A year of revolt: Who were the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces?
MEMO 1 Oct — It is one year since the beginning of a Palestinian youth-driven, anti-colonial revolt characterised by protests and attacks on Israeli forces and settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), along with brutal violence and punitive measures by Israeli authorities. The timeline is not precise; by October 1, 2015, anti-occupation violence by Palestinians had been gradually on the rise, with ebbs and flows, for a few years. Some have dubbed it the ‘Jerusalem Intifada’. Others have described it as “less than an Intifada and more than a popular blow-up.” According to a Quds News Network article published this week, 246 Palestinians have been killed over the last year, and a further 18,500 injured. Other sources cite 230 fatalities (Ma’an News Agency) or “more than 225” (Amnesty International). The majority of Palestinians were killed while conducting attacks, or alleged attacks; in July, for example, the Palestine Red Crescent said that 139 of the then-total 218 fatalities were assailants or alleged assailants (just under two-thirds). However, as Associated Press noted earlier this month, “Palestinians have frequently accused Israelis of using excessive force against assailants and said in many cases, alleged assailants were not even attackers.” Such vital information is, regrettably, rarely included in many news agencies’ articles. Certainly, a number of Palestinians – typically young adults – have carried out attacks over the last year, the overwhelming majority of which have targeted uniformed Israeli occupation forces or settlers in the OPT. Some of these assailants were executed after they no longer posed a threat. But Israeli forces – including in incidents where the military changed its version of events a number of times – have also killed Palestinians falsely labeled as assailants, as well as Palestinians shot in the context of arrest raids or during the suppression of demonstrations. It is instructive to note that, even according to the Israeli authorities, the number of Palestinians killed purely in the context of protests and raids over the last year (71) is double the total number of Israelis killed by Palestinians (33, plus two foreign nationals). Palestinians killed by Israeli armed forces are rarely humanised in the West. In the media, their deaths merit – at best – a couple of paragraphs that always includes the Israeli military spokesperson’s version of events (and often only their version). And then everyone moves on. Here then, is a snapshot of the human cost of Israel’s apartheid regime, and a few of the stories of those Palestinians who lost their lives over the past year: Abd al-Rahman Obeidallah, 13 years old. Killed October 5, 2015. Obeidallah was shot dead by an Israeli soldier in Aida refugee camp, northern Bethlehem. He was standing, observing clashes between residents and occupation forces some 70 metres away, when he was struck with one live bullet to the chest. Obeidallah was one of five children, and his 17-year-old brother Muhammad described him as his “closest friend.” According to his mother Dalal, the young teen had “always dreamed of visiting” an aunt in Jerusalem, but, she added, “we are deprived of visiting Jerusalem.” The Israeli army subsequently claimed that the killing of Obeidallah was “unintentional.” A criminal investigation has been opened by the Israeli Military Advocate General (MAG) into the shooting, but a year on, there is no indication of any conclusion. Shadi Dawla, 24 years old. Killed on October 9, 2015….
Death in numbers: A year of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel
[with charts, maps] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Oct by Chloe Benoist — In October 2015 began what has been in turn called a wave of unrest, a Palestinian upheaval, or even the “Jerusalem Intifada.” Whatever the name, the past year has seen an intensification of deadly violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel. Over the course of the year, Ma‘an has collected data regarding every person who has died as part of this latest chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In total, Ma‘an has recorded the death of 274 individuals from Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2016. Of these dead, 235 were Palestinians (85.8 percent of deaths), 34 were Israeli (12.4 percent), and five (1.8 percent) were foreign nationals — two Americans, one Eritrean, one Sudanese, and one Jordanian. The first six months — from October 2015 to March 2016 — saw the vast majority of deaths, following clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem ahead of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. With 234 people dying in these first six months, the rate of casualties has since drastically slowed down, although a spate of killings in September have led to fears that violence could once again surge.
Looking at Palestinian casualties After a year, a clearer picture has emerged of the Palestinians who have died in that time span. Of these 235 Palestinians, 231 were killed by Israelis, two by other Palestinians during attacks against Israelis, and two others killed themselves while carrying out or attempting to carry out attacks. Drawing from statistics, a general portrait emerges of the average Palestinian to have died during this time: a young man in his late teens or early twenties from the West Bank district of Hebron, killed by Israeli security forces. According to Ma‘an’s records, the average age of slain Palestinians was 23. However, the most frequent age of death was 19 years old, with 22 Palestinian youth of that age losing their lives in the past year…. [very long article with a great deal of information, sorted in different ways]
Damaged Israeli power lines affect electricity in Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma‘an) 3 Oct — Three of the Israeli power lines which provide electricity to the besieged Gaza Strip have been disconnected due to damages, the Gaza energy authority said on Monday. The energy authority said in a statement that Israeli power lines 9 and 8, as well as the line feeding the al-Shaaf area, were damaged and disconnected last week and still haven’t been fixed. Line 9 was reportedly disconnected at dawn on Tuesday, and the other two followed shortly afterwards. The statement added that Gaza‘s electricity supply was suffering from power outages due to the closure of Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing during the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, through which fuel is imported into the blockaded Palestinian territory. Israeli authorities announced Saturday evening that a three-day general closure would be imposed on all passage between the blockaded Gaza Strip and Israel, as well as between the occupied West Bank and Israel, during the holiday. The Gaza energy authority added that it was trying its best to carry out maintenance to the damaged lines and use any fuel shipment that could enter Gaza Strip to provide as much power as possible for the longest amount of time, while noting that Gaza’s power station was running on only one generator …
In addition to Gaza’s most recent electricity woes, delivery of cooking gas to the blockaded coastal enclave was also impeded last week due to complications with gas pipes running through Kerem Shalom. Officials at the association of oil and gas companies in Gaza Strip said Wednesday that gas pipes at the crossing had been changed, installing new eight-inch pipes as an upgrade to the old four-inch pipes, but the quantity of gas being pumped through them had not been increased as promised by Israel. Gas committee member Nour al-Din al-Khazindar told Ma‘an at the time that Israel has previously agreed to allow 400 tons of gas to be pumped through the gas line at the crossing, but only 280 tons were being delivered, even after changing the pipes. He added that there has been no gas had been pumped into Gaza Strip for five consecutive days due to the pipe maintenance. The head of the gas committee Samir Hamada said that the Gaza Strip was facing a crisis due to the lack of cooking gas, and the quantity being pumped did not meet the needs of the people in Gaza Strip. He added that there were 40 gas stations in Gaza Strip, most of which were closed due to the lack of gas imports.
