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Condition of detained Palestinian teen with leukemia worsens in Israeli prison due to medical negligence

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Prisoners / Court actions

Palestinian child with leukemia medically neglected in Israeli prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — The medical condition of 15-year-old Ahmad al-Khadour has seriously deteriorated while being held in Israel’s Ofer detention center, according to a lawyer for the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, Luay Ukka. Ukka said Sunday that Ahmad, who is from the town of Beituniya in the central occupied West Bank, has been suffering from leukemia for the past three years and has also suffered from a stroke, feet problems, intense dizziness, and muscle contractions in his fingers. The lawyer stressed that Israel Prison Service (IPS) authorities have not been providing adequate care for the child. Ukka added that al-Khadour was detained on Jan. 2 after Israeli forces violently assaulted him, beating him with the butt of their rifles.  The justification and circumstances of the boy’s detention remained unclear.
Separately, the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners said Sunday that IPS recently moved 28-year-old Azmi al-Daqaq to Hadassah hospital after a serious deterioration in his health. The committee said that al-Daqaq was detained in Jan. 20 over an alleged stabbing attempt. He was sentenced to three months in administrative detention — Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without trial or charge — which the committee said was proof Israeli courts failed to substantiate any charges against him. Rights groups have widely condemned Israel for its medical negligence of Palestinians in its prisons, which Addameer has called a “deliberate policy of neglect.”

17 years after lynching of soldiers, Israel to give convicted Palestinian policeman new trial
Haaretz 12 Feb by Yotam Berger — Hatam Faiz Khalil Magari was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the lynching of two Israeli soldiers at the start of the second Intifada, but new evidence could change that ruling — Seventeen years after the deaths of two Israeli soldiers in a notorious Ramallah lynching, a military court will retry a Palestinian policeman convicted in one of the slayings on grounds that recently obtained evidence could change the verdict. IDF reservists Yosef Abrahami and Vadim Norzhich were beaten to death by a Palestinian mob in October 2000 after they ended up in Ramallah by taking a wrong turn, shortly after the outbreak of the Second Intifada.  Hatam Faiz Khalil Magari was arrested two months later, and charged in 2001 with failure to prevent a crime. In 2002 the indictment was amended to a charge of deliberately causing death, equivalent to murder, and stated that Magari was one of those who beat Avrahami. In 2004 Magari was convicted of deliberately causing death and other crimes, including a separate shooting incident. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Magari’s conviction was based on witness testimony by Bassam Hassin a-Luah, who also incriminated seven other people in the lynchings. Two of them confessed to taking part in the beatings, but neither of them incriminated Magari. Magari’s appeal against his conviction was rejected. In 2015, however, he submitted a request for a retrial, saying that three men interrogated after his conviction provided information that could change his verdict. He claims that a fourth man, also had information that could have altered the ruling, but those investigative materials were not submitted to the court during his trial.  He also argued that two other Palestinians similarly incriminated by a-Luah were never prosecuted for their involvement in the killings, and the fact that they were not tried undermines the charges against him significantly. Military Court Deputy President Col. Zvi Lekah accepted the arguments and ordered a new trial….

The economic exploitation of Palestinian political prisoners
AIC 13 Feb — Addameer: Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association explains in a new report how the arrest and detention of Palestinians is “central to the systematic economic exploitation of Palestinians.” The paper, titled The Economic Exploitation of Palestinian Political Prisoners, draws from first-hand accounts of Palestinian detainees. The testimonies, collected over several years, reveal how issues such as forced labor, the privatization of prisons, and prison canteens have deprived Palestinian political prisoners of basic human rights … today the privatization of Israeli prisons allows companies to profit off of the political persecution and incarceration of Palestinians. In violation of an Israeli High Court ruling limiting the practice, many Israeli companies, as well as 17 private companies (including G4S, 3M, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard) administer prison services like wire-tapping, security fencing, and other security systems. The canteen system in the prisons, which began in 1973, is another way Palestinian prisoners are forced into dependency only to be exploited. Addameer’s report reveals, “according to the Israeli government budget, the canteens were estimated to generate $34.82 million in income for the Israeli Prison Services.” On an individual basis, this means that a prisoner spends approximately $39.15 a month on hygiene products alone….

Report: Israeli increases prison sentence for tortured Palestinian detainee
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Feb — The Israeli Supreme Court has added two years to the prison sentence of a Palestinian detained during Israel’s 2014 ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, the Gaza-based al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said in a report issued on Sunday, detailing the prisoner’s torture at the hands of Israeli prison authorities. Ma‘an News Agency reports that, according to al-Mezan, last week, on Feb. 7, the court decided to uphold a request by the Israeli prosecution to increase 28-year-old Jihad Khalid Abu Hadaid’s sentence from six to eight years in Israeli custody. Abu Hadaid is a client of the al-Mezan center, who stated that the prosecution had filed the extension appeal on Jan. 14, 2016, contesting the court’s initial ruling from November 2015. The center said it condemns the extension of the prison term, saying that the entire case against him was built on confessions extracted during torture, and, as a result, were inadmissible in court. Abu Hadaid was detained on July 25, 2014, during an Israeli invasion of the al-Fukhari area of Khan Younis, amid Israel’s devastating 50-offensive on the besieged coastal enclave.

Israeli court increases sentence of Jerusalemite sheikh accused of incitement
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — An Israeli magistrate court in Jerusalem ruled to increase the sentence of Sheikh Omar Abu Sara from eight to 14 months in prison, a lawyer from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said Monday, after Abu Sara was charged with “inciting violence against Jews” during a religious lecture he gave at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in November 2014. Committee lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud said that the decision came after the judge agreed to an appeal filed by the Israeli general prosecution to extend Abu Sara’s sentence. Abu Sara received his initial sentence of eight months in prison in September last year. Abu Sara was initially detained on Jan. 1, 2015, and spent five days in jail. During his detention, he said that Israeli officers interrogated him about a religious lecture he gave at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City on Nov. 28, 2014 entitled: “Jewish characteristics in the Holy Quran.” Abu Sara has denied Israeli accusations and said that his sermon was not racist or incitement, but rather religious teachings and verses from the Qur’an. However, Israeli media translated the sermon after a video of it was released, which included statements such as: “I say to the Jews loud and clear: The time for your slaughter has come. The time to fight you has come. The time to kill you has come.” Abu Sara said after being sentenced: “If my sermon was incitement, then what do you call Israelis calling for the slaughter of Palestinian children, women, and men, who claim that the children will grow up to be terrorists?” His remarks seemed to refer to comments made by Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked — similar to comments often made by Israel’s right-wing media and leadership — who advocated for the killing of the mothers of slain Palestinians, referring to [the latter] as “snakes.

