JERUSALEM (Reuters) 24 Jan by Ori Lewis — Israel announced plans on Tuesday for 2,500 more settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, the second such declaration since U.S. President Donald Trump took office signaling he could be more accommodating toward such projects than his predecessor. A statement from the Israeli Defence Ministry, which administers lands Israel captured in a 1967 war, said the decision was meant to fulfil demand for new housing “to maintain regular daily life”. A statement from the Israeli Defence Ministry, which administers lands Israel captured in a 1967 war, said the decision was meant to fulfil demand for new housing “to maintain regular daily life”. Most of the construction, it said, would be in existing settlement blocs that Israel intends to keep under any future peace agreement with the Palestinians. However, a breakdown provided by the prime minister’s office showed large portions of the planned homes would be outside existing blocs….
Interactive: Mapping the latest Israeli settlement expansion
MEMO 26 Jan — This week, Israeli authorities have announced the advancement of significant numbers of settlement housing units in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT). This includes 566 housing units in occupied East Jerusalem (announced 22 January), and more than 2,500 housing units in the occupied West Bank (announced 24 January). The following map indicates the locations of the settlements in question, and the number of housing units which will be built in each respectively (there is also a full list below). Israeli organisation Peace Now has explained on their website (the source for the numbers featured here) how the housing units being advanced are at different stages of the planning process. In total, the number of units is actually more than has been reported in the media – 2,679 settlement housing units in the West Bank, in addition to the 566 in East Jerusalem settlements.
Trump White House silent on new Israeli settlement units
WASHINGTON (AP) 24 Jan by Matthew Lee — The Trump administration is declining to take a position on Israel’s latest plan to expand Jewish settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians, breaking with past White House criticism but leaving its own policy unclear. White House spokesman Sean Spicer dodged a question Tuesday on whether the administration supports the Israeli government’s decision to proceed with the construction of 2,500 housing units in the West Bank. Spicer says the administration is still forming its foreign policy team and that President Donald Trump will discuss settlements and other matters when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits next month. Trump has pledged to improve U.S. relations with Israel, which were often strained over the settlement issue during the Obama administration. Spicer says Trump remains committed to that goal.
Green light for 153 East Jerusalem settler homes
Al Jazeera 26 Jan — Authorities also plan to provide permits for 11,000 settler homes in East Jerusalem amid surge in settlement action — Israeli authorities have given the final approval to the building of 153 settler homes in the occupied East Jerusalem and plan to provide permits for thousands more in the upcoming months, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor has said. The Israeli government has boosted plans for settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, which are illegal under international law, since US President Donald Trump, whose administration does not oppose the settlement activity, took office last week. Thursday’s approvals were for the settlement neighbourhood of Gilo. Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman told the AFP news agency that the approvals by a city planning committee were among those held up due to pressure from former US President Barack Obama’s administration. Turgeman also spoke of plans for about 11,000 homes in process for East Jerusalem. “I’m going to deliver permits for thousands of homes in Jerusalem in the coming months,” Turgeman said.
Israeli forces deliver demolition notices in the Negev
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israeli authorities escorted by Israeli police delivered demolition orders in a number of Palestinian villages in the Negev in southern Israel. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces delivered demolition notices in the villages of Khashim Zina, al-Zarnuq, and Umm Batin, as well as the al-Riwehi and Ghoural areas. The Negev region has been a focus of protests since devastating demolition campaigns were carried out against the homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel this month in the central Israeli town of Qalansawe and in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, where a deadly police raid left a local Bedouin teacher and Israeli police officer dead. In the wake of the demolitions, Bethlehem-based NGO BADIL argued in a report that the “oppressive measures” were part of the same Israeli policy of forcible displacement carried out against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israeli forces uproot 500 olive trees northwest of Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israeli bulldozers escorted by Israeli forces uprooted 500 olive trees in an area west of the village of Kharas in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Thursday, locals said. The mayor of Kharas, Abed al-Fattah, told Ma‘an that three Israeli bulldozers escorted by Israeli forces uprooted the olive trees, all more than 14 years old, planted on 25 dunams (six acres) of land. He added that Israeli forces uprooted the trees without prior notice, and that Palestinian owners of the land were embroiled in court disputes as Israeli authorities have attempted to issue confiscation orders for the land. One of the owners of the land, Faisal Moussa al-Hroub, told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities were attempting to expel them from their lands, but they “will never leave.” He said that the olive trees uprooted by Israeli forces were owned by him and his brother Muhammad, and that the land was the only major income for them and scores of his relatives.
High Court OKs demolitions of Palestinian houses in Israeli Army firing zone
Haaretz 26 Jan by Amira Hass — The High Court of Justice has decided to allow the Civil Administration to demolish structures adjacent to an illegally built structure in villages inside Israel Defense Forces Firing Zone 918 in the West Bank. The High Court will also allow Civil Administration inspectors to determine what comes under the category of “adjacent” in this regard. Residents of these villages and their attorney, Shlomo Lecker, worry that some inspectors – whom they believe are also settlers – will take advantage of the situation to authorize the immediate and extensive demolition of residential and public structures….
Israeli soldiers demolish barns and sheds in Jericho
IMEMC 25 Jan — Israeli soldiers demolished, Wednesday, several sheds and barns in the Qrontol Mountain [Mount of Temptation] area, in the Jericho district, in the occupied West Bank, under the allegation of being built without permits. The International Red Cross in Jericho said the soldiers demolished barns and sheds owned by two Palestinian shepherds, identified as Yousef Salem Ekteifat and his brother Mohammad. The demolitions were carried out after several Israeli army vehicles, and bulldozers invaded the Qrontol mountain area, after surrounding it. Sabah Abu Rashed, an official at the Jericho Governate office, said the soldiers repeatedly target Palestinian shepherds, farmers and Bedouins, in an attempt to force them out of their lands, to replace them with illegal colonies and military bases.
