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Israel destroys homes, water cisterns, classroom and restaurant as demolitions spike across West Bank

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Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Palestinian families forced to raze their home amid spike in Israeli-enforced demolitions
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 28 Sept — Two Palestinian families in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina were forced to demolish their own homes for being built without licenses on Wednesday, in order to avoid the expensive demolition fines imposed by the Jerusalem municipality when its employees carry out the demolition themselves. Between the two families, 15 Palestinians were displaced as a result of the demolitions. Owner of one of the homes Imad Jaber told Ma‘an he was forced to rent a bulldozer to demolish his house, after receiving an order from the municipality. “I built this house 10 years ago with my own hands, brick by brick,” Jaber told Ma‘an. “I had no other choice but to demolish it myself, to avoid paying a fee of over 70,000 shekels ($18,000).” He said there was no way he could afford the fee, especially after he has paid 67,000 shekels ($17,885) in fines to the municipality over the last few years. He said he lived with his wife and four children in the house, for which he has continuously tried to obtain a building license, but the municipality has continued to reject his application. Meanwhile, owner of another Beit Hanina home Rami Allon was also forced to demolish his house in recent days following an Israeli court order. He told Ma‘an that he was injured during the demolition, when one of the house’s support columns collapsed on him, causing three different fractures in one of his legs. Allon said that he has been living in the two-storey, 340-square-meter house with his wife and seven children since 2013. He added that the municipality ordered him to pay a 117,000 shekel ($31,098) fine when he first built the house in 2013. He told Ma‘an that he paid the fees in hopes that the municipality would not demolish the house, and also filed multiple appeals to the Israeli central and supreme courts against the demolition, but they rejected each appeal and ordered the demolition to be carried out anyway.

Israeli authorities carry out spate of demolitions across occupied territory
[with photos and video] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Israeli authorities carried out a large number of demolitions in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank on Tuesday, destroying two family apartment buildings, a classroom, a restaurant, four water cisterns, and parts of a home in the latest instances of a policy which rights groups have said has increased drastically in past months.
Three buildings demolished in East Jerusalem — Sixteen Palestinians, including a number of children, were left homeless on Tuesday after bulldozers escorted by Israeli police and Jerusalem municipality inspectors demolished two houses in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur in the middle of the night. The two residential buildings, which each housed two 180-square-meter apartments, belonged to brothers Taysir, Jasir, and Ahmad Abu al-Hawa. Taysir Abu al-Hawa told Ma‘an that Israeli forces arrived at 3 a.m. and forcibly evacuated the families from their apartments without letting them retrieve their belongings. The Abu al-Hawas had tried and failed to obtain construction permits from the Jerusalem municipality since 2010, Taysir said, forcing them to build the two residences without licenses. He added that the family was already paying off a 280,000 shekel ($74,645.80) fine imposed by the Jerusalem municipality for the lack of permits before the homes were destroyed. Abu al-Hawa added that the operation came unexpectedly as the family’s lawyer had obtained a six-month deferment of the demolition two months earlier. A court hearing had been scheduled to take place on Tuesday morning regarding the case. Meanwhile, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa, Israeli municipalities demolished a restaurant without prior notice, the owner said. Imad Burqan told Ma‘an that he had tried and failed to obtain a construction license from the municipality, and had built the “Mediterranean Restaurant” without a permit more than 20 years ago.
Demolished classroom in E1 Bedouin community — Meanwhile, Israeli authorities reportedly demolished a classroom Tuesday morning in a school in the Bedouin community of Abu Nuwwar — part of the contentious “E1 corridor” located just east of Jerusalem municipal boundaries. Abu Nuwwar community spokesperson Dawoud al-Jahalin told Ma‘an that “Israeli occupation bulldozers” demolished a classroom that was used to serve 15 third-graders in the Abu Nuwwar coeducational school, and also leveled the school’s yard. The school was a movable structure made of wood and tin sheets donated by the European Commission….
Home partially demolished near Bethlehem — Israeli forces on Tuesday also demolished three rooms, including the kitchen, of a home in the village of Beit Jala in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, claiming they were built without an Israeli-issued building license. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers demolished part of the home, which is located near the Tunnels checkpoint southeast of Jerusalem….

Israel demolishes 28 structures in northern Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 27 Sept – Israeli forces Tuesday knocked down 28 structures, including residential sheds, animal barns, and several barracks in Khirbet al-Humma, a locale in the northern Jordan Valley, according to a local official. Motaz Bisharat, in charge of the Jordan Valley settlements file in the Palestinian Authority, told WAFA bulldozers accompanied by military jeeps and staff from the so-called Israeli civil administration demolished 28 structures belonging to five families.

Israeli forces demolish water cisterns in Hebron-area village
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Israeli forces demolished water wells in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Tuesday morning, municipal sources said. An official from the municipality of Sair told Ma‘an that Israeli troops demolished four wells in agricultural lands in the Jurat al-Kheil area east of Sair used for sheep to drink and to irrigate crops. The wells reportedly belonged to Ziyad Mahmoud Shalalda, Ahmad Muhammad Shalalda, Ibrahim Muhammad Shalalda, and Nabil Shihada Shalalda. The municipality official added that Israeli forces leveled lands in the area as well. A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in Palestinian territory, told Ma‘an that “enforcement measures were carried out against four cisterns and an illegal structure in the Sair region, which were built without the required permits,” adding that Israeli authorities had previously demolished similar structures in the area. In May, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah condemned Israel’s illegal practice of destroying Palestinian water infrastructure as “atrocious.”  “Israel uses every means possible to chase Palestinians away from their ancestral land,” Hamdallah said at the time. “Water is life, and if you don’t have water you cannot exist.” While Palestinians are routinely subject to demolitions and land seizures in the West Bank, they are also subject to disproportionately low access to vital resources. Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory consume approximately six times the amount of water used by Palestinians; this discrepancy is even greater when considering water used for agricultural purposes.

Israeli settlers level Palestinian-owned lands west of Salfit
SALFIT (PIC) 26 Sept — Israeli bulldozers moved from Leshem illegal settlement and leveled Palestinian-owned agricultural lands in Deir Ballut town west of Salfit. Local sources affirmed that the bulldozers leveled large areas of olive groves. Local farmers immediately rushed to the area in an attempt to prevent the destruction of their olive trees. Leshem settlement was illegally built at the expense of Deir Ballut, Kafer Deek, and Rafat town lands and continues to expand at the expense of the neighboring agricultural lands.

Israeli forces demolish agricultural structure in Nablus district
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 26 Sept — Israeli forces and bulldozers demolished an agricultural structure east of the village of Beit Dajan in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. Village council leader Nasser Abu Jeish told Ma‘an that Israeli forces, escorted by a number of Israeli bulldozers, demolished a 200-square-meter agricultural structure owned by Beit Dajan resident Said Ahmad Abu Jeish, claiming that it was built without a permit. Abu Jeish said that Israeli forces prevented the owner from removing equipment and agricultural material from the structure before the demolition, adding that the land where the structure had stood was then leveled. The village leader added that the damages caused by the demolition amounted to thousands of shekels.

Israeli military razes land, uproots olive trees near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 28 Sept – Israeli forces on Wednesday razed a Palestinian-owned land and uprooted olive trees in the village of Wadi Fukin, west of Bethlehem in the West Bank, according to local sources. Ahmad Sukkar, mayor of the village, told WAFA that an Israeli army force accompanied by bulldozers raided the village before proceeding to raze a locally owned plot of land and uproot olive trees. The Israeli military did not present an order as to why the land was razed, he said.

