The digest of news from Today in Palestine begins with an American publication:
Book Review – Palestine: The end of the Bedouins?
NY Review of Books 7 Dec by David Shulman of Ta‘ayush — One way to tell the story of the Middle East as a whole is to describe the endemic struggle between peripatetic nomads and settled peasant farmers — a struggle attested already in ancient Mesopotamian documents. For centuries, all the political regimes of the region have tried, with varying success, to get the Bedouin to come to rest on the land. But in Israel and in the occupied territories we see, alongside this familiar policy, persistent attempts to uproot Bedouin populations who have already settled on the land, sometimes generations ago, and who usually have clear claims to ownership of these sites. Today, most of the Jordan Valley, undoubtedly one of the most ravishing landscapes on the planet, is situated in what is known as Area C of occupied Palestinian territory. This means that, with the exception of the ancient city of Jericho and its surroundings (which are in Area A, under Palestinian rule), the valley is under direct and exclusive Israeli military, legal, and political control, and also that large parts of it are taken up by Israeli settlements or by lands that have been reserved for future Israeli settlement. It also means that a Palestinian population of some 15,000 Bedouins who are settled in the valley is tacitly targeted for expulsion. According to the Oslo accords, the division of the West Bank into three different zones was intended as a preliminary stage leading eventually to the end of the Israeli occupation and to achieving Palestinian statehood. The policy of the present Israeli government appears to be aimed at eventually annexing to Israel the whole of Area C, which constitutes over half the territory of the West Bank; this goal has been explicitly and repeatedly stated by the minister of education, Naftali Bennett, head of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party and a major force in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. As a result, we are now witnessing in the Jordan Valley an accelerated process of what must, I fear, be called ethnic cleansing. It’s not a term I use lightly….
Violence / Detention — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian boy wounded after Jerusalem stabbing was hit by stray Israeli bullet
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — A 13-year-old Palestinian boy who was injured on Wednesday in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem was wounded by Israeli forces when they shot and killed a Palestinian carrying out a stabbing attack, the child’s father said. Iyad Juwilis said his two sons Fahmi and Nour were leaving school in the Old City when Israeli forces shot a 21-year-old Palestinian, identified by locals as Hamad Khader al-Sheikh, who allegedly stabbed and lightly wounded an Israeli police officer with a screwdriver. The Israeli forces fired heavily in the wake of the stabbing attack, causing a stray bullet to hit Fahmi, who sustained fractures and superficial head wounds, his father said. Juwilis said that his young son had to undergo surgery to stop the bleeding, and that his condition was now stable. Meanwhile, al-Sheikh succumbed to gunshot wounds in the hospital.
Israeli police reportedly assault Palestinians during traffic stop
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Israeli forces reportedly assaulted and detained four Jerusalemite Palestinians on Wednesday morning as they were headed to work, the Palestinians told Ma‘an. The four Palestinians — Mahmoud and Muhammad al-Masri from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-‘Amoud, and Bahaa and Alaa Amro from the neighborhood of Silwan — were heading to work in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. Mahmoud al Masri told Ma‘an that an Israeli border police patrol forced the four to stop their vehicle before letting them go. A while later however, al-Masri added, a civilian vehicle started following them, and its passengers, who said they were Israeli intelligence officers, forced them to stop and exit their car. Al-Masri said that the Israeli officers started cursing at them, leading to a verbal altercation during which the officers pepper-sprayed the Palestinians. He added that the Palestinian men tried to film the incident, but that the Israeli officers seized their phones. Al-Masri did not indicate what reasons the border police officers gave for stopping the Palestinians. Al-Masri said that the four Palestinians were taken to the Israeli police station in Beit Shemesh for interrogation, adding that they went to receive medical care at the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem upon being released.
Israeli forces shoot tear gas, rubber bullets at protesters in Kafr Qaddum
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Israeli forces Friday suppressed a weekly march in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya, shooting rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters at tens of Palestinians, internationals, and Israeli peace activists. Popular resistance coordinator Murad Shteiwi told Ma‘an that Israeli forces attacked the protesters and fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at the crowd, causing many to suffer tear gas inhalation. Shteiwi added that the protest was launched with wide participation of the village’s local residents and internationals, despite the cold weather and rain on Friday.
Israeli army attacks the weekly nonviolent protest in Ni‘lin
IMEMC 17 Dec — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, many Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists holding the weekly nonviolent protest in Ni‘lin village, near Ramallah in central West bank, causing several injuries. The Popular Committee in Ni‘lin said the soldiers assaulted the nonviolent protesters as they reached a construction site of the illegal Israeli annexation Wall, isolating the villagers from their lands. It added that the soldiers fired many gas bombs and concussion grenades, causing scores of protesters to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Mohammad Abdul-Qader ‘Amira, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in Ni‘lin, said the soldiers deliberately fire gas bombs at many homes, causing several Palestinians, especially children and elders, to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation. This week’s protest also marked the second anniversary of the death of Palestinian government minister, Ziad Abu Ein, who was killed by Israeli soldiers during a nonviolent activity, near Ramallah, in December 2014.
Also on Friday, the soldiers assaulted dozens of local, Israeli and international peace activists, holding the weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall and colonies, in Bil‘in village, in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, and detained an international peace activist.
Israeli soldiers invade Shu‘fat refugee camp
IMEMC 17 Dec — Israeli soldiers invaded, Friday, several neighborhoods in Shu‘fat refugee camp, in the center of occupied East Jerusalem, and clashed with scores of youngsters who hurled stones and empty bottles on the advancing army vehicles. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said the soldiers fired dozens of live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs on the protesters, after the army invaded the refugee camp from several directions. There have been no immediate reports of injuries or abductions during the invasion, while the soldiers also surrounded the refugee camp. On Thursday at night, the Israeli army said six of its soldiers were wounded, including one who was moved to a hospital, during clashes that took place in the refugee camp.
Similar clashes took place in al-‘Eesawiyya town, in the center of Jerusalem, Silwan town, south of the al-Aqsa Mosque in the city, Abu Dis town, southeast of Jerusalem, in addition to the at-Tour and Jabal az-Zeitoun neighborhoods, overlooking the Old City.
