Israeli army kills one Palestinian, injures three others in Gaza
IMEMC 18 Nov — Palestinian medical sources have reported that one Palestinian was killed on Friday evening, and three others were injured, after Israeli soldiers stationed across the border fence opened fire on Palestinian protesters in central Gaza and east of Gaza city. The sources stated that the soldiers stationed on military towers near the border fence east of the al-Boreij refugee camp in central Gaza fired many live rounds, gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets at the protesters, killing a young man, identified as Mohammad Sa‘id Abu Sa‘da, 26, and wounding two others. Abu Sa’da was shot with a live round in his chest, causing instant death, while another young man was shot with a gas bomb in his chest and a third in the leg. Palestinian medics moved the slain Palestinian and the wounded to the nearby Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza. Many Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation. In addition, soldiers stationed on towers at the Nahal Oz military base, east of Gaza city, fired several live rounds at Palestinians close to the border fence, moderately wounding one Palestinian who was moved to the Shifa hospital, while three others suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.
[Ma‘an reports: Abu Sada is the 239th Palestinian to be killed by an Israeli since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015, the vast majority of whom were shot dead by Israeli forces.
During the same time period, 34 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians.]
Israeli forces open live fire at Palestinian fishermen, shoot tear gas at youths in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Nov — Israeli naval forces Friday opened live fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip and fired tear gas at a group of Palestinian youths near a military site in eastern Gaza City. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli naval boats deployed off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip opened live fire at Palestinian fishermen, forcing them to flee the area. Meanwhile, Israeli forces also fired tear gas canisters at a group of youths who had gathered near the Nahal Oz military site in eastern Gaza City. No injuries were reported in either incident.
Egyptian authorities open Rafah crossing for 5th and last day
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Nov — Egyptian authorities Friday opened the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt for the fifth, and last, consecutive day to allow the passage of humanitarian cases, students, and the entry of Palestinians stranded outside of the besieged coastal enclave. Gaza’s crossings and borders committee said that the crossing would be open to students on Friday who have been waiting to attend school outside the Gaza Strip. On Thursday, 588 students passed through the Rafah crossing, according to the committee. However, while it was initially reported that only students were permitted through the crossing, the committee said that Palestinians with Egyptian passports and humanitarian cases were also transported out of the besieged Palestinian territory on seven buses. Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities prevented 98 Palestinians from crossing for unknown reasons, while 363 arrived at the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing from Egypt.
Gazans march in protest of Israel’s bill banning Muslim call to prayer in Jerusalem
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Nov — The Hamas movement organized on Friday a march in the northern Gaza Strip, condemning recent efforts by the Israeli government to ban the Muslim call to prayer from playing over loudspeakers inside Israel and occupied East Jerusalem. Hamas official Youssef al-Sharafi condemned attempts by Israel to ban the Muslim call to prayer — also known as the adhan — which is broadcast five times a day from mosques or Islamic centers, specifically in Jerusalem, saying he considered it “provocative and a violation against the feelings of Muslims.” Al-Sharafi called upon the Palestinian Authority (PA) to stop its security coordination with Israel and “take the side of Palestinian people and defend Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque.”He also called upon other Arab and Islamic nations to “support Palestinian resistance defending Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and other religious sites that are being violated by Israel.”
250 Palestinians in Gaza travel to Al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Nov — Some 250 Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip traveled to occupied East Jerusalem on Friday to attend prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to Palestinian liaison officials. The officials told Ma‘an that the worshipers, all above the age of 50, traveled to Jerusalem via the Erez crossing between the besieged enclave and Israel to attend prayers, and would immediately be returning to the Gaza Strip following the conclusion of Friday prayers. This Friday’s trip to Jerusalem came a week after Israeli authorities canceled the permits of 150 elderly Palestinians in Gaza to attend Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa … Visitations of elderly Palestinians from Gaza were implemented as part of a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s 2014 offensive on the besieged enclave. However, due to Israeli security concerns and Jewish holidays, visits have been frequently interrupted since their introduction….
In Israeli-blockaded Gaza, more unemployment and fewer exit permits
MEMO 16 Nov — New official Israeli data, released by Gisha, an NGO, confirms a sharp fall in the number of Israeli-issued exit permits for Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip. According to the figures, the number of the number of active senior merchant permits fell from 410 permits in May 2016, to only 105 in June and 193 in August. Meanwhile, the number of active merchant permits fell from 3,181 in January 2016 to 2,438 in September 2016, a drop of 23 per cent. At the same time, the number of applications for merchant permits that were refused jumped by over 100 per cent between January and August. Overall, October saw just 7,101 exits of Palestinians via the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing, down from 11,050 in September and 13,446 in August. October’s figure is just half the monthly average January-June 2016 (14,100). The number of truckloads of goods entering Gaza (including fuel, gas and construction materials) also fell in October – 8,383 from a September figure of 9,731, and compared to a monthly average in January-June of 10,892. It is important to note that during October, Erez was fully or partially closed on 12 days of the month due to Jewish holidays, while Kerem Shalom was similarly closed for eight days. According to UN officials, in September 2016 the rate of denials for UN staff with Gaza IDs stood at 41 per cent, compared to 21 per cent in June and only 3 per cent in January. “Given that these employees need to travel regularly for their work in international humanitarian agencies”, Gisha notes, “it’s difficult to see this as anything other than an irrational and punitive measure.” Meanwhile, figures from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) show that the unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip has risen from 41.7 per cent in the 2nd quarter to 43.2 per cent in the 3rd quarter….