Soldiers demolish several buildings and walls in Jerusalem
IMEMC 25 Jan — Israeli soldiers demolished, Wednesday, a storage room, a parking structure, and walls surrounding it in the al-Abbasiyya neighborhood, and a warehouse for construction materials in Wad Qaddoum, in Silwan town in occupied East Jerusalem. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) has reported that a large military force, accompanied by bulldozers, invaded al-Abbasiyya after surrounding it, and demolished a parking structure, a warehouse and walls extending 30 meters. The demolished properties’ owner Malek al-Abbassi said the family was surprised by the invasion and demolitions of the property that was built even before Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. “The demolition was made without prior notice; several days ago, our lawyer said the court has ruled for an extension of its demolition order,” Malek said, “But the City Council initiated the demolition anyway before all legal work was concluded.” He also said that, a few days ago, the soldiers invaded the property and its surrounding area, and photographed the parking structure, the warehouse and the walls. Furthermore, the soldiers invaded Wad Qaddoum neighborhood, in Silwan, and demolished a warehouse used for selling construction materials, reportedly for being built without a permit.
Israeli forces deliver demolition notice for Palestinian-owned structure in Hizma
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — Israeli forces Tuesday delivered a demolition notice for an agricultural structure in the village of Hizma in the West Bank’s Jerusalem district. The demolition notice was delivered just days following the demolition of structures used for selling crops and stores in the area after Israeli authorities accused Palestinian owners of lacking Israeli-issued permits … At the start of this month, Israeli forces shot a young Palestinian man in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet during clashes in the village. Locals told Ma‘an at the time that clashes broke out after Israeli troops stormed the village, with local youth hurling stones at the Israeli soldiers, who fired rubber-coated steel bullets and “showered the village’s alleys” with tear gas. Hizma’s main entrance has remained closed with large cement blocks by the Israeli army as they continue to search for alleged stone throwers in the village.
Israeli settlers take over storage unit in contested East Jerusalem home
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israeli settlers took over a storage unit formerly belonging to the Sub Laban family on the ground floor of their apartment building in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday. Ahmad Sub Laban told Ma‘an that an Israeli family living below them drilled through the wall into the Sub Laban storage space, seemingly with the intention of expanding their apartment unit. The settlers were given ownership of the storage unit following a controversial Israeli Supreme Court ruling in December which concluded a decades-long legal battle between the family and Israeli settlers. The ruling allowed Sub Laban’s parents, Noura and Mustafa Sub Laban, to reside in the apartment for 10 more years, but ordered the eviction of Ahmad, his wife, two children, and siblings. Sub Laban told Ma‘an that while the settlers were given the storage unit by the Israeli Supreme Court, they had not undergone the proper legal channels to take over the property, and instead drilled through the wall and changed the locks of the unit from the inside, preventing the family from entering the space. The Israeli police were called to the scene, but did not force the settlers out of the unit and told the family that the space no longer belonged to them. According to Sub Laban, the settlers were prevented by the police from continuing with the wall demolition, as they had not obtained proper construction permits. The Sub Laban family are the last Palestinian family left in their apartment building in the Aqbat al-Khaldiya area of the Old City, where at least eight other Palestinian families are facing eviction spearheaded by Israeli settler organizations….
Druze join protests against Israeli home demolitions
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — Druze villages in Israel launched a one-day general strike on Tuesday in protest of Israel’s policy of home demolitions, joining protest efforts by other Palestinian citizens of Israel in recent days. State-run Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that that marches were planned for Tuesday afternoon in the northern Israel region of Galilee, under the slogans “No to the policy of demolitions,” “No to the policy of humiliation,” and “No to the policy of discrimination.” After devastating demolition campaigns were carried out against Palestinian citizens this month in the central Israeli town of Qalansawe and in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev, widespread protests have been underway.
Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Monday that demolition orders have been issued against homes in Druze villages as well. According to Haaretz, Druze activists who support the Arab Joint List coalition, which represents Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Knesset, also took part in a protest that drew thousands in the town of ‘Ar‘ara on Saturday.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel
Israeli army kills a young Palestinian man near Ramallah
IMEMC 26 Jan — Israeli soldiers killed, on Wednesday evening, a young Palestinian man at a bus station close to an illegal colony, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, after he reportedly tried to ram soldiers with his car. The army is claiming that the Palestinian, Hussein Salem Abu Ghosh, 24, drove his car off the road and crashed into the bus station, near “Adam” settlement, where many soldiers and settlers were waiting, and alleged that he “carried a knife, but did not leave the car.” The army added that the incident did not lead to any casualties among the soldiers or the settlers. Abu Ghosh, from Qalandia refugee camp, was shot multiple times and bled to death after the soldiers prevented Palestinian medics from approaching him; the army placed his corpse in a black bag, and loaded it in their jeep, before driving to Jerusalem. The army stated it is investigating the incident as a suspected deliberate attack carried out by Abu Ghosh. The soldiers installed many roadblocks, and searched dozens of cars, especially in Hizma, Jaba’, Atarot and roads leading to Qalandia refugee camp, north of occupied Jerusalem. It is worth mentioning that Hussein is the cousin of Hussein Mohammad Abu Ghosh, 17, who was killed a year ago on January 26, 2016, after he and Ibrahim Osama Allan, 23, stabbed a settler, identified as Shlomit Krigman, 24, who later died from her wounds at the Hadassah Israeli medical center, in Jerusalem. Another Israeli woman was seriously injured in the same incident.
