15-year-old Palestinian girl denied visa for US speaking tour
Fig Tree blog 18 Dec by Richard Edmondson — Ahed Tamimi was slated to be part of the No Child Behind Bars/Living Resistance speaking tour that is to tour the US beginning on January 15, 2017, but according to an email sent out yesterday by the Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), she has been denied a visa to enter the country. I guess the thinking at the State Department is that anyone who bunches their fist and shakes it in the face of an Israeli soldier must be a terrorist. Of course it isn’t difficult in the least to figure out why the Israeli government would prefer not to have someone like Ahed–described by FOSNA as “charismatic and articulate”–going from city to city in America discussing the brutal injustices she and others her age are subjected to on continuing daily basis. It would take a fair bit of mainstream media bellowing about “Hamas rockets” to offset the public relations disaster. But the tour, it seems, will proceed anyway, and even though Ahed will not be here physically, plans nonetheless are being made to link her to US audiences via live-stream video … The email from FOSNA:….
Israel renews travel ban against Jerusalemite Palestinian woman
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Israeli authorities renewed a travel ban against a Palestinian woman from occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday, after she has already been banned from the Old City’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as well as from the occupied West Bank. Khadija Khweis told Ma‘an that Israeli intelligence summoned her to Jerusalem’s Russian Compound police station, where she was handed a renewable one-month travel prohibition order signed by the Israeli Minister of Interior. A previous one-month travel ban against Khweis had expired on Wednesday. According to Khweis, the new order read that she was prevented from traveling for “security reasons.” “They say I have connections with the Murabitat group and think I could travel on missions to promote them,” she said. In addition to being banned from international travel, Khweis has been prohibited from traveling to the West Bank for six months, an order that she said was still effective. Furthermore, Khweis is on Israel’s so-called “blacklist” created by Israeli police in August 2015 to deny dozens of Palestinians access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Israeli authorities have also revoked Khweis and her family’s national insurance allowance….
Israel’s blockade on Jerusalem area village continues for sixth day
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 18 Dec – Israeli army continued on Sunday their blockade of the village of Hazma, northeast of Jerusalem, for the sixth consecutive day in a row, banning the entry and exit of local Palestinians from and into the village through its main entrance. Israeli forces blocked the entrance six days ago under the pretext that youths from the village continue to attack with stones Israeli vehicles passing nearby. To be noted, the village’s entrance links between northern and central West Bank districts with the southern districts of the territory, and thousands of cars use this road in their daily routes.
Violence / Detention — West Bank / Jerusalem
19-year-old Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces over stone throwing laid to rest
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Thousands of Palestinians attended on Sunday morning the funeral of 19-year-old Ahmad Hazem al-Rimawi, who was shot dead by Israeli forces hours earlier during a raid in the village of Beit Rima. Al-Rimawi was shot in the chest and killed by an Israeli sniper during clashes that erupted in Beit Rima and the neighboring village of Deir Ghasana, in the northern part of the Ramallah district. Israeli forces reportedly fired only live bullets at the Palestinian protesters who were throwing rocks. Another Palestinian was reported injured, as was an Israeli border officer. The Israeli army told Ma‘an on Sunday morning that forces had “engaged in riot dispersal means” in response to thrown rocks, and despite being “aware of reports that a rioter was killed,” has not yet confirmed responsibility for the death. The funeral set off from Yasser Arafat Hospital in Salfit, and headed south to Beit Rima, where thousands of Palestinians were waiting near al-Rimawi’s grandfather’s home to bid him farewell, before proceeding to the village’s mosque for prayer, and finally to the village’s cemetery. Al-Rimawi’s father Hazem al-Rimawi, who had just been released from Israeli prison three months ago after serving a 15-year sentence away from his son, was too grief-stricken to speak during the funeral. Al-Rimawi’s grandmother, Umm Hazem, who raised him after his mother and father were separated, expressed great sorrow for her grandson’s death. She said Ahmad was “a very lively kid,” and was always making jokes. The killing of al-Rimawi brought the number of Palestinians killed by Israelis since October 2015 to 244.
Two Palestinians shot, injured in Bethlehem camp clashes
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 18 Dec – Two Palestinians Sunday were shot and injured by Israeli forces’ fire during an Israeli military raid into Dheisheh Refugee Camp near the West Bank district of Bethlehem, according to security sources. Sources told WAFA forces stormed the refugee camp, spurring clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli armed soldiers; soldiers used live ammunition, tear gas canisters, and stun grenades, shooting and injuring two youths with live fire. They both were transferred to hospital for medical treatment, where their condition was described as stable. Two other youths were detained during the military incursion; Forces raided and searched the youths’ family homes before detaining them.
Silwan: One Jerusalemite injured after being shot by settlers’ guards…suffocating cases…and arrests
Silwanic 17 Dec — A Jerusalemite citizen was injured on Saturday night in the neighborhood of Batn Al-Hawa in Silwan. According to initial information available to Wadi Hilweh Information Center, the 40-year old Mousa Ali Qara‘een was shot by the settlers’ guards and was injured in his limbs; he was transferred to the hospital for treatment. Zuheir Rajabi, the head of Batn Al-Hawa committee, explained to Wadi Hilweh Information Center what happened in the neighborhood on Saturday night and said: “A group of children and young men were present in the neighborhood of Batn Al-Hawa and were starting a fire to stay warm near Batn Al-Hawa Mosque. A group of settlers’ guards passed in the area and attempted to verbally provoke the locals and one of the settlers threw a chair towards the young men and children resulting in the breakout of verbal altercations and a fight between both sides.” Rajabi added that the settlers’ guards suddenly opened fire in the neighborhood and towards the residential houses and used pepper gas which led to the injury of Ali Qara‘een with a bullet in his limbs while 7-year old Malek Munther Rajabi, Hazem Rajabi and Jadallah Rajabi suffocated due to pepper gas. Rajabi said the settlers’ guards deliberately fired bullets towards the young men and were not concerned about the children among them. The locals called the police and informed them about the shooting. -Closures- The locals of Batn Al-Hawa said that large forces of Israeli intelligence, Special Forces and police raided the neighborhood and were deployed in the streets. They closed the neighborhood and prevented locals from moving in the area and placed “red tape” in several areas. They also closed several internal streets in Silwan. -Arrests- The center was informed that the occupation forces arrested 17-year old Yazan Zuheir Rajabi, 18-year old Mohammad Jamal Gheith and 20-year old Ali Rawhi Da’na while they were in the neighborhood. They also requested Zuheir Rajabi, Jadallah Rajabi and Kayed Rajabi for interrogation.
