Rev. Graylan Hagler dedicates Bethlehem shrine to two teen victims, one Palestinian, one African-American

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Violence / Detention — West Bank / Jerusalem

‘Young lives taken too soon’: Activists dedicate memorial to Tamir Rice in ‘Aida refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Dec by Yumna Patel — In the span of one year, a 12- and a 13-year-old boy were shot and killed by armed authorities — one in the occupied West Bank, and one in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, in the United States. Their names were Abd al-Rahman Obeidallah, 13, and Tamir Rice, 12, and on Friday, a memorial was enshrined in their honor in the ‘Aida refugee camp — where Obeidallah was born, raised, and killed — in the southern occupied West bank city of Bethlehem. Tamir Rice, an African American child, was shot by local Ohio police on November 22, 2014 while playing alone with his toy gun in a park in Cleveland. Within seconds of arriving on the scene to reports of a juvenile playing with what the caller reported was “probably a fake gun,” police officers shot Rice in the chest. He was pronounced dead a day later. Almost one year later, on October 5 2015, Abd al-Rahman Obeidallah was shot in the chest by Israeli forces as he walked home from school during clashes in the Aida refugee camp. He was taken to the hospital, but was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. Israeli authorities later said his death was “a mistake.” Neither the American police officers nor the Israeli soldiers who killed Rice and Obeidallah were indicted for killing the boys. “We are dedicating this memorial in honor of two young lives that have been snuffed out unjustly,” said Reverend Graylan Hagler, who came with members of his congregation from Washington D.C. to dedicate the memorial inside the Aida playground, built by the NGO Playgrounds for Palestine….

Israeli border police shoot, injure Palestinian worker near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Dec — A Palestinian worker was shot and injured by Israeli border police in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem as he was reportedly trying to cross into Israel early on Thursday. A spokesman for the Israeli border police told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stationed at the Mazmoriya checkpoint noticed a “suspicious” man trying to cross the separation barrier between the West Bank and Israel. A border police officer then shot a “non-lethal bullet” into the Palestinian man’s left leg, the spokesperson added, stating that Israeli forces provided the man first aid before he was taken to a hospital. The Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an that the Palestinian man [IMEMC: Mousa Dababseh], a 28-year-old resident of the Hebron-area village of Yatta, was injured by live ammunition in the left knee, and taken to a governmental hospital in Beit Jala for treatment. The man was reportedly in a stable condition, the Red Crescent said.

Israeli army injures 50 Palestinians in Abu Dis
IMEMC 30 Nov — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday evening, Abu Dis town, southeast of occupied East Jerusalem, and clashed with many Palestinians near Abu Dis University, leading to the injury of 50 Palestinians, including ten who were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets. The Palestinian Red Crescent said its medics provided the needed treatment to 39 Palestinians, who suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation, 10 who were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, and one who suffered burns in his arm. Lawyer Bassam Bahar, the head of Abu Dis Land Defense Committee, said dozens of soldiers invaded the town, and surrounded Al-Quds Abu Dis University, before stopping many Palestinians and investigating their ID cards. Bahar added that the invasion led to clashes between the soldiers, who fired dozens of rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades, and local youngsters, who hurled stones and empty bottles at them.

Israeli settlers assault 55-year-old Palestinian near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 2 Dec — A Palestinian man was assaulted by Israeli settlers on Friday near the al-Sawiya village south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Issa Saleh Muhammad Saleh, 55, from al-Sawiya was taken to the Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus City after being beaten by four Israeli settlers at an intersection near al-Sawiya. It remained unclear the degree to which Saleh was injured. A spokesperson from the Coordination of Government Affairs in the Territories (COGAT), the group responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied West Bank, was not immediately available for comment. The Palestinian government has no jurisdiction over Israelis in the West Bank, and violent acts carried out by Israeli settlers often occur in the presence of Israeli military forces, who rarely act to protect Palestinian residents.


Israeli soldiers abduct eleven Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 29 Nov — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, at least eleven Palestinians in various district in the occupied West Bank, during extensive military invasions and searches of homes, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said. The PPS office in Salfit district, in central West Bank, said the soldiers abducted Mustafa Abdul-‘Aziz Mer’ey, Mo’men Jamal Mer’ey, Ahmad Harb Rayyan, Othman ‘Aassi, and Bilal ‘Aassi. It is worth mentioning that Othman is the son of Mahmoud ‘Aassi, while Bilal is the son of Ali ‘Aassi, who were both killed by the Israeli army 2008.  In Ramallah, the soldiers abducted Mohammad Rezeq Hamed, from Silwad town, east of the city. In Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank, the soldiers abducted Abada Mohammad Shehada, from ‘Orif town. In the southern West Bank district, the soldiers abducted Monatser Wajeeh Abu Ayyash, from Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron city, in addition to Mahmoud ‘Atef Masalma, Malek Mohammad Masalma and Baha’ Mohammad al-Ka’bi, from Beit ‘Awwa town, southeast of Hebron

Israeli forces detain 16 Palestinians, including 7 minors, in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Nov — Israeli forces detained at least 16 Palestinians, including seven minors, during overnight raids between Tuesday and Wednesday across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. According to a statement released by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), a 14-year-old Palestinian child was detained by Israeli forces from the city of Jerusalem on Tuesday. However, no further details were provided on the circumstances of the detention. Israeli forces also detained seven Palestinians from the Ramallah al-Bireh district on Tuesday, identified by PPS as Muhammad Nassal al-Amir, 12, Rami Thib Saleh, 12, and his brother Luay, 12, in addition to Khader Abd al-Hafith al-Tamimi, 19, Muhammad Jamal al-Tamimi, 21, all from the town of Deir Nitham, and Luay Abd al-Rahman Solh, 24, and Imad Wajih Saleh, 27, at the Attara checkpoint. In the northern West Bank, Israeli forces detained a Palestinian from the Tulkarem district, identified by PPS as Bahaa al-Din Nathmi Jayyusi, 53, while Muhammad Moussa Yassin was detained in Jenin. Meanwhile, in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, at least six Palestinians were detained, including three minors. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that four Palestinians were detained from the al-‘Arrub refugee camp, while two more were detained in Hebron city….

Israeli forces detain 12 Palestinians in Qalqiliya, Jerusalem district raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least 12 Palestinians during overnight raids between Wednesday and Thursday in the occupied West Bank districts of Jerusalem and Qalqiliya, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), a total of seven Palestinians were detained in the Jerusalem district. Two of the Palestinians were identified as Muhammad Ahmad Attun, the 16-year-old son of Palestinian Legislative Council member Ahmad Attun, and Muhammad Mahmoud Attun, 19. Locals said that the two were detained during a raid in the neighborhood of Sur Bahir. The Attun family said that Israeli forces escorted by police dogs broke into MP Attun’s home, breaking the front door and assaulting Attun’s teenage son Muhammad before detaining him … Meanwhile, five Palestinians were detained in the village of Azzun in the Qalqiliya district, identified by PPS as Fahd al-Sheikh, Alaa al-Sheikh, Mahdi al-Sheikh, Anas Issa, and Abed Issa … In the southern West Bank village of Beit Ummar, local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awwad said that Israeli forces raided the home of Bassam Badawi Ikhleil, locking ten family members in one room for more than an hour while they searched the house. Awwad said that the soldiers ultimately left without finding anything.

Army abducts four Palestinians near Ramallah
IMEMC 3 Dec –Israeli soldiers invaded, earlier Friday, the town of Silwad, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, searched homes and abducted one Palestinian. The army also invaded Rommana village, west of Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank. Media sources in Ramallah said the soldiers invaded, and violently searched many homes in Silwad town, and abducted Malek Maher Hamed, Taher Najjar, Najdat Zibin and Mohannad Shebrawi. The soldiers also surrounded several buildings, and shops, before breaking into them and searching them. In addition, several army jeeps invaded Rommana village, close to the Annexation Wall, west of Jenin, and provocatively drove in its alleys, and streets. The invasion did not lead to clashes or abductions, and the soldiers withdrew shortly after invading the village.

Prisoners / Court actions

Palestinian hunger strikers reject deal offered by Israeli prosecution
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — Hunger strikers Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah rejected a deal offered by the Israeli prosecution that guaranteed the imprisoned Palestinians would be released after a renewed four months on their administrative detention — an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence, according to a statement released Friday by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. The committee said that Shadid, 20 and Abu Farah, 29, who have been on hunger strike for 70 and 71 days, respectively, rejected the deal that would see their administrative detention renewed for another four months, but with a guarantee of release at its conclusion. The hunger strikers reiterated their commitment to continue their hungers strikes until they are completely released from administrative detention, according to the committee … The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs stated last month that both had slipped into a coma and have partially or completely lost their ability to breath, speak, drink, and hear. The committee also warned that Israeli authorities had threatened to force feed both hunger strikers. Meanwhile, the head of the Israeli medical center where they have been treated warned of the increasing risk of “sudden death.”

