Violence / Detention — West Bank / Jerusalem
West Bank village turned into a ‘prison’ in the wake of arson accusations
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — Dozens of Palestinians have been detained — including a number of children — and clashes have erupted daily in the occupied West Bank village of Deir Nidham since it was blockaded by the Israeli army three weeks ago, “turning the lives of 1,600 into a prison,” locals told Ma‘an on Wednesday. Deir Nidham, northwest of Ramallah city, was placed under a military closure after a fire erupted just a few kilometers away in the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish, which is built on the lands of the village and on the lands of neighboring Nabi Saleh. Israeli authorities have said that investigations revealed the fire to be a case of arson, and launched a crippling blockade on Deir Nidham ever since. The main roads leading into the village have been blocked off with dirt mounds and cement blocks, and educational and health facilities have been closed due to the Israeli siege. Daily military raids have sparked clashes that Israeli soldiers have responded to by firing tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and live fire at locals. Clashes Tuesday night left two Israeli soldiers lightly injured after local youths threw rocks and paint cans. Israeli forces eventually retreated to one of the village’s entrances, firing tear gas canisters and bullets. Meanwhile, several Palestinian minors have been held by the Israeli army under suspicion of arson or inciting arson. Activist and village resident Mahdi Eid al-Tamim told Ma‘an that Israeli forces routinely detain villagers and surround them. Al-Tamimi identified some of the children that have been held in Israeli detention rooms for several days on end — who have been “humiliatingly” interrogated by Israeli authorities — as 10-year-old Luay al-Araj, Muhammad Nassar, 12, Rami al-Sufi, 11, Muhammad Yahiya, and Jaafar Eid, 12. Israeli soldiers have also occupied the house of Yasser al-Tamimi and turned it into a military barrack, the activist added … In the wake of the fires that began late November, scores of Palestinians have been arrested in the region as Israeli leadership alleged that they were started deliberately as “political arson” against the Israeli state. Israeli police have rejected broad claims that the fires were set for “nationalist” or “terrorist” motives, and investigations are still ongoing. Israeli officials said that out of the total 1,773 reported fires, centered largely in and around Jerusalem and Haifa, just 29 were suspected arson — including the fire in Halamish. In Halamish, some 350 settler families were evacuated and dozens of homes were damaged, according to Israeli media.
Palestinian youth killed by Israeli forces after alleged attempted stabbing near Nablus
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — A Palestinian youth was killed by Israeli border police forces on Thursday morning in the northern occupied West Bank after he allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that an 18-year-old Palestinian attempted to stab an Israeli border police officer at the Zaatara junction south of the city of Nablus, prompting Israeli forces to shoot at him, killing him instantly. Al-Samri made no mention of any Israelis being injured. Locals identified the slain Palestinian as Jihad Hussein Harb, 19, from Qalqiliya. They added that large numbers of Israeli troops had arrived at the scene following the shooting, and that Israeli forces had closed the Zaatara intersection — also known as the Tappuah checkpoint — in both directions. A video filmed by a passerby showed Israeli forces cordoning off the scene after the youth’s killing. According to Ma’an documentation, Harb is one of 242 Palestinians to have been killed by Israelis since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory in October 2015, five of whom were killed at the Zaatara checkpoint. Meanwhile, 34 Israelis were killed by Palestinians during the same time period.
Palestinian worker says Israeli deliberately ran him over in Tel Aviv
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — An Israeli ran over a Palestinian worker from the Tulkarem district in the occupied West Bank while he was crossing the street in Tel Aviv, Israel on Wednesday, an incident that the victim claimed was “not an accident.” Raja Muhammad Younis, a West Bank Palestinian working in Tel Aviv, suffered foot fractures after being struck by the vehicle, telling Ma‘an that he and a group of Palestinian workers were crossing a street near their workplace when they saw an Israeli driving “extremely fast” toward them. Younis said that he tried to jump out of the way with the other workers, but the car was too fast and struck him in his foot, causing fractures. He told Ma‘an that the incident was “not an accident,” and suspected that it was a hit and run and that the Israeli had deliberately attempted to hurt the Palestinian workers. He added that an Israeli ambulance had transferred him to the Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv and that the Israeli police had opened an investigation into the incident.
more details of the refusal of burial at the Bab al-Rahma cemetery
Israeli forces prevent burial of Palestinian elder, arrest her grandsons
Palestine Chronicle 6 Dec — Israeli occupation forces in Jerusalem prevented the burial of Palestinian elder Khadija Abuildula at Bab Al-Rahma Islamic graveyard located to the east of Al-Aqsa Mosque, claiming that the graveyard was “confiscated by the Israeli natural resources authority.” Dozens of Israeli troops besieged the graveyard as the mourning march of Abuildula approached the graveyard and prevented the mourners from entering the graveyard with the body. Mourners were reportedly told that the land of the grave “has been confiscated and burial inside the graveyard in no longer permitted.” The family of Abuildula told local media that burial has never been an issue before and that a number of their family members are already buried inside the graveyard, including the son and the father of the deceased. Israeli forces arrested Musa Abujubran and Shafiq Abuildula, the grandsons of the Palestinian elder, during the morning hours, local media reported.
Israel’s Lehava stirs ‘anarchy’ in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 4 Dec by Jonathan Cook — The far-right group stokes hatred and incites followers to violence against Palestinians, say analysts — Four youths in black T-shirts, bearing a distinctive yellow-flame insignia, approached “A” in July as he got out of a taxi in central Jerusalem to meet friends. They asked him the time. Suspicious of his accent, they confronted him directly: “Are you an Arab?” “The moment I said, ‘yes,’ one of them punched me in the eye. The others jumped on me and started hitting me all over my body. There were many people in the area, but no one took any notice or tried to help.” “A” managed to break free and fled to a nearby restaurant, where a friend worked, and hid inside. “If I hadn’t been able to run away, they would have killed me,” he said. His filmed testimony is one of several taken of Palestinians in Jerusalem who have been violently assaulted recently by far-right Jewish activists. Fearing reprisals, most of the victims agreed to testify only on condition that their real identities were not disclosed. The attacks were carried out by a far-right group called Lehava, or Flame in Hebrew, an acronym for the Organisation for the Prevention of Miscegenation in the Holy Land. Run by a far-right rabbi, Ben-Zion Gopstein, Lehava rejects any interaction between Jews and Palestinians. Founded in 2009, Lehava is distinguished from other far-right groups by its official focus on stopping miscegenation and intermarriage between Jews and Palestinians. In addition to the 300,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem, some 1.7 million of Israel’s citizens are Palestinian by origin, making them nearly a fifth of the population. Lehava is believed to be trying to extend its reach to a handful of “mixed” cities in Israel where small numbers of Palestinian citizens live in neighbourhoods close to Israeli Jews….
