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Mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in solidarity with Bilal Kayid continues to grow

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10 Palestinian prisoners join mass hunger strike in solidarity with Bilal Kayid
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 July — Ten new Palestinian prisoners on Sunday joined a mass open hunger strike in solidarity with prisoner Bilal Kayid, according to Issa Qaraqe, the head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, a day after reports emerged that Kayid’s health had sharply deteriorated after almost 50 days without food. Qaraqe told the official Palestinian news agency Wafa that ten prisoners from Israel’s Ramon prison had joined the open strike … Kayid, a resident of the town of Asira al-Shamaliya in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, was originally detained in 2002 for alleged involvement in the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades — the armed wing of the PFLP. Hundreds of PFLP-affiliated prisoners have staged several solidarity mass hunger strikes to demand Kayid’s release, while 33 prisoners announced an open hunger strike in solidarity with Kayid on July 18, and more than a dozen joined over the following days. The mass hunger strikes were declared alongside announcements by Palestinian factions that protests would continue to escalate in the coming weeks to demand Kayid’s release. Qaraqe highlighted in a statement that around 100 Palestinian prisoners began solidarity hunger strikes in different Israeli prisons in support of Bilal Kayid and the Balboul brothers, who have been on hunger strike for 26 days to protest their administrative detention orders that were issued in early June, just two months after their 14-year-old sister was detained for allegedly possessing a knife while trying to cross a checkpoint into Jerusalem. As a result of the mass solidarity hunger strikes, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has cracked down in a number of ways on prisoners, particularly those affiliated with the PFLP  …  A number of sit-in strikes have been set up across major cities in the occupied West Bank, with several local and foreign delegations visiting the Bethlehem tent in the past few days to show solidarity, including Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, a delegation of 200 people from different European countries, and an official delegation from Saudi Arabia. The tent was installed last week to call attention to the now hundreds of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners protesting Israel’s policy of administrative detention, which Palestinians say is used to detain family members of Palestinian political leaders, in an extension of several policies that rights groups have deemed “collective punishment” aimed at disrupting family life for Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

PFLP secretary-general placed in solitary confinement after announcing hunger strike
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 July — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said in a statement on Sunday that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has placed imprisoned PFLP Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat in solitary confinement. The PFLP, Palestine’s most popular left-wing political faction, said that the Israeli decision came after Saadat started a hunger strike in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner and PFLP member Bilal Kayid, who entered his 47th day without food on Sunday. “This practice by the Israel Prison Service won’t stop the battle for freedom, but rather bring about more escalation in Israeli prisons,” the PFLP said in its statement. The statement added that Israel would have to “bear the consequences” of the decision to place Saadat in isolation, and would be held accountable for anything that could happen to Kayid, whose health has sharply deteriorated in recent days, as he has lost over 30 kilograms of weight, lost nearly 90 percent of his ability to speak, and has become hard of hearing. The PFLP added that international prisoners’ rights groups were “complicit with the (Israeli) occupation” as long as they remained silent towards the violations of prisoners’ rights by the IPS.  The statement slammed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for their lack of intervention to help Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody….

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian in stab attempt at Huwwara checkpoint
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 July — Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man Sunday afternoon after he attempted to stab Israeli soldiers stationed at the Huwwara checkpoint in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an. Palestinian witnesses told Ma‘an that the man arrived in a private car from the direction of Nablus city, pulled over near the Israeli soldiers and started to run toward them carrying a knife. The Israeli soldiers then fired heavily at him and killed him. No injuries were reported among the Israeli soldiers. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an that the Palestinian was shot dead after he “charged at soldiers,” and that no Israelis were injured in the incident. According to initial Israeli media reports, the Palestinian was shot with three to four rounds to the chest. He was later identified by local sources as Rami Muhammad Zaim Awartani, 31.

another version of the same incident:
Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian man near Nablus
[with photos of the man and his children] IMEMC 1 Aug — Israeli soldiers shot and killed, on Sunday evening, a Palestinian man near Huwwara military roadblock, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, reportedly after he tried to stab them. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers fired many live rounds fired at the Palestinian after dragging him out of his car, while the army claimed “he ran toward the soldiers.” Israeli media agencies repeated the exact military statement claiming that the man ran towards the soldiers while carrying a knife, before they shot him dead. After shooting the Palestinian, identified as Rami Awartani, 31, the soldiers prevented Palestinian ambulances from entering the area, and refused to allow the medics to approach him to provide the urgently needed medical treatment. The Palestinian bled to death, while the soldiers closed the entire area, and declared it a closed military zone. The army took the body of Awartani to an unknown destination … Awartani was a father of several children and owned his hairstyle shop in Nablus.

Soldiers attack, injure a young man near Hebron
IMEMC 31 July — Palestinian medical sources have reported that a young man was injured on Sunday evening, after Israeli soldiers assaulted him in Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. The sources said the young man has been identified as Ramzi Nadi Ekhlayyel, 22, from Beit Ummar, and that he was moved to a hospital for treatment. Ekhlayyel was assaulted in the Central Market in Beit Ummar; the soldiers repeatedly kicked and beat him, before they cuffed and blindfolded him, and assaulted him again in the military jeep. The army wanted to abduct the Palestinian despite his injuries, but dozens of residents, including his father and Beit Ummar Mayor, eventually managed to secure his release. The soldiers fired many live rounds into the air in an attempt to force the Palestinians away.

