Report: Palestinian teen dies in Gaza after Israel denies him access to hospital
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — A 17-year-old Palestinian died last week after Israeli authorities refused to allow him to leave the besieged Gaza Strip to undergo treatment for a congenital heart defect, the Gaza-based al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said in a report on Sunday. Israeli authorities had denied Ahmad Hassan Shubeir from Gaza City permission to cross into Israel to receive life-saving medical treatment from a hospital after the teen “refused to serve as a collaborator for the Israeli authorities, a coercive measure regularly employed on Palestinian patients in need of permits,” according to the center. After being repeatedly denied permission by Israel to cross, despite securing a number of appointments at Israeli hospitals as his health declined, Ahmad died at approximately 4 a.m. on Jan. 14. Ahmad’s father told al-Mezan that his son had been suffering from a congenital heart defect since birth. The father said that he accompanied Ahmad several times to Israeli hospitals, including Tel Hashomer Hospital, Schneider Children’s Medical Center, as well as al-Makassed Hospital in the occupied West Bank, and that Ahmad’s condition remained relatively stable throughout the treatment. After Ahmad fell into a critical condition, his family applied for a crossing permit in February 2016 with supporting medical documents attached. According to the report, Israeli authorities responded to the request by attempted to blackmail and coerce Ahmad’s mother into cooperating with the authorities in exchange for her child’s permit during an interview at the Erez crossing….
Opinion: Do people really deserve to die because they live in Gaza? / Alon Idan
Haaretz 22 Jan — When Haaretz published a story about female cancer sufferers being denied permits to visit Israel or the West Bank for treatment, most of the responses were distinctly lacking in love for the stranger — There was a small story in Haaretz two weeks ago, written by Jack Khoury, dealing with some female cancer patients from Gaza. They were protesting because the Israeli authorities were preventing them from coming to Israel (or East Jerusalem or the West Bank) for medical treatment. The title of the story on the Hebrew website read, “Gazan patients protest the withholding of permits allowing them to leave for treatment.” The subhead, meanwhile, stated: “According to the demonstrators, the protest began due to the sharp rise in the number of patients who were not receiving permits to leave Gaza for treatment in Israel. Sihan al-Tatri, a leukemia patient, said, ‘If they don’t give me a permit, they are sentencing me to death.’” …. On the surface, this story should have melted the heart of any reasonable person, even one posting on the website anonymously. Even though the story concerns Gaza and Arabs (with Hamas lurking in the background), this is ultimately a story about women suffering from cancer who require medical treatment. According to the comments, though, hearts did not melt. On the contrary, they seemed to harden. People who are dying of an illness no longer arouse compassion; people seeking help no longer move the people who so love to be moved by a performance on “The Voice Israel.” I wondered whether people had really become so hard-hearted, and if this cruelty represents a real change in the Israeli DNA. The words expressed were clear and harsh – but perhaps this very mechanism is just something that evokes vile stuff in people? Maybe the comments section has acquired some internal sadistic characteristics of its own? Perhaps the almost criminal ease with which a person can type his opinion, and the fact that the virtual world is perceived as unreal, make it easier to let loose this primal, unfiltered, bestial instinct?….
Israeli forces fire at Gaza fishermen, force them to sail back to shore
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Israeli gunboats opened heavy machine gun fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip in the early predawn hours Sunday morning, forcing fishermen to sail back to shore, with no injuries or damages reported, fishermen told Ma‘an.
Gaza fisherman condition critical following Israeli naval attack
IMEMC/Agencies 23 Jan — A Palestinian fisherman, on Monday morning, sustained serious wounds after he was shot in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet by Israeli naval forces. Head of Gaza’s Fishermen’s Union Nizar Ayyash told the Palestine Information Center (PIC) that Israeli forces attacked Palestinian fishermen sailing off of western Beit Lahiya with randomly shot spates of machine gun fire. Oranes Sherif al-Sultan  was shot and injured with an Israeli rubber bullet in the head, close to his eyes. The fisherman was rushed to the Indonesian hospital and then transferred to the Shifaa medical complex, after his health took a critical downturn. PNN further reports that, last week, al-Sultan was detained by the occupation forces, at sea, and released following long hours of intensive questioning.
Israeli forces fire towards Gaza fishermen, farmers, bird hunters
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — Israeli forces fired towards Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip on at least three separate instances on Tuesday morning, witnesses said, without causing any injuries. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli troops stationed at the border fence between Gaza and Israel opened fire towards farmlands in the area of al-Umour on the outskirts of the town of al-Fukhari, in the southern Gaza Strip district of Khan Yunis. No casualties were reported. East of Gaza City, Israeli troops fired towards Palestinian farmers and bird hunters, without causing injuries. At sea, fishermen told Ma‘an that Israeli naval forces opened fire in the direction of fishing boats off the coasts of Khan Yunis and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Egyptian electricity lines in Gaza back in operation
GAZA (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — Egyptian power lines feeding the southern Gaza Strip were operating normally again as of late Sunday evening, after several hours of being out of operation. Gaza’s electricity company said that the Egyptian lines were disconnected for several hours due to damages, but were later repaired, noting that Egyptian lines provide the southern Gaza Strip with 20 megawatts.