Funerals held for slain Palestinians draw large crowds, spark clashes in Beit Ummar
[with photos] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — After Israel returned on Friday the bodies of seven Palestinians that were killed by Israeli forces in recent months, funerals held in their hometowns across the occupied West Bank drew large crowds, with clashes erupting in Beit Ummar during the Saturday morning funeral for 15-year-year old Khalid Bahr. Locals of Beit Ummar carried Khalid’s body to be buried after performing a prayer in the town’s mosque Saturday morning. Israeli forces killed the 15-year-old boy on Oct. 20 in the village, when Israeli authorities claimed a soldier shot Khalid for throwing rocks at Israeli forces. An internal Israeli army investigation later revealed that the lives of Israeli soldiers were not at risk when Khalid was killed. Following Khalid’s funeral, clashes erupted between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces at the entrance of Beit Ummar, after dozens of local youth threw rocks and empty bottles at the Israeli military post at the entrance of the town. Witnesses said that an Israeli army ambulance was at the scene transferring a soldier from the area. Locals said that Israeli military reinforcement arrived in the area afterwards, where Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas bombs at youths. The funeral was preceded by a predawn Israeli army raid in central Beit Ummar Saturday morning. Activist Muhammad Awad said that Israeli forces raided and searched the house of Moussa Hassan Zaaqiq, which has been raided several times previously…
Meanwhile, a funeral on Saturday morning was also held in the village of Bani Naim east of Hebron city, when thousands of mourners marched for Sarah Tarayra and Fares Khaddour, whose bodies were also released Friday night. [continues with descriptions of the other funerals]
Israeli forces detain Palestinian teen in Qalqiliya over alleged stabbing attempt
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Israeli forces detained a teenage Palestinian girl allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack near Qalqiliya in the northern occupied West Bank on Monday, Israeli media reported. According to Channel 10, the alleged attempted attack took place near an Israeli border police base in the area, adding that the Israeli forces fired into the air before detaining her. Witnesses identified the teenager to Ma‘an as 16-year-old Eiman Jalal, and said that she was wearing her school uniform when she was detained. An Israeli police spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.
UN warns of increase in ‘arbitrary’ detention of Palestinian activists by Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner released a statement on Friday condemning the “daily violations” of human rights and international law faced by human rights defenders in the occupied Palestinian territory. A “worrying number of complaints” have been filed by human rights activists to the UN in recent months, which have highlighted in particular the Israeli government practice of arbitrarily detaining Palestinian activists “as a direct result of their important work in their communities.” The statement, which drew from the investigations of two UN “independent experts,” highlighted the cases of Issa Amro, founder of the Hebron-based group Youth Against Settlements, and Hebron-area lawyer Farid al-Atrash, who were both arrested for participating in a peaceful protest in February. The march commemorated the 22 years since extremist American-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslim Palestinian worshipers killing 29 and injuring more than 120 in Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque in 1994 … During the protest, Israeli forces threw sound bombs and fired tear gas at the protesters. Israeli officials later presented al-Atrash to the Ofer military court with charges amounting to “participating in an illegal demonstration” and “attacking soldiers,” according to Amnesty International. Al-Atrash vehemently denied the charges, with video footage of the arrest corroborating his account, showing that he was standing and holding a poster peacefully in front of Israeli soldiers when he was pushed, dragged, and then violently arrested by a number of soldiers. Meanwhile, Israeli authorities handed Amro 18 charges, ranging from “insulting a soldier” to “assault,” and “participation in a rally without a permit,” with some of the charges dating back to 2010….
Opinion: Why is the Israeli army scared of a 14-year-old boy? / Amira Hass
Haaretz 19 Dec — What kind of training do soldiers receive if they’re so frightened by a young kid with a knife that they shoot him in the back when he tries to flee? — The first image circulating on WhatsApp and Facebook showed the face of a boy lying on a rock, his panicked look combined with some curiosity, with a bloodstain on the rock. Even before that, when the soldiers stood in front of him and he held a knife in his hand, they noticed that he was scared. The first soldier who encountered him – as the boy hid in the bushes between a vineyard and a parking lot at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba – saw him raise the knife, say “Allahu Akbar” and, facing the loaded rifle, lower the knife and burst into tears. This is A.Z. His name is known to consumers of Palestinian media, but we are not allowed to write it in full or reveal his face. He was seriously wounded on September 23, underwent surgery and was charged with attempted manslaughter. And no, the Israeli soldiers sustained no injuries. Not even a scratch … About two and a half months passed until lawyers Nery Ramati and Akram Samara managed to track down the medical information from Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem. (It took time to discover that the injured boy was registered in the hospital under a fictitious identity number, and to find out the number.) The medical file confirms the lawyers’ original assertions, based on the small wound in the boy’s back (the bullet’s entry point) and large wound in the chest (the bullet’s exit point) and also based on what the boy said: He fled toward the vineyard, and then was shot. So far, the judges have accepted the soldier and military prosecutor’s version: That the soldier shot at the boy from the front. That’s why military Judge Yitzhak Ozodin and the president of the appeals court, Col. Netanel Benishu, rejected the requests to release the boy on bail. The president of the military youth court, Menachem Lieberman, is now meditating how to rule on the second request to release him on bail – based on the contradiction between the version of the soldier who fired and the medical file…. At least 10 Israeli military judges have seen the boy: Each time, he is transferred to Ofer in a hospital bed from the Israel Prison Service infirmary in Ramle, where he was moved after Shaare Zedek. At first he remained in his bed outside the trailer that serves as a courtroom, with a too-thin blanket protecting him from the cold. The bed is big and it wasn’t until last week that the military court finally found the right screwdriver to open the closed half of the door to the trailer so they could bring the bed and injured kid inside….
Israeli forces detain 15 Palestinians, including 2 minors, in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least 15 Palestinians — including two minors — in predawn raids Monday, with the Israeli army also claiming to have uncovered “the largest weapons factory ever discovered” by the military. A statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said that Israeli forces raided the village of Beit Fajjar in southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem and detained 14-year-old Qusai Nael Taqatqa after breaking into his house. Members of Qusai’s family told Ma‘an that Israeli troops ransacked and damaged the interior of their home during the raid, before taking the boy to an unknown location, without giving an explanation for his arrest …
Meanwhile, hundreds of Israeli soldiers took part in a raid into the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, when at least two Palestinians were reportedly detained and a weapons factory was said to be uncovered. Some 15 lathes were seized, in addition to other production materials for homemade weapons, a large cache of ammunition, and more than 100 guns, in “a large underground space built beneath a house in southern Hebron,” Israeli news site Ynet said. Ynet reported that Israeli forces estimate that the majority of shooting attacks that have occurred in the occupied Palestinian territory and in Israel were conducted with weapons produced in the occupied West Bank. Two Palestinians were detained, who Ynet said were a father and son who owned the factory. The Israeli army released a video documenting the Hebron raid. However, the PPS statement identified only one Palestinian detained in Hebron — Ayman Nasser al-Salayma — and an Israeli spokesperson also told Ma‘an just one Palestinian was detained in Hebron as well. It remained unclear if al-Salayma’s detention was related to the weapon factory.
Israeli forces also detained 20-year-old Rami Bilal al-Nouri and 20-year-old Adham Ali al-Amer in Nablus in the northern West Bank, as well as Yazan Shoubash from the northernmost district of Jenin, according to PPS. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed a detention in Jenin, which she said was carried out in the village of Dahiyat Sabah al-Kheir, and also confirmed one Nablus detention that she said was made in the village of Qalil. The spokesperson also informed Ma‘an of two further detentions in the village of Balaa in the northern district of Tulkarem. Israeli forces also detained seven Palestinians from Shu‘fat refugee camp and the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem, identified by PPS as Muhmoud Shawish, Moumen Hashim, Munir Ajlouni, Ameer Qawasmi, Mohammad Sheikha, Mustafa Sheikha, and a Palestinian minor, Yaqoub Qawasmi.