Israeli court sentences Palestinian teen to 12 years in prison over attempted stabbing
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 Feb — An Israeli magistrate court sentenced a Palestinian teenager on Sunday to 12 years in prison over charges of attempting to carry out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem more than a year earlier. The head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners, Amjad Abu Asab, told Ma‘an that Huthaifa Ishaq Taha, a 17-year-old resident of the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr ‘Aqab, was sentenced for reportedly attempting to stab an Israeli in Jerusalem in January 2016. Abu Asab added that Taha was currently held in the Megiddo prison. According to a Ma‘an reporter, Taha was detained for his involvement in a stabbing attempt at a bus station in the illegal settlement of East Talpiyyot on Jan. 3, 2016.

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel

New VIDEO deals another blow to Israeli police’s version of Umm al-Hiran raid
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 12 Feb — A new video broadcast by Israeli Channel 10 on Saturday further weakened Israel police claims regarding a deadly January raid in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert, showing that Israeli forces shot at a Bedouin man’s vehicle when he did not constitute a threat. The video showed Israeli officers opening fire at the car of Umm al-Hiran resident Yaqoub Abu al-Qi‘an on Jan. 18, as he was slowly driving past with his headlights on, causing him to lose control of his vehicle and hit police officer Erez Levi. Both Abu al-Qi‘an and Levi were killed in the incident. The Channel 10 report added that Umm al-Hiran residents were still calling for an official investigation to the case, particularly regarding their assertions that Levi had in fact been killed by friendly fire. Israeli police reportedly said after the broadcast that an investigation was underway over the fact that police officers did not provide Abu al-Qi‘an medical assistance, leaving him to bleed to death. The Channel 10 video is the third filmed record of the Umm al-Hiran raid to undermine the official Israeli version of events, with Al Jazeera notably releasing footage earlier this month. Israeli police had originally claimed that Abu al-Qi‘an had deliberately carried out a car-ramming attack, and that his headlights had been off while he was driving near the Israeli forces evacuating Umm al-Hiran in the early morning hours. Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said that during a raid of the slain Palestinian’s home, police found three copies of a Hebrew-language newspaper from 2015 with the headline: “ISIS bomb that took down a plane,” suggesting that the old newspapers were evidence that the man carried out a terror attack. However, according to Haaretz, the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, reported two weeks after the incident that they had yet to find any evidence connecting Abu al-Qi‘an to ISIS. The Joint List, which represents parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, were quick to accuse Israeli police of spreading misinformation on Israeli media following the incident.

Police opened fire on Umm al-Hiran driver before he started driving, video shows
[with photos of both slain men] Ynet 12 Feb by Meir Turgeman — New footage aired shows that Yaqoub Abu al-Qiyan [al-Qi‘an], who ran over and killed Sgt. Erez Levi during protest against home demolitions in Umm al-Hiran, started speeding towards the group of polie officers only after they opened fire at him, giving further credit to the claim he did not intend to carry out a terror attack. The video, broadcast on [Israel’s] Channel 10 on Saturday, shows al-Qiyan slowly approaching the officers with his vehicle. The officers are then seen opening fire on him, following which the vehicle started speeding towards them, hitting Sgt. Levi and killing him. The footage was given to the Police Investigation Unit (PIU) for inspection as part of the investigation into the January 18 incident. Another detail that the autopsy report revealed is that a gunshot to al-Qiyan’s chest caused massive bleeding that lasted for 20 to 30 minutes. By the time Magen David Adom (MDA) paramedics were permitted to provide him with medical treatment, all they could do was declare the man dead. It is possible that al-Qiyan would have survived had medical teams been permitted to treat him sooner. PIU are currently investigating the footage, the report and any ties al-Qiyan could have had to Muslim extremists that could have led him to perform this act,7340,L-4921212,00.html

Israeli police assault Palestinians during raid into Jerusalem’s Old City
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) 13 Feb — The head of the Jerusalem chapter of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), Nasser Qaws, said he was assaulted by Israeli police during a raid into occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday night, when three Palestinian youths were also detained. Qaws said that Israeli police forces raided al-Wad Street in the Old City, targeting the home of the Najib family where officers detained three unidentified youths. Israeli forces used pepper spray and physically assaulted members of the Najib family, including women and children, Qaws added. He said that as Israeli forces retreated from the house, they assaulted and pushed back local Palestinians who had gathered in the area. Qaws said he sustained an injury to his eye at the hands of Israeli police. Qaws, 45, has been detained tens of times by Israeli forces according to PPS, most recently last October when he was banned from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for 45 days upon his release, after being charged with obstructing Israeli police work.  He was among 39 Palestinians who were detained in a single night across East Jerusalem, in the wake of a deadly shooting that left the Palestinian attacker and two Israelis dead.

Youth suffocate by tear gas in Bethlehem town clashes
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 12 Feb – A number of Palestinians Sunday suffocated after inhaling tear gas fired at them by Israeli forces during clashes that broke out in the town of Taqou‘ to the east of Bethlehem, according to a local official. Head of Taqou‘ village council Tayseer Abu Mefreh told WAFA clashes erupted between Israeli soldiers and the town’s locals at the northern entrance of the town. Soldiers used rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas canisters, and stun grenades against locals, causing several suffocation cases among them. They were all treated at the scene.

Israeli forces detain 4 Palestinians in predawn raid in southern West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Feb — Israeli forces carried out predawn military raids in the southern occupied West Bank districts of Hebron and Bethlehem on Sunday, detaining at least four young Palestinians, including at least one minor. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awwad said Israeli forces raided the town of Beit Ummar north of Hebron and detained 14-year-old Qusay Muhammad Kamil Abu Maria. Awwad said that large numbers of Israeli troops stormed the town and ransacked several homes. At the home of Abd al-Hamid Zaaqiq, Israeli soldiers rounded up all of the family members in one room as they inspected the house, confiscating photos of Omar Zaaqiq, who was killed by Israeli forces in 2015, Awwad said. In the Bethlehem district, Israeli forces detained three young men identified by locals as Bassam Masad from Beit Sahour, and Ikrima Odeh al-Umour and Mahmoud Yousif al-Umour from Tuqu‘ east of Bethlehem.

