding that they have paid fines totaling some 25,000 shekels (approximately $6,488). Over the course of five years, an elderly protester was killed after suffering from excessive tear gas inhalation, one youth lost his eyesight, and another his ability to speak, he added.
Meanwhile, in the village of Bil‘in in Ramallah, Israeli forces also suppressed a weekly protest held in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners. Participants raised posters of hunger strikers, Palestinian flags, and signs condemning Israeli human rights violations as they roamed the streets of the village singing Palestinian national songs. The villagers of Bil‘in, one of the most active villages in peaceful organized opposition against Israeli policies, have protested every Friday for 11 consecutive years, and are often met with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and stun grenades from Israeli forces. Local sources did not express in detail how Israeli forces reportedly “suppressed” the marches.
After 14 years in prison, Palestinian re-detained week after being released
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Aug — Israeli authorities detained a former Palestinian prisoner at dawn on Friday from the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem who was released by Israeli authorities on Monday after spending 14 years in Israeli custody. The detainee, identified by locals as Sufian Fakhri Abdo, was transferred to Israel’s Russian compound detention center for interrogation. According to local Palestinian sources, Abdo will reportedly be presented to a judge at Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on “incitement” charges, after which the judge will decide whether to extend his detention or not. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that Abdo was arrested for “incitement” and “involvement in terrorist activity,” though he did not clarify the nature of the “incitement” that Abdo was reportedly engaged in. In recent months, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by Palestinian “incitement.”….
Israeli forces detain five Palestinians in West Banki raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Israeli forces detained at least five Palestinians in overnight and predawn raids across the occupied West Bank, Palestinian and Israeli sources reported. According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), one Palestinian identified as Ahmad Fawzy Kanaan was detained in the Jenin-area village of al-Jaba‘. PPS also noted the detention of one Ahmad Rafi Zeidat in the village of Bani Na‘im in the southern West Bank district of Bani Na‘im. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that five Palestinians had been detained overnight, listing one detention in al-Jaba‘, one in Bani Naim, one in the Salfit-area village of Kifl Haris, and two in Nablus. According to Palestinian prisoners rights group Addameer, some 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of July. The group estimates that 40 percent of Palestinian men have been detained by Israel at some point in their lives.
The Twilight Zone // For Israel, Palestinian murderer’s widow bears mark of Cain
Haaretz 19 Aug by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — She is the widow of a murderer who was killed when Israel Defense Forces troops demolished the house he was hiding in. She’s five months pregnant. We have to believe her when she says she had no knowledge of her husband’s intentions to attack Israelis – the Israel Defense Forces also apparently believes her, since she hasn’t been arrested. Still, the army has raided her parents’ house three times. The last raid, a week after her husband was killed, raises serious questions. Hadeel Odeh, 26, is a quiet, articulate woman with an undergraduate degree in physics from An-Najah University in Nablus. Her description of the soldiers’ behavior during the raids on her parents’ home, where she was living, is unsettling. On July 1, her husband, Mohammed Fakieh, shot and killed Rabbi Michael Mark, from the settlement of Otniel, as he was driving through the West Bank with his family; his wife and two children were also injured. Fakieh was himself killed on the night of July 26 in the village of Surif, near Kfar Etzion, where he was hiding … The army returned on August 3, again in large numbers, again with “Captain Sabri” and again in the dead of night. The pregnant woman was now a widow. Some of the family members in the house were asleep, others not. Hadeel’s father, A-Zuheir Odeh, 53, a former head of the village council, was at the neighbors’ house next door. The soldiers again forced their way in, shouting loudly. Hadeel says they kicked the children to wake them up and again ordered everyone outside. She herself underwent a particularly violent body search: A female soldier groped her pregnant belly roughly, repeatedly. She tried to protect herself. “I was afraid she would harm my baby,” Hadeel relates. “She pushed down on my belly over and over.” Hadeel was then taken out of the house, taking her jewelry with her, as on every such occasion, fearing it would be looted. A female soldier grabbed her by the neck “the way you grab a cat,” she recalls, whereupon she was summoned back into the house and questioned again. In the room was an officer along with about a dozen soldiers. They shut the door and the window. She was scared. Hadeel: “The officer said to me with a smile: ‘I gave you a chance to tell us where Mohammed was. Now we have killed him.’ I told him: ‘Mohammed is dead, what more do you want from me?’ The officer said: ‘That’s right, it’s over, there is no more Hebron for you.’” From this she inferred that she had better keep her distance from that city. She told the officer that in any case, she would remain in her childhood home in Kafr Thluth. The officer ordered the soldiers to arrest her. They walked her toward a jeep. In the darkness she suddenly noticed a man lying on the ground, with soldiers standing around him. When she got closer she saw that it was her father. Hadeel started to scream and says she passed out. Her mother was not allowed to approach her. Hadeel regained consciousness immediately. “At that moment I didn’t care about myself or about my baby,” she says. “I was only worried about my father. I wanted to know that he was alright.” Her mother and brother also started to shout. A soldier cocked his rifle and kept everyone away from her father, on the ground. After half an hour, Hadeel explains, they were given her father’s cell phone and told to call a Palestinian ambulance. Amid the brouhaha, the soldiers left without taking Hadeel into custody. Her father was taken to a clinic in Qalqilyah, to a hospital in Tul Karm and afterward to Ramallah, from where he was taken to Assouta Medical Center in Tel Aviv. He remains there, unconscious, with brain damage….