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian, detain 2 in Duheisha camp raid
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Aug — Israeli forces Monday morning shot and injured a young Palestinian man during a raid in al-Duheisha refugee camp and detained two others — said to be PFLP operatives, according to Palestinian and Israeli security sources. Locals told Ma‘an that at 6 a.m., undercover Israeli forces in a civilian vehicle raided al-Duheisha — located just south of central Bethlehem in southern occupied West Bank — to carry out detentions. Local youth noticed the suspicious vehicle and surrounded it before they clashed with the undercover officers. A young man, who remained unidentified, was shot in the leg during the clashes. Israeli military vehicles then stormed the camp and together with the undercover officers managed, despite the clashes, to detain Mustafa al-Hasanat, 23, and Yazan Jueidi, 23. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that two Palestinians were detained in the raid, who were both suspected to be operatives of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Witnesses said an Israeli soldier was hit with a stone in the upper extremities and was evacuated in a military ambulance … Violent clashes in al-Duheisha are common and break out nearly every time Israeli forces enter the camp, which is located in Area A and should be under full Palestinian control, according to the Oslo agreements. Al-Duheisha refugee camp was established in 1949, with most of the families originating from more than 46 villages in Jerusalem. Over 13,000 refugees now live in the 0.352-square-kilometer camp, where around one-third of residents are unemployed. At least two camp residents — 19-year-old PFLP supporter Malik Akram Shahin and Mutaz Ibrahim Zawahreh, 27 — have been shot dead by Israeli forces during detention raids and clashes since unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory in October … The PFLP is considered a terrorist group by the United States, the EU, and Israel. For Palestinians, the group — founded by a Christian doctor, George Habash — is the most popular political factions for secular leftists….

‘Reasonable suspicion’ leads to death of Palestinian who went to buy cookies
Haaretz 30 July by Amira Hass — Three friends driving through A-Ram at night came under fire from Border Policemen, who killed one of them and wounded another. The policemen felt threatened, the authorities claim– Out of the darkness and from behind a parked civilian car, shots are fired at a moving car that contains three friends. The driver, 22, is killed. The 19-year-old sitting next to him is wounded in the head. The second passenger, 20, is sitting in the back and isn’t hit, but suffers severe shock. State officials Chief Inspector Yosef Amuial and Sgt. Maj. David Cohen later stated in court that the two suspects and their deceased friend had attempted to commit murder using their car as a weapon. Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge David Shaul Gabai Richter was almost convinced. “There was reasonable suspicion to believe that the movement of the vehicle was not random but deliberate,” he said. However, that suspicion was not “of a strong nature.” He therefore ordered that the two men be remanded until the following afternoon, not for six days as requested by the state, in order to enable the police to conduct further confidential inquiries. These revealed nothing and the two young men – Fares Risheq and Mohammed Nassar – were released the following day. The man who died on July 13, Anwar Salaymeh, had got married some three months ago. At 2 A.M. that night, his pregnant wife asked him to pop out and get some cookies. He left his home in the A-Ram neighborhood, north of Jerusalem, got into his car and saw two friends outside their house. He suggested that they accompany him in search of an open bakery. The three men have blue (Israeli) identity cards and the Chevrolet they were in sported Israeli license platesThe family’s only consolation was the fact that their son was buried six days later, though this was only due to the vigorous intervention of attorney Abdalla Zayed. The release of Salaymeh’s body is a clear sign that the police acknowledge there was not an attempted attack.

Israeli forces detain 4 Palestinian youths in Nablus for alleged knife possession
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 30 July – Israeli forces reportedly detained four young Palestinians at the Huwwara checkpoint south of Nablus Saturday evening, claiming the youths were carrying knives, according to Palestinian sources. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an in Nablus that Israeli soldiers claimed that the youths were in possession of 25-centimeter-long knives found in their car after it was searched by Israeli soldiers. The sources identified the detainees as Nazzal Hani Bani Fadil, 27, Asif Mahmoud Adili, 25, Yousif Hani Bani Fadil, 19, and Muhammad Ahmad Halabi, 21. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the detentions, saying that the four were carrying knives. Israeli forces have detained a number of Palestinians for being in possession of knives in recent months following a spate of attacks by Palestinians that have left some 32 Israelis dead since October. In the same period, some 216 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers. While Israel alleges many of those were attempting to attack Israelis when they were shot, Palestinians and rights groups have disputed Israel’s version of events in a number of cases.

Israeli forces detain 4 Palestinians in overnight raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 July — Israeli forces detained at least four Palestinians on Saturday night and early Sunday morning during overnight raids in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement on Sunday that Israeli forces detained Masud al-Khatib, 60, and his son Muhammad from the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron.  Muhammad Abbasi,18, was detained from occupied East Jerusalem, and Muhammad Hasan Uraynat, also 18, was detained from the northern occupied West Bank district of Jericho, PPS added … According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israeli forces conducted a weekly average of 81 search and detention operations across the occupied territory since the beginning of the year

Israeli forces target relatives of slain suspected gunman in West Bank detention raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Aug — Israeli forces detained at least 27 Palestinian in raids overnight Sunday and early Monday morning across the occupied West Bank, including a Palestinian security officer accused by Israel of weapons dealing, and relatives of Mohammad Faqih, killed last week when Israeli forces bombarded a home with bulldozers and anti-tank missiles while he was inside, concluding a weeks-long manhunt after a deadly shooting attack last month. Faqih, from the city of Dura just east of central Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, was accused of carrying out a drive-by shooting on July 1 south of the illegal Israeli settlement of Otniel in Hebron, which left one Israeli settler dead and three injured. In the wake of the shooting — which occurred within 48 hours of series of deadly incidents in Hebron that left one Israeli girl killed in her home, her attacker shot dead, and another Palestinian woman killed by Israeli forces in a separate incident, the entire district was placed under the most extensive lockdown in the West Bank since 2014. Following Faqih’s killing on Tuesday, which occurred in the village of Surif where he had been hiding, Israeli forces have begun to ease the large-scale military closures nearly a month after they were imposed. However nightly detention raids into the Hebron have continued unabated since. Locals and Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that large numbers of Israeli troops raided the neighborhoods of al-Koum, Khursa, and Sinjer in Dura predawn Monday, detaining at least 13 young Palestinian men. They were identified as Hussein Jubara al-Faqih — Muhammed Faqih’s brother, as well as relatives Muhammad Ismail al-Faqih, Ayid Ahmad al-Faqih and his sons Firas and Muhammad. During the Dura raid Israeli forces also detained Badir Ziad Abu Hlayil and his brother Iyad, Ashraf Muhammad Amr, Haitham Ismail Talahma, and Ahmad Abd al-Majid Amayra. The sources added that Israeli soldiers ransacked the homes of Muhammad Amayra, who is jailed in Israel, as well as the homes of Anas Abd al-Majid Shadid, Ahmad Azmi Tbeish, and Khalid Ali Tbeish. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the 10 detentions, and informed Ma‘an of three others who were detained in the area and remained unidentified. Israeli media reported that those detained were suspected of assisting Faqih in the shooting, while other were detained for allegedly being arms dealers suspected of assisting Faqih….