Life is lived on the edge along Gaza’s boundary
AL-FARAHEEN, Gaza Strip (EI) 17 Nov by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh — Don’t get too close, Omar Abu Khater warned. We were picking our way cautiously through the rubble of demolished farms and buildings on a recent afternoon in the al-Faraheen neighborhood of the town of Abasan al-Kabira in the southern Gaza Strip, east of Khan Younis. His caution was warranted. Just 100 meters away loomed a concrete wall, part of the barrier Israel has erected around Gaza’s boundaries, complete with watchtowers, cameras and soldiers with sniper rifles. We were too close. While there is no official determination, it is generally understood that anywhere within 300 meters from the boundary is a no-go zone. Going there could be fatal. And when this reporter tried to move closer to take a few photos on a mobile phone, Abu Khater was having none of it. He had seen army jeeps near the wall and he was feeling uneasy. “You never know with these soldiers. We have to hurry.” This is the very edge of Gaza, where the Israeli military has been busy fortifying a buffer zone of uncertain size within Gaza that keeps residents on constant alert and at risk of injury or death … According to Abu Khater, here in al-Faraheen, soldiers begin to shoot at 5 pm. The gunfire, he said, is random and sporadic and has destroyed any kind of social existence in the neighborhood. Now, it is the sound of projectiles striking walls and tin roofs that marks the evenings. The situation has only deteriorated since the devastating Israeli assault of 2014. No visitors come to these areas anymore, fearing for their lives. This, Abu Khater said, is the reality of life in the no-go zones. He looked at his watch again while crouching behind a wall. “The occupation knows that you’re a stranger,” he said. “I advise you to return to my house and complete your work from there.”….
Gaza fishermen not permitted beyond 6-mile zone anytime soon
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 18 Nov by Mohammad Othman — After Israel announced Oct. 25 its intention to expand the permitted fishing zone off Gaza’s coast from 6 to 9 miles, starting Nov. 3, it delayed the implementation of the decision until Nov. 6 and subsequently halted the decision indefinitely. Fisherman Mohammed Hassouna lives in Beach refugee camp west of Gaza City and had pinned high hopes on the expansion decision, which he thought would improve — albeit slightly — his daily catch. His hopes, however, were dashed by Israel’s revocation of this decision. “I have an average-size fishing boat and three workers. I go fishing twice a day, from 4 p.m. until the early morning hours and from 7 a.m. until noon. I make between 200 shekels [$52] and 300 shekels [$77] on a daily basis by selling the fish, and this amount covers the workers’ wages and the boat’s operational expenses such as fuel. So my daily profit ranges between 40 shekels [$10] to 50 shekels [$13],” Hassouna told Al-Monitor. Despite Israel’s recent statements that it would expand the permitted fishing zone off the coast of Gaza to 9 miles, Hassouna believes this would only slightly improve the situation as most of the fish are caught beyond 9 miles. “When Israel expanded the fishing zone to 9 nautical miles in previous years [in 2015], we, the fishermen, would sometimes go beyond the 9 miles to improve our catch — quantitatively and qualitatively. And even if the Israelis decide to expand the fishing zone, the zones we would be allowed to go out into have no fish, and the Israelis are well-aware that fish abound in bigger rocky areas we call al-Marahi [Arabic for pastures]. They know which zones are good and which are not,” he added….
A humanitarian airport for Gaza: An interview with Ahmed Alkhatib
Forbes 18 Nov by Ethan Chorin — Ahmed Alkhatib is the founder and director of Project Unified Assistance (PUA), a San Francisco-based 501c(3) nonprofit organization. The organization has revived and developed the idea of an internationally-managed humanitarian airport in the Gaza strip, and brought it to the attention of regional stakeholders, including the Palestinian Authority (PA), Hamas and Israel. The idea is ambitious. Some have called it unlikely. Nevertheless, Alkhatib has received praise from senior U.S. and international policy professionals for his analysis of the security and development concerns of the concerned parties. There are growing indications the major stakeholders might be willing to endorse this concept or something similar. I met with Alkhatib in San Francisco this past week to discuss the origins of the project, its current status and where it might fit in a Trump Administration’s foreign policy….
Hamas clamps down on Gaza’s ‘insecure’ Israeli SIM cards
GAZA (Reuters) 17 Nov by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Hamas-run authorities in Gaza are trying to stop the sale and distribution of pre-paid SIM cards from Israeli cellular providers, arguing the cards pose economic and security risks and allow users to access “immoral” content. Cards from Israel’s two biggest providers, Cellcom and Partner, can be found for sale under the counter in kiosks and shops in parts of Gaza, where they are brought in by businessman and traders returning from trips to Israel. “These companies are not registered in Palestinian areas and therefore we can’t allow them to operate,” Zeyad Al-Sheikh Deeb, director of licensing at the Gaza telecommunications ministry, told Reuters. “They represent an unfair competition to national companies and cause damage to our economy.” Partner Communications said it had no business activity in Gaza, pointing out that the pre-paid cards were bought from independent distributors in Israel. Cellcom said it did not market products in Gaza. Neither company operates in Gaza, where Palestinian firm Jawwal, owned by PalTel, runs the only network. But because Partner and Cellcom have towers just across the border in Israel, their 3G and 4G signals can be reached from parts of the territory that are closer to the frontier or on high ground. Cellcom’s signal is said to be more reliable, making its SIMs more popular. For 50 Israeli shekels ($13), Gazans can pick up a SIM giving them 5,000 minutes of talk-time and potentially unlimited Internet access via a virtual private network. By comparison, a Jawwal SIM for the same price provides just 130 minutes of talk-time and more restricted Web access … Iyad Al-Bozom, spokesman for the interior ministry in Gaza, said Israeli cards presented a number of problems. As well as shifting users away from the Palestinian network, undercutting its revenue, they carry security risks, he said. “Conversations made via these cards can be stored on Israeli servers and used by the occupation,” he told Reuters, referring to Israel’s presence in all of historic Palestine, which Hamas regards as entirely occupied. Gaza remains blockaded by Israel 11 years after Israeli forces withdrew from the coastal strip. “Israeli intelligence officers have also used these SIM cards to contact some collaborators,” he added, confirming that the ban order had been reaffirmed in recent days….
