Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
AIC video: Neglecting settlers’ violence
IMEMC/Agencies 2 Sept — In contradiction of extremely low conviction rates, settler violence against Palestinians is at least a weekly occurrence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In 2016, there has been an average of 2 incidents of settler violence per week, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Incidents of settler violence are notoriously underreported, as victims often fear retaliation by the Israeli police or their attackers. Moreover, there is little hope that such complaints will be taken seriously: Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din determined that a police complaint filed by a Palestinian in the West Bank has a mere 1.9% chance of being effectively investigated. Human rights groups say that such negligence, on the part of Israeli authorities, constitutes yet another violation of Israel’s legal obligation to protect the Palestinian population as an occupying power. (via the Alternative Information Center (AIC), Beit Sahour)
Journalist injured, dozens of protesters suffer effects of teargas inhalation in Kufur Qaddoum
[with VIDEO] IMEMC 3 Sept — Israeli soldiers resorted, Friday, to the use of excessive force against the nonviolent protesters in Kufur Qaddoum village, in the northern West Bank district of Qalqilia, shooting a journalist with a gas bomb in his head, and causing dozens of residents to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Morad Eshteiwy, the coordinator of the Popular Committee in Kufur Qaddoum, said the soldiers assaulted the nonviolent protesters just after they started marching from the center of the village, and fired gas bombs at them, leading to clashes. Many locals hurled stones at the invading military vehicles, while the soldiers fired more gas bombs, concussion grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets. Eshteiwy added that one of the gas bombs struck a photojournalist, identified as Nidal Eshteyya, in the back of his head, before medics rushed him to Rafidia Hospital, in the northern West Bank district of Nablus. He also said that the soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs at the protesters and many homes in Kufur Qaddoum, causing dozens of residents, including five family members, to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation. The army also sprayed the protesters and many homes with wastewater mixed with chemicals [the ‘Skunk’].
Local sources in the village said the soldiers have recently started a very serious escalation campaign against Kufur Qaddoum, especially by deliberately destroying water pipelines and electricity networks, in addition to installing roadblocks and restricting the freedom of movement of the residents. Kufur Qaddoum residents started their weekly protests more than 13 years ago, after the army completely closed the village’s main road to enable easy access to the Israeli colonists driving to and from the illegal Kedumim colony that was built on privately owned Palestinian lands.
In related news, dozens of Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists marched, Friday, against the Israeli Annexation Wall and colonies, in Bil’in village near Ramallah, raised Palestinian and Scottish flags to thank the Scottish activists for supporting Palestine during the soccer match between Scottish and Israeli teams.
Israeli forces shoot Palestinian youth in leg, beat another in front of family during raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 Sept — Israeli forces reportedly assaulted two Palestinian prisoners before detaining and transferring them to Israel’s Etzion prison, as one was reportedly shot with a live bullet in the leg, and the other was beaten in front of his family, according to a statement released Thursday by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS lawyer Jacqueline Fararjeh visited the two prisoners who were assaulted, stating that one detainee, 18-year-old Yousef Wajeeh Thawabta from the village of Beit Fajjar in the Bethlehem district of the occupied West Bank, said that Israeli soldiers shot him in the leg with a live bullet, and the other [leg?] with a dumdum — a type of bullet which expands upon hitting its target. Thawabta had previously spent one and a half years in Israeli prison. Meanwhile, Fararjeh said 19-year-old Muhammad Hamza al-Kurdi from Bethlehem’s ‘Aida refugee camp reported being assaulted and “violently beaten” in front of his family by Israeli soldiers at the time they detained him. Al-Kurdi is also a former detainee who spent two and a half years in Israeli prison. The statement added that the court sessions for both Thawabta and al-Kurdi were scheduled to be held on Thursday in Israel’s Ofer prison. Palestinians routinely report mistreatment during detention raids, with Israeli forces commonly assaulting and beating Palestinian youths. Israeli forces typically detain Palestinians at night, sometimes quietly entering Palestinian homes, while other times hundreds of Israeli soldiers enter the communities, often erupting into clashes between the soldiers and Palestinian youths.
Israeli soldiers kidnap two Palestinians in Nablus, seriously injure one
IMEMC 2 Sept — Israeli soldiers and undercover units invaded on Friday at dawn the Balata refugee camp, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, searched homes, kidnapped two young Palestinian men, and injured one after ramming him with their jeep. The Nablus office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the soldiers surrounded the refugee camp before undercover officers infiltrated it and broke into at least two homes, before kidnapping Ata Omar Atallah Issa, 22, and Jihad ‘Oweiss. The PPS added that the undercover soldiers assaulted Ata’s father, and one of his brothers, while ransacking their property. Media sources in Nablus said one Palestinian suffered a serious injury after the soldiers rammed him with their military jeep. They added that clashes took place in the refugee camp after the army invaded it, and that local youths hurled stones at the army vehicles, while the soldiers fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, and gas bombs. Regular army units were stationed in the meadow near the refugee camp, and invaded it to secure the withdrawal of the undercover officers, before heading towards Huwwara military roadblock, south of Nablus.
Late on Thursday at night, the soldiers kidnapped Khaled Hasan Yameen at the al-Karama border crossing with Jordan, while he was returning home to Jeet village, east of Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank … Earlier on Thursday, the soldiers invaded several Palestinian communities, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, broke into and searched many homes, and kidnapped ten Palestinians, including three children.
Israeli forces detain young Palestinian woman at Qalandiya for allegedly attempting stab attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Sept — Israeli forces Thursday evening detained a young Palestinian woman at the Qalandiya checkpoint between the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah and Jerusalem for allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack on Israeli soldiers. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that a 21-year-old Palestinian woman was detained after she reportedly attempted to carry out an attack on Israeli soldiers. Israeli media reported that the young woman was from the neighborhood of al-Eizariya in occupied East Jerusalem, adding that she raised suspicions when she approached soldiers. According to Israeli media, the young Palestinian threw the knife before she was detained by Israeli forces and taken by Israeli internal intelligence service Shin Bet for interrogations.