Prisoners / Court actions

Red Cross cuts family visits for prisoners
JPost 31 July by Jack Brook — Outrage in the West Bank following decision — Each month Yasmin Rajoub gets to spend exactly 90 minutes with her son, Jamal, currently serving out a life sentence in Rimon Prison for terrorist activities during the second intifada as a member of Fatah’s Al-Aksa Brigade. For the past fifteen years since Jamal’s incarceration, Rajoub has learned to savor every minute she gets with him. But since June, those minutes have been cut in half. In late May, the International Committee for the Red Cross, which has run a Family Visit Program since 1968, announced that it would be cutting back its program from two visits a month to only one, a decision which has led to uproar in the Palestinian community. Although ICRC emphasized this would not affect prisoners who are minors or women, as well as those held in Gaza, the decision still affects thousands of prisoners and their families. Bashar Bana, a young man recently released after 26 months in administrative detention, told The Jerusalem Post that “family visits are the only oxygen that we [prisoners] breathe of the outside world, and they are cutting if off.” Across every governorate of the West Bank and in every major Palestinian city and in east Jerusalem, protesters gathered on Thursday to voice their frustration with the ICRC’s announcement, and to show support for prisoners … Since all but one Israeli prison is outside the West Bank, making travel difficult, time consuming, and expensive, many people like Rajoub rely on the ICRC for facilitating their visits. They say that there is no other alternative. The ICRC, in a public statement, has said that its decision came after a “clear decrease” in the number of people showing up for visits with prisoners in the past few years, resulting in buses chronically under-capacity. However, the Hebron protesters said that the ICRC failed to realize that the reason many of them had not been going to visit their relatives in prison was due to factors outside of their control. They cite roadblocks, village closures, and the revoking of permits prevented them from leaving the West Bank, or even, in some cases, their own villages….


This Palestinian served out his 14.5-year sentence. Why is he still in Israeli jail?
Haaretz 29 July by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Bilal Kayed was due to be released last month from prison after serving the full 14-and-a-half years of his sentence. His family was excitedly waiting for him at the checkpoint when they were suddenly informed that he’d been sent to administrative detention. Since then he has been on a hunger strike, and he lies in the hospital, manacled to his bed. A man is sentenced to 14 years in prison for security offenses. Then he’s sentenced to an additional six months for leading a strike in prison. The years go by, his youth fades, until finally, the long-awaited day arrives – after all those years in jail, without a single furlough, and nearly a year in solitary confinement, after his father died without his being given the opportunity to say goodbye, after his family was not permitted to visit him, either during the first three years of his sentence, or in the course of the last year. And then the prisoner is transferred to another prison, and is sure that it is the next step in the process leading to his release. And a Shin Bet security forces officer shows him pictures of his recently expanded house, to get him even more excited about his imminent freedom. And meanwhile his family excitedly prepares for the big day, June 13. His town puts up festive decorations in honor of the occasion, his sister comes in from Germany and his brother makes plans to fly in from Saudi Arabia, and all his relatives are waiting with bated breath at the checkpoint, ready see their loved one, after all these years. His elderly mother and his stepmother wait for him at home, because excitement might be too much for them. And then comes the laconic, chilling, vicious message: He will stay in prison for another six months at least, without charges, without trial, without explanation. Why? Just because. No elaboration needed. This is administrative detention. And now all the despair he’s endured stretches out before him again, indefinitely. After all, administrative detention can be extended again and again, forever.So the inmate decides to go on a hunger strike. Indeed, for over 45 days now, he has been refusing food. Exhausted and weak, he is withering away in Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, his left hand and foot cuffed to the bed, feet chained together, with four armed jailers standing guard over him day and night….

Relatives of Muhammad Abu Khdeir detained [indicted] for throwing stones, Molotov cocktails
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 July — Two young Palestinians related to Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teenager who was burned alive by Israeli settlers in 2014, have been indicted by a Jerusalem court over a number of charges in the wake of their cousin’s brutal murder, Israeli police said on Sunday. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Nasser Abu Khdeir, 19, and Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 21 — who shares a name with his slain cousin — had been detained on June 26. The two youths have been accused of breaking the law following Abu Khdeir’s death, with al-Samri noting that they stood accused of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces in 2014, and of firing gunshots from a vineyard near one of their homes in 2015 with a weapon they had purchased. It remained unclear why the two Abu Khdeirs were detained two years after their alleged offenses. A 16-year-old from Shu‘fat in occupied East Jerusalem, Muhammad Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and murdered by three Israeli extremists on July 2, 2014. All three confessed to beating the teenager unconscious before pouring flammable liquid on him and setting him alight. An autopsy later confirmed the teen had been burned alive.


Israeli army targets Gaza fishermen, farmers with gunfire
GAZA (WAFA) 31 July – Israeli army and naval forces Monday attacked Palestinian farmers along Gaza borders and fishermen sailing within 6 nautical miles in Gaza sea with gunfire, according to a WAFA correspondent. Israeli forces stationed at watchtowers along the borders with eastern Khan Younis city, in the southern Gaza Strip, opened heavy machine gunfire toward farmers and prevented them access to their borderline agricultural land. However, no injuries were reported. Meanwhile, soldiers stationed at watchtowers in the Israeli Kissufim military base, located northeast of Khan Younis, on the Gaza-Israel border, opened fire on farmers while tending to their borderline land to the east of Gaza city. No injuries were reported among the farmers who reportedly fled the scene for fear of being injured.
In the meantime, Israeli naval forces targeted Palestinian fishermen with gunfire, despite sailing within the 6-nautical-mile allowed fishing zone offshore al-Sudaniyeh area, northwest of Gaza city.

