Palestinian family left homeless after Israeli forces occupy home as military post
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — Israeli forces expelled a Palestinian family of 10 from their home in the village of Harmala in the southern occupied West Bank Saturday evening, in order to use the house as an Israeli military post. Homeowner Muhammad Sbeih told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers ransacked his two-story home and forcibly seized the keys. The soldiers, he added, expelled the family by a “military order,” telling them to find another place to live. The family of ten, including multiple children, has now been rendered homeless. An Israeli commander reportedly told Sbeih that the Israeli army would use the house as a military post to prevent local youth from throwing stones at Israeli settler vehicles traveling on the main road. The house is located on the outskirts of the village along the main road to the Palestinian village of Tuqu‘, which leads to the illegal Israeli settlement of Teqoa.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli arrested over shooting death of Palestinian who tried to steal truck
Haaretz 15 Aug by Yaniv Kubovich & Lee Yaron — A 64-year-old Israeli man was arrested on suspicion of shooting and killing a Palestinian Sunday morning, apparently to prevent him from stealing his truck. Police said the man, a resident of Beit Elazari, a moshav near Rehovot, told them that three men had tried to steal his truck. He initially claimed to have fired in the air to scare the thieves away, but this story didn’t match the crime scene evidence. Later, after police found the dead man, the owner changed his story. He said one of the thieves threatened him with an iron bar, so he shot him. Police are now trying to determine whether the owner, who has no criminal record, really opened fire in self-defense, or whether he shot the men in order to stop the theft. They held him for questioning for several hours, but released him to house arrest Sunday evening. The incident occurred at about 5:30 A.M., when the 64-year-old owner heard a noise from the lot where his trucks are parked. He left his house with his legally owned pistol and upon reaching the lot, saw the suspects trying to steal one of the trucks, he said. When the police arrived, he told them he had scared off the thieves by shooting in the air. But when the police searched the area, they found bloodstains. Soon afterward, an anonymous caller told the Magen David Adom ambulance service that a friend of his had been shot and was lying where he had fallen. Police went to the spot from which the anonymous call came and found the body of a Palestinian man of about 30 years old from the West Bank town of Halhoul, near Hebron. Lying next to him were gloves and tools for breaking into a locked vehicle. Police later discovered that the call was made from the dead man’s cell phone. They concluded that his partners abandoned him to make good their own escape, but nevertheless wanted him found….
Israel police yet to investigate beating of Palestinian taxi driver
Haaretz 14 Aug by Nir Hasson — The police have not yet investigated an incident in which a Palestinian taxi driver was attacked in Jerusalem and his leg was broken – allegedly by Jews. A week ago Friday morning Ishaaq Abu Jabneh, 36, was near Zion Square in downtown Jerusalem in his cab. “I usually don’t go there because it’s known as a place where there’s a mess, but my friend bought a new car and I went down to congratulate him. I sat with him for maybe four minutes and five or six young people 23 or 24 came over and began to swear,” Abu Jabneh told Haaretz. “They weren’t drunk, except for one. I went to talk to them; I asked ‘what’s the problem?’ They thought I was a Jew, they said to me ‘you’re a Jew, don’t interfere.’ I said I was an Arab and they began to curse me.” Abu Jabneh, a father of three from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, described the confrontation between him and one of the young men. “I know that in such situations you have to keep your hands behind your back so as not to get them mad, and that’s what I did. He didn’t stop swearing and told me: ‘Let’s take you somewhere where there aren’t any cameras and see what we’ll do to you,’” Abu Jabneh said. “Another driver wanted to take me away from there, and then they attacked us – sprayed us with tear gas. I didn’t see a thing; I fell and just felt blows. They yelled ‘terrorist, terrorist.’” The attackers left after a few minutes, Abu Jabneh says. His friends drove him to Hadassah University Hospital on Mount Scopus, where he was diagnosed with a complex leg fracture and bruises in a number of places on his body. On Sunday Abu Jabneh is expected to have a screw implanted in his leg. He says one of his friends called the police when the attack began, but the police came only 10 minutes later. Even though one of the officers took down his details, the police have not contacted him and he has not been questioned, he says … Over the past two years, dozens of Palestinian taxi drivers have fallen victim to similar attacks but only a few indictments have been filed. In many cases the attacks have included the spraying of tear gas. Many drivers have left the business because of these assaults or have stopped working at night….
Israeli soldiers detain a teenage Palestinian girl after an alleged stabbing attack
IMEMC 15 Aug by Saed Bannoura — Israeli army claimed, on Sunday evening, that a Palestinian woman was arrested after she attempted to stab a female soldier at a military roadblock, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Palestinian sources said the kidnapped Palestinian is a child, and that the army kidnapped her parents at the scene and her two brothers from their home. She has been identified as Amaal Jamal Mohammad Kabaha, only 15 years of age. On its part, Israeli daily Haaretz said “the woman was driving a car, and got out of it at the Shaked roadblock, before attempting to a stab soldier.” It added that a female soldier suffered a mild injury and that the soldiers “arrested the Palestinian woman” without the need to open fire, and took her to an interrogation facility. Meanwhile, Israeli Ynet News said the soldier was injured during what it called “the struggle to neutralize the threat,” and that she received medical treatment at the scene without the need for hospitalization. Following the incident, the soldiers kidnapped the child’s father and mother, who were with her, and later invaded the family home, in Toura village near Jenin, and kidnapped her brothers Sanad, 21, and Mohammad, 20.
