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‘An attack on local democracy’: UK gov’t and Spanish High Court issue decisions against BDS

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Thatcherism returns: UK councils banned from divesting from occupation
MEE 4 Oct by Ryvka Barnard — In a devastating blow against democracy, new guidance aims to curb the power of local authorities to make ethical financial choices — The UK government’s attack on local democracy and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has intensified in recent weeks. The Department for Communities and Local Government published guidance for local authorities last month stating that “using pension policies to pursue boycott, divestment and sanctions against foreign nations and UK defence industries are inappropriate”. In other words, the government does not want local council pension holders to democratically decide to stop investing in weapons or security companies. And if they do? The Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, has a new unprecedented power to veto their decision, and even to appoint someone of his choosing to take over the investment strategy of that local council. This new policy was first proposed in November 2015 and put out to public consultation. The response was extraordinary: a massive public outcry, calling the move “an attack on local democracy”. Some 98 percent of respondents, including over 23,000 members of the public and several hundred trade unions (including UNISON which represents local authority pension holders) rejected the proposal to hand central government the power to veto decisions made democratically by pension holders and their local communities. The government’s response? Too bad, we’re going ahead with it anyway….

In historic decision, Spanish High Court rules against BDS
JPost 4 Oct by Lidar Gravé-Lazi — In a massive blow to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a Spanish High Court of the Asturias region, upheld a decision last week, declaring a Langreo City Council agreement to boycott Israel illegal. This marks the first time that a High Court in Spain has issued a judgment relating to BDS, thanks to the legal actions brought forth by ACOM, a pro-Israel lobby group working to combat BDS in Spain. ACOM’s president Angel Mas recently told The Jerusalem Post that the call for a boycott against Israel is part of a “growing trend in Spain among local municipalities.”  According to Mas, this past year alone saw some 60 municipalities declare a boycott of Israel – some knowingly while others are misled into declaring their cities “Free of Israeli Apartheid” by anti-Israel activists. With each declaration, ACOM has provided a first line of defense, bringing forth legal action against each and every municipality that has declared a boycott. “We have to create the opposite deterrence, letting them know that there are consequences for their actions,” Mas said, “Otherwise they [BDS] will win.”….

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Several Palestinians injured in Jerusalem
IMEMC 5 Oct — Soldiers invaded, late at night Tuesday, the towns of al-‘Ezariyya and Abu Dis, in occupied Jerusalem, and clashed with many local youths before firing gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets, causing many Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. The soldiers invaded the two towns, southeast of Jerusalem, from various directions, and fired many rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades, during clashes that lasted for several hours. Palestinian medical sources said many residents suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation, and received the needed treatment.

Student march calls for the return of slain Palestinian’s body
JENIN (PIC) 3 Oct — Palestinian students marched in Qabatia townو south of Jenin, demanding an end to the Israeli detention policy of slain Palestinians’ bodies. The march came as Israeli authorities continue to hold the body of Sari Abu Ghurab for 40 days since his shooting and killing by Israeli forces. The protesters held Sari’s photos and banners calling for the return of his body. Sari was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers while driving near Yitzhar settlement only a few days before his wedding.

Updated: Israeli soldiers kidnap 16 Palestinians in Jerusalem
IMEMC 6 Oct — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday at dawn, al-‘Eesawiyya town and at-Tour village, in occupied East Jerusalem, searched many homes and kidnapped 16 Palestinians, including six children, before moving them to detention and interrogation centers. Mohammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of the Follow’-Up Committee in al-‘Eesawiyya, said many Israeli army vehicles invaded al-‘Eesawiyya, at-Tour and Abu Dis town, during early dawn hours, and conducted extensive searches oh homes, before kidnapping the sixteen Palestinians … In its monthly report, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) has reported that the soldiers kidnapped, in September, 153 Palestinians including 5 women and 37 children, including 6 below the age of 12, in Jerusalem. Silwanic added that most of the abductions took place in al-‘Eesawiyya where the soldiers kidnapped 44 Palestinians, then Shu‘fat refugee camp, 33 Palestinians, while the rest were taken prisoner from different parts of Jerusalem.

Army kidnaps eight Palestinians in Ramallah, 36 Palestinians in different parts of the West Bank
IMEMC 6 Oct — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, on Thursday at dawn, eight Palestinians in several communities in the central West Bank district of Ramallah. 36 Palestinians, including several children, have been kidnapped in different parts of the West Bank at dawn. The PPS said the soldiers surrounded many communities in the district, before breaking into homes and searching them, and kidnapped eight Palestinians. In Doura al-Qare’ town, north of Ramallah, the soldiers kidnapped five Palestinians, identified as Ehsan Monther Fawaqa, Jihad Abu Moammar, and his brother Nadim, in addition to Mohammad Essam Refa’ey and Mohammad Bassam Nathmi. The soldiers also invaded ‘Aroura town, northwest of Ramallah, and kidnapped Monjed Mohammad al-Khatib. In ‘Atara town, north of Ramallah, the soldiers kidnapped Mohammad Nabil, while one Palestinian, identified as Ashraf Mohammad al-Hindi was kidnapped from his home in Turmus Ayya town, northeast of Ramallah.
In related news, the Tulkarem office of the PPS has reported that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, on Thursday at dawn, seven Palestinians in Nour Shams refugee camp, east of the Tulkarem city, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.
Furthermore, several Israeli military jeeps invaded, on Thursday at dawn, the al-Far‘a refugee camp, in the central West Bank district of Tubas, and kidnapped one Palestinian. The soldiers also invaded Qabatia town, in the northern West Bank district of Jenin.
Also at dawn, the soldiers invaded the Deheishe refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, and kidnapped three children and a young man. The soldiers also kidnapped one Palestinian near Hebron.

