Heavy prison sentences for Fatah members in Gaza for ‘links with Ramallah’
Haaretz 2 Feb by Amira Hass — Palestinian human rights organizations condemn sentences as unjust and charges as vague and – and the confessions were made under torture — A military court in Gaza imposed heavy prison sentences on eight Fatah members last week for “harming revolutionary unity” according to the revolutionary criminal law of the PLO written in Beirut in 1979. The eight men are all members of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces. Three were sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor, and the other five were sentenced to between seven and 15 years in prison, also with hard labor. The sentences for the crimes, which were based on “contacts with Ramallah,” were handed down based on the men’s confessions, even though they all showed signs that the confessions were extracted through torture. The heavy sentences surprised not only the accused and their families, but also Palestinian human rights organizations, which condemned the sentences as unjust. They called the charges obscure and overly general, and the revolutionary law as unconstitutional and lacking even the minimal standards of international justice. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the oldest human rights organization in the Gaza Strip, said Wednesday it would represent the men in their appeals. Fatah condemned the verdicts as being politically motivated.…
Israeli forces shoot Palestinian teen as clashes erupt on Gaza-Israel border
GAZA (Ma‘an) 3 Feb – Israeli forces Friday opened live ammunition during clashes with Palestinians near al-Bureij refugee camp on the eastern borders of the besieged Gaza Strip, injuring a 16-year-old Palestinian. A spokesperson said that the 16-year-old was shot and injured in the stomach when clashes erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth near the security border between the small Palestinian territory and Israel. The youth was transferred to Shuhada Al-Aqsa hospital, the spokesperson added. Israeli snipers were deployed on dirt mounds on the eastern borders of the besieged enclave during the clashes, and opened live fire at a group of more than 50 Palestinian youths. According to a Ma‘an reporter on the scene, the clashes were continuing as of 7 p.m. on Friday as Israeli forces have continued to shoot tear gas canisters into the Palestinian territory. A number of Palestinian ambulances are also reportedly on the scene.
Israeli naval forces open fire on Gaza fishermen for 2nd time in same day
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Feb — Israeli forces opened live fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of northern Gaza for the second time on Thursday. Head of the fishermen union Zakariya Bakr told Ma‘an that Israeli naval ships opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of northern Gaza City. No injuries were reported. Israeli naval boats had also opened fire at fishermen of the coast of Beit Lahiya on Thursday morning, while Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian farmers in the eastern Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces open fire on Gazan fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 Feb — Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip Friday morning. Witnesses reported that gunshots were heard early Friday morning in northern Gaza as Israeli boats opened fire at fishermen off the coast of al-Sudaniya. No injuries were reported and fishermen were forced to flee back to shore.
Health access for referral patients from the Gaza Strip – summary, December 2016
World Health Organization 1 Feb 2017 — Lack of access through Erez crossing: * High volume of permit requests: In the last two months permit applications increased 20% over the previous month due largely to a high number of repeat applications from patients who were denied or had no response in previous months. * 58.3% of patients are denied/delayed permits: Of 2,596 patient applications for a permit to exit Gaza through Erez checkpoint for hospital appointments in December, only 41.7% were approved, marking the lowest approval rate recorded by WHO since April 2009. 91 patients (3.5%) were denied permits, among them 8 elderly persons over 60 years, while 1,422 patients (54.8%) received no response, including 323 children and 103 elderly people over 60 (Palestinian District Liaison office in Gaza). * 65% of patients’ companions are denied/ delayed permits: The approval rate for permit applications of patient companions was 35%; about 9.7% of the companions were denied permits and the remaining 55.3% were still pending at the time of the patients’ hospital dates. * Security interrogations: 29 patients (17 males; 12 females), among them a female child, were requested by the General Security Services for interviews at Erez during December. 8 were approved. * Humanitarian health workers through Erez: Of 11 WHO requests, only 3 (27%) were approved. 2 were denied and 6 were pending.
Israeli volunteers drive sick Gazans from border to hospital
Al-Monitor 3 Feb by Shlomi Eldar — Every day, Israeli volunteers drive Gazan medical patients, including children sick with cancer, from the Gaza border checkpoint to hospitals in Israel — The conversation with Jamal, a resident of the Nuseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, was fraught with emotion — long periods of silence punctured by weeping. His 11-year-old daughter, Rima, was diagnosed several months ago with leukemia, and he fought for weeks with the Gaza health authorities [Does he mean Hamas or the Israelis who authorize Gazas’ entry into Israel for health care?] to get permission to take her out of the Strip for life-saving treatment in Israel. “When we got there, her situation was almost hopeless. They said she could not be saved,” he told Al-Monitor, asking that only his first name be used. Initially, he said, the doctors considered sending her home, but eventually Rima underwent a bone marrow transplant and her situation improved, though she was still not out of the woods. In November, she was released from the hospital to return to her home in Gaza. Once every two weeks she has to go back to the Israeli hospital for checkups and monitoring. But the drive from Gaza to Tel Aviv is an expense very few in Gaza can afford. A taxi to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem from the Erez crossing on the Gaza-Israel border can cost as much as 500 shekels ($133). It’s a fortune in the besieged enclave, where many inhabitants are unemployed and rely on handouts from the UN Relief and Works Agency. Were it not for a group of Israeli volunteers who turn up every morning at the Gaza border crossings into Israel (and at Israeli military roadblocks throughout the West Bank), these seriously ill Palestinians would probably not get the life-saving care they need. Road to Recovery is an Israeli nonprofit that takes Palestinians from the crossings and roadblocks to hospitals.