Gaza court extends sentence for Palestinian accused of collaborating with ‘enemy’
GAZA (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — A military court in the besieged Gaza Strip extended a Palestinian man’s sentence for collaborating with “hostile foreign agencies” to 17 years in prison, the public prosecution said on Monday. The court had previously convicted the man to 15 years in prison in March 2014, but extended the sentence by an additional two years on Monday. The court said that the man had begun communicating with the “enemy” sometime between 2003 and 2004 during trips to Egypt, and “continued collaborating” until he was caught. The court added that the man had received money and that his travels to Egypt were facilitated in return for information regarding Palestinian resistance movements in Gaza. Although the court did not specify which entity the man was accused of having worked with, Israel has been repeatedly accused over the years of blackmailing Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, into collaborating, by threatening to remove access to life-saving health care, permits to Israel, or even to out queer Palestinians if they did not become informants.
Hamas chief heads to Cairo to discuss bilateral ties, Palestinian reconciliation
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — Hamas deputy chief Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo on Sunday to hold meetings with Egyptian political and security officials regarding future relations between the country and the Palestinian movement. An Egyptian security official said that Haniyeh would meet with the head of Egyptian intelligence agency, Khalid Fawzi, to discuss the possibility of reopening the Rafah crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt permanently, and the security situation near the border between Egypt and Gaza. The Egyptian security source said that relations between Egypt and Hamas had recently improved, particularly due to Hamas’ willingness to cooperate with Egypt regarding security measures at the border. The security official said that the meetings would also address the reconciliation process between Hamas, which is the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the occupied West Bank, by offering to host talks between the two sides in Cairo. They added that Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi had given Egyptian officials the “green light” to strengthen the country’s relationship with all Palestinian factions in order to help achieve Palestinian unity, and had contacted newly instated US President Donald Trump to express Egypt’s opposition to the United States possibly moving its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem….
Why Gaza authors are moving to Egypt
CAIRO (Al-Monitor) 22 Jan by Mohammed Othman — Egypt remains the No. 1 destination for Arab authors in general, and Gazan authors in particular, due to its cultural and scientific stature — Mahmoud Ramadan is a young novelist who left the Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City in 2008. Looking for a place to publish his writings, he wound up in Egypt. He settled there and has so far published three novels about the situation of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Al-Monitor met with Ramadan in his bookstore, which he opened in early 2016, in the Egyptian 6th of October City. He said he found it best to leave Gaza in 2008 after being imprisoned twice by Hamas because of his views and writings that go against the Hamas movement and its rule. Ramadan said, “I was studying journalism at the University of Palestine in Gaza and I could not complete my studies to get a degree before leaving. I also worked in online marketing and design. I started writing on my own about my experience and how people lived in the Gaza Strip. I used an alias — Yami Ahmed — and I never mentioned my real name because I wrote about politics and how the ruling party [Hamas] oppressed Gazans.” Speaking about the books he has published, Ramadan said, “I printed my first novel at my own expense in 2013. It was titled ‘The Remnants of Mary.’ It spoke about the beginning of conflicts and divisions that had emerged in the Palestinian community as a result of the parties’ [Fatah and Hamas] behavior, and how all of this reflected on the Palestinians’ personality who became labeled by their political affiliations.”….
Gaza’s autistic children master art of origami
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 22 Jan by Tasneem Zayyan — Yazen Sami, a 5-year-old child with autism, sat with his eyes set on the flat paper in front of him. He held the paper and started folding it, right then left. It assumed the shape of a bird in his tiny hands. He took another paper and started turning it into a fish, then into other forms. Yazen took up origami, the art of folding papers, after his parents accidentally discovered his hidden talent. Yazen’s parents believed origami would develop his mental capabilities. Yazen’s mother, Jamila Ahmad, said, “His sister would do her homework while he sat by her side. Suddenly, he would start acting weird by holding a paper and folding it to form a certain shape — a plane, a ship or other paper forms.” … Ahmad said, “I took him to his doctor who said this behavior was an innate talent that could enhance his mental capacities and make him smarter. The doctor told me that Yazen could develop this gift in specialized training centers.” … Wissal al-Karraz is a woman with special needs who has suffered from hearing and vision problems since birth. Yet she is among the most creative origami artists and teaches it to autistic children at El-Wedad Society for Community Rehabilitation in Gaza….
Photos: Lovely Gaza (despite everything) / Eva Bartlett
Not new, but well worth seeing
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Netanyahu backtracks on support of settlement legalization bill
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — In an about-face from his past support of a controversial bill which would see dozens of illegal Israeli outposts in the occupied West Bank retroactively legalized, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the so-called “Legalization bill” on Sunday as an “irresponsible move.” According to Israeli news outlet Ynet, Netanyahu blamed the bill, which has also been referred to as the “Regularization bill” or the “Formalization bill,” for prompting UN Security Council Resolution 2334 in December, which condemned Israeli settlements and reaffirmed their complete illegality under international law. “It’s possible that the UN Security Council resolution passed because of the advancement of this legislation,” Netanyahu said. Netanyahu nonetheless reiterated his commitment to settlement expansion, emphasizing that “there is no one who takes care of the settlement enterprise more than me and the Likud government. We’ll continue taking care of it wisely.” In November, Israeli ministers advanced the “Legalization bill,” which would see thousands of dunams of privately owned Palestinian land seized in addition to the Israeli government’s recognition of dozen of illegal settlement outposts. Both opponents and supporters of the bill have said the legislation would pave to way to annexing the majority of the occupied West Bank.The legislation passed its first reading in the Knesset, but still needs to pass its second and third readings to become law ….
