Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Ahmad Dawabsha taken to hospital after health deteriorates
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 Aug — Ahmad Dawabsha, the five-year-old sole survivor of an arson attack in the village of Duma in the occupied West Bank district of Nablus last year, was taken to Israel’s Tel Hashomer hospital Wednesday night after his health deteriorated. Naser Dawabsha, a member of the family, told Ma‘an that the “child’s health has severely deteriorated,” adding that Ahmad has suffered from “constant vomiting and an increase in body temperature.” Naser said that medical tests were done on Ahmad and he would remain in the hospital until his health condition stabilized. Ahmad was officially released from the hospital last month, returning for weekly checkups and additional surgeries expected over the coming months, most of them plastic surgeries to help reconstruct parts of his body and face which were severely burned in the attack. The young boy was severely injured in the high-profile attack which took place in the town of Duma in the Nablus district in July 2015, and has undergone a series of complex surgeries since. Two Israelis were indicted for murder for the arson in January, five months after suspects belonging to a Jewish terror organization set the home of the Dawabsha family ablaze, burning 18-month-old Ali to death.The infant’s parents, Riham and Saad, later died from severe burns, leaving then four-year-old Ahmad Dawabsha the only surviving member of the family.
Pictures: Occupation forces assault Ala’ Qaraeen in Silwan
Silwanic 11 Aug — The 45-year old Ala’ Qaraeen lost consciousness and suffered shortness of breath after being assaulted by the occupation forces in the neighborhood of Ein Al-Lozeh in Silwan. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that the occupation forces were deployed in the neighborhoods of Silwan on Thursday night in a provocative way. The forces were stopping young men and searching them during which firecrackers were fired towards the forces in the neighborhood of Ein Al-Lozeh. The center added that the forces increased their presence in Ein Al-Lozeh and closed the main streets in the area creating heavy traffic jams; they prevented the locals from going back to their homes. The forces also stormed into several residential houses including the houses of Abbasi and Rajabi families and fired sound grenades in between the houses; they also assaulted and beat the young men passing in the area for no reason. The center explained that the forces stopped Ala’ Qaraeen while passing in the area and assaulted and severely beat him; he lost consciousness and suffered shortness of breath. The locals were prevented from providing him with necessary first aid and he was left on the ground for nearly an hour. After the police left the area, an ambulance managed to get to him and transfer him to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital for treatment.
Israeli soldiers attack the weekly nonviolent protest in Bil‘in
IMEMC 12 Aug — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly nonviolent protest in Bil‘in village, in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, as Israeli, international and Palestinian activists marched this week in solidarity with hunger-striking detainee Bilal Kayed. The protesters marched from the center of the village carrying Palestinian flags, posters of Kayed and other hunger striking detainees, demanding their immediate and unconditional release, and chanted against the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. They also carried mirrors with the words “I am an occupier,” written on them, and positioned them in front of the soldiers.
Abdullah Abu Rahma, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in Bil‘in, also presented a detailed presentation to visiting international delegates, explaining the successes the villagers, and their supporters, had in demolishing sections of the Annexation Wall and rerouting it. He also presented the delegates with a list, and detailed information, about the large array of weapons the Israeli army has been using against the nonviolent protesters, and the illegal policies of collective punishment, including home invasions and abduction of villagers. Similar to previous weeks, the army tried to claim that the area was a “closed military zone,” in an attempt to force the protesters out of their own lands.
Israeli youth stabbed, lightly wounded in occupied East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Aug — An Israeli youth was reportedly stabbed and lightly injured in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur on Thursday afternoon, Israeli police said, with Israeli forces searching the area for a suspect. According to Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri an 18-year-old Israeli was leaving a Jewish cemetery at the Mount of Olives when an unidentified youth stabbed him with a screwdriver in the neck and back before fleeing the scene.The Israeli youth took a bus to a nearby police station to report the incident, before being transferred to a hospital for treatment.Al-Samri said that police were still looking for the suspect.
After being shot, this Israeli photographer refused to turn a blind eye to victims
Haaretz 12 Aug — Tali Mayer was hit with a sponge bullet, prompting her to begin to investigate the wounds caused by police use of this ammunition – tens of thousands of which have been fired at Palestinians in Jerusalem in the last two years. She photographed victims and now tells their stories — On the afternoon of July 4, 2014, Taysir Sandukeh, who was 31 at the time, called his wife, Haba, from Tel Aviv to tell her that he was leaving work and was on the way home. It was a day on which the entrance to the Shoafat neighborhood, in East Jerusalem, was blocked to traffic. Once in Jerusalem, Sandukeh, accompanied by his brother, started to walk from a parking lot in the nearby French Hill neighborhood to their home on Shoafat Road, the neighborhood’s main street. They passed the burned-out Al-Sahel light-rail stop as they walked. Sandukeh has been blind in his right eye since the age of 13, but with his left eye he saw the approaching funeral procession of Mohammed Abu Khdeir – the 16-year-old Palestinian who had been abducted and burned alive two days earlier (his murderers, a group of Jews, were subsequently tried and convicted). Turning his head, he looked at the soldiers and Border Policemen standing on the other side of the road, and tried to figure out how to avoid a confrontation with them. He had just turned his gaze back to the procession when a black-tipped sponge bullet struck him in his left eye – the good one. When he awoke, in the hospital, Sandukeh was told by the physicians that his eye could not be saved … Two days before the shot that blinded Sandukeh was fired, I saw teenagers burn a second light-rail stop in Shoafat. I’d been sent that morning by the Walla web portal to photograph the protests that had broken out in Shoafat after the discovery of Abu Khdeir’s body in the Jerusalem Forest … We photographed for about two hours, in the course of which I sent the pictures to the news desk. My mother saw the images on the website and sent me a message about them, which I didn’t manage to answer. A videographer asked me if I’d taken pictures of the burning light-rail station, but I couldn’t respond as I was no longer able to speak: A black-tipped sponge bullet had shattered my jaw and split my face open … According to the website of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which has investigated the subject, not one of the wounded individuals was suspected of participating in disturbances. According to police data, about 40,000 black-tipped rubber bullets had been fired in Jerusalem as of the end of 2015. According to ACRI, they inflicted about 40 serious head wounds. Half the victims were minors; 14 people lost their eyesight … To date, not one police officer has been charged or tried in cases involving black-tipped sponge bullets.
