With baby Waleed, Gaza population reaches 2m
GAZA CITY (AFP) 12 Oct — The two millionth person has been born in Gaza, with the birth of a baby boy named Waleed officially recognised as reaching the milestone in the densely populated Palestinian territory. “There are now more than two million residents in the Gaza Strip after baby Waleed Shaath was born last night in Rafah in southern Gaza,” interior ministry spokesman Iyad Bezm told AFP on Wednesday. The ministry said the population of the Gaza Strip was now 50.66 per cent male and 49.34 per cent female. The 2,000,001st person, a girl named Lana Ayad, was born shortly afterwards. Gaza, a tiny enclave squeezed between Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea and just 12 kilometres across at its widest point, has one of the highest population densities in the world, according to the United Nations. The territory could be “unliveable” by 2020, the UN said last year, due in large part to “high population density and overcrowding”….
Child killed by Israeli military fire in Gaza, army denies involvement
IMEMC 13 Oct — The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has reported that a child was killed on Wednesday evening, after Israeli soldiers opened fire into an area east of the al-Qarara town, northeast of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army issued a statement denying any involvement in the shooting. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said the soldiers, stationed on a military tower across the border fence, east of Khan Younis, fired many live rounds, one of them killing the child. Dr. al-Qedra added that the child, identified as Abdullah Nasser Abu Methyef, 10, was shot with a live round in his back, and died from his wounds at Nasser Hospital, in Khan Younis. He also stated that eyewitness accounts confirm the fact that the soldiers shot the child, in contrary of Israeli military allegations, adding that the child was killed close to his house. Dr. al-Qedra was referring to a claim by the Israeli army spokesperson, Pauli Mordechai, who said that “the news accusing the army of killing a child are propaganda, used by various Palestinian and Arab news agency.” Mordechai also claimed that the source of fire that killed a child was “from a wedding, where some people were firing live rounds into the air.” Eyewitnesses contradicted the statement, and said the source of fire clearly came from the Israeli military base, across the border fence.
Palestinian injured with live fire during clashes along Israeli border with Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Oct — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian with live fire during clashes near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Friday, according to locals. Medical sources in the besieged coastal enclave told Ma‘an that a Palestinian was injured during the clashes, which were taking place along the “buffer zone” east of Gaza City in the central Gaza Strip. Israeli forces also reportedly opened fire at protesters east of al-Bureij refugee camp, also near the buffer zone, in northern Gaza. No injuries were reported … Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have demonstrated near the border with Israel nearly every Friday to show solidarity with what Palestinians in Gaza have termed the “Jerusalem Intifada” taking place in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. 29 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip since the unrest spread in October, the majority shot dead during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border. More than 177 Gazans have been injured by Israeli forces since the start of 2016, the vast majority during clashes that broke out with the Israeli military during protests since October, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian unarmed bird hunters in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Oct — Israeli forces opened fire at unarmed Palestinian bird hunters who were using nets at the eastern borders of the Khan Yunis district in the southern Gaza Strip Wednesday morning. Witnesses told Ma‘an that soldiers deployed at Israeli military watchtowers opened fire at borderlines alongside the al-Fukhari, al-Umour, Khuzaa, Abasan al-Kabira, Abasan al-Jadida, and al-Qarrara villages. No injuries were reported.
Israeli navy opens fire at Palestinian fishing boats in northern Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Oct — The Israeli navy opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli navy boats opened fire at fishing boats off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the blockaded Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported.
Israeli forces deployed at the borderline between the besieged Palestinian territory and Israel also reportedly opened fire at Palestinian agricultural lands east of Rafah City.
Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian farmers in the southern Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Oct — Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian farmers along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Friday, according to locals … Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces deployed in military towers along the borderline opened fire on the farmers on their own agricultural land in eastern Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported.
Israel’s Kerem Shalom border crossing opened to allow fuel into Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Oct — Israeli forces Friday opened the Kerem Shalom crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel to allow the import of fuel into the coastal enclave. Samir Hamadeh, a board member of an organization representing Gaza’s fuel and gas companies, told Ma‘an that the crossing was opened allowing diesel and gasoline to be pumped into the Gaza Strip. Hamadeh said there were issues with the pump transporting cooking gas into the besieged enclave, adding that the pump broke and was not able to properly pump enough quantities of cooking oil. Hamadeh added that the Gaza Strip needs some 400 tons of gas daily to meet the needs of the residents of the small Palestinian territory, but no more than 280 tons had entered the crossing on Friday….
Egypt to open Rafah crossing on Saturday, Sunday
GAZA (Ma‘an) 13 Oct — Egyptian authorities Thursday decided to open the Rafah crossing on both sides this week on Saturday and Sunday [15, 16 Oct]. The crossings department at the ministry of interior in Gaza said in a statement that officials were informed by the Egyptian side of the crossing that it would be open on Saturday and Sunday for humanitarian cases and “stranded people.” … Due to the constraints on Palestinian movement through the crossing, many Gazans are commonly barred from leaving or entering the besieged coastal enclave, some for months at a time, as the crossing is only periodically opened by Egyptian authorities, stranding Palestinians on both sides of the crossing during closures.
Palestinian Ministry of Health ships medicine supplies to Gaza
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 Oct – The Palestinian Ministry of Health shipped on Wednesday 31 truckloads of medicine and required medical aid to be stored by the ministry in the besieged Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Minister of Health Jawad Awwad said in a statement that the trucks were loaded at the ministry’s stores in the village of Salim in the occupied West Bank district of Nablus. The shipment, he said, included cancer medicine, arterial solutions, medication for treatment of kidney issues and hemophilia, lab material, basic daily use material, and emergency room medical equipment, among other materials. The shipment also included a truckload of refrigerated medical products. The shipment was expected to reach the besieged coastal enclave on Thursday evening, the minister added.
Israel announces heavy fine for Gaza smugglers
13 Oct by Andrew Friedman/TPS — Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has instructed the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to ramp up oversight of materials entering the Gaza Strip. Major General Yoav Mordechai, commander of COGAT, said Thursday that the order was given in order to prevent raw materials requiring security clearance from reaching the Hamas-led canton. “Any attempt to smuggle dual-use materials into Gaza without coordinating the shipments with [Israeli] security officials raises strong concerns that the materials are willingly being provided to terror operatives,” said Mordechai in a statement Thursday. ”The only goal these groups have is to harm the security of Israeli civilians. The responsibility for [preventing] smuggling does not only fall on the people ordering the materials, but also on [Israeli] companies and on truck drivers who transport the material that is intended for terrorism into Gaza.” Liberman also said that companies that help smuggle materials into the Strip will be fined. At least one telecommunications firm has been advised that it will be fined hundreds of thousands of shekels for attempting to smuggle communications and fiber-optic cables. Defense officials believe the materials were intended for terror elements in the Strip. Up to now, prohibited materials were confiscated at Gaza entry points, and truck drivers received warnings. The new policy was adopted following consultations with COGAT, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the Land Border Crossings Authority of the Defense Ministry, Israel police and legal scholars. The new policy calls for stiff penalties against all levels of the smuggling chain, from company administrators down to truck drivers. Possible sanctions include impounding trucks used for smuggling attempts, including the cargo. Fines for smuggling could reach approximately NIS 1 million (US $261,730). Used car parts will also be banned from the Strip, after security forces discovered parts in shipments that could be used to build a 4X4 jeep to be used by terror groups.
Don’t miss this one – it’s not often we get a happy story from Gaza.