Video: Thousands commemorate Operation Protective Edge victims in Gaza
RT’s RUPTY video agency 29 July — Thousands gathered in Rafah on Thursday to commemorate those who lost their lives during Israel’s 2014 Operation Protective Edge against Gaza. The festival, attended by both Gaza residents and military and political leaders, was organized by the far-right Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement, considered by some countries to be a terrorist organization. The program included a presentation of the Al-Quds Brigades’ new weapons systems and combat tactics.

Skeleton found under Gaza rubble painful reminder for families of Palestinians missing since 2014
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 July — Remains of a human skeleton were found on Sunday under the rubble of a house in Gaza City’s eastern neighborhood of Shuja‘iyya, which was devastated by an Israeli ground incursion during the most recent Israeli military offensive in the summer of 2014. The discovery of the two-year-old remains has brought back to the surface difficult memories for the families of Palestinians who were declared missing during the war, which left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead, including at least 1,462 civilians according to the UN. Human rights groups reported that numerous Palestinians went missing during the 51-day military offensive. Some were later found, either alive or dead, although the fate of many others remains unknown.
Among those still missing two years later is Noor Omran, who disappeared after Israeli ground troops invaded the town of al-Qarara in the Khan Yunis district in the southern Gaza Strip. On the night of July 23, 2014, then 16-year-old Noor got on his motorcycle to go to the family’s poultry farm, unaware that Israeli troops had just invaded and taken over that area, his brother Muatasim recalls. Noor did not come back that night, and his family hasn’t heard from him since. His family searched the farm he was supposed to visit over and over, with the hopes of finding a body or remains, but every search left the grieving family empty-handed. All that remained was his motorcycle, untouched, with no signs of gunshots or blood …  According to Muatasim, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has tried to help the family find Noor, by taking DNA samples from the family and submitting them to Israeli authorities to see if they were holding him prisoner or withholding his body — to no avail. “It’s likely that the issue of missing persons, including my brother, is tied to the issue of Israeli soldiers held in Gaza,” Muatasim says, referring to the Israeli soldiers who disappeared during the 2014 war, and have been held as a bargaining chip between Hamas and the Israeli government … The Omran family says it has been suffering since Noor’s disappearance, and that it would be “a thousand times easier” to have learned that the teenager had died a “martyr” than to remain in the dark about his fate for two years … In April 2015, the Israeli government announced that it held the bodies of 19 Palestinians killed during the 2014 war, but neither Israeli nor Palestinian authorities gave the names of the slain Palestinians, according to Muatasim. Prisoners affairs expert Abd al-Nasser Farawaneh tells Ma‘an that the case of missing Palestinians remained unaddressed because of both Israeli and Palestinian leadership….

Gaza’s Hamas hands out land hoping to avoid financial crisis
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) 30 July — Earth movers dig into sand dunes on land where once Jewish settlements [Gush Katif] stood — prime real estate that the Gaza Strip’s ruling Hamas group hopes will ease its worsening financial crisis. Hamas has begun handing out plots of the land to 40,000 civil servants loyal to the Islamic militant group, to make up for millions of dollars in salaries it owes them for the past two years. The land giveaway is the latest sign that Hamas is struggling financially after almost a decade of uncontested power in the coastal strip. Gazans grumble about lack of jobs, constant electricity shortages and a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt that has confined the territory’s 1.8 million people to the tiny strip. The World Bank says unemployment is 38 percent. Since 2014, Hamas’ main problem has been a dire lack of cash amid Egypt’s clampdown on smuggling tunnels underneath Gaza’s border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Before the tunnels closed, Hamas earned millions of dollars from taxes on smuggled consumer goods, including subsidized Egyptian fuel … The land giveaway allows each group of four Hamas employees to share a 500-square-meter plot that they can either build on or sell. Even the sand collected on the land can be sold for about $100 a truckload. About 13,000 civil servants have already signed up for certificates attesting to their ownership of the plots. Bulldozers are working to get three initial projects launched in August. Most of the land once was part of Jewish settlements in southern Gaza, near the towns of Rafah and Khan Younis. The settlements were demolished when Israel pulled settlers and soldiers from the coastal strip in 2005. Earlier this week, earth-moving equipment dug into a high hill near Khan Younis, scooping out sand and loading it into trucks at the site designated for the Al-Isra 2 housing project. Riham Khalil, one of the civil servants, said Hamas owes her 64,000 shekels (about $17,000) in back salaries. Last month, she and three of her colleagues were allocated a 500-square-meter plot in Al-Isra 2….

Gaza: Concrete imports the new battleground in besieged strip as desperate residents try to rebuild
GAZA (ABC – Australia) 30 July by Sophie McNeill — …The issue of importing concrete into the besieged strip is now the newest battleground between the people of Gaza and Israel. “I’m getting really scared at night, I don’t sleep. I’m worried that the house will collapse,” says Fida Mosabeh, 32. “I don’t know what to do.” It has been two years since Ms Mosabeh and her family fled their home in the middle of the night as Israeli warplanes pounded their neighbourhood on the outskirts of Gaza. They returned to find half their house. It had been hit by a missile strike and left severely damaged. Two years on from the war, they are one of the thousands of Gazan families still waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. … But through a special United Nations-run program called the Gaza Reconstruction Program (GRM), Israel now permits cement to enter the small territory. It is only allowed to be sold to people who are jointly approved by the UN, Israel and the Palestinian authority. “If he is not approved, I can’t sell concrete to him,” says Maher El Ammas, who runs a building supply company. “They come to us with their ID, I double check his name and approval online through this program. If there is approval I sell him his share of cement.” In each corner of Mr El Ammas’s warehouse, and every other one like it in Gaza, are video cameras, recording every person who comes in to buy cement. If he sells to anyone who is not approved, or if he sells it for a higher price on the black market, his cement licence will be revoked. Inspectors can pop in at any time, or on customers at home, to check the cement is being used for rebuilding and not being diverted to Hamas….