Gazan female engineers product incombustible briquettes
GAZA (Andalu Agency) 1 Feb — Two female engineers in the Gaza Strip, where there are consistent difficulties in accessing construction materials due to the Israeli blockade, have produced incombustible briquettes made of wood or coal ash. Meced el-Mişheravi and Ravan Abdullatif, who have recently graduated from the Department of Structural Engineering at the Islamic University of Gaza, said they aimed to solve construction material problems in Gaza with incombustible briquettes produced using wood and coal instead of stone and sand. Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Mişheravi said they managed to produce this construction material, which is a first in Gaza, after dozens of tests. Mişheravi added that they sent a sample of the briquette they produced to advanced laboratories in Japan and received reliability confirmation that says the briquettes are suitable to use on construction sites. She said while the briquettes made of wood and coal are light, they are solid and flameproof … Mişheravi stated that the briquettes were used for the construction of a building for the first time last August and that they received great demand afterwards. She also added that the idea had been embraced by the people and engineering circles in Gaza. She noted, however, that the amount of wood and coal ash in Gaza can only meet one year’s production. “We can think about another alternative later. Our project will not be limited to this. This is just the beginning of creative solutions for problems in the construction sector in Gaza,” she said.
Who are the Nawari, Gaza’s alienated ‘Gypsies’?
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 2 Feb by Amjad Yaghi — Palestine’s marginalized Nawari community is forced to rely on begging and dancing for income and suffers particular discrimination in highly conservative Gaza, where many look down on Nawaris for their traditions — …Mussa Natour, a researcher on Palestinian history and member of the Palestinian Curriculum Development Center at the Ministry of Education, stressed to Al-Monitor that there are no Gypsy communities in Palestine at present and that the Roma groups that once spread throughout the Levant area have left Palestine because of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He explained that although Gazans consider the Nawaris Gypsies, they are not. They are a separate community. He added, “Nawaris in Palestine are treated the same way as the Roma community is treated in other countries, since the Nawaris’ customs and traditions are similar to those of the Roma community.” These rituals run contrary to the traditions of Gazan society, which has been heavily influenced by Islamic rule, especially after Hamas’ takeover of Gaza in 2007. Al-Monitor visited the Nawar neighborhood, which hosts the second largest population of Nawaris of Palestine. The Nawar neighborhood of Jerusalem is home to the largest Nawari population in the Palestinian territories. Amal Anwar, 70, is one of the oldest women in the Nawar neighborhood. She told Al-Monitor, “Before the Palestinian Nakba, when I was only two years old, we lived in the east of Jabalia. Other Nawaris lived in other Palestinian areas and were fully integrated with Palestinian society, even if we had different roots. But as a result of harassment and oppression that our community faced within society over decades, especially in the 1970s, when our women would dance and sing, Nawaris all moved in the 1980s to a vacant area in al-Saftawi district.” The area is now known as the Nawar neighborhood. Anwar expressed her concerns over the poverty and marginalization her community faces, the lack of access to public services and their status as “Gypsies.” She explained that they are known for dancing and singing in return for money. Anwar did not deny that many Nawari women in the Gaza Strip have indeed worked as dancers, an occupation considered shameful in conservative societies like Gaza’s.“After the events of the first intifada in 1987, Nawari women quit [dancing] as a job. But society in Gaza still remembers them as such and they are still stigmatized as obscene dancers,” she added….
Herbal medicine industry flourishing in Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 3 Feb by Rasha Abou Jalal — In the herb shop run by Murad Helou, hundreds of different herbs can be found. Helou’s shop is located in al-Zawiyah market in the center of Gaza City, and it only takes a few minutes for herbal prescriptions to be prepared. Helou, 62, who never went to college, has been practicing what is known as herbalism since he was 14. He learned the profession from his father, who in turn learned it from his grandfather. Helou told Al-Monitor about a patient who had just bought an herbal medicine to get rid of his intestinal parasites. “He resorted to an herbal solution to get rid of the worms that are causing him constant abdominal pain and anemia in the long run, as he could not afford to buy expensive chemical drugs sold at the pharmacies.” Helou said that more and more patients are visiting his shop to buy herbal medicine. He explained that the herbal medicine he prepared for the customer cost him about $1 and is a powder made of pumpkin seeds, garlic and carrot seed paper. The powder should be added to 1 liter (4 cups) of boiling water and drunk hot. “Having this hot drink on a daily basis for two weeks will certainly kill all the parasites,” Helou confidently said. Amid the deteriorating economy caused by the ongoing Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip since 2007 and the high levels of poverty and unemployment, herbal trade has become popular as people cannot afford expensive chemical drugs and would rather opt for cheap herbs. The unemployment rate in Gaza amounts to 41.2%, according to official statistics issued by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in July 2016….
Will debt and poor financial prospects close Gaza’s Al-Azhar Institute?
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 3 Feb by Ahmad Abu Amer — The Palestinian Al-Azhar Institute, founded in 1955, is reeling from a financial crisis that could close it down. The institute has seen a 50% drop in student enrollment, from 2,000 students in the 1990s to 1,000 today. The institute was one of the first Palestinian educational institutions in the Gaza Strip to offer religious and academic education concurrently. It provides classes from elementary to university levels and abides by the same educational policies, terms of acceptance, curriculum, examination system and certification process adopted by Al-Azhar in Egypt. The institute offers several specialized religious courses in two preparatory and secondary schools free of charge. The Egyptian administration that ruled Gaza in the 1950s allocated approximately 108 acres for the institute’s campus. Only 8 acres are left unused, with the largest part of the land dedicated to the Islamic University in Gaza (1979) and Al-Azhar University in Gaza (1992). Imad Hamattu, dean of the institute in Palestine, told Al-Monitor the financial crisis is the most important challenge the institute faces today. Without an infusion of funds, the institute may close. Hamattu said the institute is calling on several potential local and Arab sources, including the office of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as officials in Qatar, Oman and Kuwait. To fund operations, the institute currently has only 6,000 shekels (about $1,600), which well-off Palestinians in Gaza donated during the last academic term….