Israeli forces detain 3 Palestinians for suspected arson
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — The Israeli army said on Sunday it had detained three Palestinians from the village of Iskaka in the northern occupied West Bank district of Salfit on Nov. 26 in connection with a suspected arson adjacent to the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, which came amid a string of wildfires last month across the occupied territory and Israel. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an the information — which was cleared for publication by Israeli authorities on Sunday after lifting a gag order imposed on the investigations — saying the arrests were made as part of a joint security operation. Hebrew news sources on Sunday quoted the army as saying the motive behind the fires was “nationalistic.” 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….
Closures / Restriction on movement
PA police detain 22 Palestinians at Allenby crossing, Israel turns away 33
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Palestinian Authority (PA) police arrested 22 Palestinians over the past week while attempting to travel to Jordan from the occupied West Bank via the Allenby Bridge, according to a statement released Saturday by the Palestinian police. The detainees, according to the statement, were either “wanted” by the PA or banned from traveling outside the West Bank. The statement also mentioned that some 12,800 Palestinian left the West Bank into Jordan during the same period, and approximately 13,800 arrived in the West Bank from the Jordanian side. In addition, the statement noted that special coordination was organized for 13 sick Palestinians on both sides of the crossing to pass in Palestinian ambulances. Israeli authorities also denied the passage of 33 Palestinians from the Israeli side of the crossing for alleged security purposes. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are not permitted to travel internationally via Israel’s international airport in Tel Aviv, forcing thousands of Palestinians to pass into Jordan on a daily basis in order to travel outside of the occupied territory.
Israeli army seals off 4 Palestinian villages as settler lightly injured in attack
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Israeli forces raided four Palestinian villages in the central occupied West Bank districts of Ramallah and Salfit between Sunday night and Monday at dawn, sealing all entrances and preventing residents from leaving their homes. Locals in Rantis, in the Ramallah district, told Ma‘an that Israeli troops raided the village and proceeded to go house to house. The troops also closed the eastern entrance of the village with concrete blocks and earth mounds, and set up a military checkpoint at the western entrance, preventing all commuters and vehicles from leaving the village. In Shuqba south of Rantis, Israeli troops similarly raided the village and set up military checkpoints at all entrances, preventing residents from going in or out. Locals sources confirmed that workers couldn’t go to their jobs outside of the villages, while local schools remained closed as a number of students and teachers couldn’t reach the area .On Sunday evening, Israeli forces closed all entrances to the village of Abud between Rantis and Shuqba with concrete blocks. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that they were looking into the reports. Israeli news outlet Ynet reported that an Israeli settler was lightly wounded when his vehicle was fired at near Abud on Sunday evening, hours after the village was first sealed by Israeli forces. Meanwhile, Israeli forces stormed the nearby village of al-Zawiya in the Salfit district and ransacked several houses in the town, dislocating doors and breaking windows. Al-Zawiya Mayor Naim Shqeir told Ma‘an that Israeli troops claimed the incursion was in response to youth from the village throwing Molotov cocktails at settler vehicles on the nearby Israeli Highway 5.
Israel orders demolition of slain Palestinian shooter’s home in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — The Israeli Supreme Court ordered on Monday the partial demolition of the home of Misbah Abu Sbeih, who was killed by Israeli forces in October after carrying out a deadly shooting attack in occupied East Jerusalem, despite the fact that Abu Sbeih’s widow and five children are still living in the house. Abu Sbeih’s brother, Jabir Abu Sbeih, told Ma‘an that the family had been informed by their lawyer of the court’s decision to demolish the slain Palestinian’s home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr Aqab. Jabir Abu Sbeih added that the court ordered that the interior walls of the home be demolished, adding that Abu Sbeih’s widow and five children were living in the house. Israel has dramatically increased their policy of punitive home demolitions since 2015 in an effort to ‘deter’ attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals, despite past recommendations by an Israeli military committee that the practice did not deter attacks. Israeli rights group B’Tselem has condemned the practice as “court-sanctioned revenge” carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment. Abu Sbeih, 39, killed an Israeli police officer and an Israeli woman, and injured at least five other people during a drive-by shooting attack in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Oct. 9. He was then shot and killed by Israeli police on the scene. The shooting attack came a day after Abu Sbeih told Ma‘an that he intended to turn himself in to serve a prison sentence over charges that he assaulted an Israeli police officer in 2013. Abu Sbeih had said that his decision to turn himself in came after being repeatedly harassed by Israeli police and detained five times over the span of two weeks. Following the shooting, Israeli forces detained Abu Sbeih’s daughter, sons, father and brothers for several days, raided his family’s homes and took measurements in preparation for demolition. Abu Sbeih’s body is still being held by Israeli authorities.
Prisoners / Court actions
Hunger striker moved to intensive care ahead of court decision over force feeding
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Anas Shadid was transferred to the intensive care unit of Israel’s Assaf Harofeh hospital following a severe deterioration of his health on Monday, a day before the Israeli Supreme Court is set to decide whether or not to force feed Shadid and fellow hunger striker Ahmad Abu Farah. Shadid and Abu Farah were both detained on Aug. 1 and have been on hunger strike since Sep. 24 and Sep. 23 respectively, in protest of their imprisonment without charge or trial under Israel’s widely-condemned policy of administrative detention. Head of the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe said in a statement Monday that Shadid and Abu Farah, who are both approaching their 90th day without food, suffer from various pains in their bodies and could face sudden death at any moment. In a radio interview Monday evening, Qaraqe condemned the Israeli Supreme Court after they said in a pre-hearing discussion with the Israeli general persecution Sunday that they were considering force feeding the two hunger strikers. Qaraqe told Palestinian radio station Mawtini that such a move would represent a clear intention to kill Shadid and Abu Farah, describing the suggestion to force feed the two as “shameless.” Qaraqe expressed outrage that Israel was mulling the possibility of force feeding, rather than considering the severity of the hunger strikers’ health by responding to the reasons that lead them to launch their strikes in the first place. As Abu Farah and Shadid’s case is the first that has come to the fore since the Supreme Court approved of a new Israeli law that allows the force feeding of hunger-striking prisoners, Qaraqe noted that the practice still contravenes international law and is widely regarded by both international and Israeli medical ethics as a form of torture as well as a violation of prisoners’ rights. Before the law’s eventual passage, the World Medical Association addressed the Israeli Prime Minister in 2014, saying that “Force-feeding is violent, very painful, and absolutely in opposition to the principle of individual autonomy. It is a degrading, inhumane treatment, amounting to torture. But worse, it can be dangerous and is the most unsuitable approach to save lives.”….
Longest-held Palestinian prisoner still detained despite completing sentence
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Israeli authorities have not released 59-year-old Palestinian prisoner Nael Barghouthi despite his having served the entirety of his 30-month sentence, as the Israeli military prosecutor has submitted an appeal to keep him in prison. Barghouthi has spent more than 35 years in prison, and was most recently freed in a 2011 swap deal between Israel and the Hamas movement to release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israeli — and was among the more than 50 of the 1,000 who have since been redetained. Israeli forces first detained Barghouthi in 1978 when he was 20 years old for alleged membership in an armed resistance group and redetained him in 2014, claiming that he had broken the terms of his release. According to a statement Saturday by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, although his 30-month sentence ended last week, the Israeli military prosecutor has appealed against his release and asked the court instead to reinstate the original life sentence against Barghouthi. PPS said that Barghouthi, who is from the village of Kobar in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, served 34 years in prison before he was released in the 2011 prisoners exchange, and after serving the latest 30-month sentence has become the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israeli prison.