Israeli forces detain 12 Palestinians overnight across occupied West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least 12 Palestinians during overnight and predawn military raids and operations between Monday and Tuesday across the occupied West Bank. According to local sources in the northern district of Nablus, Israeli forces detained five members of the Dweikat family. The five were identified as Muhammad Mazen Dweikat, Muntaser Talal Dweikat, Ahid Sarhan Dweikat, Nabil Said Dweikat, and Khalil Walid Dweikat. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that forces detained a total of four Palestinians from the Nablus district, identifying two from the Balata refugee camp and two from the al-Askar refugee camp. In the central West Bank district of Jerusalem, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that forces detained one Palestinian from the village of Biddu. In the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, locals reported that Israeli forces detained Muhammad Ibrahim al-Karaki from the ‘Aida refugee camp and Abdullah Imad Raqaban from al-Duheisha refugee camp. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed one detention from ‘Aida and one from al-Duheisha, as well as one detention from the Bethlehem-area village of Jurat al-Shama. The spokesperson added that in a separate “ambush” operation, Israeli forces detained one Palestinian near the Bethlehem-area village of al-Khader who they claimed attempted to throw a Molotov cocktail at Israeli forces who were stationed on the nearby Route 60. “Due to similar incidents over past few months of suspects throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at Israeli soldiers and civilians on Route 60, Israeli forces set up an ambush and arrested one of the three suspects near al-Khader,” the spokesperson told Ma‘an. Hebrew media outlets published a video released by the Israeli army depicting the incident in which they arrested one “suspect,” while two others managed to run away … Locals from the southernmost West Bank district of Hebron reported that Israeli forces detained Rizq Rajoub from the town of Dura, who had been released one week ago after serving two years in Israeli prison. Sources added that Rajoub had previously served a total of 23 years in Israeli jails. According to the Israeli army, there was one detention from the Hebron district in the village of Sa‘ir.
Israeli forces conduct night raids across the occupied Palestinian territory on a near-daily basis. According to UN documentation, the Israeli army carried out 252 military detention raids between Nov. 15 and Nov. 28.
Israeli forces detain 21 Palestinians in military raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least 21 Palestinians, including one 12-year-old boy, Tuesday night and early Wednesday in military raids across the occupied territory. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that five Palestinians were detained from the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, including Muhammad Sabbah, 12, Muhammad Ahmad Ali al-Sheikh, 21, Muhammad Maher al-Sheikh, 20, Mahmoud Ahmad al-Sheikh, 22, and Amir Khalil Affaneh, 19. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed three detentions in the Bethlehem area, including one in the village of Beit Jala, and two in Marah Rabah. Also in the south, four Palestinians were detained from the Hebron district, including Bassel Iskafi. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed three Palestinians were detained in the Hebron area, in the villages of Imreish and al-Samu‘, as well as a suspected “Hamas operative” in al-Fawwar refugee camp, who locals identified as former prisoner Rajeh Abu Ajamiyyeh, 45. Israeli forces also detained Said Saqr Shaarawi, 43, identified by locals as a Palestinian police officer, and his 23-year-old son Ramadan from the city of Dura southwest of Hebron (Continued)
2 Hamas fighters killed in Gaza tunnel collapse
GAZA (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — Two Hamas fighters were killed when a tunnel between the besieged Gaza Strip and southern Israel collapsed on Wednesday night. The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, identified the two fighters as Ismail Abd al-Karim Shamali and Rami Munir al-Arair from the Shuja‘iyyah neighborhood. Local sources told Ma‘an that the two men were already dead by the time they were taken to the al-Shifa hospital. Brigade sources said that they were still looking for missing fighters inside the tunnel. A number of Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in the vast tunnel networks that lie below the besieged enclave, which are largely used for smuggling in the south and military purposes in the north.
Two wounded as Hamas clashes with Gaza hardliners
The New Arab/Agencies 6 Dec — A police officer and a youth were hospitalised on Tuesday after Hamas forces clashed with hardline Islamists in the Gaza Strip, a medical source and witnesses said. Both men suffered bullet wounds during an attempt by Gaza security forces to arrest two men from a Salafist group, followers of an ultra-conservative form of Islam, a witness said. The young man was in serious condition, while the policeman’s condition was not life threatening, the medical source said. The witness said a grenade was thrown at security forces raiding a house in Al-Fukhari in the southern Gaza Strip, sparking clashes. Hamas, which rules Gaza, is an Islamist party but is frequently criticised by more conservative Islamists, including hardliners who sympathise with the Islamic State group. The hardliners sporadically fire rockets at Israel, prompting retaliation against Hamas targets. Israel holds Hamas responsible for all rocket fire from Gaza, regardless of who launches it.
Israeli navy abducts four fishermen in northern Gaza
IMEMC 6 Dec — Israeli navy ships attacked, earlier on Tuesday, several Palestinian fishing boats in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, and abducted four fishermen. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said the Israeli navy boats fired many live rounds at the fishing boats, close to the shore in northern Gaza, and abducted the four fishermen. It added that the abducted fishermen have been identified as Majed Bakr, 55, Omran Majed Bakr, 27, Mohammad Ziad Bakr, 26, and Khalil Johar Bakr, 22.
Israeli authorities release 4 Palestinian fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — Israeli authorities released four Palestinian fishermen on Tuesday who were detained earlier that day off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip, when their boat was also confiscated. Fishermen told Ma’an that the four were released via the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip.They were identified as Majed Fadel Bakr, 55, Umran Majed Bakr, 27, Muhammad Ziyad Bakr, 26, and Khalil Jawhar Bakr, 22. [and what about their boat?]
Israel cancels permits for elderly Gazans traveling to Al-Aqsa for Friday prayers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Dec – Israeli authorities Tuesday cancelled weekly permits allowing elderly Gazans to travel to occupied East Jerusalem on Fridays to attend prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. An official at the Palestinian liaison office told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities decided to cancel the weekly visits of Palestinians in Gaza to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque due to Palestinian worshipers not returning directly back to the Gaza Strip after prayers, in violation of the permit conditions. However, the official added that Israel would continue to permit 100 Palestinians who are UNRWA employees, the UN agency responsible for providing services to some five million Palestinian refugees, to travel to Al-Aqsa for prayers.
Israeli forces detain Gazan merchant at Erez border crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Dec — Israeli authorities detained on Monday evening a Palestinian merchant at the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian liaison official told Ma‘an. The official said Israeli intelligence stopped Hisham Abu Zayid, a merchant from Gaza, and questioned him “for several hours” inside the crossing’s premises before taking him to an unknown destination. Abu Zayid was traveling back to the Gaza strip after he visited Israel, according to the Palestinian liaison official. A spokesperson for the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency said they were looking into reports. Last month, Israeli forces detained and interrogated a Palestinian businessman, identified as Raed Rashad Abu Shamlakh, at the Erez crossing as he attempted to enter Israel from the besieged Gaza Strip, a source at the Palestinian liaison office told Ma‘an. Israeli forces have detained around 20 businessmen from Gaza since the start of 2016 for various reasons, the source said.