Funeral begins for slain Bedouin teacher in Umm al-Hiran
[many photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — The funeral of Yaqoub Abu al-Qi‘an, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and local math teacher from the unrecognized Bedouin community of Umm al-Hiran, began early on Tuesday afternoon, after the Israeli Supreme Court ordered that Israeli police return his body to his family a day earlier. Abu al-Qi‘an was shot and killed by Israeli police last week under widely contested circumstances during the violent demolition raid in Umm al-Hiran that left more than a dozen Palestinian structures razed to the ground. While numerous eyewitnesses have insisted Abu al-Qi‘an was posing no threat to anyone when Israeli police opened fire at his vehicle, causing him to lose control of the car and ram into officers, Israeli authorities have claimed the local math teacher was carrying out a deliberate terrorist attack in the incident that left one policeman killed. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Tuesday that police units had completed preparations for the funeral and would be present throughout the procession “to prevent any incidents from occurring.” However, witnesses said that Israeli police set up checkpoints around midday on the roads leading to the Negev town of Hura, where Abu al-Qi‘an is supposed to be buried, preventing a number of mourners from joining the funeral … Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri had confirmed on Monday that Abu al-Qi‘an’s body was released on the condition that the funeral take place during the day and last no longer than two hours. According to Israeli Channel 2, the Supreme Court did not however impose restrictions on the number of mourners, and allowed the funeral to begin in decimated Umm al-Hiran, as requested by Abu al-Qi‘an’s family.
When the High Court has to intervene so a Palestinian family can mourn
+972mag 24 Jan by Orly Noy — After Israeli police shot and killed Yaqub Musa Abu al-Qi‘an before demolishing his home, the state held onto his body for nearly a week. Only an appeal to the High Court allowed his family to bury their loved one — The only way to describe what took place on Monday in Israel’s High Court, during a hearing on a petition by the Abu al-Qi‘an family demanding the police release the body of Yaqub Musa Abu al-Qi‘an, is as a nerve-racking drama. For three hours, those present in the courthouse — police officials on one side, and members of the Abu al-Qi‘an family and Arab leaders on the other, including half of the Joint List Knesset members — listened to the arguments put forth by both sides and tried to glean which direction the wind was blowing … The police refused to release his body after the killing, holding on to it as a bargaining chip ֿto force the family to accept three conditions for the funeral: it would be held in the Bedouin township of Hura, rather than in Umm el-Hiran; the number of participants would be capped at 50 (Arab politicians and public figures would not be allowed); and it would have to be held late at night. The Abu al-Qi‘an family, represented by Attorney Hassan Jabareen from Adalah — The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, were demanding that police immediately release the body and allow a proper burial in accordance with their religion and traditions.
Israeli parliament rejects demand for inquiry into Umm al-Hiran killing
MEMO 26 Jan — The Israeli Knesset rejected two requests on Wednesday calling for an inquiry into the incidents in the Bedouin village of Umm Al-Hiran, including the killing of a 47-year-old teacher, Safa news agency has reported. The requests were submitted by Taleb Abu-Arar MK, of the Joint List, and Tamar Zandberg MK of Meretz. The Knesset rejected the inquiry demands, with 42 MKs voting against, 22 in favour and three abstentions, said the Times of Israel. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told the Knesset that while there are unanswered questions over the incidents, he remains certain that what Yakub Abul-Qi‘an did was a “terror attack”. The Arab-Israeli citizen was shot and killed by Israeli police and six others were wounded, including an Arab MK, in the incidents last week. Despite claims by the police that Abul-Qi‘an drove his vehicle at a police officer and killed him before police opened fire on the car, a video on social media suggests that the 47 year-old was shot first, then lost control of the vehicle, hitting the officer in the process.
Joint List MK calls for autopsy of Israeli officer killed in Umm al-Hiran raid
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Palestinian member of the Knesset Talab Abu Arar raised doubts on Wednesday about Israeli police’s version of events regarding the death of an officer during a demolition raid earlier this month, implying that the officer may have been killed by friendly fire instead of a vehicular attack. Israeli police officer Erez Levi was killed last week under widely contested circumstances during a violent demolition raid in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev that left more than a dozen Palestinian structures razed to the ground. While Israeli authorities have claimed that Umm al-Hiran resident Yaqoub Abu al-Qi‘an was shot and killed while carrying out a deliberate vehicular attack which killed Levi, numerous eyewitnesses have insisted that the Bedouin math teacher was posing no threat to anyone when Israeli police opened fire at his vehicle, causing him to lose control of the car and ram into officers. Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday that a senior police spokesman declined to say whether an officer wounded during the incident was run over by Abu al-Qi‘an’s vehicle or shot by other policemen, raising new questions about the police account of the raid. Eyewitnesses from Abu al-Qi‘an’s family told Ma‘an that Israeli police officers were shooting “heavily” in all directions, and that they believed Levi could have been struck by Israeli bullets….