Settlers steal stones near Salfit for paving settlement streets
SALFIT (PIC) 26 Sept — Israeli settlers from Ariel settlement, illegally built north of Salfit, stole stones from the city to pave new streets for newly built settlement units. Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that Israeli bulldozers were leveling the area and left with several massive stones.

Israeli army displaces Bedouin families to conduct military training
IMEMC 29 Sept — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, Thursday, the Hamsa al-Fouqa area, near Tubas in central West Bank, and removed 19 Bedouin families from their dwellings, so that the army can conduct live fire training in their community. The soldiers surrounded Abu Hamsa al-Fouqa area before invading it, and handed the military orders for the families before removing them. The planned military drills, which will use live fire and artillery shells, will be held today and again on Friday morning for five hours, starting at six in the morning. The army frequently conducts live fire drills after displacing many Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley and central West Bank. Many Palestinians, including children have been injured, some killed, by unexploded objects dropped by the military during training.

Punitive demolitions / Closures

Israel to demolish Nablus home belonging to suspected attacker’s family
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — The Israeli Supreme Court on Tuesday approved an Israeli military decision to demolish the family home of an incarcerated Palestinian suspected of being involved in a drive-by shooting last year that left two Israeli settlers dead. The family of Palestinian prisoner Amjad Aliwi has previously filed three appeals against the decision, as they stand to be left homeless by the demolition while Aliwi serves a life sentence in Israeli prison. Salah Aliwi, Amjad’s brother, told Ma‘an that the family’s lawyer informed them Tuesday evening that the demolition could happen at any minute, after the court refused to allow the family to present any further appeals. Aliwi is currently serving a life sentence for his involvement in a Hamas military unit allegedly responsible for the incident when a married couple was shot and killed on Oct. 1, 2015 near the illegal Israeli settlement of Itamar in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. Their four children, aged between four months and nine years, were found unharmed in the back of the car … Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fast-tracked punitive home demolitions in an effort to “deter” attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals in the wake of a wave of violence that has swept across the West Bank since October. The move came despite past recommendations by an Israeli military committee that the practice did not deter attacks. Israeli rights group B’Tselem has condemned the practice as “court-sanctioned revenge” carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment.

Israeli forces demolish room in house of alleged accomplice in Tel Aviv shooting
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 26 Sept — Israeli forces demolished on Monday morning one room in the home of a Palestinian accused of complicity in a deadly attack earlier this year, local sources in the southern occupied West Bank village of Yatta told Ma‘an, with an Israeli army spokesperson later on Monday denying that the demolition had taken place. Yatta municipal council spokesman Abd al-Aziz Abu Fanar said that Israeli forces stormed the al-Hila neighborhood in the morning and demolished one room in the house of Yunis Zain. Zain, who is currently in Israeli custody, stands accused by Israeli authorities of being involved in a shooting attack carried out by two of his friends, Muhammad Ahmad Moussa Makhamreh and Khalid Muhammad Moussa Makhamreh, in Tel Aviv in June which left four Israelis dead. The homes of the two Makhamrehs, who were detained following the attack, were demolished in early August.

West Bank village resists collective punishment
Palestine Monitor 27 Sept by Cynthia Wang — Kids have to pass three checkpoints and roadblocks guarded by soldiers to reach schools. Sometimes they lose one or two classes just because it took too long to pass through,” the leader of the local council, Muwaffiq, told the Palestine Monitor. For months, the Israeli army enclosed the West Bank village of Hizma in response to what they accused the residents of inciting violence and stone-throwing against soldiers in the area. The main road was blocked entirely from July 28 for almost one month. Residents had to carry IDs inside the village preparing to be checked by soldiers anytime. Non-residents and commodity-supplied vehicles were denied access to pass. Soldiers even stopped them from entering the mosque during Ramadan. “They came so early in the morning and didn’t let us go to the mosque for our Fajr prayer,” said Aia, a 17-year-old girl from the village. “They throw tear gas to us when we stay at home.” Even if you want to go to a supermarket to buy groceries or to a falafel shop, they stopped you.” Aja added.  On some days, residents can wait in line for hours just to pass the checkpoints. “The economic situation here is deteriorating. People can’t go to their work easily if they do outside the village. They (soldiers) stop us and our cars at checkpoints or anywhere. We never know when the road will be closed again. You just have to wait and wait,” Muwaffiq said. This way of disturbing residents’ daily lives and economic activities has become a routine and systematic tactic from the Israeli army as a collective punishment to all residents when any incidents happened in the neighborhood … Furthermore, as 90% of Hizma’s land was classified as Area C by the Oslo Accords, residents are facing difficulties to access their agricultural land….

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Israel – Palestine timeline
Below is a list, in reverse chronological order, of Israelis and Palestinians killed since the Second Intifada began in 2000. Click on the names for more details, photos and sources. This website records each person killed, and aims to remind us all that every single death is the end of a life, devastating and terrifying to parents, children, siblings, friends, neighbors, witnesses and even entire communities. A neighbor or friend murdered is a loss that doesn’t go away … The majority of the names listed on this site come from the records of B’Tselem, an Israeli nonprofit organization that documents human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories, and from the International Media Information Center (IMEMC), an independent news organization based in the Bethlehem region that reports on events in both Israel and the Palestinian territories. Additional reports of deaths have come from other news agencies such as Ma’an News and Ha’aretz. The timeline does not include the names of Palestinians who have died from lack of medical treatment caused by the Israeli blockade of Gaza, as B’Tselem does not include them in their records. However, information about these deaths will eventually be posted in a separate section.

Israeli forces raid Shu‘fat refugee camp for 7th consecutive day
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 28 Sept — Israeli forces raided the Jerusalem-area Shu‘fat refugee camp for the seventh consecutive day before dawn on Wednesday, searching and ransacking scores of homes and detaining at least 13 Palestinians. Thaer Fasfous, spokesperson for the Fatah movement in Jerusalem, said that Israeli forces were heavily deployed in the narrow streets of several areas throughout the camp and raided more than 20 houses. Israeli soldiers indiscriminately fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters to suppress clashes. Locals told Ma‘an that the raids were unjustified and were merely an attempt by Israeli forces to frighten and provoke residents, noting that Israeli forces were smashing through doors and destroying furniture in homes during the hours-long raids. Witnesses said that soldiers deliberately provoked Palestinian youths who were trying to go home or leave for work, stopping and searching them, forcing them to lift up their shirts at gunpoint. Locals in the camp identified three Palestinians who were detained in the raids as Adham al-Sharqawi, Saddam Joudeh, and Hammudeh al-Kirri. According to lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud, 10 other Palestinians were detained overnight in both Shu‘fat refugee camp and the nearby village of Beit Hanina … Meanwhile, the Jerusalem-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that Israeli forces have detained more than 40 Palestinians from the Shu‘fat refugee camp since the beginning of September….