Palestinian prisoner declares 4th hunger strike in Israeli prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Nov — Palestinian prisoner Kifah Hattab, 53, entered the eighth day of a hunger strike on Wednesday in the latest of a series of hunger strikes launched by the prisoner who has demanded to be considered a prisoner of war in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to a statement released by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. On Nov. 23, Hattab launched a hunger strike after being transferred to Israel’s Nafha prison a week earlier, as he refused to wear his prisoner uniform or stand in line for the daily prisoners’ count, according to the committee. He has continued to demand that Israeli authorities acknowledge him as a prisoner of war. Hattab, from the city of Tulkarem in the occupied West Bank, is a captain pilot in the Palestinian Authority and has been held in Israeli prison since 2003, when he was sentenced to two life sentences for alleged involvement in an armed organization during the Second Intifada. The committee added that this was not Hattab’s first hunger strike and that the prisoner had launched three strikes in the past in order to be acknowledged as a prisoner of war. Earlier this year, Hattab launched a 50-day hunger strike, eventually ending his strike after meeting with a lawyer who had arranged for several of Hattab’s demands to be met by the Israel Prison Service….

Palestinian prisoner announces boycott of Israeli military courts
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — A Palestinian held in Israeli prison announced that he would boycott the Israeli military courts after being sentenced to six months of administrative detention — an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence, according to a statement released Friday by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS said that Muhammad Ahmad al-Najjar, 32, a husband and father of two from the al-Fawwar refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, declared the boycott after being sentenced to a six month stay in Israeli prison without charge or trial. Israeli forces detained al-Najjar on Nov. 17 after assaulting and beating him on his face and stomach, according to PPS. Al-Najjar is a former prisoner and has been detained eight times, spending at least six years in Israeli prisons, PPS said, while also heading a local youth group aimed at supporting Palestinian prisoners. A long line of Palestinian prisoners before al-Najjar have also boycotted the Israeli military courts in order to challenge the legitimacy of a court system that many consider to be a violent apparatus of the nearly half century occupation of the Palestinian territory, routinely shaped by mass detention campaigns and the holding of Palestinian prisoners without charge. Back in 2012, Osama Saadat, the imprisoned General-Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was one notable Palestinian who refused to acknowledge any legitimacy in the Israeli military court system, as he stated throughout his trial that he did not recognize the court as a legitimate authority in Palestine, and refused to answer the judge’s questions….

Israel sentences Palestinian woman to 7 months in prison after year of house arrest
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 Dec, updated 3 Dec — An Israeli magistrate court Thursday sentenced a Palestinian woman to seven months of prison and banned her from entering the city of Jerusalem for three years, following an 11 months stay under Israeli-imposed house arrest. The Wadi Hilweh Information center, based in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, told Ma‘an that the Israeli judge sentenced Shifa al-Shaludi to seven months of prison and a five-month suspended sentence for attempting to assault an Israeli police officer and illegally residing in the city of Jerusalem. Al-Shaludi holds a West Bank ID and has been residing in East Jerusalem with her husband and four children for 18 years under the “family reunification” status in Israel. However, Israeli forces cancelled her permit as a result of a security ban that would restrict her from entering Jerusalem for three years. The center added that al-Shaludi was initially detained in October last year when Israeli soldiers raided her home in Silwan. Al-Shaludi spent 40 days in Israeli prison, but was released on bail and sentenced to house arrest during her legal proceedings. She was presented to the court several times over the past months, while her sentence was officially issued against her on Thursday. Al-Shaludi, who had already spent 11 months under house arrest, would turn herself in to prison, the center said Meanwhile, al-Shaludi’s son, Fadi was also detained and had spent seven months under house arrest before being transferred to a prison for 100 days, while her other son Samer also spent seven months in prison. However, the reasons for their detentions remained unknown.

Israel sentences 3 Palestinians with Israeli citizenship to prison for supporting ISIS
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Dec — Israeli authorities Thursday sentenced three Palestinians with Israeli citizenship to prison for supporting the Islamic State group (ISIS) and planning an Islamic State cell in Israel. According to the Israeli news outlet Ynet, Ahmed Khalil, 27, from Nazareth; Mohammad Sharif, 23, from Nazareth; and Hamed Ghazaleh, 24, from Yafa an-Naseriyye were indicted by an Israeli court on charges of “forming an unlawful association, having contact with a foreign agent, conspiring to commit a crime and planning to form an ISIS cell in Israel.” Sharif and Ghazaleh were both sentenced to five years in prison by a Nazareth District Court, while Khalil, who has already been serving a life sentence since 2010 for murder, was given an additional two-and-a-half years behind bars, Ynet reported. On Wednesday, Israeli authorities announced that a Palestinian minor with Israeli citizenship was also detained by Israeli forces over suspicions of supporting ISIS and planning to cross into Syria to join the group. Last month, a Palestinian from the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip died while fighting with ISIS in Sirte, Libya, according to local Palestinian sources who identified the man as Muhammad Adel al-Zamli Abu Moyad….


Palestinian injured by Israeli army fire in Gaza
IMEMC 3 Dec — On Friday, Israeli soldiers stationed behind the border fence east of Gaza fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs at Palestinians protesting close to the fence east of Gaza city, moderately wounding one Palestinian with a live round in his head. The soldiers, stationed at the Nahal Oz military base across the border fence, fired many live rounds at the Palestinian protesters, wounding a young man in the head, before local medics moved him to the Shifa Hospital, in Gaza. Medical sources said the young man is currently in a moderate condition, at the Intensive Care Unit. They added that many Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, and received the needed treatment by field medics.  In addition, several Palestinians were injured after the soldiers, stationed on military towers, east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza, fired many live rounds and gas bombs at them.

Israeli army carries out a limited invasion into southern Gaza
IMEMC 29 Nov — Several armored Israeli military vehicles, and bulldozers, invaded on Tuesday morning Palestinian agricultural lands, close to the border fence, in Rafah, in the southern part of the coastal region. Eyewitnesses said at least five armored bulldozers, and several vehicles, invaded the lands, east of Rafah city, while military drones hovered overhead. They added that the invading vehicles came from Sofa Israeli military base, close to the border fence.

Israeli navy opens fire on Palestinian fishing boats in northern Gaza
IMEMC 30 Nov –Israeli navy ships opened fire, on Wednesday at dawn, on several Palestinian fishing boats, in the Sudaniyya Sea area, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said the navy fired many live rounds, and used loud speakers ordering the fishing back to the shore. The attack caused no damage or injuries, but forced the fishers to leave without being able to fish.

Israel allows entry of several trucks carrying car parts, oil into Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 2 Dec — Several trucks carrying used and new cars parts, wheels, and mineral oil passed into the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday through the Karem Abu Salem crossing, according to Gaza’s transportation ministry. Head of the ministry’s technical affairs sector Muhammad al-Kahlout said in a statement that for three months until Thursday, the Israeli government had been banning the import of used car parts from Israel into Gaza, which is much cheaper than importing from abroad. “The Israeli occupation deliberately tightens the siege on Gaza Strip by denying the entry of necessary materials into the Gaza Strip,” al-Kahlout said.

72 hours in the Gaza Strip
Physicians for Human Rights 29 Nov — Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHRI) struggles to maintain channels of communication with the Gaza Strip in the hope of making a crack in the wall of indifference to its residents’ fate. This effort has two main features: one is receiving requests from patients who need exit permits from the Gaza Strip to receive advanced care that is not available in hospitals in the Gaza Strip. The other is the entrance into Gaza of physicians from PHRI’s mobile clinic to perform surgery on patients, while simultaneously providing current and advanced training to Gaza physicians, who are prevented from leaving it for training abroad, as well as bringing in equipment and medications that are lacking in the Gaza Strip. PHRI’s mobile clinic entered the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, November 23, for a three-day visit. During that time PHRI physicians worked in five hospitals functioning in conditions of chronic crisis, which plagues the entire Palestinian healthcare system in the Gaza Strip. Examination and treatment of 600 patients: Our physicians operated in five hospitals: the European Hospital in Khan Yunis, Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, Rantisi Hospital, Shifa Hospital, and the Indonesian Hospital in Beit Lahia, as well as the Basmat Amal Association for Cancer Care. In the course of the visit we examined more than 600 patients, children and adults, in the areas of cancer, nephrology, internal medicine, neurology, orthopedics, gastroenterology and diabetes. The encounter with the patients highlighted the critical shortage of diagnostic medical equipment, which prevents speedy and effective diagnosis. Furthermore, many patients are denied consistent pharmaceutical treatment due to the constant shortage of medications. This shortage is particularly noteworthy in the case of cancer patients but also affects diabetics. Surgery: Seven complex surgeries were performed on patients who were awaiting the PHRI physicians, some after being denied exit permits from the Gaza Strip. To that end we brought in vital medical equipment, without which we could not have performed the surgeries….

