Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian grandmother wounded, loses consciousness during IDF raid on apartment
Haaretz 14 Jan by Amira Hass — …In the daily reports on IDF and police operations in Palestinian territory – based on the reports of the Palestinian security forces – only one raid is noted in Kafr Qaddum (out of 36 raids on that day alone). But in reality, the force raided no fewer than 10 homes in the village, all belonging to the Juma‘a extended family. Considering the large number of targets, it was a swift operation. Armed and masked, the soldiers began to break into the homes at around 11:30 P.M. and left about two hours later, the head of the local council, Hamza Juma‘a – whose home was also broken into – told Haaretz in a telephone interview. No one was arrested (during those nine days, Israel arrested some 180 Palestinians in total). Also, they did not report the overturned closets, broken doors and other damage frequently caused during raids. During the raid on every home, the soldiers separated the women and children from the men and, as Juma‘a told Haaretz, one of the masked men began to question and warn the men in a separate room … Hamza Juma‘a counted 13 masked soldiers inside the house, and about another 12 moving around outside. He thinks it was only one group of soldiers who went from house to house, in order to warn 10 families in the dead of night – some 70 people in all – not to participate in the protests against blocking the road from their village to Nablus, and not to let their young family members. What made this night raid, one of many, not disappear into the daily statistics of armed Israeli soldiers breaking into a house and waking up all its residents is what happened to 80-year-old Shafiqa Juma‘a … Although her granddaughters live with her in the same room (to help with tasks she finds difficult to perform), at such frightening moments she is the responsible adult. Her first thought was to protect them, the younger and less experienced ones. “I immediately got up from my bed and woke up the granddaughters,” she said. This is a common Palestinian custom: When soldiers break in, the adults immediately wake the children – before a pointed rifle or blinding flashlight does so. “I opened the door and many Israeli soldiers entered the room, black masks on their faces, shouting at us. I told them in a quiet voice not to scare my granddaughters who were with me, but the soldiers were very nervous. One of them pushed me with his hands and I fell to the floor, hitting my bed on the way. Probably after the fall and the blow to my head and body, I was in pain and lost consciousness,” she recalled … The three sisters began to scream. The oldest picked her grandmother up and helped her to sit on the bed. “Grandma was shaking and feeling pain, and then lost consciousness,” recalled Sara. She wanted to bring scent to rouse her grandmother, but the soldiers refused to let her leave the room to do so. She screamed so that the rest of the family would know there was a problem, but the soldiers silenced her. Luckily, the soldiers left the house straight afterward. A Red Crescent Movement ambulance was summoned. It took Shafiqa to the hospital in Qalqilyah, with her concerned sons accompanying her. The examinations and X-rays ruled out any fractures. “Now I am lying in bed and suffering from pains in the head and body,” she told Saadi on Wednesday.
Israeli forces injure 3 Palestinian youths during clashes in al-Jalazun refugee camp
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — Israeli forces Friday injured three Palestinian youths in al-Jalazun refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah with rubber-coated steel bullets, as clashes broke out between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youth in the camp. Locals told Ma‘an that during the clashes at the entrance of the camp, Israeli forces shot rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters at youth in the camp, injuring three. The injured Palestinians were reported as “boys,” but their exact age and severity of their injuries remained unknown as of Friday. Israeli forces also reportedly detained one of the injured youths. Locals added that Israeli forces had attempted to reach the main street of the camp, but were met with Palestinian youth throwing rocks and empty bottles, forcing the Israeli soldiers to retreat into the nearby illegal Israeli Beit El settlement.
2 Palestinians injured, tens suffer tear gas inhalation during protests in Bil‘in
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — Israeli forces Friday violently suppressed a weekly march in Bil‘in in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, with at least two Palestinians reported injured and tens suffering from tear gas inhalation, while a weekly march was also held in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the district of Qalqiliya. In Bil‘in, protesters, who included both Palestinian and international participants, held Palestinian flags and marched through the village’s streets shouting slogans and songs, calling for national unity, resisting Israeli occupation, releasing Palestinian prisoners, and other principles close to the Palestinian struggle. Coordinator for the popular resistance committee in Bil‘in Abdullah Abu Rahma told Ma‘an that Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at protesters, causing injuries to two Palestinians. Abdulkhaliq Barnat, referred to as a “Palestinian boy,” sustained a head injury during the suppression of the march, and was transferred to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah to receive medical treatment, while Ashraf Abu Rahma was treated on the scene by Palestinian medical crews after sustaining an unidentified injury. Abu Rahma added that tens of Palestinians and foreign activists suffered from tear gas inhalation, saying that Israeli forces fired the canisters “heavily” at the demonstrators.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian child in Ramallah-area village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 Jan– Israeli forces reportedly detained an 11 year-old Palestinian child in the central occupied West Bank on Wednesday afternoon, locals said. According to local sources, Muhammad Munir Tamimi was at the entrance of the village of Deir Nidham northwest of Ramallah when Israeli forces detained him and took him to an unknown destination. It remained unclear as of Thursday whether Tamimi had been released or was still in Israeli custody. Deir Nidham residents told Ma‘an that Israeli forces have been carrying regular raids in the village and have detained more than 10 children in recent months.
Israeli forces detain 16 Palestinians in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Jan– Israeli forces detained at least 16 Palestinians in raids between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israeli and Palestinian sources said. In East Jerusalem, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported that Israeli forces detained Malik Froukh, 18, Ihab Zghir, Ghazi Abu Mayala, and Rushdi Halawani. Locals told Ma‘an that three unidentified shop owners were detained in the Old City of East Jerusalem on Wednesday evening. It remained unclear whether the merchants were part of the detainees mentioned by PPS. In the northern occupied West Bank, PPS reported that Baraa Tawfiq was detained in the village of Meithalun in the Jenin district, while Basel Souqi was detained in the Tulkarem-area village of Irtah. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an one detention in Meithalun. In the Nablus district, Atallah Hussein Hashash, 24, was detained in the Balata refugee camp, while Murad Abu Hdib was detained in the ‘Askar refugee camp, according to PPS. The army confirmed both detentions.In the Qalqiliya district, PPS said that Israeli forces detained Mehdi Sweidan, 24, Laith Rabiaa, 19, and Qais Shbita, 21. The Israeli army mentioned three detentions in the village of ‘Azzun….