Israeli army abducts two Palestinians near Gaza
IMEMC 17 Nov — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday evening, two Palestinians, after they reportedly crossed the border fence, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, while also ‘carrying two grenades” and moved them to an interrogation facility. An Israeli military spokesperson claimed the two crossed the border fence near Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The spokesperson added that the soldiers monitored the movements of the two Palestinians, and arrested them after they crossed the border fence, and “found out they were carrying two grenades.”
Why these Gaza inmates are picking up a pen behind bars
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 17 Nov by Ahmad Abu Amer — In mid-October, a number of Palestinian inmates in the main correctional and rehabilitation center in western Gaza City embarked on a project to handwrite the holy Quran using Uthmanic calligraphy. The project came in an effort by the inmates to expiate their guilt in the hopes of obtaining privileges inside prison and having their sentences reduced. Nine inmates who took Uthmanic calligraphy courses joined the project, which is sponsored by Dar Al-Quran and Sunnah in Gaza City. Those in charge of the project expect the project to be finished by the end of the year. Handwriting the Quran is one of the projects carried out by the correctional and rehabilitation centers in the Gaza Strip, in order to alter inmate behavior and prompt them to benefit from their time in prison. As a result, the correctional and rehabilitation centers free many inmates for good conduct after they have served two-thirds of their prison sentences….
State watchdog’s final Gaza War report to be distributed
Haaretz 17 Nov by Barak Ravid — Near-final version of politically charged document expected to criticize security cabinet of summer 2014; officials given two weeks to respond — State Comptroller Joseph Shapira is expected Thursday to submit the almost-final draft of his report on the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict – known as Operation Protective Edge – to the prime minister and other ministers and figures who were in office at the time. The report, which is expected to be critical of the security cabinet’s performance during the war, could be politically explosive and is likely to increase the existing tension among the ministers. A Jerusalem official told Haaretz that the comptroller is expected to give the individuals he inspected a week to two weeks to respond before distributing the report, which is expected to be released before the end of December. Classified “top secret,” the report runs 550 pages. It deals with the threat of the tunnels from Gaza, the decision making process in the security cabinet and its performance before and during the war, and the home front’s preparedness. It also deals with the extent to which the recommendations of the Turkel Commission – which examined the compatibility of the IDF’s activity with international law – were implemented. The report’s almost-final version has been sent to the IDF’s Information Security Department and to the Defense Ministry’s director of security. The two were asked to make sure the report doesn’t include details that should be deleted and which even the secret subcommittee of the Knesset’s State Control Committee and the Intelligence sub-committee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee aren’t cleared to see.…
Violence / Detention — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli forces injure Palestinian in face with rubber-coated steel bullet near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Nov — A Palestinian was injured in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet while dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation during clashes with Israeli forces at the western entrance of the village of Tuqu‘, southwest of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an “our crews transported one injured man from Tuqu‘ near Bethlehem, who was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the mouth, which entered from one side and exited from the other.” The injured man was taken to the Beit Jala Governmental hospital for treatment.
Video: Israeli soldiers attack the weekly protest in Kufur Qaddoum
IMEMC 19 Nov — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly protest in Kufur Qaddoum, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, leading to clashes between the army and dozens of local youngsters. The Popular Committee in Kufur Qaddoum said the procession this week was dubbed “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest), and comes to protest the Israeli decision barring the calls for prayers in various mosques, including Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem. The soldiers were extensively deployed at the main entrance of Kufur Qaddoum and around it, and fired dozens of gas bombs, in addition to several live rounds and rubber-coated steel bullets on the protesters. Medical sources said scores of residents suffered severe effects of teargas inhalation, especially since the soldiers used weapons that fire many gas bombs at once.
Palestinian, Israeli and international activists hold the weekly protest in Bil‘in
IMEMC 18 Nov — Many Palestinian, Israeli, and international peace activists held, Friday, the weekly nonviolent protest against the illegal Israeli Annexation Wall and colonies in Bil‘in village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The protest was held by approximately twenty Palestinians, ten Israelis and five international peace activists, who marched from the center of the village carrying Palestinian flags and chanting against the ongoing Israeli occupation, the illegal Annexation Wall, and the colonies, in addition to the constant violations against the Palestinians, their homes, and lands. At least 50 Israeli soldiers were deployed in the area, and threatened to use excessive force against the protesters if they do not leave; the protest later ended without any clashes, injuries, or abductions. The soldiers detained local activist, Hamza Burnat, for nearly an hour before releasing him. Nonviolent activist Ashraf Abu Rahma told the IMEMC that the soldiers used megaphones calling his name and the name of Abdullah Abu Rahma, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in Bil ‘in, threatening to abduct and imprison them, should they continue to participate in protests….