Israeli forces reportedly detain Palestinian crossing Gaza border fence into Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Oct — Israeli forces detained a young Palestinian man on Monday morning after he crossed the fence between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel, Hebrew-language news sites reported. According to Walla News, the Palestinian cut a hole in the wire fence near the Israeli village of Holit in the Eshkol region to cross into Israel, when an Israeli army patrol spotted the young man and detained him shortly after he crossed the fence. Walla added that the young man was not armed. [IMEMC notes: Many Palestinians try to cross the border fence seeking work in Israel despite the risks of being captured or even shot by the soldiers, due to the dire situation and increasing levels of poverty in the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip.]
The IDF’s eye-in-the-sky over Gaza
Ynet 2 Oct by Yoav Zitun — Unlike other mixed combat units, the women of the Skylark drone unit operate in all-female teams. With the help of the tiny drones, they follow suspicious vehicles and monitor every step made by Hamas’s senior officials in Gaza. Ynet joined them to see how intelligence collection is done on the border. — A year after female fighters first joined the Artillery Corps’ Skylark drone unit, the results of their hard work can already be seen on the screens of the Gaza Division’s command centers. While the Gaza border area has experienced relative calm since Operation Protective Edge ended two years ago, the Southern Command, the Shin Bet, and Military Intelligence are still working around-the-clock to prepare for the next war against Hamas. These efforts mostly focus on gathering intelligence and growing the IDF’s “target list,” along with work to thwart border-crossing terror tunnels. A team of female fighters, likely the first of its kind operating on the Gaza front, takes part in these operations on the border. While the team of female combat soldiers are responsible for gathering intelligence mostly in the northern Gaza area, another team of male soldiers are doing the same in southern part of the strip. “Last weekend, we had a series of identifications and we collected new coordinates,” said Capt. Toval Tzadok, the commander of the combat intelligence collection company in the Gaza Division. Capt. Tzadok is the one who sets the assignments for the Skylark teams along with the commander of the territorial brigade. “We follow suspicious vehicles arriving at the homes of Hamas operatives and monitor observation points and enemy command centers — what we find gets all the way to the division commander, Brig. Gen. Yehuda Fox,” she explained. “We provide a lot of visual information which becomes part of the intelligence puzzle,” said one of the female fighters in the unit. “A lot of the time, our drones are launched when an IDF lookout identifies a vehicle of a senior Hamas official that makes it all the way to the border fence. We’re then called in and within minutes have the drone in the air. We follow him for hours, sometimes all the way to the shore or to the north (of the strip). There are also scheduled assignments, like when we have intelligence suggesting something is about to happen on the other side of the border.”
Islamic Jihad holds rally in Gaza to commemorate its 38th anniversary
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Oct — Thousands of Palestinians on Sunday afternoon joined a rally organized by the Islamic Jihad movement in Gaza City to mark the group’s 38th anniversary and the one year since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, which the group called the “Jerusalem Intifada.” The rally kicked off at Palestine Square in Gaza City before the participants crowded in front of Shawwa and Husari towers in the center of the city. Leaders of different Palestinian factions were present, according to a statement by Islamic Jihad. Female fighters affiliated to Islamic Jihad were seen at the front of the march, as well as masked men carrying knives and Molotov cocktails. Sheikh Bassam al-Saadi, a prominent Islamic Jihad leader, gave a speech during the rally by phone from his house in Jenin in the West Bank. “An uprising is the most appropriate way to get rid of all the remains of the destructive Oslo Accords,” he said. “It is also the best choice to fix the compass of Palestinian struggle and Palestinian unity.” Al-Saadi urged all Palestinian factions to agree on a joint national program, based on resistance against the Israeli occupation and settlements, to serve as a charter for all resistance forces. He also called on the Palestinian Authority and its security services to “stop going after resistance fighters and to stop security coordination which serves the interests of Israeli occupation in the first place.” While some say Islamic Jihad was established in 1980 by Fathi Shiqaqi, a majority of members of the group consider Oct. 6, 1978 to be its official foundation date
Israeli attacks on Gaza farmers
KHAN YOUNIS, Occupied Palestine 3 Sept by ISM, Gaza Team — According to the Council for European Palestinian Relations the Palestinian agricultural sector’s contribution to the GDP dropped between 1993 (Oslo Accords) and 2009 from 13% to 4.8%, due to the illegal practices of the zionist entity, such as land theft, confiscation of water resources and control over exports. During the successive aggressions against the coastal enclave, military bulldozers and Israeli tanks razed thousands of hectares of agricultural land, uprooting fruit trees and olive groves, destroying greenhouses and water wells in addition to bombing agricultural infrastructure with drones and warplanes. However, in Gaza, periods between wars are not much more peaceful for the peasants, as farmers from Khan Younis governorate, one of the most attacked by snipers and Israeli bulldozers can testify: “There is hardly any water and the water we have is salty. The option is to buy fresh water, but besides being too expensive its supply is almost nonexistent, we have only about 8 hours of electricity a day … how can we work, without electricity or water?”… Additionally to the problem with water and electricity there are constant attacks on farmers by Israeli snipers and periodic incursions of military bulldozers to raze agricultural land. “My lands are relatively close to the fence, so I cannot set foot in them between 6 pm and 6 am without getting shot at. What I can do if the electricity does not come before 6 pm? I have to leave my land without watering, risking the loss of the crop”….
Remembering Muhammad al-Durrah and the stolen dreams of Palestine
[with video] GAZA, Occupied Palestine 29 Sept by ISM, al-Khalil Team — Mere days ago, on the 22nd of September, the city of occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) remembered and mourned the murder of 18 year old Hadeel al-Hashlamoun, another Palestinian youth executed in cold blood by Israeli forces outside the Shuhada Street checkpoint one year ago. Today, on the 30th of September, all of occupied Palestine bows its head in mourning and raises its fist in resistance on the 16th anniversary of the deaths of Jamal al-Durrah and his 12 year old son Muhammad. On this day 16 years ago, Israeli forces unleashed their militarized terror upon the streets of occupied Gaza, firing indiscriminately upon anything seen as a threat, which at this time was any Palestinian within sight. Even Palestinian medics were forced to run for cover as bodies lay bleeding on the ground. On this day, every Palestinian person was reduced to just that in the eyes of the Israeli occupying forces: a body to be targeted. Two of these bodies were Jamal and young Muhammad. 16 years ago, the world was presented with a French journalist’s video documenting in incriminating clarity the final moments of a young, frightened, innocent boy who had not even reached his teenage years. As Palestinians run frantically for cover, the camera focuses in on Muhammad as his father attempts to shield him behind a concrete cylinder. In what seems like an instant, gunfire rains down upon the two of them and the entire scene is covered in smoke. As the smoke clears, young Muhammad’s body is seen slumped over his father’s lap. Jamal musters his last remaining strength to sit his upper body up. He wavers back and forth for a few moments, the body of his son laid across his legs, before the spark of life leaves his body as well….
Will Gaza soon have its own aquatic city?