Israeli forces detain 12 Palestinians across West Bank during predawn raids, injure 2 with live fire
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Aug — Israeli forces Thursday detained at least 12 Palestinians during predawn raids across the occupied West Bank, while two Palestinian youths were injured with live fire during overnight clashes, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. According to an Israeli army spokesperson, Israeli forces detained three Palestinians from the West Bank district of Bethlehem, identified by Israeli media as Suhaib Qassim from Bethlehem city, Jalal Hani Derieh from the village of Beit Fajjar, and another unidentified Palestinian from the city of Dar Salah. Meanwhile, in Bethlehem’s ‘Aida refugee camp clashes broke out between Israeli soldiers and Israeli youths during a predawn raid on the community. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces searched the house of Srour Abu Srour who was killed by Israeli forces during clashes in Beit Jala at the start of this year. Israeli forces reportedly shot live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas canisters into the camp, according to locals, and injured two Palestinians in the feet with live fire. Palestinians reportedly threw Molotov cocktails at the Israeli soldiers….
Army kidnaps five Palestinians in Sa‘ir, east of Hebron
IMEMC 12 Aug — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday at dawn, the town of Sa‘ir, east of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, searched homes and kidnapped five Palestinians. Earlier Friday, the soldiers kidnapped seven Palestinians in Hebron. The Hebron office of the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) said the army surrounded the town before invading it from various directions. It added that the soldiers initiated extensive and violent searches of homes, interrogated many young men, and kidnapped five. The PPS said the kidnapped Palestinians have been identified as Fadi Jawdat Shalalda, Rafat Yousef Shalalda, Taha Mohammad Shalalda, Wahid Marouf Shalalda and Abed Arif Shalalda. Earlier on Friday, the soldiers invaded and searched many homes in the Hebron district, and kidnapped seven Palestinians. In addition, the soldiers invaded several Palestinian homes in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, and Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa mosque, violently searched them, and kidnapped seventeen young men.
Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa compound ahead of Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Aug — Scores of Israeli settlers escorted by Israeli police entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Thursday ahead of the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av. Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for the Islamic Endowment (Waqf) said that 129 right-wing settlers entered through the Moroccan Gate and toured the compound, with three of them performing prayers, in contravention of international agreements regulating Al-Aqsa. The compound tour came two days ahead of the holiday of Tisha B’Av, which notably commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temple. Extremist settlers are expected to carry out massive tours in the Al-Aqsa compound on reinforced tours at Al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday, the day of Tisha B’Av … While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.Despite this agreement, Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site — often under armed guard. Such visits are typically made by right-wingers attempting to unsettle the status quo at the site, and coincide with restrictions on Palestinian access, including bans on entrance and detentions. In past weeks, Israeli authorities have repeatedly cracked down on Waqf employees, detaining, summoning and banning 21 Palestinian employees in the space of 10 days earlier this month.
Israel lifts siege on Bani Naim after more than a month under military blockade
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 Aug — Israeli forces have decided to lift the blockade on the village of Bani Naim in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron after more than one month under an Israeli military blockade, according to a source from the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs. Israeli authorities have reportedly lifted the blockade and eased security restrictions for Bani Naim residents, including reinstating more than 2,000 work permits that were revoked during the closure, while allowing residents to visit their family members held inside Israeli prisons starting next week. A source from the ministry told Ma‘an that a meeting was held between Israeli authorities, representatives from the civil affairs ministry in Hebron, the mayor of Bani Naim, and representatives from the municipality, as Israeli authorities reportedly decided to ease the security restrictions as a result of the relative calm in the area since the start of the closure. Palestinian officials also reportedly demanded the return of slain Palestinian bodies currently being held by Israeli authorities. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that she could not confirm the lifting of the siege, and said that the security situation remained “dynamic” and decisions would be made depending on “ongoing security assessments.” … The village of Bani Naim was put under a military closure after a resident of the village killed a 13-year-old Israeli girl and wounded another Israeli in the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement. The Palestinian attacker was shot dead at the scene….