IDF lieutenant: Soldiers now avoid opening fire for fear of prosecution
JPost 1 Sept by Yonah Jeremy Bob — The lieutenant testified that whereas Azaria’s three top commanders all considered him a liar, most of the rank and file soldiers “think differently.” — Due to fears they will be prosecuted, soldiers are refraining from opening fire even when they feel in danger, an officer from Sgt. Elor Azaria’s company, told the Jaffa Military Court at the Hebron shooter’s trial on Thursday. The lieutenant from the Shimshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade, whose name is banned for publication, explained that following the manslaughter charge against Azaria, he heard soldiers in the battalion say that if they felt in partial danger, but not absolute danger, they would not open fire to defend themselves for fear of prosecution. The officer said that in the past, the soldiers would have opened fire in some borderline situations, feeling that doing so was within their discretion….
Hebron Police officers prevent B’Tselem volunteer from lodging complaint regarding death threats, themselves threatening him with arrest
B’Tselem press release 1 Sept — B’Tselem has lodged a complaint with the Israel Police over the fact that Hebron Police officers prevented a volunteer working with the organization, ‘Imad Abu Shamsiyeh, from filing a complaint regarding death threats he has been receiving ever since he documented the killing of ‘Abd al-Fatah a-Sharif by Israeli soldier Elor Azaria. Abu Shamsiyeh has recently been sent harassing and threatening messages on Facebook, some containing death threats. On 28 August 2016, he went to the Hebron Police station to file a complaint. After a lengthy wait, the officers at the station told him he would not be able to file the complaint as there were too many detainees in the station and that he would have to return the next day. Abu Shamsiyeh returned the next day, 29 August 2016, and waited for hours to file the complaint, but again he was denied. This time, he was told that an officer by the name of Yaakov Cohen who was supposed to take care of the matter was away, and would return to the station only the next day. The next day, 30 August 2016, Abu Shamsiyeh went back to the station for the third time, and again, was forced to wait for hours outside the building. He was initially told that the officer had not come in yet, but later, a police officer named Solomon Deste approached him. When Abu Shamsiyeh tried to explain the matter to him, the officer told him to leave, and even threatened to arrest him if he did not….
Israeli forces detain 10 Palestinians, including journalist, in West Bank night raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 Sept – Israeli forces detained at least 10 Palestinians, including a journalist, in Wednesday night raids across the occupied West Bank, Israeli and Palestinian sources said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported on Thursday that four Palestinians were detained in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, including journalist and former prisoner Osama Shaheen. The other Hebron-area detainees were identified by PPS as Muntaser Yousef Abu Ayash, 23, and former prisoners Qasem Abu Hussein, 26, and Nour al-Atrash, 27. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an that four Palestinians had been detained in the Hebron district, listing three detentions in the city of Hebron and one in the village of al-Bira. PPS added that Nabaa al-Sefi, 20, was detained in the refugee camp of al-Duheisha in the southern district of Bethlehem. Locals told Ma‘an that clashes erupted in al-Duheisha during the raid, during which one Palestinian was injured. Al-Duheisha residents added that Israeli soldiers raided the camp with dogs and fired live bullets, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas at Palestinians until dawn Thursday morning. One Palestinian was reportedly injured in the leg by live fire and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Israeli forces upturned al-Sefi’s home during the raid, destroying furniture and demolishing part of the interior walls.
Meanwhile in the northern West Bank, PPS reported the detention of two Palestinians, identified as Ihab Fathi, 22, and Abd al-Fatah Daoud, 21, in the Tulkarem district, while Ashraf Muhammad Salama was detained in the Nablus district. The organization also stated that former prisoner Mabrouk Jarrar, 35, and Wisam Muhammad Abu Zeid, 18, were detained in the Jenin district. The Israeli army spokesperson said two suspected “Hamas operatives” were detained in Jenin, one of whom was detained in the village of Burqin.
Prisoners / Court actions
Hunger striker rushed to ICU
IMEMC/Agencies 2 Sept — Tareq Barghouthi, a lawyer for the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, said in a statement issued Thursday that the hunger striker Mohammad Balboul’s health had seriously worsened, adding that he was transferred to the intensive care unit at the Wolfson Medical Center in Tel Aviv. Balboul’s health situation has sharply deteriorated as he began suffering from severe fatigue, the lawyer said in a press conference. Israeli doctors warned that damage has been detected to his liver and kidneys as a result of his strike. Brothers Mahmoud and Mohammad Balboul began their hunger strike on July 4th and 7th, respectively, according to the PNN, in protest against their administrative detention.
In the Jewish state, most prisoners are Arabs
+972 blog 2 Sept by Noam Rotem — A little over a quarter of Israel’s inmate population are Jewish, Local Call has learned. In response to a freedom of information query that I submitted in conjunction with Physicians for Human Rights, the Israel Prisons Service (IPS) released the following figures: Out of a total of 20,568 inmates, 5,659 are Jewish; more than twice that number – 12,397 – are Arab; and 2,512 are classified as “other” – including asylum seekers held in detention camps, as well as a handful of non-Israelis who are neither Jewish nor Arab. The proportion of Arab inmates among Israeli citizens (including residents of the West Bank and Gaza) stands at 43 percent – more than double their proportion in the general population. Among juvenile delinquents the gaps are even more staggering:. Out of a total of 281 minors held by IPS, only 100 are Jewish, and the others are Arabs (160) and “others” (21). If we take into account the number of Palestinian minors in Israeli custody (511, according to B’Tselem), the proportion of Jewish inmates stands at a mere 13 percent. According to the IPS, an overwhelming majority of prisoners from the West Bank and Gaza (81 percent) are so-called “security prisoners,” as opposed to the others, who are “criminal prisoners.” … Within the Jewish prisoner population as well, there’s a distinct ethnic bias. In June, the percentage of teenagers of Ethiopian extraction stood at 18.5 percent – down from previous years, but still disproportionately high. Thus, 18.5 percent of 281 minors gives us 51 young Ethiopian-Israeli inmates – 51 percent of the teenaged Jewish inmates. Given that Ethiopian-Israelis make up just two percent of the general population, this is no less than remarkable….
