Israelis ‘train with stun grenades’ among civilians
Al Jazeera 19 Oct — Israeli border police carried out stun grenade training in the Palestinian neighborhood of al-‘Issawiya in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, a new video purports to show. The Hebrew-language video, which was filmed on the evening of September 28 by a Palestinian resident of the town, was released on Sunday by the Israeli daily, Haaretz. In the recording, the neighbourhood, home to around 16,000 people, is quiet, raising questions as to why border police decided to practise there with the risk of provoking tensions. One officer is seen teaching another how to operate the grenade. “Throw lower,” he tells him. The trainee officer detonates the grenade between the homes and is praised for a “good job” before he walks away with the rest of the officers. “As you can see, he is teaching him how to throw a stun grenade between the houses rather than taking him [the trainee officer] to an open area,” Mohamed Abu al-Hummus says in the video as he is filming. The officers warn Abu al-Hummus to stay at least eight metres away and threaten to arrest him if he continues filming and “bothering” them. Like the rest of East Jerusalem, al-‘Issawyia was illegally annexed by Israel in 1967. Due to the village’s strategic location, on the E-1 corridor that links Jerusalem to the mega-settlement of Ma’ale Adumim in the West Bank, Israel has regularly confiscated ‘Issawiya land. The East Jerusalem village has been a regular target of Israeli police violence. Border police are officially part of Israel’s national police but they also regularly carry out crackdowns, arrests, raids and even killings in Palestinian neighbourhoods of the occupied territories. “I want the whole world to see how [the Israeli officer] is training another to throw stun grenades in the area. He’s letting him practise how to throw grenades on us [civilians] in the village,” continued Abu al-Hummus. “No one is throwing stones. As you can see, they are using force with us for no reason.” Haaretz quoted Israeli police as saying the officers were under attack by rocks and firebombs, although the claims contradict the video, which shows no clashes at the time it was filmed … Salam Mheisen, a resident and activist of al-‘Issawiya, says many of the Israeli army raids carried out there are part of the training that the police or army do. “Either they [police] come to arrest people or they’re just doing rounds to explore the area. The construction of houses is very random here, so there are many small and narrow roads that the army and police face difficulty entering,” Mheisin told Al Jazeera. “They practise in case when clashes do happen, they know where to come from and target us.” Such training is not unique to East Jerusalem; it also occurs throughout the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, according to the al-Haq human rights organisation based in the West Bank city of Ramallah…..
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli forces kill Palestinian woman at Nablus checkpoint after alleged stabbing attempt
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Israeli forces shot and killed a young Palestinian woman at the Zaatara military checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Wednesday after she allegedly attempted to stab Israeli border police. The slain woman was identified by local sources as 23-year-old Rahiq Shaji Birawi, from the village of Asira al-Shamaliya north of Nablus city. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Birawi approached Israeli border guards stationed at the Tappuah junction — the Israeli term for the area around the checkpoint — when they fired warning shots into the air. After she “ignored their directives and their calls for her to stop,” Birawi allegedly pulled out a knife, and Israeli forces opened live fire and “neutralized” her. Al-Samri first said that the woman “seemingly” died, and confirmed her death a short time later. The head of Asira al-Shamaliya’s local council, Nasser Jawabra, told Ma‘an that Birawi “had never been affiliated to any political parties,” and said that she was married to a man currently residing in the United States. Jawabra said that Birawi’s father was detained by Israeli forces at a military checkpoint near Tulkarem as he returned home from his construction job after being notified of his daughter’s death. Birawi became the 234th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers since a wave of violence spread across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015.
Updated: Palestinian dies from wounds suffered in 2007
IMEMC 20 Oct — Palestinian medical sources at the al-Makassed hospital in occupied East Jerusalem have reported that a young man died on Thursday at dawn from very serious wounds he suffered in 2007, after undercover Israeli soldiers shot him with live fire in Ramallah, in the central West Bank. The sources stated that Mahmoud Jamal Jouda, 23, was only 14 when was shot by soldiers in an army helicopter, and remained in a very [serious] condition, suffering constant complications and deterioration in his health condition. He was shot in the spine, and the bullet was lodged in his spine, causing paralysis. Jouda died while receiving treatment at the al-Makassed hospital, in at-Tour, in occupied Jerusalem; he had suffered multiple gunshot wounds. His father, Jamal, said that Mahmoud was only 14 when he was shot in his spine and continued to suffered complications, and that he was moved to the Palestine Medical complex in Ramallah, before he was transferred to an Israeli hospital due to the seriousness of his condition. The child was later transferred to a rehabilitation center due to his paralysis, and was regularity treated in Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian hospitals, due to various complications, including pressure sores and infections, and also underwent colostomy surgery. His family is from the Gaza Strip, and moved to the West Bank in 2007, after the internal armed conflict between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza. His father is currently trying to transfer his body to Ramallah, in order to conduct proper burial ceremonies, and called on the Palestinian Authority to help by contacting the Israeli side in order to facilitate the transfer and the needed coordination.
Army injures one Palestinian in Nablus, invades homes in Qaryout
IMEMC 20 Oct — Israeli soldiers shot and injured, on Thursday at dawn, a young Palestinian man, during clashes that took place after dozens of soldiers and settlers invaded Nablus, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank. The army also invaded homes in Qaryout village, south of Nablus. Local sources said clashes took place near Qabr Yousef (Joseph’s Tomb) area, east of Nablus, after five Israeli buses, filled with settlers, and many Israeli army vehicles, invaded the area. They added that a young man, identified as Hamed Yahya Edrees, 23, from the Old Askar refugee camp, was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his head, and was moved to the Rafidia governmental hospital.
In addition, several army vehicles invaded Qaryout village, south of Nablus, before breaking into many homes and violently searching them. Member of the Qaryout Local council, Bashar Sidqy Qaryouti, [said] that the soldiers invaded his home, his brother’s property, adding that his brother, Yousef, is the deputy head of the local charitable society. Sidqy also stated that the soldiers invaded the homes of the society’s head, Mohammad Taher Mardawi, in addition to the home of Moayyad Salem, the head of a local athletic club, and the home of the village’s Imam, Jihad Salaheddin. The army told the Palestinians that “should they continue to support protests and activities against Israel’s colonies, they will be arrested, their institutions will be shut down, and their homes will be destroyed.