A couple’s anniversary celebration in Gaza has gone viral
Stepfeed 14 Oct by Leyal Kalife — Samah Shamali and Mahmoud Abu Hamada, a couple in Gaza, celebrated their five year anniversary in the most thoughtful way possible. Samah, a poet and photographer, decided to surprise her husband with a photo from her husband’s professional photo collection with her own poetry written across a billboard in Gaza city. “Time stops for a moment, and your passion for nature flows in you bigger than ever. So, let the light sing,” the billboard says. He was knocked speechless to say the least. “I can’t even bring myself to describe or even talk,” he says in the video. The entire thing was caught on video, which was posted on Mahmoud’s Facebook. The post has since gone viral, garnering over 80,000 views and over 3,000 shares on the social media platform. “It wasn’t about Samah and myself. It became a public celebration of love and commitment,” Mahmoud told Palestine Square. “It was a “surprise beyond description from my dearest Im Essam (in reference to his wife),” Mahmoud writes in his Facebook caption.
For the love of football: Gaza comes alive in ‘Team Gaza’ documentary
MEMO 12 Oct by Ramzi Baroud — ….this is not entirely a story of war and siege, or one of Usama alone. It is the story of Gaza, and depicts a reality of its past and present – and its uncertain future. The filmmakers, Laurens Samsom and Frederick Mansell, come from journalism and television backgrounds, with Samson working as a correspondent for Dutch newspapers in Palestine and Israel, and Mansell working for Dutch public television. The two connected around the idea of making a documentary on Gaza, but one that is rather different from the typical and perhaps even stereotypical media depiction of the Strip. “Early in 2012 I found this football team in Gaza, Al Shatea (Beach Camp) and instantly I knew this was the place where we could tell a story that is so hard to get across,” Samsom told me. The story he wanted to tell was not the story of war, but that of ‘normal life’ in Gaza: “The story of regular dreams and ambitions in this closed piece of land, where the news is usually silent when the bombs don’t fall.” One of the erroneous assumptions that many have of Gaza – thanks to Israel’s official hasbara, but also to an over-romanticized view of Palestine – is that Gaza is a place of war and only war. In that view, the tiny strip of land seems to only matter when it is bombed, or when it fights back. In between the bouts of violence, the extremely crowded enclave of 1.8 million people (of whom 1.3 million are refugees) falls into some kind of a twilight zone, only deserving of an occasional headline covering a visit by a UN official, a homemade rocket falling inside Israel, followed by a thousand bombs dropped on Gaza. But “Team Gaza” depicts a different reality, that of life abuzz, of football competitions, of girls fighting for a place in society, of men standing tall, others cowering in fear, seeking an escape, and still others frantically holding onto a shred of hope and dignity….
Hamas-Fatah feud stalls Gaza higher education
EI 14 Oct by Isra Saleh al-Namey — Ahmad Abu Hasira has decided against joining his two older siblings at Gaza’s Al-Aqsa University, one of the biggest publicly funded Palestinian higher education facilities. Abu Hasira, 18, was about to start at the university’s journalism school, but an ongoing crisis that has seen Al-Aqsa’s accreditation threatened by the ministry of education in Ramallah deterred him. He did not, he told The Electronic Intifada, want his education to be interrupted by politics. And he is not alone. “It is not only me who crossed this option out. Many of my friends now went to register at Al-Azhar or the Islamic University of Gaza.” Like his older brother and sister, who are still to graduate, Abu Hasira had been keen since high school to register at Al-Aqsa. The university is renowned for maintaining a positive learning environment with relatively low tuition fees. It is a top choice for those who want to pursue a higher education, but do not have the means to study privately. Al-Aqsa also offers a generous package of scholarships, making it even more attractive to prospective students in the impoverished Gaza. However, the university and its more than 26,000 students have found themselves caught up in the political feud between the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas, which governs Gaza.Strip….
Gaza businessman: Hamas wants Israeli cooperation
Globes 13 Oct by Amiram Barkat — Nabil Bouab calls on Israelis to do business with Gaza, which is crying out for jobs — “The poor and the hungry try to agitate not because they love disturbances but because they want to be taken into account and paid attention to,” says Gaza businessman Nabil Bouab. Bouab agreed to be interviewed by “Globes” following the article featuring Israeli businessman Shlomi Fogel, the owner of Ampa and Israel Shipyards. Well connected in the Arab world, Fogel called on Israeli businesspeople and their counterparts in Gaza and the Arab world, “to come to Gaza now,” and be partners in setting up five or six industrial zones and free trade areas along the Israel-Gaza border, on the Israeli side. Sources involved in the initiative claim that Hamas looks on it positively due to the economic pressures from Gaza residents who suffer a 60% unemployment rate. The initiative depends on the allocation of land by Israel for the industrial zones along the fence and ensuring swift access to these zones from Gaza. The businessmen are interested in the Israelis controlling the security of the joint zones. Bouab and Fogel believe that the industrial zones can provide a livelihood for 60,000 families. “We are talking about textile and furniture factories but we also need to find jobs for university graduates,” Bouab said, “We have engineers without work. We also have people that can work in computer software. Israel is one of the world’s most advanced countries in these fields.” ….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli forces shoot, injure dozens on 4th day of violent raids into al-Ram
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 Oct — Dozens of Palestinians were shot and injured by live ammunition or rubber-coated steel bullets in the town of al-Ram in the Jerusalem district of the occupied West Bank Wednesday morning — on the fourth consecutive day of violent raids into al-Ram since a resident of the town carried out a deadly shooting attack in East Jerusalem on Sunday and was shot dead on the scene. State-run news agency Wafa reported that a large number of Israeli army vehicles raided the the town, provoking clashes with local Palestinian youth who then threw stones at Israeli soldiers’ vehicles. The Israeli army responded by firing live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas canisters to disperse the protesters, causing multiple cases of gunshot injures and severe tear gas inhalation, according to Wafa … After Jerusalemite Palestinian Misbah Abu Sbeih carried out a deadly shooting attack in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday, which left an Israeli police officer and an Israeli woman killed, Israeli forces have violently raided al-Ram every day since to detain members of the slain attacker’s family and ransack their properties. As a result of the violent nature of the raids, locals have protested outside of the targeted homes, leading to clashes with Israeli forces.
Many Palestinians injured after soldiers fired gas bomb at a wedding in Jenin
IMEMC 13 Oct — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday at night, Zabbouba village, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and fired many gas bombs and concussion grenades, some targeting homes, during clashes that took place following the invasion. The soldiers also attacked a wedding party, causing many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Several army vehicles invaded the village from various directions, and fired many gas bombs and concussion grenades at dozens of residents attending a wedding party, in addition to firing gas bombs striking several homes. Hundreds of Palestinians had to leave the wedding party, and the area of the attack, while medics rushed to the site, and provided the needed treatment to dozens of residents. On Wednesday evening, the soldiers installed a roadblock at the village’s main entrance, and held dozens of residents and cars for several hours.
Two Israeli soldiers mildly injured after invading Qabatia
IMEMC 14 Oct — Two Israeli soldiers were mildly wounded, on Friday at dawn, after several military vehicles invaded Qabatia town, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Israeli sources said the soldiers came under Palestinian fire in Qabatia, and that their vehicles were also attacked with pipe bombs, causing two soldiers to suffer mild wounds. The soldiers also briefly exchanged fire with a number of fighters who attacked the military vehicles in the town. Local sources said the soldiers also invaded homes and searched them, before kidnapping one Palestinian, identified as Ahmad Naji Abu Zalata, 33. Clashes also took place in the town after several youngsters hurled stones and empty bottles on the military jeeps, while the soldiers fired several live rounds, gas bombs, and concussion grenades.