Israeli soldiers pillage Kadoorie University in Tulkarem
TULKAREM (PIC) 18 Nov — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Thursday stormed the campus of the Palestine Technical University (Kadoorie) in Tulkarem, north of the West Bank, and plundered its main administrative offices. According to an official source from the university, Israeli soldiers forced the university security men to open the main gates and take them to the main administration building, where they broke the doors of the computer center and then embarked on pillaging its contents, including electronic materials and security camera archives. The administration strongly denounced what happened, describing it as part of the Israeli army’s ongoing violations against the university and its students. The university has been exposed to about 85 IOF raids in recent years.
Israeli soldiers invaded several Palestinian communities in Nablus
IMEMC 18 Nov — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday at dawn, many Palestinian villages, and towns, in addition to agricultural lands, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The soldiers searched many homes, olive orchards and caves after gunshots were heard close to Yitzhar Israeli colony, illegally built on Palestinian lands south of Nablus. The invasions were focused in the towns of ‘Orif, Einabous and Huwwara, and targeted many homes, but no arrests were made. On Thursday at night, the soldiers abducted a young Palestinian man trying to cross Za‘tara military roadblock, south of Nablus, after allegedly locating an automatic weapon on him.
Israeli forces raid West Bank charcoal factory in Jenin district
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Nov — Israeli authorities raided a charcoal factory in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin on Thursday morning over the air pollution caused by the factory. The head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Yoav Mordechai, had previously warned the Palestinian Authority (PA) that Israel would raid the factory, located in the town of Ya‘bad, if the polluting smoke it produced was not eliminated. During the raid, Israeli forces confiscated equipment and wood, and declared the road connecting Ya‘bad to eastern villages as a military post, the public relations department of Jenin reported. A spokesperson for COGAT, which is responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied West Bank, told Ma’an that “the Civil Administration applied an enforcement in Area B against charcoal pollution in northern Samaria,” using the Israeli term for the northern West Bank. “The decision to carry out this enforcement was made to protect the environment and reduce and cease the pollution, after numerous attempts over the past years to find solutions to the issue of charcoal pollution…due to lack of cooperation from the Palestinian side,” the spokesperson said, adding that high levels of nearby residents suffered from respiratory problems. The spokesperson confirmed that “tools and equipment were seized, including 160 tons of wood, which is used for the charcoal production, to prevent further production.”Jenin district Governor Ibrahim Ramadan condemned all Israeli procedures to obstruct Palestinians from making their living, noting that Ya‘bad’s economy depends heavily on the coal factory.
A number of arrests, injuries reported in Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (PIC) 17 Nov — The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) violently attacked on Thursday a group of Palestinian and foreign peace activists after they established a village in the northern Jordan Valley. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society affirmed that six activists were injured after being sprayed with pepper gas during the event, three of them were transferred to hospital. Local sources affirmed that Israeli forces violently attacked the activists after they succeeded to establish Yasser village near Hamma hamlet, which was earlier demolished by the IOF, and that two foreign activists were arrested. Over the past two months, 32 homes were demolished in the area while 32% of Palestinian lands in the northern Jordan Valley were confiscated.
Photos: Israeli abuse of Palestinian rights in Jericho
MEMO 18 Nov — Israeli forces attack peaceful Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank
Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinian women, 18 others in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Nov — At least 20 Palestinians, including two women and at least five minors, were detained across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem during overnight raids between Wednesday and Thursday, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.
East Jerusalem: Israeli forces raided the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods of ‘Issawiya and Jabal al-Mukabbir at dawn on Thursday and detained six Palestinians, locals said. ‘Issawiya local committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus said that Israeli forces detained five Palestinian minors in the neighborhood. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) identified four of the ‘Issawiya detainees as Ahmad Abd al-Raouf Mahmoud, 15, Samir Atiya, 15, Nour Maher Muhesin, 15, and Mamun Bassil Mahmoud, 15. Lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud identified the fifth youth as Tariq Mahmoud. Meanwhile, residents said that Israeli forces raided and searched the home of Shadi Elayyan, 33, in Jabal al-Mukabbir and detained him, PPS reported.
Hebron district: In the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, locals reported that Israeli forces detained Hatem Muhammad Abu Fanar, 48, in the village of Yatta. Israeli soldiers also raided the home of Abu Fanar’s brother, journalist Abd al-Aziz Abu Fanar, who said that around 15 Israeli military vehicles were in the area during the raid. He added that soldiers held him, his wife, and his children in a closed room for an hour while they searched his home, destroying furniture and personal belongings in the process. PPS, meanwhile, identified three other Palestinians detained in the Hebron area as Farah al-Hajouj, 26, Ahmad Khader al-Hroub, and Palestinian girl Alaa Husam al-Din. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an that one Palestinian had been detained in Yatta, adding that three others had been detained in the Hebron district — one in Bani Na‘im, one in Dura, and an alleged Hamas operative in Deir Samit….