Q&A: Ahmad Matar: Learning parkour in Gaza made me feel free
Impolitikal 31 Jan by Sarah Illingworth — Ahmad Matar has been doing parkour in the Gaza Strip since he was 10 years old. Now 20, he was inspired to try the extreme sport – which sees participants acrobatically traverse physical obstacles using no additional aids or equipment – by his friends Abdullah Anshasi and Muhammed Aljkhbeir, who introduced parkour to the Palestinian territory after watching the documentary Jump London online. Enamoured by their early attempts and videos, Ahmad joined them as one of 12 founding members of Gaza Parkour in 2005. Despite the difficulties presented by living in a place* other people’s conflicts have reduced largely to rubble, the collective hold tight to their dream of bringing hope to Gaza through a sport that, as Ahmad explains here to Sarah, makes them feel truly free. Have you been able to travel out of Gaza, other than to Sweden, to do parkour? If anyone wants to get out of Gaza it’s so, so difficult. For example, I’ve been trying to travel for three years. I’ve been invited for many events. For three years I’ve been trying, and in the end I got help from my friends here in Sweden. It was a long time to do all the documents, because it’s difficult for someone from Gaza to travel to Europe. Sometimes you get refused, sometimes you get accepted. Even if you get a visa it is still difficult to leave because the borders are closed all the time. When the border between us and Egypt is closed we can’t travel, because there is no airport in Gaza. The only way we have to go is from Egypt airport, or boat. Before I got this visa, I was trying to get a visa for America. I got an invitation for a competition in Las Vegas, and at that time I couldn’t go to get the visa, because to get the visa for America I have to go to an embassy across the Israeli border. It was impossible to go there and get the American visa. After this I wanted to go to the Air Wipp Challenge in Sweden. It took a long time, three years, to get that visa. The time that I travelled to Sweden, it was the first time I saw a plane, and to see the situation out of Gaza. It’s a different life. You’d never left before? I didn’t travel before. It was the first time for me. To be in Sweden, and to travel. Really, the freedom is so beautiful. It’s different between Sweden and Gaza. The life that people have. I can see that they’re always happy and they all can do what they want. But in Gaza I couldn’t do anything I wanted. I was just doing parkour all the time, after parkour to go home and sit with my family and sleep, and the next day is the same. Because there’s no work and nothing to do, and parkour was the only thing to show our feelings…. Ahmad Matar is a parkour and freerunning athlete. Follow him on Instagram. Follow Gaza Parkour on Facebook.
Violence / Detention — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel
16-year-old slain Palestinian laid to rest after being held by Israel for over 2 months
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 Feb — Palestinians in the village of Bir Nabala northwest of Jerusalem in the central occupied West Bank set off on Thursday for the funeral procession of 16-year-old slain Palestinian Muhammad Zeidan, whose body had been returned to his family late Wednesday night after being held by Israeli authorities for over two months. Zeidan, 16, was shot and killed by an Israeli security guard on Nov. 25 after allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack near the Shufat checkpoint in the Jerusalem district of the occupied West Bank. The funeral march set off from the Ramallah governmental hospital and headed to Bir Nabala, where locals performed funeral prayers and carried Zeidan’s body on their shoulders to his final destination in the village’s cemetery, where he was laid to rest. Zeidan’s father, Nabeel Zeidan, claimed that the teenager was on his way to the hospital to receive medical care for his kidney failure when he was shot and killed. Nabeel added that “executing” his son at such a young age and holding his dead body “indicated Israeli army’s criminal mentality.”
Israel to return slain Palestinian after holding body for over a week
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 Feb — Israeli authorities decided on Thursday evening to return the body of slain Palestinian Hussein Salem Abu Ghush to his family in the Qalandiya refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. Abu Ghush was killed by Israeli authorities on Jan. 25 for allegedly attempting a car-ramming attack at a bus-stop near Kochav Yaakov, an illegal Israeli settlement directly southeast of Ramallah. At the time of Abu Ghush’s death, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that “in response to the immediate threat, Israeli forces fired at the assailant, resulting in his death,” further claiming that Israeli soldiers found a knife in the Palestinian’s vehicle. She added that no Israelis were injured in the incident. Witnesses told Ma‘an at the time that Israeli soldiers left Abu Ghush bleeding on the ground until he died, before putting him in a black body bag and putting him into a military vehicle headed towards Jerusalem. At the time of his death, Abu Ghush was the seventh out of now eight Palestinians to have been killed by Israeli forces in 2017.
New video challenges Israeli police claims around deadly Umm al-Hiran raid
BETHLEHEM (Ma ‘an) 3 Feb — A new video filmed by Al Jazeera has contradicted claims by Israeli officials concerning the killing of Bedouin teacher Yaqoub Moussa Abu al-Qi‘an, a math teacher and Palestinian citizen of Israel who was shot dead by Israeli police last month during violent demolition raids in the village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev, according to a report released by Haaretz on Thursday. In one of several contested claims by Israeli police over the circumstances of the killing, the police and Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan claimed that al-Qi‘an was driving toward police without his headlights on. However, the new video [below] released shows clearly that al-Qi‘an did indeed have his headlights on before his car rammed into a group of police, killing one. 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. In a statement released by the Joint List at the time, the group argued that Israeli police lied in their claims in order to distract from Israel’s campaign to establish Jewish-only towns “on the ruins of Bedouin villages.”….