Israel confiscates truck carrying iron into Gaza, claims material would be used against Israel
[with photo] GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Dec — Israeli authorities Tuesday confiscated a truck carrying pieces of iron en route to the besieged Gaza Strip, claiming the material would be used for anti-Israel activities. Israeli sources told Ma‘an that officials from COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, in cooperation with Israeli intelligence and crossing authority prevented the truck from entering the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing for carrying iron pieces. Sources added that the truck was supposed to be carrying shelves to be used in supermarkets but was instead carrying five-meter long iron pieces. The truck driver was transferred to the Israeli police for interrogations.
Meet Gaza’s top businesswoman
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 5 Dec by Amjad Yaghi — Mona Adnan Ghalayini, Gaza’s top businesswoman, talks to Al-Monitor about her journey to reach the position she currently occupies despite the social restrictions — Mona Adnan Ghalayini grew up in the Beach refugee camp, west of Gaza City. Her middle-income family gave her the freedom to study abroad and choose a profession that suited her, unlike the conservative families of a lot of girls, who were only allowed to major in fields deemed suitable for women, such as teaching, nursing and administration. Ghalayini began her career as a hotel receptionist and now manages five establishments — hotels, restaurants and shops — in Gaza. Ghalayini is the only Gazan woman supervising tourism and commercial projects in Gaza. She received an accounting diploma in Jordan in 1992 and subsequently got into the tourism sector in Gaza, working in hotels and restaurants. She is now the most prominent businesswoman in Gaza. Al-Monitor interviewed Ghalayini in Gaza City at the Roots 2 Hotel, which she manages. The text of the interview follows….
Gaza shows solidarity with Aleppo and Burma’s Rohingya Muslims
[with photos] MEMO 7 Dec by Mohammad Asad — The student wing of Hamas, known as Islamic Bloc, organised a student gathering on Tuesday in Gaza City to stand in solidarity with the people of Aleppo and Burma’s Rohingya Muslims, reports a MEMO correspondent. The students taking part in the solidarity vigil performed songs and re-enacted the situation in Syria and Burma. “All the vicious powers in the world are gathering against Muslims everywhere,” student leader Nidal Eid told the crowd. “Aleppo is burning and humanity is being killed and buried beneath its rubble while the world is watching.” While some countries take part in the killing, he pointed out, others negotiate. “Shamefully, though, most of the world is silent.” Turning to the issue of the Rohingya people in Burma, Eid accused the authorities and Buddhists of ethnic cleansing. “Our brothers and sisters there are being killed, forced out of their homes, tortured and burnt to death without mercy. There is a clear war against Islam and Muslims in Burma.” The student leader called on the Arabs, Muslims and the international community, which claims to protect human rights and freedoms, to act as a matter of urgency and stop the bloodshed in Aleppo and Burma.
Gaza doctors launch an appeal to save children’s lives
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 6 Dec by Isra Namey — Serag Tafesh and Hassan el-Qaied are at risk of dying if the power goes off. Both are two-month-old babies in an intensive care unit at Al Dura, a children’s hospital in Gaza, and their life-saving medical equipment stops working when the electricity goes off. The two babies were born with congenital malformations that have left them comatose. Yousef Reziq, a doctor at the hospital, told Al Jazeera that the intensive care unit, or ICU, is the ward most affected by the severe fuel shortages in Gaza, that has been besieged by Israel since 2007. “When the power goes off, the cardiac monitors and the artificial respiration machines by which the two babies can struggle to survive stop working. This means that they might die in less than five minutes,” Reziq said. “If the crisis drags on and the necessary amount of fuel has not been obtained in time, we will have to transfer the children to other hospitals.” With Gaza’s blackouts lasting 16 hours a day, hospitals have had to resort to using electrical generators. But fuel to operate the generators is increasingly scarce and expensive, posing an intractable challenge. The hospital’s medical personnel are also uncomfortable with the reliability and sustainability of these generators, complaining of frequent power fluctuations that take a heavy toll on the sensitive medical equipment. “Continued attention around the clock is required to make sure that the equipment is functioning properly and our patients receive the intensive needed care,” Hakiem Hamoda, a nurse, told Al Jazeera … As if the ongoing crisis were not enough, the hospital is also overcrowded, creating a high risk that contagious illnesses could spread. Mahdi Hijazi, a three-year-old patient, has been in hospital for six days for convulsions. His grandmother Nisreen is worried that he might get an infection from other children in his room. “The rooms’ numbers and sizes are not proportional to the high number of patients inside them,” Nisreen told Al Jazeera as she pacified her crying grandson. Meanwhile, the power cuts continue to imperil the delivery of basic health services. Children with kidney failure are not able to undergo dialysis treatment as frequently, which may damage their health. Seven-year-old Saher Faied normally receives dialysis treatment three times a week, said his father, Ahmed. But because of the electricity crisis, he only receives one session at Al Dura, and must commute twice a week to Al Shifa Compound, where he receives two more weekly sessions….
Analysis: Israeli military brass stung by Gaza war report — and Netanyahu should brace himself
Haaretz 6 Dec by Amos Harel — If Benjamin Netanyahu hoped, as he recently stated, to bask in one day of praise, Israel’s state watchdog is not about to supply it — The State Comptroller’s Report on how the home front was handled during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 is just an initial strike – the first in a series of reports the office is issuing on the last war in the Gaza Strip. The main report is due to come out in early January, and will focus on issues that were both of central concern to the Israeli public, and at the heart of disputes arising between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and ministers Naftali Bennett, Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni. Among others, those issues include preparedness for the underground tunnel threat, and the efficacy of the cabinet’s functioning and the intelligence situation during the war. As reported in Haaretz last week, the report will cite three failings on Netanyahu’s part: insufficient examination of alternatives to launching a war; failure to inform the cabinet of the seriousness of the tunnel threat; and lack of oversight of preparations by the Israel Defense Forces to address that threat. Efforts are still being made to persuade the comptroller, retired justice Joseph Shapira, to soften the almost-final draft sent to individuals mentioned in the report, in November. Shapira and his staff know that once the entire report is published, they can expect an aggressive media response from Netanyahu’s people. In the prime minister’s current state of mind, with spirits buoyed after Donald Trump’s election, he and his staff have embarked on every such public confrontation with a take-no-prisoners attitude. If Shapira refuses to bend, Netanyahu will make yet another attempt to have large portions of the report labeled classified for information security-related reasons.…
Balboul brothers to be released as 2 hunger strikers remain in critical condition
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘’an) 7 Dec — After more than five months in Israeli prison and over 75 days on an open hunger strike, Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul are set to be released back to their home in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on Thursday, as prisoners Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah remained in critical condition amid their ongoing hunger strikes. Muhammad, 26, and Mahmoud, 23, were initially detained during an overnight raid on June 9, and were subsequently sentenced to six months of administrative detention — an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence. Muhammad and Mahmoud launched a hunger strike on July 7 and 5, respectively, going without food for 77 and 79 days in protest of being held without charge or trial in Israeli prison. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said Thursday that the Balboul family had “sacrificed and given so much to Palestine,” emphasizing that the brothers are sons of Ahmad Balboul, a leader of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of the group, who was killed by undercover Israeli forces in 2008. Their 15-year-old sister Nuran was also detained for three months, as Israeli forces accused her of possessing a knife, an allegation that the family and others vehemently denied. Since Nuran’s release, she and her mother Sanaa have organized tirelessly for the release of the brothers, supporting local hunger-striking tents erected in Bethlehem and Ramallah, and even meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in September to urge the leader to exert pressure on Israel to release Muhammad and Mahmoud. The brothers eventually ended their hunger strike on Sept. 21 with their fellow hunger striker Malik al-Qadi following a decision by Israeli authorities not to extend their administrative detention sentences. They have been set for release on Dec. 8.