Cyclists brave Norwegian outdoors to raise money for Gaza’s children
DUBAI (The National) 30 July by Haneen Dajani — Mohammed Al Shukairy had not cycled in 20 years but he did not hesitate to join a 240-kilometre cycling mission in Norway in solidarity with the people of Gaza. The 38-year-old Palestinian lawyer from Dubai and his wife will be among 22 cyclists from the UAE participating in this year’s Cycling4Gaza – an annual initiative that has so far raised Dh4.85 million since it kicked off in 2009 through seven rides around Europe, the Middle East and North America. Its aim is to support organisations providing aid and projects for people in Gaza. This year, funds collected by 51 cyclists from all around the world will go to Paces, a non-profit UK-based organisation that provides sports programmes for Palestinian children. So far, more than Dh776,300 of the Dh1.2m target has been raised.The cyclists will pedal from Gaustablikk east to the Norwegian capital, Oslo, between August 4 and 8.

Restriction of movement

Suddenly, a Palestinian breast cancer survivor becomes a ‘security threat’ / Amira Hass
Haaretz 28 July — ‘What security threat do I pose to Israel if I go for an exam at Tel Hashomer?’ Abu Nahla wonders. ‘At the hospital entrance they take my identity card and exit permit. I can’t just go out for a stroll.’  — Nadia Abu Nahla (Bakri), 52, who survived breast cancer, is very late for the periodic medical checkup she needs. In 2009, she was successfully treated at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. She underwent chemotherapy, an operation, radiation; she asked and received exit permits for all stages. Of all her family, only her mother was permitted to accompany her. Afterward, Abu Nahla continued regular follow-ups with the team that treated her with dedication. It is known how critically important the follow-up is. The medical equipment needed for periodic exams is not found in the Gaza Strip. It is forbidden to import it. Severe limits on movement also impair the quality of treatment in Gaza. And in general, it is her right to remain under the supervision of the medical team that knows her so well. Abu Nahla is the director of the Gaza branch of one of the veteran Palestinian institutions working for women’s equality, the Technical Committee for Women’s Affairs. In recent years, because of a slight relaxing of the blockade, she received exit permits to participate in meetings and conferences in the West Bank and abroad. In February, she traveled through the Allenby crossing to visit her daughter and son, who study in Amman. She stayed two weeks and returned. The children, by the way, don’t dare visit the homeland, lest they be barred from leaving to return to their studies. Recently she has been suffering from bone pain. After an exam at Tel Hashomer in December she got another appointment for March 30. When she asked for an exit permit ahead of the date, she received, to her shock, a reply in the negative. “Refused,” went the decision.She rescheduled the appointment, submitted another request for an exit visa from Gaza, and again she was denied. Then it happened a third time. Her requests to leave for conferences in the West Bank and abroad were also suddenly rejected, without explanation….

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Protesters, police clash at Israeli Arab village set to be razed for Jewish town
Haaretz 31 July by Almog Ben Zikri — Three Israeli policemen and a civilian were injured in protests that erupted on Sunday as bulldozers moved onto the site of an unrecognized Arab village Israel plans to tear down to make way for an authorized Jewish community. Six protesters, among them, two minors, were taken into police custody. Protesters tried to disrupt the work of Israeli bulldozers and earth removal equipment which began digging a boundary close to the site of Umm al-Hiran homes destined for removal. Rabbi Arik Ascherman, president of Rabbis for Human Rights, and Israeli Arab activist Salim Abu Alkayan were among those arrested. Abu Alkayan’s son Ra‘ad Abu Alkayan told Haaretz that “new heavy equipment” was brought to the site on Sunday morning to mark off territory around the village. “Is this how police should behave? They stepped on a four-year-old girl and fired tear gas at point blank range at minors,” Alkayan said. Police said the arrests were “against the background of disturbances at the work site of Hiran, after they allegedly started to disrupt the machinery’s work, also risking their own lives and others, and assaulting police who were safeguarding the area.” In May, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch petition by Umm al-Hiran residents to outlaw their planned eviction. About 1,000 people live in the village, including descendants of those who moved there in 1956 when Israel’s military governor at the time ordered them to do so. The court ruled the land belongs to the state and the Bedouins have no legal rights to it.

Israel: Bedouin ‘betrayed’ by relocation plan
Al Jazeera 31 July by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours — Residents of Wadi al-Naam village oppose Israel’s plan to relocate them to a nearby township rife with povertyAn Israeli government plan to relocate thousands of Bedouin citizens to what it has dubbed a new township in the southern Negev desert is a betrayal, a lawyer representing the Bedouin villagers has said. Sanaa Ibn Bari, a laywer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said the residents of Wadi al-Naam – a so-called “unrecognised” Bedouin village in southern Israel – are strongly opposed to the newly approved plan. “We are basically back to square one, where the government is, in a chronic way, suggesting the same solution over and over without implementing the needs of [the] Wadi al-Naam community,” Ibn Bari told Al Jazeera. The Israeli government’s housing cabinet recently voted in favour of moving 7,000 residents of Wadi al-Naam into the new community, which will cover about 6,000 dunams (1.5 acres) of land, the Israeli daily Haaretz reportedIsrael’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Uri Ariel, who oversees Bedouin settlement issues, said the plan was made in cooperation with the residents of Wadi al-Naam and that they were happy with it, according to the report. But Ibn Bari said the residents “feel very much betrayed by [the decision] because it has not been made with their consent in any kind of way.” Home to approximately 13,000 residents, Wadi al-Naam is the largest of approximately 35 so-called “unrecognised” Bedouin villages in southern Israel….