Shot six times, then dragged away: a Palestinian teen’s death at the hand of Israeli troops
Haaretz 3 Feb by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Usually, a single bullet is fired in the direction of a protester’s legs are enough to ‘neutralize the threat.’ This time the soldiers fired six rounds, all at Qusai — The outer wall of his house is now covered by a colossal photo enlargement, two stories high. That is how he looked in his final moments: Israel Defense Forces soldiers grabbing him by the hands and feet, hauling him as if he were a sack of potatoes, his head bumping hard against the rocks. Standing around are about 10 soldiers, looking on impassively at the outcome of their comrades’ actions. The image covers the side of a house of mourning; the whole village can see it. At the bottom is a legend: “Do not say I was killed in my childhood. I will awaken those residing in the graves, and I will declare a revolution underground.” It is not possible to remain unfeeling at a sight like this. Nor is it possible to be unmoved when watching the video footage that documents his killing: the shots fired at an otherwise unarmed stone-thrower who posed no danger to anyone, the 17-year-old lying helpless and motionless on the ground, the soldiers furiously charging at him, one them even stumbling and falling onto Qusai al-Amour’s body. Then you see two soldiers trying to pick him up, but he slips out of their grasp, at which point they start dragging him down the slope, with his head knocking about. He is either dead or dying at this stage, having been shot six times, there between the olive trees.
They also fire rubber bullets at Hiyam, the victim’s older sister, when she tries to approach; she is compelled to run for her life, screaming as she hops on one foot after being hit. The 40-year-old mother of seven tried in vain to save her brother from the soldiers, and was herself hospitalized. And in the background the Israeli blue-and-white flag gaily flew on one of the armored jeeps parked nearby, to the everlasting glory of the IDF and the State of Israel. This is how, on January 16, troops killed Qusai al-Amour, a 12th-grader from Tuqu, a Palestinian village of 14,000 located east of Bethlehem … It took four days for Hassan al-Amour to find the strength to watch the video of his son’s death. He watched it once, and says he will never see it again. “I couldn’t believe it when I watched the video. There were Jews who were in shock from it, too,” he says. “What can I say – seeing my son being dragged like that? What did he do?” … This past Monday, exactly two weeks after the incident, we saw a shepherd with his flock at the same spot where Qusai fell. Upon seeing the Israeli car and the two Israelis who emerged from it, the shepherd fled, as did his sheep.
Israeli forces injure 3 Palestinian teens with live ammunition in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 2 Feb — Israeli forces Thursday afternoon injured three Palestinian teenagers with live ammunition after clashes broke out in eastern Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank. Medical crews working with the Palestinian Red Crescent said that they treated three teenagers, ages 15, 16, and 17, who had sustained injuries in their thigh and leg from Israeli forces opening live fire on them. The injured teens were transferred to the Rafidiya Hospital for treatment where their injuries were reported as moderate.
Israeli soldiers assault elderly woman, sons in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 4 Feb – Israeli troops assaulted late Friday an elderly woman and her son and grandson in Hebron’s old city, Palestinian security sources told WAFA on Saturday. They said soldiers broke into the residence of Fatima Natsheh, 70, in the old city and assaulted her and her son, Hasan, 35, and grandson, Falah, 23, with their gun butts causing them injuries that required treatment in hospital.
Army attacks the weekly protest in Ni‘lin
IMEMC 3 Feb — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, many Palestinian and international peace activists holding the weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall and colonies in Ni‘lin village west of Ramallah, causing many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Mohammad Amira, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in Ni‘lin, said the soldiers assaulted the nonviolent protesters, and fired many gas bombs and concussion grenades at them, just as they approached the wall’s construction site, on the villagers’ orchards, south of Ni‘lin. He added that many nonviolent protesters suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, and received the needed treatment by local medics. The procession started from the center of the village, when locals, Israeli and international activists marched carrying Palestinian flags, and chanting against the ongoing occupation. They also marched in solidarity with the detainees in the Negev detention camp, who are currently subject to attacks, and escalating violations.
Dozens injured after Israeli soldiers assaulted the weekly procession in Kufur Qaddoum
IMEMC 3 Feb — Many Palestinian and international activists suffered, Friday, the severe effects of teargas inhalation, after Israeli soldiers assaulted the weekly procession against the Annexation Wall and colonies, in Kafr Qaddoum, in the northern West Bank district of Qalqilia. Morad Eshteiwy, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in Kafr Qaddoum, stated that dozens of soldiers and officers of the so-called Border Guard Units invaded the town, using armored vehicles, including a huge military bulldozer. He added that the soldiers fired many rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades, causing dozens to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation … The soldiers used excessive force against the protesters, and also broke into the yard of a local home owned by Abdul-Latif Obeid, and used it as a military post and a firing zone to target the protesters, including youngsters who hurled stones at the invading army vehicles. Also on Friday, nonviolent protests were held in Bil‘in and Ni‘lin villages, in the central West Bank district of Ramallah….
1 Palestinian, 3 Israelis injured in West Bank vehicular incident
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Feb — A Palestinian woman driving a rental car hit an Israeli police vehicle and crashed into a gate at the entrance of the illegal Israeli settlement of Geva Benyamin in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, injuring three Israelis, according to the Israeli army. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “a Palestinian assailant rammed her car into a [Israeli] police car and into the gate of the Geva Benyamin community. The assailant injured three civilians who were evacuated to the hospital, and the assailant is being treated [for injuries] and being questioned at the scene.” Despite using the word “assailant” to refer to the Palestinian driver, the Israeli army spokesperson could not immediately confirm if the incident was being treated as a deliberate attack, or as a traffic accident. The spokesperson reiterated that the “suspect” was being interrogated. Israeli media originally reported that the woman injured three policemen and a security guard injured after hitting a police car from behind, though the army confirmed that three civilians, not policemen, were injured. Some Hebrew-language websites reported that the woman confessed during interrogation that she hit the police car on purpose as an attack. This is a developing story.