Israeli authorities say Palestinian provoked Israeli soldiers in suicide attempt
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — The Israeli army handed over a young Palestinian man to Palestinian security forces on Saturday after he was interrogated on suspicion of attempting to stab Israeli soldiers, with Israeli authorities saying that he provoked Israeli soldiers to shoot him to death. After a pattern of apparent extrajudicial executions of Palestinians by Israeli forces emerged since a wave of unrest began in October 2015, Israeli authorities and media outlets have claimed that a number of the Palestinians were shot after they intentionally provoked Israeli forces at military checkpoints in order to commit suicide. In a statement released Saturday, the Israeli Civil Administration said Israeli forces detained a young Palestinian man from the village of Saffa west of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank after he approached a military checkpoint near the village of Beit Sira. “The soldiers suspected the young man and stopped him for inspection, and discovered he was hiding a knife,” the statement claimed. After questioning the young man, who remained unidentified, Israeli authorities said they decided to release him after “he told interrogators he was trying to get Israeli soldiers to shoot him dead because he wanted to end his life after an unsuccessful love affair.” He reportedly told interrogators that he “wanted to just pull out a knife in front of the soldiers so they will shoot him.”
The untold story of how the killing of Abdul Fattah al-Shareef was filmed
Open Democracy 12 Jan by Badee Dwaik & Gilbert Ramsey — The story of the camera, and the campaign that helped reveal the criminal acts perpetrated by Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank — Media all over the world have covered the case of the killing of Abdul Fattah al-Shareef, the Palestinian teenager who was shot in his head in cold blood by Israeli soldier Elor Azaria on 24th March 2016 in the Tel Rumeida district in Hebron … The wide publicity which the video of this particular killing received is a good and important thing, in so far as it helped to reveal the criminal acts which are perpetrated by Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank – the founding purpose of our group, Human Rights Defenders. Yet, there are facts that have seldom been spoken about in the Israeli media, or indeed the international media, which continue to rely disproportionately on Israeli media sources for its information. In particular, international media has had little to say about the story behind the filming of the attack. It wasn’t just good luck that placed a camera in the hands of a local Palestinian resident on that day in March. Rather, it was the result of a long, difficult campaign to organise a community. Let’s start with the camera that Imad Abu Shamsiya used to film the killing. As it happens, that particular camera was one of four which were donated by a group of American activists based in northern California….
Opinion: What Israeli soldiers never tell their mothers / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 15 Jan — There is virtually no combat service in the IDF that doesn’t entail soldiers carrying out despicable missions like the one described below — They gathered in the narrow street, on a cold and dark night. They were tense. The howl of a distant jackal broke the silence. For some, this was their first operational mission. They’d always dreamed of it, and they’d been in training for a long time. The adrenaline was flowing, just the way they liked it. That’s what they enlisted for … Their mothers won’t ask what they did, and they won’t tell them. That’s how it always is. Their parents are proud of them: they’re combat soldiers. As they formed up before leaving, their commanders checked their gear and ammunition, and gave them their final orders. The intelligence officer told them of the two wanted men; they must be found, at any price. Then the force went out into the night. Thirty soldiers. They went up the hill on foot. They reached their target sometime after midnight. The village was deep in sleep, the orange security lights of the settlement across the way winking in the distance. And the order was given: Attack! They leaped at the back door of the house and shook it until it was almost torn from its hinges. A dim light emanated from the second floor and a man came down in pajamas, still half asleep, to open the metal gate. Not one of them asked himself what he was doing there. Maybe that will happen when they grow up a little more. The first four entered with their machine guns at the ready. Black masks covered their faces; only their eyes peeped out. They pushed the shocked Palestinian backward. He tried to explain to them that the children were sleeping and he didn’t want them to wake up to the sight of a masked soldier above their bed. The soldiers wanted Tariq. And also Malik. They ordered the Palestinian to take them to them. The two wanted men slept in a room that was all blue, including the sheets. The soldiers woke them with shouts. The wanted men woke up in a panic. The soldiers ordered them to get up. Then they grabbed their arms, pushed them into two separate rooms and locked them in. Other soldiers broke into the house, whose inhabitants had all woken up in the meantime. Six-year-old Mahmoud began to cry: “Daddy, Daddy!” The soldiers warned the two wanted men not to dare participate in any more demonstrations. “Next time, we’ll shoot you or arrest you,” they told Malik. He remained locked up for about 40 minutes, until the force left. On their way out, the soldiers threw stun grenades into the yards of the homes they passed – the icing on the cake. All of this happened about 10 days ago in Kafr Qaddum. All of it happens every night throughout the West Bank. The two wanted men were aged 11 and 13. Tariq’s voice hasn’t broken yet, and Maliq has a bashful smile. Since that night, they will sleep only in their parents’ bed. Mahmoud has started wetting the bed. The large force of soldiers came in the dead of night just to intimidate them, and perhaps also to maintain their edge.… [See also An Israeli army tactic: Intimidating Palestinian children in the night ]
Prisoners / Court actions
Gaza aid ex-chief rejects plea deal
The Australian 14 Jan by Jacob Atkins — A senior World Vision employee accused by Israel of siphoning Australian aid funds to Hamas has spurned a three-year plea bargain because he wants to “fight it to the end”, as his full charge sheet reveals Israel may have backed down from the most explosive allegations against him after his arrest last year. This week, Israel laid two new charges against the former World Vision chief in Gaza, Mohammed El Halabi, including providing funds to a Hamas-run mosque and giving the terror group information about security arrangements at the Israel-Gaza crossing. Other charges accuse him of diverting resources and cash to Hamas and its military wing for use in terror activity, such as procuring weapons and repairing tunnels used to launch attacks. Mr Halabi was defiant as he was led from court in the Israeli city of Ber Sheva on Thursday, declaring: “I would like to assure my family I’m fine and I want them to know that I’m innocent of all these accusations. I’m the most innocent person ever. “Our mission was totally humanitarian, not terrorism.” He said he had been tortured physically and emotionally “but it’s stopped now”. At the short, rowdy hearing, the prosecution and defence teams argued over the late inclusion of the new charges, with the legal teams and three judges often yelling over each other. “The orders of our client now is to go all the way to the end. He’s not interested (in a settlement),” his lawyer, Lea Tsemel, said outside court. The offer of a plea deal indicates the case may not be as strong as claimed initially….
Cop accused of killing Palestinian teen agrees to plea deal
Times of Israel 12 Jan — Jerusalem prosecutors said Thursday that they had formally reached a plea bargain with a Border Police officer who in 2014 allegedly shot dead a teenage Palestinian protester in the West Bank, and was subsequently charged with wrongful death. The family of the Palestinian teen, 17-year-old Nadeem Siam Nawara, has vowed not to accept the agreement, rejecting the defense’s arguments that the officer, Ben Deri, had not realized he was using live ammunition instead of rubber bullets when he was ordered to disperse a crowd of protesters during Nakba Day demonstrations in the West Bank village of Beitunia, near Ramallah, in May 2014. A police investigation into the shooting found that Deri, who was 21 at the time of the incident, confirmed that he had used a live round rather than nonlethal munitions. Nawara was killed along with fellow protester Muhammad Abu Taher, 22. A video released following the incident appeared to show that Nawara was shot while he was some distance from the demonstration and apparently posed no threat to Deri’s Border Police unit. Nawara’s family had previously vowed to use every means possible to see justice served, including an appeal to the International Criminal Court. “There is a video that proves that it was murder in cold blood, and all the proof and the autopsy of the body say that Deri is the murderer,” Nawara’s father told Channel 2 last month. “We don’t need a plea bargain, we have 70 witnesses that were there, and hard evidence.”