Israeli forces detain 25 Palestinians during overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — Israeli forces detained at least 25 Palestinians, including at least five minors, during predawn detention raids Monday across the occupied territory, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. A statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said that nine Palestinians, most of them former prisoners, were detained from different areas in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. PPS identified them as 20 year-old Mazen Muhammad Taqatqa, 21-year-old Amin Abu Ahour, 55-year-old Khader Ahmad Masalma, 18-year-old Fadi Taqatqa, 15-year-old Adam Mahmoud Darwish, 29-year-old Eid Kamil al-Kamil, 16-year-old Jawad Ibrahim Taqatqa, 50-year-old Shafiq Ali Radayda, and Ayman Issa Hamdan.
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed eight detentions in the Bethlehem area, saying that one was carried out in the village of al-Ubeidiya, one in Beit Fajjar, one in ‘Aida refugee camp, one in Rafida — also known as al-Asakira — three in Bethlehem city, and one in al-Shawawra. According to PPS, Israeli forces also raided the southernmost district of Hebron, and detained 25-year-old Imad Hamdi Abu Khalaf and 19-year-old Yousif Khairi Abu Sneineh….

Army abducts two child siblings in Bethlehem
IMEMC 14 Feb — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, the ‘Aida refugee camp, north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and abducted two child siblings. The Bethlehem office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the soldiers invaded the home of Salam al-Masa‘eed and violently searched it, before abducting his two children. The PPS said the children have been identified as Mohammad, 15, and his brother, Anas, 14, and added that the soldiers cuffed them and took them to an unknown destination. Also on Tuesday at dawn, the soldiers several communities in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, abducted one Palestinian, and installed many roadblocks.

Rights group says Israeli police intimidate Arab school children seeking to protest
HAIFA (WAFA) 13 Feb — Israeli police are illegally threatening and intimidating Palestinian Arab school children in an effort to deter them from participating in street protests, the rights group, Adalah–The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said in a press release on Monday. Adalah sent a letter on January 24 to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Israeli Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh and Amos Ya’akov, commander of the Israeli police’s Coastal District, demanding that they order officers not to threaten or intimidate Arab school children. On that same day, Palestinian Arab school children protested in Haifa against the state’s policy of home demolitions in Arab communities. In the days leading up to the protest, police attempted to prevent it from taking place using illegal means, said Adalah. Plainclothes police officers paid visits to local Arab school principals in an effort to pressure them to stop students participating in the protest. Officers also summoned school principals to a Haifa police station to discuss the protest. In addition, police sent Whatsapp messages in Arabic to individual school children telling them – falsely – that the protest was illegal and that there would be clashes with police in case they went forward with it.


Tensions rise as Israeli police try to set up police stalls inside Al-Aqsa Mosque yard
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 13 Feb – Israeli police Monday attempted to set up stalls in Al-Aqsa Mosque yards to use it as rain shields, sparking tension among Palestinians who were present then, said local sources. Palestinians protested the move by closing Al-Aqsa Mosque’s gates locks in order to prevent the police from entering stalls. Firas al-Debs, media coordinator of the Foundation of the Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem, released a statement in which he said Israeli police threatened to break locks attached to the mosque’s gates after they were closed, but the mosque’s guards insisted that the stalls remain outside the mosque. A group of Israeli settlers broke into al-Aqsa Mosque under Israel police’s heavy protection, and were confronted by Palestinians who chanted slogans in protest of the settler’s continuous, provocative tours in the mosque.


Closures / Restriction of movement

Israeli forces block off main road in Bethlehem area
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — Israeli forces closed a main road in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Monday morning, blockading a route used every day by thousands of commuters from four Palestinian villages. Israeli forces placed rocks and earth mounds in the middle of a road near the village of al-Khader. The road serves as a main route between Bethlehem city and the villages of Husan, Battir, Nahhalin, and Wadi Fukin. Israeli news site Ynet reported that Israeli forces closed the southern entrance to Husan due to “repeated stone-throwing incidents” over the past few months that targeted Israeli vehicles traveling along the adjacent bypass road. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “traffic was rerouted” and an entrance to the village of Husan was closed after a recent “significant increase in terror activities against civilians in the Husan area,” without specifying which kind of “terror activities” it was alleging were being committed by Palestinian residents. Israel has come under harsh international condemnation for its response to alleged stone throwing by Palestinian youth through erecting checkpoints and road blocks, which rights groups have said amounted to “collective punishment” and represents a clear violation of international law.


2 Palestinians, including Hamas fighter, killed in Gaza tunnels
GAZA (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — At least two Palestinians were killed in tunnels in the besieged Gaza Strip, sources said on Monday. The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement, said that one of its fighters, 22-year-old Ahmad Asaad Shihada al-Barim from the town of Khan Yunis, was killed when a “resistance tunnel” collapsed. While al-Qassam did not specify where the tunnel was located, the use of the term “resistance tunnel” generally indicates tunnels between Gaza and Israel.
Separately, the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) site said on Monday that a worker had been killed when Egyptian forces flooded a smuggling tunnel between the North African country and the blockaded Palestinian enclave. PIC identified the Palestinian worker as Mumin Abu Hamid.

Palestinian fighter in Gaza injured by Israeli artillery shell, DFLP says
GAZA (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — The National Resistance Brigades, the military wing of the leftist Palestinian faction the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), said that one of their fighters was injured Sunday evening by shrapnel from an artillery shell fired by the Israeli army inside the besieged Gaza Strip. The brigades said in statement that the Israeli army shelled the eastern border area of the central Gaza Strip where the fighter was carrying out a “mission,” causing him to suffer moderate injuries.

Yahya Sinwar elected as new head of Hamas politburo in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — The Hamas movement elected Yahya Sinwar as the new head of its politburo in Gaza to replace Ismail Haniyeh on Monday. Khalil al-Hayya was meanwhile elected to serve as the deputy head of Hamas’ politburo during the party’s internal elections. Political pundit Ibrahim al-Madhoun told Ma‘an that it was normal to inject “new blood” in Hamas’ ruling class, and that the change in leadership would affect the movement’s policies, particularly regarding reconciliation with rival party Fatah and diplomatic relations with countries such as Iran, Turkey, and Egypt. “This new orientation will open deeper relations with Egypt and will provide more clarity and flexibility on many issues,” al-Madhoun asserted, adding that the fate of relations between Hamas and Israel also rested on Sinwar’s shoulders. According to the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, Sinwar was born on Oct. 29, 1962 in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. He first got involved with Hamas during his studies at the Islamic University of Gaza, establishing the Islamic Bloc — which represents the party in student elections — there. Al-Qassam also credited Sinwar with founding the Majd “security network,” which focused on finding and targeting alleged collaborators with Israel in the Gaza Strip.Sinwar was detained by Israel during the First Intifada and sentenced to a total of 451 years in prison, although he was released in 2011 as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap….