Undercover Israeli forces detain 2 students from Birzeit University
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 Feb — Israeli special forces disguised themselves as Palestinians and “kidnapped” two Palestinian students at the entrance of Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Thursday afternoon, according to a statement released by the university. The two students were identified as Tawfiq Abu Arqub, a coordinator for the Hamas-affiliated Islamic student bloc at the university, and Basel Falaneh, the secretary of specialities committee of the student council. They were studying computer science and business, respectively. Birzeit University released a statement after the incident, saying that the two students were detained at the western gate of the university by “a number of [Israeli] soldiers.” Locals also told Ma‘an that the students were forced into a vehicle “at gunpoint,” while also pointing guns at other students in the area. The head of the university’s security, Muhammad Rimawi, stated that Israeli forces had “intercepted” a car that Abu Arqub and Falaneh were riding in, according to the statement, when “a number of undercover occupying forces took the students out of the car and kidnapped them.” “This is neither new nor unprecedented given the ongoing colonial aggression against the people and institutions of Palestine,” the statement said. The statement called the incident an “outrageous act of violence,” and part of a larger Israeli campaign resulting in the “rapid arrests” of students.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
PHOTOS: Palestinian homes come down as settlements expand
Activestills 1 Feb Photos and text by Ahmad Al-Bazz — Twelve Palestinian homes and structures in the West Bank village of Shufa are currently under the threat of demolition, after Israeli authorities handed out seven demolition orders on January 29. The orders previous come on the heels of five demolition orders handed out in the village earlier this month. The orders were given under the pretext of illegal construction in Area C, which is under full Israeli military and civil control. Residents of the village said they still have 15 days to challenge the orders in Israeli courts. Thaer Doroubi, whose new two-floor house is slated for demolition, said he is currently submitting documents to try to halt the order. “This is occupation,” he told +972, “I don’t expect to solve the case by courts, but I will try.” Doroubi says that he decided to start a life for himself by building his own house in the Area C in his village where he owns a piece of land. “There is no more space in the Area B section of the village, that’s why we build in our homes in Area C.” Area B remains under full Israeli military control, although the Palestinian Authority is in charge of civil and administrative matters there. It is almost impossible for Palestinians in Area C to obtain building permits. As Natasha Roth pointed out, between 2010 and 2014 the Civil Administration granted just 1.5 percent of requests.
On the adjacent hill, Israeli bulldozers continued their construction in the Israeli settlement of Avnei Hefetz. A new path cleared for the settlement’s fence could be clearly seen from Shufa, where residents say they are losing more and more land to the settlement….
Opinion — How can settlers take my land and say it was God’s will? / Maryam Hamad
Haaretz 2 Feb — I think tonight I won’t be able to sleep a wink. My name is Maryam Hamad, I’m 83 years old and was born and lived my whole life in the village of Silwad on the West Bank. My father had farming lands, which he cultivated for many years with hard work. I remember that fruit trees were planted in the various plots – there was a fig grove, olive vineyards and others. When I was a little girl my father would put me on a donkey and ride with me to those fields and groves. After my father died, my brother and I inherited the lands. In 1996 Israeli settlers built the outpost they call “Amona” on them. Evacuating the invaders from my land on Wednesday was especially exciting for me. I’ve waited so many years for this moment and always believed it would finally come. That’s all I wanted, and I still only want to return to my plots safely and peacefully, legally and without any problems. I’ve never understood how the settlers could come, take my land and tell me it was God’s will. That’s land confiscation. They took my land against my will. I’m glad it’s finally over … The fact that my land has been given back to me takes me back to my childhood days, to family memories, love and happiness. That’s a special feeling, I wish it on anyone who has lost land or anything so precious. After many years, I feel my belief and confidence in life returning to me. After years of patient waiting, I can no longer wait for the moment in which I’ll work on my land again, like I did once. I’ve already prepared the wheat and lentils for sowing, and even the work tools I’ve kept over the years.
Prisoners / Court actions
3 Jerusalemite Palestinians banned from Al-Aqsa for 6 months, 2 sentenced to prison
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 3 Feb — Israeli police on Thursday released three Palestinian youths from detention in occupied East Jerusalem on the condition of being banned from entering the Al-Aqsa mosque for 6 months. According to local sources, Thaer Abu Sbeih, Mahmoud Abed al-Latif and Rawhi al-Kalghasi were released by the Israeli police on the condition of being banned from the Muslim holy site, while Abu Sbeih was additionally charged a fine of 1,000 Shekels (approximately $265). It remained unclear why the three had been detained, and how long they were detained for.
Meanwhile, the Israeli central court sentenced two Palestinians from Jerusalem to prison, according to the Jerusalem Committee for Detainees’ Affairs. One of the youths, Ismail Mahmoud Rushfi al-Karaki, 18, was sentenced to 34 months in jail. The teenager was detained on April 17th, 2016 by a group of undercover Israeli forces and was convicted of throwing Molotov cocktails. The court also sentenced Muhammad Moussa Abassi, 25, from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan to three-and-a-half years in jail and imposed a fine on him of 5,000 shekels (approximately $1,331) after convicting him of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli forces.
Palestinian NGO worker pleads not guilty to helping Hamas
AFP 2 Feb — The Gaza head of a major US-based NGO pleaded not guilty in an Israeli court Thursday to aiding Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, his employers said. Israel accuses Mohammed al-Halabi, head of Gaza operations for the global Christian charity World Vision, of siphoning millions of dollars to the Islamist movement which runs the territory. At the district court in Beersheba in southern Israel, Halabi pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, World Vision said. The group said its humanitarian work in Gaza has been suspended following Halabi’s arrest “as we conduct a thorough and wide-ranging review of our operations.” “World Vision has not seen any credible evidence supporting the charges,” it said in a statement. Halabi’s lawyers have complained they have been prevented from seeing much of the evidence against him and objected to two additional charges being tacked on seven months after his initial arrest. The trial will continue on February 23.