Israeli soldiers investigated for attacks on Palestinian paramedics
MEMO 27 Sept — Israeli soldiers are being investigated by military police following complaints of two attacks against Palestinian paramedics. According to the report in Haaretz, “In both cases the Palestinians claim that soldiers fired on ambulances that were evacuating wounded people.” In a letter to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, who submitted the complaints, an Israeli official confirmed that an investigation was initiated into incidents that took place on 2 October and 5 November 2015. In the first incident, Red Crescent paramedics claim that Israeli occupation forces “attacked them and removed a wounded person from the ambulance while he was receiving medical treatment.” Having responded to reports of injuries among Palestinian demonstrators in El Bireh, the ambulance crew arrived and put a wounded man in the ambulance. As they drove off, “soldiers fired two bullets into the side of the vehicle” then “removed the patient.” In the second incident, “soldiers allegedly fired at a Red Crescent ambulance and attacked a paramedic, again in El-Bireh.” Physicians for Human Rights first submitted the complaints last December, but only received a response now. In a response, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said the delay was caused by “technical problems” and that the investigations are continuing….

Israeli settler opens fire at Palestinian youths east of Qalqiliya
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Sept — An Israeli settler reportedly opened fire at a group of Palestinian youths east of the city of Qalqiliya on Monday, with no injuries reported. According to Israeli media, the Israeli settler responsible for the shooting had claimed that Palestinian youth were throwing rocks at him near the illegal Israeli settlement of Karnei Shomron located just south of the Palestinian village of Kafr Laqif, which he responded to by firing shots into the air. Israeli military forces reportedly responded to the incident by launching a search for the Palestinians responsible for the rock throwing.

Israeli settler injured after Molotov cocktails thrown at vehicle near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 Sept — An Israeli settler was injured late Tuesday night after Palestinian youths threw Molotov cocktails at their vehicle near the village of al-Lubban al-Sharqiya in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that three Israeli settlers were attacked while riding in a vehicle when a Molotov cocktail was hurled at them, causing damage to the car and injuring one of them. The injured person was evacuated to the Rabin Medical center for treatment. The spokesperson added that Israeli forces searched the area for youths responsible for the attack and set up a military checkpoint in the area.

Heightened security measures imposed in Jerusalem ahead of Jewish holiday
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Israeli police were heavily deployed across occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday as reports of an alleged “security threat” were received, according to Israeli police spokesperson. Luba al-Samri said in a statement that the security alert was declared Tuesday afternoon, issuing no specific directions for the public. The security alert was canceled Tuesday evening, and roadblocks installed by Israeli police were removed. Meanwhile, Israeli police made preparations throughout East Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday ahead of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, to take place October 2 to 4. Al-Samri said that Israeli police and border guards would be heavily deployed across Jerusalem for the holiday, particularly on roads used by Jewish worshipers and near the Western Wall of the Old City, next to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Israeli police will also close the road leading to the Old City from Jaffa Gate for private vehicles except for those of Old City residents on Oct. 2.

PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers kidnap 43 Palestinians, including children and a legislator, Wednesday’
The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, late at night and on Wednesday, at least 43 Palestinians, including children and a legislator, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem. The Jerusalem office of the PPS said the soldiers kidnapped 20 Palestinians from Jerusalem, most of them from Shu’fat refugee camp, in addition to Beit Hanina, Abu Dis, Wadi al-Jouz and Qalandia refugee camp … In the southern West Bank district of Hebron, the soldiers kidnapped eight Palestinians, including a legislator. In Ramallah, in central West Bank, the soldiers kidnapped five Palestinians from Budros town … In Tulkarem, in the northern part of the West Bank, the soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians … In Jericho, the soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians from Fasayel town … In Qabatia town, in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, the soldiers kidnapped two Palestinians … In Qalqilia, in the northern West Bank, the soldiers kidnapped one Palestinian … In Bethlehem district, the army kidnapped one Palestinian from al-Khader town. [The article identified all those detained]

PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers kidnap 13 Palestinians in the West Bank’
IMEMC 29 Sept — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped overnight and on Thursday morning, thirteen Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank. The Hebron office of the PPS, in the southern part of the West Bank, said the soldiers invaded various communities in the district, searched many homes and kidnapped four Palestinians, two of them identified as Mohammad Qassem Shallash and Abdul-Nasser Abu Mariyya. In addition, the soldiers and uncover officers invaded the town of Silwad, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, searched many homes and cars, and kidnapped a father and his son, who are also former political prisoners. They have been identified as Amin Saleh Hamed, 60, and his son Abdul-Hadi, 30. Also in Ramallah, the soldiers invaded the Nobani Farms town, and kidnapped Ahmad Mohammad Zibin and Majed Hammad. In Tulkarem, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, the soldiers invaded homes in Nour Shams refugee camp, east of the city, and kidnapped Ali Yousef Fouda, 34, and Riyad Mohammad Jawabra, 20. In Nablus, also in the northern part of the West Bank, the soldiers kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Osama Taiseer Sallam, 43. In Jerusalem, the soldiers kidnapped Yousef Waleed Abu Roomy from his home in the al-‘Ezariyya town, and Mohammad Fawzi Mteir from his home in Qalandia refugee camp. Also at dawn, dozens of Israeli military vehicles and jeeps invaded Hebron city and several nearby areas and towns, searched many homes and installed roadblocks. On Thursday morning, the soldiers installed several surveillance cameras on the western entrance of Teqoua‘ town, east of the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Amnesty: Israeli forces guilty of ‘pattern of unlawful killings’
MEMO 28 Sept — Amnesty International has accused Israeli forces of displaying “an appalling disregard for human life by using reckless and unlawful lethal force against Palestinians”, in a new statement timed to coincide with the anniversary of an uptick in violence dated 1 October 2015. The international human rights group says it sent a memorandum to the Israeli authorities on 14 September detailing 20 cases of “apparently unlawful killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces seeking clarification about the status of investigations.” In at least 15 of the cases, Amnesty says: “Palestinians were deliberately shot dead, despite posing no imminent threat to life, in what appear to be extrajudicial executions.” The Israeli authorities have not responded to Amnesty International’s concerns. The full memo sent by Amnesty can be viewed online here. According to Philip Luther, research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, the “worrying rise in unlawful killings by Israeli forces” over the last year has been “fostered by a culture of impunity.” Of the 20 incidents highlighted by Amnesty, “an indictment has been filed against a soldier in only one case. In many cases where there appears to be evidence of an extrajudicial execution, there is not even an open criminal investigation.”

Prisoners / Court actions

Autopsy reveals Palestinian prisoner died of heart condition after years of medical neglect
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 26 Sept — An autopsy has confirmed the cause of death of 41-year-old Palestinian prisoner Yasser Thiyab Hamduna, who died in Israeli custody Sunday morning, was cardiomegaly, a condition in which the heart is enlarged and can lead to sudden cardiac death. A statement from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs released on Monday announced the cause of death following the autopsy. Initial reports indicated the prisoner had died of either a stroke or a heart attack. The Committee said that the autopsy of Hamduna’s body was carried out in the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv with the participation of two Palestinian doctors — Ashraf al-Qadi and Rayan Ali — as was ordered by the Israeli central court the day prior. Two lawyers from the Committee, Iyad Misk and Karim Ajwa, also attended autopsy. Hamduna’s body is reportedly to be returned to his family on Monday. He is from the village of Ya‘abad, in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin.  The Committee’s statement reiterated the accusation that Hamduna faced deliberate medical negligence by Israeli prison authorities and doctors, who were aware of the fact that he had been suffering from a number of health issues, including shortness of breath, heart problems, and ear pains. He was severely beaten by prison guards in 2003 after his imprisonment in June that year, and had since been taken to the al-Ramla prison clinic a number of times after his health deteriorated, where lawyers and prisoners’ rights groups familiar with the case said he was routinely denied adequate treatment. He finally underwent a cardiac catheterization surgery in Israel’s Afula hospital in January 2015, and continued to remain in a serious health condition after being denied the necessary medical checkups and was only provided anticoagulant medication as treatment.