Turkish call to drop Gaza ship case against Israelis
ISTANBUL (AFP) 3 Dec — A Turkish prosecutor on Friday called for charges related to a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound ship to be dropped following diplomatic reconciliation between Turkey and Israel, state media reported. Nine Turkish activists died when Israeli marines stormed the Mavi Marmara as it headed to the Gaza Strip in 2010, and a 10th died in hospital in 2014. The raid triggered a crisis in relations, with both countries withdrawing their respective ambassadors from the country capitals, though diplomatic ties were never fully severed. The bitter rift came to an end in June this year after they held long-running secret talks in third countries with Israel offering an apology over the raid and $20 million in compensation. On Friday the prosecutor told an Istanbul court that the case against the Israeli individuals should be dropped because of the agreement, state-run news agency Anadolu said. Prosecutors had been seeking life sentences for the alleged involvement of former military chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former navy chief Eliezer Marom, former military intelligence head Amos Yadlin and former air force intelligence chief Avishai Levy, who went on trial in absentia in 2012. The demand is likely to anger families and lawyers, who told AFP in October they had no intention of dropping the lawsuits despite the deal. One of the final key elements of returning to normal relations was the exchange of ambassadors, which will formally take place this month.

Gazans hope Coca-Cola plant refreshes economy
AFP 1 Dec — The head of the Gaza Strip’s first Coca-Cola plant said Thursday he hoped the venture would send a “message to investors” that the beleaguered Palestinian enclave was open for business. “It’s a message to a lot of investors and global companies that investments in Gaza can succeed,” said Yasser Arafat, Gaza manager of Palestinian Coke franchisee National Beverage Company (NBC). “If we can move away from fear we can reduce unemployment,” he told AFP. A few hundred metres (yards) from the border with Israel the new $20 million (19-million euro) bottling facility formally opened Wednesday. It will provide around 120 jobs immediately, Coca-Cola said, with an eventual expansion to 270. In Gaza, blockaded by Israel for nearly a decade, the launch is the result of years of work and was hailed as a rare positive moment for the ailing economy. “It is wonderful that an international company opened a branch in Gaza,” said Samir Skaik, who works in tourism, hoping it will encourage more investment. The 15,000 square-metre site was a hive of activity Thursday, with forklift trucks shuffling crates of bottles to and fro. Marcel Abu Shadaq, in his 20s, said the plant’s opening “helps a lot of young people in the current circumstances to gain a source of income and end the frustration.” Opening a new business in Gaza brings with it a “unique” set of challenges, Arafat admitted….

Gaza farmers set to export strawberries to Europe
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Nov — Following a decision by Israeli authorities to allow Gaza farmers to export their strawberries to European countries, Palestinian farmers across the besieged enclave have begun to harvest their strawberries for export, Gaza’s Ministry of Agriculture told Ma‘an on Wednesday. The ministry’s director of marketing, Tahsin al-Saqqa, said that the strawberries would necessitate a certificate from the ministry before they could be transported to Europe. The certificate is given after the ministry’s specialists confirm that the strawberries are free of any harmful chemical residue from pesticide use. The strawberries are expected to first be exported on Thursday. According to al-Saqqa, Gazan farmers are expected to produce some 1,500 tons of strawberries this season, while there are currently 600 dunams (150 acres) of land dedicated to strawberries in the small Palestinian enclave. Al-Saqqa highlighted that strawberry farmers used to produce an average of 7,000 tons of strawberries a year on 3,000 dunams of land (750 acres) in previous years, adding that planting 1,000 square meters of strawberries costs some $3,000. “If we can access the European market early in the season, farmers will reap benefits,” he added, noting that strawberries were also exported from Egypt and Morocco to the European markets. Earlier this month, an Israeli official said that the Israeli civil administration had initiated a project to facilitate the planting of strawberries by Palestinian farmers in collaboration with Agriculture Affairs Coordinator Samir Madi, Head of the Liaisons and Coordination Department Raim Falah, and USAID.The project had produced some 425 tons of strawberries, and generated an income of some 5 million shekels ($1,302,999) for Palestinian farmers participating in the project, according to the official.

Gaza media official: Israeli violations against journalists should be exposed
MEMO 2 Dec — The head of the media office in the Gaza Strip, Salameh Maarouf, has called for Israel’s crimes and aggressions against journalists in the occupied Palestinian territories to be internationalised. In remarks to Quds Press yesterday, Marouf said the Israeli occupation’s crimes against Palestinian journalists are continuing and escalating, calling for Israeli leaders to be tried before international courts. According to Maarouf, Israeli forces imprisoned 25 journalists; seven of them received sentences while another seven are being held in administrative detention. He stressed the need to ensure journalists’ right to work freely and provide protection to them. “The Israeli occupation’s targeting of the Palestinian media comes in the context of a systematic and deliberate policy to blur the truth about Israel’s brutal crimes in the Palestinian territories,” he said. According to the official, the Israeli forces committed 48 violations against press and media freedoms in the Palestinian territories in November, including the arrest of three journalists in the occupied West Bank. “The Israeli forces have also committed seven violations against detained journalists while forcing three of them to pay fines to release them. They also threatened to shut down the personal Facebook page of one journalist and prevented four journalists from travel,” he added.

Meet Gaza’s female geeks
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 30 Nov by Hunter Stuart — Joumana Sroor learned how to code at the age of 12. By 15, she and a team of three other girls in Gaza had built a prototype for a web application called Early Alert, which notifies users of traffic, crowds, accidents or crimes happening near them. Although Sroor says she does not always find encouragement for her technological pursuits in Gaza, there is one place where she feels at home: A seed accelerator and workspace in Gaza City’s bustling al-Rimal neighbourhood called Gaza Sky Geeks. “The people here are like my second family,” Sroor told Al Jazeera inside the loft-like space, amid the buzz of dozens of Palestinian designers, developers and freelancers who work here daily. The organisation, founded in 2011 with a $900,000 grant from Google, provides mentorship and support to startups in Gaza to help to grow the territory’s nascent tech industry. Since 2013, four companies that went through the Gaza Sky Geeks “incubation” process secured investments ranging from $30,000 to $65,000, the accelerator’s social media coordinator, Dalia Shurrab, told Al Jazeera. Gaza Sky Geeks is now focusing on bringing more girls and women into the fold. Currently, about half of the founders of the startup companies that Gaza Sky Geeks mentors are women, said Rana Alqrenawi, who is in charge of the organisation’s female-centred programmes. The goal is to get to 80 percent, she said, in an effort to overcompensate for the current gender gap in the tech world. Recently, the organisation has been supporting the participation of girls from Gaza in a global contest called the “Technovation Challenge”, designed to introduce young women to coding – and it is here where Sroor and her team created the prototype for Early Alert….

Muscle men ring up dollars with Gaza private security firms
GAZA (Reuters) 1 Dec — Trained in martial arts and firearms, their muscled physiques bursting out of tight t-shirts, young men in Gaza are increasingly finding work with private security firms retained by banks, local celebrities and international visitors. Three private security companies are now competing in Gaza, offering protection for high-profile Arab and Western delegations or cautious businessmen shifting goods and cash around the fenced-in territory. While Hamas, the Islamist group that has run Gaza since 2007, has its own armed units to protect international visitors, it does not object to competition from private companies, as long as they coordinate with the authorities. Akram Al-Balawi, who runs the Castle Security Company, said he had 6,000 applicants when he announced he was hiring. He snapped up 65 men. “Our staff are carefully selected, they are body-built, highly educated and with good manners,” said Balawi, sitting in his office in the heart of Gaza City. “They are not affiliated with political factions.” While Hamas maintains tight security in Gaza, where around two million Palestinians live, there are occasional skirmishes among militant factions and some criminal activity….

Analysis // Gaza war report set to worsen Netanyahu’s dark autumn
Haaretz 2 Dec by Amos Harel — Israel’s submarine affair and the forest fires over the past two weeks have pushed to the sidelines a key event. The almost-final draft of the state comptroller’s report on the 2014 Gaza war was sent to the officials who led Israel in that conflict. The draft contains several significant changes in the way the war is described and in the conclusions drawn. When the final version is published, probably later this month, it will contain plenty of explosive material. It was no coincidence that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu devoted much of his long round of press briefings last summer to attempts to undermine State Comptroller Joseph Shapira. The final version – the subjects were requested to respond by Monday – reveals that Netanyahu failed in his efforts. The comptroller once again adopts the stance of Education Minister Naftali Bennett in his clash with Netanyahu and former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. Shapira and his defense affairs chief, Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Beinhorn, say the cabinet learned belatedly and partially about Hamas’ tunnel threat from Gaza. And while in the previous version Netanyahu’s responsibility was never directly mentioned, this time Netanyahu and Ya’alon receive sharper criticism. In fact the comptroller, in an unusual step, makes three personal remarks about Netanyahu’s performance….

