Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli troops block nonviolent demonstration in Bil‘in, abduct organizer
[with videos] IMEMC 8 Oct — Friday afternoon in Bil‘in village, the Israeli military blocked the main road toward the Israeli Annexation Wall and declared the entire area a ‘closed military zone’, just as demonstrators began marching down the road for their weekly non-violent demonstration against the Wall and illegal settlements. Before the protest began, the soldiers stopped local organizer Mohammad al-Khatib while he was on his way to his field to harvest his family’s olives, the main source of income for the Palestinian families in Bil‘in. When the soldiers tried to confiscate his car, Mohammad al-Khatib staged a sit-in, lying in front of the car to prevent the soldiers from confiscating it. He told a camera person, “I will not move. This is my car, this is my land.” The soldiers then abducted al-Khatib and took his car. Local residents told reporters that this abduction was representative of the regular collective punishment suffered by villagers for holding peaceful weekly demonstrations against the occupation. As they marched to the site of the Wall along an alternate route, protesters from the village, joined by Israeli and international activists, shouted, “WE WANT OUR FREEDOM! WE WANT HUMAN AND CIVIL RIGHTS! WE WANT JUSTICE!”
Soldiers kidnap two Palestinians, injure three others, near Tubas
IMEMC 7 Oct — Several Israeli military vehicles invaded, on Friday at dawn, the al-Far‘a refugee camp, south of Tubas in the occupied West Bank, shot and injured three Palestinians, and kidnapped two. Media sources in Tubas said the soldiers invaded the refugee camp from various directions, and conducted military searches of homes. The sources added that the soldiers kidnapped two Palestinians, and took them to an unknown destination. They have been identified as Mustafa Hani Sobeh, 22, and Bassam Bassem Shaweesh, 25. Meanwhile, Palestinian medical sources said three residents were shot with live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets, and were moved to the Turkish hospital in Tubas.
Israeli forces raid Bethlehem’s Duheisha refugee camp in early morning hours
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Oct — Israeli forces early Saturday morning raided the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the south of the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, erupting into clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youths. Locals told Ma‘an Israeli forces erected a military checkpoint near the al-Duheisha-Doha junction and prevented vehicles from passing. Israeli forces also raided the western part of the camp, causing clashes to break out between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers who fired tear gas and stun grenades into the community. Israeli soldiers also proceeded to remove the gates of several shops in the western part of the camp. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an she would look into reports. Israeli military raids on Palestinian refugee camps, towns, and villages are a near daily occurrence, with a biweekly average of at least 73 raids being carried out since the start of 2016, according to UN documentation. The most recent raid also came on the heels of a report released last month by Palestinian NGO Badil, which is based in Bethlehem, documenting the targeting of Palestinian youths with live fire in al-Duheisha. These injuries typically occur during overnight raids into the refugee camp which routinely erupt into violent clashes with Israeli forces. According to BADIL, 30 Palestinians had been shot with live ammunition in the camp between the beginning of the year and mid-August, the majority in their legs and knees. Between the end of July and mid-August, BADIL documented that 18 Palestinian youth between 14 and 27 years old were shot in their legs — eight of which shot directly in the knee and several more in both legs — causing both permanent and temporary disabilities.
PCHR Weekly Report: One Palestinian killed, 7 wounded, including 4 children, by Israeli troops this week
IMEMC 7 Oct — In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 29 September-05 October 2016, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. A Palestinian civilian was killed at Qalandia checkpoint, north of occupied Jerusalem. 7 civilians, including 4 children, were wounded in the Gaza Strip. Israeli attacks in the West Bank: In the West Bank, Israeli forces killed, on 30 September 2016, Nasib Abu Maizer (28), from Kufor Aqeb village, north of occupied Jerusalem. The aforementioned person was killed when Israeli forces stationed at Qalandia military checkpoint, north of the city, opened fire at him, due to which he sustained 5 bullet wounds throughout his body. He was left bleeding for over an hour as the Israeli forces denied medical crews from the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) access to the scene until he died. Israel forces then kept his corpse. They claimed that Abu Maizer had stabbed a soldier and caused him moderate wounds. Israeli forces conducted 48 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 6 in Jerusalem and its suburbs. 46 civilians, including 7 children and a woman, were abducted. 29 of them, including 3 children and the woman, were abducted in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. The Israeli municipality obliged a Palestinian civilian to self-demolish structures attached to his house in al-Sa’diya neighbourhood in the Old City…. Full Report
Israeli forces detain 20-year-old Palestinian woman after 12 hours of interrogation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Oct — Israeli forces Friday detained a 20-year-old Palestinian woman from the village of Artas near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank after the young woman underwent 12 hours of interrogation at the Etzion detention center in southern Bethlehem late Thursday. The father of Shifa Awad Mahmoud Abu Freijeh told Ma‘an that Israeli forces called him Thursday morning, informing him that his daughter was summoned to meet with Israeli intelligence that afternoon at 12 pm. Abu Freijeh said his daughter left for Etzion with her mother, brother, and cousin, and was then interrogated until 12 am. While her family was waiting for her outside the detention center, an Israeli soldier told them that she was being detained since she has been “wanted” by Israeli authorities for two years for “security reasons.” Last week, according to Abu Freijeh, Israeli intelligence had sent a notice to his daughter to meet with Israeli intelligence at Etzion. However, when she came to the detention center the soldiers did not interrogate her, instead only confiscating the ID of her brother Muhammad, 23. According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, some 10,000 Palestinian women and girls have been detained by Israeli forces over the past 45 years….