Two Palestinian children tell stories of abuse in Israeli jails
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Sept — Recently, two Palestinian child detainees, Mu’men Hamayel and Oday Bader, told attorneys from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs that they have been physically abused and severely beaten after their arrest in the West Bank. According to the Palestinian News Network (PNN), sixteen-year-old Oday Bader, from the town of Abu Dis, near Jerusalem, said that he was shot four times in the back, arms, and legs. Afterwards, he was beaten by Israeli soldiers and his head was repeatedly rammed into a wall; the beating continued while he was being transported in a military jeep to an Israeli hospital. Mu’amen Hamayel, also 16, from the town of Kufur Malik, said that Israeli soldiers blindfolded him and took him to a nearby settlement where they physically attacked him with their fists and boots before taking him to a hospital. Prime Minister for the Palestinian Authority, Rami Hamdallah, in response, condemned the ongoing abuse of Palestinian minors held in Israeli jails and their ill-treatment in interrogation rooms … “Israel continuously violates Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it ratified in 1991. Child defendants have a right to request the presence of a parent during questioning and should not be subjected to interrogation practices that might lead or coerce them to acknowledge guilt,” said Jamal Dajani, Director of Strategic Communications & Media at the Office of the Prime Minister. In an unprecedented move, the Israeli Knesset recently approved a legislation that allows the arrest of children under 14 years old, keeping them detained in Israeli jails until the end of the legal procedures. More than 300 Palestinian children are currently held in Israeli prisons, according to prisoner rights group Addameer. They are often arrested at night, blindfolded and transported to Israeli prisons outside of the occupied West Bank, in violation of article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In the majority of the cases, the children have no access to a lawyer during the interrogation and their parents are prevented from being present, according to a report by Defense for Children International-Palestine.
Israel sentences 18-year-old Palestinian to 14 years in Israeli prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 Sept — An Israeli military court Thursday sentenced 18-year-old Nael Tabib from the village of ‘Azzun in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqilya to 14 years in Israeli prison, according to a statement released by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS said in the statement that Tabib was detained on December 26, 2014 when he was just 16 years old. He was only officially sentenced on Thursday. However, it remained unclear on Friday what charges were brought against Tabib.
Meanwhile, three Palestinian prisoners entered a new year inside Israeli prisons on Friday, according to the Sawt al-Asra (Voice of Prisoners) Radio. Prisoner Mahmoud Hammad Jumaa al-Tarrabin from the Gaza Strip, who was detained in 2006, has served 10 years of his 17-year sentence in Israeli prisons. Prisoner Muhammad Ahmad Amin Jarrar, 56, from the Jenin refugee camp, was detained in 2002, and has served 14 years of his 15-year sentence. Prisoner Milad Muhammad Mahmoud Khatib, 28, a resident of Israel, was detained in 2012 and was sentenced to 7 years in prison.
Restrictions on movement
Israeli authorities ban Muslims from entering Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) — Israeli authorities Thursday closed the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron to Muslim worshipers, reportedly in response to Jewish celebrations at the site, according to local sources. Israeli forces surrounded the premises and prevented Muslims from entering as they escorted Israeli settlers to the mosque. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces are conducting security procedures to obstruct the entrance of Palestinian worshipers, while further isolating the site from other areas in Hebron. The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council reported in a statement that Israeli authorities since early July have begun to build a security room at the southern entrance of the mosque which would reportedly replace the current electronic security checkpoints. The group said the changes are an attempt to maximize security around the mosque and make it permanent. The council added that Palestinians have the right to movement and to practice religious rituals at Muslim holy sites, while calling upon the international community to “quickly intervene” in the situation in order to guarantee Israel abides by international law. The Ibrahimi Mosque, believed to be the burial place of the prophet Abraham, is located in central Hebron, a frequent site of tensions due to the presence of 500 Israeli settlers in the Old City.
Egypt to open Rafah crossing on Saturday, Sunday for humanitarian cases
GAZA (Ma‘an) 1 Sept – Egyptian authorities on Tuesday announced that the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip would open in both directions on Saturday and Sunday for humanitarian cases. The head of the media office at the Rafah crossing Wael Abu Omar told Ma‘an that the crossing would open for sick people, permit holders, and urgent humanitarian cases. The Palestinian embassy in Egypt thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for assuaging the suffering of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. At least 800 Palestinians crossed into Egypt last Thursday on the third day of the crossing opening to allow Palestinians passage for the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, while 787 Palestinian pilgrims crossed into Egypt on Wednesday. Nine Palestinians pilgrims were denied passage for unknown reasons … The Rafah border crossing was most recently opened in early July, when some 3,099 people left Gaza during the five-day opening for humanitarian purposes.