PFLP dedicates a ‘house of mourning’ in Gaza to the late Fidel Castro
GAZA (Ma‘an) 2 Dec — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a secular left-wing political group, opened a “house of mourning” on Thursday in Gaza for the late Cuban President Fidel Castro who passed away last week at the age of 90. Kayed al-Ghoul, a member of the PFLP’s central committee, told Ma‘an that Castro’s death was a “huge loss for the Palestinian people and for humanity,” adding that Castro was the most important revolutionary leader who consistently supported the Palestinian struggle. He said that “the people who failed to assassin Castro when he was alive, are now trying to kill him after his death,” referencing the media’s negative treatment of Castro’s legacy since his death, particularly in the United States media. Al-Ghoul highlighted that the mourning house was created to “honor the soul” of Castro, saying that it was “the least they could do” after Castro’s sustained support of the Palestinian people throughout the previous decades. The Palestinian cause was a central issue during the whole of Castro’s political life. Diplomatic ties between Cuba and Palestine began in the same year that Castro became prime minister in 1959 following the Cuban revolution, when Raul Castro and Che Guevara visited the Gaza Strip….


One week later: Where is the evidence of an ‘arson intifada’?
+972 mag 2 Dec by Haggai Matar — Now that the rain has started pouring, bringing an end to the wildfire season, it is imperative that we stop and look back at just what happened last week — before everything is forgotten. Or worse: before everything that happened is remembered as a story of terrorist attacks by Arab citizens against Jews. Only a week ago did Israel’s biggest media outlets publish headlines such as “The arson intifada” (Ynet), “A wave of arsons” (Yedioth Ahronoth), and “Dozens of fire attacks” (Makor Rishon). Ministers competed over who could most harshly condemn the supposed arsonists and with proposed laws, including the usual calls for demolishing homes and revoking citizenship. Social media was full of calls for revenge, which were then given full backing by MK Oren Hazan (Likud), when he stood before the Knesset Wednesday, lit a lighter and said [Hebrew]: “It is time that we give them what they deserve… an eye for an eye is not something far from reality.” Last Friday the police made a relatively unusual political announcement, calling on the Arab leadership to work and put an end to the arsons. This, after Joint List MKs and mayors of Arab towns and cities made clear that there is no place for sweeping accusations against Arabs until the fires were proven to be the result of arson. Arab leaders, suffice it to say, issued condemnations ahead of time. Even the Palestinian Authority sent eight fire trucks to help put out the flames. But what do we actually know about this wave of wildfires? We know that there were 1773 different fires according to the Israel Fire and Rescue Services. The police were called to 90 of these “events,” 40 of which were investigated for a number of crimes (including negligence, as well as arson and attempted arson). The Israel Tax Authority announced that nine of the fires will be counted as nationalistically motived arsons, yet the police and the Fire and Rescue Services were quick to respond that Authority’s list was not based on facts, and that there is no way to prove that any of those nine fires were the result of arson….

Blaming Palestinians for fires part of Netanyahu’s ‘strategy of incitement’
EI 29 Nov by Ali Abunimah — Palestinians, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, are being blamed for recent wildfires as part of the Israeli government’s deliberate strategy of incitement, a leading rights group has said. “Senior Israeli government officials – including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – continue to make inflammatory statements that lay much of the blame for the recent tragic fires in the Haifa and Jerusalem areas on Palestinian citizens of Israel,” Adalah, a legal advocacy group that defends the rights of Palestinians in the country, told The Electronic Intifada. “This rhetoric is a continuation of the Netanyahu government’s ongoing strategy of incitement against Arab citizens of Israel, and its portrayal of them as a fifth column,” Adalah added. “The government’s legislative agenda also mirrors its incendiary speech with the passage of new racist laws, most recently the Expulsion Law which seeks to illegally kick Arab members of the Knesset out of the parliament.” Over the last week, Israel struggled to gain control of wildfires amid tinder dry weather conditions that forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes. Top politicians immediately cast blame on Palestinians. Education minister Naftali Bennett declared that “only someone who this land does not belong to would be capable of setting fire to it,” a comment that The Times of Israel estimated was “aimed at Palestinians and/or members of Israel’s Arab community.” Netanyahu and public security minister Gilad Erdan suggested the fires were a form of “terrorism.” … But as an analysis in the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz noted, Netanyahu’s declarations appeared to be a tactic to shift blame for his government’s incompetence in bringing the fires under control….

Tax Authority, police clash over cause of fires
JPost 30 Nov by Michael Zeff & Eliyahu Kamisher — While the Tax Authority concluded Tuesday that the majority of fires that blazed over the course of a week were the result of arson, police disputed this ruling. The Tax Authority published its list of places whose residents are eligible for compensation by the state. These are Haifa, Zichron Yaakov, Moshav Tal-El, Nataf, Dolev, Talmon, Nirit, Gilon and Halamish. According to the authority, the appropriate agencies concluded that the fires in these areas are all a result of acts of hostility. “According to the accumulated information we got from the Fire and Rescue Authority and Israel Police, the conclusion is that the aforementioned places fell victim to deliberate arson suspected of being an act of hostility,” stated the Tax Authority. Israel Police, however, criticized the authority’s report. According to a source who spoke with Channel 2, the authority’s decision to include Haifa on the list did not rely on police opinion. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld declined to comment on the Tax Authority report, however, he said police are still conducting numerous arson investigations … The Fire and Rescue Authority stated Monday that only about 25 out of the week’s 1,773 fires are due to suspected arson at this point. The authority added that 13 fires in the West Bank were a result of deliberate arson, including in Halamish, Dolev and Talmon.

Israel fires: Arabs donate wood to rebuild Haifa synagogue
MEE 2 Dec — Arab Israelis are donating timber to help rebuild a synagogue after it suffered extensive damage when wildfires ripped through much of Israel last week. Walid Abu Ahmed and Ziad Yunis, who work in the timber supply trade, are donating wood and labour free of charge to help rebuild the Conservative Moriah synagogue, in the south of the mixed port city of Haifa. Moriah, the only Conservative synagogue in Israel, was nearly destroyed when forest fires engulfed much of Israel’s third biggest city last week. The synagogue’s rabbi, Dov Hayun, said that there would have been “nothing left” of the building had firefighters arrived just two minutes later. Some of the building’s structure survived, but about 4,000 books were turned to ash by the blaze. Hayon, who is in charge of the reconstruction efforts, had asked Abu Ahmed for a quote for what will likely be a costly project – but was shocked when the merchants offered their services free of charge. “I had tears in my eyes when I heard what was happening,” Hayon told Israeli news site Ynet News.“It was so emotional to hear that Muslims were asking to donate to a Jewish synagogue. I’ve invited them to evening prayers to personally thank them,” he said. Commenting on his decision, Abu Ahmed said: “Jews and Arabs live together in Haifa. We must continue with this coexistence and promote peace. “We all want to live happy lives.” He added that Islam is a religion of forgiveness, after a tense week for Israel-Palestinian relations that has seen many of the fires blamed on Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Palestinian arrested for arson just burning agricultural trimmings
Ynet 2 Dec by Elior Levy — Jawad Qatush is released after five days in jail when authorities agree that the footage showing him lighting a fire was merely his regular burning of pruned branches outside his home — The Palestinian from Batir who was arrested after security cameras recorded him lighting a fire outside his village during the wave of fires across Israel last week was released on Friday. This came after all the involved parties reached an agreement that the man, Jawad Qatush, had no intention of committing deliberate arson and was not acting out of nationalistic motivations.  Qatush belongs to a family of agriculturalists on the Refa’im River. On the day of his arrest, he had left his home and began weeding and pruning vegetation in a plot belonging to his family, a few dozen meters from his house. Once he had finished, he set fire to the pile of cuttings, as is his regular custom, but when he was documented by security cameras during the midst of a wave of fires, he was arrested on suspicion of attempting to carry out nationalistic arson.  After five days of investigation, his lack of criminal motive was made clear, and the decision was taken to release him from jail. His lawyers commented, “Anyone who’s claiming that there’s an intifada of arsonists shouldn’t try to prove it by arresting innocent people.”,7340,L-4887473,00.html

Two youths suspected of lighting brush fire
Ynet 2 Dec by Hassan Shaalan & Ahiyeh Raved — An indictment has been filed against two 17-year-olds from the Arab village of Judeide Maker for allegedly lighting a brush fire at the height of the fires which were burning throughout Israel in November — The Haifa District Prosecutor’s Office has issued an indictment to the Juvenile magistrates court against two youths from the Arab village of Judeide Maker over a fire the two allegedly set in the Ahihud Wilderness last week. They will be in custody until the termination of the investigation. They are being accused of arson with no nationalistic motive … The indictment states that the two youths went to the wilderness area on November 27 and began to light matches. They then allegedly threw the still burning matches on a pile of dried leaves and branches, thus starting the wildfire. The fire caused damage to 15 trees and 80 square meters of land, amounting to approximately NIS 12,000 in damages. Police stated at a preliminary trial that a surveillance team was driving along route 70 when they saw a brush fire next to Yasif Interchange. They also saw a car pulling off the route which leads from the wilderness area where the fire was raging. The team stopped the vehicle, which carried six 17-year-olds from Judeide Maker. Firefighting aircraft were dispatched to the location and were able to put out the fire before it was able to spread. The six were transferred to the police station in Akko, and it was there that the decision was made to arrest them on suspicion of arson. Meanwhile on Thursday, an indictment was filed against Ali Mahajneh from Um al Fahm after he intentionally lit fires in forested areas and close to houses on the outskirts of the city. The prosecutor’s office claim that he has apologized for his actions and has expressed his regret for taking them.,7340,L-4887538,00.html

