Violence / Detention — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel
Israeli forces detain 5 relatives of Palestinian killed carrying out deadly truck attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Jan– Israeli forces raided homes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir on Sunday and detained at least five relatives of Fadi Ahmad Hamdan al-Qunbar, a Palestinian who was killed earlier in the day after carrying out a deadly vehicular attack. Al-Qunbar, 28, was killed by Israeli forces and armed civilians after he drove his truck into a group of soldiers in the illegal settlement of East Talpiyyot, killing four Israeli soldiers and wounding 13 others. Al-Qunbar’s sister Shadia told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the Palestinian’s home, as well as his brothers’ and parents’ houses, holding the family members for more than three hours. She said that Israeli forces had detained al-Qunbar’s wife Tahani, his parents Ahmad and Minwa, and two of his brothers, Muhammad and Munther. Shadia noted that Israeli forces initially detained Munther al-Qunbar’s wife because her husband was not at home. Israeli troops ransacked family’s homes and interrogated al-Qunbar’s 12 sisters in their courtyard before summoning them for further interrogation at the Russian compound police station in Jerusalem, Shadia added. Al-Qunbar’s sister expressed surprise at the actions of her brother, a father of four, emphasizing that he had never been affiliated with a political party, and claiming that he had never been detained by Israel — although some media reports indicated that he had previously spent time in Israeli custody. “We don’t know what happened with Fadi. He called his wife (before the attack) and told her to prepare lunch,” Shadia said, adding that the family only found out about al-Qunbar’s involvement upon seeing footage of his truck running over soldiers. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri confirmed in a statement on Sunday evening that Israeli forces had raided al-Qunbar’s home and detained nine “suspects,” including five of his relatives. Al-Samri added that Israeli police would remain heavily deployed in Jabal al-Mukabbir “until further notice.” Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli security cabinet had convened in the wake of the attack and decided to withhold his body, reject family reunification requests of some of his relatives in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, and carry out a punitive demolition on al-Qunbar’s home as soon as possible….
Israeli forces kill Palestinian man during predawn raid in al-Fara‘a
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — A Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli forces during an overnight raid in the al-Fara‘a refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tubas on Tuesday, Israeli and Palestinian sources reported, although they widely diverged over the circumstances of the man’s death. A member of the politburo of the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), Khalid Mansour, told Ma‘an that an Israeli intelligence officer “executed” Muhammad al-Salihi, 32, during a raid in his home. Al-Salihi and his mother were surprised when Israeli forces entered and ransacked their homes, Mansour said. “Muhammad started to shout at them because he thought they were thieves, and the soldiers immediately showered him with bullets at point-blank range, before the very eyes of his elderly mother,” Mansour recounted. According to the PPP official, medical sources at the Turkish hospital in Tubas said al-Salihi had been shot at least six times, including in the upper body. An Israeli army spokesperson, meanwhile, told Ma‘an that a Palestinian advanced towards Israeli troops holding a knife during an army detention raid in al-Fara‘a. She said that al-Salihi did not heed calls by the soldiers asking him to halt, leading the soldiers to shoot and kill him. The deadly altercation did not take place inside a home, the spokesperson said, contradicting Palestinian accounts. The army added that no Israelis were injured in the incident. Al-Salihi’s funeral was set to be held after midday prayer on Tuesday. The Israeli Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reason why al-Salihi’s body was not held by Israeli forces, as is commonly the case with slain alleged Palestinian attackers….
Palestinian citizen of Israel shot and killed in Sakhnin
SAKHNIN (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — A Palestinian citizen of Israel was shot and killed in the northern Israeli town of Sakhnin between Sunday and Monday, Israeli police said. Hilal Ghanayim, 32, was shot near the Doha Stadium in Sakhnin after midnight, Israeli police said, and was transferred to a hospital in critical condition before being declared dead. Israeli police said that, following an investigation, it detained a 27-year-old suspected of being involved in the case. Israeli authorities imposed a temporary gag order on the case between 10.30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Monday, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri reported. However, at the police’s request, a Nazareth district judge later issued a gag order on the case effective until Jan. 15, raising questions surrounding the circumstances of the murder.
Palestinian shot dead after driving truck into Israeli soldiers. killing 4
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — A Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli forces after driving a truck into a group of uniformed Israeli soldiers, killing four soldiers and injuring at least 13 other people Saturday afternoon, at a bus stop in the illegal Israeli settlement of East Talpiyyot in occupied East Jerusalem. An Israeli police spokesperson confirmed in a statement that the “terrorist” was shot and killed after carrying out what she called a deliberate attack. Sources identified the slain driver as 28-year-old Fadi Ahmad Hamdan al-Qunbar from the nearby East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir. Israel’s emergency medical service Magen David Adom (MDA) said that the slain Israeli soldiers were in their 20s. MDA added that 13 others were wounded — three severely, one moderately to severely, and nine lightly. They were all evacuated to Israel’s Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem. Israeli police said a truck with Israeli license plates veered from its course and rammed into people getting off of a bus — later revealed to be a group of uniformed Israeli soldiers who were reportedly on an “educational trip” along with several other groups of soldiers — at a promenade in the settlement, which overlooks the Old City of East Jerusalem … Israeli police said they imposed heightened security measures in the Jerusalem area, and that investigations were ongoing … Israeli police later announced a gag-order for Israeli media on all further details of the case, including the identities of suspects. …Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed in a statement that the slain Palestinian attacker was “by all indications a supporter of the Islamic State.” Meanwhile, the Hamas movement released a statement in Arabic on social media, in which it hailed the “heroic and brave truck attack in Jerusalem which comes as natural reaction to the Israeli occupation’s crimes.”
Israel insists attack on soldiers in occupied territory is ‘terror’
[includes best video of attack] EI 9 Jan by Maureen Clare Murphy — … Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at the scene of the attack the same day, stated, “We know the identity of the attacker. All signs point to the attacker being a supporter of the Islamic State.” Netanyahu did not support his claims with evidence, but referred to recent vehicle ramming attacks in Europe. The Israeli army meanwhile put out a video montage of footage from ramming attacks in France, Germany and the US and similar attacks waged by Palestinians. Israel has long sought to conflate Palestinian resistance with attacks in Europe and the US to obscure its decades-long military occupation and Palestinian aspirations for self-determination. Israel and its supporters also insist that any attack by Palestinians be viewed as terrorism, despite the fact that international law has long recognized their right to resist against military occupation….