How Hamas prisoners elect leaders behind bars
Al-Monitor 13 Feb by Adnan Abu Amer — Hamas members incarcerated in Israeli prisons recently held elections to determine their leadership for 2017-2019. Although these elected members remain behind bars, they have great influence within the Hamas leadership outside prison and they weigh in on major Hamas decisions. Prisoners participated in all 22 Israeli prisons, including the largest — Ketziot — as well as Ofer, Ramon and Megiddo. There are about 1,800 Hamas prisoners among 7,000 total Palestinian prisoners from different factions, according to Riyad al-Ashqar, former director of the media office in the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners Affairs in Gaza. The elections, held in late January, determined the “supreme leadership body” for all Hamas prisoners. “These elections took place over four stages,” Abdel Rahman Shedid, director of the Asra Media Office, a Palestinian prisoner rights advocacy group, told Al-Monitor. “In the first stage, 360 members representing the Hamas General Conference were chosen to elect the Shura Council, composed of 51 members distributed over the various prisons. The second stage was held to elect the 11 members of the supreme leadership body from among the members of the Shura Council. The president of the body was elected in the third stage, and his deputy in the fourth.”….

Israeli naval forces open fire at Palestinian fishermen in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — Israeli naval boats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip on two separate occasions on Sunday night and Monday morning, with no injuries reported in either case. Fishermen told Ma‘an that Israeli forces opened live fire at fishermen off the coast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday [Sunday?] evening, forcing fishermen to sail to shore who said they feared for their safety. Separately on Monday morning, Israeli naval forces opened fire at fishermen sailing north of Gaza City.

Israeli forces detain employee of Turkish aid agency at Gaza border crossing
GAZA (Ma‘an) 14 Feb — Israeli forces detained an employee of a Turkish development agency at a border crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel on Monday. Palestinian sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained Muhammad Murtaja, a coordinator for the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), and added that the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv was making calls to release him. The Turkish embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson from the Shin Bet, Israel’s intelligence agency, told Ma‘an on Tuesday that they could not comment on the case “due to a court gag order.” TIKA is a Turkish governmental department working on development projects abroad. According to the organization’s website, it has funded a number of medical, agricultural, and housing projects in the Gaza Strip in the past three years.

Palestinians travel through Rafah crossing on final day of 3-day opening
GAZA (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — Egyptian authorities continued to allow humanitarian cases, students, and top officials to pass through the Rafah border crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip on Monday for the final day of a three-day opening. The Palestinian borders and crossings committee said that on Monday, Egypt allowed buses that had been denied access on Sunday to leave the Gaza Strip. The committee said that 601 Palestinians were able to travel from the Gaza Strip into Egypt on Sunday, while 30 Palestinians were denied entry to Egypt for unspecified reasons. Egyptian authorities also allowed 56 trucks loaded with cement, iron, and electricity generators to enter the blockaded coastal enclave. On Saturday, 183 passengers arrived to Gaza from Egypt, 11 Palestinians were denied entry into Egypt, and 70 truckloads of cement and iron bars for construction were allowed into Gaza.
The last time the crossing was opened was on Jan. 28, when Palestinians were permitted to cross for four consecutive days … Over 20,000 people, including humanitarian cases, are registered and waiting to cross, according to the Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip.

80 Palestinians from Gaza visit their imprisoned relatives in Israel
GAZA (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — Tens of Palestinians were able to visit their imprisoned relatives in Israeli custody Monday morning, local sources told Ma‘an. The 80 Palestinians traveled via Israel’s Erez border crossing from the Gaza Strip to visit their incarcerated relatives in Nafha prison in southern Israel. According to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, some 350 of the 6,500 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel as of January are from the Gaza Strip. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) arranges visits for family members of Gazan prisoners, which were suspended by Israeli authorities in June 2007 when Hamas came to power in the coastal enclave. All communication between Gazan prisoners and the outside world was effectively cut off, Addameer has reported, and during a Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike in April 2012, one of the prisoners’ key demands was that the program be reinstated. Israel agreed to resume the visits on the conclusion of the hunger strike, although Addameer has said that not all Gazan prisoners have been allowed to receive visitors.

Using art to heal: Battling cancer in Gaza (Photoessay)
GAZA (Al Jazeera) 12 Feb — Aya Abdulrahman was informed by her doctors that she would be dead by the end of 2014. At 21, she had seven malignant tumours. “Your daughter has two months left to live. You cannot do anything. Go home,” the doctor told Abdulrahman’s mother. The painful news, however, did not stop her from pursuing her dreams. Since childhood, all Abdulrahman wanted to do was become an artist and leave her mark on the world through art. Abdulrahman seized every opportunity that came her way to display her paintings and drawings across the Gaza Strip and abroad, from Los Angeles to Morocco. She participated in art competitions, worked with sick and disabled children in Gaza to have them express themselves through art, and trained youth in drama and acting. After undergoing a series of surgeries over a three-year span, the locally renowned artist recovered in 2015. She narrated the journey of her agony and accomplishments in the first TEDx talk in Gaza that year. “The most important thing to me is to bring happiness into people’s lives,” she said during her talk, describing the day she was informed of her recovery as “the best day of her life”. “I adore seeing a smile on people’s faces,” she continued, adding that her artwork enabled her to do that … Israel’s decade-long siege on the Gaza Strip has had devastating repercussions for Gaza’s cancer patients. Radioactive material, used in radiotherapy for cancer treatment, has long been banned in the occupied Palestinian territories. Chemotherapy drugs are also not consistently available….

