Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Construction of settlement trade center approved by Israeli government
IMEMC/Agencies 8 Nov — The High Committee for Israeli Civil Planning and Building has approved the building of a huge shopping center to west of Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, after deliberating for several years. Israeli daily “Haaretz” reported, on Tuesday, that the plan was approved last month, and that the state is to build a huge shopping center near Maccabim checkpoint, west of Ramallah. The plan, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, remained stationed between 15-20 years in the corridors of bureaucracy, and has now reached the implementation phase. Civil Administration seeks to build two additional shopping malls in the Al-Khalil (Hebron) area.
One Palestinian seriously injured by Israeli army fire near Nablus
IMEMC 9 Nov — Israeli soldiers shot, and seriously injured, a young Palestinian man after he reportedly attempted to stab a soldier, on Wednesday morning, in an area between Za‘tara and Huwwara military roadblocks, in the northern West Bank district of Nablus. The Palestinian Red Crescent said the wounded Palestinian has been identified as Mohammad Amer, 32, from Tulkarem, in the northern part of the West Bank. It added that its medics managed to provide the Palestinian with the urgently needed medical attention, before an Israeli military ambulance took him to a hospital. An eyewitness, identified as Abdullah Abu Salim, 43, said he saw the Palestinian trying to cross the road, before the soldiers became suspicious of his movements and opened fire on him. “He did not carry a weapon, and did not attempt to attack any soldier,” Abu Salim told Maan News Agency, “One of the soldiers dropped a knife next to the wounded man; this is what I saw along with two of my friends.”
Palestinian dies from a head injury suffered in 1992
[with photo] IMEMC 9 Nov — Medical sources have reported that a Palestinian man died on Wednesday morning from very serious wounds he suffered in 1992, after Israeli soldiers shot him in the head, during a military invasion into the al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah, in central West Bank. The sources said the Palestinian, Ahmad Mustafa [or Elayyan] Zeid, 44, was shot in the head from very close range, as he was leaving a local mosque in the refugee camp; he was only 17 years of age at the time of his injury. The bullet struck him in the head leading to a traumatic brain injury and instantly paralyzing him, in addition to causing several ongoing complications until he died from his wounds at a hospital in Ramallah. The shooting took place after dozens of soldiers invaded the refugee camp during dawn hours in 1992, and clashed with dozens of local youths, who hurled stones at the military vehicles, while the army fired dozens of live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades.
Israeli forces injure 4, detain 2 Palestinians after student march erupts into clashes in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Nov — Israeli forces Thursday injured four Palestinian teenagers with rubber-coated steel bullets, and detained two others, during clashes that erupted in eastern Beituniya city near Israel’s Ofer detention center in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. A student march commemorating the 12th anniversary of the death of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat erupted into clashes with Israeli forces as the march headed to the Ofer detention center to support child prisoners held in Israeli detention centers. Palestinian demonstrators threw rocks at Israeli soldiers, while Israeli military vehicles chased the protesters, injuring four, and detaining and assaulting two others.
The demonstration came just four days after 14-year-old Ahmad Manasra was sentenced to 12 years in Israeli prison, sparking international condemnation. Manasra was convicted of attempted murder for carrying out a stabbing attack on Oct. 12, 2015 that left two Israelis seriously injured. In addition, the court imposed a fine on his family of 180,000 shekels ($47,187). Following the announcement, tens of children in Gaza skipped school and demonstrated against the Israeli court sentencing. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a September report that at least 1,000 Palestinian minors between the ages of 11 and 18 had been detained by Israel since January, a number of whom reported being abused and tortured while in detention. In August, the committee announced that Israeli forces had detained 560 children from occupied East Jerusalem since the beginning of 2016….
Palestinian injured by Israeli forces during demonstration commemorating Arafat
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Nov — A Palestinian youth was shot in the thigh by Israeli forces when clashes erupted near a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Thursday during commemorations of the 12th anniversary of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s death. Palestinian students marched towards the Atara checkpoint to commemorate Arafat’s passing, when witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces fired tear gas, sound bombs, rubber-coated steel bullets, and live bullets at the demonstrators. The eyewitnesses added that the Palestinian youth was about 15 meters away from the checkpoint when Israeli soldiers fired at him with a live bullet. They added that Israeli soldiers dragged the injured youth over a long distance before putting him inside an Israeli military vehicle without providing him with medical care. Israeli forces closed the checkpoint and prevented vehicles from passing as Palestinian youth continued to throw stones. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that they were looking into reports of clashes at Atara. However, the Israeli army issued a statement online stating that a Palestinian had thrown a Molotov cocktail at Israeli forces during the demonstration, prompting Israeli soldiers fire at the crowd. The statement confirmed that there were no injuries among Israeli soldiers.
Clashes erupt during Israeli police raid in Abu Dis
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Nov — Clashes broke out between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces on Wednesday in the village of Abu Dis in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem. Bassam Bahar, a lawyer and head of a local committee in Abu Dis, said that the clashes took place during a raid by Israeli police in the village as local students were leaving school. Bahar said the clashes were very intense, as Israeli forces stationed on rooftops and fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma‘an that Palestinians threw “rocks and petrol bombs” during the clashes, adding that no members of the Israeli forces were injured. Rosenfeld added that no Palestinians were detained during the raid. Meanwhile, Israeli authorities released Abu Dis resident Khalid Badr after holding him in prison for more than two years. Badr was detained after being injured by a bullet to the neck.
Israeli forces raid home of Palestinian public prosecutor office head in Salfit
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 10 Nov — Israeli forces raided the home of the head of the Palestinian public prosecutor’s office before dawn on Thursday in the village of Jammain in the occupied West Bank district of Salfit. Ahmad Hannoun said that he was very surprised when Israeli forces cut off the electricity and raided his home at 2 a.m. Hannoun added that he was forced to let the Israeli troops inside his house after they threatened to blow up his front door. Once inside, one of the Israeli soldiers introduced himself as Officer Atta. The Israeli forces left the house without searching it or stating the reason of the raid, causing fear among Hannoun’s family members, including children, the Palestinian official said.
Shin Bet: 9 Palestinians arrested for plotting terror attacks against Israeli forces
Jpost 10 Nov by Anna Ahronheim — Eight Palestinians from the West Bank and one from East Jerusalem were arrested by Israeli security forces on suspicion of targeting and planning future terror attacks against Israeli forces with explosive devices, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said in a statement. Their arrests, which was cleared for release by the Shin Bet on Thursday, had occurred between August and October in a joint operation by the IDF and police. According to the statement, the eight suspects from the northern West Bank, had targeted IDF forces on several occasions using various types of explosive devices and been manufacturing pipe bombs for future attacks. During the investigation, Ahmed Azela, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Bab al-Huta in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, admitted during interrogation that he had planned to smuggle two kilograms of gunpowder from the West Bank to Jerusalem to manufacture the pipe bombs. As part of the investigation into the cell, Israeli security forces raided the facility used in the production of the explosives. Several explosive devices and 120 kilograms of raw material used in the manufacturing of the devices were seized. The indictments against the suspects are expected to be filed in the coming days in the Jerusalem District Court.