Israeli forces raid, close entrances of Salfit-area town
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 11 Aug — Israeli forces raided the town of Kifl Haris in the occupied West Bank district of Salfit late on Wednesday night, closing all entrances to the town. According to Kifl Haris resident Yousef Boziya, Israeli forces stormed the area and shut off all entrances with iron gates and cement blocks, preventing residents from entering or leaving the town. Boziya said Israeli soldiers who raided Kifl Haris told residents that they were searching for suspects who reportedly threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli settler cars in the area. The army searched houses and reportedly detained a number of Palestinian youth while firing sound grenades and live fire, causing panic among residents…
The occupied West Bank has seen an increase in military road closures since October when a wave of unrest first erupted across the West Bank and Israel, leading to periodic closures of Palestinian villages, towns, checkpoints, and entire districts, with the southern district of Hebron put under the most extensive closure since 2014 last month.
Israeli forces injure Palestinian with live fire during protests in Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — Israeli forces Friday injured a Palestinian with live fire in the eastern part of al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip during clashes with Israeli forces deployed near the border between the besieged enclave and Israel. Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma‘an that a 23-year-old sustained light injuries in the leg as Israeli snipers opened live fire at several Palestinians as protests erupted in the refugee camp. Meanwhile, protests were also reported in the eastern part of Gaza City, where witnesses told Ma‘an Israeli snipers hid behind large dirt mounds as they shot live fire and tear gas bombs at the protestors. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that protesters “approached the buffer zone” after which Israeli forces “fired warning shots,” causing the protesters to retreat. The spokesperson made no comment on the reported injury. Since the start of what Palestinians have termed the “Jerusalem Intifada” that spread across the occupied Palestinian territory in October, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have crowded near the borders with Israel every Friday to show solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. At least 26 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since October, the majority of which were shot dead by Israeli forces during popular demonstrations along the Gaza-Israeli border … At least 161 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been injured by Israeli forces since the start of 2016, with 1,422 Gazans injured during 2015, according to UN documentation. At least 15,475 Palestinians in the whole of the occupied Palestinian territory were injured by Israeli forces during 2015.
Israel releases Palestinian detained after crossing Gaza border fence
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Aug — Israeli authorities released a Palestinian man on Friday after detaining him for four days. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Rabeh Abu Mandil from the al-Mughazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip was released four days after he was detained while crossing the border fence between Israel and Gaza.
Israeli forces release 5 Gazan fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Aug — Israeli authorities released on Friday evening five Palestinian fishermen who were detained earlier Friday off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip. Locals told Ma‘an that the Israeli authorities released Saed Jumaa Bakr, Mahmoud Saed Bakr, Ibrahim Saed Bakr, Yasser Nasser Bakr, and Ahmad Mahmoud al-Luh. Israeli naval forces opened live fire at the fishermen’s boats off the coast of the northern part of the besieged Gaza Strip, before detaining the five men and confiscating their boats, according to the head of the fishermen union Zakariya Bakr.
Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian farmers, shepherds in central Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Aug — Israeli forces Thursday opened live fire at Palestinian farmers and shepherds in the eastern part of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers stationed in military towers in eastern Deir al-Balah opened live fire at Palestinian farmers and shepherd. No injuries were reported … Approximately 35 percent of Palestinian agricultural land in Gaza is inaccessible without high personal risk, according to the center.
Gaza Happy video: Two years later, the joy has faded
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 12 Aug by Walaa Ghussein — Anees al-Farra, 25, was just preparing to graduate from university when he became involved in creating the Gaza version of the Pharrell Williams Happy music video, which has been replicated in cities all over the world since its 2013 release. The Gaza edition of the video was published on April 17, 2014, just a few months before Israel launched a fresh assault on the besieged territory. The 2014 Gaza war lasted two months, killing more than 2,000 Palestinians and leaving the area in ruins. Ironically, Farra’s goal when he decided to dance in the video was to help to show another side of Gaza – not the afflicted territory so often depicted in the mainstream media, but a happy place, full of joy and life. “Our idea was to show that Gaza, despite its special conditions, has a different side of happiness and joy,” Farra told Al Jazeera. “We wanted to share the happy moments we live in Gaza, away from the effects of wars, siege and the difficult situation.” Most of the people who appeared in the Gaza Happy video showed up randomly and started dancing the moment the music was turned on, producer Anas Hamra said – and many of them have since left Gaza for good. “Even the one who came up with the idea of making a video, Mohammad Barakat, has left for the United States,” Hamra, 26, told Al Jazeera. Others have been looking elsewhere for job opportunities that are scarce in Gaza, where economic trends are so dire that the territory could be uninhabitable within just a few years’ time, according to the United Nations … At the time the video was filmed, Farra was looking to start his own business in the e-finance sector, and was also hoping to travel to the US to broaden his horizons and seek out networking opportunities. But after the war broke out, all of his plans were thrown into disarray. In October 2015, a couple of months after the war ended, Farra again tried to arrange to get a visa to visit the US, but his application was rejected at the Jerusalem consulate. “Witnessing what the war had done to us, and watching my friends fall down one by one, made me reconsider my life in Gaza,” he said. “When you put a bird in a cage, all his dreams will be focused on getting out of that cage, to fly and see the world.” But after failing to secure the visa, Farra – unlike many of the others who danced with him in the Gaza Happy video – realised that he was in Gaza to stay. After obtaining funding from a Gaza-based incubator, he launched his own company, CashU, which focuses on online payment solutions and is headquartered in Khan Younis….
