44% of Israelis support annexing West Bank; half of those favoring annexation think Palestinians shouldn’t be given equal rights

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Poll finds almost half of Jewish Israelis think Left is traitorous fifth column
The Forward 6 Dec by Daniel J. Solomon — Almost half of Israel’s Jews think the country’s political left isn’t patriotic, finds the latest poll of the Israel Democracy Institute’s Peace Index, in a survey that shows a public continuing to hold attitudes that favor the current right-wing government. According to the poll, 48% of Israeli Jews don’t believe leftists are loyal to the country, as opposed to 43% who do, which the survey’s authors describe as “not surprising, though worrisome from a democratic standpoint.” Similar public attitudes appeared to be reflected in the numbers on criticizing the government in times of security threat, which 52.5 percent of Israelis polled said was “illegitimate.” Israel’s left, which advocates a two-state solution and a freeze or slowdown in West Bank settlement building, has been moribund since the breakdown of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians that started in the ‘90’s and collapsed in the Second Intifada. The Labor Party, the main faction representing the left, has not helmed a government for more than 15 years. The poll’s other findings also contained ill portents for the Israeli left. According to the survey, more Israeli Jews than not — 44 percent to 38 percent — now favor the annexation of the West Bank. Forty-eight percent of those who favored annexation said that absorbing the entire West Bank would not require giving Palestinians equal rights of citizenship, compared to 42 percent who said it would. As the authors summarized it, this means that “a small but significant minority of the Jewish public supports a situation that the international community regards as apartheid.”

Violence / Detention — West Bank / Jerusalem

Israeli forces injure 4 Palestinian youths in Duheisha camp clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Four young Palestinian men were shot and injured during clashes with Israeli forces who stormed the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem early on Monday morning. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli military vehicles raided the camp from three directions and troops stormed several neighborhoods before young men responded by throwing stones and empty bottles at the soldiers. Israeli forces fired at the Palestinian youths with stun grenades and live ammunition, injuring four.  Locals added that Israeli troops delivered a summons to Muath Jadallah Zighari demanding that he go to the Gush Etzion military center for questioning. No detentions were reported … Medics said all the wounded were shot in the lower extremities, corroborating a report released by Palestinian NGO BADIL earlier this year documenting the Israeli army’s targeting of Palestinian youth with live fire in Bethlehem’s al-Duheisha refugee camp, specifically targeting youth in the kneecaps and legs. BADIL’s report stated that the rise in injuries in the legs coincided with repeated threats by an Israeli army commander responsible for the Bethlehem area’s three refugee camps to make “all youth in the camp disabled.” The NGO has said that the threats “reinforce the claim made by BADIL that these threats and actions are not accidental or isolated incidents, but rather result from a systematic Israeli military policy aimed at suppressing resistance, terrorizing Palestinian youth, and causing permanent injuries and damage to their physical and mental well-being.”….

Israeli forces shoot Palestinian activist with rubber-coated steel bullet for taking photos
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — Israeli forces on Monday evening shot a Palestinian activist in the leg with a rubber-coated steel bullet during a raid in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-‘Issawiya while he was attempting to take photos and video footage in the neighborhood, according to a local committee. Members of a local follow-up committee in al-‘Issawiya told Ma‘an that committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus was “documenting Israeli violations and provocations” when an Israeli soldier “threatened to shoot him in the head if he didn’t leave.” Shortly after the threat was made against him, another soldier then shot a rubber-coated steel bullet at Abu al-Hummus from an approximate distance of 25 meters, hitting him in the leg. Prior to the shooting, Israeli forces and police officers had stormed the town and deployed in its alleys “in a provocative manner,” started stopping drivers, and arbitrarily issued a number of locals traffic fines, according to the committee. After being informed of the forces’ arrival into the town, Abu al-Hummus began taking photos and writing notes about their activities.

Palestinian child hit by Israeli settler car
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Dec — A Palestinian child sustained serious wounds this past Sunday evening, after he was hit by an Israeli settler driving in eastern Qalqilia province. Medics rushed to the scene and evacuated the wounded child, identified by Al Ray as six-year-old Seif Hanoun, to Darwish Nazal hospital. In recent years, hit-and-run attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian children have seen an unprecedented hike across the occupied Palestinian territories.

Palestinian worker killed in construction accident in Israeli settlement
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — A Palestinian construction worker from Jerusalem was killed on Monday morning in a work accident at a stone and marble factory in the illegal Israeli settlement of Karnei Shomron in the northwestern occupied West Bank. Israeli Police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that while working in the settlement’s industrial zone, marble sheets hit the worker’s head, killing him instantly. She identified the victim as 37-year-old Fayiz Bayyumi.  Israeli Channel 10 TV reported on its website that the worker was pronounced dead on the scene by Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency medical service.  The report quoted a paramedic as saying that the worker suffered from multiple injuries as a result of a heavy object that fell on him.
On Sunday morning, a Palestinian construction worker was killed [22-year-old Abd al-Mahdi Halayqa from the village of Shuyukh al-Arrub in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron], and two Palestinian workers were injured in a construction accident in the city of Bnei Brak in central Israel. Al-Samri said in a statement at the time that one of the workers got caught under the rubble of a ceiling that fell during an apartment renovation, and was pronounced dead on the scene by Magen David Adom. On Monday, after further investigations, al-Samri said that Israeli police detained the contractors responsible for the work site, who she identified as a 33-year-old Jerusalemite with Israeli citizenship and a 51-year-old Palestinian from Ramallah. She said their detention was extended on Monday for causing the death of the worker due to their negligence in providing a safe work environment. In September, 33-year-old Ahed Maarouf al-Rimawi from the Ramallah-area town of Beit Rima was killed in the collapse of a construction site in Tel Aviv.  Nasser al-Qatami, deputy of the labor ministry, attended the funeral and said that the ministry’s reports indicated that 37 Palestinian workers had died in construction accidents while working in Israel since the start of 2015.

Israeli forces raid community center in Jerusalem’s Old City
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Israeli forces raided and ransacked a Palestinian community center in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Bab Hutta in the Old City Monday afternoon . Director of Burj Al-Luqluq Social Center Society Muntaser Edkik told Ma‘an in Jerusalem that at around 1 p.m., Israeli forces raided the building, conducting invasive searches in every room. During the raid, which Edkik said last two hours, Israeli forces destroyed some materials and confiscated computers belonging to the center. He added that the raid disrupted practice for a girls’ basketball team, a number of educational classes including a painting course, as well as a training session for children hoping to participate in a championship to mark the occasion of the prophet Muhammad’s birth. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma‘an that “as far as he knew,” there were “no incidents” in the Old City on Monday and no arrests were made. Edkik noted that Israeli forces occasionally raid the center to put pressure on workers there “in an attempt to prevent them from providing services to Palestinian residents of the Old City.”

Israeli soldiers raid Hebron printing shop, seize computers
HEBRON (WAFA) 13 Dec – Israeli soldiers raided early Tuesday a commercial printing shop in Hebron and seized six computers, according to the owners. They said soldiers raided the shop, Zuwar for Advertising, owned by Hamed Jubeh, broke down the locks and ransacked it before leaving after seizing six computers.