Israeli soldiers raid Nabi Saleh, beat Palestinian youths
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Israeli forces reportedly raided the village of Nabi Saleh in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Wednesday night, locals told Ma‘an. Five Israeli military vehicles entered the village around midnight after receiving reports of shots fired at an Israeli settler vehicle in the area and closed the village entrance, before assaulting Palestinian youths at a nearby gas station. Israeli forces then searched the gas station and seized security camera footage … Nabi Saleh is one of a number of Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem which are known for their weekly Friday protests against the Israeli occupation.
Israel to release body of Palestinian teenager killed after allegedly throwing stones
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Israeli authorities have decided to return the body of slain 15-year-old Palestinian Khalid Bahr Ahmad Bahr to his family on Friday in the village of Beit Ummar in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron, sources at the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee said on Thursday. The sources added that the slain teenager would be buried on Saturday. Bahr was shot dead by Israeli forces on Oct. 20 after allegedly throwing stones at a group of Israeli soldiers stationed near the Beit Ummar junction in the northern part of the village. A local activist, Muhammad Ayyad Awwad, told Ma‘an at the time that Israeli forces had shot the minor in the back, with the bullet exiting through his chest. Awwad also said at the time that Israeli soldiers prevented a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance from approaching the youth, while witnesses said that Israeli forces refused to provide CPR to the youth after he was shot, leaving the teenager to bleed out on the ground. At the time of the incident, Israeli authorities had assured the Beit Ummar mayor that the slain teenager’s body would be returned the following day. However, Israeli authorities have kept the body for 57 days, preventing Palestinian authorities from conducting an autopsy or initiating an independent investigation around the circumstances of his death. However, less than a week after the youth was shot dead, an Israeli army internal investigation revealed that the soldiers were not in imminent danger and did not act in accordance with the army’s open-fire regulations, which state that “soldiers should not shoot to kill unless they are in an immediate and clear danger.”
Israel hands over bodies of 7 slain Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Israeli authorities Friday night handed over the bodies of seven Palestinians that were killed while suspected of carrying out attacks on Israeli forces, after they were held in Israeli morgues for between and more than six months. Their return followed a petition filed by the relatives of five slain Palestinians who asked Israeli courts to order the Israeli government to release the bodies for burial. As has been customary with the release of bodies of slain Palestinians in the past, Israel agreed to hand over the bodies to the families only if they agreed to the Israeli army’s preconditions regarding the funerals. Meanwhile, three bodies that were discussed in petitions remain in Israeli custody for “further study,” over the three Palestinians’ alleged affiliation with the Hamas movement and that they carried out deadly attacks on Israeli civilians. The Israeli Supreme Court has given the Israeli government until Jan. 10 to decide on whether or not they will release the bodies for burial. On Friday night, the Palestinian Civilian Liaisons office said they had received the bodies of Fares Khaddour, Muhammad al-Sararhin, and Khalid Bahar in the southern occupied district of Hebron, which were then taken to Al-Ahli hospital in Hebron city. Israeli authorities mistakenly delivered the body of Sarah Tarayra to Jenin in the northernmost district of Jenin, and the liaison coordinated to transport the body to Tarayra’s hometown in Bani Naim near Hebron. The Palestinian National Committee for Retrieving Bodies of Martyrs Amin al-Bayid told Palestinian news agency Safa that Israeli authorities also returned the bodies of Sari Abu Ghurab from Jenin, Rahiq Birawi from Nablus, and Ansar Harshah from Tulkarem. Ansar Harshah, a 25-year-old wife and mother of two, was shot and killed on June 2 at an Israeli army checkpoint after she allegedly attempted to stab a soldier. No Israelis were injured during the incident. On July 1, Israeli forces shot dead 27-year-old Sarah Tarayra, who was pregnant, after she allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack against border police officers near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron’s Old City. No Israelis were injured in the incident. An investigation carried out by human rights organization B’Tselem determined the killing was not justified…. [details of the other incidents in which the Palestinians were killed follow]
Army abducts the former mayor of Ethna
IMEMC 15 Dec — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Thursday at dawn, the former mayor of Ethna [or Idhna] town, west of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. The Hebron office of the PPS said the soldiers invaded the home of Jamal Tmeizi, 61, violently searched it, causing excessive property damage, and abducted him. It added that the soldiers invaded the town from several directions, and surrounded the former mayor’s home.
Also at dawn, the soldiers invaded many homes in Jenin city, and Jenin refugee camp, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, abducted two Palestinians, briefly detained and interrogated two others.
Israeli soldiers abduct a Palestinian child in Silwad
IMEMC 17 Dec — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Friday evening, a Palestinian child in Silwad town, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the child has been identified as Ward Abdul-Qader Hamed, 15, and that he was abducted after the soldiers stopped him at the western entrance of the town. It is worth mentioning that the abducted child is the son of Qaddoura Fares, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian at Qalqiliya-area checkpoint
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian ‘youth’ at a flying checkpoint overnight Friday in the city of Qalqiliya in the northern occupied West Bank. The youth was identified by locals as Salah al-Din al-Titi from Hebron’s al-‘Arrub refugee camp in the southern West Bank. The circumstances of al-Titi’s detention remained unclear. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that there Israeli forces did not detain any Palestinians overnight between Thursday and Friday.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court sentences Palestinian woman to five years in prison, releases minor on bail
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — A Palestinian woman Thursday was sentenced to five years in Israeli prison for allegedly plotting a stab attack in occupied East Jerusalem, while a 13-year-old Palestinian was released on bail after being detained earlier in the week for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. The Jerusalem District Court sentenced 29-year-old Ataya Abu Aisha from the village of Kafr ‘Aqab in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem to five years in Israeli prison for planning to carry out a stab attack with a screwdriver in December 2015, according to Israeli media outlet Ynet. She was detained by Israeli forces at Damascus Gate outside the Old City in East Jerusalem after reportedly “arousing the suspicions of police officers,” who searched her and allegedly discovered a screwdriver they claim was to be used in an attack.