Meanwhile, hunger strikers Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah, both residents of the southern occupied West Bank village of Dura, are in critical condition, their lawyer Ahlam Haddad said on Wednesday….
Palestinian circus trainer marks year in Israeli jail without charge
EI 6 Dec by Charlotte Silver — As Mohammad Abu Sakha approaches the year anniversary of his arrest, Israeli authorities still refuse to provide any evidence that he poses a security risk. Abu Sakha is the 25-year-old Palestinian circus trainer and performer who specializes in working with children with severe disabilities. He was arrested on 14 December 2015 while he was en route from his home in Jenin to his work at Birzeit University, near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. Israeli occupation forces stopped the bus he was riding, and when they checked all the passengers’ IDs, he was taken off the bus at gunpoint. He has yet to be charged with any offense, or presented with any evidence to support the military’s claims he is a danger. But on Monday, the Israeli high court reportedly reviewed his secret file and ruled that he still poses a threat to the security of Israel. In response, Abu Sakha’s attorney withdrew his petition against his client’s ongoing administrative detention. In his work with the Palestinian Circus School since 2007, Abu Sakha has gone on multiple tours around the world with the children he teaches. At the beginning of this year, the prisoner support group Addameer reported that the Israeli army accused Abu Sakha of being active in an illegal organization and taking part in military activities. Abu Sakha told lawyers that the accusations were no more specific during his interrogations. In June, Amnesty International said that Israel’s jailing of Abu Sakha “exemplifies the authorities’ arbitrary and repressive use of administrative detention.”
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Settlements
Muezzin bill vote delayed as Netanyahu presses for broader ban
JPost 7 Dec by Lahav Harkov — A vote on the “muezzin bill,” legislation banning the use of outdoor loudspeakers by religious institutions, was pulled from the Knesset’s agenda Wednesday. Coalition sources said progress on the legislation was frozen because it was not far-reaching enough for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi), who proposed the bill, had come to an agreement with United Torah Judaism chairman Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman that, following the planned preliminary vote, the bill’s text would be changed so that the ban would apply only from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. This way, the bill would not apply to the siren announcing the beginning of Shabbat in haredi communities, but would apply to the predawn Muslim call to prayer, as was its original intention. However, Netanyahu notified Litzman on Wednesday that he would not agree to limiting the bill’s scope to certain times of the day. He was unable to find a way to make the bill not apply to the Shabbat siren but still apply to the muezzin’s call all day without running up against discrimination laws, and so the coalition pulled the bill until a new agreement is reached. Some in the coalition put their own spin on the story….
Poll: Majority of Jewish public in favor of Muezzin bill
JPost 6 Dec by Jeremy Sharon — A majority of the Jewish public is in favor of the “muezzin bill” that would prohibit mosques from using loudspeakers for the call to prayer, a phenomenon that many complain disturbs their sleep in the very early morning hours. According to the Israel Democracy Institute’s monthly peace index poll, 56% of Jewish respondents support the bill, which has been proposed by Bayit Yehudi MK Moti Yogev and was scheduled for a preliminary reading in the Knesset on Tuesday. However, 59% of Jewish respondents also thought it possible to reach understanding between Jewish and Arab communities to solve the problem without legislation. Among Arab respondents, 93% said arrangements could be made without the bill….
Initiative launched in Ramallah to revive Palestinian land near Israel’s Beit El settlement
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Dec – Volunteers and supporters of the Palestinian Farmers’ Union Tuesday launched a “revive the land” initiative to plant tens of almond and olive trees in lands near the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El, east of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. According to a statement released by the Farmers’ Union, the initiative, funded by The Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (APN), was launched amid Israel’s continuous expansion of settlements on Palestinian agricultural lands. The Palestinian farmers welcomed the initiative, the union said, and told the union that they needed such initiatives to support their self-determination in the face of relentless Israeli settlement activities. Local farmer Khaled Khawalda highlighted the harassment he has experienced as Israeli settlers have attempted to force him to leave his home, located just a few meters away from the Beit El settlement. After planting trees on the land, the farmers thanked APN for supporting the Palestinian farmers, the statement said … Beit El was established on private Palestinian land in 1977 and has since attracted some 6,000 Israeli settlers, according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem….
Israel set to approve 20 colonialist projects in the West Bank
IMEMC 7 Dec — The Israeli “Construction and Planning Committee” of the Jerusalem City Council is set to discuss and approve, Wednesday, 20 new colonialist projects to be built in illegal colonies, commercial and tourist centers on Palestinian land. The largest project is the construction of a new settlement on the southern hills of Gilo illegal colony, close to the Annexation Wall, on Palestinian land belonging to the Al-Walaja village, in Bethlehem, southeast of occupied Jerusalem. The plan includes constructing 770 new residential units in Gilo, in addition to tourist and commercial buildings, on approximately 142.846 dunams of lands, while the constructions themselves will occupy around 98.927 square/meters. 3500 square/meters of them are set for tourism and hotels, 19.816 for public buildings, 73.788 for residential buildings, and 1050 for commercial structures. It also aims at constructing 891 buildings in Gilo, on approximately 269.411 dunams. The City Council is also set to discuss more structures in Ramot illegal colony, north of occupied Jerusalem, on 15 dunams of land. It calls for constructing 156 residential units, including 112 that were previously approved. Furthermore, the Construction and Planning Committee will discuss building a large three-story synagogue in Jabal al-Mokabber Palestinian neighborhood, southeast of occupied Jerusalem, in an area that overlooks the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Old City. The synagogue is planned to be built on 1.215 dunams of Palestinian land, with the total size of 1930 square/meters, that would be part of Nof Zion illegal colony, built on lands belonging to Jabal al-Mokabber Palestinian neighborhood. Furthermore, the Committee will be discussing increasing the number of buildings, including a synagogue, in Ramot Shlomo illegal colony, north of Jerusalem, on 4925 of Palestinian land, while the buildings themselves would occupy 7611.78 dunams of land.