Return body of killed Palestinian child, settlers urge Israel
MEE/Agencies 17 Nov — Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank have appealed to the Israeli defence ministry to hand over the body of a Palestinian youth shot dead by the army so he can be buried by his family. Seven rabbis were among around 30 residents of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc who called on Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman to “immediately” deliver the body of Khaled Bahar, 15, for burial, in a letter seen by AFP on Thursday. Bahar was shot dead on 20 October as Israeli soldiers opened fire on Palestinian stone-throwers in the Beit Ummar sector of the West Bank. The letter’s said an investigation by the army had found that Bahar “apparently had nothing to do with the stone-throwers”. “We, inhabitants of Gush Etzion, with links to residents of Beit Ummar and neighbouring villages, ask that the family be allowed to bury the young man,” the letter reads, noting that the Bible does not allow bodies to go unburied. Also among the signatories were the poet Eliaz Cohen and Michal Frouman, a young woman who was stabbed by a Palestinian assailant in January when she was pregnant. Since October 2015 and the start of a new wave of attacks, many of which have targeted settlements in the West Bank, Israeli forces have confiscated the bodies of killed Palestinians, often for several months.
Israeli authorities transfer 14-year-old Ahmad Manasra to Israel’s Megiddo prison
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Nov — The Israel Prison Service (IPS) recently transferred 14-year-old Palestinian prisoner Ahmad Manasra to Israel’s Meggido prison, Manasra’s family told Ma‘an on Saturday. Manasra was sentenced to 12 years in Israeli prison earlier this month after receiving an attempted murder charge 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). Manasra’s family told Ma‘an that IPS officials transferred the young prisoner from Israel’s Yarka closed institution, where he has been held since October last year, to Israel’s Megiddo prison after being sentenced on Nov. 7. The family added that Manasra’s defense lawyers attempted to appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court to postpone his transfer to the prison, but the court refused. In Megiddo prison, Manasra will be imprisoned alongside adults, while other Palestinians are currently being held in Meggido as “security” prisoners or administrative detainees — held by Israel without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence … However, according to the IPS’s website there are some 1,000 prisoners held in the facility, 80 percent of whom are “young terrorists” (18-30 year olds). Meanwhile, the prison has a specific wing for the imprisonment of minors, where some 100 prisoners are currently being detained….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization
Israeli officials mull granting settlers ‘protected population’ status in West Bank
Haaretz 17 Nov by Chaim Levinson & Sharon Pulwer — Justice minister and attorney general are looking for solutions to problem of illegal outposts like Amona, that were built on private Palestinian land — Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked are examining three possible solutions to legalize settlements in the West Bank, including defining settlers as a local population like the Palestinians. Such a solution would allow Israel to expropriate Palestinian land for settlements. Other possibilities include making use of abandoned and unclaimed assets, and introducing a compensation mechanism similar to one used in Cyprus that has gained approval from the international community. These ideas are seen as alternatives to the bill now being advanced in the Knesset by the government, which would legalize settlements and outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land if they were initially sanctioned by the government. The attorney general has already expressed concern about the bill, saying it will not stand up to judicial scrutiny and will generate problems in the international arena. Regarding the first suggested solution, the Justice Ministry is checking whether settlers can be declared “protected persons” in an area categorized under international law as a “war zone.” The settlers do not currently have this status and, therefore, Israel can only operate in the West Bank for security purposes or for the sake of the Palestinians, who are defined as “protected persons.” Such a declaration would authorize the government to carry out actions in the occupied territories – including the expropriation of lands for settlements – even if this harmed the interest of the Palestinians, since the settlers’ interest would also be taken into account as part of the public interest. A source involved in the matter says this proposal has been “making the rounds,” and that the attorney general has yet to decide on its feasibility. Michael Sfard, a lawyer who specializes in international law and the rules of war – and also represents the Yesh Din organization for human rights – said that under the international law concerning occupation, “The local population has the standing of ‘protected persons’ under the Geneva Convention … “The Geneva Convention protects those who, in a time of conflict, find themselves under control or occupation by another country,” Sfard added. “There is no way to interpret this to mean that an Israeli who is in a place under Israeli control is a protected person.” However, in 1972, the High Court of Justice ruled that the settlers in Kiryat Arba could be placed under this definition, when a question arose about the electricity supply reaching them….
Video: Jerusalemites recite call to prayer from their rooftops
MEMO 18 Nov — In response to the Israeli government’s plan to prohibit the call to prayer in the city, Jerusalemites climbed onto the roofs of their houses and recited the call to prayer all together. In video footage which is circulating on social media, residents can clearly be heard reciting the call to prayer in protest of the law to ban it in Jerusalem. Churches in Nazareth showed solidarity by broadcasting the call to the night prayer in response to attempts to prohibit the call of prayer being broadcast from Al-Aqsa Mosque. Over the past two weeks, Israel has been working to ban the Muslim call to prayer, the adhan. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has supported the bill to outlaw the religious calling, saying: “Israel is a state that respects the freedom of worship for all believers and it is committed to protecting those who suffer from noise which is caused by the loudspeakers.”