PPS: ‘Army kidnaps 22 Palestinians in the West Bank’
IMEMC 8 Nov — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped overnight and earlier Tuesday, twenty-two Palestinians, including children and a physically challenged man, in different parts of the occupied West Bank. The PPS said that soldiers invaded and searched many homes, in different parts of occupied East Jerusalem, and kidnapped eight Palestinians. They have been identified as Waseem Eyad Dari, 14, Amin Rafat ‘Obeid, Issa Mohammad Abu Ryala, Mousa Mohammad Deb’ey, 16, Abdullah al-Qawasmi, 15, Sami Nasreddin, 15, Ehad Ibrahim Srour, 16, and Mohammad Nadi al-Hashlamoun, 18. In addition, the Bethlehem office of the PPS said the soldiers invaded ‘Aida refugee camp, north of the city, and kidnapped a child, identified as Daoud Raed Sharara, 13, and a physically challenged man, identified as As‘ad Mahmoud Masa‘eed, 52. On Tuesday at dawn, the soldiers invaded the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Beit Ummar and Yatta nearby towns, searched several homes and kidnapped four Palestinians, including a former political prisoner….
Israeli forces detain 18 Palestinians across West Bank, East Jerusalem
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 9 Nov — Israeli forces detained at least 18 Palestinians, including three Palestinian minors, across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem during predawn raids on Wednesday, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. According to locals in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Israeli forces detained photojournalist Nidal al-Natsheh after raiding his home in the Aissa area of the city. Meanwhile, Nidal al-Tamimi and Bahaa Taha al-Najjar were also detained in Hebron. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed three detentions in the city. In the village of Dura in the Hebron district, Israeli forces detained Ayed Dudin, Thabet Fasfous, Raed Abu Zanouneh, and Raed Hamdan. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed only two of the detentions. Israeli forces also raided the al-Fawwar refugee camp in southern Hebron, detaining Abdullah al-Qassas, 25, while also raiding a print shop and confiscating all its contents. The owner of the print shop, Abdullah Rasas, is currently imprisoned by Israel. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an there was one detention in al-Fawwar camp. In the Hebron-area village of Beit Ummar, meanwhile, activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the area and detained Hamzeh Wahid Hamdi Abu Maria, 26, after raiding and searching his home. An Israeli army spokesperson said one Palestinian was detained in Beit Ummar. Israeli forces also raided the homes of Muhammad Ahmad al-Alami, Youssef Ahmad al-Alami, and Hammad Muhammad Hammad al-Alami in Beit Ummar….
PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers kidnap 23 Palestinians in the West Bank’
IMEMC 10 Nov — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, Thursday, 23 Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank, and that one of them is a child who was also shot and injured by the army, prior to his abduction. The Bethlehem office of the PPS said the soldiers kidnapped Raslan Salah, 38, Mahmoud Mohammad Salah, 30, Mahmoud Khalil Ghneim, 35, Ashraf Salah, 38, and Mohammad Rebhi, 33, from their homes in al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem. It added that the soldiers also invaded and searched homes in Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem, and kidnapped Ali Samir Taqatqa, 28. In the northern West Bank district of Jenin, the soldiers invaded Marka and Zawiya villages, south of Jenin city, searched many homes and kidnapped six Palestinians. It stated that several army vehicles, and two military bulldozers, invaded Marka village, before the soldiers broke into and searched homes, and kidnapped Bilal Abu Jalboush, Saleh Ali Mousa, Ahmad Ali Mousa, Tha‘er Mousa and Samir Mousa. The army also closed a blacksmith’s workshop in the village, after alleging it was used for manufacturing weapons, and confiscated a homemade pistol and several bullets. In Zawiya nearby village, the soldiers kidnapped a young man, identified as Mas’oud Abu al-Wafa, after searching his home. In Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank, the soldiers kidnapped a young man, identified as Qassem Adel Abu Khader, 21. Furthermore, Israeli soldiers shot and injured a Palestinian child, identified as Anas Mahmoud Zeid, 15, near ‘Atara military roadblock, between Birzeit and Atara towns, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and later took him to an unknown destination….
Prisoners / Court actions
#FreeSalah update: ‘Salah’s condition is shocking’
STW 10 Nov — The hearing at the Israeli military court in Petah Tikva ruled Salah Khawaja would be subjected for another 8 days of interrogation. It further revealed the shocking physical condition Salah is in after having been subjected to two weeks of almost non-stop interrogation already for two weeks. Join us to #Free Salah. Yesterday, November 9, Salah Khawaja was brought in front of the military court in Petah Tikva. His lawyer Jehad Abu Raya is still barred from talking to his client said, but the hearing forced the Israeli military to show Salah and his physical conditions after 15 days in prison. Abu Raya related that even after years of working as a lawyer and with the Israeli prison system he was shocked to see the state of his client. The prison authorities kept Salah blindfolded even during the hearing and he ‘looked like coming out of the grave’. In only 15 days, Israeli intelligence officers have conducted 27 rounds of interrogation with Salah – practically non-stop interrogation. Sleep deprived and visibly marked by two weeks of duress and ill-treatment, Salah has lost a worrying amount of weight already. Yet, apparently he has not lost his strength: the strength of human rights defenders that know they are being forced to prison and ill-treatment for nothing else but standing up for a just cause and a better world for all of us … #FREESALAH – Please help us to bring Salah Khawaja out of prison now and denounce Israeli repression against human rights defenders. For more info click here.
Palestinian sentenced to 16 years in prison over 2015 stabbing attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Nov — An Israeli court in Jerusalem sentenced a 27-year-old Palestinian man to to 16 and a half years in prison after convicting him of carrying out a stabbing attack in October 2015. Miqdad al-Hih was detained on Oct. 22, 2015 after carrying out a stabbing attack with another Palestinian in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, moderately injuring a young Israeli man. Al-Hih was critically injured after Israeli police shot him on the scene, while the other Palestinian, 20-year-old Mahmoud Khalid Ghneimat, was killed. Since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015, 238 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis, the vast majority of whom were shot dead by Israeli forces. During the same time period, 34 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. Throughout the unrest, rights groups have repeatedly denounced what they have termed Israeli forces’ “shoot-to-kill” policy against Palestinians who did not constitute a threat at the time of their death or who could have been subdued in a non-lethal manner.