Israel granting fewer permits to leave blockaded Gaza
World Bulletin 2 Sept — Palestinians have had markedly more trouble leaving the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip in recent months, aid workers and activists have told Anadolu Agency. The number of permits granted to Gazans to leave — whether for humanitarian, professional or business purposes — has fallen dramatically since the beginning of the year, with international organizations complaining of unprecedented difficulties bringing local colleagues out of Gaza for meetings, workshops and training seminars. The number of approved permits for UN staff members, for example, declined from 93 percent in January to less than a quarter by April, according to figures released in July by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). A coordinator for a European organization, meanwhile, said two staff members in Gaza had permits rejected in early August — purportedly for “security reasons” — for the first time in 10 years. Concerns have also been raised about the potential impact on movement out of Gaza by the arrest last month of the Gaza director of U.S.-based charity World Vision and a UN Development Programme (UNDP) engineer … According to data collated by Gisha, July saw a more than 20 percent decrease in the number of departures from Gaza compared to January — including a decrease of 2,000 in the number of traders allowed to leave for business reasons. “Limitations on access — particularly for Gaza’s most prominent businesspeople, students and others — fly in the face of the logic embraced by many Israeli politicians and security officials that economic wellbeing in Gaza would benefit Israeli security,” said Grundberg.
VIDEO: Gaza women fight Israel ban to attend tech mentorship program in US
RT 2 Sept — Three young women selected for a US State Department-sponsored education program struggle to chase their dream because Israeli authorities decided that allowing them out of blockaded Gaza would pose a security threat. TechWomen is a program for women living in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, who are invited to the US for a five-week mentorship. They study their chosen fields in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley to hone their tech skills and establish social networks. Since its launch in 2011, 333 women have participated in the course, according to its website. From 5,000 applicants of this year’s TechWomen, which is to start in September, 90 participants were selected, including five from Palestinian territories. Three of them were denied permission to enter Israel, which is the only legal way for people living there to leave the blockaded territory. The IDF cited unspecified security reasons, the women told RT. “Honestly, we never expected rejection. So it came as a shock for me and for my creative colleagues,” said Jan Krayyem, a biotechnology graduate of Jordan University of Science and Technology currently working as gene researcher in Gaza … After interviewing the Palestinian women, RT requested a comment from COGAT, a unit in the Israeli Defense Ministry responsible for coordinating civilian issues among various Israeli and Palestinian bodies. “The applications to enter Israel through the Erez Crossing were reviewed by security forces, which decided to approve one of the three women’s applications. The relevant authorities were updated,” was the reply.
250 Palestinians from Gaza travel to Al-Aqsa for Friday prayers
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Sept — More than 200 Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip traveled to occupied East Jerusalem to attend Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to Palestinian liaison officials. The officials told Ma‘an that 250 Palestinian worshipers, all above the age of 50, traveled to Jerusalem via the Erez crossing between the besieged enclave and Israel to attend prayers, before immediately returning to the Gaza Strip. While Israeli authorities have typically permitted 300 elderly Palestinians from the small Palestinian territory to travel to Al-Aqsa every Friday, the number was reduced after Israeli authorities accused Hamas and other groups with misusing the crossing permits.
Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinians fishing boats off the coast of Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma‘an) 3 Sept — Israeli naval forces Saturday morning opened live fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces opened fire at fishermens’ boats in the north of the besieged enclave. No injuries were reported.
Palestinian farmers targeted in eastern Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Sept — Israeli forces stationed on the borders with the Gaza Strip opened fire towards shepherds and farmers on their lands east of Al-Bureij camp, central Gaza. No injuries were reported, according to Al Ray. Local sources reported that soldiers opened fire near the fence, to the east of the camp. At the same time, the soldiers in watchtowers located near Kissufim, east of Al-Qarara village, southern Gaza, opened machine gun fire towards the farmland, with no injuries were reported.
UNRWA to launch $2.7 million project to rebuild demolished structures in Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma‘an) 1 Sept — UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for providing services to some five million Palestinian refugees, announced Thursday a new $2.7 million project in the Gaza Strip to reconstruct demolished buildings that were destroyed during the 2014 Israeli offensive on the besieged enclave, while the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities described the economic situation in Gaza as “frustrating.” UNRWA said in a statement that the project would be launched to reconstruct demolished or partly demolished structures in the besieged enclave. According to the statement, $2,290,904 would be allocated to reconstructing structures that were completely demolished, while $416,500 would be spent on repairing partially demolished structures. The project will reportedly assist 329 Palestinian families from various districts of the Gaza Strip. The statement also underscored UNRWA’s commitment to rebuilding Palestinian homes in the coastal enclave that were destroyed during the 51-day Israeli assault which left some 100,000 homeless, calling it their “highest priority.” Meanwhile, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities Robert Piper, during a visit to the Islamic University in Gaza City Wednesday, described the situation in the Gaza Strip as “frustrating despite the capacity of the Palestinian people in Gaza,” adding that while Gaza boasts a large number of graduates, employment rates in the coastal enclave remain low.
Israel to deploy machine gun-equipped autonomous vehicles along Gaza border
MEMO 2 Sept — Israel is set to use fully autonomous unmanned vehicles along the border with the Gaza Strip, according to a report published by FoxNews.com. While currently unarmed, the Israeli military plans to add machine guns to the so-called Border Protector Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) by “the beginning of next year”. An unnamed Israeli military official told the website: “This is the future – the border is a very dangerous place… Sending unmanned vehicles to do these patrols means that troops’ lives are not at risk.” According to the report, the Israeli army has worked with defence giant Elbit Systems to convert Ford pick-up trucks into UGVs by adding “specialised remote driving technology”, along with “four driving cameras and a 360-degree observation camera.” UGV testing reportedly began in July 2015 and the trucks “became operational in February .” While each vehicle is currently “driven by an operator in a remote control room using a steering wheel, joystick and pedals”, an army official told FoxNews.com that “in the future, we will have the capability of fully autonomous driving.” The machine gun “will be operated from a control room.”