Opinion: Israel’s judges paved the way for what happened in Bedouin village / Amira Hass
Haaretz 25 Jan — The life of the Palestinian is cheap in our eyes, because our eyes are coveting his land. For his land’s real-estate value to rise in our hands, his life must be made miserable, and then his death too — There are judges in Israel and they, too, paved the way for what happened in Umm al-Hiran. The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, which represented the candidates for expulsion, gave the judges professional, democratic and humane opportunities to avoid what occurred, but they didn’t take them. In 2009, Judge Gad Gideon of the Be’er Sheva Magistrates’ Court accepted the state’s position that some residents of Umm al-Hiran must be evicted from the two lots where they resided. The permission they had been given to live there, he ruled in response to Adalah’s petition, was subject to revocation. The judge disregarded the fact that the Bedouin had not been given permission to settle there for free, but rather in exchange for their eviction from their lands, which they had held and settled on prior to the state’s founding …Justices Elyakim Rubinstein and Neal Hendel of the Supreme Court rejected Adalah’s appeal of the District Court’s ruling. Rubinstein wrote, “There is nothing to prevent the Bedouin from living in the planned community (which by definition is of a general, not Bedouin, character).” The Bedouin families could simply ask to join the community as a minority community, he remarked, as if Bedouin-Jewish mixed communities were the norm in Israel...
Israel to return body of slain Palestinian father of five
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israeli authorities decided on Thursday that they will return the body of Nidal Daoud Mahdawi, 44, to his family in Tulkarem in the northern occupied West Bank after it was held by the Israeli government for 10 days. Nasr Mufleh, head of the Palestinian Civil Affairs office in Tulkarem, told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities informed the Palestinian liaison that the body of Mahdawi, who was shot and killed on January 17 after he allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack at a Tulkarem-area checkpoint, would be returned on Friday afternoon at the Jubara checkpoint. Mufleh added that the Palestinian side would be receiving Mahdawi’s body and transferring it to the Thabet Governmental Hospital in Tulkarem before taking it to his family home in the Shweikeh neighborhood of Tulkarem city. Mahdawi was a holder of Israeli residency, married and a father of five. He was the fifth of seven Palestinians to have been confirmed killed by Israeli forces in 2017. Four Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in the first two weeks of the year.
Clashes erupt as Israeli forces raid Ramallah-area village twice in one day
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israeli forces Thursday evening raided the ‘Abud village northwest of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank after shots were fired at an Israeli settler vehicle near the illegal Israeli Beit Aryeh settlement. Clashes erupted between local youths and Israeli soldiers who opened live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas bombs at youths and houses, while youths threw rocks and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers.
The incident was the second time in less than 24 hours that shots were fired at Israeli soldiers and settlers in the same area. On Wednesday, 26 year-old ‘Abud resident Omar Nathir Ibrahim al-Barghouthi was shot and injured while driving near ‘Abud after Israeli forces fired shots at his vehicle, which an army spokesperson claimed was in response to shots being fired from al-Barghouthi’s car towards Israeli forces. Local sources told Ma‘an that al-Barghouthi had been taken to a hospital in Jerusalem by Israeli forces to receive medical care. Shortly after the incident, Israeli forces raided the village of ‘Abud at dawn on Thursday, sparking clashes during which Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas. An Israeli army spokesperson also confirmed to Ma‘an that Israeli troops raided ‘Abud overnight and “entered and searched” al-Barghouthi’s home. An iron gate was set up at the entrance of the village early Thursday morning, with soldiers stopping and searching vehicles and passengers.
PPS: Palestinian wounded by Israeli forces on Wednesday in stable condition
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Wounded Palestinian prisoner Omar Nathir Ibrahim al-Barghouthi, who is currently being held at the Tel HaShomer Hospital in Israel, was reported to be in stable condition despite his critical injuries, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement on Thursday. Al-Barghouthi, 26, from the village of ‘Abud in the central occupied West Bank Ramallah district was shot and injured while driving near ‘Abud after Israeli forces fired shots at his vehicle, which an army spokesperson claimed was in response to shots being fired from al-Barghouthi’s car towards Israeli forces. A PPS lawyer said that al-Barghouthi was suffering from severe injuries across his body, including his right foot, right arm, chest, stomach, and head. It remained unclear if the injuries were gunshot wounds. According to PPS, al-Barghouthi underwent several surgeries from Wednesday evening to Thursday morning.
Suspected IDF murderer of Palestinian boy identified
Tikun Olam 25 Jan by Richard Silverstein — MEMO uploaded a YouTube video of the IDF shooting of a Palestinian teenager, Qusai al-Amour in the West Bank last week. The video was shot by Palestinians and begins showing his lifeless body just after being shot. The remainder of the video shows soldiers dragging him with his body and head bumping along the ground as they haul him to a military vehicle. The remainder of it shows army personnel wasting precious minutes fumbling with things which may be bandages. Finally, they remove a stretcher and load the body into the vehicle. Just before the conclusion, soldiers are seen firing shotguns and possibly rubber bullets at an elderly woman as she tried to approach the jeep. She is hit in the leg, wounded and limps away quickly as the firing continues.
An anthropology professor whose field of study is inter-ethnic conflict (and the various weaponry and modes of violence employed) in the Third World, wrote to me that he believed he’d identified the actual IDF killer, the sniper who fired the fatal shot. He noted that there were several types of weapons used on the scene. But the relevant one was a Ruger S-22 sniper rifle. The IDF is the first national army to adapt this weapon to military use. After judging the distances from the “target” and viewing the various armed personnel shown in the video, he believes that the soldier shown brandishing a Ruger at 00:53 is the killer. An odd behavior he exhibits is that while all the other soldiers are moving with the boy’s body toward the road, he is the only one backing away, facing the opposite direction as he scans the terrain intently in the opposite direction, the one he faced when he fired the fatal shot. One caveat: we don’t see the moment the boy is shot nor the actual shooter firing the fatal bullet. So this is an informed judgement by a highly skilled professional and should be treated as such.
Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinians from Qalqiliya-area village in wake of alleged shooting
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israeli forces detained two Palestinian youths during a raid on the ‘Azzun village in eastern Qalqiliya in the northern occupied West Bank early Thursday evening. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided ‘Azzun and searched several homes before detaining Hasan Abu Haniyeh and Zaid Ali Adwan. Earlier on Thursday reports emerged that Israeli forces were searching for a person suspected of having fired at a vehicle near the village of ‘Azzun. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that earlier on Thursday a “Palestinian suspect” fired towards a passing vehicle near ‘Azzun, and that Israeli forces were looking for the suspect after having found a bullet cartridge in the area.The spokesperson said no injuries were reported, but could not immediately confirm what type of vehicle was targeting in the reported shooting. Hebrew-language Israeli media initially reported that a settler’s car was shot at, before later saying that it was an army vehicle.
Israeli forces abduct boy from family’s tent south of Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 25 Jan – Israeli soldiers late Tuesday night abducted a Palestinian boy from his family’s tent in an area adjacent to ‘Aqraba, a town to the south of Nablus, and physically assaulted him, according to a local activist. Head of the anti-settlement popular committee in ‘Aqraba, Yousef Diriyeh, told WAFA Israeli soldiers snuck into a residential tent belonging to Ghalab Mayadmeh and abducted his 17-year-old son Udai. The father, Ghalab, said he notified the Israeli army about his son’s disappearance, and after an hour of searching, it turned out that two soldiers abducted him, severally beat him up, and tore off his clothes. Israeli forces have been conducting live-fire military drills in the mentioned area since early Tuesday.
Israeli forces detain 34 Palestinians in West Bank during predawn raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Israeli forces detained at least 34 Palestinians, including a 12- and a 17-year-old, during predawn military raids throughout the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources … In the central occupied West Bank, Israeli forces detained five Palestinians from the Jerusalem district … In the Ramallah and al-Bireh districts, Israeli forces detained six Palestinians, according to PPS … Meanwhile, in the southern Hebron district, Israeli forces detained at least two Palestinian men and confiscated equipment from a blacksmith workshop during overnight military raids … Israeli forces also raided the village of Sair, detaining Suhaib Hussein Jaradat. The wife of Palestinian journalist and hunger striker Muhammad al-Qiq was delivered an interrogation summons with Israeli intelligence during the raid, according to locals. Al-Qiq was redetained by Israeli forces earlier this month after participating in a protest in Bethlehem held to demand the release of bodies of slain Palestinians held in Israeli custody. Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided the village of Surif and sealed a Palestinian-owned blacksmith workshop after confiscating equipment….
Israeli forces detain 15 Palestinians during West Bank, East Jerusalem raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israeli forces detained at least 15 Palestinian during predawn raids on Thursday across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. In the central occupied West Bank, Israeli forces detained Omar Nathir, 26, from the village of ‘Abud in the Ramallah district after he was shot in the chest by Israeli forces, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS also reported the detention of Ahmad Sameh al-Barghouthi from the village of Beit Rima, and Fouad Ibrahim al-Sheikh, 55, from the village of Saffa. Muhammad al-Bakri, 17, was also detained from the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem, according to PPS. Further south in the Bethlehem district, Israeli forces detained Eyad Manasra and Yousif Izzat from al-Duheisha refugee camp, PPS reported … Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided the Hebron district, with an Israeli army spokesperson telling Ma‘an that a Palestinian was detained in the village of Yatta, and another in Idhna. An Israeli army statement said that raids were carried out in Hebron as part of the “continuous battle against the production of weapons,” and also seized eight lathes from a workshop used for allegedly manufacturing weapons. To the north, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a Palestinian was detained from the village of Biddya in the Salfit district.
These are the Palestinian children killed by Israel in 2016
[with a discussion of each death] EI 25 Jan by Maureen Clare Murphy — For Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, 2016 was the deadliest year in the past decade. Thirty-five Palestinian children were killed by Israeli soldiers, police and armed civilians during the year, all but four of the deadly incidents taking place in the West Bank. Children account for a third of the 105 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during 2016. Most, but certainly not all, of those children were killed during the course of what Israel alleges were attacks or attempted attacks, mainly on soldiers at checkpoints in the West Bank. Two Israeli civilians were killed in such incidents, one a 13-year-old girl stabbed to death in her bedroom in a West Bank settlement, the sole Israeli child killed by a Palestinian during the year. But in the vast majority of alleged attacks that left a Palestinian child dead, no Israeli civilians or soldiers were injured. In a handful of cases, Israeli soldiers were reported to have suffered only light injuries..In several incidents, there may not have been any attempted attack when a Palestinian child was shot and killed. Amnesty International has called for one such slaying to be investigated as an extrajudicial execution..Other children were killed on their way to class, or coming home from a pool party. Several were shot dead while protesting the occupation. A brother and sister were killed in their Gaza home when their neighborhood was hit in an Israeli airstrike..As Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) points out, “Accountability for shootings [of Palestinian children] by Israeli forces is extremely rare. Only one incident since 2014 has resulted in an indictment.”
Israeli settler performs wedding rituals in Al-Aqsa courtyards
IMEMC/Agencies 24 Jan — Groups of Israeli settlers, on Tuesday, stormed into Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Al-Maghariba gate, heavily guarded by Israeli special forces. Jerusalemite sources reported, according to Al Ray, that about 11 settlers stormed into the holy site and carried out provocative tours in its yards, while Palestinian worshipers confronted them with Takbeer chants (“Allahu Akhbar — God is Greatest!”). During the raid, an Israeli rabbi performed rituals for the wedding of a settler within the courtyards, sources added, noting that Israeli settlers have carried out such a move more than once. In the same context, the Israeli occupation forces continued tight measures against worshippers at young ages, seizing their IDs upon entrance to Al-Aqsa.