Funeral held in Jenin for Palestinian prisoner who died in Israeli custody
JENIN (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Palestinians mourners and representatives of national Palestinian institutions attended a funeral in Jenin on Tuesday for Yasser Thiab Hamduna, who died of a heart condition in Israeli prison on Sunday after years of medical neglect. The funeral procession set off from the Jenin Governmental Hospital towards the village of Ya‘bad, Hamduna’s hometown. Among the participants in the march were Governor of Jenin, Ibrahim Ramadan, head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe, member of Fatah’s central committee Azzam al-Ahmad, head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society Qaddura Fares, and several other leaders of Palestinian institutions. Hamduna’s mother, along with Palestinian security officers, carried Hamduna’s body on their shoulders as security forces fired 21 shots into the air as a salute to him. Mourners repeated slogans demanding the release of all Palestinian prisoners, calling for national unity, and condemning the international community’s silence towards Israeli crimes against Palestinians. Pictures of Hamduna were waved along with Palestinian flags. He was buried in Ya‘bad’s cemetery.

Israeli court sentences al-Aqsa sheikh to 8 months in prison for ‘incitement’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 Sept — The Israeli magistrate’s court in Jerusalem sentenced 51-year-old Sheikh Omar Abu Sara to eight months in prison on Monday for delivering a sermon at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in November 2014, claiming he “incited violence against Jews.” A statement from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said that lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud demanded that the court postpone executing the order until December to allow him to present an appeal. Abu Sara told Ma‘an that he was initially detained Jan. 1, 2015 and spent five days in jail. During his detention, he said that Israeli officers interrogated him about a religious lecture he gave at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City on Nov. 28, 2014, entitled: “Jewish characteristics in the Holy Quran.” After five days of interrogation, Israeli authorities released Abu Sara and sentenced him to house arrest for six days until legal procedures were completed. He was also banned from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for 60 days. Abu Sara denied Israeli accusations and said that his sermon was not racist or incitement, but rather religious teachings and verses from the Quran. However, Israeli media translated the sermon after a video of it was released, which included statements such as: “I say to the Jews loud and clear: The time for your slaughter has come. The time to fight you has come. The time to kill you has come.” Abu Sara said after being sentenced: “If my sermon was incitement, then what do you call Israelis calling for the slaughter of Palestinian children, women, and men, who claim that the children will grow up to be terrorists?”  His remarks seemed to refer comments made by Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked — similar to comments often made by Israel’s right-wing media and leadership — who advocated for the killing of the mothers of slain Palestinians, referring to them ‘snakes.’ “They should follow their sons. Nothing would be more just. They should go as should the physical houses in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise more little snakes are raised,” she wrote in the summer of 2014, just one day before a group of Israeli settlers attacked, beat, and burned alive Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teenager from occupied East Jerusalem.

Al-Aqsa guard jailed for 11 months
MEMO 27 Sept — An Israeli magistrate’s court has jailed a guard from al-Aqsa Mosque for 11 months. Fadi Ali Mohammed Aliyan, 30, was also ordered to pay a fine of 1,500 shekels ($400) after he was found guilty of standing in the way of Jewish settlers who had stormed the mosque. Aliyan was arrested on 28 June from within the mosque’s courtyards; he was moved between a number of prisons and is now being held in Gilboa. Jewish settlers regularly storm Al-Aqsa mosque and its courtyards to complete religious rituals. There have been increased calls from members of the Knesset and rabbis for such visits to increase and for the area to be annexed, all of which Muslims condemn and denounce.

Palestinians, including minors, sentenced to prison for throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 28 Sept — Israeli courts sentenced four Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem — including two minors — to prison on Wednesday for throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. Head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners Amjad Abu Asab said that the Israeli Central Court sentenced 19-year-old Basil Ahmad Tawfiq Qutub to 80 months in prison — more than six and a half years — and ordered him to pay a fine of 80,000 shekels ($21,304); and 20-year-old Muhammad Hussam Qirsh to four years in prison with a fine of 40,000 shekels ($10,652). The two were detained together last year, and stand accused of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli settlers near the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina.
Abu Asab also said that Israeli Magistrate’s Court sentenced 15-year-old Zakariya Bakri and 14-year-old Nabil Seder, both from Jerusalem’s Old City, each to five months in prison and a fine of 3,000 shekels ($798) each. The sentences came amid an ongoing crackdown on Palestinian youth and children by Israeli police in East Jerusalem, as Palestinian communities in the occupied city have begun to feel the impact of Israeli legislation passed between 2014 and 2015 increasing penalties for rock throwing, which allows for stone-throwers to receive a 20-year prison sentence where intent to harm could be proven, and 10 years where it could not.

Israel orders release of Palestinian journalist from administrative detention
JENIN (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — An Israeli court decided to release Palestinian journalist Musab Zayoud from administrative detention on Tuesday, according to Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) lawyer Saleh Ayoub. Ayoub said in a statement that Zayoud, from the northern occupied West Bank city of Jenin, was released on Tuesday, following deliberations between the Israeli prosecution and and Zayoud’s defense team. Zayoud was detained in on Sep. 20, during massive raids across the occupied Palestinian territory when 40 other Palestinians were detained and two Palestinians were shot and injured by Israeli fire. The detainees included one other resident of Jenin. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an at the time one of them was an alleged Hamas operative, without specifying which. Upon Zayoud’s detention, an Israeli court ordered him to 11 days in jail to complete an investigation into undisclosed offenses, and denied him lawyer visitation. However, he was released after spending seven days in Israeli custody.


Israel prevents Palestinian woman from leaving Gaza for cancer treatment
GAZA (Ma‘an) 26 Sept — Israeli forces have prevented a Palestinian woman from leaving the blockaded Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing for a medical exam at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Tel Aviv. According to statement from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PHCR) released Monday, 52-year old Nadia al-Bakri, a women’s rights activist in Gaza, has been suffering from breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy, an operation, and radiation treatment at Sheba Medical Center in 2009. Doctors recommended to al-Bakri that she travel to the hospital for periodic checkups, due to the fact that the medical equipment necessary for the exams are not found in hospitals in the besieged coastal enclave. Despite Sheba Medical Center’s doctors having scheduled several critical medical appointments due to a deterioration in al-Bakri’s health, Israeli forces have continued to prevent her from leaving the Gaza Strip. The last time al-Bakri was allowed to reach the hospital for a medical checkup was Dec. 27, 2015, according to PCHR. Her most recent appointment was scheduled for Sep. 20. Israel officials did not reply to a request for comment on the issue, however, a report by Israeli newspaper Haaretz in July said that an official from Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, told al-Bakri that she did not meet the criteria for “urgent humanitarian and lifesaving cases,” and evaded her questions when she asked if she was a “security threat” to Israel. Al-Bakri is a local activist, the Director of the Women’s Affairs Center in Gaza, and a board member of PCHR….