Israeli court extends remand of slain Palestinian’s brother, cousin
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 10 Jan — Israel’s magistrate court in occupied Jerusalem on Monday extended the remand of two family members of Fadi al-Qunbar, who was killed on Saturday after driving a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers. Israeli media sources said that the judge decided to extend the arrest of Fadi’s brother and cousin till next Sunday. The judge also decided to release Fadi’s sister Shadia after ordering her house arrest for two days. Fadi’s parents, sisters, and wife were earlier summoned and detained for investigation before being shortly released.
After attack, heavy presence of Israeli forces in East Jerusalem sparks clashes
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Clashes erupted in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir on Sunday night amid a fierce crackdown by Israeli forces in the area, after one of the neighborhood’s residents carried out a deadly truck attack earlier in the day at a neighboring illegal Israeli settlement …”After yesterday’s deadly attack in Jerusalem, heightened police security operations taking place in a number of Arab neighborhoods,” Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said on Twitter Monday morning, and later announced that police prevented a memorial area being set up for al-Qunbar in the neighborhood. Eyewitnesses confirmed to Ma‘an that Israeli forces dismantled a mourning tent the family had set up for al-Qunbar, adding that one Palestinian youth was detained in the process. Meanwhile, local committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus said that Israeli forces raided the East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya at dawn on Monday and detained six Palestinians, three of whom were minors. Sunday night, witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces closed off the main entrance to Jabal al-Mukabbir — al-Madaris street — with cement blocks, and were heavily deployed in the neighborhood’s streets, sparking clashes with local Palestinian youth … Dozens of Israeli settlers meanwhile launched a march under the protection of Israeli forces near Jabal al-Mukabbir on Sunday evening, chanting anti-Palestinian slurs, according to locals. Al-Samri said that the group gathered at the East Talpiyyot settlement and “attempted” to make their way to Jabal al-Mukabbir while shouting “inciting” slogans, saying that the protest was organized by the right-wing extremist organization Lehava — a Hebrew acronym standing for “the Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land.” Israeli police eventually dispersed the protest and detained two settlers for “disturbing order and not following police directions,” after the settlers blocked off streets, according to al-Samri … The detention campaign and blockade of the al-Qunbar’s neighborhood were typical of measures imposed by Israeli authorities in response to attacks on Israelis….
Demands for extreme punishment of slain Palestinian attacker’s family continue
GAZA (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Israeli leaders continued to demand that extreme punitive actions be taken against the family of a Palestinian man who carried out a deadly vehicular attack on Sunday — with one minister advocating that the slain attacker’s relatives be exiled to Syria — as five of his family members remained in Israeli custody despite their insistence they had no advanced knowledge of plans for the attack. The mounting calls came as Israel has come under harsh condemnation over the past several years for its response to attacks committed by Palestinians on Israelis, which rights groups have said amounted to “collective punishment” and represents a clear violation of international law … Former Israeli army general and current Israeli Minister of Housing and Construction Yoav Galant called on the government on Monday to expel the al-Qunbar family to Syria and deny his relatives national insurance benefits … Member of Israel’s parliament and Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara had earlier called to immediately expel the family to the besieged Gaza Strip, a punitive measure which has been used by Israel against Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Kara demanded that the family members of “terrorists” be expelled to Gaza within 48 hours, saying that demolishing the al-Qunbar family home, which the Israel’s security cabinet ordered to be carried out as soon as possible, was not a sufficient response. The MK called Israel’s policy of punitively demolishing the homes of slain Palestinian attackers and rendering their family members homeless “merely a symbolic gesture,” according to Israeli news site Arutz Sheva….
Deri revokes residency status of Jerusalem terrorist’s family
Ynet 10 Jan by Danny Adeno Abebe — Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri has decided to revoke the permanent resident status of 13 members of Jerusalem terrorist Fadi Al-Qunbar‘s family, including his mother, following consultations Monday with the Shin Bet and the Immigration Authority. As a result of the terror attack, in which four IDF officers were murdered, Minwa al-Qunbar, a permanent resident of Israel who is also in bigamous marriage contrary to Israeli law, will lose her permanent residency and corresponding social benefits. Such a measure has previously never been implemented and prevents the family from appealing to the High Court of Justice, as they are not Israeli citizens. Minister Deri decided on the measure after discussions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who supported the move. Deri, acting on information presented to him by the Shin Bet, also decided on the measure as a means of deterrence against future attackers. As a result, all family members who are not citizens of Israel — including cousins, nephews and aunts and uncles — will lose their permanent residency status immediately. “This is a decision that signals a new era against terrorism and terrorists who use their status to carry out attacks against citizens. From now on, there will be zero tolerance towards those who are involved in terrorism against Israel,” said Minister Deri. “Let this be known to all who are plotting, planning or considering carrying out an attack, that their families will pay a heavy price for their actions and the consequences will be severe and far-reaching.”
Analysis: Why the latest Palestinian attacker in Jerusalem was not deterred / Amira Hass
Haaretz 9 Jan — Whether Fadi al-Qanbar planned Sunday’s ramming attack in Jerusalem or whether it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, he knew exactly what collective punishment was in store for his family. He knew that his body would not be returned to the family for burial – a particularly humiliating and painful blow. He knew that relatives would be arrested immediately and be beaten while in detention. That some might be fired from their jobs in West Jerusalem. And that female relatives without Israeli identity cards who are married to Jerusalem residents might find themselves expelled from their homes and separated from their children. He knew that for months, and perhaps years, his family would be harassed by the police and state authorities. He also knew that the family home would be demolished. All this has happened to other Palestinian attackers from East Jerusalem … In his neighborhood of Jabal Mukkaber alone, in the last six months of 2015 Israel destroyed three homes and sealed two others. All of them belonged to families of terrorists. “Sealing” means pouring concrete into the home up to only a few centimeters below the ceiling … The fact that the parents, children, grandparents, nieces and nephews who lost their homes had nothing to do with the attack is irrelevant. Israel and its Supreme Court justices see demolition as a legitimate punishment and effective deterrent against those considering a terror attack. What’s more, Qanbar surely knew that his children would not only suffer the loss of their father, they would become either violent or withdrawn – and if they are of school age, their grades would suffer, as would their health. Yet he was not deterred … A group of soldiers in uniform is not a neutral sight to any Palestinian. That’s the look and dress of those who burst into dozens of Palestinian homes every night, those who shoot women and minors to death at checkpoints, those who are sent to attack in the Gaza Strip, and who accompany Civil Administration forces to destroy water cisterns, portable toilets, tin shacks and tents. That Israelis have erased these facts from their agenda doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Israelis will no doubt say that without the deterrent steps, the number of Palestinian attackers would be higher. Or the opposite – that there should be further crackdowns. The Palestinians, however, see Israeli retaliations as a natural part of the general policy toward them, not as a response … With or without lethal attacks, it expands settlements, strangles the Palestinian economy, and plans forced expulsions of Palestinians from villages and homes in Jerusalem….