Using black ops against Palestinian NGOs / Amira Hass
Haaretz 17 Aug — The victims are the three Palestinian groups working to bring Israel to The Hague on war crimes charges — He introduces himself as Abu Nabil, but Arabic is not his mother tongue. Hounding people and threatening them with murder is his business. It may be assumed that he gets a salary for this. He works with a team, armed with advanced technology for surveilling and locating people. On February 25, Abu Nabil phoned Sweden, to the home of the family of Nada Kiswanson, a Palestinian attorney with dual Jordanian-Swedish citizenship, and warned the family that if Kiswanson did not leave her place of employment, they would never see her again. Kiswanson, 31, lives in Holland with her husband and their little girl. As an employee of the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, she is its permanent liaison with the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Two weeks before the threatening phone call, Kiswanson and a staffer with the human rights group Al Mezan, headquartered in Gaza, submitted a voluminous report to the court about “Black Friday” in Rafah on August 1, 2014. The report is among the documents given for preliminary examination to the court, which is to decide whether to investigate the possibility that war crimes were committed during “Operation Protective Edge.” A few days after the phone call to the family, a woman phoned Kiswanson, saying she worked for the Dutch Health Ministry, and asked Kiswanson to take part in a survey about the Zika virus. The warning lights did not flash yet. Kiswanson gave her address, and then Abu Nabil called the land line in her home. He told her he was from the Palestinian intelligence service and that her life, and the life of Al-Haq’s director Shawan Jabarin, were in danger. An investigation revealed that no such Zika virus survey was being conducted. The phone calls and threats continued, sometimes at night. Kiswanson changed her phone number, had it unlisted and started using her husband’s phone. But the moment she called her colleagues in Ramallah, her phone number was identified. Her address on the secure-communication app Single was also identified, and threats and warnings were sent there as well. Her computer was hacked and shut down ... On August 10, her colleague from Al Mezan, who was in Europe, received an email with six photos of his home in Europe, containing threats to murder him and his family.…
Prisoners / Hunger strikers
Protests held in Ramallah, Gaza Strip in support of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Solidarity protests were held in Gaza City and Ramallah Thursday in support of hunger striking prisoners, as clashes broke out in Ramallah with dozens of Palestinians suffering from tear gas inhalation. Dozens of Palestinians protested at the Unknown Soldier square in Gaza City in solidarity with hunger striking prisoners and condemned the continued detention of Bilal Kayid who declared a hunger strike on June 14 in protest of being placed in administrative detention — an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial — on the day he was set to be released from a 14-and-a-half prison sentence. A leader of the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Talal Abu Tharifeh called upon Israeli authorities to remember other hunger strikers, such as Khader Adnan, Samer al-Issawi, Muhammad al-Qiq, and others, who have gained their freedom as a result of their strikes … Meanwhile, clashes broke out on Thursday afternoon between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters near Israel’s Ofer prison during a peaceful protest in support of the hunger strikers. Palestinians demonstrators, including students from Birzeit University, marched from the village of Batonya in the west of Ramallah to the Ofer prison in solidarity with hunger striking prisoners. Dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation after Israeli forces shot tear gas canisters at the crowd, and Palestinian youths reacted by throwing rocks at the Israeli soldiers….
Sinn Féin supports Palestinian hunger striker Kayed
MEMO 18 Aug — Sinn Féin representatives Fra McCann and Senator Paul Gavan arrived in the occupied West Bank on Sunday evening and met with the lawyers of Palestinian hunger striker Bilal Kayed. The men received a full briefing regarding Kayed who is now entering his 65th day of hunger strike while being held under administrative detention by Israeli authorities. McCann said: “Bilal’s health is a cause of major concern at this point. He is currently shackled by hand and foot to a hospital bed in what is an appalling assault to human dignity. The Israeli authorities must take immediate steps to release Bilal from what is effectively internment without trial.” Senator Gavan added: “This isn’t just about Bilal Kayed – there are currently 750 Palestinian prisoners, including eight children, being held under so called ‘administrative detention’ which is completely contrary to the principles of natural justice.” They met with Kayed’s family on Monday, along with representatives of Palestinian prisoner support groups. Their visit to the occupied territories ended yesterday. [Here’s an oversimplified explanation: In 1981 ten Irish political prisoners died of starvation during hunger strikes when UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher refused to negotiate with them. The best known of these was Bobby Sands. who was elected to the UK Parliament during his strike, and died after 66 days without food. Because of this history, the Irish republican party Sinn Féin identifies with the Palestinian strikers.]
Palestinian women detained by Israel threaten to launch protest against ill treatment
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Dozens of Palestinian female prisoners held in the Israeli prison of HaSharon have threatened to start protests over the Israel Prison Service’s (IPS) ill treatment of their relatives during family visitations, the Palestine Prisoners’ Center for Studies (PPCS) said on Thursday. PPCS spokesman Riyad al-Ashqar said that IPS had shortened family visits and mistreated the prisoners’ relatives, forcing them to undergo fully nude strip searches. Prominent prisoner Lina al-Jarbouni reported stated on behalf of all 42 female prisoners in HaSharon that they would start a protest movement so long as IPS kept their families waiting for hours in the sun before letting them inside the visitation hall, forced them to experience humiliating strip searches, manipulated visitation schedules, and forbade their relatives from bringing them clothing and personal belongings. Al-Ashqar said that IPS personnel was also harshly repressing the women and girls detained in the prison. “Israeli prison service has been escalating tension in HaSharon prison recently, as many female prisoners gave testimonies of constant raids of their cells, confiscation of personal belongings, imposition of fines, and bans on leaving their cells to go to the prison courtyard,” al-Ashqar said….