Anti-occupation youth backtracks on bus explosion due to presence of children
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 14 Aug — Palestinian university student Ali Abu Hasan, 20, told interrogators that he refused to detonate a bomb in an Israeli bus after he saw children in it. Abu Hasan stated that after he caught sight of the Israeli children, he changed his target and moved to a nearby restaurant, where an Israeli occupation officer arrested him. Abu Hasan said he planned the attack because of the simmering Israeli aggressions against the holy al-Aqsa Mosque. He added that he does not regret his decision and that the choice emanates from a personal conviction. According to a joint police and Shin Bet investigation, the day before the attempted attack Abu Hasan entered 1948 occupied territory through nearby Wadi Sur Baher, and then changed his clothes into sportswear to assimilate into the population. The anti-occupation youth was accused by an Israeli court of “manufacturing weapons, being in possession of a knife and attempted murder.” Abu Hasan is a student of civil engineering at Palestine Polytechnics in the southern occupied West Bank province of al-Khalil. Over recent months, Palestinians have carried out anti-occupation attacks against Israeli targets as Israeli violations against al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, have drastically increased with Israeli settlers storming it on a daily basis. While Palestinian anti-occupation attackers have often taken into consideration such humanitarian factors as the presence of children and women in their targeted locations, Israeli aggressors have never shown a concern for the age of their Palestinian targets.
Army injures three Palestinians in Jerusalem
IMEMC 13 Aug — Palestinian medical sources have reported that at three young men were injured, late on Friday at night, after Israeli soldiers repeatedly assaulted them, causing various cuts and bruises. The soldiers struck the three Palestinians with clubs and batons on various parts of their bodies. The three Palestinians were injured following clashes that took place after a number of extremist Israeli colonizers attacked homes, and hurled stones and empty bottles at them. Clashes also took place in the al-Wad Street, in the Old City, after dozens of soldiers invaded it, and searched a number of homes. On Saturday at dawn, dozens of soldiers invaded several areas in occupied East Jerusalem, especially in the Old City, conducted extensive searches of homes and kidnapped at least ten Palestinians.
In Hebron, Israeli forces destroyed a bicycle built for 10
Haaretz 13 Aug by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Here’s the bike – or what’s left of it: It’s smashed in two. Like two unicycles. It was purchased for 10 shekels (less than $2.50) from a junk dealer in the Hebron market – a blue bike without pedals or brakes that can only be ridden downhill. “Vision,” it says on the bike. It was the only toy of the 10 children of the Burqan family, and even now they’re riding on what’s left of it. Last month, a Border Policeman confiscated the bicycle from 8-year-old Anwar Burqan, who dared to ride it on a road reserved for Jews only, in the non-apartheid quarter of Hebron. The policeman threw it into the bushes, but was caught doing so by the camera of a volunteer from B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, who happened to see what was going on from his home nearby and decided to film it. Uploaded to the internet and broadcast on television after the incident, which occurred on July 25, the video made waves in Israel and the world. Anwar returned home crying bitterly, shaken by the police officer’s behavior and scared that her siblings would be angry at her for losing the bike. Her older sister hurried to the site of the incident, at the bottom of the street that leads to their home. She found one wheel on the ground and the other parts peeking out of the bushes at the side of the road. Three days after the incident, Anwar’s father, Amer, had some sort of accident at home and fell out of his wheelchair, which fell apart like the bike; since then he’s been bedridden, without a wheelchair, unable to leave the house. Anwar wakes up every night in a fright, her mother says….
18 Palestinians injured in clashes at Aqsa as hundreds commemorate Jewish holy day
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — At least 18 Palestinians, including a minor, sustained injuries at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday when clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces who were escorting hundreds worshipers commemorating the Jewish fasting holy day of Tisha B’av. According to Doctor al-Sarkheh who works at the compound’s medical clinic, Israeli forces interrogated him to identify three injured Palestinians, who were taken to a hospital for treatment after being beaten by Israeli soldiers. Two were identified as Nasser Qawas, the head of Palestinian Prisoner’s Society in Jerusalem, and his son Jihad. The third remained unidentified. The Palestinian Red Crescent also reported that another 15 Palestinians received medical care for injuries they sustained during the clashes. Israeli police began enforcing heightened security measures around the compound at noon prayers at the mosque on Saturday, while Jewish worshipers began gathering at the site under armed escort at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, according to the director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani. Palestinian guards of the mosque also escorted Israeli settlers to monitor their acts and behavior, he added. Witnesses told Ma‘an that they saw Israeli settlers performing Jewish rituals inside the compound, in violation of longstanding agreements regarding non-Muslim worship at the site. Meanwhile, Israeli police stationed outside the compound’s gates imposed restrictions on the entry of Muslim worshipers.