Prosecution calls for 2 Palestinian children to serve 2 years in juvenile detention center
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Nov — Israeli prosecutors called on Wednesday for two Palestinian children to be sentenced to two years in a juvenile institutional facility for alleged knife possession and attempted murder. The children’s lawyers Muhammad Mahmoud and Lia Tseimel said that they reached an agreement with the Israeli prosecution regarding the sentence for Shadi Anwar Farrah, and Ahmad Raed Zaatari, two 13-year-old boys. Mahmoud and Tseimal added that the duration of their detention would be confirmed by the court on Nov. 29, which would mark the first day of their sentence, as the time both boys had spent in juvenile detention facilities during the duration of the trial would not count towards the sentence. The children were detained in December 2015 in the city of Jerusalem and charged in January with attempted murder and knife possession. The details of the exact accusations levied against Farrah and Zaatari remained unclear. Farrah’s mother told Ma‘an earlier this month that the court released had released her son and Zaatari after holding them in a juvenile detention center for 10 months on the condition that their case be transferred to social affairs … She said that because she holds a West Bank-only Palestinian ID, her visits to her son had been severely limited as she needed to obtain an Israeli-issued permit to travel to him, meaning she had been unable to attend many of Farrah’s court hearings … Interrogations of Palestinian children can last up to 90 days according to Addameer, while in addition to being beaten and threatened, cases of sexual assault and placement in solitary confinement to elicit confessions are also reported, while confession documents they are forced to sign are in Hebrew — a language most Palestinian children do not speak.
Israel issues 50 administrative detention orders against Palestinians in 9 days
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Nov — Israeli authorities issued administrative detention orders to 50 Palestinian prisoners between Nov. 1 and 9, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Wednesday. PPS lawyer Mahmoud al-Halabi said that 16 of the orders were issued against prisoners for the first time, while the rest were extensions of previous administrative detention orders. Israel’s policy of administrative detention — internment without charge or trial for three to six-month renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence — has been widely condemned by the international community. Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have claimed that the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions. Rights groups have charged Israel with using its policy of administrative detention, which is almost exclusively used against Palestinians, as a way of eroding Palestinian democracy and family life, while enabling Israeli authorities to detain Palestinian activists and public figures for extended periods of time without evidence of any wrongdoing….
Israel reopens entrance of Nablus-area village after month-and-a-half closure
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 9 Nov – Israeli authorities reopened the entrance of the Palestinian village of ‘Aqraba after a month and a half of closure in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, local sources told Ma‘an on Wednesday. Locals said that Palestinian bulldozers removed the cement blocks which had been installed by Israeli forces at the entrance of the village on Sept. 20. Israeli forces had closed the entrance after claiming that village residents threw stones at cars belonging to Israeli settlers driving on the nearby road … The main entrance of Aqraba had been closed for six months earlier this year for alleged security reasons.The occupied West Bank has seen an increase in arbitrary military road closures since October 2015, when a wave of unrest first erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory, leading to periodic blockade of Palestinian villages, towns, checkpoints, and entire districts.
Israeli ministers join call to permit Jewish prayer at Temple Mount: ‘Status quo discriminates against Jews’
Haaretz 7 Nov by Nir Hasson — Israeli parliament speaker Yuli Edelstein joined three cabinet ministers and three lawmakers for the launch of a new Knesset “Temple Mount Lobby” on Monday during a conference on the prospect of altering the status quo at the Jerusalem holy site. The session was held against the backdrop of increasing demands by right-wing lawmakers and cabinet ministers for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end his yearlong ban on their visits to the Temple Mount, who said last month that he would revisit the issue with security officials. Netanyahu had banned these visits as part of an agreement with Jordan’s King Abdullah in response to the outbreak of a wave of Palestinian attacks a year ago. The prime minister had also ordered lawmakers to avoid discussing the Temple Mount in an attempt to calm the violence attributed to Palestinian claims that Israel intended to change the status quo and permit Jewish prayer at the site. Most had kept quiet on the subject for months, until Monday’s event … Since the Six-Day War, Israeli policy has barred Jewish prayer at the site while permitting worship at the Western Wall below … Temple Mount activists said on Sunday that the past year has seen a rise in the numbers of Jews ascending to the Mount – over 14,000, compared to 11,000 the previous year.
Custodian of Muslim holy sites slams Israeli politicians over Temple Mount
Haaretz 9 Nov by Jack Khoury — The Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem, which administers the Temple Mount, responded angrily on Tuesday to statements by Israeli ministers and MKs in favor of changing the status quo on the Mount, warning that any such change could inflame the entire Muslim world. It also urged the international community to intervene to prevent any changes in the status quo, under which Jewish prayer is barred entirely on the Mount and Jewish visits to the site are strictly limited … Wasfi al-Kilani, who heads the Hashemite Fund for the Reconstruction of Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, told the Jordanian media on Tuesday that Amman would not consent to any change in the status quo on the Mount, noting that King Abdullah had said as much in a speech to parliament earlier in the week. “Despite all the challenges facing us, we’ll continue to fulfill our duty to guard the sites holy to Islam and Christianity and the identity of the holy city,” Abdullah said, referring to Jerusalem….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization
Israel demolishes commercial and residential structures across East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Nov — Israeli bulldozers, escorted by Israeli forces, demolished a car wash in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina on Wednesday for lacking Israeli-issued building permits, while also demolishing several structures across East Jerusalem on Tuesday. The car wash, a structure consisting of three containers, was owned by two brothers, Abd al-Rauf and Abdullah Maraqa, and had been in business for four and a half years before the demolition. Abdullah Maraqa told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers raided the area around 3 a.m. and demolished the three containers, while also leveling land without any prior notice, adding that Israeli forces had closed down the premises and prevented the brothers from approaching the site during the demolition. Maraqa also said that Israeli forces did not allow the brothers to evacuate their equipment still inside the car wash before the demolition took place, causing an estimated $52,438 financial loss. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Israeli bulldozers partially demolished a residential apartment in the neighborhood of al-Tur in East Jerusalem, despite the owner Mahmoud al-Hadra filing an urgent appeal to the Israeli municipal court to prevent the demolition. Al-Hadra told Ma‘an that the Israeli bulldozers only demolished a part of the apartment after the bulldozer was damaged. According to al-Hadra, Israeli forces also ordered that he demolish a parking lot, which was built near his apartment in 2005, himself….
EU says new housing in Gilo settlement cuts Jerusalem from West Bank
BRUSSELS (WAFA) 9 Nov – The European Union (EU) criticized on Wednesday an Israeli plan to expand the settlement of Gilo, to the south of Jerusalem, warning that this would cut East Jerusalem from the West Bank therefore compromising the two-state solution. “The approval by the Israeli authorities of the construction permits for 181 housing units in the illegal settlement of Gilo contributes to closing the southern settlement ring around East Jerusalem, thereby compromising contiguity between East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which is crucial for the viability of the two-state solution,” said the EU spokesperson in a statement. “We regret that Israel has proceeded with these building permits despite continuous serious international concern and objections ever since these plans were first announced,” added the spokesperson.