Army kidnaps two children in Bethlehem, a young man near Hebron
IMEMC 8 Oct — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Friday evening, two Palestinians from ‘Aida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem, and a man in Zabbouba village, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. The army also invaded homes and occupied rooftops near Hebron. Media sources in Bethlehem said the soldiers kidnapped two children from ‘Aida during clashes near the military tower of the Annexation Wall at the northern entrance of Bethlehem. The sources said the soldiers opened the main gate of the Wall and kidnapped the two children in a surprise attack. In addition, several army vehicles invaded Zabbouba village, west of Jenin, and kidnapped Wisam Ayed Khamaysa, 33, from his home. In related news, the soldiers invaded Kharsa town, southwest of Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, before breaking into a number of homes, and used their rooftops as military towers.
Israel strips residency of slain Palestinian’s widow
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 6 Oct — The Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Thursday decided to strip a Palestinian woman of her Israeli residency status, Israel Hayom newspaper revealed. The Israeli permanent residency status in 1948 occupied Palestine of the Palestinian woman Khudra Masoud, the widow of Wael Abu Salah who was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers for allegedly carrying out an anti-occupation attack last June, was revoked, the paper affirmed. She will be thus deported to areas under Palestinian Authority control, according to the paper. The ministry said that its unprecedented decision is a ‘message of deterrence to Palestinian attackers and their families,’ according to the newspaper.
Israeli forces close stores in Huwwara village, Nablus after rock-throwing incident
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 Oct — Israeli forces Friday closed all the stores in the village of Huwwara in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus and prevented residents from the town from passing through the Beita crossroads, after Palestinians allegedly threw rocks at Israeli settler vehicles on the main road. A Ma‘an reporter said that Israeli forces set up a military checkpoint at the Beita crossroads and prevented residents from exiting the village, while all shops on the Huwwara street were closed. Israeli forces were also deployed at the main street and surrounding junctions. Huwwara’s main road connects several roads leading to nearby villages, as well as the illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar … The area around the Huwwara village is routinely closed by Israeli forces for alleged rock-throwing by mostly Palestinian teenagers from the area who target Israeli settlers traveling to and from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Israel detains hundreds of Palestinians for alleged stone-throwing every year, and Israeli rights group B’Tselem reported that from 2005 to 2010, “93 percent of the minors convicted of stone throwing were given a prison sentence, its length ranging from a few days to 20 months.”….
Israeli police shut down organizations affiliated with outlawed Islamic Movement group
NAZARETH (Ma‘an) 7 Oct – Israeli police Thursday, escorted by Israel’s internal security agency Shin Bet, raided and closed several institutions in Nazareth and Um al-Fahem in northern Israel allegedly affiliated with the Islamic Movement, reportedly confiscating equipment and computers. Hebrew media reported that the raids were conducted in response to an order issued last year by the former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, outlawing the northern branch of the movement and calling for a ban on all of the movement’s activities. According to The Times of Israel, three organizations were shut down for alleged affiliation with the Islamic Movement, while their bank accounts were also frozen, after Israeli authorities accused the group of inciting unrest at occupied East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque — known as the Temple Mount among Jews, a site of longstanding tension between Palestinians and Israeli Jews. Yaalon outlawed the Islamic Movement, which advocates for Islam and Palestinian nationalism within Israel, in November 2015 after accusing members of being linked to “terrorist groups” and inciting violence when the so-called “Jerusalem intifada” first gripped the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel. A statement from Netanyahu’s office said at the time that the declaration would allow Israel to imprison anyone who acts on the movement’s behalf and also to seize any property belonging to the organization. The Islamic Movement’s northern branch, led by Sheikh Raed Salah, has been a vocal critic of Israeli activity at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.
Israeli closure of Palestinian organisations condemned
MEMO 7 Oct — Media and educational organisations in the cities of Umm Al-Fahm and Nazareth were closed and their property was seized by Israeli police yesterday based on claims that the organisations belong to the Islamic Movement, which was banned on 17 November 2015. Israeli police also claimed that these organisations contribute to aggravating and escalating the atmosphere in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque. The police’s actions were widely condemned by political circles. In a statement, the Freedoms Committee, which stems from the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel, said: “Everyone must know that these organisations in particular, along with the Islamic Movement, have not been operating since its ban.” “These three organisations, in addition to 23 others that were banned, are all organisations and associations that are separate entities that provide various services to our people. Their only crime is that their management includes individuals who have religious orientations.” “How can an organisation, such as Midad Psychometry that prepares students to pass the psychometry exams, attended by thousands of secondary school students, contribute to tension in Al-Aqsa?” the group asked.
When hunger is the only option
EI 6 Oct by Budour Youssef Hassan — Mariam al-Hih received a distressing phone call from her son Omar last month. Omar was going on hunger strike to protest how Israel had locked him up without charge or trial. As many other parents have done in similar situations, Mariam pleaded with Omar not to proceed with his hunger strike. “I told him that it would kill me to see him suffer without being able to help him,” Mariam said. “But he had already made up his mind and I respected his choice. What else could I do?” Omar has been placed under administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — twice this year. After spending six months in Israeli custody, he was released in August. He barely spent a month with his family before being arrested again on 15 September — under another six-month administrative detention order issued by a military court. Palestinians have few means of challenging administrative detention. Israel keeps whatever evidence it may hold against the prisoners secret. The draconian nature of administrative detention is exacerbated by the virtual impossibility of appeal against it. With other options closed, Omar decided to embark on a hunger strike 10 days after his latest imprisonment. The tactic appears to have been effective. On Saturday, 1 October, the 21-year-old suspended the fast after winning a concession from Israel. He has been given an assurance that once his administrative detention order expires, it will not be renewed. A resident of Surif, a West Bank village near Hebron, Omar had been working in the construction industry before his imprisonment….