Israeli soldiers invade a print shop in al-Ram, confiscate its equipment
IMEMC 20 Oct — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday at dawn, a print shop in the al-Ram town, north of occupied East Jerusalem, violently searched it, and confiscated all of its equipment, and printed materials. The Israeli army released a statement confirming the invasion and confiscation, and also alleging that the print shop “produced incitement materials,” after printing posters of Misbah Abu Sbeih, who was killed by the army on October 9th after carrying out a drive-by shooting in Jerusalem, killing two Israelis and wounding six others. The army said it confiscated the equipment from the print shop, and also claimed to find more materials that were regarded as incitement, including posters located in Abu Sbeih’s home, and various homes that were invaded and searched by the military after the shooting.
Army says it arrested five Palestinians who carried out a shooting attack
IMEMC 20 Oct — On Tuesday evening, the Israeli army lifted a gag order on information regarding the arrest of five Palestinians from Ni‘lin village, west of Ramallah, who reportedly carried out a shooting attack targeting Israeli soldiers last week. The army identified four of the Palestinians as Barakat Khawaja, 39, Hamza Nafe‘, 20, Khalil Othman, 23, Mahmoud Khawaja, 24, while the fifth is under the age of 18, and his name was not released to the media. According to a report by the Israeli Radio, the Israeli Security Services found out while interrogating the Palestinians that they purchased weapons in the West Bank, and carried out a drive-by shooting attack targeting the army. It added that the army managed to locate the vehicle and the weapons used in the said attack.
Israeli settler teen arrested over attack on West Bank farmers
Haaretz 19 Oct by Yotam Berger — An 18-year-old Beit El resident was arrested Tuesday on suspicion he was involved in assaulting several Palestinian farmers near the West Bank settlement earlier this year. The teen was ordered held in custody until Thursday, although police had asked for a six-day remand. The young man, along with others, allegedly hit the Palestinians, residents of Dura al-Qara, with stones and sticks in May. No one was seriously hurt. There have been no other arrests. The suspect was convicted two years ago of setting a Palestinian home on fire. No one was hurt in that incident and he was sentenced to three months’ community service. Attorney Avichai Hajbi of the Honenu organization, who is representing the suspect, said his client denied he was involved in attacking the farmers, and that it was strange that police had asked for six days’ detention for a crime that allegedly took place nearly six months ago.
15-year-old Palestinian detained over Jerusalem rock-throwing incidents
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Oct — Three Israelis were “lightly injured” by rocks thrown at them in two separate incidents in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday, according to Israeli police, who responded by detaining a 15-year-old Palestinian suspect. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that two Israelis driving in a car sustained light injuries and that their front windshield was damaged after a rock was thrown at their vehicle. A short while later, she said, a third Israeli was lightly injured by a thrown rock near Lion’s Gate in the Old City. Israeli police “rushed to the scene” to conduct an investigation into the rock throwing, al-Samri said, which concluded in Israeli police chasing a 15-year-old Palestinian boy who allegedly threw rocks at Israeli forces as he tried to escape. He was ultimately apprehended and taken in for interrogation. The incident came as Israeli forces were already heavily deployed in the Jerusalem area, particularly the Old City, for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
Israeli forces detain 10 Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Oct — Israeli forces detained at least 10 Palestinians in raids from Monday evening to Tuesday at dawn in the occupied West Bank, in addition to 14 who were detained in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday afternoon, Israeli and Palestinian sources said. According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), five Palestinians were detained in the southern district of Hebron, identifying them as Munthir Saadi Karja, 16, Muhammad Mahmoud al-Saada, 35, Iyad Thiab Abu Qbeita, 42, Muhammad al-Qit, and Sami Dandis, 28. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that Karja and Saada were detained in the village of Halhul, while Abu Qbeita was detained in the village of Yatta. An IsraeIi army spokesperson told Ma‘an that two Palestinians — likely al-Qit and Dandis — were detained in Hebron city. She did not have records of detentions in Halhul or Yatta.
Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces closed a road between the Jabal Juhar and al-Kassara areas of the city of Hebron with concrete blocks on Monday evening. The Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that they would look into the reports of the closures.
Meanwhile, PPS reported that Tamer Issa Salah, 27, was detained in the Bethlehem district village of al-Khader, while three Palestinians — identified as Mahmoud Hassan Yousif, 29, Abdullah Muhammad Omar, 22, and Nizar Lutfi Khalaf, 32 — were detained in the Ramallah-area village of Budrus.In the northern West Bank city of Jenin, PPS reported that Israeli forces detained 19 year-old Salah Faris Abu al-Wafa.
Israeli forces detain 25 Palestinians, claim weapons uncovered in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Israeli forces detained at least 25 Palestinians during raids between Tuesday night and dawn Wednesday across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, with the Israeli army saying they uncovered a weapons manufacturing workshop during a raid into the Balata refugee camp in the northern district of Nablus. Israeli media sites reported that the raid into Balata sparked clashes between Israeli forces and local gunmen that left an Israeli officer shot and lightly injured, who was treated at the scene. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the overnight raid to Ma‘an, saying it was a “combined effort” between the army and Israeli intelligence, the Shin Bet. She added that she was aware of reports of the injured officer, adding that they were from the Shin Bet, and not the army, so could not confirm further details … There were no reports of detentions in the Balata refugee camp raid, which was documented in a video released by the Israeli army: (below).
Elsewhere in the Nablus district, Israeli forces detained Ali Issam Ziada and Muhammad Muhammad Ali Nassar from the village of Madama, according to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), which was confirmed by an Israeli army spokesperson who claimed the the two were operatives of the Hamas movement. Also in the north, PPS said that Israeli forces detained Nitham Khadraj, 26, and Rizq Muhammad Shreim, 35, in Qalqiliya City. The Israeli army confirmed only one detention in Qalqiliya. Israeli forces also reportedly found a gun and hundreds of bullets when they raided the village of Qatanna in the central Ramallah district and detained two youths, according to locals. The army confirmed the detentions. Also in the Ramallah district, PPS said Israeli forces raided the village of Beit Rima and detained Ubaida Barghouthi, which was confirmed by the Israeli army. Meanwhile, 15 Palestinians — including five minors — were detained in overnight raids in the occupied East Jerusalem villages of Silwan and al-Issawiya over alleged rock-throwing incidents, amid tensions in the Old City over the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. PPS also said that Israeli intelligence detained Khalid Jamil Barahma from Jericho on Tuesday evening after he was summoned by them for interrogation. In the Bethlehem area in the southern occupied West Bank, Israeli forces detained Abd al-Karim Shakarna, 20, and 14-year-old Muhammad Nuaman Yasin from the village of Nahhalin, both confirmed by the Israeli army.