Palestinian professor imprisoned in Israel without charge or trial set to undergo surgery
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Palestinian prisoner Issam al-Ashqar, who is serving six months of administrative detention — internment without charge or trial — is set to undergo a surgery owing to his failing health, Mutaz Shqerat, a lawyer for the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, said in a statement on Thursday. Al-Ashqar, a physics professor at a An-Najah University in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, was detained by Israeli forces on Nov. 24 and sentenced to six months of administrative detention. He has since been suffering from high blood pressure, in addition to severe headaches and difficulties in moving, which reportedly can cause heart attacks, according to Shqerat. He added that al-Ashqar had suffered a heart attack prior to be detained in November. Shqerat said that doctors at Israel’s Ramla prison hospital decided to move forward with the surgery, but al-Ashqar told Shqerat that he had not yet agreed to the surgery, as he wants to undergo the procedure at the An-Najah National University hospital. It was unclear in Shqerat’s statement what exact procedure the imprisoned professor would be undergoing.
Prisoners’ advocates hold Red Cross responsible for conflict over visitation
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 12 Jan – Advocates of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails Thursday held the International Committee of the Red Cross responsible for the current conflict over family visitation to their sons in prison. The Red Cross used to organize two family visits to the prisoner per month. It later cancelled one visit claiming not enough families were showing up for the second visit, outraging the prisoners’ advocates groups. To resolve this conflict, the Red Cross proposed to sponsor three extra days of visitation a year, two during the two Muslim holidays al-Fitr and al-Adha, and the third on an agreed date. Issa Qaraqe, head of the official Detainees Affairs Commission, and Qaddoura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, jointly said that the families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails were entitled to 24 visits a year, and not 15. They called on the Red Cross to return to the original program of 24 visits a year and even proposed that the Palestinian Authority pay for the second visit while the job of the Red Cross will be only logistic. The Red Cross rejected both proposals.
Closures / Restriction of movement
Israel reopens entrances of two Ramallah-area villages
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — Israeli authorities Friday reopened the entrances to the villages of Rantis and Shuqba west of Ramallah city in the central occupied West Bank. The Palestinian liaison told Ma‘an that following concerted efforts on the Palestinian side, Israeli authorities reopened the entrances after they had been closed off with large dirt mounds, for alleged security-related reasons. Ramadan al-Masri, the head of Shuqba’s local council, and Muyed Wahdan, head of Rantis’ local council, thanked the Palestinian liaison for conducting the efforts and successfully getting Israeli authorities to reopen the entrances. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an she would look into reports on the closures. It remained unclear how long the closures were imposed for before being reopened on Friday.
Israeli military cordon thrown around occupied West Bank village
MEMO 12 Jan — Israeli occupation forces imposed a military cordon around the West Bank village of Hosan, south of Bethlehem, on Wednesday and launched a search and detain operation, Quds Press has reported. Cement blocks and checkpoints were erected on roads into the village, said local sources. Residents were prevented from leaving. According to the Chairman of the Village Council, the Israeli occupation forces raided ten homes in the village, searched them thoroughly and spoke to children and youths. Hassan Hamamrah also said that the Israelis claimed to be looking for villagers who threw stones at vehicles on the settler-only highway leading to the illegal Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit. The raid came hours after the Israeli occupation authorities distributed warning leaflets declaring the village to be a “closed military zone” for 24 hours. Moreover, said Hamamrah, the Israelis closed a dirt road and access to farms in the area in an attempt to confiscate around 125 acres of Palestinian-owned land.
Three babies reportedly die in Gaza due to constant power outages
Haaretz 11 Jan by Jack Khoury — Three babies have reportedly died over the past two days in the Gaza due to the increasingly severe electricity crisis in the Strip, Palestinian sources say. So far the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has not issued an official statement citing the causes of the babies’ death, and said the matter is under investigation. According to the reports, one of the babies, who died in the Bureij refugee camp, was only 12 days old, and was living with his family in a prefabricated dwelling not connected to electricity. In Dir al-Balah an 8-month-old boy also died, along with a 3-month-old on Monday in Rafah. The electricity supply in the Gaza Strip has dwindled recently to only three hours a day at most, at irregular hours….
Israeli soldiers open fire, injure one citizen north of Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 14 Jan — A Palestinian citizen on Saturday afternoon [said to be gathering firewood] suffered a bullet injury when Israeli soldiers opened fire at him east of Beit Lahia city in northern Gaza. A spokesman for the health ministry said that a 37-year-old citizen survived an Israeli gunfire attack in Beit Lahia, but he suffered a moderate bullet wound in the leg and received medical assistance in a local hospital. The Palestinian authorities in Gaza accuse the Israeli army of violating its Egyptian-brokered truce deal in 2014 with the resistance by repeatedly carrying out shooting attacks and incursions in border areas.
Israeli navy injures a Palestinian fisherman in northern Gaza
IMEMC 15 Jan — Israeli navy ships opened fire, on Saturday evening, at Palestinian fishing boats near the shore of Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, wounding one fisherman. Medical sources in Gaza said the fisherman suffered moderate wounds, and was moved to the Indonesian Hospital, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, to receive the urgently needed medical treatment.
Cold and angry, Gazans challenge Hamas over electricity
GAZA CITY (AFP) 13 Jan by Sakher Abou El Oun — Crippling shortages of electricity in Gaza and reports of children dying of cold have stoked anger in the Palestinian enclave where there are daily protests against its Hamas leaders. The main Palestinian factions are blaming each another and Israel for the crisis, which has left the territory with just four hours a day of power at best. In one of the largest demonstrations yet, thousands of protesters in northern Gaza on Thursday walked to the local headquarters of the electricity company run by Hamas, the Islamist movement that has ruled the Strip since 2007. Security forces dispersed the protesters violently, with shots fired in the air and a number of journalists beaten up … Ahmad al-Soarka [or al-Suwerki] believes the shortage caused the death of his 12-day-old son [Mohammed]. “My son died from frost and the extreme cold, according to what they told us in the hospital,” Soarka said. The family’s home was destroyed in the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas and so they have lived in a caravan for the past two years. “Right now it is like a freezer,” the young father told AFP. The health ministry has not confirmed the cause of death as yet, but the baby’s grandfather Salama, 49, said he had no doubt. “If we had electricity, we could protect ourselves and the children from the cold,” he said. “The young can’t tolerate it.”