Will Israeli soldier get away with videotaped killing of teen?
EI 10 Dec by Ali Abunimah — An Israeli soldier facing trial for the killing of an unarmed Palestinian teenager that was shown on TV screens around the world may now get away with a slap on the wrist. Israeli Border Police combatant Ben Dery is charged with manslaughter in the slaying of 17-year-old Nadim Nuwara on 15 May 2014 – Nakba Day, when Palestinians commemorate their 1948 ethnic cleansing from much of their homeland. But Israeli media are reporting that the manslaughter charge may now be dropped. Dery’s lawyer told the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz this week that prosecutors are discussing a plea bargain in which his client would admit only to “negligence” – that a live round, instead of a rubber-coated bullet, found its way into his magazine unintentionally. The charges against Dery represent one of the exceptionally rare instances of Israeli soldiers being prosecuted for the killing or injury of a Palestinian. “Reports of a potential plea agreement are unsurprising given that Israeli forces enjoy near complete impunity for killing and violence against Palestinian children,” Brad Parker, attorney and international advocacy officer with Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP), told The Electronic Intifada. Between January 2014 and November 2016, 70 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been killed, all except two at the hands of Israeli forces, according to evidence collected by DCIP. “Nothing illustrates the systemic impunity enjoyed by Israeli forces more than the fact that out of these 70 cases, only one killing, that of Nadim Nuwara, has resulted in an indictment,” Parker noted. “This single indictment was issued, not because Israeli authorities were interested in justice, but because overwhelming video and forensic evidence could no longer be denied,” Parker added. Parker said it would be “shocking” if with all the evidence related to Nuwara’s killing, Dery were held accountable only for “negligence.”….

How to whitewash the killing of two Palestinian teens
EI 12 Dec by ‘John Brown’ — The Israeli state prosecutor will shortly sign a plea bargain with Border Police officer Ben Deri, who is on trial for killing Palestinian teenager Nadim Nawara in the West Bank town of Beitunia in May 2014. According to the deal, Deri will be charged with causing death by negligence, rather than manslaughter. As such his punishment will likely be symbolic, perhaps even just community service. Under the terms of the plea bargain, the indictment will say that the live bullet which killed Nawara “worked its way” into Deri’s rifle magazine, which was not supposed to have contained any bullet casings. Nawara, 17, was shot and killed on May 15, 2014, during a Nakba Day protest outside Ofer Prison, next to Beitunia. Muhammed Salameh (Abu al-Thahir), 16, was also shot dead. Neither were posing any threat when they were shot — Salameh was shot in the back — nor was anyone throwing stones in their vicinity. The Israeli army claimed that the teenagers were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets during a violent riot, while then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that IDF soldiers had been in danger. Israeli news site Ynet went so far as to add that it was being checked whether armed Palestinians had opened fire “in the Qalandiya area,” which is adjacent to Beitunia. However, thanks to footage of the incident captured on CCTV, along with the autopsy on Nawara’s body, it quickly became clear that the IDF’s claims were incorrect and that the two youths had been killed by live fire. The surprise in this case is not how dramatically the indictment has been scaled down, but rather that the file progressed to charges at all, despite the IDF’s attempts at whitewashing….

Israeli court denies gov’t request to delay decision over release of Palestinian body
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — The Israeli Supreme Court has denied a request filed by the Israeli public prosecution to delay making a decision over whether to release the body of Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour, who died while carrying out a bomb attack on a bus in Jerusalem in April, which left 21 injured. In a statement leading up to the hearing on Friday, the public prosecution asked the court, on behalf of the Israeli security cabinet, for additional 60 days to prepare its position on whether or not the state would release the body, despite the Israeli government already agreeing back in June to release the body of Abu Srour to his family to be buried. Monday’s hearing came in response to a petition filed by the relatives of five Palestinians killed while carrying out or allegedly [carrying out] attacks, who asked the Supreme Court to order that the state release the bodies for burial. On Monday evening, the court rejected the request for a 60-day delay regarding the case of Abu Srour, saying that the Israeli government had already been given ample time to resolve the case, according to lawyer for the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Muhammad Mahmoud, who attended the hearing. The court informed the public prosecution it had until Jan. 10, 2017 to decide whether or not to release the body, which has been held in an Israeli morgue for nearly eight months. Israeli authorities continue to hold ten bodies of Palestinians that were killed while carrying out or allegedly carrying out attacks. In response to the families’ petition, the public prosecution said Friday that the Israeli government was prepared to release seven of them, without setting a date for their release. However, the prosecution told the court that the cases of the three others, which included Abu Srour, would need to be studied further due to the slain Palestinians’ alleged affiliation with the Hamas movement.

Israeli forces detain 15-year-old Palestinian over rock-throwing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Israeli forces on Monday detained a 15-year-old Palestinian [Samir Daraghme] near the town of al-Lubban al-Sharqiya south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank for throwing rocks at Israeli settlers’ cars, according to Israeli police. Israeli Police Spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that a number of Palestinian minors were throwing rocks at Israeli cars on Route 60 opposite of the town, and that Israeli forces chased the youths and “were able to detain one.” The identity of the teenager who was detained remained unknown. Israel detains hundreds of Palestinians for alleged stone throwing every year, with Israeli rights group B’Tselem reporting that from 2005 to 2010, “93 percent of the minors convicted of stone throwing were given a prison sentence, its length ranging from a few days to 20 months.”

Military court orders release of 13-year-old on bail
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 13 Dec – An Israeli military court ordered Tuesday the release of Samir Daraghme, 13 [or 15?], from al-Lubban al-Sharqiya village, north of Ramallah, a day after his detention, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). Soldiers detained Daraghme on Monday when he was on his way to school. The military court at Ofer camp, near Ramallah, ordered Daraghme’s release on $200 bail, but his release was contingent on the approval of the military prosecutor, said the PPS. Daraghme suffers health problems after a road accident a year ago that left him with serious head injuries as well as loss of parts of his kidney and liver.

Israeli police arrest East Jerusalem Palestinian after finding weapons in his car
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Israeli police on Saturday night arrested a Palestinian man from occupied East Jerusalem after finding weapons inside his private vehicle in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that “police officers stormed the vehicle and found weapons, ammunitions, and drugs,” though no one was inside the vehicle at the time. Shortly after, she added, police officers raided the vehicle owner’s home and arrested him. The identity of the man remained unknown.