Israeli forces use electric shock on 16-year-old Palestinian prisoner, assault others
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Aug — Palestinians being held in Etzion prison were subjected to assaults, while Israeli soldiers reportedly used electric shock on a 16-year-old Palestinian prisoner, according to a statement released Thursday by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). Jacqueline Fararrja, a lawyer from PPS, said in the statement that after visiting the prison she found that one prisoner, 16-year-old Ahmad Yusry Maswada from Hebron, was reportedly assaulted by Israeli soldiers with a rifle, before they used electric shocks on him. He was also blindfolded and taken by a military vehicle. Farraja added that Maswada is still suffering from pains in one of his hands due to the assault. PPS identified five other Palestinians who were also assaulted by Israeli soldiers: Rashid Mousa Sleibi (19 years old), Saher Ibrahim Ghatasha (38 years old), Abdallah Zyad al-Rajabi (31 years old) and Hazem Tariq Hadush (20 years old) from Hebron, and Mohammad Khalaf al-Sabah (25 years old) from Bethlehem….
4 Palestinian hunger striking prisoners face worsening health
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Four hunger-striking Palestinians prisoners have experienced worsening health conditions, according to statements released on Thursday. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs reported in the statement that Israel Prison Service (IPS) moved Palestinian prisoner Ayyad al-Hremi from Israel’s Ofer prison to Ramla hospital after his health deteriorated. Al-Hremi, a Bethlehem resident, has been on hunger strike for 34 days in protest of being held in administrative detention — an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial. A lawyer from the committee Loay Akka added that the health of the Balboul brothers has worsened each day, saying that Muhammad has been suffering from allergies, shortage of vitamins, weight loss, and extreme exhaustion, while Mahmoud has suffered from similar symptoms. Muhammad and Mahmoud have been on hunger strike for 45 and 48 days respectively in protest of their administrative detention. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) released a statement on Thursday saying that 45-year-old Palestinian prisoner Bassam al-Sayeh, a resident of Nablus who was detained on October 8, is being held in Israel’s Ramla prison hospital where his health has also worsened. Al-Sayeh attended a meeting with his lawyer in a wheelchair, according to the statement, and reportedly faced difficulty speaking. The lawyer demanded to sit closer to al-Sayeh to be able to hear him, but the prison authorities refused, forcing al-Sayeh to write to his lawyer on a piece of paper. According to his lawyer, al-Sayeh is suffering from blood cancer and heart failure, and was taken to Israel’s Assaf Harofeh Medical Center after suffering from severe pains, breathing problems, and a lung infection….
3 Palestinian minors held without charge or trial in Israel’s Ofer prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Aug — Three Palestinian minors are currently being held without charge or trial in Israel’s Ofer prison, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement on Thursday. The three, all under the age of 18, were identified as Ahmad Nimr, Luay Nairoukh, and Hamzeh al-Silwadi. Luay Akkeh, a lawyer from the committee, highlighted in the statement that Israel is applying administrative detention — a policy of detention without charge or trial — in violation of all international laws, and using the policy to impose collective punishment on Palestinian communities. Israeli human rights group B’Tselem released a report last month revealing that Israeli authorities have steadily increased their use of administrative detention on Palestinian minors since October. The group stated in the report that the controversial policy which allows for the detention of Palestinians without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence had not been used by Israeli authorities on Palestinian minors since December 2011. However, the group found that Israeli authorities had begun to use the policy again on Palestinian minors as of October, when a wave of violence first erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel….
Restriction of movement
Isolated: Israel cuts village of Beit Iksa off from East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank
B’Tselem 17 Aug — The Palestinian village of Beit Iksa lies northwest of Jerusalem, within the West Bank but outside the municipal jurisdiction of Jerusalem. Over the years, land surrounding the village and some plots of land owned by villagers were seized for the establishment of Ramot Alon, a settlement that functions as a neighborhood of East Jerusalem, and Har Shmuel, a neighborhood in the settlement of Giv’at Ze’ev. In 2010, fifty more dunams of village land were confiscated for the Tel Aviv Jerusalem railway. According to a 2007 West Bank census, some 1,900 people live in the village. Many of them are residents of Jerusalem who have Israeli identity cards … The Israeli authorities chose not to build the Separation Barrier along the Green Line in the area, instead annexing the village de facto to Jerusalem. However, they also aim to prevent Palestinians from the West Bank from entering Israel via Beit Iksa. The solution they found, to impose draconic restrictions on anyone wishing to enter the village, reflects absolute prioritization of Israeli interests over protection of the Palestinian residents’ rights. The severe restrictions have turned Beit Iksa into an isolated community, and this isolation makes it very hard for the village residents to maintain social and family ties and to access workplaces and other services in East Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank. The restrictions also make it difficult for workers, suppliers and other service providers to enter the village, disrupting daily life there and curtailing the council’s ability to provide residents with basic services. These arbitrary, draconian restrictions deny the residents of Beit Iksa the ability to lead reasonable daily lives and cause severe harm to the entire village. Over the past two years, B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad collected testimonies from people who live and work in the village about the impact of these restrictions on their lives: Ahmad Faqih, 31, from the neighboring village of Qatanah, drives a bus on the Beit Iksa-Ramallah line. On 26 July 2016, he related the difficulties that he and the passengers encounter upon reaching the checkpoint:….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Arab Jerusalemites priced out of own neighborhoods
Al-Monitor 17 Aug by Daoud Kuttab — Israel’s policy of restricting Palestinian growth while encouraging Israelis to settle in Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods has always made it hard for the city’s Arab population to find decent and affordable homes, and things are worse than ever —When Labib Odeh was looking for a house, he was unable to find anything he could afford in the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Odeh works as the director of the local branch of an international organization he preferred not to name in his interview with Al-Monitor. His salary should have been enough for him to make the needed down payment and monthly mortgages of a reasonable home for his family of six. He had been renting for some time and felt he had reached a stage in his life where he could afford to buy his family a home. But the only one he could afford was in the East Jerusalem settlement of Pisgat Zeev, not far from Beit Hanina, where he found a house for 1 million shekels ($264,000). In Palestinian neighborhoods, the same 120-square-meter (1,291-square-foot) house with a small yard would cost twice as much. Khalil Toufakji, the director of the Maps and Survey Department at the Orient House in Jerusalem, explained to Al-Monitor that the housing crisis in East Jerusalem is a direct result of the Israeli government’s plans to restrict Palestinian growth. “A decision was taken under the administration [of Prime Minister Golda Meir] to make sure the Palestinian population does not to exceed 28% of both sectors of East and West Jerusalem,” Toufakji said….