Solving the muezzin problem without resorting to legislation
Haaretz 19 Nov by Noa Shpigel & Jack Khoury — The noise pollution created by mosques using loudspeakers to call the faithful to prayer can be solved by dialogue and creative thinking – rather than legislation – according to many in the Israeli Arab community … Anyone who has been in Old Acre at prayer time knows that only one voice emanates from all the mosques. For several years now, all the mosques in the city have been connected to a single loudspeaker system, and the voice of the muezzin of the city’s largest mosque, al-Jazaar, is the only one heard in the city. The mosque’s Imam, Samir Assi, says that the arrangement was intended to avoid all the mosques issuing calls at the same time, which both lengthens the process and is difficult on the ears. The mosques have also agreed to lower the volume of the loudspeakers in the early morning. On Yom Kippur, as well, “we make sure to lower the volume out of a sense of consideration,” Assi says. Assi, who heads the committee of imams who are recognized as public servants, does not support the proposed law. “I have clarified to all the imams and to those responsible in the religious and interior ministries that if the law is passed I will resign from my position,” he said. “We cannot accept a law that does harm to one of the principles of Islam. There is a great difference between dialogue and consideration and a bill that damages the principles of Islam.”
Olive harvest and colonialism in expansion in Kafr ad Dik
KAFR QALIL, occupied Palestine 12 Nov by ISM Huwwara Team — For the past six days, international activists joined a Palestinian farmer, Fares Deek, in the harvest of his olives outside Kafr ad Dik village, located inside Salfit governate. For the past 16 years, the area has been a target of expanding illegal Israeli settlements. Fares’ field is today surrounded at the north, east and west sides by Lashem settlement, started in 2010, with 700 units inhabited and another large number under construction. “They surrounded all my land and cut my road coming to my land. When they finish, I think I cannot come to my land.” Fares explained about the situation he is living in. Fares reported that until now, Israelis have stolen 700 dunums to build Lashem, leaving seven families that own fields on the same hill without their land, only to establish this illegal settlement. “They stole all my neighbors’ lands from the north and the east. In the future maybe in the south, maybe me.” Eight months ago, bulldozers destroyed the agriculture road that used to lead up to Fares’ field. Lashem has also cut him off the road to another field he owns, now on the north of Lashem illegal colony. It used to take Fares 5 minutes to drive from Kafr ad Dik to the land, but to reach it now he has to cross a valley, after driving through Der Ballut and Rafat villages, then he needs to climb for half an hour to the top of the mountain where the field is. The last time he visited that field for the harvest was in 2013. The time and the money needed makes it hardly worth the output anymore. Two other settlements, Pedu’el to the south and Ale Zahav, behind Lashem to the east complete to enclose his field. Just like Lashem, the illegal colony of Pedu’el, is also being expanded. Also to the north of Kafr ad Dik, the village Fares lives in, the new illegal settlement of “Sahar” is being formed on top of the mountain that Palestinians know as Daher Subeh. The area is being advertised as a quiet, peaceful place for Israelis to move to, according to Fares Deek … There is a well in Fares’ land that he used to use for drinking water, but 6 years ago after settlers started to throw down big rocks and to take baths inside it, he couldn’t use it any more. Dust is being spread from the bulldozers working on Lashem, causing damages for the olive trees. “All the years the harvest suffers because of the dust. The olive trees cannot breathe good air because of the dust. They are between life and death.”
Palestinian refugees – Syria
Palestinian activists killed in Syrian regime airstrike
DAMASCUS (PIC) 18 Nov — The Palestinian activist Mahmoud Abu Salah was killed in Syrian and Russian airstrikes that targeted Khan al-Sheih refugee camp in Syria. Abu Salah was one of the Civil Defense teams in the Palestinian refugee camp. Head of the Palestinian Return Center Majed Zeer strongly condemned the killing of Abu Salah, saying that “this crime did not only target Abu Salah but it also targeted Khan al-Sheih refugee camp’s steadfastness and struggle.” Zeer stressed the urgent importance of providing civilians in the refugee camp with international protection. He concluded by offering his deepest condolences to Abu Salah family.
PCHR weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (10-16 November)
PCHR-Gaza 17 Nov — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt 6 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. House demolitions on grounds of collective punishment. A room was closed with concrete in Yatta, south of Hebron. Israeli forces conducted 64 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 6 ones in occupied Jerusalem. 57 civilians, including 15 children and a woman, were arrested. Fifteen of them, including 12 children and the woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. The Health Improvement Program’s office in Ramallah was raided and some of its content were confiscated. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. 2 fishermen were arrested and their fishing boat was confiscated, north of the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. 2 residential apartments in al-Mukaber Mount and 2 stores in Beit Hanina were self-demolished by their owners. 2 barracks, an agricultural room and a mosque foundation in Silwan and Sour Baher villages were demolished. Settlement activities continued in the West Bank. 2 agricultural rooms in Qalqilya and a residential tent, a social service centre and a well, south of Hebron, were demolished. 28 storehouses in al-Ouja village, north of Jericho, were demolished; 6 of them were roofed while the others were still in the foundation phase [details follow]
Abbas freezes salaries of dozens of Dahlan supporters in Gaza
MEMO 18 Nov — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered salary payments of 57 employees in the Gaza Strip be halted over their alleged support for dismissed Fatah member Mohammed Dahlan. Sources close to the Palestinian president said he plans to continue his action again Dahlan and will ultimately stop paying salaries to some 500 officials who are believed to be close to Dahlan. The Times of Israel newspaper reported that Dahlan and his supporters have threatened to organise demonstrations to support him in the Gaza Strip and other areas in parallel with Fatah’s 7th Congress due on 29 November to undermine its legitimacy. Dahlan has also held contacts with the Hamas leadership in Gaza to attend one of the events in the Strip but observers believe he has no plans to carry out this threat. Meanwhile, Abbas has held talks with the Hamas leadership abroad including the head of the organisation’s political bureau Khaled Mashaal to allow 430 Fatah members to attend the Congress in the West Bank.