MKs: Palestinian Authority education system incitement inflamed the terrorist
JPost 8 Jan by Udi Shaham — “We should revise our approach to education in East Jerusalem; make it under our control in the neighborhoods under our sovereignty, including UNRWA schools.” — “We should have full control over the education system in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), reacting to Sunday’s deadly truck ramming attack at the Armon Hanatziv promenade in Jerusalem. Hotovely said the terrorist who carried the attack was exposed to incitement: “It is unacceptable that students living near our capital’s downtown will say that their dream is to be a shahid [martyr] … Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Bayit Yehudi) agreed that PA incitement led to the attack … MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) said, “The roots of the problem are in the incitement in the Palestinian education system, calling to kill Jews. We should revise our approach to education in east Jerusalem; make it under our control in the neighborhoods under our sovereignty, including UNRWA schools.” MK Amir Ohana (Likud) said that the solution is to allow more Israelis to bear arms….
Lieberman: Azaria verdict had no influence on response to Jerusalem attack
Ynet 9 Jan by Moran Azulay — Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beytenu) spoke at a party faction meeting on Monday, saying that there is no comparison between Sgt. Elor Azaria’s shooting of a seriously wounded terrorist who no longer posed a threat and the reactions of the soldiers who were present at Sunday’s vehicular attack at East Talpiot, Jerusalem, during which four soldiers were killed. “I was sad to see all sorts of responses to IDF forces, to the soldiers who were present,” said Lieberman. “What you have to understand is that this kind of event takes seconds, during which you need to figure out that it isn’t an accident but a terrorist attack, before having to load your weapon.” Lieberman went on to say, “We haven’t finished with the investigation yet. But it’s clear that our soldiers immediately realized (what was happening—ed), mobilized and shot the terrorist, so it wasn’t as some have claimed.” … Yesh Atid Leader Yair Lapid also rejected accusations that Azaria’s case and his guilty verdict subconsciously impacted the reaction of the soldiers present at Sunday’s attack, making them hesitate in opening fire, for fear that they too would be prosecuted.
Opinion: Azaria exposed the reality of Israel’s colonial project / Neve Gordon
Al Jazeera 5 Jan — Elor Azaria is not a rotten apple. His killing of a Palestinian exposes the normalisation of Israel’s colonial project — It is no coincidence that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who was then followed by a slew of ministers and Knesset members – has called for a presidential pardon for Israeli soldier Elor Azaria. Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter after he shot and killed Yusri al-Sharif as he lay wounded on the ground. This striking mobilisation to exonerate Azaria, which cuts across party lines and includes MKs from Labor, should actually come as no surprise, since the desired pardon is not really about absolving one lone murderer, but rather an effort to vindicate Israel’s 50-year occupation. Consciously or unconsciously, each and every government official calling for such absolution understands that Azaria is in no way an aberration of Israel’s colonial project, but rather a clear symptom of its very structure
The bystanders are testimony to the structure’s effect. The video released by the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem first depicts al-Sharif lying on the ground, wounded, as scores of soldiers and settlers stand near his body chatting, talking on the phone and taking pictures. Several medics are at the scene, but they, too, are oblivious to the injured Palestinian. Indeed, one of these medics is the killer. Following the execution, not one of the bystanders appears surprised; no one grabs Azaria and pushes him away from the scene, no one runs to al-Sharif to see if he can be resuscitated; rather, the bystanders simply continue to chat. The laid-back everydayness of those standing just metres away from an execution can certainly be understood as a manifestation of what Hannah Arendt has called the “banality of evil”. Yet, it also profoundly captures something crucial about the structure of Israel’s colonial project….
Israeli forces fire tear gas in elderly Palestinian woman’s home during night raid
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — Israeli forces injured an elderly Palestinian woman with during an overnight raid in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya, witnesses told Ma‘an on Tuesday. Israeli soldiers broke into the home of Shafiqa Ahmad Abd al-Qadir Jumaa [said by WAFA and PIC to be 80 years old] late on Monday night and fired tear gas inside her house, causing her to suffer from tear gas inhalation. The eyewitness sources added that Jumaa also sustained minor bruises during the raid. Locals said that Israeli soldiers broke into five other houses in Kafr Qaddum, and beat another village resident, identified as Majid Abd al-Mumin Jumaa.
Video: Masked Israelis attack activists accompanying Palestinian farmers in West Bank
Haaretz 8 Jan by Amira Hass — A group of masked Israelis, some of them minors, attacked three activists of the NGO Ta’ayush and two female volunteers from abroad who were accompanying Palestinians plowing in the South Hebron Hills, video of the event shows. On Saturday, the plowing had just been completed and the five activists were walking back to the village of Al-Tawani on a road that passes near the Havat Ma’on outpost. When they were a few hundred meters from the settlement, more than 10 Israelis followed close by before throwing stones at them and punching them. The assailants also grabbed a camera from one of the women. The stones struck two men and a woman, but they did not need medical attention. “A tall boy … reached us first. He looked at us closely and walked behind us. I was in the back; I didn’t see whether he said anything or not. A half minute later another three teens − kids even − arrived. One of them, maybe 9 years old, had a stick in his hand,” said one of the Israeli activists from Ta’ayush, an Israeli-Palestinian group … The two foreign activists were Italian members of the the organization Operation Dove.