Israel razes Jerusalem home of Jewish family, evicting them after 50 years
Haaretz 9 Nov by Nir Hasson — The Israel Lands Authority has demolished the house of a Jewish family that had lived in Jerusalem’s Lifta neighborhood for decades. The authority plans to evict a total of 13 Jewish families from Lifta, most of whom are negotiating with the Finance Ministry over a voluntary evacuation. The family whose home was razed claimed the demolition also destroyed a historic building that was slated for preservation. Jewish families first settled in Lifta, an abandoned Arab village located near Jerusalem’s western entrance, in the 1950s at the behest of the Jewish Agency. The families, who were originally from Kurdistan, never received property rights to their houses, despite the fact that a quasi-governmental agency had settled them there. Then, about a decade ago, the ILA and the Jerusalem municipality began seeking eviction orders against the 13 families. Four years ago, while the courts were still considering the issue, Lifta resident Yoni Yochanan discovered historical documents demonstrating that the state had deliberately kept the families in the dark about a procedure that would have allowed them to acquire property rights to their houses back in the 1950s … But legal proceedings against one family, the Moalems, had already advanced too far for them to be included in the negotiations … Thus the family left the house last week, and on Sunday, the ILA’s bulldozers arrived to demolish it … The ILA said the families had squatted on ILA land, built houses there illegally and even rented them to third parties. The court rulings in the case “determined unequivocally that they must vacate the land without any compensation.”
Israeli lawmakers mull bill banning loudspeakers at mosques
Haaretz 11 Nov by Jonathan Lis — A bill prohibiting the use of loudspeakers at mosques during Muslim prayer services is to be discussed Sunday by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation. The bill, a new version of one originally intended to stop the broadcasting of nationalistic messages and incitement, now cites damage to quality of life due to noise as a reason for the prohibition. The bill was initially presented six months ago by MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi), but was reworded following critical legal opinions. In the original bill, Yogev specifically states that it was intended to prevent muezzins, criers of the hours of daily prayer, from broadcasting religious or nationalistic messages and incitement at mosques through loudspeakers. Although the law would apply to the houses of worship of all religions in Israel, Yogev had made clear in the original law that it was meant to address mainly loudspeakers in mosques … The Israel Democracy Institute attacked the original wording of the bill six months ago. “This is a bill whose purpose is not to deal with some nuisance, but rather to damage freedom of religion. If the bill is moved ahead, it could arouse and encourage rifts and appear to be intended to hurt the Muslim public. Therefore, a government that is committed to egalitarian norms of governing and protection of freedom of religion should not allow this bill into Israeli law.”….
Israel’s ban on the Muslim call to prayer in Jerusalem is the tip of the iceberg
MEMO 7 Nov by Professor Kamel Hawwash — Something is in the air in Jerusalem and if Israel has its way it soon won’t be; the Muslim call to prayer – the adhaan – is under threat. The state which is built upon the ethnic cleansing of the majority of the indigenous Palestinian people is inching its way towards banning the call for prayer, which was probably first heard in Jerusalem in 637 AD. That was the year in which Caliph Umar Ibn Al-Khattab travelled to Palestine to accept its surrender from Patriach Sophronius, bringing a six-month siege of the Holy City to a peaceful end. The required respect for people of other faiths was exemplified by one of Caliph Umar’s first acts upon entering Jerusalem. He understood the sensitivity surrounding religious sites and the potential danger of changing the status quo. He thus declined an invitation from Sophronius to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre lest Muslims turn it into a mosque. Instead, he stepped outside the Church to perform the midday prayer; a mosque named after him was later built on the site and exists to this day. This is in sharp contrast to the establishment of Israel in 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homeland at gunpoint. Villages and towns were ethnically cleansed and wiped from the face of the earth, and their mosques were also destroyed or turned into synagogues or museums; at least two became cafes and one became a cowshed. Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and one of Israel’s first acts as the occupying power was to raze the 770-year old Moroccan Quarter of East Jerusalem in order to improve access to Al-Buraq Wall, which Jews call the Western (“Wailing”) Wall, in order to facilitate their prayers there. Just a year after issuing the Balfour Declaration in 1917, Britain had actually dismissed attempts by Chaim Weizmann to vacate the Moroccan Quarter and to place the Western Wall under Jewish ownership. Fifty years later, Israel had no qualms about bulldozing the Shaikh Eid Mosque which had stood since the time of Saladin. -Christian sites- Churches continue to come under attack by the Israelis….
Committee pleads for cancer patient to be allowed out of Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) — The health of a former prisoner from Gaza has seriously deteriorated due to cancer, as a prisoners’ group urged on Wednesday for the Palestinian to be allowed to leave the besieged coastal enclave to access life-saving medical care. The Fatah movement’s prisoners committee in the Gaza Strip said that urgent action was needed to save the life of Sabr Suleiman Abd al-Qader Abu Laban, who has been waiting to travel to Egypt to receive medical care for his liver cancer for more than 7 months. The committee’s spokesperson, Nashaat al-Wahdi, called on the Gaza Ministry of Health, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Palestinian embassy in Egypt to act quickly to allow Abu Laban to travel to Egypt. Al-Wahdi said that 49 year-old Abu Laban was a father of six and a resident of the village of Simsim in northeastern Gaza. Abu Laban was first detained by Israeli forces for six months in 1982, when he was only 14 years old. He was imprisoned a second time a year later and spent 10 years in Israeli custody, before being released in 1994. Muhjat al-Quds Foundation spokesperson Yasser Saleh said that Abu Laban had medical insurance from the Palestine Liberation Organization which would cover all the costs of his treatment, with the main hurdle remaining the restrictions on freedom of movement for Palestinian residents of Gaza.
End medical apartheid: Israel banning entry of Gaza patient Abd al-Kareem
GAZA 10 Nov by ISM, Gaza Team — Abd al-Kareem Nahid Abu Halloub, a 32-year-old patient, had a heart attack on 6/10/2016 and is in a coma for about 36 days now as a result of a sudden fall to the floor. He was convulsed. His health condition is extremely serious as the doctors stated and he has to get his treatment in the West Bank. Though, the patient was denied access through Erez crossing twice. “We took him directly to Al-‘Awda hospital and they made him artificial ventilation to assist him to breathe until his heart worked again. In the evening, we took him to the Indonesian hospital in Tal al-Za’tar – north Gaza and the doctors there helped my son with all what they can possibly do. But they advised us to treat him in the West Bank,” explained the patient’s father. The hospitals in Gaza have limited medical equipment [and] the medical device needed for treating the patient Abu Halloub, is not found in Gaza … “We waited 72 hours as the doctors require and then we sent his medical reports to hospitals in the West Bank and we got an approval from al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron on the reception of the patient. We also had an approval from Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, we received a denial from entry from the Israeli side, they refused to give the patient permission to enter through Erez crossing,” the father added.