Victims of 2014 war on Gaza receive 56 housing units
[with photos] MEMO 11 Aug — Some 56 housing units were handed over to the victims of the 2014 Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip today, the Ministry of Public Works announced. The units, located in Beit Lahiya, form part of a project of 104 housing units implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Minister Mofeed Al-Hassaina said the ministry is making an effort to provide grants for the reconstruction of houses that have been completely destroyed, adding that it is in constant contact with European and neighbouring Arab states regarding reconstruction projects
17 killed, 100 injured in Gaza by unexploded ordnance since 2014
MEMO 11 Aug — Two years on from the devastating Israeli offensive, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip remain at risk from unexploded ordnance – or Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). That is the conclusion of UN OCHA in an update published this week, with the agency stating that since the end of hostilities in August 2014, 17 people have been killed and 100 more have been injured by ERW, including 46 children. According to UN OCHA, ERW “resulting from the 2014 and previous hostilities continue to pose a serious threat to the life and physical integrity of the population [in the Gaza Strip].” Furthermore, “the extent of contamination by ERW in Gaza is unknown”, as “suspected ERW remain hidden throughout Gaza, either among the rubble of destroyed structures or buried below the surface.” Since the August 2014 ceasefire, the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has “cleared more than 40 cases of suspected large aerial bombs posing a risk to communities and impeding reconstruction and development efforts.” However, “of the 131 locations identified since 2014 where this type of aerial bomb is suspected, 87 sites remain to be cleared.”
250 Palestinians from Gaza travel to al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Aug — More than 200 Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip traveled to occupied East Jerusalem to attend Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to Palestinian liaison officials. The officials told Ma‘an that 250 Palestinian worshipers, all above the age of 50, traveled to Jerusalem via the Erez crossing between the besieged enclave and Israel to attend prayers, before immediately returning to the Gaza Strip. The number of Palestinians permitted to worship at Al-Aqsa was reduced by Israel in recent weeks, as Israeli authorities have typically permitted 300 elderly Palestinians from the small Palestinian territory to travel to Al-Aqsa every Friday….
Learning the enemy’s language
GAZA STRIP (EI) 11 Aug by Nesma Seyam — Intisar Ayyad went through an unsettling experience in an Israeli hospital. Diagnosed with leukemia, she was scheduled to have a bone marrow transplant. She wished to be properly informed about what was happening but encountered a major obstacle. The staff preparing for the operation spoke Hebrew, and not Arabic. “I couldn’t understand a word,” Ayyad, a 27-year-old student from Gaza, said. “As the anesthetist stepped towards me, my head started to spin. I felt really terrified.” Ayyad demanded to know what precisely was being injected into her. She refused to let the procedure go ahead until someone would explain everything in Arabic. The personnel at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, a city east of Tel Aviv, eventually found an Arabic speaker and Ayyad gave her consent to the operation. But when she woke up from surgery, she felt bewildered once again. The staff gave her an auto-translation device. After 24 hours it broke down; nobody seemed bothered about repairing it or finding a new one. Ayyad’s surgery took place at Beilinson Hospital in 2014. Following the surgery, she decided to learn Hebrew. Doing so has proven necessary. In order to receive specialized treatment inside Israel, Ayyad regularly has to apply for permits from the Israeli authorities. Once each permit is granted, she is then required to undergo a detailed interview at Erez, the military checkpoint that separates Gaza and present-day Israel. “Knowing zero Hebrew vocabulary turns those interviews into hell,” she said. “By the end of them, the soldiers have humiliated and dehumanized me.” The Hebrew classes that Ayyad is attending are run by the Nafha Center for Prisoners Studies and Israeli Affairs in Gaza. The center is run by Ahmed Alfaleet, who spent 19 years imprisoned by Israel. Alfaleet was released through a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas in 2011. He established the center in April 2015 as he felt it was important for people in Gaza to understand Hebrew. “Our lives and even our deaths are connected to the Zionist entity ‘Israel,’ whether we like it or not,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “We must learn their language so that we can understand them.”….
Photos — Remembering Gaza’s children: Jana and Lama Rami Mohamed Abu Suliman
MAP 8 Aug — Date of birth: 9 Jan 2011 Date of death: 2 Aug 2014. Three-year-olds Jana and Lama from the Tal Al Sultan area in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip were twin sisters. Lama was a brave and energetic child, while Jana was calm and shy. The twins liked to play together with their dolls or with sand. They liked to play with their mother’s makeup. They dreamed of going to kindergarten. “I slept for a while during the night and suddenly I found myself under the rubble along with my daughter. Some people came to help. They pulled us out. Our two-storey house was destroyed by a missile from an Israeli warplane. Many people were killed in the attack including Jana who was burned and sustained head injuries, and Lama who sustained shrapnel wounds all over her body,” said Raed Abu Sulaiman’s wife, a survivor.