Israeli settlers attack vehicles, assault passengers near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 9 Jan – Israeli settlers last night assaulted and injured many Palestinian civilians near the village of Huwwara, south of Nablus, as well as assaulted with stones multiple Palestinian vehicles at Nablus-Ramallah road, according to local sources. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in northern West Bank, said Israeli settlers attacked with stones and empty bottles Palestinian vehicles while passing near the villages of Huwwara and Burin, south of Nablus, causing damages to dozens of these vehicles. He added that the settlers also physically assaulted and beat up Palestinian passengers near the two villages after forcing them to get out of their vehicles. Some of the passengers sustained injuries and bruises due to being beat up by the settlers. Israeli forces, meanwhile, closed the main road connecting between Nablus and Ramallah through Huwwara checkpoint, forcing drivers and passengers to use an alternative road.
How one Palestinian family uses video to document the grim reality surrounding them
WaPo 4 Jan by Nick Kirkpatrick, photos by Lorenzo Tugnoli — Emad abu-Shamsiyah had just sat down for coffee with his wife Fayza and one of his daughters when they heard gunshots. That morning in March, Abu-Shamsiyah captured a video, now evidence at the center of a trial that has divided a nation. The video shows then-19-year-old Sgt. Elor Azaria, an Israeli army medic, shooting and killing Abdul Fattah al-Sharif, who lay unarmed and wounded. As Ruth Eglash of The Washington Post reported, the incident happened shortly after Al-Sharif and a friend, Ramzi al-Qasrawi, attacked Israeli troops and wounded one soldier. Israeli forces shot both of the men, killing Al-Qasrawi immediately. “When they heard the gunshots, they all knew what to expect,” freelance photographer Lorenzo Tugnoli wrote. “They darted out the door. Fayza picked up the video camera, scrambling to cover her head, and passed it to her husband as they ran.” Tugnoli’s project, “Evidence,” explores the daily life of the Abu-Shamsiyah family and the story behind their decision to document the violence around them as their own form of peaceful resistance … Abu-Shamsiyah and his family first moved to the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron in 2009, Tugnoli told The Post. The family collaborates with the Human Rights Defenders and B’tselem to document incidents near their house. “I think Emad believes that taking videos can help to eventually change the situation around him or to give justice to the victims,” he said….
PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers abduct 20 Palestinians in the West Bank’
IMEMC 9 Jan — Israeli soldiers abducted during overnight [Sunday-Monday] invasions into different parts of the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, twenty Palestinians from their homes, including two brothers and a sister of the Palestinian who was killed Sunday, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The PPS office in occupied Jerusalem said the soldiers invaded and searched many homes in the city, and abducted eight Palestinians, including the two brothers and sister of Fadi al-Qanbar, who was killed Sunday. It identified the abducted Palestinians identified as Nayef Obeid, Mohammad Mer’ey, Emad Sarandah, Nidal Froukh and Daoud Dirbas, in addition to Monther Qanbar, his brother Mohammad and their sister Shadia. In Jenin, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, the soldiers invaded and searched many homes and abducted Sa’id Mohammad Abdullah, in addition to two teachers, identified as ‘Allam Ziad Jaradat, 43, and Mohammad Ahmad Abu Tame ‘, 46. In Bethlehem, the soldiers invaded homes in ‘Aida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem, and searched them before abducting three Palestinians. The PPS identified the two abducted Palestinians as Ehab Mohammad Taqatqa, 18, and Yazan Mohammad Deeriyya, 16, in Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem. In ‘Aida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem, the soldiers invaded and searched homes and abducted a young man, identified as Daniel Rashid Abu Srour, 20. In Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted two young Palestinian men, identified as Mohammad Mer’ey and Ali Abu Ryala, from the al-‘Eesawiyya town, in the center of the city, and took them to an interrogation center. In the southern West Bank district of Hebron, the soldiers invaded the al-‘Arroub refugee camp, searched homes and abducted two young men, identified as Mohannad Abu Sil and Ahmad Abdul-Rahman Abu Sil. In Jericho, the soldiers invaded Al-Jiftlik village, north of the city, searched a number of homes and abducted two Palestinians identified as Mousa Sa’id Mawahra, 39, and Salaheddin Omar Ed’eibis, 17. In addition, the soldiers invaded Budrus town, northwest of Ramallah, also searched homes and abducted two Palestinians, identified as Mos’ab Sami Awad, 23, and his cousin Ahmad Yousef Awad, 20.
PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers abduct 26 Palestinians, including children, in West Bank’
IMEMC 10 Jan — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted [overnight Monday-Tuesday] at least 26 Palestinians, including several children, from their homes in different parts of the occupied West Bank. The PPS said the soldiers invaded and violently searched homes in occupied East Jerusalem, before abducting four children and a young man. It said the soldiers abducted Osama ‘Oweisat, 12, his brother Bassem, 14, and their cousin Mohammad Oweisat, 14, after the soldiers invaded and ransacked their homes in Jabal al-Mokabber, in Jerusalem. The soldiers also invaded Silwan town, in Jerusalem, searched homes and abducted a young man, identified as Abdul-Karim Shiokhi. The Jenin office of the PPS, in the northern part of the West Bank, said the soldiers invaded Jaba‘ town, south of Jenin, searched dozens of homes and abducted eleven Palestinians, including teachers and former political prisoners….
Palestinian youths arrested for graffiti praising Jerusalem terrorist
Ynet 10 Jan by Roi Yanovsky — Police arrested four residents of the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday on suspicion they sprayed graffiti praising the terrorist who murdered four IDF officers on Sunday. The four suspects—aged 13, 16 and 20—allegedly spray painted messages on shop doors and walls in the Muslim Quarter saying: “You have no place in Jerusalem,” and “This attack is just the beginning of 2017.” Furthermore, graffiti lauding Hamas was also discovered, saying, “Hamas is resistance, not terror.” Messages also praised Fadi Al-Qunbar, referring to him as “the king of the Mercedes,” a reference to the fact that the vehicle used in the attack was a Mercedes truck. Additionally, messages praising Masbah Abu Sabih, the Ammunition Hill terrorist who murdered two people, including a police officer, were also discovered. An investigation into the graffiti led police to the homes of the suspects, where spray paint matching the paint used in the vandalism was found. Three of the four suspects are expected to be brought to court over the charges, while the 13-year-old suspect was released to house arrest.