Palestinian journalist and critic is arrested in Gaza
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 1 Sept — The wife of a prominent Palestinian journalist and critic of the Islamic militant group that rules the Gaza Strip says Hamas has arrested him. Mohammed Othman’s wife, Huda, says Hamas officers arrested him at his home on Thursday after showing up with a warrant for his arrest. She says the officers didn’t give a reason for Othman’s arrest. Hamas officials were unavailable for comment. Othman works for the Washington-based Al-Monitor news site. Last month, Hamas’s Health Ministry in Gaza barred Othman from entering hospitals as a journalist after he published a report that exposed medical errors he said were taking place there.
Palestinian Journalists’ Union express worry over journalist detained in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Sept — The Palestinian Journalists’ Union Friday expressed its worry over journalist Muhammad Othman, who was arrested by Hamas security officials in the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday. According to a statement released by the group, Othman had previously been assaulted and threatened by security forces, indicating that his detention on Thursday was a result of his investigative journalism work in the coastal enclave. The statement went on to condemn actions that harm the freedom of the press, particularly acts that target Palestinian journalists in Gaza. The union also demanded that the Hamas movement, its politburo, and human rights and media institutions in the Gaza Strip intervene to ensure Othman’s release. Othman was detained by Hamas security forces just one day after a report was released by international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) documenting violations against journalists and activists by Palestinian authorities both in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, saying that both governments have been accused of inflicting “harassment, intimidation, and physical abuse” on detainees. The group documented five cases across the occupied territory in which two journalists, an activist, and two rap musicians were detained for criticizing authorities. According to the statement, four of those detained were physically abused or tortured while in custody. Within the same week, the Palestinian press freedoms watchdog MADA reported that Israeli violations against media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory had continued to rise at a rapid pace over the first half of 2016….
Photos: Graduation ceremonies held throughout Gaza
MEMO 1 Sept by Mohammad Asad — Graduation ceremonies for students at universities and colleges were held across the Gaza Strip this week. Graduates were awarded their diplomas, degrees and master’s degrees. Some 20,000 undergraduates received their certificates. The Islamic University of Gaza, which produces thousands of graduates every year, has called this year the Year of Hope as students lived through two wars and four years under siege during their degrees. This has had an impact on some of their grades, in particular for students whose homes were bombed or who lost loved ones as a result of the Israeli assaults. Alaa Kamel, a business graduate, told MEMO that he enrolled in the summer semester after the 2014 war on Gaza. The semester concluded in one week instead of one month, he explained, saying that this led to his grades dropping below 80 per cent at a time when he was trying to raise his average by completing extra credits. Kamel added that his house move from eastern Shuja‘iyya, where his home was damaged during the war, also affected his studies. Due to the continuing siege on the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian labour market has become very limited, and unemployment levels have soared. The average income for graduates working in the private sector ranges between $250-350 per month.
Turkey’s IHH launches new Gaza Strip charity initiative
GAZA CITY, Palestine (Anadolu) 1 Sept by Noor Abu Aisha — Turkish humanitarian relief organization IHH on Thursday officially launched a new charity project in the blockaded Gaza Strip — dubbed “Martyrs of the Freedom Flotilla” — which will provide daily meals for poor Gazan families. “Today we inaugurate this project, which is named after the martyrs of the Mavi Marmara aid ship, with a view to easing the suffering of Gaza residents and providing poor families with food,” Mehmet Kaya, director of IHH’s Gaza branch, told Anadolu Agency. According to Kaya, the $85,000 project will cater to some 600 poor Gazan families who have been selected by Zakat committees, which work according to Islamic regulations on charity. Kaya went on to explain that the project would change its coverage area each month with a view to reaching the largest possible number of beneficiaries. The name of the project — “Martyrs of the Freedom Flotilla” — commemorates ten Turkish activists who were killed by Israeli commandoes in 2010 while attempting to break Israel’s ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip. According to estimates, some 80 percent of the Gaza Strip’s population of almost two million is now dependent on international aid to survive, due primarily to Israel’s decade-long blockade..
Film clip: TIFF: Meet the young Middle Eastern hopefuls of ‘Gaza Surf Club (exclusive video)
Hollywood Reporter 1 Sept by Ashley Lee — “I don’t like it when people interfere in other people’s business,” says Sabah Abu Ghanem in The Hollywood Reporter’s exclusive clip of Gaza Surf Club. “It’s my personal decision.” The documentary looks at a surprising new community, composed of a new generation of Middle Easterners who look to the waves of the Mediterranean for solace from war and political gridlock. In the clip, the 15-year-old girl notes how her hobbies — which include wearing nail polish and swimming (without a head scarf so she doesn’t choke) — stand in contrast to her society even though that’s what makes her happy. “The film is not a report on Middle Eastern society; it’s a story. We chose a small group of people for their individual aspirations and attempted to show beauty and hope in a place known by most for quite the opposite,” director Philip Gnadt and co-director / producer Mickey Yamine tells THR. “If we manage to make a few people think — whether it be about the similarities and differences in cultures or how happiness is relative to what opportunities you are given — then this film has had a purpose.”