Israel hands Palestinian girl 18-month prison sentence over alleged stab attempt
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — An Israeli military court at the Ofer detention center sentenced a teenage Palestinian girl to a year and a half in prison, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Monday. PPS lawyer Akram Samara told Ma‘an that 15-year-old Natalie Shukha, from the town of Rammun in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, was convicted of attempting to stab an Israeli soldier at a military checkpoint in the village of Beit Ur al-Tahta in April. Shukha was shot and injured by Israeli forces on the scene — reportedly with a live bullet to her back and chest — and was later taken to Israel’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem to treat moderate to serious wounds. Shukha made the news in October when a letter she wrote from prison was widely shared on the internet.
Israel is still harassing the Palestinian lawyer jailed for organizing demonstrations
MEMO 13 Dec by Asa Winstanley — For more than three years, Anas Barghouti has been compelled to attend a “court” intermittently by the Israeli military regime which illegally occupies the West Bank region of Palestine. The Israelis have also summarily imposed a travel ban on him. Barghouti is a lawyer, and he represents Palestinian prisoners in both Israeli and Palestinian Authority courts. When he is made to pitch up at the Israeli kangaroo court at Ofer military base every three months, though, he is not going there to fight for his clients; it is Barghouti himself who is the accused. Barghouti was kidnapped by Israeli occupation soldiers in September 2013, becoming an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience. The renowned human rights group says that “his arrest was based solely on his peaceful work as a human rights defender” and is currently asking its supporters to take urgent action to end his ongoing harassment by Israel. The charges brought by the illegal Israeli military court against Barghouti were transparently political: membership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (a leftist Palestinian political party) and “leadership of a committee to organise demonstrations.” He denied both charges … Due to the fact that there was precisely zero evidence for the charges against him (putting aside their entirely anti-democratic nature, even had they been true), the military “judge” running the Israeli occupation court had to order Barghouti to be released. The prosecution’s “evidence” is likely to have come from Shin Bet – Israel’s domestic spy agency, which is a notorious and habitual master of torture, kidnapping and assassination of political opponents – and its people failed to turn up in court. Ever since then, every three months, Barghouti has been called back time and time again. On every occasion, the Shin Bet and its associated thugs have failed to turn up in court. This is clearly no mere incompetence; it’s a deliberate tactic….
Israel issues 27 administrative orders against Palestinian detainees
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 18 Dec – Israeli authorities issued 27 administrative detention orders against Palestinian detainees between the seventh and 18th of this month, Sunday said the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS lawyer, Mahmoud al-Halabi, said seven detention orders, without charge or trial, were issued for the first time. The term of the administrative orders ranged between three months to six months.
IDF commander reprimanded three years after soldiers beat journalists in West Bank
Haaretz 19 Dec by Gili Cohen — His lawyer said a civil complaint seemed to be the only reason the military police had looked into the case — Israeli soldiers who attacked foreign journalists and Palestinians with clubs in 2012 were only reprimanded last year, a delay that came to light when the authorities updated an AFP photographer on the case last month after his lawyer inquired. Only last year did the army launch disciplinary proceedings against the company commander who gave the order. The battalion commander was also reprimanded. In August 2012, several soldiers were filmed beating Palestinians and foreign journalists covering demonstrations against the denial of access to agricultural land next to the West Bank village of Kafr Qadum. The footage shows soldiers calling on the journalists to stop, after which the troops advanced toward them with clubs and began beating some of them. A photographer from the AFP news agency, Jaafar Ashtiyeh, was injured. The military police then opened an investigation that remained pending. It was only in 2014, after Ashtiyeh filed a civil suit against the government for his injuries, did the military police move to complete the investigation … But the investigation was not completed, and it took another year until the military advocate general decided on the action to be sought against the commanders. In August 2015, under Military Advocate General Danny Efroni, disciplinary proceedings began. Proceedings against the company commander were based on the allegation that he ordered the use of excessive force. He was found to have exceeded his authority, was reprimanded and left the army. An IDF source said that only disciplinary proceedings were chosen in part due to an unrelated personal tragedy that the company commander suffered after the incident. The soldiers who carried out the assaults were not punished, on the grounds that they were following orders.…
Israel charges 4 Palestinians with incitement on Facebook
MEMO 19 Dec — Israeli Public Prosecution yesterday indicted four Palestinians from Jerusalem with incitement on Facebook, Quds Press reported. The Israeli general radio said that the four Palestinians are from Shu‘afat refugee camp and Sur Baher in the outskirts of occupied Jerusalem. “All of them were indicted of inciting violence and terrorism on Facebook, as well as supporting a terrorist organisation,” Israeli radio reported. Though it is not clear when the four were arrested, the Israeli Central Court in Jerusalem has previously requested the Public Prosecution extend their detention pending the completion of the judicial procedures.
Hundreds of Gazans travel through Rafah crossing on 2nd day of opening
GAZA (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Some 726 Palestinians traveled through the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip on Sunday as part of a three-day opening. Of these, 560 Palestinians crossed into Egypt from Gaza, and 166 Palestinians returned to the Gaza Strip from Sunday until Monday morning, an Egyptian security official at the crossing told Ma‘an. The Egyptian official said that a number of Palestinian travelers to Egypt spent the night inside the crossing’s waiting hall due to the security curfew imposed on the Egyptian towns of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid, and that they were able to travel to Cairo Monday morning after the end of the curfew.
Egyptian authorities also allowed 46 trucks financed by Qatar and loaded with construction materials to enter Gaza on Sunday, as part of a Qatari project to help rebuild the besieged coastal enclave, the source added.
Meanwhile, the head of the car import union in Gaza Ismail Nakhala denounced Egyptian authorities’ decision to allow Palestinian vehicles to enter Gaza from Egypt, telling Ma‘an that the procedures were unclear and that the union would meet with Gaza’s Ministry of Transportation to clarify the issue. Nakhala said that cars imported through Rafah were only subjected to a 25 percent customs fee, whereas cars imported through the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel were subjected to a 75 percent customs fee, severely affecting Palestinian car salespeople.
Israeli forces fire towards ‘Hamas post’ after shots fired from Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinians east of al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip on Monday. Local sources told Ma‘an that the shooting did not cause any injuries. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that shots were fired at Israeli forces from the southern Gaza Strip, and that the Israeli army responded by firing at a “Hamas post” in the central Gaza Strip. No injuries or damages were reported on the Israeli side. The Israeli army has previously said it holds the Hamas movement — the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip — responsible for all attacks from the territory, although other Palestinian militant groups are active in the small coastal enclave.
Gaza electricity company accuses Israel of stalling power line repairs
GAZA (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — The Gaza Strip’s electricity company accused Israel on Sunday of pushing off repairs on the “Baghdad” power line which has been damaged for four days, worsening the already dire electricity situation in the besieged Palestinian territory. Gaza’s power company called upon the Palestinian Authority to pressure Israel to respond to the Gaza Strip’s electricity needs and repair the damaged line as soon as possible. The company added that the recurrent disrepair of many Israeli electricity lines worsened the power crisis in Gaza and severely impacted the electricity distribution schedule. Even at full capacity, Egyptian and Israeli electricity grids, together with Gaza’s sole power plant, fail to cover the Gaza Strip’s energy needs and only provide energy to Gaza’s inhabitants for eight hours each day.