In related news, the army said its soldiers also came under fire while invading ‘Askar refugee camp, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and that the attack caused no injuries. Also in Nablus, several army vehicles invaded various neighborhoods in Nablus city, in addition to residential and commercial buildings, and also invaded Tal Junction, Ras al-‘Ein area, at-Tour area, ad-Dahia and the area between the New Askar refugee camp and the Old Askar refugee camp. The soldiers then invaded and searched homes, and kidnapped at least two young men, identified as Hamdi Khashan and Ala’ Arafat.
Also at dawn, [Israeli forces invaded] several districts in the occupied West Bank, searched many homes and kidnapped at least four Palestinians, while one child was kidnapped on Thursday at night, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported. The soldiers also searched many young men, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem.
Israeli forces raid ‘mourning tent’ dedicated to slain Palestinian Misbah Abu Sbeih
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 Oct — Israeli soldiers Thursday evening raided a “mourning tent” in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, dedicated to Misbah Abu Sbeih, who was killed by Israeli forces Sunday after carrying out a deadly shooting attack in occupied East Jerusalem that left two Israelis dead. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers ripped down pictures of Abu Sbeih and placards decorated with political slogans before leaving the area. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an she would look into reports on the raid. Abu Sbeih was killed by Israeli forces after carrying the drive-by shooting attack in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, which killed an Israeli police officer and an Israeli woman….
Israeli soldiers threaten international protesters with arrest during Bil‘in weekly protest
IMEMC 15 Oct — The Bil‘in Freedom demonstration took place on Friday afternoon, as it has every Friday afternoon for the past 13 years. Around 60 local villagers were joined by 40 Israeli and international activists and marched to the site of the Israeli Annexation Wall. According to local sources, the march began on ‘Freedom Street’ in Bil‘in, and the protesters managed to march through their olive and farm fields to the site of the Israeli Wall. When they arrived at the Wall, some demonstrators climbed up and hoisted the Palestinian flag on top of the Wall. The gates of the Wall opened, and Israeli troops came through – they threatened the international activists with arrest and deportation if they did not leave the area at once. The Israeli soldiers told the crowd that they had ‘official orders’ to vacate the area. When the residents asked for a copy of the order, the soldiers just waved a paper in the air, but would not let anyone see it. The international activists were forced to hand their passports to the Israeli soldiers, who made copies of the passports. [See short video] Some of the solidarity activists were from Israel, Holland and Canada. Local resident Ashraf Abu Rahma told the IMEMC, “This action is meant to intimidate the activists, and to prevent them from entering the country if they decide to return.” Local sources reported that, for the first time in years, there were no arrests or abductions of locals by Israeli soldiers this week. Palestinian photographer and Bil‘in resident, Haitham al-Khatib, wrote, “I am hosting some activists in my home now and I am proud of their courage and I thank them for blessing our village with their visit! Palestinians are loving welcoming people and we always welcome you ALL to visit and WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! You will always find love from us, its all we have but we give it freely and generously! Thank you International activists!”
Local resident Ashraf Abu Rahma also told the IMEMC that sometimes the farmers go to their fields accompanied by international solidarity activists, but they are assaulted by Israeli settlers who live illegally in the area. Abu Rahma also told the IMEMC that on rare occasions, Israeli military officials issue a permit to certain farmers to be able to get to their land – but this permit never corresponds with the times that the farmers need to be able to plant, cultivate or harvest their crops. As a result, crops get planted too late, or are left rotting in the fields because the farmers could not get a permit for the days of the harvest. It should be noted that the village of Bil‘in has been celebrating its Olive Festival this week, and a number of international supporters participated in the festivities and the attempts to harvest the village’s olives.
Israeli soldiers kidnap nine Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 12 Oct — Israeli soldiers invaded, late on Tuesday at night and early Wednesday, several districts in the occupied West Bank, broke into and violently searched many homes, and kidnapped nine Palestinians, including a woman from Jerusalem. The Ramallah office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), in central West Bank, has reported that the soldiers invaded Ni‘lin village, before storming and searching homes, and kidnapped four Palestinians, including two children. The kidnapped residents have been identified as Mo‘taz Saleh Khawaja, 16, Hamza Hatem Khawaja, 15, Barakat Ali Nafe‘ and Zohdi Ali Nafe‘. The Bethlehem office of the PPS said the soldiers invaded Marah M‘alla area, in the city, searched several homes and kidnapped three Palestinians, identified as Mohammad Ahmad Shehada, Mahmoud Ali Shehada, 18, and Ali Mohammad Taqatqa, 17.
Israeli forces detain mother of slain Palestinian Muhannad al-Halabi
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Oct – Israeli forces Thursday detained the mother of slain Palestinian Muhannad al-Halabi after summoning her for an interrogation with Israeli intelligence on Wednesday, the family told Ma‘an. The al-Halabi family said that Israeli forces reportedly detained al-Halabi’s mother due to a Facebook post, adding that a court session is expected to be held on her case on Sunday. While the family did not provide details on the content of the Facebook post, scores of Palestinians have been detained across the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israel for social media posts that Israeli authorities have claimed “incite” against Israel. Al-Halabi’s mother was also summoned for Israeli interrogations a few months ago and was threatened with detention. Al-Halabi was shot dead by Israeli forces last year after allegedly carrying out a deadly shooting attack in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City which left two Israelis dead. At the start of this year, Israeli forces also demolished the family home of al-Halabi, in a move that rights groups have called “collective punishment” that targets non-complicit relatives of an attacker. Rights groups and activists have also long accused Israel of targeting Palestinian families whose children or relatives are involved in attacks — or Palestinians politically active against the Israeli occupation — with detentions and interrogations.
Israeli forces detain 26 Palestinians overnight, ban 14 from Al-Aqsa
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Oct — Israeli forces detained at least 26 Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, including 14 who were released shortly afterwards and banned from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, during overnight raids between Wednesday and Thursday. According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), 17 Palestinians were detained in East Jerusalem, including Muhammad Shuyukhi, the twin brother of ‘Ali Shuyukhi, who was killed by Israeli forces on Tuesday night during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Israeli forces also detained in East Jerusalem brothers Sbeih and Izz al-Din Abu Sbeih, the sons of Misbah Abu Sbeih, a Palestinian man who was killed by Israeli police on Sunday after carrying out a deadly shooting attack in East Jerusalem. PPS lawyer Mufid al-Hajj said on Thursday that an Israeli court had extended the detention of Misbah Abu Sbeih’s 17-year-old daughter Eiman until Sunday. PPS added that 14 other Palestinians were detained in the Old City of East Jerusalem overnight, only to later be released and banned from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Meanwhile in the occupied West Bank, PPS reported that five Palestinians were detained in the Bethlehem district villages of Nahhalin and Tuqu‘, identifying them as Muhammad Rizq Mahmoud Najajreh, 16, Muhammad Qassem Abd al-Rahman Shakarneh, 14, Muath Ali Daoud Shakarneh, 18, Ibrahim Nayif Abu Mefreh, and Turki Muhammad Raja Sabbah. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an that Israeli forces had detained three Palestinians in Nahhalin and two in Tuqu‘.She added that one Palestinian had been detained in the Ramallah-area village of Deir Abu Mashaal, and three others in the Hebron district village of Idhna.