Some Muslim worshipers, locals said, were denied entry, and others were asked to leave their identity documents with Israeli soldiers before they were allowed to go in. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that a total of some 304 “foreign and non-Muslim visitors” toured the compound throughout the morning hours, and that “seven Jewish visitors were stopped after they violated the visiting rules,” adding that “two more Jews were stopped as the last group left the compound.” … Israeli forces carried out large-scale detention raids across Jerusalem’s Old City overnight Thursday in anticipation of start of Tisha B’av, detaining and assaulting 15 Palestinian youths, and later releasing them after handing them a 15-day ban from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Extremist settlers had already stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound leading up to the day of fasting, and were expected to carry out massive tours in the compound throughout the day on Sunday….
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli prison ‘like being inside a grave’
Al Jazeera 14 Aug by Zena Tahhan – -Amal al-Sada, a 28-year-old Palestinian woman from Hebron, had been visiting her jailed older brother for more than a decade before deciding to risk smuggling a SIM card to him – unaware of the price she would pay for the attempt. After spending eight months under house arrest in the Kseifa area of the Negev desert, Sada was sentenced to 14 months in prison in July 2015, fined around $4,000, and banned from ever visiting her jailed brother again. Her brother, who had been serving a 17-year sentence for allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli settler, was given another three years in prison. After her sentencing, Sada was placed in solitary confinement for two weeks in Ramle prison, then transferred to HaSharon prison for six months, and finally to Damon prison to serve out the remainder of her sentence. She was released last week, nearly one month early. Al Jazeera spoke with Sada about her experience in Israel’s prison system. Al Jazeera: Can you tell us about your time in solitary confinement? Amal al-Sada: I was completely isolated. I did not see day or night. It was like being inside a grave. I spent two weeks without a shower because the bathroom I had was open and directly facing the door of the cell, so that if the female guards were to walk by or look in, they could see me showering. I did not shower for two weeks. She would swear at me in Hebrew – calling me dirty and telling me to shower. I refused. I didn’t even have any other piece of clothing to change into. The most painful part was when I would ask for water. I would ask for it in the afternoon, and they would bring it to me at 12am at night. I would call and call for them – but they would not give it to me when I asked for it. I have diabetes, and I need water. So I resorted to drinking water from the bathroom tap. They humiliated us greatly….
PPS: ‘All detainees in Nafha, Ramon, Negev and Hadarim to hold a one-day warning hunger strike Tuesday’
IMEMC 14 Aug — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported, on Saturday evening, that all Palestinian political prisoners in the Israeli prisons of Nafha, Ramon, Negev and Hadarim will go on hunger strike this Tuesday, as a warning measure that could be followed by extended strikes. The PPS said the detainees will be striking in solidarity with the political prisoners who are already striking, including Bilal Kayed, who entered his [third] month of a hunger strike, demanding his release after he served his 14.5-year prison sentence, and Israel decided to keep him imprisoned under arbitrary Administrative Detention orders, without charges or trial. He added that the detainees are also demanding the Prison Administration to void its illegal decision denying family visits, and the decision to bar them from watching Maan TV and Palestine TV. On its part, the Palestinian Detainees’ Committee, said the move is a natural and logical response, as the soldiers continue to violate their rights, subject them to harsh conditions and frequent assaults. It added that these violations have recently witnessed a very serious escalation, not only against the detainees, but also against their families who are being harassed and turned away on military roadblocks while trying to visit with them.
Palestinians perform Friday prayers at ICRC headquarters, demand release of hunger strikers
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — Dozens of Palestinians performed Friday prayers in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) building in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, in solidarity with the current wave of hunger-striking prisoners. Upon the request of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) and the Families of Jerusalem Detainees Committee, the Muslim worshipers gathered outside the building in order to draw attention to what Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, a local religious leader, said was the “Israeli authorities’ escalation of procedures against Jerusalemite prisoners.” … The speakers stressed the importance of public and political support for prisoners Bilal Kayid, and brothers Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul — who have all been on hunger strike in protest of their administrative detention sentences — in their “just cause” and on working to release them…. Kayid, who entered the 61st day of his hunger strike on Saturday, is a prominent member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). After being sentenced to six months of administrative detention — an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial — on the day he was expected to be released from a 14-year prison sentence, he declared an open hunger strike. PFLP-affiliated prisoners from across Israel’s prisons launched solidarity hunger strikes to support Kayid, with more than 80 Palestinian prisoners participating as of Sunday. Kayid is one of the most high-profile hunger strikers since Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq came near death during a 94-day hunger strike before he was finally released in May. Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul had been on hunger strike for almost 40 days on Friday, prominent Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal declared his strike on August 4, while Ayyad al-Hreimi and Malik al-Qadi are also on hunger strike in protest of being held without charge or trial….