Opinion: Gaza NGO arrests are about the Israeli blockade, not aid or Hamas / Ben White
MEE 12 Aug — In recent days, Israeli authorities have announced charges against two, Gaza-based employees of international NGOs – one from World Vision, one from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Each individual faces accusations of varying degrees of assisting Hamas. Many have expressed scepticism about the charges, particularly given the lack of due process. Mohammed Halabi, for example, was detained without charge for 50 days and alleges that he was tortured by Shin Bet officials during his interrogation. He was also denied access to a lawyer for three weeks. The Israeli government has eagerly and gleefully been getting propaganda mileage out of the indictments, which conveniently support Netanyahu’s narratives: Hamas exploits international aid, and NGOs are naively or deliberately colluding with “terrorists”. But one key point has been largely buried by these allegations and accompanying controversy: the fact that the role of aid agencies and international NGOS in the Gaza Strip is so significant because Israel continues to choke the enclave with restrictions on freedom of movement and access. Israel wants an invisible blockade. Responding to the recent allegations (or rather, asserting them as facts even before a trial), Israeli officials have claimed that “Israel remains committed to aid and rehabilitation efforts in Gaza”, with “funds and materials flowing into the strip” … Earlier this year, a UN report described “progress on reconstruction” for displaced Palestinians in Gaza as “slow”. The most urgent step that needs taking? “The removal of [Israeli] restrictions on the import of building materials, towards a full lifting of the blockade.” That’s not what Netanyahu and Israeli diplomats want the world to hear. They would have been even more dismayed when, on 28 June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared that “the closure of Gaza…is a collective punishment for which there must be accountability”. No wonder Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working so hard to publicise the “confessions” of World Vision and UNDP employees. Anything to obfuscate the impact of Israel’s long-standing restrictions. Anything to shift attention from the fact that the only reason why Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are so dependent on international aid is because of Israel’s ongoing, illegal blockade….
Gaza Situation Report 156, 2-9 August
UNRWA 9 Aug — HIGHLIGHTS — The UNRWA Gaza football team has won the 2016 international Norway Football Cup. This year 2,199 teams from over 50 countries participated in the tournament. The tournament in Norway is an annual event; the Gaza team has been a steady participant since 2010 with the exception of 2014 due to the 2014 summer conflict. Last year – as well as in 2012 – the team won the competition and were awarded a prize. To win the trophy again is the crowning glory of the football team’s Scandinavian tour, traveling also to Sweden and Denmark to participate in the Gothia Cup and Dana Cup …. From 7 to 14 August the UNRWA Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP) in Gaza organized recreational activities for 1,000 vulnerable children who have lost their fathers during the 2014 conflict. The children went to Sharm Park Resort in Gaza City to relax and have fun. It is part of the project ‘Intervention to Support Children Orphaned during 2014 Hostilities’ which started in July 2015 and is expected to end in December 2016. Other activities in the same project are cash assistance, provision of clothes, awareness sessions and vocational training….
PA to cover expenses of second monthly family visits for Palestinian prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas approved a decision to cover all financial expenses of a second family visitation session for families of Palestinian prisoners currently held in Israeli prisons, according to the head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). Qadura Fares said in an interview on Radio Mawtiny that the decision was made following a recent decision by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to reduce family visitations for male Palestinian prisoners from two times a month to just one. Abbas reportedly decided to cover the expenses of the second visitation for families of Palestinian prisoners through a fund managed by the Palestinian Authority (PA). The reduction of family visits sparked unrest across Israel’s prisons, with several Palestinian prisoners announcing an open hunger strike until the decision was reversed, and widespread protests staged across the occupied West Bank and Gaza…
Fares said that the PA was expected to sign an agreement with ICRC that would oblige the PA to pay for all expenses of the second monthly visitations while ICRC would continue issuing visitation permits to families of Palestinian prisoners. Fares added that family visitations were guaranteed to Palestinian prisoners under international law. A spokesperson for ICRC was not able to immediately comment on the agreement. Since families of Palestinian prisoners often experience rejection or long-term delays of their permit applications to visit prisons in Israel, including incidents at checkpoints preventing them from crossing even after they have been issued permits, Palestinians are heavily reliant on ICRC-arranged visitations, as ICRC buses transport Palestinians to and from the prisons and act as an institutional medium between the families and Israeli authorities.
PFLP: ‘Delaying Kayed’s court session until October 5: a decision to assassinate him’
IMEMC 12 Aug — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) issued a statement condemning the Israeli decision to hold a court session for hunger striking detainee, Bilal Kayed, on October 5th 2016, and considered it an official decision to execute the detainee, who is ongoing with the hunger strike for the 58th consecutive day. The PFLP said that this decision is an official execution and assassination attempt targeting Kayed, and called for massive protests in support of the detainee on the local, regional and international levels. It held Israel fully responsible for the consequences of this decision, especially since the Israeli court knows that Kayed started the hunger strike 58 days ago, demanding his release, and added that Israel is holding the detainee while cuffed to his hospital bed despite his deteriorating health condition. In its statement, the PFLP said the Israeli occupation courts are immoral and illegal, “and only show the true racist face of this occupation,” and denounced the Israeli policies of holding hundreds of detainees under arbitrary Administrative Detention orders, without charges, in direct violation of International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention….