Israel lifts restrictions on building more homes in East Jerusalem
Reuters 23 Jan by Ori Lewis — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told senior ministers he is lifting restrictions on settlement building in East Jerusalem, a statement said on Sunday, immediately after the city’s municipal government approved permits for the building of hundreds of new homes in the area. “There is no longer a need to coordinate construction in the Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. We can build where we want and as much as we want,” the statement quoted Netanyahu as saying, adding that he also intended to allow the start of building in the West Bank. “My vision is to enact sovereignty over all the settlements,” the statement also said, pointing to Netanyahu’s apparent bid to win greater support from settlers and appeal to a right-wing coalition partner … Meanwhile the housing projects approved by the Jerusalem municipality on Sunday are on land that the Palestinians seek as part of a future state and had been taken off the agenda in December at Netanyahu’s request to avoid further censure from Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama. However, Israel’s right wing believes that Trump’s attitude towards settlements built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem — areas Israel captured in the 1967 war — will be far more supportive than that of Obama. Jerusalem’s City Hall approved the building permits for more than 560 units in the urban settlements of Pisgat Zeev, Ramat Shlomo and Ramot, areas annexed to Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement that the eight years of the Obama administration had been “difficult with pressure … to freeze construction” but that Israel was now entering a new era. The Palestinians denounced the move….
Deal to remove Israeli outpost in West Bank in jeopardy
AFP 23 Jan — A deal to evacuate a hardline Jewish outpost that has become a symbol of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank was in jeopardy Monday ahead of a February 8 deadline to remove it. Settlers in the Amona outpost of some 40 families and which was built on Palestinian land accused the government of not living up to the terms of a deal reached in December that would see them moved nearby. Palestinian landowners also filed a petition to the Israeli high court on Monday with further objections to the government’s relocation plans, said rights group Yesh Din which is representing them. The lack of a clear solution has once again raised the possibility of a forced evacuation of the Amona settlers by the Israeli government and fears that violence could result. “Right now we’re dealing with the fact that the government and officials lied,” said Eli Greenberg, an Amona resident and spokesman for the outpost….
Army demolishes sheds, tents and barns near Jericho
IMEMC 23 Jan — Israeli soldiers demolished, on Monday at noon, several sheds, tents and barns, owned by Palestinians living in the al-Jiftlik town, in the West Bank’s Northern Plains, north of Jericho. Sabah Abu Rashed, the representative of Jericho District who witnessed the demolitions, along with a representative of the International Red Cross who came to estimate the damages, said the soldiers demolished many tents inhabited by the Palestinian shepherds, in addition to several barns and sheds used for their livestock. Abu Rashed stated that the soldiers demolished two residential sheds and a barn owned by Zoheir Bani Menyeh and his family, in addition to demolishing two barns and a residential shed used by Zahi Bani Menyeh. The soldiers also demolished another barn and a residential shed, used by another Palestinian Bedouin family. The Public Relations Department of the Jericho Governate denounced the ongoing Israeli violations against the Palestinians, aiming at displacing them and replace them with illegal colonizers.
Israel orders a Palestinian man to evacuate land near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 23 Jan – Israeli forces notified a Palestinian from the village of al-Khader, south of Bethlehem, to leave his land near the village, Hassan Burajiya, a local activist, said on Monday. He told WAFA that staff from the so-called Israeli “Civil Administration” ordered Mustafa Issa from al-Khader to leave his land, claiming that the land is state property and that no Palestinian should enter it. Burajiya said Issa has proper land deeds proving his ownership of the land in question.
PHOTOS: Thousands of Palestinians and Israelis protest home demolitions
Activestills 21 Jan Photos by Keren Manor, text by Yael Marom — Over 5,000 Arabs and Jews gather in Wadi Ara, northern Israel, to protest against recent home demolitions in Palestinian communities — More than 5,000 Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel converged on the town of ‘Ar‘ara in the Wadi ‘Ara region of northern Israel on Saturday, to protest a recent slate of home demolitions targeting Arab communities in the country. Particularly in focus were Wednesday’s demolitions in the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran, prior to which Israeli police shot to death village resident Yaqub Abu al-Qi‘an as he was driving, and whose vehicle struck and killed Erez Levi, an Israeli officer. Hundreds of police officers — some on horseback — met the demonstrators in ‘Ar‘ara. Around two hours after the protest had begun, hundreds of protesters blocked the junction at the entrance to ‘Ar‘ara. Police threw shock grenades and fired “skunk” water at the demonstrators, injuring several. Some of the protesters responded by throwing stones….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel
Israel launches investigation into Palestinian teen’s killing in Tuqu‘
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — Israeli authorities have opened an investigation into last week’s killing of 17-year-old Qusay al-Umour, which sparked outrage after a video was released showing Israeli forces dragging the teen by his limbs as his head banged against a stone-ridden dirt pathway. Haaretz reported on Monday that the investigation was opened by the Israeli army in conjunction with military police, in accordance with the Israeli Justice Ministry’s policy that a joint investigation “must be made into every instance of a Palestinian killed in the West Bank during a non-combat situation.” The Times of Israel said that the opening of the investigation the Israeli army “indicated it was no longer certain the soldiers had conducted themselves correctly.” Al-Umour was shot and killed by Israeli border police officers last Monday during clashes on a shared Israeli settler-Palestinian road in Tuqu‘, close to the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Tekoa. Both Haaretz and the Times of Israel highlighted the army’s initial claims that al-Umour was a main “instigator” in the “violent riots,” with the Times of Israel including the claim that “over 200 Palestinians” participated in the protests, both claims made by the Israeli army to Ma‘an last week. Contrary to the army’s claims, locals in Tuqu‘ and witnesses told Ma‘an that there were fewer than a dozen teens from the village throwing rocks at Israeli military jeeps before al-Umour was shot. Meanwhile, a video taken by Palestinian journalist Hisham Abu Shaqra published shortly after the incident showed al-Umour lying motionless in a field, an estimated 100 meters away from the clashes, just after he was shot….