Soldiers abduct a Gaza merchant at the Erez terminal
IMEMC 19 Dec — Israeli soldiers abducted, Sunday, a Palestinian merchant from the besieged and improvised Gaza Strip, while trying to cross the Erez border terminal … Media sources in Gaza said the abducted merchant has been identified as Hasan Shehada, from Gaza city. It is worth mentioning that Shehada is the third Palestinian merchant to be abducted by the soldiers in the past five days. The two other merchants have been identified as Ahmad Khalil and Nofal Abu Sirryya.
In related news, Israeli navy ships fired many live rounds at Palestinian fishing boats in Gaza territorial waters, close to the shore in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region.
Gaza man with psychiatric disorder returns home after 4-year disappearance in Egypt
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Dec – A young man suffering from a psychiatric disorder returned to his family in the besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday after having been missing for four years. The family of 24-year-old Abdullah al-Jayyar told Ma‘an that he returned from Egypt via the Rafah crossing on Saturday, which opened on Saturday for the first of a three-day opening. Al-Jayyar went missing four years ago in Egypt while with his father on a medical treatment trip. The family added that they were contacted by Egyptians after al-Jayyar was found in an Egyptian mental health facility.
257 Gaza families receive payments for reconstruction and repair works
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 19 Dec — The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has disbursed $1.8 million to 257 refugee families for the reconstruction and repair works activities in the Gaza Strip, an UNRWA press release said on Monday. “Emergency shelter – including support for home repairs, reconstruction and interim shelter solutions – is a top priority for UNRWA,” stressed the release. “The Agency remains committed to supporting affected families yet requires new funding to continue the shelter cash assistance program,” it concluded. Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged during Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza.
Being Gaza’s first international student
MEMO 15 Dec by Rukiye Demir — While I was studying my bachelor’s degree in the Islamic University of Malaysia I told my Palestinian friends that I want to do my master’s in the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), they told me this is impossible. They said they were unable to enter the Strip even though they are Palestinians. I kept this childhood dream in the deepest part of my heart; it was my ambition to complete my master’s in IUG. After my bachelor’s degree I returned to Turkey and began work. A couple of years later I felt ready to continue my studies … It was then that I received a letter from a friend in Gaza, when I explained my dream of studying in Gaza the only response I received was “why not?”. So I applied. I also got in touch with a member of the faculty of IUG who had studied in Turkey and had a love for the country. My application reached the university rector and he replied: “Turks are our brothers, they were with us throughout our struggles; send her acceptance letter.” The university’s plan to have a programme for international students started with me. Before I applied for a visa to Egypt I asked the Turkish Embassy in Cairo to obtain permission for me to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. They told me that I had a 50 per cent chance of being accepted because this was the first case of its kind. I kept my faith in God and, two months later, I received a call telling me that I was permitted to travel. The permission given to me meant I could pass through the Rafah crossing when it was open, so when I applied for a visa to Egypt and heard the crossing was to be opened I rushed to make it on time. I arrived in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, and headed to Arish. The journey was difficult but once I arrived in Gaza that didn’t matter. The weather in Gaza was different to that in Egypt; by just crossing the border I sensed a change. Gaza hugs you with a warm welcome. Its people were wonderful and made me forget the terrifying journey I’d made to get there … People were surprised that I’d come from abroad to study at their university and I heard time and again: “You’ve honoured us.” Everyone made me feel at home in my new surroundings. When I enrolled in my courses lecturers were very accommodating going through the subject matter in both English and Arabic to ensure I understood. They also help me improve my Arabic language skills. I struggled at first, at home I’d learnt Quranic Arabic, here they used a more colloquial dialect which I didn’t fully comprehend at times….
Syrian refugee brings taste of Aleppo to Gaza
NUSEIRAT, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 16 Dec by Amjad Yaghi — In November, Syrian refugee Anas Amir Mohammed Agha Qatarji opened a restaurant in the market of the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. He named it Jar al-Qalaa II, in memory of Jar al-Qalaa, the restaurant he ran in Aleppo’s Old City before it was destroyed during the Syrian conflict … Qatarji told Al-Monitor about all the investors who had owned the restaurant before his family finally bought the building, which is 1,200 years old. He described the old restaurant, saying it had three sections that could seat nearly 600 customers. The ground floor entrance led to the main hall that accommodated 60 tables; it had an old water well in the middle and was decorated with multicolored lights and ancient stones and clay pots. The hall that was underground, called the cave, was decorated with ancient Arab carpets on which customers sat; they ate with copper utensils that were more than 500 years old. The third section was divided into 10 rooms, for up to 20 people each, and was reserved usually for families. It included a stage for musicians who entertained the customers every night … At the end of May 2013, he traveled to Gaza and worked at the Izmir restaurant until it was closed in the wake of the Israeli war on Gaza in July 2014 … Qatarji then decided to open a restaurant in a busy area, and he chose the market in the Nuseirat refugee camp because of its lively energy. He said, “I designed the restaurant myself to preserve the ancient Aleppan style and I hired workers for installations only. I smuggled in the materials through the tunnels on the Gazan-Egyptian border — such as ancient copper lanterns — and I displayed pictures of Jar al-Qalaa so Gazans would know what the restaurant [in Aleppo] looked like.” He bought the historic artifacts from Syria over the internet, which were smuggled from Syria into Egypt and through the tunnels into Gaza. The artifacts are put on display in the dining rooms, and include 400-year-old clay pots from the Ottoman Empire, a 150-year-old coffee dispenser, a 120-year-old copper Arab kohl container, a 111-year-old first copy of Mukhtar Asahah, an ancient Arab bowl, ancient copper cups and an 80-year-old dagger….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Settlements
Israel bans burials in parts of East Jerusalem Muslim cemetery
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Employees of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority escorted by Israeli forces raided the Palestinian Bab al-Rahma cemetery in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday and installed a sign forbidding burial in parts of the cemetery which have been claimed to become a national park. The head of the committee for the preservation of Islamic cemeteries in Jerusalem, Mustafa Abu Zahra, told Ma‘an that the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority crew installed around 10 signs in different areas in the cemetery in both Arabic and Hebrew reading “National Park around Jerusalem wall,” “open public area,” and “no burials allowed.” Abu Zahra added that the area targeted on Sunday included plots belonging to the al-Husseini and al-Ansari families in the eastern area of the cemetery, and amounted to three to four dunams (0.75 to one acre) of confiscated lands. Abu Zahra said that some graves in the al-Husseini area had been erected during the Ottoman Empire era, and that old Egyptian graves were located in the al-Ansari part of the cemetery, adding that the cemetery was Islamic property and that Israel had no right to infringe upon it … Israel has been confiscating land in the more than 1,000-year-old Muslim cemetery of Bab al-Rahma since September 2015 to make a park, although Palestinian officials have said that Israeli authorities have chipped away at Bab al-Rahma for years. Israeli authorities have also demolished graves and prevented burials in Bab al-Rahma, which runs along the eastern wall of Jerusalem’s Old City, in the past several months….
Israeli police shut down commercial shops in Jerusalem neighborhood
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 18 Dec – Large Israeli police forces Sunday forced Palestinians to shut down their commercial shops in Bab al-Hita neighbourhood, near al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. WAFA correspondent said Israeli police closed all commercial shops in the said neighbourhood and proceeded to remove all national and Islamic slogans sprayed on the walls and doors throughout the neighbourhood. They further removed all banners with pictures of Palestinians who were killed by Israel.