‘I need you in jail’ – One man’s administrative detention typical of continued Israeli abuses
Palestine Monitor 13 Oct by Andrea Valentino — At the beginning of 2016, Abdullah* had a normal life. He was happily married and his wife was expecting a child. After finishing university in Jordan, he found a decent job as an accountant in a school. He drove a silver scooter to work, and drank coffee with his friends in Jerusalem on his days off. How quickly things can change. On March 20, after two years of grappling with Israeli bureaucracy, Abdullah had finally been given permission to visit the al-Aqsa mosque. And on that very same day, he was arrested near his home in East Jerusalem. The police had been expecting him. “’Abdullah give me your ID’” he recalls the policemen shouting. The policeman, says Abdullah, then “claimed he was hitting him” and Abdullah was promptly arrested. Abdullah was taken to a cell in Jerusalem, though the policeman seemed apologetic: “’I had to do this. But tomorrow you’ll take your freedom,’” Abdullah was promised. “But tomorrow I didn’t ‘take’ anything,” Abdullah scoffed. The arresting police officer claimed to have CCTV evidence of Abdullah assaulting him. But this first accusation was quickly forgotten. Instead, Abdullah explains, the authorities justified his detention based on a number of Facebook posts. “They used Facebook posts from four years ago; the most recent was two years ago,” he told Palestine Monitor. The Israeli military, which controls the Israeli administrative detention programme, claimed that these posts “incited violence.”….
Al-Aqsa / Joseph’s Tomb
Israeli police ban 8 Jewish worshipers from Al-Aqsa as tens of thousands visit Old City
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — More than a thousand people took to the tense Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Wednesday, when eight Jewish worshipers were evacuated from the holy site, as tens of thousands also gathered at the neighboring Western Wall on the third day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that the eight were banned from the site, as witnesses also reported seeing “several Israeli settlers” performing prayers outside of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in violation of long-standing agreements regarding non-Muslim worship at the site. Tens of thousands of people arrived from different parts of Israel and around the world to receive the high priest blessing at the Western Wall for Sukkot, which came after hundreds of worshipers had visited the site the day prior. According to the Islamic Endowment (Waqf) that controls Al-Aqsa, 295 Israelis “raided” the compound through the Moroccan Gate, which is controlled by the Israeli authorities, entering by groups under armed escort. Israel police said that 1,115 visitors entered the compound over the course of the day, which included foreigners, non-Muslims, and 275 Jews. Israeli police also seized the ID cards of Muslim worshipers before allowing them in. Israeli forces were heavily deployed across Jerusalem and occupied East Jerusalem in particular, while several streets were closed in order to secure the celebrations, severely restricting the movement of Palestinians residents as a helicopter circled above the city.
Why Israelis flock to small tomb in Nablus at night
Al-Monitor 19 Oct by Ben Caspit — If a stranger unfamiliar with the situation had shown up at Joseph’s Tomb on the night of Oct. 9, he would have a tough time understanding what was happening all around him. Vast military forces had taken up position across the southeastern outskirts of Nablus, one of the largest Palestinian cities in Samaria, in addition to all other positions in the area such as major intersections and along the access roads. These troops had gathered around a small stone complex with a tiny prayer hall topped with a white-painted dome and surrounded by a portico covered with Jerusalem stone. Military rotorcraft with cameras and other secretive observation and intelligence devices hovered overhead, while snipers and lookouts were stationed throughout all the surrounding high ground. Huge forces — consisting of the military, police and border patrol — spread out along all the roads leading to the complex, which was still completely empty. The Shin Bet and other security services’ counterterrorism units, including the elite Mista’arvim (Infiltration) counterterrorism units, were also involved in this exhaustive Israeli intelligence effort to secure the location before the zero hour arrived. This wasn’t some Israeli invasion of a major Palestinian city or even a large-scale operation to track down and arrest major terrorist suspects. The site in question was where — according to Jewish tradition — the bones of the biblical Joseph were buried after the ancient Israelites brought them from Egypt. It is one of the most sacred sites for Orthodox Jews, who are drawn to it by devout faith and feel an almost magnetic need to make pilgrimage to it, pray in the sanctuary and prostrate themselves before the tiny tomb. They do this while completely ignoring the dangers lurking around them. Dozens of buses carrying hundreds of Jewish worshipers were scheduled to arrive at the site on the night of Oct. 9. The event began at 11 p.m. and continued until dawn. It was not just a one-off, as it is a ritual that repeats itself at least once a month. Built on two adjacent green hills (Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, both sacred to the Samaritan community), Nablus is home to some 153,000 Palestinians and surrounded by another 60 Palestinian villages. It is considered one of the towns most hostile to Israel in the West Bank. For the past 20 years, Joseph’s Tomb has been a focus of friction, hostility and many bloody clashes between the two sides. Yet none of that has kept Jewish worshipers away. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are caught in the middle, between hundreds of thousands of Arabs (389,000 Palestinians live in the Nablus district) and hundreds of Jews. It does what it can to satisfy everyone, but that doesn’t always seem to work….
Israeli army carries out limited invasion into northern Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Oct — Israeli occupation tanks, on Wednesday morning, carried out a limited incursion into Beit Hanoun town, in the northern Gaza Strip. According to locals, four tanks have entered 50 meters into the region, and were reportedly leveling lands near the border, PNN reports.
Egypt opens Rafah crossing for 2nd time in a week
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Egyptian authorities on Wednesday morning opened the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip in both directions to permit the crossing of humanitarian cases just a few days following the crossing’s opening on Saturday. According to a spokesman for the Palestinian side of the crossing, Wael Abu Muhsin, the crossing would remain open for four consecutive days. Departure from the Gaza Strip, he added, would be prioritized in accordance with lists prepared by the Ministry of Interior in Gaza.
The Rafah crossing was also opened on Saturday for two consecutive days to allow passage for humanitarian cases and “stranded people.” The Palestinian Authority (PA) said in a statement Sunday that 783 Gazans were able to leave the coastal enclave via the crossing since it opened Saturday morning. Among those who traveled Saturday were 11 patients who were transported in ambulances for medical treatment abroad.