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 2 Oct by Iyad Qatrawi — Funded by the Qatar Charity association, the Ministry of Agriculture in the Gaza Strip started on Sept. 20 a project aimed at building an aquatic city in the fishing port of Gaza City in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport and Communications, which allocated a plot of land for the construction of the project. The project should be ready by mid-2017. The project is the first of its kind and will serve as a recreational center and park. It will also serve as a museum showcasing all kinds of fish. This park will enable experts and researchers to carry out new research on fisheries and the mechanisms adopted by fishermen. It will also serve as a place to develop scientific research in the field of fisheries. The port of Gaza, which was renovated in 2015, is among the most important tourist spots in the Gaza Strip and is frequented by a lot of citizens during the holidays and on special occasions. The Gaza Seaport Authority developed it and established many service-based projects there, such as amusement parks, restaurants, cafeterias and recreational areas. It also allocated parking areas for cars and tour buses and provided new boats that visitors and tourists can take for a ride into the sea. The new aquatic city project is one of the new vital projects aimed at developing the port….
Photos of the synthetic drug epidemic that’s ravaged Gaza
Vice 2 Oct by Antonio Faccilongo — Our TV channel VICELAND recently explored the underground network of tunnels that connects the Gaza Strip to Israel and Egypt, allowing soldiers and goods to covertly pass into Palestinian territory. But the clandestine paths also promote the importation of illegal narcotics, including Tramadol, a synthetic opiate that’s been wreaking havoc on the war-torn state for much of the last decade. Following the December 2008 Gaza War, also known as Operation Cast Lead, a United Nations survey of Gaza residents found a surge in risky behavior throughout the area, including a significant bump in drug addiction. The primary substance associated with the addiction surge is Tramadol, an analgesic not entirely unlike codeine or morphine, with a high potential for abuse. Even before that conflict, roughly 30 percent of men aged 14 to 30 were estimated to be using the painkiller, with approximately 15,000 Palestinians demonstrating signs of dependence. Over the past couple of years, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s forces have attempted to close the Rafah tunnels, but that’a simply driven Tramadol’s price up. “…Even the high price doesn’t stop hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents from using Tramadol,” a local pharmacist told Al-Monitor in August.“The fact is that Tramadol can still be obtained in Gaza. It is readily available to anyone who asks.” While Palestine’s Anti-Drug Task Force has confiscated millions of pills over the past several years, substance abuse doesn’t appear to be subsiding. According to Al-Monitor, there are even rumors that chemistry students at the Islamic University have been producing and distributing imitation Tramadol that sells at a lower rate. Photographer Antonio Faccilongo visited Gaza in summer 2015 to document the repercussions and consequences of war. But he quickly became focused on the isolation and hardship that has many residents looking for a way out, honing in on Tramadol. His work imposes a socio-anthropological lens to explore escapism and suffering in the face of social malaise. See photos from Faccilongo’s stay in Gaza below, and visit his website to view more of his photo work. [Worldwide epidemic though, often with more deadly drugs, and most addicts don’t have the excuse that Gazans have]
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Sheikh Jarrar: When my enemy is my neighbor
OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 3 Oct by Jaclynn Ashly — Photo: Nine-year-old Maha al-Kurd was only three when settlers set her bed on fire while taking over her family’s home — Outside the al-Kurd family home, a large fig tree shades the streets of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. When the family was evicted from the front part of their home by Israeli settlers in 2009, the tree served as a meeting point for hundreds of Palestinian, Israeli and international activists to organise nonviolent protests against Israel’s colonisation of the neighbourhood. Today, the shaded area remains empty on most days, as Israeli settlers strut confidently down the quiet streets of Sheikh Jarrah and into the Kurd family home. “Imagine having bad neighbours who get drunk and loud all the time, but are also supported by a government aiming to systematically displace you from the land,” Mohammed al-Kurd, 18, told Al Jazeera in the small courtyard between their home and the section the Israeli settlers took over six years ago, when he was just 11. In 1956, the United Nations built houses in Sheikh Jarrah for 28 Palestinian families who fled their villages in historic Palestine after the establishment of Israel in 1948. Jewish Israelis claim that the land on which these houses were built was the site of a 19th-century Jewish community … Israeli authorities have ordered the front section of the Kurd family’s home demolished, but they have been unable to follow through, saying there has not been a moment when Israeli settlers were not inside. The settlers, meanwhile, claim that they own the entire house – including the side where the Kurds live – but have yet to produce ownership documents … During the eviction of the Kurd family in 2009, settlers set fire to the bed of Mohammed’s three-year-old sister, Maha. As the flames grew, so did the solidarity movement, with dozens of activists sleeping in tents outside of the evicted homes. But two years later, as the public spotlight faded, the Kurd family remained … “The media was attracted to us because we could easily be framed as victims, and it was a movement that included Israeli and international activists,” Mohammed said. “But now that our cases are frozen in the Israeli courts, we have become less interesting, so they left.” Nabil recalls how the first few years of the settler takeover were “very violent” … Nabil says the family’s relationship with the settlers is now marked by more minor acts, such as the settlers unleashing aggressive dogs on them when they venture outside, or throwing rubbish towards their side of the house. “It’s a dangerous psychology,” Mohammed said. “We are tolerating them [the settlers] and enduring them. Sometimes they spew insults at us, and we spew them back, but beyond that we don’t speak to each other. We just continue with our lives.” … In the centre of the courtyard, a line of blankets partially obscures the settlers’ side of the house, hiding the window that faces the Kurds’ section of the home. The blankets were hung after settlers in the adjacent part of the home stood naked at the window and made obscene gestures, Mohammed said….
Israel advances plans for new settlement for Amona outpost evacuees
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Oct — The Israeli Civil Administration has advanced plans to construct a new illegal Israeli settlement in the northern occupied West Bank, likely to be used to relocate settlers residing in the Amona outpost, according to Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, following an Israeli Supreme Court decision to demolish the outpost by the end of this year. Peace Now said in a press release on Saturday that two plans were promoted by the Higher Planning Committee (HPC) of the Civil Administration on Wednesday, including the new settlement for the Amona evacuees, as well as for a new industrial zone west of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank. The HPC approved for “depositing” — the planning phase prior to final approval — a plan for 98 housing units for the 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 to the alerting them that 5,000 dunams (1,250 acres) of private land were slated for confiscation. Peace Now predicted that Israel would argue the plan is “only” for the expansion of Shiloh, despite that fact that the land is located one kilometer from Shiloh, and also 1\one kilometer from the recently retroactively legalized outpost of Shvut Rachel. “Both the new plan and Shvut Rachel are officially considered ‘neighborhoods’ of Shiloh, but in fact are independent settlements,” the watchdog explained. Peace Now determined the new settlement would likely be used for the evacuees of the Amona outpost, who according to an Israeli Supreme Court ruling are to be evicted from the outpost — located on privately-owned Palestinian land — by Dec. 26. “It is likely that this will be a part of the ‘compensation deal’ for the settlers — who lost Amona but we given a whole new settlement with a potential for 300 units,” the statement said. Now that the plan has been deposited, HPC will hear objections, after which the plan could then be approved for “validation” — final approval — after the objections are heard….