September 2016 report: 436 Palestinians arrested, nearly 8,000 since October 2015
IMEMC 4 Oct — Samidoun: The following is a translation of the report issued monthly by Palestinian organizations working on prisoners’ issues: Prisoners Affairs Committee; Palestinian Prisoners; Society; Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. The report was issued on Monday, 3 October and translated by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. Israeli occupation forces arrested 436 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in September 2016, including 73 children and 11 women (including 3 minor girls.) 151 of those arrests took place in the Jerusalem Governorate, 81 in Al-Khalil, 40 in Bethlehem, 40 in Nablus, 35 in Jenin, 32 in Ramallah and El-Bireh, 23 in Tulkarem, eight in Qalqilia, six in Tubas, six in Salfit, five from Jericho and nine from the Gaza Strip. There are approximately 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including 59 women, 12 of them minor girls. There are approximately 350 children in Megiddo and Ofer prisons. There are 700 Palestinians held in administrative detention without charge or trial. 122 administrative detention orders were issued in September, including 44 new orders.
-Battle of the empty stomachs in September- Palestinian prisoners Mohammed and Mahmoud al-Balboul and Malik al-Qadi carried out hunger strikes of 79, 76 and 68 days against the administrative detention orders against them …
–A year on the popular intifada: the issue of prisoners– The popular uprising which began on 1 October 2015 has had a clear impact on the issue of prisoners. The number of daily arrests has increased over the past year and has included the arrests of different ages and social groups, children, women and men. At least 7955 Palestinians were arrested, including 1963 children, 229 women and girls, 41 journalists and five members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. The highest number of arrested Palestinians were from Jerusalem; 2355 Palestinians from Jerusalem have been detained since last October, including 842 children and 128 women, including 24 minor girls. There has been an increase in the number of administrative detention orders through the year.  The Israeli occupation authorities have pursued since last October systematic and deliberate policies against Palestinian prisoners at all stages from arrest through transfer to imprisonment, to a dangerous extent that threatens Palestinian lives….

Israel arrests seven Palestinian teens over pipe-bomb attack on Rachel’s Tomb
Haaretz 6 Oct by Yotam Berger — Israeli security force arrested seven Palestinian minors for throwing pipe bombs at the Rachel’s Tomb compound in Bethlehem in the West Bank in recent months. During their interrogations, the teens reportedly confessed to their role “in a number of incidents, including throwing pipe bombs at the Rachel’s Tomb compound,” an Israeli police statement said Thursday, adding they were also suspected of stone-throwing. Four of the teens, aged 16 to 17, from the Palestinian al-‘Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem, were arrested last week, while the remaining three were taken in overnight Wednesday by police and military forces. Police claim the group found bomb-making instructions online. Police say they expect additional arrests to be made and they will request a military court rule to keep all seven in custody.

Israeli forces detain Palestinian in East Jerusalem settlement
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Oct — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian in the Israeli settlement of Shimon HaTzadik in occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday after finding pepper spray and handcuffs on him, Israeli police said. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that policemen saw a “suspicious” Palestinian youth near the light rail station in Shimon HaTzadik on Wednesday evening and searched his bag, where they reportedly found pepper spray, handcuffs, and tape. The Palestinian, who was reportedly from the occupied West Bank and had entered East Jerusalem without an Israeli-issued permit, was transferred for interrogation.


Israel intercepts Women’s Boat to Gaza
EI 5 Oct by Nora Barrows-Friedman — Israeli forces intercepted a boat carrying women solidarity activists as it was approximately 40 miles from Gaza’s shore on Wednesday. Israel said its navy escorted the vessel ashore and that the takeover was brief and “uneventful.” “The Israeli military said the navy carried out the raid ‘after exhausting all diplomatic channels,’” the Associated Press reported. “It said forces ordered the boat to change course, and when it refused, they boarded and searched it.” The single-vessel Women’s Boat to Gaza, which set out from Sicily last week, was carrying 13 women activists in a symbolic attempt to break Israel’s naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. Its passengers included Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire and Ann Wright, a former US Army colonel and State Department official. “Israeli piracy” Sondos Ferwana, a spokesperson for the activists, told a Turkish news agency that the capture of the boat was “another act of Israeli piracy.” The Women’s Boat to Gaza group released a pre-recorded video statement made in case the boat was intercepted. “If you’re listening to this, then you will know that myself and all the women who sailed on the Women’s Boat to Gaza have been arrested and are in detention in Israel,” Maguire says in the video, which can be viewed above. Maguire adds that Israel’s actions are “totally illegal.” The Women’s Boat to Gaza Twitter account published photos of solidarity protests in Spain as news of the boat’s capture reached activists:…