Israel forces Palestinian to demolish his own home in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 31 July – Israeli authorities Sunday forced a Palestinian to demolish his privately owned house in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Thawri, under the pretext of being built without an Israeli-issued permit, according to the house owner. The owner, Waleed Shwaiki, told WAFA Israeli authorities forced him to demolish his 40-square-meter house or else the municipality will demolish it and obligate him to pay the costs, which exceed 100 thousand Shekels (approximately 26 thousand dollars). He said that the so-called West Jerusalem municipality have previously handed him a demolition notice for his home, noting that the house has been built almost two years ago … He stressed that the demolition of his home has led to the dispersion of his family; Shwaiki’s pregnant wife would have to live at her family’s home, whereas he, along with his five-year-old daughter, would have to stay at his family’s home.

Israeli settler suspected of shooting Palestinian family’s cow
Haaretz 30 July by Yotam Berger — The police have confiscated the firearm of an Israeli settler suspected of shooting a Palestinian’s cow on Saturday, Haaretz has learned. The Jordan Valley police questioned the man, who is head of security for the Rotem settlement, after Palestinians from Ain al-Hilweh lodged a formal complaint, and he was temporarily removed from his post pending the investigation’s completion. According to Palestinians from the northern Jordan Valley community, the incident took place as a Palestinian boy was grazing his herd near the settlement. According to members of the family, who own the herd, as the boy approached Rotem, the head of security came out to him, warning him a number of times not to move any closer to the settlement. He then allegedly fired at one of the cows, hitting it in its leg and causing it to fall over. It later managed to get up again and rejoin the herd as it returned to the family’s tent. “The kid came back with the herd and [the head of settlement] just shot, the cow fell over and the kid just started screaming and crying: ‘Why did you kill her?,'” said Guy Hirschfeld of the anti-occupation group Ta’ayush who helped the family lodge a complaint. “[The head of security] told the kid: ‘I told you a number of times not to come here.’ That’s the whole story right there,” Hirschfeld said….

State said to approve land to relocate Amona outpost
Times of Israel 31 July by Tamar Pileggi — Israel has reportedly approved the allocation of state land for the relocation of the West Bank outpost of Amona, a settlement at the center of a drawn-out legal battle that was deemed illegal and ordered evacuated by the Supreme Court by late 2016. The northern West Bank community is scheduled to be demolished in December, after the court ruled in favor of the Palestinian plaintiffs who said Amona was built on privately owned Palestinian land. According to Army Radio, the 1,400 dunams (395 acres) designated to replace the outpost are located in the West Bank Binyamin region north of Jerusalem. Some 140 new housing units would be built at the site, with 40 of them reserved for families evacuated from Amona. Amona residents have rejected the relocation order, and vowed not to comply with the court-ordered evacuation, the report said. Established in 1997, Amona is the largest of about 100 unauthorized outposts — built without permission but generally tolerated by the government — that dot the West Bank. The outpost became a symbol of settler defiance after a partial evacuation a decade ago sparked violent clashes between residents and security forces. The impending evacuation, ordered in 2014, could lead to another showdown. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with other right-wing ministers are seeking to arrive at a compromise with the court and the Palestinian land-owners without forcing the Amona residents out of their homes….


A Jew, an Arab and a smartphone meet on a train in Jerusalem
+972 mag 30 July by Samah Salaime — A disturbing story of violence and racism on the light rail in Jerusalem, and how the cellphone in your pocket can deliver justice On the surface of things you could write it off as just another case of anti-Arab racism, wrapped neatly in Jewish Israelis’ all-too-common racist fears of Palestinians. Just another incident among many on public transportation in Israel, just one of many that have taken place on the light rail in Jerusalem. But this was something else. I’ve heard no small number of stories of Palestinians being harassed and attacked in public in recent weeks. There was the young Jewish woman who documented the security check Arabs are forced to undergo in Be’er Sheva. There was the photo of Jews looking entertained as they watched security forces humiliate a Palestinian construction worker. Then there was the case of Hanan Zaid Kilany, an art student at Bezalel Academy on her way from Mount Scopus to the city’s Central Bus Station, where she planned on catching a bus to visit her sister in Lydd. In a conversation we had last week, Hanan told me how she was in a light rail car, speaking with a friend on the phone in Arabic, when a woman with an overdeveloped sense of security decided there was a terrorist on the train. The woman got the attention of a border policewoman who happened to be among the passengers, and the two decided to save everyone from Hanan, who had the gall to continue speaking in Arabic … Sigalit and Amit are two Jewish women who found themselves in the middle of a racist mob and took a stand, started documenting, and went against the mainstream. That’s beautiful. Hanan did not simply submit to the racism; she assertively and stubbornly refused to accept the injustice… [too long to excerpt, read it!]