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon
UN struggles to rebuild Palestinian refugee camp
NAHR AL-BARED CAMP, Lebanon (Al Jazeera) 4 Feb — Destroyed in 2007 clashes, Lebanon’s Nahr al-Bared camp is now in the midst of a reconstruction process — Souafa Abbas has lived in a temporary shelter in Nahr al-Bared, a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, since 2009, after the camp was levelled in clashes between the Lebanese army and Islamist fighters two years earlier. “It’s a boring life here. Before the  crisis, all the people in our neighbourhood knew each other well. There were no strangers in the area,” Abbas, 40, told Al Jazeera. The place where she lived before the fighting broke out was a replica of her family’s native village of Saffouri, where generations of Palestinians had lived side by side until 1948. But since the fighting, more than 600 Palestinian families from Nahr al-Bared have been living in shelters designed to be inhabited for three years, for more than double that time. Abbas lives with her baby daughter in a building roofed with a single sheet of galvanised metal, which bakes in summer and does not retain heat in winter. The cooking and toilet facilities are squalid … But her family’s living conditions may soon improve. UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, is spending $345m to rebuild the Nahr al-Bared camp — the biggest project ever undertaken by the agency. The clashes in 2007 destroyed 95 percent of the camp and left more than 28,000 people homeless. With backing from the Lebanese government, UNRWA has started clearing 12,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance and redesigning Nahr al-Bared as a modern city … To rebuild Nahr al-Bared in a way that preserves the structure of the generations-old Palestinian communities, UNRWA consulted with camp residents for assistance with the mapping process, which has lasted years….
Volvo criticized for West Bank armoured buses
The Local (Sweden) 1 Feb — Swedish bus maker Volvo has been criticized for its activities in the occupied West Bank, where armoured versions of its buses operate between settlements. The chassis of the vehicles are constructed by Volvo in Borås, Sweden then important by Mayer cars and trucks to Israel. The rest of the vehicle is then built on the chassis by bus manufacturer Merkavim, a company Volvo part-owns. Volvo has an agreement with Mayer cars and trucks that the buses should not be used for prisoner transport, but three buses for that use were nonetheless produced in 2015, Swedish broadcaster TV4 reports. “That’s not included in our product range. We’re going to get to the bottom of that, we don’t support it,” Volvo CEO Martin Lundstedt told news agency TT. The auto maker explained that the vehicles built in Israel are supposed to be reinforced buses used for the transport of passengers like school children. It plans on continuing its partnerships in the area. “We think the possibility of transporting people is an important part of a society. We are following the sanctions, laws and rules in order to make sure we conduct ourselves in the right way in different situations, not just in the Middle East, but also around the world. And again, this is about the transport of people, like for example school children,” Lundstedt said. The chairman of Sweden’s parliamentary committee on foreign affairs has criticized the company’s activities in the region however. “Clearly I’m disappointed that Volvo is part of and in practise supports a violation of international law,” Kenneth G Forslund told TV4.
Hundreds of Belgian artists and academics urge government to end participation in EU project cooperating with Israeli National Police
IMEMC/Agencies 3 Feb — In Belgium, 482 professors and researchers, and more than 190 artists, have written an open letter calling on their authorities to withdraw from participating in a European Union funded research project called LAW TRAIN, in which Belgium and Spain cooperate with the Israeli National Police. The project, aimed at developing joint interrogation methods, is coordinated by an Israeli university with particularly deep ties to Israel’s army and notorious security services. The signatories of this open letter highlight that Israeli methods are tested on Palestinians. Israel’s illegal detention of Palestinian political prisoners, and the systematic abuse and torture perpetrated by Israeli security forces during interrogations, is well documented. And, in 2016 alone, Israelis interrogated at least 7,000 Palestinians, including over 400 children. This open letter is part of broader efforts by the Belgian Coalition To Stop Law Train, and broader European-wide efforts against the participation of the Israeli military, homeland security and police sector in research and development funded by the European Union. Other forms of mobilizing have included direct actions, conferences, and lobbying. Further details and direct links available at the official website of the Palestinian BDS National Committee.
The month in pictures: January 2017
Electronic Intifada 3 February
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (26 Jan-1 Feb)
PCHR-Gaza 2 Feb — Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian in Jenin Refugee camp. 10 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were wounded in the West Bank Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea. Israeli forces conducted 74 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. 43 civilians, including a child, were arrested in the West Bank. 6 of them were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. 8 houses, 5 barns were demolished, rendering 62 persons, including 39 children, homeless in 2 Bedouin communities, east of Jerusalem. Settlement activities continued in the West Bank. Construction of new 3,000 settlement units was approved, and ‘Amouna outpost was evacuated in return. 300 olive trees were uprooted from the lands of Kharas village, west of Hebron. Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 10th [year]. Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians. 6 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were arrested at military checkpoints [Details of these and other events follow]
Bringing the funk to an occupied dance floor in Palestine
Al Jazeera 3 Feb by Imran Khan — Despite the challenges of Israeli occupation, a small yet determined Drum and Bass scene draws the crowds in the West Bank — The DJ drops a tune. The crowd raises its collective arms. The bass falls to the floor. The treble of the strings dances above their heads. In an obscure dancehall in the occupied West Bank a revolution is taking place. Not one that involves throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers on Palestinian territory, but one that involves music and in particular, the Drum and Bass genre. Right now, in the midst of the track being played through the giant speaker stacks just after midnight, no one cares about the occupied territory. They care about the dancefloor they occupy. Shouting above the music as she talks to me, Ramallah resident Tala has a smile that is an indication of how much this crowd appreciates the sounds and the club. “This is decent music and we have seen lots of acts outside, but it’s extra special when good acts come to Ramallah because it doesn’t happen much and takes lots of effort because of the Israeli restrictions,” she said … Sinistarr is one of the outside acts Tala is talking about. From Detroit, he was at the Exit Records party in London last weekend. Tonight it’s the occupied West Bank. “I wanted to play here because I grew up with Arab culture, with Arab friends. To come here, this is special,” he said. “My friend invited me here. I was never going to say no.” … In Ramallah, an event like this is so much more difficult to organise than in, say, New York, or even Tel Aviv. The Israeli authorities question anyone coming into the country and especially if they find out you are travelling to the occupied territories without a strong family connection. The Palestinian authority is suspicious of strangers as well. But this small scene is a powerful testament to the fact that occupation may be the Palestinian everyday experience, but for tonight music is what counts.