PA: Palestinian protesters shoot live fire and local bombs at Palestinian security forces
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 18 Nov — A group of Palestinian youth Thursday night shot live fire and locally made bombs at Palestinian security forces near the al-Fara‘a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank district of Tubas during a protest against the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s arbitrary detention of Palestinian youth in the refugee camp. Palestinian security forces told Ma‘an that a group of youth closed the main street near the al-Fara‘a refugee camp at midnight, prompting security forces to head to the area. Local sources from the refugee camp told Ma‘an that the youth had closed the street in protest of Palestinian security forces continuing to detain youth from the camp without charge or trial. While security forces attempted to open the closed street, two locally made bombs were thrown at them, prompting Palestinian forces to open fire in the air before chasing after the youth, security sources said. Live fire was also shot at the security forces when they approached the refugee camp, according to Palestinian security sources. The PA has come under a wave of criticism in recent months, as Palestinians have accused security forces of arbitrarily detaining and imprisoning Palestinians as part of another escalation of the PA’s “security coordination” with Israel — through what critics have called a “revolving door policy” of funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons….
Palestinian workers in Israel rarely get the sick pay they deserve
Haaretz 19 Nov by Or Kashti — Sick pay from Palestinian laborers accumulated by the treasury – and not paid out – is estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars — Sick pay was deducted from Yousef Musa Zidat’s salary for the entire 18 years that he worked in a bakery in Tel Aviv suburb Givatayim – one of tens of thousands of licensed Palestinian workers in Israel. But when he developed heart problems at 55, the Population, Immigration and Border Authority refused to compensate him for the days he was bedridden and declined to provide an explanation. Over the past four years, the state has deducted some 200 million shekels ($52 million) from Palestinian workers’ salaries for sick pay, but has paid out only 7 million. Workers told Haaretz about their exhausting efforts to claim sick pay; they’re often rejected without explanation. “I need the money to pay for medication and support my children,” said Akram Mustafa Nofel, a 41-year-old from Qalqilyah who was diagnosed with cancer two years ago. His request for sick pay was rejected. The population authority declined to comment for this article, saying “our response will be given in full to the court.” In the past few months, the authority has stopped dealing with claims for sick pay by Palestinian workers entirely. As a result, the number receiving compensation has plunged from several hundred – out of 50,000 to 60,000 workers – to less than 200. According to the authority, only 1 to 1.5 percent of claimants have been paid over the past three years, while this year the rate has dropped to 0.25 percent – or 156 workers. Israeli employers automatically deduct 2.5 percent from the salaries of Palestinian workers for the sick-pay fund that is the responsibility of the population authority. The money is then forwarded to the treasury … For Israeli workers, payment for sick days is the direct responsibility of the employer and is considered a simple process. Absence with a doctor’s note is credited with partial or full wages. But the process that Palestinians have to undergo, even if working for the same employer as Israelis, is much more arduous….
Murder of Palestinian women exposes Israeli divide over domestic violence
JAFFA, Israel (MEE) 17 Nov by Mary Pelletier — Since January 2016, eight Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed in domestic violence related murders in Israel — “There is nothing romantic about murder!” The phrase rang out loudly across central Jaffa on Friday 28 October, as hundreds of demonstrators carrying signs in Arabic, Hebrew and English took to the streets just south of Tel Aviv with a message: violence against women needs to end. Earlier in the week, the Palestinian community in Jaffa had been overwhelmed by the murders of two female residents, Hawida Shawa, 44, and Huda Abu Sarari, 37. The deaths of Shawa and Sarari occurred three days apart, Shawa having been found beaten to death in a car in the northern West Bank, and Sarari stabbed to death in front of family members in Jaffa. Police suspect that relatives of the victims were involved in each of their murders, adding their names to a growing list of Palestinian women in Israel who have been killed in similar circumstances … The violence had become so widespread that on 6 October, Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman, head of the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, spoke out against police inaction at an emergency Knesset session. Touma-Sliman told Middle East Eye that crimes against Palestinian women are not treated in the same way as crimes against Israeli women. “Gender crimes against women are a problem that exist within all societies,” Touma-Sliman said shortly after the march in Jaffa. “What makes it a terrible situation for the Arab women is the fact that there is no serious effort put in to stop these crimes and to stop the escalation that is happening.” Touma-Sliman explained that when a gender crime occurs in Palestinian communities in Israel, they are often seen as insular and receive less investigative attention than crimes that occur in Israeli communities….
