Times of Israel 28 July — The head of the Lower Galilee Regional Council said Thursday that he does not want to see Arabs in his local community pools, alleging that they have different bathing practices and a “hygiene culture” that is “not like ours.” The official, Moti Dotan, whose council in the north of the country comprises 18 regional Jewish and agricultural communities in an area dotted with Arab villages, made the comments during a live interview with Radio Kol Chai.
31 July — The race culture that brought about Moti Dotan’s statement is fed by a leadership that has made the exclusion and isolation of this country’s Arab citizens the backbone of Israeli patriotism — In saying “I don’t hate Arabs, but I don’t want them at my swimming pools,” Lower Galilee council chief Moti Dotan was expressing the essence of that deep-rooted form of racism – the kind that doesn’t masquerade as something else or cloak itself in political correctness. In his interview with an Israeli radio station on Thursday, Dotan didn’t call for Arabs to be expelled from the country or for the torching of their village mosques. He’s not a member of the La Familia group of Beitar Jerusalem soccer fans and wouldn’t shout “Death to the Arabs!”. The Lower Galilee council head is actually expressing what many Jews – if not a majority of the Jewish population in Israel – think. “In non-Jewish, Arab culture, you go into the pool wearing clothes, trying to dictate all types of clothing, and that’s why it doesn’t suit us. The culture of cleanliness isn’t the same as ours,” he declared, and in the same breath stressed that he has Arab friends. In the hierarchy of racism, Dotan’s position can be added to those of the nightclub bouncers who refuse entry to Israelis of Ethiopian origin or anyone whose culture “isn’t characterized by my culture at places of leisure such as a swimming pool,” as Dotan put it. He later retracted his choice of words in the way that’s accepted today when it comes to racist slips of the tongue: “It’s possible that I was misunderstood.” But it’s actually “his” culture that has nurtured this ignorant racism for years and maintains the relations of enmity with the Arab minority, as part of what shapes the national cultural identity of society in Israel. This race culture is fed by a leadership that has made the exclusion and isolation of the country’s Arab citizens the backbone of Israeli patriotism. It’s the same leadership that excludes the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish from the schools curriculum and public discourse; that is afraid of the term “Nakba”; that harasses Arab and Jewish theaters that dare highlight the Palestinian narrative; and that tries to destroy the status of the Arabic language in the country. http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.734348 – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/08/palestinian-solidarity-continues/#sthash.VYrqe26Z.dpuf
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Army assaults, seriously injures a Palestinian near Qalqilia, wounds four near Tubas
IMEMC 3 Aug — Updated: Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday at dawn, Kafr Thulth town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, assaulted and seriously wounded one Palestinian in his home … Palestinian medical sources in Qalqilia said the soldiers invaded the home of Zoheir Barakat, and violently assaulted him while searching his property, causing various serious injuries. The sources added that the Palestinian was first moved to Darwish Nazzal governmental hospital in Qalqilia before he was transferred to another hospital out of Qalqilia due to the severity of his wounds.
In related news, several Israeli military vehicles invaded the al-Far‘a refugee camp, south of the central West Bank city of Tubas, before the soldiers stormed and ransacked a number of homes. The invasion led to clashes with local youths, who hurled stones at the military jeeps, while the soldiers fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, and gas bombs. Medical sources said three young men were shot with live rounds, and a woman suffered the effects of teargas inhalation before they were moved to medical centers.
Israeli soldiers beat pregnant wife of suspected gunman
IMEMC/Agencies 4 Aug — Israeli military forces stormed, on Wednesday at dawn, the house of Hadeel Owda, wife of Mohammad al-Faqeeh, who was killed by Israeli forces on July 27, and proceeded to physically assault her. Family members claimed, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, that an Israeli military detachment stormed the house, while a number of female soldiers beat Hadeel on her abdomen with the intent of causing an abortion of her unborn fetus. The family added that the soldiers tried to arrest Owda, while her father subsequently fell into a coma, and was taken to an Israeli hospital. Faqeeh’s wife is in her fourth month of pregnancy, and Israeli forces had reportedly demanded her to get an abortion for her baby, previously. Israeli authorities alleged that Faqeeh was the gunman who carried out a shooting attack on Route 60, between the illegal Israeli settlements of Beit Hagai and Otniel, to the south of Hebron, which killed Otniel resident Michael Marc. The Israeli soldiers bombarded, destroyed the house and killed Faqeeh while he was inside it.
Another version of this story
IOF attacks expectant wife of slain activist, leaves father bleeding
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 3 Aug — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) attacked the expectant wife of the slain Palestinian anti-occupation activist Muhammad al-Fekih and inflicted a serious brain hemorrhage on her father. The IOF attacked Muhamamd’s expectant wife, Hadeel, in her family home in al-Qalqilya. Her father Zuheir Barakat Awda sustained a critical brain hemorrhage after he was aggressively beaten by the IOF. Both Hadeel and her father were rushed to the UNRWA hospital in Qalqilya for urgent treatment. The father is still held in an intensive care unit. Al-Fekih family held the Israeli occupation authorities responsible for the lives of Hadeel and her father. “Such an aggressive assault on four-month pregnant Hadeel and her father emanates from an Israeli attempt to take revenge on Palestinian anti-occupation protesters, dead or alive,” the family stated.
Israeli settlers attack Palestinian girl in Ramallah, stab and kill her sheep
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Aug — A group of Israeli settlers attacked and beat a Palestinian girl in the village of Rammun in the eastern part of the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Thursday, according to Palestinian locals and an Israeli police spokesperson. The Palestinian girl, who was herding sheep in the village at the time, sustained injuries after the incident, while 11 of her sheep were reportedly stabbed by the Israeli settlers, locals told Ma‘an. Several of the sheep died of their stab wounds.The attack took place near the Bedouin communities located in eastern Ramallah, on the road between Ramallah and Jericho. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri confirmed the incident in a statement, saying that Israeli police had received a notice from Palestinian authorities that a Palestinian girl was attacked on Thursday morning by a group of masked men, before the men fled the area and set fire to nearby bushes. Al-Samri added that the Palestinian girl had filed a complaint and Israeli police were currently investigating the incident. Settler attacks on Palestinians and their property are a near daily occurrence in the West Bank
Israeli policeman caught on video taking crying eight-year-old Palestinian girl’s bike and throwing it in bushes
The Independent 3 Aug by Lizzie Dearden — Israeli [border] police officers have been filmed shouting at an eight-year-old Palestinian girl, before taking her bicycle and throwing it into the bushes in the West Bank. The footage, released by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, shows an officer running over to the girl as she plays in the street with her siblings in Hebron. She is seen screaming and dropping her bicycle, which the armed officer then proceeds to step on as she starts to cry. The girl then runs away as the police officer shouts at her, while holding his gun. His colleague proceeds to pick up the bicycle and throw it in nearby bushes. B’Tselem identified the child as Anwar Burqan and said she had been playing with her 11-year-old sister and brothers aged seven and four when the incident happened on 25 July. She had been riding her bicycle on the paved part of a road leading up to the Tomb of the Patriarchs/ Ibrahimi Mosque holy site, which is restricted for use by Jewish settlers and Israelis while Palestinians are ordered to use an unsurfaced pathway on the other side of a fence. Anwar’s family live nearby in a flat that has no garden and frequently play out in the divided street, B’Tselem said. Ranya, the girl’s mother, told the Haaretz newspaper that since the incident took place her daughter is too frightened to leave the house … A spokesperson for the Israeli Border Police force, which guards Hebron’s many checkpoints, said an officer had been suspended over the incident. “The Border Police views the incident with severity and is sorry for it,” a statement said … B’Tselem said the confiscation of Anwar’s bike was an example of “daily life” for Palestinians living under military occupation in the city. [Haaretz: Second officer caught on camera confiscating the bicycle from the eight-year-old goes unpunished.