Imprisoned Palestinian girl Natalie Shokha, 15, writes letter to her family
Samidoun 7 Oct — The following letter was written by the wounded Palestinian teen, Natalie Shokha, to her family and community. Natalie, 15, is imprisoned in HaSharon prison alongside 11 other minor Palestinian girls. Natalie, from the village of Rammun near Ramallah, was shot by Israeli occupation soldiers on 28 April, with a live bullet in her back and chest. She was arrested along with another minor Palestinian girl, Tasneem Halabi, near the village of Beit Ur west of Ramallah. Natalie and Tasneem were accused of seeking to stab Israeli occupation soldiers. Tasneem marked her 15th birthday inside HaSharon Prison just two weeks ago. Natalie’s letter, which highlights the role of the older Palestinian women prisoners in organizing the life of Palestinians inside Israeli prisons (creating a magazine and a cultural committee) as well as the sisterhood between the imprisoned young girls (referred to here as zahrat, “flowers”), follows: “My greetings to all of the generous people of my beloved village, Rammun. My greetings to the council of the village and to everyone who supports its development. Mother, I am in now in prison a member of the cultural committee. I have also become a member of the magazine. I discuss novels and I am the fourth in reading. Thank God at any rate. Mom, Dad, everyone here is proud of your raising of me. Have your head held high. And I am living in the room with six other girls. We are the twelve flowers (security prisoners who are minor girls). We live together through bad and good times. Mom, please say hello to all and tell them I miss them so much and that I am sorry if I forgot anyone. May God bring us together, united, soon. God, bring us freedom now! They will not imprison the scent of jasmine in a flower! The prisoner Natalie Shokha HaSharon Prison Division 14” Natalie and Tasneem are among 59 Palestinian women political prisoners in Israeli jails, and over 350 Palestinian children imprisoned by the Israeli occupation.
Palestinian women political prisoners: Women arrested, girls denied family visits
Samidoun 7 Oct — …Among the minor girls imprisoned in HaSharon prison is Istabraq Noor, 15, from the village of Madama south of Nablus. Istabraq has been denied family visits and her mother and father have been denied visit permits on the basis of “security”. Her family has received no information about Istabraq’s health or her needs in prison, and her father, Ahmed, is urgently appealing to receive family visits with his daughter. Istabraq was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment and a fine of 3000 NIS (approx. 750 USD); she was shot by Israeli occupation forces on 21 October 2015 and accused of planning to stab occupation settlers. Istabraq was the only person injured; her right hand was severely injured and has required several operations.
The trial of Israa Jaabes, 31, of Jerusalem, was once again continued until 3 November. Jaabes was arrested while severely burned on 11 October 2015 after a gas cylinder used for cooking stoves exploded inside her car; Israeli occupation forces opened fire on her car. She spent three months in hospital and was transfered to HaSharon prison despite her ongoing severe injuries and the amputation of eight of her fingers. Her trial has been extended nine times.
After seven months in Israeli prison, Salsabil Shalaldeh, 21, a student at the Palestine Polytechnic University was released, as was Raghad Khaddour, 18, imprisoned for two weeks after Israeli occupation soldiers shot and killed her fiancé as the two were driving.
Amal Taqatqa, 21, of Beit Fajar, was sentenced on 21 September to seven years in Israeli prison; she has been imprisoned since 2014 and accused of attempting to stab an Israeli occupation settler at a bus stop….
Israeli military court extends detention of 7 Palestinian minors from Bethlehem’s ‘Aida refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Oct – An Israeli military court Thursday extended the detention of seven Palestinian minors, aged between 16 and 17 years old, from Bethlehem’s ‘Aida refugee camp in the occupied West Bank for “endangering the lives of Jewish worshipers” after reportedly throwing Molotov cocktails near Rachel’s Tomb at the northern entrance of Bethlehem. Three of the minors were detained on Wednesday, following confessions from four minors detained in the previous week, according to Israeli sources. Israeli sources also claimed that all seven minors confessed to throwing the Molotov cocktails and reportedly told Israeli authorities they learned how to make the cocktails from online videos, while admitting to buying the materials from shops before gathering every Friday near Rachel’s Tomb to throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli settlers. Clashes often erupt between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, especially during Jewish pilgrimages to Rachel’s Tomb, as such visits typically occur alongside a heightened Israeli military presence near the entrance of Bethlehem and severe restrictions on Palestinian movement….
Israeli forces injure two with live fire in Gaza clashes
GAZA (Ma‘an) 7 Oct — Israeli forces reportedly injured two Palestinians with live fire on Friday during clashes in the eastern Gaza Strip, according to local sources. Palestinian medical sources in Gaza told Ma‘an two people were shot and injured, while a third suffered from tear gas inhalation when Israeli forces opened fire at a protest east of Gaza City in the central Gaza Strip. Clashes also reportedly broke out east of the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip near the eastern border with Israel. Meanwhile, Israeli outposts near Deir al-Balah and Khan Yunis in the southern besieged coastal enclave opened fire at Palestinian farmlands in the area, though no injuries were reported.
Israeli army shells Gaza after rocket lands in open area in southern Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Oct — The Israeli army shelled a site allegedly used by Palestinian militant groups in the central Gaza Strip on Thursday, after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit an open area in southern Israel. Israeli military vehicles stationed along the border between Gaza and Israel reportedly shelled an area east of the Maghazi refugee camp, without causing any injuries. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that they were looking into the reports. Earlier in the day, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit an open area in the Eshkol regional council, causing no injuries. The shelling and rocket came a day after another rocket hit Israel and the Israeli army launched airstrikes in the besieged Palestinian territory.