Knesset plans lobby for return of Palestinians to their villages
Al-Monitor 19 Aug by Daoud Kuttab — An effort to create a majority lobby to force the Israeli government to allow Palestinian citizens of Israel to return to their villages is being advocated — The most unusual group of Knesset members met July 26 to support the rights of the residents of two Palestinian villages who have been denied to return to their villages for 68 years now. The group included members of the governing coalition Kulanu Party and the opposition Zionist Camp, as well as former Minister of Defense Moshe Arens. Upon the invitation of Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List of predominantly Arab parties, Eli Alaluf from the governing coalition Kulanu Party and Ofer Shelah from the Yesh Atid opposition bloc, 30 Knesset members met to publicly declare their support for the rights of the villagers from Iqrit and Kufr Birim. Six months after the creation of the State of Israel, the residents of the villages in the north of Israel and close to the Lebanese borders were asked on Nov. 4, 1948, by the Israeli army to vacate the villages for two weeks for military operational reasons. They have not been allowed to return since, even though they are Israeli citizens and have continued to live in nearby villages and towns while constantly demanding the right to return. Appeals by the residents of those villages to the Israeli Supreme Court led in July 1951 to a ruling that Iqrit and Kufr Birim’s residents living in Israel must be allowed to return, but the ruling was ignored. Israeli soldiers forced several of the residents to watch as all of their homes were blown up with dynamite and other explosives on Christmas Day 1953 … At present, most of the land of Kufr Birim and nearby Iqrit has been converted into a state park, and much of the remaining land was divided among surrounding Jewish Israeli communities established after 1948….
Israel demolishes Bedouin-owned properties in Negev
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Israeli bulldozers, escorted by Israeli police, demolished Palestinian-owned properties in several Bedouin villages in the Negev in southern Israel on Thursday, according to local sources. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers demolished residential buildings and arbors located near al-Salam street near the Arara district in the Negev. A car wash station owned by Arab al-Frejat was also demolished in the Beer al-Mashash village, while Israeli forces raided the village of Um-Batin and demolished a livestock barn. Bedouin member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, Talab Abu Arar denounced the demolitions, saying that “Israel’s demolition campaigns are conducted for political and demographic reasons rather than legal as Israeli authorities claim,” adding that the demolitions occurred without the owners receiving prior warnings. Abu Arar highlighted that the finances spent on demolition campaigns in the Bedouin community should instead be spent on education, healthcare, and social welfare in the villages. He also said that the demolitions were part of Israel’s attempts to push Palestinians out of the Negev and force them to leave their lands. Approximately 160,000 Bedouins reside in villages not recognized by the state of Israel in the Negev alone, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), where they are denied basic services and infrastructure….
Gaza power plant runs out of fuel amid longstanding electricity crisis
GAZA (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — The besieged Gaza Strip’s only power plant announced on Thursday that it was unable to operate on more than one generator after exhausting its fuel reserves. In a statement, the electricity supplier noted that efforts were being made to obtain fuel in the coming week. Even at full capacity, Egyptian and Israeli electricity grids, together with Gaza’s sole power plant, fail to cover the Gaza Strip’s energy needs. The power plant has not run at full capacity in years, with Israel’s crippling blockade severely limiting fuel imports into the coastal enclave. The enclave has experienced severe electricity shortages over the years, exacerbating already dire living conditions in the small Palestinian territory. Gaza’s usual electricity schedule alternates eight hours of power followed by eight hours without. Gaza’s electricity crisis made headlines in May when three small children died in a house fire caused by candles that the family used during a power cut. War has also taken its toll, and during Israel’s 50-day offensive on Gaza in 2014, the power plant was targeted, completely knocking it out of commission.
Egyptian army destroys tunnel near Gaza
MEMO 18 Aug — The Egyptian army announced yesterday that it had destroyed a cement tunnel near its border with the Gaza Strip. In a statement posted on Facebook, the spokesman of the Egyptian Army Brigadier General Mahmoud Samir said border guards, in cooperation with the army, discovered the tunnel and destroyed it. Since October 2014, the Egyptian army has been setting up a two kilometre wide buffer zone along the country’s border with Gaza as part of its campaign against terrorism. In September 2015, the Egyptian army started pumping sea water into the cross-border tunnels and the area along the border in the hopes of collapsing any existing structures. Environment experts warned that this measure would damage the underground aquifers in the area.