PPS: Israeli soldiers abduct sixteen Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 12 Dec — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, sixteen Palestinians, including children, from their homes in different parts of the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The Hebron office of the PPS, in the southern part of the West Bank, said the soldiers invaded many homes in various parts of the district, and violently searched them before abducting six Palestinians, mainly from the al-‘Arroub refugee camp. The abducted Palestinians have been identified as Mohammad Khaled Abu Sil, 25, Mohammad Abdul-Basset Abu Rayya, 28, Baha’ Majed Ra‘ey, 23, Ayham Nasser al-Jondi, 26, Adam Amjad ‘Oweiwy, 20, and Khader Yousef Jawabra. It is worth mentioning that Khader is the brother of ‘Omar Madhi, who was killed by Israeli army fire on February 10, 2016. In the Ramallah district, in central West Bank, the soldiers invaded many homes and abducted three Palestinians, identified as Mohammad Omar Hamed, Shadi Azzam and Aahed Issa Rabe‘a. In addition, the soldiers abducted Abdul-Rahman Hamdan from his home in Beit Sira town, west of Ramallah. In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted Amjad A’war, 16, Moayyad Abu Mayyala, 17, and Fuad al-Qaaq, 19.  Furthermore, several army vehicles invaded Teqoua‘ [or Tuqu‘] town, south of Bethlehem, searched homes and abducted two children, identified as Mahmoud Samir al-‘Amour, 15, and Mousa Jawdat al-‘Amour, 15.  In Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank, the soldiers abducted Mos‘ab Mahmoud Halayqa, 22, after invading his home and searching it.

Israeli soldiers abduct three Palestinians in northern West Bank
IMEMC 13 Dec — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, three Palestinians in the northern West Bank districts of Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarem. The soldiers also invaded many homes and searched them. The soldiers invaded Qabatia town, south of Jenin, searched homes, and abducted a young man, identified as Mo’men Hasan Kamil. The soldiers also invaded the homes of Kamel Ahmad Zakarna, a brother of a political prisoner held by Israel, and interrogated him for several hours while violently searching the property. In addition, the soldiers abducted two Palestinians, identified as Ali Mohammad Maseemi and Bassem Hasan Marshoud, from Yatma town, south of Nablus, after stopping them at a military roadblock near the town. Another Palestinian, identified as Mohammad Kamel Hakim, 18, was abducted from his home in Nour Shams refugee camp, east of Tulkarem.


Dozens of right-wing Israelis make extended tour of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Dozens of extreme right-wing Israelis entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound under the protection of Israeli police forces on Monday, and stayed 45 minutes longer than the usual time permitted for right-wing Israelis during tours of the holy site, according to the Islamic Endowment, or Waqf, in charge of managing the compound. Rami al-Khatib of the media and public relations department of the Waqf told Ma‘an that Israeli forces opened the Moroccan Gate to the compound at 7:15 a.m. and closed it at 10:30 a.m., adding 45 minutes to the normal period of time when forces usually permit Israelis to tour the compound. Al-Khatib noted that Israeli forces typically open the Moroccan Gate to Israelis from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. He added that during the three hour and 15 minute time period on Monday, 26 Israeli “settlers” and 56 Jewish religious students “raided” the compound. An Israeli police spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
Israeli police notified the Waqf a week ago of intentions to extend the period of time dedicated to Jewish and non-Muslim visitation. At the time of the decision, Israeli police told the Waqf that the visitation time would be extended by one hour, and span from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Al-Khatib went on to condemn the decision, and said that the Waqf “holds Israel responsible for all consequences of settlers’ provocative raids.” While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.


Bilal Kayed released after 15 years in Israeli jail
EAST JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 12 Dec by Zena Tahhan — Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed has been released after spending 15 years in Israeli jails, his family has confirmed. His case caused outrage within the Palestinian community when he was placed under administrative detention on June 15 – the day he was due to be released after serving his full sentence. Administrative detention is a military court order that allows Israel to detain Palestinians on “secret evidence” without trial or charge for renewable six-month intervals. “We cannot express how happy we are that he has been released but it is an incomplete happiness because he carries the message of all the other prisoners who remain in Israeli jails,” Kayed’s brother Mahmoud told Al Jazeera on Monday. “The hardest part was when he was transferred to administrative detention because we were preparing ourselves for his release, but he wasn’t, which was extremely unjust.”  -Mass hunger strike- In protest against his detention, Kayed refused food for 71 days, before reaching a deal with Israeli authorities to be released at the end of the six months. Hundreds of other prisoners also expressed solidarity by participating in a mass hunger strike. Muhannad al-Azza, a lawyer with the Jerusalem-based Addameer prisoner rights group, says “Kayed’s case was an exception.” “Normally, no one spends that much time in prison and is then placed under administrative detention. At least 250 prisoners went on hunger strike to call for his release,” Azza told Al Jazeera … In 2001, Kayed was imprisoned by the Israeli authorities at the age of 19 and served a fourteen-and-a-half-year sentence for his affiliation with the Abu Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a leftist political party.

Israel dismisses 1,000 complaints of torture
EI 12 Dec by Ali Abunimah — Photo: Relatives of Arafat Jaradat mourn at his funeral in the occupied West Bank village of Sair, 25 February 2013. The father of two died after an interrogation at Israel’s Megiddo prison, and an autopsy found evidence he had been tortured — Israel has failed to launch a single criminal investigation for torture despite more than 1,000 complaints by victims since 2001. Last week, the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz revealed that the justice ministry unit responsible for investigating torture complaints, known by its Hebrew acronym Mivtan, employs only one investigator. Mivtan “has never launched a single criminal investigation against a Shin Bet agent, even though it has examined many hundreds of complaints,” Haaretz reports, referring to the Israeli secret police agency also commonly known as Shabak, the Israel Security Agency or the General Security Service. The fact that there is only a single investigator means “it’s unlikely that complaints can be thoroughly examined,” Haaretz states. “In practice, then, the unit does not interfere with the Shin Bet’s work, even though complainants have reported harsh and prohibited forms of torture – including severe beatings and extensive sleep deprivation.” From 2001 to 2008, nearly 600 complaints were submitted to Mivtan, but every single one was dismissed. During that period, the investigations were carried out by a Shin Bet employee, meaning in effect that the agency that was accused of torture was in charge of investigating itself….

Hunger strikers lose their eyesight as Israel refuses to free them
EI 13 Dec by Charlotte Silver — As Palestinian hunger striking prisoners Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Fara face the possibility of severe brain damage and permanent organ dysfunction, the Israeli high court rejected on Sunday an urgent appeal to release them. Qaddura Fares, the director of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, told a Palestinian radio station that the men are now “facing death.” The Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs reports that Shadid, 19, has almost completely lost his sight and ability to speak and Abu Fara, 29, has completely lost sight in his right eye. The two men have refused all food since 25 September, to protest their indefinite detention without charge or evidence. They were arrested at the beginning of August. According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Israeli military prosecutors are now seeking to renew their administrative detention orders, which can be extended in six-month increments….


Egypt closes Rafah border crossing after 3-day opening
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah border crossing with the blockaded Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning after it was opened for three consecutive days, according to the Gaza borders and crossings committee. The committee released a statement noting approximately 2,000 passengers left the besieged coastal enclave and about 1,500 arrived from Egypt during the three-day opening. The statement added that Egyptian authorities denied 158 passengers entry into the Gaza Strip for unspecified reasons. Throughout the opening, priority was given to “humanitarian cases” including medical patients, students studying outside of Gaza, and expatriates, in addition to holders of Egyptian passports.