Egypt opens Rafah crossing with Gaza for second day
GAZA (Ma‘an) 20 Oct — Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt for the second of four consecutive days on Thursday. The border crossing authority reported that 624 Palestinian left Gaza on Wednesday, while 337 Palestinians arrived into Gaza Strip. Of the Palestinians allowed to enter the Gaza Strip were seven pilgrims who had been held by Egypt for nearly a month upon returning from the Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj in Saudi Arabia in late September. The pilgrims had reportedly been detained at the Cairo airport and questioned on their alleged links to militant groups in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities denied entry to 48 Palestinians for unknown reasons on Wednesday.
Israeli army unprepared for 2014 Gaza tunnel threat: report
AFP 18 Oct — An investigation has found that Israel’s military was unprepared for the threat posed by tunnels dug by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in the 2014 war between them, reports said Tuesday. The findings are likely to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has faced criticism from political rivals over allegations that not enough was done to prepare for the tunnel threat. Militants in Gaza, run by Islamist movement Hamas, used the tunnels during combat in the 2014 war, including to carry out cross-border attacks. Tuesday’s reports cited leaked findings from an internal military investigation, which was not released publicly. Israel’s army radio said the probe found that military brigades were not prepared for the magnitude of the threat the tunnels posed. It also said that the “enemy’s command and its capacity to fire rockets remained intact continuously until the end of the operation and the number of Hamas victims was lower than would have been expected given the firepower used”. Israel’s army said in a statement late Tuesday: “The conclusions of the investigation have been implemented.” “The IDF recognises underground warfare as a major challenge in modern warfare, and has placed it as its top priority,” it said, referring to the Israeli military. Despite the findings, the Gaza Strip suffered an overwhelmingly higher number of victims and amount of damage in the 2014 war. The 50-day conflict killed 2,251 Palestinians and left 100,000 homeless. On the Israeli side, 73 people were killed, most of them soldiers….
The anguish and anger on Gaza’s walls
GAZA STRIP (EI) 18 Oct by Sarah Algherbawi — Twenty meters high and 15 meters wide, the mural on a wall of a 12-floor building in Gaza City is unmissable. The artwork, “Besieged Childhood,” has garnered renown for its creators. It depicts a child wearing a keffiyeh scarf, a melancholy expression on her face, her hands wrapped around two bars, like those of a prison cell. Its location, on the Zafir 9 Tower in an upmarket area of Gaza City, is deliberate. During Israel’s 2014 assault, fighter jets destroyed one of Zafir 9’s sister towers, Zafir 4, in a bombing denounced as a war crime by Amnesty International. No one was killed, though more than a dozen were injured and the homes of more than 40 families were destroyed. More than 200 residents were left homeless in what Amnesty described as an operation with “no military justification.” “Besieged Childhood,” painted in 2015, references this wanton destruction, said one of its four creators, Belal Khaled, 25….
Gaza farmers rebound despite Israeli siege
Mondoweiss 19 Oct by Sarah Algherbawi — Yasser Shamallakh, 58, stopped growing fruit during the first Intifada, but two years ago he started again and has found success growing the crop, as have many other farmers in Gaza according to official figures. Although having been under a severe Israeli siege between 2007 and 2014, a combination of good weather and a lifting of Israeli restrictions has helped Palestinian agriculture bloom in recent years. Shamallakh, whose father was also a farmer, bought land in south Gaza, near Khan Younis. He and other farmers are raising the self-sufficiency of Palestinians in fruit production, a cash crop … In spite of all the challenges, Gazan farmers want to grow more fruit crops. Already 80 thousand acres of fruits and vegetables provide for 80 percent of Gazan consumption and employ 40,000 workers across 20,000 farms. Olives form the majority of fruit cultivation, covering 36,000 acres. Citrus accounts for another 16,000. All told, that’s 13,000 tons of fruits and vegetables set for Europe, the West Bank and Arab countries. In terms of watermelon, Gaza is doing remarkably well. In two years, Gaza has not had to import the fruit because of self-sufficiency and trade disputes. Gaza cultivated 5 thousand acres of watermelon last season and produced about 30 thousand tons of watermelon. The biggest obstacle is the Israeli siege of Gaza, which restricts imports and exports and keeps out medicines for plants. Second to that, there’s the high salt content of the groundwater….
Two Palestinian prisoners suspend hunger strikes over administrative detention
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Two Palestinian prisoners have ended their 10-day hunger strikes in protest of being held by Israel in administrative detention, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Wednesday. According to a PPS lawyer, Muhammad Khatab, 28, and Majdi Uweidat, both residents of Jericho, reached an agreement with Israeli authorities, who reportedly promised to end their administrative detention — internment without trial or charges. The two hunger strikers were being held in Ofer prison in the central occupied West Bank.
Committee: ‘Overwhelming majority’ of Palestinian minors in Israeli custody are ‘tortured’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Oct — The “overwhelming majority” of Palestinian minors held in Israel’s Megiddo and Ofer prisons have been tortured during their detention and interrogation, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said Tuesday, amid a marked increase in the incarceration and mistreatment of Palestinian children by Israel. Lawyer for the committee Luay Ukka said in a statement that, after a visit to Ofer prison, he had noticed that the number of juvenile prisoners there had noticeably increased over the past month. As of mid-October, he said, the number of Palestinian prisoners in Ofer under 18 years old reached 28, 14 of whom were under 14 years old. According to rights group Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP), Israel has also dramatically increased the use of administrative detention — internment without charge or trial — against minors. According to DCIP, over the last year 19 Palestinian minors were administratively detained. Prior to October 2015, Israel had reportedly not held a Palestinian child from the occupied West Bank in administrative detention since December 2011. “The overwhelming majority” of juvenile prisoners held at Ofer have been “tortured, beaten, and humiliated” during the raids carried out by Israeli forces to detain them as well as during their interrogation, according to Ukka. Ukka also said that the majority of juvenile prisoners at Ofer prison were from ‘Aida refugee camp and the town of al-‘Ubeidiyya, both in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem.