Israel says Jewish birthrate same as Arabs’ for first time
AFP 17 Nov — The Jewish birthrate has drawn level with that of Arabs in Israel for the first time since the state was founded in 1948, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics says. The subject is closely watched in Israel, where the Jewish population is deeply concerned with maintaining a Jewish majority. “In 2015, for the first time, the general fertility rate of Arab and Jewish women was the same and stood at an average 3.13 children,” a CBS statement said. The figures include Palestinians living in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as well as Arab Israelis, who account for some 17.5 percent of the country’s population. The CBS said that at the end of 2015 there were 2.798 million children in Israel, accounting for 33 percent of the 8.6 million population. Of the total under-18 population, 71.3 percent were Jews and 25.7 percent were Arabs, it said. The remaining three percent were described as “others”, including non-Arab Christians. Among arguments fielded by Israeli proponents of a sovereign Palestine alongside the Jewish state are that the alternative is a single binational state in which Arab Israelis and Palestinians combined would form the majority … There are 1.7 million combined east Jerusalem Palestinians and Arab Israelis. Arab Israelis, Israeli citizens who largely identify as Palestinians, are the descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948. The two ethnic blocs are at the moment equally balanced at about 6.4 million each, counting both Israel and the Palestinian territories. According to the CBS, within Israel, the Jewish birthrate has been growing consistently while that of Arab Israelis has been falling. In 2000, the Arab fertility rate in Israel was 4.3 children per woman, while the Jewish rate was 2.6 and the Jewish birthrate is expected to outstrip that of Arabs in the near future. One reason for the steady growth in Jewish births is the high rate among the ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox Jewish populations….
Two West Bank schools unveil upgrades, solar panels, and more
ANERA 2 Nov — It’s an unfortunate reality that most schools in Palestine are in bad shape. Crumbling facilities, outdoor or outdated bathrooms, and drab white walls are a common sight. And without playgrounds, kids often play in the street during recess hour. But two West Bank schools shine against the rest. The Jalqamous boys’ school [Jenin district] and the Hatta co-ed school [Hebron district] have just swung open their doors with full-scale renovations. ANERA added libraries, science labs, playgrounds, and more – all the features a school should have to foster learning. The new schools are also solar-powered and fully accessible. The bigger, better new schools mean that 500 kids from the surrounding villages can get a fun and high-quality education. Almost 500 children get to use the brand new facilities of Hatta and Jalqamous. Hatta has a new preschool, five more classrooms, computer and science labs, a library and playground. Jalqamous also added five more classrooms, along with a new faculty room, library, computer and science lab, outdoor recreational area and boundary walls for security. Hatta now enrolls students up to the eighth grade — it only went up to the sixth grade before the renovations. In the past, students had to travel to another town to go to middle school. As a result, many girls simply dropped out because their parents were reluctant to send them far away from home. The added grades at Hatta mean that more girls have the chance to continue their education, at least until eighth grade….
Why Palestinians are unfazed by calls to cut off US aid
Al-Monitor 17 Nov by Daoud Kuttab — Palestinians don’t appear to be fazed by the calls of the Trump administration to cut off aid to the Palestinian government, as some feel that this could be a political relief from Washington pressures — Prominent Palestinian politicians and economists in the Palestinian territories appear to be totally unfazed by threats that the Republicans in both houses of Congress and in the Donald Trump administration might cut off aid to the Palestinian government. Mustafa Barghouti, an elected Palestinian legislator, told Al-Monitor that the United States has already reduced aid to the Palestinian government. “In the past two years, we have seen a steady decline in financial support coming from Washington to the Palestinian government. Some of the remaining aid coming from the United States is going directly to local governments, and the rest is distributed to civil society organizations by USAID [US Agency for International Development].” A US official confirmed Barghouti’s statement, telling the Wall Street Journal Nov. 16 that US funding, which goes straight to the Palestinian government’s creditors, “has dropped from about $100 million in 2014 to roughly $75 million in 2015.” Barghouti, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, has a number of questions about the aims of USAID. “With USAID, a large chunk of the money is spent as overhead on US-based organizations, and it is not clear what their [the organization’s] goals are in Palestine.” … Samir Hazboun, the head of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, echoed Barghouti’s statement that in 2016, most US aid to the Palestinian government had stopped. “USAID is still giving a small grant, but they are going mostly to local municipalities,” he said. According to Hazboun, the Palestinian government has been able to weather this reduction in US support by vastly improving its tax collection. “Ramallah has been able to cover much of the cost of running the government by improving its tax collection. This was reflected in the recent report by the International Monetary Fund [IMF],” Hazboun said … Hazboun argued that with the reduction in financial aid, the United States loses its ability to have any political influence over Palestinians. “They are losing their ability to advise and persuade the Palestinian government in whatever direction they want.” Ironically, with the reduction in US funding, some press reports indicate that Israel is playing a positive role in supporting the Palestinian government to ensure that it stays afloat….
After six years, Canada resumes funding for UNRWA
JPost 18 Nov by Herb Keinon — The $25 million will be accompanied by “robust oversight and reporting framework” to make sure the money is used for its stated purposes — In a significant break from the policies of former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, the Canadian government of Justin Trudeau announced this week that it will resume funding the United Nations Relief and Work Agency. Harper reduced Canada’s funding to the organization, which has been criticized as having ties to Hamas, from $32 million in 2007, to $19m. in 2009, and stopped funding it entirely in 2010. He redirected the Canadian funds instead to other addresses aiding the Palestinians. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s minister of International Development and La Francophonie, announced Wednesday that Ottawa would provide $20m. to UNRWA and another $5m. to the organization’s’ emergency appeal for Palestinian refugees impacted by the crisis in Syria. “With this funding, Canada joins all other G7 countries in supporting UNRWA’s efforts to meet the ever increasing needs of Palestinian refugees, assists in providing basic services for vulnerable people, and contributes to stability in the region,” the Canadian government said in a statement….