News agencies still whitewashing Israeli forces’ lethal violence
MEMO 1 Feb by Ben White — Many media outlets are continuing to repeat important mistakes when it comes to covering the killing of Palestinians by Israeli forces, errors that result in a whitewashing of the routine violence of Israel’s occupation, and ultimately, biased coverage. When I wrote about this issue last year (see here, here, and here), I focused on the output of news agencies like Reuters and The Associated Press (AP), on the basis that their reports go global, and that their coverage – perhaps more than other outlets – is perceived as objective (or striving to be). Unfortunately, the flaws that have characterised the reporting of events since autumn 2015 have persisted into 2017 – as the following examples demonstrate. On 10 January, Israeli forces shot and killed Mohammad Salhi, during a night raid of the al-Far‘a refugee camp near Tubas. Salhi was killed in his own home, in front of his mother. The Israeli army claimed Salhi was attempting to stab the soldiers when he was shot; his family denies it. So how did Reuters report the incident? The headline itself is a bad start, though sadly routine: ‘Israeli troops kill knife-wielding Palestinian in West Bank raid: military’. This sets the tone for the whole piece, which begins with the army’s version of events. “Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian who the military said tried to attack them with a knife during a raid on Tuesday to detain suspected militants in a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.” Later, a military statement is quoted, which claimed that “forces called on the attacker to halt and upon his continued advance fired towards him, resulting in his death.” Sandwiched in between those paragraphs is reference to a statement by the Palestinian Foreign Ministry, who said that Salhi “was ‘executed in cold blood’ by soldiers in the courtyard of his home, in front of his mother.” The killing of a Palestinian civilian in his own home merited 141 words of copy – of which, 91 words were used to repeat the Israeli army’s version of events. But it gets worse. Reuters contextualises the killing of Salhi by stating that “Israeli forces regularly carry out raids in the West Bank against suspected militants and arms caches.” In fact, the arrest raids conducted by Israeli forces typically target political activists, human rights campaigners, and journalists. Some raids are purely for the purpose of harassment. And, note how this sanitising of one of the most egregious aspects of Israel’s military occupation is stated as fact….
Rights expert urges UN member states to halt Israel’s illegal settlements in West Bank
UN.org 3 Feb — A United Nations human rights expert has called on the Security Council and the General Assembly to explore effective diplomatic and political measures to ensure Israeli compliance with Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), which affirms that all Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory constitute a flagrant violation of international law. “The settlement announcements by the Israeli Government, only a month after the clear direction of the international community, are a defiant and troubling repudiation of resolution 2334,” said Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk, who is mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. “If Israel understands that the international community will take no meaningful steps to enforce the Council’s resolution, it will continue to intensify its settlement project undeterred,” the Rapporteur warned in a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). “And if the international community intends to preserve what remains of a viable two-state solution, it must not assume that resolutions, critical statements and international conferences alone will change state behaviour in these circumstances,” he stressed.
Opinion — Israel: An inspiration for Trump
Al Jazeera 3 Feb by Yasmeen El Khoudary — Israel has set a great example of racist bans and walls for Trump to follow– The past week has been distressingly sad, following the outrageous news coming from the United States featuring Muslims who are affected by President Donald Trump’s racist Muslim ban. Reading about the heartbreaking stories of the ban’s victims, among them separated families, anxious students, and banned scientists, I was struck by the similarities between their plight and that of millions of Palestinians around the world. From the seven million refugees and their descendants who were forced out of Palestine after Israel’s creation in 1948 and who are not allowed to return to their homes in Palestine (mainly because Israel destroyed their homes and replaced them with new ones for Jews who agreed to come to Israel), to the two million people in Gaza whose entire lives have been subject to a ruthless siege for the past 11 years, and the three million Palestinian hostages to an apartheid wall, checkpoints, and illegal settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Palestinian Christians, Druze and Muslims alike, we have all been subject to something of a ban – whether a ban on returning to our homeland, a ban travelling within it, a ban on leaving it, or a ban on re-entering it. While the bans we have suffered bear an astonishing resemblance to Trump’s ban, one major difference is that while Trump’s Muslim ban has enraged people, governments, international businesses and organisations around the world, Israel’s ongoing “Palestinian bans” enjoy the indifferent silence, complicity and, in some cases, support of the world…
US says Israeli settlements ‘may not be helpful’
Al Jazeera 2 Feb — While stopping short of criticising settlement expansion, White House appears to cool rhetoric on Israel-Palestine — The Trump administration said on Thursday that Israel’s building of new settlements and expansion of existing ones in the occupied territories may not help to achieve peace with Palestinians, adopting a more measured tone than previous pro-Israel announcements. In a statement issued two weeks before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to visit US President Donald Trump, the White House said the administration “has not taken an official position on settlement activity”. “While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal,” the statement said. Trump has signalled he could be more accommodating toward settlement projects than his predecessor, Barack Obama. Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from West Jerusalem, said there was “certainly a change of tone” in the White House statement. “In the last two weeks they have not reacted at all to the 6,000 new settlements announced by the Israelis. And a lot of people, particularly right-wing politicians, took that as a green light,” he said. “This is nowhere near as strong a statement as compared to the previous administration under former President Barack Obama.”