Israeli court sentences Palestinian child to prison
MEMO 15 Oct — Israel’s Central Court in Jerusalem approved yesterday a sentence against 14-year-old Palestinian Muawiyyeh Alqam to more than six years in prison, a fine of $6,800 and an additional 3-year sentence suspended for ten months, Arab48.com reported. The sentence was announced after a deal between the Israeli public prosecutor’s office and the child’s lawyer after Israeli authorities indicted him on charges of “possessing a knife and attempted murder.” Previously, an Israeli court ruled that Alqam had to stay in a closed Israeli reformatory, but he preferred to go to a prison with adult Palestinian prisoners. He was previously incarcerated in HaSharon Prison before being moved to Magiddo Prison. Israeli forces arrested Alqam and his cousin, Ali Alqam, 13, in a train station in Jerusalem after opening fire at them. Ali was wounded by after he was shot three times in the abdomen and his right hand. Both were arrested and charged with attempting to stab a security guard near the Pisgat Ze’ev settlement. During previous court hearings, Muawiyyeh told the Israeli judge that he was subjected to beatings during his transfer to the court and showed him clear effects on his hands and face, but the judge ignored his pleas.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Bedouin village caught up in Israeli settlement rift
AFP 19 Oct — Abu Youssef is tired. He has already seen his family home destroyed once and now faces a second demolition. But this time he has a controversial opt-out clause: agree to move his small Bedouin community less than a mile away, and Abu Youssef could get a brand new home with running water and electricity. The catch is that the offer comes from Israel, and Palestinian leaders and those concerned with Israeli settlement building are vehemently opposed. Any move, even if the 50 families who live in the tiny community of Wadi Abu Hindi agreed to it, would violate international law and could be disastrous for the Palestinian cause, they say. “We are between two sides,” Abu Youssef told AFP. It is a dilemma faced by other Bedouin communities in the West Bank, the Palestinian territory Israel occupied in 1967. Palestinian leaders say moving Wadi Abu Hindi would amount to forcible transfer of a population by an occupying power — a breach of the Geneva Conventions — and could lead to more relocations. The village is located east of Jerusalem, where rights groups fear demolitions could eventually clear the way for further Israeli settlement construction. This could partly divide the West Bank between north and south while further isolating the territory from east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians see as their future capital. That scenario would make a contiguous future Palestinian state difficult to achieve. But for Abu Youssef, the issue is far more personal … Last year, the Israeli lawyer for the community, Shlomo Lecker, says he received an offer he felt he had to present to them. He previously fought many proposed relocations of Bedouins as they would be moved far away, imperiling their traditional agricultural lifestyles, he said. But this offer involved moving less than a mile to where many of their extended family members live. Infrastructure would be available and, crucially, they would be free from the threat of demolition. “Nobody wants to be transferred far away but if they can have a chance to build a village near where they come from that is good,” Lecker told AFP. Abu Youssef said Lecker has won numerous battles for them, so they took the offer seriously. He stressed they have not made a final decision, but added that personally he was “tired” and tempted. “We need water, we need electricity and we want to live,” Abu Youssef said. Israeli officials would not confirm details of the offer, but noted an agreement hadn’t yet been reached….
Israeli settlers use West Bank land as graveyard
MEMO 18 Oct — Israeli settlers in the illegal settlement of Ariel continue digging graves in the area behind the Separation Wall in the city of Salfit, Arab48 reported yesterday. Eyewitnesses reported to Arab48 that settlers from the second largest illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank dug many new graves, noting that there are now 180 in Salfit. Researcher Khalid Maali said that burying dead Jewish settlers in Salfit, which is identified by international law as occupied land, is a “clear violation” of international humanitarian law and all the other international conventions which ban settlements. Maali added that the practice of burying settlers in the area proves that Israel has no plans to withdrawn from the area in any negotiations. He noted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made this clear a couple of days ago when he said that the settlements of Ariel, Etzion, Ma’ale Adumim and Beit El would be annexed to Israel in any final-status negotiations.
More Palestinian lands threatened with confiscation
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 19 Oct by Aziza Nofal — Sixty percent of Palestinian lands in the West Bank risk confiscation by Israeli authorities under the absentee property and abandoned lands laws, which some Palestinian activists say were issued with the aim to expand Israeli settlements — The residents in east Ramallah have been waiting for the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice to issue a decision concerning the appeal submitted by the lawyer of the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din about a month ago. The appeal argues that the Israeli authorities’ confiscation of Palestinian lands based on the absentee property law is illegal. Fatima Ayyad, who owns 5 dunams (1.2 acres) near the Ofra settlement, east of the city of Ramallah in the central West Bank, is one of those residents. Ayyad, along with other landowners, started litigations Sept. 22 in a bid to restore the lands and annul the confiscation decision. “This land was a piece of a large lot, which was the property of my grandfather before it was passed on to my father and my uncles. My father passed away and three uncles moved to Jordan. In the 1970s, they lost their [Palestinian] IDs because they had been out of the West Bank for a long time. We have been taking care of and cultivating the land ever since they left,” Ayyad told Al-Monitor. She said that the Israeli authorities have gradually confiscated the land. Israeli soldiers would occasionally prevent Palestinians from accessing their lands, but in 2014, Israel imposed a complete ban on accessing the plots of land, preventing the owners from harvesting the olive trees and cultivating the land. On Aug. 8, a decision was issued to confiscate the land of the Ayyad family. Under the pretext of the absentee property law, Israel has confiscated thousands of dunams in the West Bank and Jerusalem….
Settlers erect tents in Hebron, force out shepherds
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Oct — Dozens of Israeli settlers on Sunday erected tents on Palestinian land located to the east of the town of Idhna, south of Hebron, chased Palestinian shepherds out, and prevented them from grazing their livestock in the area, according to local sources. Sources told WAFA correspondence that settlers erected three tents on Palestinian land, located near the Israeli settlement of Adora and built illegally on Palestinian land, where they performed Talmudic rituals to celebrate the Jewish holiday. Ali ‘Ajajneh, one of the town locals living in the area in tents and tin houses for the past 35 years, said settlers perform religious rituals in the area each year during the Jewish holidays, and prevent shepherds from grazing their livestock as well as deny them access to a water spring in the area, all under the protection of the Israeli army.
Israel stops renovation works in Old City of Hebron
MEMO 19 Oct — Israeli occupation forces stopped Palestinian workers from completing the renovation works in Hebron’s Old City in the south of the occupied West Bank, QudsPress reported yesterday. Hebron Rehabilitation Committee’s General Manager, Imad Hamdan, said that the Israeli occupation forces raided the Old City at noon yesterday and stopped the renovation works in Al-Qasaba, Khan Shahin and Al-Qazazeen neighbourhoods. According to QudsPress, the Israeli occupation forces forced Palestinian workers, who were from the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, to remove their equipment. “The Israeli ban on the renovation work happened suddenly,” Hamdan said, noting that the works had been ongoing for weeks. He said that the ban was likely an introduction to an “invasion” of the Israeli settlers to the Old City during the Jewish holidays. Since the start of this year, Hamdan said, the Israeli occupation carried out more than 30 attacks against the committee’s staff.