Analysts: Israel using rocket attacks from fringe groups in Gaza to target Hamas tunnel infrastructure
Mondoweiss 6 Oct by Hamza Abu Al-Tarabeesh — …Israel has seemingly altered its reaction policy to resistance rockets; it now responds with immediate, massive seismic missiles. It did so again today, striking targets in Gaza in retaliation for a rocket fired at an Israeli community. The recent assaults on Gaza have been the most severe since the end of the 2014 war on Gaza … Analysts and observers agree that a change in Israel’s response policy is underway, though it is known that Hamas was not involved in the most recent attacks. A small Salafi Jehadist battalion claimed responsibility for launching those missiles, under a faction called the “Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade.” Afekhay Aderey, the spokesman of the Israeli Army, said that these bombardments came as a reaction to the launching of a missile into Sderot, and that Hamas is considered responsible, because it is the official government of Gaza …Omar Ja‘ara, an expert on Israeli policy, believes that Israel, under the leadership of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, seeks to change the response policy against rocket-firing from the Gaza Strip. He explains that the most recent response was not a tactic of intimidation, but a military strategy to attain specific results in regard to the tunnel system, which remains Israel’s biggest worry. In an exclusive interview with Mondoweiss, Ja‘ara stated his position in the wake of these attacks. “We must not be an easy opponent. Israel affronts the resistance men with power and malice at the same time, knowing that a ground invasion cannot possibly destroy the existence of tunnels.” … Abu Mosa’ab, the tunnel commander at Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, said that the Israeli missiles in August did not cause losses. “What was destroyed is an observatory unit that consisted of expensive and advanced cameras that cost some thousands of dollars.” Abu Mosa’ab also stressed that Gaza’s resistance groups, especially Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, have a wide knowledge of Israel’s advanced aircraft. “We’re continuously developing the tunnel system in response to any changes in the field, as we do not want to be victims to one of Israel’s developed weapons,” he added. The resistance recently altered the architecture of tunnels from flat concrete ceilings to arched ceilings, as research has found that flat ceilings are more vulnerable to Israeli strikes. A documentary film prepared by journalist Wael Al-Dahdouh, correspondent to Al-Jazeera channel, clearly demonstrated how these developed tunnels look….
WATCH: Construction on the Gaza border barrier
Ynet 7 Oct by Matan Tzuri — A sign which reads “follow the arrows to the building site” across the road from the entrance to one of the Gaza border communities is the only hint as to what is truly taking place on Israel’s border with the Strip. At this undisclosed location on the border with Gaza, and under heavy security, a civilian contracting company, working in conjunction with the Solel Boneh company is working on the IDF’s largest project ever — “the barrier” — costing NIS 2.5 billion to finally put an end to the threat posed by Hamas terror tunnels. The barrier project is comprised of three components: the construction of a concrete barrier reaching several stories underground, the construction of a barrier several stories tall along the length of the border, and equipping both with a wide range of defensive technologies. Despite the importance placed on the project by military officials and political leaders, it is at risk of being de-funded, as no financial resources have been allocated to its implementation for fiscal years of 2017-2018. However, officials from the Ministry of Defense have emphasized that the project will not be delayed, while the Ministry of Finance has reassured that there is, in fact, a budget earmarked for its continuation.
Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Gaza, detain 2
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Oct — Israeli naval forces opened live fire at Palestinian fishing boats of the coast of Gaza city on Friday, before detaining two Palestinian fishermen and confiscating their boat. Head of the fishermen union Zakariya Bakr told Ma‘an that Israeli naval forces opened fire at the fishermen off the coast of Gaza city before confiscating their boat. Israeli forces also detained two fisherman who were on board and transferred them to an unidentified location. Bakr identified the fishermen as Mahmoud Said al-Saidi and Muhammad Awwad al-Saidi.
Charities cut Gaza aid
EI 7 Oct by Isra Saleh al-Namey — For a long time, Jawahir Muhammad has struggled to raise her five children. Three years ago, her husband, Ibrahim, died after years of severe health problems. “My husband suffered a lot,” said Jawaher, 45, who lives in Gaza. “He was not able to feed his children, so I was forced to look for money from relatives and charities.” Since her husband’s death, she has received 150 shekels ($40) per month for each of her children. Barely enough to buy basic groceries, the payments have now been cut off. Al-Monasara, the charity which administered the payments, is unable to continue making them. Because of funding shortages, it recently halted its aid to approximately 100 families in Gaza. “We realize how essential the money is for needy families,” said Alfat Salama, a representative of the charity. “But for budgetary reasons, we had to inform them that August was the last month that they would receive allowances.” Based in Jordan, al-Monasara raises funds for Palestinians, particularly for children who have lost one or both of their parents. Lately, the charity has found itself in an unenviable position. With victims of the war in Syria requiring urgent assistance, it has become difficult to collect funds for people in Gaza. “Our charity started to notice lately that less money is being given to Gaza,” said Salama. “Jordan has camps for Syrian refugees and they also badly need financial assistance.”….
250 Palestinians travel from Gaza to al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Oct — More than 200 Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip traveled to occupied East Jerusalem to attend Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to Palestinian liaison officials. The officials told Ma‘an that 250 Palestinian worshipers, all above the age of 50, traveled to Jerusalem via the Erez crossing between the besieged enclave and Israel to attend prayers, before immediately returning to the Gaza Strip. The visit came a week after weekly visitations were cancelled due to the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, which was held on the same day as the scheduled visits of elderly Gazans to Al-Aqsa. The number of Palestinians permitted to worship at Al-Aqsa was reduced by Israel in recent weeks, as Israeli authorities have typically permitted 300 elderly Palestinians from the small Palestinian territory to travel to Al-Aqsa every Friday.