Closures / Restriction of movement
Israeli force seal Nablus-area village in response to alleged stone-throwing
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israeli forces sealed the main entrance to the town of Beita south of Nablus city in the northern occupied West Bank on Thursday evening amidst reported accusations of stone-throwing. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces imposed “strict security procedures” and searched hundreds of Palestinian vehicles passing in both directions near the Beita-Huwwara crossroads, in addition to vehicles using the main road of the nearby Huwwara village, for more than two hours. Israeli forces closed the crossroads until further notice, reportedly claiming that rocks were being thrown at Israeli settlers’ vehicles. The Beita-Huwwara crossroads, which serves as the main entrance to Beita, is often subject to strict closures as punishment for alleged stone-throwing.
Court actions / Prisoners
Stone thrower gets harshest ever sentence in Israeli’s history
Ynet 24 Jan by Liran Levy — One of the suspects in a fatal stone throwing attack that killed an Israeli has been charged with manslaughter instead of murder. Abed Rabbo Dawiya is charged with the manslaughter of Alexander Levlovich in the East Talpiyot neighborhood in Jerusalem in late 2015. The attorney’s office stated “the accused was convicted of manslaughter for throwing stones at Levlovich’s car, thereby causing his death. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, a suspended sentence and a large fine for damages.” “This is a serious punishment and close to the maximum sentence for manslaughter, reflecting the gravity of his actions and the tragic outcome,” the attorney said. “A sentence of this magnitude has never been imposed for stone throwing in Israel’s history,” the attorney continued. “This is the second suspect convicted in this case, and the sentence of the three remaining suspects will continue as planned. The attorney’s office offers its condolences to the family. No matter what punishment will be served to the defendants, it will not bring their loved ones back.” The Jerusalem district court authorized the plea bargain which the attorney’s office signed with one of the suspects on Monday. Nir, Levlovich’s son, opposed the settlement from the outset: “We are shocked that the law doesn’t allow murder accusations by stone throwing”. Dawiya was the head of the group that threw rocks at Levlovich’s car, making him swerve and hit a post. Jerusalem district court judge Raphael Carmel authorized the settlement behind closed doors, sentencing Dawiya to 18 years in prison and fined him NIS 100,000 …
According to the indictment, the five suspects met on the Eve of Rosh Hashanah in 2015 to throw stones at Jewish cars driving on the main road to Armon HaNetziv in retaliation for Israel occupying the Temple Mount.
Israeli authorities accuse Bethlehem-area teen of planning attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — Israel’s district prosecutor in Jerusalem accused an 18-year-old Palestinian from the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem of planning a “terror attack,” Israeli media reported on Tuesday. The prosecutor also reportedly requested that the man be remanded until the end of legal proceedings against him.
According to news site Arutz Sheva, the prosecutor submitted an indictment against Mahmoud Iyad on charges of “attempting preparation” of an attack and entering Israel “illegally.” According to the indictment reported by Arutz Sheva, Iyad traveled to Israel last Sunday, and planned to buy a knife in order to kill Israeli forces or Haredi Jews “for ideological, religious, political, or nationalistic motives” at the Damascus Gate entrance to occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, where a number of alleged and actual attacks occurred after a wave of unrest began in October 2015. Iyad left his house in al-Duheisha before 11 a.m., carrying 100 shekels (about $25), allegedly to purchase the knife. At 3 p.m., he boarded a bus to Damascus Gate. In “a routine check” of the bus in the al-Tur neighborhood east of the Old City, he was detained by Israeli police.
Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 3 days on Saturday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Egyptian authorities Thursday decided to open the Rafah crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel for three days in both directions starting on Saturday. The Gaza crossings committee said in a statement that the crossing would be open on Saturday to allow Palestinians to enter and leave the besieged coastal enclave. Egypt has upheld an Israeli military blockade on the Gaza Strip since the ousting of former President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 and the rise to power of President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt.
Israel releases 2 Gazan merchants after 8 days of detention
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — Israeli authorities released two merchants from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening days after being detained from the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza eight days prior. An official at the Palestinian liaison told Ma’an that Israeli authorities released the merchants, identified as Midhat Karam and Hazem Tuman.
Israeli forces spray weed killers near Gaza border, burn Palestinian crops
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — Israeli aircraft flew over the border area between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, spraying Palestinian farmlands with weed killers, according to local and official Palestinian sources. One Gazan farmer called Abu Ahmad told Ma‘an that Israeli aircraft sprayed fields on the Palestinian side of the “buffer zone” in southern Gaza on the outskirts of the Khan Yunis district. According to Abu Ahmad, Israeli forces spray weed killers to dry wild plants on both sides of the border fence in order to “guarantee clear vision for the Israeli army to watch the area and prevent entry of Palestinians into Israel.” He highlighted that the spray travels “dozens of meters” throughout the air away from the targeted area, causing serious damage to Palestinian crops far beyond the buffer zone. The affected areas, he said, are suitable for seasonal crops such as spinach, broad beans foul, wheat, and barley.
Agronomist Wael Thabit of the Gaza Ministry of Agriculture told Ma’an that two years ago, the ministry had asked several international human rights groups to intervene and ask Israel to stop spraying weed killers near the border area. “[The Israeli] occupation didn’t respond positively and claimed that the process is meant to get rid of wild plants and weeds.” Reiterating Abu Ahmad’s point, Thabit said that the excess spray can travel up to 1,200 meters through the air away from the buffer zone, burning crops and causing farmers huge economic losses. Thabit added that the farmlands near the border area constitute about one third of the agricultural space in the besieged coastal enclave.