Israel rejects appeal to release hunger-striking Palestinian brothers detained without charge
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — The Israeli Supreme Court rejected an appeal on Sunday submitted by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs to release hunger-striking Palestinian brothers Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul from administrative detention, according to Iyad Misk, director of the legal department of the committee. The brothers have been on hunger strike for more than 40 days since being placed under administrative detention — Israel’s controversial policy used primarily against Palestinians to detain them without trial or charge. Sunday’s court session did not take into account the status of the brothers’ deteriorating health, and postponed any discussion on their medical conditions or requests to be transferred to a hospital. A court hearing on the matter is reportedly scheduled to be held at an unspecified date in Jerusalem’s central court. Misk highlighted the critical condition of the brothers, saying that the two have yet to receive proper medical care, with Mahmoud being treated in the al-Ramla prison hospital and Muhammad still being held in a cell inside Israel’s Ofer prison. Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul have been on hunger strike since July 4 and 1 respectively, shortly after they were detained from their home at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in early June….
Hamas fighter dies of electric shock inside Gaza tunnel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — A member of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement, was killed by an electric shock on Saturday while working inside a tunnel in the besieged Gaza Strip. The military wing released a statement confirming the death of Muhammad Shlouf from the city of Gaza. A number of Palestinians in Gaza have been injured and killed in the vast tunnel networks that lie below the besieged enclave, which are largely used for smuggling in the coastal enclave’s south and military purposes in the north.
Army opens fire on shepherds, farmers, in Rafah
IMEMC (AA) 14 Aug — Israeli soldiers stationed across the border fence east of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, opened fire, on Saturday evening, at a number of shepherds and farmers. The soldiers fired many live rounds at the shepherds and the farmers, forcing them to leave their lands in fear for their lives. The soldiers were stationed on military towers in the “Sofa” army base, across the border fence, east of Rafah.
Israeli forces level lands in southern Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — Israeli military vehicles staged a limited incursion across the borderline of the besieged Gaza Strip to level land on Monday morning, locals said. Locals told Ma‘n that six Israeli military vehicles crossed the Abu Rida gate at the border east of the town of Khuza‘a in the southern Gaza Strip and leveled Palestinian land in the area … Palestinians who work near the “buffer zone” between the Palestinian enclave and Israel often come under fire from military forces, as the Israeli military has not made clear the precise area of the designated zone. The practice has in effect destroyed much of the agricultural sector of the blockaded coastal enclave
Al-Aqsa University students pay the price of Gaza-Ramallah bickering
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 14 Aug by Entsar Abu Jahal — On Aug. 9, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in Ramallah announced its official withdrawal of accreditation from Al-Aqsa University in the Gaza Strip. The ministry issued a statement the following day appointing the current chairman of the board of trustees as chairman of the university. This decision to invalidate new degrees sparked the concern of high school students from Gaza who want to enroll in the university and reflected the deep division that prevails between the Gaza and Ramallah ministries of education … In light of the political dispute between Fatah and Hamas and with each movement trying to impose its control over Al-Aqsa University, the fate of the students remains unknown for now. The Ministry of Education in Ramallah keeps issuing statements that the ministry in Gaza rejects, as both parties claim to be working according to the law for the sake of students, who find themselves victims of this bickering.
Turkish hospital in Gaza to open in 2017
GAZA (AA) 13 Aug — A Turkish hospital currently under construction in Palestine will open its doors in 2017, an official working on the project said Friday. Funded by the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), the Palestine-Turkey Friendship Hospital will be Gaza’s largest when it becomes operational, according to TIKA’s Palestine Coordinator Bulent Korkmaz. Korkmaz told Anadolu Agency that the cost has so far reached $40 million. “The hospital will include cancer and heart research and treatment departments as well as a prayer room and library,” he added. The facility is just one of hundreds of TIKA-funded projects in Palestine, ranging from vocational training for the disabled to water wells in the Gaza Strip. The latest influx of Turkish aid to Gaza was made possible by way of a deal signed last month between Turkey and Israel in which the two nations agreed to restore diplomatic relations following a six-year hiatus.
Japanese sponsor business contest in Gaza
KHAN YUNIS, Gaza (Jiji Press) 14 Aug — Japanese youths have sponsored a business contest in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip to support economic independence of young people in the self-governing Palestinian territory. Ten teams of entrepreneurs short-listed after the screenings of application documents competed in the contest held on Wednesday and Thursday. The first prize went to a team that developed a light-weight, low-cost concrete block using ashes left from wood and other materials burnt for electricity generation. Some 10 Japanese people, including a university professor, an entrepreneur and a student, visited Khan Yunis to organize the business contest. The contest, targeting people in their teen years to 30s, was also supported by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Seiichiro Yonekura, professor at Hitotsubashi University and one of the judges in the contest, told the participants not to think that there is no hope in Gaza.