Israeli forces level lands, open fire on agricultural lands in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — Israeli forces Tuesday morning leveled lands in the northern Gaza Strip and opened fire on agricultural lands in the southern region of the coastal enclave, according to witnesses. Witnesses told Ma‘an that four Israeli bulldozers entered the northeastern Gaza Strip from the Zekim military base and leveled lands. The bulldozers were escorted by several armored military vehicles, while Israeli warplanes hovered overhead during the incursion. Separately, Israeli troops opened fire at Palestinian agricultural lands in the al-Sanati neighborhood of Gaza’s southern Khan Yunis district. No injuries were reported.

Hamas arrests hundreds of extremists in Gaza
RAMALLAH (Asharq Al-Awsat) 11 Dec by Kifah Ziboun — Hamas is launching one of its largest campaigns against extremist movements in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian party has arrested in the past few weeks around 350 members of extremist movements, while it was still chasing others in an attempt to stop their expansion in the Strip. Informed Palestinian sources in Gaza asserted to Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that the Hamas campaign has two motives: The first is the presence of information that some movements were planning explosions against Hamas security positions and the second is the presence of links between those extremists and some groups operating in Sinai, an area that constitutes a source of tension between Cairo and Hamas. Cairo again asked for some information related to wanted Egyptian nationals, whom the Egyptian intelligence says had escaped to Gaza after the collapse of former President Mohammed Morsi. Egypt demands from Hamas some answers to questions previously asked by its intelligence. Cairo says those answers are a precondition to building new bridges between Cairo and the party, which was repeatedly accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. The sources also asserted that the Egyptian intelligence believes there is collaboration between some groups in Gaza and other extremist groups in Sinai. The Egyptian intelligence has already presented to Hamas names and information in this regard. Hamas has denied reports about the presence of wanted Egyptian nationals in Gaza. The party had informed Cairo that no Egyptians had entered the Strip at any previous phase and that there is also no presence of Palestinians accused of collaborating with the Sinai events, not even at the Palestinian Civil prison. However, Egypt is not convinced by Hamas’ answers. Egyptian leaders had already annulled meetings planned in this regard with Hamas officials….

Hamas claims will share missiles with Arab countries willing to fight Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — A Hamas official claimed in an interview with Hamas-affiliated channel Al-Aqsa TV on Saturday that the Islamist movement had enough missiles at its disposal to supply to armies of Arab countries should they be willing to fight Israel. Fathi Hammad said in the interview on Saturday evening that Hamas was “ready to ship missiles manufactured by the movement’s military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, to Arab armies so as to fight the Zionist entity.” He boasted that the group “has developed a touch in military manufacturing which can compete with international manufacturers.” Hammad did not elaborate on where these weapons were being manufactured, nor how the Hamas movement, which rules the heavily blockaded Gaza Strip, was able to obtain the materials necessary for the production of an excess of missiles. Israeli officials have accused Hamas of “preparing” for another war with Israel and have threatened retaliatory measures against the Gaza Strip as a whole. However, despite Hamas’ inflammatory rhetoric against Israel, the movement has not officially claimed responsibility for any military action from Gaza against Israel since the 2014 war.

20 truckloads of medical supplies to arrive in Gaza from West Bank
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Some 20 trucks carrying medical supplies from the occupied West Bank are set to arrive in the besieged Gaza Strip on Tuesday, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Palestinian Minister of Health Jawad Awwad said in statement that medical supplies and medications were shipped on Monday in 20 trucks from the ministry’s warehouses in Nablus to the ministry’s warehouses in Gaza Strip by order of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Awwad added that the shipment included medication for cancer, hemophilia, and chronic diseases treatment, medical products for dialysis and kidney transplants, various antibiotics, medical laboratory supplies and supplies used in emergency and operating rooms. The 20 trucks are expected to reach the ministry’s warehouses in Gaza by Tuesday at noon. Awwad concluded the statement by adding that he visited the National Hospital in Nablus on Monday to oversee updates on the construction process of a new emergency department and intensive care unit which are set to be opened soon. In October, the ministry shipped 31 truckloads of medicine and required medical aid to Gaza from Nablus….

Gaza war victim arrives in Dubai for surgery
DUBAI (Gulf News) 12 Dec — An 18-year-old Gaza war victim has arrived to Dubai for a reconstructive surgery for her leg, which was severely injured after a large explosion went off beside her during the conflict in Gaza in 2009. Nima Freij is expected to receive the much needed reconstructive surgery that she was unable to obtain in Gaza, with full support from the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), an international, non-political, non-profit, non-religious organisation dedicated to healing the wounds of war in the Middle East. Freij, who was 11 years old on January 5, 2009, and her brother were walking to their neighbour’s house when a bomb dropped, resulting in a large explosion that severely disfigured and crushed a part of Freij’s right leg. Freij’s brother, who was walking ahead of her, sustained minor injuries; however, she suffered extensive skin and muscle loss and a severe disfiguring injury to her right leg. She recalls the incident as “the scariest day of her life.” Her initial treatment and surgery took place in Gaza, followed by multiple skin grafting procedures that were performed in Saudi Arabia ten days after the first surgery. Having gauged the on-ground situation, limited medical facilities and expertise required for her treatment in Gaza, the PCRF referred her case to the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital (AACSH) in Dubai to ensure optimal recovery….

Artist works to preserve Christian heritage in Hamas-run Gaza
GAZA (Reuters) 11 Dec by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Only about 1,200 Christians remain in Gaza — only a tiny fraction of the population in a territory run by Hamas Islamists — but artist Naser Jeldha is doing what he can to preserve its Christian heritage through art. In his studio in the heart of old Gaza, not far from a 5th century Orthodox church, Jeldha spends his days carving religious figurines, chiselling low-relief carvings of Biblical scenes and painting portraits of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and the saints. “My message is about my religion,” said the grey-bearded 57-year-old, a member of the Greek Orthodox community. “I want to make it visual, I want to make people see it, not only to be kept as texts in church.” As he works, steel-rimmed spectacles perched on his nose, Jeldha listens to Byzantine prayer music that echoes softly around the studio, creating an atmosphere from another era. The walls are covered in his pictures, with more laid out on the arms of chairs and sofas, and others propped on a 150-year-old Russian piano in the corner. As well as painting and sculpture, Jeldha plays the accordion, piano and guitar. In the run-up to Christmas – celebrated on Jan. 7 in the Orthodox church – Jeldha is busy making pieces as gifts for friends and relatives. While he has been an artist for 35 years, he does not display his works or offer them for sale. Instead, he presents them as gifts at weddings or events on the Christian calendar. He does, however, have plans for a public showing soon. In the next two weeks, he is also hoping he will be one of about 800 Christians granted a permit by Israel to leave Gaza and travel to Bethlehem, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, to attend prayer services in Jesus’s birthplace. “We have applied for permits and if we get them I intend to travel with my family,” said Jeldha, who is determined to remain in Gaza despite the departure of many Christians over the last decade in the face of rising economic hardship.
While Gaza’s Christians generally enjoy good relations with their Muslim neighbours, there have been isolated attacks by hardline Salafist groups on Christian tombs and symbols. Hamas, the Islamist movement that has ruled Gaza since 2006, is keen to ensure the Christian community feels safe and protected. Its leaders occasionally visit the heads of the three Gaza churches to build stronger relations….