Settlers level Palestinian land as proposed law threatens mass land confiscation
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 6 Dec — Israeli bulldozers leveled private Palestinian lands in the northern occupied West Bank village of Jalud in the Nablus district on Tuesday morning, a day after the Israeli Knesset moved forward with a bill seeking to retroactively legalize illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank, which would see thousands of dunams of Palestinian lands confiscated. A Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, told Ma‘an that several bulldozers escorted by Israeli settlers and troops started to level lands on the eastern outskirts of Jalud “without prior notice.” More than 40 dunams (9.88 acres) of land belonging to the family of Ahmad Nasser al-Hajj were leveled, Daghlas added. The illegal Israeli settlement outpost Esh Kodesh is located only a few hundred meters away from the area leveled on Tuesday. Daghlas said that the al-Hajj family tried to access the land on Monday to plow it, but that Israeli forces denied them access, confiscating the keys of the tractors they had brought with them. The al-Hajjs emphatically said that they had not received any documents from the Israeli government regarding a decision to confiscate their land. However, residents in Jalud were alerted on April 23 that 5,000 dunams (1,250 acres) of private land were slated for confiscation, in what appeared to be the retroactive legalization of illegal outposts in the area. It was not immediately clear if the land leveled on Tuesday was on the same lands threatened with confiscation in April. In May Israeli settler bulldozers leveled lands in Jalud as well….
Israeli authorities demolish 3 Palestinian structures in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Dec — Israeli authorities demolished three Palestinian-owned structures in the neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem Tuesday morning, according to the owners. Alaa Shweiki told Ma‘an that bulldozers arrived on his property early Tuesday morning under armed military protection. The bulldozers then demolished a structure roofed with steel tubes and tin sheets that Shweiki used as a horse stable. He highlighted that the same structures had already been demolished in November. Shweiki added that Israeli forces confiscated one of his horses, and that bulldozers leveled some of his land and tore down fences and dry-stone walls. In the Karm al-Sheikh area of Silwan, Israeli forces demolished two houses under construction whose owners had previously demolished them on Saturday in compliance with an Israeli court order. Homeowners Said al-Abbasi and his brother Nasser told Ma‘an that they began the demolition of their homes on Saturday — a common practice for Jerusalem residents subjected to demolition orders so as not to incur a demolition fee from the Israeli Jerusalem municipality — but were “surprised” on Tuesday morning to find forces raiding the area. The Israeli bulldozers completely demolished the two homes, according to the brothers….
Israel demolishes car washes, building under construction in Area C
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — Israeli authorities carried out three demolitions in the villages of al-Nabi Samwil and al-Khalayleh [in the Seam Zone] in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma‘an that “enforcement measures” were carried out against two buildings and a structure under construction in the two villages for being built without Israeli-issued permits .Official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa reported that two of the buildings were car washes. Al-Nabi Samwil and al-Khalayleh are located in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control. Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in Area C, forcing most Palestinians to build without permits.
Israeli bulldozers demolish houses in Negev, level agricultural land
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — Israeli bulldozers demolished two houses in Bedouin villages unrecognized by Israel in the southern Negev region Wednesday morning, locals told Ma‘an. Local sources said forces from the Yoav, the special Israeli police unit created to implement demolitions of Bedouin homes in the Negev, escorted by Israeli bulldozers, demolished a house in the village of Atir, and another house that belongs to the al-Jamaaen family in the village of Sawah .Israeli bulldozers also leveled an agricultural field that belongs to the al-Atrash family in Maulida village. Sawah and Atir are among 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli state. Last month, the village of al-Araqib was demolished for the 105th time. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages.
Israeli bulldozers demolish Palestinian-owned structures in Jericho
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 6 Dec –Israeli forces Tuesday leveled a number of structures belonging to several Palestinian families in the Jordan Valley, north of Jericho city in the occupied West Bank. According to the Palestinian government news agency Wafa, Israeli bulldozers and soldiers raided the village of Fasayil and destroyed several steel structures belonging to Abed al-Hadi Ali Hussein Obayyat, Adnan Ibrahim Abu Kharabish, and Zaid Mahmoud Ibrahim Abu Kharabish. Israeli forces also demolished two healthcare facilities belonging to Adnan and Zaid Abu Kharabish, Wafa reported. In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma’an via email on Wednesday that “an enforcement took place against five illegal structures” in the village, for being built with the Israeli-issued permits, “even though previous enforcement had taken place there in the past.” The spokesperson added that “The enforcement was carried out after all the necessary warrants were submitted.”
Jordan Valley: Residents of Ras al-Ahmar told they can’t have power lines
IMEMC/Agencies 8 Dec — Israeli authorities ordered Palestinian residents of Ras al-Ahmar locality, in the northern Jordan Valley, not to build power lines in their area, a local official said. Mu’taz Bsharat, who monitors settlement activities in the area, told WAFA correspondence that Israeli troops served locals with an order to stop the construction of a 600-meter-long power line along the road leading to Ras al-Ahmar. Residents of the area, considered part of Area C, which is under full Israeli military control, are not allowed to build power lines or water pipes to their villages. They say that Israel wants to push them out of their land, to eventually take it over for the construction of Jewish-only settlements. The Jordan Valley makes up about one third of the total area of the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon
UNRWA condemns armed violence in Ein El Hilweh which caused children to flee
7 Dec — UNRWA strongly condemns the armed violence that took place in the Ein El Hilweh Palestine Refugee camp in Lebanon, on 5 December 2016. Armed violence, including the use of firearms, shocked and frightened Palestine refugees in the Bostan Al Qudes area in proximity to four UNRWA schools – Faloujah, Hitten, Marj Ben Amer and Qibya schools – putting at considerable risk the lives of students receiving education from UNRWA. One armed person entered UNRWA schools without authorization, contrary to the inviolability and neutrality of UN premises and instructed children to leave the schools. The school buildings were clearly marked with a UN flag. UNRWA students were able to evacuate the area without injury, notwithstanding that live fire continued while the children were leaving. As a result of the incident, all UNRWA schools and installations were closed in Ein El Hilweh on 5 December. Due to repeated armed violence and increased risks on lives of civilians, UNRWA decided to suspend its operations in the camp today the 7th of December 2016 for one day. UNRWA calls on all those involved to respect the rule of law, the sanctity of human life and the protection of Palestine refugees, particularly of children….
Fourth UN agency in Jordan dumps G4S
EI 6 Dec by Charlotte Silver — The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Jordan has announced it will no longer contract with G4S. The group Jordan BDS hailed the decision as a victory for its year-long campaign, which included a meeting with WFP officials and an open letter signed by dozens of Jordanian organizations to urge the UN agency to end the contract. This makes WFP the fourth out of six UN agencies in Jordan to ditch the world’s largest security company, following pressure from the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. G4S provides services to Israeli prisons and equipment for checkpoints along Israel’s wall annexing Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. The World Food Program’s contract with G4S was worth $900,000 in 2015, according to the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC). WFP will now contract with local firms. Over the last year, three other UN agencies in Jordan – the refugee agency UNHCR, the children’s fund UNICEF and operations agency UNOPS – have ended their contracts with G4S. UN development program UNDP and UN Women are the two agencies that still use the firm.