Nowhere to hide: New illegal observation tower in occupied Hebron
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine 3 Oct by ISM, al-Khalil Team — Israeli forces put up a CCTV observation tower in the Ibrahimi mosque area, further increasing not only their all-encompassing surveillance of Palestinians, but also their slow but steady illegal annexation of more and more Palestinian land in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron). At the end of last week, Israeli forces in a ‘secret’ over-night action put up the observation tower, surrounded by dozens of cement blocks and barbed-wire. Located in a corner between Palestinian houses, the observation post with a container and all the surrounding paraphernalia is just another step in the illegal annexation of yet more land. In recent weeks, Israeli forces have increased their illegal annexations of the tiny strip of Shuhada Street still accessible to Palestinian pedestrians and stepped up the game of creating a coercive environment directly leading to forced displacement of Palestinians in the Tel Rumeida area. This observation tower is fitted with a camera that reaches high above the houses in the neighborhood, thus watching Palestinians constantly. This feeling of permanently being watched for Palestinians is combined with the ever present controls and humiliations at the more-and-more militarized checkpoints. Palestinians are watched, humiliated, numbered, deprived of their most basic human rights – occupied not only physically by the Israeli occupation forces, but also mentally. They can never tell whether they’ll be allowed through a checkpoint (something that solely depends on the respective soldiers’ whim), whether their children will be tear-gassed on their way to school or arrested, or even whether they’ll be gunned down by Israeli forces at a checkpoint and left to bleed to death. Any and all of these forms of collective punishment are enforced by the Israeli occupying forces on the entire population of civilians in complete disregard of any care for international law or humane treatment of the occupied indigenous Palestinian population….
The slow creep of ethnic cleansing – closed military zone in Hebron
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine 30 Sept by ISM, al-Khalil team — Israeli forces in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) have further expanded the closed military zone (CMZ), now covering the whole Tel Rumeida neighborhood, while setting up new and enforcing existing checkpoints with increased restrictions. Parts of the Tel Rumeida neighborhood and the tiny strip of Shuhada Street that have not fallen prey to Israeli illegal annexation and ethnic cleansing, creating a ‘Palestinian-free’ zone, have been a CMZ since the end of October 2015. However, the borders of the CMZ have now been further extended to include the entire Tel Rumeida neighborhood. Checkpoints that have formerly been roadblocks preventing Palestinian traffic throughout this neighborhood, are now additionally permanently staffed with Israeli soldiers. Palestinian residents, at these newly staffed checkpoints, are often kept waiting by Israeli forces for hours, denying them passage stating ‘military orders’, while at times at the same moment telling them to ‘just go around’, which would ‘only take 2 minutes’. On Wednesday, 28th September 2016, Israeli forces forced a whole group of Palestinians, including small children to wait to reach their homes for over two hours – and then suddenly just walked away from the checkpoint, thus allowing for Palestinians to pass. Whereas Palestinian residents, in order to reach their own homes, were already forced to register as residents – a status which, depending on the soldiers mood, might allow them to reach their homes; within the newly added parts of the CMZ, Palestinians are arbitrarily and deliberately kept waiting without any reasons – except for being Palestinians….
Settlers pump wastewater into Salfit’s olive fields
SALFIT (PIC) 1 Oct — Israeli settlers from Bdo’ial illegal settlement pumped Saturday morning wastewater into olive fields north of Salfit, eyewitnesses reported. The sources told the PIC reporter that severe damage was caused due to the settlers’ practice. The local activist Khaled Maali pointed out that 24 nearby settlements’ wastewater has been polluting Salfit over the past years and the situation is getting worse. The waste problem is now creating a major health problem to Salfit’s residents, he said, adding that the practice is a flagrant violation of international conventions. “The industrial refuse from Israeli factories and the wastewater from the neighboring settlements have increased. Our crops are unsafe to eat and our livestock are threatened. Children are suffering from skin and stomach illnesses. The smell is foul and we have a problem with insects. Most of the dumping of waste is deliberate,” locals complained. They also appealed for the protection of their natural springs and archaeological sites from settlers’ almost-daily attacks.
Book Reviews: How we learned to forget the villages we destroyed
Haokets 3 Oct by Tom Pessah — Kadman, Noga: Erased From Space and Consciousness – Israel and the Depopulated Palestinian Villages of 1948. 2015. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. 256 pp. — Noga Kadman’s Erased from Space and Consciousness is one of those rare books that profoundly re-shapes your perspective. Growing up inside the Zionist education system meant that even when I did eventually hear about the “Palestinian narrative,” it seemed distant — not connected directly to my life experiences as an Israeli. Kadman’s book, a product of visits to the sites of 230 former villages and extensive archival work, traces the points at which the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 was submerged and normalized, until this massive break in the country’s history became almost imperceptible to younger generations of Israelis. Through documenting the points at which these Palestinian experiences were re-coded, the book enabled me to de-familiarize the familiar – to finally notice the ruins and the cacti I regularly passed on bus rides, and to start asking questions about their former inhabitants. As Edward Said notes, “there can be no hope of peace unless the stronger community, the Israeli Jews, acknowledges the most powerful memory for the Palestinians, namely the dispossession of an entire people” (p. 145-6). This acknowledgement can only happen once we re-read our surroundings and fully perceive what has always been there — in the background … The process Kadman documents included more than “erasure” or “silencing.” More precisely, the memory of the former Palestinian inhabitants was re-shaped into a form more palatable to Israelis. The mill used by the villagers of Jarisha, inside what is now Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Park, is attributed to the “Ottoman period” on the JNF website, with no mention whatsoever of the villagers who used to live there (p. 122). Furthermore the memory of certain villages became synonymous with filth and backwardness: Kibbutz Sasa wrote that “we are mired in the ruins of an Arab village, that even before its destruction we had to run around in it among fleas and dirt” (p. 74)….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem, Israel
Israeli settlers harass Palestinian family picking olives in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Oct — A group of Israeli settlers’ children escorted by Israeli forces harassed a Palestinian family harvesting olives in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Monday. The Israeli children obstructed the Palestinian family from harvesting their olives in land near their house and attempted to steal the olives, locals said. However, they were stopped by members of the local Youth Against Settlements (YAS) group, which posted a video of the encounter on social media. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that they would look into the reports. Umm Tamer Zyada, a resident of the Hebron neighborhood of Tel Rumeida, said that Israeli forces continuously harass her in front of her house, adding that Israeli settlers also attempt to intimidate and scare her children when they go playing outside. Zyada and her family pick their olives before the regular harvesting time of mid- to late October to prevent Israeli settlers stealing their fruit. [though olives picked before they are ripe do not make the best olive oil] The olive tree is a symbol of Palestinian resistance, determination, and peace, said Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist and member of YAS. Amro said that a group of Palestinian and foreign activists organize each year in Hebron at the end of October to protect Palestinian olive harvesters from Israeli settlers.