Meanwhile, in a separate incident, an Israeli court issued a final sentence against 13-year-old Palestinian Samir Raja Daraghmeh, releasing him from Israeli prison on a 1,500 shekel ($389) bail after he was detained on Monday for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli settlers’ vehicles in the northern West Bank, according to Munther Abu Ahmad, a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). While Daraghmeh was initially reported as being 15-years-old, PPS has reported his age as 13. Ahmad highlighted that the teenager was to be released by Israeli authorities this week, but his detention was extended on Tuesday after an appeal was presented by the Israeli prosecution objecting to the boy’s release. Samir is from the village of al-Lubban al-Sharqiya in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, and according to Abu Ahmad, he suffers from medical issues after sustaining injuries in a car accident and having parts of his kidneys and liver removed last year. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said Monday that Samir was among a number of Palestinian minors who were throwing stones at Israeli cars on Route 60 opposite al-Lubban al-Sharqiya, but Israeli forces were unable to detain the others involved in the alleged rock throwing.
2 appeals submitted to Israeli Supreme Court for release of hunger-striking prisoners
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Two appeals have been submitted to the Israeli Supreme Court for the immediate release of hunger strikers Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs and Israel’s Physicians for Human Rights, according to statements released Thursday and Friday. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement that lawyer Ahlam Haddad has filed a second appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court on Thursday demanding the release of Shadid, 20, and Abu Farah, 29, who have gone without food for 83 and 84 days, respectively. The committee said that the appeal was filed in response to the dangerous deterioration of the prisoners’ health conditions on their fourth day of rejecting water. On Monday, the hunger strikers began refusing water in response to an Israeli Supreme Court rejection of their release appeal. The drastic move came following a series of events that morning, in which the Israeli Supreme Court rejected Haddad’s appeal to release the two, while Israeli prosecutors instead called for the extension of their administrative detention orders….
Palestinian lawyers file appeal against detention of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — A lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement Thursday that an appeal has been filed with the Israeli Supreme Court after the court confirmed the administrative detention — internment without charge or trial — of Palestinian hunger striker Ammar Ibrahim Hamour, who has gone without food for 24 days in protest of his detention. PPS lawyer Ahmad Safiya said that the organization was still awaiting the court session that would issue a final order regarding the appeal submitted against Hamour’s administrative detention, noting that the hunger striker’s detention is set to end on Feb. 14, 2017. Hamour, 28 declared a hunger strike last month in protest of being held without charge or trial for more than nine months. He is currently being held in solitary confinement in Israel’s Ashkelon prison. Israeli authorities have issued two six-month administrative detention orders against Hamour since he was initially detained by Israeli forces. Hamour is from the village of Jabaa in the Jenin district of the northern occupied West Bank….
#FreeSalah update: Next court hearing on December 20
StoptheWall 15 Dec — Still the Israeli military courts have not decided on the case of Salah Khawaja. As well today the case has been adjourned, this time until December 20. This will bring Salah’s incarceration to almost two months. Please help us to keep up the pressure! Write to your government representatives and diplomatic missions in Palestine now to ask their intervention to stop Israeli repression of Palestinian human rights defenders. [Background: Stop the Wall member Salah Khawaja arrested]
Israel among world’s worst jailers of journalists
EI 16 Dec by Ali Abunimah — As of 1 December, there were 259 journalists jailed worldwide, according to the annual census conducted by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) – the highest number on record. By far the largest group, 81 journalists, are detained in Turkey, followed by China (38) and Egypt (25). Israel is holding 7 journalists, according to CPJ, which puts it on a par with Syria and Bahrain, just behind Iran (8) and ahead of Saudi Arabia (6). Among those currently detained is Omar Nazzal, who was arrested by the Israeli military in April at the crossing between the occupied West Bank and Jordan as he was en route to a meeting of the European Federation of Journalists in Sarajevo. Since then, Nazzal has been held without charge or trial. “In the weeks before his arrest, Nazzal shared statements on Facebook criticizing Israel’s crackdown on Palestinian media, including the closure of Palestine Today, an Islamic Jihad-affiliated TV channel” that was raided and shut down by the Israeli army in March 2016, according to CPJ. In November, Israel renewed Nazzal’s administrative detention for another six months. Four of the journalists currently detained by Israel are Ahmad Darawish, Muhammad Imran, Muntasir Nassar and Nidal Amro, who work for al-Sanabel Radio. All were arrested by Israeli forces during night raids on their homes on 31 August in the occupied West Bank village of Dura, near Hebron. The Israeli military indicted the men for “incitement” – an accusation frequently leveled at Palestinian journalists, social media users and even university professors and poets who express criticism of or report on Israel’s occupation … CPJ acknowledges that its census is “a snapshot of those incarcerated” on 1 December and therefore “does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year.” In June, Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer reported that 21 Palestinian journalists were behind Israeli bars. Since then a number have been released, including Samah Dweik, who completed nearly six months in prison in September for writing a status and sharing an image on her Facebook page in support of Palestinians who had recently been slain by Israeli forces….
Israel renews administrative detention of Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Israeli authorities Monday extended for the third time prominent Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal’s administrative detention — internment without charge or trial — for an additional three months, according to a statement released Tuesday by prisoners’ rights group Addameer. According to Addameer, Nazzal’s detention was extended once again despite the fact that his second renewal was on Nov. 21 when Israeli authorities extended his detention for one-and-a-half months, as the imprisoned journalist was expected to be released on Dec. 24. Nazzal, a member of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, was detained by Israeli forces in April and placed under Israel’s widely condemnded policy of administrative detention, where he launched a hunger strike on Aug. 4.….
19-year-old Hamas fighter dies during training exercise in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — A 19-year-old fighter from the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, was killed while two others were critically injured in an explosion at a Hamas training site in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. In a statement, the Brigades said Khan Yunis-native 19-year-old Moussa Hafeth Abu Saalik died in a training exercise. The statement added that two other fighters were injured in the same incident. Medical sources at the Nasser Hospital told Ma‘an that two youths injured in an explosion in Khan Yunis arrived to the hospital in critical condition.
Israeli forces open fire at agricultural lands in southern Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Israeli forces opened fire at agricultural lands east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stationed inside a watchtower near the border opened fire in the area, without causing injuries.