New York blacklist revives McCarthy tactics
EI 8 Dec by Nora Barrows-Friedman — The state of New York has released a blacklist of companies that it says support the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. Meanwhile, the author of a controversial definition of anti-Semitism that includes criticism of Israel is urging the US Congress not to enshrine the definition into law, saying it would be unconstitutional and harmful to free speech on campuses. In June, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order calling for the state to cut financial ties with institutions that boycott Israel. Speaking to state and local legislators and Israel lobby activists in Manhattan as he signed the order, Cuomo said, “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you. If you divert revenues from Israel, New York will divert revenues from you. If you sanction Israel, New York will sanction you. Period.” “Governor Cuomo’s blacklist of institutions that support nonviolent boycotts for justice for Palestinians is a stain on the state of New York,” Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights stated last week. Calling the list a revival of “a dark tactic of the McCarthy era,” the legal groups warn that it “may well achieve its unconstitutional aim” of intimidating advocacy groups from using “constitutionally-protected boycott measures to protest social injustice.” Vague and opaque As of 2 December, the state has listed 13 foreign companies that it has singled out for financial censure. The list will be updated every six months according to a process that has not been clarified. The list includes European banks and grocery store chains that have refused to source goods or do business in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, often in line with advice from European governments….
Andrew Cuomo’s anti-BDS blacklist fizzles — but critics push back anyway
The Forward 6 Dec by Josh Nathan-Kazis — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s blacklist of firms that support the BDS movement seems to have fizzled — none of the 13 targeted companies does business with New York State and therefore wouldn’t lose anything by being included on it. But despite the fact it will have no immediate impact and the fact that no American companies are included, advocates for and against the blacklist say its long-term implications remain. “Just because U.S. companies have not been targeted doesn’t mean that they’re not going to be targeted,” said Ruhan Nagra, Bertha Justice Institute Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which opposed Cuomo’s executive order. Signed in June, the executive order calls on all state agencies in New York to divest public funds from firms that back the BDS movement. The order sparked controversy when it was first announced, and was criticized by some free speech advocates. At the time, Cuomo said it would take effect in six months, following the publication of a list of firms that support the BDS movement … The orders’ opponents agree that its provisions still matter, despite its having no immediate effect. “It does little to ameliorate any concerns about the chilling of free speech that arose immediately after the issuance of Cuomo’s executive order in June,” Nagra said. She noted that the list will continue to be updated, and could grow to include other firms.
Israeli minister calls for ‘blacklist’ of organizations supporting BDS
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan has proposed that Israel set up a committee to blacklist organizations and individuals which advocate for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Tuesday. According to the news outlet, Erdan first recommended the maintenance of the blacklist to Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, before sending these recommendations to the treasury. Erdan’s proposal would block the blacklisted entities from bidding on government tenders or receiving financial benefits from the Israeli government. The news comes days after Israeli authorities denied entry into Israel to Malawi BDS activist Isabel Phiri, in what Israeli media reported was “the first time” the country “officially” denied entry to a foreign national who supports the movement for Palestinian rights. The Israeli government has grown increasingly concerned about the growth of the BDS movement, as the movement’s support base has expanded to include companies, universities, and religious institutions around the world divesting from organizations complicit in Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights….
Dutch reject calls to cease funding groups
EI 7 Dec by Adri Nieuwhof — The Dutch government has rejected calls to cease funding organizations that advocate a boycott of Israel. In June this year, NGO Monitor – a lobby group with close ties to the Israeli political and military establishments claimed it had scored a significant victory in the Netherlands. NGO Monitor was referring to a decision made by the Dutch parliament that a review should be undertaken of the country’s aid to organizations supporting the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. According to NGO Monitor, the parliament’s vote was the result of briefings that the lobby group had provided on how “radical” activists were engaged in the “demonization” of Israel. The government in The Hague has now made it clear, however, that it will not bar BDS advocates from receiving aid. Doing so would not be conducive towards ensuring “healthy relationships between the government and civil society,” Bert Koenders and Lilian Ploumen, the ministers for foreign affairs and development aid, have jointly stated. Their comments were made in response to queries by a committee in the Dutch parliament that has been studying what action should be taken following the June vote. That vote was not legally binding.
Israel singles out African scholar for deportation, world church group says
EI 6 Dec by Ali Abunimah — The World Council of Churches has strongly condemned Israel’s deportation of its associate general secretary Dr. Isabel Apawo Phiri. In a statement on Tuesday, the Geneva-based ecumenical organization said that Apawo Phiri had been “apprehended, interrogated and deported” upon arrival at Tel Aviv airport. The World Council of Churches said it “deeply regrets the Israeli antagonism against the WCC’s initiatives for peace with justice for both Palestinians and Israelis.” Apawo Phiri was the only African member of a WCC staff delegation and “the only one denied entry,” according to the group. The reason Israeli authorities provided, according to WCC, was “prevention of illegal immigration considerations.” The WCC said it had instructed lawyers to appeal against “this patently unjust and discriminatory action.” Speaking from Jerusalem, WCC general secretary Reverend Olav Fykse Tveit told The Electronic Intifada that he had traveled through Tel Aviv airport separately, but on the same day as his colleague, and had faced no obstacles. The singling out of Apawo Phiri would fit in with Israeli leaders’ well-documented pattern of discrimination and incitement against citizens from African states. Apawo Phiri, a national of Malawi, was traveling to meet church leaders in Jerusalem, in connection with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), a WCC-supported initiative that brings international volunteers to monitor human rights under Israeli military occupation … Israel is touting its expulsion of Apawo Phiri as a victory in its war against the nonviolent international solidarity movement for Palestinian rights. The AP news agency reported that Israel’s public security and interior ministers said they had blocked the entry of Apawo Phiri “because of her long affiliation with the boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS] movement.”
UNGA votes on draft resolutions addressing Palestinian issues
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted a number of draft resolutions addressing Israeli-Palestinian issues and the rights of colonized people on Tuesday. According to a statement by the international body, the UNGA narrowly adopted a draft called “Work of the Special Committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories,” intended to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. In the draft, the assembly condemned the “critical situation” in the occupied Palestinian territory, and denounced illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the nearly decade-long Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, and Israel’s “indiscriminate use of force and military operations against the civilian population.” The text received 91 votes in favor, 11 against, with 73 abstentions. The Assembly also brought to a vote a draft resolution urging for an increase in member states’ contributions to UNRWA, the UN agency which assists Palestinian refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory and the Middle East, which was adopted by a wide margin, with 167 votes in favor, five abstentions, and six votes against — Israel, the United States, Canada, Palau, the Marshall Islands, and Micronesia. UNRWA has faced serious financial hardships in past years, as the organization faced the largest financial setback in its history last year with a recorded deficit of $100 million.The UN statement went on to list seven other drafts which were adopted by the GA on Tuesday related to Israeli-Palestinian issues….