Israeli court rejects request to remove handcuffs of bedridden hunger strike Bilal Kayid
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Aug — An Israeli court Friday rejected a request by hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayid to remove handcuffs which have strapped him to a hospital bed in Israel’s Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon since last month when he was hospitalized after his health deteriorated. An Israeli court in Beersheba reportedly rejected Kayid’s request for removing the handcuffs, including allowing a doctor from outside the hospital to check on his health condition, according to Israeli media. The request was submitted by his lawyers, representing Physicians for Human Rights, to the court on Thursday. Kayid’s lawyer is set to present an appeal against the Beersheba court decision to the Israeli Supreme Court, Israeli media reported … The Israel Prison Service (IPS) told Israeli newspaper Haaretz last week that Kayid remained handcuffed to his bed in order to “prevent an attempt to free him.” [more on other hunger-striking prisoners follows}
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Paris condemns Israeli demolition of French-funded buildings in West Bank
PARIS (Reuters) 11 Aug — France on Thursday condemned the Israeli army’s demolition of French-funded buildings in a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank, saying it was a violation of international law. The demolition of agricultural installations in Nebi Samuel last week was the third time this year that buildings funded by French humanitarian aid had been demolished or confiscated by Israeli authorities, a foreign ministry spokesman said. Among them, in February, was a school. “We urge Israeli authorities to stop these operations that are in contravention of international law,” the spokesman said. Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), an arm of the military that deals with Palestinian civilian issues, said demolition orders were issued because the structures were built without Israeli permission….
Mobile home settlements established in Hebron’s Old City district
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Aug — In anticipation of extending existing illegal settlements on Palestinian lands, Israeli forces have been setting up new mobile homes in the heart of Hebron’s old city. Thus far they have built 12 mobile homes behind the military base, in the old bus station behind Osama Bin Monqez School, according to the PNN. Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) warns that, from this violation, more human rights abuses and restrictions will occur. Specifically, they say, this action runs parallel to the establishment of new checkpoints at the entrance of the Ibrahimi Mosque and the changes being made to other checkpoints across the Old City, in order to make the Israeli presence more permanent and restrictive on the local Palestinian population. HRC fears that the intensifying Israeli plans to completely isolate and colonize areas for Israelis only will lead to the entire heart of the Old City being captured as one large Jewish settlement….
UN: Over 1,000 Palestinians displaced by Israel in 2016 to date
MEMO 12 Aug — Israeli authorities have displaced more than 1,000 Palestinians in 2016 to date, new figures reveal. By August 8, Israeli forces had demolished 726 structures in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on the grounds they lacked a ‘permit’ that is almost impossible to obtain. The demolitions have displaced 1,020 Palestinians. The equivalent figures for all of 2015 were 531 structures demolished, and 688 displaced. The data is included in UN OCHA’s latest report, according to which there were 14 separate incidents in the week August 2-8 when “Israeli authorities destroyed, forced owners to destroy, or confiscated 42 structures for lack of building permits, displacing 30 people and otherwise affecting over 1,200.” UN OCHA notes that “twelve of the targeted structures had been previously provided as humanitarian assistance, including emergency shelters, animal sheds, latrines, a community centre, and a water connection.” Meanwhile, the agency also records that since the beginning of 2016, Israeli occupation forces “have demolished or sealed on punitive grounds 21 homes, displacing a total of 116 people.”
Palestinians urge Sinn Féin to end Likud meetings
EI 11 Aug by Ali Abunimah — Palestinians are expressing dismay that representatives of Sinn Féin have been hosting delegations from Likud, the party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Many rank and file members of the Irish nationalist party led by Gerry Adams are on the frontlines in Ireland’s Palestine solidarity movement, both in the North and the Republic. That has heightened the consternation at news of the meetings. “This is very disheartening to us here in Gaza,” Haidar Eid, a university professor and member of the steering committee of PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, told The Electronic Intifada. “We call on Irish comrades to condemn these meetings in the strongest possible terms,” Eid said, urging that people write to Sinn Féin leaders and “even disrupt any future visits by Israeli officials.” “War criminals and racist organizations should not be welcomed in the new Ireland,” Eid added. “I personally met with the Sinn Féin delegation headed by Gerry Adams after the 2009 Israeli attack on Gaza, and the support they showed at the time was enormous,” Eid said. “They even welcomed our BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – call and promised to take the issue further upon their return to Ireland.” Eid expressed outrage that Sinn Féin is now receiving delegations from “one of the most racist parties in Israel, one that openly calls for ethnic cleansing and apartheid and whose ministers have committed war crimes in Israel’s latest attack on Gaza in 2014.”