Egypt opens Rafah crossing for first of 3-day opening
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Egyptian authorities on Saturday opened the Rafah border crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip for the first of a three-day opening. The Gaza borders and crossings committee said in a statement that the borders were opened on both sides Saturday morning “for humanitarian cases and people stranded on both sides.” The statement added that the committee had published lists of approved travelers prior to Saturday morning, designating certain days for certain passengers to travel. Egyptian authorities had announced on Thursday that they would be opening the Rafah crossing for three days starting on Saturday, with security sources telling Ma‘an that the decision to open the border came upon order from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi “to lessen the siege on the Gaza Strip by opening the crossing twice a month.”
100 UNRWA employees travel from Gaza to Jerusalem for Friday prayers in Al-Aqsa
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — One hundred employees of UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for providing services to some five million Palestinian refugees around the Middle East, traveled from the besieged Gaza Strip to occupied East Jerusalem to perform Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Palestinian liaison officials told Ma’an that 100 UNRWA employees traveled via the Erez border crossing between the coastal enclave and Israel, while 150 Palestinians whose permits are arranged by Gaza’s Civil Affairs Committee were prevented from attending prayers, as Israeli authorities have continuously accused Palestinians of not returning to the Gaza Strip immediately following the visit….
Gaza: UNRWA employees to escalate protests
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Dec — The employees union of UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for providing services to some five million Palestinian refugees, announced Thursday, in Gaza, that the employees would escalate activities against UNRWA’s administration, in the latest of widespread protests targeting the agency over the past several months. General-Secretary of the UNRWA Employees Union in Gaza, Yousif Hamdouna, told Ma’an News Agency that the actions were called after the agency and its employees reportedly failed to reach an agreement regarding the union’s demands, saying that the general commissioner of UNRWA decided to halt negotiations and procedures that could facilitate the demands of the union. Hamdouna said that the decision by UNRWA indicated their “irresponsibility,” and that the agency was not concerned with solving the current crisis with its employees, and accused the agency of creating the crisis for refugees and its employees….
Artist brings beauty to war-damaged Gaza home
[with photos] AFP 17 Dec — Dutch artist Marjan Teeuwen walks past a column formed from rubble to show off her latest creation, a barren house in the Gaza Strip where doorless rooms face into bleak, empty space. The ‘Shaath House’ in Khan Yunis in the south of the Palestinian territory was largely destroyed by an Israeli attack in the 2014 Gaza war but Teeuwen, 52, specialises in turning unwanted places into works of art. Working with Palestinian engineers and artists and the Palestinian Red Crescent, she is “transforming a demolished house into a beautiful sculpture” which will serve briefly as a museum.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Apartheid
Netanyahu pushes for demolition of Israel Arab homes to appease rightists over Amona
Haaretz 15 Dec by Barak Ravid — ‘There will be no double standards regarding construction,’ prime minister tells officials, source says, ahead of expected evacuation of West Bank outpost. MK Odeh: No comparison between Israeli Arabs and settlers — In an attempt to appease the right for the expected evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to push in the next few days for the demolition of homes belonging to Israeli Arabs that were built illegally, as well as the homes of Palestinians in East Jerusalem. A senior Israeli source said that during talks led by Netanyahu in the last two weeks with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, the prime minister instructed that demolition orders be enforced over the next few days in Arab towns in southern and northern Israel as well as East Jerusalem. “There will be no double standards regarding construction,” Netanyahu said in the talks, according to the source. “Israel will have equal enforcement of the law between Jews and Arabs.” Netanyahu’s decision was made public a day after the settlers living in the illegal outpost of Amona decided to reject a government offer that would have seen the peaceful evacuation of the outpost. MK Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List, blasted Netanyahu for pushing to demolish Israeli Arabs’ homes. “All this prime minister knows is incitement and hate. How dare he say there won’t be a double standard, and compare the Amona settlers, who robbed and stole land from people living with no civilian rights, to Israeli Arab citizens who build on their land, but are forced to do so without permits because Israel won’t approve master plans,” Odeh said.…
Israeli settlements are about much more than a few houses
MEMO 15 Dec by Ben White — Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) are illegal, constituting a grave violation of the Geneva Conventions. They are also an impediment to a long-term negotiated deal, in that they eat up land, and their continued growth is a clear sign of bad faith. But Israel’s colonies in the oPt are also part of a violent, inherently discriminatory regime of segregation and displacement – in other words, they have an immediate, ongoing human rights impact. And their “footprint” goes well beyond the built-up areas of houses and caravans. The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has just published an important casestudy that, in the agency’s own words, ably illustrates how “the establishment and continuous expansion of settlements is a key driver of humanitarian vulnerability.” OCHA notes how “research and monitoring of settlement expansion has mostly focused on the construction of residential areas and has neglected, to some extent, other forms of expansion.” These other means of colonisations, OCHA explains, include “the development of road networks, agriculture and touristic sites, mostly on privately-owned Palestinian land, without formal permit from, but with the acquiescence of, the Israeli authorities.”….
Israel strands Bedouin in their own village
+972 blog 14 Dec by ‘John Brown’ — The residents of Umm Batin, a Bedouin village in the south of Israel, were surprised to discover at the beginning of December that the bus stop they use to get to nearby Be’er Sheva had disappeared without warning or explanation. When village residents asked bus drivers —- after catching the bus from a stop further away — what was going on, they were told that services to their village had indeed been canceled. Instead, they learned, they would have to travel to the nearby town of Omer in order to be able to use public transportation. Umm Batin, a recognized village of around 5,000 inhabitants, is now under de facto closure for anyone who doesn’t own or have access to a private vehicle. Salameh Abu-Kaf, a member of the Umm Batin council, tells Local Call: “Many residents take the bus every day in order to get to work. Until now we’ve had the stop opposite the village. “Although it was extremely dangerous to cross the highway in order to reach the stop, we were at least able to get out of the village,” he added. “Now they expect us to walk along the highway to get to the next stop? It’s incredibly dangerous.”….
Israeli forces deliver demolition orders to Palestinians in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Dec – Israeli officials from the Jerusalem municipality, escorted by Israeli soldiers, raided the neighborhood of ‘Issawiya on Thursday in occupied East Jerusalem and hung demolition notices on several buildings. According to local popular committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, Israeli municipality officials raided the area of Habayel al-Arab in the southwestern part of ‘Issawiya, and proceeded to take pictures of the neighborhood and buildings, before they hung demolition notices on more than six residential buildings. Al-Hummus noted that some of the notices targeted buildings which were built after the owners had been issued Israeli building permits, making the structures “legal” under Jerusalem municipality regulations. He also added that the buildings that had received the demolition orders were built between 10 to 30 years ago, and included more than 20 apartments belonging to residents in the neighborhood….