Israeli army air force hit targets in Gaza after rocket falls in Sderot
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Oct — Israeli airstrikes and artillery shells hit multiple targets in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, after a rocket fired from the blockaded Gaza Strip landed on a road inside the Israeli city of Sderot on Wednesday morning. No injuries have been reported on either side. Local sources told Ma‘an after 3 p.m. that an Israeli airstrike targeted the al-Qadisiya training ground in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, which reportedly belonged to Hamas’ military wing the al-Qassam Brigades. Israeli warplanes also targeted the al-Wahah building, a headquarters for Gaza’s naval police, in northwestern Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. Another airstrike hit an agricultural field near a gas station in the northern Gaza Strip, the sources added. Local reports also said that Israeli artillery shells landed in an open area near Jabal al-Rayis east of Gaza City on Wednesday afternoon …
Meanwhile, Palestinian news sites reported that the Israeli air force also targeted the al-Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City, the al-Sourani Mountain area northeast of Gaza City, and al-Shujayya east of Gaza City. The Israeli army issued a statement on Wednesday evening claiming that it had targeted “a number of Hamas posts” in the Gaza Strip “in response to the rocket attack that hit the city of Sderot.” …
The Salafist group Ahfad al-Sahaba reportedly claimed responsibility for the rocket fire.
The Israeli army has previously said they held the Hamas movement — the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip — responsible for all attacks from the territory, although other Palestinian militant groups are active in the small coastal enclave….

Israeli pilot killed in fighter jet crash after reportedly carrying out Gaza airstrikes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Oct — An Israeli army air force pilot died and another was injured on Wednesday as their fighter jet crashed while returning from carrying out airstrikes in the besieged Gaza Strip, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that an F-16 jet crashed while landing at the Ramon air base in the Negev desert. She said both members of the crew ejected themselves from the aircraft, with one of the Israeli pilots dying in the crash, while the other was lightly wounded. The spokesperson added that a commission had been opened to determine the cause of the crash. Meanwhile, Haaretz reported that the pilots were returning from a mission to conduct airstrikes in the Gaza Strip after a rocket fired from the blockaded Palestinian territory landed in the southern Israeli town of Sderot. Israeli airstrikes and artillery shells hit multiple targets in the Gaza Strip, notably near Khan Yunis, Beit Lahiya, and Gaza City.

Israeli soldiers, navy open fire on fishers, farmers, and shepherds in the Gaza Strip
IMEMC 5 Oct — Israeli soldiers and navy ships opened fire on Wednesday morning, targeting Palestinian fishing boats, farmers and shepherds, in different parts of the Gaza Strip. Media sources in Gaza have reported that an Israeli tank fire one shell into Palestinian agricultural land, east of the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City. They added that soldiers stationed on military towers in the Nahal Oz base fired many live rounds at farmers and shepherds east of the Sheja‘eyya neighborhood, east of Gaza City. In addition, navy shops fired many live rounds at fishing boats in the Sudaniyya area, northwest of Gaza City, causing damage, and also forcing the fishers back to shore. A similar attack targeted many fishing boats near Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region, causing property damage. The shepherds and farmers had to run out of their own lands, while the fishers sailed back to shore in fear of additional escalation.

Israeli bulldozers raze Gaza lands east of Rafah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Oct — Several Israeli bulldozers entered inside the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning and leveled lands past the borderline. Witnesses told Ma‘an that five Israeli military bulldozers came through the Sufa crossing and entered some 50 meters into the besieged Gaza Strip east of the city of Rafah. They added that bulldozers razed lands near the border fence.

Egyptian power lines feeding southern Gaza back in operation
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Oct — The Gaza Strip’s electricity company announced on Tuesday evening that the Egyptian power lines feeding the southern part of the besieged enclave were back in operation after being disconnected due to damage. An official at the electricity company said that the lines had been fixed, but would be disconnected temporarily on Wednesday in order for work to be done on another electricity circuit at a power station in al-Arish. The official pointed out that the Egyptian power lines feed the southern Gaza Strip with 20 megawatts of electricity. In addition to damages to Egyptian power lines, three of the Israeli power lines were disconnected due to damages on Monday. The energy authority said in a statement at the time that Israeli power lines 9 and 8, as well as the line feeding the al-Shaaf area, were damaged and disconnected last week and still haven’t been fixed. Line 9 was reportedly disconnected at dawn on Tuesday, and the other two followed shortly afterwards. It remained unclear as of Tuesday whether or not the Israeli lines had been repaired.

Soldier kills Palestinian teen who posed no threat by firing flare bomb at him across Gaza fence
B’Tselem 5 Oct — On 9 September 2016, at 7:10 PM, a soldier fired a flare bomb from very short range at 15-year-old Palestinian ‘Abd a-Rahman a-Dabagh during a protest held near the Gaza perimeter fence, east of al-Bureij Refugee Camp. A-Dabagh, a resident of the camp, was killed. The flare bomb hit a-Dabagh above the eye, fractured his skull and remained lodged it in. It stuck to his face and kept burning for a while. Video footage filmed by another protester and obtained by B’Tselem captured the moments just after the flare was fired, and shows a-Dabagh lying on the ground, with the burning flare up against his face. In a media statement, the military said the troops who were at the scene were not responsible for the incident … A.D., 31, from Deir al-Balah RC, described what he saw to B’Tselem field researcher Khaled al-‘Azayzeh: “The soldiers fired two flare bombs directly at us. The bombs hit the fence and started a fire. Shortly after 7:00 PM, a soldier took a few steps and came up to the fence, put the barrel of his rifle through it and fired a flare bomb straight at ‘Abd a-Rahman. The bomb hit his head. He immediately fell to the ground and his face kept on burning. I came up to him quickly, but one of the soldiers told me in Arabic: “Get back or I’ll shoot you”. I told him I just wanted to lift him up. I took two steps toward ‘Abd a-Rahman, and the soldier shot a few bullets at my legs. I stopped. Then, the soldier turned on his gun’s laser sight and put it on me. Once the fire on ‘Abd a-Rahman’s face went out, the soldiers let us go to him. His face was burnt and he was bleeding. He was unconscious and didn’t move. I yelled, asking for help from the guys, and they came and lifted him up….