Israel cancels Gaza worshipers’ Friday visit to al-Aqsa for Peres funeral
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Sept — Israeli authorities have canceled this week’s visit of Gazan worshipers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem due to the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres. Sources at the Palestinian liaison told Ma‘an on Thursday that Israeli informed them that Friday’s visit would not take place, as the funeral of Peres, who died on Wednesday at age 93, is planned to occur that day in Jerusalem. Israel allows 250 elderly Palestinian worshipers from Gaza to travel through the Erez crossing to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque every Friday, on the condition that they return to Gaza on the same day. Visitations of elderly Palestinians from Gaza were implemented as part of a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s 2014 offensive on the besieged enclave. However, due to Israeli security concerns and Jewish holidays, visits have been frequently interrupted since their introduction.

Israeli soldiers open fire on Palestinian farmers in central Gaza
IMEMC 29 Sept — Israeli soldiers opened fire, on Thursday morning, on several Palestinian farmers working on their own lands east of Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza. The farmers said the soldiers, stationed across the border fence, fired many live rounds, forcing them to leave their lands in fear of additional escalation and army fire. The soldiers attacked the farmers while stationed on their military towers, across the border fence surrounding the Kissufim army base, southeast of Deir al-Balah. The attack is part of frequent violations targeting Gaza farmers, working and fishers, in different parts of the besieged and impoverished coastal region.

Senior Israeli military officials divided over new Gaza ‘anti-tunnel’ wall
MEMO 27 Sept — As the Ministry of Defence’s bid for the project of constructing reinforced concrete walls along the Gaza Strip approaches its deadline, Walla! News has learned that senior officers argue that the project’s cost – around one billion shekels ($0.37 billion) – will not allow for sufficient protection. As the tender published by the Ministry of Defence for the mega-project intended to cope with the threat of tunnels from the Gaza Strip approaches a decision, Walla! News has been informed of a professional dispute as to the decision on the project, among top military figures, with senior officers recommending the Israeli government consider targeted operations inside the Gaza Strip for the location and destruction of tunnels … Military officials have argued that given the project’s cost, which estimates say would start at hundreds of millions of shekels and may rapidly exceed one billion, and considering the fact that the project does not provide hermetic sealing of the border, targeted operations would be preferable. In addition, security officials have explained that the tunnels located since the operation, around two years ago, are not new ones, but extensions of tunnels located by Israeli forces during the operation, some of which had not been destroyed. However, the Israeli government has decided on this matter, opting to promote the engineering project. The tender, which is confidential for the most part, allows for the admission of international companies with expertise in very deep underground engineering and digging, and the construction of thick concrete walls – works which have never been carried out on such a scale in Israel. So far, at least 20 companies have joined the contest, and the tender is supposed to end this week….

Gaza fishermen feel caught by Israel’s tight security net
GAZA (Reuters) 27 Sept by Nidal al-Mughrabi — When Palestinian fisherman Abu Mohammed came under pressure to become an informer for Israeli intelligence, the 45-year-old father of five took a radical decision – he quit fishing and became a builder. Working off the coast of Gaza, where Israel imposes restrictions preventing fishing boats going out more than six nautical miles, was already hard enough without Israel’s security services trying to co-opt him, he said. According to the Al-Mezan Association, a Palestinian human rights group, 113 Gaza fishermen have been detained by Israel this year, compared with 41 in the same period of 2015. Those detained say there is also increased pressure – including the threat of losing their boats – to divulge information that might help Israel’s security services …  For Abu Mohammed and others, most of whose lifetime has been spent at sea, the experience has left a lasting scar. “I was on the boat with relatives and friends when an Israeli naval vessel came close,” he said, describing events earlier this year and declining to give his full name for fear of reprisals. “They fired at the boat and hit it, we stopped and they arrested us. They blindfolded us on the boat, tied our hands and took us for interrogation at a base in Ashkelon,” he said, referring to a nearby Israeli city. There an Israeli security officer asked him for information about militants in his neighbourhood and said he would give him a chance to think. “In three days I will call you and I hope you cooperate,” he says the officer told him. Scared and confused, Abu Mohammed says that when he was returned to Gaza he broke his phone’s SIM card, handed himself over to a local security service and was unemployed for several months before joining friends in construction. “I preferred to starve rather than become a spy,” he said….

Gaza’s legion of war-wounded battle to forge new lives
[with photos] AFP 27 Sept — Every time he hears a loud noise, Imed al-Firi hides his healthy leg under a cushion — a reflex he developed after the summer of 2014, when Israeli tank fire struck his Gaza home and robbed him of his right leg. He is among thousands of Gazans learning to live with disabilities or missing limbs after three wars between Palestinian militants in the territory and Israel since 2008. Beyond limited medical care in Gaza, they also face a lack of facilities for the disabled in the Palestinian enclave run by Islamist movement Hamas which has been under an Israeli blockade for nearly a decade. More than 75,000 Gazans suffer from some form of disability, a third of them linked to conflict in the territory of 1.9 million people, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The 2014 war alone, the deadliest of the three conflicts, wounded 11,000 people. Firi, 50, often sees Mohannad Aid, 20, at Gaza’s clinic for polio and prosthetic limbs. Aid and Firi have at least two things in common — both are missing a leg and are unemployed, like nearly half of Gaza’s population. Aid lost his leg from rocket fire while returning home from a mosque in 2014. He has since become better at managing his prosthetic leg — two metal rods connected by a joint at knee level, with a red-and-black tennis shoe at the bottom. His physiotherapist Ahmed Abu Shaaban says he has made impressive progress, but everyday life remains a challenge for him in Gaza. “Some streets are not paved and are only dirt, others are potholed and rutted,” said Abu Shaaban. “Construction is chaotic.” Firi says little is done to ease conditions for the disabled despite Gaza’s legion of war wounded. He has started an organisation for people in his situation and has organised protests to demand improvements….

Zaytouna-Oliva departs for Gaza
Amal-Hope II to follow soon. Messina, Italy, September 27, 2016 This morning at 9:50 am, women representing 13 countries spanning five continents began their journey on Zaytouna-Oliva to the shores of Gaza, which has been under blockade since 2007. On board are a Nobel Peace Laureate, three parliamentarians, a decorated US diplomat, journalists, an Olympic athlete, and a physician. A list of the women with their background can be found here. When asked why they are going, the women gave a variety of responses. Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate from Ireland, notes that “they say that ‘silence is golden’, but regarding the plight of Palestinians in Gaza the silence of the world, especially concerning their little children, shows a lack of moral and ethical leadership from the international community. Why has it lasted so long?” For two of the women, their countries’ own historical struggles for human rights played an important role in their decision to join the Women’s Boat to Gaza. Leigh-Ann Naidoo, an Olympic volleyball player from South Africa, feels that “South Africans understand the importance of international solidarity in fighting regimes that practice segregation.” Marama Davidson, a Maori Member of Parliament from New Zealand, carries with her a strong personal connection to Palestinian women in Gaza. “As an indigenous woman myself, I want to stand alongside the women of Gaza and to draw attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis there.” The Amal-Hope II has been making final preparations to sail and is scheduled to depart from Messina soon. Both boats are expected to arrive in Gaza in early October. Yudit Ilany, an Israeli participant who has sailed with the Zaytouna-Oliva since Barcelona, said “The blockade of Gaza is a crime against humanity being committed in my name, and it is my duty to protest it in any way possible.”