‘Apartheid Israel’ is not just a political slogan, it is a daily reality
MEMO 8 Dec by Jihad Abu Raya — Around 70 per cent of all towns within Israel — Palestinian land occupied since 1948 — are “for Jews only”; the state’s Arab citizens are banned from living therein. This has been the sustained policy since the establishment of the State of Israel on Palestinian land. The means and methods may have changed, but Israel’s goal has not; establishing “Arab-free” towns, which are solely for those who have Jewish ethnicity, is the official intention. This is no ordinary discrimination in favour of one group of citizens; this is Apartheid itself. Despite this obvious fact, it is an issue which the international community would rather not address and so Israel continues to get away with it. The so-called Israel Land Authority manages 94 per cent of the 1948 Palestinian lands on behalf of three main “owners”: First, the State of Israel, which claims ownership of 69 per cent of the 1948 land that was inherited from the British Mandate Government, seized because it was alleged that it had no owners or was simply confiscated. The second “owner” is the Development Authority, which lays claim to 12 per cent of the land that was handed over by the protector of properties belonging to “absentees”; in other words, properties that belong to ethnically-cleansed Palestinians. The third is the Jewish National Fund, which “owns” 13 per cent of the land. A small percentage of the JNF land was seized or purchased by the fund prior to the creation of the State of Israel. However, most consists of land that belonged to Palestinians driven from their homes in 1948 which was then given to the JNF as a gift by the government of Israel after the state was established, as part of what is known as the first million deal and the second million deal….
Hyundai profiting from Israel’s colonization of Golan Heights
EI 14 Dec by Ryan Rodrick Beiler — In September, Israeli forces demolished the home of Bassam Ibrahim. What made his case different from the more than 48,000 such demolitions in territory Israel has occupied since 1967 is that Ibrahim is not Palestinian. He is Syrian. Ibrahim’s home in the town of Majdal Shams was the first demolition in the Golan Heights since Israel occupied the Syrian territory following its capture in 1967. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the destruction of property by an occupying power except in the case of military necessity. Equipment manufactured by Hyundai Heavy Industries was used to carry out the demolition … The demolition of Bassam Ibrahim’s home in the Golan followed a pattern similar to those in the occupied West Bank. According to Al-Marsad, a human rights group in the Golan, hundreds of Israeli police and special forces surrounded the home as it was destroyed on the pretext that it was built without a permit. Dozens more Syrian-owned homes in the territory have also received demolition orders. More than 140,000 Syrians lived in the Golan Heights, approximately 1,860 square kilometers, before its capture in 1967. Most were forcibly transferred outside the territory, and only 20,000 remain today. Discriminatory Israeli policies make it virtually impossible for residents to obtain permits to build or improve their homes. Many have no choice but to build without them. Syrian communities in the Golan are also being squeezed by Israel’s expansion of Hermon National Park. Authorities have moved to appropriate 20,000 acres of land used by Majdal Shams and other communities for agriculture and housing … The number of Jewish settlers in the Golan is now roughly equal to that of the Syrian population….
Israeli settlers refuse to leave West Bank outpost
AMONA OUTPOST, WEST BANK (AFP) 15 Dec — Residents of a wildcat Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank on Thursday rejected a proposal to leave voluntarily, raising fears of violence as an evacuation deadline nears. The Amona outpost, home to some 40 families, is under a high court order to be evacuated by December 25 since it was found to have been built on private Palestinian land in a case that has taken on international importance. The residents’ rejection led to concerns the army would move in imminently to clear them out, leading dozens of youths to stream into the hilltop outpost in windy and bitterly cold weather in the middle of the night. Many of them, alerted to the decision by social media, crowded into a small synagogue and dozed in sleeping bags on the floor, while others stayed in their cars or simply walked the streets. After sunrise, some of the more extreme youths, wearing knitted Jewish skullcaps with sidelocks dangling, spread nails on roads along with stones and wooden poles. Several took up position on top of a water tower while waving an Israeli flag. They also hauled an empty dumpster with them for unclear reasons. A spokesman for Amona residents who has lived in the outpost for 14 years said they had not been given any notice of when an evacuation could happen. Asked whether he was concerned that the youths’ presence in the outpost would lead to violence, he said: “I’m worried about the government inflicting pain on people – needless pain.” “There is no difference between Amona and Tel Aviv,” said Eli Greenberg, a 43-year-old father of eight, referring to Israel’s economic capital located within its internationally recognised borders. “There’s no reason to take us out of here,” he said…. [JPost: when Amona was first evacuated in 2006, some 200 people were injured, including 80 members of the security forces and then-MKs Arye Eldad and Effi Eitam. And that was when Amona had only nine homes. Now it has 40]
Palestinian refugees – Syria, etc.
The forgotten refugees and the Fatah conference
MEMO 8 Dec by Ayman Abu Hashem — Fatah’s Seventh Conference last week carried several clear messages for Palestinian refugees. It is as if Fatah has reached the culmination of a historic path of blatant abandonment and denial of those who represent the core of the modern Palestinian revolution and the foundations of its national project. Furthermore, the tragedy of the Palestinians in Syria was missing from the lengthy speech made by the head of Fatah, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organisation — Mahmoud Abbas — and this absence could not be separated from the choice of Ahmed Majdalani to deliver the PLO’s presentation to the conference. This is the man who fabricated the victims’ narrative in Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Syria, and promoted the lies of the regime without the slightest hint of shame. The mere mention of his name provokes the anger of all Palestinians in Syria. Other messages highlight the limits of President Mahmoud Abbas in dealing with the refugee issue, which has been abandoned at the bottom of his list of priorities for finding a fair and agreed-upon solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict. Whatever is decided, the solution must overlook the attempt to keep the refugees off the agenda when its practical aspects are discussed; it must also make sure that there is a clear understanding of the alienation of refugee communities by Fatah, which is becoming an army of employees for the PA. What is both strange and painful is the fact that the representatives of the “ruling party” who came from refugee communities in order to participate in the conference have contributed to this alienation. It seems that none of them even thought about protesting about the very small and symbolic representation of the refugees in the conference, the participants of which applauded the spread of Baathism … At least seven Palestinian refugee camps have been destroyed in Syria and there have been thousands killed and wounded by the bombing, sieges and murderous detention of the Syrian regime and its acolytes. In addition, nearly one-third of the Palestinians in Syria have been displaced beyond its borders. Their “second Nakba” outdid the first in terms of horror and atrocities, but this was not enough to stir the emotions of those attending the conference to at least show a minimum level of solidarity and sympathy with the refugees, whose plight was lost amongst the speakers’ love letters to the Israeli enemies and bombastic challenges to Fatah’s political opponents….