A rare journey from Gaza to Jerusalem stirs memories for elderly Palestinians
EREZ, Israel (Wash Post) 5 Oct by William Booth and Hazam Balousha — It’s not easy to get out of Gaza, not easy at all. Israel allows the very sick to visit Israeli hospitals, for chemotherapy or dialysis or surgery. It sometimes permits mourners to attend funerals of close relatives. Most of the permissions go to Gazan traders, who import Israeli goods into the besieged enclave. Two years ago, Israeli authorities created a new category: pilgrims. A few hundred older Palestinians may now exit the coastal strip on Fridays and take the 90-minute bus trip to Jerusalem to pray at al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. This is the story of one group of seniors who made the trip aboard Bus No. 2 … For the 220 Palestinians on a recent Friday, this journey from Gaza to Jerusalem was short but extraordinary — a kind of time travel. Asked when they had last crossed into the Jewish state, the pilgrims gave their answers: 2004 or 1986 or 1974. Marwa Shurab remembered she last visited Jerusalem on a high school trip more than 40 years ago. She is now 58 and a grandmother … The Palestinian pilgrims were by turns impressed, envious, dismayed and happy about what they saw. “It is so beautiful,” said Ibrahim Marouf, 90, a retired farmer who walked with a cane. Then he added, “This is our land, but unfortunately we cannot visit it anymore.”

UNRWA employees in Gaza stage one-day strike over reduction of services
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Oct — The union of employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the UN agency responsible for providing services to some five million Palestinian refugees, announced a one-day strike on Wednesday in the besieged Gaza Strip, with only schools and health centers exempted, to protest a reduction of UNRWA services to refugees and employees. The head of a joint committee representing the union, Suheil al-Hindi, during a news conference held in front of the UNRWA offices in Gaza City, urged UNRWA to halt service reductions and instead create job opportunities for Palestinians, adding that UNRWA should “give employees full rights and work out a solution for temporarily contracted employees.” … Al-Hindi also claimed that the United Nations had turned down all of the union’s demands regarding wages, early retirement, and employee classification during its General Assembly in New York City one week earlier.The one-day strike was initially expected to take place in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, the strike was only held in Gaza….

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

Jerusalem resident forced to demolish his children’s bedrooms following Israeli order
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Oct — A Palestinian family was forced to demolish parts of their own home in the al-Saadiya neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday, following an order from the Jerusalem municipality saying the rooms were built without the required Israeli-issued licenses. Samer Idkik said that he demolished two rooms comprising 30 square meters which he built two and a half years ago, adding that they were being used as bedrooms for his children. “I added the two rooms to the main house because my wife, our three children, and I used to live in only one room. Israeli municipality crews escorted by Israeli forces raided my house four months ago and delivered a demolition notice for the two rooms. The Israeli court ordered to postpone the demolition so I can demolish it by myself to avoid the demolition fees.” Idkik is among many Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem who are forced to demolish their own homes in order to avoid paying costly municipality demolition fees. The incident came amid a surge in Israeli-enforced demolitions against Palestinian homes and livelihood structures in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.Within the span of three days last week, 33 structures were demolished in multiple incidents, which left 35 people — a third of them children — homeless, and 100 people otherwise affected….

Israeli forces level lands, trees in Hebron-area village
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Oct — Israeli forces reportedly leveled 36 dunams (8.9 acres) of Palestinian lands planted with olive and prunus trees on Wednesday in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, locals said. A member of the popular committee of the village of Beit Ula, Kamal Frash, told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers leveled 30 dunams (7.4 acres) planted with olive trees owned by the al-Sarahin family in the Wad al-Raqaqi area of Beit Ula. Frash added that Israeli bulldozers also leveled 6 dunams (1.5 acres) planted with prunus trees more than 12 years old in the nearby area of Tawas. When contacted for comment on the case, a spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma‘an that “enforcement measures were carried out against an individual trespassing state land, after warrants were issued before carrying out such enforcement measures.” In September, Israeli forces leveled 40 dunams of Palestinian land, uprooted more than 800 trees, and “soiled” two wells in the area of Beit Ula. Local committee coordinator Issa al-Emla said at the time that Israeli forces regularly level land, declaring them “state lands” through military decrees, without notifying the landowners, so that the Palestinian landowners won’t be able to appeal to Israeli courts against the orders.