Israel to return body of slain Palestinian math teacher to Umm al-Hiran
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — The Israeli Supreme Court has ordered Israeli police to return the body of Yaqoub Abu al-Qi‘an, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and local math teacher, to his family for burial in the unrecognized Negev-area Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, according to Israeli police. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri confirmed initial reports by Israel’s Channel 2 website that Abu al-Qian’s body would be released for burial Tuesday, adding that the police would by complying with the order that the funeral take place during the day and not “during the night hours.” According to Channel 2, the court also decided that “no restriction shall be imposed on the number of mourners,” in the funeral, while simultaneously ordering that the funeral should last no longer than two hours. Channel 2 quoted the court decision as saying the funeral will advance from Umm al-Hiran to the nearby village of Hura during the day “in coordination with police.” “If police agree, the family can appoint people to keep order, and if there is a need to block route 31 between Hura and Shawka junction for a short time, that should be done in coordination with police.”
Abu al-Qi‘an was shot and killed 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. Due to the allegations, Israel previously announced that it would impose a number of preconditions on the Abu al-Qi‘an family to release his body, as part of the Israeli state’s policy of withholding bodies of alleged attackers on the grounds that their funerals become sites of “incitement” against Israel. The Israeli Supreme Court convened on Monday afternoon to look into an appeal filed by Palestinian legal aid organization Adalah and the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights on behalf of Abu al-Qi‘an’s wife, to demand the immediate release of Abu al-Qi‘an’s body without preconditions….
Opinion: Left to bleed to death, and called a murderer / Odeh Bisharat
Haaretz 23 Jan — Yakub Abu al-Kiyan is called a murderer, while the police officers who shot him are only said to have killed. At worst, they caused an Arab’s death — For at least 20 minutes, Yakub Abu al-Kiyan [al-Qi‘an] was left to bleed to death, and afterward he was labeled a murderer. What did you think, Abu Al-Kiyan, that if you died you would escape the curse of those who came to make the desert bloom, and at the same time destroyed 500 Arab villages? Not even death can free you from the real-estate gluttons. Today it’s already clear that the time line in Umm al-Hiran last Wednesday was the reverse of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s version of the events. First the police officers fired, and then the car rolled down the hill. But don’t despair, the experts are toiling even now to determine whether, even after he was shot, Abu Al-Kiyan could have plowed into a group of police officers. One orthopedist was quoted on the radio as saying that after being shot in the knee his foot couldn’t have dropped onto the gas pedal, as other experts suggested, and the twinkle returned to people’s eyes: Perhaps it was a terror attack after all. Israeli justice currently allows Abu al-Kiyan to enjoy the benefit of the doubt. Either scenario is possible: perhaps a deliberate ramming, perhaps not. It’s the greatest gift Abu al-Kiyan could get from Israeli justice….
Protests continue as rights groups demand probe into deadly Umm al-Hiran raid
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — A protest convoy set off Monday morning, in the wake of the demolition of dozens of homes belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel in recent weeks, as details continued to unfold over a deadly demolition raid in the unrecognized Bedouin community of Umm al-Hiran. At least ten Palestinian homes were demolished in the city of Qalansawe on Jan. 10, while more than a dozen Palestinian structures were razed to the ground in the Negev village of Umm al-Hiran the following week after an Israeli police raid to evacuate villagers left two people killed. Convoys set off from Qalansawe in central Israel and from the Negev in the south on Monday to converge at the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in Jerusalem, in a demonstration involving more than 250 cars, according to Israeli news site Arab 48. Protesters raised Palestinian flags and black flags as a sign of mourning for Yaqoub Abu al–Qi‘an, a local math teacher in Umm al-Hiran who was shot and killed by Israeli police under widely contested circumstances before authorities demolished houses in the village. The convey caused traffic to come to a halt on Jerusalem’s Street 6, as protesters rejected demands from Israeli police to evacuate and clear the traffic jam. Arab 48 reported that Israeli police issued several traffic citations to demonstrators, with Israeli police detaining Qalansawe-based lawyer Ahmad Ghazawi for resisting police measures.
Report: Israel continues ‘policy of reprisal’ against Palestinians in Jabal al-Mukabbir
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — Israeli authorities have reportedly continued a “policy of reprisal” in the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir in occupied East Jerusalem, in response to a deadly truck attack carried out by Fadi al-Qunbar, one of the neighborhood’s residents, earlier this month that left four Israeli soldiers dead. Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned news agency Wafa reported on Monday that Israeli authorities, particularly from the Jerusalem municipality, have continued “reprisal measures” against Palestinian residents of Jabal al-Mukabbir in the form of intensified raids of homes and businesses, imposing taxes and giving orders for home demolitions under the pretext of building without a difficult-to-obtain permit issued by the municipality. Wafa also cited local residents as saying that they have seen an increase in Israeli police-issued tickets to Palestinian drivers and cars parked on the streets of the neighborhood.