New San Francisco bus ads say: ‘Boycott Israel until Palestinians have equal rights’
Mondoweiss 11 Aug — On August 9, Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC) launched a new ad on buses in San Francisco with the slogan Boycott Israel Until Palestinians Have Equal Rights. The bus ad will run for four weeks. SeaMAC’s new bus ad also includes the slogan Stop Anti-Boycott Legislation and features a list of previous social justice boycotts, including boycotts against British tea in 1773, segregated buses in Montgomery in 1956, and South African apartheid from 1959 to 1994. “Advocates for Israel’s apartheid are trying to persuade state and national legislatures to outlaw the right to boycott against social injustice in Israel,” said Edward Mast, volunteer board member of SeaMAC. “This attack on free speech is one more example of demanding special treatment for the State of Israel.” Bills and resolutions attempting to outlaw the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel have been introduced or passed in at least 21 state legislatures and the U.S. Congress….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (04-10 August 2016)
PCHR-Gaza 11 Aug — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt 13 Palestinian civilians were wounded, including 3 children, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli forces conducted 65 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 5 ones in Jerusalem. 44 civilians, including 3 children, were arrested. 11 of them, including 2 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued to impose collective punishment measures against Palestinian civilians. 2 houses were destroyed in Yatta, south of Hebron. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. A civilian was forced to self-demolish his house. Sa’ed Institution for Educational Consultations in the Old City was closed under the pretext of “supporting terrorism”. Settlement activities continued in the West Bank. 6 houses, 4 civilian facilities and a water pipeline were demolished. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Sea….
Palestinian leftists prepare joint list for elections
MEMO 11 Aug — Five Palestinian left-wing parties announced on Wednesday that they will go into the local elections due to be held in October on a joint list under the name “Democratic Alliance”, Quds Press has reported. The five parties are the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the Palestinian Popular Party, the Palestinian Initiative and the Palestinian Democratic Union (Fida). They announced the alliance in a press conference held in Ramallah. A joint statement was read out by Qais Abdul-Karim, the Deputy Head of the DFLP. He said that the alliance would choose democratic, technocrat and independent candidates who are transparent and have broad social popularity. The leftists said that their plan would give an “important push” to the electoral process and would “overcome the mutual polarisation which corrupts the Palestinian political process” at the moment. They noted that this would also lead to the end of the “destructive” internal Palestinian division and reunite the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Meanwhile, the five parties stressed the importance of holding the elections on time in order to end the division and pave the way for parliamentary and presidential elections.
Haneyya meets Norway’s representative in Gaza, invites him to supervise elections
GAZA (PIC) 11 Aug — Ismail Haneyya, Deputy Head of Hamas’s Political Bureau, on Wednesday met Norway’s Representative in Palestine Hans Jacob Frydenlund in Gaza and discussed recent political developments, especially the coming local elections. Haneyya stressed the importance of elections as a democratic method for people to choose their representatives at all levels. Haneyya called on Norway to supervise the elections in order to guarantee its integrity and to prevent Israeli attempts to affect the electoral process by targeting candidates and campaigns’ officials.
Unknown assailants open fire at Fatah member in Yatta
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Aug — A Fatah member in Hebron’s Yatta city was injured Thursday night after unknown assailants opened live fire on the official. Medical sources told Ma‘an that Rafat al-Adra was taken to the al-Ahli Hospital for treatment after being targeted by the assailants following a meeting and ceremony in preparation for municipal elections in Yatta, set to be held October 8. Al-Adra was reported as being in medium condition. Palestinian security forces have reportedly opened an investigation into the incident.
ICC-based Palestinian human rights worker receiving death threats
MEMO 11 Aug — A Palestinian employee of human rights organisation Al-Haq who serves as their permanent representative at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is receiving death threats from a potential state actor, it has been revealed. According to a report in Dutch newspaper NRC, Nada Kiswanson – who is based in The Hague – has been receiving the threats for around six months. Kiswanson is there in the context of providing evidence related to possible Israeli war crimes in Palestine. Because the threats relate to her work at the ICC, and citing the advanced techniques used by those sending the threats, the Dutch paper notes suspicions that the Israeli security services may be involved. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it did not wish to respond to such allegations. The Dutch authorities are taking the issue very seriously, with the Foreign Affairs and Security and Justice ministries, as well as the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism all aware of the issue. Amnesty International in The Netherlands has released a statement condemning the “constant death threats” and “intimidation” being received by Kiswanson. In a further twist, Amnesty revealed that “Nada Kiswanson and her family were threatened through the hacking of a personal email account of one of Amnesty’s senior staff members in The Netherlands.” The Amnesty statement goes on to urge “the Dutch government, at the highest level, to publicly state that these grave threats, which may be international in origin, are unacceptable on Dutch territory.” On Twitter, Amnesty International UK Campaigns Manager Kristyan Benedict said the threats were “designed to silence this Palestinian human rights NGO.” Israeli officials have made no bones about the fact they view the possibility of an ICC investigation into war crimes committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a serious threat….
Latest statistics show that 30% of Palestinians are under thirty as birthrate falls
MEMO 12 Aug — The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has revealed that young people aged 15-29 now represent 30 per cent of the 4.82 million Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to the PCBS, the birth rate in Palestine has fallen compared to the period 2011-2013. In a report released on the eve of International Youth Day, the PCBS said that 14 per cent of households are headed by young people, while 72 per cent have at least one young person in them. Using statistics for 2015, it noted that around 68 per cent of these young people have never been married, 4 per cent are engaged for the first time while 28 per cent are married. Data for first quarter of 2016 indicates that 41 per cent of young people are economically active, although the unemployment rate among the target group stands at 39 per cent. The highest unemployment rate is among those aged 20-24 years, at 43 per cent, whereas 39 per of 25-29-year-olds are out of work and 35 per cent of 15-19-year-olds. While 51 per cent of graduates were unemployed in the first quarter of 2016, the figure rises slightly to 55 per cent for those with no higher education. The 2015 survey of transition of youth from school to the labour market showed that 16 per cent of young people aged 15-29 years are working in permanent jobs. However, 84 per cent play no part in the labour force or are in temporary positions expected to last less than 12 months.