Follow the mission
wbg – see the current position of the two boats plotted on this map

Women’s Boat to Gaza ready to break blockade
EI 27 Sept by Eoin Wilson — …The flotilla is, at its core, a symbolic attempt to bring international attention to a blockade that has further impoverished and isolated Gaza, while sending a message of solidarity to Palestinians there. The all-women boat is also meant to acknowledge the role of Palestinian women in the struggle, as they face the effects of occupation and settler-colonialism in specifically gendered ways. Women also carry the bulk of responsibility for the care of traumatized children. According to the United Nations, more than 160,000 children in Gaza are in need of continuous psychological support. The all-women flotilla also has very practical reasons. It encourages the participation of women who otherwise could feel uncomfortable in a cramped, confined space with men for days at a time. There is, as well, an element of deterrence. Claude Léostic, the president of the Platform of French NGOs for Palestine, and French spokesperson for the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, referred to the violence inflicted on previous flotillas, which are foremost in the minds of the Zaytouna’s passengers. “We believe it is very possible that the Israelis will try to attack the boat again, because they did every single time we sent a boat to break the siege. They attacked it. Hijacked it. Stole everything on board. Kidnapped people on board. And behaved just like pirates on the high seas,” Léostic told The Electronic Intifada. “We hope that with women on board they [the Israeli navy] will be deterred from being so violent,” she added. “Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but their image is so important for them. So if they’re seen attacking a women’s boat, ill-treating them, maybe beating them as they did for all the others, their image will be catastrophic. So that could be a deterrent.” Léostic said there was no evidence of sabotage on the Amal, now back in Barcelona [and replaced by the Amal II]. However, Ann Wright, a veteran of previous flotillas and a boat leader on the Zaytouna, said that threat is being taken seriously. “We’ve had guards on the boats all the time, since … Barcelona. There’s been someone on the boats 24 hours a day.”….

Women’s Boat to Gaza diary / Leigh-Ann Naidoo, South Africa
MEMO 26 Sept — …The contradictions and inequalities in South Africa remain extreme, but I know that when I get on a plane tonight, I start my journey to one of the most violent and oppressed places on the planet. My phone keeps ringing for media comments on the question of whether free higher education is possible. I agree to squeeze in a trip to the SABC offices to record an interview to be aired on the evening news when I will be in the air. I don’t have a TV at home but catch a glimpse of the news at the studio. It is being reported that a few hundred people have died in the Mediterranean Sea trying to flee to a better life in Europe. In a few days I will be on that beautiful and ghastly, ghostly sea where so many thousands have died, have been left to die, have been killed. I rush home to pack. I must pack only things that I am okay not to return with. I must pack things that won’t come back. I have packed many times. Traveled many times. But never have I packed not to bring back. Never have I packed with the possibility of not coming back. Apparently freedom flotillas heading for the Gaza Strip get attacked. Well, to put it bluntly, humanitarian and solidarity flotillas are mostly attacked….

Monkey dies on way from Gaza to West Bank
RAMALLAH (GulfNews) 29 Sept — It was attacked by other monkeys crammed into small cages as per Israeli instructions — A monkey from an animal shipment transported on Monday from the Gaza Strip to Tulkarem in the West Bank was bitten to death by other monkeys in small cages provided by the Israeli occupation authorities. According to Ayman Kharbat, the owner of Al Nakheel Zoo which received a dozen  monkeys and two turtles from Rafah Zoo, the Israelis allowed the animals to remain in their original cages from Gaza until the shipment reached the Beit Hanon crossing (Erez Crossing) where the Israelis instructed officials to cram the animals into tiny cages. “The Israelis shockingly crammed the shipment in tiny cages where the monkeys which belong to two different families were left covered in faeces of other creatures,” he told Gulf News. “When the shipment arrived in Tulkarem, the vets found that the animals were suffering severe exhaustion and distress from the transport conditions imposed by the Israelis.” “Just a few hours later, one monkey who suffered multiple and serious bites from other monkeys was found dead inside the cage. Israeli conditions have led to the unnecessary death of the animal,” he said. “The Palestinian officials were suddenly instructed by the Israeli authorities on the Erez Crossing to find an alternative way as the Gazan cages were not allowed to enter the West Bank via Israel.” … Kharbat said that the Tulkarem zoo had received a lion last March and a lioness two months later and the two animals arrived in their Gazan cages which the Israelis never rejected.

Other news

Palestinian cabinet approves revised Social Security Act after backlash
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 Sept – The Palestinian cabinet on Tuesday ratified a revised version of the controversial Social Security Act No. 6, after a draft approved in February was met with fierce opposition from the public and sparked protests by thousands of employees in the private sector. The cabinet said in a statement issued at the end of its weekly meeting held in Ramallah that it ratified the law and forwarded it to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for his approval, “after reaching an agreement on all the comments raised regarding some clauses,” according to state-run news agency Wafa. If and when Abbas signs it into law, a board will be named to manage the new social security system. Protesters took to the streets earlier this year, saying that the law failed to provide adequate protection for workers, putting those with disabilities, retirees, and private sector workers at a disadvantage. Thousands of demonstrators at a rally in April demanded that the law be suspended until discussions were held on a national level, in order to address concerns that the law acts as a detriment to employee savings without guaranteeing security from the state. Protest organizers said that under the new social security system, “expected retirement income won’t be enough to enable retired employees and workers to live in dignity.” A number of political parties in parliament, civic organizations, and trade unions also reportedly opposed the law. Following the backlash, the cabinet withdrew the law for revision in consultation with various groups and organizations from the public and private sector.

Conflicting reports over deadly shooting by Palestinian police in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 28 Sept — Conflicting reports have emerged over clashes that broke out early Wednesday morning in Nablus City that left one alleged Palestinian gunman shot dead and three others injured by Palestinian security forces. Spokesperson for the Palestinian security services Adnan Dmeiri told a Ma‘an reporter that video footage would soon be made public showing four gunmen opening fire on Palestinian police before the officers returned fire, while local Palestinian lawmaker Jamal Tirawi says he has footage proving the four were unarmed when they were shot. A source from the Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed Wednesday afternoon that 24-year-old Diyaa Araysha succumbed to gunshot wounds in his abdomen a few hours after he arrived at Rafidia Hospital in Nablus. According to Dmeiri, Palestinian security forces had wiretapped a conversation made on the Zello walkie-talkie app between four men in Nablus City and another man who was located in the Balata refugee camp east of the city. The four men were surveilling Palestinian police from a vehicle while officers were carrying out an operation in which two “fugitives” were detained, when the four allegedly opened fire at the police officers, according to Dmeiri. The officers then responded to the gunfire, Dmeiri said, adding that Palestinian security forces “would always respond without hesitation.” The vehicle, he said, sped away and was later found about 400 meters away with three people injured inside. “Security officers gave first aid to the injured before they were evacuated to a hospital.” Shortly after that, Dmeiri added, locals “brought another injured man to the hospital, identified later as the fourth man in the vehicle, who had fled to hide guns” used in the shooting. Dmeiri claimed that three injured were known fugitives wanted by Palestinian security forces, while the fifth man they were communicating with in Balata refugee camp was a “high-profile fugitive.”  Meanwhile, Palestinian lawmaker in Nablus of the Fatah party Jamal Tirawi denied Dmeiri’s claims, arguing that slain Diyaa Araysha and the three had not been armed in the incident, nor were they fugitives wanted by police.”….