Israeli police detain dozens of undocumented Palestinian workers across Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Israeli police have detained dozens of undocumented Palestinian workers in the span of two days, along with several Israeli citizens who have been accused of transporting or employing the Palestinians, Israeli police said Monday. Luba al-Samri said in a statement that a 31-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel from the Negev region was detained Monday morning, along with four Palestinians from the occupied West Bank who he was transporting in his car in the city of Kafr Qasim, east of the Green Line … She said the four Palestinians were workers in their 20s from Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank. They were taken in for interrogation along with the driver, whose driver’s license was revoked. In a later statement on Monday, al-Samri said that Israeli police had detained dozens of undocumented Palestinian workers over the past two days in northern Israel, in addition to six Palestinian shop owners with Israeli citizenship who were accused of employing the Palestinians in their stores or providing accommodation to the undocumented workers. She said the majority of the detained Palestinians were from Jenin in the northern West Bank and al-Dhahiriya in the south….
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court sentences Palestinian to life in prison over deadly shooting attack
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — An Israeli military court sentenced a Palestinian man to two life sentences for a deadly shooting attack in 2015, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Monday. The Ofer military court found Muhammad Husni Abu Shahin, a resident of the Qalandiya refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank, guilty of killing an Israeli and wounding another near the illegal settlement of Dolev in June 2015.The court also imposed a 3.5 million-shekel ($908,955) fine on Abu Shahin, PPS lawyer Akram Samara said. Israeli courts typically impose on Palestinian attackers a number of life sentences equal to the number of Israelis killed. It remained unclear why Abu Shahin received two life sentences in this case. However, upon detaining Abu Shahin in July 2015, the Israeli army claimed that Abu Shahin had committed a total of “six shooting attacks,” including an alleged shooting that left an Israeli soldier injured in November 2014. Abu Shahin had reportedly been imprisoned by Israel between 2006 and 2008 for “plotting stabbing and shooting attacks.” In November 2015, Israeli forces carried out a punitive demolition on Abu Shahin’s home in Qalandiya, leading to clashes in which Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinians.
Israeli court sentences 15-year-old Palestinian girl to 18 months in prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — An Israeli military court on Monday evening sentenced a teenage Palestinian girl to 18 months in prison, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS identified the girl in a statement as 15-year-old Tasnim Halabi from the town of Rammun in the central occupied West Bank Ramallah district. Halabi, according to the statement, was detained in April, 2016 and is currently being held at HaSharon prison. According to Ma‘an records, Halabi was one of two teenage girls, both 14 years old at the time, detained on April 28, 2016, after the two allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli soldier at a military checkpoint in the Ramallah-area village of Beit Ur al-Tahta … Halabi is one of several Palestinian teenagers who have recently been sentenced to prison time by Israeli courts for allegedly planning or executing attacks against Israeli forces in a more than year-long wave of unrest that has spread across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israeli court sentences Palestinian to 22 months in prison
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — An Israeli military court sentenced Ahmad Fadel Muhammad al-Sabah on Sunday to a 22-month prison sentence, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said. A lawyer for the committee said that the court ruled that the time already served by the 29-year-old prisoner since he was first detained in July 2015 would count towards his sentence, meaning that he is set to be released in April. Al-Sabah, a resident of the village of Qaffin in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem, is a student at al-Quds Open University. He was first imprisoned by Israel for a year between 2005 and 2006, and detained once again in 2009, when he spent nine months in Israeli custody for his affiliation to the Islamic Jihad movement.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Broken homes: A record year of home demolitions in occupied East Jerusalem [Interactive]
Al Jazeera Jan — For decades, Israel has been accused of using home demolitions as a tool to control the Palestinian population in the occupied territories. Approving less than two percent of all requests for building permits submitted by Palestinians, Israel then razes the homes and shops that lack one. In recent months, Israel has also ramped up its policy of punitive demolitions, despite the practice being labelled a war crime. For a full year, Al Jazeera worked with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to monitor and document every demolition that occurred in occupied East Jerusalem, a neighbourhood that has been at the heart of a recent wave of unrest. The data provides detailed insights into the scale and scope of Israel’s home demolitions, revealing the devastating toll on Palestinian families.
Negev Bedouins protest against Israeli policy of home demolitions
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Palestinian residents of several unrecognized Bedouin villages in southern Israel protested on Sunday against Israeli policies of home demolitions in their area. The Higher Guidance Committee for Arab Residents of Negev organized the protest, where demonstrators held signs condemning the escalation of demolitions in the past three weeks, during which time more than 60 homes were destroyed. Protesters condemned the “direct incitement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu” against their communities, and urged people to continue the fight against what they have called “racist policies” against them, and to “refuse all incitements against Arab citizens [of Israel].” The protest was one of what the committee said will be a series of protests to be conducted in the southern Israeli Negev desert in upcoming weeks….
Israeli forces destroy water pipeline serving Bedouin villages in northern West Bank
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — Israeli forces destroyed a pipeline supplying water to four Bedouin communities in the northern Jordan Valley, a Palestinian official said on Tuesday morning. Muataz Bisharat, who monitors settlement-related activities in the Jordan Valley, told Ma‘an that bulldozers under Israeli military protection destroyed part of an 11-kilometer water pipeline supplying the villages of al-Ras al-Ahmar, al-Hadidiya, Khirbet Makhul, and Khirbet Humsa. Bisharat added that the pipeline was funded by international NGO Action Against Hunger four years ago … Forming a third of the occupied West Bank and with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C — under full Israeli military control — the Jordan Valley has long been a strategic area of land unlikely to return to Palestinians following Israel’s occupation in 1967. Demolitions of Palestinian infrastructure and residences occur frequently in Area C, with Bedouin and herding communities being particularly vulnerable to such policies. As of Dec. 26, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that Israeli forces had demolished 870 Palestinian structures in Area C in 2016 — compared to 453 in 2015. In August, Israeli forces had demolished another pipeline funded by Action Against Hunger in the northern Jordan Valley. Nearly 200,000 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank do not have access to running water, according to Amnesty International….
Israel issues demolition orders for dwellings in Masafer Yatta
HEBRON (WAFA) 9 Jan – Israeli forces issued orders to demolish two structures in the village of al-Fakhit, south of the district of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, Rateb al-Jbour, coordinator of the anti-settlements committee, told WAFA on Monday. He said Israeli forces raided the dwelling, part of Masafer Yatta villages, and informed Muhye Abu Sabha and Mohammad Abu Sabha that their metal structures will be demolished because they were built in Area C without permission. Israel controls Area C, which makes around 60 per cent of the area of the occupied West Bank. The two structures were donated by the Italian Cooperation as part of European humanitarian assistance to Palestinians living in Area C. Humanitarian organizations said Israel has demolished more structures in Area C in 2016 than any previous year.