Army seizes contents of shops in Bethlehem-area village
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 23 Jan – Israeli forces seized on Monday contents of two shops in the village of Husan, west of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, according to Husan Hamamra, head of Husan village council. He told WAFA that an Israeli army unit raided the village and seized construction materials as well as tools from a car mechanic shop under the pretext the owners did not have permits. Hamamra said the force distributed leaflets warning residents against throwing rocks at settlers’ cars and threatening of collective punishment against the entire village if this continues.
Opinion: The Israeli fantasy regarding the deaths of Palestinians / Amira Hass
Haaretz 23 Jan — The trial of Border Policeman Ben Dery has dragged on for more than two years. A visit to the courtroom shows the wheels of justice turning very strangely indeed — …Behind Tibi sat bereaved father Siam Nuwara, who attends every hearing religiously. The court had no translator at this session, so Nuwara was being aided by lawyer Firas Asali. Over the past 32 months, Nuwara had been shocked to hear the conspiracy theories that had been raised: that there was no bullet; that there was no live bullet; that there was no victim; that the victim was not his son; that the live fire had come from a different direction, and more. [Investigative blogger] Eishton labeled this “Pallywood” i.e., the Israeli fantasy that a sophisticated and malicious Palestinian movie industry stages, films and edits videos in which Palestinians are shown being killed in order to incriminate soldiers and Border Policemen. Ron Goral, from the police’s digital evidence laboratory, had examined the CNN videos that documented the shooting. He assured the court that everything was authentic, and that there had been no editing. He noted the length of the video: 49 seconds, somewhere between 13:59 and 14:00 … It was meant to be the final hearing in a trial that has dragged on for more than two years. The two sides were on the verge of a plea bargain: instead of manslaughter, the conviction would be for causing death by negligence … But the defense attorney discovered that the state prosecution had inserted another clause into the agreement, stating that Dery’s life was not in any danger from the stones being thrown by Palestinian teens (when they were shot, neither Nuwara nor Salameh were throwing stones). Amir refused to sign the agreement and, for now, the trial continues … If the prosecution was prepared to enter into a plea deal, it’s because it apparently “bought” the theory that: A) In a rare coincidence, just before he fired the live bullet that got mixed up erroneously and negligently in his cartridge, Dery didn’t load the rifle with rubber-coated bullets; or B) That the barrel extension was loaded with rubber-coated bullets, but one could fire a live round without it encountering them and without the rifle blowing up in the shooter’s face (a danger that soldiers are constantly warned about). And also, that these two rare scenarios happened four times in the same day….
26 Palestinians detained across West Bank in Israeli army raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — Israeli forces launched predawn detention raids across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on Monday, detaining at least 26 Palestinians, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources, while the Israeli army also installed roadblocks in the southern occupied West Bank for unknown reasons. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported that nine Palestinians were detained in occupied East Jerusalem and the Jerusalem district of the West Bank. It said Adam Mahmoud, Samer Atiyeh, Ahmad Ubeid, Muhammad Mahmoud, Muhammad Atiyeh, and Ahmad Tarwa were detained in the neighborhood of ‘Issawiya, while Mamduh Ajluni and Ahmad Badriya were detained in the Old City, and Mahmoud al-Zaghil was detained in Ras al-‘Amoud. In the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, PPS reported that Israeli forces detained Raed Bahinjawi, Khalid Nimr Fayad, Naim Fathi Qandil, and Ahmad Othman Dweikat. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that in the Nablus district, Israeli forces detained two Palestinians from the Balata refugee camp, three Palestinians from ‘Askar refugee camp, and one from the village of ‘Askar al-Balad. Elsewhere in the northern West Bank, PPS said that Ahmad Nour Nour al-Din Rayan, 15, was detained in the Qalqiliya-area town of ‘Azzun, while Taher Jamal Kamil was detained in the town of Qabatiya in the Jenin district … In the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, PPS reported that Israeli forces detained Mahmoud Atallah Mashayekh, Ali Muhammad Abu Srour, Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Khatib, Anas Muhammad Taqatqa, and Uday Thabta. The army reported that two Palestinians from ‘Aida refugee camp were detained, while another was detained from the village of Beit Fajjar south of Bethlehem. In the Hebron district, PPS that that Israeli forces detained a Palestinian girl identified as Thuraya Abu Sil, as well as Mahmoud Abu al-Zgharit in the al-‘Arrub refugee camp, while Muhammad Ahmad al-Hur was detained in Surif and Muhammad Abd al-Halim Sawaifa was detained in the old city of Hebron.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces blocked off a main commuter entrance point leading to a number of villages west of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank at around midnight Sunday evening for unknown reasons, a Palestinian security source said. The source said that Israeli forces closed of the main road in both directions in the Aqbat Hasna area that leads to the villages of Husan, Battir, Nahalin, and Wadi Fukin. Israeli forces have escalated security measures in the area recently by continuously imposing closures, the source added.It remained unclear as of Monday morning whether the roadblocks were still in place.