Opinion: Israel’s masters of war set their sights on Gaza – again / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 12 Feb — Gaza cries out, but the warmongers don’t listen. For them, the Strip is just an opportunity to advance their careers — …And look, they’re back, our masters of war. Here they come, those warmongers. They don’t pass up a single chance to grab a microphone and threaten to push toward another war. Yet no one asks them: Why? What for? The north is quiet, as is the south, relatively speaking. But it’s been two and a half years since the last war in Gaza and the Israeli DNA demands another round of bloodshed. And their current jobs –  construction minister or education minister – are also boring for those with a mind for it. Encouraging high school students to take advanced math or building new public housing is deadly dull. They need another war, after which they may get the positions they covet. The Gaza Strip is dying. Its inhabitants have just three years to live, according to a United Nations report that predicted that in 2020, Gaza will cease to be a place fit for human life. It has long ago become a cage unfit for life. But when they’re not shooting at Israel from Gaza, no one takes an interest in its fate. Hamas is holding its fire, but it’s enough for two rebel rockets to be fired to prompt 19 (!) Israeli aerial attacks and to extract all of our warmongers from their holes.
Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant’s eyes lit up and the color seemed to return to his face when he talked about Gaza. “I believe we should be prepared by spring,” determines this master of war, who dreams of returning to Gaza and killing more, as he did so well in Operation Cast Lead eight year ago. Why in the spring? Don’t ask. There’s a reason you don’t know. Maybe it’s because Charles Aznavour sang about returning in the spring….

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Discrimination against religions other than Judaism

Revised version of ‘Azan bill’ approved by Knesset
IMEMC/Agencies 14 Feb — A revised version of the controversial ‘Muezzin Bill’, which imposes further restrictions on the Muslim call to prayer, traditionally known as the Azan [adhaan], in Israel and occupied Jerusalem, was approved for vote in the Knesset by Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation, on Sunday afternoon. A draft of the bill, which suggested to ban loudspeakers over a certain volume at all hours, was blocked by ultra-Orthodox Israeli Minister of Health, Yaakov Litzman, for fear of a possible effect on the use of the weekly Jewish call for Shabbat. The bill was modified to prevent the use of loudspeakers by religious institutions only between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., along with an additional fine of 10,000 Shekels (~2,670 USD) that, according to the Times of Israel, violators have to pay. The PNN further reports that the bill has to pass through three rounds of votes before it can be decreed and will be submitted to Israel’s parliament on Wednesday.
Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesman Yousif al-Mahmoud said that the bill was a violation of freedom to worship in Jerusalem, highlighting that “the holy city in particular and Palestine in general had a history of respect and harmony between all residents regardless of their religious beliefs.” Al-Mahmoud added that ” it is unbelievable that the long religious and cultural history of the city is being destroyed with the stroke of a pen.” Earlier, in November, Israeli authorities banned the Azan over loudspeakers in three different mosques of Abu Dis, a Jerusalem-area district, after Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev had complained of ‘noise pollution’ caused by the Azan in a protest in front of the house of the Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem. Hamas spokesman Hazem Kassem said, in a Facebook statement, that “the law makes part of Israeli policies aiming to wipe out the Palestinian land and people.” He also condemned the bill as racism aimed against the Palestinians by the Israeli occupation government. “Such policies will only make us more committed to our rights and identity,” said the Hamas official. “The Palestinians will keep going until every single inch of their land is liberated”, he added.

Haaretz report: Israeli government funded construction of Amona outpost by proxy
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — The recently dismantled illegal settlement outpost of Amona was funded through a million-dollar loan from the Israeli government, a report by Israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed on Monday, further blurring the distinction between settlements recognized and unrecognized by Israel. According to Haaretz, settlement building organization Amana obtained a $1.05 million loan in 2002 to build in the outposts of Amona and Migron by mortgaging private Palestinian lands to which it falsely claimed rights, and upon which it built the outposts. Both Migron and Amona have since been evacuated upon orders by the Israeli Supreme Court, with residents from the latter outpost putting up serious resistance during its dismantlement earlier this month.
While the loan was officially obtained through Bank Tefahot, Haaretz said that the banking institution served a “merely the conduit” for funds supplied by the Israeli government for this loan. Haaretz added that despite claims by Tefahot, Amana still owed nearly 90,000 shekels ($23,985) for construction in Amona, and more than 24,600 shekels ($6,555) for Migron construction. The revelations come shortly after the passage of the “Regularization law,” which will grant official Israeli governmental recognition to more than a dozen illegal settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank established on private Palestinian lands….

Palestinians in East Jerusalem battle for their homes
OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 14 Feb by Jaclynn Ashly — Ahmad Sub Laban gently peeled back the blinds covering a window in his home, revealing the golden Dome of the Rock in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. “If you look outside this window, you will understand exactly why the Israelis are targeting us with eviction,” he told Al Jazeera. The Sub Labans are among at least 180 Palestinian families threatened with eviction by Israeli settler groups throughout occupied East Jerusalem, including 21 families in the Old City. The Sub Labans are considered “protected tenants”, a status originating from an Ottoman-era law that guards against arbitrary evictions and establishes rent controls. After Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, the status was abolished, but for those who had already obtained it, the Israeli government issued the Third Generation Law, which strips Palestinians of the right after three generations of protected tenancy. The conditions for maintaining protected tenancy are also extremely stringent; even renovating a small piece of an apartment could lead to revocation, said Daniel Seidemann, director of the nonprofit group Jerusalem Terrestrial. Hundreds of Palestinians in the city are protected tenants, according to a field researcher from the Jerusalem-based nonprofit organisation Ir Amim. Some Palestinians with protected tenancy in the Old City say that Israeli settler groups have hastily moved to evict them after the death of the last member of their family’s third generation. Others say that their rights have been systematically eroded in the Israeli court system in an effort to increase the Jewish presence in occupied East Jerusalem. Surrounded by Israeli settlers, the Sub Labans are the last Palestinians left in their apartment building in the neighbourhood of al-Khaldiya. The cobblestone steps outside their building lead to a large Star of David and a string of Israeli flags….

Israeli soldiers demolish an under-construction home in Jerusalem
IMEMC 14 Feb — Israeli soldiers, police officers and personnel of the Jerusalem City Council invaded, earlier Tuesday, the town of al-‘Eesawiyya, north of occupied East Jerusalem, and demolished an under-construction Palestinian home. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency has reported that the demolished home is owned by Hasan Yassin Mustafa and his family. It added that dozens of soldiers and officers surrounded the entire area, before invading it, and demolished the property. The army claimed the home was being built without a permit. Israel rarely grants construction permits to Palestinian families, in various parts of occupied East Jerusalem, and its surrounding areas, an issue that forces many Palestinians to build without permits to house their expanding families.
On Sunday, members of Qara‘in family in Silwan were forced to demolish their own shed in Silwan, to avoid high fines and fees, after the Jerusalem City Council decided to demolish it. Umm Ammar Qara‘in, the owner of the property, said the family had to demolish its own property, especially since the City Council orders families to pay very high fines, if the municipality demolishes their properties. The demolished 16 square/meter property was built nearly two years ago, and was constructed with bricks and fortified iron plates.