PLO: Israel killed 248 Palestinians since September 2015, 74% under 26
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 13 Oct – Since September 2015, Israel has killed 248 Palestinians, 74% of them were 25 years old or younger, a report prepared by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Negotiations Affairs Department said on Thursday. The report said Israel killed a total of 248 Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, injured 18,062, raided 6,536 homes, detained 6,911 Palestinians, temporarily detained 2,877, carried out 5,335 gunfire attacks, demolished 282 homes, destroyed or confiscated 1,290 property and allowed 795 terrorist attacks by Israeli settlers. It covered Israel’s violations, committed by its army forces and armed settlers, against Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem for over a year: between September 13, 2015 and September 30, 2016. Israeli authorities retained the bodies of more than 100 Palestinians since last September 2015 and rejected calls made by members of the international community, including human rights organizations, for a serious investigation into Israel’s extra-judicial executions. According to the report, Israel continues to hold the bodies of 15 Palestinians, including 5 minors for allegedly carrying out attacks against Israeli targets … Out of the 18,000 Palestinians injured since September 30, 699 children were transferred to hospital, including 422 who were injured as a result of being shot with live ammunition, and 174 injured after being shot with rubber-coated bullets. Others have suffered from tear gas inhalation, assaults and burns. According to United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to the occupied Palestinian territories (OCHA) until September 30 the Israeli authorities demolished at least 974 Palestinian structures; including 266 international donor-funded structures. As a result, nearly 6,547 people including 2,051 children were affected and around 1,597 people were displaced; including 746 children. The Negotiations Affairs Department said that during the past 10 years, more than 11,000 attacks were perpetrated by illegal Israeli settlers against the occupied Palestinian population and their properties. Since September 13, 2015, Israeli settlers carried out nearly 795 (reported) attacks against Palestinians, their properties and places of worship.
Palestinians petition Israeli court to retrieve decades-held corpses
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 13 Oct — Palestinians Thursday petitioned the Israeli High Court to retrieve bodies of Palestinians that Israel had been holding for decades. The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC) petitioned the court on behalf of the National Campaign for Retrieving the Bodies of Martyrs (NCRBM) demanding that Israeli military hand over the bodies of 52 Palestinians buried in what is known as “numbers cemetery” for decades. The campaign said in a press statement that it would submit a petition to the court within the coming days demanding that the military releases 70 bodies, including the bodies of 19 Palestinians killed in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel since April. The campaign said it had successfully pressured Israel to release the bodies of 131 Palestinians between 2010 and 2014 and pledged to exert efforts to secure the release of all remaining corpses. Israel has continued to hold the bodies of Palestinians and Arabs killed during the last decades in two facilities known as the ‘numbers cemeteries” because it identifies the graves by numbers only. One is located in the northern Israeli area of Galilee, where reportedly 243 bodies were held, and the second in the Jordan Valley where 92 bodies were kept. Israeli government designates the cemeteries as closed military zones and denies Palestinians and Arabs access into them.
Israeli forces implement closures on Hebron-area village
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Oct — Israeli forces Wednesday closed the main entrance of the village of Beit Ummar in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron and set up several Israeli military posts, a local activist told Ma‘an. Muhammad Ayyad said that Israeli forces closed the large iron gate constructed at the entrance of the village next to an Israeli watchtower that serves as a permanent Israeli checkpoint. The closure prevented residents from marching in a funeral of local deceased woman Mariam Saed Awad, according to Ayyad. Israeli forces also closed commercial shops in the village and prevented cars from parking or temporarily pulling over on the side of the village’s streets. Ayyad added that Israeli forces detained Palestinian youths, but did not specify the number, while also closing down a restaurant after attempting to “assault” the local owner. Ayyad said that Israeli soldier prevented him from taking pictures and tried to confiscate his camera … The closures came on the heels of violent detention raids and tightening security restrictions across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank following Sunday’s deadly shooting that left an Israeli police officer and Israel woman killed before the attacker, Misbah Abu Sbeih, was shot to death by Israeli forces. Beit Ummar is commonly closed amid Israeli detention campaigns following attacks, as the village sits near Israel’s bypass road (Road 60) — used by Israeli settlers to travel to and from illegal settlements in the West Bank, while also being located near several Israeli settlements.
Israeli forces close entrances of ‘Issawiya neighborhood in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 Oct — Israeli forces closed the main entrance of occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya on Wednesday evening, and detained five Palestinians. Local follow-up committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus said that Israeli soldiers closed the main entrance of the village with cement blocks, claiming that residents were throwing Molotov cocktails. Abu al-Hummus said that Israeli forces had closed the entrance of ‘Issawiya on Wednesday afternoon for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, reopened it, and later closed it again as “collective punishment.” He said that Israeli forces raided the village several times on Wednesday, firing stun grenades, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, adding that the ‘Issawiya mosque was targeted with tear gas during evening prayers, causing worshipers to suffer from tear gas inhalation. The head of the al-Quds Media Center, Muhammad al-Sadeq, said that Israeli forces detained five youths from the village Wednesday evening for throwing Molotov cocktails and stones, identifying them as Ahmad Saleh Mustafa, Mahmoud Saleh Mustafa, Muhammad Adnan Mustafa, Muhammad Bakr Mustafa, and Muhammad Haitham Mustafa. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement on Thursday that Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Ofrit Israeli military base near ‘Issawiya, without causing any damages or injuries. She added that Israeli police were conducting an investigation into the incident.
Israel bans Palestinians from Ibrahimi Mosque on Jewish holiday
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Oct — Israeli authorities Wednesday denied Muslim worshipers and non-Jewish visitors entry to the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, only permitting Israeli Jews access to the holy site during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli troops closed all the alleys leading to the mosque, preventing the movement of Palestinians in the area. Israeli forces were also reportedly deployed heavily around illegal settlements and outposts outside the city. Earlier in October Israeli forces closed the Ibrahimi Mosque to Palestinian worshipers during the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, including banning the Islamic call to prayer, a usual component of everyday life in Hebron. Palestinian Minister of Endowment and Religious Affairs Yousif Ideis told Ma‘an at the time that Israel had notified the Palestinian Authority that, due to Jewish holidays, the mosque would be closed to non-Jews on Oct. 3, 4, 9, 12, 18, 19, and 26 amid the high holiday season. Oct. 3 and 4 corresponded to the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, while Oct. 12 is the day of Yom Kippur, Oct. 16 to 23 correspond to the holiday of Sukkot, and Oct. 25 is Simchat Torah. Severe restrictions for Palestinians — including being denied access to the Ibrahimi Mosque — are typically implemented by the Israeli authorities during Jewish holidays for alleged security purposes.The mosque, believed to be the burial place of the prophet Abraham, is sacred to both Muslims and Jews and has been the site of oft-violent tensions for decades. The holy site was split into a synagogue — known to Jews as the Cave of Patriarchs — and a mosque after US-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians inside the mosque in 1994.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli forces confiscate Palestinian-owned residential barracks in Jericho
JERICHO, Jordan Valley (Ma‘an) 14 Oct — Israeli forces Thursday confiscated residential barracks in the Palestinian Bedouin residential area of Arab al-Mleihat in the occupied West Bank district of Jericho, according to a Ma‘an reporter. The residential barracks belonged to Ali Suliman al-Mleihat and Mohammad Ali al-Mleihat. The mayor of Jericho Majid al-Fityani told Ma‘an that Israel’s continuous demolitions and confiscations are “crimes against the Palestinian people,” and only “proves that Israel is unwilling to make peace.” Al-Fityani added that the world was responsible for ending Israeli violations against Palestinians, including the routine leveling of Palestinian lands, confiscations, demolitions, detentions, and killings. A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, did not immediately respond for comment. It remained unknown if the area was part of Area C — more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli and military control. According to the UN, more than 60 percent of Palestinians displaced due to demolitions in Area C for a lack of Israeli-issued building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain in Area C, were Palestinian Bedouins, while more than 70 percent of Bedouins living in the West Bank are 1948 refugees, displaced from their land in the Negev during and following the establishment of Israel….