Gaza life in photos: Strawberry harvest begins
Arab Daily News 13 Dec by Mohammed Asad — Strawberry season in full swing in the Gaza Strip — It is expected to export 300 tons of strawberries to European markets and the West Bank, unlike the previous season, which has been exporting 65 tons in it. And allow the Israeli occupation authorities to export limited varieties of agricultural products to the European markets, and the markets of the West Bank and Israel. Referred to the crop cultivated strawberries spaces in the Gaza Strip, it is shrinking by the day due to the Israeli aggression and frequent land leveling, as well as the successive crises that beset the agricultural sector. Cultivated land area shrunk strawberries than 2,500 acres in 2007 to 600 acres only, for the time being, estimated production of about 1,500 tons [evidently automatically translated from Arabic, but the meaning is fairly clear; nice photos]

Gaza life in photos: Stamp collectors gather
Arab Daily News 13 Dec by Mohammed Asad — Palestinians attend the first exhibition of coins and postage stamps, in Gaza City  The exhibition is the first in its kind in Palestine and included thousands of postage stamps and ancient coins.

Cabinet approves NIS 536m. for towns near Gaza
JPost 12 Dec by Michael Zeff — The cabinet approved a joint proposal by the Finance Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday aimed at economically and socially strengthening the population of the Gaza “envelope” communities. The proposal includes tax benefits, municipal-tax discounts and various aid programs during the years 2017 and 2018. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting by saying: “The government will approve a plan to strengthen the residents of Sderot and the Gaza envelope region today. By approving this plan, we are telling to the residents that ‘We will continue to strengthen you, we will continue to strengthen the area, we will continue to strengthen the Negev. We are doing this for you, for the Negev and for the security and future of the State of Israel.’” The proposal Kahlon and Netanyahu presented to the cabinet centers on aiding the residents and the municipalities with paying for the high expenses that stem from the security situation near the Gaza Strip. The measures include a 20% income-tax refund for residents of the eligible communities, a 45% municipal property-tax (arnona) discount, subsidies for daycare centers, NIS 93m. in direct financial aid to Sderot and the regional councils and more than NIS 65m. for the development of municipal infrastructures such as sewage and roads. In addition, five so-called fortitude centers will be built in the region. The fortitude centers will provide psychological and social services for locals who were afflicted with trauma and anxiety as a result of the rocket attacks. These centers are also meant to reinforce the existing emergency medical services and mental-health centers in Sderot and the regional councils….

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Will Palestinians pay heavy price for Amona evacuation?
Al Monitor 12 Dec by Shlomi Eldar — Palestinians fear that Israel will destroy Palestinian homes, lift the construction freeze and resume work on hundreds of new settlement housing units to compensate the settlers for the evacuation of Amona — The Israeli government returned to the Supreme Court Dec. 11 to request yet again that it postpone the evacuation of the unauthorized outpost of Amona (scheduled for Dec. 25 at the latest) by one month. The court rejected earlier requests, saying that the state had had plenty of time to prepare for and fulfill the court’s ruling made two years ago. The settlement itself is already preparing for the evacuation. Hundreds of young people arrived there over the weekend, turning the evacuation into a mass event. “The whole region is seething,” Salim Abu Qas told Al-Monitor. Abu Qas is a resident of the village of Ein Yabrud, right next to Amona. “Hundreds of settlers have been coming here, and we’re concerned.” He said that these days, residents of the nearby Palestinian villages try not to wander around the area too much. The Palestinians are concerned about more than just violent clashes with settlers preparing for the evacuation. Citing past experience, they anticipate the government taking steps to appease the settlers after the evacuation by starting to demolish Palestinian homes in the West Bank’s Area C and in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. Qadura Fares, a senior Fatah member in the West Bank, told Al-Monitor that there is a familiar ritual. Whenever there is tension between the settlers and the Israeli authorities, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rushes to “compensate” the settlers … The government is already following Netanyahu’s instructions to approve an extensive compensation package for families living in Amona. It is worth remembering that the unauthorized outpost was set up near water tanks belonging to the Israeli Mekorot water company by bringing in first one and then an entire camp of trailers. Residents of the settlement of Ofra left the confines of their own settlement to move into the trailers in a move to expand the territory under their control. None of these settlers paid any money for the land. Nor did they pay for the trailers, which were purchased by the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division and were parked on privately owned Palestinian land….

After its owner had reclaimed the land, Israelis raze it again
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 13 Dec – For the second time in a few months, Israeli forces on Tuesday razed a Palestinian-owned land in the village of al-Khader, south of Bethlehem, after its owner had reclaimed it, according to a local source. Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the anti-settlement committee in the village, told WAFA that Israeli military razed the five-dunum plot of land located near the settlement of Daniel after its owner, Mohammad Ghuneim, had replanted it. Salah said this was the second time in few months that Israeli forces razed that land and banned its owner from entering it.

Irrigation network seized near Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Dec — Israeli forces, on Monday, seized an irrigation network in al-Baqa‘a area, east of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, according to local sources. WAFA correspondence said that Israeli army forces, accompanied by heavy machinery, broke into the area and seized an irrigation network belonging to farmers from the Jaber family. Local farmers said that seizure of the network was part of a series of Israeli measures against area dwellers, with the aim of forcing them to evacuate the area for the benefit of expanding nearby Israeli settlements such as Kiryat Arba and Kharsina.

Soldiers seize humanitarian aid clinic in Masafer Yatta
HEBRON (WAFA) 13 Dec – As part of their efforts to [reduce? the] Palestinian presence in the South Hebron hills, Israeli forces on Tuesday seized a caravan used as a medical clinic in the village of al-Markaz in Masafer Yatta, a Bedouin congregation south of Hebron, according to local sources. Soldiers raided the village and seized the caravan provided by the Italian Cooperation as part of European humanitarian assistance to Palestinians living in difficult conditions in what is known as Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli military control. Palestinian residents in al-Markaz and nearby al-Halaweh villages used the caravan as a medical clinic to serve the local Palestinian communities. Residents told WAFA that Israel does not want them to have a life in Masafer Yatta in order to leave it for the benefit of expanding nearby Israeli settlements. The European [Union] said Israel had destroyed hundreds of projects provided as humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians in Area C.

Israeli forces threaten East Jerusalem home with demolition
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — Israeli Jerusalem Municipality crews on Monday evening raided the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-‘Issawiya and delivered a demolition notice to a Palestinian family, local sources said. Iyad Mahmoud told Ma‘an that municipality crews, accompanied by armed Israeli forces, broke into his four-story family building and delivered a demolition notice for the top two floors of the building.  According to Iyad, it wasn’t the first time municipality inspectors have threatened the family with demolition. “From time to time, they arrive and notify us of a municipality decision to demolish two floors in our four-floor building.” The first two floors, he said, were built in 2000 after obtaining a license from the Jerusalem municipality, while the top two floors were built in 2010 without a permit. Mahmoud added that the family has been trying to obtain a license for the past six years, but the Jerusalem municipality has refused to grant them a license.