Israeli forces seize Palestinian’s car, water hoses near Tubas
TUBAS (WAFA) 12 Feb – Israeli forces Saturday evening seized a Palestinian-owned vehicle and water hoses in al-Baqi‘a to the south of Tubas, according to a local official. Aref Daraghmeh, who monitors settlement activities in the Jordan Valley, told WAFA Israeli forces seized a vehicle belonging to one of the locals from the nearby town of Tamoun to the south. Soldiers further seized 400-meter-long water hoses used by locals for irrigation.

Israeli forces order stop-construction work on two homes
NABLUS (WAFA) 13 Feb – Israeli authorities Monday notified to stop construction work on two Palestinian-owned houses and two sheds in the Nablus-area town of Qasra, according to a local official. Head of Qasra village council, Abdel-Atheem Wadi, told WAFA Israeli forces handed Mahmoud Odeh and Hasan Zain-Eddin notices ordering them to stop construction work on their two-floor homes. Forces also handed notices to stop the construction of two sheds used by local residents for agricultural purposes.

It’s too late to stop the senseless capture of Palestinian land
The Guardian 13 Feb by Sarah Helm — Spineless world leaders have failed to implement international law, stopping the expansion of Israeli settlements — Buttoned up against a biting wind, Khalil Tufakji, a 65-year-old Palestinian cartographer, points down from the Mount of Olives in the east of Jerusalem towards a huge wasteland – the last remaining space in the ring of Jewish settlements that surround the city. This 35 sq km plot of West Bank land was confiscated several years ago and the settlement of Maale Adumim, now home to 40,000 people, was built on the south-eastern corner. But most of the plot still remains empty With Donald Trump now in the White House, Tufakji fears that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will seize his chance to announce another expansion of settlements; bulldozers are ready, pink-roofed homes will be up in no time, and busloads of new immigrants – many arriving nowadays from war-torn Ukraine – will be whisked through settler roads and tunnels so fast they won’t see the Arab villages that lay claim to the land. They won’t even know they’re in a settlement. By the time they close their front doors, the whole area will have been annexed to Jerusalem, thereby not only cutting the city off from a hoped-for Palestinian state, but slicing the West Bank in two. Some say the expansion can still be halted. United Nations resolution 2334, passed in December after Barack Obama’s change of heart, condemned settlements. But Tufakji lists countless UN resolutions passed only to be followed by settlement expansion. Today there are 630,000 settlers in Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank, both illegally occupied since 1967. In East Jerusalem, 87% of the land is now under Israeli control “which leaves 13% for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, down from 100% in 1967. Soon there’ll be none,” says Tufakji. I’ve been listening to Tufakji since the mid-1990s and everything he foresaw has so far come true. He pointed out where a tunnel would be drilled through the Mount of Olives to connect settlements – it seemed impossible but we are now driving through it. He can read the future of this conflict because he reads the land and everything about this conflict concerns the land. Poring over maps, he identifies the next land seizure by locating an aquifer; he can see where a settler road will divide an Arab village from its olive groves….

Palestinian refugees – Syria

Syria: Palestinian refugee families displaced due to bombardment
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Feb — The Working Group for Syrian Palestinians informed that dozens of Palestinian families were forced to leave Dera‘a refugee camp and the neighborhood of Tareeq Alasad, due to the ferocious bombardment by the Syrian Arab Army and the growing clashes between the army and its opponents. The group said, in its daily report published on Facebook, that forces targeted the camp yesterday with a rocket. The group added, according to Al Ray, that the neighborhood of Tareeq Alasad was bombed by explosives and heavy tanks which led the city to a state of devastation and fear. Almazerib town welcomed thousands of displaced families from Tareeq Alasad and Dera‘a. According to the statistics of the group,  people of Dera‘a camp are facing hardships due to the siege, clashes and bombardment which has caused the destruction of 80% of the city buildings and the demise of 244 citizens….

Is the PLO helping or harming Palestinians in Syria?
Al Jazeera 14 Feb by Tom Rollins — A Palestine Liberation Organisation delegation arrived in suits and keffiyehs last month to the Khan Eshieh Palestinian refugee camp to mark its return to the Syrian government’s control. There was an air of celebration, as Fatah’s Syrian representative, Samir al-Rifai, was carried on the shoulders of his colleagues. During the visit, the PLO announced that it would supply Khan Eshieh with a grant of 25m Syrian pounds ($117,000) to bolster camp services and infrastructure, while the organisation’s Syrian ambassador, Anwar Abdul Hadi, thanked Syrian authorities for the “return of security.” “We are committed to the stance of neutrality in Syria and non-interference in the internal affairs of any country,” Abdul Hadi said. “We are guests in this country and must respect its hospitality.” The visit angered Palestinian-Syrian activists, who circulated a message dubbing the delegation “Pimps of the Liberation Organisation”. One displaced activist accused Palestinian officials of turning up “on the backs of Syrian [army] tanks” rather than aiding camp residents when they needed it most. Pro and anti-government forces had long clashed in the towns and villages southwest of Damascus, including Khan Eshieh. But since June, the countryside around the camp had faced a renewed military campaign as the Syrian army, affiliated militias and Russian jets tried to uproot opposition fighters. By night, Russian jets launched air strikes on key infrastructure, including housing and hospitals. At least 34 Palestinian civilians died during the past three months of the offensive to retake Khan Eshieh, while a tightening siege on the surrounding countryside led to shortages of food, basic goods and medical supplies. Khan Eshieh community leaders and activists repeatedly called on the PLO to intervene to assist civilians, saying that there were no armed groups inside the camp and that the bombardments were targeting civilians. However, PLO executive committee member Ahmad al-Majdalani cast doubt on these claims, asking during an appearance on the Palestinian Al-Quds TV: “If there are no insurgents, then why is the camp besieged?”….