Palestinian arrested on suspicion of starting Nataf fire
Ynet 30 Nov by Roi Yanovsky — Arrested suspect taken in for questioning by the Shin Bet on suspicion of hurling Molotov cocktails into Nataf in Jerusalem, precipitating a devastating fire which incinerated building structures and more than 25,000 dunams of forests; in separate incident, two teens from east Jerusalem arrested while setting fire to tires — …The suspect, from the Qatanna village in the West Bank, has been taken in for questioning by the Shin Bet. The arrest comes shortly after authorities announced that an investigation conducted by the Jerusalem Fire and Rescue Services revealed that the Nataf fire was indeed caused by the throwing of a Molotov cocktail from Qatanna, vindicating previously-stated suspicions of firefighters. During the investigation, remains of Molotov Cocktails were found in the area, while another one was found next to the security fence from where the fire services submitted that the conflagration had originated. In a separate incident on Tuesday, two 16-year-old teens from east Jerusalem were arrested after Border Police noticed them trying to set fire to a pile of tires near the Atarot industrial area. Noticing that the Israeli forces had caught them in the act, the teens attempted to flee, but were caught by the troops. During a search of the two individuals, the security personnel discovered a lighter and papers. Heightening their suspicion, their clothes also bore marks of a fire. Forces also found a pile of tree cuttings nearby. Later on in the day authorities announced that two Palestinians who were arrested on Friday on suspicion of setting fire to the Moshav of Beit Meir will be indicted for illegally residing in after a police investigation determined that they were not, in fact, responsible for the fire.,7340,L-4886468,00.html

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Settlements

Israel plots largest settlement expansion in occupied Syrian Golan since 1980
Alternative Information Center 29 Nov — Al-Marsad:Arab Human Rights Center in the Golan announced, in a press release, that it has written to the European Union, European governments and the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council regarding Israel’s plans to expand Katrzin settlement and establish ‘Hermon National Park’ in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. The Israeli Finance Ministry approved plans to build 1,600 additional settlement units in Katzrin in October. About 8,000 settlers live in Katzrin atop the destroyed Syrian villages of Qasrin, Shqef and Sanawber. It is the largest settlement in the occupied Syrian Golan. “This will be the largest expansion of an illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied Syrian Golan since the 1980s,” a letter from Al-Marsad to the Delegation of the European Union to Israel reads. (map) Al-Marsad also calls attention to a second Israeli plan for the occupied Syrian Golan, called ‘Hermon National Park.’ The park depends on appropriating 25,000 acres (more than 82,000 dunams) of agricultural land used by residents of Majd al-Shams and Ein Qynia. Majd al-Shams stands to be particularly devastated by the plan: the park would surround the village from the north and west, thus prohibiting any future expansion of it and essentially besieging it. According to Al-Marsad, about 800 families living in Majd al-Shams are in urgent need of housing, but cannot secure an Israeli construction permit to build….

Analysis // Israel’s far-right minister’s brave pro-Bedouin revolution
Haaretz 1 Dec by Meirav Arlosoroff — 10 billion shekel plan by Uri Ariel, in conjunction with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, calls for 25,000 housing units on state land to be given away – and that’s just for starters — …If Ariel’s plans flesh out, we will probably be indebted to him for changing the face of Israel for generations to come. In conjunction with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, the agriculture minister is making bold decisions that are liable to draw much criticism. This time, though, the criticism will not be of the mocking variety, but rather based on extreme ideology coming from the heart of the population with which Ariel most identifies – the extreme right. Ariel, with Kahlon’s surprising support, is championing a five-year plan to develop the Bedouin community in Israel. The ambitious program would cost 3 billion shekels ($778 million) a year from the state budget and another 10 billion shekels from the Israel Land Authority, in an attempt to once and for all settle the Bedouin land disputeBedouin Development Authority officials believe that massive building would provide a housing solution for about half the residents of outlying Bedouin areas: 30,000 to 40,000 out of 80,000 living in unrecognized villages. They are also promising retroactive building permits for between 10,000 to 30,000 illegal units out of the 70,000-odd homes the Bedouin built in the region. The state hopes the Bedouin will demolish their ramshackle tin shacks following the plan, and instead build a legal structure with proper links to infrastructure and government services. The government hopes that through these moves it will regain the faith of Bedouin society, which has been alienated after decades of bitter land disputes and criminal neglect by the state.

NGO: ‘Formalization bill’ would legalize 55 outposts, seize 8,000 dunums of Palestinian land
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Nov — The eventual passage of the so-called “formalization bill” in Israel’s Knesset would lead to the retroactive legalization of 55 illegal settlement outposts in the occupied Palestinian territory and the confiscation of more than 8,000 dunams of land, rights group Peace Now said in a report released on Tuesday. The bill would see the legalization of Israeli outposts which are deemed illegal by both Israeli and international law, and would cause what the Israeli NGO called “grand land robbery.” All Israeli settlements and outposts in the occupied Palestinian territory are deemed illegal under international law. According to Peace Now, should the bill pass into law, 55 outposts composed built on 3,067 dunams (758 acres) of Palestinian land would become legal under international law. The bill would also legalize 3,125 housing units inside settlements already recognized by Israel and expropriate 5,014 dunams (1,239 acres) of private Palestinian land, the group added, highlighting that these were conservative estimates and that the amount of land confiscated would likely be greater as the bill would pave the way for further land expropriation. “Outpost legalization is not just an act of retroactive approval of facts on the ground, but it also serves as a green light for future illegal construction, out of the understanding that the government will retroactively legalize illegal construction,” Peace Now said in its report….

Right-wing master plan proposal for Jerusalem disregards Palestinian residents
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Nov — A recent master plan presented by right-wing Jewish activists envisions a “greater Jerusalem” extending far beyond the current municipal boundaries, and a future for the city which sees Palestinians as virtually nonexistent, according to a Monday report by Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The plan, dubbed “Jerusalem 5800,” was privately contracted by right-wing Jewish-Australian businessman Kevin Bermeister, who last year supported an effort to prevent Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem from purchasing a building from Jewish homeowners. Along with other planners, Bermeister emphasized that the plan was, in their opinion, apolitical, and instead only aimed to turn Jerusalem into a bustling city of the world that would boast five million residents, 12 million annual tourists, and borders extending all the way to Jericho in the occupied West Bank.  Haaretz highlighted, however, that the plan — which is destined for the year 2040 and encompasses the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Jericho — makes no mention of the needs of Palestinian residents, or the development of Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem. The plan does not entertain the possibility that Jerusalem would include any form of Palestinian government institutions, that Palestinians would be partners in the city’s planning, and does not even mention the word “Palestinians” in the brochure at all. The word “Muslim” appears 11 times in the brochure, but only in the chapter entitled “The demographic problem.” The chapter on the ‘demographic threat’ calls on the Israeli government to adopt a policy “to ensure the ratio of Arab residents does not exceed 40 percent,” Haaretz said….

Israeli Jerusalem municipality demolishes structures in Palestinian neighborhoods
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Nov — Israeli forces demolished two Palestinian structures in neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank’s Jerusalem district on Tuesday, according to a spokesperson from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality.  In the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood, Israeli municipality forces demolished an “illegal structure” which was “built with unsuitable materials on land designated for public open space,” the spokesperson told Ma‘an.It remained unclear exactly what kind of structure was demolished. In Silwan, the municipality confirmed that they “executed court orders to dismantle an illegal extension” to a Palestinian family’s home.The spokesperson highlighted that despite multiple discussions between municipality officials and the homeowners, who requested that they self-demolish the extension so as to avoid incurring a customary demolition fee from the municipality, the municipality refused their request and demolished the extension.It remained unclear why the municipality refused the family’s request to demolish their own home.