Israel forces take over Palestinian home in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Israeli forces took over a home in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron Monday evening and turned it into a military barrack, after confining the family into a single room in the house, local sources said. In a phone call to Ma‘an, owner of the home Munthir al-Junaydi told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided his house, which is located in the Numrah area of Hebron, and turned into a military post. He said Israeli soldiers arrived at their house at 6 p.m., and have since had them corralled inside one room and prevented them from leaving. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an they were looking into the case. It is also not uncommon for Israeli forces to forcibly evict Palestinians from their homes for the use of military posts, or lock residents inside their own homes while conducting military operations.

Regional council denounces neglect of recognized Bedouin village in Negev
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — A decade after the Israeli government officially began procedures to recognize the Bedouin village of al-Furaa in the Negev region of southern Israel, the regional council said that the thousands of its residents were still without running water or a sewage system. Officials from the al-Kasom regional council, which oversees Bedouin communities in the northwestern Negev, told Ma‘an on Sunday that, despite Israeli authorities having begun the regularization process in 2006, basic services were still not available to the estimated 6,500 Bedouin residents of the village. The regional council officials added that the Israeli Ministry of Interior had not granted residents any licenses to build permanent structures in al-Furaa, whether housing or public institutions, reportedly due to disputes over land ownership in some areas of the village. The severe lack of building permits has meant that more than 2,700 students in al-Furaa have been going to school in caravans for the past ten years. However, al-Kasom regional council head Eyal Gamliel has recently taken what council members described as “unprecedented steps” with Israel’s district planning and zoning committees to try and obtain construction permits for al-Furaa.  “The residents of al-Furaa have waited years for the Israeli government to fulfill its promises to establish the village and offer its residents needed services,” Gamliel told reporters on Sunday. A spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Interior could not be reached for comment on the matter.
While al-Furaa is on its way to becoming officially recognized by the Israeli government, in effect its situation is no different from that of the 35 Bedouin villages “unrecognized” by the Israeli state. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages, which, in addition to lack of access to basic services, have been the targets of repeated demolitions. Israeli authorities have also refused to connect many Bedouin villages to the national water and electricity grids, while excluding the communities from access to health and educational services, and basic infrastructure….

Opinion // Shoafat: A mark of shame on all Israelis / Moshe Arens
Haaretz 13 Dec — The Palestinian refugee camp inside the city of Jerusalem is a blight on Israel which must be corrected immediately — …There are probably not many Israelis who have been to Shoafat, and they will surely be shocked when reading this article. To those who preferred to ignore it, it will serve as a stark reminder of a situation that needs to be corrected immediately. The Palestinian refugee camp Shoafat [or Shu‘fat], a refugee camp inherited from the Jordanian occupation after the 1967 Six-Day War, and three adjoining neighborhoods, all surrounded by a high concrete wall, are referred to as Shoafat. They are located within the sovereign borders of Israel and within the municipal boundaries of the city of Jerusalem. Most of its 80,000 residents have Israeli residency permits and have the option of obtaining Israeli citizenship. That is where any resemblance to Israel ceases. It is a slum, with no sidewalks, no functioning sewage system, no garbage collection, no postal service, no open spaces, no parks, and no playgrounds, and no police protection to keep order and provide security for its residents. It is infested with criminal gangs in possession of automatic weapons and there are pushers selling drugs to adults and children. Killings are almost weekly occurrences. In Shoafat there is no law and there is no orderIsraeli governments had 49 years to rehabilitate the refugees in the camp and turn Shoafat into a livable neighborhood. The Israeli police had 49 years to establish law and order in Shoafat. The Jerusalem municipality had 49 years to establish proper municipal services there. Next to nothing was done. During this period things went from bad to worse. Enclosing the area by a high concrete wall made it clear that the government’s intention was to let the population there fend for itself. This is criminal neglect, for which there is no excuse.

Mitzpe Kramim outpost calls on Netanyahu to authorize its homes
JPost 11 Dec by Tovah Lazaroff — The West Bank outpost of Mitzpe Kramim has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Knesset to ensure that their community of almost 50 families is legalized. “Time is not on our side,” Mitzpe Kramim resident Haim Yamin said on Sunday. The outpost is a neighborhood within the boundaries of the Kochav Hashahar settlement, which is located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank. The residents have watched with concern the way the story has played out for the Amona outpost, which is located just a short distance away from their community. The High Court of Justice has ordered that the Amona outpost must be demolished by December 25 because it was built without permits on private Palestinian property. Mitzpe Kramim is similarly defending itself against a petition to the High Court by Palestinians who claim ownership of the land. The lesson learned from Amona is that the government and or the Knesset must act to save the homes before any ruling is issued by the court….


Israel: EU labelling rules have ‘non-existent impact’
OCCUPIED WEST BANK (Al Jazeera) 12 Dec by Nigel Wilson — A year after the European Union issued labelling guidelines for products imported from illegal Israeli settlements based in the occupied territories, the economic effect on settlements businesses appear to be minimal, according to analysts. “What’s actually happened, and I think part of it is due to ferocious Israeli pushback, is that there’s very little followup on the guidelines,” said Hugh Lovatt, Israel/Palestine project coordinator at the European Council on Foreign Relations. In November 2015, the European Commission published its guidelines, stating that agricultural and food products that originated in occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, all territories occupied by Israel since 1967, should not be labelled as if they were made in Israel. “It’s about clarifying what the guidelines are,” Lovatt told Al Jazeera. However, due to what Lovatt described as a lack of monitoring and enforcement on the national level, the onus is on civil society to show the authorities “how this domestic legislation is not being followed by retailers, who have less of a case now to plead ignorance of requirements.” … Palestinian civil society groups had pressured the EU to explicitly label products from the settlements for decades in an attempt to both increase transparency on the origins of those products and to raise international awareness of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. However, the enforcement of the guidelines was left to the individual EU member states. The Israeli government applied fierce political pressure on European governments not to comply, drawing comparisons between the labelling guidelines and anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe around the time of the second world war….

