Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Elderly Palestinian man and donkey killed after being hit by Israeli motorcyclist
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Aug — An 85-year-old Palestinian died on Wednesday after he was run over by an Israeli settler driving a motorcycle near the community of Khirbet al-Marajim, west of the southern Nablus village of Douma. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an News Agency that an investigation was opened to determine if the incident had been a deliberate attack or an accident. The Palestinian was identified as Mousa Mohammad Salman, 85, a shepherd from the Nablus-area village of Talfit. Hasan Faraj, a relative of Salman, said that Salman succumbed to critical injuries after arriving at al-Najah University Hospital, in Nablus. Salman had been riding a donkey and herding sheep when he was run over. The donkey was also killed in the incident. The settler was injured before Israeli soldiers called for an Israeli ambulance that took him to hospital. Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is common in the Nablus area, as the district is surrounded by 12 Israeli settlements and 37 outposts….
Army jeep rams a child near Jenin
IMEMC 10 Aug — An Israeli military jeep rammed, on Wednesday evening, a Palestinian child south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, before the soldiers detained and interrogated him instead of providing him the needed medical aid. Palestinian medical sources said the child, identified as Islam Sabaghna, 16, was struck by an Israeli military jeep on the main road linking between Qabatia town, Sanour and Msalya villages, south of Jenin. They added that the soldiers detained and interrogated the wounded child, and did not allow him access to medical attention. The child was released later, and was instantly moved to a hospital in Jenin suffering moderate but stable wounds.
Israeli police find no wrongdoing in death of Palestinian minister beaten during protest
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — Israeli police has closed its investigation into the death of Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Ein — who died in 2014 after being beaten by Israeli forces — concluding that he had died of natural causes, Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva reported on Wednesday. According to Arutz Sheva, an autopsy by the police department of internal investigations concluded that Abu Ein, 55, died of a heart attack on Dec. 10, 2014, after an Israeli border police officer beat him in the chest with his helmet and the butt of his rifle during a march to plant olive trees in the village of Turmusayya in the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank. Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, which represents Abu Ein’s family in the case, expressed its outrage at the police’s decision to close the case without ever interrogating the border policeman suspected of killing Abu Ein or asking him to testify .“Most cases of Israeli violence against Palestinians are closed. But we expected that at least a proper investigation would take place,” Yesh Din spokesman Gilad Grossman told Ma‘an on Wednesday. “This shows Israeli armed forces’ impunity when committing violence against Palestinian civilians.”….
Israeli forces raid al-Duheisha refugee camp, injure 7 Palestinians with live fire
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — Israeli forces raided the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem in the early morning hours on Tuesday, redetaining a Palestinian activist and injuring seven Palestinians with live bullets, locals told Ma‘an. Israeli forces stormed the camp and opened live fire, according to locals, injuring seven Palestinians who were immediately taken to the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation to receive medical care. Their conditions have been reported as stable. Israeli forces also raided the home of former detainee 48-year-old Nidal Abu Aker, a prominent Palestinian journalist and activist affiliated with the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Abu Aker had previously spent 14 years in Israeli prison, 11 of which were spent in administrative detention — an Israeli policy of imprisonment without charge or trial. He was released in December following an open hunger strike launched in protest of his detention … PFLP officials released a statement condemning Abu Aker’s detention, saying “Israeli forces continually target our affiliated members in the refugee camps, especially al-Duheisha and Qalandiya. These camps remain sites of resistance to the Israeli occupation.” Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with a weekly average of 78 search and detention raids carried out since the start of 2016, and with 108 carried out just in the previous week, according to UN documentation….
Israeli forces injure 4 Palestinians with live fire, detain 1 in Ramallah-area raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Aug– Israeli forces injured four Palestinian youths with live fire early Wednesday during clashes that erupted when Israeli soldiers raided al-‘Amari refugee camp near the city of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank. Locals said Israeli forces raided several areas of the camp and snipers were deployed on rooftops, sparking clashes between Israeli soldiers and local youths. Sources added that Israeli soldiers opened live fire and fired tear gas, while youths threw rocks and Molotov cocktails. Israeli soldiers then withdrew from the area. Local sources also told Ma‘an that Israeli special forces detained a Palestinian youth who has been wanted by Israel for eight months from the Qalandiya refugee camp in the southeastern outskirts of Ramallah. He was identified as Khalid Matar. The Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that one Palestinian had been detained overnight in the Ramallah area.
Army clashes with Palestinians near Nablus, as colonists continue to bulldoze lands
IMEMC 10 Aug — Israeli soldiers opened fire, Wednesday, on dozens of locals of Qusra, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, as Israeli bulldozers and colonists resumed the uprooting and bulldozing of Palestinian lands, east of the town. The head of Qusra Local Council, Abdul-Atheem Wadi, said the illegal settlers resumed the bulldozing of Palestinian lands, east of the town, in an attempt to expand their colony. He added that dozens of youngsters surrounded the bulldozers and attempted to stop them, before the soldiers invaded the area and fired dozens of gas bombs at them, in addition to assaulting several Palestinians. The soldiers also closed the Qusra’s eastern road and prevented the Palestinians from entering or leaving the town. On Tuesday, several Israeli bulldozers started uprooting the lands, close to the Megdalim colony, built on illegally confiscated private Palestinian lands, as Israel is planning to expand it.
Palestinian mayor explains high death toll in small village: ‘Pressure births explosion’
Mondoweiss 10 Aug by Sheren Khalel — A year ago, the Sair Martyrs’ Cemetery was marked with graves a decade or more old. Today more than half the tombs are marked with dates from the past eight months. Fresh wreaths of colorful flowers lay atop each of the close rows of stone — fourteen stone slabs that have taken up nearly every available space in the cemetery. “We are trying to come up with options for a way to expand the cemetery,” Jamaal Faroukh, the head of the Religious Affairs Office in Sair told Mondoweiss. “There is space for, one, two, maybe three more graves, but we are expecting that we will run out of room soon,” he explained, alluding to the expectation of more Sair youth killed by Israeli forces. “We are now working ahead to try and figure out a way to expand it.” … Sair village, located in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, has been one of several epicenters of violence since the start of upheaval in October. Since then, residents say the village has been blockaded by Israeli forces more often than it’s been open. The blockades have sometimes taken place after Palestinian youth were shot dead during alleged, attempted or actual attacks against Israelis, but other times the closures seem random, residents explained, with no connection to any known action by anyone in the village … Israeli forces have also punitively demolished several homes belonging to the family members of those accused of attacks before being killed. Thousands of others have had their Israeli work permits confiscated by Israeli authorities. The mayor of Sair village, Kayyed Jaradat, told Mondoweiss that Israel’s actions against the village have only fanned the flames of violence.“Pressure births explosions,” Jaradat said … The mayor said the killings of Palestinian youth have caused a domino effect of attacks against Israelis, and a cycle of dead Palestinian youth. “If you look at those who have been killed, most of them are related in some way, or they were friends with another who has been killed. This is a small community, and when a young man is killed we see his brother or cousin or friend is then killed trying to avenge his death, and again and again,” Jaradat said….