Gaza’s missing haunt those left behind
GAZA STRIP (EI) 8 Nov by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh — On 31 July, workers clearing rubble from a house destroyed in a 2014 Israeli bombing in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City discovered part of a human skeleton. Police were summoned and the remains were taken away for examination. But identification proved impossible, Ayman al-Batniji, a Gaza police spokesperson, later told The Electronic Intifada. The remains, he said, have since been buried and were likely two years old. “We were not able to ID the skeleton, but we expect that it belongs to one of the martyrs of the last war since it was discovered during a clean-up of one of the houses shelled then.” The find was a grim reminder that two years after Israel’s 2014 onslaught on the Gaza Strip people are still missing, most presumed dead. Gaza’s ministry of health acknowledges that the exact number is not known. The ministry is still trying to follow up with local human rights groups and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), according to ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qedra. The ICRC, which handles issues related to Palestinian prisoners or those whose bodies have been interred by Israel, is following six cases of missing persons, according to spokesperson Suhair Zakkout. But the cases at the ICRC are only those where families have come forward. Some have not reported their missing relatives to the ICRC simply because there is no suggestion that they were seized. Others, where relatives may have been active in the Palestinian resistance, do not want to offer Israel any information. –The grief in a father’s heart-– Every day after dawn prayers, Hussein al-Hams, 66, goes in search of his son Juma in the rubble of a building east of Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city. Juma went missing on 1 August 2014 when he was 22. The day became known as Black Friday. Black Friday was actually one of four days. It was a particularly brutal episode in a devastating 51-day Israeli onslaught on Gaza that saw more than 2,200 Palestinians killed….
Israeli bulldozers enter southern Gaza, level lands
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Nov — Several Israeli bulldozers razed land in eastern al-Qarrara in the southern Gaza Strip district of Khan Yunis on Wednesday morning. Witnesses told Ma‘an that five Israeli military bulldozers followed by three tanks entered ten meters inside the besieged enclave from the Kissufim military site, and proceeded to raze and level Palestinian lands. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces deployed in military towers east of al-Wadi area in al-Qarrara also opened fire at Palestinian lands. No injuries were reported.
Israeli forces open fire at Palestinians fishing boats off the coast of Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 10 Nov – Israeli military boats Thursday opened live fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip, according to witnesses. Witnesses told Ma‘an that one of the Israeli military boats chased the fishermen’s boats before opening live fire on them. Meanwhile, Israeli forces also fired live ammunition at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. No damage or injuries were reported in either incident.
Israel cancels visitations for 150 Gazans to pray at Al-Aqsa on Friday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Nov — Israeli authorities Thursday canceled weekly visitations for 150 elderly Gazans typically permitted to worship in occupied East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque for this coming Friday. Muhammad al-Maqadmeh, head of the media department of Gaza’s civil affairs committee, told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities had informed them that the coordination of visitations for 150 Gazans to exit the besieged coastal enclave for Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa were canceled. Meanwhile, the 100 Palestinians whose visitations were coordinated with UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for providing services to some five million Palestinian refugees, maintained their permission to exit the Gaza Strip. Al-Maqadmeh added that Israel’s cancellation was implemented after the Gazan worshippers would not commit to returning to the Gaza Strip on the same day.
OCHA: Gaza crossings’ operations status: monthly update October 2016
RAFAH CROSSING: • Exceptionally opened for 7 days. • Since October 2014, the crossing has been closed on all but 72 days, and has been partially open for 33 days since the beginning of this year. • At least 20,000 people are on the waiting list, including approximately 5,200 medical cases and 3,300 students, according to the local authorities. • Prior to the closure of the crossing in 2014, a monthly average of 4,000 people crossed Rafah for health-related reasons … Movement of goods from and into Gaza; ….
EU diplomats on Gaza visit want Israeli blockade lifted
GAZA CITY (AFP) 8 Nov — More than 20 senior European diplomats visited Gaza on Tuesday, calling for the Israeli blockade on the impoverished Palestinian enclave to be lifted. Ambassadors from 22 European Union states visited to assess the state of Gaza’s reconstruction in a trip organised and led by the EU. It was the first such delegation since late 2014, which took place after that summer’s devastating 50-day war with Israel left 2,251 Palestinians and 73 Israelis dead, according to the United Nations. Ralph Tarraf, head of the EU delegation to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, called on Israel to end the blockade on Gaza. He called for “steps to bring about a political, security and economic change.” He said all sides should work towards “ending the closure, taking into account the legitimate security concerns of the Gaza Strip’s neighbours.” Israel has maintained a blockade on Gaza for a decade, which it says is necessary to keep its enemy Hamas, which runs the strip, from bringing in material that could be used for military purposes. UN officials say such actions are collective punishment and have repeatedly called for the blockade to be eased or lifted. The EU provides around $330,000 million (300 million euros) to the Palestinian people annually, with almost half of this going to Gaza, a spokesman said.
EU launches €2.4 mln programme to boost private sector development in Gaza
GAZA (PNN) 9 Nov — The European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched today a new programme to rehabilitate and consolidate the Gaza Industrial Estate (GIE). The GIE is intended to work as a catalyst for industrial development in Gaza once fully operational. The new programme will be implemented by the UNDP over a period of twenty months. The private sector in the Gaza Strip has faced more than a decade of conflicts. As a result, many of the Gazan population have lost their source of living. Unemployment rates have reached 41% of the labour force. Against this challenging background, the programme aims to reinforce the GIE electrical, wastewater and water systems. This would ensure these facilities are operational, enhancing GIE’s competitiveness and its capacity to attract new companies and generate new jobs….
Gaza music school survives despite Israeli assault
[with VIDEO] Arab Daily 10 Nov by Mohammed Asad — The Gaza Music School was established in 2008 and came under direct bombardment during Israel’s 2008 war on the civilians of the Gaza Strip. The school sustained major damage including to its collection of musical instruments used by the students. Despite the assault, students still continue to come to school and learn music. Israeli officials prevent students from participating in music festivals at the level of Palestine, or to meet with their colleagues in the West Bank, Jerusalem, for two consecutive years for the mutual benefit of playing and experience in music festivals.Click here to Watch a video of the music school online or view it in the widget below:
Palestinian supporter of Shiite Islamism killed in Gaza
GAZA CITY (AP) 9 Nov — Hamas-run police in Gaza say gunmen killed a Palestinian activist known for supporting Shiite Islamism. They say Mithqal al-Salmi, 35, was killed Wednesday near his home, and that they are investigating. The Sunni Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, has tense relations with Shiite Iran and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah stemming from the conflict in Syria. Hamas broke with Iran, a longtime patron, when the group sided with the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2012. Iran and Hezbollah are key allies of Assad. In February, Hamas arrested al-Salmi after a series of Facebook posts glorifying Iran and Hezbollah, and casting doubt on some Sunni scholars. Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, but more extreme Sunni militant groups also have a presence there.