Norway cooperation with Israeli fuel extraction under fire
EI 12 Dec by Ryan Rodrick Beiler — A growing movement in Norway is challenging collaboration with Israeli exploitation of fossil fuel resources in the occupied Golan Heights and the Mediterranean Sea. While producing much of its own energy from renewable sources, especially hydropower, Norway’s prosperity is built in large part on its fossil fuel industry. Oil and gas, extracted through offshore platforms, has helped to create one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds. The Government Pension Fund Global, known informally in Norway as “the oil fund,” has divested from Israeli companies due to their involvement in violations of human rights. But in September, Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Tord Lien of the ultra-right Progress Party, led a delegation to Israel with representatives from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and the University of Stavanger. The purpose of the delegation was to explore possibilities for research and industrial collaboration in oil and gas extraction. The delegation met with the Delek Group, which provides fuel for the Israeli military and operates gas stations and convenience stores in West Bank settlements. The firm is planning to begin production in the next two to three years in major offshore gas fields in the Mediterranean. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the gas fields “a gift from God” that would give the country energy independence. Sixteen years ago, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had made a nearly identical statement, but Israel’s blockade of Gaza has made Palestinian exploration of these resources impossible -Protest- This month the student government at the University of Oslo adopted a resolution opposing cooperation in petroleum technology between Norwegian and Israeli institutions … A group of Norwegian academics and labor unions are petitioning the University of Stavanger and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology to end natural resource exploitation research projects with Israeli institutions….

Opinion // BDS paranoia gone wild: Will Israel now ban entry to a quarter of the world’s Christians? / Steven Klein
Haaretz 11 Dec — A disturbing thing happened on Isabel Apawo Phiri’s way to Ben-Gurion Airport last week. Israel refused entry to the Christian theologian and sent her back to Europe, influenced by a local priest with close links to the Israeli government, who declared that Phiri’s organization supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Phiri had arrived with a delegation from the World Council of Churches and was the only one in her group refused entry. Even though the Shin Bet security service had interrogated her at the airport and concluded that she posed no security threat to the country, Interior Minister Arye Dery took the unprecedented step of invoking his Entry into Israel Law powers on suspicion that she and her organization back the boycott movement, after consulting with Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan. They never  even asked her about BDS. Indeed, the World Council of Churches is not neutral on the conflict and sponsors a program known as the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Israel and Palestine, which has sent “ecumenical accompaniers” to the West Bank for 15 years to monitor human rights. The World Council of Churches did endorse boycotting settlement products in 2001, and reaffirmed that support last June. That collective “guilt” was apparently sufficient to target an individual associated with the council. But it’s worth pointing out if the Israeli authorities want to be scrupulously consistent: The WCC is a movement encompassing 348 member churches worldwide with a combined membership of 500 million people. Imagine banning entry to nearly a quarter of the world’s Christians. Phiri’s deportation is disturbing on several levels….

Other news

PFLP supporters celebrate 49th anniversary
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the most popular political faction in Palestine for secular leftists, marked the 49th anniversary of its founding on Sunday, holding events over the weekend in the occupied territory and abroad. According to the official PFLP website, a festival was held on Saturday in Khan Yunis in the southern besieged Gaza Strip, where member of the PFLP political bureau Kayid al-Ghoul delivered a speech honoring “nearly a half-century of strugglers and martyrs struggling for liberation and (the Palestinian right to) return.” He denounced the “Zionist” and “colonial” Israeli occupation, “reactionary Arab regimes,” as well as “global imperialism — particularly US imperialism.” Al-Ghoul also reiterated PFLP’s opposition to the French-lead effort to hold a multilateral peace conference in Paris before the end of the year, calling it “an attempt to replace the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people and international law and UN resolutions with yet another negotiations framework.”….

Bethlehem hosts Christmas parade
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — The Palestinian city of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank hosted a Christmas parade on Sunday evening. The parade started at the northern entrance to the city and descended to the Church of Nativity, as hundreds of locals, tourists, and children watched on taking pictures. The Christmas parade in Bethlehem consisted of seven wagons and 55 performers representing the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, parade coordinator Juliana Hodali told Ma‘an — the Virgin Mary, the birth of Jesus, the shepherds and cave, Santa Claus, the deer, snowmen, and the star of Bethlehem. Dolls were supposed to be carried on the wagons, but unfortunately a shipment from abroad didn’t arrive to Bethlehem on time due to clearance procedures at Israeli customs. The parade is set to also take place in Beit Jala on Dec. 19, followed by Ramallah on Dec. 22, Nazareth on Dec. 24, and Beit Sahour on Jan. 5, 2017, according to Hodali. Hodali added that a huge Santa tent measuring 400 square meters displayed all the characters of the Christmas parade on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Bethlehem.

Video: Palestinians enjoy colorful Christmas parade
Reuters 11 Dec — Palestinian families enjoy a Christmas parade in Bethlehem which the organiser says is ”a message of joy that Palestinian kids, in spite of everything, deserve to be happy.”

Video: PA officers prevent Israeli military jeeps from entering Jenin
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Palestinian security forces reportedly blocked Israeli troops as they attempted to enter the city of Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank on Sunday, and succeeded in forcing them to leave. A video that went viral on Facebook purported to show Palestinian officers standing in front of Israeli military vehicles attempting to drive into Jenin. The footage also shows Palestinian officers shouting and cocking their guns, before Israeli soldiers eventually retreated. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an they were looking into the case. The reports represented a rare standoff between Palestinian and Israeli forces, as the Palestinian Authority (PA) regularly allows Israeli forces to enter PA-controlled areas in the West Bank to conduct daily detention raids and other military operations, in contravention of the Oslo accords. In recent months, both Palestinian and Israeli-led raids have targeted Jenin in particular. Palestinian factions have repeatedly accused the Fatah-dominated PA of “escalating security collaboration” with Israeli authorities through politically motivated arrests and “adopting a revolving door policy” funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons.

another version of the same event:
Palestinian Authority bars IDF vehicles’ entry to Jenin
JPost 11 Dec by staff/Anna Ahronheim — Palestinian Authority security forces barred Israeli military vehicles from entering the West Bank city of Jenin on Sunday. In a video that went viral on Facebook, Palestinian officers can be seen blocking the road and preventing IDF vehicles from entering the city amidst shouting and blaring traffic. The IDF spokesperson’s office told The Jerusalem Post that the IDF was going on a routine patrol in Jenin, which was announced to PA forces in advance, but some of the vehicles accidentally attempted to enter from a route different from that planned. PA soldiers at that entrance were not expecting the vehicles. The IDF vehicles then turned around and entered Jenin via the originally planned route without incident. The IDF was still investigating the incident.

India contributes US$1.25 million to UNRWA, increasing support to agency’s core programmes
UNRWA 12 Dec — The Government of India has contributed US$ 1.25 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to support the Agency’s core programmes and services, including education, health care, and relief and social services. The contribution, which represents a 25 per cent increase in India’s annual contributions to the Agency, was presented to UNRWA by HE M. J. Akbar, the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, during his recent official visit to Palestine. The contribution follows the recent mission by UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl to India at the end of August….

Israel turns cold shoulder to visiting Swedish foreign minister
Haaretz 12 Dec by Barak Ravid — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to meet with Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom during her visit to the region this week. A senior Foreign Ministry official said no other government representative will meet with Wallstrom, so essentially she will only be visiting the Palestinian Authority. Last week, the Swedish government contacted Israel to try to arrange meetings for Wallstrom with Netanyahu – who is also Israel’s foreign minister – and other government officials. Wallstrom will arrive in Israel this Thursday. She is visiting ahead of Sweden’s two-year term on the UN Security Council, which starts on January 1. Sweden is also expected to serve as the council’s rotating president next month, a role likely to assume particular importance in light of the Palestinians’ plan to bring a resolution condemning the settlements before the council in early January. A senior Foreign Ministry official said Israel’s official explanation for denying Wallstrom the meetings she requested was scheduling conflicts. But the real reason, he said, was the government’s unhappiness with Sweden’s policy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue in general, and Wallstrom’s own statements in particular….