Israel bulldozes land in Beit Dajan
NABLUS (PIC) 5 Oct — Israeli occupation bulldozers on Wednesday morning leveled Palestinians’ cultivated lands on the access road to Beit Dajan town, to the east of Nablus. A PIC news correspondent quoted Beit Dajan locals as stating that a flock of Israeli occupation bulldozers razed their cultivated lands without prior notices. Ten days ago, Palestinian lands were bulldozed by the Israeli occupation army in the same area. The locals expressed fears that the access road, which has been closed by Israel for over a year’s time, would be opened to smooth the access of Israeli army jeeps into and out of the town’s neighborhoods. The targeted road is located in Beit Dajan’s western corners. It had been closed for over ten years by the occupation army as part of attempts to curb anti-occupation activism. A few years ago, the Israeli military forces reopened it and closed it again in early October 2015 following the Itamar anti-occupation attack.

Commission warns of Israel’s construction of synagogue near al-Aqsa
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 5 Oct — The Islamic-Christian Commission to Support Jerusalem and Holy Sites warned on Tuesday of Israel’s imminent launch of a project to construct a synagogue in the heart of the Old City of Occupied Jerusalem, 200 meters away from the Holy al-Aqsa Mosque. The Islamic-Christian Commission said in a statement that the project to build the so-called ‘Jewel of Israel’ synagogue makes part of Israeli attempts to engulf the al-Aqsa Mosque within a chain of synagogues and parks in a barefaced violation of the sanctity of the sacred Islamic place of worship. The commission’s Secretary-General Dr. Hanna Issa said the new six-story-synagogue will be built on the ruins of Islamic and Christian holy sites that hail from the Ottoman and al-Mamluki eras and cover an area of 1,400 square meters. It will be located about 200 meters away from the western side of the Aqsa Mosque. Issa called on the international community and Arab states to rally around the al-Aqsa Mosque and defend the holy sites against Israeli Judaization schemes….

US accuses Israel of betrayal over new settlements
Al Jazeera 5 Oct — The United States has accused Israel of a betrayal of trust over its plans to build hundreds of new settlement homes deep in the occupied West Bank. In unusually strong statements on Wednesday, the White House and State Department lashed out at a proposal announced last week to build as many as 300 housing units and establish an industrial zone in Palestinian territory. “The actions of the Israeli government in announcing this settlement undermine the pursuit of peace,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. He added that the US had received public assurances from the Israeli government that contradicted the settlement announcement. “I guess, when we’re talking about how good friends treat one another, that is a source of serious concern as well,” he said. The US signed a record $38bn deal to provide Israel with military assistance over a 10-year period last month – the largest such agreement ever by the US with any country. At the State Department, spokesman Mark Toner said moving ahead with the settlement project would be “another step towards cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state”. Toner also said that the proposal was “deeply troubling” because Israel announced it so soon after the military aid agreement….

Israel rejects US criticism: Planned West Bank construction is not a new settlement
Haaretz 6 Oct by Barak Ravid — Foreign Ministry rejects U.S. harsh statement accusing Netanyahu of breaking commitment by approving new settlement for Amona settlers. Palestinians are real obstacle to peace, not the settlements, says statement — Verbal clashes between Israel and the U.S. over resettlement plans of the illegal outpost of Amona escalated Wednesday evening, after a Foreign Ministry statement rejected American criticism and claimed that the construction plans approved last week do not constitute the creation of a new settlement. “The settlements are not the obstacle to peace,” said the Foreign Ministry statement. The Prime Minister’s Office did not issue an official response, but Haaretz has learned that the Foreign Ministry statement was worded and approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his advisers alongside Foreign Ministry staff … A senior U.S. official said that the White House boiled with anger at the advancement of the plan and even more at the timing of the decision – just a week after the signing of the military aid agreement by which the U.S. will give Israel $38 billion for a decade, and the day of the death of former president Shimon Peres, whose funeral was attended by President Barack Obama. A large part of American anger was due to the administration seeing the step as a violation of a commitment Netanyahu gave Obama in 2009 that Israel would not build any new settlements….


Israeli forces reopen entrance to village of Kifl Haris
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 5 Oct — Israeli forces reportedly reopened the entrance of the Palestinian village of Kifl Haris in the occupied West Bank district of Salfit on Wednesday after a month-and-a-half closure, locals said. Local sources told Ma‘an that the Israeli authorities, who had closed off the entrance in August over claims that Kifl Haris residents were throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at passing settlers’ cars, had judged the situation to be sufficiently calm to warrant the reopening. The locals added that the entrance was considered one of the most important passages for Kifl Haris residents to reach their lands and neighboring towns, and that the reopening was particularly crucial ahead of the olive harvest season.

Israel lifts closure impose on West Bank, Gaza Strip after Jewish holiday
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Oct — Israeli authorities on Wednesday morning lifted a general closure that had been imposed on all passage for Palestinians traveling between the occupied West Bank and Israel and between the blockaded Gaza Strip and Israel, which was implemented on Sunday for the three-day Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The border crossings were opened one minute before midnight, as Israeli forces began to allow Palestinian workers, medical patients, and those who have permits to enter Jerusalem to cross out of the occupied West Bank. Crossings from the Gaza Strip were also opened, including the Erez crossing, which is the sole crossing for pedestrian travel between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Fuel and building materials also resumed deliveries into the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing. The Gaza Strip’s already dire electricity crisis was exacerbated as a result of the lack of fuel deliveries, with the small Palestinian territory suffering from power outages over the three-day period. The Gaza energy authority announced on Wednesday that a second electricity generator was now working after fuel was once again allowed through the Kerem Shalom crossing….