IDF sentences two conscientious objectors to month in prison
+972 mag 13 Dec by Haggai Matar — The Israeli military sentenced two Israeli conscientious objectors, Tamar Alon and Tamar Ze’evi, to 27 days in military prison on Monday for refusing to serve in the army due to their opposition to the occupation. The young women first declared their conscientious objection at the Israeli army’s Tel Hashomer induction base in mid-November, saying that they refuse to take part in the oppression of the Palestinian people. They were sentenced to 10 days in military prison at the time. At the end of their current prison stint, the two will be released, after which they will be required to once again present themselves at the induction base. They will then likely declare their refusal once again, and be handed a fourth prison sentence, a cycle that can repeat itself for months on end. Israeli law allows for conscientious objection, but in practice it is only ever accepted on grounds of pacifism, not for political reasons, a category in which the IDF includes opposing the occupation. Ze’evi and Alon are both asking to perform an alternative civilian national service instead of military service….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (8-14 December)
PCHR-Gaza 15 Dec — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt A Palestinian boy was killed at Za‘tara checkpoint, south of Nablus, and another civilian was killed in occupied Jerusalem. An activist was wounded in al-Eisawiya village, north of Jerusalem. Israeli forces conducted 56 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 10 ones in occupied Jerusalem. 76 civilians, including 13 children and a journalist, were arrested. Twenty-three of them, including 11 children and the journalist, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Birzeit University was raided and belongings of student unions were confiscated. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. 2 families were obliged to self-demolish parts of a 3-storey building in Silwan village, south of the city. A residential barrack, a storage barrack and a commercial facility were demolished in Sour Baher under the pretext they were close to the annexation wall. 3 NGOs were raided; a musical activity in one of them was banned and PC sets were confiscated from another. Settlement activities continued in the West Bank. Settlers cut off 190 olive trees in Termis’ya village, northeast of Ramallah. [details follow of these and other events]
9 Palestinian suspects involved in killing of Palestinian police turn themselves in
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 16 Dec – The main suspects responsible for the August shooting in Nablus that left two Palestinian security officers killed and four others injured after clashes broke out in the Old City between Palestinian forces and armed locals turned themselves in to Palestinian security over Thursday and Friday. Nablus mayor Akram Rjoub told Ma‘an on Friday that six of the suspects had turned themselves in at the offices in Ramallah, identified as Imad ad-Din Ahmad Ezz Halawa, Moayad Fathi Sabi Estita, Saif ad-Din Ahmad Ezz Halawa, Jamal Ahmad Ezz Halawa, Muhammad Tahsein Abdulmajeed al-Ghanim, and Ihab Nabeel Khaled, while three others turned themselves in at the headquarters in Nablus, according to Rjoub. Rjoub said that the suspects were taken to Ramallah for interrogations and to undergo security procedures, adding that no deals or agreements had been struck with the nine suspects. However, he told Ma‘an that all security procedures would be carried out in accordance with the law and declared the case officially closed. The slain security officers were identified at the time of the incident as Shibli Ibrahim Abed Bani Shamseh, 27, from the village of Beita, and Mahmoud Tarayra from Bani Naim. The two who survived their injuries were identified as Officer Naji Ahmad al-Titi, who was shot in the arm, and officer Iyad Omar Zaghloul, who was shot in the leg.Two Palestinian civilians were also killed during the incident after Palestinian forces raided the Old City the night following the clashes….
Opinion: The Palestinian leadership that doesn’t represent us / Diana Buttu
Al Jazeera 12 Dec — Last week’s Palestinian Fatah conference ended with disappointingly predictable results. Of the 18 members of the Executive Committee, the governing body of Fatah, once again 17 are men, and only one person is in his 40s – he is considered to be part of the “youth” of the movement. The average age of the Executive Committee is pushing past 65 and is advancing with each conference, as no new members join its ranks. The results were not the only problems with the elections – the process was flawed from the outset. With Mahmoud Abbas desperate to cling to and consolidate power despite being in his 80s, and working to quash any opposition to his ineffective rule, he actively set out to undermine Fatah by not allowing dissenting members to attend the conference, disqualifying members and appointing those who would support his oppressive rule. And so, unsurprisingly, Abbas was once again elected head of Fatah and, once again, the top 12 members of the Executive Committee are the same members (in the exact order) of the Executive Committee that preceded it. But that is not where the disappointment rests, for other political parties around the world have similarly chosen leaders out of touch with their constituents, only to be faced with the wrath of the electorate. And herein lies the problem: Abbas, in his quest to consolidate power, has spent years effectively ensuring that there will never be elections as long as he remains alive and that Palestinians will be for ever bound by the failed Oslo Accords that he authored. Whether failing to reconcile with Hamas (and, of course blaming Hamas for the lack of reconciliation) or cancelling local elections, Abbas has halted and stymied Palestinian democracy. He is now in the 12th year of his rule, despite having been elected to serve only four years….