Egypt urged to reveal fate of abducted Palestinian youths one year on
MEMO 19 Aug — The relatives of four Palestinians who were kidnapped in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula a year ago yesterday demanded the Egyptian authorities inform them about the fate of their children. A spokesman for the families said they have had no information regarding the boys since they were abducted from a bus that left the Rafah crossing on 19 August 2015 on its way to Cairo airport. A sit-in took place in solidarity with the four boys outside the headquarters of the International Committee for the Red Cross in Gaza yesterday. The families demanded that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo exert efforts to uncover the fate of the abducted youths, stressing that this is a case of enforced disappearance. Palestinian human rights activist Amira Shaath said the disappearance constituted a “war crime” under international law and the Rome Convention. She held Egypt responsible for the youth’s disappearance on the grounds that the boys went missing on its territory.
The latest Gaza operation; Rescue inhabitants of ‘world’s worst zoo’
Times of Israel 18 Aug by Rich Tenorio — From cramped cages to food shortages to military conflict, the animals of the Khan Younis Zoo in the Gaza Strip have suffered much. But the inhabitants of a zoo described as the world’s worst are about to receive a second chance. Four Paws, an international animal nonprofit headquartered in Vienna, will lead a rescue operation to close down the zoo “in the next days,” spokesman Nikolay Evstratov said in a press release on Thursday. The Gaza zoo has earned its dubious distinction because as the animals died off their bodies were preserved by the zoo’s owner, a novice taxidermist, and their mummified bodies displayed alongside living animals. Their aging cadavers have since been removed. The 16 living animals at the zoo include Laziz, believed to be the last tiger in Gaza, as well as tortoises, porcupines and an emu. Egyptian-born veterinarian Dr. Amir Khalil, director of emergency response for Four Paws, will coordinate a team of fellow veterinarians and logistical support members to relocate the animals … .Most of the animals will get a new home at the New Hope Centre for rescued animals in Jordan, part of the Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife organization, administered by both Four Paws and the Princess Alia Foundation … Four Paws will transport the tiger to its Lionsrock sanctuary in South Africa, as the New Hope Centre currently has no space to accommodate another big cat….
Gaza’s garment sector sees a small boost as export blockade eased
FSM 18 Aug — There’s some good news from Gaza. Its garment industry is picking up now as Israel eases its blockade against commercial exports. Before the 2007 war with Israel, Gaza’s garment sector was a major source of wealth, but like most things has been devastated by crippling sanctions. And as FSRN’s Rami Almeghari reports, commercial orders are coming in from Israel, which breeds new optimism for Gaza’s export economy … Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip makes imported goods expensive. But Gaza does have a well-established garment sector of its own. It’s located here in Gaza’s industrial north-side. Mohammad Abu Shannab has run this plant since 1986 and once had 40 employees. But he says the 2007 war and Israel’s blockade has caused him to scale back production. But five months ago he got a big order from Israel for religious hats worn by Orthodox Jews – he says he’s doing his best to fill the order. “There needs to be more ease of the border restrictions,” says Shannab. “Actually, we look forward to having daily movement of truckloads of our products, into Israel.”….
2nd Turkish aid ship to sail to Ashdod
Globes 18 Aug by Yuval Azulai — Turkey will soon send a ship in coordination with aid for residents of the Gaza Strip, for the second time since Israel and Turkey signed a reconciliation agreement. The ship will leave Turkey next month, apparently bearing 5,000 tons of cargo for the benefit of the Gaza Strip, including flour, sugar, rice, seeds, toys, clothing, diapers, etc. It is believed that the ship will arrive in Ashdod on September 9, in advance of the Eid al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice) Muslim holiday. Coordination has already begun in recent days between the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the IDF, and Ashdod Port and the Turkish authorities in Ankara concerning the ship’s voyage. The goods it bears will be unloaded at Ashdod Port, and after undergoing a security check, will be sent to the Gaza Strip on trucks. The procedure is the same as with the cargo brought by the first Turkish ship, the Lady Leyla, which carried humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip early this month for the first time since the agreement with Turkey was signed ending the severe crisis between Israel and Turkey following the Israel Navy’s taking possession of the Mavi Marmara six years ago. The Lady Leyla brought 10,000 tons of goods to the Gaza Strip, and in view of the great sensitivity in relations between the two countries, was given priority in handling at Ashdod Port.
How real-life tragedies have revived theater in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 18 Aug by Huda Baroud — Palestinian theater has been witnessing remarkable activity after several local plays were performed in early 2016, the last of which was called “Akher al-Ankoud” (“Last Grape in the Cluster”). The play is about a young man in the Gaza Strip who develops deviant behavior due to unemployment and poverty and whose father refuses to abandon him. Director Ali Abu Yassin told Al-Monitor that many people watched the play, which premiered on June 7 and was last performed on July 22, at the Said al-Mishal Establishment for Culture and Sciences (SAMECS) in Gaza City. “The turnout was quite high, although attendance was not free with one ticket costing 20 Israeli shekels [$5],” he said. Theater in the Gaza Strip has been suffering since the Palestinian split in 2007, which negatively affected all aspects of life in Gaza, including theater, as people have been worried about their safety. In this regard, Abu Yassin said that nine years after the Palestinian split, Gazans are back attending theatrical plays that reflect their daily social and political concerns in a comic way. He explained that theatrical activity has resurged thanks to good directing and to scripts that tackle interesting issues, such as unemployment and the effects of the split on Palestinian society….