Counterfeits common in Gaza Strip
Numismaster 10 Nov by Richard Geidroyc — Counterfeit U.S. bank notes, Israeli shekels and even coins are commonly being encountered in the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip is between Egypt and Israel and is under the control of the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority may be an independent political entity, but it has no currency system of its own. A Palestine Monetary Authority was established following the 1993 Oslo Accord … The authority qualified through the Oslo Accord to convert to a central bank if the PMA were to receive Israel’s approval. This approval to date has been withheld. The PMA has declared that the Israeli shekel, U.S. dollar and the Jordanian dinar are to be the “main” legal tenders in the Palestinian marketplace. Gaza City al-Irshi exchange office owner Adnan al-Irshi was quoted in the October 25, 2015, issue of al-Monitor newspaper as saying, “The most traded currencies by citizens in Gaza are the shekel, the dollar, the dinar, the euro and the UAE [United Arab Emirite] dirham, but the dollar is the most trusted currency, especially in remittances and savings, while the shekel comes in last place.” … Ashour acknowledged that U.S. bank notes are the most commonly encountered counterfeits. He said counterfeit coins are more challenging to produce; however, detecting counterfeit coins requires special devices. He did not identify which coins are being counterfeited. Although counterfeiting is a concern, there were only 51 cases brought to trial during 2015. Gaza Crime Lab Director Major Ahed al-Afghani told al-Monitor, “the quantity is still small. Every day [an average] of two counterfeiting cases are reported.” The major stated the size of the counterfeiting problem suggests it is individuals rather than organized groups responsible for the bogus coins and bank notes.
MKs advance bill to bar BDS activists from entering Israel
Times of Israel 7 Nov by Raoul Wootliff — A bill seeking to bar activists from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement from entering Israel passed a vote in the Knesset committee stage Monday, receiving the go-ahead to progress through the legislative process. The proposal, which has received government support, would deny entry to individuals calling for a boycott of Israel or representing an NGO that does, but would allow the interior minister to make exceptions … Speaking during the committee session, Meretz MK Michal Rozin said the law was “completely unnecessary” and would, like other measures passed against left-wing NGOs, draw sharp criticism of Israel from abroad. “The interior minister already has the ability to stop anti-Israel groups coming into the country. All this law does is take away his ability to make considered decisions,” she said. “It does nothing productive and will make us look bad.” Under the current law, the interior minister already has the right to bar individuals from entering Israel. The proposed bill would entail creating a list of individuals and organizations deemed anti-Israel and would give the minister the ability to make exemptions to allow those listed into the country.
Palestinian refugees – Jordan, Lebanon
Why is Jordan preventing Gazan refugees from doing their jobs?
Al Monitor 10 Nov by Adnan Abu Amer — There are nearly 158,000 Gazan Palestinians who arrived in Jordan following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and they hold temporary Jordanian passports, according to statistics of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East in 2015. Restrictions have been imposed on these Palestinians under Jordanian law, in terms of the right to own properties, work, receive medical treatment, study and join trade unions, which have resulted in high poverty and unemployment rates, the Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies in Amman wrote in its 2013 economic report. The Jordanian Al-Ghad daily revealed Oct. 31 the latest decision against Gazan Palestinians in Jordan, the majority of whom live in the refugee camp in Jerash, also known as the Gaza camp. It wrote that the Jordanian government started implementing its Aug. 28 decision, which was issued by the Jordanian Ministry of Education, to prevent Gazan teachers in Jordan from teaching in Jordanian schools. This has caused prejudice against hundreds of Gazan teachers in Jordan, who worked for years in this profession. An informed Jordanian source at the Ministry of Education, who declined to be named, told Al-Monitor, “Before the start of the academic year in September, the ministry demanded that private educational institutions refrain from renewing employment contracts with non-Jordanian teachers, which amount to 800 teachers of Gazan origin. The decision is not limited to teachers. It also includes drivers, administrators, office boys and guards.” … The Jordanian decision has shed light on the most prominent problems faced by Palestinian refugees in Jordanian camps, such as the poor housing conditions with tiny spaces and overcrowded houses, where Palestinian families resort to primitive heating means. Also, 11% of the houses in the camps are damaged, uninhabitable, and may collapse and put residents’ lives at risk….
EU Ambassador Lassen visits Nahr el-Bared Camp, highlights support for reconstruction efforts
UNRWA 9 Nov — EU Ambassador Christina Lassen today visited the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp to see first-hand the on-going reconstruction efforts, and to view the areas where house reconstruction for families who remain displaced will take place thanks to the EU’s recently announced support of €12 million. Ambassador Lassen also met with refugees who returned to newly reconstructed houses. “In response to the Lebanese Government’s call for more support to the reconstruction of the Nahr el-Bared Camp, the European Union has decided to donate an extra EUR12 million in addition to more than EUR 44 million for relief and reconstruction already provided over the last years. Today, I am visiting the Nahr el-Bared Camp for the first time to take stock of the reconstruction efforts. I met with both Palestinian refugees who have been able to go back to new houses and those who still wait to be re-housed. We are happy to see that the work is progressing, but much is still to be done”. Almost half of the camp’s displaced families have returned to newly reconstructed homes to date with support from a wide range of international donors. Given current funding to the Nahr el-Bared reconstruction effort, it is envisaged that almost 3,400 families or 70 per cent of the population, will return to their homes by 2019….