Israeli forces detain 15 Palestinians in Jerusalem ahead of Jewish holiday
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 2 Oct — Israeli forces raided several homes in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City before dawn on Sunday, detaining at least 15 Palestinians for several hours before releasing them and banning most of them from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Nasir al-Qaws, the director of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) in Jerusalem said Israeli forces detained Zahra Qaws, and 14 other Palestinian youths who were later released. Of the 15 who were detained, 12 were banned from Al-Aqsa for 15 days. Zahra Qaws and two others identified as Khalid Mihalis and Taysir Ajaj were released on the condition that they return for interrogation later Sunday morning.
Elsewhere, al-Qaws reported that a group of Israeli settlers assaulted eight cleaners who were working in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. According to al-Qaws, the settlers held the Palestinians at gunpoint and physically assaulted them. The arrests and assaults came on the first day of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, amid calls by right-wing Jewish organizations for Israelis to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound after they received assurances from the Israeli army that entry would be secured for every Jewish person wishing to visit the holy site, according to al-Qaws.
Palestinians commemorate anniversary of killing 13 protesters in Israel
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 Oct — Palestinians in Israel on Saturday commemorated the 16th anniversary of the killing of 13 civilians by Israeli forces in October 2000 during a series of Palestinian protests in northern Israel at the onset of the Second Intifada. [Al Jazeera: Those killed had been demonstrating against the visit of Ariel Sharon, the then-Israeli prime minister, to al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.] A statement released by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel condemned Israel’s continued oppression and discrimination of Palestinian citizens of Israel. “Today, we reaffirm that Israel’s policy of depriving us of our right to live a natural life in our homeland and in the land of our ancestors will not be forgotten nor forgiven,” said Muhammad Baraka, head of the committee and former member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. The Palestinian citizens of Israel who were shot dead by Israeli police during the October 2000 events were killed as a result of the Israeli “mentality of war, occupation, and racism,” Baraka said, during visits organized by the committee to burial sites of the slain Palestinians. Organizers of the commemoration arranged the parade, which first visited the grave of Rami Gharra in the village of Jet, followed by the grave of Ahmad Siyam in the village of Muawiya. The parade was to continue Um al-Fahm to visit Muhammad Jabarin’s grave, and on to Nazareth to visit the shrines of Iyad Lawabna, Omar Akkawi, and Wisam Yazbek. In Kafr Kanna, the committee will visit the grave of Muhammad Khamaysi, before heading to Kafr Manda, the location of Ramiz Bushnaq’s burial. The visits were to continue to ‘Arraba, where Alaa Nassar and Asil Asila were buried, and finally to Sakhnin to visit the shrines of Imad Ghanayim and Walid Abu Salih. Following the visits, a central demonstration is to be held in Sakhnin at 4 p.m. The Sakhnin Parents Association has also announced that educational institutions in the city will be closed on Saturday to commemorate the anniversary.
Prisoners / Court actions
After weeks of violent raids, Israel charges 6 Palestinian with joining ISIS
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Oct — Israeli police said on Sunday that six Palestinian residents of the Shu‘fat refugee camp and the neighboring village of ‘Anata in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem have been indicted for being involved with the Islamic State group (ISIS) and planning to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel and Jerusalem, following weeks of violent detention raids into the camp. According to a statement from Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri, which came after the lifting of an Israel-issued gag order on the case, the Jerusalem District Prosecution filed the indictments after a month-and-a-half-long investigation by police and Israel’s internal security agency the Shin Bet. Al-Samri did not specify in her statement when the suspects were detained, though Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported the arrests were made some 10 days ago. The charges against them reportedly included attempting to aid an enemy during war, membership in an illegal organization, membership in a terror organization, and aiding a terror group. The six Palestinians, al-Samri said, were involved in an “terrorist cell” affiliated with ISIS aiming to plan attacks inside Israel on behalf of the group, with a focus on Western Jerusalem. The cell allegedly consisted of two levels and was operated under a leader who provided the “religious background” for the cell and issued teachings that included ISIS’ ideology and agenda, according to al-Samri. Haaretz identified the mastermind as 29-year-old Ahmad Shweiki, who set up the network in 2015, according to the indictment. According to Haaretz, the men also stand accused of attempting to reach Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula via Israel, and Syria via Jordan and Turkey to join forces with ISIS fighters there. They however reportedly failed to make it past the borders. Haaretz listed a number of the attacks allegedly planned by the cell, which included as targets a beach in Tel Aviv, Teddy Stadium in southwest Jerusalem, and government buildings. They had also reportedly saved 1,000 shekels ($266) to finance the alleged attacks….
2 Palestinian prisoners enter 9th day of hunger strike
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Oct — Two Palestinian prisoners entered their ninth day of a hunger strike on Monday in protest of being held by Israel without trial or charges, according to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer. Anas Ibrahim Shadid, 20, and Ahmad Abu Farah, 29, were both detained on Aug. 1 and placed in administrative detention on a six-month sentence in Israel’s Ofer prison. Shadid and Farah launched their hunger strikes along with 22-year-old Omar al-Hih, who was detained on Sept. 15th. However, al-Hih suspended his hunger strike on Saturday after a reaching a deal with Israel not to renew his administrative detention. Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence, is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.
Former hunger-striking prisoner Malik al-Qadi returns home
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Oct — Hundreds of friends, family members and supporters celebrated on Sunday the return home of Palestinian prisoner Malik al-Qadi, who was released from Israeli custody on Sept. 24 after conducting a 68-day hunger strike. The head of the Association for Freed Prisoners in Bethlehem, Muhammad Hamida, said in a statement that celebrations started on the main road near al-Ubeidiya east of the city of Bethlehem, as al-Qadi arrived from Ramallah after spending a week in the hospital recovering from his more than two-month hunger strike. Al-Qadi met with Sanaa Balboul, the mother of Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul, two Palestinian prisoners who ended their respective 77- and 79-day hunger strike the same day al-Qadi. “The meeting was very emotional,” Hamida said. Celebrators then marched to al-Qadi’s home in the Hindaza area in southeastern Bethlehem, where a number of speeches were delivered congratulating al-Qadi and his family and applauding Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody, especially those holding hunger strikes. “Al-Qadi triumphed in the battle of empty stomachs,” Hamida said in a speech on behalf of Association for Freed Prisoners. Al-Qadi ended his hunger strike on Sept. 21, along with Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul, after an agreement with the Israel Prisons Service not to renew their administrative detentions. The agreement set the release of Muhammad and Mahmoud al-Balboul for Dec. 8, while Malik al-Qadi was initially set to be released on Sep. 22, with all three of their administrative detentions not to be renewed. The three had initially launched their hunger strikes amid a mass movement across Israeli prisons in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoner Bilal Kayid, who after 71 days suspended his hunger strike after striking a deal with Israel to end his administrative detention sentence. He was reportedly set to be released on Dec. 12. Kayid was one of the most high-profile hunger strikers since Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq came near death during a 94-day hunger strike protesting his administrative detention order, before he was finally released in May.