Palestinian refugees – Syria, Lebanon

2 killed by Russian airstrikes targeting Palestinian refugee camp in Syria
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Oct — Two volunteer workers were killed Monday morning in airstrikes targeting Khan al-Shih, a Palestinian refugee camp in war-torn Syria. According to a statement released on Tuesday by the Jafra Foundation, a relief organization operating in Palestinian refugee camps across Syria, two volunteer members of the Jafra services team, identified as Muhammad Abu Sitteh, 32, and Abdullah Issa, 22, were killed after Russian warplanes dropped cluster munitions on the refugee camp. Two other civilians were injured in the airstrikes. The Jafra services team, for which Sitteh and Issa volunteered, provides relief and assistance to 12,000 Palestinian refugees and around 800 internally displaced Syrian families seeking shelter inside the camp. “Monday’s deadly attacks were preceded by a full week of heavy bombardment on the Camp, with 50-plus barrel bombs raining down in and around the outskirts of Khan al-Shih between Tuesday and Sunday evening,” the statement said. On Friday, two teachers and four students were injured when a school operated by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, was targeted by shelling, leaving some 2,000 refugee children without educational services.

Rallies in north Lebanon after child and grandmother killed in hit-and-run
Qudsdays 4 Oct — Palestinians in a north Lebanon refugee camp Monday demonstrated against the UN’s refugee agency for Palestinians (UNRWA), which they blamed for the death of a five-year-old Palestinian girl and her grandmother. The National News Agency said that refugees in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp blocked the main road at the entrance of the camp after Israa Ismail and her grandmother succumbed to their wounds at the al-Khair Hospital in Minyeh. Israa and her grandmother, Widad Mustapha, were hit by a car on the Muhammara highway. Hamas leader Ahmad al-Asadi, in charge of the Nahr al-Bared file, denounced the conditions endured by the Palestinian refugees in Lebanese camps. Shortly before the casualties breathed their last, their families appealed to the Lebanese Health Minister, Wael Abu Faour, and the UNRWA to urgently step in. But none of those parties responded. He added in a statement that Israa passed away after she had spent over two hours at al-Khair hospital waiting to be transferred to another facility, as she required the assistance of a respirator. Rallies are expected to be held outside the UNRWA offices in Lebanon in protest at the agency’s reduction of its health services.



ACRI petitions High Court to revoke cultural anti-boycott resolution
JPost 5 Oct by Lidar Gravé-Lazi — The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) petitioned the High Court of Justice against Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, calling to revoke amendments initiated by the minister preventing artists from boycotting venues in Judea and Samaria. The “Regev amendments,” as they’ve been dubbed, would fine artists who refuse to perform in venues in the settlements while rewarding those who do perform there, ACRI explained in its petition. “The issue of performing in settlements is unequivocally political, is under intense national controversy, and therefore you cannot force someone to perform there against their conscience,” ACRI said. The organization noted that cultural institutions performing in the Negev and the Galilee are eligible for state-funding, but “only those who perform in the settlements will receive an extra bonus, thus giving them an unacceptable priority.”….

Other news

The month in pictures: September 2016
Electronic Intifada 5 October

PA postpones municipal elections by 4 months, Hamas rejects decision
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Oct — The Hamas movement has rejected a decision announced by the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Tuesday to postpone municipal elections for four months with the intent of holding them in the entire occupied Palestinian territory, following backlash over a Supreme Court ruling to exclude the Gaza Strip from the elections altogether. On Sept. 8, the Supreme Court ordered a halt on municipal elections that were scheduled to be held on Oct. 8. in both the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip. The Fatah-controlled Supreme Court said at the time that the decision was in response to several appeals submitted by lawyers challenging the legitimacy of elections that would not include occupied East Jerusalem, stating that any administrative procedure must be conducted in every region of Palestine. However, on Monday the Supreme Court ruled in favor of holding the elections on Oct. 8 as initially planned, but only in the occupied West Bank. The ruling caused backlash for its exclusion of the Gaza Strip, with the Hamas movement accusing Fatah of being behind the “deeply politicized” decision. The Central Elections Commission (CEC) stated on Monday that excluding the Gaza Strip from elections would only worsen the Palestinian political situation, and recommended that the elections be postponed for six months to give time to organize the electoral process. After a meeting held in Hebron, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said that the PA had decided to follow the CEC’s recommendation and postpone the elections. “The Palestinian Cabinet, in consultation with President Mahmoud Abbas, decided to postpone the local elections for four months,” Hamdallah said. “The elections will be held on the same day in all governorates, taking in consideration all legal procedures.” Hamdallah did not specify whether East Jerusalem would be involved. However, Hamas rejected the PA’s decision to postpone the elections.“We consider the government’s decision to postpone the election as an attempt to evade the election to serve Fatah’s interests,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said during a press conference in Gaza, accusing Fatah of having no respect for the judicial system….