Germany: Israeli bill violates international law
Reuters 7 Dec — Germany has urged Israel in unusually strong language to scrap legislation that would legalise Israeli settlement homes built on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, saying it would break international law. A German foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday the government was “extremely concerned” about the development. “Such a bill violates international law,” he said, adding Israel would undermine its commitment to finding a “two-state solution” – a Palestinian state in territory Israel captured in a 1967 war – if the bill were passed. Asked whether Germany and the European Union should punish Israel with economic or diplomatic sanctions, the spokesman said: “We don’t think that sanctions would be the right path in this case to make headway in the Middle East peace process.” Germany tends to be more reserved than other European nations in its criticism of Israel because of the legacy of the Nazi Holocaust. But it has objected in the past few years to Israeli settlement expansion on land Palestinians want for a state. Israeli officials are also concerned the bill could provide grounds for prosecution by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself cited possible court action when he initially opposed the legislation promoted by the far-right Jewish Home party and its leader Naftali Bennett. Palestinians condemned the bill as a land grab in territory they seek for a state. Israel’s parliament gave initial approval on Monday to a revised bill on the settlement homes. It must pass three more votes at unspecified future dates before becoming law.
Netanyahu in high stakes gamble with new settlement bill
JERUSALEM (REUTERS) 7 Dec by Maayan Lubell — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s support for a bill that would legalise Israeli settlement homes on private Palestinian land in the West Bank is seen in Israel as another feint in a power struggle within his ruling right-wing coalition. But critics in Israel and abroad fear that Netanyahu’s machinations aimed at appeasing political partners could have grave consequences internationally, even if the law does not survive likely court challenges. Preliminary approval for the bill granted by parliament on Monday has alarmed the United States, European Union and United Nations, raising the possibility of some sort of U.N. resolution before President Barack Obama’s term is up in January. Israeli officials are also concerned that the bill could provide grounds for prosecution by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. It prompted particularly strong criticism from Germany. Netanyahu himself cited possible court action when he initially opposed the legislation promoted by the far-right Jewish Home party and its leader, Naftali Bennett. Palestinians condemned the bill as a land grab in territory they seek for a state. But for the fourth-term prime minister, failure to support the bill would have ceded ground to Bennett in their pursuit of conservative voters that form the power base of both Jewish Home and Netanyahu’s Likud. “Naftali Bennett has scared him more than the U.S. administration and more than the European Union. Even though Netanyahu has been prime minister for 11 years, he still remains more a politician than a leader,” Amnon Abramovitz, political analyst for Israeli Channel Two, told Reuters. The bill passed its first reading in the legislature with 58 lawmakers voting in favour and 51 opposed….
MK penalized for opposing outpost legalization bill amid outcry on draft law
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Dec — Likud member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, Benny Begin was suspended from a Knesset committee on Tuesday for being the sole member of the coalition to vote against a bill which would see Israeli settlement outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land retroactively legalized, as critics slammed the proposed law as a “war crime” and a severe impediment to the peace process. The coalition that makes up the Israeli government is comprised of the Likud, United Torah Judaism, Shas, Kulanu, and Jewish Home parties, which would have unanimously moved forward the so-called “formalization bill” in Monday evening’s preliminary vote, had veteran MK Begin not voted down the law, which has been condemned by Israel’s own attorney general. According to Israeli media, Begin was penalized for his vote by being suspended from the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee of the Knesset. Head of the coalition and Likud party member David Bitan reportedly wrote in a letter to Begin that the suspension would last three weeks….
Israel’s Netanyahu gives conditional ‘No’ to meeting Abbas in Paris
PARIS/JERUSALEM (Reuters) 7 Dec by John Irish & Ori Lewis — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he had told French President Francois Hollande he would not meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas if France pushed ahead with an international peace conference in Paris later this month. France has been trying to convince Netanyahu, who has repeatedly rejected the conference proposal, to meet with Abbas in Paris to try to revive moribund peace talks between the two sides, Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Wednesday. “Netanyahu told Hollande that if there will not be an international conference in Paris, he will come to meet Abu Mazen (Abbas) for direct talks without preconditions,” the statement said Netanyahu told Hollande. “Israel will not participate in an international conference that will not contribute to achieving peace,” it added. Paris has remained determined to stage the conference. It believes that bringing the two leaders to meet with Hollande a day after the conference would be a way of circumventing Israeli accusations that the French initiative aims to impose a multilateral solution … Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said the Palestinians welcomed “any French effort to salvage the faltering political process.”….
Palestinian short story collection wins Arab award
Palestine Chronicle 7 Dec — Palestinian short-story author Mazen Marouf has won the Kuwaiti-based Multaqa award for the best Arab short-story collection, after his short story collection titled Nukaat Almusalheen, the jokes of armed people, published by Alkawkab Publishing house in Lebanon. The panel of judges of the award has announced the winner this year at a ceremony organized at the American University in Kuwait on Monday, December 5. The award was initiated this year and Marouf was the first winner to be announced. The novel, as part of the award, will be translated and published in English and French. Five short story collections made it to the shortlist this year including ‘Wonderful Reasons to Cry’ by Palestinian Ziaad Kadash. 189 contributions from 15 different Arab countries were sent to the judging panel. Nukaat Almusalheen, the jokes of armed people, is the first short story collection by Mazen Marouf, and it is a collection of 14 short stories he wrote in Iceland, where he is based now, about his experience in Lebanon’s refugee camps for Palestinians, in which he mixes reality, imagination, humor, and tragedy.
After 4 years of rejecting Palestinian requests, Israel allows delivery of jeeps to Palestinian forces
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — Israel allowed five armored jeeps to be delivered to Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces earlier this week, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Tuesday, in a rare move amid the PA’s increased security crackdown in the northern occupied West Bank. A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that Israel had rejected the PA’s request to allow the armored vehicles in for four years, but that the “deteriorating security situation” in the West Bank had led Israeli authorities to change their position. The Nablus district of the West Bank has been the site of violent clashes involving Palestinian security forces since a massive security crackdown was launched across the West Bank, which turned deadly in August when two policemen were killed during a raid in the Old City of Nablus to uncover weapons and make arrests. A number of gunmen and suspected gunmen have since been killed by Israeli forces, notably Ahmad Izz Halaweh, the alleged mastermind behind the police shooting, who was beaten to death in custody, causing widespread criticism over the unclear circumstances in which Palestinian fugitives have been arrested and killed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman approved the delivery, which took place between Sunday and Monday at the Allenby Bridge border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank. Jordan supplied the vehicles, while the United States supported the transfer. Israel has seriously limited the import of weapons and security equipment meant for PA security forces in the past several years, despite the fact that the Israeli army’s central command estimated in May that the PA was responsible for approximately 40 percent of all arrests of “suspected terrorists.” The recent Israeli decision was all the more unusual given that Lieberman, who approved the transfer of the jeeps, said on Wednesday that a peace agreement between Israel and the PA would be impossible in coming years due to the “extreme positions” of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Ynet reported….