Hamas, Fatah blame each other for worsening crisis in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 13 Jan – Following Dhuhr (afternoon) prayers on Friday, Hamas organized a march in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip to protest the Palestinian Authority (PA), calling the power crisis a “conspiracy to cut electricity,” and a concerted move to “tighten the siege” on the coastal enclave, as rivals Hamas and Fatah have continued to point blame at one another for the worsening situation in Gaza … The electricity crisis has caused protests to erupt over the past two days, as Hamas’ security forces have been accused of assaulting journalists and restricting the freedom of expression of demonstrators. During the Hamas-led march on Friday, protesters set fire to photos of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Earlier on Friday, the Hamas movement released a statement holding the Fatah-dominated PA and Abbas responsible for the dire electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip. Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhum claimed that the ongoing crisis was “intentional” and aimed “to close the siege on Gaza and create chaos.” Hamas leader, Musheer al-Masri said that the Friday march was launched to highlight the PA’s betrayal of the Palestinian resistance and of the Palestinians in Gaza, reiterating the movement’s position that Abbas and Hamdallah were responsible for the suffering in Gaza, referring both to the decade-long Israeli-imposed siege and the ongoing electricity crisis. “The PA charges Gaza $120 million of taxes, in which $70 million is paid to its employees, while the rest of the $50 million goes straight into the PA’s pocket,” al-Masri said during the march …
Meanwhile, the head of Fatah’s media department, Muner al-Jaghoub, responded to Hamas’ blaming of the crisis on Fatah, saying that Hamas would not be successful in politicizing its reaction to the electricity crisis, and it would “not be able to escape out of the current crisis the movement has caused.” Al-Jaghoub added that the Palestinian people “are fed up” with Hamas’ actions … PA spokesperson Yousif al-Mahmoud also released a statement on Friday condemning what he referred to as Hamas’ “irresponsible behavior,” and adding that it was an “odd reaction” to the situation … Al-Mahmoud also stressed that the PA was “conducting efforts” to alleviate the suffering in Gaza, and has continued to spend “more than a billion dollars on energy supplies for Gaza annually,” adding that Hamas uses the funds for its own interests, while the Palestinian people “drown in crisis,” mirroring the same accusation Hamas threw at the Fatah movement….
Everyone shares the blame in Gaza electricity crisis
Mondoweiss 12 Jan by Pam Bailey — The two generators of Gaza’s sole power plant stopped operating Jan. 6 due to a severe fuel shortage—out of the 600 megawatts required to meet the needs of the 2 million people, less than 150 are available. For most residents, that means most areas are receiving power for a mere three hours in between 12-hour blackouts. In some areas, electricity only comes for three out of 48 hours. (Of course, even when there isn’t such a crisis, it’s bad—usually eight hours on and eight hours off.) … The contributing causes cited by various reports include shortages from the Egyptian side due to frequent breakdowns in the North Sinai; corruption in Hamas, which controls the power plant and is charged with skimming fuel for its loyal members; punitively high taxes imposed on Israeli imports by the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority; and a failure by the mostly impoverished residents to pay their electricity bills. And then, of course, there is the fact that the power plant hasn’t run at full capacity in years, with Israel’s crippling blockade severely limiting imports of both fuel and parts to fix the plant, which has been repeatedly bombed in past wars. Most residents in Gaza, however, place a large share of the blame on feuding political leaders. “The electricity crisis is political par excellence due to the absence of Palestinian reconciliation and internal bickering,” the Palestinian Centre for Human rights said bluntly in a statement….
PENRA: Gaza power plant to receive 15 million liters of Turkish fuel
GAZA (PIC) 15 Jan — The Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority (PENRA) said Saturday that it had received official confirmation about the Turkish government’s intention to send 15 million liters of fuel for the Gaza power plant. In a press release, the energy authority affirmed that once the Turkish fuel shipment arrived in Gaza, it would be used immediately to operate the power generators in the plant. It added that the shipment would back the distribution program and maintain its stability during the winter months. The Turkish government, a strong supporter for the Palestinian people, planned years ago to send a floating power plant (power-generating ship) to Gaza to supply it with electricity, but the Palestinian Authority thwarted the step.
Power authority: Turkey offers to send fuel to run Gaza plant
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — The deputy president of Gaza’s power authority said Saturday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has offered to ship fuel to the Gaza Strip to run the besieged coastal enclave’s sole power plant, in order to help lighten the crippling electricity crisis that has sparked widespread protests in recent days … The power authority’s Deputy President Fathi Sheikh Khalil made his remarks during a workshop organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in the Gaza Strip. Turkey has offered in the past to provide the Gaza Strip with a floating power plant, but the plan has not come to fruition. After Turkey and Israel normalized diplomatic relations last June, Turkey pledged to provide aid economic projects for the Gaza Strip that again included the establishment of a power plant.
Israel increases aid to Gaza Strip
Ynet 12 Jan by Matan Tzuri — In a series of moves approved by the Minister of Defense, Israel will begin allowing more fuel, building equipment, vehicles and workers to be transferred to and from the Gaza Strip in light of recent quiet on the border area … Moreover, Ynet has learned that for the first time, a decision was made to establish a conveyor system for transferring fuel and basic construction materials from the Erez border crossing to the northern Gaza Strip. Construction on the transfer system is set to begin in roughly a year. This decision marks a significant gesture by Israel as currently, the only crossing for equipment into the Gaza Strip occurs at the Kerem Shalom Crossing….
Israeli exit permit approval rates for Gaza patients critically low, says WHO
GAZA (WAFA) 12 Jan — Israeli permit approval rates for Gaza patients seeking treatment in West Bank, East Jerusalem or Israeli hospitals were critically low in November, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. It said in its monthly report on Gaza referrals and access that of 2,794 patient permit applications to exit Gaza through the Israeli Erez checkpoint for hospital appointments in November, 50.18 per cent were approved. October, with 44.08 per cent approved, and November represent the lowest and second lowest approval rates, respectively, recorded by WHO since April 2009. It said 169 patients (6.05 per cent) were denied permits, including 13 children and 13 elderly persons over 60 years. Among those denied was a patient requiring urgent heart surgery. In addition, 1,223 patients (43.77%) received no response, including 323 children and 130 elderly people over 60. WHO said the sharp increase of total applications in November reflects the high number of reapplications for patients who were denied or delayed in previous months. Most patients’ companions are denied or delayed permits, it said…
PCHR follows up with concern excessive use of force by security services to disperse demonstration in Jabalia Refugee Camp
PCHR-Gaza 14 Jan — …According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 16:15 on Thursday, 12 January 2017, a peaceful demonstration was organized in the center of Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, protesting the aggravating electricity crisis. The protest came upon an invitation from youth groups on “Facebook”. Around 500 protesters peacefully made their way from Jabalia refugee camp towards al-Hojha Street and then to al-Fakhoura area and Beit Lahia housing Project. They arrived at the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCO) building located behind the Engineers Syndicate in Beit Lahia. Around 5000 persons then joined the demonstration chanting slogans against GEDCO. Palestinian police officers were there, so altercations occurred between them and the protestors. A number of youngsters then threw stones at the GEDCO building and police officers, who in response fired live bullets in the air and attacked civilians with batons. As a result, 7 civilians sustained bruises and were taken to Kamal ‘Odwan Hospital and the Indonesian Hospital. Moreover, the police officers attacked journalists while covering the protest. Journalist Mohamed Abed al-Razeq Abdullah al-Baba (48), a photojournalist at the AFP, sustained an incised wound to the head after being beaten by the police. They also confiscated his camera and the memory card. Iyad al-Buzom, Spokesperson of the Interior Security, then came to the hospital to officially apologize for al-Baba and returned the camera. During the protest, a number of civilians were arrested by the police officers. PCHR’s fieldworker said that following the protest, security officers raided many houses and arrested activists. Some of them are so far under arrest….