Lawyer: Palestinian prisoner tortured in Israeli custody
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 Oct — A Palestinian prisoner has been tortured in Israeli custody during a 33-day interrogation period, a lawyer for the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement on Monday. According to PPS, 65-year-old Fayez Attar, from the Gaza Strip, was detained in June. Over the course of 33 days while being “interrogated” by Israeli officers, Attar said he was exposed to multiple forms of physical and psychological torture, including severe beating, verbal abuse, and prolonged handcuffing. He was then placed in prison cells with “pro-Israel informants,” another tactic used by Israel to extract confessions from Palestinian political prisoners. While being held, prison authorities continued to beat him, and also covered his head with a bag that almost suffocated him, according to the PPS statement. Attar is married and has nine children, one of whom was killed by Israeli forces, PPS said. Rights groups have long criticized Israel for the mistreatment of Palestinians in Israeli jails, as well as the illegality of their imprisonment. Meanwhile, Israeli doctors working in Israeli prisons have been condemned for their complicity in the torture of Palestinian prisoners during interrogations, in violation of medical ethics and international law.
Closures / Restrictions on movement
Israel imposes ‘general closure’ on Palestinian territory for Jewish holiday
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Oct — Israeli authorities announced Saturday evening that a general closure would be imposed on all passage between the blockaded Gaza Strip and Israel, as well as between the occupied West Bank and Israel, over the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. According to a statement from Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri, the closures began one minute after midnight on Sunday Oct. 2, and are to last until one minute before midnight on Tuesday Oct. 4. During the closure, only humanitarian, medical, and exceptional cases will be allowed to cross, pending approval from COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in Palestinian territory, al-Samri added. The closures come after Israeli authorities also canceled Friday’s weekly visit for Gazan worshipers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem due to the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres being held that day in Jerusalem.
Israel closes Ibrahimi Mosque to non-Jewish worshipers over Jewish holidays
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 2 Oct — Israeli authorities have decided to deny Muslim worshipers and non-Jewish visitors entry to the Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron for seven non-consecutive days in October, the Palestinian Minister of Endowment and Religious Affairs said on Sunday. Yousif Ideis told Ma‘an 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. Oct. 3 and 4 correspond to the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, while Oct. 12 is Yom Kippur, Oct. 16 to 23 correspond to the holiday of Sukkot, and Oct. 25 is Simchat Torah. Ideis added that dozens of Israeli settlers “stormed” the Ibrahimi Mosque under military protection on Saturday night and performed Jewish prayers both in the part of the mosque allocated for Jews and the one reserved for Muslims. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that they were looking into reports of the upcoming closures, and confirmed that Jewish worshipers escorted by security forces had entered the Ibrahimi Mosque overnight … 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.
Bank of Ireland shuts down anti-Israel BDS accounts
JPost 3 Oct by Benjamin Weinthal — The Bank of Ireland—the country’s oldest financial institution—shut down the accounts of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). The termination of the pro-BDS group’s accounts took place in Ireland and Northern Ireland in late September, according to a Sunday account in the Irish news outlet RTÉ. A spokesman for the Bank of Ireland wrote The Jerusalem Post on Monday saying that they “cannot comment in relation to customer accounts.” According to the RTÉ, the PSC said the bank closed its accounts because it defined transfers to Palestinian Territories as high-risk. The PSC said its transfers funds to a factory in the West Bank. The plant produces Palestinian scarves that the PSC buys to promote solidarity, wrote the RTÉ. PSC had held accounts at the Bank of Ireland for 15 years. The Irish pro-Palestinian group opened a new account with the Allied Irish Banks (AIB). A Post press query to the AIB was not immediately returned on Monday. According to RTÉ, the PSC believes it is vulnerable to a new closure … The SPC branch in Ireland is a hardcore BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) group targeting the Jewish State. According to its website it has launched campaigns to force divestment from Israel’s Mashav –the Agency for International Development Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs–and started a letter campaign from over 215 Irish artists to boycott Israel. The PSC website wrote it seeks to “support the awareness-raising to expose the contamination of the global diamond market with Israeli ‘blood diamonds.”’ In addition to the SPC’s call to boycott Israeli products, it aims to create an “Apartheid-Free Zone” in Ireland where Israeli goods are ostracized….
PA security officer arrested after criticizing Abbas’ participation in Peres funeral
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 1 Oct — Palestinian security forces arrested a Palestinian military liaison officer in his home in Jenin on Saturday, a day after he shared a post on his Facebook page criticizing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ participation in the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres. A member of Osama Abu Arab’s family told Ma‘an via telephone that large numbers of Palestinian security officers surrounded Abu Asab’s home on Saturday morning and took him into custody. The source highlighted that hours before Abu Arab was arrested, he was notified that he was suspended from his work as a major in the Palestinian Authority military liaison office. The military liaison is a unit with the Palestinian security forces responsible for coordinating security with Israel. The caller also said that the family believed Abu Arab was suspended from his work and arrested as a result of a post he published on his Facebook page asking Abbas to reconsider his decision to attend Peres’ funeral.
In his post, Abu Arab highlighted the irony of Abbas offering his condolences for Peres — “the founder of settlement activity” — in spite of the Palestinian president’s repeated condemnation of the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements. The post, which addressed Abbas directly, also listed a number of policies and military assaults against the Palestinian people that Abu Asab associated with Peres, who held several significant roles in Israeli politics and the military over the years. “Whether (Peres) was a terrorist or not, whether he invented of the policy of breaking bones during the First Intifada or not, whether he was involved in the Jenin refugee camp massacre, the massacre of the al-Yasmin neighborhood in Nablus, or the massacre of Qana — who is he that you are going to partake in his funeral while the majority of the people you represent oppose him? You can visit the mother of Yasser Hamduna, who died in Israeli custody, and ask her what she thinks. If she agrees, go. If she doesn’t, you will have the final word. But if you decide alone to partake in the funeral of a killer of our people, that would be a mistake. And if you made up your mind after consultations, you have been misled. There should be no personal or friendly relations with the occupier, as long as they continue with their arrogant policies against our people.“Reconsider your decision, sir.”