Committee: Half of houses destroyed in 2014 Gaza war await reconstruction
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — Some 50 percent of the buildings which were completely destroyed during Israel’s devastating offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2014 are still awaiting reconstruction, head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege Jamal al-Khudari said in a statement Saturday. The reconstruction process of the small Palestinian territory has been painfully slow due to the ongoing Israeli siege, which imposes severe restrictions on the entry of reconstruction material, al-Khudari said. He added that some donor countries have also failed to commit to the pledges they made during the Gaza Reconstruction Conference in Cairo, held in October 2014. According to the World Bank, as of March 31, $1.409 billion of the support to Gaza announced at the conference was disbursed — 40 percent of the total pledged amount. Al-Khudari called upon donating countries to fulfill their pledges in order to end the “disastrous and tragic” situation in the Gaza Strip. He called upon the sponsors of the conference — Norway and Egypt — and the rest of the international community to pressure Israel to lift their near decade-long siege that has been upheld by Egypt, particularly to lift restrictions on the entry of reconstruction material….
UN says Gaza employee diverted rubble on PA instructions
AFP 13 Aug — The United Nations on Saturday said a Gaza employee had diverted tonnes of rubble on instructions from the Palestinian Authority (PA) days after Israel charged him with aiding Islamist movement Hamas. Engineer Waheed Borsh, 38, who worked for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), was arrested on July 16 and accused by Israel of being recruited by a Hamas member to “redirect his work for UNDP to serve Hamas’s military interests”. He was charged in an Israeli court with diverting 300 tonnes of rubble from a UNDP project in the coastal enclave to a Hamas operation to build a jetty for its naval force. Hamas, theIslamist rulers of the Gaza Strip since 2007, have denied any involvement. UNDP said that after reviewing Borsh’s charge sheet — which was made public on Tuesday — it had “established that the rubble in question was transported to its destination according to written instructions from the Ministry of Public Works and Housing of the Palestinian Authority as to where it should be placed.” “UNDP has full documentation on the process flow, the instructions and transportation of the rubble,” it said in a statement.
Palestinians fight back against currency counterfeiters
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 10 Aug by Entsar Abu Jahal — Scrutinizing banknotes has become common in the Gaza Strip, as citizens have been increasingly subjected to fraud and deceit lately. Counterfeit notes and coins often circulate among ordinary citizens, while the money’s main sources remain unknown. Col. Mohammed Ashour, the director of the forensics department at Gaza’s Ministry of the Interior, told Al-Monitor, “The crime lab is working on detecting all forms of counterfeiting and forgery, including documents, banknotes and passports.” Ashour said that counterfeit currencies are confiscated by the ministry’s general investigation department after citizens, banks and exchange houses report them. He said there is no unit specialized in detecting counterfeit currency, as is the case with stolen gold. Yet gold is easier to control, since it is sold in specific stores. “Some counterfeit currencies are detectable by the citizens’ naked eye, as they differ significantly from the genuine ones, while other bills can only be spotted with special devices,” Ashour said. There is no Palestinian national currency. Among counterfeit bills in the Gaza Strip, US dollars are the most common, followed by Israeli shekel bills, Ashour added. He emphasized that it is hard to identify the main source of counterfeit currency, as citizens often fail to identify them and the bills change hands quickly.
The Idol review – Gaza’s got talent
[with TRAILER] The Guardian 14 Aug by Wendy Ide — Based on the true story of Mohammed Assaf, a wedding singer from Gaza who went on to win Arab Idol, this jubilant air punch of a movie works best in the initial stages, when Assaf’s backstory is established. Kinetically shot, and edited with a restless adolescent attention span, the film captures a scrappy gang of kids – Mohammed, his tomboy sister Nour and their two friends – who dream of musical stardom even as they scrabble for the money to buy instruments. The second part, which piggybacks on the manufactured thrills of the talent show, is less convincing. However, Tawfeek Barhom, in the central role, is an intense and magnetic presence….
Restriction of movement / Closures
Will Gaza photographer ever accept international awards in person?
GAZA CITY 12 Aug by Rasha Abou Jalal — Palestinian photographer Ashraf Amra has won another international photojournalism prize but may miss the Moscow award ceremony for the second year in a row, unable to leave the Gaza Strip — Palestinian photojournalist Ashraf Amra is pleading with international human rights organizations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate to be allowed to travel from the Gaza Strip to Moscow to receive a journalism award. Amra, a resident of the Deir el-Balah refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, won second place in the Top News category in the Andrei Stenin International Photo Contest on Aug. 4. The contest was organized by the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency under the auspices of the UNESCO commission of the Russian Federation. More than 7,000 photographers from 71 countries participated. Amra’s career in photojournalism started in 2002. He worked with several local news websites and was a reporter for several local radio stations. He also worked as a freelance photographer selling photos to such international news agencies as Reuters and AFP. He is now a photographer for APA images, an independent Palestinian photojournalism agency … The photo that won Amra second place shows the body of Rahaf Hassan, a 2-year-old child killed by an Israeli airstrike that hit her house in the Zeitoun neighborhood east of Gaza city on Oct. 11, 2015. The airstrike also killed the child’s mother Noor Hassan, who was five months pregnant. Amra’s photo shows the father, Yehya Hassan, hugging his child’s dead body in his arms at her funeral….