Israel deports activists on ‘women’s boat’ for Gaza
AFP 7 Oct — Israel has deported all but one of a group of women activists who tried to break its decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip by boat, the interior ministry said Friday. A ministry spokeswoman said the last activist would leave the country later the same day. Thirteen women, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland, were detained on Wednesday after their sailboat was stopped around 35 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza. The boat was diverted to the Israeli port of Ashdod, about 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of the Palestinian territory, and the women detained before being deported. “All the boat’s passengers have left Israel except a woman who will fly to Oslo this afternoon,” interior ministry spokeswoman Sabin Haddad told AFP. Dubbed “Women’s Boat to Gaza”, the boat was part of the wider Freedom Flotilla Coalition consisting of pro-Palestinian activists who regularly defy Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Monitoring group: West Bank settlement construction has quadrupled
MEMO 7 Oct — Despite declarations to the contrary by Israeli government officials, settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territory are expanding, a report in Haaretz has revealed. The article draws on data published by Peace Now’s Settlement Watch team, as well as official figures by the government’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). The two sources together show both “a sharp increase in actual building starts in the West Bank and East Jerusalem”, as well as “evidence of a surge in construction planning activity that encompasses both new housing and the retroactive legalisation of existing homes.” According to figures prepared by Settlement Watch at Haaretz’s request, since the Jewish new year in September 2015, “the number of advancing plans for new housing units in the settlements almost quadrupled in comparison to the previous year.” Plans to construct 2,168 new housing units advanced in some way over the last Jewish year; over the previous year, the corresponding figure was 553. Furthermore, 1,170 housing units previously built without permits received retroactive approval, compared to 444 during the previous year. Haaretz reported that “much of this new building activity is taking place in locations like Ariel, far away from Israel’s internationally recognised border or any other likely future border. As such, it appears aimed at blocking any future evacuation of the settlements.” Hagit Ofran, director of the Settlement Watch project at Peace Now, said: “We are seeing dramatic growth in the past year in two particular settlements — Ariel and Efrat — which are especially problematic because…they are situated in places where it would be harder to pull out from in the event of a peace agreement.” Ofran added that the figures do not even tell the entire story. “Tenders are only required in 13 settlements, so lots of construction activity is happening in other places without any tenders being issued.”….
EU joins the US in condemning Israel’s new settlement plans in Palestinian territory
[with map] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Oct — The spokesperson for the European Union Friday strongly condemned Israel’s plans to construct 98 new housing units in occupied Palestinian territory in the northern West Bank for the establishment of a new Israeli settlement. The condemnation came two days following notably harsh criticisms by the United States over Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. Last month, the Higher Planning Committee (HPC) of Israel’s Civil Administration approved for “depositing” — the planning phase prior to final approval — a plan for 98 housing units for a new settlement to be located east of the already established settlement of Shiloh, on lands of the Palestinian village of Jalud in the northern West Bank district of Nablus. It is part of a larger plan for 300 units yet to be promoted. Meanwhile in April, Palestinian residents of Jalud reported that Israeli authorities delivered notices alerting them that 5,000 dunams (1,250 acres) of private land were slated for confiscation. A new industrial area west of Ramallah was also given approval at the time, near to Israel’s separation wall and the Green Line that divides the occupied West Bank from Israel. The EU spokesperson emphasized that the new settlement units represented the “accelerating trend of new settlement announcements since the start of 2016,” adding that the move has threatened to further separate the West Bank districts of Ramallah and Nablus while disrupting any possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state. “The retroactive authorization of nearby illegal outposts or redrawing of local settlement boundaries contradicts previous public statements by the government of Israel that it had no intention of creating new settlements,” the statement said. “The decision to continue settlement building and expansion goes directly against the recommendations of the Quartet Report, weakens rather than strengthens the prospects for a two-state solution to the Middle East peace process, and makes the possibility of a viable Palestinian state more remote.”….
Israel confiscates tent used as classroom by Bedouin community after school demolition
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Oct — Israeli forces reportedly confiscated a tent used as a classroom in the Bedouin community of Abu Nuwwar on Tuesday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told Ma‘an on Thursday. OCHA Communications and Information Analyst Ofir Feuerstein told Ma‘an that “Israeli authorities confiscated a tent in Abu Nuwwar” — part of the contentious “E1 corridor” located just east of Jerusalem municipal boundaries — on Tuesday.“ According to OCHA’s information, the tent was placed following a demolition of a classroom and a concrete ground that took place on Sept. 27,” he added. A spokesperson for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in Palestinian territory, told Ma‘an that the tent was “confiscated due to its illegal location and absence of required permits, one week after enforcement measures were carried out against the illegal structure at that location.”….
Israeli forces demolish Bedouin village of al-Araqib for the 104th time
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 6 Oct — Israeli forces Thursday demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev region of southern Israel for the 104th time, locals told Ma‘an. Aziz al-Touri, a resident of al-Araqib, told Ma‘an that the demolition was seen by the community as a continuation of “crimes committed against our lands,” and said that Israeli assaults on the village would only “increase our determination to stay on our land.” Israeli forces began targeting the village with demolitions in 2010, along with filing multiple lawsuits against the residents and imposing more than 2 million shekels ($527,920 ) worth of fines. The first demolition of al-Araqib took place a little over six years ago on June 27, 2010, and it has been demolished 103 more times as of Thursday. Al-Araqib is one of 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli state. According to ACRI, more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages. Rights groups have claimed that the demolition of al-Araqib and other unrecognized Bedouin villages is a central Israeli policy aimed at removing the indigenous Palestinian population from the Negev and transferring them to government-zoned townships to make room for the expansion of Jewish Israeli communities. Indigenous rights groups have also pointed out that the transfer of the Bedouins into densely populated townships also removes them from their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyles which is dependent on access to a wide range of grazing land for their animals….
Israeli soldiers uproot 40 dunams of Palestinian agricultural land near Hebron
IMEMC 6 Oct — Israeli soldiers, accompanied by a number of armored bulldozers, invaded Thursday the at-Tass area, west of Kharas town, west of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, before bulldozing and uprooting 40 dunams (9.88 acres) of Palestinian lands. Abdul-Fattah Qodeimat, the head of Kharas Local Council, told the Ma‘an News Agency that the lands were planted with almond and olive trees. He added that the soldiers also demolished several water wells in the invaded and uprooted lands, and that the wells belong to the families of Qodeimat, Halahla and Sa’id. The official denounced the Israeli violations, and said that the soldiers are trying to force the Palestinians out of their lands, in order to build and expand the illegal Jewish-only colonies. It is worth mentioning that, on Wednesday, the army invaded and uprooted 36 dunams (8.89 acres) near Kharas.
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Freedom march ‘Stop drying out Palestine, water is a right for all’
IMEMC 7 Oct by Ghassan Bannoura — At least 200 people joined on Friday the monthly freedom march demanding the Israeli occupation to “Stop drying out Palestine, Water is a Right for All”. The protest was organized by Combatants for Peace movement in association with a number of Palestinian and Israeli NGO’s. The protest started at midday from Hussan village roundabout, south of Bethlehem city, and marched via road 60 all the way to the tunnel checkpoint separating Bethlehem area from Jerusalem. During the march protesters carried a water tank made out of cartons, empty bottles of water and signs demanding the occupation to stop taking Palestinian water and fair distribution to all residents in the West Bank. When arriving at the checkpoint the Theater group of CFP performed a small play about the life of Palestinians under occupation and the difficulties they face. At the end of the protest, Yessri Salameen, from CFP, delivered a speech saying “what the occupation is doing is a clear violation on Palestinian water” he added “From here we demand that there be justice and fairness and application of international laws and norms in the distribution of water fairly to all citizens in the occupied territories.” From her part, Dr. Yeela Ra’anan, from Standing Together coalition, a partner group in the freedom march, said “As long as there is occupation there will not be peace, the inequality in the distribution of water between the two parties by the occupation has no justification because Israel has advanced water technologies that allow it to overcome the drought and better distribute water.” The Combatants for Peace movement calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, based on the border of June 4, 1967, alongside Israel. CFP uses nonviolent means and call on both nations to join us to achieve peace and reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis.
Outrage as Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign bank accounts closed
EI 6 Oct by Asa Winstanley — The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign announced on Monday that its accounts had been closed by the Bank of Ireland. The IPSC is seeking answers from the bank, which would only say the organization no longer met its “risk appetite.” In a statement the IPSC said the move appeared to be “part of a campaign orchestrated by the Israeli government.” The group also described the bank’s decision as “an attack on Palestinian rights and BDS,” the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. According to TheJournal.ie, an Irish news website, the bank has refused to comment about its decision. Kevin Squires, the IPSC’s coordinator, told TheJournal.ie that “Bank of Ireland’s silence speaks volumes. Honestly it’s hard to not view this as part of a wider campaign which has seen banks close accounts in the UK, Austria and France.” Squires said the campaigning group had sent just $1,350 to Palestine in the last financial year, mostly to buy Palestinian scarves. Politicians in Ireland have slammed the bank’s unexplained move. Mary Lou McDonald, deputy leader of the political party Sinn Féin, said that the closure was “outrageous” and “insulting to the Palestinian people.” “Bank of Ireland should reopen the account and offer a public explanation as to why this happened in the first place,” said McDonald. –International campaign– Over the last year or more, the bank accounts of Palestine solidarity groups in Europe have been closed by banks citing only “risk appetite.” Groups in the UK have had accounts shut for similarly vague reasons….
Smear tactics targeting Palestinian activists get personal
EI 6 Oct by Charlotte Silver — Palestine solidarity activists in Indiana are being subjected to a new kind of online harassment. Beginning in March, about two dozen websites emerged targeting at least three organizers for Students for Justice in Palestine chapters and one professor who acts as an adviser for the groups at two universities in the state. The websites contain fabricated allegations of sexual harassment, “immoral” behavior and terrorist leanings. They appear to be part of a well-coordinated attempt to smear the reputations of individuals who speak out for Palestinian rights. Some of those targeted are planning legal action against the creators of the websites. Unlike past attempts to smear the characters of Palestine activists, the websites do not exclusively focus on their target’s activism. For example, one chastises a Muslim female student for supposedly improper behavior. Another accuses the male professor of sexual harassment. The websites present no evidence to support their claims. Analyzed together it is clear the websites are being managed by the same person or group of people. There is also evidence that the same people who created these websites attacking Palestine activists may be planning to create more websites posing as pro-Palestinian. Such websites could resemble Sawtona, a sockpuppet group claiming to represent Palestinian opposition to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Sawtona emerged at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) the same week that the first of the websites was created….
Palestinian president leaves hospital after health scare
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 6 Oct — The 81-year-old Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, underwent an emergency heart procedure on Thursday after suffering exhaustion and chest pains, but was given a clean bill of health and quickly discharged from the hospital. Although the incident did not appear to be serious, the health scare drew attention to the uncertain leadership situation in the Palestinian territories — which are divided between two rival governments and where there is no succession plan for the aging leader. Dr. Mohammed al-Batrawi, a heart specialist who treated Abbas, said he ordered the president to the hospital for testing after Abbas felt tired and experienced chest pains at his office. He said Abbas went through a number of routine tests, including a cardiac catheterization, a procedure that can detect and treat heart problems, and that everything looked normal. “His arteries look great, and there is no need for him to stay in the hospital,” al-Batrawi said. Several hours later, Abbas walked out of the hospital, waving to well-wishers. Abbas did not comment when asked by reporters how he felt. But shortly before leaving the hospital, he told state-run Palestine TV that everything had gone well …Abbas, who is a heavy smoker and is overweight, was treated years ago for prostate cancer and has had a stent inserted to treat artery blockage.
A look at possible successors to Palestinian president Abbas
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 7 Oct — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received a clean bill of health after undergoing an emergency heart procedure on Thursday. But his brief hospitalization drew attention to the lack of a clear successor to the aging leader and the ongoing rift between rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Abbas, leader of the Fatah Party, was elected president of the Palestinian Authority in 2005 in what was supposed to be a four-year term. One year later, the rival Hamas militant group defeated Fatah in parliamentary elections and violently seized control of Gaza in 2007. Abbas has remained in control of parts of the West Bank ever since, while no national elections have been held. Despite his age, plummeting popularity and history of health issues, Abbas has ignored calls over the years to appoint a successor. A long list of senior officials and security chiefs would likely covet the job, though there is no clear front-runner. Here are some possible successors to Abbas: NASSER AL-KIDWA, 63. The nephew of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is popular among Palestinians. Al-Kidwa served as Palestinian foreign minister and as the Palestinian representative to the United Nations. Originally from Gaza, al-Kidwa spent decades living abroad in New York, Cairo and Paris before moving to Ramallah in the West Bank. Al-Kidwa is a member of the Fatah Central Committee, but some in Fatah oppose him because of his close ties to Abbas’ rival Mohammed Dahlan. MOHAMMED GHONEIM, 79. Ghoneim is the second most powerful figure in the Fatah movement. Although he is a political unknown, he is seen as a possible interim leader and a guarantor of Fatah unity. Ghoneim is among the founders of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Raised in Jerusalem, Ghoneim lived in exile in Tunisia for years, and opposed the Oslo interim peace accords. In 2008, he moved to Ramallah. Palestinians have raised eyebrows at his advanced age and low profile. SAEB EREKAT, 61….
Supporters of dismissed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan burn pictures of Abbas in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 7 Oct — Hundreds of supporters of Mohammed Dahlan, a dismissed leader of the Fatah movement in Gaza exiled from the occupied Palestinian territory, marched on Unknown Soldier Square in central Gaza on Thursday and burned pictures of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. According to a Ma‘an reporter, the protesters held Palestinian flags along with the flags of the Fatah movement and demanded presidential elections, while burning photographs of Abbas. The Fatah movement released an official statement urging its members not to participate in the protest. The demonstration came amid local elections in Palestine that have unraveled in recent weeks, with the Palestinian government to postpone the elections for four months after coming under heavy criticism when the Palestinian Supreme Court announced on Monday that the elections would exclude the besieged Gaza Strip.
ICC to decide on Israel-Palestinians probe ‘in due course’: official
AFP 7 Oct — The International Criminal Court has no deadline for deciding whether to investigate alleged war crimes by Israel and the Palestinians, an ICC official said on Friday. “There is no time limit,” the ICC’s Phakiso Mochochoko told AFP during a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. “We are just working hard on this file and in due course when the time is right, when all the conditions have been met and when we have assessed everything, then the decision will be made.” The Palestinians formally asked the ICC last year to investigate the Jewish state, which is not a party to the treaty that governs the court, for alleged war crimes. Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki presented the court with a dossier alleging violations during the 2014 Gaza war and another on Israel’s occupation and settlement of the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Some 2,251 Palestinians, including 551 children, were killed in fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas and other factions, according to UN figures. Israel is alleged to have used indiscriminate force against the blockaded territory, while Hamas is accused of firing rockets at Israeli civilian population centres and using Palestinians as human shields. In January 2015 the ICC, the world’s only permanent war crimes court, opened a preliminary examination into alleged abuses by both sides but has not moved to a formal investigation. The Palestinians have expressed frustration at the slow pace of proceedings. Mochochoko did not comment when asked if it could take years to reach a decision, but said the amount of data from all sides meant that the Gaza examination was “unique in its nature.” “There is a lot of information, there is a lot of reports and there is a lot of work that needs to be done in order to analyse that information and to assess it,” he said, speaking in English. Mochochoko, a member of the ICC’s prosecutor’s office, arrived Wednesday as part of a four-strong delegation for a five-day mission to Israel and the Palestinian territories. He said the trip was purely about explaining the work of the court and not seeking testimony.
UN Security Council to hold special meeting on Israeli settlements
Haaretz 6 Oct by Barak Ravid — The UN Security Council is to hold a special meeting next week on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Arria Formula meeting will not involve a vote and is expected to be open to the media. Foreign Ministry officials fear it will turn into an international demonstration of condemnation of the government’s policy in the territories and set the stage for an anti-settlement resolution in the Security Council after the U.S. elections. The meeting will be held on October 14 at the behest of Egypt, Venezuela, Malaysia, Senegal and Angola, with a push from the Palestinians. Arria Formula meetings allow all council members to initiate debates on subjects of specific interest to them. Attendance is not mandatory….
Millions of pounds of aid due to be sent to the Palestinian Authority is suspended over fears it will end up in the hands of terrorists
DailyMail 7 Oct by Daniel Martin — Millions of pounds of British aid money is being suspended amid fears it is going straight into the hands of Palestinian terrorists. Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, has ordered a freeze on the payments to the Palestinian Authority pending an investigation. Some £25million is being withheld this year – a third of the total aid to Palestine. The move comes just four months after former aid minister Desmond Syayne told MPs in unequivocal terms: ‘British taxpayers’ money does not fund terrorists’. Ms Patel’s crackdown follows claims in the summer that money meant for civil servants in the Occupied Territories was in fact being used to pay prisoners who have committed attacks in the Israeli conflict. It was reported that one Hamas master bomber had been given £100,000; while other ‘salaries’ are said to have gone to families of suicide bombers and teenagers attacking Israel. And it emerged that some charities funded by taxpayers’ money were ‘promoting violence on social media pages’. Ms Patel, who was sent to the Department for International Development by Theresa May in July, has already launched a crackdown on the way British aid money is spent … Ms Patel’s predecessor, Justine Greening, had previously refused to take action on Palestine. Her department admitted the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which receives much of the money, makes ‘social welfare’ provisions for prisoners’ families. But it always ruled out the idea that British money is being diverted in this way. But sources close to Ms Patel said she was concerned that many of the civil servants were doing other jobs while pocketing UK taxpayers’ cash. The department said that £25million – the majority of which goes to charities in the region – is being withheld this year. The payments should re-start next year once the investigation is complete. A source said told The Sun: ‘We are not stopping for the Palestinian Authority overall, just delaying it to a date when we know our money won’t be going to people who do nothing in return for it.’ … A DFID spokesman said: ‘The UK remains firmly committed to supporting the Palestinian Authority to build and strengthen the institutions needed for a two-state solution, which is essential for the prosperity and security of the region.
West Bank clubs row ‘a priority’ for FIFA boss
AFP 6 Oct — FIFA president Gianni Infantino will make finding a solution to the bitter dispute over Israeli football clubs playing inside the occupied West Bank a “priority”, he told AFP in an exclusive interview. Six clubs in the Israeli league currently play in West Bank Jewish settlements, which are considered illegal under international law. By allowing games to be contested there, FIFA is engaging in business activity that supports Israeli settlements, Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed in a recent report.
HRW said this endorsed the “theft” of Palestinian land and that the presence of Israeli clubs on the territory ran contrary to human rights commitments undertaken by football’s governing body. “This is one of my priorities and our priorities. I have not yet gone into the area simply because the situation is such that at the moment the conditions are not there yet, but we’re working on it,” Infantino insisted to AFP. Infantino said he had on Wednesday taken part in a working session with South Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale, the chairman of the commission monitoring the problems affecting the development of football in Palestine. “I just got out of a meeting with Mr Sexwale to try to find a solution to this issue which should be a football question but has become a political issue, for which the world has not yet found a satisfactory solution,” said Infantino….
HBO to make drama based on 2014 abduction of three Israeli teens in West Bank
Haaretz 6 Oct by Nati Tucker — The series, a coproduction with Keshet, will be made by the creator of ‘In Treatment’ and directed by Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar — U.S. cable giant HBO is teaming up with Keshet to make a television series based around the abduction and killing of three Israeli yeshiva students in the West Bank in June 2014, an event that ultimately led to that summer’s war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The new series is built around an imaginary story line involving the investigation into the abduction of the three actual students — Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel — and the reaction to events on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. The series’ fictional hero is an idealistic Shin Bet security service investigator. The series, which will be produced for an estimated 20 million shekels ($5.3 million), is to be broadcast in both the United States and Israel. The as-yet-untitled 10-episode drama will be filmed in Israel next summer. It’s not yet clear if the drama will be in English or Hebrew. Although this is HBO’s first joint production with an Israeli company, HBO previously bought the rights to the format of Hot television’s Israeli series “Betipul,” which became “In Treatment” in the United States and starred Gabriel Byrne….
Film: The Hannibal Directive
Al Jazeera 7 Oct — We investigate a secret order that allowed Israel’s army to kill Palestinian civilians to stop the capture of a soldier — The Hannibal Directive was a top-secret military order used by the Israeli army. First devised in 1986 by three senior army commanders, it stipulated measures to be taken when an Israeli soldier was captured during combat. Its purpose was to prevent the enemy from escaping with that soldier, even if it meant endangering the soldier’s life and the lives of civilians in the vicinity. The order was last executed during the 2014 Gaza War – known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge. During that conflict, more than 2,000 Palestinians and 72 Israelis were killed. On Friday August 1, 2014, at Rafah in the south of Gaza, the Israeli Army invoked the Hannibal Directive to try to stop Hamas fighters from fleeing with a captured Israeli officer. The unprecedented ferocity of the action that followed cost the lives of least 135 civilians – 75 of them children. Amnesty International and other NGOs have described the events of that day, “Black Friday”, as a war crime. This film, by award-winning director Benny Brunner, explores the secret history of the Hannibal Directive – tracing its origins, its most recent use and how it has been applied. The documentary was made in 2015 amid mounting controversy about the application and morality of the doctrine – a dispute which eventually led to the order being quietly rescinded by the Israeli military in June 2016. It contains interviews with former Israeli soldiers, reservists and civilians who were at the time increasingly divided over whether such a brutal policy, which led to the deaths of so many innocent civilians, could ever be justified.
Black Lives Matter – vs. Israel?
JPost 7 Oct by Sarah Leibovitz-Dar — Close coordination of US and Israeli police causes dismay to the American activist group — A delegation of police officers from all over the US visited Israel last month to learn how to fight terrorism. One of its stars was Orlando Police Chief John Mina. In June Mina made headlines following the terrorist attack in Orlando in which 49 people were killed and dozens were injured when Omar Mateen opened fire on a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender nightclub. While he was walking down the alleyways in Jerusalem’s Old City, Mina looked like a typical tourist. Maybe that’s why he was so shocked when I asked him: “Have you heard the claim espoused by the American black community that US police officers are using knowledge they gained in Israel to kill black people?” He burst out laughing. “If you weren’t a journalist, I’d for sure think someone was trying to pull one over on me. We’re not here to learn how to kill black people. We’re learning how to fight against terrorism. How to evacuate people at the scene of an attack. It only takes Israelis a couple of hours to clear an attack scene, whereas we need a few days. We’re studying investigation methods, because we have such a different way of working. Our officers carry their weapons in a very different way from the Israeli police. In the US, police are much more discreet. While Israeli police officers ride their motorcycles with their weapons at the ready, this is not acceptable procedure in the US. We are certainly not learning how to kill black people,” he said. Mina was asked this question since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has leaked into the struggle between the American black community and the US police force. A few groups that are coordinating activity have strong ties with Palestinian organizations. In parallel, the US police force is strengthening its cooperation with the Israel Police….