Rights groups appeal Israeli military advocate’s decision not to launch criminal investigation into 2014 killing of Gaza family
HAIFA (WAFA) 12 Jan – The Haifa-based Adalah–The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights filed an appeal on January 9 against the decision by Israel’s Military Advocate General (MAG) to refrain from conducting a criminal investigation into an August 2014 Israeli missile attack that killed an entire family during Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in the Gaza Strip, a press release said on Thursday. On the night of August 22, 2014, an Israeli warplane fired two missiles at a home belonging to the Abu Dahrouj family in central Gaza. The Israeli missile strike killed five family members: father Hayel Shehda Abed-Rabbo Abu Dahrouj, 28; mother, Huda Mohammed Khamis Abu Dahrouj, 27; their children Abdel Hadi Hayel Shehda Abu Dahrouj, 2, and Abdullah Hayel Shehda Abu Dahrouj, 3; and the father’s aunt, Hayat Abed-Rabbo Suleiman Abu Dahrouj, 49. In addition, the air strike wounded multiple civilians, including Shehda Abed-Rabbo Abu Dahrouj, 67, Mohammed Suleiman Abu Dahrouj, 11, Abdel Hamid Suleiman Abu Dahrouj, 9, and caused extensive damage to neighboring homes. The MAG recognized that the missile attack was carried out directly on a civilian residence but claimed that the intended target was a weapons warehouse located in an open area at a distance of approximately 100 meters from the Abu Dahrouj family home, said the Adalah press release. According to a statement issued by the MAG, “for an unclear reason – likely an unexpected technical malfunction – the fired ordnance hit a structure at some distance from the target.” Adalah and Al Mezan filed the appeal on behalf of the Abu Dahrouj family….
Land. property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
17 years on, High Court tells Israel to produce plan for disputed firing zone
Haaretz 15 Jan by Amira Hass — Palestinian villagers fighting proposal to evict them permanently from southern Hebron Hills area — The High Court of Justice last week ordered the state to prepare a proposal for military training in a firing zone that would cause minimal damage to Palestinian residents in the southern Hebron Hills area. The court order, giving the state 45 days to submit its proposal, came 17 years after the villagers’ petitions were first submitted. The order was issued at the request of eight villages whose residents petitioned against the state’s intention to evict them permanently so the Israel Defense Force could hold military drills in the area. Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Hanan Melcer and Yoram Danziger urged the sides to reach a compromise, despite the court order. The petitions were first filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel at the beginning of 2000 on behalf of the residents of 12 villages southeast of Yatta. The IDF had evicted the residents at the end of 1999, claiming they were residing in a military firing zone illegally. The High Court ordered the state to enable the villagers to return to their land until a final decision was made, but it didn’t allow them to build structures or dig water holes to replace those destroyed in the eviction. The villagers were also forbidden from building homes and water holes to accommodate for their natural growth and changing needs. Twelve years passed until, in July 2012, the state responded to the original petitions. The state said that then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak supported the IDF’s position that the firing zone should be used again in full. In order to do so, it was necessary to destroy eight rural communities and evict more than 1,000 residents, it claimed….
Israel to seize thousands of dunums in Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 12 Jan – Israel decided on Thursday to seize thousands of dunums of land in the village of Aseera al-Qebliya, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, according to local activist Ghassan Daghlas. Daghlas, who monitors settlement violations in northern West Bank, told WAFA that Israeli forces notified Palestinians in Aseera al-Qebliya that they have decided to seize some 3989 dunums of land near the village. He noted that the Israeli forces seized the lands under “security” pretences, which he said is the same excuse Israel uses whenever it takes over privately owned Palestinian land. Often, this land is turned into settlements, which is the main reason they are confiscated from Palestinians.
A series of Israeli orders threaten survival of Salfit area residents
SALFIT (WAFA) 11 Jan – The Israeli authorities have issued 26 stop-construction and land confiscation orders since the beginning of this year to Palestinians in the Salfit area villages of Haris, Broqeen, Deir Istiya, Rafat and Zawieh, in the north of the West Bank. These orders were based on the pretext that the land in question is in Area C, which is under full Israeli military control, and therefore no Palestinian is allowed to build on it or cultivate it before getting the right permit from the so-called Israeli Civil Administration, a wing of the Israeli military government. Data shows that almost 75 per cent of the area of Salfit is considered Area C. Wa‘el Qutt, an attorney with al-Quds Center for Legal Aid (QCLA), told WAFA that “the 26 orders are only the first phase of a series of arbitrary measures by the Israeli Civil Administration and occupation authorities to demolish homes.” He said Salfit has a special status because of the large number of Israeli settlements in the area while villages’ zoning and planning are confined to a narrow area because the occupation authorities do not care for the growth needs of these villages, which prompts residents to build outside the built-up and zoned area….
Impact of Israeli settlement expansion detailed in new UN report
MEMO 14 Jan — A new United Nations report has documented how Israeli settlements can control, and restrict access for Palestinians to, an area more than twice their designated municipal boundaries. The report is part of December’s Humanitarian Bulletin by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), and looks specifically at “the humanitarian impact of de facto settlement expansion” in the case of the Talmon-Nahliel bloc. The official Israeli-designated municipal boundaries of Nahliel and Talmon settlements – combined population 4,400 – cover 6,200 dunums. But the area controlled by the settlements and in which Palestinian access is “severely restricted or impossible”, is almost 2.5 times larger (15,100 dunums). According to Israeli official records, “more than half of the land” within these de facto boundaries is privately owned by Palestinians from six nearby villages: Beitillu, Ras Karkar, Al Janya, Deir Ammar, Mazra’a Al Qibliya and Kobar, home to approximately 20,000 people combined. According to OCHA, six new residential settlements (outposts) were established on the hilltops surrounding Talmon between 1997 and 2002. Even though “all but one were established without a building permit or formal authorization”, in recent years “the Israeli authorities have initiated multiple planning processes to retroactively make these settlements legal under Israeli law.” These processes have included the requirement to declare large areas of privately owned Palestinian land as ‘state land’. In addition, “eight water springs are located within the affected area” that “were used in the past by Palestinian farmers and herders for irrigation and the watering of livestock, but have now become largely inaccessible.”… All of the above “de facto expansion” has been “facilitated by the development of an extensive road network connecting the different residential, tourist and agricultural sites.”This road network, extending over almost 60km and including main roads paved by the Israeli authorities on private Palestinian land requisitioned for “military needs”, is “largely banned for Palestinian use.” According to OCHA researchers, “there are nearly 11,000 dunums of cultivable land within the area controlled by Talmon-Nahliel.” If Palestinians enjoyed free access, “the cultivation of this area…would generate an output of approximately $2.3 million a year” – a “conservative estimate.”