Recap of Israeli crimes in Gaza, 2014: Events as they really happened
MiddleEastRising 1 Sept by Ariyana Love — In light of Israel’s military clearing it’s soldiers of criminal wrongdoing from the war crime atrocities committed during the 2014 summer war on the civilian population of Gaza last week, I decided to refresh our memories with three articles I wrote detailing events as they really happened. 1. “The Why of Israel’s 2014 Gaza Offensive” gives all pertinent information leading up to the 51 day war on Gaza. 2. “Gaza, The Shujaiyeh Massacre” covers one of the most horrific Extermination of People (Russell Tribunal) during a pogrom in Shujaiyeh that was carried out during the 51 days of bombing. 3. “The Rising Tide of Suicide in Gaza” gives the reader an idea of the aftermath effects of these atrocities on the Palestinian population besieged in Gaza….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel’s Supreme Court orders demolition of settler outpost in Bethlehem by March
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Sept — Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that an illegal Israeli settlement outpost in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem be demolished by March 2018, sparking condemnation from right-wing Israeli parliament members who blamed the decision on left-wing groups aiming to “exploit the judicial system” for the benefit of a minority. The court ordered the removal of 17 homes, comprising some 40 Israeli families, in the Israeli settler outpost of Derech HaAvot established in 2001 near the Gush Etzion settlement bloc after ruling that the outpost was built on privately held Palestinian land, according to a statement released by Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now. The Jerusalem Post reported that the outpost was established with 300,000 shekels ($79,562) from the Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing. Soon after its establishment, the outpost was challenged in the courts by Palestinians from the town of al-Khader who claimed they owned the land. The property disputes have been ongoing for some 16 years, as the case remained lodged in the Israeli courts. Following the most recent petition submitted by Peace Now and Palestinian residents, the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that 17 structures in the outpost — out of a total of 60 — were built on private Palestinian land. However, according to the group, Israeli authorities worked to retroactively legalize the structures, sparking fears that the court proceedings would drag on for several more years. According to Haaretz, the court has given the government until December 31 to evacuate two of the homes, while the remainder should be completely removed by March 6, 2018. “This verdict exposes, yet again, the governments’ attempt to bend the law for the benefit of settlers,” Peace Now said in a statement….
Israeli housing minister vows accelerated construction in key West Bank settlement
MEMO 2 Sept — Israel’s Housing Minister has promised that the government will soon accelerate construction in Ma’ale Adumim, a key settlement located east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank. Speaking during a visit to the settlement yesterday, cabinet member Yoav Galant claimed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had effectively enforced a “freeze” on construction in Ma’ale Adumim over the last seven years, as a “diplomatic decision”. In fact, construction has continued in the settlement. On 29 August, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process listed 735 units in Ma’ale Adumim as among those advanced by the Israeli government just since 1 July this year. According to the Jerusalem Post, Galant told Ma’ale Adumim residents that plans were in place for a construction bonanza in the settlement, for when building on that scale is allowed. Galant said he hoped that plans for such construction could move forward already by the end of the year. The minister asserted that Ma’ale Adumim “is part of Israel and will remain part of Israel.”
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (25-31 August 2016)
PCHR-Gaza — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt Palestinian suffering from mental disorder was killed at the western entrance to Silwad village, northeast of Ramallah 2 Palestinian civilians were wounded in al-Dheisha refugee camp, south of Bethlehem. Israeli forces conducted 43 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the central Gaza Strip 41 civilians, including 10 children, a mother and her daughter, were arrested. 10 of them, including 5 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued to impose collective punishment measures against Palestinian civilians A house belonging to Amayrah family in Doura, southern West Bank, was bombed. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem 6 dwellings and 2 livestock barns in al-Ma’azai community, east of Jaba‘ village, north of Jerusalem, were demolished. A house in Sour Baher village and 2 other under-construction houses in Silwan village, south of the city, were demolished. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea A Palestinian fisherman was wounded, 5 others were arrested, 2 fishing boats were confiscated and a third was damaged. [Details of these and other events follow]
Marzouk: Hamas will never recognize Israeli state
IMEMC/Agencies 2 Sept — Member of Hamas’s political bureau Mousa Abu Marzouk has reiterated his movement’s rejection of any call for recognizing the state of Israel, expressing its dismay at some Arab attempts to normalize relations with the ongoing occupation. Abu Marzouk, who is on an official visit to Algeria, made his remarks during a news conference held on Wednesday, at the headquarters of the Movement of Society for Peace, in the capital. “Unfortunately, there are attempts to normalize relations with the Zionist entity and grant it legitimacy in the region or part of the region as well as attempts to enter into an alliance with that entity,” Abu Marzouk stated. According to the PNN, the Hamas official called for severing all political and economic ties with Israel and dealing with it as an enemy. He also talked about Al Aqsa Mosque, stressing that all the Muslims around the world are demanded to make every effort to protect it against Israeli threats. He highlighted his current visit to Algeria, describing it as “fruitful and important.”
Hamas representative meets with Iranian officials in Beirut
BEIRUT (Ma‘an) 1 Sept — Hamas’ representative in Lebanon Ali Baraka welcomed a diplomatic delegation from Iran at the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. Mohammad Majedi, the head consul at the Iranian Embassy and the head of the department of political relations, attended the meeting where leaders discussed the Palestinian cause and Hamas-Iranian relations. Baraka emphasized the necessities of reinforcing relations with the Iranian Islamic Republic during the meeting in order to support Palestinian resistance against the near decade-long Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, Israeli raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank. The Iranian delegation reportedly agreed with Baraka on the necessity to unify Muslims to face the “Zionist danger” imposed on Palestine, while Majedi confirmed Iranian support for the Palestinian people and their resistance against Israeli occupation. Majedi also called for coordinating efforts to stop the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip and protecting the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem from Israeli attempts to “Judaize” them. Iran has provided long-term funding to the Hamas movement, the de-facto leaders of the besieged Gaza Strip. However, diplomatic relations took a negative turn in 2012 after Hamas publicly supported the Sunni rebels in Syria against the Iranian-backed Bashar Assad regime….
Palestinians ‘speed up’ bid for UNSC resolution against Israeli settlements
JPost 2 Sept by Tovah Lazaroff — Announced plan comes day after Israel’s Higher Planing Council for Judea and Samaria debated plans with regard to 463 settler housing units — The Palestinian Authority intends to accelerate its attempt to pass a United Nations Security Council resolution against Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, according to WAFA, the Palestinian News and Information Agency. “The Palestinian leadership and in cooperation with the Arab League and the Arab ministerial group will hold contacts at the international level to speed up convening a Security Council session that should pass a resolution to stop settlements, which pose unprecedented and serious threat and creates a situation that would result in grave consequences,” said Nabil Abu Rude, who is a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon condemned the announcement, reiterating Jerusalem’s stance on such unilateral moves. “Once again Palestinian leaders are turning to the UN instead of accepting our repeated invitation to negotiate directly,” he said.