In Israel, the Bedouin victim is at fault / Amira Hass
Haaretz 8 Aug — The attacker, if he is a police officer, has immunity because his baton, fists and handcuffs are the servants of the state — The victims who have been attacked are responsible for the damage caused by the attackers. This is a clear, lawyerly answer, without any relation to the fact that the victims were Bedouin and the attackers police officers, representatives of the government. In response to a lawsuit for compensation on behalf of the three members of the Alturi family from Rahat for the physical, mental and material damage done to them after police officers abused and falsely arrested them, attorney Zohar Bar El of the southern district of the State Prosecutor’s Office wrote: “The claimed damage, which is denied, was caused, if it [even occurred] at all, on account of the plaintiff and represents gross negligence and/or contributory guilt at a level of 100 percent.” The defense brief was filed on August 1. The suit against the state was filed in March. Bar El continues the line of reasoning of the deputy state prosecutor, Yehuda Shaffer, who explained why the investigation was closed without any effort to locate the police officers who violently arrested the father, Taleb Alturi, and his two sons Nidal and Ra’uf. The victims, wrote Shaffer to attorney Eitay Mack at the end of July, did not “provide a number of identifying details about the police officers who allegedly harmed them.” … In other words, between the blows and kicks they suffered from a large group of police officers wearing helmets, between lying on their stomachs and being handcuffed and dragged, between another kick and another baton blow and another curse – the three people being beaten needed to ask the policemen for their full names and the name of their unit. They also had to take a very good look at the faces of their abusers in the dark, or look for other means of identification for the benefit of the investigators of the Justice Ministry’s unit for investigating police officers (perhaps a mole on the left earlobe?).…
Deadly gas projectiles return to West Bank protests
EI 8 Aug by Clare Maxwell — An old weapon appears to have re-emerged in Palestine. Over the past six months, say activists in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military has resumed the use of Indoor Barricade Penetrators, a form of high velocity tear gas 40mm projectile designed to deliver its payload inside buildings or homes and used during raids, demonstrations and clashes. The use of such heavy duty tear gas projectiles fell by the wayside in 2013 after a number of high-profile court cases demonstrated how easily this particular form of delivery could kill or maim. However, a modified version is now employed across the West Bank, say protesters, and no matter what claims the military and manufacturers may make, these barrier-piercing projectiles remain potentially lethal. Israel has used them to deadly effect before. In 2009, Bassem Abu Rahmeh was killed during the weekly protest in the West Bank of Bil‘in, after he was struck in the chest with an Indoor Barricade Penetrator. Just a few weeks earlier, Tristan Anderson, an American volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement, was hit with a high velocity tear gas canister in the nearby town of Ni‘lin. He didn’t die, but was permanently paralyzed on his left side and suffered massive brain damage. –Recent injuries– Anderson and Abu Rahmeh are among the best known victims of such attacks: many others sustained injuries. According to Murad Shtaiwi, head of the popular resistance committee in the village of Kafr Qaddum, there have been three moderate injuries from these projectiles since March alone. Ahmad Nasser, a medic working in the Ramallah district, has noted two injuries at clashes outside Ofer prison in the same time period. Nasser himself was also struck with one of the projectiles, but was not injured since he was wearing a bulletproof Kevlar vest. Indoor Barricade Penetrators are a more dangerous means of using tear gas for several reasons. As the name implies, they are not intended for use directly against individuals, rather they are designed to penetrate doors, windows and interior drywalls, and release their payload inside a building … In addition to the dangers posed as a high velocity projectile, activists from Ramallah and Nabi Saleh have also reported that the projectiles are more likely to carry an Oleoresin Capsicum- (OC spray — more commonly known as pepper spray) based gas than the more common, and less harmful, CS- (O-chlorobenzylidene malonitrile) based tear gas….
Israel backtracks on decision to return body of slain Palestinian
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence service, reportedly backtracked Monday evening on a decision made earlier in the day to return the body of Bahaa Elayyan, whose body has been held by Israel for nearly 10 months. The Elayyan family said in a statement that Muhammad Elayyan, Bahaa’s father, received a phone call from the Shin Bet on Monday evening informing the family that Israel had decided to reduce the number of participants allowed to take part in Bahaa’s funeral to 20 people, before receiving another call telling them that the burial would have to take place in the al-Mujahidin cemetery near Herod’s Gate in occupied East Jerusalem, to which the family refused. According to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, the Elayyan family had signed an agreement with Israeli intelligence on Monday morning to return Bahaa’s body, pending a number of preconditions. Among the preconditions that the family and Israeli authorities had previously agreed to were that no more than 30 people could attend his funeral — an increase from its initial stipulation that only 20 people attend — mandating that it take place at the Lion’s Gate cemetery in the Old City, and that the family pay a bail of 20,000 shekels ($5,218). Israel’s actions on Monday evening not only reduced the number of funeral participants to its original number, but also changed the location of the funeral, causing the Elayyan family to say that the “Israeli police are procrastinating, torturing and playing with the feelings of our family.” They added that in their opinion, Israeli police did not intend to return their son’s body, and that they would most likely have to wait until a decision was made by the Israeli Supreme Court regarding their appeal….
Israeli forces detain girl in Hebron after alleged stabbing attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — Israeli forces Tuesday detained a Palestinian girl near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron for an alleged stabbing attempt, according to Israeli police. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that the Palestinian girl took a knife out of her handbag once she reached the Israeli checkpoint near the mosque and “ran towards the soldiers.” Israeli forces reportedly pepper-sprayed the girl before detaining her. Al-Samri added that no injuries were reported among Israeli forces. The age of the girl remained unknown. Issa Amro, a local activist and director of Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements, told Ma‘an that Palestinians were being detained in the H2 area of the Old City — the area under complete Israeli military control — on an almost daily basis, and that scores of Palestinians have been detained for allegedly possessing knives. Amro added that restrictions on Palestinian movement in the H2 area had also exacerbated tensions, as Palestinians between 15 and 30 years old who were not registered as residents of H2 were banned from entering the area, separating families and friends while forcing Palestinians to attempt to evade Israeli restrictions in order to continue with their normal lives.
Israeli army probing over 20 shootings of Palestinians since October 2015
Haaretz 11 Aug by Gili Cohen — The Israeli army is currently investigating over 20 incidents in which Palestinians were shot dead or wounded since the start of the terror wave last October, Haaretz has learned. The Israel Defense Forces has gathered testimonies from soldiers involved in the incidents, and in some cases asked human rights organizations, such as B’Tselem, for more details regarding the events. The Military Advocate General orders an investigation into the death of every Palestinian in the West Bank “who isn’t involved in actual combat activity.” For this reason, most of the investigations opened by the Military Police in recent months have mainly involved cases in which Palestinians were shot during confrontations with defense forces, rather than in the course of a terror attack or an attempted terror attack. However, the only investigation that has ended in an indictment so far was following a terror attack: Sgt. Elor Azaria is standing trial for manslaughter after fatally shooting Palestinian assailant Abdel Fattah al-Sharif … Investigations have been launched into two separate incidents in which 13-year-old Palestinian children died. In October 2015, Abed al-Rahman Obeidallah was killed in the Al- ‘Aida refugee camp after being shot with a live 0.22-inch caliber bullet, which is seen as less lethal than regular bullets. According to an inquiry carried out by B’Tselem, a sniper shot Obeidallah in broad daylight. In February, meanwhile, Haitham Saada was shot dead near the West Bank town of Halhul. The army said he was shot as he was about to throw a firebomb onto the nearby Route 60. Saada’s cousin, who was with him at the time, was arrested by the IDF….
Just a sampling of the many detentions that happen every day:
Israeli soldiers kidnap ten Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 10 Aug — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers kidnapped, Wednesday, at least ten Palestinians in the West Bank districts of Nablus, Tulkarem, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Jenin. The army also occupied a Palestinian home, south of Nablus. The Nablus office of the PPS, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, said the soldiers stormed and searched dozens of homes and kidnapped three Palestinians. The kidnapped have been identified as Yacoub Yousef Ghazi, 37, Abdul-Karim Rebhi Daoud, 30, and Abdullah Mohammad Hajj Mohammad, 31. Also in Nablus, the soldiers invaded ‘Aseera al-Qibleyya town, south of the city, before breaking into a Palestinian home and turning it into a military post. The owner, Abdul-Basset Ahmad, said the soldiers occupied the second floor of his home, and kicked his son’s family out before turning the property into a military post, and used its rooftop as a military tower. The invaded property is close to the Yitzhar illegal colony, built on Palestinian lands, south of Nablus. In Tulkarem, in the northern part of the West Bank, the soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians, identified as Abdul-Aziz Qassem Zreiqi, 30, Odai Azmi Abu Ghalia, 26, and Anas Hikmat Masarwa. Another Palestinian, identified as Ahmad Hussein Abu ar-Rob, was kidnapped from his home in Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank. In addition, the Ramallah office of the PPS, in central West Bank, said the soldiers kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Yacoub Abdul-Jawad Romman, 32. In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers kidnapped Yassin Abu Laab, and a child, identified as Ahmad Sweilem, after he spent a few months under house arrest, before an Israeli court ordered him imprisoned. In Abu Dis town, near Jerusalem, the soldiers kidnapped Eyad Za‘atra, after invading and searching his home. On Tuesday evening, the army invaded the Qalandia refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, and kidnapped Khaled Yousef Matar.
East Jerusalem / Al-Aqsa
Israel to increase security measures in East Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Aug — Occupation police have decided to raise the number of its stations and security cameras in occupied East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Information Center (PIC) reports that, according to an official Israeli announcement, five new police stations will be opened in East Jerusalem as part of a development plan aimed at boosting security in Arab neighborhoods and imposing what was labelled as Israel’s sovereignty over the holy city. “Over the years, a large gap has opened between the western and eastern parts of the city in terms of policing, and that is the gap we want to fill with these new positions,” public security minister Gilad Erdan stated on Wednesday. “Our national sovereignty begins by exercising our sovereignty over Jerusalem,” he added. There are currently no Israeli police stations in Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem apart from in the Old City, according to a police spokesperson. The stations will be set up in the neighborhoods of Ras al-Amud, Jabal Mukaber, Silwan, ‘Issawiya and Sur Baher, which has been often the scene of violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police forces since the outbreak of al-Quds intifada (uprising) in early October, last year. The police plan also involves the installment of hundreds of cameras throughout the holy city as part of a single system called “Jerusalem View.” These new cameras aim to provide more protection for Jewish settlers in east Jerusalem and monitor the movement of Palestinians in their neighborhoods, according to Israeli police.