Getting ahead in Hamas: It helps to have street cred
Al-Monitor 14 Dec by Adnan Abu Amer — Young people are finding it difficult to move up the ranks in Hamas, as senior positions are usually reserved for prominent figures such as religious scholars, parliament members and those who have earned their stripes in Israeli prisons — Hamas is celebrating its anniversary this month, with thousands of young people participating in mass rallies in the Gaza Strip to commemorate the group’s founding on Dec. 14, 1987. The fundamentalist Islamic movement’s young people are active in its organizational and partisan bodies and are a valuable asset when it comes to armed operations. This is why Hamas’ youth are seen as the main driving force of the movement’s field operations. Yet its younger members are noticeably absent in leadership positions. On Nov. 27, the first International Youth Conference was held in Gaza and drew many of Hamas’ figureheads and leaders to discuss young Palestinians’ issues and needs. Al-Monitor held a series of meetings with Hamas officials from various levels, who expressed different positions on why young members aren’t moving up in the ranks. Some officials blamed the young people themselves, while others said Hamas’ charter impedes their progress….
Hundreds of children arrive in Bethlehem as part of ‘Bethlehem Heart of Christmas’
IMEMC 17 Dec — On Friday, December 16th, 350 children from around Palestine visited Bethlehem’s holy sites to learn first-hand about Palestine’s living Christian heritage. The event was part of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation’s 12th Annual “Journey to Bethlehem.” For the majority of these children, this represents the first time they have ever set foot in these holy places. Children came from schools and orphanages around Zababdeh, Jenin, Tulkarem, Jericho, and Birzeit. During their journey, the children received educational tours of Shepherds Field, the Church of the Nativity, the Milk Grotto, and Bethlehem Museum, where they learned about the role that everyday Palestinians have played in preserving Christianity in the Holy Land. After visiting the sites, the children reflected on their favorite things: “We loved visiting the Church of the Nativity! We saw the priests give mass for the first time ever. It was really cool!” – Alisa, 8 years, Jericho. “We enjoyed the museum, especially seeing the solidarity cross because the word ‘peace’ was written on it. We hope that there will be peace for us soon.” – Dala, 8 years, Jericho….
Thousands more Palestinian workers to enter Israel
Globes 5 Dec by Shira Karpick Sapir — Ministers hope to cut back on an estimated NIS 3 billion in unreported wages paid to workers — On Sunday, Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and Minister of Construction and Housing Yoav Galant will bring up for cabinet approval a proposal to increase the quota for Palestinians workers in Israel by 22,000. The proposal has been coordinated with the Ministry of Defense. The proposal is aimed at improving the allocation of Palestinian workers from Judea and Samaria employed in Israel, and to maintain fair employment terms for Palestinian workers in construction, industry, and agriculture. The main points of the proposal are a 9,300 increase in the quota of work permits for the construction industry (on top of the 7,000 workers previously approved only in 2016), a 3,500 increase in employment permits for agriculture, and a 2,200 increase in employment permits for industry. The proposal also substantially eases regulations governing the employment of Palestinian workers. The regulations currently restrict the number of workers each contractor is entitled to employ and the ability of the workers to move from one contractor to another. Contractors and workers will also be able to contract freely with each other, while reporting regularly to the state authorities about where the workers are employed. Under the proposal, an implementation team will be formed to use the Internet to guarantee the Palestinians’ net wages and make sure that their actual pay matches what is reported. This contrasts with the current situation, in which salary is paid in cash, with no effective way of monitoring salary payments. Unreported payments to Palestinian workers are estimated at NIS 3 billion a year….
US brings new charges against Rasmea Odeh
EI 14 Dec by Charlotte Silver — Federal prosecutors have filed a slate of new charges against Rasmea Odeh. “The judge said this isn’t a political trial, but the government in their desperation is turning this into a political case,” the Palestinian American activist’s lead attorney Michael Deutsch told The Electronic Intifada, in response to the new allegations. Barbara McQuade, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, issued the new indictment just a week after Judge Gershwin Drain ordered a new trial for Odeh. But faced with the new charges, Odeh’s defense team has asked for the trial that had been set to start on 10 January in Detroit to be delayed until mid-March. Odeh, 69, was found guilty of immigration fraud in November 2014, stemming from her failure to declare on her immigration and naturalization forms her conviction in an Israeli military court in 1969. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison, revocation of her US citizenship and deportation. But last February, a US appeals court threw out the verdict, ruling that Judge Drain had erred by not allowing Odeh to call an expert witness to testify about the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the torture and rape she suffered in Israeli custody – which Odeh’s defense attorneys argue affected her mental state when she filled out her citizenship application in 2004. After government prosecutors failed in their bid to prevent a new trial, US Attorney McQuade asked a grand jury to bring a new indictment against Odeh. The new charges appear to try to circumvent Odeh’s PTSD defense by alleging that she was a member of a “terrorist organization” – the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – and was therefore legally inadmissible to the US when she first immigrated in the 1990s … The Rasmea Defense Committee is calling the new indictment “a vicious attack by prosecutors desperate after a series of setbacks in their case against the Chicago-based Palestinian American community leader.”….
Group headed by Trump’s Israel envoy pick sued for war crimes
EI 16 Dec by Ali Abunimah — President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for US ambassador to Israel is the head of an organization that is being sued by Palestinians for its role in the theft of their land for settlements and other Israeli war crimes. Announcing the nomination, the Trump transition team said that David Friedman would serve from Jerusalem, “Israel’s eternal capital” – signaling that the new administration intends to move the US embassy to the city from its current location in Tel Aviv. Friedman is being described as “more extreme” even than the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu … A bankruptcy lawyer, Friedman is president of American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center, a nonprofit organization that raises about $2 million a year, mostly for the Beit El settlement, north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. This is one of a group of organizations and individuals currently being sued for $34.5 billion by Palestinians who accuse them of financing and profiting from Israel’s settlements….
Peace prospects dead if Trump moves US embassy to Jerusalem: Palestinian aide
JERUSALEM/WASHINGTON (Reuters) 16 Dec By Ori Lewis and Matt Spetalnick — A senior Palestinian official warned on Friday that implementation of Donald Trump’s pledge to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would destroy any prospects for peace with Israel, even as a spokesman for the U.S. President-elect said he remained committed to the move. Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, issued the grim prediction just a day after Trump announced his decision to nominate as ambassador to Israel David Friedman, a pro-Israel hardliner who supports continued building of Jewish settlements and shifting the embassy from Tel Aviv. Speaking to foreign journalists, Erekat said Jerusalem was a final-status issue to be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians, who also want it as the capital of a future independent state. Successive U.S. administrations have avoided formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. If Trump makes good on his campaign promise, it would up-end decades of U.S. policy, enrage the Muslim world and draw international condemnation. Jerusalem is home to sites sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians. “No one should take any decisions which may preempt or prejudge (negotiations) because this will be the destruction of the peace process as a whole,” Erekat said, according to a transcript provided by an aide.