US officials inaugurate first green Palestinian school
JPost 12 Aug by Sharon Usasin — Equipped with rooftop solar panels and reusable wastewater systems, the first Palestinian green school is set to open its doors to students in two weeks. The $1.3 million Aqaba Secondary Girls’ School, financed by USAID, will provide a new learning environment for 130 pupils in the northeastern West Bank’s Tubas Governorate. Representatives from the US government, the Palestinian Authority and the Maryland- based Global Communities development organization joined local residents in Tubas on Thursday to inaugurate the new building. The school will help reduce overcrowding faced by students in the region, advance women’s education and raise awareness about the advantages of green building, according to a statement from USAID … Through USAID, the US government has provided more than $4.9 billion in developmental assistance to Palestinian developmental projects in the past 22 years. Since 2000, USAID has built 3,106 classrooms and renovated 1,255 others – housing 200,000 students, the organization said.
In photos: Bethlehem Live!
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Aug — This year, Bethlehem held its fourth annual Bethlehem Live Festival on Star Street from August 4th to 7th, 2016. Star Street is one of Bethlehem’s oldest commercial streets and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The street begins at the site of King David Wells, winds through historic quarters of Bethlehem, merges with Manger Street and eventually reaches the Church of the Nativity. Religious pilgrims have long taken the road to reach the Church of Nativity. Star Street was once the busy centre of Bethlehem’s Old City. However, the path’s local businesses have struggled to survive since the Second Intifada, when the Israeli government severely restricted movement in and out of the city. Israel’s construction of the apartheid wall, which severed Bethlehem from Jerusalem, further challenged Star Street’s economic vitality. Said Zarzar, the artistic director of Bethlehem Live and a resident of Star Street, explained to the Alternative Information Center that since the Second Intifada, 128 shops have closed down in the area. The festival revived Star Street for four nights. Zarzar explained that with Bethlehem Live, “we are creating… an identity for this street.”
Palestinian authorities investigate mosque music mixup
BBC News 12 Aug — Palestinian religious authorities are investigating how several mosques in the West Bank city of Nablus played music instead of the call to prayer. Worshippers on Thursday had expected to hear the familiar voice of the muezzin. Instead they were surprised to hear a song by Umm Kolthoum, one of Egypt’s best-known singers. Investigators will look at whether the recording was deliberately sabotaged or if the broadcasting system was faulty. Public opinion about what happened appears divided between those that think it was unacceptable, and those that find it amusing, says the BBC’s Yolande Knell in Jerusalem. One video shared on social media shows a minaret from which the music is blasting. One man says, “What’s that?”, before saying, “a bit of Umm Kolthoum” and then giggling. The call to prayer, known as adhan, summons Muslims to prayer five times a day. Previous controversies have involved muezzin with bad voices, or those who have accidentally left on their microphones to broadcast coughing fits or conversations. Last year a muezzin in Egypt faced disciplinary actions for changing some of the text to reference Facebook.
US Jewish delegations to Israel to be offered daytrips to Palestinian territories
NEW YORK (JPost) 11 Aug by Danielle Ziri — The “Go and see” trips will be offered to synagogue congregations and other Jewish groups as part of their Israel trip itineraries — A US-based Jewish organization and an Israeli one will soon offer American Jewish groups day trips to meet Palestinians in the West Bank. T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and the controversial group Breaking the Silence announced the joint initiative on Wednesday. The plan, funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, aims to “empower more American Jews to meet both Palestinians and IDF veterans who have served in the territories, to listen deeply to their narratives, and to bring these perspectives into working toward a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.” The so-called “go-and-see” trips will include former IDF soldiers from Breaking the Silence, which has come under repeated fire from voices throughout the political spectrum for testimonies, some published anonymously, that accused the military of excessive force and corruption. T’ruah’s executive director, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, told The Jerusalem Post that the idea came about after T’ruah conducted similar trips for rabbis and rabbinical students. The organization then wanted “to go beyond the level of the rabbis,” she said. “It was important for rabbis and rabbinical students to have these experiences but they need to bring their communities along.” … Jacobs said she hopes people who go on the trips will understand “the current situation of occupation is having a deadly effect on both Israelis and Palestinians.”
Netanyahu: I care more about Palestinians than their leaders
AFP 11 Aug — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said he cares more about the Palestinian people than their leaders do, in his first response to allegations of aid theft by Hamas. “I, the prime minister of Israel, care more about Palestinians than their own leaders do,” Netanyahu said in a video posted online, which provoked outrage from the Palestinians. The Israeli leader said his comments were in response to allegations that the militant Islamic Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, stole aid from a major charity and the United Nations … “Innocent and impoverished Palestinians were denied vital aid supplied from nations around the world,” he added. Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said “the hate that Netanyahu has against the Palestinian people makes him invent a parallel history.” “Netanyahu is convinced that Palestinians should be thankful for living under an apartheid regime and in exile,” he said in a statement to AFP.