Israel cuts down olive trees in East Jerusalem for settler road
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 Jan– Israeli forces uprooted and cut down tens of olive trees in the Karam al-Mufti area of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday, as part of an ongoing construction of a road connecting a nearby illegal settlement with the Israeli ministry of interior, according to locals. Local activist Muhammad Abu al-Hummus told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities have been uprooting and cutting down tens of olive trees planted in the area for the last week, transferring the trees to unknown locations.
Residents in Jordan Valley ordered to stop construction
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 12 Jan – Israeli forces notified Palestinians to stop construction of road and structures in Khirbet Ras al-Ahmar in the northern Jordan Valley, Motaz Bsharat, who monitors developments in the Jordan Valley, said on Thursday. He told WAFA that Israeli forces ordered Palestinians to stop work on a 6-inch water pipeline owned by a local agricultural company, as well as tents and structures. He said a stop construction order was also issued against building a fence around a plot of land and an agricultural road that connects Einon and Khirbet Yerza
Israel aims to ‘Judaize’ historical Bethlehem village
MEMO 13 Jan — The Palestinian village of Al-Walaja on the outskirts of Bethlehem in the West Bank has been described by visitors as “paradise on earth”. The village — occupied by Israel in 1967 — is known for its natural springs, especially the historical Al-Haniyah spring. Palestinian residents of the village, however, say Israel’s occupation authorities seek to build a park near the spring for the exclusive use of Jewish settlers. Khader al-Araj, governor of Al-Walaja, told Anadolu Agency that, before the Israeli occupation, the spring had been used to irrigate crops in the village. “But now the Israeli authorities want to turn the area near the spring into a park for Jewish settlers,” al-Araj said. “The Israelis want to Judaize the area and efface its historical Arab identity,” he asserted. “Israel is doing this on the pretext of setting up an army checkpoint in the area, but their real intention is to capture the spring,” the governor added….
Palestinian refugees – Turkey
Turkey hosts numerous Palestinians from Syria
MEMO 14 Jan — Turkey has taken in between 5,000 and 7,000 Palestinian refugees who fled Syria as a result of that country’s devastating six-year civil war, the Palestinian ambassador to Turkey said Friday. “[Turkish] public institutions and Turkish and Palestinian NGOs are coordinating efforts to lighten the burdens faced by Palestinian refugees in Turkey,” Faed Mustafa, Palestinian ambassador in Ankara, told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview. According to Mustafa, the majority of Palestinians who have sought refuge in Turkey in recent years were living in the country’s southern provinces. “After I finished my diplomatic mission in Russia, the Palestinian Authority let me choose my new assignment,” he said. “I chose Turkey because it is very active in the Middle East and has a long and complex history,” he added. The diplomat concluded by expressing the Palestinian people’s “love and respect” for the Turkish people and government.
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory
PCHR-Gaza 12 Jan — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian at point-blank range in al-Far’ah refugee camp, in front of his mother. A Palestinian civilian was killed after running over Israeli soldiers in occupied Jerusalem A Palestinian photojournalist was wounded, and then he and a reporter were beaten by Israeli soldiers. Israeli forces continued to target the Gaza Strip border areas, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces conducted 54 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. 58 civilians, including 9 children and 3 women, were arrested. 18 of them, including 6 children and the 3 women, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. A decision to suspend the residency of 12 members of al-Qunbar family in al-Mukaber Mount. Settlers seized a building in al-Rababah Valley neighbourhood in Silwan. Lands of East Sawahrah were leveled, claiming they are State lands. Settlement activities continued in the West Bank. Agricultural roads and a waterline were levelled in al-Ras al-Ahmar area in the Northern Valley. A 1700-meter agricultural road was levelled in Masafer Yatta [details of these and other events follow]
VIDEOGRAPHIC; West Bank barrier
AFP (Source: UN OCHA) 12 Jan — Some 70 nations are attending a conference in Paris on Sunday, aimed at exploring ways to restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Israel rejects the conference but Netanyahu says he is willing to hold bilateral talks. Israel approved the construction of the West Bank barrier in 2002 following a campaign of suicide bombings carried out by Palestinian militants. [helps in visualizing the wall]
Palestinian journalists frustrated with inability to cover PA corruption
Al-Monitor 12 Jan by Shlomi Eldar — Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are closely following the unfolding case of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allegedly receiving favors or gifts. Their interest is not prompted only by glee at the possible downfall of the Israeli leader they despise, but also by appreciation and envy of Israeli democracy and press freedom that enable the questioning of the prime minister under caution and the investigative reporting against him by the media. No journalists in Gaza — no matter how senior — would even think of criticizing the leaders of Hamas, and in the Palestinian Authority (PA), criticism of any kind against President Mahmoud Abbas, or exposure of corruption in the PA, could result in the journalist’s arrest … According to various reports, the PA has for years been plagued by corruption. The governmental structure put in place by the late Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat did not include control and supervision mechanisms. Every Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza knows full well that those closest to the seat of power often enjoy a lifestyle incompatible with the salary of a PA official….
Can PA end arms proliferation in West Bank?
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) by Ahmad Melhem — Palestinian parties are currently discussing the implemention of a draft law on firearms and ammunition licensing fees that the Palestinian Authority Cabinet ratified Dec. 13. A government statement declared that the law aims to “reorganize the weapons dossier, reduce the spread of illegal weapons, work to control illegal weapons and confront arms dealers and outlaws seeking to undermine the security of both the homeland and the citizen.” The draft legislation is based on Law No. 2 of 1998 on firearms and ammunition, issued under President Yasser Arafat, approved by the Cabinet and approved and passed by the Palestinian Legislative Council. The law failed, however, to set out regulations for firearms and ammunition licensing fees, which this proposed law attempts to address. The 1998 law was never, however, implemented because the PA remained weak and unable to regulate arms or move to control their proliferation. It has also sought to avoid sparking internal clashes by going after weapons, as many of those who have them are wanted by Israel….