Palestinian refugees starved of clean drinking water by Israeli red tape
Palestine Monitor 17 Oct by Matt Broomfield — Denied access to clean water by the indifference of the Israeli authorities, the residents of ‘Aqabat Jaber refugee camp say their children are suffering permanent health damage. Mohammed is a camp resident and father, and regularly makes a three-kilometre trek to neighbouring Jericho to fill up gallon jugs of clean drinking water … The problem is as clear as running water, but muddied by the silt of bureaucracy. With the support of foreign aid from France, major pipes have already been laid through the West Bank’s oldest refugee camp. All that remains is to connect these to ‘Aqabat Jaber’s own pump and turn on the taps. According to Jamal Awwadat, the head of the camp’s Popular Committee, this work should take no more than a month. But until the Israelis give permission for the work to go ahead, the pipes will remain dry. “They said you cannot work here, you cannot build anything, you need permits from 13 different committees,” Jamal tells the Palestine Monitor. The camp’s estimated 10,000 residents have been kept waiting for three years, following an endless succession of delays and excuses Jamal views as deliberate: “the Israelis tie everything to politics.”
While the Israelis shuffle pieces of paper around, the refugees in the camp are forced to rely on a meager trickle of unsanitary water, provided at a premium by the Israeli company Mekorot. The state-owned company has been accused of operating a system of “water apartheid” by a French parliamentary report, systematically denying Palestinians access to this most basic of natural resources. “This water [provided by Mekorot]? If you tried to sell it in your country, no-one would buy it,” Jamal says. “If you tried to give it away for free, they wouldn’t take it.” … Jamal shows the Palestine Monitor how salt is crusted around pipes carrying Mekorot water through the camp, looking incongruously like icicles in the desert heat. As a result of this heavy saline content, doctors have warned that the camp’s children are suffering permanent damage to their vulnerable kidneys.
Rehabilitation of springs endangers Israeli ecosystems
[with photos] Haaretz 19 Oct by Moshe Gilad — The number of natural springs in Israel has, surprisingly, been growing rapidly. Hundreds of springs have been rehabilitated in recent years, and some have acquired pools that they never had before. Others now have places to sit and paths leading to them. And all attract large, enthusiastic crowds. But this ostensibly positive development has some serious downsides. At Ein Tayasim in the Jerusalem corridor, for instance, it’s been years since one could find the pool empty, and the crowds haven’t benefited the site. The tranquility is gone, and it’s sometimes very dirty. One reason why so many springs have been rehabilitated is that this has become a popular way to memorialize loved ones who died or were killed. The intentions, of course, are good: Families and friends rehabilitate a spring and then name it after their loved one. But the result isn’t always good for the environment. One notable example led to conflict this May between nature authority inspectors and relatives of Gavriel Hoter, who was killed in a terror attack. The family had set up a memorial area for Hoter in the Ein Jawiza nature reserve in the Golan Heights, including a pool that collected natural spring water. The inspectors said the pool’s walls prevented animals from drinking the water, so they destroyed it. There is also a political aspect to these rehabilitation efforts. Control over water sources has always been part of the battle for control over the land, and even the smallest springs are part of this process. Many springs once served Arab villages and still have Arab names. Developing them, changing the name and bringing in visitors are ways of demonstrating control over these sites … A recent report by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel said that often, pools are built directly over the wellspring, meaning there is no longer any natural flow from it. This seriously damages the ecosystem and destroys many ecological niches. Dozens of springs throughout the country have undergone renovation, the report said, but the problem “is particularly severe in the Jerusalem Hills, where there are virtually no springs left that human hands haven’t touched….
Palestinian refugees – Syria
Israel rejects Palestinian request to move ‘IS-threatened’ graves
AFP 19 Oct — Israel has turned down a request to transfer to the occupied West Bank graves of Palestinian leaders buried in Syria where their tombs are threatened by jihadists, officials said Wednesday. The Palestinians have sought to transfer the bodies after Islamic State (IS) group jihadists started to smash gravestones in the embattled Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk on the outskirts of Damascus. “We presented a request to the Israelis to allow us to move the bodies of three Palestinian leaders from a cemetery in the Yarmuk camp close to Damascus to Palestine,” Palestinian minister Hussein al-Sheikh told AFP. They were informed on Monday that the request was rejected, he said, confirming a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Israel’s defence ministry body that oversees civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories confirmed they had received a request but turned it down, without providing further details. Among the bodies the Palestinians wanted to remove was that of Khalil al-Wazir, better known as Abu Jihad, who was assassinated by Israeli commandos in Tunisia in 1988, as well as another senior PLO figure, Saad Sayil. IS destroyed gravestones in the cemetery on Sunday, according to the head of political affairs at the Syrian branch of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Anwar Abdel Hadi. “Daesh smashed gravestones in the ‘Martyrs’ Cemetery’ in Yarmuk,” charging they were non-believers,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the group whose fighters control most of the camp.
Six Palestinian refugees killed in Syrian army strike
GAZA (ALRAY) 19 Oct — Six Palestinian refugees , three women and a child among them, were killed Wednesday morning in bombing a civil car on Khan Askiakh road near Damascus, the Action Group of Palestinian in Syria reported. The group explained on its Facebook page that the regime army attacked the car with an Infrared homing [missile], killing all the people in it. Syrian regime forces monitor the road between Azzakyah and Khan Assaikh as a part of a plan to separate Ghouta from Damascus. Syrian regime warplanes waged seven air strikes against Khan Ashiakh camp Tuesday midnight , one of the strikes targeted the main road in the camp.