Poll finds almost half of Jewish Israelis think Left is traitorous fifth column
The Forward 6 Dec by Daniel J. Solomon — Almost half of Israel’s Jews think the country’s political left isn’t patriotic, finds the latest poll of the Israel Democracy Institute’s Peace Index, in a survey that shows a public continuing to hold attitudes that favor the current right-wing government. According to the poll, 48% of Israeli Jews don’t believe leftists are loyal to the country, as opposed to 43% who do, which the survey’s authors describe as “not surprising, though worrisome from a democratic standpoint.” Similar public attitudes appeared to be reflected in the numbers on criticizing the government in times of security threat, which 52.5 percent of Israelis polled said was “illegitimate.” Israel’s left, which advocates a two-state solution and a freeze or slowdown in West Bank settlement building, has been moribund since the breakdown of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians that started in the ‘90’s and collapsed in the Second Intifada. The Labor Party, the main faction representing the left, has not helmed a government for more than 15 years. The poll’s other findings also contained ill portents for the Israeli left. According to the survey, more Israeli Jews than not — 44 percent to 38 percent — now favor the annexation of the West Bank. Forty-eight percent of those who favored annexation said that absorbing the entire West Bank would not require giving Palestinians equal rights of citizenship, compared to 42 percent who said it would. As the authors summarized it, this means that “a small but significant minority of the Jewish public supports a situation that the international community regards as apartheid.”

Ban on national service at foreign-funded NGOs clears hurdle
JPost 12 Dec by Lahav Harkov — The coalition’s battle against foreign- funded NGOs continued on Sunday, with the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s approval of a bill that would cancel national-service positions in organizations that receive most of their funding from foreign governments. In 2015, there were 12 postings for national service – a civilian alternative to IDF service for those who have religious or conscientious objections, or are not healthy enough for military service – in organizations that would fall under the bill’s purview. The organizations receiving most of their funding from foreign governments that have national service volunteers working for them are B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, Israel Social TV, the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, and the Public Committee Against Torture. MK Amir Ohana (Likud), who proposed the bill with support from the prime minister, said “it is inconceivable that we provide subsidized manpower to organizations that work on behalf of foreign interests, depict Israel as a war criminal, protect mega-terrorists and slander IDF soldiers who protect us day and night.”….

US Congress approves $600m for Israel’s Iron Dome
MEMO 12 Dec — Both American Houses of Congress have approved defence authorisation bill which includes more than $600 million in support for Israeli defence systems, including Iron Dome and anti-tunnel operations, Quds Press reported yesterday. The Israeli newspaper Times of Israel said that the deal is pending the signature of the American President Barack Obama. American mass media reported that the Senate passed the bill by a margin of 92-7 after the House of Representatives approved it 375-34. In a press release, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) hailed American approval of the bill. “AIPAC commends Congress for strongly bolstering US-Israel defence cooperation by authorising a total of $600.7 million for US-Israel missile defence cooperation,” a statement said. In September, this year, the US and Israel reached an “unprecedented” deal stipulated that the former pays the latter a sum of $38 billion over ten years in military aids. The deal was approved by the US on condition that Israel pledges not to request additional military assistance for ten years. According to the Times of Israel, the defence system is not part of the $38 million deal reached in September.

Trump camp eyes Jerusalem hotel as possible embassy location: report
MEE 12 Dec — Sources say that Diplomat Hotel in Jerusalem could serve as possible site for US embassy, reversing decades of State Department policy — According to a report in Israel’s Channel 2 news on Monday, US President-elect Donald Trump is looking into how to place the US embassy in Jerusalem. Unidentified sources were cited as saying that the Diplomat Hotel in the city could serve as a possible site. Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said late on Monday that the embassy move is “a very big priority.” “That is a very big priority for this president-elect, Donald Trump,” Conway told the Hugh Hewitt Show. “He made that very clear during the campaign. And as president-elect, I’ve heard him repeat it several times, privately, if not publicly.” “It’s something that our friend in Israel, a great friend in the Middle East, Israel would appreciate. And it’s something that a lot of Jewish Americans also have expressed their preference for that,” she said. During the campaign, Trump promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem, which evangelical conservatives strongly support. In March, at an AIPAC policy conference, Trump emphasized an “unbreakable bond” between the US and Israel.

By limiting criticism of Israel, Theresa May’s new definition of anti-Semitism will do more harm than good / Ben White
The Independent 12 Dec — Prime Minister Theresa May today announced that the UK is formally adopting a definition of anti-Semitism agreed on earlier this year by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). This definition is not new, however, and it poses a familiar threat to legitimate criticism of the State of Israel. The text of the IHRA definition is based on, and very similar to, a draft document first circulated by a European anti-racism agency in 2005, only to be subsequently abandoned as not fit for purpose. That particular definition, drafted with the help of pro-Israel advocacy groups, was the subject of serious critique for its conflation of genuine anti-Semitic bigotry on the one hand, and criticism of or opposition to Zionism and the State of Israel on the other. It is that definition which has now been resuscitated, and endorsed by a Tory government that has already sought to intimidate Palestine solidarity activism and undermine civil society boycotts. In fact, the definition endorsed by May is almost identical to the one at the heart of a free speech furore in the US, pitching pro-Israel senators against groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Jewish Voice for Peace, who oppose efforts they see as intended to stifle pro-Palestine activism. Writing in Israeli newspaper Haaretz last week, American Jewish commentator Peter Beinart suggested that such efforts “to classify anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, punishable by law” are a direct response to the growing number of “progressives” who “question Zionism”. Beinart dismissed the idea that “denying Israel the right to exist” constitutes anti-Semitism, noting that “political Zionism – the belief that Jews enjoy the greatest safety and self-expression in their own state – has always been controversial even among Jews.”…. (listserv) (archive)

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… As the authors summarized it, this means that “a small but significant minority of the Jewish public supports a situation that the international community regards as apartheid.” … According to Zio-supremacists, most of the world’s Jews support: – Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish state” in as much as… Read more »

I would be surprised if 20% of Israeli Jews supported equal rights for Palestinians.

xx% of Israels would GIVE Palestinians equal rights. Seems 100% of Israelis would TAKE 100% of Mandatory Palestine. All the active verbs are for actions being acted by Israel. Palestinians are seen as passive and taking no part. International law is not referred to and is seen as playing no… Read more »

Netanyahoo is in a difficult position.If Israel is to remain the only democracy in the ME then he cannot annex the WB until 50.00000000001 % of “Israelis ” vote for it .Some people might point out that Israeli Jews represent only 80 % of the population and so it would… Read more »

Those who love the ethnocentric state of Israel, don’t like Trump–WTF?