Abbas’s farewell to Israel’s Peres stirs controversy at home
GAZA (Reuters) 3 Oct by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is feeling a backlash at home over his attendance at the funeral of Israeli statesman Shimon Peres, who shared a Nobel prize for interim peace deals with the Palestinians. In Arabic postings on social media, critics of the Western-backed Abbas have focused on a view of Peres’s legacy that jars with his world acclaim as an architect of the landmark Oslo accords in the 1990s … the president of Egypt and king of Jordan, leaders of the only Arab countries to have signed peace treaties with Israel, stayed away, while Abbas’s main political rival, the Hamas Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, condemned his participation as having betrayed Palestinian principles. In the Arab world and social media, much mention was made of the 1996 Israeli shelling, when Peres was prime minister, of a U.N. compound in the village of Qana in south Lebanon … At the funeral, Abbas took a front-row seat – Palestinian officials said Peres’s family invited him – and shook hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was the president’s first visit to Jerusalem since 2010. But with peace talks with Israel frozen since 2014, there was no indication anything would come of the handshake and the few pleasantries Abbas and Netanyahu exchanged in the cemetery. The brief encounter drew largely positive headlines in Israel, but any political impact was muted by the onset at sundown on Friday of the Jewish New Year holiday. Anger continued to echo, however, among Arab critics. “Stay there, don’t come back,” Palestinian blogger Ali Qaraqea told Abbas in a Facebook video that had 345,000 views and 3,800 shares by Monday. However, commentator Bassim Barhoum, writing in the Palestinian Authority-run daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, said Abbas had sent a message of peace to the world. Netanyahu and far-right members of his cabinet “would have beat the drums and said he was not a partner for peace”, had he not attended, Barhoum said.
Musallam to Abbas: Look for a cave among Israeli thieves to live in
GAZA (PIC) 2 Oct — Father Manuel Musallam, pastor of the Latin Church in Gaza, has launched a scathing attack on Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas for his recent participation in the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres. In Facebook remarks on Saturday, Father Musallam started his message to Abbas with the famous popular adage saying that “everything is a debt or a loan, even eye tears.” “Did Sharon attend the funeral of Abu Ammar and lament him, Mr. President, in order for you to pay the debt with crocodile tears over Peres? Did the bells of Churches ring and were the sounds of the holy Qur’an recited from minarets in grief in order to convey your love to the house of the deceased Zionist who killed your people, occupied your land and sucked the blood of your martyrs?” He rhetorically questioned. “Today, as a result of your actions, Israel has really occupied the entire Palestine. Today, your national project collapsed along with the Palestinian Authority and all its institutions,” the Palestinian clergy said. “Today, you have been expelled from the free people’s hearts, so go look for a cave among Israel’s thieves to live in.”
Fatah Youth Movement at Birzeit demands Abbas’ resignation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Oct — The Fatah Youth Movement of Birzeit University on Saturday slammed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for his “humiliating” participation in the funeral of former Israeli president and “criminal” Shimon Peres, and demanded that Abbas step down as president. The statement released by the student youth movement came as the latest condemnation of Abbas, from Palestinians from across the political spectrum, for offering his condolences to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Peres’ passing at the funeral on Friday. The group said they were shocked by Abbas’ decision to attend the funeral for the “criminal Shimon Peres,” and accused the Palestinian president of meanwhile not attending funerals or offering his condolences for Palestinians slain by Israeli forces, and disregarding the suffering of Palestinian prisoners. “We condemn this humiliating participation, which is against the Palestinian people, and consider it a form of betrayal.” Their statement addressed Abbas by each of his three titles, as the general leader of the Fatah Movement, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The Fatah Youth Movement said that Abbas, as the general leader of Fatah, violated Article 12 in the movement’s constitution, which states the aim of “completely freeing Palestine and ending the Zionist occupation economically, politically, militarily, and culturally,” by attending Peres’ funeral….
Analysis // Election freeze prompts anger, conspiracy theories among Palestinians / Amira Hass
Haaretz 3 Oct — Israel, Arab states, Fatah and Hamas all had reasons to put the democratic process on ice, says a Fatah official. But according to a new poll, West Bankers mostly blame the PA, while the Gazans blame Hamas — The Palestinians aren’t happy with their High Court of Justice. Specifically, a clear majority opposes its justices’ decision to freeze the local elections that were scheduled for October 8. It’s true that only a handful of leftists showed up for a demonstration in front of the court on September 21. But several opinion polls conducted last week reflect a wider disappointment among the public about the decision. A poll by Awrad — the Arab World for Research & Development — found that 68.4 percent of Palestinians opposed the court ruling (71.6 percent in the Gaza Strip, compared to 66.5 percent in the West Bank). The results of the poll (conducted among 1,200 Palestinians in face-to-face interviews) show that, particularly in the Gaza Strip, there was great expectation that the municipal elections would help heal a social-institutional-political rift between the two regions. That’s why 67 percent of those questioned in Gaza said they were upset with the decision, compared to 50 percent in the West Bank. In a society where elections are rare and political representatives are usually immovable and detached from the public, opinion polls play a particularly important role in public debate. That’s the view of Awrad President Dr. Nader Said, who presented the results on Wednesday. Interest and enthusiasm for the elections had only been increasing among the public in the almost-three months since the Ramallah government announced plans to hold them. And the Central Elections Commission had meticulously made all necessary preparations, until it published the candidates’ names and names of all the 787 West Bank slates and 87 in the Gaza Strip. Suddenly, though, two petitions filed in the Palestinian High Court in early September — by the Palestinian Bar Association, which is affiliated with Fatah, and a Nablus lawyer also identified with Fatah — overturned the election plans. Little wonder Hamas accused Fatah of panicking at the prospect of losing in major towns in the West Bank, and of using legal arguments to try and conceal its political motives … Both petitions claim that Hamas’ courts in Gaza are illegal and that their judges have not been appointed with presidential approval. But this issue was raised at the outset, and a senior Fatah member (from the younger generation) told Haaretz that President Mahmoud Abbas himself had decided to recognize the status quo: that the courts and police in Gaza would operate as necessary during the electoral process. The Central Elections Commission also relied on this acceptance of the status quo. … In their initial decision, the justices included the fact that no elections were planned for East Jerusalem. Yet the court could have offered a positive solution, believes Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a veteran political activist and founder of the Palestinian National Initiative….