Israeli forces continue road closures in Kifl Haris
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — Israeli forces maintained their closure of the main entrances of the town of Kifl Haris in the occupied West Bank for the fourth day on Sunday, local sources said. Israeli forces first raided the town on Wednesday while searching for suspects who reportedly threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli settler cars in the area, before closing off Kifl Haris’ main entrances and preventing Palestinian citizens from entering or leaving using these roads … Kifl Haris deputy mayor Ezzat Shaqour said that the closure had escalated Palestinian citizens’ suffering in the area, with residents being forced to use alternative roads and detours, taking significantly more time to reach their destinations.
Israeli army threatens to set up fence in Ya‘bad town
JENIN (PIC) 13 Aug — The Israeli occupation army at dawn Saturday threatened to build a fence around Ya‘bad town in Jenin if local young men continued to hurl stones at Israeli cars traveling on the nearby main road. Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that the Israeli army imposed a tight siege on the town on Friday evening before a large number of its troops stormed it at dawn today, amid intensive tear gas attacks. They added that several citizens suffered from inhaling tear gas inside their homes. During its campaign in the town, the occupation troops put up notices on the walls of some homes threatening to take harsh measures against Ya‘bad residents if they did not prevent their children from stoning Israeli cars. The Israeli army also warned that it might surround the town with a fence if stone-throwing attacks persisted. According to the same sources, Israeli soldiers questioned and maltreated citizens in the town, with no reported arrests.
PA upset as ‘VIP’ travelers breeze over Allenby Bridge
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 12 Aug by Ahmad Melhem — The Palestinian Authority is accusing Israel of intentionally stifling the flow of travelers through a border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan to promote a new and expensive VIP service.
Israel destroys home of Palestinian who stabbed girl in bed: army
AFP 15 Aug — The Israeli army on Monday destroyed the [Bani Naim] home of a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank, after he killed a 13-year-old girl as she slept in her bed, a military spokeswoman said. Mohammed Nasser Tarayra, 19, broke into a house in the Kiryat Arba settlement near Hebron in the southern West Bank on June 30. He stabbed American-Israeli Hallel Yaffa Ariel dozens of times while she slept, before being shot dead by settlement guards. A video posted by the army online Monday showed dozens of troops laying charges in the building in the dead of night before carrying out a controlled explosion. Israel frequently destroys the homes of Palestinians who have carried out attacks. Critics of the policy denounce it as a collective punishment, which leaves the families of attackers homeless, but the Israeli government says it discourages others who might be thinking about carrying out similar acts….
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Salfit farmers unable to harvest their lands isolated behind the wall
IMEMC 14 Aug — Dozens of farmers from the central West Bank district of Salfit have complained about being prevented from entering their lands, isolated behind the illegal Israeli Annexation Wall, in Salfit. The farmers, from Salfit city, Mas’ha, Marda, Iskaka and many communities in the district, said the Israeli army is denying them access to their lands, isolated behind the Wall, an issue that is preventing them from harvesting their almond trees, figs, carob trees and several other types of summer produce. They added that the soldiers are only granting them permits to enter their own lands when the produce is still not ready to be picked, or when it is too late for harvest, and that just in rare occasions, the army grants them permits restricted by very short timeframes. Palestinian researcher Khaled Ma’ali, said the Wall and Israel’s illegal colonies have led to the destruction of about %70 of the farmlands, and grazing lands, in Salfit district, especially amidst the expansion of the district’s 24 Israeli colonies. “By preventing the Palestinians from planting and harvesting their own lands, Israel is significantly increasing poverty among the farmers,” Ma’ali stated, “This is a direct violation of International Law, and the Fourth Geneva Convention, especially articles on the protection of civilians and their lands.”
WATCH: Activists show solidarity with parched Bedouin village
Israeli Social TV 14 Aug — Israel’s National Water Company, Mekorot, supplies water to Israeli settlements in Area C of the West Bank while Palestinians are denied access to wells and pipes that run through their land. Watch Israeli and international activists show solidarity with Bedouin living on the edge of the village of Fasayil in the Jordan Valley.
Israeli forces detain 4 Palestinians, confiscate property, in southern West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — Israeli forces reportedly detained at least four Palestinians and summoned another overnight Friday and early Saturday morning during military raids in the occupied West Bank. In the southern West Bank, Israeli forces raided the headquarters of the Bethlehem district Zakat committee at 4 a.m., destroying its doors and confiscating six computers as well as files containing information on orphans and the poor registered with the committee, Palestinian security sources said. Located on Karkafeh street in central Bethlehem, the district’s Zakat Committee is among committees across the West Bank administered by the Palestinian Ministry of Religious Affairs to collect and utilize ‘zakat,’ an Islamic tax, for the sponsorship of orphans and emergency assistance for poor families. According to Palestinian news agency Wafa, the Bethlehem office was most recently raided in December 2015, when two safes and all documents were seized.