PCHR Weekly Report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (3-9 Nov)
PCHR-Gaza 10 Nov — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt Palestinian civilian killed at the entrance to “Ofra” settlement, northeast of Ramallah and al-Bireh. 6 Palestinian civilians, including a child and a photojournalist, were wounded in the West Bank. Israeli forces conducted 72 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the southern Gaza Strip. 83 civilians, including 23 children and 4 women, were arrested. Twenty-eight of them, including 13 children and 2 women, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. An 8-member family from al-Amari’ refugee camp, south of Ramallah, were arrested. Two publishing houses in Hebron and Beit Ommer village were raided and some of their contents were seized. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. A fisherman fainted and a fishing boat sustained material damage…. [details below]
Israel says blocked Palestinian bid to join Interpol
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 8 Nov by Ori Lewis — An attempt by the Palestinians to push for membership of global police organization Interpol was rejected in a vote at the body’s congress in Bali, Indonesia on Tuesday, the Israeli police and foreign ministry said. Israel said its diplomacy had convinced a majority of Interpol members to vote against putting the Palestinian request to join on the meeting’s agenda. The Palestinians said the rejection was only a procedural issue. Sixty-two delegates at the meeting voted against the Palestinian request, 56 in favor and 37 abstained. “Once again the Palestinians have tried to politicize an international professional organization,” a statement from the Israeli foreign ministry said. But Ammar Hejazi, a Palestinian delegate at the congress, said the body would discuss its membership bid next year. “(Our request) was not achieved in this session because the Interpol Executive Committee said it would study new membership requests next year,” he told Palestine Radio. Interpol’s Executive Committee said it had appointed an adviser to recommend “a clear and transparent process with a defined set of criteria for membership” and no new applicants would be considered until a meeting in Beijing in 2017. “While the study is being carried out, all current and future applications for membership including those from the Republic of Kosovo, the State of Palestine and the Solomon Islands have been suspended,” Interpol said….
‘Joint Arab List’ proposes law to recognize ‘Palestinians of 48’ national minority in Israel
TEL AVIV (Asharq al-Awsat) 10 Nov — In a new precedent, the Joint Arab List bloc in the Knesset submitted a proposal on Wednesday in a bid to recognize the Palestinians of 1948 occupied territories Green Line as a national minority, having collective rights according to the International Law on the basis of full civil equality for them. National Democratic Alliance in the Joint Arab List MK Jamal Zahalka submitted this proposal, saying: “Law in Israel does not recognize Arabs as national minority, and it does not grant them collective and national rights. They are treated according to their religious groups and are referred to as ‘minorities,’ ‘not Jewish’ or ‘Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bedouins’ without mentioning that they are Arabs or belong to Arab-Palestinian national minority.” Zahalka added that the bonds of the bid are derived from the international treaty on the rights of minority groups and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among other international treaties. The proposal raised a wave of rage as Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) vilified in the Knesset plenum this proposal along with the Israeli Knesset, which voted against it….
Israeli minister to Arab MK: Your national rights can be attained elsewhere
MEMO 10 Nov –Israeli justice minister Ayelet Shaked blasted a proposal by Joint List parliamentarian Jamal Zahalka to recognise Palestinian citizens as a national minority. Speaking in the Knesset, Shaked claimed that the proposed legislation “wishes to innovate a new constitutional hierarchy in which the Arab citizens of Israel will have a collective national veto right over decisions by state institutions.” Palestinians constitute around 20 per cent of Israeli citizens, and face systematic discrimination in land rights, housing, welfare, education, political expression and more. Shaked attacked Zahalka’s proposal on the basis that it “speaks of democracy and intentionally omits Israel’s status as a Jewish state.” Speaking directly to Palestinian MKs, Shaked said: “[David] Ben Gurion [Israel’s first prime minister] would turn over in his grave (if he knew of this law)…You are confused. This will never happen. The national definition of the State of Israel is the one and only state of the Jewish nation.” Shaked continued: “National rights for Arab minorities can be attained in our neighbouring Arab countries. Whoever wishes to realise his national rights as an Arab is invited to leave to these countries. I can’t promise that he will be continue to enjoy the conditions he receives in our villa.” According to the report, Zahalka responded: “I didn’t think that the justice minister would tell me to leave the country as if she is the master and we are her slaves. We are citizens and will fight for full citizenship and for our full rights despite the efforts of racists and fascists like Shaked.”
Arafat museum opens in Ramallah, including keffiyehs
RAMALLAH (AFP) 9 Nov by Shatha Yaish — The Yasser Arafat Museum opened Wednesday in Ramallah, shedding light on the long-time Palestinian leader’s life and offering a glimpse of history — along with a number of his trademark black-and-white keffiyehs. On display for the first time are a range of Arafat’s possessions, including the famous sunglasses he wore when addressing the United Nations in 1974, a number of his iconic keffiyehs (scarfs), his gun and his Palestinian passport. The museum also traces a century of Palestinian history, including the Nakba — catastrophe, as Palestinians call the period leading up to and including the 1948 creation of Israel. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who succeeded Arafat after his death in 2004, cut the inaugural ribbon at the $7-million museum on Wednesday evening in the occupied West Bank. It is built behind his mausoleum inside the headquarters of the Palestinian presidency in Ramallah. Nabeel Kassis, head of the museum committee, said visitors would learn about the history of the Palestinians “from the beginning of the 20th century until the death of Arafat in 2004.” He added that the life of Arafat was intertwined with Palestinian history. “Arafat was closely linked to the struggle of the Palestinian people.” The interactive museum spread over two floors also features videos and photographs of key moments in Palestinian history, some from Arafat’s private collection … –Towering figure– The last exhibit guests visit is the small room where Arafat was holed up after Israeli tanks surrounded his headquarters in his final years during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising. It is located in an adjacent building in the same compound, linked to the museum by a bridge. Inside is the small bed where Arafat, at the time technically the internationally recognised Palestinian leader, spent many of his final days. There is a picture drawn by his then-infant daughter and a cupboard containing his iconic military uniforms. Elsewhere there is the room where he was treated before being transferred to Paris, as well as the Palestinian, Russian, French and Swiss medical reports on his death….
Abbas calls for end of occupation on 12th anniversary of Arafat’s death
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Nov — The Palestinian Authority (PA) commemorated on Thursday the 12th anniversary of President Yasser Arafat’s death, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for 2017 to mark the end of the Israeli occupation. While at a ceremony in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah where thousands of Palestinians were in attendance, Abbas hailed the late Palestinian leader, saying that “Yasser Arafat is still alive in us and we are inspired with more persistence and determination because of him.” In addition to calling for an end to the 50-year Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Abbas argued that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.“We are the only ones to speak for Palestinians, and I dare anyone to say that we have given up any of our rights.”Abbas’ statement came as the president and the Fatah-led PA has become increasingly unpopular in past years, with Palestinians criticizing Fatah infighting, the government’s security coordination with Israel, and its perceived inability to push for a solution to the Israeli occupation….