PA forces committed 4,175 violations in 2016
WEST BANK (PIC – Hamas site) 14 Jan — The PA security forces committed over the past year 4,175 human rights violations, the Palestinian committee of political prisoners’ families said. 1,125 Palestinians were arrested at the hands of PA forces in 2016 for their political affiliation, the committee said. 1,089 others were summoned for investigation over their political activities during the same reported period, it added. The detainees included ex-prisoners, university students, and relatives of Palestinian prisoners and martyrs, the sources clarified. The PA’s human rights violations coincided with deteriorating economic conditions as unemployment rates reached the highest ever recorded level in the West Bank.
Palestinian intelligence arrests ‘fugitive’ from Balata refugee camp
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — The Palestinian general intelligence service said said Sunday morning they arrested a fugitive from the Balata refugee camp east of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank. A security source told Ma‘an that general intelligence officers ambushed 30-year-old Omar Abu Leil near Nablus municipality’s butchery and detained him. Officers surrounded Abu Leil’s vehicle, and when he tried to speed away, they fired gunshots at the vehicle “without harming him.” The suspect was accused of committing shooting attacks on Palestinian security officers among other charges, according to the security source who spoke on condition of anonymity. Following the arrest, locals took to the street and burned used tires in protest. Balata refugee camp has been a site of violent clashes between Palestinian security forces and residents of the camp since a massive security crackdown was launched across the West Bank, which turned deadly last August, after two policemen were killed during a raid into the Old City in Nablus to uncover weapons and make arrests….
Hamas denies mediation over new prisoner swap with Israel
MEMO 12 Jan — The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement denied on Wednesday that there is any mediation going on with the Israeli occupation authorities to agree a new prisoner swap deal, Quds Press has reported. “There is no mediation regarding the Israeli soldiers imprisoned by Al-Qassam Brigades,” insisted Hamas spokesman Hazim Qasim. There will be no new talks on the issue until all of the prisoners held by Israel, who were freed then rearrested when Sergeant Gilad Shalit was handed over, are released, he added. Israel’s Ynet News reported on Tuesday that Qatar has attempted to mediate between Hamas and Israel regarding a new prisoner swap. The efforts failed because Israel refused to release the prisoners freed by the Shalit deal, suggesting instead that they be deported to Qatar. The military wing of Hamas — the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades — announced in April last year that it has four Israeli soldiers being held captive in Gaza. Although full details were not provided at the time, their names and photographs were published. It is not known whether they are alive or dead, but it is believed that at least one of the men, Oron Shaul, is alive, as it was hinted that he fainted when he heard about the funeral of his father. In October 2011, the Israelis released more than 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Hamas while on active duty in 2006.
World Food Program and Belgium join forces to support vulnerable Palestinians
BRUSSELS (WAFA) 12 Jan – The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) Thursday welcomed a €1 million contribution from Belgium to support 180,000 of the most vulnerable non-refugee Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank. The Belgian donation will help WFP provide critical food and nutrition assistance through monthly food distributions, rations and cash-based transfers using electronic vouchers as well as nutrition awareness training for pregnant and nursing women. Those people receiving WFP food assistance, provided jointly with the UN’s Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), include 30,000 people from the Bedouin and herding communities living in area C of the West Bank, under Israeli control. The food assistance for this group also helps build resilience and improves their livelihoods, access to services and protection – since they are at risk of imminent transfer….
Abbas meets with Pope Francis, inaugurates Palestinian embassy at Vatican
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas inaugurated the Palestinian embassy at the Vatican on Saturday and met with Pope Francis, when the two discussed an international peace conference set to launch in Paris on Sunday, when world leaders are expected to renew efforts to resolve the decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict. “We are very grateful about the role that the Holy See has played for a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, and for having opened an embassy of Palestine in the Vatican for first time. We are proud to be the birthplace of Christianity and about having one of the oldest Christian communities in the world,” Abbas said in a statement after the visit. During their meeting, Abbas presented Pope Francis with replicas of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, along with “a book on the historic relations between Palestine and the Vatican and a painting by a Palestinian-Armenian artist of the Cremisan valley and the separation wall in Bethlehem,” according to state-run news agency Wafa. Pope Francis, in return gave Abbas a book covering the “history of the Holy See” and a “medal titled ‘Mercy.’”
Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would destroy Palestine’s hope of justice
The Guardian 10 Jan by Nur Arafeh — Three Republican senators have introduced a bill to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there, challenging US president-elect Donald Trump to fulfil his pledge to do so as soon as he gets into office … By moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, the Trump administration would not only be violating international law, it would also be denying the Palestinian right to self-determination and freedom. Since 1967, Israel has been transforming Jerusalem from a multi-religious and multicultural city into a “reunified” Jewish city under its exclusive control. It has accelerated Jerusalem’s “Judaisation” through policies that specifically aim to minimise the number of Palestinians. Such policies have included the revocation of the residency of Palestinian Jerusalemites under the pretext of “breach of allegiance”, restrictions on family unification, discriminatory urban and zoning policies, the construction of the wall that slices through Jerusalem and the West Bank, starting in 2002, and the closure of major Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem. These policies have been accompanied, as I set out in a recent policy brief, by a deliberately engineered economic collapse of East Jerusalem, as seen in the deterioration of the tourism sector and the commercial markets of the Old City. The relocation of the US embassy sends the message that the fate of the nearly 300,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem is of no importance. This is especially alarming since almost 82% of Palestinians in East Jerusalem already lived below the poverty line in 2014, compared with around 28% of the Jewish population. We also face an acute housing crisis, since we have access to only 13% of the land of East Jerusalem, while illegal settlements are being built on 35% of this land….
US headlines Mideast peace conference ahead of Trump inauguration
AFP 15 Jan — The US will join the international community in Paris Sunday in a new push for peace in the Middle East, just five days before Donald Trump, who has vowed unstinting support for Israel, takes office. Foreign ministers and representatives from around 70 countries will seek to revive the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which could be dealt a further blow if Trump implements a campaign pledge to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians will be represented at the conference and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed the talks as “rigged” against the Jewish state. The Palestinians, in contrast, have welcomed France’s bid for the conference to reaffirm global support for a two-state solution to the seven-decade-old conflict … US Secretary of State John Kerry, who rebuked Israel recently over its settlements expansion, will attend the talks, along with delegates from the UN, EU, Arab League and other organisations. The meeting is expected to back a UN resolution last month condemning Israeli settlement-building on occupied Palestinian territory….
In long-shot peace bid, France sees nothing to lose
PARIS (AP) 14 Jan by Angela Charlton — It sounds far-fetched at best: holding a Mideast peace conference without Israelis, Palestinians or the incoming U.S. government. But the French organizers say that’s the whole point. They want Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to see that most of the world wants a two-state solution and is fed up with decades of conflict. With chances for a Mideast peace deal lower than in years — perhaps a generation — French President Francois Hollande figures there’s nothing to lose. French diplomats fear that Trump will unleash new tensions in the region by condoning settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians and potentially moving the U.S. Embassy to contested Jerusalem. So more than 70 foreign ministers and other top envoys are gathering Sunday in Paris to urge the establishment of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu says the conference is “rigged” against Israel and declined an invitation to a special meeting afterward. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was initially expected, but his visit to Paris has been postponed. Even the organizers know it’s symbolic; no one expects a breakthrough. It’s aimed at presenting Trump with a collective international push for peace once he takes office Friday….