David Friedman, Trump’s chosen Israel envoy: Palestinians seek ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Jews
Haaretz 16 Dec by Allison Kaplan Sommer — UPDATE: This interview was originally published on September 11.– In a Facebook video published over the weekend, Netanyahu said that support for the removal of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, as part of a two-state peace deal with the Palestinian Authority, was the equivalent of advocating for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews.“Prime Minister Netanyahu makes exactly the right point. The Palestinians want Israel to absorb countless ‘refugees’ – people who never lived in Israel and whose ancestors were never forced to leave Israel – while their so-called ‘state’ is required to be, as the Nazis said, Judenrein (devoid of Jews).…
Britain restricts Palestinian aid to prevent transfer of money to terrorists
Haaretz 16 Dec by Barak Ravid — Palestinian Authority employees will be individually vetted before money is transferred for their salaries; the funds will no longer support the salaries of Gaza public servants — The government of the United Kingdom announced on Friday that it is restricting the transfer of aid to the Palestinian Authority in order to prevent the transfer of funds to terrorists who have attacked Israelis or to the families of terrorists. The new measures will significantly reduce the volume of aid for the payment of PA salaries. In the future, the recipients of such aid will be individually vetted before the money is transferred. The government said in a statement that aid to the PA, which this year stood at 25 million pounds sterling (120 million shekels, $31 million), would continue, but with the focus on projects that create institutions for the future Palestinian state, contribute to the stability of the West Bank and promote the two-state solution … About two months ago, the U.K. government suspended the transfer of some 25 million pounds sterling worth of aid to the PA, out of concern that the money was being used to pay annuities to terrorists or the families of terrorists. [Read UK gov’t statement here]
On memory, politics and being Palestinian in Chile
Mondoweiss 15 Dec by Siri Schwabe — Siri Schwabe conducted fieldwork in the Chilean capital from September 2013 to August 2014. Her thesis “Promised Lands. Memory, Politics, and Palestinianness in Santiago de Chile” explores how politics is practiced, experienced and talked about among Palestinian-Chileans. It shows how memories of political events and places in both Palestine and Chile shape diasporic practices and narratives. The following interview was conducted by Stockholm University’s Department of Social Anthropology … What distinguishes the Palestinian presence in Santiago from its counterpart in other cities in South and Latin America? Is there anything “typical Palestinian-Chilean”? Although there are of course Palestinians spread out across Latin America and beyond, Chile is widely believed to be home to the largest Palestinian population outside the Arab world. There is some uncertainty when it comes to exact numbers, but the general understanding is that there is up to half a million Chileans of Palestinian ancestry on either one or both sides of their family. That alone means that the Palestinian presence in the capital of Santiago is much more notable than in other Latin American cities. A lot of the Palestinian immigrants originally settled down in the neighborhood of Patronato in central Santiago, and this neighborhood is still full of Palestinian-owned shops and factories, not to mention restaurants specializing in Palestinian food. There are lots of Palestinian flags and Palestinian imagery along the streets there, and there’s even a Palestinian church in the centre of the neighborhood … You describe in detail how and what Palestinian-Chileans remember. But what do they dream about? Everyone I got to know during my fieldwork would without a doubt say that they dream of an end to the Israeli occupation and a free Palestine. Some people talked about wanting to move to Palestine, at least for a while, and those who had never been able to go there often said they wish they would be able to visit someday. The Palestinian-Chileans I know are Santiaguinos through and through, however, and share dreams that are well known to most people in the city and beyond and that often revolve around building careers and simply being surrounded by a happy and healthy family.
MEMO 14 Dec by Mustafa Barghouti — The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) published a very important study a few days ago titled “Palestine 2030 Demographic Change: Opportunities for Development”. This study – which I hope anyone concerned with policy-making, development or authority in Palestine will read – shows the current demographic shifts in Palestine and the predictions for what the population will be like in 2030 and 2050. The study predicts that the population in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, will rise from 4.7 million in 2015 to 6.9 million in 2030, and then 9.5 million or more in 2050. The surprise is that the population in the Gaza Strip is predicted to be higher in 2050 than in the West Bank: 4.8 million in Gaza compared to 4.7 million in the West Bank. If we assume that the growth rate of the Palestinian population in the territories occupied in 1948 will be the same or slightly lower, then the number of Palestinians in historical Palestine in 2030 will be no less than 9 million. This is significant in the eyes of the Israelis, even as they work night and day to eliminate the idea of a Palestinian state, as there will be no alternative, no matter what they do, other than bring about a single democratic state for everyone between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea….
Book Review: Palestine’s ‘scallywag leader of incredible cunning’
EI 16 Dec by Selma Dabbagh –…As is recounted in Laila Parson’s new biography, The Commander: Fawzi al-Qawuqji and the Fight for Arab Independence, 1914-1948, al-Qawuqji was wanted by both the British and French colonial authorities (the latter being, according to British intelligence, “quite desirous of hanging him”). He was considered by some to have been an Arab Garibaldi, but was maligned by others, including Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini , as a British spy. The British later conjectured that he was actually spying for the Russians. Fawzi al-Qawuqji, in other words, was a figure who provoked strong feelings … Charming, intelligent, wily and strong-willed, al-Qawuqji’s military career spanned more than four decades and made even Che Guevara appear a little slack. He started as a young officer in the Ottoman army fighting the British in the First World War, where he won an Iron Cross. He went on to help lead a massive uprising against the French in Syria, and assist the Palestinian revolution of 1936 against the British (The Arab Revolt) before he was forced out of Palestine. His departure was engineered by the Mufti’s people, according to al-Qawuqji himself … The portrait of al-Qawuqji is a timely addition to a growing body of positive narratives of 20th century Arab heroism as well as a clear-eyed assessment as to how those narratives were deliberately distorted by Western commentators – from historians to photographers (the fifth chapter’s comparison of photos of Arab and Jewish soldiers in 1948 is stunning in this respect)….