Palestinian economy suffers due to Israeli customs officer strike at Allenby crossing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — The fragile Palestinian economy has suffered serious losses in the past three weeks as Israeli custom officials at the Allenby Bridge crossing between the occupied West Bank and Jordan launched a strike, forcing imports and exports to a near standstill in the occupied Palestinian territory. Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in Hebron Muhammad Ghazi al-Hirbawi told Ma‘an that Israeli custom officials started the general strike 20 days ago to demand a salary increase for what they called a “risky job.” The strike has had a disastrous effect on the Palestinian economy, al-Hirbawi said, saying that “several factories have suspended work, particularly plastic factories, due to lack of raw materials.” Al-Hirbawi added that the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce has contacted both Palestinian and Israeli officials to try and work out a solution to an issue that has “exhausted the Palestinian economy.” A solution was expected to be reached in the coming few days, according to al-Hirbawi. About 150 truckloads of goods used to cross the Allenby Bridge into the West Bank every day, al-Hirbawi explained, but since the strike only 10 truckloads have entered the West Bank. Meanwhile, Palestinian exports via Allenby Bridge have dropped by almost 90 percent, he said. Jordan is a major destination for Palestinian products from the West Bank, including all Palestinian exports to foreign countries necessitating passage through Jordan. The stone and marble industry has particularly been hit hard, as the industry has sustained losses reaching up to 25 million shekels ($6,582,412) since the start of the strike, according to the Chairman of the general union of stone and marble producers Samih Thawabta….
‘We are orphans here’
NY Times Magazine 1 Dec by Rachel Kushner — Standing at an intersection in Shuafat Refugee Camp, in East Jerusalem, I watched as a boy, sunk down behind the steering wheel of a beat-up sedan, zoomed through an intersection with his arm out the driver’s-side window, signaling like a Nascar driver pulling in for a pit stop. I was amazed. He looked about 12. “No one cares here,” my host, Baha Nababta, said, laughing at my astonishment. “Anyone can do anything they want.” As Baha and I walked around Shuafat this spring, teenagers fell in behind us, forming a kind of retinue. Among them were cool kids who looked like cool kids the world over, tuned in to that teenage frequency, a dog whistle with global reach. I noticed that white was a popular color. White slouchy, pegged jeans, white polo shirts, white high-tops. Maybe white has extra status in a place where many roads are unpaved and turn to mud, where garbage is everywhere, literally, and where water shortages make it exceedingly difficult to keep people and clothing clean. So few nonresidents enter Shuafat that my appearance there seemed to be a highly unusual event, met with warm greetings verging on hysteria, crowds of kids following along. “Hello, America!” they called excitedly. I was a novelty, but also, I was with Baha Nababta, a 29-year-old Palestinian community organizer beloved by the kids of Shuafat. Those who followed us wanted not just my attention but his. Baha had a rare kind of charisma. Camp-counselor charisma, you might call it. He was a natural leader of boys. Every kid we passed knew him and either waved or stopped to speak to him. Baha founded a community center so that older children would have a place to hang out, because there is no open space in Shuafat Refugee Camp, no park, not a single playground, nowhere for kids to go, not even a street, really, where they can play, because there are no sidewalks, most of the narrow roads barely fitting the cars that ramble down them. Youngers kids tapped me on the arms and wanted to show me the mural they painted with Baha. The road they helped to pave with Baha, who supervised its completion. The plants they planted with Baha along a narrow strip. Baha, Baha, Baha. It was like that with the adults too. They all wanted his attention. His phone was blowing up in his pocket as we walked … Shuafat Refugee Camp is inside Jerusalem proper, according to the municipal boundaries that Israel declared after the Six Day War in 1967. The Palestinian Authority has no jurisdiction there: The camp is, according to Israeli law, inside Israel, and the people who live there are Jerusalem residents, but they are refugees in their own city. Residents pay taxes to Israel, but the camp is barely serviced. There is very little legally supplied water, a scarcely functioning sewage system, essentially no garbage pickup, no road building, no mail service (the streets don’t even have names, much less addresses), virtually no infrastructure of any kind. There is no adequate school system. Israeli emergency fire and medical services do not enter the camp. The Israeli police enter only to make arrests; they provide no security for camp residents. There is chaotic land registration. While no one knows how many people really live in the Shuafat camp and its three surrounding neighborhoods, which is roughly one square kilometer, it’s estimated that the population is around 80,000. They live surrounded by a 25-foot concrete wall, a wall interspersed by guard towers and trapdoors that swing open when Israeli forces raid the camp, with reinforcements in the hundreds, or even, as in December 2015, over a thousand troops.
New trial in Detroit for Palestinian activist Rasmieh Odeh
Detroit Free Press 6 Dec by Niraj Warikoo — In a case closely watched by both sides of the Arab-Israeli dispute, a federal judge in Detroit on Tuesday granted Palestinian activist Rasmieh [or Rasmea] Odeh a new trial next month that will hear the testimony of a psychologist who says Odeh suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after being tortured by Israeli authorities. Odeh, 69, a former resident of Jackson who now lives in Chicago, was found guilty in 2014 of not disclosing she had been convicted in an Israel bombing in 1969 when she was applying to be a U.S. citizen. Odeh, a community advocate with an Arab-American group, was sentenced last year to 18 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain. In February, a three-judge panel with the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said that Drain had wrongly excluded testimony about the psychological trauma that Odeh said she suffered in Israeli prisons. Odeh was convicted and imprisoned in Israel in 1969-70 for playing a role in the bombing of an Israeli supermarket that killed two civilians and an attempted attack on the British Consulate. Odeh denies she was guilty in both acts, but said she confessed after being tortured by Israeli officials. Odeh was not charged with terrorism in U.S. courts, only with immigration fraud for lying on government forms that ask immigrants if they’ve ever been convicted of a crime. Drain ruled Tuesday that Odeh will get a trial on Jan. 10 and that the testimony of the Chicago psychologist, Mary Fabri, can be heard. Odeh maintains that the trauma caused her to not disclose to immigration authorities she had been convicted in Israel. She said that she thought that when authorities asked her to disclose any past convictions, they were only referring to convictions in the U.S. The case has been closely followed by both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian advocates. To her supporters, Odeh is a hero who was wrongly arrested on a minor immigration charge as part of broader roundup of anti-war activists. During her case, supporters arrived in Detroit for her hearings and held rallies outside the courthouse. “This is incredible news,” said Nesreen Hasan, with the Rasmea Defense Committee and the U.S. Palestinian Community Network. … Now, the truth will finally be told, in open court. Rasmea will be vindicated.” The committee called for prosecutors to drop the charges against Odeh. A spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Gina Balaya, said: “We plan to go forward with the trial to present our case. The new trial is to allow Ms. Odeh the opportunity to present an expert witness. It does not change our view or position on the case.” To her opponents, Odeh is a terrorist who should not have been admitted into the U.S….