IDF loses drone for second time in a week
JPost 23 Jan — For the second time in a week, the IDF on Sunday temporarily lost a drone during operations. The unmanned aerial vehicle was reportedly scouring the skies in an operation over the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus when the military lost communication with it. Following overnight searches, the IDF located the “tactical Skylark UAV” near a Samaria Regional Brigade post, Channel 10 reported. The IDF said that it has launched an investigation into the incident. http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/IDF-loses-drone-in-West-Bank-for-second-time-in-a-week-479332
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court releases 4 Palestinian activists, extends detention of 2 others
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — An Israeli military court agreed to release four Palestinian activists to house arrest on Sunday, while rejecting appeals for two others over their involvement in a protest camp. The Ofer military court reportedly ruled to release Jamil al-Barghouthi, Ahmad Odeh, Khalid Qtishat and Lama Nazieh to three days of house arrest, on condition of paying a 30,000-shekel ($7,900) bail. However, the court ruled to extend the detentions of brothers Muhammad and Akram al-Khatib by two days for further interrogation. Israeli police detained the six activists on Friday while they were setting up tents near the illegal settlement of Maale Adumim in the central occupied West Bank to protest an Israeli bill aiming to annex the settlement to Israel, as well as American promises to move the US embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Israeli military police abduct Abdallah Abu Rahma while attending court hearing
IMEMC 23 Jan — The Israeli Military Police abducted, Monday, senior nonviolent activist Abdullah Abu Rahma, at the Ofer Military Court, while attending a heading for activists who were abducted last Friday. The Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in Bil‘in village, in Ramallah, strongly denounced the abduction of Abu Rahma, who has been one of its senior figures. The Committee added that Abu Rahma was immediately sent to an interrogation center for his nonviolent activities, and ongoing struggle. It stated that the ongoing abduction of activists, and the excessive use of force against Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activist during the weekly protests against the Annexation Wall and Colonies, and the repeated invasions, will only lead to more resistance and determination.
Israeli settlers indicted for assaulting Palestinian farmers
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — Israeli police said on Monday that it had extended the remand of four Israeli settlers suspected of assaulting Palestinian farmers in the village of Turmusayya north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, adding that the settlers were indicted in a Jerusalem court over charges of “racially motivated assault with intention to harm.” Al-Samri said that Israeli police officers had arrested the settlers on Jan. 16 from the illegal Israeli settlement of Geolat Zion near Turmusayya, after police officers saw a number of masked settlers waving clubs and hurling stones at Palestinian farmers in the area. Police officers chased the settlers, arresting four of them, three of whom were minors, according to the statement. Two days later, Israeli settlers damaged 12 olive trees belonging to Palestinians near Turmusayya, al-Samri said at the time, in a statement that did not mention the assault case. She said that Israeli police had opened an investigation into the case.
West Bank: Occupation plants hidden cameras in ex-detainees’ houses
IMEMC/Agencies 23 Jan — By coincidence, two ex-detainee brothers, Tareq and Akram Jibril, found very tiny and accurate cameras, planted by Israeli soldiers, at the entrances of their homes in the town of Tekoa [Tuqu‘], south-east of Bethlehem, south of the West Bank. The Israeli occupation has recently accelerated the targeting campaign against residents of Tekoa town, through the continued incursions and provocations of the population, which led to the repeated outbreak of clashes at the entrances of the towns. However, people have become wary of the possibility that Israeli soldiers may have planted espionage devices in their homes. Sabri Jibril, the ex-detainees’ brother, said that an Israeli military force broke into several houses in the town a few days ago, launched a wide arrest campaign, and ransacked a number of houses. What was not known by the family was that his brother, Tareq, who spent six years in jail, discovered a tiny camera implanted at the entrance of their house. “When we searched at my other ex-prisoner brother’s house, we also found another tiny camera implanted at the entrance of his house,” he added, pointing out that the camera aimed to monitor people entering and leaving the house … The military expert Youssef Sherkawi said that the occupation is using these cameras to get definite and substantiated information on the movements of many Palestinian activists on one hand, and also to face them in interrogation, in the case that they were detained. The Israeli occupation implants such devices in houses without taking into account any kind of privacy for Palestinian citizens, Sherkawi indicated.
Israeli forces raid Ashkelon prison, transfer 56 Palestinian prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — Israeli forces from the Israel prison service (IPS) raided the “security section” in Ashkelon prison in central Israel on Sunday evening and transferred out all 56 Palestinian prisoners being held in the section. According to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, 12 of the prisoners were transferred to Ramla prison while the others were transferred to unknown destinations. According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, Askelon prison contains a special wing for the Israeli security services, the Shin Bet, to interrogate Palestinian political prisoners. Addameer said that as of last October, some 7,000 Palestinian prisoners were being held in Israeli prisons and detention centers. In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for IPS contradicted the report by saying prisoners were moved from one section to another inside Ashkelon prison during an “operational activity” Sunday evening, and that all prisoners were returned to their cells later on. IPS authorities have regularly used raids, confiscation of personal belongings, and forcible prison transfers to suppress resistance among Palestinian prisoners.
Meanwhile, the forcible transfer of detained Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territory into Israel is categorized as an “unlawful deportation or transfer,” a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 147), and a war crime as established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Article 8), according to Addameer.
Israeli court gives life sentence to Palestinian for participating in deadly shooting attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — An Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian to life in prison plus an additional 30 years on Sunday for his involvement in a 2015 shooting attack which killed an Israeli settler, Israeli media reported. According to news outlet Ynet, Abdullah Ishaq was the driver in a shooting attack near the illegal settlement of Shilo in the Nablus district of the occupied West Bank in June 2015. One Israeli, 25-year-old Malachi Rosenfeld, was killed in the attack, and three others were injured. The Times of Israel also reported that Ishaq was ordered to pay 250,000 shekels ($65,793) to the injured Israelis. “The murderer got his punishment, but we prefer the death penalty and the expulsion of the murderers’ families,” Rosenfeld’s father Eliezer told Ynet. Six Palestinians with alleged ties to the Hamas movement had been detained in connection with the shooting, with Israeli forces accusing them at the time of having planned other attacks. It remained unclear when the others would be sentenced.