PHRI: ‘Right-wing attacks won’t deter us from our fight for human rights’
IMEMC 26 Sept — Press Release: Physicians for Human Rights–Israel (PHRI) has been under attack by a right wing group named Reservists on Duty, which called for funding to be cut for National Service positions at PHRI. The group also called for the cancellation of PHRI’s participation in a course entitled “Equality and Justice regarding Health in the South” run by the Beersheba Municipality. Such attacks are yet another sign of the shrinking space available to civil society organizations which oppose the occupation. PHRI currently doesn’t have National Service staff members, but such an option must remain available so that younger generations of Israelis are exposed to the struggle to secure basic human rights – the foundation of any solid democracy. Moreover, the inclusion of voices like PHRI’s in initiatives such as those run by Beersheba Municipality are vital to ensure a critical discussion on the right to health. As stated by Ran Goldstein, PHRI’s Executive Director, in response to the attack “Such attacks force us to turn our attention away from the real problems we are dealing with, such as the important gaps in health services between the periphery and the center of Israel.” This attack forms part of a trend of intimidation and harassment of organizations and activists by both right wing organization and the government. It follows on the heels of the recent efforts of right-wing Members of Knesset to deny PHRI its tax exempt status. All these steps have the aim of undermining the legitimacy and efforts of those who are fighting against the occupation.  Dana Moss – International Advocacy Coordinator

Statistics: Visits to tourist sites in West Bank dropped in first half of 2016
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 27 Sept – While over two million visits were made to tourist and leisure sites in the West Bank during the first half of 2016, the number was actually down when compared to the same period of the previous year, according to a joint report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities published Tuesday. These visits, the report says, included 952,000 visits by inbound visitors and 1.12 million visits by domestic visitors.  The number of inbound and domestic visits decreased by 5% and 32% respectively compared to the same period in 2015. Most inbound visits were to Jericho and the Jordan Valley with 32%, followed by Bethlehem governorate with 29%, Jenin 16% and Nablus 14%. Palestinians from inside Israel accounted for the largest proportion of inbound visitors with 54% with 514,000 visits, followed by 7% from the United States with 66,000 visits, the Russian Federation 6% with 57,000 visits, India 3% with 24,000 visits, both Poland and Romania equally by 2% with 23,000 visits for each, and 26% were from other nationalities with 245,000 visits. Inbound and domestic visitor data do not include Jerusalem and Gaza Strip….

Book Review: Mapping the Palestinian struggle
EI 27 Sept by Sarah Irving — Mapping My Return: A Palestinian Memoir by Salman Abu Sitta, American University in Cairo Press (2016)Given the centrality of memory and history to modern Palestinian identity, it is fitting that the number of memoirs and diaries being published by Palestinians seems to be on the rise … Almost all of the mentioned memoirists hail from Jerusalem, northern Palestine and the Galilee. This is where Abu Sitta differs, for his autobiography gives a unique insight not only into refugee life and Palestinian politics throughout the decades, but into how he, as a Bedouin Palestinian from the southern Naqab desert, experienced the Nakba and its aftermath. Unlike Jawhariyyeh, al-Hout or Sayigh, Galilean hills, Lebanon and Jerusalem do not loom large in Abu Sitta’s account. Instead, his life story is rooted in the vast, fertile plains of the southwestern Naqab, and the bayt al-sha’er (literally “house of hair” or tent) in which his mother lived. The family’s fields were plowed by camel and many of the men and women who came to work on the harvest were from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. Rather than flee north into Lebanon or east towards Jordan, his escape from the Zionist forces who destroyed his childhood home was to Khan Younis near the border between Gaza and Egypt, ultimately attending school and university in Cairo. -Life’s mission- As the son of a paramount chief of the Tarabin Bedouin, whose influence stretched from Cairo to Bir al-Saba, Abu Sitta frankly admits that his tale is not one of “the most tragic, painful or traumatic fates of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians made refugees.” His elite background and family connections cushioned him from the grinding poverty which hundreds of thousands of refugees in Gaza faced. But the trauma of the nighttime attack on his father’s home in the village of al-Ma‘n, the destruction and theft of its fields and the sight of Israeli massacres in Gaza started off his “life’s mission … to try to put a face to this invisible enemy.” Although Abu Sitta forged a career as an acclaimed engineer, he also became a historian of Palestine, meticulously documenting the villages, shrines, homesteads and traditions which Israeli laws, bulldozers and museums have sought to eradicate or appropriate….

Don’t call us Israeli Arabs / Sam Bahour
Haaretz 26 Sept — Palestinian citizens of Israel are its Achilles’ heel; they refuse to become Zionists, refuse to leave Israel, and refuse to vanish into thin air. And, increasingly, they are refusing to remain silent. — When Israel’s founding fathers removed by force the native Palestinian Arab population living where they intended to establish their state, they murdered or displaced more than 80% of that population. This act of ethnic cleansing — to borrow one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s newly found phrases — was given a name in Arabic: the Nakba, or catastrophe. The Palestinian Muslims, Druze and Christians who remained in what became Israel have been, and are today, approximately 20% of the population. These are indigenous Palestinians and their descendants, who have had Israeli citizenship imposed upon them.  ’48ers, Palestinian Arabs, ‘insiders’ – just not ‘Israeli Arabs’  For over half a century, Israel has preferred the designation Israeli Arabs, focusing on their Israeliness and attempting to obliterate any trace of Palestinian from their identity. Among Palestinians in exile or the West Bank, they’re referred to as ‘48ers, referring to the year of the Nakba, or as those living “on the inside,” meaning inside the 1949 armistice line, better known as the Green Line. Now, a new cohort of Palestinian thinkers inside Israel writing 68 years after the Nakba reaffirm that they are not just Arabs, but Palestinian Arabs, and that while they may be “in Israel,” they are not Israel’s: they are their own masters … This increasingly assertive minority in Israel spoke out in a new think tank report published this month by The Palestinian Arab Citizens in Israel hosted by the Oxford Research Group and supported by the I’LAM Arab Center for Media Freedom Development and Research in Nazareth and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs … The report highlights three possible scenarios – four futures for the Palestinian citizens of Israel and their relationship with the State of Israel….

BDS condemns Arab participation in Zionist conference in New York
MEMO 28 Sept — The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) strongly condemned on Tuesday Arab participation in a Zionist conference held in New York about the threat posed by Iran, has reported. The movement claims that the UAE ambassador to the USA, Yousef Al-Otaibi, Bahrain’s former ambassador Sheikha Haya Rashid Al-Khalifa, the Saudi academic Mohamed Al-Yahya and the Lebanese researcher Toni Badran took part in the conference, which was also attended by former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. “The silence of the Arab governments regarding the participation of their ambassadors and their official and non-official representatives in normalisation meetings with Israel and the Zionist lobby is disgraceful complicity in supporting an Israeli agenda,” said BDS in a media statement. It noted that the Israeli regime is seeking to normalise relations in the Arab world in order to “liquidate” the Palestinian issue and crack down on “all forms of resistance” against the Israeli “occupational, apartheid, racist and colonial regime.” Addressing the Arab people, the BDS statement called for the escalation of the boycott of Israel and companies involved in its violations against “our rights”, mainly G4S, HP and Alstom. It also called for escalating the pressure on the Arab regimes which are complicit with the Israeli occupation in order to stop this “obscene normalisation”.