Jerusalem shopkeeper uncovers 12th century trove, wants IAA out
Ynet 17 Nov by Roi Yanovsky & Roi Kais — A Palestinian resident of Jerusalem’s Old City who was carrying out construction to expand his Temple Mount-adjacent store discovered an Ayyubid-period chamber containing a wealth of antiquities. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is now insisting on legally expropriating the land to excavate the site, but the owners objected and claimed that it’s an Israeli attempt to damage Muslim antiquities as part of the “‘Judaicization of Jerusalem.”  The Palestinian Ma’an news agency interviewed the owner, Imad Abu Hadijah. According to antiquities experts who visited the site that he uncovered, it was used for commercial purposes during the 12th century. Abu Hadijah told Ma’an that IAA experts visited and claimed that there were ancient Hebrew inscriptions, but he said that those inscriptions were actually in Arabic, writing out “Mohammed” and “Allah.” He told the agency in tears, “I swear to God…it’s Islamic heritage.” He further claimed that IAA representatives insisted that he vacate the building in return for monetary compensation and that he refused due to “the important discoveries for Islam.” Maor Tzemach, Chairman of the organization Lach Yerushalayim (“To Thee Jerusalem”), which seeks to apply Israeli sovereignty in all parts of the capital, commented, “The archaeological digs in east Jerusalem that are not supervised by the Antiquities Authority constitute serious damage to researching the past. It’s inconceivable that private parties make their own law for themselves and directly damage Israeli sovereignty. In addition, presenting the excavation as a political matter constitutes dangerous incitement that could lead to extremist acts.”The IAA said in reply that it is “responsible for preserving the heritage of us all. The area of the Old City in Jerusalem is a declared antiquities site, and any renovation or development in the area requires a permit from the Antiquities Authority by law. This case is known to the Antiquities Authority and is being handled by it.”,7340,L-4880687,00.html

Israeli ministry orders bus company to stop Arabic announcements in Beersheba
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 1 Dec — The Israeli Ministry of Transportation ordered that an Israeli bus company stop broadcasting announcements in Arabic in the city of Beersheba, a spokesperson for Dan Bus Company told Ma‘an on Thursday. The spokesperson said to Ma‘an that the company had been asked by the Israeli Ministry of Transportation to cease broadcasting announcements in Arabic on Tuesday, only four days after opening its new bus line in Beersheba. They said that “many, many people complained to the municipality,” which in turn took the matter to the Ministry of Transportation. The Dan spokesman stated that the company was “not comfortable” with the request to stop the Arabic announcements, adding that “40 percent of our drivers are Muslim,” but that it would comply with directives from the Ministry. They went on to add that this was the first time that the company was broadcasting these announcements in both Arabic and Hebrew, but that signs remained written in both languages. A spokesperson from the Ministry of Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Ma‘an on the legality of the decision given Arabic’s status as one of Israel’s official languages. The director of the Coalition Against Racism in Israel, Nidal Othman, said that the ban was symbolic of Israeli authorities submitting to racism which it should stop at every level, adding that the bus company’s response was unacceptable and showed an agreement on racism between governmental and public institutions….

Settler university at Ariel uses false pretenses in inviting foreign scholars
Gush Shalom 28 Nov — The settler university at Ariel on the West Bank is about to hold what is billed as an international conference on the current situation of the Jewish People. In order to get foreign scholars to take part in this event, the Ariel University resorted to false pretenses, claiming to be located in Israel – while the university administration is well aware that they are in fact located in Occupied Territory which is not, and never was, part of Israel. See link to the conference program on the Ariel Univeristy’s website Over the past week, Gush Shalom sent letters to all foreign academics whose name appeared on the conference program – most of them from Poland and Ukraine, a few from Western Europe …the location of the conference is given as “Ariel, Israel”. That designation is obviously and manifestly wrong. The University of Ariel is not located in the territory of the State of Israel. Rather, it is located at a settlement enclave erected in the territory which Israel has conquered in 1967, which Israel holds under military rule over the past fifty years, and which Israel had never annexed….

Why a settlement boycott is so scary for Israel
972 mag 28 Nov by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — The Israeli government sees the idea of a settlement boycott as a farce because it knows how impossible it would be to stop even a targeted boycott from bleeding right through the Green Line it’s been working so hard to erase — A year after the European Union published guidelines for labeling Israeli settlement products, France last week published its own regulations obligating importers and retailers to label all settlement goods — not just noting that a product comes from the West Bank but that it comes from an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Israel’s seemingly disproportionate objections to the European labeling regime is difficult to understand for many, especially considering that the EU has for decades differentiated between Israel and its settlements in the occupied territories. The EU free trade agreement with Israel, for instance, does not apply to Israeli settlements, and every other treaty and agreement makes the same distinction … The brouhaha isn’t actually about labels. It’s about the next logical step of a labeling regime or even a boycott of settlement products: boycotting, divesting and sanctioning entities that do business in or with the settlements. That deeply worries Israeli decision makers because in reality there is no differentiation between the economy of Israel and the settlement economy. On the ground, in the financial system, and in countless other ways, there is no Green Line as far as the Israeli economy is concerned….

Palestinian refugees — Syria, Lebanon, Jordan

Abbas meets with Fatah delegations from Syria, Lebanon
MEMO 2 Dec — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday met with Fatah members from Lebanon and Syria during Fatah’s 7th conference in Ramallah. The Syrian delegation informed Abbas of the difficult circumstances faced by Palestinian refugees in Syria, as an estimated 450,000 of the 560,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Syria remain inside the country. According to UNRWA, two-thirds of Palestinian refugees are internally displaced in Syria, and at least 95 per cent are in need of sustained humanitarian assistance. Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees are trapped in active conflict zones, particularly those in Yarmouk and Khan Eshieh camps in Damascus, and Muzeirib and Jillin in Daraa, making it difficult to provide any humanitarian aid to the residents amid protracted government sieges. Meanwhile, at least 42,000 Palestinians have fled to Lebanon and more than 17,000 have reached Jordan, becoming refugees for a second time since they were first displaced from their villages in historic Palestine during the establishment of Israel in 1948. Abbas highlighted that the Palestinian people living in Palestine – what is now the occupied West Bank and Gaza – and Fatah members in Syria would offer “everything they can” to lessen the suffering of Palestinian refugees in Syria. Abbas also met with Fatah members from Lebanon during the conference, they informed him of the situation for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, saying that they were “doing their best” to improve their lives and lessen their suffering. According to UNRWA, Palestinians in Lebanon have the highest percentage of their population living in abject poverty from among the other countries the organisation serves. Facing discriminatory employment policies, Palestinians in Lebanon are restricted from working in over 20 professions or claiming the same rights as other non-citizens, while all the refugee camps suffer from overcrowding, poor housing conditions and a lack of infrastructure. The population of the refugee camps has ballooned since 2011 as Palestinians have fled from the violence in Syria to camps in Lebanon, placing even more pressure on the economic and infrastructural problems in the refugee camps.

The Netherlands contributes more than €2 million to UNRWA in Jordan
UNRWA 29 Nov — The Netherlands Embassy in Jordan announced on Monday, 28 November, a contribution of EUR 2 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in support of education services provided by the Agency to Palestine refugee children from Syria. This announcement comes as part of the Dutch government’s launch of a special regional fund in response to the Syria crisis to support affected countries, including Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. In Jordan, funds are allocated to programmes targeting Jordanians and refugees from Syria.Thanking the Dutch government for their support to UNRWA, the Director of UNRWA Operations in Jordan, Roger Davies, said: “This is the second time in a row that UNRWA in Jordan receives support from the Netherlands to Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS). The funds this year will go exclusively to education provided to PRS children through the Agency’s schools, which is at the heart of UNRWA services provided to Palestine refugees. Funding the education programme ensures that no child is left behind and all children have the opportunity to improve their futures.”

Other news

PCHR Weekly Report on Israeli human rights violations in the oPt (24-30 November)
PCHR-Gaza 2 Dec — Israeli forces continued with systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), for the week of 24 – 30 November 2016. Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian child in the the northern part of occupied Jerusalem, while forces conducted 57 incursions into Palestinian communities across the West Bank, and one in the southern Gaza Strip. 68 civilians, including 19 children, were taken into Israeli custody. Shooting: Israeli forces have continued to commit crimes, inflicting civilian casualties. They have also continued to use excessive force against Palestinian civilians participating in peaceful protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the majority of whom were youngsters. During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian child in Sho‘fat refugee camp, north of occupied Jerusalem. In occupied Jerusalem, in excessive use of lethal force, Israeli forces stationed at Sho‘fat checkpoint, north of occupied Jerusalem killed a Palestinian child. Israeli forces claimed that he attempted to stab an Israeli security officer with a knife he hid under his clothes.  However, PCHR’s investigations refuted this claim. In the Gaza Strip, in context of targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea, on 26 November 2016, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Waha shore, northwest of Beit Lahia, north of the Gaza Strip, heavily opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats and chased them. The shooting recurred on the dame day afternoon in the same area. It should be noted the fishing boats were sailing within 4 nautical miles and no casualties were reported.  Moreover, similar attacks recurred on 27 and 28 November 2016 while fishing boats were sailing within 3 nautical miles.  However, neither casualties nor damages to the boats were reported….  FULL REPORT