Feature: Gaza children enjoy eyeful of national cultural heritage
[nice photo] GAZA (Xinhua) 19 Aug — Around 250 Palestinian children from the Gaza Strip participated Wednesday in an exhibition of Palestinian cultural heritage to help preserve the Palestinian national legacy. The two-day event is organized by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugee in the Near East (UNRWA) in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis.
Inside an UNRWA school, broad collections of traditional handmade cross-stitched items and pottery works were displayed. Palestinian cuisine and family-oriented activities characteristic of Palestinian legacy were also showcased. The uniqueness of the exhibition was that its activities were performed by schoolchildren. The exhibition design was shaped like a traditional Palestinian village, conveying to children the background of Palestinian peasants’ lives and how peasants use their animals for transportation and cultivation. Inside a virtual village, a traditional folk wedding was performed by a group of children, showing types of traditional ceremonies that have been dormant for decades, featuring folk dances and traditional outfits. In each exhibition corner children displayed traditional clay items and copper pieces from various areas of Palestine. “I participated today to show my skills in clay pottery,” said 14-year-old Mahmoud Atallah. “I’m really happy and proud to be able to create some pieces now.” Organizers believe that similar heritage events are important in helping the coming generations maintain their Palestinian identity alive, as well as learning more about Palestine. Event coordinator Rami Abu Saada told Xinhua the aim of the event is to keep the memory of children’s grandparents and heritage alive with children. “Actually children were unaware about several old tools that their grandparents used,” he said. Abu Saada said the children learned a lot about their heritage and culture, in addition to items that are no longer used….
Gaza headed for ‘environmental catastrophe’
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 19 Aug by Ylenia Gostoli — Water may be a highly valued commodity the world over – but in al-Shati refugee camp north of Gaza City, it is like gold. Along this small stretch of the Mediterranean coast, all it takes to work that out is turning on a tap: When it is there at all, the water is salty, or sometimes cloudy. Nahed Radwan, who lives with her eight children and extended family in a pastel-painted house by the sea road, said her family normally gets water once a week for two days. “The water we have, when it’s on, it’s not clean; it’s undrinkable. It hurts the eyes because of the high salinity,” Radwan, 34, told Al Jazeera. Only an estimated 3 percent of Gaza’s water is suitable for drinking. The Palestinian Water Authority and the United Nations have warned that its underground water aquifer – upon which the territory is almost entirely reliant, apart from a small amount of water imported from Israel – may be completely contaminated by the end of the year. Gaza’s water contains a large concentration of chloride, while infiltration of untreated sewage has raised the levels of nitrates to two to eight times higher than the World Health Organization recommends. Gaza is also gripped by an electricity crisis that sometimes leaves households with just a few hours of power a day. “People are using generators for water, but we can’t afford it,” Radwan said. “Especially my girls – they don’t like to take showers with salty water, their hair starts to fall out. I cook and do everything with drinking water.” Many Palestinians in Gaza buy water from small-scale desalination plants, which filter the contaminated aquifer water. Private vendors distribute the water to residents using trucks. But b y the time the water reaches household tanks, it is expensive – up to five times the price of water from the municipal network – and often not safe to drink. Fewer than half of Gaza’s desalination facilities are licensed, according to Oxfam…
Palestinian dies while fighting with ISIS in Syria
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Aug — A Palestinian from the Beit Hanoun town in the northern Gaza Strip has died while fighting with ISIS in Syria. Palestinian sources told Ma‘an that Rami Hamad, in his twenties, died in Syria fighting with the militant Islamic group. Sources added that Hamad’s wife, who is also in Syria, informed his family of his death on Friday morning. Hamad had left the Gaza Strip some five years ago.
BDS / Solidarity
Berkeley divests from torture profiteer G4S
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Aug — The city of Berkeley, California, has adopted a resolution to divest from private prison firms, including G4S, a provider of services to Israeli jails where Palestinians are routinely tortured. In the resolution, approved by the city council on 19 July, Berkeley will be called on to divest from private prison corporations and request that its business partners, including banking giant Wells Fargo, follow suit. The resolution targets major players in the US’ private prison industry, including the Geo Group, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and G4S. G4S is one of the largest corporations in the world and provides security services inside US prisons. It also operates inside Israeli prisons, where Palestinian adults and children are routinely interrogated, tortured and held without charge or trial. The corporation has been a longtime target of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign for its involvement in Israel’s military occupation and incarceration systems. G4S has lost millions of dollars in contracts with businesses, unions and universities, due to the growing boycott campaign. The United Methodist Church and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have also pulled their investments in the company.
Scottish football club fans wave Palestinian flags during match with Israeli team
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Fans of the Scottish Celtic Football Club waved Palestinian flags during an international playoff game for qualification for the UEFA Champions League tournament against the Israeli Hapoel Beersheba club on Wednesday. Entire sections of Celtic supporters brought Palestinian flags to the Celtic Park stadium in Glasgow, in spite of threats of arrest by Scottish police should it deem that flags and banners displayed at the match constitute “criminality.” “When someone is representing Israeli state institutions, it is sadly never merely a game,” a statement by the group Celtic Fans for Palestine, which organized the event on social media, read ahead of the game. “Football, UEFA and Celtic F.C. are being used to whitewash Israel’s true nature and give this rogue state an air of normality and acceptance it should not and cannot enjoy until its impunity ends and it is answerable to international law and faces sanctions for the countless UN resolutions it had breached.” “Until there is end to the brutal occupation and medieval siege of the West Bank and Gaza, until the Palestinian citizens of current day Israel have the chains of apartheid lifted from them and until all Palestinian refugees are allowed to return to their homeland, we will always be visually and openly in support of the Palestinians and opposed to their Israeli colonizers and oppressors,” the statement added. “We are with you Palestine. You will never walk alone.” Celtic F.C. won the match 5 to 2. It remained unclear on Thursday whether police had effectively detained supporters, although local media reported that the Celtic club could risk its stadium being closed to UEFA matches going forward….