US says moving settlements goes against Netanyahu’s commitment to Obama
i24news 14 Aug — Plan to transplant illegal West Bank settlement of Amona to nearby Palestinian land angers Washington — The United States opposes Israel’s plan to transplant an illegal West Bank settlement scheduled for demolition to Palestinian land nearby, a senior official in Washington has noted, according to Ha’aretz. The US administration recently approached the Israeli government to strongly protest the plan for Amona, which is considered illegal according to Israeli and international law, the official said, Ha’aretz reported. The Americans say that the plan contradicts commitments Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made to President Barack Obama that Israel would not appropriate Palestinian land in the West Bank to establish new settlements or expand existing ones. In 2009 Netanyahu made a landmark speech at Bar-Ilan University during which he declared, for the first time, that he was willing to accept “a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state.” “The territorial issue will be dealt with in a final agreement. Until then, we have no intention to build new settlements or to expropriate land to expand existing settlements,” Netanyahu said at the time. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters Thursday that the US was “deeply concerned” by the Israeli plan. “This would represent an unprecedented and troubling step that’s inconsistent with prior Israeli legal opinion and counter to longstanding Israeli policy to not seize private Palestinian land for Israeli settlements,” ….
Israel’s watchdog center fighting BDS
Ynet 12 Aug by Elisha Ben Kimon — In a small office situated in the heart of Jerusalem a telephone center has been established which allows people in Israel to call and report Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions movement (BDS) activities inside the country designed to harm its international standing. In recent years, the influential watchdog center against the BDS movement, ‘Lev B’Olam’ (Heart of the World), has taken on itself the struggle against the pernicious phenomenon by relying on civilians to bring it to their attention. When a caller alerts the organization, a representative completes a complaint form and asks a series of questions to gather as much information as possible such as how many BDS activists are involved in a given incident, what they are doing, whether they are using cameras etc. As much pedigree information is compiled about the individuals in question including their names, their places of residence and whether the activists belong to any specific organization. The accumulated information is then added to a special file and transferred to the Ministry of Interior and Internal Security. The initiative, which has already been around for some three years, was intensified following the Israeli deportation of Rita Faye, a BDS activists known to the IDF for her activities at checkpoints and harassment of Israeli soldiers. Faye, from Switzerland, had visited Israel several times in pursuit of her efforts to document alleged Israeli wrongdoing. However, she was deported in accordance with a deportation order from Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) at the end of July after being taken in for questioning upon arrival in Ben Gurion Airport. In addition to Faye’s deportation, Deri and Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan established a team dedicated to deporting, or preventing the entry of, activists bent on promoting boycotts against the State of Israel.
Lutherans demand end to aid for Israel over settlement building
JTA 14 Aug — The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America approved a resolution calling on the U.S. government to end all aid to Israel if Israel does not stop building settlements and “enable an independent Palestinian state.” Voting at its triennial assembly in New Orleans that ended Saturday, the church also sought a halt to all investment in companies that profit from Israel’s occupation and called on the president of the United States to recognize the State of Palestine … In the divestment resolution, which passed 821-92, the church adopted a human rights-based investment screen for its social responsibility funds to ensure the church is not profiting from human rights abuses, and mentioned the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by name. It also called for the church to “increase positive investment in Palestine.” The resolutions were spearheaded by a group within the church called Isaiah 58, which bills itself as “a group of Lutherans working for peace and justice in the Holy Land.” The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America claims about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations.
Report: Abbas asks Palestinian MKs to broker reconciliation between Hamas, Fatah
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has asked Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset, to broker a reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian Authority’s ruling party Fatah and the Hamas movement, according to Israeli media. Abbas made the request on Saturday during a meeting he held in his office in Ramallah [with] MK Muhammad Baraka, the head of the Palestinian follow-up committee in Israel, and several other Knesset members and Palestinian public figures. Israeli radio station Reshet Bet reported that Abbas said he would be open to any suggestions that would lead to a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, adding that Palestinians with Israeli citizenship were “able to be a bridge for peace” and that “we need to reach every single Israeli and show them that we want peace.” Abbas reportedly said he was willing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if the latter agrees to “respect” signed agreements. He also reiterated his opposition to a Palestinian armed struggle or a new uprising against Israeli occupation policies.
Jerusalem: Israel erases Palestine-related content from school books
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Aug — Israeli authorities in occupied Jerusalem have omitted all texts and pictures related to Palestine, and the struggle against the occupation from Palestinian school books before their distribution. According to the Hebrew newspaper Iroshalim, the Israeli municipality and the ministry of education deleted Qur’anic verses, poems and other contents from Palestinian curriculums advocating the Palestinian struggle against the occupation. The PNN further reports that Israeli authorities recently distributed books which contained some blank pages and blackened lines to Palestinian schools in the holy city. Among the lines that disappeared from those books are texts talking about the unity of the Muslim nation and the importance of Al Aqsa Mosque. The Palestinian map, flag and anthem were also removed from text books. The Israeli municipality justified the measure by claiming that it would not allow the presence of “educational books encouraging violence”.