Palestinian Education Ministry threatens to fire teachers if strike launched
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Oct — The Palestinian Ministry of Education warned hundreds of public school teachers on Tuesday that they could be fired if they went forward with plans to strike in protest over unmet demands over salary issues. According to state-run Palestinian news agency Wafa, the ministry said that teachers could have their salaries deducted for any days they go on strike, and they may also resort to dismissing striking teachers outright. In February and March, thousands of Palestinian teachers took to the streets to protest their low salaries and the lack of opportunities for raises, all included in a 2013 agreement which, three years on, has not been implemented in full. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared an end to the strike on March 12, assuring that he would carry out the 2013 agreement to grant better salaries and guarantee teachers’ rights. However, according to Wafa, teachers who were dissatisfied with the deal have since formed the Teachers’ Movement group, and have called for strike in schools until the government meets all their demands, particularly those dealing with cost of living increments.

Arraba students demand UNRWA to end school overcrowding
JENIN (PIC) 5 Oct — UNRWA school girls in the Jenin town of ‘Arraba on Wednesday refused to enter their school and staged a sit-in outside it in protest at the agency’s failure to address the overcrowding problem in classrooms. During the protest, students expressed refusal to receive their education in a demeaning learning environment, where there are more than 46 girls in each classroom. They accused the UNRWA of neglecting the education sector and not meeting the basic needs of its schools on allegations of its suffering from funding problems affecting its programs. They described the persistent overcrowding problem in their school as “great injustice that would affect their educational attainment,” appealing to the local community to support their protest step.

Palestinian Authority pays IEC NIS 590m debt
Globes 5 Oct — This is the first installment in paying the PA’s NIS 2 billion electricity debt — Today, Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE: ELEC.B22) reported to the stock exchange that it has received a first NIS 590 million payment, which begins covering the Palestinian Authority’s NIS 2 billion debt. The remaining debt will be repaid in 48 installments. This payment has been transferred following a memorandum of understandings signed last month by Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories General Yoav Mordechai, Ministry of Finance Director-General Shai Babad and the Palestinian Authority’s Civilian Affairs Minister Hussien Ash-Sheikh. As part of the agreement, it had been decided that IEC would stop working with private parties in the PA, from which it had had problems collecting payment so far. Instead, a central PA entity will be established and be responsible for continuous power supply to all Palestinians in its territory and payments to IEC. Earlier this year, as part of the efforts to collect the debt, the government and IEC agreed that a portion of the PA’s tax money will be used to repay the debt, but prohibited IEC from cutting power out of concern over harsh international community responses. In early April 2016, IEC cut power supply to Bethlehem, Hebron and Jericho by half, as part of a plan to reduce supply to a different area of the West Bank every day….

2,000 women begin two-week march for peace to end in mass rally in Jerusalem
Haaretz 5 Oct by Judy Maltz — Roughly 2,000 women convened at Israel’s Lebanese border on Tuesday night, in the first leg of a cross-country march aimed at pressuring the nation’s leaders to resume peace talks with the Palestinians. The event was launched by Women Wage Peace, a non-partisan organization founded two years ago, following Israel’s last war in Gaza. Titled “March of Hope,” the Women Wage Peace event will span two weeks, culminating on October 19 with a mass rally in Jerusalem outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence. “We expect tens of thousands at the Jerusalem rally,” said Lili Weisberger, an activist in Women Wage Peace and organizer of the march. Roughly 1,000 Palestinian women from the West Bank, along with thousands of Israeli women, she said, had signed up for a special “mothers” prayer service scheduled for the morning of the Jerusalem rally at Qasr el Yahud, the West Bank site where Jesus is believed to have been baptized. Jordanian women were also expected to participate in this event from their side of the Jordan River. Also attending will be the Liberian peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee considered a role model for the Israeli women’s peace group. During each day of the Women Wage Peace event, 5-10 kilometers walks will be held in different locales around the country – in both Jewish and Arab towns, as well as communities along the Gaza and Jordanian borders – for those who cannot participate in the entire two-week trek. In addition, Women Wage Peace activists will hold special outreach activities with residents of local communities. Solidarity walks in support of Women Wage Peace will also be held over the next two weeks in locations around the world, including San Francisco, New York, Florence, Paris and Berlin….

Following murder, hundreds of Arab women march against gender violence
+972 mag 1 Oct by Haggai Matar — Hundreds protest the murder of a woman before her children’s eyes. While some of the male demonstrators preferred to focus on police inaction and racism, the women demanded to speak about what is actually happening inside Arab society — Around 500 women and men marched Friday afternoon in the city of Lod [in Israel] to protest the gender violence and murder of women in Arab society. The march, which began in Lod’s old city and ended in a vigil outside the old municipality building, marked a week since the murder of Dua’a Abu Sharkh — a murder that sparked the largest-ever women’s protest movement, what Samah Salaime termed a “women’s intifada.” Both the protest and the vigil mark the height of the community involvement in Lod in the struggle against gender violence in Arab society, the result of the hard work of local women’s organization, Na’am. The daughters and family members of murder victims marched while wearing shirts with the names of the dead printed on their shirt, along with the sentence: “The murderer roams free.” Joint List MKs Aida Touma-Sliman, Haneen Zoabi, Bassel Ghattas and Osama Sa’adi all marched, along with hundreds of other supporters, alongside the family members. The demonstrators shouted slogans against police inaction, blaming them for solving crimes committed against Jews only. Dua’a [Du‘aa’] Abu Sharkh, a mother of four who was 32 at the time her death, was murdered last Friday while in her car. She was shot while returning her children to her husband, from whom she was divorced. The family claims that he had threatened Dua’a in the past….