Mexico seeks to withdraw UNESCO vote, new session refused
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Oct — The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced that it will not hold a new vote on the Jewishness of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, proclaimed Israeli “Temple Mount”, despite Mexico changing its stance. Mexico, who voted Thursday in favor of the resolution that denies Israeli ties to the compound, has changed its mind, according to the PNN, under claims that the resolution refers to Jerusalem’s holy sites only by their Islamic names. It is reportedly seeking to withdraw its vote. Another resolution suggested to hold another vote. However, UNESCO decided not to hold it, while Mexican officials made an official statement announcing the renege. After announcing the possibility of holding a new vote, the UN received sharp criticism. This morning, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki expressed regret that the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, “chose to join chorus appeasing the PR bullying and media spin orchestrated by Israel, the occupying power, which attempts to shift the focus from Israel’s illegal and colonial actions in occupied East Jerusalem to issues irrelevant to the content and objectives of the resolutions adopted by UNESCO… “This is especially regrettable, since the Secretary General is well aware, including through various UN reports, of the dangerous situation in Jerusalem due to the illegal Israeli practices and policies,” Al-Maliki said in an official statement. “The resolutions adopted by UNESCO concerning Occupied Palestine aims to put an end to Israel’s dangerous and illegal actions against cultural property, including holy sites in Jerusalem, which undermine coexistence and tolerance. It addresses illegal Israeli practices in occupied East Jerusalem, including violations of the right of Palestinians – Christian and Muslim – to worship and access their holy sites in the occupied capital and elsewhere in Palestine. “Furthermore, the text of the resolutions clearly reiterates Jerusalem’s character as a city central to the three monotheistic religions. Willfully choosing to ignore these facts is regrettable and inexcusable,” he added. Al-Maliki concluded by saying that Palestine will continue to defend itself through available legal and multilateral fora:….
Why refugees in this West Bank camp are rebelling against the Palestinian Authority
BALATA REFUGEE CAMP (LA Times) 17 Oct by Joshua Mitnick — Sun-bleached posters of Palestinian militants adorn storefronts at the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank in tribute to those killed in an uprising against Israel that faded more than a decade ago. But rebelliousness remains in the camp today, much of it directed at the government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rather than the Israeli occupation. Palestinian authorities consider the camp on the edge of Nablus city a den of lawless gangs and illicit guns that is sowing instability throughout the area, and are trying to tame it. Many Balata residents, meanwhile, vow they won’t submit to authorities they accuse of corruption, brutality, collaboration with Israel, and the economic neglect of a neighborhood that is home to about 27,000 people living in an area less than one square mile. The tension has been deadly in some cases: Since June, four police officers have been killed by gunmen and four Nablus residents have died at the hands of police, according to the Independent Commission for Human Rights, a Palestinian human rights watchdog based in the West Bank, and the Nablus governorate. “The authority … says that we are living outside the law, producing weapons and carrying out executions,” said Ahmed Zaabour, 27, a camp resident who officials say runs a weapons dealing operation and is the most wanted crime suspect in Balata. “But they are the ones creating this atmosphere.”….
New initiative aims to protect Palestinian working women
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 18 Oct by Entsar Abu Jahal — In a bid to help women overcome the bitter situation plaguing the work environment, the Palestinian Ministry of Labor, in cooperation with the International Labor Organization, recently issued a guideline for the rights of working women in Palestine — The work environment in Palestine suffers from violations of labor rights in general and women’s rights specifically, as women are the weakest entity in their patriarchal society. Consequently, the Palestinian Ministry of Labor and the National Committee for Women’s Employment (NCWE) coordinated with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), with the support of the International Labor Organization, to launch the first Guideline for Women’s Employment Rights on Oct. 4 in Ramallah. The guideline took six months to complete, and it aims at instilling equality and social justice, eliminating gender-based discrimination at the workplace, improving the work environment and raising women’s awareness of their rights. NCWE coordinator and head of the Gender Unit at the Ministry of Labor in Ramallah Iman Assaf told Al-Monitor that the guideline was the result of the ministry’s inclination to increase working women’s awareness of their rights. Many of the women are not well-informed of the Palestinian Labor Law and the issued laws related to their rights and duties. Consequently, they keep mum about their employers’ violations, such as depriving them of leaves and increasing their work hours without paying them overtime….
Thousands of women rally for Israel-Palestinian peace
Ynet 19 Oct by Yael Freidson — Organization Women Wage Peace stage rally outside the President’s Residence in Jerusalem calling on both Palestinian and Israeli leaders to forge a peace agreement; speakers included Israeli female rabbis and former terror victims — Thousands of women demonstrated for peace outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening at an event entitled the “March of Hope.” The women called on both the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to take steps to reach a diplomatic agreement. Hadassah Froman, the widow of Rabbi Menachem Froman, and her daughter-in-law Michal Froman, who was wounded in a stabbing attack in 2015, attended the rally. “There is a lot of energy which will lead us on a new path—maybe even to change. I hope that it will be possible to see the connections and to see what can be done to create a solution,” Froman said. The women have marched in different places throughout Israel with people from every sector of Israeli society. They held a multi-faith prayer service at Qasr al-Yahud on the Israel-Jordan border in which 1,000 Palestinian women participated, along with hundreds of Jordanian women on the other side of the border. Head of the Peace Authorities in the Middle East Huda abu al-Arkub from Hebron called for a political agreement between the two sides. At the Jerusalem rally, she said “you have a partner. I’m standing here with Women Wage Peace to say loudly and strongly on behalf of the women of the region: enough! No more war, no more bloodshed, and no more discrimination. No more separation barriers between us!”
PHOTOS: Art festival explores Palestinian right of return
RAMALLAH (Al Jazeera) 14 Oct by Rich Wiles — The third edition of the Qalandiya International contemporary arts biennial drew global attention to the issue — For the majority of Palestinians, the concept of “return” is intrinsically linked to the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees in the diaspora. There are approximately eight million Palestinians who are “forcibly displaced persons”, according to the BADIL Resource Centre, a Palestinian NGO. However, on both national and international levels there remains a lack of political will and tangible action towards redressing the issue. Amid this grim reality, the third edition of the Qalandiya International contemporary arts biennial has taken place across historic Palestine and internationally. Although Qalandiya International explores concepts of “return” in various Palestinian and international contexts – which is particularly significant amid a global refugee crisis – the biennial’s curatorial statement begins with the question: “Can a word carry the cure to all the ailments, both past and present, of a tragedy? For us Palestinians, return has become the core antithesis to our Nakba.”