Israeli forces level lands, fire at fishermen in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Several Israeli military vehicles on Wednesday morning crossed the border fence with the Gaza Strip into Palestinian lands east of Rafah in the southern Gaza. Witnesses told Ma‘an that four Israeli bulldozers leveled lands near the border fence east of Rafah as military aircraft hovered overhead during the incident.
Separately, Israeli naval forces fired gunshots at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. No injuries have been reported.
Earlier on Tuesday night, Israeli artillery targeted a military post in an open area between al-Bureij and al-Maghazi refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip.
Israeli navy attacks fishermen with gunfire offshore Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 25 Jan – Israeli navy on Wednesday opened gunfire at Palestinian fishermen’s fishing boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip, local sources said. WAFA correspondent said Israeli vessels opened fire at the fishing boats with Palestinian fishermen sailing within four nautical miles from the shore of al-Sudaniya area, in the northwest of Gaza, damaging the two boats. No casualties were reported, however. To be noted, Israeli navy targets Palestinian fishermen and their fishing boats on an almost daily basis.
Israeli army bombards a resistance post in Gaza
IMEMC 25 Jan — Israeli soldiers fired, on Tuesday at night, several missiles into a site run by an armed resistance group east of the al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, causing excessive damage. The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said the army fired several missiles at a monitoring tower and nearby buildings, leading to very loud explosions that caused serious property damage, but caused no casualties. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said medics, rescue teams and firefighters rushed to the site of the attack, and confirmed that there have been no casualties. The Israeli army claimed it fired missiles in retaliation for live rounds fired from Gaza targeting military vehicles driving near the border fence with Gaza.
Hamas court in Gaza convicts members of Abbas’s Fatah movement
AFP 25 Jan — 8 security officials from rival group’s security service given sentences ranging from 7 years to life for collecting ‘security information’ — A court in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday sentenced eight members of the rival Fatah faction to lengthy jail terms for undermining “revolutionary unity,” the interior ministry said … The convicted men were found to have collected “security information” against Hamas, including on the “structure and movements” of its militants, in cases dating back to 2014, the ministry said in a statement. Three were jailed for life by the military court, while the rest received sentences ranging from seven to 15 years. They were members of the Fatah-led security services. Fayez Abu Eita, a spokesman for Fatah in the Gaza Strip, called the sentences “political and unjust.”
Gaza comedian who criticized Hamas released from jail
GAZA CITY (AP) 26 Jan — Gaza’s Hamas rulers have released a comedian who was arrested two weeks ago for posting a Facebook video lamenting hardships under their rule. Adel al-Mashwakhi said he was released on bail on Wednesday on condition that he does not make any more “politically flavored” works or discuss the conditions in which he was held. He said that despite the restrictions, he will not stop his work. “I decided not to talk in politics, but I will not stop presenting my art through singing,” he said Thursday. “I can’t stop singing and acting. I die without them.” The 32-year-old was arrested on Jan. 11, hours after posting a video blaming Hamas for the lack of basic necessities such as electricity, jobs or freedom to travel. The video, which is still on Facebook, with more than 370,000 views, helped galvanize a protest the next day over electricity shortages. It was the largest unauthorized protest in Gaza during since Hamas took power of the territory a decade ago. Al-Mashwakhi is well known in Gaza for a series of amateur song clips, but critics complain that his lyrics can be difficult to understand.
Smoking ban leaves some Gaza cab drivers fuming
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 25 Jan by Entsar Abu Jahal — The Gaza government has decided to start enforcing a smoking ban in public transportation vehicles and impose fines of about $26 for drivers who smoke or allow passengers to smoke in their vehicles. Violators began to receive citations on Jan. 1. Palestinian law bans both drivers and passengers from smoking inside the public transportation vehicles. Some drivers and passengers welcomed the move, while others complained it is just a new way for the government to generate income to solve its financial crisis….
Gaza’s water shortage worsening, no easy solutions seen
GAZA (Reuters) 26 Jan by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Marwan An-Najar, a Palestinian from the south of the Gaza Strip, says he has not tasted sweet tap water in 10 years. Every day, he travels four kilometers (2.5 miles) to fill a 20-litre plastic jerrycan at a local desalination station. Gaza has long suffered severe water problems, with its aquifer contaminated by sewage, chemicals and seawater and the territory’s three desalination plants unable to meet demand. To drink, most citizens depend on imported, bottled water. But locals and development specialists say the situation is getting beyond dire, with more than 90 percent of the water in the aquifer unfit for domestic use, according to Rebhy Al-Sheikh, the deputy chairman of the Palestinian Water Authority. “The (tap) water is salty, as if it came straight from the sea. We have stopped drinking it,” said Najar, a father of six, while queuing to get water at the desalination station in Khan Younis. Instead, he and others use the desalinated water to wash and drink, while those that can afford it buy bottled water. The water from the tap, when it flows, is barely usable, they say. “It is not even fit for the animals to drink,” said Fathy Mhareb, 60, an unemployed father of eight. “We buy sweet water and use the salty water to shower.” The causes of the problem are multiple, but stem largely from the contamination of the aquifer….