Israeli bulldozers demolish car dealership exhibition in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 19 Dec – Bulldozers of the Israeli West Jerusalem municipality Monday demolished a car dealership and showroom in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem citing construction without a permit as a pretext. The dealership’s owner, the Harhash family, said they did not received a prior notice of the demolition. Israel rarely issues construction permits for Palestinians in East Jerusalem forcing many to build without a permit.
Israel confiscates trailer serving as clinic for Palestinians in West Bank
Haaretz 19 Dec by Amira Hass — Israel’s Civil Administration confiscated last week a trailer that Palestinians had begun using as a clinic in Al-Markaz, a small village inside Masafer Yatta, a town which in turn finds itself within a southern West Bank military firing area called Firing Zone 918. The residents and the head of the village council fear the Civil Administration will confiscate another two trailers that also started serving as clinics in two adjacent villages, Safai and Majaz. The three are among the 12 small villages that existed prior to 1967 in the area, which Israel has designated as Firing Zone 918. It is also demanding that over 1,000 residents in eight of the villages be permanently evicted. The state forbids connecting them to the water supply or electricity grid as well as any construction, including for structures for public needs, like clinics or schools. The spokesperson’s office for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories commented, “Confiscating the mobile homes was done because they were put in place without permission from authorities in Firing Zone 918, where any presence is a danger to the public.” The medical care, under the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority, had previously been provided in tents in five of the communities. According to Palestinian Health Ministry statistics, some 400 people, among them 90 with chronic conditions, visit the tents every month – along with 120 children, who come mostly for vaccinations. At the start of the year, a larger staff began working there five days a week. With no decent access roads, the medical team arrive in a four-wheel drive vehicle. Weather conditions make it hard to treat patients in the tents; in nearby Jenbah, they stopped using the tent two months ago. Moreover, patients complained about the lack of privacy. Thus, three trailers equipped with a bathroom stall and a water tank each were brought in about 10 days ago to Al-Markaz, Safai and Majaz. The Al-Markaz trailer was confiscated three days after its arrival….
Israeli forces conduct military training in Jordan Valley
TUBAS (WAFA) 19 Dec – Israeli forces started Monday military training in al-Maleh area in the northern Jordan Valley, according to a local source. Aref Daraghmeh, who monitors settlement activities in the Jordan Valley, told WAFA that heavy army machinery were seen participating in the exercises causing significant damage to Palestinian land. To be noted, Israeli army forces conduct military training in the area almost on a weekly basis.
Amona settlers accept government deal to relocate onto private Palestinian land
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Residents of the illegal settlement outpost of Amona in the central occupied West Bank voted on Sunday to approve a relocation plan put forward by the Israeli government, after weeks of discussions trying to assuage settler anger over the mandated evacuation of the outpost. Israeli news outlet Haaretz reported that the settlers residing in Amona in the Ramallah district — an outpost considered illegal by both the Israeli government and the international community — had decided to accept an evacuation plan which would see the majority of them relocated to a nearby hilltop by Dec. 25, following a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court stating that the outpost was illegally built on privately owned Palestinian land. “After 20 years of pioneering settlement, and against all odds, and after two years of struggle, we have decided to suspend our struggle, and take the government’s offer to build 52 houses and public buildings in new Amona,” Ynet quoted the Amona settlers as saying. A week prior, several hundred ultra-religious right-wing Israelis set up camp in Amona in anticipation of the outpost’s impending evacuation, raising tensions over a potentially violent confrontation between the settlers and Israeli forces. Amona settlers had rejected previous plans that would have seen only half of them relocated nearby, whereas the current agreement will reportedly see almost all of them staying in the area. However, Israeli rights group Peace Now has noted that the plan would have the settlers relocate to land that is also privately owned by Palestinians, stating that “the Israeli government is replacing one land theft by another.” Meanwhile, Amona Rabbi Yair Frank warned that if the settlers deemed that the Israeli government was not fulfilling its part of the deal, “we will not hesitate to renew the fight,” Ynet reported, quoting the rabbi as saying that “we have no doubts that we’ll return to the whole mountain.” In a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated the Israeli government’s “goodwill and love for settlement” in finding a solution that would satisfy the Amona settlers….
Palestinian mayor says land set aside for Amona evacuees also privately owned
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Israeli authorities have notified the municipal council of the occupied West Bank town of Silwad of plans to confiscate privately owned land in the town’s outskirts, to be used to house residents of the illegal Israeli outpost of Amona, which is slated for imminent demolition. After the Israeli Supreme Court ruled for the outpost to be demolished on the grounds that it was built on privately owned Palestinians land, an eleventh hour agreement was reached Sunday between the Israeli government and Amona’s settlers to relocate the majority of them to a nearby hilltop. This will reportedly require the state to ask the court for a one-month extension of the evacuation deadline, originally set for Dec. 25, to allow for time to build the new structures. However, as Mayor of Silwad Abd al-Rahman Salih pointed out, the new land in question is also privately owned by Palestinians. He told Ma‘an on Monday that Israel plans to move the illegal outpost only one hundred meters. “Israel claims the new land slated for confiscation has been deserted by its owners who live abroad,” the mayor said. However, according to Salih, the land belongs to Palestinian citizens who currently reside in Silwad and the neighboring village of Ein Yabrud, both located just north of Amona’s current location. “Israel has forcibly seized the land, and we have all the documents to prove that the land is a private property of the town, known locally as Hawd Shbeikat. But this (Israeli) government brushes aside even the decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court.”
Batan al-Hawa neighborhood, Silwan: The next target for ‘Judaization’ of E. J’lem
[with map] B’Tselem 11 Dec — The Batan al-Hawa neighborhood, in the heart of Silwan, is the setting for the most extensive expulsion in recent years in East Jerusalem. To date, eviction claims have been filed against 81 Palestinian families that have been living in Batan al-Hawa for decades. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, this number reflects a third of all families under threat of dispossession on the basis ethnicity in the city. Ever since Israel annexed East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities have employed discriminatory policies against the city’s Palestinian residents, and have worked in different ways toward decreasing their number while increasing the number of Jewish residents, with a view to achieving demographic and geographic conditions that would obstruct any future attempts to question Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem. As part of these efforts, Israeli authorities have confiscated hundreds of hectares of land from the Palestinian population and built 12 neighborhoods designed exclusively for the Jewish population in the occupied area that was annexed to Israel. In terms of international law, the status of these neighborhoods is no different than that of the settlements elsewhere in the West Bank. In recent years, in addition to the housing shortage, poor or lacking infrastructure, services and government funding that affect all East Jerusalem residents, various government ministries and the Jerusalem Municipality have mobilized to help the settler organization Ateret Cohamin dispossess Palestinian families living in the neighborhood of Batan al-Hawa, and hand over their homes to Jewish settlers. Israel’s courts have given the seal of approval to every aspect of this process, despite its being a legal justification for organized state violence in pursuit of an unlawful end – the forcible transfer of protected persons from their homes in an occupied territory. B’Tselem has undertaken a neighborhood survey, and mapped the processes underway in Batan al-Hawa.