Court to decide fate of Palestinian villages in ‘Firing Zone 918’
+972 mag 9 Jan by Edo Konrad — Hundreds of Palestinians in the south Hebron hills are living under the fear of imminent displacement because the Israeli army says it wants to conduct live-fire drills on their village lands. Israel’s High Court of Justice on Wednesday will hear the case of eight Palestinian villages fighting looming demolition and displacement by the Israeli army in an area the military has designated a live-fire zone. The area in question, Firing Zone 918, has become a flashpoint in ongoing Israeli attempts to push smaller, rural Palestinian communities off their land across the West Bank in the past several decades. The story begins in the late 1970s, when the Israeli army declared “Firing Zone 918” on an area of approximately 30 square miles in the south Hebron Hills — home to 12 Palestinian villages — ostensibly for military training. In October of 1999 the army expelled approximately 700 Palestinian residents of the villages, who had lived there in natural and man-made caves – some on a permanent basis, others only seasonally – long before Israel ever occupied the West Bank. The expulsion orders were handed out on the grounds of “illegal residence in a live-fire zone.” In 2000, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) secured an interim injunction in the Supreme Court, managing to halt the displacement, thus allowing the residents to return to their homes….
Israeli forces deliver demolition orders to Palestinian homeowners in Salfit
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Israeli forces delivered stop-work orders and demolition orders to Palestinian owners of three homes in the town of Burqin west of Salfit in the central occupied West Bank on Sunday, under the pretext that the structures did not have Israeli-issued building permits. Local sources told Ma‘an that the homes were located in Area C — the more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control — along an Israeli bypass road connecting illegal Israelis settlements located just west of Burqin: Peduel, Ale Zahav, and Leshem, which was recently recognized by the Israeli government as a settlement unto itself after first being established as a “neighborhood” of the Ariel settlement block. Salfit-area researcher Khalid Maali told Ma’an that as of Sunday, some 22 demolition orders had been delivered to Palestinian homes in the Salfit area over the past five days alone. He did not specify how many of the three warrants delivered on Sunday were for demolitions, and how many were stop-work orders….
PHOTOS: Israeli authorities uproot olive trees to build settler-only road
Activestills 8 Jan Photos and text by Keren Manor — Civil Administration contractors accompanied by Israeli soldiers uprooted around 250 Palestinian-owned olive trees Sunday near the West Bank city of Qalqilya, as part of a larger plan to build a settler bypass road in the area. The Nabi Elias bypass road will include the expropriation of 25 acres of Palestinian land — including a total 700 olive trees — belonging to the Palestinian villages of Izbat Tabib, ‘Azzun, and Nabi Elias just east of Ramallah. On Saturday the army prevented dozens of Israeli activists from joining a nonviolent Palestinian demonstration against the land confiscations. By Sunday only a small group of Palestinians came out to protest the uprooting. The decision to build the road, which will serve settlers only, was made as part of a compromise with the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization that governs Jewish settlements in the West Bank. According to the text on the expropriation orders, paving the road is intended to “improve transportation between Nablus and Qalqilya.” The Palestinian landowners previously unsuccessfully petitioned the High Court against the plan. According to the head of Nabi Elias’ village council Raed Khalif, those who will be able to prove ownership over the land will receive meager compensation for the property they lost — which makes up an essential part of their livelihood
WATCH: Soldiers prevent Palestinians, Israelis from protesting together
Activestills 7 Jan by Ahmad al-Bazz & Haggai Matar. Photos by Ahmad al-Bazz & Keren Manor — Israeli activists had hoped to join Palestinians to protest a new settler-only road that would uproot hundreds of olive trees. The Israeli army saw to that — The Israeli army prevented dozens of Palestinians and Israelis from protesting together against the expropriation of 25 acres of agricultural land near the West Bank city of Qalqilya on Saturday. At around noon on Saturday, 70 Palestinians left the village of ‘Izbat a-Tabib and marched toward Route 55 in order to protest plans to pave a new settler-only road, which would include uprooting 700 olive trees and would separate farmers from more than dozens of acres of their land. Shortly after the demonstrators reached the area slated for expropriation, Israeli soldiers arrived on the scene and declared it a closed military zone. The soldiers also arrested two of the demonstrators and pushed the rest back into the village. Meanwhile 60 Israeli activists attempted to cross Eliyahu checkpoint on a bus and in several private cars in order to join the Palestinian protest, which was planned in coordination with Palestinian and Israeli activists from the anti-occupation group, Combatants for Peace. While cars usually pass through from Israel to the West Bank without any inspection, this time soldiers and police officers inspected every vehicle for potential demonstrators….
Palestinians protest dire electricity crisis in Gaza amid 12-hour blackouts
GAZA (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip took to the streets on Sunday and Monday to protest an ever-worsening electricity crisis in the besieged coastal enclave, where people have had to cope with only three hours of power in between 12-hour-long blackouts. The new schedule was imposed after two generators of Gaza’s sole power plant stopped operating on Friday due to severe fuel shortages. Days later on Monday, Gaza’s electricity company announced that the Egyptian electricity lines feeding the Rafah governorate in the southern Gaza Strip were damaged and had also stopped operating. Abdullah al-Najili, the head of media and public relations department for the electricity company in Rafah, said that due to lack of electricity supply and damage to the electricity lines, the company has begun operating under an emergency contingency plan. While the entry of fuel into the Gaza Strip on Sunday raised hopes for some relief from the power shortages, the deepening electricity crisis has sparked protests in recent days, amid an already dire situation under a crippling military blockade by Israel. Scores of outraged citizens launched a demonstration in al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on Sunday night. Witnesses told Ma‘an that protesters marched through the streets of the camp in a spontaneous protest, demanding an end to the electricity crisis that has been ongoing for years. The Islamic Jihad movement also organized a march in Gaza on Monday, affirming that they were exerting major efforts with “decision makers” to resolve the crisis … Yousif al-Mahmoud, a spokesperson for the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) which governs the occupied West Bank, blamed the current situation on Hamas’ control over Gaza Strip and the besieged enclave’s electricity company and power authority. Al-Mahmoud said in a statement that the PA government had been obstructed from conducting numerous projects, particularly projects aiming to increase power supply, such as the construction of a new gas line for the electricity company. He insisted that “despite all obstacles,” the PA was making efforts to resolve the electricity crisis, highlighting that the PA recently issued an order to exempt fuel from being taxed….
Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian farmland in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Israeli troops opened live fire at Palestinian agricultural land in two separate incidents in the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, local sources told Ma‘an, with no injuries reported.Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers stationed at military posts across the border fence opened fire at Palestinian farmland in the eastern outskirts of Gaza City.A similar shooting incident was reported by locals in the village of Khuza‘a east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip … The day prior, Israeli troops fired intermittently at agricultural lands of Khuza‘a.
NIS 3.34 billion allocated to Gaza barrier project
Ynet 1 Jan by Matan Tzuri — Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman has approved a budget allocating NIS 3.34 billion for the construction of a barrier on the border of the Gaza Strip and Israel, which is meant to block Hamas from tunneling under the border. According to a document on the matter, the funds for the project will come from “an external budget within the Ministry of Defense.” The document issued by Lieberman’s office is meant to provide assurance to the residents living in communities on the Gaza border, who feared that the project would not materialize due to budgetary constraints. The project is one of the biggest and most expensive undertaken and is meant to be combined with several other measures along the 64 kilometer border. A “smart” fence—similar to the fence on the border with Egypt—with concrete walls stretching underground, will also be able to detect tunnels and will be equipped with offensive and defensive capabilities. The project is being led by the IDF’s Southern Command in cooperation with private firms. Currently, the project is in initial stages, but is expected to move into advanced stages in the coming months. The Gaza Division has already begun preparing for construction, which is expected to be completed within two years and bring large amounts of equipment and workers to the area. During his last visit to the Gaza region, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot called the plan “the flagship project of the IDF and the security establishment.”
A “smart” fence—similar to the fence on the border with Egypt—with concrete walls stretching underground, will also be able to detect tunnels and will be equipped with offensive and defensive capabilities. The project is being led by the IDF’s Southern Command in cooperation with private firms. Currently, the project is in initial stages, but is expected to move into advanced stages in the coming months.
Qatar set to build embassy in Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Qatar has reportedly decided to build an embassy in the besieged Gaza Strip during a meeting of the Qatari committee for Gaza reconstruction on Monday. The head of the committee, Abd al-Halim al-Issawi, gave the green light for the construction of the embassy after visiting the planned location, a five-dunam (1.2 acres) plot of land south of the Gaza City port, on Thursday with contractors. While Qatar has had a representative office in the besieged Palestinian enclave, the planned embassy could mark a significant diplomatic move, as most countries have implanted their diplomatic missions and consulates to the occupied Palestinian territory in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Qatar is a prominent backer of the Hamas movement — the de facto ruling party in Gaza — and has provided significant financial support for reconstruction in the blockaded enclave following several devastating Israeli offensives….
Palestinian refugees – Syria
Opinion: Helping Rana rebuild her life / Pierre Krähenbühl
Al Jazeera 9 Jan — (Pierre Krähenbühl is the Commissioner General of UNRWA) Palestinian refugees in the Middle East continue to live in dire circumstances — Over the many years I spent working in conflict zones, certain encounters will always stand out in a very special way. Meeting young Rana, a 12-year-old UNRWA student from the Qabr Essit refugee camp in southern rural Damascus, had a deep impact on me. At 3:50pm on February 21, 2016, her life changed forever. Rana had gone to buy vegetables in the market at the entrance of the camp, and at that precise moment a double car bomb attack occurred, killing more than 120 people and injuring dozens more. “After six hours of searching in the streets, I found Rana at Al-Mujtahid Hospital,” her mother, Mahdiyeh, recalls with teary eyes. “She was in a terrible condition; her face and hands were burnt and her legs were filled with shrapnel.” She pauses briefly before adding: “My nephew … he was found dead …” To save Rana’s life, doctors made the difficult decision to amputate one of her legs. She stayed in the hospital for a month, with her mother at her bedside. She recovered with the support of UNRWA disabilities interventions – providing her with an artificial limb and aiding the recovery process through physiotherapy and home adaptations – and through the provision of the Agency’s psychosocial support services. When I met Rana in Qabr Essit in May last year and was struggling to find the right words to give her strength, she described her determination to put the nightmares behind her and live the rest of her life to the fullest. Rana’s story is frighteningly common in the Palestine refugee community in Syria. 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. Adequately responding to their needs has required major adaptations to UNRWA operations over the past five years. Today, 430,000 Palestine refugees – 95 per cent of those remaining in Syria – are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance. Overall, 280,000 are internally displaced and around 43,000 are trapped in hard-to-reach or besieged areas. In addition to this, there are more than 30,000 Palestine 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. Our operations are carried out by some 4,000 staff, mostly Palestinians, who have shown immense courage under the most trying circumstances….
Opinion: The BDS struggles in US academia / David Palumbo-Liu
UNITED STATES (Al Jazeera) 9 Jan — A new generation of scholars continues the push for the academic boycott of Israel, despite setbacks and strong lobbies — On January 7, the Delegate Assembly of the Modern Language Association (MLA) voted against a non-binding resolution to endorse the call from Palestinian civil society for the academic boycott of Israeli institutions (Yes, 79; No, 113). At that same session, the Assembly voted for a resolution to condemn the boycott (Yes, 101; No, 93). One of the reasons it is difficult for those supporting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to get their motions passed is that external organisations here and in Israel add their resources and legal teams to the anti-boycott side. The Brandeis Center threatening a lawsuit against the MLA if it lets the vote go forward, the collaboration of a group of university heads in Israel, anxious about the pro-boycott connecting their universities to the maintenance of the occupation, and other repressive measures also aided the fight against the boycott … But another reason such boycotts are hard to pass in these large and traditional organisations is that they are averse to acting politically. This sometimes takes very particular forms. For example, in the 1980s the MLA also refused to endorse the anti-apartheid boycott, which is now of course regarded as a major factor in ending the apartheid regime in South Africa, on the grounds that the MLA did not do politics. Yet at its January meeting the majority of MLA delegates made a political declaration to protect themselves from potential attacks on speech, racism, and travel which might emanate from the new Trump administration – it issued a strong critique of our new president….