Hizb ut-Tahrir: Palestine is not our main cause
Al-Monitor 11 Aug by Daoud Kuttab — Many of the ideological concepts and doctrines of Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) and the Islamic State (IS) are similar. They both believe in the goal of establishing Islamic caliphate rule and in the strict interpretation of Islamic law. The two groups differ, however, in one major respect: Hizb ut-Tahrir stands categorically against the use of violence and military means to realize its ideals. “We are against any use of material means to accomplish our goals,” Musab Abu Arqoub, a Palestinian Hizb ut-Tahrir leader, told Al-Monitor by phone from the town of Dura, in the Hebron district. Abu Arqoub, a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir’s media office, said that the 63-year-old Islamist party, founded by Palestinian judge Taqudin al-Nabahani in 1953, does not consider the liberation of Palestine its central cause. “Our central, existential cause is the re-establishment of the caliphate, and after that we would work for the liberation of Palestine as well as ridding the Muslim world of the pro-Western regimes that are ruling them.” With Hizb ut-Tahrir opposed to using violent means to accomplish its goals, the Israelis have over the years largely left the movement alone. The same is true of the Palestinian government, which allowed the group to organize rallies in major West Bank cities this year to commemorate the 93rd anniversary of the fall of the caliphate in Istanbul, in 1923….
Palestinian Olympic runner places 3rd in preliminaries, moves on to next round
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — Two members of the Palestinian national Olympic team participated in qualifying rounds in their respective sports on Friday and Saturday at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, with Palestinian runner Muhammad Abu Khousa moving forward in the competition, after finishing in third place during the men’s 100-meter preliminaries. With a time of 10.82 seconds, Abu Khousa was ranked six out of 21 total competitors, qualifying him for the first round of the men’s 100 meter, set to take place at 6 p.m. Saturday. According to the Palestinian media envoy to the Olympic committee, Abu Khousa said he was very happy with his accomplishment and for qualifying to the next race. Abu Khousa also expressed concern at the fact that he had pulled his hamstring during the preliminaries, saying that it will likely affect him during the coming round. [His standing after Round 1 was #69; he didn’t qualify for the semifinals.]
Meanwhile, Palestinian swimmer Mary al-Atrash finished third in the Women’s 50-meter free-style race on Friday, clocking in at 28.76 seconds on Friday. The 22-year-old finished with a ranking of 62 out of 91 swimmers, and did not qualify for the next round.
Al-Atrash said that despite not moving forward in the games, she was very happy to have broken her record of 29.91 seconds, and would continue on improving her time.
Palestinian runner Mayada al-Sayyad is set to race on Sunday. [She ranked 67th in the final.] The six-person 2016 Palestinian Olympic team is the largest team to date representing the occupied Palestinian territory. No athlete representing Palestine has yet won a medal in the Olympics, which critics have said is not surprising considering the lack of facilities in Palestine, as well as the vast travel restrictions imposed on Palestinian civilians by the Israeli government….
Update: Final Palestinian Olympic team results
PW 14 Aug by Linda Thieman — Results for Simon Yacoub, Ahmed Jebreel, Mayada Sayyad, Mary Al-Atrash, Mohammed Abu Khousa, and Christian Zimmermann, with personal notes.
Palestinian wedding season can hit the wallet hard
AFP 14 Aug — For Palestinians, summer is wedding season — time for brides and grooms to celebrate. But for guests, who are expected to help cover the costs, it can mean financial misery. The tradition of “naqout” encourages those invited to donate cash to help pay for the often lavish feasts. They pick up an envelope, fill it with cash, usually sign it and place it in a box strategically placed at the entrance. Technically the donations are voluntary, but hosts take a dim view of those failing to meet expectations. Some Palestinians see the tradition as a way to share the costs of important community events. But others say the social pressure to contribute pushes them into dire financial straits. Murad Shriteh, 46, from near the West Bank city of Ramallah, said he feels swamped after being invited to more than one wedding a week. He spent $400, nearly half his monthly salary, in just two weeks of weddings, he told AFP at a wedding party in the West Bank town of Birzeit. “I have already received several invitations for the rest of August, but I think I will refuse a few,” he said. The West Bank sees more than 25,000 weddings a year, according to Palestinian statistics. Social pressures and tradition mean that most are extravagant celebrations, with much of the community invited. They tend to involve mountains of food, live music and a photographer. The most lavish celebrations even offer each guest a traditional Palestinian scarf or a rosary. A wedding can cost up to $30,000, while even a poor family may shell out $10,000. –Sharing the burden– That’s a major in expense in the West Bank, where more than a quarter of people live under the poverty line after nearly 50 years of Israeli occupation. The costs come out of the pockets of the family — traditionally the father of the bride. Naqout is a way of sharing the burden. Khaled Abdallah, 50, recently celebrated his son’s marriage in a village near Ramallah in the West Bank. He splashed out $10,000 on the big day, but recouped the entire amount in donations. For him it was payback for decades of paying for other people’s weddings.