UN calls on Israel to leave Golan, Israel prepares fight at  UNSC
Ynet 2 Dec  by Eitan Goldstein & Itamar Eichner — As the UN General Assembly calls again on Israel to leave the Golan Heights and declares Israeli jurisdiction on ‘the Holy city of Jerusalem’ to be ‘null and void,’ the Jewish state prepares to go up against three UNSC resolutions aimed against it — The UN General Assembly adopted six resolutions on the situation of the Palestinians on Wednesday, including a demand for Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights. The move comes a day after the new President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thompson, was seen wearing a Palestinian scarf whilst at a UN committee hearing. The resolution, called UNGA Resolution A/71/L.8, was put forth by over 35 countries, including Bahrain, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Indonesia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and the Palestinian delegation, amongst others. The resolution calls for peace talks between Syria and Israel and Lebanon and Israel to be restarted immediately, calls for the Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, and determines that Israel being in the Golan Heights and Israel’s de-facto annexation of the Golan Heights represents a key stumbling block to regional peace. The resolution is one of six anti-Israel resolutions passed Wednesday, another being on the status of Jerusalem (A/71/L.22). In it, the UN expressed “its determination that any actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever”. The representative from Israel said in the assembly following the vote that “it was shameful how some countries had yet to accept the existence of Israel and abused the General Assembly to spread baseless allegations,” and that the resolutions seek to provide a “biased narrative.” … The US delegation meanwhile, said the US was “profoundly troubled by the submission of a disproportionate number of one-sided resolutions that had been designed to condemn Israel.”…. [long article],7340,L-4887554,00.html

Abbas’ 3-hour speech interrupted 300 times
MEMO 2 Dec — Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas was lauded nearly 300 times during his three-hour speech at the party’s seventh congress on Wednesday. In his speech, Abbas presented attendees a list of the movement’s national and political visions as well as the Palestinian Authority’s achievements. However, despite the Israeli forces’ escalations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, under the rule of the Israeli right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas did not bring anything new apart from repeating the same positions he has been endorsing since the Oslo Accords more than two decades ago. Moreover, Abbas has called to “continue to support the committee in unity with Israeli society.” However, the president’s hopes seem to have vanished the next day after no Israeli newspaper mentioned him or his speech. Instead, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz described Abbas as Israel’s “number one enemy”.

WHO: Israel obstructs health access for Palestinian patients, medical workers
MEMO 2 Dec — Marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the World Health Organisation has issued a [29 Nov] report on health access, highlighting “how the Israeli permit system and physical barriers obstruct health access for Palestinian patients, ambulances and health workers.” The study “Right to health: crossing barriers to access health in the occupied Palestinian territory, 2014–2015”, is based on data provided by Palestinian Authority ministries and non-profit health providers, as well as patient interviews and field studies. Dr Gerald Rockenschaub, head of the WHO’s office in the West Bank and Gaza, said: “Access is a fundamental element of the right to health. Every mother and child has the right to be together during a child’s cancer treatment.” “Yet the data indicate substantial restrictions for thousands of patients and their companions who are trying to travel to their places of referral,” he added. The WHO report also includes information “on the impact of attacks on health facilities, patients and health personnel, and the health access situation in ‘Area C’ in the West Bank, where Israel retains full security and civil authority.” Meanwhile, “denials and delays in responding to health permit applications noticeably increased for Gaza patients who have faced tightened security procedures since 2012 and particularly over the past two years,” the organisation said. The number of patients seeking access permits through Erez checkpoint has more than doubled to 21,899 in 2015, while the permit approval rates have steadily dropped: from 92.5 per cent in 2012 to 88.7 per cent in 2013, 82.4 per cent in 2014 and 77.5 per cent in 2015. (Since the writing of the report, the situation further worsened in Gaza: by October 2016, the approval rate had fallen to 44 per cent.) Speaking at the report’s launch, UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities Robert Piper said: “This is about freedom of movement at its most raw level – the right to access, literally, life-saving services for you, or an elderly parent or perhaps an infant child.” “The very idea that a fence, a wall, a security guard, a bureaucrat could stand between you and such life-saving services should fill us all with a shared sense of dread.”

Palestinian start-ups innovate way past obstacles
AFP 30 Nov — At first glance, Mashvisor is just one of thousands of websites specialising in US real estate. But it has a unique feature, undetectable to customers: its designers created it in the West Bank and it is run from the Israel-occupied Palestinian territory. “The great thing about a start-up is you can work on it anywhere in the world. You can be in Palestine, you can be in Cambodia, Vietnam, China. It doesn’t matter,” explains Peter Abu al-Zolof, who founded Mashvisor more than a year ago with a friend. Last week, Mashvisor became the first Palestinian company to get the support of the influential American 500 Startups venture capital fund. It is one of a number of Palestinian start-ups in the occupied Palestinian territories, long overshadowed by Israel’s so-called “Start-up Nation”. The online platform automates and analyses US real estate data nationwide to find investors the best property deals. As in Silicon Valley, the staff dress casually, drink coffee from state-of-the-art machines in garish colours, and pad through the office wearing US-made headphones around their necks….

Cross-border celebrations
This Week in Palestine Dec by Fuad Giacaman and Toine van Teeffelen — In a world often afflicted by a sense of exclusivism between religions, Palestine knows many instances of Muslim-Christian mutual openness and conviviality surrounding religious celebrations. Jamila, a Muslim woman from Beit Sahour, cherishes special memories about Christmastime in her predominantly Christian town: “As a six-year-old child, I lived near Shepherds Field in Beit Sahour. I used to meet with my Christian and Muslim friends to pray and sing Christmas hymns before the Christmas midnight mass. We used to carry oil lamps and walk barefooted at night, heading towards Manger Square to commemorate the shepherds who were guided by the star to the birthplace of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. I also remember how during the Christmas feast our Christian neighbors used to come knocking at the door to offer us Christmas gifts and sweets. From our side, we as Muslims used to give them little gifts and sweets during Islamic feasts, such as katayef at the breaking of the fast in Ramadan (katayef is a sort of sweet dumpling filled with cream or nuts, and commonly eaten during Ramadan nights).” In cities such as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Ramallah, where Christian communities live side by side with the Muslim majority, one can still find many traces of border-crossing…. traditions.

Air pollution becomes Israel-Palestinian wedge issue
[with photos] YA‘BED, West Bank (AP) 2 Dec — For years, residents of central Israel have been complaining about air pollution from Palestinian factories in the nearby West Bank. Now that authorities have finally cracked down, shutting a group of the worst offending charcoal plants in one notorious town, Palestinians complain that hundreds were thrown out of work by their military occupiers.  The story of the northern West Bank town of Ya‘bed, and its now-idle collection of charcoal plants, illustrates how for Israelis and Palestinians, Middle East politics seems to permeate the most basic elements of daily life, whether it be education, construction or sports. The environment is no exception. In Israel, factories face close environmental oversight, but in the semi-autonomous West Bank it’s far trickier. For instance, the home of the Palestinian charcoal industry in Ya‘bed is located in what is known as “Area B,” a category of territory that under interim peace accords falls under Palestinian civil authority — but where Israel retains security control, as in most of the West Bank’s area. After years of failed dialogue with the local Palestinian leadership, Israel’s military took matters into its own hands in November, shutting down more than a dozen factories and confiscating equipment and 160 tons of wood that was to be used to produce charcoal. Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who heads COGAT, the defense body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, said it was a matter of public health that “harms both Israelis and Palestinians alike.” But that’s not how it was received in the West Bank, where workers called it an oppressive measure that curried favor with Jewish settlers and violated previous agreements with the Palestinian Authority, a claim Israel denies. Mostly, though, Palestinians bemoaned the closing of an industrial site that had been operating for 50 years, with some 15 factories that provided employment for about 1,000 workers …The shutdown comes as unemployment has risen to an official figure of 18 percent in the West Bank. Even those who do work tend to earn a few hundred dollars a month, a fraction of the average salary in Israel….

Quarrying leaves West Bank village on shaky ground
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 1 Dec by Ahmad Melhem — The historic village of Kur, southeast of the city of Tulkarm, is known for its architectural heritage, including its domed buildings and castles, the oldest of which dates to the Mamluk era (1260-1516), while others were built by the Ottomans (1516-1916). According to residents, Kur’s cultural landmarks suffer from general neglect, but what really concerns them is the threat to the buildings, and to their sanity, caused by a nearby stone-crushing operation. The citizens of Kur (pop. 350) have held numerous protests and demonstrations since the quarrying began, in 2006, between Beit Lid, Sfarin and their village. The protests were halted in 2008, when a court temporarily suspended the operation — which extracts large rocks and then crushes them into small chunks for use in construction materials — but resumed after the court’s final decision allowed it to continue in 2012 due to a lack of evidence of harm. Residents staged their most recent protest Nov. 1 at the Council of Ministers in Ramallah. Kur local Farid Jayyousi told Al-Monitor, “The town’s inhabitants are constantly feeling the ground shaking, akin to an earthquake, because of the use of dynamite to break up the rocks. We fear this shaking affecting our houses and the old buildings in the village, as they are likely to be cracked as a result of the explosions at the stone-crushing site. We have been demanding the closure of this crushing site for 10 years now. There are already cracks in some historical buildings because of the explosions affecting the integrity and strength of the buildings.” … Salim al-Takrouri, general manager of Al-Mawared for Stone and Marble Company, the company doing the stone crushing, told Al-Monitor, “We use scientific instruments to detect shaking during explosions, which revealed that these vibrations fall within the permitted legal scope,”….