Haaretz editorial: Israeli mayor who doesn’t want Arabs in his pools is no extremist — he’s in the mainstream
31 July — The race culture that brought about Moti Dotan’s statement is fed by a leadership that has made the exclusion and isolation of this country’s Arab citizens the backbone of Israeli patriotism — In saying “I don’t hate Arabs, but I don’t want them at my swimming pools,” Lower Galilee council chief Moti Dotan was expressing the essence of that deep-rooted form of racism – the kind that doesn’t masquerade as something else or cloak itself in political correctness. In his interview with an Israeli radio station on Thursday, Dotan didn’t call for Arabs to be expelled from the country or for the torching of their village mosques. He’s not a member of the La Familia group of Beitar Jerusalem soccer fans and wouldn’t shout “Death to the Arabs!”. The Lower Galilee council head is actually expressing what many Jews – if not a majority of the Jewish population in Israel – think. “In non-Jewish, Arab culture, you go into the pool wearing clothes, trying to dictate all types of clothing, and that’s why it doesn’t suit us. The culture of cleanliness isn’t the same as ours,” he declared, and in the same breath stressed that he has Arab friends. In the hierarchy of racism, Dotan’s position can be added to those of the nightclub bouncers who refuse entry to Israelis of Ethiopian origin or anyone whose culture “isn’t characterized by my culture at places of leisure such as a swimming pool,” as Dotan put it. He later retracted his choice of words in the way that’s accepted today when it comes to racist slips of the tongue: “It’s possible that I was misunderstood.” But it’s actually “his” culture that has nurtured this ignorant racism for years and maintains the relations of enmity with the Arab minority, as part of what shapes the national cultural identity of society in Israel. This race culture is fed by a leadership that has made the exclusion and isolation of the country’s Arab citizens the backbone of Israeli patriotism. It’s the same leadership that excludes the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish from the schools curriculum and public discourse; that is afraid of the term “Nakba”; that harasses Arab and Jewish theaters that dare highlight the Palestinian narrative; and that tries to destroy the status of the Arabic language in the country.

Other news, opinion

Palestinians urge timeframe for Mideast peace talks
AFP 30 July —  Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on Saturday said any reboot of peace talks with Israel should happen within a clear timeframe and under international supervision, after meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris. Abbas also held talks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on the prospects of achieving a two-state solution, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erakat said, describing both discussions as “very constructive.” “We need a timeline for the negotiations, we need a timeline for the implementation, and we need an international framework that will ensure the implementation of any agreement reached,” Erakat told reporters. France has been leading a fresh initiative to revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, after the last round of negotiations collapsed in 2014. But while Palestinians have welcomed the French push, Israel has said it favours direct negotiations. Abbas “reiterated our full support to the French initiative that aims to convene an international conference before the end of the year,” Erakat said.The Palestinian negotiator added that there was “no contradiction” between the French, US and more recently Egyptian efforts to break the deadlock and move the peace talks forward.

Black-Palestine activists should highlight police brutality in Israel
+972 mag 29 July by Amjad Iraqi — The transnational solidarity movement between Palestinians and Black, indigenous, and other minority Americans has made significant strides in promoting the struggle of Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But in its focus on challenging Israel’s military regime as an institution of oppression, the movement – like many other outsiders – has sometimes overlooked another oppressive institution that operates inside Israel itself: the national police force. In fact, when American activists of color tour the region, many find that their experiences in the United States are even more accurately mirrored by those of Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up a fifth of the population within the state’s 1948 borders. The conditions of many Arab towns in Israel remind the activists of impoverished ghettos in American cities; segregationist laws in land and housing echo those of the Jim Crow south; and in particular, the stories of police brutality sound starkly like those in the U.S. Like minorities in America, the Palestinian citizens’ experience with Israeli security authorities is embedded in a history of violence, distrust, and impunity … Police practices like these illustrate how policies of repression and marginalization can derive not only from specific laws and legal tools, but from the absence of law as well. In the U.S., black Americans have long criticized law enforcement authorities for primarily operating through two extremes: under-policing in issues where they are most needed, and over-policing in others for the wrong discriminatory reasons. For Palestinian citizens, the Israeli police work in a strikingly similar manner. Domestic abuse, gang wars, and traffic violations in Arab communities are largely ignored; terrorism, political protests, and crimes affecting Jewish citizens, however, are met with swift and severe responses….

Arab woman who inspired Netanyahu waiting for answers about family murder
Haaretz 28 July by Jack Khoury — Siham Heikhal from Umm al-Fahm still doesn’t know who shot and killed her husband and sons in 2011 — A woman mentioned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week as an example of the suffering caused by the lack of law and order in Arab towns, is afraid to return to the home where her husband and sons were murdered five years ago, she told Haaretz on Tuesday. Siham Heikhal from Umm al-Fahm said she does not know the status of the investigation into the murders and that police do not update her on the investigation or provide her with answers to her questions. In a video clip released on social media on Monday, Netanyahu urged Israel’s Arab citizens to get more involved in Israeli society. “I will never forget the conversation I had in a Knesset committee with a young Muslim woman,” he said. “Her husband and sons were gunned down in an Arab town. She was shaking. She begged me. She said, ‘Prime Minister, please increase law and order in the community where I live.’” “And that is exactly what we’re doing,” Netanyahu added, referring to the government’s five-year plan to increase law enforcement in Arab society. Heikhal’s husband, Tawfiq Assad Agbariya, was 46 when he was shot dead in his home in 2011, along with her sons Ahmad, 19, and Mahmoud, 15. The shooter has never been apprehended. It was described at the time as one of the worst examples of crime in the Arab community“I was surprised when I heard the prime minister,” she told Haaretz. “It is good he still remembers me, but in the final analysis nothing has changed. I don’t know what is happening with the case at all. “The thought that the murderer is still free very much worries me, and I cannot accept claims such as difficulties with the investigation or collecting evidence,” she added. “I’m sure the police have the tools and means to find the murderer, and if there was real intention and public pressure they would have done so.” ….

Palestine Football Cup final postponed as Israel denies Gazan players entry to Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 July — The Palestinian Football Association announced Saturday that the Palestinian Football Cup Finals between Ahli al-Khalil from the occupied West Bank district of Hebron and Shabab Khan Yunis from the Gaza Strip would be postponed for 48 hours after Israeli authorities prevented several Palestinian team members from passing the Erez Crossing from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. Association head Jibril al-Rjoub said during a press conference held in Hebron that after a meeting between al-Rjoub, heads of professional football clubs, and several journalists, the decision was made to postpone the match. On Wednesday, several team members were prevented from passing the Erez checkpoint from the besieged Gaza Strip into Israel to travel to the West Bank, where the finals were supposed to take place in Hebron on Saturday. Israeli authorities reportedly held the players for 12 hours, before allowing only ten players to continue on to the West Bank. The Palestinian Football Association had said at the time that the final game would be canceled unless all players were allowed to participate in the match, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Al-Rjoub said there would not be a match unless all Palestinian team members were present, adding that the game follows FIFA rules and would not be dictated by Israel. He also pointed out that the FIFA President Gianni Infantino and the chairman of the FIFA Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine, Tokyo Sexwale, were expected to visit Gaza … Palestinian Football Association officials also pointed out that they had dealt with similar problems in previous matches, including running into challenges getting all the players past Israeli-controlled checkpoints within the West Bank when players compete with other West Bank teams, according to Haaretz.