West Bank military court verdicts now admissible in Israel
RAMALLAH (Gulf News) 23 Jan by Nasouh Nazzal — The Palestinian National Office for Defence of the Land and Resistance to the Settlements (colonies) has criticised a newly-approved Israeli law which will allow Israeli military court rulings in the occupied West Bank to be admitted as evidence in Israeli civil courts. The office, which is affiliated to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said in a strongly-worded statement that Israel is perpetuating its occupation in the West Bank and creating a new reality on the ground … “Today, the reform committees held discussions about applying Israeli building and planning laws in the occupied territories. We are talking about a creeping annexation. This bill to recognise military verdicts contradicts the legal system that has always been in place,” Osama Al Sa‘adi, a member of the Joint Arab List at the Israeli Knesset, was quoted by the Israeli media as saying when commenting on the bill. The Arab bloc at the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, rejected the law for being blatantly unconstitutional. Israel’s Attorney General, Avichai Mendelblit, criticised the law, saying the Knesset has been warned of possible repercussions abroad.
Palestinian refugees – Syria
UNRWA: ‘Don’t forget over half a million Palestinians from Syria’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWA) Pierre Krahenbuhl is set to attend an international conference in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, where he will tell the attendees that “the world should not forget” some 560,000 Palestinian refugees living in Syria whose lives “have been impacted by the deepening conflict.” According to statement from UNRWA, Krahenbuhl will speak at the conference, which has been called to launch the “Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP)” in response to the crisis in Syria, and will “update delegates” and explain that “today 430,000 Palestine refugees – 95 per cent of those Palestine refugees remaining in Syria – are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.” According to UNRWA, overall, 280,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria have been internally displaced, while around 43,000 have been trapped in hard-to-reach or besieged areas. Additionally, the UN agency reported that there were more than 30,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria who have fled to Lebanon and nearly 17,000 who have fled to Jordan, “where they face a marginalised and precarious existence.” The statement went on to say that Krahenbuhl will stress that “while the physical devastation of the conflict is visible for all to see, the human consequences, the accumulated fear and suffering, are at times more difficult to map out. In Syria, we are dealing with yet another generation of Palestinians enduring the trauma of displacement and loss in its multiple forms.”UNRWA recently launched an international appeal for $411 million to provide humanitarian assistance as well as “protection and basic services” for Palestinians “caught up in the crisis in Syria”… Over half a million Palestinians lived across nine refugee camps in Syria prior to the war, the descendants of some of the 750,000 Palestinians expelled from their homes during the establishment of Israel in 1948.
Other Palestinian news
Palestinian hip-hop group uses music as a weapon
BETHLEHEM, occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 20 Jan by Jaclynn Ashley — Carrying a pair of borrowed speakers and an MP3 player, a group of 13-year-olds cut through the narrow, graffiti-stained alleyways of the Dheisheh refugee camp, rushing past painted murals of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. Upon reaching an abandoned, half-demolished building, they plugged their speakers into an electricity outlet next door and began to rap. That was more than a decade ago, when five young Palestinians formed Bethlehem’s first-ever hip-hop group, in an effort to express their struggles in the town’s largest refugee camp. Now in their mid-20s, the group known as Palestine Street – comprising Mohammed Azmi, Soud Hefawi, Diya Milhem, Hisham al-Laham and Ahmad Ramadan – have evolved to teach their skills to young Palestinians. Their home, the densely populated Dheisheh camp, is often the site of violent confrontations, with rights groups citing the systematic targeting by Israeli forces of Palestinian youths in the camp. Near the decrepit building outside Azmi’s home where the group first started to rap, the area is littered with heaps of rubbish and broken glass. The walls are coloured with graffiti that once shielded the group from a community they feared would not accept them. “People didn’t like it at first, because they affiliated hip-hop with this ‘bling-bling’ culture,” Hefawi told Al Jazeera. “But we were using the art to speak honestly about everyday life as Palestinians … By our rapping about our frustrations and hopes, people started to relate to us and see themselves in our words.”….
Prints of Palestine: Weaving Palestinian heritage into contemporary fashion
Al-Araby 19 Jan by Nada Ramadan — By weaving unique historical patterns into elegant modern styles, Natalie Tahhan hopes to demonstrate the diversity of traditional Palestinian embroidery and its importance within Palestinian culture and identity. Tahhan’s latest and first solo collection ‘Prints of Palestine’ highlights historical motifs of Jerusalem, Hebron, Gaza, Jaffa and Ramallah, redefining Palestinian embroidery into contemporary fashion prints with the designer’s own interpretation of the art. In pre-1948 Palestine, embroidery was a traditional craft practiced mostly by village women as a way of preserving their identity. Mothers would teach their daughters their unique patterns and techniques, creating styles specific to certain regions and villages. Palestinian women in the 19th and early 20th centuries mostly wore clothes with handcrafted rich and colourful embroidery designs, influenced by basic geometric shapes such as squares and triangles, as well as ancient mythology that dates as far back as the Canaanites. In the 20’s and 30’s if you saw a Palestinian woman in a ‘thobe’ (Palestinian national dress for women) you would have been able to identify what region of Palestine she was from, whether she was married or unmarried, all from the colours and motifs embroidered on her dress,” Tahhan told The New Arab….