Italy contributes €6.6 million to UNRWA
IMEMC/Agencies 2 Sept — Italy has contributed 6.6 million euros ($7.35 million) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in support of the agency’s core programs and services, an UNRWA press release said on Thursday. According to WAFA correspondence, this year’s amount represents a 61 per cent increase over the Italian contribution to the UNRWA program budget in 2015, and is the first part of a total 10 million euro commitment by the Italian government to the agency in 2016.
In related news, the Commissioner-General of the UNRWA, Pierre Krähenbühl, carried out his first official trip to India this week in order to build stronger relations between the agency and India, an UNRWA press release said on Thursday. Krathenbuhl, who started his four day visit on August 28, discussed with several senior government officials Indian support to UNRWA and conveyed his determination to strengthen engagement with India, a country which has strong historical ties with the Middle East and links to the issue of Palestine.
Netanyahu mulls allowing ICC reps into Israel, West Bank
JPost 2 Sept by Yonah Jeremy Bob — Multiple senior government sources confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering a request by the International Criminal Court Prosecutor to send representatives to meet with Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the coming weeks. The trip would be limited to public relations and for educating the Israeli public about the ICC and not to gather evidence regarding war crimes connected to the 2014 Gaza war or the settlement enterprise. In some ways, the visit would be nearly unprecedented since Israel has not cooperated with numerous UN and other international investigations of alleged war crimes in the past, refusing UN officials entry. Neither officials from the UNHRC’s Goldstone Report on the 2008-9 Gaza war or from its McGowan-Davis Report on the 2014 Gaza war were permitted to enter the country. The ICC Prosecutor’s office had not commented by press time. It is unclear at this time whether a meeting with the PA would be in the West Bank and how any visit would include Hamas….
Why is Mahmoud Abbas boasting of jailing Palestine’s youth?
EI 1 Sept by Charlotte Silver — Six men have launched a hunger strike after being arrested by secret police working for the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. On Sunday, Basil al-Araj, Muhammad Harb, Haitham Siyaj, Muhammad al-Salameen, Ali Dar al-Sheikh and Seif al-Idrisi started refusing food to protest how they are being detained without charge or trial for indefinite periods. They will consume nothing but water until they are released, their lawyer says. According to Samidoun, a group supporting Palestinian prisoners, their detention has been repeatedly extended since they were first arrested at the end of March and the beginning of April. Samidoun has been in contact with the families of the six men. Muhannad Karajah, a lawyer who is representing the prisoners, told The Electronic Intifada that the PA has not presented any charges against the six men. But a PA official has verbally made allegations against them. The allegations relate to their political activities. Samidoun believes their arrest took place as part of Israel’s “security coordination” with the PA. Al-Araj, Harb and Siyaj were picked up on 30 March and told they were just going to be brought in for questioning. But they were kept for prolonged interrogations and subjected to various forms of torture, including sleep deprivation, stress positions, beating and denial of access to toilets. For ten days their families did not know where they were. When their arrests were eventually announced, Israeli media reported they were suspected of planning a “large-scale” attack against Israelis … -Israel-PA cooperation- The mother of Haitham Siyaj, 19, says the PA told her that they were holding her son to protect him from Israeli occupation forces. But publicly the PA has used these arrests as proof of its assistance to Israeli occupation forces….
PPS: ’25 journalists are imprisoned by Israel, seven of them without charges or trial’
IMEMC 1 Sept — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israel is holding captive 25 Palestinian journalists, including seven who are imprisoned under arbitrary Administrative Detention orders, without charges or trial. The PPS said the Israeli authorities are holding seven journalists under Administrative Detention, without charges or trial, except for the alleged “secret files,” that neither the detainees nor their lawyers have access to. One of the journalists who are held under Administrative Detention is Malek al-Qadi, a journalism student of the Al-Quds University, who is also holding a hunger strike, protesting being detained for the 49th consecutive day without charges. Al-Qadi is currently at the Wolfson Medical Center, facing very serious health issues and complications. The PPS added that detained journalist Nidal Abu Aker held several hunger strikes; he was abducted last month on August 9th, and was previously imprisoned by Israel for thirteen years, including nine under Administrative Detention orders without charges or trial. It also stated that the following detained journalists have been receiving repeatedly renewed Administrative detention orders; Hasan Safadi, Mohammad Hasan Qaddoumi, Omar Nazzal, Adeeb al-Atrash and Ali al-‘Oweiwy. In addition, the PPS said that Israel is also holding captive 18 additional journalists, some of them were sentenced to various prison terms, and others are still under interrogation. The longest-serving journalist is Mahmoud Mousa Issa; he was kidnapped 22 years ago and was sentenced to life in prison.
UNRWA schools in Lebanon open their doors to Palestinian refugees [from Syria]
UNRWA 1 Sept — The network of UNRWA schools in Lebanon represents the main educational system for Palestine refugee children in the country. UNRWA works to ensure that Palestine refugee children have the opportunity to learn through classroom education. For the 2016/17 school year, UNRWA will provide elementary, preparatory and secondary educational services to nearly 38,000 Palestine refugee children (17,827 boys and 19,694 girls) enrolled in 67 schools. Of these, over 5,000 students are Palestine refugee children from Syria (2,467 boys and 2,624 girls) enrolled in UNRWA schools.