Palestinians file FIFA complaint over Israeli restrictions
JERUSALEM (AP) 31 July — The head of the Palestinian soccer federation has submitted a complaint to the international soccer governing body, FIFA, after Israel prevented seven soccer players and staff from traveling from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. Jibril Rajoub says the Shabab Khan Younis players were attempting to attend the final Palestine Cup match in Hebron. The game, scheduled for Saturday, was postponed. Israel’s Shin Bet security service said the team members were barred due to “severe negative security background.” Israel has maintained a blockade on Gaza since the militant Islamic group Hamas took over in 2007. In 2015, Rajoub asked FIFA to suspend the Israeli soccer association because of restrictions on Palestinian players. Israel has asked FIFA to condemn Rajoub’s hailing of Palestinians who attack Israelis as courageous heroes.

Palestine Choral Festival — continuing a musical renaissance
TWIP Aug by Michael Stevens — The inaugural Palestine Choral Festival – a true celebration of community music-making – was held in 2013. The 10-day festival in August reached audiences throughout the West Bank, with more than 30 concerts and over 30 educational, outreach, and community events. Now, in August 2016, the Palestine Choral Festival returns, bigger and more far-reaching than before. Even for people with only a limited musical background, singing together in choirs gives rare pleasure. Almost everyone can sing without even thinking about it, and with only very basic training, people can sing together in choirs in a way that gives enormous gratification and satisfaction not only to themselves but also to those who hear them. Singing in this way builds individual self-esteem and contributes to community cohesion and well-being. Even better, there is no need for expensive equipment or instruments, and it is a pastime available to people of all ages. It’s fun, easy, and cheap! It should be no surprise therefore that the range, number, and quality of choirs in Palestine continues to grow. This year there will be more than 50 – from Gaza, the West Bank, and 1948 Palestine. Equally important in the festival is the involvement of high-quality, international choirs, both to perform concerts and to enjoy workshops and rehearsals with the Palestinian choirs. The festival is produced by the Choir of London, in association with the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music….

Canaan dogs – an ancient breed of Palestine
TWIP Aug by Ahlam Tarayra — Although the world recognizes the Canaan dog as a rare breed, in fact one of the oldest-known dog breeds, it is ironic that most Palestinians consider it baladi (native, common), a low-class breed that few people, apart from herders, would choose as a pet. In Palestine, few people know that these dogs are an official pariah breed recognized under the name “Canaan.” Nor do they know that the Canaan dog is promoted internationally as Israel’s national dog breed, and that in 2015 an International Canaan Dog Conference was held in Israel, celebrating 50 years of recognition of the Canaan dog as the Israeli national breed. Thus, this independent, loyal, highly intelligent natural guard dog has been taken for granted in its homeland to the point that people are not only unaware of its significance as a cultural treasure, they also contribute, unknowingly, to the fact that the Canaan dog may face extinction. Even Palestinian dog-lovers do not consider the Canaan dog as their first choice for adoption; if they do, they are likely to be ridiculed, as it is perceived as a street dog. But the Canaan dog is believed to have been one of the first dogs to be adopted by humans and in existence in the Middle East since the pre-biblical era. It appears in ancient Egyptian paintings, together with other breeds, and is believed by many to be the breed referred to in the Bible as the watchdog (Isa. 56:10) and the guardian of flocks (Job 30:1) … Even though it is locally believed that there are many Canaan dogs in Palestine, specialists have actually announced that the breed is endangered in its native land. It is estimated that thousands of Canaan dogs were killed in Israel’s rabies eradication program that nearly wiped out the breed. According to a study on diagnosing and controlling rabies in Israel from 1976 to 1997, an average of 18,322 dogs each year were eliminated….

Opinion: Stop living in denial, Israel is an evil state / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 31 July — Israel may not be Nazi, nor even a fascist state. Yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states. Just consider these acts of evil perpetrated by the state… — After we’ve cited nationalism and racism, hatred and contempt for Arab life, the security cult and resistance to the occupation, victimhood and messianism, one more element must be added without which the behavior of the Israeli occupation regime cannot be explained: Evil. Pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake. Sometimes, it’s the only explanationOnly evil can explain the state’s conduct toward Bilal Kayed [see article under Prisoners] – only an evil state acts this way.The arbitrary announcement, at the last moment, of a senseless detention is abuse, and the way he has been treated since then is also abuse. Only evil can explain the detention last week of another young man, Hiran Jaradat, whose brother Arif (who had Down syndrome) was killed in June and whose father died two days ago. He is under arrest for “incitement on Facebook” and was not released to attend his father’s funeral. Evil. The continuation of the detention of poet Darin Tatur – evil. The destruction of the tiny swimming pool that the residents of Khirbet Tana in the northern West Bank had built for themselves – evil. The confiscation of water tanks from a community of shepherds in the Jordan Valley in the July heat – evil. A great many of the decisions of the occupation regime that decides the fates of individuals, families, communities, villages and cities cannot be explained without evil. The list is as long as the occupation. The extortion of sick people from Gaza to enlist them as collaborators, the blockades on cities and towns for weeks, the Gaza blockade, the demolition of homes – all evil. Banal or not, its existence must be acknowledged and it must be recognized as one of the most influential values in Israel. Yes, there is an evil regime at work in Israel, and therefore it is an evil state. (listserv) (archive)


American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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