Activists protest ‘Shalom Gala Festival’ in Edinburgh
[with photos] MEMO 19 Aug — Palestine solidarity activists protested outside the ‘International Shalom Gala Festival’ which was held within the program of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on Wednesday 17th August. Organisers of the Shalom Festival claimed that it was a non-political event aimed at ‘building bridges of peace’, yet in contradictory fashion the festival website also described the event as “…probably the most significant pro-Israel event of the year in the United Kingdom”. In a strongly worded call for mobilisation against the event, Scottish PSC called the event “…nothing more than an explicit attempt to whitewash the crimes of a state”. SPSC went on to state that the “Edinburgh Fringe Festival should not be helping to promote… propaganda for a state that stands accused by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and other bodies of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.” Activists from across the UK were joined by members of the international solidarity movement from France and Germany to perform political street theatre in Edinburgh’s streets in the days preceding the Shalom Festival….
Abu Ghosh wins Taekwondo gold
Ynet 19 Aug by Roi Yanovsky & Roi Kais — Ahmad Abu Ghosh, the sportsman reportedly born in the Israeli Arab town of Abu Ghosh, represented Jordan; he will be bringing back, not just Jordan’s first medal, but a gold one at that. Celebrations abound in the Abu Ghosh local council following the victory of the Jordanian Taekwondo fighter, Ahmad Abu Ghosh, who won Jordan’s first ever Olympic medal. Not just any medal, but a gold medal. Abu Ghosh became a national hero of the Hashemite Kingdom and already received a call from King Abdullah, who told him, “I am very happy, as are all Jordanians.” Abu Ghosh residents watched and celebrated his win together with sweets. Cheers of joy were even heard from the mosque at the end of Friday prayers. Jawadat Ibrahim, owner of the “Abu Ghosh” restaurants, recounted how the Olympic medalist’s grandparents moved from the village to Jordan decades ago and that Ahmad was born there. They remain in close contact with relatives in the village and come for extended stays each year. Ibrahim says, “There is a very large community from the village in Jordan and they are close to the King. It is a great honor for Abu Ghosh — we plan to celebrate him and his family, travel to Jordan to congratulate him and his family, together with village nobles.” … Abu Ghosh was marked from the beginning of the Rio Olympics as the one who might bring a medal to the Hashemite Kingdom. Even at night, news of Abu Ghosh making it to the finals of Taekwondo caused social network platforms to begin buzzing over the promise of a historic gold or silver medal. After his victory in the early hours of the morning over his Russian opponent, joy turned to euphoria with Jordan’s first ever Olympic medal … Abu Ghosh won his earlier fights at the 68 kilogram level over opponents from Egypt and South Korea. In the semifinals, he beat the Spaniard Joel Gonzalez, who was the London gold medalist in 2012. He was beside himself with joy and celebrated with his flag and coach, just as a celebration on this stage should look. In the finals against Alexey Denisenko, Abu Ghosh was unstoppable, winning 10-6, and going home a national hero with a gold medal around his neck. The excitement was evident in Rio, with one of the reporters cried on air from happiness.
Will Palestinian beach soccer make it to Vietnam?
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 17 Aug by Rasha Abou Jalal — The Palestinian national beach soccer team is hard at work training for the Asian Beach Games next month in Vietnam. But officials worry travel restrictions will keep players from attending and are calling for international help. Since 2014, the team has been unable to take part in any competition held abroad because of limits on passage through the Erez crossing to the north, overseen by Israel, and the Rafah crossing to the south, supervised by Egypt. With FIFA’s support, the Palestinian Football Association organized the first Beach Soccer League Championship between Gaza’s Premier League clubs. Officials hope the tournament, held in July, will give the sport a boost in the Strip. A high-level FIFA delegation visited Gaza on July 1 and inspected the sports facilities destroyed by the latest war on Gaza, as well as the headquarters of the Palestinian Football Association in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, which was also damaged. FIFA also opened a soccer field in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip … The championship will be part of the official FIFA agenda and will be organized every year under the supervision of certified FIFA referees, Abu al-Ala told Al-Monitor. FIFA sponsorship, he added, bodes well for the future of the sport. It will help uncover new Palestinian talent and improve the caliber of the players. He said, “Beach soccer emerged in the Gaza Strip in 2012, when the Palestinian national team scored major achievements, including the bronze medal in the 2012 Asian Beach Games in China, and participated in the 2013 AFC Beach Soccer Championship in Qatar, ranking sixth in Asia and 16th globally. The team also obtained the bronze medal at the 2014 West Asian Football Federation Beach Soccer Championship in Iran.”….