Israel tells Palestinians: Our textbooks or no funding
Occupied East Jerusalem (Al Jazeera) 2 Sept by Nigel Wilson — As tens of thousands of Palestinian children across occupied East Jerusalem begin a new school year on September 1, teachers, parents and human rights groups have raised concerns over a controversial funding proposal that would only benefit schools that drop the Palestinian curriculum in favour of an Israeli equivalent. The Jerusalem affairs and heritage minister, an irregular portfolio which the current government re-established in June 2015, is set to offer more than 20m shekels ($5.3m) to schools in East Jerusalem on the condition that they teach the Israeli curriculum. In East Jerusalem, there are 180 schools that are either government institutions or private schools, which receive Israeli Education Ministry funding. The vast majority of schools in Occupied East Jerusalem, where almost all the city’s Palestinian residents live, follow the Palestinian curriculum – adopted since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994 – while students take the PA’s matriculation exam. Last year only 10 of those schools offered classes geared towards the Israeli matriculation exam … The current proposal has also been slammed by civil rights groups, who questioned the legality of the plan under Israeli and international law. “You cannot condition the allocation of budget by imposing the Israeli curriculum on Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem, specifically in this area because it is an occupied area, and since 1967 it has maintained a political status quo in schools,” said Sawsan Zaher, an attorney with Adalah, the legal centre for Arab minority rights in Israel.”Based on international law, the local population has the right to maintain its regular way of life and the occupying power is not allowed to interfere in it unless there is a military necessity,” she told Al Jazeera.
Also on East Jerusalem schools, from February but worth revisiting:
How Israel is ‘turning Palestinians into Zionists’
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 18 Feb by Jonathan Cook — Israel is to put financial pressure on Palestinian schools in occupied East Jerusalem in an effort to make them switch over to an Israeli-controlled curriculum, according to local activists and officials … “This attack on our curriculum is part of Israel’s war on Palestinian identity,” Sabri Saidam, the Palestinian education minister, told Al Jazeera. “Israel is working to consolidate its illegal occupation.” … Palestinian pupils, local activists say, will be presented with a curriculum that denies their history and identity, and places a strong emphasis on Israel’s official position that all of Jerusalem is its “eternal, unified capital”. “We don’t want our children to be told that al-Aqsa is not our holy place, that the Palestinian flag is not our flag, that the land belongs to the settlers, and that Ariel Sharon is a hero,” said Hatem Khweis, a spokesman for the Union of Parents’ Committees, a Palestinian group campaigning for improved education in East Jerusalem … Khweis said Israeli officials had stepped up interference in the Palestinian curriculum in recent years, censoring large sections of textbooks. Changes have included: removing pictures of Palestinian flags and PA logos; excising information about PLO leaders; cutting lines from poems that could be interpreted as promoting struggle against occupation; and redacting references to the Nakba, the Arabic term for the loss of the Palestinians’ homeland in 1948. “Israel has so mangled the Palestinian textbooks that the curriculum is extremely weak,” he said. “And now Israel turns to the schools and tells them they would be better off with the Israeli syllabus.”
School for Arab, Israeli students a shelter of calm coexistence amid geopolitical storm
JPost 2 Sept by Daniel K. Eisenbud — “We don’t see people as an Arab kid or a Jewish kid, we just see them as friends who are equal,” says student at Jerusalem’s Hand in Hand School — Walking into Jerusalem’s bilingual Max Rayne Hand in Hand School is akin to entering a portal to another world – where hate, intolerance and elitism are strictly forbidden, and kindness, humanity and selflessness are generously rewarded. In this world, situated on the Green Line between Beit Safafa and Pat, nearly 700 Arab and Jewish children from pre-kindergarten through high school learn and socialize together under the watchful eyes of teachers and administrators from both communities. Despite numerous divisive radical outside forces from both sides of that line that have attempted to infiltrate this bastion of coexistence with hatred, the Hand in Hand School has proven itself impervious to such hostilities, time and again … “We’re opening the school year with a lot of excitement and a lot of growth in all six of our schools,” said communications director Noa Yammer, moments before a ceremony in the gymnasium welcoming first-graders back from summer vacation. The Jerusalem school is Hand in Hand’s flagship, with institutions in the Galilee, Haifa, Jaffa, Wadi Ara, and Kfar Saba, working with 1,550 students….
Israelis and Palestinians face off, but this time for fun
[with photos] AFP 1 Sept — The Israelis and Palestinians were facing off in Jerusalem again — but this time they actually seemed to be enjoying each other’s company. Dozens of Israelis and Palestinians, some dressed in yarmulkes on their head or headscarves, gathered at a historic former train station in the divided city on Wednesday night for a backgammon tournament. They smoked shisha water pipes, munched on ruby-red watermelon slices and listened to a band play Arab music as they matched wits in the board game popular throughout the Middle East. For a few hours, concerns about violence and territory could be put aside for at least the illusion that the two peoples could live together. “I remember the time when I spent nights here, in Tel Aviv or in Haifa,” said Abud, a Palestinian Christian in his 50s from Bethlehem who declined to give his last name. “I had Israeli friends who came to see me in Bethlehem, to eat hummus or falafel.” In front of him on the other side of the game board, Baruch Mehri, a retired Jewish man in his 70s originally from Iraq, took the opportunity to dust off his Arabic. He and Abud traded insults while doubling over with laughter. “As someone from Iraq, this atmosphere, the music, the language, the game, it’s what I dream of for this country,” Mehri said. The tournament was organised over four nights in both the Palestinian and Jewish sections of Jerusalem. They required no special security … Mahmud al-Rifai, a Palestinian organiser, said that 150 people attended on the first night, while even more were at the second. He said it included those who spoke of what they described as the good old days — perhaps with the help of an overly generous memory — when Jews, Muslims and Christians mingled more easily. “The situation is not what the politicians try to sell to us,” he said. “Look at how much Jerusalem residents want something like this.”