Israeli army clashes with Palestinians during settler visit to Joseph’s Tomb
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 2 Aug — Clashes broke out on Tuesday morning between Israeli troops and Palestinian youths as the former escorted hundreds of right-wing Israelis to Joseph’s Tomb near the Balata refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that more than 20 buses carrying Israeli settlers arrived at the religious shrine under heavy military protection to perform Jewish rituals until the early morning hours. The sources added that young Palestinian men threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli troops near Joseph’s Tomb and on Amman Street. Israeli forces fired back tear gas and stun grenades. No injuries have been reported … Israeli settlers frequently visit Joseph’s Tomb under the protection of Israeli forces. During the visits, Israeli forces regularly raid Palestinian villages in the area and fire tear gas canisters into the nearby Balata refugee camp … Ultra-orthodox and nationalist Jews regularly try to visit the shrine without approval, as many Jews believe the tomb to be the final resting place of the biblical figure in the Old Testament. Palestinians believe that Joseph’s Tomb is the funerary monument to Sheikh Yousef Dweikat, a local religious figure.
Hundreds of Israeli settlers raid Nablus-area village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Aug — Some 400 Israeli settlers entered the village of ‘Awarta in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus in the early morning on Friday and performed religious rituals in the area, according to Israeli sources.Israel’s Channel 7 reported that the Israeli settlers raided the village as they were escorted by Israeli forces, prompting clashes to erupt between Palestinian youths, Israeli settlers, and soldiers. Israeli forces reportedly detained seven Palestinians from the village for allegedly throwing rocks at the settlers. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that Israeli settlers entered the village under the protection of Israeli soldiers to holy sites located near the village, leading to the detention of seven Palestinians after Israeli forces suspected them of “hurling rocks” at Israeli settlers.
Israeli forces detain 3 siblings of wanted Palestinian in Tulkarem
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 3 Aug – Israeli forces on Wednesday detained three siblings of Malik Ubeid, a Palestinian from the village of Far‘un in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem who is wanted by Israeli authorities, just two days after the detention of his mother and brother, as an attempt to pressure Malik to turn himself in to Israeli authorities, Palestinian security sources said. Sources told Ma‘an that Majdi, Qatiya, and Maha Ubeid were detained after Israeli forces raided their house. Israeli forces also attempted to detain Malik Ubeid himself in the early morning hours on Tuesday during a military raid in the Far‘un village, but failed, and instead detained four Palestinian youths.Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces have raided the Ubeid home several times, but have failed to detain him.
Malik’s mother and brother, Wafiqa Daoud Nasser Ubeid and Suleiman Ahmad Abd al-Qader Ubeid, were detained on Monday after being summoned to the Israeli liaison offices. Malik’s mother has reportedly been released, according to sources. It remained unclear whether his brother remained in custody as of Wednesday … It remained unclear what Malik has been suspected of by Israeli authorities. Israeli authorities have often come under criticism for policies aimed at punishing the families of Palestinians suspected of wrongdoing, including routinely detaining family members of wanted Palestinians, with rights groups calling the policies a form of “collective punishment” which targets those who have not committed any crime.
Palestinian teenage girl detained near settlement for allegedly carrying a knife
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Aug — Israeli forces detained a teenage Palestinian girl early Monday evening near the illegal Israeli settlement of Gush Etzion south of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank, after they allegedly found a knife in her possession. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that 18-year-old Walaa Ayman al-Mahariq was walking near the Gush Etzion junction at around 7 p.m. when she was detained. Israeli soldiers, they said, stopped the girl after she “aroused suspicions,” and after inspecting her found a knife in her possession. Al-Mahariq, a resident of the village of al-Samu‘ south of Hebron according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, was reportedly taken to Israel’s Ofer detention center for questioning.
Israel nabs Palestinian security officer for weapons dealing
JERUSALEM (AP) 1 Aug — The Israeli military says security forces have arrested a “major weapons dealer” who is a member of the Palestinian security services in the West Bank. The military says it arrested Mahayub Borhan Rashad Knaza in the West Bank city of Nablus early on Monday and confiscated weapons manufacturing equipment. Recent Israeli raids have seized weapons, shuttered arms-making factories and arrested weapons dealers as part of a crackdown meant to quell a spate of Palestinian attacks. The military says seven weapons-manufacturing machines were seized this year in the Nablus area.
25 Palestinians detained in raids, as Israeli forces close main Hebron entrance
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 2 Aug — At least 25 Palestinians were detained in raids from Monday evening to the early morning hours on Tuesday, as Israeli forces stormed multiple villages and cities across the occupied West Bank, and sealed off the main road to the southern city of Hebron. Israeli forces raided the Hebron-area villages of Sa‘ir, Surif, and Dura around dawn on Tuesday, where they detained five young Palestinian men. Locals in Surif told Ma‘an that Israeli troops stormed the village and surrounded the home of Ahmad Muhammad Hussein Abu Farah and fired gunshots at the house. The soldiers then summoned Abu Farah over the loudspeakers to walk out and turn himself in, to which he complied. The soldiers then took Abu Farah into custody and transported him to an unknown location. Another young man from Surif identified as Marwan Mahmoud al-Heeh was also detained from his home after Israeli soldiers broke into the house. In the town of Sa‘ir, locals said Israeli troops detained Musab Izzat Shalalda, 30, after breaking into several homes in the area. Israeli troops also stormed the eastern village of Dura, where they detained two young men identified by locals as Muhammad Ibeyush and Ayman Tbeish, and ransacked the home of Muhammad Faqih. The soldiers also confiscated a private vehicle which belonged to Faqih, who was killed last week when Israeli forces bombarded a home with bulldozers and anti-tank missiles while he was inside, concluding a weeks-long manhunt after a deadly shooting attack last month…
Following Faqih’s killing last Tuesday, which occurred in the village of Surif where he had been hiding, Israeli forces began to ease the large-scale military closures nearly a month after they were imposed. However, a reported iron-gate closure of the main northern entrance of Hebron on Monday evening marked a turning point in what seemed like a lift on mobility restrictions in the largest and most populous district of the occupied West Bank. Witnesses also said that Israeli forces had set up several military checkpoints across the city of Hebron to inspect vehicles….
Israel passes law allowing imprisonment of East Jerusalem Palestinians ages 14 and under
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Aug — Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a bill into law on Wednesday permitting the imprisonment of children under the age of 14 if the child committed acts of “terrorism,” according to a statement released by the Knesset. The legislation, labeled the “Youth Bill,” would allow Israeli authorities to imprison a child if convicted of “terrorism” against Israeli civilians or military personnel. The statement said that Israeli courts were now permitted to “set discussions regarding the imprisoned juvenile while he or she is being held at a closed facility,” and that during the discussions the courts “will be allowed to postpone the convicted minor’s transfer date from the closed facility to a prison, shorten the convicted minor’s prison sentence or cancel the prison sentence.” The bill, which was first introduced by Knesset member (MK) Anat Berko, was passed after 32 MKs voted in its favor, while 16 MKs voted against the legislation, and one abstained … The law is intended to punish primarily Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem who attempt attacks on Israeli civilians and military. Palestinians of all ages from the occupied West Bank, including young minors, have long been tried, sentenced and detained in Israel’s military court system.
11th anniversary of Shafa Amer massacre commemorated
IMEMC/Agencies 4 Aug — Palestinians in the pre-1948 territories are commemorating the 11th anniversary of Shafa Amer massacre, committed by Israeli soldiers in 2005, Al Ray reports. 11 years ago, an Israeli soldier opened fire against a Palestinian bus, leading to the death of four and the injury of 15 others. The popular committee of the city decided to organize, at 7 o’clock, a sit-in before the monument to the slain. The committee said, in a statement, that they held the activity to affirm that they will never forget the crimes of the Israeli military occupation, and to renew their calls for the international community to provide protection from Israeli brutality.
Almost a year later, Israel still refuses to return Palestinian bodies
+972 mag 2 Aug by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — Palestinian rights groups call decision to hold onto the bodies of 13 Palestinian attackers and alleged attackers a ‘violation of the right to dignity.’ Since beginning of recent wave of violence, over 220 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli security forces — For 300 days Israel has been holding onto the frozen body of Tha’er Abu Ghazaleh, one of 13 East Jerusalem Palestinian attackers and alleged attackers whose bodies Israeli authorities, since October, are refusing to return to their families for burial. In mid-October 2015, the Israeli security cabinet decided to stop its practice of returning bodies immediately to the deceased’s families. The rationale was that large funerals might lead to public disorder. The ban only exists in Jerusalem. The bodies of West Bank attackers have been returned to their families for burial. Israeli police committed to returning the bodies as part of a deal reached on the sidelines of a High Court case in early May, which was supposed to be completed by the start of Ramadan a month later. Before the deal could be fully implemented, however, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan ordered a halt to the transfers after only four bodies were handed over, accusing one family of reneging on the terms that sought to limit the number of attendees at the funeral. In the latest hearing on the matter, Israel’s High Court of Justice ordered the state to explain by August 15 why it still insists on holding onto the bodies … Israel is known for placing enormous value on securing the return and proper burial of its own citizens’ and combatants’ bodies from enemy hands, and has previously released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the bodies of dead soldiers.
Questions for Israel’s Border Police about a night in July / Amira Hass
Haaretz 3 Aug — So how do you feel, you three anonymous armed men, after you shot Anwar Salaymeh, who was about your age (22)? Do you continue to come and go from your Border Police base, with your uniforms and guns? Do you continue to be sent on patrol missions in the A-Ram neighborhood, perhaps even on the same main street where you opened fire on Salaymeh’s car on July 13, a little before 3 A.M.? Do your mother and father know? Does the girlfriend know? That is, did you tell them, or did they guess? Did you even ask what his name was? Did somebody send you a link that told you he had gotten married about three months earlier, that his wife is pregnant and that he had returned home from work at a banquet hall in Talpiot, Jerusalem? There are so many questions from which your anonymity protects you. Also protecting you is the fact that similar questions can be posed to thousands more anonymous Israelis like you. Only the names of the dead change, and the number … While no resourceful, brave person filmed you emerging from the darkness and opening fire on a car driving with three young men in it, one security camera proves that the car did not deviate at all from its lane. Why didn’t you shoot at the tires if you were trembling with fear at one moving vehicle? … But what sin did Salaymeh and his two companions, Fares Risheq and Mohammed Nassar, commit? This is their town, these are the streets they know so well, and on one of them they hoped to find an open bakery where they could buy cookies for Salaymeh’s pregnant wife. Yes, in the middle of the night. Do you have a problem with young men being awake at night? According to the minutes of the court hearing to extend Risheq and Nassar’s detention, you claimed that military jeeps were also blocking the road. According to these minutes, the car that you emerged from behind and started firing was a military vehicle. Well, how shall we put it delicately – those statements do not reflect the truth….
Israeli police assault Al-Aqsa Mosque guards
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 2 Aug — Israeli police forces reportedly assaulted one of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound guards Tuesday morning, in addition to obstructing repair works for a water pipe in the compound, according to the Islamic Waqf, the religious trust responsible for managing the compound. The Waqf told Ma‘an that Israeli policemen interrogated the guard, Majid Abdeen, while he was on duty, and hurled verbal abuse at him. An Israeli officer then reportedly assaulted and beat Abdeen on the head. Abdeen was taken to the hospital to treat his injuries and get an X-ray. Israeli police also summoned three other Palestinian guards for questioning, who were identified as Samer Abu Qwedr, Hussam Abu Sneina and Abed Makya.
The Waqf also reported that Israeli police obstructed “repair works on a water pipe in the compound, demanding that be supervised by the Israeli Department of Antiquities.” In their statement, the Waqf refused Israel’s demand and denounced the attacks on the Al Aqsa Mosque guards, saying they considered Tuesday’s actions by Israeli police “as an attempt to impose a new reality and put pressure on Palestinian guards and worshipers in the compound.” On Wednesday [27 July], Israeli police detained two Palestinian security guards at Al-Aqsa for allegedly assaulting and injuring Israeli settlers on the compound, an accusation rejected by eyewitnesses.
Israeli forces detain six Waqf employees at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Aug — Israeli forces detained six employees of the Islamic Endowment (Waqf), which manages the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, on Thursday morning. According to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri, the employees were detained over suspicions that they were planning on carrying out maintenance work on the Dome of the Rock without obtaining a permit from the Israeli Antiquities Authority. Sources told Ma‘an that the Israeli police raided Al-Aqsa compound and detained Bassam al-Hallaq, the head of the Waqf rehabilitation committee. Israeli police also detained five employees of the committee while working inside the mosque, who were identified as Muhammad al-Dabbagh, Anas al-Dabbagh, Mahmoud al-Anati, Suleiman Abd al-Latif, and Mutasem Karameh. Al-Samri said that the six Palestinians were taken to the al-Qishla police station in the Old City for interrogation, adding that al-Hallaq had been banned from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for five days.
On Wednesday morning, Israeli police officers had detained al-Hallaq and three other Waqf rehabilitation committee employees, as groups of right-wing Israelis toured the site. One of the employees, identified as Issa Salhab, was banned from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for two weeks. Israeli authorities have launched a crackdown on Waqf employees over the last week, detaining some, banning others from entering the compound, while hindering the ongoing repair works at the holy site….
The Bible is their textbook: Jerusalem group trains priests for third temple
The Forward 2 Aug by Naomi Zeveloff — Jerusalem group plans to open the first school of its kind to train priests to serve in a third Jewish temple, which they hope to see erected on Jerusalem’s most contested holy site. The Temple Institute’s priest training program is the group’s latest effort to prepare for and hasten the creation of a third Jewish temple. To that end the group has also recreated more than 70 “sacred vessels” and garments for the high priest, to Jewish legal specifications, which are on display in its Jerusalem headquarters in the Old City. “The logical step is to consider what we would be doing with the Temple and who would be responsible for its services and what kinds of services,” said Chaim Richman, a rabbi and the international director of the Temple Institute. The training program, dubbed the Nesher HaKodesh Institute for Kohanic Studies, will include classes on religious practice and also the role of modern technology in the Third Temple. It will be open to Kohanim, Jews believed to be descended from the biblical Aaron, the brother of Moses. Today, there are 14 students in a pilot program, which the Temple Institute hopes to expand to accommodate several dozen. According to Richman, in the time of the Second Temple there were “thousands” of priests who fulfilled religious duties in the Temple. “It is similar to military reserve duty,” he said. Founded in 1987, the Temple Institute aims to fulfill the Jewish biblical commandment to rebuild the Jewish temple on the grounds where it once stood, now the site of Islam’s second holiest site, the Al Aqsa Mosque. To Jewish believers, this was the spot where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac at god’s command, and where two previous Jewish temples stood. To Muslims believers, this same site was where Islam’s Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven on a white steed.
Punitive demolitions / Other collective punishment
Israeli forces demolish homes of Tel Aviv attack suspects
[with photos, video] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Aug — Israeli forces raided the town of Yatta in the southern occupied West Bank late on Wednesday night and demolished the family homes of two Palestinian cousins who carried out a deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv in June which killed four Israelis. Yatta residents said that hundreds of Israeli soldiers raided central Yatta and the al-Hileh area, the locations of the homes of Khalid and Muhammad Makhamreh, who have been held in Israeli custody since the attack. Israeli bulldozers then demolished Khalid’s family’s house, while Muhammad’s family home was remotely detonated. A video [below] released by the Israeli army shows bulldozers demolishing one house, while Israeli troops set up explosives in another, which was then detonated remotely, possibly by a drone. Locals added that Israeli soldiers forced residents of both houses to evacuate before starting the demolition. In late July, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected an appeal against the home demolition orders presented to the Makhamreh cousins’ families.
Dura, Hebron District: Entire town harassed for a month for being hometown of suspected assailant
B’Tselem 1 Aug — Two months ago, Israeli security forces began enforcing significant travel restrictions on the 900,000 or so Palestinians who live in the Hebron District. The restrictions were imposed following two attacks perpetrated by Palestinians against Israelis in the area, in which 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel was stabbed to death in her home in Kiryat Arba on 30 June 2016, and Rabbi Michael Mark was killed and his wife and two of their children wounded in a drive-by shooting the next day, 1 July 2016. One Palestinian community placed under such restrictions was the town of Dura, the hometown of the suspected assailant in the second attack, 29-year-old Muhammad Jbarah Ahmad al-Faqih – although he has moved to Hebron. After the drive-by shooting, the military blocked off Dura’s main exit to Route 60, the chief traffic artery between the town and the villages to its south, allowing only pedestrian traffic to the town’s population of approximately 30,000. The restrictions placed on Dura were lifted on 25 July 2016, two days before al-Faqih was located in the village of Surif (located southwest of Bethlehem, many miles from Dura). On 27 July, soldiers and Special Police Unit forces surrounded the house where al-Faqih was hiding and he was killed in an exchange of gunfire. The house was razed to the ground with a bulldozer. The travel restrictions were only one way in which life was disrupted in Dura over the course of July. Inquiries by B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash revealed that security forces entered homes in the town every day, usually at night, ostensibly as part of their search for al-Faqih, and by the end of the month had raided more than one hundred homes in the town. In the raids, the soldiers questioned household members about the shooting attack; in some cases they used violence and brought dogs with them. [Following are firsthand accounts by heads of some of the families affected]
Prisoners / Court actions
300 Palestinian prisoners now participating in mass hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Aug — More than 300 Palestinians are currently participating in an open hunger strike in Israeli prisons, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Thursday. PPS said that 285 Hamas-affiliated prisoners held at the Eshel and Nafha prisons entered an open hunger strike on Thursday to protest suppressive measures by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), while some 40 prisoners from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) were striking in support of fellow prisoner Bilal Kayid. Kayid enters his 51st day of hunger strike on Thursday in protest of being sentenced to administrative detention — internment without trial or charges — on the day when he was meant to be released from prison after serving a 14-and-a-half year sentence. Kayid is one of six Palestinian prisoners currently on hunger strike to protest their administrative detention … Meanwhile, prominent imprisoned Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal began his own open hunger strike on Thursday … The large-scale solidarity movement amongst prisoners has resulted in an equally massive crackdown by the IPS, which has conducted multiple raids, cell block closures, confiscations of personal property, and transfers of detainees in attempts to quell the strikes….
Palestinian Ministry of Health warns of hunger striker Bilal Kayid’s ‘sudden death’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 Aug — The Palestinian Ministry of Health said in a statement on Tuesday that hunger striker Bilal Kayid’s health has continued to worsen, as doctors reportedly warned of “sudden death.” Ministry official Kamal al-Shakhra, alongside a medical delegation, visited Kayid, now entering the 50th day of his hunger strike, in Israel’s Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, as Kayid was reported as suffering from severe weakness, vision problems, a lung infection, heart complications, and rapid weight loss. He added that Kayid, who remained handcuffed to a bed in the hospital, has reportedly begun taking water, salt, and vitamins, as doctors warned of the possibility of “sudden death.” The Ministry of Health called upon international health organizations to immediately intervene and pressure the Israeli government to fulfill Kayid’s demands and release him from administrative detention.
On Saturday, it was reported that Kayid’s health had significantly deteriorated as a result of his strike, losing nearly 90 percent of his ability to speak and suffering from hearing damage. Kayid, a member of the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was sentenced to six months of administrative decision on the day he was expected to be released from a 14-year prison sentence, prompting Kayid to declare an open hunger strike.
Palestinian journalists launch campaign to support hunger striker Omar Nazzal
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A representative for the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) announced on Thursday that the group would organize a solidarity sit-in to support the prominent Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal, who began a hunger strike on Thursday in protest of being held by Israeli authorities without charge or trial. Nasser Abu Bakr announced in the PJS office in Ramallah with Nazzal’s wife and lawyer that scores of Palestinian journalists, alongside human rights activists, would stage a solidarity sit-in in front of UN offices in Ramallah and in cities across the besieged Gaza Strip on Monday. The sit-in is set to be held on August 8, the same date of Nazzal’s appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court, according to Bakr. Bakr added that PJS would make steps to support Nazzal and all Palestinian journalists held in Israeli custody, while protesting Israel’s policy of administrative detention — Israel’s controversial policy of detention without charge or trial, almost exclusively used against Palestinians. According to Bakr, a letter signed by all Palestinian journalists participating in the action would be sent to UN officials, demanding that they take responsibility for the plight of Palestinian journalists held in administrative detention across Israel’s prisons. Members of the International Federation of Journalists have also declared their support for journalists held in administrative detention, Bakr said, and have plans to officially demand that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu release all Palestinian journalists held without charge or trial from Israel’s prisons. According to Bakr, more than 650,000 journalists and 185 PJS members have declared their support for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, calling Israel’s detention of Palestinians a violation of international law.
Israeli Arab lawmakers irate over limits on prison visits
Haaretz 4 Aug by Jack Khoury — Arab Knesset members are up in arms over the Prison Service’s new policy of limiting their visits to Palestinian security prisoners to once a month. The policy, introduced by Prison Service Commissioner Ofra Klinger when she entered office last November, restricts the access of attorneys, MKs and other visitors who represent or can help the prisoners in any way. The MKs were not informed of the change and found out about it only last month when their visit requests met with rejection or delays. MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) said his request to visit senior Palestinian prisoner Marwan Barghouti was rejected last month, on the grounds that he had already visited a prisoner that month … Attorneys representing Palestinian prisoners have been complaining that Klinger’s measures infringe on prisoners’ rights and deny them adequate legal counsel, by obstructing the work of their lawyers in prisons. As of last month, new Prison Service orders make it more difficult for prisoners to meet their lawyers, as is their legal right. Attorneys who travel to prisons in the outlying areas of the country are forced to adjourn meetings with their clients and wait for hours until they are allowed to resume. Attorney Abir Bachar, who handles cases pertaining to Palestinian prisoners and their rights, says that since entering office Klinger has obstructed visits by anyone who could supervise the conditions of the Palestinin prisoners and expose the treatment to which they are subjected….
ICRC suspends activities in Jerusalem after protesters storm office
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 5 Aug — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will shut down their services in the Jerusalem office on Sunday in response to a group of protesters and prisoners’ families storming the office on Wednesday evening, according to ICRC officials. A spokesperson for ICRC told Ma‘an that the protesters obstructed work from being carried out in the office, while threatening the safety of the employees. Deputy Director of ICRC in Jerusalem and the West Bank Ajat Sricker in a statement called the protest “unacceptable” and announced the suspension of all ICRC activities in Jerusalem on August 7 until “a safe work environment is guaranteed for our employees.” She added that the suspension of activities in the Jerusalem office would not affect ICRC offices in the occupied West Bank. ICRC has been a target of protests in recent weeks after the group reduced family visits to male Palestinian prisoners from two times a month to just one … The prisoner solidarity network Samidoun explained that families of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel must obtain special permits to visit their imprisoned family members. However, since these permits are often rejected or delayed, families of prisoners rely heavily on ICRC-arranged visits that, before July, were organized twice a month for 45 minute visits with the prisoners….
Accused of hacking, blocked from hugging
EI 3 Aug by Maram Humaid — Majd Oweida’s parents had to wait almost four months before they could visit their son in jail. “I cannot describe what it’s like to see your beloved son behind bars,” said Maha Oweida, Majd’s mother. “I could not hug him or even talk to him properly. They only allowed me see him from behind a glass screen and talk to him with a telephone handset.” That visit took place in Ashkelon prison, in the south of Israel, during June. Majd had been in detention since he was arrested at Erez checkpoint between Gaza and Israel in February. The Israeli authorities have charged Majd, a computer engineer, with electronic espionage. At a court hearing in March, it was alleged that he led a cyber team for the armed wing of Islamic Jihad. He is accused of intercepting Israeli drone feeds, writing a program for gathering data from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and hacking signals from cameras placed on streets by the Israeli police. His family reject the allegations. “He did not have any political or military affiliations,” Majd’s father, Jawad, said. Though Majd has long been interested in computers, his family insists that he would not have had the skill to develop the kind of elaborate hacking operation Israel claims he ran. These accusations are totally false,” his mother said….
Restriction of movement
Travel ban on BDS co-founded temporarily suspended by Israeli authorities
IMEMC/Agencies 2 Aug — The effective travel ban imposed by the Israeli government on the BDS Movement’s co-founder Omar Barghouti was temporarily suspended for two months, during a court hearing at Haifa District Court, on 19 July 2016. Barghouti has been under an effective travel ban since April of 2016, ostensibly based on the claim, by the state, that the “center of his life is not in Israel.” Israeli ministers and official spokespeople, however, have explicitly mentioned Barghouti’s human rights activities in the BDS movement as the real motive behind the anti-democratic travel ban. Given the failure of Israel’s Ministry of Interior to take the necessary legal steps that are required prior to deciding not to renew Barghouti’s travel document, Barghouti’s lawyer, Gila Barzili proposed in court that the Ministry should grant Barghouti at least a temporary renewal of his travel document until it has fulfilled these requirements. The state’s attorney accepted the proposal. Examining all the evidence that was presented on Barghouti’s behalf — that proves that his “center of life” is in present-day Israel — and granting him a hearing are considered fundamental rights that he is entitled to before the state decides on any measure that violates his human rights. The Haifa District Court determined, according to the PNN, that a re-examination of Barghouti’s application for the renewal of his travel document is to be conducted by the Ministry of Interior, and until then he is entitled to have his travel document renewed.
Around the same time, Omar Barghouti was announced as a winner — along with Ralph Nader — of the Gandhi Peace Award for the year 2016, presented by the US-based organization Promoting Enduring Peace. The Gandhi Peace Award has been presented since 1960 to people who have made “outstanding contributions to world peace, creating a sustainable ecology and social justice.”….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli forces demolish Palestinian structures in Jericho
RAMALLAH- (Ma‘an) 4 Aug — Israeli forces Thursday demolished residential structures in the al-Moarajat area in the northern part of the occupied West Bank district of Jericho on Thursday, according to Palestinian officials. Israeli bulldozers, escorted by Israeli bulldozers, reportedly demolished two residential mobile homes, two offices, two kitchens, a bathroom, residential barracks, and three water tanks owned by Ali Suliman Mlehat. Israeli forces also demolished a residential barrack owned by Mohammad Ali Mlehat. The governor of Jericho Majid Alfatyani said that the demolitions were part of the “unjustified and violent policies of Israeli forces,” adding that the demolitions represent Israel’s disregard for peace and international law.
Israel demolishes Palestinian home in East Jerusalem for 6th time in 10 years
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 3 Aug — Israeli bulldozers on Wednesday demolished a Palestinian family’s home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina — the sixth time since the family began seeking an Israeli-issued building license more than a decade ago — amid a massive escalation of demolitions in the city over recent weeks. The owner of the house, Izz al-Din Abu Nijma, told the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Jerusalem that the demolition “caught him by surprise” and occurred without prior notice. In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma‘an they were not involved in the demolition. According to the center, Israel’s Civil Administration forces demolished the structure. Abu Nijma has been struggling to obtain a permit to build a house for his family since 1995, he told the center on Wednesday. Israeli authorities have rejected all of Abu Nijma’s attempts to legalize his property, forcing him to build a house without a permit for the first time in 1995 and five times since, with Israeli forces demolishing it every time. Abu Nijma said that after Israeli forces most recently demolished his house in 2014, the Norwegian government provided him and his family of four with a mobile home, and Abu Nijma installed wheels below the trailer’s foundation in hopes that it would not be destroyed, as Israeli laws prohibit the demolition of any establishment placed on wheels as it doesn’t require a building permit, according to the center. “We were shocked today when Israeli forces raided the trailer,” he said. Israeli authorities first removed furniture from the home before bulldozers proceeded to destroy the structure. Israel has also come under condemnation over repeated demolitions of internationally-funded structures.
Meanwhile, initial reports from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Israeli forces also carried out demolitions in the occupied West Bank village of al-Nabi Samwil in the Jerusalem district. Just a day prior, Israeli bulldozers demolished a car dealer’s office and two shipping containers in the East Jerusalem village of Sur Bahir, while a Palestinian man in Silwan demolished his own home following an Israeli order.
Israeli forces have sharply escalated demolitions of Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem built without Israeli-issued permits over the month of July, a policy which has continued into August. In less than 24 hours hours last week, 30 Palestinian families were left homeless after Israel destroyed homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of ‘Issawiya and Ras al-‘Amoud, and in the village of Qalandiya in the West Bank district of Jerusalem….
Israeli bulldozers demolish car showroom, mobile stores in Jerusalem village
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 2 Aug — Israeli bulldozers Tuesday morning demolished a car showroom and two mobile stores during a raid into Sur Baher village, southeast of Jerusalem, said a Silwan-based watchdog center. Escorting a bulldozer, Israeli troops and so-called Jerusalem Municipality crews stormed Sur Baher, cordoning off a local car showroom before demolishing it. Wadi Hilweh Information Center, a Silwan-based watchdog that documents demolitions, said locals were taken aback at finding a placard (sign) reading: “Access Denied: Trespassers are liable to penalty” placed at a plot of land, where the demolished car showroom was located. The center added municipal crews placed the placard, citing that the land plot belongs to Israeli Land Authority as a pretext. Muhmmad Elayyan, owner of the car showroom, said the forces and municipal crews stormed the car showroom around 4:00 a.m. o’clock without any prior notice before they seized some contents, demolished the room and leveled the land. He explained crews demolished his wooden 600-meter-square showroom and 30-meter-square bus body which served as a facility room and didn’t require any building license. He noted that he and his six-member family depended on this showroom for their livelihood for a year and a half and that he had been denied a building license although he applied for it. Municipal crews seized a car and an air-conditioning system before proceeding with the demolition. Besides, Israeli bulldozers demolished two mobile stores (caravans) belonging to the Atrash family in the village.
Israel to demolish 7 agricultural structures, water wells in southern Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 2 Aug — Israeli forces on Monday evening delivered demolition notices for seven agricultural structures and water wells in the Nablus village of Qusra, local sources told Ma‘an, amid a massive surge in demolitions carried out in Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank’s Area C. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activities in the northern occupied West Bank, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces gave Raed al-Daas, Farid Hasan, Muhammad Odeh, Mahmoud Odeh, and Fateh Abu Redeh demolition notices for their agricultural structures, with Israel authorities saying they were built without Israeli-issued building licenses. Daglas did not specify how many water wells were threatened with demolition….
In May, Israeli forces delivered demolition notices for agricultural structures in Qusra, including four water wells which were built by the Dutch government, for being built in Area C and lacking the permits required by the Israeli Civil Administration. In response to the incident, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah condemned Israel’s illegal practice of destroying Palestinian water infrastructure as “atrocious.” “Israel uses every means possible to chase Palestinians away from their ancestral land,” Hamdallah said at the time. “Water is life, and if you don’t have water you cannot exist.”….
Private Palestinian land under threat of confiscation for evacuees of illegal Israeli outpost
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Aug — Israeli human rights watchdog Peace Now slammed on Tuesday a recent position by an Israeli government committee advocating the leasing of privately held Palestinian property for the resettlement of Israeli settlers residing in the nearby illegal outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank district of Nablus, which was ordered by Israel’s Supreme Court to be demolished by the end of the year. According to the group, Israel’s Army Radio reported Tuesday morning that a committee established to relocate the residents of the Amona outpost issued a legal opinion to the attorney general, suggesting the takeover of nearby Palestinian land whose owners are currently residing outside of the West Bank, in order to transfer the settlers there. The plan would allow the privately held Palestinian properties near the outpost to be leased to Israeli settlers for three years, with the ability to renew the lease after each lease period. Peace Now said that the potential move would constitute “the crossing of a red line.” “The acceptance of the legal opinion would have dire consequences on a future peace agreement as it could lead to the establishment of dozens of new settlements and to the multiplying of the land taken up by settlements in the West Bank,” the group continued in the statement. “The Israeli government cannot justify the stealing of private lands of absentees only to please the demands of settlers who themselves stole private lands against the law.”….
Israeli army donkey sales stir Palestinian outrage
AFP 3 Aug — “Forty donkeys for sale,” reads a notice in Palestinian newspapers. Nothing out of the ordinary about that, except for the fact that the advertiser is the Israeli army. Palestinians say the army is trying to sell back the very animals it seized from them in the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley. Israeli authorities say they round up wandering livestock in the interests of public safety, especially to reduce road accidents. Palestinians, however, see a policy of confiscations and demolitions aimed at pushing them out of the valley running along the border with Jordan. The valley has valuable water resources and farmland and is seen by Israel as vital to its strategic defence. The donkeys will be auctioned off if unclaimed by their owners, the Arabic-language text announced, but reclaiming their own property is costly. Arif Daraghmeh, head of a council of 26 hamlets in the valley’s Al-Maleh district, said they have to pay fines of up to 2,000 shekels ($526) for each donkey. COGAT, Israel’s defence ministry unit that coordinates Israeli activities in the West Bank and Gaza, says that animals roaming unsupervised are a public menace … Sixty-year-old Sliman Besharat said his goats, housed under a shelter of sacking, have in the past been quarantined by Israel. Like Daraghmeh, he sees a strategic aim behind the seizures. “By confiscating animals and agricultural equipment and demolishing houses, animal shelters and other structures, the Israelis are putting pressure on the Palestinians to leave the Jordan Valley,” which makes up a third of the West Bank, he said. “Whoever controls the valley controls the border (with Jordan) and access to water and farmland,” resources vital for local Palestinians who live from agriculture and livestock, Besharat said. That is the case with Yusef, who was watching over his 80 cows and their calves while keeping one eye on the road used by Israeli military vehicles … The Israeli army has turned 18 percent of the West Bank into training grounds, according to United Nations data. Nevertheless, 6,200 Palestinians still live in such areas. In the Tubas area where Yusef lives, more than 800 people remain with their cattle on land Israel has designated as firing ranges. The army, he said, can expel them and seize their livestock at any time. “The soldiers load them on trucks and tell us that we’re in a closed military zone,” he said, brandishing a stick to move his emaciated animals. “Or they come through in their tanks and nothing survives, not a concealed bird’s egg or a baby gazelle lying on the ground.” Yusef said he has in the past lost dozens of animals, confiscated or dead of thirst through lack of access to water….
IOF arrests youth for trying to cross Gaza border fence
GAZA (PIC) 3 Aug — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested a Palestinian youth while trying to cross the Gaza Strip border fence on Wednesday. Quds Press quoted local sources as saying that an unarmed young man in his twenties tried to cross the border fence to the east of Breij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip but was detained by IOF soldiers. They said that the soldiers fired at the young man but did not hit him, then ordered him to strip under gun threat before taking him away to an unknown location. Infiltration attempts from the blockaded enclave into 1948 occupied Palestine had increased as of late looking for jobs. Dozens of young Gazans were rounded up since the start of 2016.
Israeli military vehicles carry out a limited invasion into farmlands in Khan Younis
IMEMC 3 Aug — A number of Israeli military vehicles, and bulldozers, carried out on Wednesday morning a limited invasion into Palestinian farmlands, northeast of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Media sources in Khan Younis said four D9 armored military bulldozers and several others vehicles invaded the lands through the Kissufim military base gate, across the border fence, east of Khan Younis. They added that the soldiers and military engineers conducted land surveying, and bulldozed some sections, before withdrawing.
Israeli navy opens fire at Palestinian fishermen off Gaza coast
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Aug — Israeli navy boats opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip in two separate incidents. The head of the fishermen union, Zakariya Bakr, told Ma‘an that Israeli boats opened fire at fishermen off the coast of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza overnight Wednesday, destroying the engine of a boat belonging to fisherman Muhammad Saif Abu Riyaleh, who lost a fishing net in the Mediterranean during the incident. Israeli war boats also reportedly opened fire at fishermen in the northern Gaza Strip, in a separate incident in which no injuries were reported.
Israel silent on Gaza underground wall tender claims
AFP 3 Aug — Israeli officials declined to comment Wednesday on reports that the government issued a tender for the construction of an underground wall around Gaza to block attack tunnels from the Palestinian territory. The Ynet news website reported Wednesday that the Defence Ministry had issued tenders for the building of an underground structure to prevent tunnels being dug into Israel. The report said the barrier would have sensors to detect digging and would eventually run the length of the 60-kilometre Gaza border.It did not say how deep the wall would be, but said the tender had been submitted to 20 Israeli companies for bids. “The Ministry of Defence is not commenting on the report,” a spokeswoman told AFP. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office also declined to comment
Israel alleges Gaza World Vision head sent millions to Hamas
AFP 4 Aug — An Israeli court on Thursday charged the Gaza director of the World Vision non-governmental organisation with passing millions of dollars to the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas and its armed wing. Mohammed al-Halabi was alleged to have diverted $7.2 million (6.5 million euros) each year since 2010, with some of it funding the Gaza Strip rulers’ military campaign against Israel, said the Shin Bet internal security agency. Halabi, who was born in 1978, was arrested in June and indicted Thursday on a number of charges, including funding “terror.” The charge sheet said Hamas recruited him to infiltrate World Vision more than a decade ago, and that he rose to become the head of the US-based Christian aid organisation’s Gaza operation. Shin Bet said there was no evidence World Vision’s main office was aware of Halabi’s actions. World Vision said it had “no reason to believe” the allegations against Halabi, while Hamas said it had no relationship with him. Since Halabi took over operations in 2010, roughly 60 percent of World Vision’s annual budget in Gaza was diverted to Hamas, including its military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said Shin Bet. This equated to $7.2 million per year, including about $1.5 million given in cash to Hamas combat units. World Vision, which employs tens of thousands of people globally, said its programmes were subject to “regular internal and independent audits, independent evaluations” to avoid aid misuse. “Based on the information available to us at this time, we have no reason to believe that the allegations are true,” it said in a statement….
Bookmobile speed-reads through Gaza neighborhoods
JABALIYA, Gaza Strip 1 Aug by Rasha Abou Jalal — In a small town in the northern Gaza Strip, a group of children sat on a circle of small chairs in front of a minibus, listening raptly to a storyteller. The bus had been turned into a mobile library to bring books into areas where there are none. The mobile library’s coordinator, Mahmoud Askalani, told Al-Monitor that Ramallah’s French-German Cultural Center sent the bookmobile to Gaza on May 16. Its route takes it to marginalized areas and towns with no public libraries on a mission to encourage children to read. The bookmobile is expected to return to the West Bank by the end of August after completing its three-month tour. The mobile library, the first of its kind in the Gaza Strip, has already visited 40 neighborhoods across Gaza this year, targeting children under 14. This is the bookmobile’s second trip across the Gaza Strip. Its first visit was in the summer of 2015. The cultural center collaborated on the project with the Tamer Institute for Community Education and the Abdel Mohsin al-Qattan Foundation, both of which provided children’s books. Aya al-Ajrami, 11, from Jabaliya, told Al-Monitor she was extremely pleased with the bookmobile’s visit to her hometown, adding that she had never been to a public library before….
PICTURED: Weddings cut through gloomy mood in Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (AP) 4 Aug — Like dozens of other couples who got married this summer in the isolated Gaza Strip, for Saed and Falasteen Abu Aser, their wedding was an elaborately planned celebration, complete with a procession through the streets of their neighborhood. In a time with little to be joyous about in Gaza, weddings have emerged as welcome festivities that offer a break from the often morose mood in the strip … But for the happy couple and their families, a wedding is both a respite from daily hardships and a focal point in the lives of both the well-off and the poor. “My joy is great among my family and my friends and my neighbors and I thank them because they helped and supported me,” said the 22-year-old groom Saed Abu Aser. His bride, Falasteen, is 17. The Abu Asers are first cousins who come from a poor family. It is not uncommon for cousins to marry in Palestinian society. Their festivities began days before the wedding ceremony … Associated Press photographer Khalil Hamra joined the celebrations, and here is a series of his photographs.
The Month in Pictures: July 2016
The Electronic Intifada 3 August – with text as well as captions
PLO slams Netanyahu video on Palestinian children as ‘cheap and disingenuous’ propaganda
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Aug — Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat slammed on Thursday recent comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Palestinian children, calling it another example of Israel’s “propaganda machine” to justify its “racist narrative” against Palestinians. In a video released online on Tuesday, Netanyahu said he was shaken “to the core of (his) being” after seeing footage of a Palestinian father telling Israeli soldiers “Shoot this little boy, after all you always do that to small children” while holding his son at a demonstration in the occupied West Bank village of Ni‘lin. In his video statement, Netanyahu called the Palestinian father’s actions “inhumane,” and claimed it showed a broader disregard for children in Palestinian society. “Once again, Israel and its propaganda machine attempt to defend its prolonged and belligerent occupation of Palestine,” Erekat said. “Through seconds in a video, Netanyahu justifies the racist narrative that Palestinians are to blame, rather than Israel’s military machine and armed settlers that exercise violence and oppression against the land and people of Palestine.” Erekat expressed particular outrage over Netanyahu’s instrumentalization of Palestinian children … The PLO statement identified the Palestinian man in the video as Ayoub Sroor, a resident of Ni‘lin and father of five, and released a video interview of the man describing the impact of the Israeli occupation on him and his family. Both Sroor and two of his young sons have been severely injured by Israeli forces in the past. In the interview, Sroor said that he and his three-year-old son Muhammad were attending a demonstration to commemorate the one-year anniversary of an Israeli settler arson attack in the Palestinian village of Duma, in which a toddler and his parents were killed, leaving then-five-year-old Ahmad Dawabsha as the sole survivor. “It was a moment of helplessness,” Sroor said of the demonstration. “I saw the army’s guns pointed at the little children, and I told them: ‘You want to kill little children, here’s the boy.’” Sroor accused Netanyahu of misrepresenting the situation by failing to show what happened before he made these comments. “Mr. Sroor’s helpless reaction shows the desperation a life under occupation creates. Netanyahu and his extremist government are the ones responsible for killing the hope in the minds and hearts of millions of Palestinians,” Erekat said….
Tulkarm electricity crisis leads to clash between PA and local municipality
JPost 3 Aug by Adam Rasgon — Much of Tulkarm has gone without electricity for the last three days, provoking anger, frustration and confusion. Residents have taken to the street in protest and called on Israeli and Palestinian authorities to take immediate actions to restore electricity to the northern West Bank city. Meanwhile, younger residents clashed with Palestinian Authority security forces, as Fatah members began staging a protest in Gamal Abdel Nasser Square. One resident, who asked to remain unidentified, told The Jerusalem Post by telephone, “We need electricity to be restored. The current situation is unbearable, and many cannot operate their businesses and others are suffering in the intense heat.” The crisis is not the first, and many residents do not expect it to be the last. The supply of power to Tulkarm has been compared to that of the Gaza Strip. Shop owners and families there have purchased generators to deal with electrical interruptions. The unidentified source told the Post that backup generators are becoming the norm. “They’re no longer considered backup generators, they’re permanent,” he said. The ongoing reduction of electricity to Tulkarm started on Monday, when the Israel Electric Corporation took the action in response to more than NIS 208 million in unpaid debt. The municipality initially turned to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah to help resolve the issue with the IEC. Tulkarm Mayor Iyad Jalad told reporters, “We call on the President Abbas, may God preserve him, to intervene immediately to put an end to this situation.” However, later on Monday the PA told Jalad that the Palestinian government holds the municipality fully responsible for payment of all of its electricity debts….
Hamas knocks Abbas for Christian election quota
Times of Israel 2 Aug by Dov Lieber — Hamas rips into Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for a decree creating a quota for Christian representatives in the upcoming municipal elections across the Palestinian territories. Abbas issued a presidential decree Monday requiring nine West Bank municipal districts to have a Christian majority in the local council, and that the head of those councils must be Christian. A total of 67 out of the 3,848 seats up for election were guaranteed to Christians. Hamas, in a statement posted on their website, calls the decree “a violation of the electoral process and an attempt to influence the outcome.” The Palestinian municipal elections are slated to take place October 8 and will be held in 416 townships and village councils; 25 are located in Gaza and the other 391 in the West Bank.
Fatah secretaries in Tulkarem resign after spate of arrests
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 4 Aug — A group of Fatah movement officials in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem submitted their resignations on Wednesday over the detention of a number of Fatah members by Palestinian security. An unspecified number of Fatah secretaries in Tulkarem resigned, as sources within Fatah told Ma‘an that their decision to leave their posts did not mean that they were leaving the political party. The sources added that the decision to resign came in the wake of Palestinian security forces arresting a number of Fatah members, reportedly without stated motives.
Black Lives Matter endorses BDS: Israel is ‘apartheid state’
JTA 4 Aug — The wide-ranging new platform of a coalition growing out of the Black Lives Matter movement includes harsh criticism of Israel, which it describes as an “apartheid state” that, it claims, perpetrates “genocide” against the Palestinian people, endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. Released Monday, the platform of the Movement for Black Lives calls for “an end to the war against Black people” and is the campaign’s first comprehensive document addressing specific federal policies. Black Lives Matter Network is one of over 50 black-led organizations in the coalition. While the majority of the document addresses issues other than Israel, the section on foreign policy, titled Invest-Divest, objects to U.S. military aid to Israel, which it describes as “a state that practices systematic discrimination and has maintained a military occupation of Palestine for decades.” While the section addresses other foreign policy issues, particularly the movement’s objections to the drug war and the war on terror, it criticizes no foreign country other than Israel. The section also argues that the U.S., because of its alliance with Israel, is “complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.” ….
Hebron’s Ahly retains Palestinian Cup
AFP 2 Aug — Ahly al-Khalil football club of Hebron on the West Bank won the Palestinian Cup Tuesday for the second straight year after a 1-1 home draw against Shabab Khan Yunis of Gaza. Ahly, who beat the Khan Yunis side 1-0 in the first leg in the Gaza Strip a week earlier, will now represent the Palestinians in next season’s AFC Cup, Asia’s premier club football tournament. The second leg was originally due to take place on Saturday but was delayed by Israel’s refusal to allow eight members of the Khan Yunis delegation from leaving Israeli-blockaded Gaza, the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) said …The Palestinians say the match only went ahead thanks to the personal intervention of Gianni Infantino, president of world football’s governing body FIFA. Israeli authorities have made no comment. “The Israelis have no right to benefit from the privileges conferred by FIFA’s statutes if they keep obstructing (the rights of) the other side,” argued PFA president Jibril Rajoub. Last year, Al-Ahli beat another Gaza club in the cup final, Shejaiya. It was the first encounter in 15 years between clubs from the two Palestinian territories, which are geographically separated by Israel, because of the blockade and inter-Palestinian differences.