At Paris meeting, major powers to warn Trump over Middle East peace
PARIS (Reuters) 14 Jan by John Irish & Lesley Wroughton — Major powers will send a message to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Sunday that a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians is the only way forward, and warn that his plan to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem could derail peace efforts. Some 70 countries, including key European and Arab states as well as the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, are due in Paris for a meeting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected as “futile” and “rigged”. Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians will be represented. But, just five days before Trump is sworn in, the conference provides a platform for countries to send a strong signal to the future American leader. Trump has pledged to pursue more pro-Israeli policies and move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been for 68 years, to Jerusalem, all but enshrining the city as Israel’s capital despite international objections. “It would be a unilateral decision that could escalate tensions on the ground,” a senior French diplomat said….
Israel fears fresh UN initiative after Paris conference
AFP 13 Jan — Israel’s UN ambassador on Friday raised concern over possible moves at the Security Council to adopt a new measure to build on the Paris Middle East conference … Sweden’s Ambassador Olof Skoog, who holds this month’s presidency of the Security Council, said however that there were no immediate plans for council action. “We are witnessing an attempt to promote a last-minute initiative before the new US administration takes office,” Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement. “Supporters of the Palestinians are looking for further anti-Israel measures at the Security Council.”… Asked about discussions on council action, Skoog said “I don’t think that’s correct.” “Let’s see where we are next Tuesday, the main event now is Sunday’s conference in Paris.” French Ambassador Francois Delattre said there were no plans to adopt either a draft resolution or a statement following the Paris conference. “France has no such plan under preparation,” Delattre told AFP….
FM Lavrov to meet delegates of Palestinian parties in Moscow: Zakharova
IMEMC/Agencies 14 Jan — nsnbc : Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with representatives of Palestinian parties in Moscow on January 16, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the press on Thursday. Zakharova said: “On January 16, the Russian top diplomat will receive representatives of the leading Palestinian organizations who are expected to visit Moscow in order to take part in an informal intra-Palestinian meeting on restoring national unity. .. We plan to reiterate our principal approaches towards overcoming Palestinian divisions.” The initiative aimed at re-launching an intra-Palestinian dialog has been brokered by the Institute of Oriental Studies of Russia’s Academy of Sciences. The Islamic Culture and Education Support Fund also participated in making arrangements. Delegates from major Palestinian parties will participate. Meetings will be held on January 15 – 16 with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attending on January 16. Senior delegates from social-democratic al-Fatah (Fateh), which dominates the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization PLO, as well as from the undogmatic Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Hamas, as well as the progressive-liberal Palestinian National Initiative party and other Palestinian political forces will participate in the meeting.
Why Israel will not halt security coordination with PA
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 13 Jan by Ahmad Melhem — Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government threatened to cut ties with the Palestinian Authority following the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, the move seems unlikely as both parties benefit from security coordination….
Why FIFA paid close attention to UN anti-settlement resolution
Al-Monitor 12 Jan by Daoud Kuttab — When the global community was discussing an anti-settlement resolution in New York, officials at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich were watching the deliberation closely. When United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 was approved without a single opposition in the 15-member Security Council Dec. 23, the international governing body of soccer was provided a strong document to resolve the status of the areas in which six Israeli soccer clubs are playing. The clubs are located in West Bank settlements and FIFA bylaws clearly state that soccer associations need permission to play in the territories of another soccer association … Human Rights Watch (HRW), along with other organizations, made a strong public argument on the issue. In a letter addressed to FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Jan. 5, HRW Israel/Palestine Advocacy Director Sari Bashi said that the resolution left no doubt as to the status of the location of the soccer clubs … The FIFA monitoring committee has repeatedly postponed a decision regarding the Israeli settlement soccer clubs. Shalabi, who just returned from attending the Jan. 9 FIFA ceremonies naming the world’s best soccer players, told Al-Monitor that the committee delayed reaching a decision until Feb. 10. “The continued delays, mostly on the request of the Israelis, are not helping. Everyone knows what the decision must be. The same issue happened when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and FIFA forced Russian teams not to play in Crimea.”….
Opinion: The occupation is still the elephant in the room / Nehemia Shtrasler
Haaretz 13 Jan — The truth is, I wasn’t surprised. It was clear to me that no minister would attend any of the funerals this week. Why should they have? What did it have to do with them? They’re just the ones setting policy, and we’re the ones paying the price. They didn’t come to the funerals of the four officers killed in the Jerusalem truck-ramming attack because they were afraid of the criticism. They knew that some people would blame them for the four unnecessary deaths and shout at them that they weren’t doing anything against terror − not demolishing enough houses, not evicting enough families and not killing all those Arabs fast enough. So they preferred to stay in their warm offices, sip coffee, nibble at cookies and watch television. What’s so terrible about that? After all, they have top-notch security and protection there. It was also astounding to see how everyone adopted the prime minister’s version of the event − and I don’t mean only Likud people. I mean the opposition – Isaac Herzog, Tzipi Livni, Yair Lapid – and the vast majority of the media, headed by the television news outfits. None of them dared to say the painful truth – that the four officers’ deaths are the price of the occupation. The fear of public opinion paralyzed them. They have completely abandoned the truth. They all adopted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s interpretation – that there’s no elephant in the room. No occupation, no nothing. So what if we’ve been oppressing, humiliating and imprisoning people for 49 years? That has nothing to do with it. According to our intellectual Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Facebook is to blame for everything. If Mark Zuckerberg would only prevent the incitement on the web, the Palestinians under occupation would turn into happy people and wouldn’t even think about committing a suicide attack on a group of soldiers….
Israeli settlers invited to attend Trump inauguration
MEMO 14 Jan — US President-elect Donald Trump invited the leaders of the Israeli Jewish settlers illegally living on occupied Palestinian territories to attend his inauguration on 20 January, a body linked to the settlers said yesterday. Turkish state-owned Anadolu news agency reported Israeli radio as saying that Director General Shin Adler of the Settlers’ Council claimed that an American politician close to Trump handed the Council a letter of invitation to attend the future president’s inauguration ceremony. The chairman of the Yesha Settlers’ Council, Oded Revivi, is said to be the one who will lead the settler delegation to Trump’s inauguration and he will also be joined by Benny Kasriel, chairman of the Israeli settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, located near Jerusalem. Settler leaders hailed Trump’s invitation. Revivi called the invitation, according to Israeli newspaper The Times of Israel, “a clear indication” that the new US administration understands the importance of the settler councils. Revivi also said that he is looking forward to working with the settlers’ “new friends” in the White House during Trump’s reign.