If Israel lets in Palestinian refugees will it lose its Jewish character? / Joshua Schreier & Mira Sucharov
The Forward 17 Oct — We watched with admiration as Hagai El-Ad of B’Tselem and Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now appeared recently before the U.N. Security Council to urge action against the Israeli occupation. The session was framed as a discussion of settlements in the context of “peace” and a “two-state solution.” But behind the occupation lurks an even more vexing issue: that of the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees. We feel we need to unpack this issue — and the assumptions about demographics that animate it — if we’re going to make real headway on countering the occupation. The vast majority of Israelis, even most on the Israeli left, argue that admitting the Palestinian refugees would lead Israel to lose its “Jewish character.” For them, a Jewish-majority state provides the Jewish people with a degree of security and justice. Yet many Palestinians and their increasingly numerous and vocal supporters in North America and Europe see no justice in Israel’s exclusionary policies allowing all Jews, but no Palestinians, to “return” to the country. Israelis’ anxious focus on ethnic demographics inflicts harm on those within the state as well. An array of discriminatory laws and practices currently marginalize the 20% of Israeli citizens who are Palestinian. These laws and practices not only make it difficult for Palestinian citizens to embrace the state as their own, they also preclude justice, equality and peace.
But if Palestinian refugees return home, the demographic balance changes, and all discriminatory laws are lifted, can Israeli Jewish identity continue to flourish? Historically, the existence of robust Jewish life in Arab-Muslim settings was the rule rather than the exception. This is not to say there was no discrimination or instances of violence, but Jews were very much part of the social, cultural and economic fabric of the Middle East and North Africa well before the emergence of Zionism. Some cities, such as Baghdad, were profoundly shaped by their large and influential Jewish minorities….
Palestine’s sweeter fruit
HEBRON (EI) 18 Oct by Mohammad Alhaj — Palestine’s most famous crop is the olive, but not to be overlooked are its grapes. Best known for grape production is the Hebron area of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The al-Natsheh family vineyard in Hebron city was first planted in the 1950s, two decades after Daoud Salam al-Natsheh bought the 40 dunams of land (a dunam is the equivalent of 1,000 square meters or 1/4 acre) in 1932 for 250 Palestine pounds, the currency during the British Mandate. Daoud Salam lived a long life and married three times. His children and their survivors – he had nine sons and seven daughters, though some have since passed away – inherited the vineyard. His son Abd al-Aziz, 60, who was born during Daoud’s third marriage, manages the land. -Israeli encroachment- According to Abd al-Aziz, the Israeli military built an army barracks on a hill overlooking the vineyard in 1968, a year after it occupied the West Bank. Then came the Kiryat Arba settlement, which has expanded over time and today surrounds the vineyard. Abd al-Aziz said that the settlers in Kiryat Arba have never damaged the vineyard or attacked harvesters but he worried that Israel will eventually colonize the family’s land. The profit generated from the vineyard, which is divided among Abd al-Aziz and his surviving siblings and his late siblings’ children, isn’t enough to live on, he said. Abd al-Aziz also owns a shop in Hebron. The family hires a guard to protect the vineyard and contracts a farmer who serves as foreman during the annual grape harvest and makes sure the produce makes it to local markets. “If we do not take care of our land, then it will be a wasteland,” Abd al-Aziz said….
Israel denies entry to 115 British nationals since January
MEMO 19 Oct — Israeli authorities have denied entry to more than 100 British nationals in 2016 to date, according to answers given in Parliament by UK Foreign and Commonwealth Minister Tobias Ellwood. The figures came in response to a question from Mark Durkan, an SDLP Member of Parliament for Foyle, who had asked the Foreign Office “how many UK citizens are known to have been detained, interrogated and subsequently denied entry by Israel in the last 12 months.” Israeli authorities routinely deny entry to and deport foreign visitors on the basis of the individual’s apparent sympathy for the Palestinians, or on the basis of religious or ethnic profiling. Tobias Ellwood, responding for the government, said that “according to Israeli figures”, 50 British nationals “have been refused entry into Israel through Ben-Gurion Airport” since 1 January 2016. Half of those (25) “sought assistance from the British Embassy.” In addition, Ellwood stated, “a further 65 British nationals have been refused entry at the Allenby Bridge”, the Israeli-controlled crossing from Jordan into the Occupied West Bank. In response to a further question tabled by Durkan, Ellwood revealed that since the start of the year, “15 British nationals have alleged poor treatment by Israeli authorities at border crossings.” Ellwood did not elaborate on what, if any, action was taken by British diplomats in response to either the requests for assistance by detained individuals, or to those who alleged mistreatment. In a related development earlier this week, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), part of the University of London, condemned the Israeli authorities for detaining and deporting a senior academic, Adam Hanieh, who was en route to Birzeit University in the Occupied West Bank. Hanieh was banned from entering for ten years. According to SOAS, the response received by the Israeli embassy in London to the university’s complaints only confirmed that Hanieh’s exclusion constituted “an arbitrary breach of academic freedom.”
Israel releases Turkish tourist accused of links to Iran
ISTANBUL (MEE) 19 Oct by Suraj Sharma — A Turkish national arrested three weeks ago at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport for alleged “connections to Iran” was released on Wednesday, defusing a crisis that threatened to derail improving relations between Turkey and Israel. Orhan Buyruk was taken into custody on 28 September after being questioned for hours by the Israeli security service Shin Bet, with the case prompting uproar in the Turkish media and threatening a new crisis in diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter that Buyruk had been released. Buyruk subsequently tweeted to thank those who had supported him while he was detained. Speaking on his arrival at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport he told reporters: “I bring you greetings from our Palestinian brothers in Israeli prisons first of all. I was detained at the airport and wasn’t given the slightest reason for it. I endured a very difficult 21 days. They have no evidence. They see any visitor to their country as an agent. I was detained on that basis.” Buyruk had travelled to Israel intending to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem as a tourist when he was arrested….
Turkey’s TIKA providing Palestinians in war-ridden West Bank with solar energy
BETHLEHEM (Anadolu) 19 Oct — Turkey’s international development agency, TIKA, has provided Palestinian families in six areas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem with solar energy systems. Initiated by a request from Samed, the economic institution of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the project would help 22 families (some 350 people) to generate electricity. It would allow residents to operate water pumps and tanks at Abu Zaytun area and would provide water for around 500 people. Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Bulent Korkmaz, the TIKA coordinator in Palestine, said the project would provide Bedouin families, who are cut off from modern life and technology, with solar energy. Established in 1992, TIKA is responsible for implementing Turkey’s developmental cooperation policies overseas.