Celebrity-backed Palestinian cinema closes
JERUSALEM (AFP) 2 Dec — One of the best-known cinemas in the Palestinian territories closed Wednesday after running out of money, organizers said, six years after a grand reopening ceremony backed by international celebrities. Demolition work had begun on the Cinema Jenin after it failed to attract enough customers in recent years, said Marcus Vetter, one of those behind the 2010 relaunch supported by rock musician Roger Waters and human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger.  The cinema, the last in Jenin in the northern West Bank, was also used as a cultural center and theater but is now expected to be replaced by a mall. “It is a very disappointing and sad moment,” Vetter, a German director, told AFP, explaining the heirs of the original owners had sold it for about $1.8 million. Built in 1957, Cinema Jenin was considered to be one of the largest and most impressive cinemas in the Palestinian territories but it shut down after the first intifada, or uprising, against Israel began in 1987. The 2010 relaunch was the brainchild of Vetter and Ismael Khatib, a Palestinian who donated his 11-year-old son’s organs to save Israeli children after the boy was shot dead by an Israeli soldier in 2005. At the time the 335-seater cinema received celebrity backing, including a state-of-the-art sound system paid for by a $106,000 donation from Waters, a long-time pro-Palestinian campaigner. Jagger attended the launch, which was hailed as a major moment for culture in the Palestinian territories. Asked why the cinema failed to attract clients, Vetter said it was a mixture of conservative attitudes and fears that going to this specific theater amounted to accepting Israel’s nearly 50-year occupation of the West Bank.

PCA footballers raise $10,000 for ‘Aida camp
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Nov — Saturday 26th November 2016 marked the completion of the PCA Futbal Tournament – season 4, where the The Palestinian Community Association in Victoria (PCA) hosted a fundraiser lunch in collaboration with Knafeh Nabulseyeh (Business Owner Mussa Khayat) in Melbourne, Australia, reaching the goal of A$10,000. According to the PNN, the money will go to the Al-‘Awda kindergarten in Al-‘Azzeh camp, Bethlehem, ‘Aida Youth Center in ‘Aida refugee Camp, and to Lajee cultural center in ‘Aida as well. “We had a great turn out of players, their families, friends and members of the Palestinian community in Melbourne,” said Nadeem Farhoud, an Australian-Palestinian soccer player and main charity coordinator. “It was great atmosphere of support, collaboration and joy to cheer on the teams participating in the Grand Final and to also boost the donations to allow us achieve our ultimate goal,” he added.

Rasmea Odeh defense sees hope in judge’s unexpected move
EI 29 Nov by Charlotte Silver — US District Judge Gershwin Drain cancelled a much-anticipated hearing in the case of Rasmea Odeh that was scheduled to take place in federal court in Detroit on Tuesday. At the hearing, prosecutors were expected to argue against allowing Odeh’s expert witness to testify at a new trial that Drain has tentatively scheduled for January. If the witness, an expert on the psychological effects of torture, were to be disqualified, it is unlikely the new trial would go ahead at all. Drain will now issue his decision on whether Odeh, 69, will get a retrial without first hearing oral arguments. He will base his decision on written evidence and reports both sides have filed in recent weeks. Michael Deutsch, Odeh’s lead attorney, says he hopes this is a good sign for his client … In November 2014, Odeh was convicted of immigration fraud for failing to disclose her 1969 arrest and conviction by the Israeli military on her US immigration and naturalization documents filed decades later. Her lawyers have argued that she was denied the opportunity to present a complete defense because the judge prohibited her from speaking about the torture and abuse she endured, which led her to signing a false confession in 1969. Clinical psychologist Mary Fabri, the defense’s key torture expert, had concluded from an 18-hour examination in 2014 that Odeh suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of torture, including rape, by Israeli interrogators nearly 50 years ago.

US Senate passes bill that critics warn targets Palestinian solidarity activism
MEMO 2 Dec — The US Senate yesterday passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act which activists believe will stifle anti-Israel actions and target student groups. The bill, proposed by Senators Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, and Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, was introduced earlier this week, fast-tracked and adopted unanimously. The act “seeks to adopt the US State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism so that the Education Department may consider it in investigating reports of religiously motivated campus crimes.” The State Department relies on a controversial and contested definition of antisemitism first developed as a draft, working document by a European Union agency, but whose successor body subsequently abandoned it as not fit for purpose. In examples of antisemitism provided by Senator Casey, “calling for…the killing or harming of Jews” is lumped together with “demonising Israel” and “judging Israel by a double standard”. The bill was supported by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. Jewish Voice for Peace slammed the bill, which it said “takes aim at campus activism for Palestinian rights by codifying criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.” Tallie Ben Daniel, academic programme manager of Jewish Voice for Peace, said: “Instead of fighting the anti-Semitism entering the White House [a reference to Trump advisor Steve Bannon], this bill will go after 19-year-old students carrying protest signs against human rights abuses.” She added: “The legislation would codify a problematic definition of anti-Semitism that right-wing Israel advocates have been trying for years to implement on college campuses in order to police student criticism of Israeli policy.” Palestine Legal, meanwhile, urged lawmakers in the House “to vigorously oppose this attack on cherished First Amendment freedoms to criticise the government.” “The definition uses broad and vague language that would allow virtually any criticism of Israel to be labeled as antisemitic”, Palestine Legal stated, “including any speech deemed to ‘demonise’, apply ‘double standards’ to, or ‘delegitimise’ Israel.” Inside Higher Education noted how the contentious definition in question “was rejected by the University of California earlier this year after similar complaints from free speech advocates, faculty and students.”

Lawsuits filed in Chile against Israeli justices for wall
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) 30 Nov by Patricia Luna — Chile’s Palestinian Federation filed a war crimes suit Monday against current Justices Uzi Vogelman and Neal Hendel and retired justice Asher Grunis, who was president of the court in 2012-15. The group argues that Chile’s international agreements allow for suits involving crimes against humanity committed in other countries. A Chilean-Palestinian woman who owns land in the Cremisan Valley, which is near Bethlehem, filed a separate suit against the justices. The lawyer representing her in the case, Nicolas Pavez, said the plaintiffs decided to sue in Chile after exhausting all avenues in Israel over the past eight years, leading to the Israel top court ruling on the legality of the barrier. “The Supreme Court justices are accused of giving an appearance of legality to this wall that is illegal and that constitutes a war crime,” Pavez said. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the suit is a yet another publicity stunt with no legal basis by the Palestinian Federation of Chile. Chile’s Palestinian community is among the world’s largest, with about 350,000 immigrants and their descendants. Nahshon condemned what he called “the cynical abuse of the legal system to advance a political agenda” and said he expects Chilean authorities will “not to give a hand to such abuse.” Marcela Prieto Rudolphy, a Chilean attorney who specializes in human rights, said the suit is not likely to succeed….

How US security aid to PA sustains Israeli occupation
Al Jazeera 2 Dec by Alaa Taatir — Scholars and activists regularly criticise the vast amount of funds – $3.1bn– that the US funnels to Israel each year. Recently, United States President Barack Obama provided Israel with $38bn in military aid over 10 years, making it the single largest pledge of military assistance in US history. With the President-elect, Donald Trump, certain to continue or even increase this amount, the criticism is likely to escalate. However, US military aid to Israel is not the only way in which the US subsidises the Israeli occupation of Palestine. US aid to Palestinians, averaging $400m a year since 2008, split between budget support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and civilian project-based assistance, also ultimately sustains the Israeli occupation. In the past two decades, the US has been second only to the European Union in its donations to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, having committed more than $5bn out of a total of $30bn in aid. These funds have mostly been allocated to the PA’s security sector. Half of Palestinian public sector civil servants are employed in security. Annually, the sector receives $1bn from the PA’s budget and around 30 percent of total international aid. Since 2005, the US, through its office of the United States Security Coordinator (USSC) for Israel and the Palestinian territories, has worked to professionalise and enhance the effectiveness of the PA security forces as part of its state-building (under occupation) project for Palestine. Yet the central tenet of this project has been the entrenchment of security collaboration between the PA and Israel. That the PA and Israel work together on security means that a substantial amount of aid to the PA security sector is as much for Israel as it is for Palestine. Research shows  that  at  least 78 percent of international aid to Palestinians ends up in Israel’s economy. US aid makes it easier and cheaper for Israel to provide security for its settlements – illegal under international law and in the eyes of the world and the US. The presence of Israeli settlers on occupied Palestinian territory is also a violation of international law. The aid thus compromises the security of Palestinians by funding the interests of their occupier. “Collaboration” under occupation in reality means dominance of the oppressor…. (listserv) (archive)

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Can you please correct your story about the playground? My friend Graylan Hagler did not dedicate the playground. The playground was dedicated to Tamir and Abdurrahman by Playgrounds for Palestine. Rev Hagler and his group were kind enough to be present and participate in the dedication during their trip, which was planned separately.