Other news

UN chief ‘deeply’ regrets veto of Palestinian ex-PM as Libya envoy
DUBAI (AFP) 13 Feb — UN chief Antonio Guterres on Monday said he “deeply regretted” opposition to former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad as the organisation’s peace envoy to Libya, days after Washington vetoed the appointment. “I do not see any reason for it,” Mr Guterres said at the annual World Government Summit hosted by Dubai. Mr Guterres described Mr Fayyad, a former World Bank official with a track record of fighting corruption, as “the right person for the right job at the right moment.” “It’s a loss for the Libyan peace process and the Libyan people,” he said, adding that the United Nations “needs to be able to act with impartiality.” The UN leader on Wednesday had informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Mr Fayyad as a replacement for German Martin Kobler to Libya. But US ambassador Nikki Haley vetoed the appointment, saying Washington did not support the message the move would send. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the US veto of Mr Fayyad as counter to the “free gifts constantly given to the Palestinian side.” Israeli media has meanwhile reported that the Jewish state could accept Mr Fayyad’s appointment if Tzipi Livni, a former Israeli foreign minister, were offered the position of UN deputy secretary general….

JPost Editorial: Support Fayyad
12 Feb — It is rare that Palestinian politics produces a leader who is truly moderate and a force for good. Cultivating moderate Palestinian leadership is an Israeli interest. That is why it was disappointing to see the US voice opposition to the appointment of former Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad as the UN’s representative to Libya … It was also discouraging to see Israeli leaders come out in support of Haley’s move. Our UN ambassador, Danny Danon, praised Haley’s decision to block the appointment, saying “This is the beginning of a new era at the UN, an era where the US stands firmly behind Israel against any and all attempts to harm the Jewish state.” To which harm is Danon referring? It is true that the UN is a place of biased anti-Israel diplomacy, but the appointment of Fayyad would not be construed as de facto recognition of a Palestinian state as Haley hinted. One need not be a representative of a state to be appointed a UN representative. Fayyad has proven to be one of the most rational and moderate Palestinian leaders, and has received widespread praise from a broad spectrum of Israeli officials. No single man has done more to fight corruption and institute transparency within the Palestinian Authority than Fayyad….

Livni’s UN gig a win-win for everyone, even Netanyahu
Al-Monitor 13 Feb by Mazal Mualem — Zionist Camp co-leader Tzipi Livni has been offered the position of UN undersecretary-general as part of a deal to appoint former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad the head of the UN mission to Libya — and she’s found support from all corners — At the start of the government meeting on Feb. 12, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded like someone who supports the possibility that Tzipi Livni, the former foreign minister and current co-chair of the Zionist Camp, would be appointed to the prestigious position of undersecretary-general at the United Nations even though she harshly attacks Netanyahu’s policies on a daily basis. That morning, Israeli news outlets had reported that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had offered Livni the position about two weeks ago at a meeting in New York. According to reports, her possible appointment is part of a deal to enable the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to head the United Nations’ political mission to Libya, an appointment to which the United States objected Feb. 11. On the front line of the opposition is Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations. Through her, the Donald Trump administration expressed its disappointment at the secretary-general’s intention to appoint Fayyad to the senior post as a representative of Palestine, arguing that it reflects unfair preference for the Palestinians over Israel in the United Nations “to the detriment of our allies in Israel.” The fight over the appointment of the former Palestinian prime minister is playing out in the background of the offer to Livni. If the deal comes through, it would be the first time in the history of the organization that an Israeli representative and a Palestinian representative have served in such senior positions.

For Arab MPs, Israeli parliament ‘harder than ever’
AFP 12 Feb — It has never been easy being a lawmaker who identifies as Palestinian in the Israeli parliament, but today it is harder than ever, Arab Israeli MPs [MKs] say. In recent months they have seen their colleagues discuss banning the early morning Muslim call to prayer and vote to legalise the seizure of hundreds of acres of Palestinian land in the West Bank by Jewish settlers. They have faced criticism and threats from fellow members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, some of whom refuse to even speak to them. Ahmed Tibi, a veteran lawmaker in his fifth term, said the situation in parliament is at its worst since he was first elected in 1999, with tensions whipped up by a “right-wing extremist” government. “The Knesset is an extremist place. It’s not an easy place to work.” The government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that came to power following elections in 2015 is widely considered the most right-wing in the country’s history….

Japan allocates $46.6 million in new assistance to Palestinian people
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 13 Feb — The Government of Japan has committed new assistance of $46,668,925 to the Palestinian people through international organizations and Japanese NGOs, a press release by the Representative Office of Japan in Ramallah said on Monday. This new package includes humanitarian assistance through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), budget assistance through the World Bank’s Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP) as well as infrastructure assistance, mainly for further development of the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park (JAIP), through UNDP. Other projects will also be implemented in partnership with various international organizations and Japanese NGOs, said the release. The new assistance focuses on humanitarian assistance for refugees and development plans, and support for social stabilization and de-radicalization through education and job creation for youth and promotion of women’s health among others … Japan has been providing assistance for the key ministries both financially and technically, in their preparation for statehood in line with Palestinian national development plans … With the new assistance, Japan’s assistance amounts to approximately $1.8 billion in total since 1993.

Najah law students to represent Palestine at international moot court competition
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 13 Feb – Law students from An-Najah National University in Nablus have been selected to represent Palestine at the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition that will be held in Washington, D.C. in April, according to a press release by the US consulate in Jerusalem. The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the largest moot court competition in the world with over 550 participating universities in over 80 countries. Najah law school team won the competition held in Ramallah with support from the US Consulate General in Jerusalem. In the awards ceremony held on Sunday, the panel of final round judges announced that the team from An-Najah National University won the competition with Birzeit University taking second place. Law students from Al Quds University, Birzeit University, An-Najah National University, Arab American University of Jenin, Modern University College in Ramallah, Al Isteklal University, and Palestine Ahliyeh University presented arguments over the weekend in front of a panel of judges to prove their skills in oral advocacy, critical thinking, research, and legal writing. US Consul General Donald Blome, who served as a judge on the final panel, told the teams, “I can only begin to imagine the places you will go and the things you will achieve. The practical skills that you have learned through this competition will help take you there.  It is because of the impact of this program that we at the US Consulate General in Jerusalem are so proud to sponsor this competition for six previous years.”….

Tulkarem woman sets herself ablaze to protest local crackdown on street vendors
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 12 Feb — A Palestinian woman sustained moderate burns on Sunday after she set fire to herself in front of a police station in the Iktaba neighborhood of Tulkarem in the northern West Bank. Palestinian police spokesman Luay Irzeiqat said that the woman torched herself to protest a move by Tulkarem municipality to remove a vendor stand used by her husband.
Tulkarem municipality’s inspectors under police protection began removing goods displayed on sidewalks and street vendor stands earlier on Sunday. In protest, several shops went on strike for two hours. The Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service in Tulkarem told Ma‘an that their teams evacuated 40-year-old Sana al-Tahil to Thabet Thabet hospital in Tulkarem for treatment.