Jordan Valley: Israeli forces destroy 2km road for second time
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Oct — Israeli forces, on Thursday morning, have destroyed a road that leads to a Bedouin community site named Khirbet Hadidiya, in the northern Jordan Valley. An army bulldozer, accompanied with four military jeeps, broke into the area and destroyed, for the second time, the 2-kilometer-long road leading to the community where 120 citizens are living. PNN further reports that, according to the Director of Ka‘abneh School, Mahmoud Jurmy, large forces of the Israeli army raided the area, close to Jericho city, demolishing a home made out of tin, for the third time in two months, located 30 meters away from the school.
Israeli farmers working improperly allocated private Palestinian land
Haaretz 13 Oct by Yotam Berger — Several rural communities in central Israel are working land located across the pre-1967 border that was improperly allocated to them by the Israel Lands Authority, Haaretz has learned. The Civil Administration has launched an investigation of the matter following a query from Haaretz. The land – an estimated 15,000 dunams (375 acres), over which the ILA has no jurisdiction – is located near the settlement of Mevo Horon near the pre-1967 border. The communities which were given the land for cultivation are all moshavim in the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council, outside Jerusalem. They include Mesilat Tzion, Even Sapir, Eshtaol, Taoz and Naham, which are all on the Israeli side of the border, also called the Green Line. Members of the moshavim confirmed to Haaretz that they are working this land. “It’s true, but we have only 150 dunams [on the other side of the Green Line]. I got it like that, when I got here, so you have to ask the ILA,” an individual from Mesilat Tzion said. “They raise mainly non-irrigated crops there. I don’t know when it happened, it certainly was before I got here,” he added. “We work with the ILA and under their supervision,” said a member of Moshav Naham, located near Beit Shemesh. “It’s from back in the ‘80s, it’s decades.” … Palestinians from three villages that existed in the Latrun area until the 1967 Six-Day War say the land is theirs, and that they have documents to prove it. Dima Abu Gosh, from East Jerusalem, was born in the village of Imwas, which was demolished after the Six-Day War. Her father has official documents from the land registry office proving ownership of some of the land, she told Haaretz. “The other residents don’t want to go to the Israeli courts. We are discussing it, and we might want to do it in the future.”….
Israel demolishes eight Bedouin structures in West Bank built with EU funds
Haaretz 12 Oct by Yotam Berger — Israel’s Civil Administration demolished eight buildings on Monday belonging to Palestinians in the Mishor Adumim region of the West Bank. Local Bedouin built the structures in 2012 as living quarters, without permits, according to sources familiar with the situation, and demolition orders were issued. The High Court of Justice rejected a petition against the demolition last month that was signed and circulated by residents. The European Union helped fund the construction of some of the structures, and the EU symbol could be seen on the buildings in a video documenting Monday’s demolition. The Bedouin, like the settlers in the Ma’ale Adumim area, have reported a recent rise in home demolitions of residences in the West Bank Bedouin community. Haaretz reported in August that the rise in demolitions had put a brake on Bedouin construction in the Mishor Adumim Region, which is in the center of the West Bank. In 2012, there were 412 structures in 12 Bedouin settlements along Highway 1, in the stretch between Mishor Adumim junction and Mitzpe Yericho. That number jumped to 729 in 2014, but grew more modestly to 771 this year….
Why Israeli occupation of the West Bank is reversible / Akiva Eldar
Al-Monitor 13 Oct — New data shows that the settlements in the West Bank are not an irreversible situation, and that most of the population growth in settlements is due to births – not immigration of Israelis into the settlements — Ahead of the Jewish New Year, which began Oct. 2, the Central Bureau of Statistics made an announcement that heartened those who oppose the division of the land into two states and to devotees of the settlement enterprise: in 2015 the Judea and Samaria region saw a growth of 4.1% in its Jewish population — from 362,900 in the beginning of the year to 377,900 at its end. This rate of growth is slightly more than double the national average, which stands at exactly 2%. It seems this is an impressive achievement for the settlement enterprise: Here you have further proof that there’s no way back from “Judea and Samaria” (namely the settlement enterprise), and that the two-state solution is obsolete. Could it be that the leader of HaBayit HaYehudi party, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, was right when he said Oct. 6 that the settlement project (or “settlement in the land of Israel,” in his words — using the preferred right-wing term for “settlements”) is the realization of the will of the people? Is there truth to the education minister’s claim that the left, in its call to freeze construction in the territories, distorts the Jewish people’s deeply held feelings? While it seems that the heart of the Israeli people is indeed on the right, at least according to opinion polls, its feet are planted deep on the left side of the map of the land of Israel. The Central Bureau of Statistics’ numbers show that there is indeed a way back from the occupation and that the two-state solution is not dead; the settler population in Judea and Samaria is no more than 4.4% of the “Israeli people” (the Jewish population) and only 13% of the population of the West Bank. This is the case after 50 years of efforts to create irreversible facts in the territories, the investment of tens of billions of shekels in infrastructure and incentives, and untold damage to Israel’s international stature. What happened to the 1977 promise made by then-Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon (later prime minister), who was appointed that year as chairman of the ministerial committee for settlement issues, that within a decade a million Jews would live in Judea and Samaria? … The number of Israelis who moved to live in settlements in 2015 reached about 3,000, while in 1996 some 6,000 Israelis had moved to live in settlements. Moreover, according to data gathered by Shaul Arieli, which was published in the daily Haaretz in July, close to 40% of population growth occurred in the two ultra-Orthodox cities, Beitar Illit and Mod’iin Illit. The ultra-Orthodox settlements, which account for a third of the Jewish population in the West Bank, are not an integral part of the religious Zionism (settlement) movement. They chose to live beyond the Green Line, just on the line, since they can’t afford an apartment in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak or in Jerusalem … If Israel were a proper state, it would not continue to hold a million people under military rule for the entire era of its maturity (50 out of 68 years). A proper state does not cooperate with a small messianic group with narrow interests. Through the false claim that the occupation is irreversible, this small group has dragged an entire state to an abyss and has deceived the whole world.
Prisoners / Court actions
2 Palestinians held in Israeli prison without charge or trial enter 10th day of hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Oct – Two Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons entered the 10th day of a hunger strike in protest of being sentenced to administrative detention — Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without charge or trial, according to a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). Majd Abu Shamla, 25, and Hassan Rabayaa, 31, both from the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin, reportedly entered the 10th day of their hunger strike after being placed in administrative detention, PPS said in a statement. Following a visit to Israel’s Ktziot prison in the Negev where the two are being held, PPS reported that Abu Shamla has suffered from stomach complications and exhaustion due to his strike, while Rabayaa has experienced dizziness and exhaustion. Both prisoners are only drinking water and consuming salt during their strikes, while refusing any vitamin supplements. The prisoners told the PPS lawyer that Israel Prison Service (IPS) was planning on transferring the two to solitary confinement on Thursday. Abu Shamla was detained on January 27 and was taken to the al-Jalama detention center for 51 days for interrogation before being sentenced to administrative detention, according to PPS. Meanwhile, Rabayaa was detained on March 31 and was sentenced to five months in Israeli prison. However, after finishing his sentence, Israeli authorities placed him under administrative detention for 45 days and then renewed the detention again for six months….