France awards PLO Executive Committee member with ‘Knight of the Legion of Honor’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Aug — The French government awarded the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi with the “Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur” (Knight of the Legion of Honor) award, the French Consul General Herv Magro informed Ashrawi during a meeting in her office in Ramallah Friday. The Legion of Honor is the highest French order for military and civil merits, with ‘knight’ being the highest distinction. Though usually reserved for French citizens, the honor is also awarded to foreign nationals who the French government deems to have served France or the ideals it upholds. An official ceremony to award Ashrawi is set to take place next month in Ramallah City. Ashrawi reportedly expressed gratitude and appreciation, saying that it was an honor for her and for Palestinians, as it reflects the faith of the French government and people in the justice of the Palestinian cause and Palestinians’ rights to live in peace.
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (11-17 August)
PCHR-Gaza 18 Aug — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt A Palestinian civilian was killed while 32 others were wounded in al-Fawar refugee camp, south of Hebron. A Palestinian civilian was wounded in the eastern side of al-Bureij in the Central Gaza Strip. Israeli forces conducted 68 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 5 ones in Jerusalem. 73 civilians, including 5 children, a woman and a Hamas leader, were arrested. 29 of them, including 3 children and a woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued to impose collective punishment measures against Palestinian civilians. A house was bombed in Bani Na’im village, east of Hebron. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. A residential room and car shop were demolished while al-Khan al-Ahmar Primary School was closed. Settlement activities continued in the West Bank. Two barracks were demolished in Eastern Barta’ah village, west of Jenin. 3 houses were demolished behind the annexation wall in Beer ‘Awnah area, north of Beit Jala. 7 houses and a barrack were demolished in Hebron in addition to an agricultural room in Nablus. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the sea 10 fishermen were arrested and two fishing boats were confiscated in the northern Gaza Strip. [Continued, with details]
4 killed, two injured after clashes with wanted Palestinians and security forces
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Two members of the Palestinian security forces were killed on Thursday, and two more were injured during clashes with wanted Palestinians in Nablus city in the northern occupied West Bank, while Palestinian security forces killed two Palestinians on Friday during overnight raids in the Old City of Nablus. Four members of the Palestinian security forces were reported as injured, with two in critical condition after one was shot in the head, and the other in the chest. The Palestinian shot in the chest was announced dead shortly after, while the other was reported dead later in the evening. They were later identified as Shibli Ibrahim Abed Bani Shamseh, 27, from the Beita village and Mahmoud Tarayra from Bani Naim. The two wounded were identified as Officer Naji Ahmad al-Titi, who was injured in his arm, and Officer Iyad Omar Zaghloul who was injured in his leg.
A Palestinian security official told Ma‘an early Friday that two of the armed men were killed in the Old City of Nablus overnight during armed clashes as security forces attempted to arrest them. The two were initially reported as injured, and were taken to a hospital in Nablus city where they were pronounced dead. The official added that three M16 guns were found with the armed assailants who were killed….
Tote bag designers: Idea came from our reality as Arabs
Al Jazeera 19 Aug by Nigel Wilson — Designers of “viral bag with Arabic text” aim to tackle social misunderstandings in humorous way — Two Palestinian graphic designers saw one of their tote bag designs go viral after it was photographed on a train in Germany’s capital, Berlin. In simple bold Arabic script, the text on the bag translates to “This text has no meaning except to scare people who don’t understand it”. The picture of the bag has been widely shared and praised on social media and the two designers, Sana Jammalieh and Haitham Haddad, have been flooded with praise and inquiries about their product. The pair founded Rock Paper Scissors design studio in Haifa, Israel, in May 2016 … Al Jazeera: Where did the idea for the tote bag design come from? Haitham Haddad: When we first opened the studio we wanted to make some sort of tote bag design that was very simple in the way it looks but conveys a very straightforward message. It came from our reality because we are Arabs – Palestinians living in Israel. There’s sort of a common fear or misunderstanding of the Arabic language here. So it was an in-your-face message to make fun of people who are scared of the Arabic language … and are afraid of it. Because people who don’t think much connect it directly to, you know what [terrorism]….
Barak: Netanyahu gambled over the US military aid — and lost
Ynet 18 Aug by Yuval Karni & Itamar Eichner — Former prime minister Ehud Barak leveled harsh criticism against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday evening, accusing him of having made an unsuccessful “gamble” in his management of Israel’s relationship with the United States. “After the signing of the American military aid agreement for the coming decade, the magnitude of the damage caused by Netanyahu’s reckless gamble will come to light,” Barak said during an event organized by the left-wing political movement Darkenu. “Instead of receiving $4.5 billion per year—which was both plausible and expected just one year ago, shortly after the signing of the nuclear agreement with Iran—Israel will receive $3.8 billion. Even these funds will only be given on the condition that Israel agrees to refrain from demanding any additional funding from Congress.” Barak went on to say that because of Netanyahu’s gamble, “vital projects will have to be halted or cancelled altogether, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs in the (Israeli) defense industries.” The former prime minister went on to accuse Netanyahu of interfering in US politics. “Instead of having an open and candid dialogue behind closed doors with the president (about the Iran agreement), as any other prime minister would’ve done, we’ve witnessed Netanyahu’s flagrant interference in American politics, intruding into the domestic partisan dispute,” Barak said. “Netanyahu has done all this despite the predictable failure of his actions, and now must face the concrete costs of this failure. Such unforgivable negligence,” he added. The Likud party said in response, “When it comes to military aid from the US, Barak should be the last one to talk. While Prime Minister Netanyahu is about to sign an unprecedented aid agreement with the US, which amounts to almost $40 billion, we’re still waiting for the $1 billion in US military aid that Barak promised we’ll receive during his hasty withdrawal from Lebanon.”