Settlers in Beit Yehonatan, Batan al-Hawa, block road several times a day with police backing, disrupting lives of local Palestinians
BTselem 15 Dec — The Batan al-Hawa neighborhood in East Jerusalem is densely built. As in many other parts of East Jerusalem, its streets are narrow alleys, often only two to three meters wide. Testimonies given to B’Tselem by local residents show that ever since settlers moved into the neighborhood in 2004, the original residents have found it hard to maintain a normal routine. The conduct of the settlers, private security guards, and official Israeli security personnel makes it difficult for residents to get to work and school on time, and for local businesses to receive goods and supplies. A chief site of friction in the neighborhood is the Beit Yehonatan settlement, a building on the outskirts of Batan al-Hawa which settlers entered in 2004. A shuttle service used by settlers and security guards blocks the street there several times a day, for 15 minutes to an hour at a time, while the van parks in front of the settlement to pick up and let off passengers. This is the state of affairs even though settlers have seized control of a parking lot adjacent to Beit Yehonatan, where the vehicle could wait without disrupting traffic on the street. The police, which uses Beit Yehonatan as a post, allows the street to be blocked on a daily basis, treating as inconsequential the violation of the freedom of movement of local residents. Maher Ahmad Musa ‘Abd al-Wahed, 51, a married father of six, has lived in Batan al-Hawa since 1991, and owns the neighborhood’s local grocery store. He spoke with B’Tselem field researcher Hussam ‘Abed on 4 December 2016, and recounted how the settlers’ behavior disrupts local life:
Israelis begin building road to illegal outpost on Palestinian village’s land
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Israeli bulldozers started building a road on Palestinian land leading to an illegal settlement outpost in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Sunday morning, a Palestinian official told Ma‘an. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, said that Israelis began working on a road servicing the outpost of Shvut Rachel, encroaching on Palestinian lands south of the Palestinian village of Jalud. Daghlas added that the road would lead to the seizure of dozens of dunams of agricultural land in Jalud, and contribute to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. A spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma‘an that “the work in question was not legal and did not have the approval of the required authorities and therefore was stopped.”
Israel takes over Palestinian homes to secure settlers’ celebration
MEMO 19 Dec — Israeli occupation forces took over Palestinian homes in Hebron last month in order to “secure” a mass Sabbath dinner held by Jewish settlers in the city. According to Israeli NGO B’Tselem, on 24 November, Israeli soldiers invaded a family home next to Hebron’s Old City, and occupied the roof – “on condition that the family leave the door of the house open to enable the soldiers to use the bathroom.” The next day, another family home was invaded, and the soldiers “took over parts of the house”, including a teenager’s bedroom. Over 12 hours, the soldiers slept in the child’s bed, “ate in the kitchen, and used the bathroom and even the family’s towels.” The teen told B’Tselem researchers: “It was very obvious that the soldiers had slept in my bed. The thought of them sleeping in my bed and in my room really bothers me.” The NGO said the Israeli army’s conduct “illustrates its view of Palestinian homes as no-man’s land that can be entered and used as Israeli security forces see fit at any time, with no regard to the rights and routine of the people living in those homes.” The blatant violation of these families’ rights was not a response to any wrongdoing on their part – they simply had the misfortune of living near areas taken over by settlers with the state’s support. This unacceptable conduct is but another illustration of what daily life is like in central Hebron, where occupation authorities subjugate the lives of Palestinians to the whims of settlers. The army acknowledges that “the homes were commandeered as part of efforts to secure the area near the Tomb of the Patriarchs during the weekend of the reading of the reading of the Chayei Sarah [Life of Sarah] Torah portion.” B’Tselem notes how “settler-affiliated websites reported that the festivities were attended by some 30,000 people, including Israeli MKs and ministers, and was celebrated under the slogan ‘Sovereignty over the Land of Israel Now’.”
UN appeals for $547 million in aid for Palestinians
AFP 19 Dec — The United Nations launched an appeal Monday for $547 million (€524 million) to help 1.6 million people in the Palestinian territories in 2017. The response covers 1.1 million residents of the Gaza Strip, which has been under an Israeli blockade for the past decade, and half a million people in the occupied West Bank … “Needs in Gaza remain particularly acute and humanitarian services provided by the international community remain a lifeline,” said Robert Piper, UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, in a letter accompanying the launch. The appeal was down from $571 million the year before, of which about 47 percent, or $267 million, was met.
Photos: Jews, Arabs march on settler highway to protest the occupation
Activestills 17 Dec Photos and text: Keren Manor — Around 400 Palestinians and Israelis marched on an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank on Friday, protesting the occupation and marking a year of joint monthly demonstrations. The march proceeded along Route 60, the main north-south highway in the southern West Bank, which connects Jerusalem, Beit Jala, the Gush Etzion settlements and Hebron. The demonstrators were escorted by Israeli soldiers and police for the entire march, which took place in full view of the Israeli settlers and Palestinians driving past. Israeli and Palestinian activists from Combatants for Peace gave speeches at the end of the march, as did Joint List MK Ahmed Tibi. He told the marchers: “You are the response to hatred, colonialism, repression, exclusion and aggression,” and said they were a message of “peace and hope and a different future for our sons and daughters.” … After the speeches, a group of young Palestinian rappers from Qalqiliya performed. They were followed by Palestinian rap artist Tamer Nafar, who was joined by Israeli spoken word artist Yossi Tzabari for the song “Ana Mish Politi” (“I Am Not Political” in Arabic).
MKs aim to oust Ghattas for allegedly aiding terrorists
Ynet 19 Dec by Moran Azulav — MKs were asked to sign a petition requesting the removal from Knesset, under the Suspension Law that was passed last summer, of MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List), who is suspected of smuggling 12 cellular phones to convicted terrorists serving out their prison sentences. The petition was helmed by Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Minister of Environmental Protection Ze’ev Elkin (Likud). “The criminal process will take a very long time,” said Elkin, referring to the upcoming investigation. “There is no reason that he (Ghattas – ed) should continue to serve in the Knesset all this time, receive a paycheck from the public and take advantage of his immunity and status to support terrorism. Let’s put an end to this.”For the Suspension Law to be invoked, 70 MKs must sign the request, and 90 are needed to actually have them removed. “I call on my friends, the MKs, to end this phenomenon of having sitting MKs openly assist and support terrorism,” added Elkin. The Prison Services were tipped off about Ghattas’ alleged smuggling and were prepared for him when he came to visit convicted terrorists Walid Daka—one of the terrorists responsible for the kidnapping and murder of IDF soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984—and Basel Bazra. He was stopped on his way out, and the prisoners were searched, upon which it was discovered that they were in possession of 12 cellular phones and several small letters, which may contain secret information from the outside. Ghattas is suspected of supplying them all of these items, by taking exploiting MKs’ right not to be searched when visiting prisoners … In addition to removing Ghattas from the Knesset and stripping him of his immunity as MK, some MKs and even ministers such as Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman have called for the removal of Ghattas’ citizenship.