Will EU be more open to ICC probe of Israeli settlements?
Al-Monitor 3 Feb by Daoud Kuttab — The sharp increase of Israeli settlement building since the swearing in of Donald Trump, coupled with the anger brewing in Europe over the new US president, is providing an opening for Palestinians. Attempts to encourage the International Criminal Court (ICC) to initiate a probe into Israeli war crimes have received new life due to the rift between Washington and the EU. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator and secretary general of the PLO, called Jan. 30 on the ICC to immediately open a probe into what he called “immoral” Israeli actions. “The Palestinian leadership will pursue all necessary political, legal and diplomatic steps in order to hold Israel accountable and to bring justice to our people. This includes sending all the related information to the ICC urging it to open an immediate investigation into Israel’s settlement enterprise,” Erekat said in a statement posted on the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department website …
It is not clear if the latest effort by Palestinians will succeed in getting the ICC to initiate a probe into Israeli violations of the Geneva Conventions with its illegal building efforts. Palestinian efforts for nearly half a century to reverse or at least put a halt to Israeli settlement expansion into the areas earmarked for the Palestinian state have so far failed to produce the desired outcome. If Palestinians resist Israeli actions, whether violently or nonviolently, the Israelis respond with more settlement activities. If Palestinians go to international forums and extract a demand for Israel to stop settlement activities, the Israelis take revenge on such decisions by making new settlement announcements. If Democrats win in America, Israelis build; when Republicans win, Israelis are given a green light to build. If Palestinians go to Israeli courts and in rare cases receive a decision to evacuate one settlement, as in the case of Amona, Israel immediately announces its intention to build new settlements. Whether in peace or war, the Israeli settlement machine is unstoppable. No effort that could stop Israeli settlement expansion into occupied Palestinian lands has so far succeeded in stopping Israeli bulldozers.
Palestinian officials say US threatens ‘severe steps’ if leaders sue Israel in World Court
Haaretz 1 Feb by Jack Khoury — Palestinian leaders are fuming over warnings from Trump administration about halting aid and even restoring the PLO to list of terror groups. Not all these would be new policy, as a law authorizing some of these steps was passed in 2015 — Washington has warned Palestinian leaders that suing Israel in international courts would trigger severe steps by the U.S. administration, including the closure of PLO offices in the American capital and an end to economic aid to the Palestinian Authority, according to Western and Arab diplomatic sources. Haaretz has learned that the message from the Trump administration was transmitted through the American consulate — and not through the White House or State Department — and consisted of a telephone conversation with a leading Palestinian official directly linked to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. In his first week as president, Donald Trump signed an order to execute a congressional resolution, drawn up during Barack Obama’s term, to move against the PA and Fatah (the largest faction of the PLO) if the Palestinians sue Israel, a high-ranking Palestinian source told Haaretz. “Despite that resolution by Congress, the Palestinian leaders were counting on petitioning the court as a means of halting the settlements. But the messages arriving from Washington in recent days made clear that any such step by the Palestinians would lead to a severe American reaction, so much so that some talked about returning the PLO to the list of terrorist organizations,” said the Palestinian source. ‘Sabotage of Palestinian strategy’ The Palestinian leaders have been fuming over the messages from Washington, Haaretz has learned, dubbing them an attempt to sabotage the entire Palestinian strategy of recent years, which involves abandoning armed struggle and violence in favor of international diplomacy, and working with the UN institutions and the international community, to reach a two-state solution.…
Palestinians sue Trump adviser, Netanyahu for terrorism
EI 2 Feb by Charlotte Silver — A group of US citizens and Palestinian nationals is suing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and key members of US President Donald Trump’s administration for perpetrating and enabling war crimes. Their lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, alleges a money laundering scheme that involves the US defendants raising charitable donations to send to Israeli government leaders. Based on the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Alien Torts Statute, the complaint alleges that the Israeli officials use the money to fund settlements and violent extremism in the occupied West Bank, which the complaint identifies as “international terrorism.” … Israel’s current and former defense ministers Avigdor Lieberman and Ehud Barak are named as defendants, as is former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who recently evaded a war crimes summons from Belgian prosecutors….
The legislation that will be used to intimidate and imprison member of the Muslim community has been introduced
Mondoweiss 3 Feb by Michael Merryman-Lotze — A bill to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization has now been introduced in Congress. It is important to note that this is an exceptional move. If this bill passes and the Muslim Brotherhood is declared a terrorist organization, that determination will be a political act, not an act based on the advice, review, and findings of the U.S. officials responsible for making these decisions within the State Department and Security Services. This will mean that politicians can declare any group they do not like terrorists for ideological reasons (not that this isn’t already the case to a certain extent). The impact of such a move is terrifying. Members of these groups will be subject to assassination and imprisonment. Other countries will use this as an excuse for political repression and military action. People will be tortured, killed, and disappeared. In the US this law will be used to sweep up and act against groups in the Muslim Community. Groups like CAIR, the Muslim Student Association, and American Muslims for Palestine will be some of the first groups attacked, even if there are no provable links to the Muslim Brotherhood. The political right has attacked these groups and others for years by accusing them, without proof, of being linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and similar groups. This action against the Muslim Brotherhood is about political repression in this country, not just abroad. And don’t think that evidence is needed to act against US citizens. Just look at the case of the Holy Land Five. In that case the leaders of the Holy Land Foundation were convicted and imprisoned for supposedly funding Hamas….