ICC delegation to visit Israel, Palestinian territories
Al Jazeera 5 Oct — Delegation aims to “promote better understanding” about its work, but does not plan to probe alleged 2014 war crimes — A delegation from the International Criminal Court (ICC) is visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories this week to “promote better understanding” about its work, stopping short of declaring an investigation into alleged war crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza conflict, the ICC’s chief prosecutor has said. The six-day trip beginning on Wednesday will be the first to the region by officials from the prosecutor’s office at the ICC since the Gaza war, which left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead. The team will travel to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah, chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement, for “meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials at the working levels.” But she made no mention of whether the delegation would travel to the Gaza Strip and stressed that the visit was not aimed at investigating any allegations. At the request of the Palestinians, Bensouda’s office has opened an initial probe into alleged war crimes by both sides during the July-August 2014 conflict. She said the visit was “not linked” to her preliminary investigation which she said “is ongoing and is following its normal course.” “The purpose of this visit will be to undertake outreach and education activities with a view to raising awareness about the ICC and, in particular, about the work of the office,” Bensouda said. The delegation from her office “will not engage in evidence collection in relation to any alleged crimes,” she added. “Neither will the delegation undertake site visits, or assess the adequacy of the respective legal systems to deal with crimes that fall within ICC jurisdiction.”….

What happened to four Palestinians abducted by Egypt?
EI 29 Sept by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh — Wafaa Abu Libdah experienced both shock and relief when she saw photographs of her son Abdeldayim in detention. “When I saw the photo, I screamed ‘Abdeldayim is still alive,’” she said. Then she had a closer look and noticed that he was being held in unsanitary conditions. “The ground is wet, the whole place is dirty and my son is half naked,” she said, viewing the pictures on a mobile phone. “Why is Egypt doing this?” Abdeldayim was among four Palestinians abducted by masked men after entering Egypt in August 2015. They had passed through the Rafah crossing on the Gaza-Egypt border and were on a bus heading to Cairo International Airport when the abduction occurred. Last month — one year following their abduction — Al Jazeera published images of Abdeldayim and Yasir Zannoun, another of the four abductees, being detained, reportedly in Cairo. Wafaa, Abdeldayim’s mother, has had trouble sleeping since her son was abducted. “I want my only son back,” she said. “I want to hug him again — even just once before I die.” Abeldayim and the three other abductees had, according to press reports, been involved in the armed wing of Hamas. They were destined for Turkey when abducted. Abdeldayim was planning to further his studies in software engineering there. When the masked men boarded the bus from which Abdeldayim was taken, they called out his name and that of the three others. Passengers who were on the same bus have said that the masked men spoke with Egyptian accents. –Silence– Yet the Egyptian authorities have mainly been silent about the abductions. No official comment was made by the Egyptian government at the time. However, it was reported that the Egyptian security services believed the abductions were carried out by Province of Sinai, a group affiliated with Islamic State. Many people in Gaza suspect that the abductions were the result of cooperation between Israel and Egypt. One theory is that the men may have been taken hostage to pressure Hamas into releasing the few Israeli soldiers who were captured during Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza….

From Syria to Sweden: 200 voices on escaping the war
3 Oct — How does it feel to leave everything behind and start afresh in a foreign country? SVT Nyheter asked 200 Syrians about the war, the escape, and the new life in Sweden. These are their stories. (text in English; videos in Arabic)


Documentary: The Holy Land Five
Al Jazeera World 5 Oct — Soon after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, the largest Muslim charity in the United States – the Holy Land Foundation – was shut down, its assets frozen and five of its senior staff arrested by the FBI. The charity was founded in California in 1989 and provided aid to a number of Palestinian causes. It also offered help to refugee communities in Jordan, Lebanon and other needy people across the Middle East and the rest of the world.
As the charity grew and revenue increased, claims emerged against the foundation. The 1990s saw groups like the Anti-Defamation League and politicians such as the former Governor of New York City, Eliot Spitzer, and former Congressman Anthony Wiener lobby against the charity. These groups appealed to the Clinton administration to shut the charity down, but failed. The US government eventually responded to similar accusations, allegedly made by the state of Israel. The claims made were that the charity was a front for an illegal money-laundering operation, diverting funds to Hamas via zakat committees in the Occupied West Bank. Hamas, in turn, had been designated “a terrorist organisation” by the US government. “It was a huge record that the government created, an administrative record – and it was basically garbage. It was newspaper articles, interviews that were translated from Arabic to Hebrew to English,” says Nancy Hollander, one of the lawyers defending Shukri Abu Baker, a founder of the foundation. “And we discovered when we did our own translations that their translations were completely wrong, that the government was relying on information that was completely false. But it didn’t matter.” The five foundation founders were charged with providing “material support” to Hamas. During the first trial in 2007, their defence team struggled to deal effectively with two secret expert witnesses called by the prosecution whose “evidence” was not shared in advance … The Holy Land Five is a two-part documentary looking at the controversial trial of the Holy Land Foundation leaders. The films use interviews with defence and prosecution lawyers, family members, phone calls with the men themselves in jail – and reconstruction of court proceedings, to examine the case against the five men. (listserv) (archive)


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

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