IDF censor redacts 1 in 5 articles submitted prior to publication
+972 mag 26 Sept by Haggai Matar The Israeli military censor has redacted, in full or in part, over 17,000 articles since 2011. While fewer articles have been censored in 2015 and 2016, the new IDF Censor is attempting to redact already-published information with alarming frequency — The Israeli Military Censor has outright banned the publication of 1,936 articles and redacted some information from 14,196 articles over the past five years. That is 1,936 articles that professional journalists and editors decided were of public interest but which never saw the light of day. In fact, the IDF Censor redacted at least some information from one in five articles submitted to it for review since 2011, according to data provided by the Israeli army at the request of +972 Magazine, its Hebrew-language sister site Local Call, and The Movement for Freedom of Information … Furthermore, the data confirms that the IDF Censor’s office bans the publication of documents and materials from the State Archives, documents that have already approved for publication, and some of which have already been published in the public domain. The Israeli military censor in Israel draws its authority from emergency regulations put in place during the British Mandate period, many of which have remained on Israel’s law books for upwards of 70 years. While other countries have formal mechanisms for requesting that journalists refrain from publishing certain information relating to national security, Israel is all but alone among Western democratic states that have a legally binding state censor. Nowhere else must reported materials be submitted for prior review.  Media outlets in Israel, lately expanded to include independent blogs and websites (like +972 Magazine) are required to submit to the IDF Censor for prior review any articles that fall under a broad list of topics relating to national security and foreign relations….

Is Facebook neutral on Palestine-Israel conflict?
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 26 Sept by Ylenia Gostoli — The giant social network is taking a stand with the occupier, say Palestinian activists —  Facebook, the social network, may have capitulated to the Israeli narrative and is taking the side of an occupying power, according to Palestinian journalists and activists. “Israel doesn’t want the Palestinian story about violations against them in the occupied territories to reach a worldwide audience,” said Musa Rimawi, director of MADA, the Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedom. The warning came following a decision by Facebook on Friday to disable several Palestinian accounts on the basis that they breached community standards. Last week, four editors from the Shehab News Agency , which has more than 6.3 million likes on Facebook, and three executives from the Quds News Network, with about 5.1 million likes, reported they could not access their personal accounts.  Both agencies cover daily news in the occupied Palestinian territories. Editors at the Gaza-based Shehab News agency say that the move was hardly surprising. This is the fourth time in a year that they have been censored by the social network, says Rimah Mubarak, director of Shehab news agency. “Previously, it was the page that was suspended. One time it was suspended partially and back online after a week, the other two times the suspension was permanent, so we had to create a brand new page,” Mubarak told Al Jazeera. “We contacted Facebook many times [about the latest incident] but they never replied. The same has been happening  to many other pages and news agencies in Gaza.” Facebook later said they had made a “mistake” and restored all pages except one of the editors’ accounts at Shehab agency … Palestinian activists say the suspension is the result of an Israeli campaign to pressure Facebook to censor the Palestinian narrative. The Israeli government has repeatedly blamed the flareup of violence in Israel and the West Bank since last October – which claimed the lives of more than 220 Palestinians, 34 Israelis and two Americans – on online incitement. Since then, hundreds of cases have emerged of Palestinians arrested by Israel for Facebook posts. “The concern is that Facebook is adopting Israeli policy and terminology when it comes to defining what incitement is,” Nadim Nashif, cofounder of 7amleh, the Arab Centre for the Advancement of Social Media, told Al Jazeera.

Palestina Dialog Forum page still blocked despite Facebook’s apology
GAZA (PIC) 25 Sept — Facebook continues to block the Palestine Dialog Forum Net, although it has apologized for disabling Palestinian accounts of journalists and media centers mistakenly as it claimed. Facebook suspended, during the last few days, a large number of pages supporting the Palestinian people’s resistance against the Israeli occupation. The page of the Palestine Dialog Forum had been disabled several times before. However, the forum created a new Facebook page, which can be visited through the link:””

Arabs greet Peres death with silence and animosity
JERUSALEM (AP) 28 Sept — Israel’s Shimon Peres was widely admired around the world as a peacemaker and visionary, but the view in the Arab world was more complex: Memories linger of another Peres, who built up Israel’s military might, waged war in Lebanon and promoted policies seen as harmful to the Palestinians. In a reflection of this sentiment, Peres’ death on Wednesday was greeted with official silence across the Arab world — in sharp contrast to the emotional tributes that poured in from the West. While a long list of Western dignitaries prepared to descend upon Jerusalem for Peres’ funeral on Friday, no Arab leaders are yet scheduled to come. Even Egypt and Jordan, the two countries that have peace accords with Israel, had no official reaction Wednesday … .Peres gained worldwide fame — and a Nobel Peace Prize — as the architect of the historic Oslo interim peace accords with the Palestinians in the mid-1990s. Late in life, he established a “peace center” in Tel Aviv that promoted coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians, and as the nation’s president he used the global stage to call for peace. But in the Arab world, especially among Palestinians, many saw Peres’ vision of peace as all talk. “He often presented himself as a man of peace, but no one in the Arab world really believed him,” said Abdullah el-Sennawy, a prominent Egyptian columnist. “Whenever there was war, he was there.” As one of Israel’s founding fathers, Peres was associated with the “naqba,” or catastrophe, that befell the Palestinians in the war surrounding Israel’s creation, when hundreds of thousands fled or were forced from their homes. ” Peres was a significant contributor to the historic injustice that occurred to the Palestinian people,” Ghassan Khatib, a former Palestinian government spokesman in the West Bank, wrote on his Facebook page. As a Defense Ministry official during the 1950s, he helped turn Israel into a regional military power and played a central role in secretly developing what is widely believed to be a sizable nuclear arsenal. And after Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, Peres was an early defender of efforts to build Jewish settlements in the occupied territory — a position he would later abandon….

Shimon Peres was no peacemaker. I’ll never forget the sight of pouring blood and burning bodies at Qana / Robert Fisk
The Independent 28 Sept — Peres said the massacre came as a ‘bitter surprise’. It was a lie: the UN had repeatedly told Israel the camp was packed with refugees — When the world heard that Shimon Peres had died, it shouted “Peacemaker!” But when I heard that Peres was dead, I thought of blood and fire and slaughter. I saw the results: babies torn apart, shrieking refugees, smouldering bodies. It was a place called Qana and most of the 106 bodies – half of them children – now lie beneath the UN camp where they were torn to pieces by Israeli shells in 1996. I had been on a UN aid convoy just outside the south Lebanese village. Those shells swished right over our heads and into the refugees packed below us. It lasted for 17 minutes. Shimon Peres, standing for election as Israel’s prime minister – a post he inherited when his predecessor Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated – decided to increase his military credentials before polling day by assaulting Lebanon. The joint Nobel Peace Prize holder used as an excuse the firing of Katyusha rockets over the Lebanese border by the Hezbollah. In fact, their rockets were retaliation for the killing of a small Lebanese boy by a booby-trap bomb they suspected had been left by an Israeli patrol. It mattered not….

Palestinians condemn Trump vow on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
AFP 26 Sept —  Palestinian leaders Monday accused Donald Trump of abandoning any hope of a two-state solution after the Republican candidate said he would recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital if he won the US presidential election. Trump pledged Sunday during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he would recognise Israel’s claim over east Jerusalem, which would break with decades of precedent and put Washington at odds with most UN member states. “Trump’s statement shows disregard for international law (and) longstanding US foreign policy regarding the status of Jerusalem,” Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said in a statement .”Previous statements delivered by his adviser on Israel show a total abandonment of the two-state solution, international law and UN resolutions.” Israel captured the eastern half of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day war and annexed it in 1980, declaring all of Jerusalem Israel’s unified capital. The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised future stat…. (listserv) (archive)

About Kate

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

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