Council of Europe condemns Gaza siege as ‘collective punishment’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a report on Tuesday outlining the dire humanitarian situation in the besieged Gaza Strip and reiterating its support for lifting the decade-long siege of the territory, which it called “collective punishment” imposed on Palestinians in contravention of international law. The assembly highlighted the “deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza,” as 71 percent of the coastal enclave’s residents are Palestinian refugees displaced during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war which established the state of Israel, and 43 percent of the total population is unemployed. The report referenced the lack of access to clean drinking water in the besieged territory, with Palestinians in Gaza only able to access water between five and eight hours a day due to crippling power shortages. In addition, the assembly blamed the vast destruction caused by Israel’s 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip for exacerbating hardship in the small Palestinian territory, as hundreds of Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces, more than 12,500 homes were completely destroyed, and at least 100,000 Palestinians were displaced. The report went on to detail several aspects of the blockade that have strained the humanitarian situation in Gaza, ….
Opinion: Israeli watchdog’s 2014 Gaza War report is a deceptive diversion / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 25 Jan — The state comptroller’s report on the performance of the security cabinet before and during Operation Protective Edge is a deceptive diversion. The public debate taking place now about it is merely a smokescreen covering up the real crimes of the assault, which no one is criticizing and which interests no one. Like the Jewish National Fund forests planted over the ruins of Arab villages in 1948 to hide their shame, so this report whitewashes the horrible mass killing and destruction in Gaza, while allowing Israel to claim that it is examining itself and its wars. This is an unimportant report and debating it is an illusory escape into minutiae. The grotesque cockfighting among the generals and politicians also obscures the point. And the point is that Israel executed a criminal, unjustified attack on a helpless Gaza population, and to date no one has taken responsibility for it and no one has been prosecuted for its crimes. A society with some moral imperatives would be addressing that, not who said what to whom in the security cabinet. A fair comptroller also ought to be addressing the main point, rather than fleeing, as usual, to the cowardly places on the margins. Really, what is there to examine other than the number of security cabinet sessions at which the word “tunnel” was explicitly used? The Israel Defense Forces killed 366 children, 180 infants and toddlers, 247 women and 117 elderly people – what is there to criticize here? The IDF destroyed 18,000 homes and left 100,000 people homeless, around half of whom are still wallowing in the ruins, but the main point is for us to know who was in favor of blowing up the tunnel shafts and who wasn’t….
Palestinian refugees – Syria
Republic of Korea contributes US$ 500,000 to promote a better and safer life for Palestine refugee children in Syria
UNRWA 25 Jan — The Government of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) has contributed US$ 500,000 to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to promote safe spaces and healthy lifestyles for Palestine refugee children in Syria, benefiting approximately 45,000 boys and girls in UNRWA schools. The contribution will go towards UNRWA efforts in Syria to develop safe, child-friendly and gender-sensitive health centres and schools; facilitate health education for Palestine refugee children; and guarantee healthy lifestyle counselling for Palestine refugee girls….
Palestinian leaders request new date for local elections
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — The Palestinian deputy minister of local government said on Wednesday that Palestinian leaders had presented recommendations to the Palestinian Council of Ministers to hold municipal elections on May 6. Hussein al-Araj told Ma‘an that the Palestinian leadership was planning to conduct local elections “as soon as possible” in accordance with requests from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He added that the ministry was waiting for Palestinian Council of Ministers to approve the new date for elections in both the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip. Municipal elections set to be held in October were postponed following a controversial decision by the Fatah-run Supreme Court in Ramallah. Prior to their cancellation, the municipal elections were set to be the first in the Gaza Strip in a decade, after Hamas’ victory in the 2006 vote erupted into a violent conflict between Hamas and Fatah, as both groups attempted to take control of the besieged coastal enclave….
PM Hamdallah urges Apple and Google to include Palestinian communities in Area C in their maps
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 26 Jan — Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah Thursday urged both the Apple and Google companies to include all Palestinian communities in the West Bank in their online maps. “It is baffling that, while Palestinians in Area C can´t even find their own community on either maps, Israeli settlers can get driving directions to cross the West Bank in its entirety to get from one illegal settlement to another,” said the prime minister. A number of publications and independent sources have published detailed maps that include each and all of the Palestinian communities across the West Bank, including remote and isolated villages. Google Maps and Apple Maps show Palestinian towns in “Area A” and “Area B” of the West Bank, as well as Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law and according to the UNSC resolution 2334. Yet the majority of Palestinian communities in “Area C”, some of which count several thousand inhabitants, are not featured in the maps of either companies. “Area C is an integral and vital part of the State of Palestine. It is our sincere hope that this omission will be resolved in the near future and that all Palestinian residents will see their communities listed on Google and Apple maps,” added Hamdallah. “Area C”, as defined by the 1995 Oslo Agreements, covers some 64% of the West Bank. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, nearly 350,000 Palestinians reside in 532 communities in “Area C” across the West Bank.
US reviews Obama admin’s 11th-hour aid to Palestinians
AFP 25 Jan — The US State Department is reviewing a decision made in the final hours of former president Barack Obama’s administration to release $220 million to help Palestinians rebuild the war-scarred Gaza strip. Officials said some of the money has already been transferred but that President Donald Trump’s new administration would investigate last minute spending decisions to see if they can be adjusted. “In a final act, then-secretary of state John Kerry instructed USAID to release $220.3 million for Gaza recovery programs,” acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. “The Department of State is currently reviewing last minute spending approved by the previous administration and will make adjustments if needed to ensure that it aligns with the priorities of the Trump-Pence administration.” While a close ally of Israel, the United States is also a major donor to international efforts to help Palestinians to recover from recent conflict … Trump’s administration is expected to be more sympathetic to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, and the new president has chosen an ambassador with a track record of backing settlements.