Israeli settlers tour Al-Aqsa Mosque, workers banned from entering
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — Israeli settlers, escorted by Israeli forces, toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Wednesday morning, as Israeli police also banned maintenance workers from entering the area. Firas al-Dibs, spokesperson for the Islamic Endowment (Waqf), the religious trust responsible for managing the Al-Aqsa compound, told Ma‘an that at least 101 Israeli settlers and 13 Israelis working for the Israel Antiquities Authority entered the compound from the Moroccan Gate in separate groups and toured the area while attempting to carry out religious rituals, a common practice by right-wing Israelis in order to provoke Muslim worshipers and the Palestinian guards at Al-Aqsa. Israeli settlers reportedly told Al-Aqsa guards that “your stay here is temporary. This place belongs to us,” according to al-Dibs. Al-Dibs added that Israeli forces shut down maintenance work at the compound, claiming that the workers lacked permits to carry out construction. However, three Israeli workers were seen carrying construction equipment into the compound for an unknown reason….
8 Palestinians injured in tunnel collapse in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — Eight Palestinians were injured when a tunnel collapsed in the al-Shujayya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, local sources told Ma‘an. They were taken to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to be treated for light to moderate injuries, according to Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra. The incident came after three Palestinians died over recent weeks in tunnel collapse accidents in the Gaza Strip.
Israel unable to finance underground barrier along Gaza borders
MEMO 9 Aug — Israel has been unable to obtain the 2.7 billion shekels ($970 million) it needs to build an underground barrier along its border with the Gaza Strip, Haaretz said today. The paper’s military analyst Amos Harel revealed that only 600 million shekels ($157 million) has been collected so far, half from the army and the remainder from the Ministry of Defence’s budget. The army is to discuss the issue next week, Harel said, noting that the project was not included in the budget despite pervious remarks by the Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot that the project is important to crackdown on the tunnels. “Israel has proven ability to erect barriers and fences, but what is missing at the moment is synchronisation of the plan, the objective, the timetable and the resources,” Harel wrote. He added that the mechanism for paying the funds had not yet been arranged between the defence ministry and finance ministry. This may put the project at stake, he warned. The Israeli army announced the 60 kilometre barrier project following the last major Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2014.
Refused entry to the West Bank, Gaza doctor loses internship
Haaretz 8 Aug by Yotam Berger — Despite having a permit to travel to Nablus, physician was sent back to Gaza by Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint — A Gaza physician has lost his internship at a Nablus hospital because security personnel at the Erez checkpoint would not let him leave Gaza for the West Bank, even though he had a permit to do so and no history of security offenses. Dr. Alaa Rustom completed his medical studies in 2014. In February 2016 Rustom went to Ramallah with Israeli permission to apply for an internship in the West Bank. He passed the tests and in March he was accepted for an internship at A-Najah Hospital in Nablus. Rustom then applied to the Israeli authorities again to request an exit permit from Gaza to Nablus. “I asked for a permit several times and was rejected. Finally I succeeded in getting the permit in June,” Rustom wrote to Haaretz from Gaza. But, he says, “When I got to the Erez Crossing, the security forces detained me there for several hours, and then told me I’d have to back to my home in Gaza, without any logical reason.” In his email to Haaretz Rustom attached the permit issued by the State of Israel that allows him to enter Israeli territory to cross to the West Bank. According to Rustom, when the security forces forbade him entry, he lost his internship. “I lost the opportunity to do an internship at A-Najah for no rational reason. I am not politically active and have no ties with problematic people. I’m a doctor who just wants to do an internship and broaden my scientific abilities.” The District Coordinating Office for Gaza said Rustom was banned from Israel at the request of the Shin Bet security service, which had marked him as a security risk. But the Shin Bet denied this, saying Rustom had been questioned and approved from a security perspective, and there was no reason not to let him cross to Nablus through Israel. Security personnel say that Rustom was questioned at the Erez checkpoint on June 14 and after a security check that took a few days, he was found to have a clean record. But apparently no one informed him of this. The Civil Administration said it had updated the Nablus hospital about the developments and it was the hospital that should have been in touch with Rustom….
Qatar to procure 100MW generator to solve Gaza’s electricity crisis
GCR 9 Aug — Mohammed Ismail Al Emadi, the chairman of Qatar’s Committee for Reconstruction of Gaza, said he hoped his country would solve the enclave’s long-running electricity crisis by providing a 100MW generator within seven to eight months. He added that the committee had already issued a tender for international firms interested in providing it. Qatar has just finished the second phase of the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani Residential City, which involved the construction of 1,000 homes. The first phase provided 1,060 units in January. Al Emadi said contracts for $40m of further projects would be signed next week, and would include schemes in the fields of infrastructure, roads and houses as part of Qatar’s strategy to alleviate the suffering of Gazans….
Palestinian sentenced to 15 years in prison for ‘collaborating’ with Israel
GAZA (Ma‘an) 8 Aug — A military court in the Gaza Strip on Monday sentenced a Palestinian man to 15 years in prison with hard labor for allegedly collaborating with Israel. In a statement made by the court, the “collaborator” is 34 years old, from the Deir el-Balah governorate in the central Gaza Strip. The 15-year sentence was handed down after the man was convicted of “collaborating with Israeli intelligence since 2009” and passing “information to Israel about resistance locations in the Gaza Strip.” The court added that the accused was also provided with “high-tech communication devices that enabled him to connect with Israeli intelligence,” further implicating him as a “collaborator.” Palestinian leadership, particularly the Hamas movement who governs the Gaza Strip, has repeatedly come under criticism for implementing extremely harsh punishments for those found “collaborating” with enemies. Under Palestinian law, willful, premeditated murder and treason as well as collaboration with the enemy — usually Israel — are punishable by death. The same military court in Gaza that passed down Monday’s 15-year sentence, issued a 17-year, 20-year, and three death sentences last month against Palestinians charged with collaborating with Israel. Following approval of the executions, reportedly to be held in public, human rights group Amnesty International, EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah, and the UN all admonished the practice of the death penalty and urged the legislators to reverse the decision.
Video: Gaza graduates pick fruit as unemployment bites
Reuters 8 Aug — Young Palestinians with university degrees are taking to seasonal work, picking fruit in a bid to eke out a living.
No sweet relief for Gaza watermelon farmers
EI 9 Aug by Isra Saleh al-Namey — When Ghassan Salem tries to think of a treat for his children, watermelon is the first thing that springs to mind. A big sweet juicy watermelon is the perfect antidote to the sweltering summer heat in Gaza. But to his great consternation, the father of six now finds, along with most other Palestinians in Gaza, that watermelon, once a common treat on Gazan tables and one grown locally, has become prohibitively expensive. What started out as an attempt by authorities to minimize Gaza’s dependence on Israeli products has had the unexpected result of raising prices, lowering production and causing tensions between local farmers and the authorities as the latter have had to turn back to Israeli imports to manage supply. Ordinary consumers have been paying the price. “If I want to buy a watermelon for my family, I cannot afford anything but a small one of around 4 kg that costs 10 shekels [approx $2.50]. This can never be enough for a family of eight,” Salem, 37, said. Spending more than $10 to buy three or four watermelons for the family is too much for a government-employed teacher….
Swedes demand Israel repair ship after court victory
JERUSALEM (AFP) 8 Aug – Swedish rights group Ship to Gaza said Monday it will ask Israeli authorities to repair a blockade-busting ship they impounded in 2012, after Israel’s Supreme Court ordered its release. Ship to Gaza spokesman Dror Feiler told AFP that the Finnish-flagged Estelle was in Israel’s northern port of Haifa, still afloat but unfit to put to sea. “Last time we had a person who checked the boat, it was maybe one year or nine months ago, the condition of the boat was not good, to put it mildly,” he said in English by phone from his home in Sweden. “It’s in salt water and we don’t know the condition of the engine, we don’t know the condition of the sails,” he said. “We will demand that the boat will be put into seaworthy condition so we can sail.” Israeli-born activist Feiler was one of 11 Swedish nationals on the vessel when the Israeli navy commandeered it in 2012 as it neared the coast of the blockaded Gaza Strip. He had previously renounced his Israeli citizenship and held Swedish nationality. The Swedes, along with activists from Norway, Canada, Spain, Italy, Greece and Finland, were arrested and later deported. In its ruling on Sunday the Supreme Court said the state impounded the ship illegally and awarded its owners legal costs of 40,000 shekels ($10,500, 9,400 euros). “In light of everything that was said in the ruling, the judges… ordered the release of the ship immediately,” a justice ministry statement said. Feiler said Ship to Gaza would now file a claim for damages. “They kept the boat for four years and now the court is stipulating that it was illegal so we shall try to get economic compensation,” he said. “It’s much larger (than the court expenses).” Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade since 2006. It was tightened in 2007 after the Islamist group Hamas seized control in Gaza. The Estelle voyage was one of several unsuccessful attempts to breach the cordon since 2010, when Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists in a raid on a flotilla seeking to run the blockade.
Sleek Hamas election video shows idyllic, prosperous Gaza
RAMALLAH (AP) 9 Aug — The Gaza Strip is a prosperous territory with lush lawns and gleaming high-rises — at least that’s the image in a sleek campaign video made by activists of the territory’s ruling Islamic militant Hamas group. The online clip entitled “Thank you, Hamas” makes no mention of closed borders and other fallout from conflicts with Gaza’s neighbors since Hamas seized the strip in 2007. Social media pushback was swift. Hamas rival Fatah responded with a video showing Gaza hardships such as frequent power outages. Hamas spokesman Salah Bardaweel said Tuesday the group “is not telling people that we live in paradise,” but argues that it has governed well under tough circumstances. October municipal Palestinian elections will mark the first time in a decade Hamas and Fatah compete at the ballot box.
Palestinians scoff at #Thanks_Hamas video clip
The Middle bEast 9 Aug — Palestinian Twitter users ridiculed a video clip produced by Hamas as part of its campaign for the 206 local Palestinian elections. The slick video clip showed different scenes from what appeared to represent Hamas’s achievements in the Gaza Strip since its takeover in 2007. All the scenes were taken in bright daylight. What looked like ordinary Palestinians, including women and children, carried a sign of the hashtag #شكرا_حماس, which is Arabic for #Thanks_Hamas. Most of the frames in the video were apparently taken by a camera mounted on a drone. In one part, Gaza’s water park was highlighted, while the new housing projects (mostly built by Qatari and UAE aid) were superimposed. Strangely, none of the scenes of destruction brought about by Israel’s recurrent wars with Hamas were visible in the clip. Reactions The video spread quickly on social media. On Twitter, many Palestinians began to use the hashtag to highlight Hamas’s failures. “#Thanks_Hamas because you achieved the highest unemployment rate that even great countries couldn’t reach,” said one Twitter user. Hamas’s rivals were also quick to capitalize on the opportunity to scoff at its latest PR effort. The Palestinian secular group, which is led by President Mahmoud Abbas, produced a video of its own. Fatah’s video used the same hashtag and it was dominated by scenes from the vast destruction in Gaza. Unlike Hamas’s bright scenes, Fatah’s video clip showed mostly dark pictures and began with a huge question mark, highlighting footage from the tunnels used by many in Gaza to breach the Israeli blockade. The online tussle took place ahead of the Palestinian local elections. The vote will be held in October 2016 for the first time in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since 2006. [See also longer competing video]
13,000 families in Gaza still displaces two years after war with Israel
GAZA CITY (USA Today) 10 Aug by Abeer Ayyoub — For the past two years, Iftetah Amsha, 50, has been sharing a hot, cramped mobile home with her husband and 10 children. Their house was destroyed during the 50-day war with Israel that ended two years ago this month. “I don’t know when I will get out of here,” she said. The conflict left 18,000 housing units destroyed or damaged, according to the United Nations. Fewer than 4,500 have been reconstructed and more than 13,000 families remain displaced in this crowded strip of land along Israel’s southwestern border. Palestinian Housing and Public Works Minister Mofeed Al-Hasayneh said delays in international aid are partly to blame. Only 30% of $5.4 billion pledged for the Palestinians at an October 2014 donors conference in Cairo has arrived, mainly from Europe, he said. Squeezed by the low price of oil, Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have delayed billions in payments. In addition, the United States has been slow to disperse aid to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank because of concerns the money could reach Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group that governs Gaza … Israeli restrictions on Gaza’s imports of construction materials are another factor slowing reconstruction here, Hasayna added. Residents like Amsha has been trying to register to receive construction materials to rebuild the family home, but the wait is long … Even as Palestinians complain about Israeli restrictions, some also blame Hamas’ slow efforts to rebuild the Mediterranean coastal enclave of 1.8 million. Hussien Hameed Zwaidy, 36, lost all five of his brothers and sisters in an Israeli airstrike during the war, and he now struggles to look after their children and his own. Between Hamas’ inefficient bureaucracy and Israeli hurdles, he says has no idea when he’ll be able to rebuild his two-story home. “I’m here fighting to reconstruct the house and take care of my children along with their (siblings’) orphans,” he said….
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel admits to confiscating privately owned Palestinian lands ‘by mistake’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — The state of Israel admitted to the Israeli Supreme Court that it had expropriated privately held Palestinian land for the construction of the Ofra settlement in the north of the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, according to Israeli media. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Wednesday that the state admitted that it had “mistakenly expropriated” 45 dunams (11 acres) of land privately owned by Palestinians, and claimed the expropriated land would be returned to their Palestinian owners. Last year, the court ordered the demolition of nine already populated Jewish homes in the Ofer settlement on the grounds that the lands were privately held by Palestinians. In 1966, when the Jordanian government was in control of the West Bank, the government decided to declare hundreds of dunams of land as state land. After Israel took control of the West Bank, Israeli authorities allocated the declared state land for the building of the Ofra settlement. Since Israel is an occupying power, under international law it is obliged to act within the confines of the local laws of the occupied territory, which in Palestine refers to the British, Ottoman Empire, and Jordanian legal systems. According to Jordanian law in the West Bank, the state is allowed to declare land “state land” only if it is to be used for the “public benefit.” The public in this context refers to the Palestinian residents of the West Bank, and not Israeli settlers residing in settlements that contravene international law. Despite this, Israel continuously uses already declared state land for the benefit of Israeli settlers, while also declaring 41 percent of land in the West Bank as Israeli state land through a variety of land confiscation strategies implemented after 1967, according to the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ)….
Jerusalem City Hall okays land grab from Palestinian neighborhood for synagogue
Haaretz 10 Aug by Nir Hasson — Jerusalem’s planning committee on Wednesday approved the expropriation of 1.2 dunams (0.3 acres) from a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem, in order to construct religious institutions for the small Jewish settlement there. The ground being seized is near the Jewish neighborhood of Nof Zion, a private, well-to-do settlement for 90 families. The settlement overlooks the Old City, and is surrounded by homes from the Palestinian village of Jabal Mukkaber. According to Councilwoman Laura Wharton (Meretz), the land being taken is to build a synagogue and mikveh (Jewish ritual purification bath). The land seized is private land, though the identity of the owners isn’t clear. The settlement is built on land that was purchased by Jewish investors some 50 years ago. In a statement, the Jerusalem municipality said, “The area in question is part of the Nof Zion neighborhood, intended for public buildings and a synagogue. The land is located in the center of the neighborhood surrounded by Jewish homes and isn’t at the expense of Jabal Mukkaber. “The city is working to find solutions for all its residents and to erect public buildings for the residents of both Nof Zion and Jabal Mukkaber,” the statement added. The city previously earmarked 11 million shekels ($2.9 million) for the construction of a luxurious mikveh in another East Jerusalem settlement, Ma’aleh Zeitim, a year ago. That settlement is inside the A-Tur Palestinian neighborhood. “Tens of thousands of Palestinians living near Nof Zion are short of classrooms, kindergartens, public parks, community centers and basic services. The city adds to its sins by advancing construction plans for new residents while failing to permit construction for the Palestinians,” said Wharton….
Israeli forces demolish Palestinian structures across West Bank
[with photos] NABLUS (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — Israeli authorities carried out multiple demolitions across the occupied West Bank on Tuesday morning, including residential structures funded by the European Union, in the midst of an unprecedented campaign targeting Palestinian homes, business, and agricultural structures under the pretext of lacking building permits which are nearly impossible to obtain. The demolitions — which included two businesses [restaurant and porcelain workshop] in Sabastiya, five homes in Umm al-Kheir, and three homes in the Jericho villages of al-Jiftlik and Fasayil — were immediately denounced by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in a statement released on Tuesday. “Israel is relentlessly destroying Palestinians’ homes and livelihoods in order to make way for more illegal settlements,” Hamdallah said. “Once again, I call on the international community to step in and stop Israel’s ongoing violations of international law.”
EU-funded Palestinian homes demolished in Umm al-Kheir, Israeli forces assault locals: In the village of Umm al-Kheir in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli bulldozers under military escort demolished five residential structures belonging to the al-Hathalin family, three of which were funded by the European Union. According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, the five buildings were home to 27 Palestinians, 16 of them minors, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. Ratib al-Jubour, a spokesperson for a local popular committee in Umm al-Kheir, said Israeli forces assaulted Palestinians who tried to prevent the demolitions. It was the ninth time the village was targeted by Israeli-enforced demolitions. Most recently in April, 35 village residents were left homeless in a single day when Israel destroyed their homes without giving prior notice.Umm al-Kheir resident Suleiman al-Hathalin at the time referred to the demolitions as “ethnic cleansing.”“Thirty-five people have become homeless, while settlers of the illegal Karmel settlement are living a luxurious life only a few steps away from my home,” he told Ma’an in April, adding that Israeli forces had demolished his home in effort to displace him….
Israeli forces demolish water pipelines under construction in northern West Bank
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 8 Aug — Israeli forces reportedly destroyed large portions of a water pipeline under construction in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tubas on Monday. Arif Daraghmah, the head of the village council in the Jordan Valley and neighboring Bedouin communities, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces accompanied by military vehicles and two bulldozers began the demolition process early on Monday morning on the pipeline, which he said targeted a pipeline funded by NGO Action Against Hunger that had been under construction for the past four months in order to provide water to residents of the area. Daraghmah added that the Israeli forces completely destroyed the four-kilometer water pipeline between the town of Tubas and the village of Yarza, and also destroyed and seized large parts of the nine-kilometer pipeline connecting Yarza to the village of al-Malih. He said Israeli forces were carrying out these demolitions in order to pressure Palestinian residents into leaving the area … According to Amnesty international, nearly 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank do not have access to running water, a situation aggravated during the hot summer months.Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq estimated in a 2013 report that up to 50 percent of Palestinian water supplies were diverted by Israeli national water company Mekorot over the summer months to meet the consumption needs of Israel’s illegal settlements….
Israeli authorities force Palestinian man to demolish own barn near Nablus
Nablus (Ma‘an) 8 Aug — Israeli authorities forced a Palestinian man to demolish a barn on his farm Monday in the area of Sabastiya west of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, after forces threatened the night before to demolish it with military bulldozers and charge a fee if he failed to do so himself. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settler activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces previously gave a demolition notice to Abdullah Jamal for his 400-square-meter barn and cattle farm in the western part of the village. Daghlas added that Israeli forces enforced the demolition without a court order, highlighting the fact that Jamal had filed a suit in Israeli courts, which had yet to make a ruling on his appeal. Jamal built the barn in order to raise cattle and sheep, his main source of income. He was forced to demolish it himself to keep his livestock, and to avoid paying a demolition fee to Israeli authorities, as he was already set to lose tens of thousands of shekels with the loss of the barn….
Israeli settler bulldozers uproot 500 olive trees in Salfit
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — Israeli settler bulldozers under the protection of Israeli army and intelligence forces uprooted hundreds of olive trees from Palestinian lands in the village of Iskaka in eastern Salfit on Wednesday morning. Local activist Khalid Maali told Ma‘an that two bulldozers belonging to settlers from the illegal Israeli outpost of Nefih Hanania and the nearby Rachelim settlement razed 35 dunams (8.6 acres) of agricultural land planted with some 500 olive trees in the eastern al-Bayyada area of the village, near the outpost and settlement. Head of the Iskaka village council Abd al-Qader Abu Hakmeh told Ma‘an that villagers were taken by surprise when the convoy stormed the village and uprooted the olive trees without giving prior notice, under the pretext that they were located on state lands confiscated by Israel … Maali said that land leveling had escalated recently in the occupied West Bank, especially around Salfit for the expansion of the 24 illegal Israeli settlements surrounding the district.
Iskaka has been subjected to numerous Israeli confiscations over the years for the construction of Israeli settlements, checkpoints, outposts, bypass roads, and Israel’s separation wall. According to the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), the majority of areas in Iskaka confiscated by Israel were agricultural lands, while 75 percent of the village’s economy is dependent on agriculture….
Israeli occupation forces uproot 50 olive trees in Bethlehem
MEMO 10 Aug — Israeli occupation forces yesterday uprooted olive trees in the Wad Rahal village, south of the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem. The Bethlehem coordinator of a Palestinian committee against settlements and the Separation Wall, Hassan Breija, said that an Israeli force supported by two bulldozers stormed the Khilt Nahla area and started to uproot olive trees. The trees belong to Palestinian Ibrahim Abdah. Breija added that Israeli forces are still in the area razing land in order to annex it and add it to the illegal settlement of Efrat.
Reports: Israel planning to build new settlement in East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — The Israeli Jerusalem municipality has reportedly been working on plans to construct a new illegal settlement southwest of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, according to Israeli media. Israeli news website Walla reported Monday that Israel’s Jerusalem municipality filed the plan for 2,500 housing units under the name “olive trees district,” due to the vast number of historic olive trees that span across the 280-dunam area. Israeli officials behind the new settlement have reportedly been working on garnering enough support to start building in the area area for the past eight years. Israeli Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Municipality Meir Turgeman, who is also the head of the local planning and construction committee, expressed confidence that the construction of the settlement would be approved once it is formally presented to the committee and to the Israeli Land Authority.
City Hall backs plan for thousands of new housing units in East Jerusalem
[with map] Haaretz 8 Aug by Nir Hasson — Plan to build some 2,500 housing units beyond 1967 Green Line being spearheaded by private developers, but enjoys local government’s support — A plan to build thousands of new housing units in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo is being advanced by private developers with the blessing of the Jerusalem municipality. The plan, currently in its initial stages, includes the construction of some 2,500 housing units in the area east of Gilo, near Route 60, located at the southern part of the capital, not for from the Palestinian town of Beit Jala. The plan, first reported Monday by the Israeli outlet Walla News, covers an area of some 200 dunam (50 acres). Most of the designated land is under private ownership, and some 30 percent belongs to Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948. The plan is being advanced by the developer Nehemiah Davidi and architect David Guggenheim, who plan to put forth a master plan for the area, and then, pending its authorization, outline the actual details of the new neighborhood in Gilo. Such a large-scale project will undoubtedly face difficulties, especially due to American opposition to Israeli construction beyond the Green Line, the pre-1967 borders of Israel. Only recently, a similar construction plan, dubbed South Gilo Terraces, was delayed due to political pressure on Jerusalem’s Planning Committee not to authorize the construction….
US diplomats visit Susiya, Palestinian village threatened with demolition by Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — US diplomats visited the village of Susiya in the south Hebron Hills on Wednesday morning, amid mounting international condemnation of Israel’s plans to demolish the Palestinian village. “We remain deeply concerned about the situation of this highly vulnerable population,” the US Consulate General in Jerusalem said in a statement on the occasion of the visit, which followed a visit in July to Susiya by the Consulate General’s then-Acting Principal Officer Dorothy Shea. Susiya’s residents have been embroiled in a decades-long legal battle to legalize the village and have endured multiple demolitions enforced by Israeli authorities over the years, who say Palestinians lack the proper building permits to live on the land that lies between an Israeli settlement and Israel-controlled archaeological site. The privately owned Palestinian land is located in Area C — the more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control — where building permits for Palestinians are nearly impossible to obtain. Many of the villagers have ties to the land that predate the creation of the state of Israel, and Ottoman-era land documents to prove it….
US warns it will respond harshly if Israel demolishes the Palestinian village of Sussia
Haaretz 10 Aug by Barak Ravid & Yotam Berger — EU, Britain join diplomatic push to spare Hebron Hills village, though Israel maintains that the fate of Sussia will be decided in court — The United States has warned it will respond harshly if Israel demolishes the Palestinian village of Sussia in the southern Hebron Hills. Israeli and American officials, who asked not to be named, said Tuesday that over the past two weeks U.S. administration officials have informed officials in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Defense Ministry that a severe American reaction would result if Israel destroys the houses in the village. The Israeli officials said similar messages were conveyed over the past two weeks by the European Union, the British government and other international bodies. For example, British diplomats conveyed messages to the PMO and the Foreign Ministry that the British Foreign Office in London would find it difficult to continue assisting Israel in international forums in the event Sussia were demolished. The Israeli officials said international pressure over the matter came after the Palestinian Authority turned to the United States and a number of other Western countries, claiming that Israel intends to destroy the village in a few weeks. According to the Israeli officials, the PMO informed the Americans and Europeans that at this stage there is no plan to destroy Sussia, and that the Israeli government would act in accordance with rulings by the High Court of Justice, which is now hearing a petition on the matter….
Prisoners / Court actions
Israel bans 15 Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners from seeing lawyers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — Israel Prison Service (IPS) in Israel’s Megiddo prison banned 15 hunger-striking prisoners from receiving visits from their lawyers, according to a statement released by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) on Wednesday. IPS claimed that the ban was imposed on the prisoners due to their health conditions, according to PPS, as they continued their solidarity hunger strike in support of Bilal Kayid, now entering his 56th day without food, and in protest of being held in administrative detention — Israel’s policy of imprisonment without charge or trial. IPS also reportedly banned 35 other hunger-striking prisoners from receiving lawyer visits at Israel’s Gilboa prison for the same reasons, while an order was also issued to ban lawyers from visiting hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners at Israel’s Jalbou prison. Shireen Eraqi, a lawyer from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that all the hunger strikers in Jalbou prison were transferred to solitary confinement and all their personal belongings confiscated by IPS officials, including electronic devices and bed covers. IPS also reportedly only served hot drinking water to the hunger strikers, banned family visitations for two months, and imposed a 600 shekel ($157) fine on the prisoners, according to Eraqi. She added that the actions taken by IPS were part of the prison authorities’ attempts to pressure the hunger strikers to stop their strikes….
Bilal Kayed threatened with forced treatment on 56th day of hunger strike
Samidoun 9 Aug — Bilal Kayed is currently on his 56th day of hunger strike and he remains shackled to his hospital bed in Barzilai Hospital. A photo (above) was released yesterday, 8 August, which shows Kayed from a distance inside his hospital room. In a visit with his lawyer, Farah Bayadsi of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Kayed said that the director of Ashkelon prison came to his hospital room on 6 August and “held him responsible” for the growing hunger strikes in Israeli prisons. Over 100 fellow Palestinian prisoners have joined in collective mass hunger strikes in support of Kayed, who launched his hunger strike on 15 June in protest of his administrative detention without charge or trial. Kayed was ordered to six months in indefinitely-renewable administrative detention on 13 June when he was scheduled to be released after completing a 14.5-year sentence in Israeli prison. Kayed is currently suffering deterioration of his health: he suffers from chest, kidney, eye, ear and leg pain as well as headache. His vision is blurred, his body is numb and he has lost hair; his skin is yellow and peeling. He was told by a doctor following his case that he is entering a very critical stage due to loss of fluids and salts and is suffering from dehydration. She threatened that if he loses consciousness, he will be forcibly treated, a violation of his rights and international conventions and the declarations of the World Medical Association … Imprisoned journalist Omar Nazzal, who is one of the strikers who joined Kayed’s strike to demand his freedom, is suffering from serious medical consequences despite only being on the strike for five days; in his appearance in Ofer military court yesterday, his wife Marlene Rabadi noted that his appearance was yellowed and fragile, and that while he was in the “bosta,” the infamous metal vehicle used to transfer prisoners, he had been beaten and physically abused by the “Nachsom” unit, who also threatened him with forced treatment and forced feeding. Rabadi reported that her husband had been kept in the vehicle for hours following the beating….
Israel sentences Palestinian lawmaker to 6-month administrative detention
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — An Israeli court sentenced a Hamas-affiliated Palestinian lawmaker to six months of administrative detention on Tuesday. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said that an Israeli court rejected the appeal of Hassan Youssef, a Hamas leader in the occupied West Bank, and sentenced him to an additional six months in administrative detention — internment without charges or trial, based on undisclosed evidence. Israeli forces detained Youssef on Oct. 20, 2015 in his home in Ramallah, accusing the 60-year-old member of the Palestinian Legislative Council of “inciting terrorism.” However, Youssef’s administrative detention sentence means that no charges have been officially leveled against him … According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of July, including seven Palestinian Legislative Council members — three of whom are held in administrative detention….
‘Smuggling ring’ of undocumented Palestinian workers uncovered, Israeli police say
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 8 Aug — Israeli police allegedly uncovered a “smuggling ring” of people involved in transporting undocumented Palestinian workers into Israel, an Israeli police spokesperson said in a statement on Monday. A hearing in an Israeli court was scheduled to be held in Monday to determine the remand for the main suspect, who has been detained. Israeli police stated that the main suspect was a Palestinian in his mid-twenties from the Bedouin town of Lakiya in Israel’s southern Negev region. Israeli police have been working on the case for the past several weeks, the statement said, detaining and charging an unspecified number of undocumented Palestinian workers after detecting an unspecified number of vehicles transporting them from the occupied West Bank. The main suspect also told interrogators that he operated alongside another main suspect, who remained at large. At the end of July, Israeli police detained 10 Palestinians working in Israel without permits and demolished a camp where the workers were residing near the northern Israeli city of Tamra. Tens of thousands of Palestinian workers are forced to seek a living by working in Israel due to crippling unemployment in the West Bank, as the growth of an independent Palestinian economy has been stifled under the ongoing Israeli military occupation, according to rights groups. Israeli authorities have imposed a massive crackdown on undocumented workers in Israel in recent months, which initially surged following a deadly attack in the Israeli port of Jaffa in March carried out by a Palestinian who had illegally crossed the border out of the occupied West Bank.
Accusations against foreign NGOs
A week after World Vision case, Israel accuses UNDP employee of working with Hamas
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — The Israeli government accused a Palestinian employee of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Gaza on Tuesday of diverting funds to the Hamas movement, nearly a week after it announced Israeli forces had detained a Palestinian NGO worker on similar grounds. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday that it had contacted the United Nations over the detention of a Palestinian engineer employed by UNDP and his indictment “on charges of using his position to assist the Hamas terrorist organization.” … In a statement released later on Tuesday afternoon, Israeli Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dore Gold stated that the suspected UNDP employee was a “humanitarian aid worker” who was detained for providing “material assistance” to Hamas. UNDP issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon identifying the employee as contractor Waheed al-Bursh, who Israel has accused of transporting 300 tons of rubble he was handling as part of a UNDP rubble disposal project to a Hamas-run facility. UNDP has reportedly removed more than one million tons of rubble since the 2014 war in Gaza. UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator Roberto Valent said he was “greatly concerned” by the allegation. “UNDP is committed to the highest standards of transparency and accountability and therefore in light of this development, UNDP is conducting a thorough internal review of the processes and circumstances surrounding the allegation,” Valent said, emphasizing that al-Bursh “should be accorded all due legal process and has the right to a fair trial.” The Hamas movement vehemently denied Israeli claims that it had received funding or assistance from a UNDP employee.
Official from Christian charity tortured by Israel, lawyer says
EI 9 Aug by Ali Abunimah — Israel is intensifying its assault on humanitarian aid efforts in the besieged Gaza Strip, with accusations against officials from two more international agencies. Meanwhile, the global Christian charity World Vision has rebutted Israeli claims that its Gaza director could have diverted tens of millions of dollars to the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas. Israel detained Mohammad El Halabi in June, interrogated him for more than 50 days and then charged him with diverting up to $50 million to the military wing of Hamas. There are also new indications that Israel’s Shin Bet secret police tortured Halabi to extract the confessions it is relying on. On Monday, Kevin Jenkins, president and CEO of World Vision International, said his organization is “seeking to understand the truth behind the allegations laid against Mohammad El Halabi,” and had suspended operations in Gaza pending investigations. Jenkins added that “we still have not seen any of the evidence.” “World Vision’s cumulative operating budget in Gaza for the past ten years was approximately $22.5 million, which makes the alleged amount of up to $50 million being diverted hard to reconcile,” Jenkins said. He also noted Halabi’s signing authority to spend funds was limited to to just $15,000 … While Shin Bet has long systematically used torture when interrogating Palestinians, there are new indications that World Vision’s Halabi was also a victim….
Save the Children says probing claim employee recruited by Hamas
JERUSALEM (AFP) 8 Aug — Save the Children on Monday said it was looking into Israeli claims that a Palestinian staff member in Gaza had been recruited by Hamas, days after allegations against another international NGO. “We do take any allegations of this nature very seriously and are making inquiries into this matter,” the Britain-based charity said in a statement. It comes after Israel on Thursday charged the Gaza head of major international NGO World Vision Mohammed al-Halabi with diverting millions of dollars in foreign funding to Hamas and its military wing. Part of it was allegedly used to build attack tunnels from the blockaded territory into Israel. Halabi was arrested in June and indicted on a number of charges, which his lawyer said were baseless. According to the charge sheet, Halabi recruited a Palestinian aid worker from Save the Children to join Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, in 2014. It said that Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades wanted that individual because of “connections” between Save the Children and USAID, the United States Agency for International Development. The Hamas military wing wanted him to supply them with information about individuals placed in international organisations in Gaza by the United States, said the charge sheet. The Palestinian aid worker was listed as the official Save the Children contact for two programmes carried out in 2014 which were worth $1 million and $1.4 million respectively….
Israel’s allegations against World Vision: credible charges or political ploy?
Haaretz 9 Aug by Amira Hass — Presentation of the charges as a given fact, against the employee of an international aid organization, for passing funds to Hamas, raises suspicions that the goal is to weaken voices critical of Israel — On Monday the international aid organization World Vision said that the total budget for its Gaza Strip branch during the last 10 years is much smaller than the sums Israel’s Shin Bet security service claims were transferred to Hamas. But even before this statement was made, people working in humanitarian aid organizations, and associates and relatives of the detained World Vision employee, Mohammed Halabi, commented that the accusations are unreasonable. The indictment against Halabi describes a sophisticated, far-sighted scheme involving the planting of a person within the organization, with the aim of misappropriating funds and materials, and passing them on to the military wing of Hamas. To accomplish this, Halabi would have had to overcome World Vision’s meticulous and centralized system of allocating money and equipment, contracting suppliers and the regular oversight of accountants. He also would have had to evade the main office of his organization, in East Jerusalem. Workers at other aid organizations are familiar with this well-organized system, and therefore they have cast doubt on the Shin Bet’s statements … The presentation of the charges against Halabi as a given fact – as though he is already guilty – by means of a massive media campaign in Israel, has raised suspicions among employees of international relief organizations that the goal is political: to weaken them all as voices critical of Israeli policies. For example, the Israel Defense Forces’ coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, wrote last Sunday that “after a long investigation, we discovered that Hamas is systematically using the money that world nations transfer to support the activities of international groups, such as the international organization World Vision in the Gaza Strip.” In other words: He is generalizing and casting suspicions on all such aid organizations. That is why Robert Piper, the United Nations’ coordinator for humanitarian aid and development activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, said on Monday in a press release that the Shin Bet’s accusations “raise serious concerns for humanitarian organizations working in Gaza.”
International organizations: Hamas has not interfered in our work
JPost 9 Aug by Adam Rasgon — The Shin Bet last week accused Hamas of infiltrating World Vision, an international humanitarian organization, and instructing an employee to funnel millions of dollars into its coffers. On Tuesday, the Shin Bet claimed Hamas exploited an employee of the United Nations Development Program, using him to build projects that benefit Hamas’s armed wing.
In the wake of these incidents, other international organizations operating in Gaza tell The Jerusalem Post Hamas has not interfered in their work. “Our operations in Gaza have not been subject to any coercion that has interfered with our in-conflict and humanitarian operations,” said a spokesman for the Norwegian Refugee Council, which mainly advocates for the rights of displaced persons. “We have a due diligence process that has not changed since the recent events. This process entails senior management handling resources and regular visits and oversight,” the spokesman added. The World Health Organization, which supports development and health programs in Gaza, suggested that Hamas has not interfered in the WHO’s work. “As a UN organization, our office strictly follows the WHO rules and regulations, with constant oversight and monitoring of ongoing operations,” said Gerald Rockenschaub, the head of the WHO office in Jerusalem….
ISM: Israeli plan to deport BDS activists aims to make Palestinians ‘even more vulnerable’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) denounced on Monday a recent move by the Israeli government seeking to identify and deport foreigners involved in pro-Palestinian activism in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. The Israeli government has grown increasingly concerned about the growth of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, as the movement has made gains around the world, with a growing number of companies, universities, and religious institutions divesting from organizations complicit in Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights. Israeli Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri and Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan announced on Sunday that they were forming a joint task force to “expel and ban the entry of BDS activists” into Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. The announcement has led to outcry from groups like ISM, which believe they will are the targets of the newly-formed task force … “We condemn Israeli suppression of Palestinian nonviolent resistance. This recent attempt to further isolate Palestinians indicates the occupation authorities’ unwillingness to do the only thing that will actually bring an end to Israel’s isolation — to adhere to international law, end the occupation and grant Palestinians their rights.” ISM argued that its foreign activists play a crucial role in trying to prevent Israeli army violence against Palestinians. “As a civilian population living under military occupation Palestinians in the occupied territories are promised protection under International law,” the group said in its statement. “(Foreign) civilians have been attempting to fill in the gap created by the failure of governments and official international bodies to provide protection and fulfill their obligations. “We find that our presence sometimes results in reducing the level of lethal force used by the Israeli military against unarmed Palestinians.” … The intensity of the Israeli backlash against BDS has been seen by BDS activists as proof of the important advances the movement had made in raising awareness of Israeli violations of human rights.
Homegrown Israeli BDS activists may face punitive measures
JPost 8 Aug by Lahav Harkov — A government task force formed to deport foreign activists calling to boycott Israel will also try to find punitive measures to take against their allies who are citizens or legal residents, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Monday. “We’ve formed a legal team that will look at what can be done against boycott organizations, even if they’re Israeli,” he told Army Radio. “Of course, it’s a more complicated matter, because it comes in conflict with free speech.” Nevertheless, he said, “we will take real steps against them.” Erdan called the deliberations on what to do about Israeli residents and citizens encouraging boycotts and delegitimization a “separate debate” from the Public Security Ministry and Interior Ministry task force that will began working on deporting “hundreds” of foreign boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists….
Canada’s Green Party adopts Israel BDS into its platform
TORONTO, Canada (MEE) 8 Aug by Jillian D’Amours — The Green Party of Canada has adopted a policy of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel into its official platform after a hard-fought resolution successfully passed at the party’s annual convention over the weekend. Despite pressure from pro-Israel lobby groups, supporters of the BDS resolution within the party say they hope it will break down the stigma in Canada around using BDS to fight for Palestinian human rights. “We are, I think, raising serious questions in the minds of the public and we’re breaking down that taboo,” said Dimitri Lascaris, the Green Party’s justice spokesman and the sponsor of the resolution. Launched in 2005, over 170 Palestinian organisations have called on supporters to use boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to conform to international law, end discriminatory practices against its Palestinian citizens, and stop the occupation. The resolution states that the Green Party will support using BDS to target sectors of the Israeli economy and society that profit from the occupation, until such time that Israel stops building settlements in the occupied territories and enters into negotiations with the Palestinians for a solution to the conflict. It also says the Greens will oppose efforts to prohibit or punish support for BDS. Lascaris said that successfully passing the resolution constitutes “an extraordinary moment in the battle for Palestinian human rights” in Canada, especially given recent attempts to demonise the BDS movement. Canada’s parliament passed a non-binding resolution condemning BDS earlier this year.
Occupation Captured: CPT Photo Story 08/09/16
9 Aug — Palestinian life and Israeli occupation in the West Bank city of Hebron, courtesy of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and the Alternative Information Center (AIC).
Palestinian Authority mulls establishing own Jerusalem municipal council
JPost 9 Aug by Adam Rasgon — The Palestinian Authority is considering a proposal to create a municipal council in east Jerusalem. If established, the council would be the first major official Palestinian presence in the capital since 2001, when Israel removed the PLO from the Orient House, its former Jerusalem headquarters. Mohammed Shtayyeh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, told the al-Quds daily Palestinian newspaper on Sunday that the Palestinian leadership is currently reviewing the proposal because Israel rejected the PA’s request to hold elections in Jerusalem. “In light of Israel not permitting us to hold elections, we are studying the appointment of a municipal council to revive the city and aid its people,” he said. Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, told The Jerusalem Post that, “The council would focus on providing services to Palestinians in east Jerusalem and its surroundings in light of the clear differences in services between east and west Jerusalem,” However, he admitted the PA does not expect the council to be allowed, as Israel has never approved such proposals in the past….
Palestinian electoral commission: Israel might hinder upcoming local elections
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 7 Aug — Hanna Nasir, the chairman of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC) located in al-Bireh, said that Hamas has formally agreed to run for the municipal elections scheduled to be held on Oct. 8. The last elections were held in 2005 in all Palestinian territories (the West Bank and Gaza Strip). The upcoming elections come seven years after the four-year term of the local councils ended in 2009, a hiatus that resulted from the internal Palestinian division. Hamas received reassurances from the CEC that the elections will be held under appropriate conditions, whereby freedoms will be preserved and the decisions of the Gaza courts vis-a-vis the elections’ results will be respected. In his interview with Al-Monitor, Nasir expressed concerns about potential Israeli restrictions on the entry of electoral material, such as brochures and ballot boxes, into the Gaza Strip. He also fears that Israel might not issue permits for CEC staff to enter the Gaza Strip through the Erez border crossing, and that Israel may apprehend some candidates or ban campaigns for some electoral lists….
Israeli government will no longer oppose punitive power cuts over PA debt
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — The Israeli government will no longer interfere to halt punitive measures imposed on the occupied Palestinian territory by the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), Israeli media reported on Monday. According to Israeli army radio, the Israeli government responded to a Palestinian petition to the Israeli Supreme Court regarding the IEC practice of cutting off electricity to the occupied West Bank over debt accumulated by the Palestinian Authority (PA). The Israeli state reportedly stressed that the issue of Palestinian electricity debt had “a clear national security aspect that is at the root of the foreign and defense relations of the country,” and that it therefore would no longer exercise its right to request that IEC halt its power cuts. IEC has repeatedly cut off electricity to the West Bank, most recently in April, when it targeted the Hebron, Bethlehem and Jericho districts in a move which was denounced as constituting collective punishment. Following a Palestinian appeal, the Israeli Supreme Court in April ordered that IEC suspend its policy. While the court injunction reportedly remained in place after Monday’s announcement, the Israeli government decision could have broader implications down the line. Palestinian dependence on Israeli electricity has been an ongoing point of contention between the two parties for years. The contention arises partially due to massive debt owed by the PA to the IEC, which provides around 88 percent of total electricity consumption in the occupied Palestinian territory. Israeli authorities have withheld tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA in the past over unpaid bills owed to Israeli companies….
Israeli journalists silent as their Palestinian colleagues are jailed
+972 blog 10 Aug by Noam Rotem — The Union of Journalists in Israel made an appeal this week for solidarity with investigative reporter Sharon Shpurer, who was sued for libel by Urban, a real estate development company, after she revealed on her Facebook page that it was owned by a convicted human trafficker. The union’s call to collectively foot the NIS 1.7 million bill, in the event Shpurer loses, is admirable. However, it begs the question where all that solidarity can be found when non-Jews are involved. Today marks 100 days since the arrest of Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal, who since April has been kept in custody without being charged. Few Israeli journalists addressed this flagrant violation of the freedom of the press, and none of them launched a solidarity campaign. In the spirit of the Union of Journalists’ activism and solidarity, I was expecting a similar campaign: recruiting journalists who are willing to spend one day in custody instead of Nazzal. A hundred days have gone by, leaving only 23 until the arbitrary arrest that was imposed on him by the GOC Central Command expires (barring extensions). What we need are 23 brave journalists to show solidarity with a 53-year-old father of three who was sent to jail without being convicted of a single crime….
How Israel is trying to enforce gag orders beyond its borders
+972 mag 9 Aug by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — At Israel’s request, Twitter is blocking Israelis from viewing certain tweets published overseas. Similar take-down notices have been sent to other international online platforms, the Justice Ministry confirms — Israeli authorities are taking steps to block their own citizens from reading materials published online in other countries, including the United States. The Israeli State Attorney’s Office Cyber Division has sent numerous take-down requests to Twitter and other media platforms in recent months, demanding that they remove certain content, or block Israeli users from viewing it. In an email viewed by +972, dated August 2, 2016, Twitter’s legal department notified American blogger Richard Silverstein that the Israeli State Attorney claimed a tweet of his violates Israeli law. The tweet in question had been published 76 days earlier, on May 18. Silverstein has in the past broken stories that Israeli journalists have been unable to report due to gag orders, including the Anat Kamm case … Facebook, on the other hand, provides public data about the number of requests to restrict content in Israel “alleged to violate harassment laws, as well as content related to Holocaust denial.” Facebook says it restricted 236 pieces of content in Israel in the second half of 2015, the most recent period for which data is available….
Israel has NIS 1.28 billion plan to fix water shortage for settlers, Palestinians
JPost 9 Aug by Sharon Udasin, Tovah Lazaroff — Officials are working on a NIS 1.28 billion master plan to double the amount of water that can flow to all areas of the West Bank to help alleviate the water crisis that has impacted both settlers and Palestinians this summer. The Mekorot national water company estimates a shortage of about 7,000-9,000 cubic meters of water per day in the West Bank, according to the office of Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan. The National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry is leading the charge on the project, working in conjunction with the Defense Ministry. Officials representing both ministers presented the plan on Monday to the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee subcommittee. It does not have an exact start date and it has yet to be approved by the cabinet. Among the difficulties in accurately estimating water usage is the absence of solid information on the Palestinian population in the West Bank. The plan attempts to take into account the needs of both the Israeli and Palestinian populations, excluding the Jordan Valley, through to the year 2030. “The water amount will be doubled from 73 million cubic meters per year to 142 million cubic meters per year,” Oded Fixler, the Water Authority’s senior deputy director, told the FADC subcommittee. Separately, he explained that the settlements would receive 48 million cubic meters per year and the Palestinians would have 93 million cubic meters….
Palestinians welcome Movement for Black Lives platform
EI 9 Aug by Nora Barrows-Friedman — Israel advocates are alarmed by growth in Black-Palestinian solidarity — Pledging to “firmly and consistently stand in solidarity with our Black sisters and brothers in the United States and around the world,” Palestinians welcomed the policy platform recently released by the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of more than 50 Black-led organizations. In a statement on Tuesday, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) reiterated its support for the growing Black Lives Matter movement. The BNC thanked the Movement for Black Lives “for the powerful words of solidarity in the Invest-Divest section of the platform specifically endorsing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) measures against Israel’s occupation and apartheid in line with the 2005 Palestinian civil society call until all Palestinian human rights are respected.” The platform has been enthusiastically endorsed by Jewish Voice for Peace in partnership with the Jews of Color Caucus; by IfNotNow, a protest group formed by young Jews angered by the hawkish support for Israel from mainstream communal institutions as well as by Jews for Palestinian Right of Return. Israel lobby groups, meanwhile, have been releasing scathing statements castigating the Movement for Black Lives for its support of the Palestinian-led BDS movement and its reference to US complicity in Israeli “genocide” and “apartheid” against the Palestinian people. The liberal Zionist lobby group J Street joined the chorus condemning the platform on Monday….
Google Maps accused of deleting Palestine — but the truth is more complicated
The Guardian 10 Aug by Elena Cresci — Google has been accused of deleting Palestine from Google Maps – but the truth is, it was never labelled by Google in the first place. When searching for Palestine on Google Maps, it shows an outline, but with no label for Palestine and Israel labelled alongside it. While 136 members of the United Nations recognise Palestine as an independent state, the US and much of the west does not. The representation of Palestine on Google Maps has not changed recently, but after the forum of Palestinian journalists released a statement condemning Google, word spread via social media and later news outlets. People began sharing their outrage using the hashtag #PalestineIsHere. A Google spokeswoman said: “There has never been a ‘Palestine’ label on Google Maps, however we discovered a bug that removed the labels for ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza Strip’. We’re working quickly to bring these labels back to the area.” A petition from March this year urging Google to include Palestine on their maps has gained traction in the last few days, now with almost 250,000 signatures. While nothing has changed, the online outrage has pointed to questions about how mapping technologies affect people’s understanding of the world….
How Israel uses maps to erase Palestinian ties to the land
JERUSALEM (The National) 10 Aug by Ben Lynfield — Allegations that Google had wiped Palestine from its online maps have created a storm of protest. While the accusation has proven to be unfounded, even the misconception that Palestine had been deleted from Google Maps struck a raw nerve among Palestinians and their supporters who are all too aware of how Israel has deployed maps against them to erase their ties to the land and bolster its own claims. “The Israelis used and are using maps to erase the Palestinian presence in this country,” says historian Johnnie Mansour, an Arab citizen of Israel who teaches at Beit Berl Academic College near Tel Aviv. Mr Mansour is the author of a book on how the northern port city of Haifa was transformed after its Arab neighbourhoods were captured by Jewish forces during the 1948 Nakba, or catastrophe of Palestinian displacement. He found that three quarters of its streets that bore Arab names until 1948 were renamed with Hebrew ones. More recently, he said, he had noticed the sign of a company which is building new apartments in Wadi Salib, an area that was once an Arab neighbourhood. The sign termed it “the new neighbourhood” without any reference to its Arabic name, which means Valley of the Cross. “Changing the name is changing the heritage so people won’t know the past,” he said. After the Nakba, in which about 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled from the Arab-Israeli fighting, Israel destroyed some 400 Palestinian villages, according to Mr Mansour. Although a map in a Hebrew book from 1949 about fighting in the northern part of the country listed many of the villages, subsequent maps deleted them, Mr Mansour said….
Video: Palestinian music band protests Israeli security forces with an impromptu concert
MEMO 7 Aug — A group of Palestinian musicians yesterday performed their songs and music in front of the Erez crossing after Israeli occupation forces prevented them from traveling to Jerusalem. Dawaween, a group of musicians and singers from across the Gaza Strip, were refused the necessary travel permits in order to travel to Jerusalem to participate the Palestine International Festival for Dance and Music. In response to the decision they set up a musical protest at the Erez crossing. Israel listed “security concerns” as the reason for denying the band their travel documents; however the musicians insist their only tools are their lute, drum and other such instruments. “This is one of the faces of suffering that the Palestinians endure in the Gaza Strip due to the tight Israeli blockade,” band member Ali Al-Hindi said. “This is the Israeli policy regarding every single aspect of life in Gaza.” The siege and blockade has infused every aspect of life in the Gaza Strip, including its music scene. Dawaween was formed in late 2015 to perform across the region, aiming to keep traditional Palestinian music alive. The 13-member band is made up of ten musicians and three singers.