Israel blocks Olympics-bound Palestinian from travel
Al Jazeera 2 Aug — Israeli authorities have prevented the head of the Palestinian Olympic team from leaving the Gaza Strip to be with his team in Brazil, according to a senior Palestinian official. “Israel did not give Issam Qishta a permit to leave Gaza and therefore he was not able to join the rest of the Olympic team in Brazil,” Munther Masalmeh, secretary-general of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, told the Dpa news agency on Tuesday. Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, said his government was working on allowing Qishta to join the rest of the Palestinian team. “We do our best to let him leave as soon as possible,” he told Dpa. Masalmeh said two others also from Gaza, a trainer and the deputy head of the committee, were given permits … The Palestinian Olympic team comprises 22 people, including six athletes, coaches and administrators. It includes two swimmers, two track and field athletes, a judo player and one equestrian competitor. All the athletes were camped abroad for weeks and therefore were able to reach Brazil without problems, Masalmeh said.
The Palestinian team taking part in the Games had to buy equipment and other things in Brazil after Israel had prevented entry of their equipment into the Palestinian areas, Masalmeh said. Products and goods destined for the West Bank are shipped through Israeli ports. The occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is landlocked and Israel controls all its borders. The Olympic official said Israel had been holding the equipment, mostly donated to the Palestinians by foreign governments, demanding payment of taxes or entry fees and sometimes under claims of security. “We got one shipment several months ago and we have not been able to bring it in,” he said. “We were forced to travel without our equipment and to buy them instead in Brazil.”
Diaspora Palestinians called to invest in homeland
Al-Monitor 2 Aug by Daoud Kuttab — As external donor support is being reduced and Israeli restrictions are increasing, Palestinians are turning to another source of support: Palestinians in the diaspora, especially those living in Latin America. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, diaspora Palestinians in non-Arab countries numbered 624,824 in 2010. By 2015, the numbers had increased to 700,000 in Latin America, leading Latin American researcher Cecilia Baeza told Ma‘an News. Chile and Honduras have 350,000 and 280,000 of Palestinian origin, respectively. There are so many Palestinians in Chile that Mario Nazal, the director of the Palestinian Foundation Bethlehem in Chile, often says that every village in Chile “is sure to have three things: a priest, a policeman and a Palestinian.” In Palestine, especially in the town of Beit Jala, the relationship with Chile is very evident. You can find Chile Square and the School of Chile in Beit Jala, reflecting the generous support from successful Palestinians in Chile for their ancestral town. For the most part, those of Palestinian origins living in Latin America are highly successful in their countries, where they run thriving businesses such as banks and factories … As a political breakthrough still seems far off, the efforts of Palestinian officials as well as leaders in the diaspora have been focused on finding ways to network fellow Palestinians, especially those financially successful in Latin America. For the diaspora business leaders, the desire to invest in Palestine is not open ended and a minimum requirement of good business practices and legislation is needed to encourage them to take the risk of investing in Palestine….
Old City hi-tech helps Israeli police prevent crime
JPost 1 Aug by Daniel K. Eisenbud — …Known as Mabat 2000, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Sunday the observation and intelligence center continues to be instrumental in both preventing crime and rapidly responding to terrorist attacks throughout the four quarters of the volatile Old City, especially during the last nine months of stabbing and ramming attacks that have plagued Jerusalem. “There are 36 hi-tech touch screens there that constantly receive images from 320 CCTV cameras at the nine entrances to the Old City and in and around the Jewish Quarter, Christian Quarter, Armenian Quarter and Muslim Quarter,” Rosenfeld said. The station is manned by 12 highly trained officers over three shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide a “strategic advantage” to the hundreds of officers on foot patrol throughout the labyrinth- like city with a population of some 35,000 residents. “Our officers stationed inside the Old City will receive information online in real time as an incident occurs, whether it’s a terrorist attack or criminal matter,” Rosenfeld said. “They receive pictures of suspects to help them track them as the situation unfolds. “The officers monitoring the city from Mabat 2000 are always watching for potential threats and know how to respond based on the intelligence that they receive [and] to be accurate in transferring that information to officers on the front lines who have to respond immediately at an exact location.” Backup support is also immediately dispatched to the scene, based on the gravity of the crime taking place, Rosenfeld said….
IDF unveils its first wheeled APC
Ynet 1 Aug by Yoav Zitun — The Defense Ministry officially unveiled the most well-shielded and first wheeled new ‘Eitan’ armored personnel carrier (APC) on Monday which will be added to active duty use alongside the IDF’s Namer (“Leopard”) APCs, mainly used by the Golani brigade. The new APC will be equipped with an active interception defense system capable of intercepting incoming anti-tank missiles — similar to the Trophy system already used by some IDF tanks … The IDF intends to gradually replace all of its outdated M-113 APCs, one of which was used during the APC disaster in Protective Edge, in which seven Golani fighters were killed by an anti-tank missile fired at their APC in the Gaza Strip … The plans for a wheeled APC were initially born in the IDF prior to Protective Edge, but they were fast-tracked in the wake of the occurrences of the 2014 Gaza operation. Moreover, it became concerned that ground forces, during a possible third war in Lebanon, would be forced to maneuver through hostile territory in obsolete armored vehicles….
Israeli army identifies a new threat: ‘Pokemon Go’
JERUSALEM (AP) 1 Aug — The Israeli military is warning its soldiers about a new threat: the widely popular mobile phone game “Pokemon Go.” The army said Monday it has banned its forces from playing the game on Israeli military bases due to security concerns. In a directive to soldiers and officers, the army warned the game activates cell phone cameras and location services, and could leak sensitive information like army base locations and photographs of the bases. The military is also concerned that soldiers could download a fake application that impersonates “Pokemon Go” but could leak information from soldiers’ phones. “Pokemon Go” players roam streets and buildings holding up their mobile phones and following a digital map to catch creatures that appear on the screen. Israeli civilians are also being warned about the perils of chasing Pikachu and other digital critters in the game … The AIG insurance company in Israel is taking advantage of the Pokemon craze to market its personal accident insurance policy that covers accidents caused while playing such mobile phone games … For Palestinians, “Pokemon Go” is a frustrating game to play, because mobile high-speed internet services don’t exist in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under interim peace accords, Israel controls wireless networks in the area, and Israel only recently announced that it would allow high-speed internet access in the West Bank, though the technology has not yet gone into effect.
Palestinian asylum seeker ‘who ran £7m human trafficking ring’ claims his human rights will be breached if he is sent to face justice in Greece
Daily Mail 2 Aug by Richard Spillett — A Palestinian asylum seeker accused of operating a £7million people trafficking ring from a UK hostel faces 20 years in a Greek prison if he is extradited, a court heard. Jamal Owda faces being sent to Greece over claims he helped smuggle hundreds of people from the Mediterranean country to Macedonia. But doctors have argued his deportation would breach his human rights due to prison overcrowding and as he is suffering from post traumatic stress from growing up in war-torn Gaza. The 27-year-old, who is alleged to have snuck into Britain in the back of a lorry in 2014, was arrested in an asylum hostel in Sefton Park, Liverpool, where he had been staying for several months. When he was arrested in a dawn raid in December, polices found had £17,500 in cash hidden in a speaker in his room. Westminster Magistrates heard today that Owda was part of a lucrative smuggling operation between 2014 and 2015.