US-related news, opinion
US sent $221 million to Palestinians in Obama’s last hours
WASHINGTON (AP) 23 Jan by Matthew Lee and Richard Lardner — Officials say the Obama administration in its waning hours defied Republican opposition and quietly released $221 million to the Palestinian Authority that GOP members of Congress had been blocking. A State Department official and several congressional aides said the outgoing administration formally notified Congress it would spend the money Friday morning. The official said former Secretary of State John Kerry had informed some lawmakers of the move shortly before he left the State Department for the last time Thursday. The aides said written notification dated Jan. 20 was sent to Congress just hours before Donald Trump took the oath of office … Congress had initially approved the Palestinian funding in budget years 2015 and 2016, but at least two GOP lawmakers — Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kay Granger of Texas, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee — had placed holds on it over moves the Palestinian Authority had taken to seek membership in international organizations. Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding after funds have been allocated. The Obama administration had for some time been pressing for the release of the money for the Palestinian Authority, which comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development and is to be used for humanitarian aid in the West Bank and Gaza, to support political and security reforms as well as help prepare for good governance and the rule of law in a future Palestinian state, according to the notification sent to Congress.
Trump White House lowers expectations for quick embassy move in Israel
JERUSALEM/WASHINGTON (Reuters) 23 Jan by Luke Baker & Matt Spetalnick — During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s team spoke often about moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But since taking office, the contentious issue has become more nuanced and may already be moving to the backburner. In a statement issued before a first post-inauguration phone call between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday and later reinforced at a White House news briefing, Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, lowered expectations of an imminent announcement of a move that could anger the Arab world. “We are at the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject,” Spicer wrote in an email on Sunday. “There’s no decisions,” he then told reporters on Monday. Some Israeli news outlets and Israeli pro-settlement groups have taken it as a positive sign, interpreting the words of the new Trump White House as an indication that talks have begun on a move they long for, even if it could have profound repercussions for regional stability. But Israeli officials said the issue was barely discussed on the 30-minute call, and diplomats said their understanding was that it was being pushed down the agenda, at least for now. “Sounds more like walking it backwards,” one Israeli official said in a text message after Spicer’s statement. Another said that during the call Netanyahu had not sought a commitment from Trump on the relocation or a timeframe for it….
Opinion: In the US, we need a Muslim-Jewish alliance … but one that does not silence discussions on justice for Palestine / Taher Herzallah & Ben Lorber
Al Jazeera 23 Jan — Since the election of Donald Trump, there has been a renewed interest across the country in Muslim-Jewish partnership. Trump’s ascension to power on a platform of racism and xenophobia has caused many to fear what lies ahead. From potential policy measures, such as a Muslim registry and the intensification of the Countering Violent Extremism Initiative, to the emboldening of white supremacist groups bent on causing physical harm to both Muslims and Jews, there is an urgent sense that we all need to come together to weather this fascist storm. This renewed sense of solidarity is welcomed, and after Trump’s inauguration, our communities are ready to take to the streets in unity and strength. But for us to build meaningful and accountable relationships between our communities, we need to also share some principles. Without doing so, we run grave risks of subverting the dignity and freedom of expression for which our communities strive. Today, many of the groups eager to rush to the frontlines of Muslim-Jewish partnership after Trump’s election – groups like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) – have for decades been complicit in helping create the climate of Islamophobia they claim to abhor….
Palestinian solidarity groups protest the ‘new normal’ at Inauguration checkpoints
Mondoweiss 21 Jan by Jesse Rubin — Early Friday morning, a diverse coalition of social justice movements from across the country converged on the U.S. Capitol to protest and disrupt the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. Jewish Voice for Peace, a Jewish organization that campaigns on behalf of Palestinian rights, gathered a contingent of Palestine solidarity activists to join one of the 14 different “checkpoints” set up across downtown Washington D.C. “Join JVPers and allies in DC January 19th-21st to resist, refuse to normalize and build powerful progressive movements for the next four years and beyond,” stated Jewish Voice for Peace’s Facebook event called J20 Resistance is the New Normal: US to Palestine … By 6:30 a.m., the Palestine solidarity contingent had joined the anti-war bloc, which included both Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as CODEPINK and Witness Against Torture. As Trump supporters began lining up outside the inauguration entrance, activists formed a line and linked arms, creating a physical barrier in front of the entrance….
At Ramallah event, Facebook official denies agreement with Israel
Palestine Chronicla 23 Jan — A senior official at Facebook has denied any agreements between the company and the Israeli government, speaking at a conference in Ramallah on Saturday. The Palestine Digital Activism Forum, launched by 7amleh – Arab Center for Social Media Advancement, saw 21 national and international speakers address more than 200 participants. Simon Milner, Facebook policy director for the MENA, UK and Ireland, denied, reportedly for the first time, “any agreements between Facebook and Israel.” According to organizers, Milner “added that all Facebook users, bar none, are subject to the very same policies”, and “stated that Facebook is not biased against either party. The removal of pages or accounts solely depends upon the reports received by the Facebook from the affected users.” Sahar Francis, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association Director, told the conference that some 200 cases have been filed to the Israeli courts “on the grounds that some posts on social media are found to contain ‘incitement’.