Bethlehem Diaspora Convention launches
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Oct – The inaugural Bethlehem District Diaspora Convention launched on Saturday morning, a three-day convention that seeks to connect expatriates originating from Bethlehem with their homeland. The event was held at the Bethlehem Convention Palace near the historic Solomon’s Pools south of the city under the banner of “A Return to Roots,” attended by the Bethlehem district diaspora community. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was scheduled to deliver a speech at the conference later on Saturday afternoon. Eighty-five Palestinian expatriates from Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour who reside abroad are to partake in the three-day convention. They include residents of Chile, Peru, El Salvador, Honduras, Bolivia, Guatemala, Argentina, and the United States. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki described the convention in a speech as “an opportunity to revive ties and relations between expatriates and their families.” He added the ministry would send exploratory missions to Peru, Argentina, El Salvador, and Guatemala to brief Palestinians living there about investment opportunities in Palestine. Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun said her city would have a bright future thanks to efforts by the city’s expatriate community, while Beit Jala’s mayor William Shaer highlighted the seizure of Palestinian land in Beit Jala as a result of the construction of Israel’s wall in the Cremisan Valley. Palestinian expatriates from the Bethlehem district living in Latin American countries and the United States are believed to be the largest Palestinian communities among the global diaspora.
Tourism Ministry: Bronze Age cemeteries discovered in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Oct — The Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said on Saturday that an “important archaeological discovery” was made in the Bethlehem area in the southern occupied West Bank. The statement highlighted that cemeteries dating back to the Bronze Age were found on a hill known locally as Jabal Thahir south of the city of Bethlehem. Excavators were preparing a construction site where the Palestinian Authority (PA) intends to build a Bethlehem headquarters for the National Security Services, before people noticed signs demarcating an archaeological site. After being notified, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities sent a team to begin excavations, and they uncovered several cemeteries dating back to the Bronze Age. Excavations were still ongoing at the site and initial results suggested that a very important discovery would be made, according to the ministry.
Musical kindergarten offers future to Palestinian children
Palestine Monitor 27 Sept by Andrea Valentino — It took me a while to find the Edward Said Musical Kindergarten. It slouches on a battered Ramallah side street, just off the main road to Nablus. Most people looked blank when I asked for directions. To get in, I had to drag back a rusty latch that opened the garden gate. Behind is the kindergarten: stout and yellow, with a concrete wall protecting it from the stray cats prowling on the street. A few trees provide some shade. Much of Ramallah looks like this. But if the building looks nondescript, what happens inside makes the kindergarten completely unique. The most striking thing about the school is its educational ethos. As the headmistress, Fida, explains, the kindergarten is not a “music school” in the typical sense. Other schools in Ramallah teach music. But the kindergarten, with its twenty-five pupils, is different: “We have lessons with two teachers, the music teacher and the subject teacher together in the classroom. We [teach] the alphabet and numbers through music.” Everything the children do, Fida continues, “is connected to music.” After getting up their strength at snack time, gorging on fruit and drinking water, the children showed me what Fida means. Before I could even sit down, they sang a song welcoming me to the school in Arabic. With a piano providing dramatic accompaniment, the children then learnt about the seasons. In ‘winter’ they burrowed into the floor, while in ‘spring’ they jumped up and spread their arms like trees in blossom. Sunrise is explained, meanwhile, through the use of gradually rising scales….
Palestinian Investment Fund launches first cement factory
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Oct — The Palestine Investment Fund (PIF), the investment arm of the Palestinian Authority, launched phase one of the new cement factory on Saturday, the first in the Palestinian areas. Ceremonies were held on this occasion, at Jaser Palace, in Bethlehem, under the patronage of President Mahmoud Abbas and in the presence of PIF chairman of the board Mohammad Mustafa. The ceremony was also attended by Louai Kawas; chief executive officer of Sanad Construction Industries Company, a PIF-owned company in charge of the cement factory. “Sanad Construction Industries Company was established in 1994 for the purpose of meeting the needs of the Palestinian construction market such as the provision of building materials,” said PIF on its website, according to the PNN. It will lead the efforts of investment in industrial and production sectors related to construction industries, particularly provide cement to the Palestinian market, it explained. Investment in the factory is expected to reach $310 million. Officials believe that once the factory starts production, in about two years, it will be able to provide 90 percent of the Palestinian construction market needs. Currently, cement is being bought from Jordan and Israel.
Arab-American comedy: Making America laugh again
Al Jazeera 3 Oct by Mohammed Jamjoon — When the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival was founded in 2003, it was no easy feat, but not for the reasons you might think. “The first year was the most difficult and it wasn’t even a race thing or a bigotry thing,” Maysoon Zayid, festival cofounder, told Al Jazeera. “Comedy club owners just didn’t think that Arab Americans would draw a crowd.” Zayid, the Palestinian-American comedian and actress, said clubs in New York City simply did not want to take a risk on them. “We found one club that did, which was called New York Comedy Club, and we sold out in like minutes. So now the comedy club supports us because they know that we draw a good crowd.” Now in its 13th year, the festival, which runs from September 29 to October 1, and features more than 20 comedians, is an overwhelming success, Zayid said. “It’s not just like Arabs coming to laugh with Arabs. It’s not comedy that only an Arab person can get, these are amazing professional comedians. And some of these guys and gals have been doing this for a decade with us. So we’re like a family reunion and I think the audience senses the love.” Zayid, who gained international prominence in 2014 with her very popular TED talk about, among other things, living with cerebral palsy, is constantly tackling stereotypes through her humour. She said the main idea behind the festival was to highlight Arab-American talent – from actors to writers, comedians to filmmakers … This year’s festival, entitled Make America Laugh Again, is not shying away from the toxic political climate in the US. Its logo even features a mascot that bears more than a passing resemblance to Trump, a camel named Jamal D Hump….
Jordanians turn off the lights to protest gas deal with Israel
Ever since the announcement last week that an American-Israeli consortium had signed a deal to export gas to Jordan, the protests in the kingdom haven’t ceased. After protests and demonstrations on Friday in Amman with the slogan “The gas deal is an occupation,” opponents on Sunday night chose to turn off their lights for an hour. The $10-billion contract was signed with the National Electric Power Company of Jordan (NEPCO) and would provide 8.4 million cubic meters of gas to Jordan per diem over 15 years with an option of 1.4 million supplementary cubic meters. Friday, following Muslim prayers, hundreds protested in the capital against “the importation of gas from the Zionist enemy” after being encouraged to do so by professional syndicates and political parties that also call to cancel the peace treaty with Israel. “The Jordanian people is free; the Zionists’ gas is a disgrace.” A social-media campaign called that citizens turn off their lights from 9 to 10pm to protest the controversial deal. Many uploaded pictures of themselves lit by candles to show their participation with a hashtag meaning “The enemy’s gas is an occupation.” The Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood that just reintegrated into the Jordanian parliament, denounced on Monday “the unjustified obstinacy of the government in the Zionist entity’s gas, knowing that this product is stolen from the waters of occupied Palestine.” Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Dr. Jawad Al-Anani, who attended Israeli statesman Shimon Peres’s funeral on Friday, commented on Monday morning, “The government is aware of the popular opinion relating to the deal, but it is acting purely economically. There are no political issues in the deal.” He also pointed out that the deal was signed between NEPCO and Noble, an American part of the consortium.