Jerusalemite Palestinian organizer Nasser Abu Khdeir freed after 5 1/2 years’ imprisonment
Samidoun 14 Oct — Longtime Palestinian struggler, Nasser Abu Khdeir of Shu‘afat, was released yesterday, 13 October from Israeli prison after serving a sentence of five and one-half years. Abu Khdeir, 55, was arrested by occupation forces on 15 April 2011, and subject to a prolonged and cruel interrogation period before his conviction for involvement in “hostile organizations,” the Palestinian leftist political party the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and its military wing. He was welcomed back to Shu‘afat by his family, friends and comrades and a large tent of celebration which filled the evening hours with music and dancing. Abu Khdeir is a prominent figure in Jerusalem and in the Palestinian struggle generally; he has spent over 15 years in Israeli prisons over multiple arrests, and bears the injuries of an explosion from decades ago. He is very active in popular and community organizing in Jerusalem; his wife, Abeer Abu Khdeir, a prominent leader in her own right, have also been arrested and imprisoned by Israeli occupation forces, as has their son, Anan Abu Khdeir; their daughters Asala and Sumoud were attacked by the soldiers during the occupation forces’ raid on their home. Abeer Abu Khdeir spoke to the media upon her husband’s release, emphasizing that there are thousands of Palestinian women whose lives are spent becoming mother, father, brother and sister for their children due to the mass imprisonment of Palestinian men. She also noted that “this is part of our existence and daily life as Palestinians.”….
Palestinian refugees – Syria
Teachers at the core of UNRWA work in Syria
UNRWA 13 Oct — Recognizing the invaluable contribution and expertise of educators worldwide, UNRWA celebrated World Teachers’ Day by honouring the steadfast commitment of its teachers delivering education to Palestine refugee students across Syria. Every day, approximately 2,000 teachers must overcome difficult if not dangerous working conditions as they welcome over 45,000 UNRWA students in their classrooms. On the front line, the recent shelling of the UNRWA Salameh Girls Preparatory School in Khan Eshieh camp causing injuries to one student and two teachers reveals the risks educators face when teaching. Beyond the front line, teachers are challenged by difficult working conditions. With infrastructure reduced by 60 per cent and about 70 per cent of students still enrolled compared to pre-conflict levels, many classrooms have become overcrowded. As of the first half of 2016, 90 per cent of UNRWA schools were running on double shift, while another 5 per cent were on triple shift. In addition to overcoming the physical challenges of teaching in crowded classrooms, educators have also had to learn to address and manage the psychological pressure many of their students face. They not only oversee psychosocial support activities delivered in schools, but they also rely on the support of 55 psychosocial counsellors hired to support the pupils. However, teachers have been poised to cope with difficulties through the UNRWA Education in Emergencies (EiE) Programme….
Masa program to bring 13,000 Jewish youth to Israel in coming year
JPost 13 Oct by Lidar Gravé-Lazi — Some 13,000 Jewish youth are expected to come to Israel this coming year to participate in Masa, the organization announced on Thursday. The program provides Jewish youth the opportunity to participate in over 250 immersive Israel programs ranging in length from six months to a year, which include internships, study abroad programs, and volunteer opportunities. These experiences aim to give participants practical academic or work experience while strengthening their connection to Israel … “The youth arrive to Israel to participate in a wide range of Masa programs, from government, to economy and culture, hi-tech, teaching English, medicine and more,” Liran Avisar-Ben Horin, CEO of Masa said. She noted that in addition Masa provides participants with tools to engage in hasbara (public diplomacy) for Israel, turning those who take part into informal ambassadors for Israel to the world. “Every year they show that the year they spend in Israel – working, volunteering and being exposed the multi-layered and complex Israeli society – becomes the most meaningful in their lives,” she said. According to a recent survey conducted by Midgam Institute and released by Masa, some 87% of Masa participants said they intend to actively work towards strengthening Israel’s image in the world, while 81% of participants said their vision of Israel “changed for the positive” because of participating in the project. Slightly more than half, 58% of respondents, said they would “certainly” act against the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (6-12 October)
PCHR-Gaza 13 Oct — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt 2 Palestinian civilians were killed in occupied Jerusalem. 6 civilians were wounded in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Israeli Forces Target the Border areas in the Gaza Strip. However, no casualties were reported. House Demolitions on Grounds of Collective Punishment A house was partially destroyed in Nablus belonging to a person accused of preparing an attack where two settlers were killed. Israeli forces conducted 49 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 2 ones in the Gaza Strip. 122 civilians, including 32 children, were arrested. 50 of them, including 18 children were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli forces raided an orphan school, maltreated Abu Sbeih Family and closed their shops. Israeli forces continued settlement activities in the West Bank. 34 facilities were leveled in Kherbet Ras al-Ahmar, east of Tubas, displacing 46 persons, including 26 children. A 1-dunum land and agricultural room were leveled, south of Hebron. Settlers carried out many attacks against olive pickers and their property. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the sea Two fishermen, including a child, were arrested and their boats were confiscated. Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 9th year Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians. 10 Palestinian civilians were arrested at military checkpoints. Trader from Khan Younis was arrested at Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing in the northern Gaza Strip [Full report follows]
Palestinian president pardons officer jailed for criticizing him over Peres
GAZA (Reuters) 12 Oct – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday pardoned a military officer sentenced to a year in jail for criticising him for attending the funeral of Israeli statesman Shimon Peres, an official said. A court in the occupied West Bank had sentenced Lieutenant-Colonel Osama Mansour to jail and ordered him dismissed because he had broken a military code of conduct forbidding uniformed officials from expressing political opinions, his lawyer said. But a senior Palestinian official, who declined to be named, told Reuters: “The president has issued an amnesty decree in favour of Mansour and the officer will be sent into retirement.” The officer had been held in custody since he posted his criticism on Facebook earlier this month. While supporters defended Abbas as making a diplomatic and a good-will gesture in attending Peres’s funeral in Jerusalem earlier this month, critics in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip said he betrayed national principles….
PCHR: 20 years against death penalty; facts on death penalty in Palestine and PCHR’s position
13 Oct by Saed Bannoura — World Day against Death Penalty, 10 October 2016, The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) – “On the World Day against Death Penalty, we stress that our struggle will continue on all levels to abolish this penalty… We believe, as everybody else does, the purpose of this punishment is reform and deterrence. However, death penalty does not achieve both sides of this purpose. This was proven with facts and researches made by the countries that apply this penalty the most… Justice is meant to bring safety and serenity not revenge”. Lawyer Raji Sourani: Introduction Death penalty is considered one of the most controversial issues in the Palestinian community for its social, religious and security dimensions in the Palestinian community particularly and Arab countries generally. PCHR has had an obvious position against death penalty since the very first day it was established although PCHR has realized such a position will not be reasonable for a big sector of the community that has been affected by different misinterpretations of the religious text concerning this penalty or the common concept of deterrence gained by this penalty, which has not been proved by facts nor researches. PCHR has worked throughout over 20 years against death penalty, created a social controversy against it and dedicated a big part of its efforts towards stopping this penalty paving the way for its abolishment. PCHR’s position is based on legal, reasonable and moral justifications explained in this paper below. The split of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2007 frustrated the efforts aiming at the abolishment of death penalty. It should be noted that PCHR has practiced huge efforts upholding a penal code without death penalty. PCHR went far on this track through meetings with decision makers, making correspondences, awareness-raising campaigns and debates until a draft of the Palestinian Penal Code was issued excluding death penalty. Nonetheless, the split happened and not only obstructed all these efforts, but increased the application of this penalty also. There has a been a significant rise of this penalty following the Palestinian split, mainly in the Gaza Strip. Death penalty in the PA is regulated by 3 penal codes….
US, at UN, urges action ‘now’ on Mideast conflict
AFP 14 Oct — The United States on Friday called for immediate action to salvage the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the Security Council weighed its next steps to revive peace prospects. US Deputy Ambassador David Pressman told an informal council meeting on Israeli settlements that the continued building of Jewish outposts on Palestinian land was “corrosive to the cause of peace.” “We need to start implementing the two-state solution on the ground right now,” Pressman told the meeting organized by Angola, Egypt, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela. UN diplomats have kept one eye on the US presidential campaign as they consider whether to move on a Security Council resolution that could nudge the sides back to the negotiating table. The outcome of the US vote on November 8 could lead to a shift in relations between Washington and its close ally Israel. Pressman reiterated Washington’s long-standing view that a final peace agreement must be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians. “But significant progress toward creating a two-state reality can be made now that will help restore hope and lay the groundwork for successful negotiations,” he added. “Israel must decide between expanding settlements and preserving the possibility of a peaceful two-state solution.” – US ‘blockade’ – Arab governments are considering plans to present a draft resolution to the Security Council demanding a halt to Israel settlements, but a similar measure was vetoed by the United States in 2011. The United Nations has branded the settlements illegal, but the Security Council has not taken action to uphold that decision. Venezuela’s Ambassador Rafael Ramirez accused the United States, which has veto powers, of “maintaining a blockade” at the Security Council and preventing action on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, settlement construction has surged with some 15,000 settlers moving into the West Bank over the past year alone…..
Israeli rights group urges UN to end Palestinian occupation
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 14 Oct — An Israeli human rights group urged the U.N. Security Council on Friday to take decisive action now to end the country’s occupation of Palestinian territory. Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, told an informal council meeting Friday on “Illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and the Two-State Solution” that Israel has controlled Palestinian lives in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem for the past 49 years “and counting.” With the 50th anniversary approaching next year, he said, “the rights of Palestinians must be realized, the occupation must end, the U.N. Security Council must act, and the time is now.” El-Ad stressed that the council “has more than just power: you have a moral responsibility and a real opportunity to act with a sense of urgency before we reach the symbolic date of June 2017 and the second half of that first century begins.” Another Israeli rights group, Peace Now, was invited to speak but it was represented by its sister organization, Americans for Peace Now, which has also campaigned for an end to Israeli occupation.”The occupation is a threat to Israel’s security and to Israel’s very existence,” said Lara Friedman, the group’s director of policy and government relations.
“I urge you here today to finally take action in the Security Council to send a clear message to Israel that the international community stands by the two-state solution and unambiguously rejects policies that undermine it — including Israeli settlement policies.” Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon accused B’Tselem of joining “Palestinian attempts to wage diplomatic terror against Israel at the U.N.” He also accused the group of choosing “to slander and besmirch Israel’s good name” and vowed that “we will continue to fight and tell the truth about Israel despite the attempts to spread lies about us.” Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. Ambassador, called the informal meeting “a very positive exercise” that builds on his discussions about a new U.N. resolution that would demand an end to Israeli settlement building.
Palestinians push for UN membership and against settlements
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Palestinians said Thursday they are sounding out members of the U.N. Security Council on a new resolution demanding a halt to Israeli settlement building and on prospects for becoming a full member of the United Nations. Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said that he met with about half the 15-member council in the last 10 days and expects to meet the rest in the next week. He said he will then report back to an Arab ministerial committee which will decide on next steps. Mansour announced the new Palestinian initiatives ahead of an informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council Friday on “Illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and the Two-State Solution.” … The Palestinians pushed for the Security Council to adopt a resolution against settlements in February 2011 but it was vetoed by the United States. The 14 other Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution, reflecting the wide support for the draft which had over 100 co-sponsors. Mansour said a new resolution would draw from the 2011 text which would have condemned “illegal” Israeli settlements and demanded an immediate halt to all settlement building. Mansour said he hasn’t met U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power yet.”From what has been coming out from Washington, State Department, White House, and what has been written in the media … there is a strong indication that the United States of America should be sympathetic to a resolution on settlements,” Mansour said, “although we don’t know for sure because they did not tell us exactly what they will do.” As for the possibility of Palestine becoming the 194th U.N. member state, the Security Council’s admissions committee approved a report in November 2011 saying there was no consensus among the 15 council nations on the Palestinian application for U.N. membership. That application is still before the council. Mansour said the Palestinians, whose status at the U.N. has been upgraded from an observer to an observer state, have support from “more than nine” countries on the council for a new membership bid. But the U.S. would almost certainly veto a membership resolution if there is no Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement — and at the moment there is not even a prospect of reviving peace talks.
UNESCO risks fresh Israeli anger with Jerusalem resolutions
AFP 13 Oct — UNESCO’s decision-making body will next week consider two new resolutions on “Occupied Palestine”, six months after a similar text angered Israel. The two resolutions, put forward by several Arab countries including Egypt, Lebanon and Algeria, were adopted Thursday at committee stage by the Paris-based organisation. Participants said 24 votes were cast in favour and six against with 26 abstentions and two absentees. In general, the 58 member states of the UN cultural, scientific and educational body’s Executive Board vote in line with the decisions taken by committees. The resolutions refer to “Occupied Palestine” and aim to “safeguard the Palestinian cultural heritage and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem”, according to a text seen by AFP. Israel is referred to throughout as the “occupying power.” The terms are the same as those used in a resolution mid-April by UNESCO’s Executive Board. On that occasion, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the resolution as “yet another absurd UN decision.” He said it “ignores the unique historic connection of Judaism to the Temple Mount” by referring to the site by its Arabic name, the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. However, a Palestinian diplomatic source said the new resolutions submitted refer to the “importance of Jerusalem’s Old City and its walls for the three monotheistic religions.”
Israel suspends cooperation with UNESCO after Jerusalem vote
AFP 14 Oct — Israel suspended cooperation with UNESCO Friday after the UN cultural organisation adopted two resolutions on the occupied Palestinian territories including annexed east Jerusalem ahead of a final vote next week. In a letter sent to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, Education Minister Naftali Bennett accused the body of ignoring “thousands of years of Jewish ties to Jerusalem” and aiding “Islamist terror.” “I have notified the Israel National Commission for UNESCO to suspend all professional activities with the international organisation,” he said. Bokova distanced herself from the resolutions in a statement, saying “nowhere more than in Jerusalem do Jewish, Christian and Muslim heritage and traditions share space.” The resolutions adopted at committee stage on Thursday refer to “Occupied Palestine” and the need to “safeguard the Palestinian cultural heritage and the distinctive character of east Jerusalem.” They refer to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem’s Old City — Islam’s third holiest site — without any reference to the site also being revered by Jews as the Temple Mount. On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu complained that saying “Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and Western Wall is like saying China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or Egypt has no connection to the pyramids.” Bokova did not specifically mention the resolutions in her statement but did refer to the Temple Mount. “The heritage of Jerusalem is indivisible, and each of its communities has a right to the explicit recognition of their history and relationship with the city,” she said. “To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site, and runs counter to the reasons that justified its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list.”
Israel corrects Jerusalem tourism map that omitted Al-Aqsa Mosque, non-Jewish sites
Haaretz 6 Oct by Nir Hasson — The Tourism Ministry has in recent weeks quietly replaced a visitors’ map of Jerusalem that was criticized for omitting major non-Jewish sites. Without acknowledging a problem with the previous version, the ministry is now providing tourists with a new map that identifies the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and important churches. In addition, it no longer denotes Jewish enclaves in predominantly Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Haaretz reported on the previous map in April, which was distributed by the official tourism office at Jaffa Gate in the Old City. As well as denoting almost only Jewish sites, it was full of errors and disregarded non-Jewish locations in the city. It included 25 synagogues, yeshivas and other Jewish buildings in the Old City, most of which were connected to Ateret Cohanim, an organization that has promoted moving Jews into predominantly Palestinian neighborhoods of the city. The previous map noted a number of buildings with a Jewish presence in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter — most of them purchased through the Ateret Cohanim organization — but omitted major Christian sites including the Via Dolorosa. It also omitted Muslim locations other than the Dome of the Rock. In its response to the initial Haaretz report, the Tourism Ministry said it stood behind the publication of the map. However, that map has now been replaced by the revised version, which reflects tourist sites in a more balanced manner … Daniel Seidemann, a lawyer who has been involved in advocating on behalf of Palestinians in Jerusalem, welcomed the revision. “Someone at the ministry has come to their senses,” he said. “The previous map made us an object of ridicule for visitors and raised unpleasant questions over Israel’s policy in Jerusalem.”
FIFA puts off call on disputed Israeli clubs
AFP 14 Oct — Palestinian hopes that FIFA would get tough on Israel were muted Friday when world football’s governing body put off a decision on Israeli clubs based in settlements in the occupied West Bank. The Palestine Football Association this week called on FIFA to either expel the six clubs in settlements, which are illegal under international law, or relocate them within Israel’s recognised borders. The issue had been on the agenda at a meeting of the powerful FIFA Council, with world football’s president Gianni Infantino describing sporting tensions on the contested land as one of his “top priorities.” But FIFA’s envoy to the region, South African powerbroker Tokyo Sexwale, said he was unable to deliver a final report to the council because his committee “was not able to meet.” He said the full report should be ready next month. Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan welcomed the postponement, writing on his Facebook page that “we were successful in blocking another Palestinian attempt to ban Israeli football teams from FIFA.” … Human Rights Watch said Infantino should set forth “a timeline for deciding whether FIFA will stop sponsoring matches on land that has been illegally seized from Palestinians.” And Fadi Quran of the campaign group Avaaz said on Friday that despite Israel’s attempts to have the issue “thrown out,” FIFA has no choice but to “ensure that these teams are relocated off stolen Palestinian land.”….
WATCH: Palestinian publishers tell of covert book operations in Israel
ACRE, Israel (MEE) 12 Oct by Dave Leins — The al-Aswar Association in Acre (Akka) has been publishing Palestinian literature and scholarship for decades, but in years past the group had to conduct much of its work in secret. Co-founder Yacob Hijazi and his daughter Hazar Hijazi told Middle East Eye that the independent publishing house and cultural centre had often been subject to raids by Israeli forces. Before the Oslo Accords, al-Aswar was forbidden from distributing its books throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and had to carry out deliveries to the occupied Palestinian territories in the dead of night, they said. Nowadays, however, the group has less trouble with Israeli authorities, and it focuses on passing down Palestinian culture, literature and identity to youth by holding regular events at Palestinian schools (Israel’s school system is almost entirely segregated) and at the centre itself, located in the heart of Akka’s Old City. Hijazi himself has written a number of children’s books, in addition to serving as the editor in chief of a yearly scholarly publication of Arabic-language essays. Watch as both Hijazis talk to MEE about Israeli efforts to marginalise and minimise the presence of Palestinians in Akka, and al-Aswar’s attempts to counter those efforts:
The Qalandiya Festival and the limits of artistic activism
Palestine Monitor 10 Oct by Andrea Valentino — “It has been an adventure to arrive at this moment,” began Aline Khoury, the media coordinator for the third Qalandiya International Festival (QIF). It is easy to see what she means. The event took two years to organise. Exhibits are hundreds of miles apart. One of the venues, the West Bank, is subject to a foreign occupation. Another, Gaza, is an open prison surrounded by fences and tanks. Given all this, even basic coordination between organisers was a huge challenge. The Gazan participants could only be contacted via Skype. That the Qalandiya festival is a sprawling cultural festival – with two-hundred participants and across ten cities – is a remarkable achievement. Considering the logistical difficulties they faced, moreover, it is unsurprising that the organisers were proud to highlight the international scope of their project. “We are keen for international visitors and guests to join in the conversations” the festival raises, explained Khoury. Mahmoud Abu Hashhash, on the project’s steering committee, agreed: the festival is important as an “incubator of Palestinian culture” abroad. Not that venues are sprinkled around randomly. Rather, all the host cities have a special link to the sea. This is especially important in a Palestinian context. Many Palestinians, confined to the West Bank, have never seen the sea. And in Gaza, people are trapped by it. Its ports are closed, and its fishermen risk Israeli shelling if they sail far from shore. In Beirut, meanwhile, many Palestinians were stamped into the Mediterranean by Israel and its Maronite allies during the 1982 war with the PLO. Taken together, Abu Hashhash suggested, the Palestinian relationship with the sea is “a continuing part of the nakba.” It makes sense, then, that the organisers picked “cities on the sea” to host QIF, explained Khoury. Indeed, the festival aims to restore the sea “to the consciousness” of Palestinians, Abu Hashhash continued. Optimistic cultural engagement – through art exhibitions, poetry and talks by historians – seeks to smash the stereotype that the sea is a purely traumatic place for Palestinians. It is not for nothing, after all, that the 2016 QIF is called ‘This Sea is Mine.’ The line is borrowed from the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish. The sea, and the difficult spot it occupies in the Palestinian psyche, is also linked to the other main theme of the QIF: that of ‘return.’….
Turkey, Israel to examine building gas pipeline
AFP 13 Oct — Israel and Turkey on Thursday agreed to open discussions on building a gas pipeline to pump Israeli gas to Europe, as the Israeli energy minister made the first ministerial visit since a crisis in ties. Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz met his Turkish counterpart Berat Albayrak in Istanbul, the highest level official meeting since the two countries normalised ties in June after a 2010 crisis triggered by Israel’s deadly storming of a Gaza-bound aid ship. Until the 2010 crisis, NATO member Turkey had been Israel’s key ally in the Muslim world, and the process to normalise relations was strongly backed by the United States. Hailing his visit as the start of economic benefits of normalisation, Steinitz said they agreed to start examining the feasibility of building an undersea gas pipeline to pump Israeli gas to Turkish consumers and on to Europe. “What we decided is to establish immediately a dialogue between our two governments… in order to examine the possibility and the feasibility of such a project,” he said. He said that while Israel was also building regional energy cooperation links with Jordan, Egypt, Cyprus and Greece “the Turkish option is very important”. He added that Israel “will also be glad to see Turkish companies involved in Israeli energy sector” including in the exploration of gas fields….