Opinion: What we can legally do against the anti-BDS campaign / Salma Karmi-Ayyoub
Al Jazeera 5 Jan — In mid-December the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), a campaigning organisation in Britain supporting Palestinian issues, filed a claim in England’s High Court challenging regulations issued by the British government prohibiting local government pension schemes from pursuing boycotts, divestment or sanctions (BDS) against foreign nations as part of their investment policies. It is clear to most observers that these regulations are intended to prevent boycotts of Israel, although they do not state this explicitly. PSC has argued that the regulations prohibit freedom of expression, are so unclear as to be unlawful, are contrary to European Union law governing pensions, and that central government has abused its powers to regulate pensions to achieve other, unrelated objectives. The government must formally respond to PSC’s claims and then the court will decide whether to grant permission for a hearing of the case. -The campaign against BDS- In fact, the pensions regulations are the latest in a series of measures taken by governments in Europe and North America to counter BDS, after Israel created a special task force with a budget of around $25.5m in June 2015, to fight the movement worldwide. In February 2016, the British government issued guidance prohibiting pro-BDS policies in public procurement, reportedly after lobbying by the Israeli embassy in London. Meanwhile, the United States has issued a plethora of anti-BDS laws prohibiting state investment in entities that boycott Israel. France has also used existing hate speech laws to prosecute activists encouraging BDS, and Canada, which signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Israel in 2015 to combat BDS, has threatened to use hate speech laws against activists. Pro-Israeli NGOs in the United Kingdom and the US have promoted legal cases against organisations supporting boycotts of Israel, often claiming that BDS constitutes a form of anti-Jewish discrimination….
France shoots down purchase of Israeli drones
EI 9 Jan by Ali Abunimah — Boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigners in France are welcoming their government’s decision not to spend more than $100 million on Israeli drones. This is the second major defeat for Israel’s Elbit Systems, which last year lost a major bid it had been tipped to win to sell France its Watchkeeper drone. This time, Elbit was in a competition to sell its Skylark drone to the French army, but on 5 January, France’s arms procurement agency awarded the contract to rival weapons maker Thales. Thales and Elbit are not always in competition, however. The Watchkeeper drone previously rejected by France is built in a joint venture between Elbit and the UK subsidiary of Thales. But the new battery-powered reconnaissance drones in this contract will be almost 100 percent made in France, according to the business publication Challenges. BDS France said it is “delighted at the commercial failure of Elbit Systems,” stressing that the company “uses the Palestinian population as guinea pigs to test its weapons, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”….
WATCH: ‘Israeli Arab or Palestinian?
Israel Social TV 6 Jan by Rami Younis — One in five Israeli citizens are Arab — Muslim, Christian, Druze, Bedouin. A 2014 +972 Magazine poll found that the percentage of Arab citizens of Israel who identify as Palestinian has risen dramatically in recent years. Rami Younis and Israel Social TV explore the changing Palestinian identity politics inside Israel. Stay tuned for the next episodes of this series.
Abbas sends letter urging Trump not to move US embassy to Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently sent a letter to the president-elect of the United States Donald Trump urging him to abstain from moving the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported Monday that Abbas explained in his letter “the destructive effects” of such a move to the peace process, to the two-state solution, as well as to general stability in the region. According to Wafa, the letter also reminded President-Elect Trump that Israel’s annexation of occupied East Jerusalem remains illegal under international law. Abbas also sent letters to heads of states in Russia, China, France, Germany, and Britain, as well as the European Union, the African Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the organization of Non-Aligned Movement, and the secretary-general of the Arab League. The letters urged heads of states and organizations to “exert as much efforts as possible to prevent moving the U.S embassy to Jerusalem.”….
South African president urges citizens not to visit Israel
JOHANNESBURG (PIC) 10 Jan — South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma has asked his citizens not travel to Israel in order to show solidarity with the Palestinian people, who suffer from occupation and oppression, according to Africa News website. At the 105th anniversary ceremony of the African National Congress in Soweto on Sunday, Zuma stated that “the people of Palestine continue to suffer in their rightful quest for self-determination.” He expressed the party’s support for the December 2016 UN Security Council resolution against Israel’s settlement construction and called on the Palestinian people to unite and work on achieving their goals. The president also vowed that Johannesburg would never cease its support for the Palestinian cause. The government of South Africa has accused Israel several times of pursuing racist and apartheid policies towards the Palestinians. It also sanctioned new rules to prevent its citizens who hold dual citizenship from joining the Israeli army and imposed restrictions on Israeli products entering the country.
Opinion: FIFA must take action on Israeli settlement clubs / Aubrey Bloomfield
Al Jazeera 6 Jan — …Since the launch of the BDS movement in 2005 there have been sporadic sports-based protests and calls for Israel’s expulsion from international sporting bodies. However, it was not until recently – with protests against Israel hosting a men’s under-21 European football tournament in 2013, threats by the Palestine Football Association (PFA) to call for a vote on Israel’s FIFA membership (it did this in 2014 and 2015 but ultimately backed down both times), and demonstrations by fans of European clubs such as Scotland’s Glasgow Celtic in 2016 – that this has generated greater attention. The latest controversy is over the status of Israeli clubs based in illegal settlements. Following the recent UNSC resolution, FIFA is under renewed pressure to take decisive action on this issue.
Despite persistent UN rulings to the contrary, FIFA officials have previously referred to the settlements as “disputed” territory. According to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report in September, there are six Israeli teams based in West Bank settlements. Both Israel and Palestine are FIFA members and under its rules a national association can operate clubs in the territory of another national association only with its consent, something Palestine has not granted. The status of the settlement clubs was one of a number of factors highlighted by the PFA and BDS activists in previous calls to suspend Israel from FIFA. Yet it has developed into something of a standalone issue recently. In 2016 there was a growing campaign including the PFA, BDS groups, European parliamentarians, and civil society calling on FIFA to take action against the Israel Football Federation (IFA) if it continued to allow the settlement clubs to play in its leagues. The BDS movement highlighted the precedent of FIFA’s expulsion of apartheid South Africa in 1976 … There is already a precedent for action on such issues, with Crimean clubs previously prohibited from being incorporated into Russian leagues following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. –A possible FIFA suspension– Should FIFA demand that the IFA move the clubs inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders or face suspension, it would present an acute political dilemma for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government is beholden to the settlers….