Rivlin supports full sovereignty in West Bank blocs
JPost 13 Feb by Daniel K. Eisenbud — “Applying sovereignty to an area gives citizenship to all those living there,” says president at Jerusalem Conference — President Reuven Rivlin on Monday said he supports the full annexation of the West Bank in exchange for complete Israeli citizenship and equal rights granted to Palestinian residents. Stating that he believes “Zion is entirely ours,” and that “the sovereignty of the State of Israel must be in all the blocs,” at the opening day of the 14th Jerusalem Conference, Rivlin may have tested the waters for the one-state solution he has long championed. “It must be clear: If we extend sovereignty, the law must apply equally to all,” he told a packed auditorium of mostly right-wing participants attending the two-day symposium at the capital’s Crowne Plaza. “Applying sovereignty to an area gives citizenship to all those living there.” “There are no separate laws for Israelis and for non-Israelis,” Rivlin said. While the president condemned the recently passed Settlement Regulation Law, which retroactively grants ownership of thousands of contested Jewish homes built on Palestinian-owned land in the West Bank, he nonetheless expressed the importance of Israeli sovereignty. On Sunday, Haaretz reported that Rivlin dismissed the law, which is likely to be overturned by the High Court, for engendering an “apartheid state.” Still, while holding a 40-year-old Arabic deed proving his purchase of land in the West Bank – which was contested by the seller, before Rivlin won a protracted court case in Ramallah verifying his ownership – he proudly asserted: “This Ashkenazi is registered in Ramallah.”….

Netanyahu to test Trump policy at Washington talks
AFP 13 Feb — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who warmly welcomed Donald Trump’s election as US president, will visit the White House Wednesday to test his supportive campaign pledges against emerging policy. Since taking office, Trump has edged away from unqualified backing for Netanyahu’s drive for more Jewish settlement in territory the Palestinians claim for a state, and also from a pledge to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But Netanyahu remained upbeat as he prepared to fly out from Tel Aviv airport on Monday. “The alliance between Israel and America has always been extremely strong. It’s about to get even stronger,” the prime minister said. “President Trump and I see eye to eye on the dangers emanating from the region but also on the opportunities.” Mark Heller, a political scientist at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, said the embassy issue was “marginal, to the extent that such a promise is unlikely to be kept.” The prospect of a Trump rethink challenges the hopes of the settler lobby, a driving force in Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government, and others on the Israeli right who want to see at least partial annexation of the West Bank … Netanyahu himself said at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting that strengthening Israel’s ties with its historically “requires a responsible and considered policy, and that is how I intend to act”. “I have navigated Israeli-US relations in a prudent manner and I will continue to do so now,” he told ministers and media. His comments may have been aimed at education minister and staunch settlement backer Naftali Bennett, of the far-right Jewish Home party. On Sunday, Bennett urged Netanyahu “not to miss an historic opportunity” provided by Trump’s election and to drop his declared support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict….

‘Loaves’ church in Israel reopens 20 months after Jewish arson
AFP 12 Feb — The church in northern Israel where Christians believe Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes reopened on Sunday, 20 months after an arson attack by Jewish extremists. Two rooms of the church complex in Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee were vandalised and badly damaged in a June 2015 fire. Christian dignitaries and donors attended a ceremony and mass in the Roman Catholic church, with the complex reopened to pilgrims following eight months of renovation work at a cost of around one million dollars, of which the state of Israel contributed almost $400,000. Three Jewish extremists were indicted for the attack on the church where Jesus fed the multitude by multiplying loaves and fishes, in what was termed a hate crime against Israel’s minority community. The three have yet to be sentenced.,7340,L-4921567,00.html

Memorial for slain Druse soldier vandalized
JPost 12 Feb by Anna Ahronheim — The memorial in the Upper Galilee for a Druse soldier was vandalized by gunfire over the weekend. A dozen bullet holes were found in the memorial for Sgt. Salah Tafesh, a medic who died as he went to the aid of a wounded comrade in southern Lebanon in 1992. The memorial stands between the Druse villages of Beit Jann and Hurfeish. His family has lodged a complaint with the police, who have opened an investigation. Family members said that they have difficulty understanding the vandalism, calling it “a crime of the utmost severity.”  Tafesh was killed near the southern Lebanese village of Houla on April 6, 1992, when his convoy was ambushed by Hezbollah terrorists with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire. Despite heavy fire, Tafesh treated wounded soldiers, many with serious injuries. Tafesh was treating seriously wounded Lt.-Col. (res.) Aviel Jarafi, when he was shot in the head and instantly killed. Tapesh’s story became a legend among combat medics and is told to soldiers during their training. He was posthumously promoted to sergeant and awarded a medal from the GOC Northern Command for his bravery.

Israelis lead secret operation to deliver coats to refugees in Syria
JTA 12 Feb by Josefin Dolsten — Refugees in Syria will soon be receiving donated winter supplies — but they won’t know that the coats and boots keeping them warm came from Israel, an enemy state. Any logos or tags featuring Hebrew writing has been removed from the more than 100 tons of supplies collected by three Israeli groups, in order “to protect the effort and the recipients,” according to a statement. The organizers — the Zionist youth movement HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed, its alumni group Dror Israel and the Combat Genocide Association — collected about 3,000 boxes of blankets, coats, sleeping bags, gloves, boots and other winter supplies as part of an initiative dubbed “Operation Human Warmth.”  The items have been taken to a collection point, a representative confirmed to JTA. From there, a partner aid organization is facilitating the delivery of the goods to the refugees, who won’t know their country of origin. The representative said the delivery date and method could not be revealed due to the sensitive nature of the situation. “I thought people would be reluctant to support an effort they would not get credit for,” Gilad Perry, Dror Israel’s international collaborations director, said in a statement. “I was amazed to see how wrong I was. The generosity of people just caring for those who suffer from the cold winter on the other side of the border, in an ‘enemy country,’ overwhelmed me.”  This year the initiative, which began in 2014, saw a record number of donations, with supplies collected from Jewish, Arab and Druze neighborhoods across Israel. (listserv) (archive)


American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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