Palestinian president says he knows who killed Yasser Arafat
AFP 10 Nov — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Thursday he knows who killed Yasser Arafat as he marked the 12th anniversary of the former leader’s death but stopped short of giving a name. Speaking in front of thousands, Abbas said “you ask me who killed him, I know — but my testimony alone is not enough.” “A commission of inquiry is digging into that, but you’ll find out at the earliest opportunity and be amazed when you know who did it.” “I do not want to mention names, because these names do not deserve to be remembered,” he added. Arafat rose to become the leader of the Palestinian movement in the late 1960s, leading an armed struggle against Israel. He died on November 11, 2004 at a hospital near Paris from unknown causes at the age of 75. More than a decade after his death, he remains a towering figure in Palestinian culture, politics and society. The Palestinians have long accused Israel of poisoning him, charges the Israeli government firmly denies. His body was exhumed in 2012 for tests but a subsequent French investigation found no proof of poisoning. The Palestinians rejected that report, citing apparent inconsistencies between the French findings and separate ones from Switzerland and Russia that gave currency to alleged poisoning by polonium. Abbas and his longtime rival Mohammed Dahlan have both accused each other of complicity in Arafat’s death in the past … Sources in Abbas’ Fatah movement said Arafat’s death could be discussed at the party’s seventh annual conference, with the commission of inquiry potentially announcing its conclusions. The conference will be held on November 29.
Why Israeli Arabs prefer studying in the West Bank
Al Monitor 8 Nov by Shlomi Eldar — Israeli-Arab students find it difficult to pass the entry exams of universities in Israel that favor Hebrew-speaking Israeli Jews, and prefer enrolling in West Bank universities — Chairman Ayman Odeh of the Joint List, the unified slate of predominantly Arab parties, was invited to tour the Arab American University in Jenin on Nov. 6, and to a meeting with the university’s heads. The objective of this get-together was not a mere courtesy or get-to-know you visit, but to show Odeh the integration of Israeli-Arab students in the only private academic institution in the West Bank … According to the university’s communication office, half of the 10,000 students who are currently enrolled are from Israel. Most of them enrolled in degree programs such as nursing, pharmacy, engineering or law — majors that give them a high chance of finding employment in the future. But the department that is most attractive for Israeli students is dentistry. This is a profession that will — most probably — allow them to make an honest living within the supportive Israeli-Arab sector, without having to “ask favors” of Jewish employers or being subject to frequent discrimination during the process of finding work. Other universities in the West Bank, such as An-Najah University in Nablus and Birzeit University just outside Ramallah, also have many students from Israel. These students decide to study in the West Bank for two main reasons. Some feel that the incitement messages advocated by the Israeli right-wing government have infiltrated academia. Thus, Israeli academic space has become much less tolerant of them. Others find it extremely difficult to pass the acceptance exams of the Israeli universities. These young people feel that the exams are tailored to Hebrew speakers and those who grew up in the Jewish-Zionist culture, without making allowances for minority groups. For example, Technion, the Haifa technology institute, raised the bar of its entrance exams in Hebrew this year.This change mainly harms members of minority groups who want to study at Technion….
WATCH: Activism and spirituality in the Palestinian olive harvest
Israel Social TV 8 Nov — At the height of the olive harvest this year, the Palestinian residents of Jayyous were assisted by volunteers from Israel and abroad. The activists came to the West Bank to combine activism and spirituality. Beyond the contribution of their manual labor, however, their very presence also helps reduce and prevent friction with the Israeli army and settlers.
Medicinal herb industry takes root in Palestine
RAMALLAH (Al Monitor) 9 Nov by Ahmad Melhem —The cultivation of medicinal herbs in Palestine has been growing over the past decade in an industry that benefits from the experience of Palestinian former workers in Israeli settlements — Cultivating medicinal herbs is one of the most promising and productive agricultural sectors in Palestine. Palestinian medicinal plants reached global markets after almost 10 years of work that started on May 3, 2007. In cooperation with al-Khaizaran Company for Agricultural Products, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) had launched the greenhouse project for medicinal herbs in Ras al-Fara, northeast of Nablus, north of the West Bank, as part of the Palestinian Agriculture Rehabilitation Activity. With that, the cultivation of medicinal herbs for export began and continues to grow. On Oct. 30, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah opened the Agripal Garden for Fresh Herbs where medicinal herbs like coriander, parsley and sweet basil are grown and exported. The garden is located in the northern al-Aghwar area, on the eastern side of the West Bank on the Jordanian border. The herbs are cultivated on 1,200 dunams (297 acres) in the West Bank. The total production capacity is estimated at 2,500 tons per year and is worth $20 million, Mohammad al-Lahham, the director of the Vegetables Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, told Al-Monitor. Lahham said these products are way too expensive to be sold in the local market, explaining that 95% of it is “exported to the United States and Europe due to the high cost of production.”
Palestinian activists blog for change on bus tour of neglected sites
RAMALLAH (Al Monitor) 10 Nov by Ahmad Melhem — A group of 50 journalists, bloggers and social media activists has embarked on a blogging tour in a bus sponsored by the Taghyeer media organization. On the morning of Nov. 4, the bus left for the town of Sebastia, northwest of Nablus, and the village of Kur, southeast Tulkarem, both in the northern West Bank. This is the second tour for the Social Media Bus in less than a month. The first started off Oct. 15 in the city of Jericho and visited several archaeological and natural sites suffering from neglect in the province, including Wadi Qelt and Nabi Moussa. The bloggers encouraged Palestinians to visit these areas and urge officials to focus on ailing sites. The Social Media Bus idea produces vlogs, photography and articles about the geography and history of certain sites in Palestine to show them to the public and officials and urge them to bring about change. This tour aims to highlight the Palestinian authorities’ neglect of those sites and the weak tourist activity in those areas through social media posts including interviews with citizens and local officials. The group’s posts were tagged with the hashtag #SMBUS and its Arabic equivalent … Alawi, whose travels sometimes last for 30 days, faces many obstacles. For fear of running into Israeli soldiers, he cannot carry a knife or any other sharp object that he might need to eat, climb, erect tents or defend against animals. He sometimes dresses as a foreign tourist to avoid problems with the army or the settlers….
Israel’s Arab soldiers who fight for the Jewish state
JERUSALEM (BBC News) 8 Nov by Jane Corbin — It is dawn in the Negev desert and Mahmud Kashua is saying his first prayers of the day – a gun by his side. Mahmud is one of a growing number of Israeli Arabs who have volunteered to serve in the army of the Jewish state. “I consider myself an Arab and a Muslim but I also consider myself part of this country,” Mahmud tells me during a break in live fire practice on the range. “It’s our state and we have to give back, to help as much as we can to the state which protects us.” Over six months a BBC Arabic documentary team gained extraordinary access to the Gadsar – an all-Arab unit of 500 within the Israeli Defence Force. Ten times as many Israeli Arabs – Muslims and Christians – are joining the IDF compared to three years ago. “Our mission is to enlist as many as we can,” says Col Wajdi Sarhan, head of the IDF Minorities Unit. “We have a few hundred and we want to double that in the next year.” Twenty per cent of Israel’s population is Arab but only about 1% of them serve in the army. Enlisting is controversial in many of their communities….