Legendary Chilean soccer club enjoys West Bank homecoming
HEBRON, West Bank (AP) 19 Dec by Isma‘il Kushkush — For over a week, Palestinian soccer fans have been enjoying a special Christmas-season present: the first visit by Chilean soccer club Deportivo Palestino to the West Bank. Two-time winners of Chile’s Premier Division and quarter finalists in this year’s Copa Sudamerica, Palestino was founded in 1920 in the capital city Santiago by Palestinian immigrants. The team has a huge following among Palestinians and President Mahmoud Abbas once described the club as a “second national team for the Palestinian people.” “The main purpose of this visit is to reconnect the team to our origins in Palestine,” said team general manager Christian Elben Nazal, whose father immigrated to Chile from the town of Beit Jala. Chile is believed to be the home of the largest Palestinian community outside the Arab world, most from the historically Christian towns of Beit Jala, Bethlehem and Beit Sahur. The team’s red, white, black and green jersey represents the colors of the Palestinian flag and the community’s attachment to their ancestral land. During the week-long visit, Palestino has visited historical sites and played two matches, one with the Palestinian national team, and another with an all-star team from the Hebron area. It also conducted training sessions with children and young players … “I don’t care who wins,” said Osama Montasir, 54, a local fan. “We are witnessing an athletic carnival between Palestinians of the motherland and the diaspora.” Palestinian sports officials are hoping the visit will push the game of soccer forward here….
Tunisia says Hamas drone expert killed by ‘foreigners’
TUNIS (AFP) 19 Dec — The Tunisian government on Sunday said that foreigners were behind the murder of a Tunisian engineer, after the Palestinian resistance group Hamas said Israel was behind his death. “The investigations concerning the assassination of Tunisian citizen Mohamed Zaouari and the latest findings have proven that foreign elements were involved,” the government said on its Facebook page. It did not give further details, but said it was “determined to protect all Tunisian citizens and to pursue those guilty of carrying out assassination inside and outside” the country. Zaouari, a 49-year-old engineer, was murdered at the wheel of his car outside his house in Tunisia’s second city, Sfax, on Thursday. He was buried on Saturday. Al-Qassam Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip, said on Saturday Zaouari was a drone expert and was killed by “Zionist treachery”, referring to Israel. It said Zaouari had worked for the “resistance” for 10 years. Israel has made no comment about the Hamas accusation. The Tunisian deputy prosecutor general, Mourad Turki, has said that eight suspects have been arrested in connection with Zaouari’s death and that all of them are Tunisian citizens.
Tunisia assassination: Yossi Cohen’s baptism of fire
Ynet 19 Dec by Ronen Bergman — …If the Mossad is indeed behind the assassination of Hamas aviation engineer Mohammad al-Zawahri in Tunisia, as reported by the foreign press, this is the first assassination attributed to the Israeli intelligence organization under Cohen’s leadership (or perhaps the second: Omar Zayed of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine died under mysterious circumstances in Bulgaria). The al-Zawahri hit is only the tip of an intelligence effort that likely involved dozens of intelligence and operations specialists from the Mossad, the Shin Bet (the Israel Security Agency) and the Military Intelligence Directorate. They identified him years ago as a player in the efforts to develop advanced arms for Hamas and Hezbollah, as soon as he left Tunisia for Damascus. He was in close contact with Hassan Lakkis, the head of Hezbollah’s R&D weapons unit (who was assassinated, according to foreign media, by the Mossad under Tamir Pardo’s leadership in 2013). Al-Zawahri “carried” his ties to Hamas when he returned to Tunisia and was a key player in the drone unit that the organization has been trying to establish—with the hopes that it will also include suicide aircraft, like the “Ababil” which was supplied to Hezbollah by Iran. In the small and crowded Gaza Strip, which is under Israel’s watchful eye, establishing such a unit is impossible, but in Tunisia the organization found both the required flight areas and the man with the technical knowhow. His ties to Hamas in Gaza and Damascus and to Hezbollah put him in the crosshairs of Israeli intelligence officials, who gradually saw him as an increasingly dangerous element and decided to target him….
Swedish FM warmly received, decorated in Ramallah
Ynet 17 Dec — Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström was warmly received on Friday evening in Ramallah, where she met with the Palestinian leadership, according to the Swedish tabloid Expressen. The foreign minister, who was snubbed by Israel in her visit to the region due to her previous strong condemnations of the Jewish state, met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malik, who both thanked her for her country’s support of the Palestinians. Wallström is a vocal critic of Israel and has made several controversial statements in the past. Her government also holds one-sided pro-Palestinian positions. The Palestinian president decorated Wallström with the Grand Star of the Order of Jerusalem. Wallström said in a press conference, “Sweden’s policy was aimed at creating a future in which Israel and Palestine can live side by side. It is deeply worrying that Palestinians are beginning to lose hope in the future after 50 years of occupation,” as quoted by Expressen. Despite her support for the Palestinians, the minister told her hosts that they must fight against corruption in their ranks and against human rights violations. This message, according to Expressen, came on the background of criticism in Sweden regarding the conduct of the Palestinians, who are the largest recipients of Swedish aid per person.
Palestinian embassy in Prague honors oldest Czech supporter
PRAGUE (WAFA) 19 Dec – Palestine’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, Khalid Atrash, honored on Monday the oldest Czech supporter of the Palestinian people, Doris Gross Novikova, 90, a survivor of the Nazi Terezin concentration camp. During the honoring ceremony, which took place at the premises of Palestine’s embassy in Prague during lighting a Christmas tree, ambassador Atrash praised Novikova’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and their just struggle toward independence and ending the Israeli occupation of their land. He also underscored the Palestinian leadership’s determination to further boost relations at all levels withttp://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/12/critics-warn-adopt-pro-settler-agenda-161219072911514.htmlh the Czech Republic. Novikova, meanwhile, said her longstanding position against the Israeli occupation of Palestine is in parallel with her rejection of the Nazi occupation of her country, which caused her personal suffering, as well as her rejection of all occupations anywhere on earth.
Trump gave $10,000 for West Bank settlement, tax form shows
JERUSALEM (AP) 18 Dec — U.S. President-elect Donald Trump donated $10,000 for a Jewish settlement in the West Bank in 2003. According to a tax filing, the Donald J. Trump Foundation made the donation to a U.S. nonprofit group that raises funds for the Beit El settlement’s seminary, a news organization affiliated with the settler movement and other activities in the settlement. Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel, lawyer David Friedman, is the nonprofit’s president. Beit El founder Yaakov Katz revealed Trump’s donation to Israeli settler radio Sunday. The U.S. considers West Bank settlements obstacles to peace. The Palestinians seek the territory, captured by Israel in 1967, for a state. But an adviser to Trump has said Trump does not see settlements as an impediment to peace.
Critics warn US could adopt ‘pro-settler agenda’
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 19 Dec by Jonathan Cook – Nomination of David Friedman as next US ambassador to Israel has further damaged prospects for Palestinian statehood. — Donald Trump’s nomination of David Friedman as the United States ambassador to Israel provoked widespread consternation over the weekend, amid heightened speculation that the president-elect’s selection would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In a statement accepting the nomination, 57-year-old Friedman welcomed the chance to work “from the US Embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem”. That would signal US recognition of Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, long viewed as the only feasible capital of a future Palestinian state. But Friedman’s appointment – if confirmed by the Senate – would mean more than a change of address for the US embassy and a further deterioration in the prospects for Palestinian statehood. “It ends any illusion of there being a diplomatic process,” Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization, told Al Jazeera. “The next US administration isn’t just going to have a pro-Israel agenda like its predecessors. It’s going to have a pro-settler agenda.” That, say analysts, could mark a seismic shift in the “special relationship” between the US and Israel. The likely shockwaves could disrupt business as usual in Washington, Europe and Israel itself – and an early casualty might be the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas….